October 4, 2019

Library Books


Library books are different. I don't know why I say this exactly. It is only the truth. Library books hold a sprinkle of magic that you just don't always get from the books you borrow from a trusted friend or pick up at the bookstore as "a little treat" for yourself.

Since I was little, my mom would take me to the library. Even then, it was a place of magic. I pushed my mom's favorite mystery books back through the return slot. I stood on my tip-toes in front of the check-out counter where my very own public library card was being made. I signed my name on the back of the special plastic in five-year-old penmanship. I got to run through the shelves even though I had yet to figure out what I was interested in reading.

I held this wanderlust for libraries all the way into high school. I spent before, during, and after school sitting between the shelves towering over me and my lunch of peanut butter crackers. I would check out a minimum of three books each time to read during the day neath my desk. Most of the time I would return the loved books the next day or soon after when me and librarian would be able to gossip about the main love interests. So many of my favorite books had come from the library by then. Young adult books had captured my world and I was happy to live between each of the pages I checked out for days at a time.

Wouldn't it be wonderful, I thought, sitting between the shelves so often. Wouldn't it be wonderful if I could stay here forever?

I worried perhaps that it would be like at your favorite coffee shop you spend your weekends getting work done, happily sniffing the latest cinnamon latte perfectly frothed, until you see the help wanted sign and think-- what could be better than working here? And decide to apply for the next four months of smelling like coffee beans and getting yelled that by customers that they ordered two percent over whole milk.

Yet still, as I figure out my life outside of weathered pages, I decided to risk the magic that I felt when I first asked myself that question while sitting between German literature and Shakespeare.

I sit behind the desk now and hand over library cards that are less and less let penned by five-year-old patrons. I stack children's non-fiction that sometimes return sticky in perfect dewy-decimal order. Yet still, sometimes, in the quiet during a long shift when I wander off through the shelves, there is something about library books still surrounding me I see day after day. It doesn't change the fact that library books hold something different than other books.

Something like magic.

Library books are stained and sometimes tattered. Pages are folded and discolored in places and ways where you don't want to know the source. These books are the ones, though I flinch away at the sight as I pull it off the shelf afraid to do more harm, I only know will do good for me. They hold word after word that I read with abandon of real life. Sucking me in.

I mark the page I left off on with the tiny slip the librarian gives me stating how each book needs to be slid back down the returns shoot by its respective date. Though it may be almost a month away, I feel the need to sit down and read the entire novel RIGHT NOW.

I do not see anything wrong with this. Neither does the library book.

Library books after all, I believe are the most willing to be loved.

They are like that one friend you know who no matter how many dates they go on, how many significant others break their hearts, they are always willing to put themselves back out there again. They are willing to give their love and live life freely. Perhaps we can learn more from library books than just the words they contain.

I love how library books feel stacked in a pile ready to be checked-out in my arms. I like finding one I wasn't looking for and adding to that pile as I scan the stacks. I love books. I love library books even more. They hold stories. So many stories and so many more than are simply told.

They hold many pieces of my own.

October 1, 2019

September 2019 Reading Wrap Up


Wow. This was seriously a huge reading month for me. Without intending to, I read more this month than I have in a long time. Overall, I ended up reading about nine books. Maybe it is beacause of the occupational hazard of working in a library and being around all the books. Maybe the fall season is just getting me in the magical mood for story telling.

Either way, this is what I read this month. Any strike your fancy?


The Rose by Tiffany Reisz

On the day of Lia’s university graduation party, her parents—wealthy art collectors with friends in high places—gift her a beautiful wine cup, a rare artifact decorated with roses. It’s a stunning gift, and one that August Bowman, a friend of her parents and a guest at Lia’s party, also has his eye on. The cup, August tells her, is known as the Rose kylix, and it’s no ordinary cup. It was used in the temple ceremonies of Eros, Greek god of erotic love, and has the power to bring the most intimate sexual fantasies to life.

