Ain’t No HollerBACKLIST

Ain’t No HollerBACKLIST

“Why should [new releases] get to stomp around like a giant, while the rest of us try not to get smushed under his big feet? What’s so great about [new releases]? Hm? [backlist books are] just as cute as [new releases]. [Backlist books are] just as smart as [new releases]. (starts talking quickly) People totally like [backlist] just as much as they like [new releases]. And when did it become okay for one person to be the boss of everybody, huh? Because that’s not what [bookstagram] is about. We should totally just STAB [new releases]!” – Gretchen Weiners, Mean Girls

Can you tell I am feeling goofy today?

Anyway… let’s talk about some of my favorite backlist titles, friends. đŸ˜‰

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

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Love the idea of a cranky but lovable bookstore owner with a story that will warm your heart? This book is a sip of hot chocolate on a cold day.

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

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Fantasy at its finest and most unique, this book is the first in a beloved fantasy series that is a huge favorite among bookworms everywhere!

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

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The fact that Reese Witherspoon is starring in an upcoming adaptation of this book MAY have something to do with the fact that it is at the top of my mind for this list! Family drama that transcends the idea of the “perfect American family” and kicks your heartstrings is in store for you in this read, so buckle up!

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

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If you are a fan of historical fiction (or even if you aren’t), you NEED to read this book. As a lot of historical fiction novels do, this book takes place during WW2, but the characters (two sisters who are polar opposites) and their coming together and falling apart kept me hooked and wanting to keep exploring.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

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With so much constant hype surrounding the TV show, it’s hard to believe that the books the show is based on first hit shelves almost 30 years ago (the first book, Outlander, was published in 1991). Heed this warning, though: If you easily fall in love with hot Scottish gentleman, you WILL become obsessed with Jamie Fraser.

Whiskey & Ribbons by Leesa Cross-Smith

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This book is overlooked FAR too much despite is beautiful prose and heartwarming premise. I highly recommend this book to those who love books about love, but are also not afraid to cry a little (lot) while they read.

The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

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If you’re looking for a story that will unsettle you and creep you the hell out, I highly recommend you give this book a try.

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

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The Bill Hodges trilogy’s gripping and stomach-hurt inducing genesis is one of my favorite books I have ever read. This book isn’t King’s typical “straight up scary horror” type of novel, but it will give you the creeps. Also, if you have been loving the new show The Outsider on HBO, this series is the “prequel” to the novel that The Outsider is based on! You’ll even recognize some familiar characters from the show in this series. If you like thrillers/mysteries/books that make you cringe, pick this book as your next read!

Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren

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Easily one of my favorite romance novels of all time, this book brings the best of the best when it comes to “teen love gone awry to second chance at love as adults.” I LOVE stories that have “second chance romance” vibes to them so much. Something about the idea of the power of love defying the odds is so cozy and inspiring to me. Love love love this book!

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

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If you ask me what my favorite book of all time is, I may just end up telling you it’s this one. I credit this book for helping me to fall deeply in love with high fantasy, and for that, I will be forever grateful. Yes, it is longggggg, but TRUST me when I tell you that the journey is so so so SO worth it.

 

As an avid backlist reader, I know there are other favorites I am missing, but I hope that these add just a few more titles to your TBR (which I am SO sure you needed lol…).

What are your favorite backlist titles? Do you try to prioritize reading backlist books or do you mostly stick to new releases?

Exciting Reading for October!

Exciting Reading for October!

Hey friends!

This may be a bit premature, but I’m getting extremely excited for October. Despite the fact that it’s only August, I’m already incredibly excited to pick out spooky horror reads and deeply sink into the excitement of Halloween and crispy leaves.

If you follow me on Instagram (@worldswithinpages), you’ll maybe know that I’ve decided to use October as an excuse to host a month-long readalong of various horror novels. I always keep readalongs super laid back, so I’m really excited to introduce this new format! I’ll be using the hashtag #WorldsWithinSpooktober to track both my and posts and the posts of those who would like yo join in with me.

