Election Day

I was going to simply post this on Instagram to share. But then I realized how much I actually had to say, and decided to go ahead and turn it into a post.

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I’m not one to get political. Like at all. Much like religion, we all have our beliefs and ideologies that we live by. They may be the same, or they may differ, but we each have the right to our own thoughts and opinions and I respect that.

But allow me to stand up on my soapbox for just a moment. I’m not here to tell you WHO to vote for. Don’t worry. I’m just here to tell you to VOTE. And not just for the president. There is much more at stake than just the top seat of our government. Yes, that’s a big deal, but there are candidates and issues much closer to home that need your vote as well. Candidates that will represent you at a much more direct level. These aren’t candidates in some far off seat in Washington. These are the people running for public office in your own backyard. They will be the ones that create, enforce, and protect the laws within your communities. They’re the ones that will vote to put a stop sign in your neighborhood. The bonds on the ballot for your city will go toward funding the police that will pull you over for running that new stop sign. They will be the judges that preside over the court you have to go to in order to pay your traffic ticket. There will be levies for the schools in your community. Bonds that create and maintain parks, replace aging sewer lines, fix the road outside your home. You may not like the top of the ballot much, but there is a lot of important things going on down below that need your attention just as much.

But let’s talk for a minute about that top part of the ballot. Again, I’m not going to tell you who to vote for. But we all know that there was a LOT of drama surrounding this election season. On all sides. Very serious accusations all around. This is the 5th presidential election I’ve voted in, and I can’t remember one that was this polarizing and divisive. But before you cast your vote and hit that confirm button, take a moment to stop and think. Put all of that drama on the back burner for just a moment and take a deeper look at the candidates on your ballot. Think about the policies that they will enact as President. Think about what their presidency means for you, your family, your friends and coworkers, and the community around you. The next 4 years aren’t just going to be about hot mics and email servers. There are actual laws that will be created. There will be communcation, negotiation, and trade with other countries around the world. Think about that for just a moment before you push a button to cast a vote. Which of the candidates aligns with the beliefs and ideologies that you live by? You may not like anything about the other candidate, but does the one you’re voting for really represent you? The same thing goes for all the candidates below that top spot too. Do they represent the community you want to live in? Remember, they’re a lot closer to home.

I probably should have posted this weeks ago rather than halfway through Election Day. It’s been weighing on my mind for awhile now, but it finally bubbled over after I went to cast my vote today. I was going to wake up early and walk to my polling place, but I slept in. I didn’t leave my house until noon. But it was fine. I walked down the street to the church where I vote, telling myself I would use my stopwatch app on my phone to time my experience to see just how long it would take.

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Under 7 minutes. From walking through the front door to walking back out again, I was done in less time than I would have waited at Starbucks. It was an easy, painless experience. I was not hassled. I was not intimidated. Everyone was polite and courteous, from the poll workers to the other voters. I know my experience isn’t going to be the same as everyone else’s. I know there are people that will wait in ridiculously long lines. I know there will be people who feel pressured or intimidated by others around them. I wish that weren’t the case. I wish everyone would have the experience I had today. But regardless of the issues that may arise during your experience, I hope you stick it out, persevere, and allow your voice to be heard. There are many who came before us who have fought long and hard for our right to be heard. There are many who are still fighting for that right. Honor them by exercising that right.

There were 2 girls who were at the polling place at the same time who were voting in their very first election. Several of my coworkers are voting for the first time. And I’m excited for them! This is such an important election to allow your voice to be heard for the very first time. But I know a lot of my Bookstagram followers and people I follow aren’t old enough yet. To those who can’t exercise that right yet, I say– Pay attention. Just because you can’t make your voice heard this time, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be watching. Use this election as education. Take this time to understand how important your voice is when it’s time for you to use it. Take a deeper look into the candidates’ policies and ideologies and see which one you start to align with. You may not know much about taxes and trade and foreign policy, but that’s okay. There are still issues I’m sure you feel strongly about already. Begin to recognize those issues, so when you’re time comes, you have a head start.

And I implore you, whether you’re voting for the 1st time or the 10th– vote with your heart and mind. Not anyone else’s. You don’t have to vote the same way your family does. Trust me. I’m the lone Democrat in a family of Republicans. But you also don’t have to vote strictly with the party you most identify with. After taking a couple hours to research all of the candidates on my ballot, I voted for nearly as many Republicans today as I did Democrats. Because I voted for who I felt was best qualified for the job and who represented my ideologies the closest.

