On My Wishlist | 1

Helloooo.

Today I’m here to share with you the first post of a new meme I’ll be hosting on Gemrene. I haven’t seen this particular one done by others so if it is already floating around in existence, you have my sincerest apologies. Anyway, On My Wishlist is going to be a post series in which I tell you what books I would like to buy. Today’s list is long since it’s the first one, and I left quite a few titles out due to lack of room. I’ve divided the list into two categories: previously read and never read. Since I read most of my books from the library first, I’ve accumulated quite a collection of novels I loved and want to own. Then I have another list of novels I want to buy before reading, either because I know I’ll love them or don’t want to deal with the hassle of borrowing them. So without further ado, here is my first bookish wish list!

THE HARDEST

What’s on your bookish wish list? Do we want any of the same books? Let me know!

Merci for reading.
xx. Martha

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All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

atbp_mNovel: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven | Goodreads
Release Date: January 6th, 2015
Publisher: Knopf
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought

The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park in this exhilarating and heart-wrenching love story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die.

Soon to be a major motion picture starring Elle Fanning!

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

This is an intense, gripping novel perfect for fans of Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Gayle Forman, and Jenny Downham from a talented new voice in YA, Jennifer Niven.

Includes a PDF Help Line Resource Guide and a Note Read by the Author.

This was Lit Up Review’s Spotlight Book Club pick for March. It’s definitely reminiscent in some ways of The Fault in Our Stars but I thought it stood nicely on its own. I liked it better than TFIOS, but it deals with the same tough and gritty issues in a different way. This book focuses on mental illness – bipolar disorder in particular – and suicide. But it also wonderfully highlights the importance of relationships – friendships, family structure, and romance. All the Bright Places is written from two different perspectives: Violet and Finch. Finch was my favorite of the two protagonists. He’s always been an outcast and has been labeled oversensitive by his family for feeling too much, for taking on the whole world’s pain. He’s deep, he’s a thinker, and he’s compassionate and empathetic beyond belief. Violet is part of the in-crowd at school, but ever since her sister’s death, she hasn’t fit in the way she used to. This book is about both characters finding themselves with the help of each other and the story is truly happy until about halfway through. Then Finch goes dark, spiraling out of control in manic stages that Violet can do nothing to stop. The characters don’t do enough to try to help Finch until it’s too late. But the book goes on a bit after that and I appreciated the closure Violet and the reader gets. Jennifer Niven truly does an excellent job of describing mental illness and suicide and all the nasty effects. She shows what it’s like to be afflicted and to be close to someone who is afflicted. I also really enjoyed Niven’s incorporation of seemingly boring Indiana so deeply into the plot and setting, along with notable works of classic literature into Vi’s and Finch’s conversations. I loved this book wholeheartedly and I cried at the end. I fully recommend reading All the Bright Places. You’ll be forever changed.

I gave this novel 5/5 stars on Goodreads.

Notable Quotes from the Novel:

  • “It’s my experience that people are a lot more sympathetic if they can see you hurting, and for the millionth time in my life I wish for measles or smallpox or some other easily understood disease just to make it easier on me and also on them.” – Theodore Finch
  • “I am forever changed.” – Violet Markey
  • “People rarely bring flowers to a suicide.” – Author’s Note

(There are a ton more, but they are a lot more relevant in the context of the novel so I’ll let you discover them for yourself!)

Thanks for reading and let me know your thoughts on All the Bright Places.

xx. Martha

A Note on Reviews

Hello.

