Lifestyle · monthly wrap-ups · Reading

January 2021 Reading Wrap-Up

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Breakdown:
5 books in total
4.2 Star Average
12.5 % of yearly goal reached
40% were audiobooks
40% were re-reads
100% of books were written by cis-female authors
20% of books were written by authors of color

I know, I know, I’m finally getting around to this… at the beginning of March. I meant to do it sooner, but February was a weird month, so it just didn’t happen. But that’s okay, better late than never, right?

January was a fun reading month! I didn’t quite read all the books I wanted to, but I got to read (and reread!) some good ones!

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Read January 2nd-9th.

This book had been on my TBR shelf for a while, and I’m glad I started off the year with it! It was such a fun romance! My review is linked above. Purchase on Amazon here.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by She Who Shall Not Be Named

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Read December 19th-January 10th

It’s one of my biggest flaws that I’m a Harry Potter fan. I’m not gonna say anything about this but that the author is still cancelled, and that I already owned the audio book on audible, so she didn’t make anymore money from me.

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Read January 10th-January 16th

This book was SO GOOD. I don’t usually read suspense/thriller/mystery/horror, but I’m glad I read this! I actually finally got to watching the Netflix series a few weeks ago, and although it was almost completely different from the book, it was cool seeing and understanding all the nods to the book. Purchase on Amazon here.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by She Who Shall Not Be Named

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read January 10th-January 24th

See above.

Lovely War by Julie Berry

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Read January 16th-January 25th

I had super high expectations for this one when I started it, but was sadly let down by it overall. My review includes my thoughts on trigger warnings, which I think is a really important conversation to have. Purchase on Amazon here.

3.5 stars · Book Reviews · Entertainment · historical fiction · Lifestyle · Reading · young adult

Book Review: “Lovely War”

***contains affiliate link***

Lovely War by Julie Berry
Viking Books for Young Readers, 2019
Young Adult / Historical Fiction
480 pages
3.5/5 Stars

Trigger Warnings: Violence, War, Death, Sexual Assault, Racism, Race Related Violence and Death, Depictions of PTSD

GoodReads Synopsis:

It’s 1917, and World War I is at its zenith when Hazel and James first catch sight of each other at a London party. She’s a shy and talented pianist; he’s a newly minted soldier with dreams of becoming an architect. When they fall in love, it’s immediate and deep–and cut short when James is shipped off to the killing fields.

Aubrey Edwards is also headed toward the trenches. A gifted musician who’s played Carnegie Hall, he’s a member of the 15th New York Infantry, an all-African-American regiment being sent to Europe to help end the Great War. Love is the last thing on his mind. But that’s before he meets Colette Fournier, a Belgian chanteuse who’s already survived unspeakable tragedy at the hands of the Germans.

Thirty years after these four lovers’ fates collide, the Greek goddess Aphrodite tells their stories to her husband, Hephaestus, and her lover, Ares, in a luxe Manhattan hotel room at the height of World War II. She seeks to answer the age-old question: Why are Love and War eternally drawn to one another? But her quest for a conclusion that will satisfy her jealous husband uncovers a multi-threaded tale of prejudice, trauma, and music and reveals that War is no match for the power of Love.

Review:

I believe this was one of those “BookTok” made me do it purchases I made at the height of quarantine this summer. Lovely War has sat on my bookshelf for months, and when I needed to read a book with a pink cover for a read-a-thon I participated in in January, I knew it was finally time to read it.

When I first started reading this book, I was absolutely amazed by the Greek mythology , beautiful love stories, and music references. It was absolutely incredible, and I decided only a few pages in that this was going to be a five star read.

Alas, it is not. Pretty quickly, some things I wasn’t a fan of began to happen. There was a sexual assault that I was not prepared for, and while it was not violent, it was described as almost identical to my own experience ten years ago. It was very triggering, and I only wish I had been prepared. There was also racism and a race-related murder that I wasn’t expecting that was difficult to read, especially in today’s day and age. Finally, the endings seemed to be very rushed, which is kind of funny, considering the book is over 400 pages. The amazing detail and imagery that I loved in the beginning seemed to vanish towards the end.

