• Current Reads

    March 2019 Book Chat + Book Diversity

    *Welcome to the second monthly book chat on TCS. This month I’m tackling a couple of books I didn’t like as well as how I feel about book diversity. How do you feel when you read a book that has more to do with diversity than actually telling a good story?

    *Welcome to the second monthly book chat on TCS. This month I'm tackling a couple of books I didn't like as well as how I feel about book diversity. How do you feel when you read a book that has more to do with diversity than actually telling a good story?

    My latest 5 star reads.

    A Curse So Dark and Lonely
    By Brigid Kemmerer
    This is a Beauty and the Beast retelling and it was so good! I loved it. It was dark and sad and it has anti-heroes. Two of them actually. I loved the main characters and the antagonist was very well done. Our main character has cerebral palsy, which was really cool. She didn’t let her condition slow her down at all. In fact, it made her stronger.

    Two books I didn’t care for.

    The Bullet Journal Method
    By Ryder Carroll
    If you’re looking for a book that has a lot of feel-good, self-help content then this is for you. While I felt that this was an okay book, it didn’t live up to my expectations of it. I spent the entire time skimming to dig out the applicable portions of this book. You learn a lot about Ryder and his belief system, which is cool if you are into that sort of thing. But, ultimately all of the woo-woo stuff was too much for me. I just wanted to learn how to Bullet Journal more authentically than I have been. I’m sure there are better resources out there for that purpose. Like I said, if you are into the deep meaning behind the Bullet Journal, then this book is for you.

    Crown of Feathers
    By Nicki Pau Preto
    I wanted to like this book so badly. It wasn’t terrible by any means. The writing is good, the plot was great. It just took about 470 pages to get interesting, there are only 477 pages of readable material. There were two “major” plot twists before the ending, both of which I had already guessed. I know that a lot of people loved this book. It has really high ratings on Goodreads. It’s definitely worth the effort if they synopsis sounds intriguing to you. I do plan to give the sequel a shot, just to see if it gets better. I also want to know what happens to the sisters.

    Book trends + diversity.

    I have a fairly engaged #bookstagram account. I love it, but the one thing that drives me crazy is all the labels that people throw around concerning books. It’s almost like we’ve lost the truth that reading is to get lost in a good story. We’ve started rating books based on whether they are representative enough instead of whether they are well written, compelling, or moving.

    It’s as though it’s become a game with authors and publishers to stuff as much diversity into books as possible and let other, more important, things like plot, character development, and logic, get bypassed. Readers: Just because a book is “diverse” does not mean it’s a good book.

    I would love to read a diverse book that is well written, but it all seems to get lost in translation. The authenticity of the story is getting sacrificed on the altar of diversity. It is unfair to authors and readers whose books may not be as diverse as culture demands but ARE well written, to get shoved to the wayside. All in the name of “diversity”.

    In all the years that I’ve been reading, I have always read diverse books. It’s just that back then no one cared. We were more concerned with good stories and diversity was just a side effect of authors telling the stories they wanted to tell and not what culture demanded of them.

    I just want to read good books, no diversity attached.

    I don’t know about you but I just want to get back to enjoying good books because they are good books, not because of marketing or diversity. We are becoming so diverse that we are losing our differences. We are so worried about being tolerant and being everything for everyone that we have forgotten who we really are.

    When we are so worried about keeping everyone happy, we stop being happy. This is a sickness and it needs to stop. Just because I feel differently than you do about a topic, trend or culture doesn’t make me a bad person. It just makes me a different person. And honestly, I don’t want to be you anyway. I’m sure you feel the same way about me. So let’s work on being ourselves instead of letting the trends define who and what we are. A great way to start is to read the books you want to read, regardless of what #bookstagram says is the right thing to read.

    In conclusion.

    Ok, my rant is over. This is just something that’s been on my mind for months now. Ever since I joined the #bookstagram community, it has bothered me how much people scream diversity in books without bothering to see what this so-called “diversity” is doing to the publishing world. When is the last time a male author was allowed to write a book that had a strong male lead in it? I don’t even remember the last time I read a book like that. Do you?

