Normal People by Sally Rooney

I loved this book.

The Hulu show was so good, and if you haven’t seen it I HIGHLY recommend it. I knew immediately that I’d have to read the book.

It’s kind of hard to explain, but I really don’t think any form of entertainment has ever really shown the emotions between two people who are so obviously meant to be together but can’t because of situations in their lives and bad timing.

It seems like Connell and Marianne just can’t catch a break. One of them is either in a relationship with someone else when the other is ready or just has too much pride to admit that they’re actually both madly in love with each other. Their relationship is so complicated, but also just kind of works in a way. It’s so frustrating to see them fail over and over again because they can’t communicate.

I feel like this story really does so well because everyone can relate to a situation that was ruined because of miscommunication or just no communication at all. I know I’ve definitely been there.

One thing I do want to say is that at some points this was really hard to read. I honestly didn’t think it’d take me so long, but some parts just made me so sad I felt like I needed to put the book down and take a break for a little.

Definitely an emotional rollercoaster, but highly recommended.

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

I really don’t know why, but it took me forever to get through this book. I think it may have been because it was so similar to the show that it wasn’t really interesting to me, or didn’t really add anything to the story enough for me to stay interested. Honestly though, that’s a compliment to the show because it means they did really well with the details!

I will say, the story did get a lot more interesting once we got to the murders and what Grace did remember. I did also like that we got to see Dr. Jordan meeting with more people that knew Grace and that he went to the house where the murders took place.

I expected the hypnotism to be more exciting in the book, but I guess it can’t be too sensational if it’s supposed to be believable. The acting in the show was perfect and made this scene so creepy!

One thing I really didn’t like was how both Jeremiah and Dr. Jordan kind of fled after the hypnotism. It seemed like both of them were trying to be helpful and then it was like they both just gave up. I really thought that they would help her get out sooner, but I guess since this is fiction based on a true story we wouldn’t be able to have her get out of the penitentiary earlier than she actually did.

It was also disappointing that Dr. Jordan’s memory was affected in the war, resulting in him being no help to Grace whatsoever. Honestly it made his whole role in the story pretty pointless. I’m not sure how much of this is historically accurate, but if this is what really happened then that really sucks.

Although I’m not sure myself whether Grace was innocent or if she was suffering from some sort of mental/post-traumatic stress disorder, I am glad that she was pardoned and was able to live the rest of her life with some sort of freedom. She definitely was very unlucky in life, so it was nice that she sort of had a happy ending. Not sure that I wanted her to end up with Jamie, but honestly it could’ve been way worse.

I hope she did have a happy ending. It would be nice to know what really happened.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

I’ve been meaning to read this book for awhile and had heard really good things about it. I wasn’t exactly sure what it was about and I certainly wasn’t prepared for it.

I love a good murder mystery and I like how this one had the pieces of the mystery interspersed between the story of Kya growing up. The juxtaposition of the chapters with the investigation and the chapters that told the story of her life really helped add to the intrigue and to make the reader feel for Kya.

It’s actually kind of a sad story. The poor Marsh Girl who had to learn how to raise herself. All she wanted was for someone to prove that they loved her by staying and it seemed like everyone she ever let herself care about left.

****SPOILER ALERT****

 

I actually had to stop reading when Tate left to go to college. I thought for sure he would come back and when he didn’t, it kind of broke my heart. He made up for it with publishing her books and ultimately staying with her for good, but it was really sad.

Chase Andrews is a whole other story. You know, he seemed like he did care for Kya. I wanted to believe that he was a decent person. The way he wore her seashell necklace all the time had to mean something, right?

He had seemed kind of sweet at one point, but I guess it was always about getting the Marsh Girl.

The trial had me completely on edge. Once she was arrested, I couldn’t put the book down. I had to know what would happen to her. I know this is fiction, but every time her lawyer questioned a witness I was so happy because he seemed like he was doing such a good job.

I was very happy with the ending, and the little thing Tate finds at the very end. I’m not sure how she did it, but good for her. Chase would have never left her alone and she wouldn’t have had her happy ending if not.

Sorry for all the spoilers in this one. I just really loved this story and had to get all that off my chest haha.

The Stranger by Harlan Coben

Wow, just wow. I just finished reading The Stranger and I felt like I immediately needed to put down my thoughts.

What a story. Seriously. There were little things at first that I thought were kind of lazy writing. I won’t spoil it, but the names of the websites that the stranger was getting their information from just seemed too obvious for me. I actually think I rolled my eyes when Adam found out the web address for the website his wife used.

Once I got past that though, the story was so could. I honestly felt like I couldn’t put it down. Each chapter ended so well that I needed to keep reading. It had so many unexpected twists and turns. I loved it. It kind of reminded me of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Not the story exactly, but the mystery and how it was solved. I wonder if Harlan Coben is a fan.

The ending was good, but wasn’t what I wanted. I guess I always kind of want happy endings, but we don’t always get what we want. I really can’t wait to watch the show on Netflix. I’ve heard that it’s British, which is interesting. I wonder why they made that change.

