.september wrap-up.


Hi, sweet readers. This is it–we are officially in autumn. I’m really thrilled to be getting into October because, truly, September was not a good month for reading. I neither enjoyed much of what I read, nor did I really feel like reading at all. Everyone goes through a reading slump, right? No worries; I’m still keeping up with my reading challenge.

Here’s what I read in September:

the martian

A book a friend recommended: The Martian by Andy Weir

So, this book is having a moment. As of right now, the Ridley Scott film adaptation is certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Of course, the book itself is also receiving high marks among readers, having been chosen for the Goodreads Choice Winner of 2014. If you’ve missed any discussion of The Martian thus far, it’s about an astronaut named Mark Watney who becomes stranded on Mars after the mission is aborted and his crew members unintentionally evacuate without him.

My good friend recommended this book to me, raving about the technical-yet-digestable writing style. In all honesty, I had a love-hate relationship with the writing style. At first, it seems like the book will rely on a log book-style account of Watney’s struggle to survive, including every minute detail a person would need to stay alive on a remote planet with scant supplies or resources. Then, the point of view shifts to the crew and team at NASA (so the story goes back and forth from first-person to third-person) struggling to contact and rescue Watney. I found myself losing interest in the third-person sections of the book, because I wanted to stick with Watney and follow along with what he was doing. His narrative voice was far more interesting, and surprisingly hilarious. I was cracking up right and left while reading his sections. Also, although I was told this book is perfect for those who are not science-oriented (read: me), I was a little bewildered at some of the jargon in this book. In his logs, Watney discusses and explains several scientific processes that he needs to use in order to stay alive, and they’re sometimes hard to follow. I’d say engineers would really dig this book, more than non-engineers. I’m glad I picked it up, but I’m looking more forward to the film, which is being released in a few days. I think the dual perspective would lend itself better to film. Three stars.

as i lay dying

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

Eughhhhh. This is a book I would never have picked up on my own, but I got the bright idea to enroll in a Southern literature course. Y’all, this is not my first Faulkner. I’ve read his short story “Barn Burning.” I know he’s supposed to be one of the greatest authors of the 20th century, and perhaps of all time. I don’t care. I hated this book. I hated the writing, I hated the characters, I hated everything. And no, it’s not because I didn’t “get it.” The reason why I don’t like it is because there’s nothing in it to “get.” Get it?

This is the story of a poor Southern family who must make a days-long journey into town to bury their recently-deceased matriarch. It is told from several different perspectives (different members of the family, people outside the family), yet there is little to no differentiation between each character’s section. Oh my God, the writing. Y’all. It’s one thing to intersperse stream-of-consciousness throughout a story. It’s quite another when that’s the method you rely on for the majority of the story. Half the time I couldn’t comprehend what was happening, because the writing was too introspective and confused. . It’s hard to connect to a character or a situation when it’s described so ambiguously. Also, the tone of the book put me to sleep. It’s catatonic; no sense of dread or excitement anywhere in the story. I kept picturing a flat line on a heart rate monitor. This book may get its own blog post, because I cannot limit my thoughts on it to one short summary. I will not be picking up Faulkner again; there are far too many other classics I’d rather spend time with. One star.

all the king's men

A Pulitzer Prize-winning book: All The King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren

How about another Southern read to wash Faulkner out of my eyes? This is a political novel, not the typical genre I reach for. Warren based the story on the real-life politician Huey Long in the Depression-era South. It takes on a Gatsby-esque narrative quality; the focus of the story is politician Willie Stark, but the narrator is his press agent, Jack Burden. It’s a lengthy tale of a man’s rise to power in Louisiana, first as a man of the people, and then a transition into something much more sinister.

I’ll be honest: I didn’t get all the way through this book, but not because I didn’t like it. It’s probably one of the slower-moving books I’ve read, which I actually think benefits the story, because it’s a hefty one and it spans several years. But it’s slow, very slow. I think I’d like to pick up this book again sometime and continue where I left off, because the writing is quite good. I can definitely see how this won a Pulitzer. For now, though, there are other books I’d like to get to. Three stars.

