Music Monday 1.2: I see you calling…

This meme was created by Drew @ The Tattooed Book Geek. You pick a song you really like and share it on, you guessed it, Monday.

I’ve liked a few things from Marshmello but the Jonas Brothers have never really hit the mark for me…until now. Who knew I would like this collaboration so much? Certainly not me. This is the first track of my summer playlist. I’ve had this one on repeat for a while. It’s a fun bop with an 80’s beat. The beginning actually sounds a little like it samples Barry Manilow’s Smile.

A CO-AUTHORED BOOK I LiKED

The pairing could have gone a few ways but I wanted to highlight a co-authored book I liked. M.A. Carrick is the penname for Marie Brennan and Alyc Helms. Individuals who met on an archaeological dig and have remained friends for over two decades. The Mask of Mirrors is a tome at over 600 pages but it’s well worth the read if you’re a fan of fake identities and political intrigue. (Review)

First Lines Fridays 1.2: I take the coins…

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

I take the coins and am compelled to remind my buyer how things can still go wrong. I thought I was over botching my last mind wipe, but apparently not.

“Like I said before, there are no guarantees,” I say. The corners of the square coins dig into my hand as I riffle through them, counting the number of marks. Removing time from someone’s memory is burning down a single tree in a thick forest–sometimes there’s smoke damage to other trees nearby. “Mind wipes are tricky.”

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by Elsie Chapman
ASIN/ISBN: 9781338332629
Publication: September 3, 2019
Series: Caster #1

If the magic doesn’t kill her, the truth just might.

Aza Wu knows that real magic is dangerous and illegal. After all, casting killed her sister, Shire. As with all magic, everything comes at a price. For Aza, it feels like everything in her life has some kind of cost attached to it. Her sister had been casting for money to pay off Saint Willow, the gang leader that oversees her sector of Lotusland. If you want to operate a business there, you have to pay your tribute. And now with Shire dead, Aza must step in to save the legacy of Wu Teas, the teahouse that has been in her family for centuries.

When Aza comes across a secret invitation, she decides she doesn’t have much else to lose. She quickly realizes that she’s entered herself into an underground casting tournament, and the stakes couldn’t be higher. Real magic, real consequences. As she competes, Aza fights for her life against some very strong and devious competitors.

When the facts about Shire’s death don’t add up, the police start to investigate. When the tributes to Saint Willow aren’t paid, the gang comes to collect. When Aza is caught sneaking around with fresh casting wounds, her parents are alarmed. As Aza’s dangerous web of lies continues to grow, she is caught between trying to find a way out and trapping herself permanently. (from Goodreads)

I am trying to go through my shelves and my TBR. Caster has been on my shelves for a while so I need to read it. It sounds good and right up my alley so I hope that translates to an enjoyable read.

Music Monday 1.1: Used to spend…

This meme was created by Drew @ The Tattooed Book Geek. You pick a song you really like and share it on, you guessed it, Monday.

I stumbled onto this meme through Mischenko @ReadRantRock&Roll. I love music and I love books, but I don’t always get a chance to make full playlists that pair music and books. Music Monday will let me do this whenever at all possible, one song at a time.

I am starting this meme on the blog with my absolute favorite Chris Stapleton song “Tennessee Whiskey.” It’s summer. Temperatures have already been in the three digits for the past few days and something as “smooth as Tennessee Whiskey” and “sweet as strawberry wine” is what I need during these warm summer evenings. I’d really like to see him live one day!

LOVE iS A DRUG

You’re as smooth as Tennessee whiskey / You’re as sweet as strawberry wine
You’re as warm as a glass of brandy / And honey, I stay stoned on your love all the time

I know, I know. This book just keeps popping up everywhere on the blog but hear me out. It’s the perfect pairing for the song’s message that love is like a drug. Grace tries to make it clear how much she loathes Ewan, but he is completely in love with her, willing to do what he must to stay by her side despite his past decisions. He confesses he would burn down all of London searching for her. Grace is Ewan’s drug. It’s a friends-to-lovers-to-enemies-to-lovers second chance romance with extreme groveling. (Review)

Six Degrees of Separation: June 2021

HOW IT WORKS:
Six Degrees of Separation is a meme that began with Annabel Smith and Emma Chapman and has been hosted by Kate over at Books Are My Favourite and Best since 2016. Each month a new book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. Links can be formed in any way you want, including authors, themes, keywords, and pretty much anything.

