Reviews

Book Review | The Existence of Amy by Lana Grace Riva

*Book given by author in exchange for an honest review*

The Existence Of Amy

Description: 

Amy has a normal life. That is, if you were to go by a definition of ‘no immediate obvious indicators of peculiarity’, and you didn’t know her very well. She has good friends, a good job, a nice enough home. This normality, however, is precariously plastered on top of a different life. A life that is Amy’s real life. The only one her brain will let her lead. 


What I Liked

I would like to start this review out by saying I don’t normally accept review requests directly from authors very often, but reading the email with the description of this book that landed in my inbox, I knew I would break my personal rule so I can read and review it. Mental health is something that needs to be talked about and normalized in general, but also the fact that mental health can affect everyone differently and at different times in your life. I felt that this book was a very honest exploration of how mental health can impact you at a later point in life.

I though the authors choice to tell this story in the first person was a very good decision because the reader can see how not only mental health can affect them, but also how they are mad at themselves or frustrated because they really want to do something, but they just can’t. Also, one of the more notable things throughout this book was the narrator/main character understanding why others are mad or sick of them. It was heart breaking and something I have witness through friends and loved ones.

Like I said earlier in this review, mental health is varied and different for each person, but I really felt that this book was a very well done piece of literature that demonstrated how negative mental health can feel to the individual. The book talked about the good days and the bad, which I appreciated because that it a realistic view in m opinion. Mental health can be great one day, bad the next, and maybe neutral for a few days in between. I don’t cry very often, but I teared up quite a few times throughout this book because hearing this persons struggle in their own words was powerful, but also how they viewed their effect on those around them.


What I Didn’t Like

Honestly, nothing. I thought this was a wonderful written book on a very personal subject. Not everyone experiences positive or negative mental health the same way.


Overall Thoughts

Overall, I felt that this was a very well done book. It can be hard to read emotionally and may be triggering for some. But, I do recommended it if you feel comfortable reading about this content. I felt that the material was handed well, the writing itself was great. I felt the pacing was on point and it felt like there was a purpose for everything the author added to the book. I also feel like this book would be good for someone who had a hard time understanding how negative mental health can affect someone because they are not experiencing it themselves.

Here is a list of mental health hotlines for around the world, checkpointorg.com. I am not familiar with any of these personally and I not a mental health professional so I cannot speak to all of their quality, but I wanted to share this resource incase anyone needs it.


Author Links


Book Information

Publication Date: August 2, 2019

Publisher: Independently Published

List Price: $8.50

ISBN: 978-1086835816

Pages: 283 pages


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Crochet, Crafting, Art & More

Crochet Talk | October – December 2020

Hello and welcome to a bit of a round up of my most recent crochet projects. I have quite a few to share today because I didn’t want to post any gifts for anyone so I didn’t ruin a surprise so be warned, there are quite a few projects today. Anyway, on to the projects!


The Projects

I used Patons North America Shetland Chunky in Deep Moss to make this Cowl. I used one of the patterns in the post called 4 Fun Stitches for Chunky Crochet Cowls by Daisy Farm Crafts that uses a front two loop half double crochet. I made this cowl for myself because I needed a new scarf for the winter because last year mine started to fall apart. I thankfully beat the cold weather!

I also made another cowl from 4 Fun Stitches for Chunky Crochet Cowls by Daisy Farm Crafts post. In this one I used the Crumpled Griddle Stitch. I don’t remember the yarn I used, but it colors changed from a dark brown to tan to green. I really liked how this one came out, it was the first time that I used a color changing yarn.

Next I made another cowl, but I made this one out of Bernat Crushed Velvet in Deep Gray. I followed another Daisy Farm Crafts pattern, this one is called Crochet Velvet Infinity Scarf. This yarn is so soft I ended up buying more of it to make some other projects. The pattern took advantage of working around posts in the stitches, which was fun and gave a ridged pattern. This is is another pattern that I ended up using a few times because it was so textural and has more dimension.