What did you read in September? I’d really like to hear.

Kellyn xoxo

.august wrap-up.


Hi, my sweet bookworms. How was your August? I must admit that I started off the month strong and fervent for words, but towards the end, that feeling petered out and didn’t feel like reading much at all. I also left my Big Grown-Up Job and headed back into the world of academia, which promised much reading to come. I’m tickled pink at the thought of my “autumn book” pile I have squirreled away in my room: books I’ve set aside specifically for the colder weather. I’ll definitely be dipping into that in September. Whee!

Here’s what I read in August:


Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman

This is yet another YA dystopian novel (not that I’m complaining–I’ll read every one I can get my hands on). It seems to be a popular one in the UK in particular; I’d never heard of it outside some British online reviewers, who seemed to be unanimous in how great it is. It has a cool setup as well. Noughts and Crosses takes place in a far-distant British society (this book kind of hits you over the head with its anglicisms) in which society is divided between whites (noughts), who are at the bottom of the food chain, and blacks (Crosses) who own the highest ranking in the world. Callum, a nought, and Sephy, a Cross, take a dual narration and tell their story from polar opposite perspectives.

Unfortunately, once again, I am in the minority with this book. It got to the point where I wondered if I was reading the same book as everyone who rated it so high. Guys, I found the writing of this book AWFUL. I’m not the type of person who hunts through a book looking for typos, but I found more than one here. The plot has quite a few twists and turns, but Blackman isn’t very good at fleshing them out and giving the reader a detailed account. When something big happens in the story, it’s more of a sum-up than a serious plot point. I also found the writing to be quite immature and unintentionally funny. Like, to the point where I couldn’t tell if Blackman was trying to insert some humor into a serious moment, or if she just couldn’t think of something different to say. Yes, there were a few moments in the story  that I really enjoyed, but when the writing is awkward and rushed, enjoyment can be had only to a point. All in all, I found Noughts and Crosses to be a big disappointment and I will not be continuing with the other books. Two stars.


Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Ahhhhhh. Now that’s more like it. I don’t think I have to sum up the plot much, because Lolita is a classic and it’s still an source of contention with people for its lewdness. It’s the story of an English scholar named Humbert Humbert who takes up residence in suburban America with a woman and her daughter, Dolores. Humbert is instantly infatuated with little Dolores, and through a turn of events, becomes her adopted father and takes her on a whirlwind road trip through America, fraught with lust and resentment and paranoia.

While Blackman’s writing was a letdown, Nabokov’s exists on a completely different plane. I think this is some of the richest and passionate writing that exists, ever. Each scene is expertly crafted and completely engrosses the reader. I zoomed through this thing and fully intend to read it again. It’s truly a thing of beauty, yet there is more than enough to repulse a particularly squeamish audience member. There’s a lot of debate about whether this is a true love story (mind you, this is a graphic story about a middle-aged man and a twelve-year-old girl) or if it is about one man’s obsession. There’s truth to both of these camps, but I would implore the reader not to take it as solely a love story or one about pedophilia with nothing beneath the surface. This book deserves a closer look than that. Five stars.


A book more than 100 years old: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

I’m gonna go ahead and leave the plot synopsis out of this one, because…you’ve seen the movie. While the movie is a timeless classic for children and adults, it naturally leaves out quite a bit.

This is a book strictly for kids, yet I didn’t find it to be dumbed down at all. In fact, to my shame, I had to look up one of the words (“garret,” which is another word for attic). It’s a classic for a reason: it’s a fun, magical journey with interesting creatures and conflict on a child’s level. I never read it as a child, but this would be a perfect thing to introduce to a very young crowd. One thing I want to note, and I don’t fault the author for this as much as the film and the media surrounding The Wizard of Oz: the Wicked Witch of the West is barely in the story! I’d even wager that she has less than ten lines. Still worth a read, though. Four stars.


Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan

August was a bit of a depressing month for me, personal life-wise, so to combat that I went for a goofy read to close out the month. I read Jim’s first book, Dad is Fat, last year and enjoyed it quite a bit, so I expected good things from this one too.

There’s clearly no real plot here; Food is just chapter upon chapter of Jim’s quirky opinions on different types of food. No stone (scone?) goes unturned here. He goes from McDonald’s to Mexican food to desserts to, yes, Hot Pockets. I found it quite funny at parts, yet I enjoyed Dad Is Fat more because it was more anecdotal and personal, and less of a stand-up act. Still worth a read if you’re into Jim’s brand of comedy. Three stars.

I’d love to hear what you read in August.

Kellyn xoxo

.july wrap-up.

2015-07-25 16.09.22

Happy August! Not to be cliche, but I seriously can’t believe it’s August. I honestly can’t wait for autumn, my favorite season. Knowing the South, though, we’ll get about five seconds of true fall weather sandwiched between long stretches of heat and ice. I’m super excited for fall, though, because of the pile of books I’ve set aside for the chilly weather. Summer, as you’ve probably figured out, is for the light and fluffy reads. Fall is for the paranormal and odd ones.

Here’s what I read in July:

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

My success with Stephanie Perkins continues! This is the second installment in her series which started with Anna and the French Kiss. Lola is not quite a continuation of the same story as Anna, but they exist in the same world with the same characters. That means that yes, the handsome and witty Etienne St. Clair makes an appearance! Ooh la la.

Lola Nolan lives in San Francisco with her two dads, and has a fairly normal life of school, designing costumes, and going to her rocker boyfriend’s shows. Her life becomes complicated, however, when her old almost-boyfriend Cricket Bell returns and moves in next door. Lola must deal with her feelings toward Cricket, as well as her feelings toward her boyfriend Max. This book was just as charming and and lively as Anna and I am currently torn between which one I enjoyed better. The romance was very sweet and realistic, much like the rest of the book. These books are very easy and light, yet not forgettable. I enjoyed this book so much and am thrilled to finish out the trilogy. Four stars.

A book you were supposed to read in school but didn’t: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

More than anything else, this book reminds me of Tumblr. Tumblr is OBSESSED with this book for some reason. I was assigned to read it in tenth grade English, but for one reason or another, never got around to reading it entirely. In July I decided to bite the bullet and figure out what attracts people to this classic.

I admit that the environment and “feel” of the time is evident in Fitzgerald’s writing. It’s glittering and fast-paced and decadent, which is what I think he was going for. To a point, that was the main reason I was sticking with it. However, I didn’t find the plot or characters interesting or memorable. Page after page, I kept wondering when my interest would be piqued and I’d really find that point to latch onto the story. That never happened. Seems I’m in the minority with this one, though. I just wasn’t impressed and don’t consider it “the great American novel” by any stretch of the imagination. Three stars.

A book your mom loves: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

My mom has been trying to get me to read this book for years, but it honestly kept slipping my mind. As a South Carolina resident and fond visitor of Savannah, this book is pretty much required reading. I opened it having little idea of what kind of book it was. Even now, having finished it, I find it a little hard to categorize as a book. I also am struggling a little to map out my thoughts of it.

It’s easiest to think of this book as two halves (though not perfectly proportionate halves). One half is a travelogue, in which the author moves to Savannah and encounters the weird and wonderful residents (including a stinking-rich antiques dealer, a drag queen, and a voodoo priestess). This half of the book was my favorite, probably because it was introduced first and was fairly fast-paced and interesting. Then the author introduces the murder mystery aspect of the story, which is the actual focus of the story. The problem for me, though, is that the murder mystery storyline took too long to happen, and it was pretty anticlimactic for me. The book is still worth a read for its irreverent characters and dishy, shimmering writing. Three stars.

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Remember when I said that I couldn’t decide whether I liked Anna and the French Kiss or Lola and the Boy Next Door best? That was before I read the third installment of the series, and now there is no question. Isla blew MY FREAKING MIND.