But Lia is skeptical of August’s claims of the cup’s mythology and magic—after all, he’s a collector himself, and she suspects he just wants to get his hands on this impressive piece of art. So he dares her to try it for herself, and when Lia drinks from the Rose kylix she is suddenly immersed in an erotic myth so vivid it seems real—as though she’s living out the most sensual fantasy with August by her side…

Realizing the true power of this ancient and dangerous relic, Lia is even more wary of giving it up, though August insists it is only safe with him. He’s willing to pay the full value of the cup, but Lia has another type of trade in mind. One that finds them more tangled up in each other—and in fantasy—than either was prepared for.

This is probably going to end up my favorite #1 book of 2019. I already know this because it is one of my absolute favorite stories I have read in a long time. Who knew one could be so intrigued and turned on by Greek mythology at the same time?


Mine Till Midnight by Lisa Kleypas

When an unexpected inheritance elevates her family to the ranks of the aristocracy, Amelia Hathaway discovers that tending to her younger sisters and wayward brother was easy compared to navigating the intricacies of the ton. Even more challenging: the attraction she feels for the tall, dark, and dangerously handsome Cam Rohan.

Wealthy beyond most men’s dreams, Cam has tired of society’s petty restrictions and longs to return to his “uncivilized” Gypsy roots. When the delectable Amelia appeals to him for help, he intends to offer only friendship—but intentions are no match for the desire that blindsides them both. But can a man who spurns tradition be tempted into that most time-honored arrangement: marriage? Life in London society is about to get a whole lot hotter...

Obviously it is Lisa Kleypas and obviously I loved it. Another great family to add to the list of great romances.


The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez

Kristen Petersen doesn't do drama, will fight to the death for her friends, and has no room in her life for guys who just don't get her. She's also keeping a big secret: facing a medically necessary procedure that will make it impossible for her to have children.

Planning her best friend's wedding is bittersweet for Kristen—especially when she meets the best man, Josh Copeland. He's funny, sexy, never offended by her mile-wide streak of sarcasm, and always one chicken enchilada ahead of her hangry. Even her dog, Stuntman Mike, adores him. The only catch: Josh wants a big family someday. Kristen knows he'd be better off with someone else, but as their attraction grows, it's harder and harder to keep him at arm's length.


Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

The undead can really screw up your senior year ... 

Marrying a vampire definitely doesn’t fit into Jessica Packwood’s senior year “get-a-life” plan. But then a bizarre (and incredibly hot) new exchange student named Lucius Vladescu shows up, claiming that Jessica is a Romanian vampire princess by birth—and he’s her long-lost fiancé. Armed with newfound confidence and a copy of Growing Up Undead: A Teen Vampire’s Guide to Dating, Health, and Emotions, Jessica makes a dramatic transition from average American teenager to glam European vampire princess. But when a devious cheerleader sets her sights on Lucius, Jess finds herself fighting to win back her wayward prince, stop a global vampire war—and save Lucius’s soul from eternal destruction.

Another librarian where I work recommended this one to me after her and a patron like to laugh about it. Of course I had to read it, especially being a YA vampire book consider. Though the ending didn't have me waiting for a sequel, what can I say? I read it in one sitting.


Dear Fang, With Love by Rufi Thorpe

Lucas and Katya were boarding school seniors when, blindingly in love, they decided to have a baby. Seventeen years later, after years of absence, Lucas is a weekend dad, newly involved in his daughter Vera's life. But after Vera suffers a terrifying psychotic break at a high school party, Lucas takes her to Lithuania, his grandmother's homeland, for the summer. Here, in the city of Vilnius, Lucas hopes to save Vera from the sorrow of her diagnosis. As he uncovers a secret about his grandmother, a Home Army rebel who escaped Stutthof, Vera searches for answers of her own. Why did Lucas abandon her as a baby? What really happened the night of her breakdown? And who can she trust with the truth? 

Yes, not a romance novel. I did manage it this month and absolutely loved reading Lucas and Vera's story dealing with family drama both past and present. Overall beautifully written. And I love the cover.


