top reads

top reads of 2016

Monday, December 28, 2015

taking from other 'top reads of 2015' i've seen posted throughout the blogosphere, i decided why not do a top reads of 2016? very original i know ;)

this will be somewhat of a 2016 TBR of books i really want to get around to reading. this past year i've found myself scrolling through Goodreads multiple times, trying to find those books i've had more of an inclination to read. it gets rather difficult when you have a very long list and can't immediately find what you're looking for.

it's interesting to see how your reading tastes (and all other non-reading related likes) change over the years. looking back at my Goodreads reading challenge's are a good indicator of how i've evolved.

even though i only began to use the Goodreads platform in 2014, it's crazy how two years 1.) fly by and 2.) you change as a reader- and/or person as a whole.

1. Half of a Yellow Sun

surprise, surprise- another Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie book. i've heard from other readers (and Goodreads reviewers) how much they enjoyed Half of a Yellow Sun over the highly popularized Americanah. and while i bought Americanah on a whim and instantly read it, i'm a bit embarrassed to admit that i've checked out Half of a Yellow Sun twice and never even cracked it. it's a shame. but i'm hoping in 2016 i will finally get around to reading it!

2. Asking For It

i don't know too much about the premise of this book, only that it deals with some pretty heavy topics. i like plunging into stories like this- without too much background or foreknowledge. i discovered this through Rosianna's BookTube channel, where she briefly discussed it. she mentioned how wonderful it was and since then i've heard other various glowing reviews.

3. Between the World and Me

this is another book that i was exposed to through BookTube (sort of). John Green spoke about this on his vlogbrothers channel and the way it excited him, intrigued me. i'm not a TFIOS fanatic (even though i really really enjoyed it, or any other John Green novel for that matter) but lately i've been watching several of these vlogbrothers videos which switch off between him and his brother, Hank. i like the quick, choppy way they communicate historical and worldly events.

4. Uprooted

all i know about this book is that it's fantasy. i need more fantasy in my life. it seems to be one of those genres that i know i will automatically enjoy, but never seem to fully get to reading. maybe it's because many fantasy-related books are usually lengthy and i don't have too much time on my hands, but i need to shake this weariness. last time i went to my library i went with the intention of checking Uprooted out, but it wasn't on the shelf. hopefully, next time!

5. Selected Poems by E.E. Cummings

occasionally on Tumblr i get snippets of E.E. Cummings poetry and they all truly resonate with me. about a month ago i researched all of his work and shelved several of them on my TBR list. this one seemed like a good starting point. the only thing is that it's a bit difficult to find books of his poetry at my local libraries, and they are surprisingly quite pricey at the bookstore. i will have to keep trying for 2016.

6. Oryx and Crake

i loved The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood so for next year i want to pick up this other dystopian classic. this is another book that's been raved about and that many people seem to enjoy. this edition is specific is beautiful, so if i can't grab it at my library i might make a purchase and just buy it.

7. Gotham Academy Volume I

i saw the single issues of this when i was browsing through Housing Works Bookstore in NYC. they looked so cute and feisty! even though this has been on my TBR for a while, and i haven't heard too many people speak about it, i want to pick it up. in 2015 i read various graphic novels and i want to continue with my streak haha

8. When You Reach Me

ok, here's another one i basically have no idea about. i TBR'd this on Goodreads back in July and ever since then it promptly pops up on my feed every other month or so. it's a sign from the universe saying, "read this, read this." i'll take it. i know this is sci-fi related and also in the YA genre, all good things that highly interest me, so i have a feeling i will most definitely enjoy this!

9. Northanger Abbey

I'M SO EXCITED TO READ THIS and in this very same edition! my best friend and i did a gift exchange this month and one of the things i got (no matter the way or method) was this beauty. my very first Penguin Classics Hardcover edition. i love it so very much. a co-worker of mine back at university told me about this and how it was her favorite Jane Austen novel- one i had not read. well, it will be read and loved in the upcoming year, so wait for my review and comments!

10. Sweet Tooth Volume I

another graphic novel coming your way! this time around, i saw this highly praised by Lindsey over at LindseyRey's BookTube channel. i believe she's finished the entire series and has given it nothing but admiration and love. i've been to my local Barnes & Noble's but haven't seen this there yet, so i might have to stop by the comic book store near my house. the storyline for this sounds SO COOL, as if you needed further evidence by the front cover image...