    Here’s to reading the books we want to read regardless of whether it’s culture approved or not.

    Happy reading,

    Alicen

    P.S. You can catch my March TBR here. And the post I wrote about how I am able to read more books and to stay motivated to read here.

  • Current Reads,  Reading Life

    January Book Chat + What I’ve Been Reading

    *I’ve been doing these quick lit posts for a few months now and I’ve gotten pretty bored with them. If we are honest with ourselves, do we really need another list of books? No, no we don’t. So this month I’m changing it up a bit.

    Let's talk about books and the perks of being a reader! Current reads + my favorite book subscription boxes.

    Welcome to the January 2019 book chat.

    So let’s change this up a bit. The past few months I’ve just been making a list of the books I had read recently and a little blurb about each. I’d like to try something new and list the last book I loved, my current read, and then we will chat about books and the reading life.

    The Book I Loved

    The last book I loved was The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon. There’s an antihero, what can I say? If you hang around for a bit you’ll discover that I’m a huge sucker for antiheroes. Especially if they have super broken pasts and they are just trying to do the best they can. Bonus if the main character falls in love with them. Gah, the feels.

    My Current Reads

    My current reads are Switch on Your Brain and The Cursed Child. Switch on Your Brain is an excellent book about mental health and it dispels the myths and mystery surrounding it.

    I am giving The Cursed Child a shot. I know it’s gotten a ton of bad reviews (which I don’t read). I’m excited to read it even though it’s a screen play. I would rather just have another real book, but I can deal with it. It will, if anything, be quick reading.

    Book Chat Time

    Lately I’ve really been paying attention to the way I rate my books. I never thought it was important to go through the process of reviewing and rating books. But now that my reading life is much more important to me than it ever has been, I’ve found this to be a great addition.

    I know a lot of readers are very stingy with their star ratings. I’m not. I can’t be. I love a lot of books and I can’t let a really strict rating system skew how I feel about my books. Almost all of the books I read are high 3 stars and up. If I get attached to a character the chances of it being a 4 or 5 star read skyrockets.

    I think one of the great things about reviewing books is that you can really dig into the story and find out why it did or didn’t work for you.

    I was first introduced to a great rating system by G from @book_roast. I’ll leave the link to her original Youtube video here. Check it out, it’s really good. After using her system for a while I’ve realized that it’s way too strict and books I love weren’t getting the ratings I felt they deserved. So, I’ve altered it a bit but all credit goes to G for coming up with this in the first place!

    The Cozy Shelf Book Rating Method:

    Unlike G, I don’t have a great acronym for my method but it’s ok with me. I kept most of the same categories she uses. I changed just one word because it made more sense to me. The most change you’ll see is in the 0-10 scale and the star rating scale.

    The Categories:

    Enjoyment:
    – Did I love it? Was it just ok? Or did I not finish it?

    Intrigue:
    – Could I not stop reading it? Or did I have to force myself to finish it or to at least get through some parts of it?

    Writing Style:
    – Did I like the author’s voice or the way it was written? Did I like whose perspective it was written from? Is the writing unique? Or does the writing take away from the story or just confuse me?

    Plot:
    -Do I like the way the story played out? Was it too easy to guess? Or did it surprise me?

    Logic:
    – Is the book confusing? Does the storyline make sense? Are unfamiliar terms explained well enough or at all?

    World:
    – Do I know enough about the world for the book to make sense? Are things unique to the world explained well enough? Can I imagine what it might be like to live in that world? Do I want to live there?

    Character:
    – Do I like them? Is there someone I can root for? Are they fighting for the best thing? Or does every thing they do irritate me?

    My feelings about each category:

    As I go through each of these categories I give them a rating from 0-10. Here’s the scale:

    *0-3: Very Poor:
    – 0: I hated it.
    – 3: Could have been a lot better. I am pretty disappointed.

    *4-6: Just Ok:
    – 4: I really didn’t care about it.
    – 6: Okay. Could have been better but I’ll deal with it.

    *7-9: The Best:
    – 7: Good! I really enjoyed it.
    – 9: Am I still breathing?