Join in by posting your own six degrees chain on your blog and adding the link in the Linky section (or comments) of each month’s post. If you don’t have a blog, you can share your chain in the comments section. You can also check out links to posts on Twitter using the hashtag #6Degrees

STARTING BOOK: The Bass Rock – Evie Wyld

The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld is a book I have not read but the treatment of women and their fight to survive is a theme present in the novel.


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1. The theme is present in one of my favorite trilogies. Subversive by Colleen Cowley is the first book in the Clandestine Magic trilogy. Cowley’s trilogy blends a few genres (historical fiction, romance, fantasy) to create an alternate U.S history where women never acquired rights and only men have magical abilities. While the entire trilogy is amazing, Subversive is my favorite. Beatrix is part of the women’s rights movement and is hired to be an assistant for the town’s new magician. (Review)

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2. Similarly in The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk, a regency inspired romantic fantasy, women have limited rights. They are restricted from practicing magic but Beatrice Clayborn practices in secret, hoping she will be able to save herself from a marriage collar and having her magic blocked off. Beatrix and Beatrice are both similar in their desires to practice magic in male-dominated societies where they’re told it is impossible for them to do so. (Review)

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3. The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee is a work of historical fiction set in Atlanta in the early 20th Century about a young Chinese woman Jo who hides her identity writing an advice column under the pseudonym Miss Sweetie. Like Beatrix and Beatrice, her rights are limited for simply being a woman, but also being Chinese means she’s treated doubly worse. Through the column, Miss Sweetie voices her support for race and gender equality and people, especially other women, pay attention.

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4. Another young woman is forced to hide her identity in The Impossible Girl by Lydia Kang. Cora Lee is the impossible girl born with two hearts. As a medical anomaly who is sought after, she pretends to be her twin brother Jacob and works as a resurrectionist, illegally exhuming bodies for science or whoever will pay for it, to make a living as well as to stay on top of the rumors of a girl with two hearts and those willing to acquire her body. Kang writes a compelling story and I found myself fully engrossed in the novel, especially the conclusion. It was so good.

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5. The theme of hiding one’s identity continues with Sherry Thomas’s My Beautiful Enemy. Alternating between the past and present, ex-lovers Catherine Blade and Captain Leighton Atwood find themselves entangled in each other’s lives in England in 1891 just as they were in 1883 in Chinese Turkestan. Leighton first encountered Catherine as Ying-ying and dressed as a young man. When they unexpectedly meet again in England, an enemy also resurfaces trying to retrieve the Chinese artifact Catherine’s been sent by her uncle to steal. Hidden underneath her ladylike demure is actually a woman skilled in martial arts and isn’t as helpless as she seems as compared to the other women surrounding her and Leighton.

6. While also set in a period where women have limited rights and the expectation is that single women be married, Amelia Smith has the opportunity to do more with her life. Like Catherine Blade, Amelia is more than she seems. In Courtney Milan’s The Devil Comes Courting Amelia Smith is intentionally sought out by Captain Grayson Hunter to help with telegraphic transmissions, except he doesn’t realize that the genius he’s looking for is a woman. When he does, it’s not enough to deter him from trying to employ her.

ENDING BOOK: The Devil Comes Courting by Courtney Milan

I’ve been looking forward to this since the beginning of last month. I was more intentional this time around, sticking close to historical fiction and strong female characters pushing against societal constraints in their own ways whether it be practicing magic or working rather getting married.

Next month: Eats, Shoots, & Leaves by Lynne Truss

First Lines Fridays 1.1: In my fifteen years…

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

In my fifteen years, I have stuck my arm in a vat of slithering eels, climbed all the major hills of San Francisco, and tiptoed over the graves of a hundred souls. Today, I will walk on air.

