What I Read On My Trip

Hello deerlings!

Last year J and I were FINALLY able to take the time and go off on our honeymoon. We took a 14 day transatlantic cruise that took us around some amazing parts of Spain and Portugal. It was an incredible experience to finally, FINALLY be able to travel abroad. Also we discovered sherry and are absolutely obsessed. As soon as our diet is over we’re going to go on a quest to the wine stores around town and find more because it’s so good! No wonder it’s always in historical novels. In all reality though, the BEST part about our trip was being able to just relax and enjoy each other’s company. Because of our schedules and we each have our own projects and things we enjoy doing that the other doesn’t that actually just sitting down together and actually relaxing is impossible for us. But, the best thing about being stuck in the middle of the ocean for a week is that it forces you to slow down and just enjoy life. Because of that, I got A LOT of reading done while John started and finished Pokemon Sword & Shield. It was super nice because I wasn’t reading for work or book club. I was literally just reading because I could sit and enjoy the books. So, without further ado, here are all of the books I read on my trip!

42800305. sy475 The Dragon Republic (Poppy War #2) by R.F. Kuang

I completed The Poppy War back in September while I was in Ohio for my Grandfather’s funeral and it is such a ride. I normally HATE books that are all about war and that are excessively violent. There’s just something about the tactical strategy talk in war novels that makes me want to bash my head against a wall. But The Poppy War dug its talons into me and I couldn’t put it down. So of course, the minute my hold for the next book in the series came available I snatched it up. Which worked out perfectly because I had a ridiculously long flight ahead of me. There is so much to unpack in this second novel and I really can’t talk too much about it because of spoilers but it was freaking amazing. If you finished The Poppy War and were on the fence about continuing on with the series, just do it. The world just keeps expanding and Kuang’s prose is just to die for. ☕☕☕☕

44218347. sy475 Dark and Deepest Red by Anna-Marie McLemore

Disclaimer: I received an ARC copy of this novel from the publisher via Netgalley. This does not influence my review whatsoever.

LOOK AT THIS COVER!! This book is expected to come out on January 14, 2020 and it was such a fun read! Take a journey back and forth in time and follow Lavinia from 1500s France as well as modern day Rosella as they navigate some rather bizarre circumstances. This beautifully written novel is based in part in Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tale “The Red Shoes” and an actual dancing plague that hit  Strasbourg, Alsace (now France) in 1518 as well as a number of other villages along the Rhine and Moselles rivers. This is a gorgeous LGBTQ+ novel about hysteria, falling in love, prejudice and magic. I highly recommend it. ☕☕☕☕

37854049. sx318 Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner

This book came out in Fall of 2018 and every time I saw it come through at work or just saw it on the shelf I knew I had to read it. I was trying to save it for winter but it turned out to be the coziest read late at night on the top of the ship when it was pitch black out and utterly silent. This is a combination retelling of The Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti and Leda and the Swan by W.B. Yeats and it was wonderful. Told in alternating prose and poetry chapters, readers will follow Laya and Liba as they navigate the intricacies of growing up while their parents are traveling. Not only are the girls faced with Anti-Semetic sentiment that is taking the villages by storm in 1903, but also with the secret that their parents are able to change into animals. This is a heartbreaking story of love, loss, and fighting to protect not just your family but also those who would kill you if they knew what you were. There was a lot going on in this story and with Laya’s chapters being written in prose, it was very easy to get lost and confused by events that were happening. But it was beautifully written and the fact that it was also based on events that the author’s family had lived through made it all the more wonderful.  ☕☕☕

36952594A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney

Apparently this was the trip for re-tellings because I also read this badass Alice in Wonderland retelling by the incredible L.L. McKinney. This book is the feminist, Black-power retelling that EVERYONE needs on their shelves. Not only does Alice sound and act like a normal teenager (which is so rare in YA these days), but she is also Black teen and it’s shows on the page. It’s raw and unapologetic and I freaking love it. Too often characters are written without race or the author says they’re POC but nothing really solidify that identity on the page. I know a lot of it is our white-default society and way of reading as a whole, but THIS BOOK DOES NOT DO THAT!! I loved how Alice was always worried about her hair because having to fix it would take more time and effort than her friend Courtney’s. Or how her mama was absolutely FREAKING OUT when Alice couldn’t pick up her phone because yet another Black teen was shot in their neighborhood. These are very real things that very real people deal with and it just added a level to the novel that made it that more realistic and memorable. This book is a little bit confusing at the beginning since you’re just kind of thrown into everything that is going on – but once you make it through the first chapter or two it starts to be a bit more linear. Which! It’s Wonderland things are supposed to be crazy ☕☕☕☕☕

“Forget targeting the economy or our infrastructure. If anyone managed to kill the pumpkins, America would fall in a week. Panic in the streets.”

