it’s that time of the season, y’all:
It’s only felt like spring here for the last two weeks or so, but yes, it’s spring reads time!!
Alex and Eliza, by Melissa de la Cruz:
TLDR: If you like Hamilton and fan-fiction-esque historical fiction, this book is for you.
I ended up liking this book more than I thought I would. It turned into one of those books where I could not put it down for the last 100 pages or so, and that rarely happens for me these days. I know the basics of the story of Hamilton, so I had a general idea of how it would go. De la Cruz takes her liberties in some places, but I remind myself that this is a work of fiction, based on real people. This book is also more about life before Alex and Eliza married, about how their relationship blossomed in between battles of the Revolution. This book reminded me how much I love history and historical fiction. (and it reminded me how grateful I am that we’ve evolved from the customs and situations of the time in this book. Yay for growth!!)
I’ve never read anything by de la Cruz before, but overall I enjoyed it. I think she tried a little too hard to work in the vernacular/vocabulary of the times at points and got a little long-winded in her descriptions. It drones on at some points and gets tedious- it could’ve been about 100 pages shorter. 🤷🏼♀️
But the way she writes characters is spot on— she creates such dynamic characters that give me such FEELINGS. I got physically angry at characters multiple times, rolled my eyes and retorted back to some things people said or did as if they’d hear me (man I’m turning into my mom 🙄). That is the mark of good character development, in my opinion; and I feel like even minor characters were easy to recognize and remember because of how she developed them in the story.
I’m not a love story kind of gal, but I’m a sucker for a coming of age, rags to riches story with a kick-ass main character such as Eliza Schuyler. Romance might have been a big player in this book, but it really was second to me because of the awesomeness that was Eliza’s brazen character. She defied her times, and I loved every minute of her standing up to the norms of the times.
If you love Hamilton, I’d definitely recommend it, though it’s not the same, the same players are here. If you enjoy awesomely strong female leads in historical fiction and romance novels, I’d also recommend it.
The sequel just came out a couple weeks ago, and it will be on my to-read list soon enough.
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
TLDR: Cutest. Love. Story. EVAH.
This book. *happy sighs* In a word, it’s adorable. It’s slightly sappy, but in the most darling, sigh-inducing way…
Truthfully, I didn’t know how I felt about this book at first. It took about 100 pages for me to really get into it. At first, the characters felt underdeveloped (I couldn’t remember who everyone was). Some of the characters still felt one dimensional, but as the story developed the characters did too.
The plot originally centered on one central thing (Simon being blackmailed into coming out). But about halfway through the book, this storyline fades away. I would have much rather it focused more on Simon and his relationship with Blue because honestly, it’s the cutest love story I’ve ever read about. I wish it hadn’t taken until the last 50 pages to figure out who Blue was, because I want more of them together!!
(PTL she just came out with a companion book about Leah and their senior year– I’m hoping for more Simon and Blue!!).
Considering this was Albertalli’s debut, it was decently written. Once the plot picked up, I didn’t want to put it down. There were a lot of lyrical-like quotes (like the one above) that made me swoon— the girl can write. I loved Simon as a character and felt so bad for him at times in the story. It’s a perfect mix of light-hearted puppy love and serious life-changing story. You’ll laugh out loud on some pages, and groan/cry/yell at others because the characters and their actions will make you angry. (at least that’s how it was for me— I get kinda attached).
The last 100 pages or so is when I really fell in love with this book— the writing, the story, the characters (minus Martin). It ended so sweetly and perfectly, I couldn’t help but feel butterflies and swoon— the anti-romantic in me might be groaning, but I don’t care. I got all teary and giggly reading the last 50 pages because everything unfolded so wonderfully.
I loved this book. LOVED IT. It will be one I read again and again, and will probably have a place alongside Looking for Alaska and TFIOS as one of my favorite YA books of all-time.
Also, I’d like to add: I totally called who Blue was at the beginning of the book. I just KNEW IT. I won’t spoil for those that may read it, but I KNEW IT AND I’M SO PROUD OF MYSELF!!
Next on the shelf:
I’ve been splitting my time between an old favorite (A Wrinkle in Time) and a new Sarah Dessen (Saint Anything).
