Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Shadowhunters: Do I Even Like the Books, or am I just too Far Down the Rabbit Hole to Quit?

Hello everyone and welcome back to my blog! I'm Genni, and today I wanted to do another little discussion post, once again on a popular series. If you missed my last post about rereading Percy Jackson in quarantine, check it out here. But if you want to read about my existential crisis with Shadowhunters, read on.

My history with Shadowhunters tracks back to my middle school years, when the first adaptation of City of Bones, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones was released in theaters. Like many others, I did not watch it. However, I was now aware of the series; Lily Collins' eyebrows might have made me watch the trailer, but City of Bones was now in the corners of my psyche. Later that year, I bought the e-book edition of City of Bones, only to be gifted a week later the paperback edition. It was a sign, folks. And then I tried to read the book multiple times... and failed. But being the try-hard I am, I gave it a fourth go, and it stuck. Even then, I didn't really like City of Bones, but the aforementioned friend told me that I would be hooked by the third book.

My friend wasn't wrong. I didn't particularly enjoy City of Bones or the second book, City of Ashes, but I'm the first to admit that the third book, City of Glass, was pretty great. And then I started a blog, and my thoughts have been immortalized since. In late 2015, I gave the fourth book in the Mortal Instruments series four stars, the fifth 4.25 stars, and while I didn't review the sixth and final book, City of Heavenly Fire,  on my blog, my 2017 goodreads review is succinct with, "This was so damn good! 4.5 stars." Okay..then. So I guess I did like the series?

Lies. My apparent love for Mortal Instruments was a facade. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the books, but I also felt a pressure to love them because everyone else seemingly did, as well. When I didn't really like Clockwork Angel, the first book in Clare's Infernal Devices trilogy, I still gave it a 3.8 stars (oh, what an arbitrary scale I used!) even though I said, "I just couldn't care for the characters and I haven't connected to them at all yet" and "I didn't relate to any of the characters or parts of the plot." While hindsight is 20/20, it's clear I didn't even really like Clockwork Angel back then, but I still gave it a favorable rating out of fear of going against the crowd. I was a proverbial sheep, and I don't blame myself; I was 15 and blogging. I had opinions, but I wasn't steadfast in them, being easily persuaded by big names loving the series.

Fast-forward to June of 2020. Approaching my 21st birthday, not only do I hold tight to my opinions, but I've also caught up with the Shadowhunters canon. Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices? Both done. Clare's third series, The Dark Artifices? Also read. And today, I finally finished Chain of Gold, Clare's most recent addition to the Shadowhunter chronciles. Luckily for me, the bookstore I work at received an ARC of the book, and I snatched it up. And then it sat in my room for a couple months. Even I questioned my behavior; why am I letting of YA's most anticipated releases sit on my bedroom floor when I have the chance to read it before getting inevitably spoiled? And I came to the conclusion: I don't actually care that much about the series.

While I've read all of Clare's core series - none of the coauthored series or novellas, however - I found myself not really caring about Chain of Gold at all. The Dark Artifices series might have been my favorite of Clare's series, but Chain of Gold has no big tie back to that trilogy, but rather the one I had mixed feelings on half a decade ago. And when I finally did pick up the book, it took me three weeks to finish it. In that time, I started and finished other books, watched who-knows how many tv shows, and worked full time. I was busy, but reading Chain of Gold was also really low on my to do list; there were times when I questioned just putting the book away for another day.

This most recent experience, and my previous one with Queen of Air and Darkness - the final book in my favorite series, but one I put down for almost a full year - makes me question whether I even like the series to begin with. I haven't come clear to an answer but I do know this: sometimes Cassandra Clare's books seemingly have little to no plot, and while character-driven stories are fine, they aren't when I don't really care about the characters. Also, every time I open a Cassandra Clare book, my eyes rebel because of that fucking font. It takes me hours to acclimate to it, most definitely impeding my enjoyment. And yet, I know I'm going to continue reading. I might not be biting at the heels for another book, but I've been reading these books for almost a decade now, and I don't see myself stopping until Clare does. But in the wait between books, maybe I'll find some fantasy reads that I wholeheartedly enjoy, rather than ones I may not even like, let alone love. 

Monday, May 25, 2020

Rereading Percy Jackson During Quarantine | My Thoughts on the Series 10+ Years Later!