Like I said, Perkins’ series is not a linear story, but it contains the same characters at the same time in the same world. This one focuses on Isla Martin, who attends the same school Anna Oliphant goes to in Paris. Since she entered the school three years ago, Isla has had a huge crush on Josh, her classmate and son of a US senator. By a twist of fate, the two become friends and eventually a couple. I know, I’m making it sound incredibly generic, but this one really has the simplest story of the three. But I so, so loved it. The characters were incredibly lovable and well-written (including Kurt, Isla’s best friend with high-functioning autism–yay for inclusion!). I also completely loved the romance and the drama. I’d recommend reading the first two, of course, but this one was definitely the crowning jewel of the trilogy. Five stars!

Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison

I was on vacation on Siesta Key while I read this, and following Isla with this was a match made in heaven. When I was finished squee-ing with delight at Isla, I transitioned to this book and immediately starting giggling hysterically.

This book was a lot of fun. It’s the diary of Georgia Nicolson, British neurotic teen obsessed with making out (“snogging”). It reminds me of The Princess Diaries, but where that has a more solid storyline, Angus is purely about the laughs. Georgia is incredibly witty and likable. I enjoyed this book, but I don’t know if I enjoyed it enough to continue the series, which spans out to ten books. As funny as the book was, I don’t know if it warrants nine more books of essentially the same story. My TBR (to-be-read) list is currently at over 700 books, so I can’t really justify adding the rest of this series on top of that! Three stars.

A book with a love triangle: Matched by Ally Condie

For as many YA books I own that I haven’t read, I pretty much had my pick of ones with love triangles. Since this one has been collecting dust for a while, I decided to pick it up. The description of it pretty much only talks about the love triangle, but there’s a bit more to the story than that.

Cassia Reyes lives in a dystopian society in which everything is chosen for her, including who she marries. She is Matched with her best friend, Xander…but what seems like a fluke, she is Matched with Ky, another boy in her community. That isn’t the whole focus of the story, but it’s the main “gimmick,” if you will. Despite the negative ratings on Goodreads, I really enjoyed this book. I found the dystopia resonant of The Giver, but it wasn’t annoyingly similar (cough, cough, Divergent). It had several really good emotional scenes as well. I felt the excitement start to dwindle the further along I got, though. The romance was also a touch forced. Still, I will probably continue the trilogy. Four stars.

What did you read in July? I’d love to know.

Kellyn xoxo

.june wrap-up.

Happy July, my sweet sunfish. I hope your summer reading is in full swing. Despite my stiff office dwelling 40 hours a week, I am still exploiting the art of escapism with books, books, and more books. Halfway through the year, and I can say that I have had much success with my chosen tomes. No one-star books as of yet (fingers crossed that this continues).

Here’s what I read in June.

The One by Kiera Cass

Oh, boy. This is the third (but NOT final) installment of The Selection series. I still liken it to a cross between The Hunger Games and The Bachelor (much to the chagrin of an angry Pinterest user who told me I was wrong about that). It’s very light and fluffy with only hints of totally non-threatening dystopia danger. As you can tell from the cover, it’s really centered on the romance and the drama.

The competition to win the heart of Prince Maxon is slowly coming to a close. We are still following the Crown Princess of Frustrating Trope Heroines, none other than America Singer. Yes, those who aren’t reading the series, that is her real name. If you’re reading the series, then you won’t be shocked at the final outcome of the Selection. In all honesty, I picked this up just to get it over with. For the most part, it was what I expected. There were twists and exciting scenes that kept me hooked to see what happened next, but still a lot of the same-old. Lots of YA tropes, forced dialogue, irritating characters (ASPEN). While these are far from cerebral, Cass’ books are pretty fun and light for the YA reader. I must admit this one was probably my favorite of the three. Accordingly, three stars.