So I’m not going to tell you WHO to vote for. I’m simply telling you to VOTE. With your own heart and mind for the candidates and issues that best represents YOU. This is your government. Make sure your voice is heard.

Hotel Ruby

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From Goodreads: Stay tonight. Stay forever.

When Audrey Casella arrives for an unplanned stay at the grand Hotel Ruby, she’s grateful for the detour. Just months after their mother’s death, Audrey and her brother, Daniel, are on their way to live with their grandmother, dumped on the doorstep of a DNA-matched stranger because their father is drowning in his grief.

Audrey and her family only plan to stay the night, but life in the Ruby can be intoxicating, extending their stay as it provides endless distractions—including handsome guest Elias Lange, who sends Audrey’s pulse racing. However, the hotel proves to be as strange as it is beautiful. Nightly fancy affairs in the ballroom are invitation only, and Audrey seems to be the one guest who doesn’t have an invite. Instead, she joins the hotel staff on the rooftop, catching whispers about the hotel’s dark past.

The more Audrey learns about the new people she’s met, the more her curiosity grows. She’s torn in different directions—the pull of her past with its overwhelming loss, the promise of a future that holds little joy, and an in-between life in a place that is so much more than it seems…

Welcome to the Ruby.

After Audrey’s mother dies suddenly, her family life spirals out of control. While she’s acting out, her father is closing himself off. After a wild party where Audrey loses control, her father decides to send her and her older brother Daniel to live with her grandmother. But first they stop at Hotel Ruby for the night. The hotel may be out in the middle of nowhere, but it’s far from boring. A one night stay turns into days as Audrey and her family get caught up in the hotel life and all it has to offer, including love. Maybe staying at Hotel Ruby wouldn’t be such a bad thing. After all, the motto there is Stay tonight. Stay Forever.  Continue reading

30 Second Reviews

I mentioned earlier that there were quite a few books that I read that I never wrote a review on. (Nearly a dozen…) They just sat there, mocking me, begging me to share my thoughts. And then I just gave up completely, and let them go. But some of those books were good. Some of them I want to at least acknowledge and give a nod to like a good blogger and reviewer. So here it goes. My very concise, condensed version of a book review– or as I may begin to call them, 30 second reviews.

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown

The Wild RobotFrom Goodreads: When robot Roz opens her eyes for the first time, she discovers that she is alone on a remote, wild island. Why is she there? Where did she come from? And, most important, how will she survive in her harsh surroundings? Roz’s only hope is to learn from the island’s hostile animal inhabitants. When she tries to care for an orphaned gosling, the other animals finally decide to help, and the island starts to feel like home. Until one day, the robot’s mysterious past comes back to haunt her.

This is a middle grade novel from one of my favorite children’s illustrators, Peter Brown. I was stoked when I saw that he had a novel coming out, because his picture books are some of my favorites to read during storytime at work. This one didn’t disappoint. It’s an adorable, heartfelt story about what it means to be a friend, a community, and a family. There’s action and adventure, with humor and heartbreak thrown in to round it out. With Brown’s illustrations scattered throughout, I was hooked. I loved following Roz through her journey, navigating her new home, making new friends, and finding out what it means to love.

Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke

23203106From Goodreads: Every story needs a hero.
Every story needs a villain.
Every story needs a secret.

Wink is the odd, mysterious neighbor girl, wild red hair and freckles. Poppy is the blond bully and the beautiful, manipulative high school queen bee. Midnight is the sweet, uncertain boy caught between them. Wink. Poppy. Midnight. Two girls. One boy. Three voices that burst onto the page in short, sharp, bewitching chapters, and spiral swiftly and inexorably toward something terrible or tricky or tremendous.

What really happened?
Someone knows.
Someone is lying.

This was one that sat for so long, I kind of forgot what happened. I was drawn in by the cover (how gorgeous is it??) and by others who raved about it and its plot twist. I’m a sucker for a good plot twist, so I picked it up. I remember reading it. I remember being drawn into the world and the characters. I remember thinking, “this is insane” at some parts. And then I remember not being completely blown over by the twist. It was twisty, definitely, and I didn’t see it coming, but I wrote in the notes on my phone “more of a whimper than a bang.” Still a good story though. A very quick read that I’m glad I read. Just not one of my absolute all-time favorites.