Hello everyone and welcome back to my blog! I haven't visited this space in a while, but I wanted to revist this little corner of the internet I made so many years ago! Now that quarantine has slowed life down a little, I want to try and dedicate some more time to the blog. No promises that I'm going to be updating frequently, but you might see me peek my head up every now and again.

In the midst of finals season earlier this month, I desperately wanted to reread the Percy Jackson series. I follow Rick Riordan on twitter, and for the last couple months, he had been teasing followers about a potential adaptation. These tweets regenerated my interest for the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, which I devoured as a kid. I generally credit the series for inspiring my voracious reading, but I had never reread the series, fearing that it wouldn't have lived up to my rose-colored hindsight.

Half a month later (with some breaks between the books), I have finished the series! Perfect timing, too, as Percy Jackson and the Olympians (PJ&O) is going be adapted on Disney+ as a television series. While I would have been excited about this news regardless, I'm much more eager for the adaptation now that the series is fresh in my mind.

As a college student, I was wary that I wouldn't enjoy the Percy Jackson series that much. And to an extent, I was correct. Back when I read the series when I was 9 and 10 years old, PJ&O took over my head; I constantly was thinking about the series, how the final book would play out, and yes, even wrote my first fanfiction set in Riordan's world. Percy's problems felt like my problems. After rereading the series, I am not spurred to write fanfiction, nor do I have the intense feeling of camaraderie with Percy. As a kid reading the series, I felt as if I was right there, following Percy, Annabeth, Grover, and all the others during their quests. As a 20 year old reading the series during a global pandemic, I found the books to be a great source of escapism, bringing me laughs and a wave of nostalgia. I don't think this experience is inferior to my first, and generally speaking, the series held up.

Upon rereading the series, I faced each book with more trepidation, worrying that this was the book that was going to disappoint me. As I finished each book, my expectations also grew, making a possible disappointment even more threatening. As I picked up The Lightning Thief, the first in the series, I wasn't expecting much. I was thinking, "Okay, I liked this book back in 2008. I knew I liked it then, but I also know it's not my favorite in the series." These are generally my thoughts now, as well. The Lightning Thief was such a fun and quick read, perfect for tweens and adults alike, but I still had a general sense of detachment. Reading about Percy, Annabeth, and the whole cast of characters was like seeing an old friend you fell out of touch with; pleasant, but acknowledging the distance, and how much closer you were years ago.

Upon reading the second book, I lowered my expectations; I remembered Sea of Monsters as my least favorite. Well, my memory proved wrong. As I continued the series, I enjoyed each book more than the last (though the final two books are very close), and I was surprised that my memory reserved Sea of Monsters as my least favorite! Upon rereading Sea of Monsters, I had such a fondness for characters that were introduced or got more page-time, like Tyson, Bessie, and Clarisse. As a 9 year old reading the book, I empathized the most with Percy, getting annoyed when he would, never contemplating other's perspectives. As a 20 year old with a complex approach - I would hope, at least, since I'm majoring in English - I found myself gravitating towards the new characters. Perhaps this is because Percy, Annabeth, and Grover felt so familiar; I remembered them much more than the secondary characters. While reading about them was a place of comfort, the expanded cast brought a freshness to my reading experience, opening up plot lines and internal conflicts I had forgotten about as years passed. I found myself recognizing Percy's flaws, and enjoying the book more because of them. I wasn't completely drawn into the story as my past-self was, but I appreciated how Sea of Monsters built upon the first novel's foundational world-building, introducing more characters, places, and plot points.

If any book was a disappointment, it would be The Titan's Curse. In my head, The Titan's Curse was my favorite of the series; I was expecting one thing, and got another. Spoiler: this is all because I had misremembered some of my favorite scenes occurring in The Titan's Curse, when they actually occurred in the Battle of the Labyrinth! However, this is also the book that introduced real consequences. We had our first character deaths - which I remembered, but was still dreading - and the world continued to expand, introducing Artemis and her hunters, Apollo, and the Titans. Back in the day, I loved this book. Upon reading it now, I recognize how The Titan's Curse works as a bridge, still having some juvenile jokes that were key to the first two books, but introducing dire consequences, which become more prevalent as the series continues.