For awhile now I’ve been mulling over the concept of book reviews and this blog in my head and today I had a breakthrough. I love to read and reflect on what I’ve read. I like to look back at old Goodreads blurbs that I’ve written and the few reviews I wrote on my old blog. I enjoy writing “book thoughts” or discussion posts where I can let my fingers fly across the keyboard and speak my mind about a novel. I love this. But I think the label review and all the connotations and comparisons that come with it has had me stumped for some time. I’m not exclusively a book blogger and I don’t take reviews as seriously as other book bloggers may. For me, writing about a book is mostly for me – to reflect, to vent, to fangirl about. Of course, I’m putting it on the internet because I’d love to have a discussion with others about the book and because doing so helps the book or the issue gain exposure. But every time I finish a book that I want to write about, I get this clenching fear in my stomach. I get so caught up in format, in word count, in professionalism, that I usually don’t end up writing the post at all. Because I don’t want to write a traditional, acceptable review. Because I don’t want to write a review at all. Sometimes I just want to write a quick paragraph, sometimes I want to write a formal and structured article, and sometimes I want to write in all caps because I’m freaking out over a plot twist, etc. Basically what I’m trying to say is that even though this is my blog, I haven’t felt free to do exactly what I want with it. Not because of anything anyone has said or done, but because I’m afraid no one will want to read what I have to say if it isn’t done the same way as other bloggers and if no one reads it then what’s the point in writing it in the first place?

But what I’ve realized is that I really want to write book reflections for me. I’ve always worried that not writing a thorough and comprehensive summary of a book and my thoughts on it is selling myself and the book short. I’m not doing it justice somehow, nor am I fully expressing my feelings. But with all the other things I have going on in my life I think it’s silly to expect that for every book I read I can or should write an 800+ word review. It’s scary for me to feel like I need to spend over an hour writing a detailed review if I want to post anything about a book. I don’t usually feel like I have the time or desire to do that. And thus, I prevent myself from sharing my love of books because of a self-instated pressure that if I can’t cover everything in a novel – my thoughts, my feelings, my reactions, my opinions, the plot, the characters, the figurative language, and more – I should not cover a book at all. If I cannot talk about everything, I should talk about nothing because that will help people more. For me, the idea of a review has always been black and white. And you know what? My concept of a review is ridiculous and limiting. From now on, I am hoping to let go of my worries and write for myself, as myself. I hope that you will enjoy what I write about the books I read and continue to comment and provoke discussion. I hope that sometimes a short paragraph of emotion will be enough. I hope that other times a long and rambly discussion post will be satisfying. I’m going to stop trying to write formulaic reviews because I don’t want to write them. I think this will allow me to post more content and definitely more content that reflects my voice. I started this blog for myself and I’d like to remain true to its original ideals: to create happiness and serve as an outlet for self-expression.

So I don’t want you to think of my book posts as reviews, but more as reflections/thoughts/discussions. If anyone has a suggestion for a new name for my book posts, please let me know. I know that booktubers often call theirs “book talks.” On my previous blog, I called them “book thoughts.” Any suggestions are welcome and appreciated.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope that you will enjoy my thoughts on books, however long or short or poorly formatted they may be. I think that giving myself a wider range of freedom for expressing my opinions on books is the best thing for me and this blog.

All the love,
xx. Martha

Liebster Award

Helloooo.

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A few months ago, Mia of The College Chick Chronicles nominated me for the Liebster Award, which is an internet chain-based award given to newish bloggers to help them form connections with other bloggers. The nomination came as such a surprise because I’m not an everyday blogger and I had never heard of the award before. A few weeks later, the lovely Klaudia from The Observant Girl Book Reviews nominated me again.

Here are the rules:

liebster-award-rules-i
*Note: Since this award has apparently been around forever, different bloggers follow different rules. So do whatever you like!

These are the questions I was asked by Mia.

1. What is your favourite TV show?
Anyone who knows me knows I’m a reality TV junkie, but my favorite TV show is actually plot-based. Reign, which is in its second season and airs on the CW network, is my favorite TV show right now (though I’ve fallen quite behind since February).

2. What is your reading life like?
I would say I’m a pretty big reader. I don’t read as much as a lot of serious book bloggers (huge props to them), but I definitely read more than most. I struggle with consistency, often reading many books in a short amount of time and then going several weeks without reading anything. Right now I’m in the former stage, but this year I’ve made it a goal to read a bit more evenly throughout the months.