11. Gilead

historical fiction is just not a genre i give enough attention to. i like history but i think i enjoy it more in a video content platform. boring high school textbooks just made me shun away from reading anything history related in that way. but, when i do get into a great historical fiction novel, i get into it. this one has been on my radar since July as well. i've seen other people have been picking it up lately and that makes me so happy, i want to hop onboard this train!

12. You

i was so close to buying this the other day when i saw it at the bookstore but i refrained. clearly, not because i do not want to read it but because i want to check it out from my library first and see if i end up loving it like so many other people have. this novel is along the lines of some crazy psychopath who becomes enamored by a girl he briefly meets and i believe is told in both perspective's- his and his victim's. sounds something like The Girl on the Train, which i really liked, so why not?

13. Runaways Volume I

i need to find this at one of my local libraries. i tried buying it online but sadly it's around $30. i can't justify paying that much for a graphic novel right now. i've read Saga Volume I by Vaughan and liked it, but have heard even more amazing things about The Runaways. hopefully, some way, somehow i will be able to find this and finally read it.

14. The Storied Life of A.J. Fickry

everyone that has picked up this book has loved it. for me, it's been one of those novels that has received so much hype, that i seem to disregard it. but i have a hunch that i might actually really end up loving this if i just give it a chance. again, i'm not too sure about what this is about, so i'm just going off of the title and front cover. i'm guessing there is someone named A.J. Fickry and it's about his (or her) life? great use of context clues, alex.

15. Kafka on the Shore

for 2016 i will pick up a Haruki Murakami book. i read The Strange Library this past year and it was definitely different...if it's not this one, Kafka on the Shore, then i want to read Norwegian Wood. i've heard that Murakami is not everyone's cup of tea, but so far what i've read has peaked my interest. his work might require a bit more of downtime though and quiet, so i will have to make room in my schedule for it.

16. Middlesex

i bought this lovely out of print edition of Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. i have Virgin Suicides tucked away in one of my many boxes that are accumulated in my garage from my move back from university, hence why i haven't been able to read that yet. when i saw this at The Strand bookstore in NYC, it called my name and somehow made it's way to the cashier. can't wait to finally read a Eugenides novel!

compared to 2 years ago, i would say my reading tendencies have changed. i think the majority of it has to do with graduating university and not having schoolwork reading double up with leisure time reading. instead of gravitating towards YA and romance books, i now want to explore more mature readings- something i surprisingly did more of in high school (aka how i read the majority of classics i have).

do you have a 2016 TBR or any specific book in mind you want to get around to in the new year? 


monday thoughts

Monday, December 21, 2015

i'm a little late on this one, but it's still Monday and that's all that matters.

i've been thinking lately about who we surround ourselves with. positive energy radiates from not only within, but from those around you. over the years i've narrowed down my close group of friends, sticking with those that have not only seen me at my best, but at my worst.

i can be very pessimistic and cynical at times, overdramatic as well, but that's when my friends come in and snap me out of it. they uplift me and try to see where i'm coming from. i've realized that you shouldn't want people who instantly agree with you. you should have friends who question your train of thought and motives. they should make you see both sides of the situation- not just yours.

as we become older, everyone seems to be on this daily routine of work, come home, eat, sleep, repeat. the weekend is the time to sleep in, exercise, run errands, see family, and occasionally hang out with friends.

gradually though, that last point has become more prominent in my life. i think it's so important to hang out with friends, especially while we're young. we should be making travel plans and scheduling our next trips. we should check out that new coffee shop we heard about or grab some dinner after work.

make sure you have those people around you who are open to new things, who push you, and themselves, to not only experience what's directly in front of them but what's around them. like that famous saying goes, "if not now, then when?"

when you have friends like this, those that inspire and radiate positivity, you tend to feed off of that as well; in turn, you garner some of this same energy; and who doesn't want more happiness in their life?

with the new year right around the corner, i want to fully take advantage of these opportunities with my close group of friends. they are not the best at coordinating but i might just have to give them a little push. it's always nice to catch up in person, not just through text messages or group chats.

i want to go back in time when people still called each other instead of text. i want written letters and mailed postcards.

if you change your lifestyle to solely focus on those who love and cherish you, friends who are more worried about living their lives than seeing others through social media, i think we can construct our own perfectly, un-perfect utopia.


life || what's going on

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

i saw this post over on Alphabeth and thought i would follow suit. i know i posted monday thoughts earlier this week, but this post seemed perfect for a collective reflection on what's been going on recently. life is so tumultuous and you never know what's around the corner, so let's freeze a fragment of time through these quick notes:

Reading: i'm currently reading In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom by Yeonmi Park. it is such a powerful read with a rich historical overview. i'm simultaneously learning and being inspired.

