Bookish Sweet 16: My 2017 TBR

I checked my shelves and I own 92 books that I haven’t read yet. 92! How sway? With that in mind I have chosen 16 books from my own shelves that I absolutely have to read next year. I’m hoping to read more than just the ones on this list but I figured this would be a good start.


1. Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

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I loved The Darkest Minds trilogy by Alexandra Bracken but I’ve been hesitant to read Passenger since I’ve read mixed reviews. I’m hoping I enjoy it so I can read the sequel, which comes out in January.

2-3. The Wrath & the Dawn Duology by Reneé Ahdieh

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My friend told me I need to read this duology so when I saw both books on BookOutlet I quickly purchased them during the site’s Black Friday sale. Then I proceeded not to read them. Oops!

4. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

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My original plan was to read An Ember in the Ashes so I could read the sequel, which came out this year. Well the sequel has come out and I still haven’t read either of these books. At least now I can read them back to back.

5. Mosquitoland by David Arnold

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I fell in love with David Arnold’s writing style when I read Kids of Appetite so I wanted to read his debut novel. Of course once I actually had the novel I somehow forgot to read it.

6. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

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Honestly, the title of this novel is what really sold me. Rarely do I just pick up a book in the bookstore and buy it without having compared prices online but I did for Simon.

7. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

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I’ve had an ARC copy Big Little Lies since I interned at People magazine back in 2014. Now that it’s going to be an HBO mini-series I figured it was finally time I gave it a read.

8. Just One Day by Gayle Foreman

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I really want to read more contemporary romances in 2017 and Gayle Foreman is the perfect person to start off with. I loved If I Stay and Where She Went and I feel confident I’ll enjoy Just One Day as well.

9. The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout

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It’s possible I bought this book just for the cover. Just look at it! Isn’t it gorgeous? Yes, I know, I have a problem. Honestly though, I loved the Lux series so I feel confident I will like this book as well. I just have to read it.

10-11. Second Chance Summer and Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

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Morgan Matson is an author I just discovered this year. So far I’ve read two of her books and now I own two more. I’m hoping to read them both next year.

12-16. 2017 ARCs

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This year was the first year I really started getting a lot of ARCs and while I was good in the beginning I started just letting them fall by the wayside. Next year I plan to read all my ARCs before they’re pubbed so I can post more ARC reviews. Not pictured: As Red as Blood by Salla Simukka.

Do you have a big TBR pile? What books do you plan on tackling next year? Let me know in the comments below!

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Taking A Break!

Hey friends! Don’t freak out, I’m not taking a break from blogging. At least not all of it but from now on I’ll be doing just book reviews. As much as I love blogging and interacting with my followers I’ve realized that I may have taken on too many things and I’ve been feeling pretty stressed and tired lately.

So, for the sake of my sanity I’ll only be doing two posts a week, which will be my book reviews on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Of course if I have time I’ll do other posts besides that but I’m not sure if I will. I’m not sure how long this will last but for now I need to take a step back from something and this is it.

Thank you so much to all my followers that consistently read and like my posts. I love blogging and engaging with this amazing community and I have no intention of leaving it anytime soon. I just need to cut back a little bit. You can still connect with me on my bookstagram account and on Twitter. Thanks for understanding!

 

Five Great Book-To-Film Adaptations

*This is a guest post written by Shant Istamboulian, writer of Shantipedia. Check out his awesome post and fantastic blog. Thursdays are guest post day. If you would like to be featured email toborroworbuy@gmail.com.*
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Adapting popular books into films has always been a popular idea. Since the silent era, filmmakers have reached into the publishing realm to inspire their vision. D.W. Griffith’s infamous and controversial movie, The Birth of a Nation, was based on Thomas Dixon, Jr.’s equally incendiary novel (later play) The Clansman, while Cecil B. DeMille used the Bible as the impetus for his 1927 film based on the life of Christ, King of Kings.

Classics ranging from Ben-Hur (the silent version and the Oscar-winning masterpiece starring Charlton Heston) to Gone with the Wind, were all based on best-selling books that entertained and challenged readers young and old alike.

The trend continued this past weekend with the release of Paper Towns, the popular YA novel by The Fault of Our Stars writer John Green, while later in the year we’ll see the release of the eagerly anticipated final chapter in the blockbuster Hunger Games franchise, Mockingjay—Part II.

Books are constantly being turned into movies, sometimes great, sometimes not, but in the past 30 years there’s definitely been some standouts. Here’s my top five.

