Friday, June 22, 2018

BookTube | What We Read S02E02

It's been a little while since I've shared any of our BookTube videos with you, but I decided it was high time I start doing it again! Ever since my channel shifted to become our channel (Macky & I, that is), it's been so much fun making videos to talk about books. Here's the second episode of the second "season" of What We Read, where Macky and I basically talk about all about whatever we've been reading recently. What have you been reading lately?

Alexa's Reads
Furyborn by Claire LeGrand
Bruja Born by Zoraida Cordova'
The Bird and the Blade by Megan Bannen
Little Do We Know by Tamara Ireland Stone
The Paris Wedding by Charlotte Nash
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang (review)
Save the Date by Morgan Matson (review)
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle (mini-review)
Warcross by Marie Lu (review)
Wildcard by Marie Lu

Macky's Reads
Snared: Escape to the Above by Adam Jay Epstein (mini-review)
A Stitch in Time by Daphne Kalmar (mini-review)
Bob by Wendy Mass & Rebecca Stead (mini-review)
Kushiel's Scion by Jacqueline Carey
Kushiel's Justice by Jacqueline Carey
Kushiel's Mercy by Jacqueline Carey

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Tunes & Tales 2.0 | May 2018

Back in the day, Tunes and Tales was a series I enjoyed featuring some of my favorite albums alongside books each song reminded me of, but it ultimately ended up having an expiration date as I don't fall head over heels in love with a lot of albums in their entirety. Anyway, I've decided to tackle this feature in a slightly different way going forward. I'll be sharing my five songs on repeat for each month, each paired with a relevant read, and including a link to my monthly playlist on Spotify (as I'm constantly adding to it up until the very last day). Happy reading and listening, friends!

Song: I'll Be There by Jess Glynne
Book: Siege & Storm by Leigh Bardugo
Lyrics: "When all the tears are rolling down your face/And it feels like yours was the only heart to break/When you come back home and all the lights are out, ooh/And you're getting used to no one else being around/Oh, oh, I'll be there/When you need a little love, I got a little love to share/Yeah, I'm gonna, I'm gonna, I'm gonna come through/You'll never be alone, I'll be there for you"

Alexa's Thoughts: I just finished my reread of this book the other day, and I still harbor just as much love for it as I did the first time I read it! Alina Starkov is dealing with all the resulting emotions and turmoil after the events of the first book, even as she also tries to embrace what she wants to do and needs to do going forward. She's uncertain in a lot of this story, but for a good portion of it, there is someone that she can, in fact, rely on.... and now I'm getting emotional. (I really need to get to rereading Ruin & Rising next.)

Song: Wanderlust by James Bay
Book: Just One Year by Gayle Forman
Lyrics: "I just need to see you, need to feel that rush/Again and again and again/Come on over and mend my heart/I didn't want to be here/I didn't want to be here without you/Want to be here/But everyone of us, every one of us got wanderlust"

Alexa's Thoughts: I am pretty much obsessed with James Bay's sophomore album, and this song was an instant favorite for me. I knew I wanted to pick a story that featured some traveling in it to pair with it! And when I remembered one of my favorite duologies of all time (the Just One Day duology from Gayle Forman), I immediately decided it had to be one of those books. I often wax on about my love for the first book (which my youngest sister is reading and really enjoying), but the second book also holds a very special place in my heart and made more sense to pair with this song.

Song: Back to You by Selena Gomez
Book: Legendary by Stephanie Garber
Lyrics: "You could break my heart in two/But when it heals, it beats for you/I know it's forward, but it's true/I wanna hold you when I'm not supposed to/When I'm lying close to someone else/You're stuck in my head and I can't get you out of it/If I could do it all again/I know I'd go back to you"

Alexa's Thoughts: I think that this particular pairing is just so utterly perfect but I can't tell you why without diving into spoilers for the book. Just trust me when I tell you that it works out so, so well. Anyway, I love this song a whole lot (I generally have a soft spot for music from Selena Gomez), I am obsessed with Legendary (it is so, so brilliant, y'all, and even better than Caraval) and you should check them both out.

