Taylor Swift Folklore Book Tag
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Hello everyone! Much like the rest of the world, I've been obsessing over Taylor Swift's newest album, Folklore. With less than 24 hours notice of its release, I was shook and I honestly don't know how I survived the ordeal. I spent the entirety of the next week with my headphones in 24/7 ignoring the world and all its problems.
It's a bit of a running joke that I only ever do a book tag on my blog when there's a new Taylor Swift album - and I'm not mad about it. The last book tag I think I did was for Lover and that one was top notch. Now, with Folklore having been released, I had to share my thoughts, especially since I discovered this book tag by A Whisper of Ink (Blog Link Below)
Before anyone asks here are my top five songs from folklore in no particular order:
With that, let's get into it, starting with the rules and tags. For this post, I'll just be tagging anyone who reads this and wants to join in. The rules can be found below.
Disclaimer: This blog post will contain affiliate and referral links. I may earn a small commission to feed my book hoarding tendencies if you use these links to make a purchase. This in no way impacts my opinions of the books listed - they are all my own.
Link to the original creator: A Whisper of Ink
Tag At Least 3 People
Declare The Rules and List of Prompts in Your Post
Thank Whoever Tagged You + Link Their Post
Anyone who has the displeasure of interacting with me on bookstagram knows I adored The Beautiful by Renee Ahdieh. It is my go-to for any recommendation question I see. Recently, the sequel came out, which I'm hoping to start soon. I have high hopes for the continuing story in book two.
Now that the next book has been released, it's gotten me thinking more about the ending The Beautiful left us with. I won't go too much into details because spoilers but I couldn't pick my jaw off the floor after reaching the cliffhanger that ended the book. It was the only time my mind has ever blanked in complete shock while reading a book. I frantically flipped through the last pages hoping I missed an extra section but, to my sadness, I had not.
Needless to say, I was speechless.
Romanov by Nadine Brandes was such an emotional rollercoaster of a book. I laughed at Nastya's impish spirit and cried as her life was irrevocably changed. It was a book that reminded me of my deep love for reading. It perfectly illustrated the emotional ups and downs that ascend or plummet within a single chapter, page, or even sentence.
There was never a dull moment, whether you were reading about an endless lockdown that feels more relevant than ever, a family separation, or the action-packed scenes of adrenaline and magic. The story goes through phases of pause and declines then rockets back up to the peak of it all. I truly have never experienced such a whiplash of emotions while reading.
Usually, when I think of fascinating story-telling, my first thought is the mystery genre. There's something about a mystery novel that is so unlike any other. It doesn't matter if you're talking about morally grey characters, the clues dispersed throughout, or the epic plot twists that typically await a reader at the end of the book.
The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James was no different. In case you're unfamiliar, The Sun Down Motel is a paranormal murder mystery novel which edges just far enough away from horror that I could read it without freaking out. It is the perfect combination of spooky and thrilling.
In regards to the story-telling, the setup was perfect in delivering multiple points of view from multiple timelines that converge in the present. The book is meticulously crafted and by far one of the best mysteries I've ever read which is high praise from me as someone who is a stickler for the old school authors like Mary Higgins Clarke.
I have absolutely loved some of the books I've read by Isabel Ashdown. She was actually an author I promoted frequently on my bookstagram. And, while I hate to say it, I wish I hadn't read her latest book because it ruined that relationship.
Beautiful Liars by Isabel Ashdown was meant to be a great psychological mystery much like her others. Sadly what I was left with was a decent mystery with racism and fatphobia that is never explicitly portrayed as bad. In fact, there a redemption arc for the character who primarily expresses these that has nothing to do with addressing her discriminatory stances.
It's a no from me.
I completely accept that I'm an overly emotional reader. I cry while reading almost every book. I get too invested and will turn the smallest pang into a full crying fit. I know this about myself because I always go into a book expecting to cry even if it's not a particularly sob filled story.
When I picked up 5 Years Later, I didn't have many expectations considering I'd never heard anything about it. It was just another vaguely interesting sounding romance I was blazing through with my beloved kindle unlimited subscription. I went into it hoping for romance along with a dash of angst. Boy did I get more than I bargained for in the end.