    *10: I’m dead.
    – What is this world? What do I mean? Who is me? What do I do with my life now? (Flails at pieces of self.)

    How the books get a star rating:

    After I rate them from 0-10 I add up each category and then divide by 7. I take that number and assign it a star rating according to the scale below.

    • 0 – 1: no stars
    • 1 – 2: ★
    • 2 – 3: ★★
    • 4 – 6: ★★★
    • 7 – 8.9: ★★★★
    • 9 – 10: ★★★★★

    It’s pretty straightforward, but if you watch G’s video it will give you a little more insight than this post.

    Conclusion:

    I was going to chat about some of my favorite book merch, but this post has gotten a little long. I’ll save it for another time. I am trying to come up with a PDF of my book rating system so that you can print it off and tuck it in your own book journal.

    Thanks so much for hanging out with me today! This was fun!

    Happy reading,

    Alicen

    P.S. You can also check out my January 2019 TBR here. I’ve already knocked two books off the list! What have you been reading? Let me know in the comments!

    P.P.S. Oh, and don’t forget about The Cozy Shelf Reading Challenge! You can still join us! Get all the info here.

  • Current Reads

    December 2018 Book Chat

    *Books I’ve been reading lately. Inspired by @Modern Mrs. Darcy

    December 2018 Book Chat

    A Court of Wings and Ruin, Sarah J. Maas

    december 2018 current reads

    I loved this book so very much. I gave it 5/5 stars. There are not enough good things I can say about this book and series. It was full of drama (the good kind), love, friendships. It was just perfect. I’m seeing a reread of this series happening at least once a year. 

    A Court of Frost and Starlight, Sarah J. Maas

    This book wasn’t originally on my TBR for December but I was just dying for more of Rhysand and Feyre that I couldn’t help myself. Turns out it was a great pick! It’s a short story about celebrating the winter solstice, which is a pretty important holiday in the series. This is a Christmas book without being a Christmas book. I don’t read those mushy types of novels and this one was nothing like those generic Christmas books that are everywhere this time of year. I gave this one 5/5 stars.

    Girls of Paper and Fire, Natasha Ngan

    december 2018 current reads

    I have to say that I was excited to read this book. Not because of the love story (which barely existed up to page 203) but because the world sounded so interesting and the story about a girl overcoming all odds. But, this one just failed to deliver. There are way too many problems with this story.

    The main character in this story is gay and she ends up being stolen from her home to basically become a concubine to the demon king. There are 7 other girls who are stolen as well. The thing I couldn’t handle with this story was that the straight girls from the group were either wanting the attention of the demon king or were just putting up with it because they felt they had no choice. I’m sorry, what??? In no way is it ever ok for anyone to sexually abuse a woman. I don’t care what she identifies as.

    The portrayal of straight women in this book is just so wrong that it made me angry.  You DO NOT have to be a lesbian to hate any man’s touch. I will not recommend this book to anyone. It had such great potential but fell very short of the mark. This one got 2/5 stars from me. 

    The Deathly Hallows, J. K. Rowling

    december 2018 current reads

    I am currently reading this one and it has really captured my interest. This is only my second time reading it and, while I’ve watched the movies countless times, the depth of the book is way more satisfying than I remember it being the first time I read it. I hope to finish it up this week so that I can be all ready to do the #magicalreadathon with @book_roast next week! I’m really excited to finish off the year with a great reading challenge!


    That’s it for my current reads for December 2018!

    What books have you gotten to this month? Let me know in the comments!

    Happy reading,

    Alicen

    P. S. Here are some links for your reading life!

    Decebmer 2018 TBR+Magical Readathon
    How to Use a Book Journal
    Book Labels are Bad News Bears

  • Current Reads

    November 2018 Book Chat

    *This post contains my current reads for November 2018. I post these Current Reads articles around the middle of every month and they are inspired by Anne Bogel @ modernmrsdarcy.com I hope you all have had a great reading month so far. If not, we still have half of November left!

    November 2018 Book Chat

    Here are the great books I’ve read recently. 

    current reads, november 2018

    The first book I finished this month is The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin. 

