Top 5 Wednesday: Five Book Categories I Did Not Get To in 2017



Welcome to Top 5 Wednesday. In this week’s edition, I will cheat (as usual) and discuss book categories (with examples) rather than only five examples. Here, I will talk about the Five Book Categories I Did Not Get To in 2017.

5. Big book series

Listen, I am still a fetus reader in some ways, because I get genuinely intimidated by big books that aren’t Harry Potter. For instance, I had only read the first book of the Mistborn series. The silly part is that I enjoyed it. However, it remains daunting. Another example is Illuminae, which I only read towards the very end of the year. Name of the Wind also comes to mind.

4. big series, not necessarily big books

The Bone Season series, The Legacy of Kings series, and even shorter series set in the same world by Cinda Williams Chima are examples of this epic fail on my part. Again, I worry that I will get bored of the same world, as if you have to read all the books back to back. (My thought process is very complex, okay…Okay, yes, it is not that complex).

3. slower paced books

I think that, with the right attitude, I can enjoy a lot of books. Yet, I tend to hesitate if the story is kind of slow. For example, all Anna-Marie McLemore books had a certain flowery slow paced story lines. Don’t be fooled. I loved every single book of hers. So, who’s to say that I won’t enjoy Laini Taylor’s writing? (She’s one of the main authors I am intimidated by).  Rae Carson is another author I am genuinely afraid of her pacing because when I read the first book of hers, I struggled so much.

2. complicated fantasy worlds

Again with the Cinda Williams Chima books and the Brandon Sanderson stories. Sometimes, the pacing drags, and the magic system is complicated, with the occasional surprise thing that happens when you are not paying attention.

 1. multiple perspectives

Ahh. (Sorry, I have to scream for a bit, because I get scared of multiple perspectives in novels). What if I can’t tell the voices apart? Furthermore, what if I hate all the perspectives and want a minor character to be the one narrating the stuff in the story? This mainly scares me when it comes to Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes (everyone seems to hate Lucia).


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BR: The Upside of Unrequited Book Review



I devoured Becky Albertalli’s second novel over the course of two days. Many thoughts bounding around my head as I write this review at 2 AM. Hope you are ready for some serious fangirl action…and stuff.


Molly Peskin-Susu is an awkward chubby girl who has had twenty-six crushes. All of them were unrequited. As her sister falls in love with her dream girl, she is confronted with her own journey to find herself (not in a cheesy way, I promise). Her sister sets her up with hipster Will. Enter Reid, her coworker, who likes all things Ren Faire and Middle-Earth. And chocolate eggs.


If you follow me on Goodreads, you will see that I fangirl over this novel. I loved it even more than Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens’ Agenda. This one had more complexity to it, and more nuance going on in terms of sexuality, body shapes, and relationship with siblings/family. I gave it four stars.

Here’s why.


siblings conflict

The conflict between Cassie and Molly in this novel parallels some of the tension between Nadine and Karen. While it is not exactly a mirror image of the cause of conflict, the idea is the same. Two siblings lose touch and then they’re unable to connect as much, or even see eye to eye.

In some ways, Cassie is hit with this wave of love while Molly grapples with her own place as a person without a twin. To me, this is the crux of this story truly.

body image

I also like the mirroring of Grandma’s body image issues with Molly’s own feelings towards her appearance. And, as a chubby person myself, I liked that Albertalli handles this generational disconnect in a  sensitive way. To me, I often get criticized for my body image and it felt kind of nice to see this critique as a genuine issue on the person’s part, not my own. It’s hard to divorce this shaming from fat bodies, unfortunately, and it’s quite lovely to see a novel tackle that issue in a tasteful manner.

Her body image plays into her assumptions about her self worth often. I found the whole Will thing to be a compound of two issues. First, I think Molly was unsure of whether she can be with Reid. Two, to an extent, she tries to tap into what Cassie is seeing here. Twins and best friends together? Sounds nice and neat.

You know what I really like? That she didn’t end up with Will. Seriously. Best choice ever.


Overall, I like the romances here. The one between Cassie and Mina could have used some more focus, but I understand that she’s not the center of this story. Reid and Molly’s connection was charming and sweet.

The assumption that someone as nerdy as Reid can’t be a good boyfriend was challenged pretty well. Although I will say that I don’t think that being physical is what makes someone good as a partner. But, hey. I don’t know about relationships all that much. This is all guess work for me.

Okay. bye.


Some of you may know that I lived in Egypt in the 90s. I was
In the most recent months of 2018, I have been aiming to read beyond my
The Love for V.E. Schwab I started reading V.E. Schwab's work about a year ago.

January 2018 Week 2 Reading Plans

My lovely pal Jolien talked about the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge in one of her posts. Since it’s hard to find a guide to my TBR sometimes, I am going to give this challenge a try in between readathons (or somehow I can do both). Here are my reading plans for January 2018’s week 2.