A book with more than 500 pages: Insurgent by Veronica Roth

I thought that the Divergent trilogy would be the trilogy I’d read this year, as per the 2015 reading challenge. Unfortunately, after reading Insurgent, that is not going to be the case. While I found Divergent…well, diverting, Insurgent was flat and had an air of disinterest. Let me briefly pull out a Hunger Games comparison. The first installment of that series, like Divergent, was thrilling and inviting. However, while Catching Fire is definitely the crown jewel of the series, Insurgent was the complete opposite. It was the fizzled-out remains of Divergent‘s spirit.

Though the story is set in a nation divided, shrouded in secrecy and deception, weapons and security guards, it isn’t the least bit exciting. The focus, mainly, is on Tris and Four’s relationship, which grows precarious for some reason. I assume it’s to add drama that isn’t needed, given the drama-filled environment already provided. There’s also a slew of nondescript, four-letter-name side characters who add nothing to the story. I found Insurgent dull, dialogue-heavy, and full of what I consider filler. My stint with the trilogy is hereby terminated. Two stars.

A book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

What a treat! Talk about a shift in protagonist character in comparison to The One. America Singer is frustrating, selfish, and all-around unsavory. Anna Oliphant, however, is vibrant and funny and takes this book to the next level. The protagonist of a story can either make or break the novel, and Anna as the star makes this book TOPS.

The novel tells of a girl sent from Atlanta (side note: there is a real lack of Southerners in YA fiction) to a Paris boarding school for Americans. There she makes the acquaintance of several charming and colorful students, including the wry and dashing Etienne St. Clair. Truly the shining star of the book are its characters, its writing, and its romance, which never came across as forced or even cheesy. If a person were only to read YA books like The One or City of Bones, he/she would miss the spirit and charisma that is so present in Anna, and his/her perception of YA literature would be pretty skewed. This book was awesome and I plan to continue reading Perkins’ work. Four stars.

A popular author’s first book: The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

Two years ago, I read Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides and thought it was amazing. That, paired with having seen The Virgin Suicides film and enjoying it, made me think I’d really enjoy this book. I have to say I really enjoyed it. Eugenides is such a skilled writer and world builder, and I was as engrossed in this book as I was in Middlesex.

The Virgin Suicides tells of the Lisbon family: a controlling mother, a weak father, and five daughters. The youngest commits suicide, causing a ripple in the family and in the neighborhood. The story is told by a group of young boys who are obsessed with the Lisbon girls, who become gradually more oppressed by their mother, and follow their movements throughout a period of years. The story reads dreamlike, keeping itself shrouded in soft mystery until the rather shocking end. The reader finds themselves fascinated by the Lisbon girls too, who are delicate and womanly and wise. I really enjoyed this novel and will continue to explore other works by Eugenides. Four stars.

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

Though it’s an exceedingly rare occurrence, I’ve been wrong before. For example, when I started this book, I didn’t think I’d like it, or even finish it. Sticking with it, however, proved to be a pleasant surprise. At first it seemed like too much of a doppelganger of Ella Enchanted, one of my all-time childhood favorites. While it is very similar, it ended up being an awesome YA fairy tale in its own right.

The Goose Girl tells of a young princess named Ani, who is betrayed by her staff of guards and is forced into hiding as a peasant, as her staff passes off one of their own as the princess in a faraway kingdom. Ani finds work as a goose girl and meets a band of rustic allies who help her reclaim her throne. The story was full of twists, excitement, and even some amazing romance and friendship. Fans of Ella Enchanted and other similar fantasy books will really enjoy this. Four stars.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

This book has been on my Goodreads TBR list for about three years, added when it was really in its heyday. I decided to finally bite the bullet and pick it up in June. The cover really is cute, and it’s gotten pretty stellar reviews online.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette is unique in that it almost solely relies on memos, emails, and transcripts to tell its story. It is probably the only book I’ve read that jumps around wildly and actually benefits from this style. Any other book using this style would feel crowded and confused. The story centers around Bee, the daughter of an eccentric architect, Bernadette Fox. She is something of a legend, having received a MacArthur grant and routinely pissing off the other private school mothers. Prior to a family trip to Antarctica, Bernadette goes missing. Bee uses artifacts like newsletters and emails to solve the mystery of her mother’s disappearance, and also learns a lot about the other people around her. This novel was quite funny and smart, with colorful characters and dialogue. Four stars.