I’m going to choose 4 books and everyone will be welcome to pick however many they’d like to read along with me. I’m still deciding on how to set up discussion posts, but I’m hoping that by hosting this readalong, people will be more open to experiencing the horror genre. It’s so underrated, in my opinion, and I hope more people can fall in love with it.

Curious which books I might pick? Like I said, I am going to choose four, but here are a few on my list at the moment which I will narrow down in September:

  1. Dracula by Bram Stoker
  2. Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
  3. Macbeth by Jo Nesbø
  4. Ghost Story by Peter Straub
  5. The Good House by Tananarive Due
  6. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
  7. The Passage by Justin Cronin
  8. Fledgling by Octavia Butler
  9. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  10. Bag of Bones by Stephen King

See any you’ve read and loved? Any you’re dying for me to include? Let me know, and let’s get SPOOKY! đŸ‘»

June Reading Wrap Up

June Reading Wrap Up

In the month of June, I read a large book that, apparently, has taken others MONTHS to finish. While I am proud and happy with this massive undertaking, it also means that I didn’t read a large quantity of books. Not mad about it though, because I really liked all of what I read and had an overall REALLY phenomenal reading month. I have also been really enjoying SLOWING THE EFF DOWN with my reading, but that is another blog post for another time… {foreshadowing??

In the month of June, I read four books (technically, I am still making my way through the fourth book, but shhhh…..). I read the first book in the Song of Ice and Fire series, Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin, Miracle Creek by Angie Kim, The Whisper Man by Alex North, and I am about halfway through The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. To read a quick and snappy overview of what I thought about what I read, keep reading!

 

  1. Miracle Creek by Angie KimOverall rating: 5/5 stars

    Miracle Creek: A Novel by [Kim, Angie]

    What I loved about this book is that it tied turbulent family dynamics and drama into a bow wrapped around a mystery that you couldn’t help but remain on the edge of your seat for. It is always extremely refreshing to have authors go full throttle into the lives of their characters while balancing the overall plot, neither outweighing the other. Angie Kim did a PHENOMENAL job with this book and I highly recommend this one to people who love mysteries surrounding small towns, domestic drama, legal proceedings, and overall anxiety and tensions between characters. 

  2. Game of Thrones by George R.R. MartinOverall rating: 5/5 stars

    A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1) by [Martin, George R. R.]

    After the last episode aired on the final season of Game of Thrones, I finally had an excuse to start the books. I have really been enjoying visiting my friends and foes in Westeros and I am really excited to start the second book in July. Yes, these books are MASSIVE and yes, they are a bit over hyped in terms of popularity. But take it from someone who never lies about the quality of books regardless of their popularity: The series is (so far) so freaking GOOD. SO GOOD. I love it so much. In case you were wondering, which a lot of people do, yes, I do think you should watch the show before reading the books. This may seem backwards coming from a reader, but having the characters faces/storylines/etc. to reference as you work your way through the book makes it about 10x easier to remember who people are, where they come from, and why they’re relevant (or irrelevant) to the story. I recommend this series to people who love the show, love large fantasy novels, enjoy rotating character perspectives, and those who love a good political fantasy tome.

  3. The Whisper Man by Alex NorthOverall rating: 4/5 stars

    The Whisper Man: A Novel by [North, Alex]
    I am so grateful to Celadon Books for sending me an Advanced Reading Copy (ARC) of The Whisper Man by Alex North. I believe that this novel was previously published in Europe, but it will be available in the US for the first time on August 20, 2019. If you like books that will make you peek around corners, watching for dangerous serial killers, you will find exactly what your spooky heart needs in this novel. Trust me, I read a lot of horror and it takes a LOT to really rock my boat. This book creeped me OUT. It probably didn’t help that my husband was away for work while I was reading it, but STILL. This one has minimal gore, a hint of supernatural, a heartwarming undertone, and spine tingling creepiness. Basically, it’s perfect, and you should all read it! The only reason I did not give it 5 stars is because I would have liked it to have been a bit longer to really flesh out some of the smaller characters and interactions people had with one another.