42642039Girls Like Us by Randi Pink

Disclaimer: I received an ARC copy of this novel from the publisher via Netgalley. This does not influence my review whatsoever.

This is a book about teenage pregnancy. In the summer of 1972, four girls are struggling with their unplanned pregnancies, or in the case of Izella, the unplanned pregnancy of her sister. This is a book that humanizes the girls (that’s right, girls not women) who are often the targets of both pro-choice and pro-life “advocates”. These are girls who are in love, who were raped, who made choices that they thought were the right one and then it turned out it wasn’t. As someone who is pro-life but also extremely against the demonizing of girls and women who feel like they have no other choice (or are given no other choice by their parents/spouses/lovers), I had a hard time starting this book. The marketing of this book made it sound like this is a pro-legal abortion novel. But the way the book was written, it was difficult to see the political stance of the author until the end and the footnotes. The last chapter of the book in my opinion didn’t need to be there. It came out of no where and felt like a throwaway “keep abortion legal” poster. I mean I understand it was an attempt at showing the difference between not having a choice and then having the option of abortion only to take it away but I felt like it cheapened the stories of the other girls, especially with how most of their lives ended up. I would recommend this novel to both sides of the abortion debate, because at the end of the day, it’s real people’s lives being affected. And real people who feel backed into a corner.  ☕☕☕

43699960. sy475 Frankly in Love by David Yoon

This is an INCREDIBLY hyped book for 2019 and I was honestly expecting to have to wait much, much longer for it than I did. I’m pretty sure I was able to get it while we were in Cadiz and my wifi was absolute booty. Frank Li (ha get it?) is your average 1st generation Korean-American teen and he is forced to bounce between the life he wants and the life his parents have planned for him. So when he has a chance to date the hottest girl in class, he has to jump on it. Except there’s one problem, she’s white and after what happened when his sister started dating someone non-Korean, he isn’t willing to push his parents buttons. Enter Joy Song, the daughter of one of his parents friends. Who also just happens to be secretly dating a non-Korean as well. These two get together and create the fake-dating plot of the century. Hijinks ensue. I don’t read a lot of RomComs, particularly in the YA genre and this was as cute and cringy as I expected it to be. But, it was also extremely insightful and there were so many moments that made me just put it down and go “Huh”.  Frank Li’s character development was slower than I would have liked and it was a lot of Oh Brit you’re perfect – I’m so embarrassed of my parents which I guess is part of the teenage experience but sometimes felt a little over done. It was really cute and I enjoyed it but the genre just isn’t my style. ☕☕☕

“White people can describe themselves with just American. Only when pressed do they go into their ethnic heritage. Doesn’t seem fair that I have to forever explain my origin story with that silent hyphen, whereas white people don’t. It’s complicated. But simple. Simplicated.”

44015108. sy475 The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White

Is this yet another retelling? Why yes. Yes it is! The minute we landed in Miami and got to the airport, my phone went off with the notice that I had two new ebooks ready to check out. The Guinevere Deception & The Grace Year were two of my most anticipated releases for fall 2019 and I binged both of them on my flights home from my trip.

Let us travel back in time to Camelot. Magic has been outlawed and the kingdom is living in relative peace other than various border skirmishes and political issues. But something isn’t right in the forest and the young King Arthur knows this. So he reaches out for a bride in the beautiful Guinevere. Except, the Guinevere everyone has been told about is dead. Instead she is replaced by an impostor who has been sent by Merlin to keep the king and kingdom safe. I haven’t read anything similar to The Once and Future King since I read a pre-arthurian novel called The Lost Queen by Signe Pike, and I didn’t even know I needed this in my life. I need to read more Kiersten White apparently because I am in love with her writing style. I love how she really brings the time period to life and gives us characters that are both “soft” feminine and “hard” feminine because both are so needed and so valid. “Guinevere” is a fantastic character who has come to Camelot on a mission. She knows what she is supposed to do and she isn’t willing to let the laws against magic stop her.  I blew through this book because the constant push and pull between nature and magic and who can she actually trust just created the ideal reading experience. Definitely recommend and I will be picking up more from Kiersten White in 2020. ☕☕☕☕

