My May 2020 TBR

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Since it’s been a long time since I’ve actually stuck to a TBR, I’m just going to share the books that I know I’ll be getting to.

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I’m currently re-reading Cora Carmack’s Roar so that I can read the sequel, Rage.While there are a lot of common YA tropes in Roar, I still really enjoy the storm magic element. I’m looking forward to getting more of that in Rage, and the third book, Reign, is supposed to come out sometime this year.

I’ve owned a copy of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies for years and have never gotten around to actually reading it. I’m going for it in May. It’s a pretty short book as well so it shouldn’t take me too long.

Speaking of classics that I haven’t gotten around to reading, I’ll also be picking up Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray and Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. I know a lot about both novels but now I want to actually sit down and read them.

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My second favorite novel (because nothing will ever be better than The Hobbit) is Cormac McCarthy‘s The Road, and I own almost all of his other books. I want to read everything he’s ever written, so this month I’ll be reading his very first published novel, The Orchard Keeper.

I decided to throw in a romance novel and a couple of young adult novels, so I’ll also be reading Jojo Moyes’ Me Before YouMarkus Zusak’s The Book Thiefand Leigh Bardugo’s Language of ThornsLanguage of Thorns is such a beautifully produced book, with illustrations on every page, nice thick pages, and a pretty dust jacket. I’m a sucker for beautiful books!

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It’s been a while since I’ve read a Star Trek book, so this month I’ll be reading a book based around my favorite character, Lwaxana Troi. Peter David’s Q-in-Law should be a lot of fun to read.

My tenth grade English teacher had us read William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying, and to this day it’s one of my most hated books from high school. I’ve grown a lot since then, however, and I want to give this classic another chance.

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Finally, because I’m homesick for the Appalachian Mountains, I’ll be reading The Cove by Ron Rash. Ron Rash taught at the college I went to, which is where I first read his book The World Made Straight and fell in love with it. The Cove is one of his better-known novels, and I’m looking forward to getting lost in the setting.

So, there are the books that I’ll be prioritizing this month. None of them are long, so I’m fairly confident that I’ll be able to read all of them. As I was writing this post, I did realize that I didn’t include any non-fiction, so I’ll be adding one to my list at some point. If you’ve read any of these novels, let me know what you thought of them down in the comments!


What books are you looking forward to reading in May? Let me know in the comments!




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April 2020 Wrap-up

Read Yourself Happy

I hope all of you guys are staying healthy and happy during this long quarantine. I know that for a lot of people this is an incredibly stressful time, so please take care of yourself as best you can.

Here are the books I read in April. I didn’t get to as many as I had planned (and I in no way stuck to my TBR – big surprise, right?), but I enjoyed most of the books that I read. Full reviews will be coming soon for all of these except Pisgah National Forest: A History, which I read due to being homesick but with no intention of actually reviewing.

You probably noticed that I haven’t blogged in awhile, which is due to a number of circumstances. Mainly, I’m working on setting up another project which will go live later in the year once everything is ready. I want Read Yourself Happy to focus entirely on books; I may still post some information about mental health and bipolar disorder, but that’s going to be part of my upcoming project, so I’m going to be phasing it out.

This blog might be going through some design changes, so keep an eye out! If you have any recommendations let me know! Also, I decided that I wanted to go back to Read Yourself Happy having its own Instagram account outside of my own, so click here to follow!

One last note: I’m not giving up on sharing the best Kindle deals with you guys, because I take advantage of those deals often. Books are expensive, and I never pass up the chance to save money on them. I didn’t like the aesthetic of posting them as a blog post every day, however, so from now on I’ll have a dedicated Deals page which will be updated daily. If you want to be notified of when the deals are updated, follow me on Twitter or Facebook.


Books I Read

  • The Storm Crow by Kalyn Josephson – 4 stars: I enjoyed this fantasy novel far more than I was expecting. The elemental crow magic was unique and kept me incredibly engaged. The physical book is also gorgeous (which doesn’t matter all that much, but it’s a perk!). I’m really looking forward to reading the sequel, The Crow Rider, which is to be released on July 7, 2020.
  • The 2020 Commission Report on the North Korean Nuclear Attacks Against the United States: A Speculative Novel by Jeffrey Lewis – 2 stars: oof, that title. I casually bought this ebook on Kindle when it was on sale for a dollar or two because it involved nuclear war, and morbid lil’ me loves anything apocalyptic. The novel could have been interesting I suppose, and the author definitely did his research in writing this, but the fact that it’s already out of date less than two years after being released says a lot. I didn’t enjoy it, and had to really push myself to finish it.
  • How Not to Be a Hot Mess: A Survival Guide for Modern Life by Craig & Devon Hase – 3 stars: I received a finished copy of this from the publisher, Shambhala, which should have been a hint to me about what this book was about. The authors write about several ideas that can impact your life, which is useful, but I had no idea until reading it that it was going to be based on Buddhist philosophy. I have no problem with that – I was a practicing Buddhist for years and still try to live by Buddhist principles. I was simply surprised that it wasn’t advertised more. The information contained in the book was fine, but I had heard a lot of it before.
  • Pisgah National Forest: A History by Marci Spencer – 3.5 stars: Have I talked enough about how much I love and miss the mountains of western North Carolina yet on this blog? No? I saw this book at my library and snatched it up. I’ve been so homesick the past six months and I jumped on the opportunity to read about one of my favorite parts of the region. While the writing wasn’t great, the information contained within the pages fascinated me and I learned a lot about the history of the areas I’ve spent many hours hiking through.
  • A Pale Light in the Black (NeoG #1) by K.B. Wagers – 4 stars: Harper Voyager sent me a finished copy of this science fiction novel, and I absolutely loved it. It’s hard, military science fiction – as a massive Star Trek fan, I was clearly reading the right thing. The characters in the novel were the best part of the book. This novel is the perfect example of a character-driven story rather than a plot-based story. I can’t wait to share my full review with you guys.
  • Turtles All the Way Down by John Green – 4 stars: I was very skeptical going into this book. I’ve read a lot of reviews of John Green books and they never seemed right for me. When I heard Hannah at A Clockwork Reader review this book so passionately, however, I decided to get a copy and give it a go. It was far from perfect, but the representation of mental illness is incredible. I ended up enjoying it more than I was expecting.
  • The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar – 4 stars: The last book I read in April may have been my favorite. It was nothing like I thought it would be from the title and the cover – it was so much more. The setting, characters, plot, and the magical realism all combined into a perfectly executed and enchanting novel. This is another book that I’m really excited to share my review with you guys on!

