What I Read in 2019

I am currently enjoying A Life in the Law: Advice for Your Lawyers, Legal Ethics Stories, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Supplement, Contracts…kidding. I’m definitely not reading those for fun. But I am ~technically~ reading them for school. But that’s not why you’re here. You’re here for the juicy romcom, sci-fi, young adult weirdness that my Goodreads account is usually full of.

I hit my goal of reading 15 books last year. Usually I read close to 30, but there was no way I was going to have free time to read as prolifically as I usually do during law school. I set my goals lower and hit them, with help from a few audiobooks at the tail end of December.

Here’s a list, and rating, of all those books:

And a few I didn’t finish reading:

What’s currently on my nightstand:

And what I’m looking forward to picking up in 2020:

If there’s any book in particular you’d like me to write a full review on, leave a comment with the title below!

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

Whenever I go to the beach I make sure to bring enough books to read. This summer, however, I knew I had a goal of twelve books as well as the May, June, and July books for the bookclub I’m in. That’s fifteen books for an entire summer, over half of what I usually read per year! Usually I have a daunting to-read list, but I didn’t know where to start this time.

I started off the summer with The Goldfinch, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and the Inheritance Cycle. After that, I hit a wall. I spent a lot of my downtime at work surfing through Twitter instead of reading. Politics, even though I dislike them, have been interesting this year. Its like reality tv with all the drama and he-said-she-said gossip going on. That’s when I decided a book on small town politics might not be such a bad thing to read at the beach. I picked up The Casual Vacancy the day before we left for Topsail and didn’t put it down until I’d finished it three days after.

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The Casual Vacancy is a book about Pagford, a small town in England. The story revolves around the death of Barry Fairbrother, a member of the Pagford Parish Council. Barry is loved by everyone and loves everyone in return. He has a big heart, but politically that’s what gets him into trouble. Many years ago, Pagford and Yarvil were friendly neighbor cities, Yarvil being the bigger of the two with a large estate sitting between them. The estate sold lands to Pagford to make cheap housing. Decades later, the cheap housing has become government housing, and is costing Pagford quite a bit of money in the end. Barry wants to keep “the Fields” and the addiction clinic as part of Pagford. The other half of the council does not. When there is a casual vacancy because of Barry’s death, the entire town splits between pro-fielders and anti-fielders and those running for council find themselves the topic of discriminatory posts on the Parish Council website.

What did I tell you, politics with a side of reality tv show worthy gossip! If you like Rowling’s writing style for Harry Potter (this isn’t exactly the same, but it’s not far off) and are interesting in small town politics then I’d definitely give this book a go!

Blind Date With a Book – Title Reveal

Back at the end of July I went shopping with my friend DeAnna in Downtown Asheville, North Carolina. We visited one of my favorite bookstores named Malaprops. They have an entire wall dedicated to “Blind Date” books. Each novel is wrapped in brown packaging paper and instead of having a title or author written on the front, each book is characterized by adjectives. I picked out a book with the words magical, original, timeless, tender, and the phrase “love letter to childhood” written on the front.

blind date with a book

I made a post about my bookstore adventures in August (which you can view right here), asking you all what the title of the book could be. No one guessed the correct title, but a friend of mine did get the author right!

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The book is none other than…

Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury!

There’s a certain quality about this book that makes me wish I’d read it before heading off to college for my freshman year. Douglas Spaulding, the main character, is a twelve year old boy living in Illinois. And as all twelve year old boys do, he wants the summer to last forever. More importantly, he wants to remember this particular summer for forever. He decides to catalog all the events that occur to him and his brother Tom. He makes a long list of “rituals” and “reflections.”

Everything is starting to change for Douglas. The one electric car the town has is put away in the garage for the last time. The trolley he loves to ride will soon be replaced by buses. His best friend moves away. Summer was supposed to be a time for living and running through tall grass and being happy, but Douglas runs headfirst into a wall of change and doesn’t want to accept it.

This was me my freshman year of college. I loved life because everything was bright and shiny and new, but I was terrified for the exact same reasons.

Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine is a masterpiece of intricately woven, stunningly beautiful phrases. While the story line kept me engaged and interested, the real charm to this work is in the words themselves.

 

Blind Date With a Book

Being the lovable bookworm that I am, I tend to indulge in bookstores way more than I should. Case in point: Malaprop’s Bookstore and Cafe in Asheville, North Carolina.