Next I made a tic-tac-toe game for a family member. I didn’t follow a written pattern, but I did follow a video Crochet Tic Tac Toe Game | Truc Nguyen Handmade. I used a few shades of blue to differentiate the different pieces, but still tied together. I thought it would also be helpful for my family member to teach shades of color etc. I also like how textural this pattern is with the yarn crocheted through the other parts to create writing of sorts. It was a challenge to complete, but I am really happy with how it came out.

I then got very excited to get my roller skates and decided to crochet a skate leash. I followed the pattern called, Crochet Roller Skate Leash by Crafting Callie. I used a gray cotton and I really loved how it came out. It also looks like a yoga mat strap. I can’t wait to use it when I get my skate in a few weeks.

My most recent project was a snake that I made with Bernat Crushed Velvet in a green color. I followed a pattern by  @niyazova_toys on instagram, but also off of this website called https://amigurum.com/. It was a lot of fun to make a stuffed animal and it is so soft because it is made from this velvet yarn. It also gave it a scaly look as well! I made this one for myself since it was something new and I don’t like to give someone my first attempt at something new. Happily, it came out near perfect.

What have you be doing to pass the time as of late?

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Wrap Up

Middle Mark | January 2021

Middle Mark – Md-month check in

I cannot believe I am already writing the first middle mark of 2021. I have to admit I have gotten very lucky with my reading so far and I really hope that it continues that way. I will be honest I am quite a bit concerned about my current read. Anyway, on to the mini reviews.


A Promised LandA Promised Land by Barack Obama
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a book I was looking forward to since it was announced. I love non-fiction and it is rare that a historical figure releases a biography while still alive and someone I am highly interested in their opinion and point of view. It was great to not only learn more about Obama, but also more of a sneak behind the curtain of our government. This was a well written and well. organized biography and I am looking forward to any future additions. I also really enjoyed that Obama touched on social injustice, racism, and so many other topics that I always wanted to hear his views on.

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Clanlands: Whisky, Warfare, and a Scottish Adventure Like No OtherClanlands: Whisky, Warfare, and a Scottish Adventure Like No Other by Sam Heughan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really had a fun time reading this book, not only was it fun because it felt like I was reading two friends just hanging a banter back and fourth. On top of that it was a great mixture of the history of Scotland, personal stories, and some behind the scenes shenanigans. It really was a pleasure to read.

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The Invisible Life of Addie LaRueThe Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have never really been a huge huge fan of V.E. Schwab. I think it mainly came down to a story not really being my thing. But, I did enjoy this story. I though this was an imaginative and tale that went through 300 years. I think the only real down side is there were a few times I was shaking my head at Addie just kind of acting like a child. Also, I would have loved to see her travel outside of the two continents within all the hundreds of years she had. Overall, it was an enjoyable read that I stayed up a bit too late to finish.

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I am currently reading a book called The Deepest South of All: True Stories from Natchez, Mississippi by Richard Grant. It is about a town that was filled with millionaires who built their fortune off of slavery and how the town looks today. I am only 9% into this books and quite frankly I want to smack these people right in the back of the head… a person in the book actually said, “Natchez is very liberal and tolerant in some ways, and very conservative and racist in other ways, although I will say that our racists aren’t generally hateful or mean.”… I’m…what? Racists are hateful! I have no idea where this book is going at this point, but we shall see if I even bother to finish it. I hope the author calls it out, it seems to be going that way because the author seems just as dumbfounded by a few of the statements made.


What have you read so far this month or what are you currently reading?

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Hauls & Unboxings

Book of the Month Unboxing | January 2021

Hello and welcome to my BOTM unboxing post. This month I landed on a single book, but was able to pick a free book since I have been a member for so long. Since I am a BFF I am able to pick one of the finalists for book of the year, so you will also see what I picked for that. Funny enough, I was going to pick up this book regardless, but to get it for free was a wonderful bonus.


The Books

The Removed by Brandon Hobson, according to the description this novel deals with grief a family feels after a loss of a child to a police shooting. This story itself does not happen right after the events, but years later and gos over how the parents and siblings deal with the grief as well as what life has thrown at them since. It also pulls from Cherokee folklore from my understanding.

