A BOOK: The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss by Max Wirestone

B L O G M A S  D A Y   19

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I would classify The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia as just plain and simple fun. It’s set in St. Louis (hurray Midwest!) and is about a girl who doesn’t really have her life together given a mission to solve a mystery. Why is she chosen out of all of the real life detectives and non-detectives of the world? Dahlia isn’t really sure. But she’s getting paid, so she’ll take it!

This is a pretty straight forward mystery as she starts with trying to solve the first issue (who stole a super-powered sword in the online game Zoth?), which eventually leads down a very tangled mess that involves MURDER. Dun dun dunnnnnnnn

What’s unique to this book is all of the gaming references. Because it deals with a mystery that deals inside of the virtual game as well as bleeds out into the physical realm, some of the story also takes place in the game which is neat. Also you get the fun and interesting tension of how the characters in the book do or don’t overlap with the characters they play in their game. In that aspect, there is a little bit of similarity with The Guild where you explore the group dynamics.

On top of the mystery, there is a little bit of romance thrown in, plus super strange characters that you aren’t sure are strange because that’s who they are or if it’s because they have SECRETS!

So if you like mysteries that are a little bit more cozier, like millennial characters, and/or are interested in online gaming… The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss might be for you!

A BOOK : Sometimes I Lie and Sometimes I Don’t by Nadja Spiegel

B L O G M A S  D A Y  14

So today I finished a short collection of stories by Najda Spiegel titled Sometimes I Lie and Sometimes I Don’t.

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These stories are hard to describe. A lot of them are super short– by the time you gather your bearings they’re done. They focus less on plot and character development and more on trying to express a specific emotion and quirk of a character.

Some of the stories truly have a WTF factor, but in the end a lot of them just seem to quietly cut out the aches of life and display them for you. This is a more serious sad collection, perfect for a cold grey day where you want to exist in a sensitive state.

Also. The title captures the essence of this collection PERFECTLY.

So if you want to read something filled with very poetic writing brimming with emotion, and if you want to read something that’s a little quirky… then you should add this to your to-read list!

 

A BOOK : All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

 

B L O G M A S  D A Y  13

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Today we are talking about All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. You know how after John Green got SUPER popular suddenly every book that was young adult and contemporary had a little statement claiming it was EXACTLY LIKE BOOKS BY JOHN GREEN?

Well good news! I’ve heard little blurbs talking about THIS book saying if you like books by John Green you would like this, and I think that is SUPER accurate.

And I’m trying to figure out what it is about this one that seems like that is a very true statement. Because yes, in All the Bright Places you have two very smart seemingly very different from each other teens start becoming friends (and possibly more-ooh-la-la). You also have tragic stories mixed with humor.

On the surface all of those ring true, but that rings true for a lot of books that I wouldn’t say capture the same feeling and voice. Niven’s book speaks to that same feeling and voice though. It is of course completely its own story….

[SUMMARY TIME.

Finch is notorious for his weirdness and how different he is. Violet is notorious for her popularity. They are on polar opposites of the social structure, yet somehow they both end up on the roof of the school at the same time with possibly a similar idea… the book is told in alternating view points as they navigate their histories, trying to live in the present, and the possibility of a future.]

So even though the core of the story is definitely different, what Niven seems to do similarly is to put to words the yearning and emotion in life when you’re feeling stuck physically and emotionally that Green also seems to do. It’s idealistic in certain ways, yet grounded in harsh realities.

I will say, similarly with The Fault in our Stars there is an interesting tension between the lightness of the book with the seriousness of some of the situations being discussed.

Is it fair to spend so much time comparing one author to another? Probably not. But I think that was my strongest review reaction– especially because is has attained a similarity that a lot of marketing people seem to be striving for.

So if you’re looking for something that simultaneously somehow draws from your happy and giddy emotional pool and your my heart is breaking emotional pool, add All the Bright Places to your to-read list!

Heads up though- the book does discuss suicide a lot.

A BOOK Uprooted by Naomi Novik

B L O G M A S    D A Y   10

This week in one of my meetings at work we were talking about that tipping point people reach that makes them finally decide to try a book someone has been talking about. I reached my tipping point this week for the book, Uprooted by Naomi Novik. I was in the exact right mood for it and one more person mentioned it at the exact right moment and suddenly it was like BAM. That is exactly what the book doctor ordered.

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Uprooted is set in this medieval-like world following a young woman (I think she’s in her mid-teens) named Agnieszka. Every 10 years this wizard-like man named the Dragon chooses one girl to take to his castle and keep for 10 years. No one is quite sure what happens to the girl when she is stolen away to his lairs, but ten years later when they come back they are never the same.

This year, a girl will be chosen from Agnieszka’s age group, and the entire town is positive it will be Agnieszka’s best friend Kasia. But what happens if it isn’t?

dun dun dunnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn!

So a few things.

1- The magic in this is splendid. I loved it. A lot of time is spent on describing how it works and it was beautiful.

2- I loved the dragon character. I liked how disgruntled he was all the time. He really seemed like a human form of a dragon.

3- I loved the world building in general. In this, there is a terrifying evil that comes from the Woods. You do not feel any sense of safety.

4- Something about this book really seeps into your core. I gobbled it up Monday night after work, then spent time reading during my break, and then finished it Tuesday night. All Tuesday I was basically just existing in these pages even when I wasn’t reading. I got to this really frustrating part of the book during my break where I just wanted to jump into it and be all “HEY! STOP DOUBTING HER!!!!” and I just felt soooo unbelievably defensive for her and unnaturally angry at the characters being stupid. Novik is able to bring this world and these characters alive, and it is so easily to become so invested in them!