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The Color Purple (1985, based on the book by Alice Walker)

When screenwriter Menno Meyjes set out to adapt the Pulitzer Prize-winning book of the same name, he was met with a tall order. Alice Walker’s piece is structured as a collection of letters written by protagonist Celie (played by Whoopi Goldberg in the film). How do you turn that into a feature film screenplay? The unenviable task was handled with care by Meyjes and the resulting film is touching and powerful from first frame to last and proved to be a classic example of how to adapt tricky material. Filled with wonderful performances by a great cast, including Danny Glover and Oprah Winfrey in early, career boosting roles, The Color Purple also had the distinction of providing a bridge for Steven Spielberg to segue from blockbuster filmmaking to more prestige films which would later include Empire of the Sun, Schindler’s List, and Saving Private Ryan.

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FANTASTIC MR. FOX (2009, based on the book by Roald Dahl)

Roald Dahl was a children’s writer but his books always contained an edge missing from others published in its day. This is why adapting his books has never been easy as filmmakers desperately try to toe the line between the sweet and salty. Most Dahl adaptations are serviceable at the very best. (Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is considered a cult classic but a great adaptation of a Dahl book it is not.) The one filmmaker to successfully translate Dahl’s voice from page to screen was Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel). His version of The Fantastic Mr. Fox is a great time, thanks to wonderful stop-motion animation, a collection of star talent (George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Bill Murray) that gets the material, and the perfect blending of tastes between author and filmmaker. Anderson’s style is not for everyone, but I dare you to watch this Fox without a smile on your face.

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GONE GIRL (2014, based on the book by Gillian Flynn)

It’s rare for an author to adapt their own book into a screenplay. Rarer still is for them to knock it out of the park as Gillian Flynn did with her script to her dark page-turner. Working with David Fincher (Se7en, Fight Club), Flynn perfectly eliminates all the fat from her novel to deliver a tautly-paced stunner that never lets up, even to those who read the book (the “shock” moment in the book’s climax still managed to get me in the silver screen version). The Gone Girl script serves as a master class on how to adapt a popular novel and it was unfortunate that the Academy failed to nominate Flynn for a much deserved Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar (she would’ve deserved the win, too).

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JACKIE BROWN (1997, based on the novel Rum Punch by Elmore Leonard)

Crime novelist Elmore Leonard always seemed like the bridesmaid when his work was adapted into films. While some of his westerns (3:10 to Yuma, Hombre) became minor classics, his crime novels never turned out the way you expected. Anyone remember 52 Pick-Up or Cat Chaser? It wasn’t until the late nineties when a trio of his books were turned into films that are now modern classics. Between 1995’s Get Shorty and 1998’s Out of Sight, Quentin Tarantino adapted his comic thriller Rum Punch into Jackie Brown. The brilliance of Jackie Brown is how Tarantino made the source material completely his own, changing protagonist Jackie Burke, a white, blonde-haired Miami flight attendant, to Jackie Brown, a black Los Angeles-based woman, while still retaining Leonard’s voice. Jackie Brown was Tarantino’s follow-up to Pulp Fiction so it didn’t get the proper attention it deserves, but with outstanding turns by Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Keaton, Robert De Niro, Bridget Fonda, and the one and only Pam Grier (in the role of her career), who makes magic with co-star Robert Forster in his Oscar-nominated role, this is a must watch. Better yet, read Rum Punch before watching Jackie Brown and marvel at Tarantino’s achievement.

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MISERY (1990, based on the book by Stephen King)

A Stephen King film adaptation comes around almost every year but none have reached the perfection that is Misery. Director Rob Reiner tackled King for the second time (after Stand by Me) with a little help from Oscar-winning screenwriter William Goldman (All the President’s Men) to deliver a sometimes darkly comic, mostly chilling take on what it means to take fandom to its limits. James Caan (as novelist Paul Sheldon) and Kathy Bates (as his “number one fan” Annie Wilkes) are superb, playing the ultimate game of one upmanship. Goldman (against his will) even managed to soften the novel’s most brutal moment (SPOILER ALERT: in the book Annie chops off Sheldon’s foot and cauterizes the wound) without sacrificing its integrity and created an iconic moment in the interim. Bates won a well-deserved Oscar for Best Actress and her performance still tingles the spine.