  4. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt 

    Overall rating: First half of the book is a 3.5/5, final rating TBDThe Goldfinch: A Novel (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction) by [Tartt, Donna]

    Here’s the thing about this book for me: While it is beautifully written, explores topics that people would rather not talk about (i.e. the death of a parent), and has kept my attention for quite some time, I do think that this book is way too long and would benefit from “wrapping things up” in about half the time it is currently using. Yes, I understand that the depth of the book is intentional and needed for this Pulitzer-Prize-winning novel to shine in all its glory, but I think a good cutback of about 25% of this book would be beneficial to my overall interest and compulsion to read it. I have started to listen to the audiobook versus reading the paperback because a) the narrator is great and b) I don’t think I would make it through this book on my own haha. TBD how much I end up liking it once I complete it.

 

 

That’s it! That’s my June monthly wrap up! I am hoping to have a few more books to talk about next month, but we shall see. What did you read this month? Any new favorites?

 

Until then, thank you for reading and I will see you next time!

-Alisa

Braving the Wilderness: The Book That Healed Me

Braving the Wilderness: The Book That Healed Me

In September of 2016, I had the absolute honor of seeing BrenĂ© Brown speak at a conference. While I had heard of BrenĂ© before and had many bookworms telling me how much her books meant to them, it never really stuck to me that she was someone who was on a “need-to-read-basis.”

When I saw Brené speak that day in September, my mind drastically changed. Not just my mind, but something deeper within me. Something that clicked itself into place in the fiber of my being and changed the way I viewed people I interacted with forever. Because of this drastic change, I made the not-so-difficult decision to research and find every single book Brené has written and acquire the ones that spoke to me.

Braving the Wilderness, BrenĂ©’s newest novel, was one she made references to throughout multiple points in her presentation. When I heard the basic message behind the novel, I knew I had to buy it. This month, I finally sat down and read it, deciding that I was READY for it. You can’t just pick up life-changing novels on a whim, your heart and soul must decide the timeline for you. Ironically, this was the pick for Reese Witherspoon’s book club this month, so really, how could I have timed that any better?

While many of the points BrenĂ© makes in the book hit me to my core, forcing literal tears from my eyes and drowning me in “aha!” moments, there was one theme in Braving the Wilderness that stood out among the rest: Compassion for our fellow human beings.

At a time where political polarization is running rampant in our country, spreading us further apart morally and in some cases physically, this book challenged me to think of why. Why is this phenomenon happening? It’s not hard to conclude that it’s happening because differences in opinion leading to a “them versus us” mentality are sown into the fabric of our nation. But what is the cost of all of this discourse? What is the end result? At the end of the day, the end result is a lack of compassion and complete dehumanization.

I will be the first to admit that I am someone who will stand by their beliefs and cast stones at individuals who disagree with me. Under the guise of social justice, I have dehumanized people in my mind. I have funneled an enormous amount of hatred toward Trump supporters. I have belittled people online for their opposing beliefs. I have sought opportunities to argue with people when I know it will just anger them. I have called people names. I have accused them of things they “must be” without truly knowing who they are and what lies at the center of their reasons for acting and saying the things they do. I have done that. And I am tired of carrying around hate if it costs me my compassion and kindness.

I want to make something clear: I am not sorry for fighting against injustices and I do not regret standing up for my beliefs and speaking out against hatred. I believe in myself and my stance on the topics I’m passionate about and I will never falter on them. However, most of my outward actions which put my morals into practice went against my own code of ethics. I need to be better at staying true to who I am regardless of how I feel at the “heat of the moment.” I need to be better so that I can be more effective with my message and so that others can hear what I have to say.

