BOOKSTAGRAMMER HIGHLIGHT: @ANDKELLYREADS

Today’s bookstagrammer highlight features one of my favorite ladies, Kelly, who makes me “LOL” on bookstagram on the daily. Learn more about Kelly and her awesomeness below!

Why did you start a bookstagram?

I actually didn’t set out to start one! Gradually, my posts on my personal Instagram just became more and more book centric (because that’s basically all I do? Read, I suppose?) until one day a fellow Baltimore bookstagrammer found me and invited me to join the local group chat! From that point on I changed my username and switched completely over to Booksta with a dash of personal here and there. 

Who are three people you would want to have dinner with?

Oh man, real or fictional?! I’m guessing real so let’s go with Taylor Swift, Alexis Hall, and Dylan O’Brien. 

Do you have any childhood books that you have kept all of these years? What about favorite editions? Can you share a photo if possible?

I don’t have a lot of copies of books from my childhood! My mom still has my entire collection of Dear America books (which helped me get into reading and I ADORED them) so I think the only other set of books I have from when I was younger is the A Great and Terrible Beauty trilogy by Libba Bray that I refuse to ever part with. Gemma Doyle is a favorite heroine of mine and while those books are from when I was in high school (although I guess that was a long time ago since I am ancient) they’ll always be incredibly special to me. Honestly, I’m also glad I have the editions I do because they’ve changed the covers in the past few years and, not to be biased, but I think the ones I have are far superior. 

If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

TOUGH. Probably Chili’s Cajun Chicken Pasta, as long as I can wash it down with a margarita.  

You walk into a coffee shop. What’s your order?

Iced peppermint mocha with coconut milk

What is your go-to genre and why?

I have two. The first one is definitely romance. I love everything about the romance genre, from the empowerment through storytelling to the fact that it’s a genre dominated by female authors, and I will never stop supporting it. It’s also a comfort genre for me. One of the best things about romance is that you get a happily ever after every time, and while the journey always changes, the certainty that everything will be okay is always incredibly reassuring and calms my anxiety in a unique way.

The other genre would be fantasy! I really love getting lost in fantasy novels, and appreciate the hell out of those authors. The world building, the ideas behind the stories and the the plot, the character development, and even the maps and languages; fantasy novels are an excellent way to escape everyday life and while they do often send my heart pitter-pattering, they’re fantastic to get lost in.

Both of these genres are incredibly special to me, and the inclusivity I’ve been seeing in both of them, from YA to adult, is incredibly moving and often educational, and I will continue to support them both as long as authors keep writing them.  

Tell me one trend that you just can’t get behind. 

Middle parts. I have a widows peak and I just cannot do it so I refuse. 

Tell me something about yourself that a lot of people don’t know about. 

I can’t whistle? That’s kind of boring, so let’s try again. I have a Masters in Art History and Museum Studies! I’m not using it but I loved every step involved in getting that degree. 

What makes a book a 5-star read?

Ugh this is tricky because I am a fickle creature. I wish people didn’t care so much about star ratings because they’re so subjective and I much prefer reading someone’s actual thoughts on a book BUT when it comes to my own ratings, I consider a 5-star read to be one that stays with me. It’s a story that I find myself thinking about weeks or months after I’ve finished it, or I think about the characters and something they did and actually miss them. Or I find myself tabbing (or highlighting if it’s on my kindle) over half the book so I can go back and revisit favorite moments or sections that stuck out to me.

5-star reads are books that make me think, they make me feel, and I genuinely get lost in them and barely come up for air. I don’t encounter them often, but when I do I’m incredibly grateful, and those are the books I keep on my shelf. I don’t really keep books that I’ve read, largely because I don’t have the shelf space, but also because it makes me sad to think of them sitting there collecting dust never to really be read again. 5-star books are ones I won’t part with because I think about them enough that I pick them up off the shelf and spend a little more time with them.  

What are your other hobbies or passions?

Does cuddling my cat count? If not, how about crossword puzzles? Is that super dorky? I really love crossword puzzles and word searches, but I also really enjoy baking (which is a different art from cooking and I stand by that) and my boyfriend and I love going to baseball games together. Aside from that I’m very boring and spend most of my time either reading or binge-watching beloved sitcoms.  