Old Stories, New Life: Persephone Books

*This is a guest post written by Shelbi Starnes, writer of The Nobby Life. Check out her awesome post and fantastic blog. Thursdays are guest post day. If you would like to be featured email toborroworbuy@gmail.com.*

Old Stories, New Life: Persephone Books

Shelbi Starnes

If you’re a reader (and if you’re reading this post, I assume that you are), you can sympathize with the fact that it can often be a challenge to find new, compelling books to read when you are in need of a fresh story that is simply a pleasant experience. I often find myself in bookstores, scanning the shelves for the elusive book to pop out at me, or to discover a beloved author’s lesser-known work that I can probe and explore. Perhaps the most rewarding of all is to find an author I’ve never heard of before – and thanks to Persephone Books, this happens more often than not these days.

I discovered my first Persephone book several years ago when it was sitting primly on a Barnes & Noble bookshelf, and I must admit, it was the cover that caught my eye. On closer inspection, I noticed with interest that the book was a story by Frances Hodgson Burnett, of The Secret Garden fame. That she had written other novels had never occurred to me, but now that I held The Marchioness in my hands, I wondered how many more she had written, and how many other authors had books that they had labored over but, for whatever reason, had never enjoyed success.

I also found another Persephone on the same visit (it was Christmastime and I believe the store had received a special shipment, as I have never been lucky enough to discover Persephone books at Barnes & Noble again), and I noticed with interest that it had been penned by Monica Dickens, Charles Dickens’ granddaughter. Wondering if she was as compelling an author as her grandfather, I purchased it and began reading it shortly after with my book club. When we met the following month to discuss it, we all agreed that we hadn’t been able to put it down. Who knew that Charles Dickens had offspring who wrote? and wrote in a style worthy of her literary heritage? Since then I have been on a quest to collect more of Monica Dickens’ books (not easy here in the US, as they were published in Britain quite some time ago) and have been interested in discovering more unknown literary greats.

Persephone books not only brings overlooked authors to life, they also focus on women authors by publishing works that were neglected over the years because they were not written by men. In bringing these novels to life at last, Persephone is helping to right a literary injustice. It is also interesting to note that this publishing company is owned by a woman, and her extraordinary vision and dedication to her business has imparted a unique credibility to her desire to publish female authors.

Not only am I discovering “new” authors and works, but there are authors who became successful without all of their books being well-received. To that end, Persephone brings out those neglected, overlooked novels and introduces them to a new audience.

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Persephone Books is not just a publisher, but the creator of a reading experience, as their books are lovely in their simple gray covers with exquisite interiors awaiting those who crack the covers open to peek inside. A matching bookmark will begin to slide out as you open the book further, and if you’re not hooked by now then you are probably not appreciative enough of a bookish experience (of course I speak tongue in cheek…).

Should you happen into their store in London (which sits on the cutest, quietest street that just begs you to stop awhile and take it in), you will be greeted with more of the publisher’s simple, but elegant aesthetic. Clean bookshelves bearing neat stacks of their gray books beckon invitingly from a tiny, sun-filled room. Just beyond the counter, you may glimpse employees having afternoon tea. While I was visiting, a young employee popped into the shop with a profusion of flowers in her hand “just because”. It is perhaps because of their attention to beauty that Persephone has been able to succeed in creating a literary life of its own – one that is simple, beautiful, and worth exploring.

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Dear College Grad Me

As I get closer to starting my senior year of college (that came fast) I wanted to write a letter to my future self about some things she needs to do as she prepares to enter the “real world”. Using FutureMe.org I’ll actually get this letter emailed to me on the day of my graduation. It’ll also be here so I can look at it on that day as well but I don’t know if I’ll remember. I recommend all my fellow rising seniors do this too. It’s cool all the things that I found myself writing to myself and these all things I hope to start doing from now. Feel free to add your own letters to your future selves in the comments below.


Dear College Grad,
Congratulations, you made it. After four years of hard work, friendships, drama, and some heartache you’ve survived all the way to the end and I couldn’t be more proud. You’ll thank everyone who helped you get here but don’t forget to thank yourself. It wasn’t easy but you did it.

As you leave Georgetown and head on to do big things there’s some things we have to discuss. I have some hopes for us and not just the usual stuff of making it big and reaching our dreams. I mean the other stuff like being a good person and loving you for you. There’s some things I need to make sure you do as you go out into the real world (or grad school).

First, love yourself. I’m not saying be self-absorbed I’m saying love yourself. Love you for you. Stop comparing yourself to everyone around you and thinking you’re not good enough or pretty enough or even smart enough. Know that you are beautiful and wonderful just the way you are. It’s great when someone else says it but make sure you tell yourself how much you love you. It’s important.

