My First Bookstagram #SFS | Some Bookstagrammers to Follow

Hi everyone!

On Sunday, I posted on my Instagram that I would be hosting my first Read by Tori SFS, or Shoutout for Shoutout. For those of you who aren’t familiar, SFS is a very popular method for publicizing bookstagram accounts, and it’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like– a shoutout for a shoutout.

After coming back from my hiatus (and starting with a new username), I felt right back at home in the bookstagram community, which is why I wanted to say thank you by hosting this SFS session.

However, I decided to put my own little twist to the standard SFS. Aside from the standard proceedings (you can read the rules here), I decided that I would feature ALL bookstagrammers who participated not only on Instagram, but also on my blog. Which is here 🙂

Some bookstagrammers you should definitely follow:

@libraryinprogress

@libraryinprogress

Cori from @libraryinprogress has a really pretty, fun account!

@thenovelnook

@thenovelnook

Gabriella from @thenovelnook has a really cute feed!

@rebeccas.world.of.books

@rebeccas.world.of.books

Rebecca from @rebeccas.world.of.books has such a lovely feed with a flowery theme.

@afirepages

@afirepages

Karina from @afirepages is really friendly and has a nice feed.

 

@bunny._.mum

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Rosie from @bunny._.mum has a cute feed with a bunch of adorable bunnies!

 

@happywhenshereads

@happywhenshereads

Marissa from @happywhenshereads takes gorgeous pictures.

 

@pebbles_reads

@pebbles_reads

Ali from @pebbles_reads takes great pictures with great books!

 

And that’s a wrap! I’d say this SFS was a success ❤ Thank you to everyone who participated. If you didn’t get a chance to participate this time, don’t worry! I will definitely be hosting more in the future 🙂

Happy reading!

Victoria

Everything, Everything – Book Review

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Title: Everything, Everything

Author: Nicola Yoon

Goodreads rating: 4.11

Pages: 310

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.Goodreads   

My Rating: 4.5/5

Cover Rating: 4/5

My Review:

I heard many good things about Everything, Everything before reading the book myself. I purchased it at the 2016 Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, but never got around to reading it until recently. I remember telling myself to just open the book, to just read one chapter so I could get myself started.

I didn’t expect to finish the entire novel that night. I also didn’t expect for it to jump to the top of my list of favorite books.

Yes, folks. It was that good. It’s honestly quite hard to explain how amazed I was as I flipped all 310 pages, only stopping to brush my teeth (if it weren’t for hygiene, I probably would have stayed in the same position until I finished). What makes the book interesting is that it isn’t just structured like a regular novel; Nicola Yoon incorporates e-mail messages, text messages, and notes within the pages. There was also one page that was completely inked black, but I can’t tell you why, because spoilers are not cool 🙂

The basic premise of the book is that Madeline, an eighteen-year old girl, has been living under a house-arrest-esque situation her whole life, because she suffers from a disease she calls SCID. She doesn’t really question her lifestyle, and is actually quite content with it until a mysterious, dark haired boy named Oliver moves in next door. To be honest, I found the way Maddy and Olly “connected” to be quite cliche. It’s the classic makes-eye-contact-then-shyly-looks-away type of situation. Although I’ve read many YA novels with the same first meeting scenario, I still love it when said scenarios happen. I have to say, however, that these situations are not realistic whatsoever. If I peeked through the curtains at someone like Maddy did, I’m pretty sure I’d receive nothing but weird looks (if any of you beg to differ, and have met your soulmate through just staring at each other, please let me know in the comments. I will happily be proven wrong).

After meeting Olly, Maddy’s life completely changes. She looks at everything differently and is constantly yearning for more than what she has. Maddy begins to push her boundaries and take risks like never before. It was interesting seeing the way her character developed throughout the novel. I watched as Maddy evolved from an obedient, careful mama’s girl to someone brave, rebellious, and larger than life.

Yoon has such a compelling writing style that kept my eyes glued to the pages for hours. When I read about how the characters talk to each other, I could actually picture it very clearly in my head. But I guess part of the reason for this can be attributed to the fact that the trailer for the Everything, Everything film had already been released way before I started reading, so I had pictures of the characters in my mind. Something similar happened to me while I was reading Divergent as well; the movie was already out, and all throughout my reading of the series, Tris and Tobias basically looked like Shailene Woodley and Theo James to me. I think that can be a both a good and bad thing.