Watching: Attack on Titan on Netflix. i've heard really good things about this anime so i thought why not? i wanted to watch something that was outside my norm and this has been just that. it's action-packed and extremely intense! 

Buying: this past weekend i was on the hunt for a new winter jacket i could use for my upcoming trip to New York. i thought i found one but it turned out to be too big, so unfortunately i had to return it. but on Monday i managed to find one, and at a reasonable price, so i'm good to go! although the temperatures have been pretty odd on the east coast...

Listening: the theory of everything soundtrack and the new Coldplay album.

Feeling: a bit stressed about the amount of work i have to do. i'm a bit hard on myself and always want my final drafts of projects to be perfect. also feeling a bit sad because i got into a minor fender bender last week and i still haven't had the chance to take my car into the shop :( 

Planning: to go to New York next week! i'm so excited to see my best friend and revisit the city!

Wishing: for some cold, preferably in the 40s/50s. i know this is weird because others are suffering of the cold and would rather be in sunny Florida, but i want to feel a change of season and some cold, crisp afternoons!

Enjoying: conversations with my dad. 

Eating: i just had some really good pasta my dad made and a sneaky stash of Justin's peanut butter cups i have in the fridge.

Hoping: to end this week on a good note! 

Thinking: how much i'm going to have to spend on my car and how i can't wait for next week to get here already- eek!

Lacking: time, sleep, exercise  

Trying: to prioritize my time and give a bit more of myself to this blog and posting. it's hard especially after coming home after a long day of work. all i want to do is eat and sleep!

Drinking: my usual cup of coffee in the morning and lots of water. 

Wanting: harmony and stability in the upcoming year. 

Cooking: i've gotten back into baking this past couple of months. i made some really good pumpkin bread in November as well as some pecan pumpkin muffins (lot's of pumpkin goodies)!

Deciding: what to do after i finish this post. keep fixing my blog up, put on my pjs or instantly delve into my book? decisions, decisions...

Wearing: running shorts (even though i have no plans to run today and have not been running for a couple weeks now, shame on me, but mostly the sun for setting so early) and a black t-shirt 

Needing: more TIME and energy! 

what about you? what's been going on?

top ten tuesday

top 10 books i read in 2015

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Top Ten Books I Read in 2015 Collage

here is my weekly post for top ten tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. this week's topic is "top 10 books I read in 2015."

the above books are in no particular order, they were just my overall batch of top 10 for the year. i really enjoyed all of these, even if some of them didn't receive full 5 star ratings for me on Goodreads. these are books i can see myself re-reading in the future and still enjoying; each one was in a distinct genre, had engaging plots and great character development!

below, i listed the books in case any of them were caught off due to resizing:

  • Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson
  • The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han
  • Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman
  • Jem and the Holograms Volume I: Showtime by Kelly Thompson and Sophie Campbell 
  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 
  • Telling Secrets by Frederick Buechner 
  • Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
  • Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

have you read any of these? let me know down below- happy tuesday! 


monday thoughts

Monday, December 14, 2015

Monday Thoughts Picture

there's just something about Mondays, isn't there? a supposed fresh new start that signals the start of the week. the day that screams, "READY OR NOT HERE I COME." a day that many dread and few embrace.

i think 'monday thoughts' will be a new weekly post on this blog; a way to write out all my weekend happenings, because this is the time where you find yourself finally able to go out late, sleep in if you want and just find a moment for yourself. life continuously churns and sometimes the weekends can feel as though time lazily stops for a few minutes or aggressively powers through quick, hazy afternoons.

today i'm stuck contemplating the feeling of growing up. it's a funny thing because at 18 you're considered an adult, or at least here in the United States. this is usually around the time that you find yourself graduating from high school and going away to college.

you move from a structured, educational system, teachers still coddling students, offering extra credit assignments and distinctly telling you what to do to a more liberal environment; one where you're not explicitly told what to do, but where you're the one expected to make your own choices and decisions.

looking back while i was at university i lived in a bubble; a warped version of reality where schoolwork entirely consumed you, but wasn't necessarily a true representation of the outside world. you still didn't get the opportunity to firmly stand your ground in the "real world" and know what was coming upon graduating.