5 Years Later is the pinnacle of second chance romance with all the heartbreak and yearning you could ask for. The lovers are tragic and star-crossed as they battle distance and addiction to be together. It's a book that spans years at a time as they flow in and out of each other's lives, torn apart every time by complications and obstacles in their path.
Basically, I sobbed like a baby.
When I first picked up Turtles All The Way Down by John Green, I was nothing short of thrilled. I was about fifteen and even if I hadn't been the biggest fan of TFIOS I knew this book was for me. I initially saw it advertised online and discovered that it would be focusing on a main character with OCD - a mental illness I and the author, John Green, deal with too.
This was shortly after my first official OCD diagnoses after years of struggling. I felt so isolated and I was desperately clawing for any representation of a character who thought like me. I knew without a doubt I was going to read Turtles All The Way Down ASAP. And I wasn't disappointed.
Turtles All The Way Down follows Aza Holmes as she solves a town mystery and lives with her all-encompassing OCD. I had never related to a character more. It wasn't that our obsessions and compulsions were exactly the same, though there were some strong similarities, but rather that the explanations of what it means to be trapped in an endless thought spiral were so relatable to young me. I felt seen and heard which was exactly what I needed at that point in my life.
When I was in middle school and high school I read a lot of fantasy and dystopian. I never strayed too far past that genre. It was a comfort at the time, especially with middle grade or younger YA characters and narrators. I found my home within the pages of these tattered worlds I read about.
The Demonata series by Darren Shan quickly became my favorite. It was a series I bonded over with my best friend at the time as we would devour them book by book. They defined my youth and my travails at the time. The books are darker fantasy with their fair share of gore, though still within my age range. A teacher once stopped me while reading them to ask me how I was enjoying them because she said that she often recommended them to teenage boys because gender stereotypes exist.
I still recommend these books a lot to people asking for recs, even if I rarely post about them on my blog or bookstagram feed. They're definitely not read as often as they were when I was younger but I don't love them any less to this day. One day I'll go back for a reread.
When I think about summer with its sunny days and warm temperatures, the first genre to come to mind is contemporary romance. It just screams the season and the laid back vibes that go along with it. For me, there's nothing more summer than the Fallen Too Far series by Abbi Glines and I will always clear out space for them on my summer tbr.
The Fallen Too Far books are a series I've talked about frequently. These books are New Adult contemporary romance. They follow a summer romance on the ocean shores between a rich son of a rockstar and a country girl. They feature passionate love, family feuds, and a spiraling relationship that takes place in the charming setting of Rosemary Beach.
I actually did a reread of them a few weeks ago, this summer. I find myself rereading these books almost once a year and I never tire of them. They continue to be everything I remember and more. If you haven't read this awesome series, I can't recommend it enough while soaking up rays of sunshine on the beach.
If you read my last bookish catch-up post, here, you'll know I started and finished The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell as my first book post-kitten adoption. This book was such a wild mystery, not necessarily in a constant fast pace kind of way but rather in the strangeness of it all.
The Family Upstairs delves a lot into the dynamics of loneliness and sadness, primarily in the gruesome past. It discusses the consequences of total isolation that is almost mind-altering. The loneliness in the book has ramifications that are still felt decades later. It touches every character and the journey they go through, for better or worse.
After reading We Hunt The Flame by Hafsah Faizal, I was incoherent and ruined for any other book for a bit. I spent time marveling at the majestic world of Arawiya built by the author and consequently was unable to pull my mind from it. The exception being to google when the next book in the series would be released so I could preorder it. (Spoiler: it comes out in 2021 so be sure to preorder and support the author if you can.)
It took me way too long to start We Hunt The Flame, which I'm kicking past me for, but when I did I was blown away by this epic world and diverse cast of characters. Seriously, if you haven't read We Hunt The Flame yet I need you all to go right now and start it so we can fangirl together.
