Monday, June 18, 2018

Love, Life, and The List book aesthetics

One thing I think I'd love to start posting are pictures that remind me of certain books!  I just finished Love, Life, and The List by Kasie West, and similar to her other novels, it was the perfect summer read.  

The main character, Abby, is an artist struggling to find herself when she's told that her paintings are lacking heart.  She makes a list of new experiences that help bring her out of her comfort zone, and the only person left in town to do them with is her best friend, Cooper.  As she struggles with her secret feelings for him, she learns a lot more about herself than ever before and even makes a few new friends along the way.

There were plenty of beach scenes and romance, therefore I chose these photos to represent the book:

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Review: Mariam Sharma Hits the Road by Sheba Karim

Title: Mariam Sharma Hits the Road
Author: Sheba Karim
Publisher: HarperTeen
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Contemporary
Release date: June 5th, 2018
Pages: 320
Rating: 4 out of 5
Source: Won
Goodreads | Amazon | Author 

The summer after her freshman year in college, Mariam is looking forward to working and hanging out with her best friends: irrepressible and beautiful Ghazala and religious but closeted Umar. But when a scandalous photo of Ghaz appears on a billboard in Times Square, Mariam and Umar come up with a plan to rescue her from her furious parents. And what better escape than New Orleans? 

 The friends pile into Umar's car and start driving south, making all kinds of pit stops along the way--from a college drag party to a Muslim convention, from alarming encounters at roadside diners to honky-tonks and barbeque joints. 

 Along with the adventures, the fun banter, and the gas station junk food, the friends have some hard questions to answer on the road. With her uncle's address in her pocket, Mariam hopes to learn the truth about her father (and to make sure she didn't inherit his talent for disappearing). But as each mile of the road trip brings them closer to their own truths, they know they can rely on each other, and laughter, to get them through.

Mariam, Umar, and Ghaz are three teens who have been emotionally damaged and scarred by their parents in very different ways.  Each of them, finding friendship and loyalty in each other, decide to go on a spontaneous road trip.  Along the way- like any good road trip story- the characters find themselves and come to realize that what they've got and who they are is better than what they've been chasing their entire lives.

Mariam's father abandoned her family when she was only two years old.  She's always wanted to know more about him, but her mother erased him from their lives.  She never even spoke much of him.  Umar comes from a very religious Muslim family, but he's gay and doesn't know how to fulfill that part of his life openly when he knows he would likely be disowned if he ever came out to them.  When Ghaz gets in trouble for a risque photoshoot, Mariam and Umar come together to rescue her, Rapunzel style.  They hit the road with one destination in mind: New Orleans.  With a car, your best friends, and a set of fake IDs, anything is possible.

I loved the character dynamics and the topics that this books touched on.  Mariam and her friends learn that you don't always need the traditional idea of a family; they're each other's family.  Racism and Islamophobia is present in this book as well, which I haven't gotten the chance to experience in many YA books thus far.  Going on a road trip through the south, you come across the narrow-mindedness of some, but can be pleasantly surprised by the understanding of others and I felt that this was an important lesson in this book.

Overall, I loved every second of Mariam Sharma Hits the Road!  There are great friendships, personal growth, and a ton of hilarious one-liners.  I especially enjoyed the fact that I'd been to a few of the locations mentioned in the book on a road trip of my own a couple years back.  It felt like I could relate to the characters even more!  I would definitely recommend to anyone in all walks of life, because it's a very relatable and heartwarming story.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Getting back into Bookstagram

Last year I wanted to try combining two of my favorite hobbies: reading and photography.  It was fun, but quickly became overwhelming, as I had much more on my plate than anticipated.  I couldn't invest much time on trying to rebuild a new social media account and I quickly ran out of unique creative ideas, so the account was put on hold.  One day, just last month, I woke up and wanted to start it up again!  I feel like I'm getting better everyday, and I love seeing what others in the community are posting.

Here are some of my recent Bookstagram posts!

If you would like to follow, you can find me here, at thehollowcupboards!
If  you bookstagram as well, I would love to follow you.  Please leave your links below!

