A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti

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“She survived something big, and when you survive something big, you are always, always aware that next time you might not.”

I can truly say, with every single ounce of my heart, that this is one of the best books I’ve ever read in my entire life. It’s so quiet, but so loud. It’s so heartbreaking, but so healing. It’s so impactful, it’s so powerful, and it’s completely and utterly unforgettable. I truly recommend this story with my entire soul. A Heart in a Body in the World is now one of my favorite books of all time.

On the very surface, this is a story about a girl who is feeling the astronomical weight of guilt and grief. She lives in Seattle, and one day while she is feeling particularly powerless over something that happened nine months ago, she decides to run to Washington D.C. regardless of how long it will take. Her family is a little shocked, but very supportive, so she begins her healing journey the only way her body and heart knows how; by running and pushing her body to the limits that her mind is forced to relive every single free moment. And watching her reclaim what was taken from her is one of the most powerful things I’ve ever read in my entire existence.

Okay, so I went into this story knowing what the main theme was, and it did not hinder my enjoyment whatsoever. Yet, I have seen so many reviewers say that this story is best to consume not knowing, and that they consider the central plot to be a big spoiler. So, please use caution reading the rest of this review, because I am going to talk about what this book is about, and I don’t want to spoil you if you believe that it could be a potential spoiler! But regardless, this is one of the best books I’ve ever had the privilege of reading, and I implore you all to pick this up when you are able to, especially if you are a woman living in the United States.

“Danger can seem far away until the sky grows dark, and a bolt of fury heads straight toward you.”

A Heart in a Body in the World is a story about toxic masculinity and gun violence, and how that can be one of the most dangerous combinations that American women can ever face. Especially when we live in a country where it is easier to buy a gun than to vote. Especially when we live in a country that normalizes teaching young kids to hide under desks in the event of a school shooter. Especially when our country proves over and over that it doesn’t think we are worth protecting and that our safety isn’t worth more than an assault rifle. And especially when we live in a world that conditions girls to be scared to say no to boys, and that internalization is passed down every single generation, to both girls and boys, to truly create the most evil and most scary cycle.

This is the best depiction of grief and guilt I’ve ever read in my entire life. I could feel the weight Annabelle’s grief, and it constantly felt like it was going to bury me. This book took so much out of me, but in the best way possible; in the realest way possible. And violence took everything from Annabelle because we live in a world where it can be deadly to reject men.

Annabelle did everything right. She reached out. She asked for help. She told people. And it didn’t help, and these kinds of stories prove over and over again that it won’t help. But we live in a world where proving your masculinity and power will always be louder than a teenage girl asking for help. Being nice and being kind can potentially lead to someone taking absolutely everything from you.

Okay, I know this is a really heavy review, and I’m sorry for that, but this book honestly just does such an amazing job depicting so many young women’s realities. But to end on a sweeter note, the family dynamic in this novel is also a damn masterpiece. You all know that strong sibling bonds (especially with little brothers) is my favorite thing in books! And also, the relationship that Annabelle has with her Italian grandfather, and the unconditional love he shows her over and over again, made me so damn soft.

Overall, this is one of the most important, meaningful, and impactful pieces of literature I’ve ever read in my entire life, and probably ever will read in my entire life. I recommend it with every single fiber of my being. And I will truly carry this book in my heart forever. Also, if you want to see me cry over the perfection of this story, and how sad I feel to live in a country that doesn’t protect me, watch my day seven contemporayathon vlog!

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Content and trigger warnings for PTSD depiction, panic attacks, grief depiction, loss of a loved one, death, murder, stalking, mention of cancer, self-induced harm via running, and any and everything surrounding the gun violence in America.

Buddy Read with Lea from Drums of Autumn! ❤

❤ I also read this for Contemporary-a-thon!

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers #1) by Becky Chambers

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“The truth is, Rosemary, that you are capable of anything. Good or bad. You always have been, and you always will be. Given the right push, you, too, could do horrible things. That darkness exists within all of us.”