A play: The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler

Like Tampa, this is a book that would only result in embarrassment if caught with it in a professional setting. It’s easy to read quickly and then stash away quickly, though. Basically, this is a collection of interviews Ensler had with various women about their vaginas, often humorous but always fantastical and almost New-Age preachy-poetic. It gives the reader a feel for other women’s experiences and feelings about their anatomy, menstruation, and sex. However, in all honesty it’s not something I’ll read again. I’m not anywhere near prudish; it was just the odd poetry of it that didn’t land it a perfect score with me. Three stars.

I would love to hear what you read in the comments below.

Kellyn xoxo

.may wrap-up.



Welcome to June, my sweet readers. I’m writing this after spending a sunny afternoon by the pool with–what else?–a book. I told you last time that May would be more active reading-wise, and I managed to keep that promise, despite starting a Big Fancy Job (!) and having the worst cold of my life. It was also my birth month!

Here’s what I read in May:

A book set in a different country: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

The novel revolves around the appearance of the Taliban in Afghanistan and Islam’s tightening grip on women’s lives. It uses a dual narrative, describing two women entering adulthood at different points in time in Afghanistan. One woman, Mariam, grows up a social pariah due to the nature of her birth and eventually is sold into a controlling and terrifying marriage. Another younger woman, Laila, grows up privileged in another area of the country but is adopted as a second wife to this man, due to a terrible wartime tragedy.

I found the novel’s merits lie in its developed characters and its emotional resonance. Seriously–this book gets SAD; tears were shed for sure. The atmosphere was also very well-written; I really enjoyed reading about a land that most people only know from television (the author has spent quite a lot of time in Afghanistan). The abusive husband character, Rasheed, lacked the same development that the other main characters had. I thought the reasons for his nastiness could have been explored more. Other than that, I found the book to be absolutely stellar and a must-read for those interested in Afghan culture, as well as female relationships. Four stars.

A book that was originally written in a different language: Blue is the Warmest Color by Julie Maroh

I finished this in a night and immediately wanted to turn back to page 1. Having previously seen the French film based on this book, I found that they were quite similar and equally enjoyable. This novel tells the story of a young woman named Clementine who struggles with her feelings towards women. She falls in love with a woman named Emma who sports a fluorescent mop of blue hair (her hair is the only feature in the novel that is in color). The story is told over a period of many years, starting when Clementine is still in high school and ending in adulthood.

I have been getting more interested in lesbian fiction lately, and I found that this was a great place to start. Both the art and the story are beautiful and fluid, reading like an epic love story spanning years and years of two women’s lives. Five stars.

(I’m not your mother, but this book contains situations of a carnal nature. Use discretion as necessary).

A book set in high school: Princess in the Spotlight by Meg Cabot

Like I said above, I came down with the worst cold of my life in May. That means two weeks of coughing, balled-up tissue, Flonase, and general misery. Now who wants some hefty, deep-thinking book when they’re sprawled on the couch in days-old pajamas? I grabbed for Princess in the Spotlight and was treated with musings from one of my all-time favorite book heroines.

This is the second book book in the series (do I even need to tell you the plot of these books?), focusing on Mia Thermopolis growing more used to her title as Princess of Genovia. She appears on a nationwide TV show to give an interview, and even has a secret admirer! Ooh la la. A secret admirer, even in my weakened state, I figured out a mile off. Oh well; that’s why I wanted to read it while I was sick. The series is quick and easily digestible, yet hilarious and great fun to read. I particularly enjoyed this one and gave it five stars.

A book written by someone under 30: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

This was definitely the standout book for the month of May. Among the top ten best-selling books of all time, the diary sets itself up for very high expectations and, though it was not written to entertain, it far exceeded those expectations for me. Anne’s style is precocious and often wry, a true delight to read. She observes her surroundings and recounts her experiences with a sly passion, yet her youth and inexperience is also present in her writing. Anne offers insight that surpasses the ability of most adults.