In addition, reading Everything, Everything was like taking a breath of fresh air from the overwhelming sea of main Young-Adult characters who are Caucasian. Maddy is Japanese mixed with African American, and her love interest is Olly, whom I believe is white. This usually never happens in YA novels, which is another reason why I love this book so much. It not only encompasses racial diversity, but also highlights mental illness which I will get to very soon…

Overall, I’d definitely recommend this book to anyone and everyone. Fans of YA novels will be very comfortable with Yoon’s writing style. Even if you don’t usually read YA, Everything, Everything is a great read that was both thought-provoking and unique.

***THE SPOILER-FREE PART OF THIS BOOK REVIEW ENDS HERE. IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE BOOK YET, PLEASE PLEASE please LOOK AWAY NOW. TRUST ME, THE PLOT TWIST IS SO JAW-DROPPING THAT YOU WILL NOT WANT ME TO SPOIL IT FOR YOU***

Oh. My. Goodness. Words cannot express how awed I was at the sudden turn of events towards the end of the novel. I feel like there were multiple plot twists, starting with Maddy’s spontaneous decision to leave for Ha-freaking-waii with Olly. I mean, I understand that she was tired of her previous way of life, but I think this was taking it much too far. In hindsight, however, judging by how MADDY WAS NOT REALLY SICK (I am STILL IN SHOCK by the way), I think going to Hawaii may have been the best decision Maddy’s ever made.

Maddy’s mother, the supposed DOCTOR, kept her daughter living under house-arrest for 18 years all because she didn’t want to lose her. This brings to light the various forms of mental illness that one can develop from losing his or her loved ones. After Maddy’s dad and brother died when she was younger, her mom became so paranoid of losing her remaining family member that she feigned her illness to everyone. Eventually, I think Maddy’s mom got so accustomed to the lie that she herself began to treat it as the truth.

***spoilers end here :)***

When I purchased the book last year, I actually met Nicola Yoon and got it signed. I wish that I had read the book beforehand so I could tell her how much I enjoyed it 😦 There will be other chances for me to do so in the future, though!

signed everyevery

I will 1000000% for sure be watching the film adaptation of Everything, Everything, and I will most likely be writing a review of that as well. Let’s just say that after reading the book, my expectations for the movie have skyrocketed. I’ll keep you all updated about my thoughts.

Favorite Quotes:

Life is a gift. Am I wasting mine?

I was happy before I met him. But I’m alive now, and those are not the same thing.

I’ve decided baggage carousels are a perfect metaphor for life.

Love is worth everything. Everything.

 

Reflection on “My Family’s Slave”

***I highly encourage all of you to read the article yourselves before reading this, because it truly was mind-opening and something I think is important for everyone to read. My reflection will also make much more sense to those of you who do.***

Recently, I read an online article that tugged at my heartstrings and kept my eyes glued to my phone for a good 20 minutes. The article, My Family’s Slave, was written by the late Alex Tizon, and it was a memoir of his experience as a modern Filipino-American who owned a slave.

Unbelievable, right?

That’s what I thought to myself as I started reading the article. So many questions were drifting through my mind already: How is that even possible? Wouldn’t the authorities have known? Is this article even realistic? However, as I continued reading, Tizon not only answered my questions, but also completely changed my perspective.

The slave, known as Lola by the author and his family, was given to Tizon’s mother as a “gift” at 18 years old and has been in servitude ever since. The amount of cruelty and immorality that encompassed Lola’s enslavery was too much for me to even fathom (I literally turned to my friend after reading the article and expressed just how much I couldn’t fathom it).

Tizon writes the article as a narrative about visiting Lola’s hometown in the Philippines with her ashes combined with a series of flashbacks about Lola’s life under servitude. Throughout the article, incidents that really stood out to me included the time when Tizon’s mother got into trouble (when she was younger) and ordered Lola to endure her punishment of 12 belt lashes. And the complete manipulation that took place when Tizon’s parents convinced Lola to move to the United States with them. And the many times when the Tizon’s mother would get jealous of her children for defending Lola even though her abuse was apparent. And when Tizon’s parents, in an effort to keep Lola concealed, wouldn’t even let her receive medical and dental treatment even when she so desperately needed it.

Yes, I was appalled and disgusted by what I read about the way Lola was being treated. But nothing surprised me more than the way Lola treated others. After the author’s father left the family for good, Lola was always there to comfort his mother. I remember scrunching up my forehead while reading this part. Why? How could Lola be so caring after how she was treated? And this is how this article opened my eyes to amount of compassion and forgiveness that could exist in this world.