3. If you could be anything (no monetary or physical limits), what would that be?
I’m assuming this question is referring to career, though if I could change into an animal I’d pick tiger and if I could have a superpower I’d pick flying or fluency in every language in existence. But in terms of career, I’d want to be the general manager of an NHL team or be either a CEO of a big fashion house or an editor-in-chief of a major fashion magazine. Basically, a high-ranking, high-paying, fun job that would allow me to travel and do what I love every day.

4. What made you want to start blogging?
I started blogging back in 2012 because I thought I wanted to be a journalist for a fashion magazine and wanted to get some practice writing. Now, I don’t think a career in writing is a good fit for me, so I just blog for fun. Blogging has always been a form of expression for me, a creative outlet for me to write, rave about books, share fashion trends, or document my life. It’s something I struggle to do regularly, no matter how hard I try to set a schedule, but I enjoy doing it and that’s what matters most.

5. What is your guilty pleasure?
I honestly don’t think I have a guilty pleasure because all of the “weird,” obsessive things I love or do, my friends already know about. And it’s only a guilty pleasure if you enjoy it but fear other people finding out. Does daydreaming count?

6. The next book on your TBR list/shelf?
Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger because it’s my local book club’s April pick. I’ve got about a week to read it and it’s fairly short so I anticipate actually attending book club this month… Yay me!

7. What daily essentials do you keep in your book bag/purse/pockets?
I always like to have hand sanitizer, deodorant, chapstick, a brush, headphones, my phone, a water bottle, wallet, keys, and a book or some homework with me at all times. I recently went to a baby shower and won the competition for “most stuff carried around in a bag on a regular basis.” And those are just the essentials.

8. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be?
Ah, there are so many places I want to live. Right now I would say London, Paris, or Montréal, though I’ve been to none of them. If I had to choose a place I’ve been to, I’d say New York City or Boston. But there are literally so many cities- and rural areas- that I’d like to visit or live in!

9. Tea or coffee? What kinds?
Tea, definitely tea. I love all kinds of tea, but chai tea, thai tea, boba tea, and green tea are my go-tos. Occasionally my mom will make a special Russian tea that is absolutely divine, and of course I love holiday/seasonal teas as well.

10. Some new activity you would like to try or are currently trying?
I’m learning how to ice skate! I started lessons a few months ago with the woman who taught my hockey-playing brother how to skate. I wear hockey skates and can do crossovers, stops, turns, and even a little backwards skating. I’m not super good or anything and I probably look like an ungraceful elephant out there on the ice, but it’s nice to learn something new and challenge myself in a different way.

These are the questions I was asked by Klaudia.

1. Favorite bookish quote?
32fdf1622de4282fa7111279f413d651-1 (Jac Vanek),
“We read to know that we are not alone.” (C.S. Lewis), and “Those who don’t read good books have no advantage over those who can’t.” (Mark Twain).

2. Favorite genre to read? Why?
I read from a wide variety of genres and subgenres, but my favorite is probably young adult fantasy. I’ve been reading young adult almost exclusively since 6th grade and fantasy since first learning to read. YA is relatable and fun and fantasy is an imaginative escape. Some of the best, most well-written books I’ve read are young adult fantasy novels.

3. If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?
My first response in a heartbeat is Paris, closely followed by London. However, since I’m fortunate enough to be traveling to both cities this summer, I’ll say Australia or South Africa. They’re both on my bucket list.

4. Favorite TV show?
I answered this earlier- Reign!

5. Top three favorite books? (I was going to say one, but I didn’t want to be cruel.)
I tend to have favorite series more than favorite books since I’m mostly a series reader. I’m going to skip over the givens- Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, etc. (don’t worry, I still ADORE those)- and name some slightly less well-known favorites. Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly, Just One Day by Gayle Forman, and the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas.