Things I Watched

  • I’m currently re-watching Star Trek: Deep Space NineWhile The Next Generation is the best Star Trek series (in my opinion, of course), Deep Space Nine might be my favorite. Or it’s tied with The Next Generation. Either way, I’m loving this rewatch. Things I’ve specifically enjoyed this time around: Jadzia + Worf, Odo finding the Changeling infant, and Sisko’s unsettling laugh.
  • I’ve always resisted watching Star Wars, because I never cared much for the original three films. My boyfriend has talked me into watching all of it (movies and shows) in chronological order of release. I’m keeping an open mind. I want to like it. If nothing else, I will always love this song.

Music I Listened To

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  • I discovered Hania Rani recently and cannot stop listening to her album Esja. It’s beautiful and atmospheric and perfect.
  • If you guys are interested in the kind of music I listen to, here’s a link to my Spotify Favorites playlist. I’m still not quite done with it, but it’s a pretty decent representation of what I listen to, with the exception of jazz and Afrobeat, which I have completely separate playlists for.


What did you guys read, watch, or listen to in April? Let me know in the comments!




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The Best Books I’ve Read in One Year of Book Blogging

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As I mentioned in a previous post, today is the one year anniversary of Read Yourself Happy.  As part of the celebrations, I wanted to share the top ten best and worst books I’ve read and discovered in the first year of my book blogging journey. 

Here are the ten best books I’ve read in my first year of book blogging!

Note: For this list, I’m only including books that I’ve read for the first time since becoming a book blogger. I won’t be including my favorites that I’ve re-read in the past year, such as Cormac McCarthy’s The Road or Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea.


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10. Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno

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Picking the 10th best book I’ve read in the past year was really difficult because there were so many great books that I didn’t want to leave off this list. However, after a lot of consideration, I really wanted to include Summer of Salt. This is not a book that I would have ever picked up if not for Chelsea Palmer‘s Facebook Book Club. Similar to The Night CircusSummer of Salt is another very atmospheric magical realism novel, which seems to be a genre that I’m starting to really love. While the story was a bit predictable at times, I loved the book and the setting a great deal.


9. Becoming by Michelle Obama

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The only non-fiction book on this list, Michelle Obama’s memoir, Becoming, was everything. When Barack Obama was in the White House, I often felt that Michelle outshone him, and I loved learning about her life, background, and motivations. This is easily the best memoir that I’ve ever read.


8. With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

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First of all, I just want to say that this is one of the most aesthetically pleasing books I’ve seen this year. Second, this book is so freaking good. I don’t usually like young adult contemporaries because I feel that, now that I’m in my early thirties, I’ve outgrown them, but this one can be enjoyed by people of any age. Elizabeth Acevedo’s voice really shines through in this story, and our main character, Emoni, is the kind of strong female character that young adult literature needs.


7. The Last by Hanna Jameson

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If you’re a frequent reader of this blog, you’ll know that my favorite genre is anything post-apocalyptic. Hanna Jameson took my favorite genre, added a mystery/thriller element to it, and create a wholly unique book. The story is set at a remote hotel in Switzerland after a nuclear war has essentially wiped out the world’s governments. My review for this novel is the one I’m the proudest of on this blog because I had so much to say about this amazing book. I also had the opportunity to interview Hanna Jameson!


6. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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The Hate U Give blew everyone away when it was released back in 2017, and for good reason: it’s an incredibly well-written and socially relevant novel about the Black Lives Matter movement. Thomas’ writing is so good that you develop deep empathy for all of the characters involved in the story, and this is definitely the kind of story that needs to be told. If you enjoy audiobooks, the one for The Hate U Give is pretty much perfect.


5. The Montague Siblings Series by Mackenzi Lee

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These books are so adorable, adventurous, and fun. Both of these novels are easily five-star reads, and I love Mackenzi Lee’s characters. The best thing about these books? The relationship between Monty and Percy. Their friendship-turned-romance is so perfect and they’re one of the first couples that come to mind when asked who my favorite fictional couples are. Felicity, the main character of the second book, is such a badass feminist character. If you haven’t read these books, I definitely recommend doing so!