This is the kind of book that makes you remember why you fell in love with reading. This is the kind of book that feels so powerful you can’t believe it exists. This is the kind of book that sets your very soul on fire and makes you want to do better. This is the kind of book that instills a hope so great that you feel like you could make a difference. This is the kind of book that you won’t be the same after finishing.

I recommend this book to every single person in this entire galaxy and to whatever else is out there and still unknown.

Also, please know that there is no semblance of a review that I could write that would do this book even a percent of justice or let you know even an ounce of how much it impacted me. But I’m going to try my best, because this book deserves nothing less.

I suppose the easy thing to say is that this book is about a crew, traveling through space on the Wayfarer, exploring the galaxy and taking on new adventures. And a new crewmember has just arrived, not knowing what to expect.

“They were reminders of what a fragile thing it was to be alive.”

(Beautiful fanart of the crew by SebasP!) 💗

Rosemary – A human who has just left her home planet to join the crew on the Wayfarer.

Sissix – An Aandrisk and pilot of the Wayfarer. One of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read in my entire life was seeing Rosemary learn about Sissix’s hatch family, feather family, and house family. Seriously, it’s so beautiful that I don’t even have words. Sissix not only beautifully gave me a polyamorous story line, but also the f/f romance of my dreams.

Ashby – The captain of the Wayfarer. My soft and strong boy. Nothing but all the love and respect in the entire world for my captain.

Jenks – A technician on the Wayfarer. I will say I think the moment I fell in love with this book was when Jenks asked Lovey, “What kind of body do you want to have?” One of my biggest pet peeves in all of literature is when authors give AIs genders. And seeing Lovey decide what she wanted to be… friends, I don’t have words for how beautiful it is. You all know that I’m pansexual, so maybe I’m stretching here, but I think Jenks is my new pansexual hero, by the way.

Lovey – The AI of the Wayfarer. My heart, my soul, my everything. Becky Chambers is seriously an expert word weaver to make me feel all the things that I feel for Lovey.

Dr. Chef – A Grum and the most amazing doctor and chef upon the Wayfarer. A highlight in this perfect book was seeing Dr. Chef become Dr. Chef and everything that had to do with Grums. Again, so beautiful and I would happily trade lessons for his soup, too.

“You Humans really do cripple yourselves with your belief that you all think in unique ways.”

Corbin – Human and algaeist on the Wayfarer. Likes to be alone, and that’s okay.

Ohan – Sianat Pair and the navigator of the Wayfarer. They help Sissix and keep to themselves for the most part. But the end of this story really blew me away involving them.

Kizzy – A technician on the Wayfarer. Never, have I ever, read a character that I felt I was personally more like than Kizzy Shao. From her being so talkative, to always trying to be cheerful and positive, to her playing dating sims and loving all food, especially all things spicy, to her loving so unconditionally. I will never answer another bookish question of “what character are you most like” with bits and pieces from other books, because I truly see all of myself in Kizzy. Oh, and her being Asian warms my damn heart, too.

Friends, I have never fallen in love with fictional character the way that I fell in love with all the members on the Wayfarer.

“Time could crawl, it could fly, it could amble. Time was a slippery thing.”

(Beautiful fanart of Rosemary, Kizzy, and Jenks by Izzi Ward!) 💗

One of my favorite things in all of literature is reading about found families and having that be a pivotal aspect to a story. Friends, I feel bad praising any other book before this one, because this is the found family of my soul. I have never read a book with a better found family in my entire life, and I don’t think I ever will.

This book also emphasizes the importance of respect; respecting peoples’ pronouns, peoples’ bodies, and peoples’ feelings. And the representation in this book is honestly unparalleled. From different species, to different races, to different genders, to different sexualities, to different mental health issues, to different bodies types, to different upbringings, to different cultures, to different traditions, to different religions, to different social settings, to so much more.