I started reading Wrinkle in anticipation of hearing L’Engle’s granddaughters speak at FFW (it was everything I imagined and more, y’all). I read it before I became a Christian, way back in the 7th grade. I love reading it with new eyes for the between-the-lines faith. It’s beautiful.
I brought Saint Anything on my flight because I knew it would be quick, easy reading. And I was right! I read 120+ pages on my connecting flight to Grand Rapids. It’s great so far; I’ve been busy with some nonfiction reads and haven’t picked it back up yet, but I intend to soon.
Once I finish one of these, I have another book I bought at FFW to dig into: A Girl Named Mister by Nikki Grimes. I heard her speak about books and middle grades and literature and it really set in stone my plans for Library Science for graduate school. She made me want to share important books with kids. Mister is written in verse, and I cannot wait to dig into it.
I’ll probably grab either Love and War (Alex and Eliza sequel) or Leah on the Offbeat (Simon’s companion) next. Or maybe another. Who knows. I’ve been on such a fiction kick lately, it makes me all kinds of happy. I’ve missed stories.
I have a confession to make: I have so many nonfiction books that I’ve bought recently that I haven’t finished. I’m freaking stockpiling nonfiction books. And I have more preordered! it’s madness, I tell you. Here are the 2 I’m knee-deep in right now:
I’m re-reading Party of One because I’m in a season where I need this book and JB’s sharp wit. It’s so funny and so desperately needed right now. It’s also nice to read it now that I have the actual book so I can write in it/highlight to my heart’s content. You can read my full review of this gem in my last book blog.
I’m a little more than halfway through Becoming Madeleine, a biography of Madeleine L’Engle written by her granddaughters. This year would have been her 100th birthday, so they released it in honor of how much she loved to celebrate birthdays. It’s technically for middle school reading level, but after hearing them speak at FFW I knew I wanted to read it. I didn’t know much about Madeleine before this book, and I’m learning soo much. She was truly wonderful. I love reading her journal excerpts and postcards that they included in the book– it gives even a deeper glimpse into her life. It also reminds me that despite being this beloved, insanely talented author, she was also normal– an angsty teenager longing for independence, a messy, unorganized student who didn’t always apply herself, awkward when it came to romantic relationships… man, we could have been twins.
Once I finish it I’ll share an actual review, but it’s a lovely break from the Christian nonfiction/help books of late. I forgot how much I love biographies and memoirs.
In the to-read-next pile:
I got a copy of If You Only Knew by Jamie Ivey from B&H Bloggers a month or so ago… and haven’t read it yet. (Sorry B&H!)
Also got an early copy of Inspired by RHE that I need to start.
I won a copy of The Very Worst Missionary: A Memoir or Whatever by Jamie Wright in an Instagram contest (woohoo!).
At FFW, we had a book exchange (because what else do you do in a house full of readers and writers?). I dropped off a handful of books and picked up Nothing to Prove by Jennie Allen in exchange. I’ve had it on my list for awhile, so I’m glad to have it to start… eventually.
I should probably do a post about all the books I am waiting to come out (aka the ones I’ve preordered because that preorder button is addictive y’all). There’s quite a long list of books I’m excited about!
Devotionals and Other Jesus-y things:
I finally got me a new devotional! Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan co-authored Never Too Much, Always Enough. It’s 100 devotions, undated/unnumbered so you can pick and choose which one you’d like to read on a given day (which I like!). There are 50 under the “Never Too Much” category, and 50 for “Always Enough.” You have to flip the book around for the different ones– like the Never Too Much half is turned one way, then you flip the book and it becomes the Always Enough side. (sounds wonky written out, but when you get the book, it’ll make sense). The ones I’ve read so far have been wonderful. I’m looking forward to using this resource for the next few months!
Another FFW purchase: a new prayer book. It’s called the Province of Joy: Praying with Flannery O’Connor. Basically, it has morning and evening prayers with written prayers, scriptures, and a Lectio Divina passage from Flannery’s writing. Each day has a different topic. I love it. It’s been awhile since I’ve used a liturgical book to pray, and it’s been refreshing. Also, anything where I get to combine Flannery and Jesus is my jam. I love me some Flannery.
I also got my new prayer journal this week that goes along with the whole prayer book thing. It’s a pretty shade of blue (my last one was pink!), and I love it! This little book has revolutionized my prayer life.
That’s all for now, y’all!! More books to come soon.