Sunday, June 3, 2018

What I've Been Watching: Thirteen Reasons Why

(No Spoilers)

Season 2 of the controversial Netflix show, Thirteen Reasons Why, released just a couple weeks ago.  With the way that Season 1 got me hooked, I knew that I had to continue watching, just to see where they could possibly go from there.  The thing about season one, if you haven't seen it, is that it covered what happened (and then some) in the book, written by Jay Asher.  Season 2 is a completely new story to all viewers, so that's partially what reeled me in so fast.

One thing you will notice going into this season is that each episode holds a message from the cast regarding reaching out for help, making sure to leave the suicide hotline, and urging younger viewers to watch with a parent or guardian.  This season goes into more about the characters, or the "reasons" Hannah died.  In season 1, we heard her side of the story, but season 2 is all about the secrets she kept and the court battle between Hannah's parents and the school.

I may be the only one, but I was feeling some serious Pretty Little Liar vibes this season, because it had a lot to do with trying to find out the secrets of a dead girl.  The producers really took the viewers on a journey this time around.  While we've already gotten to see the aftermath of losing Hannah, delving deeper into each characters feelings and them trying to heal is an important part of this story.  I do have to say, there were scenes where it felt that the creators were reaching for that shock-factor.  I can certainly empathize, and I know there are teenagers going through many experiences similar to these every day, but there were certain things that I didn't feel necessary to include in the development of certain characters.

Overall, yes, I still consider this show among one of my current favorites!  It's edgy and pulls you in from the very start.  I like that they're not afraid to discuss and portray real issues.  If you like drama and mystery, this is definitely going to be a show for you.

Have you watched both seasons yet?  
Let's discuss in the comments below!

Friday, June 1, 2018

Currently Reading and June TBR

Where is the time going?  I can barely get one book read before the month is over; it's been such a busy year!  Hopefully now that it's summer, things can slow down and I can enjoy life.  June is my birthday month, and this year I'll be turning 26!  Every summer I get in the mood to read cute, fluffy contemporary romances, and this one is no different!

Currently reading:

Leah on the Off Beat by Becky Albertalli

It's taking me a LONG time to get through this one, only because I don't normally listen to audiobooks, and I keep forgetting to put it on when I'm cleaning and/or driving!  So far I'm enjoying it, though.  It's nice to be reacquainted with all of the characters from Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda.

Saga Vol 2-8 by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples

After falling in love with the first of this series, I knew that I had to get my hands on the next few volumes.  My best friend was able to loan me the copies she had, and I went ahead and bought the rest.

June/Summer TBR


By Your Side by Kasie West
P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo
Invisible Ghosts by Robyn Schneider

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon

Summer screams the names of authors like Kasie West and Morgan Matson to me, and since there are a few Kasie West books I need to catch up on, I'm going to try and do that this month!

I've also heard great things about Sandhya Menon's books, so I decided to pick them up ASAP.  I can't wait to get started on When Dimple Met Rishi!  

And who doesn't love a good roadtrip book?  Mariam Sharma Hits the Road is about a cross-country trip to my favorite place, New Orleans!  Since I can't take my own roadtrip there right now, at least I can join these characters on theirs!

What are you hoping to read this summer?

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Stacking the Shelves: May 2018 Book Haul

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Haunted Heartland by Beth Scott & Michael Norman
Saga, Vol. 1 by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Nothing Left to Burn by Heather Ezell
Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne
The Beauty that Remains by Ashley Woodfolk
Strange Stars by Jason Heller
How Hard Can It Be? by Allison Pearson
The Falling Between Us by Ash Parsons
What I Leave Behind by Alison McGee
Gudetama's Guide to Life by Brian Elling
Eggistential Thoughts by Gudetama the Lazy Egg by Francesco Sedita & Max Bisantz

My favorite bookstore find this month was definitely Haunted Heartland, a ghost book involving stories that take place in the midwest.  My dad had this same book when I was younger, but it was loaned out and never returned.  When I stumbled upon this copy, I knew I had to have it.  Another book I'm super excited to add to my collection is Saga, Vol. 1!  Check out my mini review here!

What new books have come into your life recently?  Feel free to leave the link to your most recent book haul below!

Mini Review: Saga, Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Title: Saga, Vol. 1
Author: Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples
Publisher: Image Comics
Age Group: Adult
Category: Graphic Novel/Comic
Release date: October 23rd, 2012
Pages: 160
Rating: 5 out of 5
Source: Purchased
Goodreads | Amazon | Author

When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe.

