I finally found the time again for a new blog post! I didn't write any in June because I was drowning in school work. But now I'm done (with this course at least. I have already started a new one that will end in September. Then I will be done forever. Probably.) I heavily relied on audiobooks to get some reading done the past few weeks. I'll mark these books with a headset emoji (🎧).
Here is an overview of all the books I talk about in this post, so you can skip the ones you are not interested in:
See Me by Hailey Rodgers
Gryphon Riders Trilogy by Derek Alan Siddoway
Stalking Jack The Ripper & Hunting Prince Dracula - Kerri Maniscalco
Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Aurora Burning by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Save The Cat by Blake Snyder
And you can discover my book haul of the month below!
1. SEE ME - Hailey Rodgers ✩✩✩✩
Hailey Rodgers contacted me through instagram to ask me to read her book See Me and write an honest review. I love supporting young, debuting authors so I didn't think twice about it and said yes. Now I wonder how she could have known I needed this book at this moment in my life.
"There is a misconception that in order to be happy you must first be successful. In fact, the opposite is true: you must be happy first in order to be successful. This raises the question: How do I become happy? The answer: Discover your authentic self."
Although this book can be read by youth and adults of all ages, Hailey Rodgers mainly focuses on addressing young adults. This group often goes through a lot of changes in life,
me included (I am 22 years old and in my last year of college, fyi). I am feeling very insecure lately, about my body, about school and finding a job, and feeling guilty about this because there are bigger world problems than my own unfounded insecurity. This all makes it hard to feel happy. See Me really helped me to put all the events and changes in my life into perspective and find back my good mood.
The author makes statements based on examples from her own life, the life of acquaintances and of famous people. You feel like she knows what she is talking about. Hailey Rodgers is a young woman herself, which means she doesn't have the attitude "I am much older than you are and let me just tell you, your problems now will seem insignificant when you are older", that I sometimes experience when reading self help books. Her words felt genuine and valuable.
See me is divided in three parts with 30 principles. All chapters are relatively short, making them stick to the point. At the end of each chapter, the author lists what you have learned in this chapter and what tools you have learned to use in real life to make you feel happier.
"The paths you travel, the roads you take will be different than everyone else's. The location of your life right now too will be different. That is why the way you read this book does not have to be linear. You do not have to read this book from start to finish - because really, that's not how life works either. Nothing in life is linear."
I started reading this book chronologically, but about halfway through I took Hailey's advice and started reading the chapters I felt like reading, skipping chapters I didn't feel like reading at that moment, and to come back to them later. Not all principles will apply to your life. So do not feel obliged to read what is of no use to you. This book should help you feel good, reading what you don't feel like reading will work against the process. You can always come back to unread chapters later on, because this book doesn't need to be read in one sitting. It should come back to it over and over again when you need it. And I am sure I will come back to it.
2. GRYPHON RIDERS TRILOGY - Derek Alan Siddoway ✩✩✩✩ (🎧)
Goodreads synopsis of the first book in this trilogy, Windsworn:
Eva has never swung a sword. She’s never flown through the open sky on a gryphon or dreamed of being a hero. She’s content with a quiet life — two feet firmly on the ground, working in her foster-father’s forge. But that’s all about to change.
When Eva discovers a young thief hiding in her woodshed with a stolen gryphon egg, the shy, timid girl is forced to leave everything she’s ever known to become Windsworn — elite warriors who ride fierce gryphons into battle. As she struggles to learn the ways of the Windsworn, Eva finds herself caught in a plot to destroy the gryphon riders and plunge the kingdom into war, a plot that somehow involves her deceased parents.
In the face of growing danger, can Eva conquer her fears and unravel the secrets of her past in time to save the Windsworn?
The Gryphon Riders Trilogy is a very entertaining fantasy series. We follow the adventures of Eva, a young orphan girl raised by a blacksmith, who she loves as a father. She is fierce, has her own opinion, but isn't afraid to show emotion. I loved her. Letting the characters grow emotionally and at the same time keep their personalities consistent throughout three books isn't an easy writing job, I can speak from experience. However, Derek Alan Siddoway succeeded in the character development departement! And in the world building department as well, for that matter.
Dragons have always been my favourite fantasy creature. But I am glad this wasn't another dragon story. Gryphons are so cool! They should get more stories of their own!
Plot wise, the author really managed to keep my attention while binge listening the complete trilogy. Their was the right amount of action, a strong female lead, a little bit of romance, just enough to be appropriate for the young audience. It all happened a bit quickly in the beginning, but on the other hand I like stories that get into action quickly.
Because I listened to the audiobooks, I want to give some credits to Kate Rudd, who narrated these three books. She did an amazing job. It's crazy how she can give each character a different voice that fits them well, both female and male characters. Voice acting is a real talent!
3. STALKING JACK THE RIPPER & HUNTING PRINCE DRACULA (Stalking Jack The Ripper, 1-2) Kerri Maniscalco ✩✩✩✩ (🎧)
Synopsis of Stalking Jack The Ripper:
Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord's daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.
Against her stern father's wishes and society's expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle's laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.
As the titles already reveal, these stories are inspired by the murders by the unidentified serial killer Jack The Ripper in 19th Century London, and the tales of Prince Dracula in Romania.