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, I have been hearing about this book all over the place and it has won 2020 Book of the Year from BOTM. I have read a previous book by the author and I enjoyed it as well so I am looking forward to hearing the story of two twin sisters whose lives end up radically different and how their families progress as the generations pass. Also, from my current understanding the story will also discuss white privilege from the families stories as well. I am really curious to see where Bennett story takes the reader.


Have you read either of these books or heard of them? Did you pick a different book from BOTMs picks?

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Reading Challenges

Reading Challenge | Books I Want to Read in 2021

Hello and welcome to a list or challenge of sorts. I wanted to share some of the many, many books I want to read in 2021. I thought it would be fun at the end of the year to look back and see if I ended up reading this books or if I ended up liking them. I will be completely honest, there is a reread on this list of one of my favorite books so that one I know I will already love. Anyway, on to the books!


The Books


What books do you really want to read in 2021?

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Bullet Journal, Writing & More

Bullet Journal | 2021 Reading Bujo Set Up

Hello and welcome to a post where I share some of my spreads from my new reading bullet journal for 2021. In the past I had my life and reading in one place, but this year I decided to use a planner for my life, but I wanted to continue to use a bullet journal for my reading. I really find it a ton of fun and I can’t wait to see what books I will be adding to it this year!


The Spreads

This time around I wanted my year long or bullet journal long pages to be pretty neutral for the most part so I used a black pen, torn up tan paper, and a few blank tags and cut outs to decorate the pages. I also wanted to tie all the pages together so I decided to put a black boarder on every page. The first page on the left is 10 books I want to read in 2021. I putt bullet points to add the books later on. On the right I put a place for random book recommendations I might get. I decided to add a little bee because these books will most likely have some buzz around them.

On this pages I continued to use the tan paper and boarder to just have some type of continuity. On the left I have a space for a favorite book of each month. I need to measure so I can properly print the covers as the months pass. On the right side I decided to list the three series I want to read in 2021. I want to read The Farseer Trilogy, Liveship Traders Trilogy and The Hobbit and Lord of the Ring Series. I just listed the books under their series title and I can put a check when I have read them.

Continuing with the same theme I made a page to track more of my 2021 reading goals. On the left I listed my use the library monthly goal and placed 12 circles to color in, twelve non-fictions with 12 circles as well and lastly for this page read 50 books and I added 50 circles to color in. On the right I made 6 rectangles for each book of the International Booker Prize where I have the title listed and I can add my rating and date read later on. I also added a ticket that was mostly blank and put the title on that.

I wanted to continue to track quite a few stats that I tracked last year so I made a single place for all of them on this page called monthly stats. I am going to track number of books, number of pages, fiction/nonfiction, library/owned, DNFs, 5 star reads, hard cover and soft cover. I left the page on the right empty incase I end up wanting to add more or I end up needing more room.

This year I really want to keep my TBR in check, last year I actually got my TBR down to 0 at one point and I really want to keep it reasonable from now on. I decided each month I am going to keep track of the books I have at the start of the month that are unread, how many I hauled, how many unhauled, and then what I have at the end of the month. Somewhat similar to the series Balancing the Books by Drinking By My Shelf on youtube. Each month has a rectangle and then within that each stat has their own box.

Last and one of my favorites is my Someone Picks My Books spread. Last year I just kept a simple list, but since I love this series I have been doing over a year now so much I wanted to give it a really awesome spread. I decided that I would make a bookshelf for each month and doodle a book on each of those shelves and then label the book spine with the book I am reading that month. I also drew some doodle arrows from the month and name of the person who picked my books to the book. I have the first half of the year already set, huge thank you to those who helped me! I will probably look into getting more help around may of this year.


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Wrap Up

Let’s Talk | My Year in Book Stats 2020

Hello and welcome to an overview of my reading and reading stats. for the 2020 year! As always I am going to share a link to my good reads stats, but I am also going to be sharing some stats I kept myself in a google sheet throughout the entire year. I am honestly really surprised I kept up with it all year, but I plan on using the same format this upcoming year because it is low maintenance, but fun to see the progress.

