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. 😉

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

Image result for the storied life of aj fikry

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

Image result for the fifth season by n.k. jemisin

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

Image result for little fires everywhere

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

Image result for the nightingale book

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

Image result for outlander book

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

Image result for whiskey and ribbons

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

Image result for the winter people

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

Image result for mr mercedes book

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

Image result for love and other words christina lauren

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

Image result for the name of the wind

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! 👻

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 Brené Brown speak at a conference. While I had heard of Brené 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, Brené’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 Brené 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, Brené, 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.

Why Reading Saved My Life in 2017

Why Reading Saved My Life in 2017

There is an unwritten agreement between my books and I. I open them, and they help me breathe and live. To many bookworms, this is a common agreement. In fact, there is a famous quote that reads

“She read books as one would breathe air, to fill up and live.” -Anne Dillard

This quote has always been true to me, but this year it came to life in ways that I never would have imagined.

2017 was a rough year for me and the end of 2016 set me up to have one of the worst years of my life. In late 2016, I found out that not one, but two of my VERY close loved ones had been diagnosed with cancer. This was a shock to me, as both of these family members were people who had never struggled with their health until this point. My family had a hard time coping with the news, and we still are. Then, of course, November 8, 2016 rolls around and a man (read: demon) was elected as president. This threw me into a constant state of fear, anger at the world and at him, worry for the horrible things surely to come (spoiler alert to past me: you were right to be concerned), and disbelief that a country I had previously had pride in suddenly made me feel shame to even be associated with it. But that was only the beginning.

Throughout 2017, the following things happened that made this year a not-so-great one: Seven, yes, seven of my family members were either diagnosed with cancer or passed away. My closest aunt was involved in a horrific car accident (she was okay, but it was still very scary). My childhood dog I had since I was 12/13 years old had to be put to sleep because she could no longer walk and get around. Following a terrible windstorm in the early spring, the roof of our home was severely damaged, resulting in an incredibly expensive, financially draining repair process. And of course, this new government administration has been wreaking havoc on my sense of peace almost every day since day one (and I know I am not the only one here). This isn’t a fully comprehensive list, but you get the point, a lot happened in 2017 that was really hard to get through. When the stress of one incident subsided, another one would step in and take its place.

While 2017 was a really hard year for me, there was one thing in 2017 that made the hard days just a little bit easier: Reading. Reading, as I mentioned, has always helped me breathe a little better. It’s my absolute favorite form of escapism and has truly helped my mental health and wellbeing throughout my entire life. While spending time within the pages of my books, the rest of the world just falls away. This year, I read more books than I ever have in one year in my entire life. I read more diverse books by authors I had never heard of before with stories I had never lived. I read more fun books that I may not have tried had I not been on the lookout for new and exciting novels. I read more books that had important lessons in them that helped me grow as a person. I read more books PERIOD and despite the pain happening outside the pages, my books saved my life.

Without books, I would have drowned in my depression, my anxiety, and my overall lack of hope. I would have been someone who didn’t see that a world can get better once it implodes because there are people in it that are good. I would have felt isolated by the pain I was feeling for my family members, but through books, I realized that I was not alone. I would have been someone who lost their sense of creativity because when depression hits, everything else about you leaves. But through the creativity of the authors I read and the characters I met, I was able to be inspired constantly, making me a better blogger, photographer, and a better creative professional. Books, you saved me.

Another reason books saved my life is because of my new adventure into bookstagram (aka the book blogger Instagram scene). I had followed bookstagram accounts for years before, watching people post photos that took my breath away and getting book recommendations from people who were just as excited about literature as I was. I had so much fear when it came to starting my own account. I thought it would be unsuccessful, that my pictures wouldn’t be good enough, and that I would want to quit before I even got my account off the ground. Now, almost 5 months later, My account (@worldswithinpages) has grown to over 4,000 followers, I have started a blog to supplement what I want to say about what I am reading, I have started to grow in my photography abilities, and, most importantly, I have met people who I now consider my real friends that I never would have met otherwise. Without bookstagram, I wouldn’t have been so warmly welcomed into a community of people who accept me for who I am. This sense of belonging has been so healing for me and I can’t thank my bookish friends enough for everything they have done for me this year.

There were some great things that did happen to me in 2017 that I am thankful for. Two of the family members who were diagnosed with cancer went through treatment and are now cancer free! I was promoted at work, something I hadn’t expected to happen for another year or so. My library room (aka my safe space) has really come together and is shaping up to be beautiful thanks to some new décor and a few new bookshelves. I recently found out that I am going to be an Aunt for the very first time to my sister-in-law’s baby. I visited Disney World for the 4th time this year. My husband and I have a stronger-than-ever relationship after this year of hardship. The “presidency” has brought together so many people who are willing to fight against the bullcrap more fiercely than ever, which means I have a small amount of hope for 2018 and 2020 elections. Things were not all bad, but I am glad that I had my books along for each hurricane and ray of sunshine.