it's not until you do your 4 years, obtain your degree, apply for jobs, and start working that you realize it's all been a bit of pretend. i graduated in May and it's been about 8 months so far of working full-time and moving back home.

i feel as though it's taken this long for me to realize how the "real world" truly functions. adulting is hard. when you're young all you want to do is grow up and become an adult, a magical age where you automatically reach maturity and are able to properly sustain yourself.

but life isn't that easy. you have to work, work extremely hard, to reach your goals- even the small ones. i'm still young, i'm only 23, going on 24 pretty soon, and sometimes i look around and think is this it? it would be easy to think that way.

yet, there is still so much to do and experience. as time continues to pass, the more i find myself becoming my own person, leaving major life events behind, like graduating high school or college, and developing more of my own values and outlook on life.

i don't want to confine myself to certain time regulations, i.e. "by age 30 i need to have this or be here in my life." but i do want to come into a more defined version of myself, someone sure in what she wants and want she likes. someone who can support herself and help her family. a young woman with a solid group of friends and a long list of things she has yet to do.

book review

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Thursday, December 10, 2015

here we go, a review. i'm a bit hesitant about writing this one because this book touches upon heavy political topics, such as immigration and race. but it's one of those novels that will stick with me (i already find myself wanting to read the author's other works and re-read this book in the future sometime).

also, because i believe this is more of a "seen but not heard" read; a book that has had a lot of hype, but that not too many people tend to pick up, i thought i should sit down and write a proper review about it.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a story about two young teenagers, Obinze and Ifemelu, who fall in love in their native country, Nigeria. they find themselves deeply attached to one another even with two differing personalities; Ifemulu, brazen and proficient in her opinions and Obinze, silent but wise for his age. their country's political and economic unrest, prompt Ifemelu to apply for a student visa in America, ultimately with a goal of studying at university. She is accepted and leaves Nigeria, also leaving Obinze behind, with the hopes of being reunited in the coming months.

Picture of Americanah book coveri really enjoyed this novel. like i said in my Goodreads review, a lot a lot. it was a book that opened up my eyes to many things i see on an everyday basis and question, but perhaps not out loud, if that makes sense? it brings to light questions of race and color that exist, because they do, and how these differences cause shifts in behavior, from acquaintances, friends, family, employers, and overwhelmingly all of society.

Adichie does such an excellent job of describing certain nuances and expressions of thought, especially from Ifemelu, that i've experienced or thought myself. i connected with Ifemelu on a very deep level in certain instances and i love when that happens. it's as though that character and i have shared something personal and true, without knowing each other in real life. so, in actuality, that connection is more with the author.

it's no secret though that Adichie is herself intertwined in this book. many of the events and character development she lays out, are taken from a core of herself. and to this, i find no fault, because it means she gave part of herself to the story and writing- she's engrained to the book on some macro level.

i found the writing to be nostalgic and personal; constructed words that expressed things i've felt before but could not be written down or pronounced properly. yet, i did find a couple faults. for example, i still don't think there was enough character development. Ifemelu was given ample room for her thoughts and experiences, but i felt as though Obinze did not.

there was a sense of an existing dual narrative, but looking back- no. especially towards the final chapters, Obinze was abruptly cut short, in my opinion. i wanted to see more inside his head and thoughts, but as a reader i didn't get that. i also felt as though i understood Ifemelu on a deeper level, but simultaneously, she felt cold and distant from everyone and everything. she only had one good friend throughout the entire novel and at one point you never heard anything about her parents.

i appreciated the topics on race, especially from a non-American Black residing in America, but the blog posts seemed to be more of an appropriate outlet for these discussions. if anything the characters seemed to be inserted for the main purpose of expressing such notions, instead of organically building out their own existence within the plot.

i'm interested in reading other novels by Adichie, i've read that Americanah, is merely the tip of the iceberg and other works of hers (not as popularized as this book) are even more inspiring and wonderful. i highly encourage those of you who have been meaning to read this to get to it. you will not be dissapointed. i found myself wanting to find time and light to pick this up when it was put down. i had never been exposed to any Nigerian history or read a novel with a Nigerian backdrop of any kind, so it was also enlightening on that level.

have you read Americanah? what did you think of it? 

top ten tuesday

top ten new-to-me authors i read in 2015

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

another Tuesday, another top ten post. i'm determined to get the hang of this and post more regularly. so here we go, this week's Top Ten Tuesday is: top ten new-to-me authors i read in 2015! thanks to The Broke & the Bookish for creating this weekly post. this one in particular, sounds like a great wrap-up as we approach the end of the year.
 1. Frederick Buechner: i read Telling Secrets in November and loved it. this was actually a recommendation from Beatrice, over on booksoverlooks on BookTube. like her, i find myself reflecting back on this book and can see myself rereading it next year. 

