recent reads: january & february

Recent Reads - January and February 2018

Hi everyone!

How was everyone’s long weekend? I semi-enjoyed the extra day off but I was mostly in the library studying for my midterm that’s tomorrow (wish me luck!). My sorority did have our winter formal on Friday night though, which I had a great time at. Nothing like a little dancing to rid the mid-winter blues!

Today I wanted to share with y’all what I read in January and February so far. Consider these mini-reviews!

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

If you’ve been following the most popular books of 2018 so far, you’ll undoubtedly come across Little Fires Everywhere. I solely picked this one up based on its hype, and from Celeste Ng’s prior praise from her debut, Everything I Never Told You. This story is one of those quiet, intricate, and poignant novels that keeps readers engaged the entire time. From the beginning, I felt like I was tiptoeing along an empty hallway, and every so often, there would be a creak in the floorboards. Little Fires Everywhere doesn’t necessarily have a big “twist” in the story, but there are multiple small ones all throughout the story. Ng seamlessly develops each character one by one without making it obvious when she shifts the focus of each character’s backstory.

One thing I thought was interesting was the setting, both location and time. It’s set in Shaker Heights, Ohio, and when Ng first introduces the town, I didn’t even realize it was a real place. It seemed too perfect, too quaint – but Ng captures that exact essence. Second, it’s set in the 90’s, and I’ve come to the conclusion that she chose this time period because of the lack of technology and resources that makes the story more compelling and mysterious. Essentially, the lack of technology makes it harder to track people down.

In all, I really enjoyed Little Fires Everywhere. While it was a little overhyped, I can certainly see the appeal that Ng has on her readers. I’m looking forward to reading Ng’s future novels.

Defiance by CJ Redwine

I’d say that these days, I don’t naturally gravitate toward post-apocalyptic fantasy novels, but I bought this one on my Kindle right when I got into ebooks and it was honestly probably on sale for $1.99. If you know what sunk costs are, know that I don’t believe them. I feel guilty if I don’t read what I bought!

Defiance had a lot of potential in the beginning; I forgot what it was like to be immersed in a fantasy world. As the story went on though, I was a little let down by how little world-building was involved. I think C.J. Redwine could have talked more about the history of the world and how it became.

What I did love was the dual perspective of the two main characters, Rachel and Logan. I really enjoyed reading about their character development and how their circumstances affected their decisions.

While it was an enjoyable read overall, I feel that there are better high fantasy reads out there with much better developed worlds. There are two books following Defiance, but I can’t say I’m interested and invested enough in the world and the characters to continue.

I See London, I See France by Sarah Mlynowski

Y’all know that I’ve been missing Europe ever since I came back to the States mid-September. I find something almost everyday that reminds me of my trip, and my heart is squeezed by nostalgia every time. When I heard about I See London, I See France, I jumped on it. It’s a YA Contemporary about two best friends’ summer getaway to Europe. There’s drama, romance and all of the touristy things. It’s a super light beach read, but perfect for those who miss Europe (aka me). This was just what I needed. Definitely keep this fun read in mind if you’re heading to Europe anytime soon (or read it on the plane!)

Finishing three books throughout a month and a half is pretty good, I’d say! I’m currently making my way through Americanah which I’m reading for Panhellenic Book Club and Meet Cute, which is the ideal Valentine’s Day anthology. I’ve been sneaking in 30 minutes or so every other night to read a little before bed. I’m pretty happy with my consistency so far!

What did you read in January and February?

Thanks for reading,

Jen

 

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5 books to pick up in 2018

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How is everyone’s week going? Wednesdays are hard, but you’re halfway through the week. My first week of school last week was pretty good, but I can already feel that things are ramping up.

Last week, I shared my goals for 2018. My friends always tell me they want to read more, but a lot of the time, they don’t know where to start or don’t have time. I wanted to round up my top five favorite reads of 2017; even though I’ve never read so little in a year (a meager 20 books in 2017, nine of which were completed over winter break, ha), 2017 was my most diverse reading year yet. If you need a great read to help kick off the year, I hope y’all pick up one of these!