My most important trait I possess is my ability to put kindness into action. That doesn’t mean that I will let people walk all over me. If I feel disrespected, I’ll bite back. BUT… above all, what’s most important to me is that I maintain a level of compassion that speaks volumes to what I stand for regardless of how others treat me.

In the past few months, life circumstances have forced me to take a look at myself and evaluate WHO I want to be and WHAT I want to do about it. Reading Braving the Wilderness was a breath of much needed fresh air, pointing me toward my True North. I was feeling so lost in the “Wilderness”, wondering what my next step would be. But as long as I keep stepping toward kindness and compassion, I know that I will always be on the path I’m meant to travel. Whatever is on that path will challenge me every single day, but the reward will be great.

Thank you, BrenĂ©, for getting me through an incredibly hard time in my life. Your voice while I was listening to you narrate your audiobook healed my soul. I felt like you were listening to ME rather than vice versa and I can’t tell you how much that means to me to be heard. Standing in the wilderness won’t be fun and I am standing here alone. But I’m here, I’m present, I showed up, and I’m ready for the adventure.

5/5 stars for this book.

Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Look, I know what you’re thinking. I am late to the party on this one. Fangirl has been sitting on my shelf for YEARS now just waiting to be cracked open. But trust me, had I known that I was going to love it as much as I did, I wouldn’t have waited this long.

Overall, I LOVED this book. I loved that the main character, Cath was so incredibly relatable in every way. I loved that her romance with (no spoilers) her crush was realistic and not the average “uhhh… yeah right…” mush fest that some YA can slip into. I loved that there were multiple mental illness themes, addiction themes, drug use themes, aggression themes, LGBT representation, sex positive themes, and family tension themes (all of which made the book that much more realistic). Liked I said, I loved it!

This book earned a 5-star rating for me and here is why:

What this book made me feel: First and foremost, Fangirl made me feel nostalgic for my own first year of college and for falling in love with my now husband who I met during my junior year. While those who are freshman in college are legally and technically adults, there is still so much childlike wonder and fun in those who are just starting their journeys away from home. I also felt so connected to Cath as a character. In the beginning to the novel, I admit, she annoyed me a bit because she was a bit whiny and angsty. But as I kept reading and her character really started to full form, I realized that a lot of her angst was a cover up for the anxiety she was feeling about college and in general. I completely relate to that feeling, especially when I was just staring at my new university. I also was able to really empathize with Cath’s family issues. Her mom, Laura, abandoning her as a child is not something that I went through, but as a child of divorced parents, I really understood her resentment toward her mother and how her life had waves of repercussions due to being in a single-parent family. Her dedication to her sister was another thing I was able to connect with, as I would do just about anything to keep my own sister safe if she were in a situation like Wren was in (again, no spoilers).

What this book made me think: Due to this being a YA novel, I admit that it didn’t make me “think” too much, per se. I think this book was heavy on the “feeling” aspect and that it was intended to be that way. I will say that Cath’s goals and perseverance toward her dream and her steadfast dedication to being exactly who she is really resonated with me. It made me think about my own goals for my career and life and reminded me to not let anyone, including myself, get in the way of my dreams!

What I learned from this book: The one main thing I learned from this novel is that there is so much importance, bravery, and honor in being genuinely who you are. Despite her friends and family kind of teasing Cath for liking something nerdy, she was unapologetic and continued to embrace what she was passionate about. This was a huge motivator for me because I happen to like a few nerdy things like Cath and I too receive teasing prods from my friends, family, and coworkers. But I like what I like and everyone else can either deal with it or get outta my life, right?! Right! 

Again, I can’t say enough how much I loved this book. I would highly recommend this to anyone who hasn’t read it yet, even if YA isn’t normally your genre of choice. It’s cute, funny, romantic, and just enough nerdy to add something extra as the cherry on top! 

5/5 stars for this adorable read!

Thank you so much for reading!

-Alisa

Top 10 Novels of 2017

Top 10 Novels of 2017

Hello, friends!