Second, forgive people. I mean really forgive people. Not the fake, “Haha, yeah, we’re all good, no worries.” I mean really forgive them. Don’t dwell on how someone hurt you. Don’t let someone’s hateful words alter who you are. Let it go. Hating someone or resenting them for the rest of your life only hurts you and does nothing to them. Also forgive yourself. Don’t keep reminding yourself of your own mistakes and mess ups. It’ll happen but you just have to learn from it and push on. You have other things to worry about then obsessing over something in the past.

Third, always be open to trying new things. Try doing something you’ve never done before. Go wind surfing or scuba diving. Or audition for something. Don’t close yourself off to things. You can do anything you want to do. Just try it.

Four, let people in. I know this is easier said then done but we’ve never been the most open person. Talking about our favorite TV show or the newest Demi Lovato album, that’s easy. Talking about things that really matter like when we lose someone close to us or when we just feel upset about something or even being honest about how we feel about someone? That’s a bit harder. Truth is we have this tendency to hold in the big stuff. We hate asking for help when we need it and we run from the big stuff. That’s got to change. We can’t just keep writing it all down in our journal. Open up a little bit. I’m sure it won’t kill you. It might even make you better.

Five, never give up on your dreams. We have a lot of dreams. From wanting to be a best selling author to having a family and living in the house with the white picket fence our dreams are big and small. And they vary on a day to day basis. It doesn’t matter what your dreams are just don’t give up on them. Don’t settle for the easy thing and don’t let anyone ever tell you you can’t do it. Not even yourself. Dream big, aim high, and don’t let one “no” stop you from picking yourself up and trying again. Whatever you want to do, do it.

Six, treat others the way you want to be treated. This one is an oldie but it still holds true. Treat people with kindness. Help people when they need help. Don’t turn a blind eye when someone asks for help. Better yet volunteer to help out before someone even asks. Be kind. Be caring. Listen to people. Actually listen to them, not passively but actively. Be there for people the way you might one day need them to be there for you. Just treat them the way you’d want to be treated and you’ll do fine.

Seven, love hard. And tell the people you love, that you love them everyday. We’ve learned the hard way how fast someone can just be gone. Don’t let days or even weeks go by without talking to the people who matter. Let them know how much they mean to you and spend time with them while you can. Whether it’s family, friends, a boyfriend, or whoever. Don’t hide from how much they mean to you. Embrace it. Loved ones are good. Cherish them.

Lastly, be happy. Be really happy. Smile whenever you can. Laugh whenever you’re able. Do whatever makes you happy. Surround yourself with people who make you happy but also know how to be happy by yourself. Obviously you’re not always going to be happy but I challenge you to find a way to smile even through the hard times, the sad times, and the worst times. If you can do that then I know we’ll be okay.

Good luck and conGRADulations.  We did it!

Sincerely,
Zakiya

How I Learned to Love My Hair

When people ask me why I decided to go natural I always give a simple answer: “It’s better for my hair” or “I wanted to try something different.”

Although both of these things are true the truth comes from a much deeper place: my insecurities. When I think back to the reason I wanted to get my hair relaxed in the first place it wasn’t because I thought it would look cute or I wanted to try something new. It was because I wanted straight “white girl” hair. I wanted hair that wouldn’t break combs. I wanted hair that people wouldn’t make fun of me for.

I was tired of trying to think of creative ways to tame my hair; I wanted to fix the “problem.” That was my real issue, that I thought my hair was a problem. That I felt like my hair had to be a certain way. That was wrong.

I also had this idea that my insecurities about my hair would go away if I got a perm. I thought if I could just make my hair like everyone else’s I wouldn’t feel ashamed of it anymore. That wasn’t the case. The truth was my hair will never be like “white girl” hair no matter what I do to it.

I couldn’t just go to sleep with my hair anyway and have it look nice when I woke up. I had to wrap it and put a scarf on it before I went to sleep, which of course led to questions like, “Why do you do that with your hair?” or “What is that on your head?” The worst would be when people would take pictures thinking it was a funny style that needed to be shared.

Or when I washed my hair it wasn’t as straight as it was before I washed it. Then there’d be the questions like, “So what does your hair really look like?” or “Do you have to straighten it everyday?” There’d also be the people that thought it would be funny to take pictures of that “style” as well.

