October Wrap-Up: Can You Guess? Lots of Homework & Very Little (and Belated) Blogging

monthly wrap up

(Let’s see, can I get this posted before November is almost over?? Update: I sorta did!?)

Dang it, I took another unexpected and unannounced hiatus. Sorry guys! Let’s see if we can get a couple regular posts in before the end of this semester, hmm?

Okay, to wrap-up October…ahhh, all these months of the semester are becoming blurs. I barely remember what I did this past week, let alone the last month. But I do know that I finished more books in October: a total of 6 as compared to the 4 I completed in September. And I completed my Goodreads goal, so that was cool! But other than that, it was homework…and more homework…and if not homework, stressing about homework…

Eek, let’s just dive into the books, shall we?


BOOKS READ:

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Books read in October! Not pictured: The Vine Witch.

1. The Vine Witch by Luanna G. Smith

BOOK COVER

Rating: 2.5 stars

I binge-read this book in a couple of days before a participating in a blog tour for it. At first, when I was originally tired after finishing the book and scrambling to write a review for it at 1:00am, I thought it was fairly decent, but looking back at it, I’m gonna have to lower my rating to (at most) a 2.5 stars. The book was not at all what I expected it to be and I wanted to see it fleshed out in so many more ways. You can read my original review here.

2. Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

Rating: 4.5 stars

Such an insightful look into “Hillbilly” (Appalachian white-working class) culture and social class, which J.D. Vance relays through historical facts, family history, and instances from his own personal life. This book was fascinating: both hilarious and saddening. Vance has a great ability to bring his family to life among the pages.

3. Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Rating: 3.5 stars

It’s been a long time since I read a John Green book (I read The Fault in Our Stars about 6-7 years ago) I loved the prose, the focus on Aza’s mental illness, and the inside look into Aza’s thought process, but I really struggled with the plot?!? Probably because there wasn’t much of one.

4. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Rating: 3.75 stars

This was my first time ever listening to an audiobook!
Good lord tho, this book was so looooong. But I’m surprised to say that I’m glad that I read it? Tartt’s excessively descriptive writing style is infuriating, yet beautiful and impressive.  I would gladly read a companion novel about one of the side characters and I’m definitely intrigued to try one of Tartt’s other novels.
If you love long novels, descriptive writing, and/or character-driven novels, I recommend giving this try, but if you don’t like any of those things, you’ll probably be bored out of your mind with this book.

5. The Latehomecomer by Kao Kalia Yang

Rating: 4.5 stars

Before picking up this memoir, I don’t think I had ever heard of the Hmong before. In this family memoir, Yang doesn’t ask for pity as she lays out the never-ending and brutal trials of the Hmong, a people without a country. Yang’s book weaves between cultural legends, family history, and personal experience, specifically her relationship with her paternal grandmother. I definitely recommend it, especially if you’re a memoir-reader.

6. Mile Morales: Spider-Man by Jason Reynolds

Rating: 4.25 stars

So many powerful books this month, and this book did not deviate from the trend. Jason Reynolds takes an in-depth look at both Miles Morales as a teen and a superhero, and I was ASTOUNDED! Everyone should read this it, especially if you love superhero stories and/or books like The Hate U Give.


November TBR:

  • Normal People– My bookclub’s final read of the semester! (Technically, I started this the other day, but shhhh, we’re gonna keep it on here).
  • The Poet X– My college’s diverse YA book club is reading this book this month, and I’m hoping I can find the time to join them!
  • The Queen of Nothing– If possible, y’all know I’m gonna try to drop everything to read this one when it releases.

Random Life Updates:

  • Fall break was at the beginning of the month and I got to go home and see my dog! (and do laundry–the only reasons I go home on break 😉 )
  • The following 3 weeks after fall break were hella crazy with all the projects due across all of my classes.
  • As I mentioned above, I listened to my first ever audiobook! It was The Goldfinch and guys, it was 32 HOURS LONG. I haven’t completely converted to audiobooks now, I will def give more of them a try in the future.
    • Also, please appreciate this actually (for once) pretty book pic I took:

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  • My bookclub met a couple times to finish discussing The Goldfinch and then to begin discussing Howl’s Moving Castle!
  • I completed my Goodreads challenge! I’ve now surpassed my goal of 50 books.
  • I attended my first college writers event as an intern for the series! I got to meet, talk, and eat food with Heather Sellers and Mira Bartok!
  • Even though I didn’t technically wear my costume until the day after Halloween, I actually dressed up for Halloween this year! Because I’m a low-effort gal, I chose Jessica Jones, since all I need to do was buy a gray scarf!