Anyway…I absolutely loved this. Has Harlan Coben written anything else? I may need to check him out.

Modern Love: True Stories of Love, Loss and Redemption by Daniel Jones

I’m not sure I’ve ever really talked about this, but  I do the majority of my reading on a Kindle. I’m sure that’s pretty common now, so it’s not something that really needs to be talked about. I’ve always been a reader though, so I do kind of love the feeling of flipping through pages and having an actual book in your hands.

Every so often, I’ll take trips to the bookstore with my family members and search for something new to read. Right before we were issued stay-at-home orders, my mom and I went to Books A Million just on a whim one day. I actually have a really hard time finding books at bookstores because I want to walk through the entire store and check out everything before I make a decision. There was a section for books that have been made into tv shows and movies that I kept coming back to, so eventually I made two purchases there.

Modern Love stuck out to me. I feel like I’ve hinted at this a few times in past posts, but I’ve had this “thing” with a person for almost 3 years now that’s been very hot and cold. I think it’s safe to say it’s over for good now, but it was definitely a roller coaster of emotions for me the last few years.

I’m not going to share all the details here, but what stuck out to me the most about this book was that it was about unconventional love stories. My story with this person didn’t make sense to anyone else that knew the details and it doesn’t have a happy ending, but I felt like (at least on my part) it was real, pure love. Now, enough about me…

I really enjoyed this book. I loved that the stories about the relationships weren’t just couples. I loved how different they all were. The stories made me teary-eyed, they made me laugh, they made me smile. Above everything, I felt like each story touched me in a different way. I felt like each story was important to be reading, even if I couldn’t relate.

I would absolutely recommend this book to everyone. I actually already passed it on to my mom (great thing about having an actual book, right?). Who knows if she’ll actually read it, but I hope she does.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

If anyone else has read the After series, they’ll completely understand why I chose to read Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice next. Kind of crazy how one author’s words can inspire you so much that you feel the need to read other works they mentioned just so that you can understand their characters better, isn’t it?

I’m not super familiar to Jane Austen’s work to be honest. I remember reading Emma in high school, but it was for an assignment and for some reason anytime I’ve been assigned to read it I just don’t do well with retaining any of it. Probably some psychology we could get into there, but this isn’t the place for that.

I also did read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, but I think that and the original novel really should be kept separate from each other. I don’t remember it that well, but as far as I’m concerned they tell very different stories.

When I started reading Pride and Prejudice, I have to say, I was really bored. The first half of the book was really uninteresting to me and honestly I was struggling to get through it without falling asleep. Darcy was a jerk, Elizabeth hated him.

When he confessed his feelings for her it felt really out of place. I understand that he had pride, so he felt that anyone would be honored to receive a proposal from him, but what really made him think she would accept? Maybe he thought she was mean to him because she liked him? It was just strange to me.

However, once she told him off and he wrote her the letter I did start to feel more connection to the story. They misunderstood each other and had to adjust their ways of thinking to come back together at the end. It was cool to see the ways that they both changed.

I did really enjoy the second half of the book. Seeing Darcy redeem himself with Elizabeth and the ways that he was willing to change the way he was and help her out behind the scenes because he loved her was actually kind of touching. Elizabeth ended up with Darcy because she respected him and because he respected her. I can definitely see why so many people love this story.

My grandmother apparently loved the adaptation with Colin Firth, so I may need to check that out eventually. In the meantime, I’m going to go watch Pride and Prejudice and Zombies because it’s free on Comcast right now.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

I’ll admit, I was only interested in reading Wuthering Heights again because of how often it was mentioned in the After series. Honestly, I think I’ve been assigned to read this book probably at least 3 times throughout high school and college, but I’m not sure I ever actually read it all the way through.

I feel like I could probably write a whole essay on how I feel about this book, but I’ll try to keep it short.

From the beginning I felt bad for Heathcliff. Cathy is kind of a spoiled brat and the way that she puts on a different face for everyone else is pretty annoying. She clearly loves Heathcliff and can really be herself with him, but seems to care more about money and that Edgar will be able to provide the nicer life.

She’s honestly a pretty terrible person and does/says things that she knows will hurt people. It’s interesting that she ended up this way and that Hindley was a terrible man, especially because their father was so nice and they had Nelly around their whole lives, and she should have been a good influence.

Cathy and Heathcliff are a good match because he is equally as terrible as her. It’s kind of her fault that he ended up this way, but he also only seems to do things that he knows will hurt people. It’s terrible what they do to Isabella and I’m glad that she runs away from him.

It’s pretty drastic that Heathcliff felt the need to destroy the entire Linton family just because Cathy decided to marry someone else. At the end it does seem like he starts to realize that it was all for nothing, so I guess that’s good.

This story is really just about people causing each other pain and suffering because they were more worried about their social status, which is pretty sad.