I feel that it’s not necessary to give a plot summation, because most people know already Anne’s story. However, her diary offers a deeper look into the isolated lives of these people in hiding from 1942 to 1944. It is an absolute must-read. Five stars.

A book by a female author: Wild by Cheryl Strayed

I mentioned that I started a Grownup Office Job for the summer in the NUCLEAR INDUSTRY (!!!). Though nowadays I’m finding ways to break up the day, starting out I had very little to do. Because escapism is an effective tool, I picked up Wild in order to fill my time. It is the popular story of a woman’s trek across the Pacific Crest Trail (which is 2,663 miles long) after her mother’s untimely death and her own divorce from her husband. I’m about as outdoorsy as [insert joke here], but I really enjoyed the descriptions of the ever-changing terrain Strayed encountered. She is an incredibly skilled writer, effortlessly changing the subject from one thing to another with the reader following right along behind. Her story is often a tragic one, but her story of her hike carrying a backpack bigger than her is inspirational and insightful. It’s a great one to take with you on an airplane or to the beach. Four stars.

A funny book: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

Speaking of beach reading, the last book I read in May was read at Folly Beach in Charleston, SC. A few chapters into this one, I was reminded of Tina Fey’s Bossypants. Lawson, however, writes in much more of a manic, tangential style. Her recounts of her childhood in 1970s rural Texas with a taxidermist father are downright odd and side-splittingly hilarious. I adore stories about people’s families–the stranger the better–and these were my favorite part of the book.

However, I got burned out rather quickly in the later portions of the book when Lawson discusses her adult years. Her chattery, off-the-wall voice gets a bit tiresome and hard to follow. However, for the most part the book was very funny and entertaining. Four stars.

What did you read in May?

Kellyn xoxo

.april wrap-up.


Welcome to May, friends. I hope you had a lovely, book-filled April. On the other side of your screen is a girl run ragged from her last semester as a junior in college. Between memorizing names of retinal cells and interpreting graphs of behavioral therapy, fun reading sort of fell by the wayside. Believe you me, I would much rather have been reading than studying/stressing over final exams. I’m thrilled to announce, though, that I’m finished with my spring semester and am practically giggling with excitement. I have put aside many books specifically for the warmer months (does anyone else do that?), so my reading rate will soon be back on par.

So, here’s all TWO books I read in April.

A book with a number in the title: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher.

I was blown away by this book. Only a few pages in, it hits you over the head with its dark and brutally honest tones, and spirals you into a morbid mystery along with the narrator, Clay Jensen. He receives a package of cassette tapes made by Hannah Baker, his classmate who committed suicide. The tapes detail the thirteen reasons that led Hannah to kill herself. The best thing about this book is the dual narration: Clay and his reactions to the tapes, and Hannah narrating the tapes. The reader is dropped into the story the moment Clay receives the tapes, and we travel and deduce with him as he listens to each one, figuring out his role in Hannah’s actions. It’s in the same vein as Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, dealing with heavy topics like sexual assault, bullying, and suicide without being an after-school special. It’s written brilliantly and is as much a great mystery as a tragedy, and often a dark comedy. Five stars.

A book at the bottom of your to-read list: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

This book has been on my TBR for literally years. I remember buying this when my favorite discount bookstore first opened, and it has sat on my shelf ever since. Picking it up, I was pretty hyped; the cover is gorgeous, right? I feel like the book hypes itself up a lot. The prologue reads like a movie trailer, getting you excited for the action to come. The problem is, a lot of the book felt like that. It felt like the author put more energy in the suspense of the story than telling the story. There’s a rule for writing that goes “show, don’t tell,” and I think that this book fails in that regard. The story revolves around two young magicians in Victorian London who are being trained for some sort of duel. I say “some sort” because the duel is not explained very well, nor is much of anything in this book. The characters all felt flat and detached, and it was hard to get to know any of them, because the story moved around and was unfocused. The setting and overall feel of the writing was quite effective, though–sparkling, dreamy, and dizzying. On other criteria, though, The Night Circus did not work for me. Two stars.