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  • My housemates and I marathoned the Hunger Games and Twilight movies, which was honestly great.
  • Again, there’s probably other things I did, but I’ve completely forgotten?!

How was your October? Are you also crazy busy now with the end of semester/year approaching? What have you guys been reading and doing lately? Again, please update me on all the happenings! 😆

BLOG TOUR STOP: The Vine Witch [Review + Favorite Quotes + Giveaway!]

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Hi, welcome to my stop on the The Vine Witch blog tour (hosted by The Fantastic Flying Book Club)! I’m so honored that I was approved to participate in this blog tour! Make sure to read the whole post if you want to learn more about this read & its author, hear my review & fav quotes, and enter the giveaway!


ABOUT THE BOOK

BOOK COVERTHE VINE WITCH

(Vine Witch #1)

by Luanne G. Smith

Publisher: 47North

Release Date: October 1st, 2019

Genre: Fantasy

Goodreads | Amazon |Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Google Books

SYNOPSIS

A young witch emerges from a curse to find her world upended in this gripping fantasy of betrayal, vengeance, and self-discovery set in turn-of-the-century France.

For centuries, the vineyards at Château Renard have depended on the talent of their vine witches, whose spells help create the world-renowned wine of the Chanceaux Valley. Then the skill of divining harvests fell into ruin when sorcière Elena Boureanu was blindsided by a curse. Now, after breaking the spell that confined her to the shallows of a marshland and weakened her magic, Elena is struggling to return to her former life. And the vineyard she was destined to inherit is now in the possession of a handsome stranger.

Vigneron Jean-Paul Martel naively favors science over superstition, and he certainly doesn’t endorse the locals’ belief in witches. But Elena knows a hex when she sees one, and the vineyard is covered in them. To stay on and help the vines recover, she’ll have to hide her true identity, along with her plans for revenge against whoever stole seven winters of her life. And she won’t rest until she can defy the evil powers that are still a threat to herself, Jean-Paul, and the ancient vine-witch legacy in the rolling hills of the Chanceaux Valley.


REVIEW + FAV QUOTES

There’s nothing like spending the last 7 years as a toad, is there? Right off the bat, this book had me intrigued, eager to see where this story would take us.

How could she wish for anything else but to be part of the vineyard? Its terroir was her blood, its mist her breath, its soil her bones, its harvest her unborn child.

I adored this historical fantasy world and all the magic that it contained. I love the idea of all these different types of witches who secretly specialize in the creation of everyday products. Like, I would gladly consume witch-made wine and witch-baked pastries. There was a lot of cool magic involved and the world was abundant in detail. But while I enjoyed this world, I did find myself wanting to know more, specifically in terms of the rules of magic and the witch community.

What the eye couldn’t see, the imagination filled in. We put names to the unexplained. Cast it as something to either fear or worship. And yet just because a thing can’t be seen doesn’t mean it isn’t real.

But as I hinted at in the previous paragraph, while this was an interesting read, I wanted more: more worldbuilding, more character development, more pages. Don’t get me wrong: it was decent as is, but it could have been so much better fleshed out. I also found the romance completely underwhelming. The protagonists’ are quick to romanticize love, but it felt unsupported by the lack of interactions we saw between the two characters. They felt like they never moved passed infatuation.

Pain has always been the prosecutor’s handmaiden.

Overall, The Vine Witch was an interesting read, and I would definitely check out another book that explores this world. If you’re craving wine or seeking an easy witchy read, give this book a try!

Rating: 3 stars

“…so, are you my book?”

“I’m an amusing read, but I didn’t quite bewitch you.”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

AUTHOR(1)

Luanne G. Smith is the author of THE VINE WITCH, a fantasy novel about witches, wine, and revenge set in early 20th century France, and the forthcoming second book in the series, THE GLAMOURIST. She’s lucky enough to live in Colorado at the base of the beautiful Rocky Mountains, where she enjoys reading, gardening, hiking, a glass of wine at the end of the day, and finding the magic in everyday life.