ADULT FICTION: The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

I’ve mentioned this one a few times on my blog already, but I have to mention it again. The Hating Game was undoubtedly my favorite read of 2017. I devoured this one and literally couldn’t put it down (I read it on my flight to Greece!). It’s about these two co-workers at a publishing company who absolutely despise each other to no end. This book definitely has a lot of romance if you need your fix, but I cannot stress enough how much I enjoyed the banter between the two main characters. Sally Thorne captured their relationship perfectly.

ADULT FICTION: The Martian by Andy Weir

Most of you have probably already heard of this one (it’s a movie starring Matt Damon), but I finally got around to it in 2017 and highly, highly enjoyed it. I don’t naturally gravitate toward science fiction, but this one was immensely engaging and Andy Weir’s writing style is probably one of the most distinct and hilarious. Un-put-downable and incredibly detailed, The Martian is not only thrilling but also impressive.

ADULT NON-FICTION: Quiet by Susan Cain

As an introvert myself, I knew I had to pick up Quiet. Funnily enough, I used some research that was in this book as part of my English paper freshman year, and after reading a few excerpts, I knew I needed to read the entire thing. I related to this book so well and it helped explain a lot of my tendencies and what I can do in the future as an introvert, and why it’s not bad to be introverted.

ADULT NON-FICTION: Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr

I actually listened to this one on audio in preparation for my trip to Rome last year and thought it was the perfect introduction/way to get a little taste of what Rome is like from someone who lived there for a full year (my my, that would be a dream!). Doerr’s other work, All the Light We Cannot See, is one of my favorite books of all time, so you can imagine how much I loved his autobiography about all things Italian.

YOUNG ADULT FICTION: Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

I loved Morgan Matson’s debut novel, Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour and her writing style ever since I was introduced in 2011 (gulp, that was like six years ago!!). I don’t know why it took so long for me to pick this one up! It’s about a girl whose best friend suddenly disappears but leaves a bucket list for her to complete. It’s not a mystery – far from it, actually – but a cute, summer-y contemporary story with tons of character growth and self-discovery. It put me in the best mood – highly recommend.

There you have it! My favorite books of 2017 and ones that I think you need to pick up. Thanks for reading!

Jen xx

winter break to-read list

Winter to-read list

Happy December!

How was everyone’s Thanksgiving Break? I hope all of my US readers got to spend time with family and eat lots of good food; I got to go home for a few days, saw my family and an old friend from high school, did some low-key Black Friday shopping, and while I had to study for some quizzes and finish some homework assignments, I did read I Am Malala and catch up on Riverdale.

With the quarter coming to a close, I’ve been studying hard for my final exams, but after that comes the holiday break! I’m more than stoked to be cuddled in bed for days on end with my nose in a book and a cup of Earl Grey tea in hand. I’m only on winter break for two weeks, but I have no other obligations, so I’m planning on finishing a couple of reads! I’m so behind on new releases and debuts, but I think since I’m home, the goal is to read a lot of the books I already own. Here’s what I hope to read during my holiday break:

Quiet by Susan Cain

I’m so sad that I haven’t finished this one yet! I started it earlier this fall and got about a third of the way through, and never found the time to finish it again. I should be able to finish this one really soon since it’s so engaging and self-reflective.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

I’ve had this one on my Kindle for forever, and now that the movie is out, I want to read it before seeing it! I have pretty high expectations – we’ll see how it goes.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Okay, even my mom knows about this book, and she doesn’t even read. I’ve known about this one for awhile now too and am totally in the mood for a cute, charming story like this one!

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Don’t yell at me – I’m screaming at myself for not ever having read this one yet. I feel like it’s time though, you know? It’s a fat one but winter break is the perfect time for it. If I’m reading historical fiction, it better be set in WWII. Don’t worry, I’ll have tissues near by!

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Who knows if I’ll have time for a fifth book, but I would love to squeeze this one if possible. It’s been too long since I’ve reread Anna. If you don’t know, Anna and the French Kiss is one of my favorite reads ever and really inspired me to go to Paris. I have yet to reread Anna since actually going to Paris this summer – it’ll be fun to know the references this time around!

That’s it for my two-week holiday break! What are you planning on doing?

recent reads + august to-read

Hello!

