January 2018 Wrap-up!

So, I just want to start off this post with a few stats:

  • Number of posts in January: 20 (including this one)
  • Number of review posts in January: 7
  • Number of non-review posts in January: 13 (including this one)
  • Number of non-review posts in January that have an exclamation point in the title: 8 (including this one…)

I may need to cool it on the exclamation points just a BIT.

Anyways, this was a big blogging month for me. For a large part of the month before school hit me hard, I was posting daily, and even after that I managed to post at least twice a week. Considering how sparsely I’d been posting through all of 2017 despite starting this blog in January of last year, I feel like I’ve done a great job of getting myself in more of a routine with blogging. I still need to work on that, but it’s a start. In January 2018 alone, I almost doubled both the number of posts I’ve written AND how many page views I’ve gotten on the blog — doubling my stats from the entirety of last year. My blog is still really small, but that felt like a huge accomplishment.

Reads for January

This was a big reading month for me, too! Here’s all I read in January:

Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp — 3.5 of 5 stars — review here!

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson — 4 of 5 stars — For class, so one of my only permitted rereads. Review here!

I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo — 3 of 5 stars — review here!

You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon — 5 of 5 stars — review here!

One Last Word by Nikki Grimes — 5 of 5 stars — an excellent poetry collection I read for class.

Hillary Rodham Clinton by Karen Blumenthal — 5 of 5 stars — a great biography with really nice writing.

Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy — 4.5 of 5 stars — review here!

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas — 5 of 5 stars — I was fortunate enough to have been assigned this book for class, so I got to bypass my “no rereads” policy to read it again. One of my favorites.

The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson — 5 of 5 stars — review forthcoming!

Love, Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed — 5 of 5 stars — one of my favorites of the month. Don’t pass this one up. Review forthcoming!

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M Danforth — 4 of 5 stars — review forthcoming!

The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke — 5 of 5 stars — review forthcoming!

Down In The Belly Of The Whale by Kelley Kay Bowles (ARC) — 1 of 5 stars — review forthcoming!

See All The Stars by Kit Frick (ARC) — 5 of 5 stars — review forthcoming!

The Smoke Thieves by Sally Green (ARC) — 3 of 5 stars — review forthcoming!

The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burger in Los Angeles) by Amy Spalding (ARC) — 4.5 of 5 stars — review forthcoming!

The Cat Encyclopedia for Kids by Joanne Mattern (ARC) — 3 of 5 stars — review forthcoming!

My Cat Yugoslavia by Pajtim Statovci — 2 of 5 stars — library book that fell flat for me. It was weird and I don’t even want to review it because I don’t care enough.

Krazy: George Herriman, A Life In Black And White by Michael Tisserand — 5 of 5 stars — wonderful biography of one of my favorite comics creators. Review forthcoming!

Queerly Loving #2 edited by G Benson and Astrid Ohletz (ARC) — 5 of 5 stars — a wonderful anthology of queer stories. Review forthcoming!

Reading stats:

  • Number of books read: 20
  • Number of books read during the 24 in 48 Readathon: 10
  • Number of nonfiction books: 3
  • Number of ARCs: 6
  • Number of books by marginalized authors: ~13
  • Number of books read for class: 6
  • Number of library books: 5

It’s worth noting that almost all of the books I read that weren’t by marginalized authors were either ARCs I received or books I read for class. I really like supporting marginalized authors, so I’m happy with that number.

I clearly have a lot of reviews I need to write still! This is largely because all of those books were either read during or right before the 24 in 48 Readathon, and if I’d been reviewing as I went during the readathon there was no way I could have finished it. It’s okay, though — you’ll see those reviews in the coming months!

On The Personal Side…

January was a pretty okay month for me. I took a few risks that were at least worth taking even if they don’t pay off, and I have some great ideas for new projects. I want to write a cute YA romance between two enbies, one who is very secure with who they are and one who is questioning her gender, and I also want to design an independent study course for the final term of my master’s degree on library resources for comics studies. I really hope that works out!

I am just a few short months away from graduating with my master’s, which is weird. This is my 20th consecutive academic year since I first started going to preschool in fall of ’98, and since I don’t currently have plans to get another degree after I finish this one, I’m looking at an actual break from academia for the first time in two decades starting in June. I’m not sure how I feel about that yet. On the one hand, school is stressful, but on the other I don’t really know anything else.

February is the month where I hope that I can fine-tune my new plans for an actual blog post calendar, and the month where I hope to do more of my own writing. I want it to be a great month!

How was your January? Did you read anything you just adored? Do you have any cool February goals or plans?

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books I Meant To Read In 2017 But Didn’t Get To (and totallyyyy plan to get to in 2018!!)

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.

This week’s topic is books I meant to read in 2017… and didn’t. This happened A LOT to me before my reading slump, but it’s also happening pretty frequently to me now because I’m just finding so many books that I want to read, and my piles are stacking up. Here are ten books I meant to read in 2017 and will hopefully read in 2018!