2. Gayle Forman: i know this past year there has been a lot of hype surrounding Gayle Forman, particularly for her If I Stay series but i actually became enthralled with her writing based off of her book, I Was Here. this novel is raw and very emotional. you can read my Goodreads review here

3. Patricia Briggs: oh man, Patricia Briggs. i had such good times with her and all her characters during my last semester at university. i really love both of her series'- Mercy Thompson and Alpha & Omega. if you're interested in starting one of these series, i suggest beginning with Mercy Thompson. you can begin with Alpha & Omega but you get more backstory and details by beginning with Mercy.

4. Jodi Meadows: i read the Newsoul series earlier in the year, but i can still recall how much i enjoyed Meadows's writing. this series had such great themes for a YA book. it had many underlying messages and the entire storyline has still stuck to me months after finishing.

5. Marlon James: i want to give a shoutout to my university and professor for making Marlon James's The Book of Night Women assigned reading. Marlon James recently won the 2015 Man Booker Prize for Fiction for his novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings. i haven't read his award-winning novel, but The Book of Night Women was amazing. it's full of history and great narrative. i write more about it in my Goodreads review!

6. Margaret Atwood: i read The Handmaid's Tale during lunch breaks. when i finished it, it was one of those books i wanted to instantly go and buy, as i had rented it from the library. the writing was so exquisite and beautiful.

7. Ava Dellaira: this is based off of reading Love Letters to the Dead. personally, i really connected with this book. there were so many instances and emotional scenes that hit home for me. i loved the epistolary style for a YA novel and how heartfelt and true it was. this also got picked up to become a film i believe, so that will be interesting to watch when it's finished!

8. Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff: i mean this is pretty self-explanatory if you've explored my blog a bit. this is obviously related to Illuminae, which is one of my favorite books of 2015. so amazing. enough said.

9. Ann Brashares: i'm late to the game on this one, i'm aware. if you've read The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants then you're familiar with this name. i only managed to read the first book in the series in 2015, but i want to finish it up in 2016.

10. Jean Rhys: this is an author that you either hate or you love. and i personally really love Jean Rhys. she really takes her time to delve deep inside a character's emotional ties, tiptoeing between their surroundings and internal sentiments. i feel like i'm in a daze when i read her novels; but a good daze, one that is dreamy and melancholy. 

are any of these authors familiar or on your top ten list? let me know!   


#rockmytbr 2016 reading challenge

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

this challenge comes at such a great time. over the past several months, a small pile of books has been collectively growing underneath my TV stand (where i usually just stash my recent purchases). maybe it's because the titles are obscured and all you can see is a pile of nondescript books lying on a shelf, but it's definitely growing.

i mentioned before that i don't usually buy books, which is true, but many of these books have just been lying there since May. some of them are graduation gifts, others a splurge on BookOutlet (hey, they have some great deals on there!) and others are just impulse purchases at Barnes & Noble (guilty).

either way, they are there, sitting and mocking me for being a hypocrite. my library checkouts get read more than the actual books i own. i feel awful. luckily, Sarah K over at The YA Book Traveler has created the #rockmytbr 2016 Reading Challenge!

oh yeaaah. made for me. this challenge is open to all readers, so whether you're a book blogger, booktuber or bookstagrammer, anyone is welcome to join! the only requirement is that you have to read a minimum of 1 book per month that you already own. i'm sure this also includes all those books you've accumulated over 2015, or previous years, but make sure to stay updated over on Sarah's blog.

so far these are the books and graphic novels i'm hoping to get through with the help of #rockmytbr:

  • 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
  • The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith 
  • Chew Volumes I and II by John Layman 
  • Ms Marvel Volume II by G. Willow Wilson 
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (this is a re-read bc i bought a beautiful edition)
  • The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde
  • 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith
  • A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab 
  • The Caller by Juliet Marillier
  • Doctor Sleep by Stephen King (i need to read The Shining first though!) 

let me know if you have any of these books listed in your own tbr or if you're interested in jumping in on any of these! at the end of each month i'll update my progress with this challenge either through here or through Twitter!
- alex


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