4. The Ember in the Ashes Series by Sabaa Tahir

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This is a series that I had never heard of before joining the book community, but I’m so glad that I was inspired to read them. I love the way Sabaa Tahir writes, especially when it comes to character development. All of her characters are very unique and have their own distinct personalities, which led to me having very strong feelings about all of them. I also really enjoyed the relationship between Laia and Elias. Another aspect I enjoyed was the desert setting, which isn’t something that I’ve read a lot of in fantasy. I’m really looking forward to reading the fourth book in this series.


3. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

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I was first introduced to this magical realism novel through the first Booktube channel I ever discovered, A Clockwork Reader. I love whimsy in fiction, and this book is one of the most whimsical I’ve ever read. Morgenstern’s writing is beautiful and atmospheric. The atmosphere of the novel is what drew me so into the story, and is the best quality of the novel overall. I don’t want to say too much about the plot because this is the kind of book you need to go into knowing nothing to really appreciate how it unfolds.


2. The Six of Crows Duology by Leigh Bardugo

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While I could also easily include Leigh Bardugo’s GrishaVerse trilogy here, she knocked it out of the park with the Six of Crows duology. I adore the Russian-inspired world Bardugo has created, and the rag-tag group of characters in these two books are delightful. I flew through these fantasy novels because I absolutely had to know what happened next. While the plot of these books is amazing, it’s really the diversity of and the relationship between the characters that make this duology incredible.


1. The Stormlight Archive Series by Brandon Sanderson

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Out of all the series I’ve started and books I’ve read in the past year, Brandon Sanderson’s first two books in his Stormlight Archive series have been the best. I haven’t read book three yet (although I now own a copy), but based on the first two books alone, this is going to be one of my favorite series ever. There was nothing that I disliked about these two books, which is a very rare thing for me to say. The world-building is unlike anything I’ve read since J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, and Sanderson’s characters are so well-written that they feel like real people. These two books led to Sanderson becoming one of my favorite authors, and I am eagerly looking forward to his other novels.



Have you read any of these books? What did you think about them? Let me know in the comments!




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The Worst Books I’ve Read in One Year of Book Blogging

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As I mentioned in a previous post, today is the one year anniversary of Read Yourself Happy.  As part of the celebrations, I wanted to share the top ten best and worst books I’ve read and discovered in the first year of my book blogging journey. 

Let’s start with the ten worst books I’ve read, so we can end on a positive note!


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10. Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

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Weirdly enough, I really enjoyed Rupi Kaur’s second poetry collection, The Sun and Her Flowers, but Milk and Honey left me feeling bored and as though Kaur was trying much too hard to be edgy and provocative. At the time that I posted the review, I gave it 3.5 stars, which, looking back, is much too generous. I’ll never change my ratings in my posted reviews, but I did recently change my Goodreads rating of it down to 2 stars. I disliked the formatting of the collection and it definitely didn’t live up to the crazy amount of hype surrounding it.


9. The Municipalists by Seth Fried

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I chose this book as one of my Book of the Month Club selections, and, although I absolutely love the cover art, the book ended up being a 2.5-star read. It was the kind of book that made zero impact on me, to the point where I couldn’t remember the name of the main character while reading it. I didn’t DNF it because I kept hoping it would get better, but by the end of it, I was having to force myself to push through. The Municipalists is a humorous science fiction novel but the humor felt very forced much of the time. I also found myself annoyed by OWEN, a holographic AI who is the main character’s sidekick. There are much better funny science fiction books out there, so this is one best skipped.


8. The Protector by Elin Peer

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I knew going into Elin Peer’s The Protector that this is a book that is out of my comfort zone as it’s a smutty romance novel, but I wanted to try something new. This book was available through Kindle Unlimited and was rated pretty highly, plus it had a post-apocalyptic setting, so I figured it would be a decent introduction to the genre. Turned out, however, it wasn’t the book for me. The world of The Protector is incredibly sexist and misogynistic, and I couldn’t ignore those aspects while reading it. The world-building was weak and didn’t make a whole lot of sense. Many of the main characters act like children and none of them are believable.

psst – if you’d like to try Kindle Unlimited (there are great books on there, just not this one), sign up through this link to get your first month free!


7. Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer

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Going into this book, I had high expectations. I like fairy tale retellings, especially when they’re based on Norweigan stories. The book is one of the most disappointing I’ve read, however. I found the story to be incredibly problematic. Our main character, Echo, constantly forgives and then falls in love with a manipulative, possessive, abusive love interest, and that was just something I couldn’t support. The novel is also the most trope-y book I’ve ever read.


6. Infected by Scott Sigler

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Infected is one of the very few books I’ve rated 1 star. I got it for free through Amazon Kindle Deals way back in the day, and just got around to reading it this year. I hated everything about this book, and I honestly don’t know where to start. It’s gross (lots of body horror) and ridiculous (aliens manifesting through blue triangle rashes), and I didn’t like any of the characters.