10.) I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo

Image of book cover from Goodreads

I borrowed this ebook from my library and have around 24 hours left to finish it or so! By the time you read this, I should have read it. Hopefully.

[Note from Future Benni: This review is already up! After I finished writing this post, I looked at my loans and realized that this book was actually due back in *3* hours and so it got moved to my Emergency TBR. Whoops.]

9.) This is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

Image of book cover from Goodreads

Ebook bought at the beginning of the year. You’re going to sense a theme here — I buy ebooks or borrow ebooks, and I forget about them. This is largely why I prefer hard copy over ebooks. I don’t mind reading ebooks, but if the book isn’t in sight then I’ll often forget about it!

8.) The Girl With The Red Balloon by Katherine Locke

Image of book cover from Goodreads

Another ebook purchase offense. I haven’t had this book for quite as long, so I don’t have to feel as guilty about it. Even if I should still feel guilty.

7.) Warcross by Marie Lu

Image of book cover from Goodreads

I got a post-publication ARC of this book from attending LibraryCon Live!, and because it’s already out into the world I’ve been focusing more energy on the ARCs I have that have yet to be published. Bad excuse.

6.) When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

wdmr

I waited for months on the waiting list to check out the ebook from my library, but I eventually bought a hardcover while they were pretty cheap on Amazon. I feel like I’ve been pushing this one off longer than I actually have in reality, but still. Guilt.

5.) On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis

Image of book cover from Goodreads

Another beginning of the year ebook purchase! I have plans to read this book for a module of my YA resources class this term, so I will DEFINITELY be getting to this one this year.

4.) Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy

Image of book cover from Goodreads

Another library ebook that I need to read! If you look at my OverDrive account right now, you’d think that I should feel less guilty about this one than I Believe in a Thing Called Love because it is not due nearly as soon. Unfortunately, you’d be wrong — this is my second time checking it out because I totally didn’t get to it the first time and now I should feel ALL THE GUILT!

3.) Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

Image of book cover from Goodreads

I almost bought this book multiple times last year and just… Didn’t… Do it… But then I did! I’ve really been wanting to read this one, so why I’ve been putting it off is a mystery to me.

2.) How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake

Image of book cover from Goodreads

I won this book during the 24 in 48 Readathon this summer! And I still haven’t read it despite how amazing everyone says it is! I also have plans to read this book for my YA resources class, so I’ll be getting to it soon. I promise.

1.) The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth

Image of book cover from Goodreads

I bought this ebook in 2013, and I believe that is all the context you need here… Out of sight, out of mind, right?

 

What books have you been putting off reading? Have you been putting off any books for five years (or longer!) like I have? Let’s discuss this in the comments!

Review: Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp

Image of book cover from Goodreads
Image of book cover from Goodreads

Title: Before I Let Go

Author: Marieke Nijkamp

Category: YA Magical Realism (LGBTQIAP+)

Publisher/Date: Sourcebooks Fire/2 January 2018

Edition: ebook

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33918883-before-i-let-go

Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/Before-Let-Go-Marieke-Nijkamp/dp/1492642282/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1514947475

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/before-i-let-go-marieke-nijkamp/1125526067?ean=9781492642282#/

Best friends Corey and Kyra were inseparable in their snow-covered town of Lost Creek, Alaska. When Corey moves away, she makes Kyra promise to stay strong during the long, dark winter, and wait for her return.

Just days before Corey is to return home to visit, Kyra dies. Corey is devastated―and confused. The entire Lost community speaks in hushed tones about the town’s lost daughter, saying her death was meant to be. And they push Corey away like she’s a stranger.

Corey knows something is wrong. With every hour, her suspicion grows. Lost is keeping secrets―chilling secrets. But piecing together the truth about what happened to her best friend may prove as difficult as lighting the sky in an Alaskan winter…

This book has content warnings for bipolar disorder (and a LOT of addressed anti-bipolar disorder sentiments), child/medical abuse, suicide, and attempted murder.

This book was really good, although sometimes it was a little painful to get through. First off, I really loved the friendship between Corey and Kyra and I’m a little sad that we only got to see it through flashbacks. Their friendship was solid but still had its weak points — Corey not writing back to Kyra after she moves, sexuality which I’ll get to in a bit — and I loved how honest that part of their friendship was. Friendships don’t have to be perfect to be healthy, and while they did have their problems their friendship was still very healthy and supportive. We need more friendships like this in books, and it was something I really appreciated.

Although I’m not diagnosed with bipolar disorder (it’s likely that I may have something similar, but I’m not sure), I felt that Kyra’s bipolar disorder was realistic and I appreciated how the point of view we had made it clear that a diagnosis of bipolar disorder did not make Kyra a different person from who she was before the diagnosis. Unfortuately, aside from Corey, almost every single person in Lost Creek is unable to understand this. As soon as she’s diagnosed, the whole community demonizes Kyra and tries to get rid of her because she no longer “fits in.” This is a sentiment that, while explicitly addressed, is present throughout the entire book, so if that’s something that would bother you whether or not you have bipolar disorder yourself, it might be best to skip this one.