The Battle of the Labyrinth was better than I remembered! This fourth installment was a quintessential adventure novel, continuing to expand on the world-building, upped the ante, and included key moments for the Percabeth ship - a favorite of mine back in the day. We see the trauma on the first three books really affect Percy and co. in this penultimate novel, and the stakes grew. It also helped that I didn't remember the narrative in nearly as much detail as I did the previous three. I loved rereading the Calypso chapter, which I remembered loving as a kid, and I still have a great fondness for today; Percy's interaction with Calypso perfectly captured his internal struggle to be a hero, which conflicts with his desire to be a normal kid. I'll be honest, though, reading each book in such quick succession was starting to wear on me. I took a week-long break before jumping into the last book in the series, and I had an absolute blast.

The Last Olympian felt like a breath of fresh air, and after a week-long break of the series, was a fantastic finale. Unlike the last four novels, which featured Percy and his friends going on a quest and going up against several smaller enemies, Percy's friends all coalesce to face the final big bad in The Last Olympian. However, there were a couple of that threw me, such as Grover's lack of presence, and some pretty obvious foreshadowing to deaths. Riordan focuses on sideline characters, giving them complexities only to kill them off. Obviously, this made for a more impactful death scene, but it was also a clue onto his was going to face their untimely demise. In fact, the consequences felt a bit tame, with none of the core three characters facing any dire consequences. Despite all of this, I was completely drawn into the story. Even though I remembered The Last Olympian quite well - I've reread this one before, unlike the others - I still had a blast, and was impressed by how Riordan expertly plotted the series, expanded the world-building throughout the novels, and tracked each character's progression. 

Upon rereading the series, I found some flaws that nine and 10 year old me didn't catch. But none of this hindered my enjoyment; I had a wonderful time revisiting these books, which spurred me to become such an avid reader. I'm now a blogger, an English major, a bookseller, and perusing a career in publishing. If it weren't for books like these, I wouldn't have had such a passion for reading, which eventually became a passion for publishing. This series doesn't get all the credit - of course, I've put in a lot of hard work and hours, cultivating this! - but it was a foundational text in becoming the reader I am today. When reading the books, I was completely drawn into the story, and I'm looking forward to reading more of Riordan's back-list and his imprint, hoping to capture that same magical feeling.
 Have you been rereading your childhood favorites during quarantine?

Thanks so much for stopping by, and happy reading!

Genni at Ready, Set, Read!

Sunday, March 15, 2020

10 Feel Good Reads to Ease Your Anxiety

With all the news swirling around about COVID-19, I know that many of us are feeling anxious, including myself. Plus, with professionals suggesting we distance ourselves socially, loneliness will surely creep in. To help alleviate some of the anxiety and loneliness many of us are feeling, here are 10 reads that will hopefully ease your anxiety and transport you into a simpler world of happy endings.

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Crazy Rich Asians is one of my most recent reads, and I had such a fun time reading it! After watching the movie a couple years back, I always wanted to read the source material, but I never got around to it. This semester, I am taking a class about book to movie adaptations, and was required to read Crazy Rich Asians! I had such a fun time immersing myself into this high-drama, extremely capitalist world where no one is good enough unless your the richest of the rich. It's nothing like my world, and I quite enjoyed escaping to another!

Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson

Nothing to See Here is such a delightful read. The novel follows Lillian, a 20-something year-old whose life is off-track. When she's asked to become a caretaker for two children who combust into flames when they get agitated, she decides to go along with it. Nothing to See Here is bizarre, hilarious (I laughed out loud multiple times), and heart touching.

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord
 Goodreads | IndieBound

If you would rather read a YA novel, then feast your eyes (and your food desires) on Tweet Cute, a 2020 re-imagining of rom-com classic You've Got Mail. The chemistry between the two leads, Pepper and Jack, is spot on, filled with banter, awkwardness, and a strong bond. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Best Romance I've Read Last Year! | 2019 Yearly Rewind

As a lover of romance, I've read quite a bit of romance this year!

Here are my favorite romance books I read in 2019! Keep in mind that these are the books I read in 2019, not just 2019 releases. Additionally, this list will only be adult romance novels. If you want to see some other picks, here are my other lists for the year!

I know this is a bit late, but hey, better late than never! 

The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams

The Bromance Book Club is a shining star in the romance genre! It is the start of a new series by Adams - which do not need to be read in a specific order - that tackles toxic masculinity, emotional vulnerability, healthy communication, and reader shame. It was heartfelt, nuanced, and above all, sexy. If you love the second-chance romance trope and/or enjoy contemporary romances, The Bromance Book Club is a great start for you. 