5. The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand

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I was inspired to read this book after hearing Emma from the Booktube channel Emmmabooks rave about it. It’s one of her favorite books, and hearing her reviews made it sound really interesting. I think retellings are fun, and this is a modern retelling of  Charles Dicken’s A Christmas CarolI did not think that this book was fun. In fact, I actually DNF’ed this book. All of the characters were either annoying or bland and the plot seemed ridiculous to me. I also struggled a lot with Cynthia Hand’s writing style.


4. Invincible Living by Guru Jagat

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Invincible Living is another book that I DNF’ed. In the review, I go into really deep detail about all the reasons that I disliked this book, but to sum it up quickly: it’s a lot of fluffy words and recommendations that have zero scientific studies to back them up. This book is about as woo-woo as you can get, and some of the things Guru Jagat wrote were so ridiculous that I had to keep reminding myself that she was being serious.


3. Elevation by Stephen King

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Let me preface this by saying that Stephen King is one of my favorite authors. I literally grew up reading my parents’ editions of his older books, like The ShiningCarrieand The Tommyknockers. Elevation, however, is the worst Stephen King book I’ve read so far. First of all, I keep seeing this book classified as a horror novel, which it most definitely is not. It even won the Goodreads Horror Award for 2018. Next, this story is very shallow, and the only reason I actually finished it is that it’s less than 200 pages. All of the characters were over-played stereotypes. I rated this book a well-deserved 1-star.


2. People of the Sun by Jason Parent

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People of the Sun was one of the very first NetGalley books I received, and as such, was very excited to review. I read a lot of science fiction and fantasy, and as a result, it’s not hard for me to suspend my disbelief for a book. This book, however, asks for the reader to suspend too much disbelief. The book is about aliens that live in the center of the sun and come to earth to obtain resources for their dying race. The aliens act and think like humans, which is boring when you go into the story looking forward to a narrative told from the point of view of the aliens. Also, there are sentences like this: “Then it melted and slid down the formation like a pickle smeared in ketchup thrown against a window.”


1. The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

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It might shock a few people to see that Matthew Quick’s popular book (which inspired the equally popular film) is my least favorite book in a year of blogging. I really disliked the mental health representation in this novel, and I was also misled into thinking it was a novel that featured bipolar representation, which it most certainly does not. Our two main characters, Pat and Tiffany, talk and act like children, which is offensive to people suffering from mental illnesses such as depression, which both are said to have. Quick’s writing was simplistic and sloppy, and he also spoils the endings of several classic novels in the book. There was nothing I enjoyed in this book, and it is the worst book I’ve read in my first year of blogging.



Have you read any of these books? What did you think about them? Let me know in the comments!




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Read Yourself Happy is One Year Old Today!

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Today is an exciting day for Read Yourself Happy. The blog is officially one year old as of today! 

The past year has been really exciting. Before I set up this website at the beginning of September 2018, I’d known for a while that I wanted to start another blog (previously, I’d had blogs about politics and veganism). The only thing was, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write about.

Sure, I had a ton of ideas, but none of them felt right. Then I found my inspiration in discovering Booktube. 

I’ve always loved to read and have been surrounded by books my whole life. Creating a book blog was one of my ideas for the new blog I wanted to start, only I didn’t think there’d be enough interest in it. Once I discovered Booktube, however, I realized that there is enough of an online book community for a new book blog, and that was all I needed. Read Yourself Happy was born.

My first post, Chapter One, was uploaded on September 7, 2018, followed by my very first review, which was of Helen Oyeyemi’s wonderful White is for WitchingSince then, my blog (and myself) have grown so much.  I’m looking forward to many more years of book blogging in the future.

To celebrate Read Yourself Happy turning one today, I’ll be sharing a few posts with you guys, including the best and worst books I’ve read since the blog’s beginning, things I’ve learned about the book community and about blogging in general, and a list of the posts that I’m most proud of.

Most importantly, I’d like to thank all of you wonderful people who read, subscribe to, like, and share the content you find on Read Yourself Happy. I had no idea the blog would become as popular as it has in just a year, and I’m forever grateful to every single one of you.

Thank you for reading. Let’s keep it up for Read Yourself Happy’s second year!




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The Five Best Adult Magical Realism Books

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Magical realism is a genre that creates a bridge between reality and the slightly whimsical.

It differs from genres such as fantasy and science fiction by being firmly planted in our world, our reality. In magical realism, we recognize the world in which the story takes place, but there’s an element that is slightly unusual or magical.

One of the reasons I’m personally so drawn to magical realism is that I’ve always had a deep appreciation of surrealist art, and magical realism is its literary equivalent.

Magical realism is wonderful for people that don’t want to take the plunge into fantasy quite yet. Here are five of the best adult magical realism novels.



The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

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Read My Full Review Here

The Night Circus is a beautifully written novel about a traveling circus and a magic competition. While some people think it’s a story that moves too slowly, I enjoyed the atmospheric setting and the whimsy that Morgenstern created.


One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

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Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude is considered the first magical realism novel. Released in 1967, it still defines the genre. The story focuses on seven generations of the Buendia family, whose patriarch founded the fictional town of Macondo.


White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi

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Read My Full Review Here
(Note: This review was the very first for this blog!)

White is for Witching is a creepy story about a sentient, magical house. Mysterious things happen, and one of the house’s residents, Miri, seems to be falling down a deep hole of discovering the house’s secrets. It’s a beautifully written novel.


Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

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Salman Rushdie is one of my favorite writers for quality of his prose. When I read The Ground Beneath Her Feet, I felt as though I was reading some of the most lyrically beautiful writing in the world. Midnight’s Children is about a man named Saleem, who was one of 1,001 children born at midnight on the eve of India’s independence. All of the children are endowed with special gifts.


The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

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Similar to One Hundred Years of Solitude, The Time Traveler’s Wife is widely considered a classic of the genre. It’s a story about love lasting throughout time. The couple in the story, Henry and Clare, try to lead a normal life while Henry is pulled back and forth throughout time.


What is your favorite magical realism novel? Let me know in the comments below!




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Sunday Wrap-Up

Sunday Wrap-Up


Around the Web


Things I Love

  • Even though it’s a daunting undertaking, I find it so peaceful to pull all of my books off my bookshelf and reorganize them. It’s been one of my go-to stress relievers for years. I spent Saturday night doing this, and I found a few books on my shelf that I had forgotten I’d owned.
  • I’m obsessed with these new royalty-inspired eyeshadow palettes from CoverGirl. I rarely wear makeup, but these make me want to start putting it on regularly. The shades are gorgeous.

On the Blog



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Books I Want to Read – Book Tag

Book Tag

I found this tag this morning on Bookishly Rebecca, and it was originally created by Jamishelves.


A book that you feel you need to read because everyone talks about it

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Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

I feel like I might be the only person left in the world who hasn’t read any Sarah J. Maas. Eventually, I do want to get around to reading the Throne of Glass Series, but I’m not quite ready to take on a massive seven-book series right now.


A book that’s really long

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The Secret History by Donna Tartt

At 559 pages, this wouldn’t be the longest book I’ve ever read (that would be Brandon Sanderson’s Words of Radiance), but it’s still daunting.


A book you’ve owned/had on your TBR for too long

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Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

I’ve had a Barnes & Noble Classic edition of Anna Karenina for nearly a decade. I keep telling myself I’ll read it eventually, but it hasn’t happened yet.


A book that is ‘required’ reading
(eg, school text, really popular classic – something you feel obligated to read!)

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Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

I’m fairly certain that I was supposed to read this play in high school, but I never did. I’m not a huge fan of reading plays, but I know this is a highly influential work.


A book that intimidates you

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1421: The Year China Discovered America by Gavin Menzies

I borrowed this book from my Dad on Christmas, and I still haven’t read it. I love history, and I’m particularly interested in Chinese history, but this book is massive. I keep telling myself I’ll read it soon, but I’m not entirely sure when that’ll happen.


A book that you think might be slow

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Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

I wasn’t a fan of the Cloud Atlas film adaptation, but I still want to give the book a chance. I’m just worried that it’s going to be dreadfully slow.


A book you need to be in the right mood for

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The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

Everyone has amazing things to say about this romance novel, but I have to be in just the right mood for romance books. I’m hoping I’ll be in the mood for it soon though!


A book you’re unsure if you will like

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The Gunslinger by Stephen King

I’ve tried on three separate occasions to read this book, never making it past the first few chapters. I want to like this series, but I’m not sure I will. I plan on giving it one more shot, and if I’m not interested during the fourth attempt, I’ll DNF it forever.


How would you answer these questions? Let me know in the comments!



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Sunday Wrap-Up

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Around the Web


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These Books Will Help You Get Your Finances Straight

Personal Finance Books

Just because tax day is behind us (you did do your taxes, right??), that doesn’t mean you should stop thinking about your finances.

The first step to adulting is getting your finances in order. These books will help you do just that!


Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin & Joe Dominguez

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You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth by Jen Sincero

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Meet the Frugalwoods: Achieving Financial Independence Through Simple Living by Elizabeth Willard Thames

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Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days by Chris Guillebeau

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I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi

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Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

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The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy by Thomas J. Stanley998.jpg

The Book Addiction Tag

The Book Addiction Tag

It’s been a while since I did my last book tag post and this one I spotted at Sepia Reads looked fun. Let’s get right into it.



What is the longest amount of time you can comfortably go without picking up a book?

A few hours, at most. Even when I’m at work, I have a book open on my desk so I can steal a few moments to read a sentence or two between calls (I work in a call center).


How many books do you carry on your person (or Kindle) at any one time?

I usually have two to three physical books in my bag, along with approximately 20ish books downloaded on my Kindle. I like to be prepared.


Do you keep every book you buy/receive or are you happy to pass them on to make space for more?

I keep them. It’s a huge problem for someone living in an apartment. I’m not afraid of being a book hoarder. Most of the books I own have memories attached to them, and I love being surrounded by those memories. I also frequently re-read books I love.


How long would you spend in a bookshop on a standard visit?

Hours. Thankfully, my boyfriend will gently pull me away from the shelves after half an hour or so, otherwise, I would never leave, and I’d be broke.


How much time per day do you actually spend reading?

At least 3-4 hours, although I wish I had time for more. My perfect vacation is a trip to a remote cabin in the mountains with a stack of book, a pound of coffee, and no plans.


Where does the task ‘picking up a book’ appear on your daily to-do list?