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by Stacey Lee
ASIN/ISBN: 978039915411
Publication: May 24, 2016

San Francisco, 1906: Fifteen-year-old Mercy Wong is determined to break from the poverty in Chinatown, and an education at St. Clare’s School for Girls is her best hope. Although St. Clare’s is off-limits to all but the wealthiest white girls, Mercy gains admittance through a mix of cunning and a little bribery, only to discover that getting in was the easiest part. Not to be undone by a bunch of spoiled heiresses, Mercy stands strong—until disaster strikes.

On April 18, a historic earthquake rocks San Francisco, destroying Mercy’s home and school. With martial law in effect, she is forced to wait with her classmates for their families in a temporary park encampment. Though fires might rage, and the city may be in shambles, Mercy can’t sit by while they wait for the army to bring help—she still has the “bossy” cheeks that mark her as someone who gets things done. But what can one teenage girl do to heal so many suffering in her broken city? (from Goodreads)

I’m currently taking a break and rereading books–Outrun the Moon being one of them. I thought I might try to hook you with the first line. You already know my stance on Stacey Lee’s historical fiction novels so I won’t say too much. I’ll try to put up a review soon though. I hope you decide to give it a try!

Let’s Talk Bookish: Why do people lie about reading books?

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books and Dani @ Literary Lion. Discussions pertain to topics related to reading or books. Share your opinions, and spread the love by visiting other “Let’s Talk Bookish” posts.

Prompts: Some people will say they have read books when they really haven’t; why do you think that is? Have you ever personally lied about reading a book? How do you feel about people who lie about reading books? Do you think there’s a certain type of book people are more likely to lie about reading?

**Please note there may be some sarcastic remarks in italics **

Close friends usually tell me like to tell exactly what they think when I suggest they read a book I liked. This ranges from, “I don’t want to,” “Make me,” “I hate reading,” and the infamous “I’ll pick it up later.” (Translation: I will not be reading it, but I know this might make you feel better, and I know that it will make you stop pestering me about it for the moment.) I love my friends, and this is how it should be! We shouldn’t feel the need to lead each other on about whether we will or won’t read a book, but, on occasion, people may not be as forthcoming about reading books.

Social desirability bias refers to a response bias where participants in a survey provide the socially acceptable answer. Because participants want to be looked upon favorably, they give the answer that is expected of them.  For instance, if individuals are asked whether they voted, they are likely to respond that they did because it’s the socially acceptable answer. Being asked about reading likely works in a similar way. When individuals are asked if they’ve read a book lately, they may be likely to respond affirmatively because reading is viewed as “good behavior.” If I tell you that I read, maybe you’ll see me in a better light. Reading is often perceived to be associated with intelligence. If you are a reader, you must be smart! (Right?! Also the opposite assumption must be true then.)

However, not all reading may be considered positive. Let’s take this one step further and consider genres. Certain genres are seen as more acceptable or even more superior than others. For instance, romance novels are often viewed negatively whereas classics are viewed positively. Science fiction and fantasy are often perceived to be only for nerds and geeks. Romance novels are often perceived to be read only by women. Due to social desirability bias, these stereotypes can influence responses. Generally, people may be more likely to say they do not read romance novels, even if they do. The stigma surrounding romance novels may prompt these negative responses. Similarly, people may be more willing to respond that they’ve read books by Toni Morrison or Jane Austen because books by these authors are deemed literary classics. Smart people read classics. (Obviously!)

Why do people are people not as forthcoming about reading books? There are plenty of smart people who do not like to read but it is hard to say no when society tells everyone that it’s what they should do–it’s what smart people do (apparently). Of course, only certain types of books are acceptable though. While I love reading, I understand there are so many things other people may enjoy more. Time is a scarce resource so we should spend it doing the things we love. I might try to convince you to read a book but I also respect that you don’t want to.

What your thoughts on this? Why might people not want to disclose that they aren’t readers? Why might others lie about reading a book? What can we do to create a culture that doesn’t shame individuals who cannot read or do not like to read?