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert
Another great contemporary romance? Get A Life, Chloe Brown! Chloe Brown is on a mission: to get a life. After a near-death experience, Chloe has a new lease on life and wants to make the mot of it, and her motorcycle-riding sexy superintendent just might be able to help. Hibbert's novel has charisma, chemistry, and passion. Chloe is also chronically ill and has an autoimmune disease, and I really appreciated the representation! Get your hands on it ASAP if you want a smart and sexy romance!

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

BLOG TOUR & REVIEW | Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

Hello everyone and welcome back to my blog! I'm Genni, and I'm thrilled to participate in the Tweet Cute book tour! As I mentioned in an earlier post, Tweet Cute was one of my favorite reads of last year, and I hope all of you YA, romance, or contemporary readers will pick it up!

Before I begin my review, here is a great excerpt of the book, where Pepper and Jack - two teens running their families restaurant's twitter account - agree to continue their twitter war, no holds barred. This scene is essentially "game on," and a lot of fun (and cuteness) ensue!

Title: Tweet Cute
Author: Emma Lord (Follow her on Twitter and Insta!)
Series? Nope!
Pages: 368
Publication Date: January 21, 2020
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Source: I read an ARC of Tweet Cute through Netgalley! My thoughts and opinions are my own. :)
A fresh, irresistible rom-com from debut author Emma Lord about the chances we take, the paths life can lead us on, and how love can be found in the opposite place you expected.

Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming ― mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account.

Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time.

All’s fair in love and cheese ― that is, until Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles, they’re also falling for each other in real life ― on an anonymous chat app Jack built.

As their relationship deepens and their online shenanigans escalate ― people on the internet are shipping them?? ― their battle gets more and more personal, until even these two rivals can’t ignore they were destined for the most unexpected, awkward, all-the-feels romance that neither of them expected.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Best 2019 Releases I've Read This Year! | 2019 Yearly Rewind

This list would have had a lot of overlap with my best fiction, non-fiction, and romance books I've read this year, so I've excluded those that I've already mentioned on the blog! So here are some that I haven't given the due diligence to, but I still think you should check out!

Meet Cute by Helena Hunting

Meet Cute is such a darling romance novel. I read this all the way back in May 2019, and I would still recommend it to this day. If you like contemporary romance that adds fandom culture with familial issues that ends on such a satisfying note. This was my first Helena Hunting novel, but it won't be my last. 

Love from A to Z by S.K. Ali 

Love from A to Z is such a wonderful, soulful book. Though a YA novel, it's perfect for anyone who wants to read a book that wonderfully balances complex issues (Islamophobia, sexism, chronic illness, grief) and a heartwarming love story. S.K. Ali is such a talented writer, and she left me wiping away tears plenty of times.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Best Non-Fiction I've Read Last Year | 2019 Yearly Rewind

Hi everyone and welcome to my blog! I'm Genni, and today I'll be sharing with you the best non-fiction books I've read this year. as someone who predominately reads fiction year-round, I tried to expand my bounds and delve into non-fiction. I didn't read much, but definitely found some stars.

Here are my favorite non-fiction books I read this year! Keep in mind that these are not 2019 releases, but rather books I read in 2019.

Sorry I'm Late, I Didn't Want to Come by Jessica Pan
I listened to this book on audio, and I had such a great time. It was the perfect audiobook to listen to as I did chores around my apartment - engaging, yet not so complicated that I had to give my whole entire focus to it. Pan's memoir, where she attempts to become more extroverted, was both comical and clever.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Best Fiction I've Read This Year! | 2019 Yearly Rewind

Hey everyone and welcome back to my blog! I'm Genni, and instead of doing a mega-post of all my favorite books I read this year, I wanted to splice it up into four different categories. You'll see the best fiction, best non-fiction, best 2019 releases, and best romance books I've read this year, and there won't be any overlap/repeats!

Without further ado, here are my favorite fiction reads of this year, in no particular order! Keep in mind, not all of these are 2019 releases, but rather the books I read in 2019.


Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman

If you want a book that is just full of energy and an all-around good time, then look no further than The Bookish Life of Nina Hill! Nina Hill just realized that she has a slew of family members when her biological father, who she has never known, passes away and leaves her as a beneficiary in his will. Cue a burgeoning romance, and you've got a lovely book!

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

Such a Fun Age is my favorite book of the year! I sincerely can't recommend it enough, but if you need more incentive, you can read my review that was featured on the January 2020 Indie Next List.