Blind date with a bookseller - Malaprops, Asheville NC One shelf in Malaprop’s, an independent, quirky bookstore, is reserved for something called “Blind Date With a Bookseller.” The books are wrapped individually in brown packaging paper. The black writing on them is a list of adjectives, describing each one. The price and serial number are on the back. The rules are, you pick a book based off the adjectives. You’re allowed to guess what the title is, but you can’t unwrap the book until you’ve bought it. The best part is that if you’ve already read that title, or if you finish it and end up not liking it, you can return it for a refund or for another blind date book.

My friend DeAnna and I popped in here for a quick second and both ended up buying one of the mystery books! books wrapped as blind dates

I’ve done this one time before. I ended up picking out The Catcher in the Rye, which I’ve read nine times. I also have my own copy at home, and while it’s getting a bit worn I still wouldn’t ever replace it. The pages are covered in ballpoint pen sketches of scenes or iconic items from the book, like the red hunting cap, and all my notes from when I read this book with my AP Language class in junior year. Although The Catcher in the Rye is no longer my favorite book, it holds a special space in my heart. Part of me thinks that I picked it out during my search for the perfect “blind date” because I loved it so much.

So this time when picking out a mystery book I looked for characteristics I wanted in an actual date. Somebody I’d swipe right on Tinder to. Maybe Bumble too. An actual dream boy, ya feel? Because boys in books are just better.

I chose the adjectives: magical, original, timeless, tender, and the phrase “love letter to childhood

blind date with a book

So this month, instead of having a “Read This if You Liked…” post I’m going to go on my blind date with my book and let you all know how it goes. Get ready for an awesome surprise review at the end of August!

If you have any guesses as to what my book is, or who it could be by, let me know in the comments!

xo, Bailey

This Summer’s Hottest Reads

Summer 2016 has plenty of popular books ready for you to stow away in your suitcase or sling in your backpack for time spent at any vacation spot. Here’s what’s hot now so you can read it before everyone else spoils the ending.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes220px-me_before_you

What better way to start off summer than with a romance novel. Another perk? The book is about to become a movie, so read it before hitting up the big screen! If you’re looking for a tale of romance and adventure, look no further.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Reading the reviews of this book (because I’ve yet to read the novel, sadly) I’m sincerely reminded of the movie Up. Ove is a cranky old grandpa, somewhat like Carl from the Disney flick. One afternoon a young, energetic family moves in next door and crushes his mailbox. And thus, the plot line is born. I’m looking forward to picking up this book as soon as I can; it’s bound to be a charming read!

milk and honey by Rupi Kapur

milk 31-odaa7erl-_sx322_bo1204203200_and honey is a book of poetry and prose about survival and the loss of femininity. Broken up into four chapters, each part deals with a different type of pain and heartache but instead of focusing on the bad author Rupi Kapur manages to find points of joy and resolution.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling

Will the world ever get it’s fill of Harry Potter? And for that matter, his children? I don’t think so. Or at least I never will. Follow Albus Potter on a new, magical adventure in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

I just started reading this book and I’m already bawling; happy tears, sad tears, the whole 41jfvzl72yl-_sx336_bo1204203200_shebang. When Breath Becomes Air is a touching memoir about both death and life. Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer at the age of 36, during the height of his career as a neurosurgeon and the beginning of his life as a father. His memoir grapples with living life day to day because the future isn’t a given, what makes life worth living, and other hard questions that presented themselves during the last stages of Kalanithi’s life.

What are you reading this summer?

xo, Bailey

Read “Star Sand” if You Liked…

The Island of the Blue Dolphins!

I can’t tell you how many times I read this book as a kid, either for my own enjoyment or for a class requirement.

The Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell is a tale of adventure that starts when a young Indian girl named Karana gets left behind on an island when her people leave with a ground of white sailors. She must learn to fend for herself, fight off predators, and keep herself company. Nearly two decades pass before another ship docks at Karana’s island. This ship takes her to Stanta Barbara, California, where she learns to live a new life.

In Star Sand by Roger Pulvers, a young Japanese-American girl named Hiroumi is abandoned by her family in Japan when World War II comes to the islands. Alone, she makes her way to the island of Hatoma, where she fends for herself. While wandering the beach one day Hiroumi finds an American solider in a tattered uniform. He is obviously in distress. When she goes to assist him, a Japanese deserter comes to her aid, helping her carry the American to a nearby cave. In the cave both the Japanese and the American deserters live, with the help of Hiroumi.