The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas

25639296From Goodreads: There are ghosts around every corner in Fayette, Pennsylvania. Tessa left when she was nine and has been trying ever since not to think about it after what happened there that last summer. Memories of things so dark will burn themselves into your mind if you let them.

Callie never left. She moved to another house, so she doesn’t have to walk those same halls, but then Callie always was the stronger one. She can handle staring into the faces of her demons—and if she parties hard enough, maybe one day they’ll disappear for good.

Tessa and Callie have never talked about what they saw that night. After the trial, Callie drifted and Tessa moved, and childhood friends just have a way of losing touch.

But ever since she left, Tessa has had questions. Things have never quite added up. And now she has to go back to Fayette—to Wyatt Stokes, sitting on death row; to Lori Cawley, Callie’s dead cousin; and to the one other person who may be hiding the truth.

Only the closer Tessa gets to the truth, the closer she gets to a killer—and this time, it won’t be so easy to run away.

This is another one that I read, then promptly forgot. Much like Wink Poppy Midnight, it was dark and twisty and you spent most of the time trying to figure out what was happening and who did what. But also like Wink Poppy Midnight, the twist came and I just didn’t care that much.

Burning by Danielle Rollins

BurningFrom Goodreads: After three years in juvie, Angela Davis is just a few months shy of release, and she’ll finally be free from the hole that is Brunesfield Correctional Facility. Then Jessica arrives. Only ten years old and under the highest security possible, this girl has to be dangerous, even if no one knows what she did to land in juvie. As strange things begin happening to Angela and her friends that can only be traced to the new girl’s arrival, it becomes clear that Brunesfield is no longer safe. They must find a way to get out, but how can they save themselves when the world has forgotten them?

This seemed like it had such potential to be a creepy psychological thriller– my FAVORITE. There were scenes that had so much creep-factor that I thought, “Wow! This is amazing!” And then it got weird. And not in a way I really enjoyed. The side characters were incredibly stereotypical–think every bad movie or show you’ve seen about prison–and the plot went in a direction that left me completely disconnected from the story. I wanted to like it from the synopsis, but… Meh.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)From Goodreads: Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge.
A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.
A runaway with a privileged past.
A spy known as the Wraith.
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Kaz’s crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

This might turn into a bit more than a 30-second review because I can’t believe I let this book sit on my desk for as long as I did without writing about it. I LOVED this book. It’s an Ocean’s 11-style heist story set in a bit of a fantasy Russia backdrop. I was hesitant to pick it up at first because it revisits the world Bardugo created in her Grisha Trilogy (Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm, and Ruin and Rising), which I haven’t read. I wasn’t sure if I would understand and be able to keep up in a world that I knew nothing about, but I shouldn’t have worried. It may have been helpful to read the trilogy beforehand to understand the Grisha, who they were, and the prejudice that others have against them, but it wasn’t necessary. Six of Crows stands well on its own.

When the world is threatened with destruction by what amounts to magical biological warfare, Kaz and his crew of misfits and thieves are offered a very handsome reward to essentially save the world. But in order to do that, they have to break into the most heavily guarded vault in the center of a military training facility in the most protected court in the world. And get out alive.

I want to see this as a movie, because it would be amazing. It’s gritty and dark and filled with action. At one point, I wrote in my notes, in all caps, “HOLY SHIT HE JUST _______________” I won’t spoil what happened. But it was gruesome. And it kind of sealed the deal on my love for this book. I can’t WAIT to pick up Crooked Kingdom to find out how it all ends.

Alright. That’s about half of the books that I haven’t reviewed yet.. So stay tuned for another installment of 30-second reviews!

Photo Credits: All cover photos are from Goodreads.

Long Time, No Write

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Oh hey. It’s been awhile. Like 2 months. I haven’t posted anything in 2 months. I’m pretty much the worst blogger ever. Okay, maybe not ever. But I’m not doing well with this whole keeping up thing. In fact, I was so far behind at one point that I had 9 books I’d finished just sitting on my desk waiting for me to get around to writing about them. Some of them sat there for so long, I actually forgot what they were about. In a desperate effort to force myself into writing, I put myself on a reading ban in order to catch up. No reading until I wrote at least 2 reviews.