Follow the hilarious Kelly on Instagram.

Want to be featured on my blog? You don’t have to be a bookstagrammer! If you have a small business, podcast, or something creative that you want to share, please email me at kass.readsbooks@gmail.com!

April Wrap-Up

It’s hard to believe that April has come to an end, yet here we are. April was a super important month for me because I submitted my master’s thesis and completed my graduate degree. Being done is honestly such a surreal feeling, and I am still getting used to “doing nothing” once I log off work in the evenings. I do have a feeling that I will get used to this “nothingness” very quickly!

When I was planning my April books, I was trying to be realistic. While I might not have had time to read for fun, I realized that I was going to be reading a lot — 75+ pages over and over to be exact!

This month, I planned on reading 3 books:

Tower of Dawn (Throne of Glass series) by Sarah J. Maas

Sunflower Sisters by Martha Hall Kelly

The Lost Village by Camilla Sten

I ended up reading 6 books, but only one from the list above. I finished Tower of Dawn, but did not end up finishing Sunflower Sisters or The Lost Village. Unfortunately, neither book piqued my interest. I couldn’t get past 60 pages of The Lost Village. It was dull and repetitive.

Instead, I dove into some comfort books this month, reading right before bed to calm my mind after hours of reading and editing.

So, without further ado, here are the 6 books I read in April:

Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas

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This is the penultimate book in the Throne of Glass series, and I must say that I am going to be sad when it ends. Kingdom of Ash is very intimidating, and I plan on tackling that one in May. I also heard it is very heavy!

Tower of Dawn was a very interesting book, and I am glad I read it. I learned that some ToG readers often either skip the book (which horrified me) or they read it in tandem with Empire of Storms because of the corresponding timelines. Really impressive. I wish I did that, but I also enjoyed leaving behind one set of characters and meeting/revisiting others. Sartaq is perhaps my favorite SJM dude, so, there’s that.

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

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After finishing a very heavy fantasy book, I decided to pick up a children’s classic. Let me tell you: If you are writing a master’s thesis about society’s inability to avoid giving girl heroes conventional ends, then don’t read Anne of Green Gables. Alas, there I was, frowning in bed thinking about why we limit girl heroes so much. What a frustrating book! I never read it as a child, and if I did, I am sure that I would have a sense of nostalgia attached to it. However, seeing as how I was nostalgic towards Katniss and Hermione and relentlessly ripped their stories apart for 75 pages, I’m sure I would have had the same reaction rereading Anne as an adult.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

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I forgot how whimsical and fun Roald Dahl was, but also forgot how weird this book is. I’ve experienced this world through a few mediums in my life: book, movie, musical (don’t ask), and I realized that I really don’t enjoy this story. While I love Gene Wilder, I do not love Willy Wonka. Charlie Bucket is a sweet little gem, but that is about it.

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

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This book made me want to cut meat out of my diet again, so that’s a key takeaway. This book was a little frustrating. Fern is this tomboyish, imaginative girl, but then even the doctor predicts that she will start to chase boys in a few years and shed her “weird” ways. Great. My thesis again. Will I ever enjoy children’s books?

Anyways, what really bothered me is when Wilbur is in the competition at the county fair, Fern isn’t even present to watch him win the award. Instead, she is on the ferris wheel with a boy Henry (gag), who I am sure will be her future beau. *cue eye roll*

Also, Charlotte’s death is the saddest, most depressing thing EVER.

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

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I also finished up the Shadow and Bone trilogy this month. This was certainly an interesting journey. I will be reviewing the trilogy in a future post, but I will say this: these books were a great escape. They were easy to digest, the story was interesting, and I did not care about what happened to most of the characters (only Nikolai).

Ruin and Rising was, unfortunately, the most disappointing of the three, but I will get into that in a later post. For now, I will enjoy Six of Crows (a book within the “Grishaverse”)and start the show this weekend.

Matilda by Roald Dahl

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This is definitely a good one. Again, I don’t remember reading this as a kid, but I do remember watching the movie every time it came on ABC Family and wishing I had pancakes. I’ve also had Rusted Root stuck in my head since finishing it.

What did you read this month?