I liked this book. I did. But the sexual assault scene really, really rubbed me the wrong way. I think this goes to show why trigger warnings are important. When I was triggered, I froze. I read the same sentence over and over again as my own trauma replayed in my head. I’m grateful that with a lot of therapy, I’ve come a long way to being able to cope when I’ve been triggered. But it wasn’t always like that. In high school, I stayed away from books and movies with certain themes. I would ask my English teacher to give me a heads up, and had a plan in place with my resource counselor as what to do if I was assigned a book that could trigger me.

This isn’t a weakness. It’s self-awareness. I know myself very well, and I know what can trigger me. Trigger warnings allow me to prepare myself and cope ahead. Half of the power of my triggers is that they can blindside me. Trigger warnings take the power away from my trauma and put it back in my hands.

In all the hype I saw for this book, I don’t remember seeing one trigger warning for sexual assault. Granted, I bought the book around six months ago, so I could be wrong, and his could be my own error. But another reason that the sexual assault really bothered me is that it seemed so needless. I think the scene was only thrown in for shock value, and I really didn’t appreciate that.

If you’d like to purchase this book for yourself, please consider purchasing from an independent bookstore, or if that isn’t possible for you, please consider using my Amazon Affiliate Link.

Rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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20 Good Things That Happened in 2020

Ah, 2020. I think as a whole, collective unit, humanity can agree that 2020 sucked. Big time. Many of us spent months in isolation, there was so much illness and death, and the suffering and pain just seemed to keep on coming. We’re all filled with this deep gratitude that 2020 is leaving, and for good reason. But, with every bit of suffering, there is also joy. This is not to diminish the absolute gravity of the losses that have been experienced this year. I just want to spread a little bit of light and joy during “these unprecedented times” (as every boss and company says). No matter how hard it gets, there is still hope. There is always, always something to be grateful for. Here are 20 good things that happened in 2020 that you can be grateful for.

Disclaimer: this post does contain affiliate links! That means if you purchase a product using the links below, I will be given a small commission, with no further cost to you!

  1. Drive-in movie theaters made an unexpected comeback.
  2. Tabitha Brown encouraged us to do it “like so like that” and to do what brings us joy, “’cause that’s your business.”
  3. Parks and Recreation had a quarantine special and made me ugly cry.
  4. John Krasinski encouraged positivity and love with Some Good News.
  5. We reconnected with friends and family with virtual game nights and Zoom happy hours and birthday parties.
  6. Crayola released a box of crayons with diverse skin colors, encouraging children and adults alike to embrace the beauty of diversity. You can get your own boxfor less than $5 here!
  7. Ahead of the holidays, The World Health Organization assured us that Santa Claus is immune to COVID-19 and Dr. Anthony Fauci later elaborated that he had vaccinated Santa himself!
  8. Hamilton was released on Disney+.
  9. Parasite was the first international film to win Best Picture at the Oscars.
  10. DJ D-Nice created Club Quarantine as a way to bring us together while apart.
  11. Ratatouille: The Musical brought Broadway-level theatre to our phones on TikTok.
  12. Taylor Swift released not one, but two surprise albums.
  13. There were virtual reunions for the casts of beloved TV shows and movies, including Back to the Future, Lizzie McGuire, Legally Blonde, Father of the Bride, The Parent Trap, The Lord of the Rings, The Goonies, and more!
  14. LOTS of pets were adopted and fostered.
  15. Dolly Parton helped fund the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine among her other accomplishments this year. If America ever becomes a monarchy, I formally nominate Dolly Parton as Queen. That’s how it works, right?
  16. The first Black Bachelor was announced. Better late than never, I guess?
  17. Schitt’s Creek had one of the best TV finales in history. This is also a fact, not an opinion. The show also swept the house at the 2020 Emmy’s, further proving it is perfect.
  18. We binge-watched Tiger King. Or… you did… I still haven’t watched it.
  19. People still got married during the pandemic (we saw Zoom weddings, physically distant weddings, smaller weddings, etc.), proving that the power of love cannot be put out.
  20. You stuck around, no matter how difficult the year was. Thank you for staying. The world is better with you in it.

So here’s to 2020. The year that pushed us all to our limits. The year that forced us to grow and adapt and roll with the many, many, many punches that were thrown at us. And yes, good riddance to 2020, you definitely won’t be missed. But also, in a way, thank you for the good we experienced. May 2021 be kinder to us all, and may we take the inner strength we found in 2020 into all the new years to come.