What If It's Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?

But what if it is? 

This book was adorable. While at work I picked this one up and I couldn't put it down until I finished.  At first I was afraid this book was going to be a sort of Love, Rosie situation.You know, two characters that should be together but are plagued with misunderstandings and never getting together at the right place or right time. Let me assure you, this is not that kind of book. It is much realer and less heartbreaking.


Tempt Me at Twilight by Lisa Kleypas

He was everything she'd sworn to avoid.

Poppy Hathaway loves her unconventional family, though she longs for normalcy. Then fate leads to a meeting with Harry Rutledge, an enigmatic hotel owner and inventor with wealth, power, and a dangerous hidden life. When their flirtation compromises her own reputation, Poppy shocks everyone by accepting his proposal—only to find that her new husband offers his passion, but not his trust.

And she was everything he needed.

Harry was willing to do anything to win Poppy—except to open his heart. All his life, he has held the world at arm’s length…but the sharp, beguiling Poppy demands to be his wife in every way that matters. Still, as desire grows between them, an enemy lurks in the shadows. Now if Harry wants to keep Poppy by his side, he must forge a true union of body and soul, once and for all.

Lisa Kleypas. Again, must I say more?


The Girls of Corona Del Mar by Rufi Thorpe


Mia and Lorrie Ann are lifelong friends: hard-hearted Mia and untouchably beautiful, kind Lorrie Ann. While Mia struggles with a mother who drinks, a pregnancy at fifteen, and younger brothers she loves but can't quite be good to, Lorrie Ann is luminous, surrounded by her close-knit family, immune to the mistakes that mar her best friend's life. Until a sudden loss catapults Lorrie Ann into tragedy: things fall apart, and then fall apart further-and there is nothing Mia can do to help. And as good, kind, brave Lorrie Ann stops being so good, Mia begins to question just who this woman is and what that question means about them both. A staggeringly arresting, honest novel of love, motherhood, loyalty, and the myth of the perfect friendship that moves us to ask ourselves just how well we know those we love, what we owe our children, and who we are without our friends.

After reading Dear Fang, With Love by Rufi, I knew that I had to read her other work as well. Luckily at the library it was just sitting there aside of the last book, waiting for me. Though I can't say I liked it as much as Dear Fang, I will say that per usual, the writing is beautiful.


A Very Large Expanse of Sea by There Mafi


It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped.

Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments—even the physical violence—she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons break-dancing with her brother.

But then she meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her—they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds—and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down.

I cannot believe I waited so long to read this book. Someone else described it as a book of mistakes, and I cannot help but agree. It was painful to read in the same ways its was absolutely beautiful. I love Tahereh's writing and this book held great emotion within the pages about a girl who wants to live and love in a world so against her being in it at all.


What did you read this September? And are you a seasonal reader? So many people I know recently have been sticking to spooky books as spooky season comes upon us.

September 19, 2019

And Suddenly, I'm Lost


I can almost hear the laughter at the words. I am lost.

It is a funny set of words. There is some sort of resignation in them that I am familiar with, even at times I would say comfortable knowing what the response of another would be. Laughter. The question. Again?

I am lost.

These are words I have said and say often. I am, what some may call, directionally challenged. I once got lost taking a walk around the block in my cousin's strange neighborhood with grass growing out of cracked sidewalks. I got lost after missing the exit off the highway on my way back to school, having to make a u-turn across traffic. I have more lost stories of when I went abroad and traveled alone to Aix, to Paris, than I do ones with plans that manage to work themselves out perfectly.

Being lost is not something that I pride myself on. More, I have grown into the single word like an out of the ordinary facet of my personality. It comes up again and again when I try knew things. Most recently after getting lost on the subway and the bus in the big apple while trying to make my way to the MET, I find myself lost again.

It is a different sort of lost than one that I can eventually figure out using the google maps app on my phone. It is a lost that I didn't expect myself to feel, finally back to the places and things I know best after twenty-some years of living.