Take a look at my other wrap-ups from this year:

Check out these posts to see what I’ve read this year:

January Wrap-Up

February Wrap-Up

March Wrap-Up

Bookstagrammer Highlight: @_hodpatchreads_

This next highlight features the wonderful Holly, who is known as @_hodpatchreads_ on Instagram. Holly and I became friends this past year and let me tell ya – she’s one of the good ones. Learn more about Holly below!

Why did you start a book blog?

I am an avid reader who needs more of me in my life! I love connecting with new people and getting new book ideas. My TBR will never end at this point! HA! 

What is your go-to genre?

Historical fiction is where it’s at for me. Lilac Girls is *chefs kiss*

If you could interview any author, who would it be?

Stephen King. I would love to get inside that man’s head. The ideas he has are just truly terrifying and amazing at the same time. And I want to know where he comes up with all of it.

What is your favorite thing about the book community?

The people! Connecting with people is one of the best things about this place. I have made so many amazing friendships through this community.

Tell me one trend that you just can’t get behind. 

Reels. Too much like TikTok for me. And if I want to make those, I’ll just make a Book Tok. Which I won’t.

What are 5 books on your TBR?

Oh man, where do I start? Grown by Tiffany D Jackson, The Lost Queen by Signe Pike, The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer, The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones, and Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth.

Tell me something about yourself that a lot of people don’t know about. 

In addition to reading like a fiend, I also am a HUGE World of Warcraft nerd. I have been playing since 2007 and can’t imagine not playing this game. 

If you could choose 3 characters to have over for dinner and drinks, who would you choose, and why?

Rachel Morgan because she is absolutely amazing. Benji from Beartown cause how could you not? Jack Torrance because why not? Let’s make this interesting.

What makes a 5-star read?

The ones that I can’t put down. The ones that hit me right in the feels. The ones that make me contemplate what I just read. The ones that make me think about it long after I have finished. Those are the 5 stars for me.

Can you list any movies that are better than the book?

Not better but I think Crazy Rich Asians was just as good as the book! 

Follow Holly on Instagram!

Want the opportunity to be featured on my blog? You don’t have to be a bookstagrammer. If you have a small business, podcast, or something creative that you want to share, please email me at kass.readsbooks@gmail.com!

March Wrap-Up

“March went out like a lion …” Any Carousel fans out there?

No?

OK, well, it’s time for my March wrap-up!

What a month. I am submitting my Master’s thesis in April, so I am going to admit that leisurely reading will be a low priority for me until that is submitted. BUT, I did read 3 books this month, which I am proud of.

I originally had 6 books planned for March, but I was only able to commit to 3. Two were audiobooks and one was a physical book. I LOVED listening to my audiobooks and coloring on my iPad in my reading nook with my cats. It was so relaxing and I highly recommend it.

So, here’s what I read this month:

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo (The Shadow and Bone Trilogy)

Siege and Storm (The Shadow and Bone Trilogy, #2)

I flew through this book in early March, and I am really enjoying getting swept away in the Grishaverse. I was hoping to get through all of the books by the time the show comes out on Netflix in April, but I will try my best! This book was slower to start than the first one, but I really fell in love with Nikolai and how morally grey the characters are. The ending of this book was incredibly fast-paced and intense, so I am looking forward to picking up Ruin and Rising soon.

Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert (The Brown Sisters #3)

Act Your Age, Eve Brown (The Brown Sisters, #3)

This was definitely my favorite of the Brown Sisters trilogy, and Eve definitely has my heart. While Dani is still my favorite Brown sister (nerdy, witchy, academic type), I really loved this story. I love Eve’s empathy and personality. I didn’t realize how much I loved the enemies to lovers trope until I picked this one up! This was a fantastic audiobook. I recommend listening to this one … just maybe not in public because the STEAM is real. *blushes*

Us Against You by Fredrik Backman (Beartown #2)

Us Against You (Beartown, #2)

Cried my eyes out. First, Marin Ireland is an amazing narrator. Second, I loved this book more than Beartown. *gasp* Backman really knows how to write about the human experience. There were times when I wanted to end the book out of frustration, but there were also times when I had to keep on listening with happy tears in my eyes. Humanity is ugly, messy, and beautiful. This book is all about that (with some hockey thrown in).

What did you read this month?

Thanks for reading!