Though I think questions about my hair and what makes it different could be fine, I don’t believe my hair should be an exhibit for people. It’s not something you need to take pictures of because you think it’s funny or amusing. However, what I’ve also learned on my hair journey is that there will always be people who don’t understand “black hair.” They won’t understand that we all have different textured hair (even within the black community) and it can sometimes be hard to manage but what I’ve also learned is if someone has a problem with my hair that’s their problem.

What I’ve learned is yes my hair is different and sometimes it can get on my last nerve, especially when I’m trying new styles and it doesn’t come out the way I wanted it to. But it’s my hair. It’s what God has blessed me with and more importantly I love it. I love that I’m learning more about what I can do with it. That I don’t have to just wear the same style all the time because it’s “easy.” I’m finally going to learn how to french braid and cornrow my own hair. I’m trying all these new products that I’ve never heard of before. I’m doing something different not just because I think it’s healthier for my hair but because I’m curious about what I could do.

Most importantly, I’m learning now that there’s this whole community of people who understand the struggle and that I can ask for help and ask questions. I don’t have to be ashamed about not knowing how to do twists or a fancy braid style because there’s a YouTube video about it. There are people who know what it’s like to go through the deep conditioning process and actually know how to use a diffuser to your advantage.

I’ve also learned that although I’m choosing to go natural there’s nothing wrong with having relaxed hair if that’s what I want. There’s nothing wrong with having a weave or locks or twists or braids because the truth is everyone’s hair is their own. You can do what you want with. It’s your choice and no one and nothing should make you feel insecure or ashamed about it. Just make sure you’re doing what’s best for you and your hair.

I’d also like to thank my mom and my friends who have gone natural and have been so bold and inspiring with their hair journey. I don’t think I would have the courage to do what I’m doing now without seeing people go through their own journey before me. So thank you. I hope my journey can be just as inspiring to someone else.

How to Pick Your Superbowl Team

If you’re anything like me, you don’t know anything about football and that’s okay. Just yesterday I learned the two teams playing in the Superbowl this year are the Seahawks and the Broncos. Interesting.

As someone who has no knowledge on the sport and the Superbowl is the one football game I watch all year here’s how I figure out who I’m rooting for. It’s not the best system but I’ve found that it tends to work.

1. Are either of the teams from your hometown?

This is the easiest way to pick a team. If the team is coming from your native land you’ve gotta root for them. It’s only right. This only gets tricky if you find yourself in a Jets vs. Giants situation but I don’t think this happens often. Then again what do I know.

2. Which team is closer to you?

Of course since there’s so many teams in the NFL there’s a good chance that your home team won’t make it. Such a shame. If this is the case, you can then choose your team based on which one is closer to you: either the place you live now or your hometown. For example, last year I rooted for the Baltimore Ravens ’cause I figured that was close enough. Clearly, that was a good betting system.

4. Whatever team your significant other is rooting for

If you’re currently in relationship or even casual dating someone, it would be in your best interest to cheer for their team. Do not get yourself into a fight you can’t get yourself out of. People take their sports very seriously. Unless you have a crazy good reason for not supporting their team you better come with a jersey and sign saying, “Go Broncos!”

4. Who has the cutest player(s)?

Now if a significant other isn’t a factor then this should definitely be a good determinate. Who wouldn’t want to root for a team with attractive players? Yes it’s hard to see what they look like with all their gear on but they do take off their gear at some point. Plus, their attractiveness helps them play better. Right?

5. Whichever team your family/friends/host is supporting

Similar to the boyfriend/girlfriend scenario, if you’re surrounded by a whole bunch of people supporting one team don’t be THAT person, especially if you don’t know anything about football. Just sit down and cheer with everyone else. Make the party’s team your team. It’s just easier that way. You don’t even have to watch the game; just follow everyone else. That way instead of focusing on the game you can spend more time focusing on the commercials and waiting for the halftime show (we all know you’re just waiting for Bruno; it’s okay).

6. Don’t choose a side

Here’s a crazy thought: you don’t have to choose a side! If you are really only watching the game to be social and waiting for the commercials and halftime show that’s fine. Just play with your phone or talk to people during the boring parts game. However, if you actually want to at least pretend you know something about what’s going on it’s better to have a team. You’d be surprised how quickly you can get competitive over a team you just committed to an hour ago.

Whether you choose to pick a side or not, or if you actually are really excited to watch the game tomorrow I hope you have a Happy Superbowl!