I won’t spoil anything for you, but the reason these books are so similar is because of how each book ends.

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Read This if You Liked…

The City of Ember!

Does anyone else remember the movie that came out about five years ago? Wasn’t much of a hit. But I clearly remember the book floating through my elementary school classrooms, being passed off from one curious child to the next. I even had to be put on a wait list at the library to read the sequel.

In case you never read The City of Ember, I’ll give you a short synopsis. The end of the world has come and gone. An entire civilization, perhaps the only one left, has moved underground with no access to the outside world. They grow vegetables in greenhouses powered by electricity, use electricity to get water from inside the earth, and have electric light bulbs for suns. Sadly, the electricity is running out – quickly. Lina Mayfleet, a child of Ember, discovers a mysterious document that could save the city. She and her friend Doon must lead the city into the outside world before they’re trapped in darkness forever.

Much like The City of Ember, The Light of the Fireflies by Paul Pen is set in a post-apocalyptic world. A family is living underground after a fire nearly burns them all to death. The main character, a young boy, spends his days wondering what the world is like outside, why the family is shut in the basement, and who the father of his sister’s baby is. After fireflies appear in his bedroom he creates a master plan to escape, similar to the way Lina and Doon make it out of Ember.

Overall The Light of the Fireflies is a mature, and haunting, story about “finding the light in the darkness of places” (as the back of the book reads, but really, it’s true). It’s about finding a way out of the situation you’re in rather than making the best of things. If you’re ready to cry, get angry, and feel inspired you can pick up this book on the Kindle eStore (free in the month of March for Prime members) or Barnes and Noble.

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Read This if You Liked…

It’s almost the end of February, which means it’s time for another “Read This if You Liked…” post!

I’m a die-hard Harry Potter fan. My college classes having nothing on Professor Flitwick’s Charms class, my squad is the marauders (minus the turning into animals part), and I’d totally go to Hogwarts if they accepted FAFSA. So when I stumbled across the Charlie Bone series, also called Children of the Red King, I was surprised to note all the similarities…could this really be the next Harry Potter?

Maybe. Charlie is a orphan (like Harry), with special powers (like Harry), who gets a strange invitation to a special school (like Harry) so he can learn in an environment that’s best for “talented” children like himself (starting to sound familiar yet?). But, of course, that’s not the end of the tale. Powerful people start to take over the school, and the balance between good and evil is broken. It’s up to Charlie and his new friends to save the day. Here’s the only catch – they’re not wizards. I mean, there’s also a feathered invisible python but the bigger catch is the wizard part.

So if you liked the Harry Potter series give the Children of the Red King a go, you might just fall in love!

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Read “American Gods” if You Liked…

The Percy Jackson series!

American Gods by Neil Gaiman is a novel set in modern day America. It’s about a recently released convict named Shadow who’s hired by a god to be his bodyguard. The story takes many twists and turns as the dead rise back to life, new gods battle old gods, and a storm unlike any other brews in the West.

“Gaiman — who is best known as the creator of the respected DC Comics ‘Sandman’ series — has a deft hand with the mythologies he tinkers with here; even better, he’s a fine, droll storyteller.” -Kera Bolonik, NY Times Books in Brief: Fiction and Poetry

Unlike Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series, Gaiman’s novel pulls from the histories of gods all over the world rather than solely Greek culture. Norse, Egyptian, and Hindu gods play a major part in Shadow’s journey across America, as well as the gods of television, video games, and other twenty first century innovations. It’s thrilling, captivating, and thought provoking.

American Gods delves deeper into the past of the United States. “Nobody’s American…at least not originally,” says Gaiman, on the basis of his novel. The story line is geared towards adults, with sex scenes, violence, and vulgar language, but is more of a cultural discussion than a story of good versus evil, which is what Riordan was going for with the children’s series starring Percy Jackson.

xo Bailey

Read This if You Liked…

I hate it when I finish a good book and don’t know what to read next, don’t you? Because of that I decided to start a monthly series called “Read This if You Liked…” Essentially, I’ll be writing short book reviews on novels I’ve read that are very similar to popular books or book series from years past (such as Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and Redwall). You can expect the first post to come out later this week. Hope y’all enjoy!
And don’t forget to share, like, comment, and subscribe!

xo Bailey