It’s hard to believe that I am sitting in my room writing this post on the last day of 2017. This year has been… special to say the very least. Roller coaster of emotions and unfortunate circumstances is an understatement. BUT, so many incredible things happened as well and I am more than thankful for how blessed I have been in health, love, and family.

Anyway, let’s get to the books. In 2017, I read 90 books. 90!! I am so proud of myself because in 2016, I only read about 25 books total. I almost quadrupled my total read number. How cool is that? While I read so many books that touched my heart, made me laugh, or helped me grow as a person, these 10 novels shaped up to be my Top 10 Novels of 2017 (not in any order)!

 

  1. The Darker Shades of Magic trilogy by V.E. SchwabIf you have been around me or my bookstagram (@worldswithinpages) in the past 5 months, you will know how obsessed I am with this series. And yes, I am counting all three of them as one because it’s only fair. This series is to my adult life what Harry Potter was to my childhood. It brought me so much joy and so much magic and I definitely foresee a reread in the near future!
  2. Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore 

    This book was so incredibly unique and well-written. It’s one that took me by absolute surprise and captivated me in every chapter. I loved the alternations between timelines, the deep and intriguing characters, and the idea that living life to the fullest is the only way to live.

  3. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng 

    Thanks to Book of the Month Club, I was introduced to this lovely novel that I otherwise would have never picked up. This book ended up being one of my favorites because the characters were so relatable. While they may have made decisions I didn’t agree with, I could feel their pain, their happiness, and I knew them well enough to understand their motives. I also liked that despite it being adult fiction, we got to see the perspectives of some of the young teens in the novel. It made the book read like a YA novel and I loved that! I also loved that this book helped to define, and not define, what a mother is and what it means to us all.

  4. Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman 

    It’s incredibly easy for me to say that I loved this book considering Neil Gaiman is my favorite author. It also doesn’t help that I am a mythology buff and my excitement to learn about Norse mythology thrilled me to no end. While I studied mythology in college, some of it Norse, Gaiman spun these stories into something recognizable but entirely new. I found myself laughing at his descriptions of characters, his sarcasm, and his caricaturization of these crazy Gods and Goddesses. I highly recommend this book!

  5. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty 

    While I am not the largest fan of thriller novels, Big Little Lies had be whipping through pages, impatiently waiting to find out what happened. I also loved that the TV show did the book justice so well (I know that’s not related to the book per se, but I still appreciated it)! I can’t wait to read more of her novels in 2018!

  6. The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon 

    For a YA love story, this book packed a major punch. There was an entire story and entire lives outside of two people just falling in love. There were race and immigration themes that I truly appreciated reading, as it’s not something that’s commonly written about in YA. I recommend this one for those who like YA, but are looking for something with a bit more substance.

  7. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid 

    You all already know how much I love Taylor Jenkins Reid, but this book is my favorite of hers by far. Taylor stepped into a new genre this year with The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and I enjoyed it immensely! I can’t wait to see what she writes next after the high from this one.

  8. The Golden House by Salman Rushdie 

    This being my first Rushdie novel, I had no idea what to expect and I was blown away. While it was not an easy read by far, I still loved the rich symbolism, the incredibly flawed characters, and the depth in which Rushdie explored each characters with their flaws and strengths.

  9. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater 

    Decided to pick these books up on a whim and I am so glad that I did! I loved The Raven Boys so much and the unique magic associated with each of the characters. This is a series I am very much looking forward to completing in the early months of 2018.

  10. Born A Crime by Trevor Noah 

    I love books that teach me something and I learned A LOT while reading Born A Crime. Learning about Trevor’s childhood, his path to being the incredible person he is today, and about the racial injustices and imbalances that still exist today was totally eye-opening. Oh, and he made me laugh along the way! I loved learning more about his hilarious and strong family and I am so thankful to have read this book.

 

There you have it! My Top 10 Novels of 2017. What was your favorite read from this year? Let me know!

Thanks for reading!

-Alisa