After coming home from The Columbia Publishing Course this summer, I find myself in a strange position. While others spent all their savings on apartments near Prospect Park while being on the search for publishing jobs in the city, I was not sure I wanted to do that. I wasn't sure I even wanted to ever go back to the city at all.

It wasn't that I hated my time in New York. Like many big transitions I have in life, I look fondly back on those seven weeks I spent learning everything and anything about the publishing industry. I see my experiences as things that sparkle in my mind, never to be forgotten.

While I was there I read that once you give up on the notion that the city is magical or owes you something, you are free.

Or something like that.

Though I tried to get past that hope that the city DID hold something for me and ultimately WAS magical in the sense that I could have found my place in the world while studying there, in the end my heart still raced each time I stepped out of my apartment door. Was I safe? Did I have my wallet? Was I happy?

It was like the city and me were on a very long date it and it was obvious that there wouldn't be another unless I managed to unclench my fists and hold its hand.

I didn't do that though until perhaps the final night, sipping rose cider in a bar on the upper east side. And it felt as late as the time was. I had train home in the morning that brought me to my childhood home to wallow in my own self-pity and questions about what was I meant for if not the city my younger self saw me thriving within.

Sitting on the couch and on the front porch for hours every evening, I began to question myself if books and publishing was what I was supposed to be doing at all. I wanted to be writer, of course. But, did that mean publishing?

After so many weeks, I realize how silly I sounded. Unable to help myself, my hope, I put in my resume at a spattering of places inside and outside of New York with little luck--but little is better than nothing. A little chance is better than no chance at all.

For now though, I reorganize The Selection Series by Kiera Cass daily with the job title of Teen Librarian. I wake up. I force myself to do yoga. I go to work that makes me more tired than not to write when I get home. I go to bed instead and start all over again.

It is a comfortable routine. A comfortable job where the other employees who have been here over a decade minimum aren't surprised when I have a million questions and new ideas to reach the teens that desperately need to be reading more YA books that made me love reading. My heart isn't beating when I step outside my front door and drive to the library. I am not woken up by screams outside my fifth floor walk up. Maybe one day I will get a cute little house near where I work and know all the roads and all the grocery stores--never getting lost again. It is all very comfortable.

Yet, yesterday I heard the words, "If you are not doing something that scares you, it is not worth doing."

And suddenly, I'm lost.


September 17, 2019

Things We Didn't Talk About When I Was a Girl by Jeannie Vanasco

photo credit: Kristin @kristinbetweenthepages

It took me a while to sit down and write this review.

Jeannie Vanasco has had the same nightmare since she was a teenager. She startles awake, saying his name. It is always about him: one of her closest high school friends, a boy named Mark. A boy who raped her.

When her nightmares worsen, Jeannie decides—after fourteen years of silence—to reach out to Mark. He agrees to talk on the record and meet in person. "It's the least I can do," he says.

Jeannie details her friendship with Mark before and after the assault, asking the brave and urgent question: Is it possible for a good person to commit a terrible act? Jeannie interviews Mark, exploring how rape has impacted his life as well as her own. She examines the language surrounding sexual assault and pushes against its confines, contributing to and deepening the #MeToo discussion.

Exacting and courageous, Things We Didn't Talk About When I Was a Girl is part memoir, part true crime record, and part testament to the strength of female friendships—a recounting and reckoning that will inspire us to ask harder questions and interrogate our biases. Jeannie Vanasco examines and dismantles long-held myths of victimhood, discovering grace and power in this genre-bending investigation into the trauma of sexual violence.

It took me a while to sit down and write this review. I want to do this book justice. I want to tell you how it both broke and repaired pieces inside of me I didn't know were there.

A book like Things We Didn't Talk About When I Was a Girl by Jeannie Vanasco is not a book after all that you come across everyday. This is the kind of book that you sit with and read, chapter by chapter, heart clenched as you read about the emotion and trauma of sexual assault and rape. The topic in the past years has been covered time and time again and yet this book does more than go over the basics, share a story.