Goodreads Yearly Recap

  • Shortest Book: 55 pages, The Night is Darkening Round Me by Emily Brontë
  • Longest Book: 1,020 pages, Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann
  • Average book length in 2020: 329 pages
  • My average rating for 2020: 3.9 Stars
  • Highest Rated on Goodreads: The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

End of the Year Reading Stats I’v Kept

I am just going to focus on my totals at this point of the year, but if you want to explore my stats for other months you can check out my monthly wrap ups! You can do so here: Bookish Luna’s Wrap Ups.

  • 136 Books
  • 44.603 Pages
  • 110 Fiction
  • 26 Non-fiction
  • 3 DNFs
  • 12 eBooks
  • 3 Audiobooks
  • 42 Hard Covers
  • 78 Soft Covers
  • 10 Library Books
  • 125 Owned Books
  • 38 5 Star Books
  • 62 4 Star Books
  • 24 3 Star Books
  • 11 2 Star Books
  • 1 1 Star Book

How was your reading year in 2020?

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Wrap Up

Wrap Up | December 2020

Hello and welcome to the last wrap up of 2020. I am going to make this one short and sweet since we are already in 2021, but I wanted to share the books I ended up finishing and mini reviews for each of them. I am going to be posting a whole year post either tomorrow or in the next few days. I currently have some rare time off so I am really taking this time to relax and not put pressure on myself. I will be uploading more regularly after the first week of January.


The IncarnationsThe Incarnations by Susan Barker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This novel was just something outside of the genre it was labeled as. It is a thriller, fantasy, and historical fiction all mixed into one. This book follows a cab driver in Beijing and the story goes through time as you learn about his past lives as he does. Each life had its own chapter where you explored the lives of these two souls, the lives they lived varied quite a lot and they endured a ton as well (violence, sexual violence, and suicide to name a few). The writing itself was beautiful, and the way the author organized the book was perfect. At no point did I think the pacing was off or was bored. I was glued to this book when I was able to find time to pick it up. Another aspect I enjoyed was the fact that the author intertwined these stories with Chinese folklore, classic, and history.

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An Orchestra of MinoritiesAn Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozie Obioma
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

So, this is a very imaginative story. I really loved the premise of the tale and I really enjoyed that it was narrated by a guardian spirit called a chi. The writing itself was really wonderful and I think the author has a gift for sure. Unfortunately, this book was filled with female objectification and I can only hope that the authors purpose in this is to bring light to this. The main character cannot take any responsibility and is pig headed. He commits a horrible act who hurts someone he is meant to “love”. I put it into quotes because it isn’t love. The women in this novel are nothing more than their use to the main character. I had such high hopes for this novel, while I did not like this tale at all I will be checking out the authors other work because their writing itself was done very well.

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Royal HolidayRoyal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a very cute read and a perfect little holiday book to read during December. When I picked this up I had no idea it was a series…oops! Either way I enjoyed it and the writing was good.

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Lovecraft CountryLovecraft Country by Matt Ruff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A wonderful collections of historical horror/science fiction that show cases the “typical” horror and the horrors faced by American Americans.

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The Existence Of AmyThe Existence Of Amy by Lana Grace Riva
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A detailed review is to come, but this was a beautifully written novel that follows the main character through their personal struggles with mental health, specifically with OCD. I read this in a single day because the story itself was compelling, but also the writing was and methods used were perfect.

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December Stats: 9 books, 2868 pages, 8 fiction, 1 nonfiction, 3 ebooks, 1 hard cover, 5 softcover, 9 owned books, 1. 5 star, 6 4 star, 1 3 star, and 1 2 star.

What was your favorite or least favorite read of December or 2020 as a whole?

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To Be Read

To Be Read | First TBR of 2021

Hello and welcome to my January 2021 TBR. I hope everyone is having a wonderful start to their year and I wish every single one of you a safe, healthy and fun 2021. This TBR is going to be quite a few books, but I currently feel up to the challenge.


The Books

TBR books stacked on a carpet in front of a basket and a plant.

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones, I had this on a TBR a few months ago, but sadly I ran out of hours in the month. I really want to read this horror for a few reasons. I am in the mood for some horror, I have read something else by this author and loved it and it just sounds amazing.