    I loved this book so so much. It was the perfect ending for this trilogy. My reader heart is very satisfied with this one. Justin is a master of description. This book wasn’t boring. It was beautiful. I was engrossed in the story from the first page. 

    The second book I completed was Think Learn Succeed by Dr. Caroline Leaf.

    This is a non-fiction science/mental health book. I really really enjoyed reading this book. I actually love all of her books even though they are very sciency. My mind was blown consistently throughout. The one thing I can say is not to take a month long break before you finish the book. I now have to read it again, but I’m ok with that. I actually want to read it again!

    current reads, november 2018

    The third book I read this month was A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas.

    I am in love with Rhysand. That is all. Goodbye.

    But really, I loved this book so very very much. If anything happens to Rhysand I will die and Sarah J. Maas will be guilty of murder. 💔

    current reads, november 2018

    The fourth book I have (kinda) read so far this month is Cozy Minimalist Home by Myquillyn Smith.

    This book is a beautiful and practical guide to making your home minimal but without the industrial starkness of “traditional” minimalism. Hence the title Cozy Minimalist Home. I love me a cozy house, but I also love me a home with no clutter. 

    Conclusion

    That’s my current reads list for November 2018 so far.

    I’m not very good at talking about books. I don’t like “reviewing” them because I don’t feel that it’s my job to put my opinion of a book in a reader’s head. I want them to experience it for themselves and then they can make a decision on whether they liked it or not. I can let you know if I liked it or not though. And I can let you look it up on Goodreads or Amazon if you so desire. 

    Also, I do not recommend reading reviews of a book after you just finished it. Especially if you LOVED it. Someone out there will be dragging it through the dirt and it will make you feel like maybe you aren’t a good reader, and how could you be so gullible to the writer’s whims, and maybe the book isn’t as good as you thought. Just save yourself the heartache and DON’T read the reviews.

    Because none of the stuff that the reviewer said about your FAVORITE book is true about you. You read the book and it was your experience that matters. Not that psycho reviewer on Goodreads whom you now want to stab in their sleep. I personally never read reviews. I don’t watch them on booktube either. I don’t like reading a synopsis of a book either. I want to go in totally blind. It’s the best that way. 

    Don’t let the evil book reviewers get you down!

    Sorry, that turned into a crazy rant. I’ve been thinking about this whole “reviewers dragging books though the mud” thing all morning. I think I might just have to write a post about it. Something like the Readers Bill of Rights. Here’s what we want as readers and don’t any of you evil readers take these rights away from us! LOL. I am being a little extra. But maybe not, you know?

    What do you think? Should I create a Reader’s Bill of Rights? If you don’t care I’m still going to do it. Actually if you don’t care that just means you are one of those readers who thinks your word is scripture and you want to shove all of your book opinions down people’s throats. 

    Oops. Went ranting again. Sorry.

    Anyway, I hope you all have a lovely day. American Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and then it’s basically Christmas!

    Can you tell I’m excited?

    Happy reading,

    Alicen

    P.S. I am sorry about the rant. I’m going to take that info and turn it into a blog post real soon. 😄

    P.P.S. Here is the link to my full November 2018 TBR.

  • Current Reads

    September 2018 Book Chat + What I’ve Been Reading

    *This is a link up post to Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Quick Lit, that she posts on the 15th of every month. It’s all about books and reading.

    September 2018 Book Recommendations

    The Books

    Here’s what I’ve been reading lately. Three of these books are absolutely phenomenal. One of them I read 3 pages of before I put it down. I’m going to do this “What Should I Read Next?” style. I’ll give you the three books I loved and the one book I hated. That’s right, I’m not afraid of the “h” word.