I've talked about this a lot so you're welcome to let your eyes glaze over, but a book that came into my life at the exact right time was Daddy's Little Girl by Mary Higgins Clarke. I was at the age where I was transitioning from children's books to more grown-up, in comparison to young me, books. I was a preteen at the time and when my grandma would babysit me I'd sneak into her library to read her massive collection of ex-library copies.
Her collection mainly consisted of murder mysteries and in there I found what would become my ultimate nostalgia pick, Daddy's Little Girl by Mary Higgins Clarke. This book guided me into my maturing reading tastes. It also solidified my love of the mystery genre that I still have today. I don't know where I'd be as a reader without this book - and honestly, I don't want to know.
If you haven't heard me gush about Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin, consider yourself one of the lucky few. This book quickly rose to become my favorite 2020 read earlier in the year, yes I know I was a little late to the party. Since then, it has stayed strong on the top of my favorites list. It doesn't get any better than this dark, gothic tale of witches and witch hunters with all the best tropes like arranged marriage.
It stands to reason, Lou from Serpent and Dove quickly became one of my favorite characters. She was such a standout in a book with plenty of amazing characters. Lou's character made the story what it is and her strength carried the narrative. In my review, I described her as velvety darkness wrapped into a character and I stand by that to this day.
With my copy of Blood & Honey, the sequel to Serpent & Dove, currently out for delivery to my house, I am reflecting back on the book more than ever. I am bouncing with anticipation to see the gang again and, most importantly, Lou in a whole new adventure. I have no doubts I'll continue to fall further in love with her character as more of her journey is unveiled.
I have my fair share of issues with No Tomorrow by Carian Cole - mainly some slight biphobia sprinkled throughout the text. Putting all that aside, No Tomorrow was such a heartbreakingly haunting book. It tackles so many difficult topics and it does it well, with the exception of the previously mentioned misses. These range from addiction to mental health to recovery.
When I read No Tomorrow for the first time, I cried, I laughed, and then I cried again. The true gut-wrenching, desire of star crossed lovers, a victim to their circumstances, could not have been more perfectly executed. No Tomorrow is the kind of angsty romance novel any reader hopes to stumble upon at least once in their lifetime.
Discussing bookish couples, I couldn't ignore my newest OTP - Henry and Alex from Red, White & Royal Blue. I only recently jumped on the Red, White & Royal Blue bandwagon but now I'm a proud member of the pack. The book is a standout in an endless sea of faces and features all of the cuteness you could ever want.
First love is hard for anyone, especially when you are two international public figures from different countries. Henry and Alex find this out the hard way. Their relationship slowly morphs from enemies to fake friends to friends to lovers all the while containing some of the most painful gay yearning I've ever encountered. The pair's relationship is nothing short of history-making, and what else is to be expected from a power duo like Henry and Alex.
When it comes to characters I love, the gay in me really shows because they're all women which is no surprise to anyone. I generally lean toward main characters who are women no matter what book I'm reading. This doesn't mean the fictional men I've read about aren't amazing in their own way, but the women tend to stick out to me more.
I couldn't even begin to write a complete list of all my favorites but I will talk about a small selection of them. They include Celine from The Beautiful by Renee Ahdieh, Lou from Serpent & Dove, and Zafira from We Hunt The Flame. What they have in common is that they are all strong women who carry their respective books on their backs - no exaggeration.
As they say, women do it better.
If you've somehow followed my account since the beginning, you'll know my very first post on bookstagram featured You Will Be Mine by Natasha Preston. I don't blame you if you're not aware, I like to think about that time as little as possible for fear of dying from embarrassment. The photo wasn't great but that doesn't mean I still don't have feelings about the book.
You Will Be Mine was supposed to be a young adult mystery novel, think Two Can Keep A Secret style before I'd ever heard of that book. I went into it expecting a light amateur detective novel, however it didn't reach the hopes I had for it - even to the barest extent. I was left with a seemingly half-hearted mystery that felt slapped together at the last minute.
I believe I rated You Will Be Mine 3 stars at the time. As it was my first review, I was a bit disappointed I couldn't give it a better rating. I mean we all go into a book hoping we'll love it but sometimes a miss can't be helped. I'll state upfront, the book wasn't bad, but it was nowhere near my expectations.
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