I can’t believe tomorrow is August – where did 2017 go? In the midst of all of my travel posts, I thought I’d share a little reading update, since I’ve managed to read a few things during my flights and commutes. As of right now, I’ve read a grand total of six books this year – an all-time low for me 😭 If you remember, I made a list of five books I want to read before the end of 2017, and I managed to complete it! Well, sort of. Here’s a recap:

28007954The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close // I actually ended up really enjoying this one. I started this one back in March and finished it right before I left for Europe in June. I loved the politics and relationship drama. It was a bit predictable at times because what I didn’t want to happen to the main character, happened. But I do recommend it if you’re looking for a dramatic read!

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne // Oh gosh, I loved this one. 25883848This is definitely my favorite book of the year; I bet if I read 100 books this year, this would still be in the top ten at least. I couldn’t put it down! The banter between the main characters is incredibly witty and addicting to read. I highly, highly recommend this one.

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg // I listened to this one on audio, and it was just what I expected. Being a business major, I’ve noticed a heavy emphasis on equality in the workplace at my school. I think the professors at my school already iterate a lot of things Sandberg notes, but it was a great reminder to lean in nevertheless.16071764

My (Not So) Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella // What a fun read! I read this one over the span of a month, but Kinsella never fails to put a smile on my face. The plot is a little outrageous, but it’s set in the UK (where I’ll be in a few weeks!) and cute, so I didn’t complain. A great, light read for the poolside or the beach!

30821598And then I didn’t get to The Knockoff – I tried reading it but it wasn’t my cup of tea, so it’s probably not going to be a book I’ll pick up this year. Maybe another time!

For the rest of August, I want to try to finish two more books. My London study abroad program does start this month, but I think I’ll still be able to manage since we’re commuting a lot! I want to try to read…

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The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney // I’ve been a sucker lately for fiction that entails a ton of family drama – I have no idea why – and even though this one’s been getting mixed reviews, I’m still eager to pick it up, because one of my close friends Hannah said she really enjoyed it (and she’s an avid reader, too).

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler // Yet another story that takes 26192646place in New York… can you tell I want to visit NY? If anything, this one’s about food so I really can’t resist. I’ve heard Danler’s culinary descriptions are impeccable, I can’t wait!

That’s all for my reading update – what have you read recently? Any last books you want to finish before the summer is over?

 

xx,

Jen

5 books i want to read before the end of 2017

Hi everyone!

I’m currently in the midst of making my travel plans and realized that I’m going to be on airplanes/ferries/buses pretty much for the entirety of the trip 😪 What better way to pass the time than read a few books? And to be honest, I’ve only read one book this year. THAT IS THE SADDEST THING. I don’t know where my time went this year, honestly. I haven’t decided if I want to listen to these on audiobook, but I’ll definitely be bringing my Kindle regardless.

I don’t think I’ll be able to finish more than five books by the end of 2017, so I’ve picked the five that I for sure want to read.

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  1. The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close // I actually started this one during spring break and got halfway through, and haven’t had the chance to finish it yet! From what I’ve read, I really enjoyed it so far. It’s set in Georgetown and has the drama of living near the White House.

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2. Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg // This term, “Lean in”, has been thrown around my community for so long that I really just need to read it. I’m thinking this one will be an audiobook read (I tend to like listening to non-fiction!).

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3. My (Not So) Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella // Confessions of a Shopaholic will always have a special place in my heart, and I’ve heard wonderful things about Sophie Kinsella’s most recent release. It looks right up my alley, and light enough for a travel read. Plus, it’s set in London – one of my study abroad locations!

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4. The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza // I started this one earlier in 2017 as well, and only got 10% through before I got busy again (are you seeing a trend here?). It’s totally got a Devil Wears Prada vibe, and I loved what I read so far. Books/movies set in New York with a woman working in the fashion/magazine industry is straight-up my guilty pleasure.

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5. The Hating Game by Sally Thorne // Competition in the publishing industry? YES. This one sounds like such a fun read, and the rave reviews have me really curious and wanting to pick this one up. Plus, how darling is that cover?

Crossing my fingers I’ll be able to get around to these five books before 2017 ends – now that this list is on my blog, maybe I’ll be held accountable for it?

What do you plan on picking up before the end of the year?