Six Degrees of Separation: May 2021

**I have to do a shout to Mikaela at MikaelaReads first. This is my first Six Degrees post and I wouldn’t have a first post had I not seen this meme on Mikaela’s blog in April. I enjoyed the meme so much I decided to do it too. **

HOW IT WORKS:
Six Degrees of Separation is a meme that began with Annabel Smith and Emma Chapman and has been hosted by Kate over at Books Are My Favourite and Best since 2016. Each month a new book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. Links can be formed in multiple ways. For instance, books can be linked through author, themes, settings, or even publishing year. Links can also be more personal such as books you reread often or books that remind you of a time in your life. The possibilities are limitless!

Join in by posting your own six degrees chain on your blog and adding the link in the Linky section (or comments) of each month’s post. If you don’t have a blog, you can share your chain in the comments section. You can also check out links to posts on Twitter using the hashtag #6Degrees

STARTING BOOK: Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Clearly

Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary is the first in a series of middle grade books about sisters. Unfortunately, I don’t recall ever reading this particular book or series by Cleary, but her name is a part of my childhood because she wrote Dear Mr. Henshaw.

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Dear Mr. Henshaw, on the other hand, was a book I had to read for class. It’s about a boy who writes to his favorite author Boyd Henshaw every school year. They become friends through these letters, and Mr. Henshaw is a source of encouragement. Guess who also wrote to one of her favorite authors?

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Me! I wrote a letter to Patricia C. Wrede, author of The Enchanted Forest Chronicles, when I was in elementary school and she wrote me back! I don’t know where the letter is anymore, and I can’t remember the content of the letter, except that it was encouraging. I probably told her something about wanting to write when I grew up. I treasured it so much and even shared it with my teacher. The Enchanted Forest Chronicles is a set of four books. The first three books are about Cimorene, a girl who decides to go live with a dragon, and in the last book her son is the main protagonist. Dealing With Dragons is the one I’ll use to make the connection because this is the earliest book I remember reading (and loving) with dragons; thus, igniting my love for fantasy novels, kickass protagonists, and dragons. Now, speaking of dragons…

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There’s this Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. While I never read the book by Stieg Larsson, I watched the movies and was blown away by the awesomeness of Lisbeth Salander. She’s a punk prodigy and is enlisted by journalist Mikael Blomkvist to help figure out what happened to a woman who disappeared over 40 years ago. Salander has the dragon tattoo and is a kickass protagonist. Who else is a kickass protagonist that is very good at what she does and is enlisted for help?

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Zafira bint Iskander of We Hunt the Flame is known as the Hunter and is gifted with her bow and arrow. She disguises herself as a man so that she can bring back food for her village. She enters a forest and is always able to return whom while others are unable to make it back alive, or if they do, they’re not the same when they return, which is why she is sought out to go on a journey to bring magic back Arawiya. It was published in 2019, but I didn’t get a chance to read it until recently. This was one of my favorite reads at the beginning of 2021.

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Also published in 2019 is Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes. Holmes’s debut book is about a woman whose husband died in a car accident. A year after his death, she rarely leaves her home so people think she’s still devastated over his loss. Her best friend’s childhood best friend Dean needs a place to stay while he tries to figure out why he can’t throw a baseball straight anymore. He moves into an apartment at the back of Evvie’s house and they become friends. This was one of the few books that set me on the path toward not only overcoming a long reading drought but consuming romance novels one after the other.

One of my latest reads with just the right amount of romance in it is Tricia Levenseller’s YA fantasy Blade of Secrets. Two sisters are on the run with a mercenary and a scholar to hide a weapon commissioned by a warlord who wants to reunite 6 countries under a single rule, the warlord’s rule. I hadn’t expected the romance and was fueled by the intriguing plot because the weapon was created by one of the sisters, Ziva, a blacksmith who imbues her weapons with magic. I’ll be posting a review for it soon (spoiler alert: I liked it…a lot.)

ENDING BOOK: Blade of Secrets by Tricia Levenseller

That was an unexpected ride through books I loved when I was young and books I now enjoy as an adult (more like a big kid). Also, I didn’t expect to end back up at a book about sisters.