43263520. sy475 The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

Handmaid’s Tale meets Lord of the Flies in this INSANE novel of feminine power and genius. Welcome to Garner County, an old world patriarchal town where the women are separated by colored ribbons tied into their matching braids. The women are graced with a black ribbon and little girls are pure with their white ones. But when every girl in the town turns 16, she is tied off with red and sent away to live in seclusion for a year. Some girls come back changed, others don’t come back at all. This year is Tierney James’ year and all she wants to do is survive. Okay. This book is made up of some crazy patriarchal shit that I just have to break down for you because this book is freaking nuts. This town I guess was founded on the idea that women possess a powerful magic that comes to fruition when they turn 16 and it’s basically an aphrodisiac and men won’t be able to control themselves. (yeah okay boomer). So to protect the men from themselves they must send the girls off at 16 to survive on their own for a year to release their magic so the girls can return and be good, chaste wives. Like what in the freaking world? I just. The absurdity is so freaking dumb. But like, how often do we do this to women in our world with comments like “Boys will be boys” or “What were you wearing?” This is the feminist novel that every woman and man needs to read. It explores feminine friendships, love, what it means to be human, survival, and there are both bad-ass strong female characters and the soft women who just want to get married and have babies and be happy. Which I just thought was so perfect. This was such an intense read. The prose was heart wrenching and punchy and the character development of Tierney as well as just the group of girls in general was just phenomenal. I just loved this so much and want everyone to read it. ☕☕☕☕☕

“The grace year is ours. This is the one place we can be free. There’s no more tempering our feelings, no more swallowing our pride. Here we can be whatever we want. And if we let it all out,” she says, her eyes welling up, her features softening, “we won’t have to feel those things anymore. We won’t have to feel at all.”

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Probably some dudebro in Garner County at some point.

45045129Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

Disclaimer: I received an ARC copy of this novel from the publisher via Netgalley. This does not influence my review whatsoever.

Say hello to the freaking cutest rom-com hitting shelves January 21, 2020! Tweet Cute is a tale of twitter-wars, secret chat apps, and so many memes. Meet Pepper, chronic overachiever and daughter of a fast food franchise mogul. Then there’s Jack, supposed class clown and son of a family owned deli. What do they have in common besides their family restaurants? They each run their respective company’s Twitter pages and when Jack accuses Big League Burger of  ripping off his grandmother’s grilled cheese recipe both teens get involved in something bigger than they were expecting. This book is so freaking cheesy and almost Romeo & Juliet-esque without the suicide and murder. The voice of these two teens was so strong in this novel and I really appreciated the talk about being plugged into social media as well as the pull to “win” arguments with anonymous strangers. Unfortunately there were a lot of pop culture references in this novel that I feel will definitely date it in a few years so ☕☕☕.

 

There you have it deerlings! This is my review mashup of all the books I read/remember reading on my trip. I started The Memory Thief but it wasn’t really rocking my boat at the time so it’s currently shelved to be looked at later. What are you reading this week? Have you read any of these? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!

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5 Comments Add yours

  1. Kristina says:

    So happy you got to enjoy some quiet time with your husband!
    Now that my mother don’t need dialysis anymore per her kidney transplant, I would love to bring her to a cruise someday!

    I’m so excited to read tweet cute eventually! I wasn’t so sure about them, but you made the grace year and the dark and deepest red sound pretty good, so I might end up adding them to my virtual wanna read.

    Like

    1. Anna Katherine says:

      Kristina!

      Thank you, it was much needed for sure!
      I’m glad that your mom doesn’t need dialysis anymore and that she continues in good health! The cruise was fantastic! We had a week of shore excursions and then a week at sea so you really get to see a lot but also relax as well!

      TC was such a cute read! The Grace Year honestly was one of the best books I read all 2019. It was just so freaking fantastic. If you read any of them let me know what you think!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Kristina says:

        Ouhh i see, that’s pretty cool! Two weeks without my dogs would be kinda harsh though haha

        Like

      2. Anna Katherine says:

        It was definitely difficult to be away from our pets for sure. We knew they were in good hands (our roommate was home and we had another friend come in and check on them as well) but it’s hard to be away for so long

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Kristina says:

        Definately – last time we went on vacation my aunt up the street came often to make them pee and eat and they got into a bad habit of peeing in the house again 🤦🏽‍♀️

        Like

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