A Book About a Villain or Anti-Hero

The Young Elites by Marie Lu
It is also on my list of series I want to get to this year. This book would be my first Marie Lu book in years. I’d forgotten whether I liked the book I read by her (Legend). Hopefully, this one will be a good experience.

a book about death or grief

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
Nina LaCour’s most recent novel has the most beautiful cover. Almost-anime like with cheerful colors, the book is tricks you into thinking it’s a bubbly journey. I know better, because I read reviews. Heh. Regardless, I am ready for the heart break.

true crime

A Madness so Discreet by Mindy McGinnis
I have been reading this book for 84 years and I just want to incorporate it in more reading challenges so I can finish it. It’s not a bad story by any means, but it is also a tough read because of the author’s exploration of mental illness, hospitals, and crime. Granted, this is not a thriller about criminals necessarily (not at first), but it does have a detective and an ongoing search for killers and their motives. (It’s really good, I swear. Just dark, that’s all).

a book about time travel

The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
Pirates who travel through time? That is all I know about this book. Besides, the main character is a woman of color. I think the author is also a person of color. Please correct me if I am wrong.

gosh dang it.

Finally. Because, gosh darn it, I want to get to Soulless by Gail Carriger. I think it’s a work that can fulfill the *feminist* category, but I am not sure.


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January 2018 Book Haul

I don’t know how to start this post, because I am extra awkward today. A book haul is in order for January 2018. Here are the books I got for this month.


Star Cursed by Jessica Spotswood.
The first book in this trilogy kind of rocked my world through its dealing with feminism within a very conservative patriarchy. There is a queer character in there, and I am curious to see how things will work out for her, if at all. Also: the bond between the sisters is sweet, but also stressful, given that a separation between them is eminent.


Whichwood by Tahereh Mafi
From all the reviews I have watched and read about this book, one thing remains clear: it is a sequel, because Alice and what’s his face appear in this book. My feelings regarding this fact remain quite mysterious, mainly because I don’t know how much of the story will revolve around Alice. I want to read about a brown kid who has to clean dead bodies, please and thank you.

series starters

Cruel Prince by Holly Black
Hang on. Let me just fling myself at the book and everything about it. Nobody writes fae books as well as Holly Black. My body is ready for the heartbreak, cruelty, and adventure. I don’t even know the details around this story. All I heard was that this is by far Black’s best novel to date, and that makes me so happy.

stand-alone novels

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
I will admit that I have been scared of Sylvia Plath, because she tends to be romanticized as a person who was mentally ill. Like, people idolize the illness, and it always upset me. But, I have felt a tug toward her all along, because she managed to create in spite of all the pressures of illness. It is something I wish I could manage. Plus, I think she may actually be, you know, actually good. What comes to mind if John Green’s video about her. I think about that video often, to be honest.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Nope, not reading it because of the series on television. If anything, I am reading this initially because Ely mentions Atwood a lot in recent videos. I wish I could be half as smart as this friend of mine, so I have a good feeling about Atwood. I have personal reasons for reading this story, too, and I hope the story relates to my experience as a woman particularly when I was living in the Middle East.

so…yeah. okay, bye!

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BR: The Ocean at the End of the Lane Book Review

I finished reading The Ocean at the End of the Lane on the last day of 2017. My brain has been struggling to contain the excitement of having read my first Gaiman novel. Seriously. In some ways, The Ocean in the End of the Lane will always be special to me, because of its content. Uh, let me dive into this review, though, because I can gush all day.


An unnamed middle aged man returns to his family home, and recalls the adventure of a summer he spent with childhood friend, Lettie Hempstock.

theme–childhood and imagination

My favorite aspect of this story has to be the magical realism feel to it. Throughout the novel, it is unclear if the story is literal or figurative. This blurring of reality with imagination is very much rooted in childhood (from what I experienced).

But, also, the charming factor in this story has to be the way the characters behave. Sure, we go on a supernatural kind of surreal adventure with monsters and a worm that turns into an awful creature. However, the children (unnamed main character and Lettie) behave like children. They talk like children, and they cry, throw tantrums, and argue with their sister (well, this is mainly our dude character, but hey).

Gaiman creates such a rosy view of life at first, but then, it is warped and scary in parts (nothing disturbing, but it will linger for a bit).

Speaking of which…

darkness in the so-called “pure”

The story begins with a quote about children remembering or knowing things that adults assume they wouldn’t. It’s about the way we undermine children and their maturity. Truly, our unnamed hero and Lettie see some really dark stuff, stuff we wouldn’t expect children to comprehend, and they fight valiantly.

As I have said earlier, I am in awe of this teetering balance Gaiman strikes between child characters, surreal story lines, and darkness. I am intrigued by Ursula Montakin, her connection to our main character’s family, and what that really means in regards to children’s understanding of infidelity, gender roles, and family dynamics in relation to all of these things.

There is a scene in particular that stunned me: the bath scene with our main character’s father. In some ways, it highlighted the idea of embarrassment and shame contrasting with social expectations from parents. Like, maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see parents negatively when they can’t “control” their children. But Ursula signifies the pressure on parents to be authority figures, even if it means they get to act aggressive.

 friendship and family

Most importantly, this is a story about found-family vs. blood family. I think our main character would have loved to see Lettie and her strangely beautiful ocean at the end of the lane. Her family, equally invested in child-like wonder and superstition, lead a safe home to the main hero. It is a home he goes back to, over and over, with and without Lettie.