I also really appreciated the explicit pansexual and asexual rep on the page. While I’m glad to see the “asexual” label being used for Corey, the way in which her asexuality was described sounded more like aromanticism than asexuality, and I really wish that that representation would have been made explicit as well. From what I know of Corey I do think asexual also fits, but this was a missed opportunity for on-page aromantic rep that we really need in literature. As a counterpoint, I DO think that because Corey and Kyra were figuring out their identities from the Internet and were still exploring and looking at labels that maybe Corey just didn’t come across that label while they were looking, which is fair because teenagers can definitely still be exploring and learning about different identities. Even so, I do think that this was a missed opportunity, and I’m a little sad that that didn’t make it in there.

The writing was engaging and easy to read. Some of the sections were written in script format, which was an interesting choice, and I felt like it added to the dramatization of the small town. It emphasized that the town was primarily just an act, and I loved the perspective that it brought.

A few negatives: I didn’t feel like I got to know any of the characters all that well. I liked Corey and Kyra together and I got to know them a little, but I left the book feeling like I didn’t know much about them as individual people, and I know almost nothing about any of the other people in Lost Creek. Additionally, aside from a tiny handful of people including our protagonist, almost everybody in this novel is unlikable. The middle of the book was a little slow for me because I had to spend time with these characters who were unbearable, and it was a little much for me. Nearly everyone in that town is self-centered, selfish, and disgustingly naïve about mental illness, and while I know that sentiments like this toward bipolar disorder are common, it was really harsh to see over 200 people holding the exact same position and putting their beliefs over a teenager’s life and safety. Everyone is negligent and irresponsible, and it kind of made me feel sick.

This wasn’t a perfect read, but overall I still found it really enjoyable. If extreme anti-bipolar sentiments and neglect and abuse towards youth are not for you, then I’d recommend passing on this one. Otherwise, it’s a very good read.

Final rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

January 2018 Preorders!

As I’d mentioned in a previous post, I’m going to be preordering books month-by-month this year so that I can keep better track of what I’m buying! I have preordered five books for January, and I’m really excited for them. Here’s what I’m getting!

You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Image of book cover from Goodreads

Release date: 2 January 2018
Format: Hardcover
Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/Youll-Miss-Me-When-Gone/dp/1481497731/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1514630816&sr=1-1&keywords=you%27ll+miss+me+when+i%27m+gone

I’ve only been aware of this book’s existence for less than a week, and I am extremely excited about it. I love stories about sibling relationships, and this books explores the relationship between these twins as they grapple with love, their Jewish identities, and the potential threat Huntington’s disease. I can’t wait until this arrives this week!

Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp

bilg

Release date: 2 January 2018
Format: ebook
Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/Before-Let-Go-Marieke-Nijkamp/dp/1492642282/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1514630861&sr=1-1&keywords=before+i+let+go

Friendship stories are also high on my list, and this story deals with the loss of a best friend and small town secrets surrounding her death. The MC is also asexual, there are several other queer characters in the book, and it also has mental illness rep, which sounds fantastic.

Love, Hate, and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

Image of book cover from Goodreads

Release date: 16 January 2018
Format: ebook
Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/Love-Other-Filters-Samira-Ahmed/dp/1616958472/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1514630717&sr=1-1&keywords=love+hate+and+other+filters

I have heard nothing but good things about this book, and it sounds wonderful. An Indian-American Muslim teen grapples with her personal life and future while coping with anti-Islam sentiments from her community spurred by a crime that happens elsewhere in the country. It’s a story about belonging and finding yourself, and I can’t wait to read it.

Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann

Image of book cover from Goodreads

Release date: 23 January 2018
Format: Hardcover
Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/Lets-Talk-About-Love-Claire/dp/1250136121/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1514630765&sr=1-1&keywords=let%27s+talk+about+love

Who wants a love story featuring a Black, asexual, biromantic teen? I sure do! The cover is gorgeous, the story sounds fluffy and fun, and I cannot wait to dive into this one. (Additionally, I’m choosing to read this book for my YA resources class this term! The release timing is just right for reading it for a specific module, and I’m excited to discuss it with my classmates.)

Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh

Image of book cover from Goodreads

Release date: 23 January 2018
Format: Hardcover
Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/Reign-Fallen-Sarah-Glenn-Marsh/dp/0448494396/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1514794056&sr=8-1&keywords=reign+of+the+fallen

I was fortunate enough to get an eARC of this book, and I just adored it. Review coming soon, but just know that the MC is a bisexual necromancer and I love her.

 

Are you preordering any books for January? What new releases are you most excited about? Let me know in the comments!