I am hopeful that 2018 will be better for me. I can only hope, as that is all I have within my control. In the meantime, I will curl up with a cup of tea, close the doors, wrap myself in fuzzy blankets and ride the waves of the storm. Shoot, I may even become the storm.

I owe a lot to reading, but mostly, I owe it my life.

Thanks for reading.

-Alisa

 

 

 

 

Review: The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

Review: The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

The adventures of the Raven Boys and Blue continues with this amazing sequel! I can’t say much about what happens in this book without giving too much away, but here is what I can tell you: I am falling more and more in love with this series and its characters with each page turned.

As I mentioned in my last review post, I am trying out a new reviewing format that I think will be much more fun than my normal droning on about a book you may have never read. For my reviews, I will tell you what the book made me feel, what it made me think, and what I learned from it. After all, these are the most important gifts that books give us: Feelings, thoughts, and lessons.

 

What this book made me feel: In this second installment of The Raven Cycle, there was a lot of emotions running high as the characters start to shift into place for who they will become throughout the rest of the series. A few major things I felt during this book were anticipation, sadness, and fear. Anticipation to find out who the heck this illusive “Gray Man” is, trying to figure out what Ronan is and why he can do what he can do (very vague, but trying not to spoil anything…), and who Blue will choose in the deeply heart-wrenching love triangle (because what YA novel doesn’t have SOME kind of love triangle after all)? My highest anticipation comes from that cliffhanger at the end of the book though where a character thought long gone comes back. What does this mean for Cabeswater and for the rest of the family? I felt sadness for a character who always seems to be getting the short end of the stick (Adam), for what Ronan finds out about the Gray Man, and for Blue, who can’t seem to come to terms with who she is and how her contributes to the story. The fear came in when monsters were afoot, but I will leave that for you to discover on your own!

What this book made me think: One of the things that this book made me think a lot about was the implications of the actions that you have on other people’s lives. Something that you may not realize will follow you for your entire life truly could. This is certainly the case with Ronan in this book and I felt awful that he had to deal with what he did. I also thought a lot about how Adam’s family’s actions toward him have made him in the person he is in this book and how our home life truly does shape who we become as human beings.

What I learned from this book: For a YA novel, there was definitely a lot to learn from this book. The main thing I learned is that no matter what, family comes first. Regardless of the odds that are against you, you need to do whatever you can to make sure that your family is safe and happy. They are the ones who, in the end, will be there for you to pull you through whatever hell it is that you are facing. Friends too, but family first.

 

In case you couldn’t tell already, I am LOVING this series so far. I can’t wait to finish it very soon and I will make sure to keep you all updated on how I continue to like it.

Let me know if you have read this series and enjoyed it! Who is your favorite character?

Thank you for reading!

 

-Alisa

 

 

Author Interview: Taylor Jenkins Reid

Author Interview: Taylor Jenkins Reid

Taylor-Jenkins-Reid-Photo

If you are a fan of modern fiction, it’s likely you’ve heard of novels written by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Her books have been featured as “Best Books of Summer” by People, Cosmopolitan, InStyle, Popsugar, and Buzzfeed and have been listed as New York Times Bestsellers.

Most recently, Taylor’s newest novel, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, was nominated for a Goodreads Award for Historical Fiction and is currently in the running for “Book of the Year” or “The Lolly Award” over at Book of the Month Club. As a huge fan of Taylor and every single one of her books I have read, I wanted to learn a little bit more from her about The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and her writing process and goals in general when it came to this book. Her answers, as expected, were absolute perfection and I am so excited to share this interview with you. Thank you, Taylor, for being so kind and congratulations on your nominations!

Evelyn is the epitome of a Hollywood starlet. From her looks, to her talent, to the way the public reacts to her, it’s clear she was made for fame! However, the thing that inspired me the most about Evelyn was her strong, confident, and do-what-it-takes-to-get-what-I-want attitude. How important is it to you to create characters like Evelyn who are strong and powerful women? What message do you hope that sends to your readers?

Taylor: I think it is easier to understand ourselves when we have outside examples that resonate. That’s why representing various types of women, different types of marriages, different types of value systems, is important to me in my work. My hope is that Evelyn represents a different way to be – for better or worse. I’m not advocating that people do what Evelyn does. But I am advocating that women believe that their desires are paramount the way Evelyn does. Ambition, passion, confidence, relentlessness, power, even selfishness — these are traits I wanted to see more of in female characters so I wrote a woman with them.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was nominated for a Goodreads Award for Historical Fiction and is currently in the running for the “Book of the Year” aka the “Lolly” over at Book of the Month Club. What are you the most proud of, besides award nominations, when it comes to The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo? Did you have any “writing goals” you accomplished in writing this book? 

Taylor: My hope with this book is that it would inspire intense reactions. I very much wanted Evelyn to be a character that people felt strongly about even when they felt conflicted about her. This book does seem to have made people think about their preconceived notions about some aspects of feminity and sexuality — and I know it has brought comfort to people fighting some of the same fights that Evelyn and Monique face. That was always my goal, is always my goal with every book.