5- Reading this for the first time I read this for plot solely. I just wanted to know what the heck was going to happen. I think it definitely would be better to do either a slow meandering read, or a second read-through. There are so many thoughtful explorations on the weaknesses on mankind, the relationship between man and nature, friendship, and the relationship between child and parent. There is so much meat to this book, and it’s done in a way that isn’t overhanded.

Want to add some beauty in your life? Add Uprooted to your to-read list!

A BOOK : Binge by Tyler Oakley

B L O G M A S  D A Y 7

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This is a memoir that does not need extra promotion really, but I still wanted to talk about it. 🙂 Tyler Oakley is a large internet personality and has also made his way into mainstream media through appearing on talk shows and red carpets.

I’m a fan of Tyler Oakley’s podcast and truly this book felt like him. His voice definitely carries over and it has a very similar feel to the content he has already created– just written down. He covers the same type of stuff, just spends a little more time in his childhood and school years going deeper with those stories. You pretty much get what you expect– inspirational stories, funny stories, and a lot of innuendos.

Which brings me to the thing that I liked the most about the memoir– but also shows off this weird sort of tension that exists in the book. What I like is seeing how Tyler Oakley is just so… Tyler Oakley. He is himself and is bold and is messy and is fun and is just him. All day every day.

And the tension lies where at the end of the day he is trying to be his 26-year-old self while reaching an audience that is VERY diverse in age/skews super young in the bulk of the numbers. So there’s this thing where he is sort of walking the line of sharing these details from college and beyond of more… adult situations- haha- but still be able to connect with readers that are 12, 13, and 14– basically a lot younger than him. As a result, there is a story literally for every age and it’s neat to see that bundled up in one collection. But at the same time, I almost wish he would have split the book in two and just focused on one batch of ages per a book. As someone super close to his current age, there were things I would have loved for him to expand upon from his later years, and there were sections I definitely skimmed from his earlier years.

Do you have to be a “fan” of Tyler Oakley to read this? I wouldn’t say so! It’s essentially a really interesting person that’s done a lot of really interesting things talking about his life so far. It has a lot of wide appeal. 🙂 It’s goofy, yet filled with heart. Although clocking in at 300-ish pages, it’s a pretty quick read with short chapters and a lot of jumping around that keeps you going.

Did you read it? How’d you like it?

Add it to your to-read list!

A BOOK : Citizen by Claudia Rankine

B L O G M A S    D A Y    3

REQUIRED READING.

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One of my coworkers was sharing an experience at a young adult literature panel about how books work as either mirrors or windows. They mirror your own experience, or they show you the experience of others. She was talking about the importance of having both types of books readily available for people.

Citizen by Claudia Rankine is such a powerful example of such a book. For me it’s a window. A window of what it’s like being black in America– the sheer amount of comments and situations in which she and the stories of other people she shared have been casted “less than” by those they encounter. Her neighbor calls the cops on her babysitter because he is walking back and forth pacing aggressively talking to himself in front of Rankine’s house. He was black and talking on the phone. She gets the surprised “I didn’t know you were black!” meeting someone in person for the first time and overhears the “I don’t understand it when black people talk, it’s like they’re talking in another language” right before she enters a round table discussion.

It’s constant.

And then she shares the inevitable “just let it go” responses and the “are you sure?” and that feeling of disbelief  of “are you really saying this?” And it just sounds like exhaustion. Bone breaking exhaustion.

And while for me this book is a window, I’m sure it also acts as a mirror to so many. This work of poetry bleeds from the heart as she shares a wide spectrum of her own experiences, starting from 12, and brings in the experiences of others– even famous tennis player Serena Williams. It’s intimate and specific, yet the intimacies and specifics speak to experiences that many, many, many experience daily in all different forms.

I listened to this on audio, which I enjoyed– however I wish it was read by Claudia Rankine. I listened to her reading some of her work on Youtube and man. Her spoken voice is just as powerful as her voice in writing.

Check out her reading an excerpt here:

And then make sure to add it to your TBR list.

 

A BOOK : Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin

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I! Love! Books! Like! These!

I’m a fan of learning how people live the details of their life. What do you do when you put nail polish on? What’s your morning routine? Do you pick out what you’re going to wear ahead of time? Do you have an eating schedule?

I could listen to people talk about this stuff forever. Well, some people. Not everyone. 😉

Very much related to this, I LOVE books about habits– the every day routines and things we do that make up our lives. How do you choose what habits you want to keep and get rid of? How do you actually follow through?

Well, in true Gretchen Rubin project (most known for her book The Happiness Project read my post about it) she combines research, with personal story, with advice to create a book all about HABITS and how to go about forming them.

What I love THE MOST about this, is she never really tells you what habits you should form. She focuses more on the tools of helping you understand yourself the best you can in order to set yourself for success in creating these habits you are interested in creating.

Yes, her biases to some habits are SUPER blatant (low-carb eating for one), but the thing that she has learned in this path that she makes clear is that there isn’t one right way to do everything. A good habit is right for YOU.

While she doesn’t have a list of habits you might be interested in, due to the nature of how she talks about habits and the experiences she shares, you do get some good ideas of habits you might be interested in trying too!

I listened to this on audio, and she narrates it herself. She has a pretty clear voice and not very distracting. It’s a good one to listen to while you’re doing chores or driving. Because she’s trying to write a book that will help people with all different methods of living and functioning, some of it isn’t always directly applicable- but! Still interesting. 🙂

Also, in true Gretchen Rubin form she mentions A LOT about where she got her research from– not in a heavy handed way, but in a useful and storytelling way– so if you’re interested in learning more she definitely gives you direction!

Interested? Add it to your to-read list!