Although I remember hearing about Saga from other readers, I never looked into picking up any of the volumes until I stumbled upon Volume One at my local Half Price Books store.  I must say: for a book lover, I rarely buy myself books.  I have so many on my shelves to read that I'm certain I will never get through all of them.  Yet, here I was, book in my hands immediately upon finding it on the shelves.  I didn't even flip through it beforehand, I just knew that I wanted it. 

Saga is a tale about two starcrossed lovers, trapped in the middle of a battle between each of their kind.  There's Marko, a kind and caring soul who believes that violence only leads to more violence, and Alana, who is protective and headstrong.  Because they separated themselves from the war in order to fall in love and start a family, everyone- from each side- seems to be after them.  The artwork in this book is so strange and wonderful, it fits the story perfectly.  I must say, after reading Volume One, I absolutely regret not picking up the other volumes they had in store.  I will definitely be getting my hands on the rest of the series thus far, because I flew through this one faster than I anticipated.

Monday, January 15, 2018

I'm Reading for Myself Again

It's been a long time since I've blogged about books.  Life has gotten busy, it's true, but I also burned myself out.  Last year I thought that maybe I would reinvent my blog, but it was also the year that I posted the least.  I see that many of the bloggers who were around when I started are barely posting anymore. 

Maybe everyone has moved on to bigger and better things, or maybe they're hopping on the BookTube bandwagon that I always wanted to try but never had the guts to begin.  I feel so out of the loop, but this time, I don't mind so much.  I'm reading for myself again.  I don't know which new books are coming out anymore, and I'm okay with it.  Now I just get a happy surprise if I go to the store and see that one of my favorite authors has released something new.

Right now I'm reading books that I choose to read, not books that are coming out soon because I have to review them.  Don't get me wrong, I love creating hype for a book that I was fortunate enough to enjoy earlier than most, but there's also something so relieving about picking out a book that's been sitting on your shelves for a while, patiently waiting to be read.

Current Reads:


It by Stephen King

I absolutely loved the new theatrical remake of Stephen King's It.  I spent a month after seeing it in theaters just looking up more of the story.  I finally purchased the book on a whim, and I'm loving it.  I know that it will take me a while to read, though, because it's a daunting 1,157 pages long!

After finishing Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia, I needed a new ebook to read, so I went with Kasie West's new novel, Love, Life, and the List.  Since I mostly read on my kindle during my lunch breaks at work, I thought that this would be the perfect, fluffy read.

What are you reading?

Review: Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Title: Eliza and Her Monsters
Author: Francesca Zappia
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Contemporary
Release date: May 30th, 2017
Pages: 385 (eARC)
Rating: 3 out of 5
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads | Amazon | Author

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. 

Online, she’s LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves the online one, and she has no desire to try. 

Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and as he draws her out of her shell, she begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile. 

But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.

The first thing that appealed to me about Eliza and Her Monsters was that just by the description of the book, I could see a lot of myself in Eliza.  In high school, I was always the quiet kid who kept to herself.  I sat in the back of my classes with a pen in my hand-- not taking notes, but writing about another world to escape into.  Like Eliza, I became obsessed with one of my stories, and I worked hard on it for years, posting it online anonymously.  While I gained some loyal readers who knew nothing about the real me, it wasn't nearly the fanbase that Eliza created for herself with Monstrous Sea.

When Eliza starts to fall for real-life Monstrous Sea fan, Wallace, she chooses to keep her real identity a secret.  As a reader, you know that this can only end one way, but it was fun to read about their relationship nonetheless.  Before him, Eliza never had anyone other than her family and two long-distance online friends to spend her time with.  Spending time with him and his group of friends helps her experience so many new things.  One thing that had me on the fence about Wallace and Eliza was that most of their conversations take place over text or in notes, even if they're sitting face to face.  Somehow, that made their connection feel too impersonal to me. 

By the time I got to the end of the book, I felt that I was just reading to get it over with.  There were many predictable, and some unbelievable parts that I couldn't shake once I read them.  I would say, though, that the story is nicely paced and well written, portraying relatable characters and an interesting plot.  I used to feel so alone in my writing and interests, but by reading about characters that I can see so much of myself in, I now see that was never true.  I would have loved a book like this if it had come out 10 years ago, and I hope that teenagers read this today and see parts of themselves in Eliza or Wallace, too.