And still they sat.

But it’s not that I didn’t try. I wrote nearly a whole post about one of the books, and then erased it. Then wrote another lengthy post about it. And erased it. I tried writing that post for 2 weeks–writing and erasing. Writing and erasing. I don’t know what it was about it, but I just couldn’t find the right words. I wasn’t even sure what I was trying to say. So I just gave up. Finally admitting defeat, I took them all back to the library. Along with some others that I just had no desire to read anymore.

But I’m going to try again. I’m going to try to get back on this blogging train. And actually write about the books I read again, not letting them simply pile up and mock me. I’m going to finally get to some of the ARCs I’ve received– most of which have already come out while I’ve been slacking. I’m going to try to get back to the enjoyment I had when I started this. Sorry it’s been so long. I’m going to try to be better.

 

The Last Boy and Girl in the World

The Last Boy and Girl in the World by Siobhan Vivian

What if your town was sliding underwater and everyone was ordered to pack up and leave? How would you and your friends spend your last days together?

While the adults plan for the future, box up their possessions, and find new places to live, Keeley Hewitt and her friends decide to go out with a bang. There are parties in abandoned houses. Canoe races down Main Street. The goal is to make the most of every minute they still have together.

And for Keeley, that means taking one last shot at the boy she’s loved forever.

There’s a weird sort of bravery that comes from knowing there’s nothing left to lose. You might do things you normally wouldn’t. Or say things you shouldn’t. The reward almost outweighs the risk.

Almost.

— From the book jacket of The Last Boy and Girl in the World 

Aberdeen, a small town on the banks of a river, has been home to Keeley Hewitt’s family for generations. When constant rain threatens to flood the town, Aberdeen’s residents are faced with only one choice– pack up and leave the town they’ve called home or lose it all. But as everyone around her is leaving, Keeley’s family is fighting for their town, and Keeley is determined to make the most of what little time they all have left together. With the help of her longtime crush, she’s going to make sure that none of them will ever forget the last days of Aberdeen.
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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – SPOILER FREE!

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany

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It’s always been difficult being Harry Potter, and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and a father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: Sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

— From the book jacket of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Normally, this is where I would give another brief synopsis of the plot before going into what I thought of the book. But I’m not. The book has only been out for 2 days, and there are a lot who still haven’t read it. So in order to #keepthesecrets, I’m not going to recap.

Honestly, I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to do a review for this one, especially one so soon after the book’s release. I didn’t want to give anything away within my review. But I feel like I should. I devoured this book within a day. (Even though it’s a hefty hardcover, it’s pretty easy to do. There’s not a lot on each page.) This is a book we’ve all waited for, and what kind of blogger and Harry Potter fan would I be to not share my thoughts on it. So I’ll just do a very brief, no spoilers, reaction post for now and possibly revisit the idea of a full review later. Continue reading

A Court of Thorns and Roses

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

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When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she knows about only from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal but Tamlin–one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As Feyre dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility to a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it… or doom Tamlin– and his world– forever.

— From the book jacket of A Court of Thorns and Roses

In the harsh winter, it’s up to Feyre to provide for her family. When she comes across a deer in the woods, she realizes she’s not the only hunter looking for a kill. A wolf stands across from her, leaving her with 2 choices– allow the wolf to take her only food source and let her family go hungry, or kill the beast as well. With one shot, her fate is sealed. The wolf she has killed is no wolf at all–he’s a faery– and Feyre has broken a centuries old peace treaty between the human and faerie realms. A treaty that calls for a human life in exchange for the faery life she has taken. Feyre has to choose between being killed or taken captive by the beast that breaks down her door. To save her family she chooses captivity in the magical realm she thought was just a myth.

Upon arriving at the Spring Court, Feyre learns that there are more frightening things within the faery world than the beast named Tamlin. Terrifying creatures stalk the forest surrounding the estate, and a magical disease has stricken the faery realm, draining its magic and threatening to spill over into the mortal world. As Tamlin and his court fight against the rising threats, he also begins to get closer to Feyre. As open hostility between the two turns to romance, they realize there is much more to fight for. When the source of the magical disease is revealed, it seems that only Feyre can save Tamlin and the entire faery realm.

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