I was glad that Catherine (the daughter) ends up with Hareton at the end. Those the close family relation between everyone in the second generation of Earnshaws, Lintons, and Heathcliffs is super weird. The only character I really felt sorry for the whole time was Hareton. It made me really sad when Catherine made fun of him for trying to learn how to read to impress her. He was honestly the other character that tried to improve his situation instead of hurting other people.

The ghost element to the story was interesting, but I kind of felt like it wasn’t necessary. I think it would’ve been better if Cathy was just gone forever rather than Heathcliff searching for her ghost. I guess I just wish it would’ve been more important to the storyline, than just something that was at the beginning and the end.

It’s definitely a complicated story. I’m glad that I’ve finally actually read the whole thing. Probably won’t do it again though.

Bullet Journal – Self Care Reminders

My goal for 2020 is to focus more on my overall health. The last few months of 2019 were pretty rough for me and I felt like I was at a really low point. I don’t really make specific New Year’s resolutions, but for 2020 I really wanted to take better care of myself – mind, body, and soul.

Self care has definitely become a trending topic recently and I think that’s a really good thing. It’s definitely important to make time for yourself, and to do things that you enjoy. It’s kind of amazing the peace of mind you can get from just spending a few minutes doing something that you really enjoy.

I’ve seen spreads like this one before, but wanted to make it my own. I made a list of things that I like to do to “refresh” and this is what I came up with.

Reflecting on it now, I like that there’s a mix of things that I do for my own personal self care. I like that I can do something productive like read a book or journal, but also that I’m happy with just spending time listening to music or setting aside some time to take a nap.

It kind of shows that there’s a wide range of things you can do to take better care of yourself and that you don’t have to spend a lot of time on it. Making myself a cup of tea literally takes less than 5 minutes, but it makes me so happy to hold that warm mug and sip something delicious.

Hopefully this spread helps remind me to do these things more often. 🙂

Before by Anna Todd

I wasn’t sure how I would feel about reading Before after reading the rest of the After series. I really didn’t want to read about the way Hardin was before Tessa, but I’m glad that I did read it.

At first I was a little put off by this book. When it started out with the back stories of Natalie, Molly, and Steph I definitely wasn’t sure I would finish it. I really didn’t want to hear the details of their hook-ups with Hardin, so I’m glad that it didn’t go any further, but then also it made the introductions to their point of view seem really pointless.

It was interesting to see the first book from Hardin’s point of view. It was kind of surprising how much Molly was actually being helpful and trying to protect Tessa. I thought there would be more from Molly’s perspective and Steph’s too, so it was disappointing that we didn’t get to see that during their relationship. Again, it made it really pointless to introduce their point of view in the beginning.

I really didn’t care about Christian’s part in this book. It didn’t add anything to the overall story. Seeing  what happened with Zed after everything was alright, but again not necessary. I did like the little glimpse into Smith’s world though.

I actually preferred the “Hessa” ending in this book to how it ended in After Ever Happy. The little glimpse into how they ended up was much better than all the time jumps. I don’t think I realized that they never got married until Hardin said it. I guess I just assumed that they had done it at some point.

I read some reviews for the Landon books and I’m not sure that I’m going to read them. Landon was an okay character, but I don’t really feel like he needed his own series. The reviews were basically what I expected and I think I’ve read enough of the universe. We already know that he becomes a teacher, gets married, and has a daughter. I think that’s enough really. I just feel like his story would be much more “vanilla” in comparison to Hardin and Tessa’s story.

After Ever Happy by Anna Todd

What a roller coaster this series has been. The fourth book in this series definitely had more ups and downs than any of the others. Major spoilers ahead! You’ve been warned.

So the story picks up with Hardin finding out that Vance is his father. He absolutely loses it and ends up on a bender and abandoning Tessa yet again. She’s fed up, ready to be done with Hardin and goes home only to find her father dead of a drug overdose in their apartment. WHAT? I swear my jaw dropped when I read this part.

Hardin comes back and is finally ready to change, but Tessa isn’t ready to take him back. Really who could blame her? It’s not like he has a great track record and he apologizes over and over for the same things. It does seem like he’s changing this time.

Tessa ends up moving to New York with Landon and Hardin comes for a visit. Everything seems good UNTIL she finds out that he’s written a book about their love story. She reads it and seems to love it, but then we time jump and find out that she didn’t take him back yet.

They still love each other and decide to get married, but then they don’t. The ending time jumps a few more times (not a fan, by the way) and eventually you find out that they did get married and they have two biological children even though the doctor told her she would struggle to get pregnant.

I’m happy with how the story ended. I wish they didn’t have so many time jumps at the end. It would’ve been fine I think to just have one time jump in the epilogue that showed Hardin with little Emery and Tessa pregnant with Auden. We didn’t need the rest of that really.

I’m going to read Before next just because I’m interested in what that could possibly be about and how it’ll make me feel about Hardin now that I love the new and improved version of him.

I may also read the Landon series. I haven’t completely decided yet, but I like how Anna Todd set it up and didn’t really tell us who he was married to. I’m guessing this was in anticipation of the spin-off series. Are Tessa and Hardin in it too? I’ll definitely read it if they’re in it too.