The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa – I am aiming to pick up my first book of reading a book off of my 2021 shortlist challenge, if you want to read more about that you can check that out here: Reading Challenge | Reading a Shortlist 2021.

Flowers of Mold by Ha Seong-nan – I am picking this up because it is the oldest book on my TBR and I am still interested in it. This is a collection of short stories so I should be able to read it quickly and enjoy myself!

Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb, as started in my 2021 goals, which you can read in my post: Reading Challenge | 2021 Reading Goals, I want to read two of her trilogies this year, so I wanted to get a start on that. Especially since I have so many people telling me I am going to enjoy it.

The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans, this was one of my book of the month picks last month so I wanted to try and get to it this month. I look forward to reading this collection of short stories that touch on larger issues in modern day society.

Not Quite Out pictured amongst my plants.

Not Quite Out by Louise Willingham, I am so lucky to say I am on a blog tour for this book in February so I am planning on reading this gifted book in January so I can write up my honest review.


What are you planning on reading this month?

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Reviews

Someone Picks My Books | Erica @The Broken Spine | Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff

Hello and welcome to another installment of Someone Picks My Books! This month I am reading a book recommend by the wonderful Erica who you can find on twitter as @2020hines_sight or on her youtube channel The Broken Spine. I was so excited when she picked Lovecraft Country for me to read for a few reasons, first I have been hearing a ton about the adaptation and secondly, the book just sounds amazing!


Picture of book on pillows.

One Sentence Review

A wonderful collections of historical horror/science fiction that show cases the “typical” horror and the horrors faced by American Americans.

Description

Chicago, 1954. When his father Montrose goes missing, twenty-two year old Army veteran Atticus Turner embarks on a road trip to New England to find him, accompanied by his Uncle George—publisher of The Safe Negro Travel Guide—and his childhood friend Letitia. On their journey to the manor of Mr. Braithwhite—heir to the estate that owned Atticus’s great grandmother—they encounter both mundane terrors of white America and malevolent spirits that seem straight out of the weird tales George devours.

At the manor, Atticus discovers his father in chains, held prisoner by a secret cabal named the Order of the Ancient Dawn—led by Samuel Braithwhite and his son Caleb—which has gathered to orchestrate a ritual that shockingly centers on Atticus. And his one hope of salvation may be the seed of his—and the whole Turner clan’s—destruction.

A chimerical blend of magic, power, hope, and freedom that stretches across time, touching diverse members of one black family, Lovecraft Country is a devastating kaleidoscopic portrait of racism—the terrifying specter that continues to haunt us today. –goodreads.com


What I Liked

I have to say, I was looking forward to this book ever since Erica picked it for me and it did not disappoint. In fact, I liked it more than I thought I would. I typically love horror and read it all year, so that alone set this book up for being a winner in my book. On top of that I really liked how the author blended in historical facts. The author picked to follow an African American family around the 1950s. In doing this the author was able to bring attention to sadly very common racism that took place during that time, but also made this horror novel feel even more realistic.

The writing itself was done very well both from a grammar stand point, but it also had a very sturdy pace. Personally, pace needs to be consistent when it comes to reading. I don’t mind a slow burn book or a fast paced book, but I really dislike when it is all over the place. The author was able to keep it consistent and I actually ended up reading this book from cover to cover in a single setting. Not only that, I also enjoyed the nods to Lovecraft and how the author built upon them to build what this family goes through. On top of that I really liked how the author wrote all of the characters, they felt real.

What I Didn’t Like

Honestly, not a single thing and I feel like this is one I want to reread again in the future.

Overall

Overall, I feel like this is a really wonderful books that not only has supernatural horrors, but also real life horrors as well. I think if either of these topics are something you want to to read more about this is a book you should look into. The mixture of historically accurate context, great writing, and a great story really has a lot going for it. Now, I can finally watch the TV adaption!


Next month I am reading a book picked by Misty from Misty’s Book Space, you can also find her over on twitter @mistymichelle30. This is the second time Misty is picking a book for me and I am so excited because it went so well the first time.

Have you read this book before or is it on your TBR?

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