What did you read in April? I’d love to hear it in the comments.

Kellyn xoxo

.march wrap-up.



Hi, everybody. I hope where you are the weather isn’t too bad; here it’s slowly getting gorgeous. I’m thrilled we made it through the winter with no power outages or black ice. From here on out it’s green, green, green as far as the eye can see. Everybody should just move to the South, honestly. You get to stay home for an inch of snow; it’s honestly great.

As my spirits began to lift (seasonal affective disorder is for real), so have my choices for books. I felt very drawn to green covers in March, maybe because of the Irish festivities or maybe the hints of lush vegetation all around me.

Here’s what I read in March:

dud avocado


A book based entirely on its cover: The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy

What do you think of when you look at this cover? A girl-about-town, an ingenue snappily dressed, quirky, sharp-witted, with many suitors and connections? That’s the heroine of this book: Sally Jay Gorce. This is the story of her whirlwind tour through Paris a la Edith Wharton, eating croque-monsieurs and evening gowns in the daytime. Think 1950s Carrie Bradshaw/Holly Golightly/Bridget Jones/etc etc.

I enjoyed this book once I accepted it for what it is: an unmapped-out, stream of consciousness journey with a flawed and honest young woman in Europe. You can’t go into this book expecting an intricate plot or groundbreaking character development. You can, however, expect the highs and lows that come from a coming-of-age tale set in a lush and passionate city. Some parts get fairly dull, others are vibrant and funny. Eventually I gave it three stars. I recommend this to anyone who wants to get lost in a fast-paced setting with a likable heroine.

A book that became a movie: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Ahhhhh. It’s nice to read dialogue and character development of youths that’s natural, emotional, and completely unpretentious (looking at you, John Green). I’ve read Wintergirls by this author, which beautifully handles the topic of eating disorders in teenagers. Speak is no different. It deals with ninth-grader Melinda who enters high school a pariah, due to a blurry memory of that past summer involving many of her classmates and one boy in particular. Throughout the book it becomes clear what happened to cause the entire school to shun Melinda, and the tragic toll it takes on her.

I think Speak is a splendid example of depression manifesting in a protagonist without the story becoming dull. Each character is real: flawed but not archetypal or cut-out. I think this book is a must-read for those who enjoy YA.

Where the Lilies Bloom by Vera & Bill Cleaver

Here’s another book I was asked to read for my adolescent literature class. The back cover offers a vague description: four children in the Smokies trying to cut out a living after losing their parents. I was quite pleased with the book. At just under 200 pages, the reader is swept up into the sprawling landscape of Appalachia and its plant life. It’s also a heartfelt, often tragic look into poverty, the meaning of family, and the importance of promises. If you want a strong female protagonist that you’ve never heard of, give this a try. I gave it four stars.

In Real Life by Cory Doctorow & Jen Wang

The graphic novel trend continues. This was one that I was really excited to dive into, and I was NOT disappointed. This is the story of Anda, a teenaged girl who joins an online community (similar to World of Warcraft) called Coarsegold. Everything is going well until she encounters a blatant infraction of the community’s rules: the illegal collecting and selling of in-game items. Once our protagonist discovers the truth behind this player’s actions, she questions her morals and her previous ideas about what is right and wrong. Unexpectedly, the story deals with economics and business, but it’s not boring AT ALL.

I loved everything about this book, the biggest thing being the art. Everything is so round and bouncy and colorful and friendly. The aesthestic of the Coarsegold world was awesome, too. I’m not a big gamer, but it made me wish I were! I also enjoyed the plot. I think both children and adults could learn something from this story. The only thing I didn’t like was how short it was; it took me less than an hour to read. I gave it five easy, easy stars. Perfect introduction to someone who is new to the graphic novel world.


What did you read in March? I’d love to know.


Kellyn xoxo