6. Favorite hobby?
Reading or watching hockey. That’s about all I do.

7. Hardcover or paperback?
This question is much more complex than it seems. I’m really picky about format and have all sorts of “rules” when it comes to book buying. For uncompleted series, hardcover, always. For favorite series, usually hardcover. For standalones and contemporaries, usually paperback. For really long series (like Outlander and Game of Thrones), paperback. If I first read a book from the library, I typically like to purchase it in the same format I originally read it in. I try to match covers and formats, but if I have to choose, I will always pick uniform formats over matching covers. And the rules go on…

8. Any reading habits?
I like to read before bed unless it’s 2 am on a school night and I’m utterly exhausted. I usually read on my bedroom floor. I like to read in solitude and in private, with a large chunk of free time available for dedicating solely to whatever book I’m reading. I often think aloud when reading and will laugh/cry if necessary (which is why reading in public places like school or on airplanes is a struggle). I like to read one book at a time and if I can’t get into a book, I will usually put it down and pick up something else instead.

9. Book boyfriends?
THANK YOU FOR ASKING THIS QUESTION, KLAUDIA. I HAVE SO MANY. Will Herondale (The Infernal Devices), Noah Shaw (Mara Dyer), Jack and Cole (Everneath), Adrian Ivashkov (Vampire Academy and Bloodlines), Willem De Ruiter (Just One Day), Warner (Shatter Me), Sam Cortland and Rowan Whitethorn (Throne of Glass), Peeta Mellark (The Hunger Games), Edward Cullen (Twilight), Étienne St. Clair (Anna and the French Kiss), Josh Wasserstein (Isla and the Happily Ever After), Arin (The Winner’s Curse), Tamani (Wings), Jay Gatsby (The Great Gatsby). I do want to note that not all of these characters are part of my OTP within their respective books, I just love them and, if real, would want to date them. That’s not weird at all. And those are only my favorites…

10. Which book broke your heart in half?
I’m assuming this question refers to the most recent book that broke your heart. For me, it’s All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven.

11. What are your pet peeves?
My biggest ones are talking with food in your mouth, chomping gum, shirking responsibility, and public group gossiping. Also, when someone takes on a particularly (and unnecessarily) judgemental tone or facial expression. And I’m bothered when people assume you are of a certain religion unless you specifically state otherwise. Close-mindedness kills.

Eleven Random Facts About Me:
1. I’m a Francophile.
2. I’m descended from Pocahontas.
3. Red and purple are my favorite colors.
4. I prefer British spelling to American.
5. I am a huge fangirl.
6. I love to travel and want to see as much of the world as I can.
7. I am a hockey FANATIC.
8. History is my favorite subject.
9. I am fascinated by languages and want to study and gain fluency in several.
10. I have three siblings.
11. One of my biggest bucket list items is traveling through Germany and Poland to visit major WWII and Holocaust sites.

Alright, so that’s the end of my nomination but here are my 10 questions:
1. Are you a city person or a country person?
2. What is your dream vacation destination?
3. What is your favorite sport to watch?
4. How many books have you read so far this year and which was your favorite?
5. If a film adaption of a book comes out, do you read the book or see the movie first?
6. What song(s) are you listening to on repeat right now?
7. How many different countries have you visited?
8. Name your favorite author, favorite musician/music group, favorite book, and favorite movie.
9. If you could be one animated Disney character, who would you be?
10. Are you part of any fandoms, and if so, which ones? (ex. Harry Potter, One Direction, Vampire Diaries, etc.)
11. What’s your favorite quote (from a book or otherwise)?

And here are the people I nominate for the Liebster Award:
1. Grace, Words Like Silver
2. Maisha, Books Equal Awesomeness
3. Bella, Ciao Bella
4. Emily, Forever Literary
5. Montana, The Book Belles
6. Sara, The Book Belles
7. Ariella, Secrets of Lost Words
8. Emily, The Book Belles
9. Anyone who reads this post and wants to do it themselves, I nominate YOU!

I apologize if you’ve previously been nominated or have already done a Liebster post. I know many of the Lit Up Review girls have already done it!

Thank you so much for reading.
xx. Martha