Being a slave was pretty much the only life Lola ever knew, and although it would have been easy for her to make a run for it, she chose to stay because 1) she was taken to America; she would have to start ALL over if she were to leave 2) she genuinely cared for the author and the author’s family.

I found it very kind of the author to allow Lola to live with him after he started his own family. I’ll admit I was a bit angry with Tizon for not taking action for Lola sooner, but after reading the article fully, I now understand. Tizon’s parents treated owning Lola as a norm and were quite scary when it came to disobedience. The author and his siblings have also essentially been exposed to slavery all their lives; even Tizon himself notes that he did not notice the wrongs committed towards Lola until he was in his tween years. And of course, how could an eleven-year-old stand in front of his parents and tell them that an institution they so believed in was immoral and sickening? Even I don’t know what I would have done in Tizon’s shoes.

Luckily, Tizon’s mother loosened up towards Lola when she grew old, giving her dentures and even citizenship. One incident that really surprised me was when the author says “The priest asked Mom whether there was anything she wanted to be forgiven for. She reached over and placed an open hand on Lola’s head. She didn’t say a word.” There. That’s the moment that got me. Ms. Tizon, at the end of her life, finally recognizes the injustices that she has committed towards Lola. It was a bittersweet two sentences to read.

Another heart wrenching moment was when Lola’s family members saw Tizon and her ashes, and started sobbing. Tizon said that he wasn’t expecting many people to care, but everyone wept for ten minutes. Lola might have left her home for almost a century, but her people still remember her, miss her, and love her. Love was definitely a recurring theme in this article.

I guess what I’m trying to get at is that this story showed me that nothing is simply white or black and right or wrong in this world. There are always multiple factors that play into everything, and everyone has a different point of view.

Although I may never be able to comprehend Lola’s selflessness or the Tizon parents’ cruelty, I do know the importance of standing up for what you believe is right. I’m glad Tizon realized early on what was wrong with the practices in his household, and although he wasn’t able to do much about it for a few years, he eventually was able to give Lola a better life.

Read Alex Tizon’s “My Family’s Slave” here.

The Last Boy and Girl in the World – Book Review

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Title: The Last Boy and Girl in the World

Author: Siobhan Vivian

Goodreads rating: 3.49

Pages: 419

“What if your town was sliding underwater and everyone was ordered to pack up and leave? How would you and your friends spend your last days together? While the adults plan for the future, box up their possessions, and find new places to live, Keeley Hewitt and her friends decide to go out with a bang. There are parties in abandoned houses. Canoe races down Main Street. The goal is to make the most of every minute they still have together. And for Keeley, that means taking one last shot at the boy she’s loved forever. There’s a weird sort of bravery that comes from knowing there’s nothing left to lose. You might do things you normally wouldn’t. Or say things you shouldn’t. The reward almost always outweighs the risk.

Almost.

It’s the end of Aberdeen, but the beginning of Keeley’s first love story. It just might not turn out the way she thought. Because it’s not always clear what’s worth fighting for and what you should let become a memory.” Goodreads   

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My Rating: 5/5

Cover Rating: 4.5/5

My Review:

Before you read this review, let me tell you one thing: The Last Boy and Girl in the World was a work of art. It was honestly so amazing and well-written that even now, a few weeks since I put the book down, I’m still experiencing some withdrawals :’)

When Siobhan Vivian announced on social media that this book was coming out, I knew it was a must-read for me. I’m a huge fan of Vivian’s; one of the first book reviews I’ve ever written was actually on her debut novel, The List. Because I loved The List, I had pretty high expectations for this book. Judging by my enthusiastic lede, you can probably tell my expectations were met.

Let’s talk about the storyline. I thought the plot was the coolest idea ever— imagine living in a town that would suddenly get submerged and become a lake. How much would it affect my life? Keeley Hewitt is your average spunky high school girl, who I found to be so brave and funny. Keeley has an undying crush on a boy at her school named Jesse, and it has been a long term goal of her’s to kiss him. By a stroke of luck (or fate!!) Jesse notices her and they begin to text back and forth. One of the qualities I love about Keeley is her tendency to say/take things a bit too far. Sometimes, she says/does things so hilarious and out of my comfort zone that I’ll widen my eyes and gasp while reading. She’s a nice change from the usual prim and proper YA female leads.