This book makes you feel not alone. As a survivor. As someone who has been affected perhaps just by living and being around other women.

As many of you know, after reading The Glass Eye by Jeannie Vanasco, I was already a huge fan. The book held so much for me and when someone asks me for a book recommendation, The Glass Eye is nearly always at the top of my list. I loved it so much that after I raved and raved about the title on social media, Jeannie even got in contact with me-- one of the best days of my life, let me tell you-- and promised to get me an early copy of Things We Didn't Talk About when it came out around 2019.

And here we are. Here I am after I came home from NYC, sitting on my parent's front porch reading a book that astounded me in only a few sittings. It had to be read quickly, for after that first evening when I went to bed with it unfinished, its contents and the world it reflected on would stick in my mind, keeping me awake for hours.

Jeannie writes her memoirs in a way that feels as if you are talking to a good friend. The writing is unique and conversation. The prose works through life as if in the moment, writing through misunderstandings, internal conflict, and random thoughts that stand out as we go. It is something I deeply admire, being able to see Jeannie's strength unfold throughout chapters.

I am still coming to terms with this memoir. I didn't know what I was getting into with Jeannie's second memoir, all I know is that I needed to read it for a number of reasons, as should everyone. It was brilliant and so different in the best ways of showing humanity, pain, hardship, and the honest facts so few in Jeannie's position would be willing to take time to process and understand in the way this book fully captures.

Things We Didn't Talk About When I Was a Girl is certainly something to be talked about now. And I will be talking about it.

September 15, 2019

The Rose by Tiffany Reisz


On the day of Lia’s university graduation party, her parents—wealthy art collectors with friends in high places—gift her a beautiful wine cup, a rare artifact decorated with roses. It’s a stunning gift, and one that August Bowman, a friend of her parents and a guest at Lia’s party, also has his eye on. The cup, August tells her, is known as the Rose kylix, and it’s no ordinary cup. It was used in the temple ceremonies of Eros, Greek god of erotic love, and has the power to bring the most intimate sexual fantasies to life.

But Lia is skeptical of August’s claims of the cup’s mythology and magic—after all, he’s a collector himself, and she suspects he just wants to get his hands on this impressive piece of art. So he dares her to try it for herself, and when Lia drinks from the Rose kylix she is suddenly immersed in an erotic myth so vivid it seems real—as though she’s living out the most sensual fantasy with August by her side…

Realizing the true power of this ancient and dangerous relic, Lia is even more wary of giving it up, though August insists it is only safe with him. He’s willing to pay the full value of the cup, but Lia has another type of trade in mind. One that finds them more tangled up in each other—and in fantasy—than either was prepared for.

This is probably going to end up my favorite #1 book of 2019. I already know this because it is one of my absolute favorite stories I have read in a long time. Magical. Stunning. Captured me until the very last page. I had to know what happened next between the August and Lia in this myth-defying and sexy adventure. Who knew one could be so intrigued and turned on by Greek mythology at the same time?

The Rose was absolutely addictive. After reading the first book in what I could describe as a companion series, The Red, I was both in love and amused by the idea of this taking place over two decades since the last book, our main character now the mother of our new voice who is a weaver and has an evocative interest in Greek mythology-- Aphrodite specifically.

“There is no shame in wanting to live inside your favorite stories.”

Throughout the story the reader is immersed into a present day The characters are beautiful and have such a sense of humor that I found myself smiling continually at the page. This romance is not like any other you have read before. I think that is why I love it so much. It reads like a realistic fairy tale without the cliche, a classic fairy tale that you could jump into if only you had a chalice from Aphrodite and a very handsome stranger be your leading man through the Greek myths of your every fantasy.

“I want you to believe in magic,” August said. “I want you to believe…”
“In what? The gods?”
“In Eros."

Sign me up?

The detail and research that must have been put into this novel is something that I am astounded by. A+ to Tiffany Reisz. Of course, she always gets an A+ for story telling and beyond in my book.

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