In the morning, on lunch breaks, on sunny afternoons, before I go to bed. Any moment I can fit in reading, I read.


How many books do you reckon you own in total (including e-books)?

I’ve never counted, but my estimate is that I own between 400-500 physical books, along with a bit over 500 ebooks.


Approximately how often do you bring up books in conversation?

Too much. Way too much. I’m fairly certain my friends and co-workers get a little sick of me.


What is the biggest book (page count) you have finished reading?

I’m not exactly sure but the longest I’ve read in the past few years is Brandon Sanderson’s Words of Radiance, which is 1087 pages. That’ll change once I read book three in the series, Oathbringer, a whopping 1248 pages.


Is there a book you had to get your hands on against all odds, i.e, searching bookshops, online digging, etc?

Sort of. There’s a special edition box set of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy, bound in red cloth and illustrated by Alan Lee. I had it before my house burned down in 2006, and I haven’t been able to find it since. I’m actively looking for it.


A book you struggled to finish but refused to DNF?

Volume one of Outlaws of the Marsh was a bit of a struggle to finish, but since it’s one of my boyfriend’s favorite books, I wanted to finish it so we could discuss it.


What are 3 of your main book goals for 2019?

  1. Complete my overly-ambitious Goodreads TBR goal of 225 books.
  2. Finish writing my outline for my first novel.
  3. Re-read the entire Harry Potter series.

Have you ever had the privilege of converting someone into a reader (maybe via inspiration or incessant nagging)?

I don’t believe so, even though people have told me that they’ve been more inspired to read because of my blog. I think that’s incredible.


Describe what books mean to you in five words.

Relaxation, escape, character, adventure, fantastical.

The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker – A Review

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The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker
Romance | Contemporary | New Adult
Published by Atria Books
Released August 7, 2018
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_4_and_a_half_stars


“He’s not like any other guy I’ve dated or crushed on. And while he’s capable of making my blood boil like no one else, I feel a magnetic pull toward him that I can’t explain.”.png

I’ve always prided myself on reading a very wide range of literary genres, from fantasy to contemporary to horror. However, there has always been one genre that I tended to avoid – romance.

Despite loving a good romance in a book, for some reason I’ve always been turned off by the idea of actual romance novels. I suppose I may have seen them as frivolous or too fluffy for my tastes. Regardless of my past feelings on the romance genre, however, K.A. Tucker has permanently changed my mind.

The Simple Wild initially intrigued me based solely on its setting of rural Alaska. I love wild, untamed natural areas, and recently I’ve been feeling incredibly nostalgic for my days of hiking and backpacking. I’ve been trying to experiment with books out of my comfort zone, so I figured if I’m ever going to give romance a try, a book set in the wilderness would be the right choice for me.

The story follows Calla, a twenty-something living in Toronto with her mother and step-father. She’s a fashion and lifestyle blogger and loves the glamor that city life provides. Everything changes, however, in what is possibly the worst day ever – she’s unexpectedly fired from her job, essentially gets attacked by raccoons, and then finds out that her estranged father, who she hasn’t spoken to in years, has lung cancer.

Calla makes the decision to fly to Alaska to finally meet her father. Their first encounters are awkward, but they slowly start to connect with one another. Calla also meets one of her father’s employees at the small airline he owns – Jonah, a rugged “Yeti” of a man who seems to be purposefully making her time in Alaska hellish.

There was so much I enjoyed about this book, and the rural Alaskan setting was just a very small part of it. K.A. Tucker’s characters are so authentic that I found myself engaged in every character’s story, even minor side characters. One of the reasons I don’t read much contemporary is that I struggle to like the characters, but that definitely wasn’t the case here.

I enjoyed the “hate-to-love” trope and the relationship between Calla and Jonah was playful, spiteful, steamy, and heartfelt all at once. The slow burn of their building affection toward one another was paced perfectly.

The novel had me bawling towards the end but by the time I finished the last page I was overwhelmed by the knowledge that everything in this book is perfect.

I will be reading many more of K.A. Tucker’s books, and I am no longer scared of romance novels. That said, if you guys have any recommendations for similar books that have wild settings and rugged, woodsy love interests, please let me know in the comments. I need more like this.


Have you read The Simple Wild? What were your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!




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Trigger Warnings: What are they, and do we need them?

Trigger Warnings

Requesting trigger warnings for content is nothing new, but I’ve seen it discussed more often lately than I had before. It’s not something I’ve discussed on Read Yourself Happy before, so I wanted to give my thoughts some space here.

A trigger warning is intended to let readers or consumers know ahead of time if a piece of media contains content that could cause anxiety or distress in people who have experienced past trauma. This doesn’t just affect literature; students have been requesting that university professors warn them of triggers for years. According to the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC),

Although fewer than 1% of survey participants reported that their institution had adopted a policy on trigger warnings, 7.5% reported that students had initiated efforts to require trigger warnings on campus, twice as many (15%) reported that students had requested warnings in their courses, and 12% reported that students had complained about the absence of trigger warnings. Despite a media narrative of “political correctness,” student requests concerned a diverse range of subjects from across the ideological spectrum.

This is a phenomenon that is very prevalent in the book community. It’s normal to watch a Booktube video or read a blog post that contains trigger warnings before going into a review.