Song: Fall in Line by Christina Aguilera (feat. Demi Lovato)
Book: Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
Lyrics: "And all the truth in the girl is too precious to be stolen from her/It's just the way it is/Maybe it's never gonna change/But I got a mind to show my strength/And I got a right to speak my mind/And I'm gonna pay for this/They're gonna burn me at the stake/But I got a fire in my veins/I wasn't made to fall in line"

Alexa's Thoughts: Two powerhouse female singers (who happen to be faves of mine) performing on a track together? And that track in question being very empowering? Yes please! My mind immediately turned to Moxie, which is one of the most unquestionably empowering stories I've ever read. I still find myself wishing that stories like this one had existed when I was still in school. It would have been such a great source of inspiration and encouragement to me at such an uncertain time of my life (which it still is for adult me, mind you)!

Song: Falling All in You by Shawn Mendes
Book: The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
Lyrics: "Still, we're changing our minds here/Be yours, be my dear/So close with you on my lips/Touch noses, feeling your breath/Push your heart and pull away, yeah/Be my summer in a winter day love/I can't see one thing wrong/Between the both of us/Be mine, be mine, yeah/Anytime, anytime"

Alexa's Thoughts: In a moment of really random universal coincidence, I fell in love with this song and this book at exactly the same time. I literally heard the opening notes of this tune and knew I would love it, and the lyrics cemented that song obsession. And I cracked open The Kiss Quotient - a delightful, funny, sweet contemporary romance - at the beach and proceeded to binge read the entire thing in a day. Both are just so wonderful and right up my alley, and if you share my tastes in music and books, I'd recommend checking them both out.

If you're interested in seeing what else made it onto my May playlist, you can check it out on Spotify or use the player below to give it a listen. What songs do you have on repeat?

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Real Story Of... • My Plain Jane

I sincerely hope that the lovely, talented trio known collectively as the Lady Janies - Brodi Ashton, Cynthia Hand & Jodi Meadows - will keep on writing together for the foreseeable future. After having read two of their jointly written novels, it's safe to say that I find their ability to put such unique (and fantastical) spins on famous personalities and stories so, so mind-blowing and worthy of all the praise. I read and thoroughly enjoyed My Lady Jane two years ago, and this year, readers are going to be blessed with the gift of another novel from them: My Plain Jane.

Before anything else, you'll want to know that the novels of this series can all be read as stand-alone stories. My Lady Jane is entirely about Jane Grey, the nine-day queen of England. My Plain Jane, on the other hand, tackles the story of a well-known literary heroine: Jane Eyre. (Note: You don't have to have read Jane Eyre to read this one. I promise. It's interesting to spot the references to it if you have, however.) While those of us who have read Charlotte Brontë's classic story might think we know exactly what happened to Jane, the Lady Janies are setting the story straight. There's a lot more to it than just a penniless orphan-turned governess who falls in love with her dark, broody employer. There's an aspiring young female author, an actual orphan determined to find better circumstances, a handsome young investigator of supernatural occurrences. Oh, and did I mention ghosts? Because there are also ghosts.

I know that My Plain Jane sounds incredibly wacky, and totally not what you'd expect from a story that draws inspiration from a novel as serious as Jane Eyre. And the truth is, it's actually that outlandish and outrageous... but in the best way possible. It's an entertaining romp from start to finish, as readers are given the opportunity to experience the tale from three perspectives (all of which I adored equally): orphan Jane, aspiring writer Charlotte (and yes, this is Miss Brontë) and supernatural investigator Alexander. There are plenty of hilarious hijinks, carefully laid plans gone wrong (or occasionally right), moments heartfelt and surprising; I was hooked from beginning to end! I really, really loved this story (even more than its predecessor), both because it was entertaining as all heck and because these authors did a fabulous job of weaving historical details, references from Jane Eyre (and more) and a supernatural aspect into their 'true' recounting of Jane Eyre's story.

I loved My Plain Jane. It's clever. It's funny. It's got great main characters (and the transitions between their points of view are so seamless). It's got an engaging story (that is just compelling from start to finish, in my opinion). It's exactly the kind of story I adore reading, and I would highly recommend adding this one to your reading list!

My Plain Jane by Brodi Ashton, Cynthia Hand & Jodi Meadows
Series: The Lady Janies #2 | Previous Book in Series: My Lady Jane
Publisher: Harper Teen | Publication Date: June 26, 2018
Source: ARC received from the lovely Jodi (Thank you!)


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