Okay, if you’re reading this review and you haven’t read the book yet, I suggest you stop here. The spoilers in this review are about to go from 0-100 real quick. Read this amazing book and then come back and read the rest of this review so we can swoon/be frustrated together 🙂

***caution: spoilers and major fangirling beyond this point***

I never found myself shipping Keeley and Jesse together; to be honest, I never really thought they were a good fit. Both of them were crazy crazy crazy, and when you add that together, something insane can happen (not unlike that totally irresponsible house party at poor Principal Bundy’s house. I still CANNOT believe Keeley made fun of Bundy about her lost cat. That was definitely a moment where I disliked the main character) Anyways, that is why I was reaaally happy when Keeley kissed Levi Hamrick. I could tell early on that Levi cared about Keeley, and although he seemed like a real stickler to the rules in the beginning, it eventually became clear that he only wanted the best for Keeley.

Speaking of wanting the best for Keeley, LET’S TALK ABOUT HOW BIG OF A TRAITOR HER FATHER IS. I honestly DID NOT suspect that plot twist at all. Siobhan Vivian, props to you, you are queen. After Keeley found the relocation offer in her attic, I was right beside her when she thought it was her mom. Who knew it was actually her sneaky, SNEAKY dad who had everyone fooled he was actually against the whole Lake Aberdeen deal?! Keeley tried so hard to stand by him, and in the end, he betrayed her. It’s been a few weeks and I still can’t believe it…

All in all, this book was AMAZING. The Keeley Hewitt on the first and last page of the story were definitely different. I loved the character development, the plentiful drama, and of course, the impressively-planted plot twist. I’m giving this book a 5/5 stars. It’s definitely a must-read for all YA/contemporary lovers!

Favorite Quotes:

Too far was my default setting.” —Keeley

“Even though I wasn’t sure of anything, I knew I could tell Levi everything. Because I was my most with him.” —Keeley

Instructions for the End of the World – Book Review

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Title: Instructions for the End of the World

Author: Jamie Kain

Goodreads rating: 2.96

Pages: 224

“When Nicole Reed’s father forces her family to move to a remote area of the Sierra Foothills, one without any modern conveniences, her life is completely turned upside down. It’s not that Nicole isn’t tough. She’s learned how to hunt, and she knows how to build things—she’s been preparing for the worst-case scenario for what seems like forever. But when she and her sister, Izzy, are left alone in this remote landscape to fend for themselves, her skills are put to the ultimate test. She’s fine for a while, but then food begins to run out, the pipes begin to crack, and forest fires start to inch closer every day.

When Wolf, a handsome boy from the neighboring community, offers to help, Nicole feels conflicted. She can take care of herself. But things have begun to get desperate, and there’s something about this boy she can’t shake. As feelings develop between these two—feelings Nicole knows her father would never allow once he returns—she must make a decision. With her family falling apart, will she choose to continue preparing for tomorrow’s disasters, or will she take a chance and start living for today?” —Goodreads

My Rating: 4/5

Cover Rating: 5/5

My Review:

Instructions for the End of the World was a compelling read with an interesting set of characters. I was instantly drawn in by the plotline; the prospect of a girl who gets dragged from a modern-day city to an unconventional life in the woods seemed very interesting. After reading the entire story, I can honestly say this book was as pleasant as I had hoped it would be.

Nicole Reed is a badass, plain and simple. From surviving out in unimaginable conditions to firing a rifle, this girl knows what she’s doing. She stays grounded and mentally sane, even with the questionable lifestyle her insane father forced her into. Part of the reason I admire her so much is that I can’t even begin to fathom myself doing any of the things she can. Throughout the story, Nicole demonstrates bravery, loyalty, and independence, qualities every YA heroine should possess.

One of the things about this book that really stuck out to me was how it was told in four different point of views. This style of writing gives readers insight on the thoughts and actions of the characters. A particular favorite of mine was reading from the point of view of Nicole’s sister, Izzy, who is your stereotypical teenaged girl with a need for makeup, wifi, and other millennial necessities. Of course, living with such a survival-crazed family drives her mad, and her sarcasm and constant complaints are actually quite entertaining.