Website| Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter


GIVEAWAY

Prize: Win a finished copy of THE VINE WITCH by Luanne G. Smith (US Only)

Start Date: October 1st, 2019

End Date: October 15th, 2019

ENTER HERE


If you want to check out other stops on this blog tour, here’s a link to the schedule!

Have any of you guys read The Vine Witch yet? What did you think? If not, is it on your TBR? Let me know down in the comments!

Top Ten Tuesday: Fall 2019 TBR

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Yessssss, a seasonal TBR, one of my favorite TTT posts to write! This week’s TTT topic is “Books On My Fall 2019 TBR”, in case that wasn’t clear. 😝

Eeek, there’s gonna be a couple repeats on here from my Summer TBR…Lol, I only managed to read 4 of the 10 books on my Summer 2019 TBR. Honestly, this TBR will probably yield similar results; fall semesters are always really busy for me, so I’m only really aiming to read the first 4 or so books on this list. But if the book and homework gods decide to work in tandem, perhaps I’ll be able to accomplish more?!? *fingers crossed*

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.


1. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

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Technically, I’ve already started this book, but I’m only 15 pages in, so it’s really still on my TBR. Honestly, I really have no motivation to read this book, but my bookclub picked it out and I’m kinda a Co-President, so I really have to read it…Ugh though, I just can’t believe that they picked a 770 page book to read during the semester, that’s really what’s dissuading me from this book.

(If you’ve read this book and liked it, please let me know and motivate me to pick it back up!)

2. The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith

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I’m part of the FFBC blog tour for this book at the beginning of October, which means I also need to pick it up ASAP. But seriously, vineyards, magic wine, and witches–how great does this book sound?

3. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

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Another book club read! I’m so excited, because I’ve been wanting to read this book since I saw the movie!

4. Normal People by Sally Rooney

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My book club’s final read! I’ve heard mixed things about it, but I’ve also been intrigued by it since I first learned they were publishing it in the U.S.. Fingers crossed I enjoy it!

5. Gravemaidens by Kelly Coon

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Release Date: October 29th

Here comes all the ARCs I failed to get to during ARC August. Thankfully, this one hasn’t released yet, though I don’t know how realistic it is for me to read & review it before it releases on October 29. I have a feeling that October is gonna be a crazy month homework-wise.

6. Two Girls, a Clock, and a Crooked House by Michael Poore

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And here be another ARC! I picked it up because I’ve been hoping to get more into MG. Alas, this book released on September 10th and I truly don’t know when I’ll get around to it. But it looks like a great Halloween-y/Fall read, doesn’t it?

7. Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

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I keep hearing more and more about this book and all these amazing things too AND OMG I JUST WANNA GO READ IT SO BAD NOWWWWWW. Like screw homework, life, and responsibilities, I should just go read this book instead.

8. King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

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I’m almost caught up on all the LB books (tho once Ninth House releases, I’ll also need to read that). It just warms my heart that LB is continuing to write books in the Grishaverse and ahhh, I can’t wait to see Nikolai and Nina again! I can’t believe I haven’t picked this book up already.

9. Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

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Release Date: October 8th

I mean, you knew this was coming, didn’t ya? Honestly, I just couldn’t not include this book. Eeeek, this book is almost here! I need to remember to go pre-order it, but ahhhh, there are so many different editions to chose from, how do I decide?

10. The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black

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Release Date: November 19th

And of course, no Fall 2019 TBR would be complete without THE QUEEN OF NOTHING! November is always a hectic month, so I don’t know how likely it will be for me to drop everything and pick up this book, but you better bet I will damn well try my best.
(Also another book I gotta remember to pre-order)


Lol, this is such an ambitious TBR for the fall, especially since I’m taking 3 English classes and reading lots already, but a girl can dream, right?

What books are on your Fall TBR? Do we have any that overlap? Have you already read any that I mentioned?

If you participated in TTT this week, feel free to link up your post in the comments below–I would love to check them out!

August Wrap-Up: I’m Back at College & ARC August was a Fail! (And This Post is Super Late, eek!)

monthly wrap up

This wrap-up is really late, whoops, like I don’t even remember August anymore. Like summer, what’s summer again? Sounds like a dream…

Lol, but it all seriousness, August was a crazy but decent end to my summer. I went on another mini family vacation, finally saw some old high school friends before returning to college, and was FINALLY REUNITED WITH MY ROOMMATE WHO I HADN’T SEEN IN 8 MONTHS!!!