This book touches upon gun control, and how no amount of weapons will ever make a person feel safe. How filling a home with devices meant to kill will never make a person feel more safe. I live in the United States, so I see people constantly going back and forth about gun control every single day, but I will never put more value on a soulless piece of metal over a piece of an actual person. And that’s the hill I’ll maybe die on because firearm assaults kill about 13,000 Americans each year.

This book also tackles colonialism, xenophobia, and racism at the forefront of this story. And how just because you don’t understand something, doesn’t mean that way is wrong or less. And how taking over and forcing your ways and your beliefs on anyone else will never be the right way.

“People can do terrible things when they feel safe and powerful.”

Yet, again, this book also leaves you feeling so much hope. And it reiterates how we are not to be blamed for the mistakes and wars that our parents started. How each one of us can make a difference, and truly lead a better and kinder future for the next generation.

Overall, I think it’s pretty obvious that I loved this with my heart, my soul, and the sum of my being. I will say that this is a very character driven story, and I know that’s not for everyone, but if you connect with these characters even a fraction of the amount that I did, you are going to love this book, too. Becky Chambers has created something so unique, so special, and so thought provoking. This is a very quiet book, but it speaks so loudly. This crew, these words, this book, they all mean more to me than I can express. Never have I closed a book and felt such an extreme feeling of hope before.

“…All any of us can do – is work to be something positive instead. That is a choice that every sapient must make every day of their life. The universe is what we make of it. It’s up to you to decide what part you will play.”

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Content and trigger warnings for murder, death, loss of a loved one, PTSD depiction, grief depiction, blood depiction, and general war themes.

Buddy read with Imi at Imi Reviews Books! ❤

My Favorite Books During High School

I’ve been out of high school for ten years now. I know, I’m getting old, please send help! But I was looking at my bookshelves the other night and got rather sentimental looking at some of the books that meant so very much to me when I was younger. I am so much of a different reader (and different person, thank the Lord) than I used to be, but so many of these books are still some of my all-time favorites. I also believe these ten books shaped me as a person and ultimately lead to me becoming the person that I am today.

The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
I still consider this one of my favorite books of all time. This was the book that made me first realize how much I loved lyrical writing. The descriptions in this book are so haunting and are still able to evoke so much emotion from me to this day. This will always be one of the most beautiful books I’ll ever read, and it’s easily my most read book behind all the Harry Potter books.

Tithe (Modern Faerie Tales #1) by Holly Black
You all might have read the story about how this book (and a Borders Outlet employee) changed my reading life in my review for The Cruel Prince, but this is the book I am most thankful I read while I was in high school. And this was the book that made me fall in love with all things Fae. Nothing but love and respect for my Fae Queen President, Holly Black.

Mary, Mary (Alex Cross #11) by James Patterson
For a very long time in my life, I would have said that the Alex Cross series was my favorite series behind only Harry Potter. Like, I was obsessed. I know I picked Mary, Mary, but it was only because Kiss the Girls (book two and my true favorite) is still in my old bedroom back in Michigan at my parent’s house. My grandma is the reason I’m the reader I am today, and she still only really reads mystery books, so I guess that just rubbed off a bit on me when I was younger, because I could not get enough of James Patterson’s stories. And I am not sure I’ve touched a James Patterson book in the last decade now.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
I feel like this is the book that every high schooler reads and loves, and my edgy self was no different. I remember being so damn blown away by the poem and seeing it was written on a paper bag. Like, freshman Melanie was shook. But I still love this book, and I’ll still defend this book, because it honestly changed my life and truly made me feel not so alone.

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
This will probably forever be my favorite classic. And this is still one of the most atmospheric books I’ve ever read. I weep when I think of how beautiful the passages and messages are in this book. And even though I discovered this my sophomore year of high school, I ended up writing a college thesis about Ethan Frome that was longer than the damn book, because it impacted me so profoundly. This book will always be a part of who I am, and I’ll cherish my many copies forever.