I am a Historical Fiction fan, but not a Horror fan at all. However, Maniscalco found a great balance between building the tension and describing macabre details of deceased bodies, without creeping me out.
I very liked Audrey Rose. She is a strong woman with a free mind, which wasn't evident at that time. She felt very modern, which might be inaccurate to the 19th century way of living and thinking, but I liked her fierceness. Surely, in every time period there must have been people who didn't fit the standard, right?
Thomas Cresswell was a perfect companion. Oh my, Thomas Cresswell. He has been my bookish boyfriend for the past two months (until I met Hunt in my current read Crescent City). He always had the perfect response to Audrey's quirky thinking and acting.
Luckily he plays a major role in the second installment of the series as well. I can't wait to read more about these two characters in the third book Escaping From Houdini.
4. DAISY JONES & THE SIX - Taylor Jenkins Reid ✩✩✩✩✩
Daisy Jones & The Six is by far my favorite read of 2020. I have never read anything like it, and probably never will.
Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six: The band's album Aurora came to define the rock 'n' roll era of the late seventies, and an entire generation of girls wanted to grow up to be Daisy. But no one knows the reason behind the group's split on the night of their final concert at Chicago Stadium on July 12, 1979 . . . until now.
Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock 'n' roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.
Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.
Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.
What makes Daisy Jones & The Six so unique, is the documentary/interview format. Even though the synopsis makes us think Daisy and Billy will be the protagonists, all band members, plus a few other people involved in their lives, all get their say. As a result, the stories are sometimes contradictory and the truth remains vague. Yet you (or I at least) seem to believe one person over the other.
"I had absolutely no interest in being somebody else's muse.
I am not a muse.
I am the somebody.
End of fucking story."
I didn't expect to get so emotionally invested in this group. The women in these book are so badass. They definitely ruled this story. My two favorite characters were Karen, the keyboardist and Camila, Billy's wife.
"Men often thinks they deserve a sticker for treating women like people." (Karen)
Karen and her criticism of men was so funny. She knew what she wanted and the man in her life wouldn't change her mind.
"Love and pride don't mix." (Camila)
Camila was even a more fierce character. Even though I wouldn't make the same choices as her, I understood her choices, and felt a big respect for her. She would always put family first and often forget to think about herself. One could say she was weak because she refused to become independent from Billy, but I just found her very strong to fight for her dream and to belief in the best of people, no matter how many times they let her down. Again, I would probably not make the same decisions, but I could not not respect her for them. And this feeling actually applies to all characters.
This book will be adapted to the screen in an 13-episode series, produced by Reese Witherspoon, with Riley Keough as Diasy and Sam Claflin as Billy. I am so excited to actually hear all the songs. I really wish their was a real album.
I have made myself a Daisy Jones & The Six playlist on Spotify. It's a list in progress, but you can listen to it HERE.
5. AURORA BURNING (The Aurora Cycle, #2) - Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff ✩✩✩✩
How I wish to be part of this squad! If they weren't in life danger all the time...
Read the synopsis of Aurora Rising, the first book in this series, HERE.
Read my review of Aurora Rising HERE.
"The only way out is throught."
What. A. Ride.
I can't remember reading a book that is packed with so much action as Aurora Burning. It was such an entertaining read.
"I know my friends, and they are few. But those few I have, I would die for."
I loved seeing the squad more as group of friends, than a team that was put together against their will and got along well enough. Their friendships have developed a lot and entertained me so much. But more specifially, I was very happy to get to know Kal and Zila better. They really open up in this sequel and we get a look into their past. They are definitely the most interesting characters in this book in my opinion.
"My girls are too big for this uniform. Don't get me wrong - I love my ladies. (...) But some days, they're just a bitch to own."
I was glad to see some more (sexual) diversity in the group. I felt like it was present in Aurora Rising, but it got ignored most of the time. And I love the sassiness of Scarlet. She's the woman who speaks up her mind, who isn't ashamed of her body, is even proud of it, and doesn't know taboos. Why shouldn't we talk about the pros and cons about breasts in fiction?
All well and good, but I didn't feel a lot of emotions while reading Aurora Burning. It was funny, and sad, and tense, but it never really affected my mood. I thought it wouldn't break my heart, like it did with so many others'.... Oh, little fool I was. That ending...
I was not feeling nothing...
6. Save The Cat - Blake Snyder ✩✩✩✩✩
"The last book on screenwriting you'll ever need" according to the cover. And I can't really disagree. This is by far the most helpful book on screenwriting (and writing in general actually) I have ever read.
Blake Snyder shares his work methods and tips and tricks you can actually apply to your writing. It's more than theory, it teaches a new way of working. Blake Snyder doesn't only tell you how it works, but why it works as well, so you feel like you better understand the underlying workings of story.
This will be my number one recommendation if someone ever asks me what book they should read to improve their storytelling.
I only got one new book this month and I didn't even buy it myself, so I am so proud of myself! I won a giveaway hosted by the debuting author Frederiqye Tienmans (instagram | goodreads) and chose Dune by Frank Herbert. I can't wait to dive into this series!
Happy reading time, bookworms!
P.s: Have you seen my new theme on instagram? What do you think? Check it out HERE.