Reading-wise though…I definitely fell short on all of my reading plans. I only managed 5 of the 10-11 books I wanted to read. I got the internship reading I needed to do done, but I totally failed on my fun reading plans and ARC August, whoops.


BOOKS READ:

1. You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know by Heather Sellers

Rating: 4.25 stars

Despite the heavy topics of familial abuse and a toxic childhood, Sellers maintains a captivating and friendly tone as she reflects on these times, her desire for a family, and her discovery that she suffers from face-blindness.

2. Final Girls by Riley Sager

Rating: 3.75 stars

Another enjoyable thriller from Riley Sager, though I have to say that I definitely preferred The Last Time I Lied to this one. The middle was a little slow for me and I’m still kinda concerned for Quincy’s mental state. I totally didn’t see the ending coming tho (I’m a baby reader when it comes to thrillers, so I’m still working on my guessing game!).

I loaned my friend my copy of this book, and I can’t wait till she reads it so we can discuss it! (Baker, if you’re reading this, I expect to get a text from you soon saying you’ve started this book!)

 3. Calling a Wolf a Wolf by Kaveh Akbar

Rating: 4 stars (?)

Again, poetry is something that I continue to struggle to read and understand, so I’m not sure I can rate this book properly. Akbar wrote so many beautiful and powerful lines, but I often wasn’t sure how to interpret the poems as a whole??

4. What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah

Rating: 4.5 stars

A completely addicting collection of sci-fi, realistic fiction, and fantasy short stories grounded in Nigerian culture and folklore. I finished this book in less than 2 days. These stories were hard-hitting and thought-provoking and honestly, I’m already to read them again!

5. Enchantress Undercover by A.C. Spahn

Rating: 1.5 stars

This book was hella rough and not at all the cheesy but fun paranormal romance I was hoping it would be. I really shouldn’t have requested in from Netgalley back in February…but hey, at least I finally read it! You can read my full somewhat rant review here!


ARC AUGUST Reflection:

I read…1 of my 4 ARCs and…it was not good at all…

I knew there was no way I was gonna read all 4 of these books, but my goal was to read at 2, ideally 3. So yeah, that was a total fail in August.

I also failed at the 20 Books of Summer challenge, but technically that ended in September, so we can talk about that next month. (I can only admit so much failure at once, guys)


SEPTEMBER TBR:

  • The Goldfinch– I technically started this book the other day, but I’m only like 15 pages in so it’s really still on my TBR.
  • The Vine Witch– I’m a part of a blog tour for these book in October, so I need to get cracking on this soon!
  • King of Scars– There’s no way this is gonna happen, but I can dream, right?

Lol, these are so unrealistic, especially since we’re already over halfway through the month and I’m only a few pages into one of these books.


RANDOM LIFE UPDATES:

  • On August 19th, I celebrated my 2 Year Blogiversary! I don’t know how I’ve been blogging for 2 years?? (Though I’ve only seriously been blogging for ~1.7 years, but still!)
  • I started my SENIOR year of college! WHAT THE HECK GUYS I HAVE TO START ADULTING AND SEARCHING FOR A JOB SOON!!
  • My younger sister started her freshman year of college (which, luckily, is not far from me)! I’m so proud of her but also nervous because I know this new environment is going to be a real struggle for her.
  • I had my last Shut Up & Write! event as an organizer for my hometown. Hopefully, I can start a chapter in at my college town, though I still have yet to find a good location.
    • And thus now that this has ended, I’ve written literally nothing since 😬
  • I went on another small family vacation, this time with my mom’s side of the family! It was great seeing them, though I wish it had been longer and that there had been more of us there!
  • After 8 LONG months, I was finally reunited with my roommate! We both studied off-campus last semester, so we haven’t seen each other since December and wow, I missed her SO MUCH! I’m so excited to room with her for another year; she’s one of my best friends and aahhhhhhh, I don’t think only one more year is gonna be enough.
    • Also, after rooming together since sophomore year, we finally have pictures together! Seriously, I can’t believe it took this long!
  • Going out and being able to legally drink has been amazing. I turned 21 back in May, but wasn’t able to get together and go out with any friends until August, so I’m now just appreciating this fact. Drink responsibly my friends!
  • Did I do other things in August? Lol, probably, but I honestly can’t think of any more right now. 😬

How was your August? Are you also back at school now? Have you read any of the books I mentioned above? How are you guys doing right now? Hanging in there?