    The Books I Loved:

    september reading

    So Good They Can’t Ignore You, By: Cal Newport
    This is the best business book I have read this year. In it, Cal debunks the extremely popular “follow your passion” myth. He gives you extremely practical and absolutely doable steps to finding work that you love. 
    A lot of it is common sense. You have to be willing to do the work, even if that work is menial and mind-numbing. Cal also uses the term career capital and states that it’s vitally important to creating a meaningful life. In the book, he uses real-life examples of real people to prove why the “follow your passion” mentality will get you anything but a job you love.  


    rise of the mystics, september reading

    Rise of the Mystics, By: Ted DeKker
    I am excited to be part of the launch team for this book, which releases on October 2, 2018. Rise of the Mystics is Ted’s best work. If you’ve read the Circle series then you’ll love this one. It’s as if all of his previous work has led up to this book. There are so many amazing things I can say about this book, but I’ll just keep it short. I’ve been known to rattle on. 


    i'd rather be reading, september reading

    I’d Rather Be Reading, By: Anne Bogel
    This book is beautiful! It’s written by a book lover (and popular blogger) for book lovers. The whole time I was reading this book I kept thinking, “Anne gets me! I have never felt more understood as a book lover!”. Chapter 10, “Bookworm Problems”, had me laughing out loud. I can’t recommend this book enough. Get it for your bookish friends. If you don’t have any physical bookish friends (raises hand) then gift yourself!


    The One Book I Hated:

    business boutique september reading

    Business Boutique, By: Christy Wright
    Since this is the last book on the list you can correctly guess that this is the book I hated. I don’t want to spend a lot of time writing about it so I’m linking my Goodreads review here. Basically it’s full of fluff. Granted, Christy’s business plan is probably fantastic. But I can’t take anyone seriously who believes that her mom was born with the “gift” of cake making and decorating.

    My Goodreads Review


    This book has great potential, it really does. I’m on page 3, after having read the forward and introduction, and it’s just not what I thought it was going to be. She talks about her mother in the first few pages, telling the story of how her mom got started in the cake business. What I’m having a hard time with is that she keeps saying her mom’s “gifts” are what gave her the background to work for herself. I just don’t buy it. I know that God blesses us with spiritual gifts, and those gifts manifest in unique ways because we are all different. I do not believe; however, that God blessed her mother with cake making talents. She was not born with the ability to bake and decorate amazing cakes. That is something she learned. It’s a skill. 
    I’m not discounting the fact that she did take something she was good at and made it into a good business. But I seriously doubt that as a young mother with a 6-month old that she really enjoyed making cakes. I bet she would have rather been doing something else. I think that the true joy Christy’s mother got from her cake business was the accomplishment she got from being really good at her craft. She had a fulfilling job because she got to do something that she had learned to love. There is no way she started out “loving” what she did. Christy clearly stated that her mother’s first job when she was 16 was learning how to make and decorate cakes. The only reason that her business venture was successful was that she had the skills she needed to start right away, and she was lucky enough to stumble upon a business owner who could benefit from her business. I just don’t buy the nonsense that you can take something you “love” and turn it into a business. It just doesn’t work that way for most people. I’m not sure if I’m going to finish reading this book. At this point, I might just skim it and see if it’s worth reading or not. 
    Like I said, it has great potential. If only Christy could get past the “gifts” and doing something you “love” and call it what it is. Most people that are living lives they love did not start out doing things that they loved. It just doesn’t work that way.

    Books I’m Going to be Reading

    Next up on my TBR are some title I got because Anne Bogel recommended them in her podcast, “What Should I Read Next?”. If you read many of my posts about books, you’ll find that Anne is a huge influence in my reading life.


    In no particular order here are my next reads:

    • Ex Libris, By: Anne Fadiman
    • The Year of Reading Dangerously, By: Andy Miller
    • The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, By: Arundhati Roy
    • The Read-Aloud Family, By: Sarah Mackenzie
    • Station Eleven, By: Emily St. John Mandel

    I might finish them all, or I might start some and not finish them. I’m not afraid to abandon a book. The only problem I have is deciding which one to read first! Let me know in the comments which book YOU think I should read next!

    That’s my reading month so far. A lot quieter than last month considering I’m not doing a Harry Potter Magical Readathon.

    Until next time,

    Alicen

    P.S. How is your reading month going? What is something great that you’ve read? Have you picked anything up that you didn’t like? Let me know in the comments!