Throughout the novel, Evelyn is being interviewed by an author. This author turns out to be the person who publishes the one and only book that tells the true story of Evelyn’s life. If you could choose one person whose life you would want to write the book for, who would you choose and why? Conversely, which author would you like to have write the story of your life? 

Taylor: I would love to know the whole truth behind the life of Lucille Ball. She has long been a hero of mine. As a child, I worshipped her talent and when I became an adult, I realized the depths of her business acumen and her accomplishments as a producer and head of a studio. I would have been honored to have been the one to tell her story.

As for my own, that is a tough question. So many of my favorite authors come to mind but it is hard to know who, exactly, I want to be filtered through. My best guess would be Cheryl Strayed. I suspect she would see things in me and my life that I have yet to discover for myself.

 

As a reader of almost every single one of your books (reading Maybe in Another Life later this month and completing the list!), I truly appreciate your work and recommend your novels to friends and family constantly. If someone were a “first time” Taylor Jenkins Reid reader, which book would you want them to read first and why?

Taylor: I think it depends on what they are looking for! But maybe One True Loves is a good place to start. It has both the romantic contemporary quality I had been writing up until Evelyn Hugo but also hints at some of the more daring women to come in my work. 

This is a random but fun question: What is your Hogwarts House?

Taylor: I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve never read or seen any of the Harry Potter stories. I realize this is heresy.  If it makes it any easier to bear, I have long planned on reading them all with my daughter once she is old enough. That being said, I took a sorting quiz to answer this question and after doing a very small amount of research, it seems to be pretty accurate. I’m in Hufflepuff! Which I’m happy about because I didn’t want to claim to be Gryffindor — that seems like saying you’re a Carrie when asked if you’re a Samantha, Miranda, or Charlotte.

 

If you haven’t read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo yet, make sure you put it on your TBR as soon as possible. All of her books are phenomenal, but this one is by far my favorite of hers. It’s so unique, daring, and inspiring.

Thank you again to Taylor for answering my questions and thanks to all of you for reading!

-Alisa

 

*Taylor Jenkins Reid image provided by taylorjenkinsreid.com 

Goodreads Goal 2018? I don’t know her…

Goodreads Goal 2018? I don’t know her…

It seems a bit sacrilegious as a reader and book blogger to say this out loud, but here it goes…

*deep breath*

I am deeply considering not having a Goodreads goal this year?

Why would I do such a thing? Well, a few reasons.

  1. Reading shouldn’t be about racing through books to meet a goal.
    The enjoyment of books for me is deeply rooted in the time I spend with the plot and characters. You build relationships with books and appreciate them much more when you take your time. When you have a number you are chasing, it makes things a bit less patient and a little more rushed. While it’s good to have a goal for yourself and it feels SO gratifying to meet and beat those goals, I keep asking myself how much more I would enjoy reading if I didn’t have a quota. Chances are, it would be a lot more.
  2. Having book quotas and a number to reach really makes you shy away from reading longer books.
    I have noticed this issue a TON with not only myself, but other book bloggers I have talked to have said the same thing. With my current Goodreads goal in place, I have avoided books longer than 300 or so pages like the plague. Why? Because I could read 2 books and make a higher number at the end of the year if I just set it aside. There are so many big books I want to read in the New Year and if I am chasing a quota, I will never get to them.
  3. I am slowly letting myself come to terms with the fact that number of books read does not equal my “worth” as a reader.
    It’s hard to deny that when you see someone who has read 200 books in a year, you immediately become impressed with their ability to read that much. But does that make them a better reader, a more dedicated reader, or anything more than someone who read 2 books in a year? Nope. Not even remotely. While reading a ton of books IS impressive and proves that you are totally dedicated to your hobby, those who read less books or read just a bit more slowly are still just as valuable and worthy of being a part of the “bookworm club” as those who are speed demons! This is not a competition, we are all friends here. I used to think that if my number at the end of the year was a super high one, I would feel better about myself. But now that the year is coming to a close, I realize that what I gained from reading, what I learned from the books I read, and the friendships that I have made that have been formed around books are so much more valuable. Screw numbers!
  4. I TOTALLY smashed my reading amount from last year, and improvement is all that matters to me.
    Last year, I read 20 books for the entire year. That’s it. While that may be a lot to some people, that is very small compared to the fact that I am sneaking up on 80 read this year. THAT fact alone made me feel proud of myself, simply that I improved. I could have read 25 books this year and still been just as happy. But what made me more proud was that the books I read improved. As someone who was stuck in a cycle of always reading the same types of books from the same types of authors, I really broadened my horizons this year and read books I never would have considered before and tried out some new authors who have become lifelong favorites.

I still haven’t made a final decision on this yet, but I have the rest of December to think about it and make a final decision. What do you guys think? Are you into Goodreads goals? Do you set other goals for yourself that aren’t tied to number of books read? Let me know!

Thanks as always for reading and I will keep you updated on what I decide!

Love always,

-Alisa