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My own opinion is that alerting consumers to potentially upsetting topics can be beneficial in some regards, but that requiring trigger warnings is damn near impossible and not the responsibility of the author or content creator. It’s impossible to know what things will trigger readers, as there are an endless amount of triggers out there. From the same NCAC report I mentioned earlier,

…many noted that “it is impossible to know what will trigger students.” There are reported complaints about spiders,   “images of childbirth,” suicide in a ballet, indigenous artifacts, images of dead bodies, “fatphobia,” bloody scenes in a horror film class, and more. One respondent observed, “I’m not sure you can teach American literature without issuing a blanket trigger warning for the entire semester.”

I feel as though in some (some, not all) cases people might be requesting trigger warnings in order to not have to deal with a difficult topic, like suicide, rape, or an eating disorder. These are real topics, however, that are important to examine in literature and other mediums. As many opponents to trigger warnings have said, the real world doesn’t contain trigger warnings, and sometimes people need to learn how to deal with these topics in a healthy way.

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Trauma and post-traumatic stress are very, very real things. I’m not trying to be insensitive to people who have anxiety – I have anxiety and issues with depression myself, and there are definitely topics I come across while reading that can elevate my level of stress, and yes, in a few cases some of these topics have caused me to have a panic attack. However, I’m actually quite thankful for these situations, as they force me to confront and deal with these topics, rather choose to avoid them.

There’s a 2014 article from The New Yorker by Jay Caspian Kang that brings about another interesting point about the effect trigger warnings might have on literature:

…what harm could a swarm of trigger warnings—each one reducing a work of literature to its ugliest plot points—inflict on the literary canon? What would “Trigger Warning: This novel contains racism” do to a reading of Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man”? What would “Trigger Warning: Rape, racism, and sexual assault” do to a reading of Toni Morrison’s “Beloved”?

There have also been some studies done to gauge the effectiveness of trigger warnings. One that particularly intrigued me was written in Psychology Today:

A recently published Harvard study tackled these questions. Researchers Benjamin Bullet, Peyton Jones, and Richard McNally had participants read passages from literary texts like Moby-Dick or Crime and Punishment. But before reading these passages, half of the participants received a warning that read: “TRIGGER WARNING: The passage you are about to read contains disturbing content and may trigger an anxiety response, especially in those who have a history of trauma.”

The researchers found that being exposed to trigger warnings caused participants to rate both themselves and others as more vulnerable to developing PTSD. Trigger warnings led to no self-reported differences in anxiety between the two groups overall, but for participants who already held the belief that “words cause harm,” trigger warnings led to an increase in anxiety.

There is evidence that trigger warnings can be harmful rather than helpful, and as I said before, it’s impossible to have a trigger warning in place for every potential trigger out there. I feel that it’s partially the responsibility of the reader to know what types of books he or she may need to avoid. If you’re an author or content creator and you support trigger warnings, then go for it. However, I am of the opinion that these warnings might make people less willing to deal with issues that they should confront for the benefit of their own mental health.

This article was not written with the intent of creating controversy or attacking anyone; I simply wanted to share my own thoughts on this topic. If this discussion has upset you, feel free to reply in the comments section so that we can discuss it further.



What are your own opinions on trigger warnings? Should they be included on the covers of books or before movies or television shows? Let’s have a discussion in the comments.

Comic Book Releases – April 3, 2019

Comic Book Release Day

It’s Wednesday, which means it’s comic book release day! Here are some of the most exciting issues coming out. For a complete list, head over to Midtown Comics.

Not sure where to buy your comics? Check out Comic Shop Locator for shops near you. If you don’t live in an area with a local shop, you can purchase from Midtown Comics, directly from the publisher, or through Comixology if you prefer digital copies.

The highlighted issues are the ones that I’d personally recommend.



Marvel

  • Age of X-Man Prisoner X #2 by Vita Ayala and German Peralta
  • Amazing Spider-Man Vol 5 #18 by Nick Spencer and Chris Bachalo
  • Avengers No Road Home #8 by Al Ewing and Paco Medina
  • Captain America Vol 9 #9 by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Adam Kubert
  • Champions Vol 3 #4 by Jim Zub and Steven Cummings
  • Conan the Barbarian Vol 4 #5 by Jason Aaron and Mahmud A. Asrar
  • Cosmic Ghost Rider Destroys Marvel History #2 by Paul Scheer, Nick Giovannetti, and Gerardo Sandoval
  • Deadpool Vol 6 #11 by Skottie Young and Scott Hepburn
  • Domino Hotshots #2 by Gail Simone and David Baldeon
  • The Immortal Hulk #16 by Al Ewing and Joe Bennett
  • Major X #1 by Rob Liefield
  • Marvel Super Hero Adventures Spider-Man Web Designers #1 by Sholly Fisch, Ty Templeton, and Mario Del Pennino
  • Marvel Team-Up Vol 4 #1 by Eve Ewing and Joey Vazquez
  • Punisher Vol 11 #10 by Matthew Rosenberg and Szymon Kudranski
  • Solo A Star Wars Story Adaptation #7 by Robbie Thompson and Will Sliney
  • Spider-Gwen Ghost Spider #7 by Seanan McGuire and Takeshi Miyazawa
  • Star Wars Vol 4 #64 by Kieron Gillen and Angel Unzueta
  • Uncanny X-Men Vol 5 #15 by Matthew Rosenberg and Salvador Larroca
  • War of the Realms #1 by Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman

DC

  • Adventures of the Super Sons #9 by Peter J. Tomasi and Scott Godlewski
  • Deathstroke Vol 4 #42 by Christopher Pries, Adam Glass, Carlo Pagulayan, and Jason Paz
  • Female Furies #3 by Cecil Castelluci and Adriana Melo
  • Green Lantern Vol 6 #6 by Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp
  • Harley Quinn Vol 3 #60 by Sam Humphries and Sami Basri
  • Justice League Vol 4 #21 by Scott Snyder and Jorge Jimenez
  • Suicide Squad Black Files #6 by Mike W. Barr, Jai Nitz, and Neil Edwards
  • Young Justice Vol 3 #4 by Brian Michael Bendis, Patrick Gleason, and John Timms

IDW

  • Amber Blake #1 by Jade Lagardere and Butch Guice
  • Atomic Robo and the Dawn of a New Era #4 by Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener
  • Danger Girl Dangerous Visions 3-D by J. Scott Campbell and Andy Hartnell
  • GI Joe A Real American Hero #260 by Larry Hama and Ron Joseph
  • Giantkillers by Bart Sears and Rick Leonardi
  • Impossible Inc #5 by J.M. DeMatteis and Mike Cavallaro
  • Lodger #4 by David Lapham and Maria Lapham

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  • Curse Words Spring Has Sprung by Charles Soule and Ryan Browne
  • Die #5 by Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans
  • Gasolina #17 by Sean Mackiewicz, Niko Walter, and Mat Lopes
  • Mirror #10 by Emma Rios and Hwei Lim
  • Paper Girls #27 by Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chang, and Matt Wilson
  • Redlands #12 by Jordie Bellaire and Vanessa R. Del Rey
  • Section Zero Vol 2 #1 by Karl Kesel and Tom Grummett
  • Self Made #5 by Matt Groom, Eduardo Ferigato, and Marcello Costa
  • Walking Dead #190 by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard
  • Eclipse #14 by Zack Kaplan and Giovanni Timpano
  • Vindication #3 by Md Marie, Carlos Miko, and Dema Jr

A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi – A Review

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A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi
Young Adult | Contemporary
Goodreads | Amazon
Published by HarperTeen
Released October 16, 2018
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_3_and_a_half_stars

A Very Large Expanse of Sea is Tahereh Mafi’s first contemporary novel, and it’s a good one. Mafi is known mostly for Shatter Me, which is a young adult fantasy series. In this novel, released at the end of 2018, she examines what it’s like to be a Muslim teenager in post-9/11 America.

Tahereh Mafi has said in many interviews that this is her most autobiographical novel to date, and she is also a Muslim-American who wears the hijab and was a teenager after the events of 9/11. I’m always intrigued by #ownvoices novels, so I was excited when I was finally able to pick this up at the library after being on hold for it for well over two months.

Overall, it was very enjoyable and enlightening, and a book that I feel is important that young adults read. It deals with racism and bigotry in the best way possible, by showing us the pain and hardships people experience when they’re victims of bullying and being singled out based on their skin color or nationality. Shirin, our main character, has dealt with all sorts of really terrible situations that no one should have to live with, and it’s caused her to essentially shut herself off to the people around her.

As a character, Shirin was immensely likable and, because of that, the situations that she finds herself in with other students, teachers, and even police are incredibly frustrating. My mind is constantly bogged down by how cruel people can be to others based on something such as what they look like or what they choose to wear. I found myself feeling so bad for Shirin for the way that she’s been treated, and it doesn’t help that her parents are essentially non-existent in her life. Despite everything, though, Shirin is a great character for the simple reason that she’s both strong and incredibly fragile:

“I always say that I don’t care what other people think. I say it doesn’t bother me, that I don’t give a shit about the opinions of assholes but it’s not true. It’s not true, because it hurts every time, and that means I still care. It means I’m still not strong enough because every time some mentally ill homeless person goes on a terrifying rampage when they see me crossing the street – it hurts. It never stops hurting. It only gets easier to recover.”

I wasn’t surprised at all when I found out that Mafi based some of the aspects of the novel off of events that happened in her own life because from the start it felt like a very honest book. It seemed too real not to have some personal experience behind her words.

This was the first book by Tehereh Mafi that I’ve read, but it certainly won’t be the last. I loved her writing style, and I hope her other books are as straight-forward and heartfelt as this one was.

The main reason I’m only giving this book three and a half stars is due to the romance between Shirin and Ocean. I understand that part of the intention of this book was to look at inter-racial relationships, and those parts of the book I did really enjoy and found to be very insightful. However, I don’t feel that the beginning of their relationship was very realistic. Shirin basically does everything she can to push Ocean away, and I have trouble believing that Ocean wouldn’t just give up. Heck, if I found myself in a situation like that, I would probably back off. She constantly sends him mixed signals, goes days without speaking to him (despite being his lab partner), and he’s clearly baffled by her behavior.

With the exception of that the issues I had with the relationship, I really enjoyed this novel, and will definitely be re-reading it again.


Have you read A Very Large Expanse of Sea? What were your thoughts?




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