As I read, I found myself hating disliking all of the parents mentioned in the book: Nicole’s and Izzy’s father, for leaving his two teenaged daughters in a run-down house in the middle of nowhere, Nicole and Izzy’s mother for running away from her troubles (and her family) instead of dealing with them like a responsible adult, and Wolf’s mother for not being a good motherly figure in his life. Despite all that, Nicole, Izzy, and Wolf were able to take from their childhood experiences and really mature as characters while the story progressed.

All in all, Instructions for the End of the World was a wonderful short read that I found myself breezing through. I’d recommend this book to readers who are looking for a little twist on a normal YA romance.

Favorite Quotes:

“Try to imagine what a tree must love.” —Wolf

“No one can make you believe what you know is wrong.” —Nicole

“The government should make it illegal for people like my dad to have kids.” —Isabel

The Lies About Truth – Book Review

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Title: The Lies About Truth

Author: Courtney C. Stevens

Goodreads rating: 3.83

Pages: 336

“Sadie Kingston, is a girl living in the aftermath. A year after surviving a car accident that killed her friend Trent and left her body and face scarred, she can’t move forward. The only person who seems to understand her is Trent’s brother, Max.

As Sadie begins to fall for Max, she’s unsure if she is truly healed enough to be with him — even if Max is able to look at her scars and not shy away. But when the truth about the accident and subsequent events comes to light, Sadie has to decide if she can embrace the future or if she’ll always be trapped in the past.” —Goodreads

liesabouttruth

My Rating: 3.5/5

Cover Rating: 4/5

My Review:

I was browsing through YA releases when I came upon The Lies About Truth. The first things I noticed about this book were its simple, gorgeous cover and intriguing title. When I read the description, I didn’t really know what to expect; it sounded like a typical romantic drama. But boy, was I proven wrong. The Lies About Truth turned out to be so much more than that!

I absolutely LOVED Stevens’ writing style. It was easy to follow, and there were a lot of great lines, especially at the end of the chapters. This book definitely had a lot of intense and heartfelt drama involved. The main character, Sadie, and her group of friends were all very close to Trent. After Trent died, they all experienced different pains, and after some misunderstandings, they drifted apart. Each friend kept secrets and assumptions, causing drama to unfold later.

One thing that surprised me was how real the characters were. Stevens really put life in every character, especially Sadie. In the beginning of the book, Sadie was extremely self-conscious. She was insecure about her scars, crowds, and anything related to the car accident. Throughout the book, it was evident that Sadie’s character was evolving into somebody more confident and more like her old self. Excellent example of character development!

The romance in this book was SUPER adorable. What’s a YA book without an OTP, am I right? In the case of The Lies About Truth, Stevens does not disappoint. The chemistry between Sadie and Max was absolutely swoon-worthy. Because they were both so close to Trent, they were able to bond after his death. It was clear that Sadie and Max were very comfortable and honest with each other, and their friendship turned into something much, much more.

Something that Stevens could’ve improved on was the transitions between the actual story and the flashbacks. There were a couple of times where I found the transitions to be a bit too blunt; it would’ve been nice if Stevens found a more creative way to intertwine the two together.

Overall, The Lies About Truth was a well-written and compelling read. I’ll definitely be looking forward to more books by Stevens!

Favorite Quotes:

“I didn’t have to imagine us happy, because we already were.”

“Sometimes the journey to let someone love you is the journey to loving yourself.”

Welcome to my blog!

Hey! Welcome to my little corner of the internet, also known as my book blog! My name’s Victoria, aka @readbytori, and I’m going to use this blog as a creative outlet for me to express my thoughts on books, life, and more. If you follow me on my Instagram (and you totally should, by the way), you’d know that I recently came back from a hiatus, and that I used to be Cupcake Reads. (I explained the hiatus on my most recent IG post with Baymax) Now I’m back as Read by Tori, and I’m ready to take this blog to new heights 🙂 I was using Tumblr as my  main blogging platform before this, but decided that I wanted to switch to WordPress, just because there are a lot of features here that I’d love to utilize.

Some things you can expect to find on this blog include book reviews (where I may or may not be fangirling/ranting the whole way through), movie/TV show reviews, booktography, author interviews, and other bookish content. I will also occasionally throw in a lifestyle post or two as well 🙂

I’m so, so excited to see where this blog will go, and I really hope you can join me on the journey! It’d mean the world to me if you could follow my blog or check out my social media ❤

More posts coming soon!! Also, Happy Mother’s Day to all the amazing moms out there!

Happy reading,

Victoria