It is such a telling sign that Lettie’s legacy, consciously or not, drives the main character to return for refuge throughout his life. If this isn’t what the best friendships are about, I don’t know what is.


Some of you may know that I lived in Egypt in the 90s. I was
In the most recent months of 2018, I have been aiming to read beyond my
The Love for V.E. Schwab I started reading V.E. Schwab's work about a year ago.

Top 5 Resolutions to Shape Up my Reading for 2018


This week’s top 5 Wednesday is all about resolutions. In other words, folks all over the blog-o-sphere will be discussing their bookish resolutions. For me, I am going to discuss my top 5 resolutions that (I hope) will shape up my reading for 2018. Let’s do this.

1. read at least two hours a day

My biggest problem is how much time I spend online. It took me a while to recognize this as an issue. The more I focus on other people’s lives, I get more anxious and slip into this arena of comparison. It’s like, “Oh wow, so and so read this many books so far. I am a failure,” and so on.

While I understand that the Internet helps me a lot, I also am trying to minimize my reliance on it because, you know, it is slowing me down in terms of reading (and getting things done, in general).

So, I am trying to get off the Internet earlier, and read at least two hours or more before bed time.

2. read more diversely and more critically

I know there is a surge to be reading from different diverse groups, and I like this movement. However, I think sometimes I don’t notice certain things when it comes to representation. Like, is it authentic? Is it catering to an “other” audience? What do some # ownvoices folks think of this representation?

In doing so, I would be exercising my critical thinking muscles, which have been mostly dormant because of my confidence issues. I worry that I am offending someone now that I have a blog. And, I admit that I get anxiety just thinking of any kind of backlash.

But, I am trying to get comfortable with the idea of conflict being part of life.

3. remembering that all things are problematic

I have to be mindful of this idea: anyone can find a work problematic based on their experiences. Getting comfortable with acknowledging the ways a work fails to incorporate a certain perspective doesn’t diminish my own appreciation of it.

As someone who has been trained in analysis of literature, I used to be more emotional in how I reacted to books, then I became too afraid to stray from the norm to avoid confrontation.


An open mind can guide my reading life to be less driven by fear, and more driven by thought and growth.

4. read more widely

Kind of different to number 2, I promise. I understand that reading diversely from popular literature’s growing batch is always going to be a thing for me, because…I like some of these stories. However, I would like to venture into classics again.

5. keep statistics on my reading

Emily was sharing her statistics of 2017, and I was so intrigued by it that I am going to give this a try in 2018. I want to keep track of what I read and how it relates to the world. Hopefully it will guide me to develop reading habits that reflect how I want to participate in the reading realm.


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On Developing a Gratitude Practice


Sometimes, when I talk to certain people, I see it clearly. Negativity. Like a lot of it. Granted, my own knack for slipping into a nice bath of complaints has been around for ages. Still, I am not one to give into the default settings of my programming. I’d been toying with the idea of a gratitude practice, but it wasn’t until Inge mentioned it that I saw it as a possibility. Here is my gratitude practice thus far.

3 in-progress learning experiences

I have looked into templates on Pinterest when I started this practice way back in November. The reason behind templates is twofold. First, it is to facilitate discussion when I am not feeling my best. Often, my moods settle on an epic low note for days or weeks, so I struggle to come up with coherent thoughts as it is. A template creates a routine to this journal. It also acts as a guiding hand, because I am out of practice when it comes to positivity and gratitude–and I admit this not as a point of pride. Not at all. I want to manage my mental health better.

Victim-mentality drives my narrative and I have a rather cruel lens filtering my daily ups and downs. Reframing the experiences as a learning opportunity is like earth-shattering information to me. I do a lot of panicking when conflict arises, and this template reminds me to try and stay calm.

Plus, I think when I look back and see lessons repeating, it neutralizes the dooms-day threat a little bit. It gives me concrete examples of this conflict repeating. Besides, it could act as a good jumping off point for meditation, journaling, and therapy discussions. Hey, maybe I’ll be more self aware and conscious of how I interact with the world (that is the dream, to be quite frank).

a list of things i am grateful for

I try to list some stuff that makes me happy that day. Moreover, I try not to repeat too much. Now, obviously, sometimes duplicates will appear on my lists, but I do make it a point to not check what I wrote the day before until I am done.

but…testing more prompts

But, I noticed that my journal can be a bit cyclical by doing just two things every day. SO. I am incorporating more prompts. I want to reflect more on different things, and then derive my own gratitude nuggets from whatever it is I have reflected on.

The point is for it to be fairly brief and always consistent. So far, I had been journaling every couple of days, which is not that good. I am going to try it tonight, and keep it


Bullet journals are kind of a fashion statement for those who love organizing things. And,
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Hello! So, today is Bilbo and Frodo Baggins' birthday. To me, these two were key