A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks
Okay, so the summer going into junior year I was working at this local ice cream shop that was only open during the summer time, and I made the mistake of brining this book to work so I could finish it on my lunch break. You all, I was weeping in the back of this local mom and pop ice cream shop that people from my church owned. And it’s always a memory I will remember. I loved Nicholas Sparks when I was in middle and high school (I’m telling you guys, I was emo), but this one was probably my favorite of his. This was also probably the first book I read that dealt with a teen having cancer, and maybe that impacted me to be passionate about the things I am now, because I’ll always love this book. Hell, I’ll always love the movie, too! Mandy Moore is such a babe!

Darkfever (Fever #1) by Karen Marie Moning
I hate using the term “book boyfriend”, I truly do, but Jericho Barrons was my OG book boyfriend. Without question, he was the first character in literature that made me feel some type of way. I was a senior when I first stepped into this angsty fae filled Ireland, and I’m still reading KMM’s books a decade later. I have no shame. The nostalgia of this series is something I don’t even have words for, but I love thinking back to reading them. And I totally remember finishing this in my parent’s basement while running on their treadmill. Then I immediately got off and was so sad to find out no others were released yet.

A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire #4) by George R.R. Martin
People think that ASOIAF is only popular now because of the show, but I promise you there was a huge midnight release party at Flint’s Borders back while I was in high school. Was it Harry Potter level? No. But it was still a big turnout. Maybe it was because I played a lot of D&D and MTG (not to make a gross stereotype that only *nerds* like ASOIAF), but me and so many of my friends loved this series and we were so excited to get our hands on a new book. Little did we know…

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter #6) by J.K. Rowling
Again, friends, I’m old. I grew up reading Harry Potter, and Harry wasn’t that much older than me when I first read about him. And we even actually became the same age upon a release (because the movies made the last few come out two years apart)! I truly believe no other book series will ever mean more to me than Harry Potter, and I feel bad putting it on every list, but it is truly deserving of every list because of the impact it has made on me not only as a reader, but as a human being. Also, the sheer amount of times I reread this series in high school is a number I don’t even want to know.

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Okay, I wanted to save this one for last, because I might get some shit for it. But hello, my name is Melanie, and you know what I will always love? The Catcher in the Rye. Out of all the classics we read my freshman year, I didn’t connect with any of the characters the way I did with Holden Caulfield. Is he a self-centered, pretentious, privileged, little shit? Yeah, he is. But guess what? So was I (#roasted). This book just spoke to my heart and soul and I’ll always love it, and I’ll always see myself in Holden, struggling in that in-between of being a teenager becoming an adult.

Okay, I hope you all enjoyed! I know, I know, I’m an old lady! But I just felt really compelled to write this post up for some reason. Maybe I’ll do a reread of each of these and see how I feel now in 2018? I mean, I legit already want to reread Tithe, so I think it might be a cool idea to do some of the others that I haven’t touched in a while, too! But I hope you all have an amazing day, and thanks for coming down memory lane with me! Happy reading, lovelies!

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Circe by Madeline Miller

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ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

“When I was born, the name for what I was did not exist.”

This is the pièce de résistance I’ve been searching for my entire life. Not only did I fall in love with this story, I predict that this will be the best book I’ll read all year. This book is about healing and doing what it takes to come into your own. This book is about love; the love between lovers, the love of a mother, and the love you must find in yourself. This book proves why family of choice will always be greater than family of origin. This book is about magic, and how we can find it in ourselves if we look hard enough. This is a book about becoming the witch you’ve always buried deep inside you.

“They do not care if you are good. They barely care if you are wicked. The only thing that makes them listen is power.”

Okay, maybe I should start this review off with a somewhat personal story. I was very privileged to go a very good high school where I was able to study The Iliad and The Odyssey for a class my freshman year. And fourteen-year-old Melanie fell in love. To say I was obsessed was an understatement, and more and more my heart was filled with love for Odysseus, Athena, and a certain love affair with the witch-goddess Circe.

(Beautiful art by Kevin Nichols)

Even upon finishing that class, I still couldn’t get enough of Homer’s words. And to this day, The Iliad and The Odyssey are the only books that I collect many editions of. All my loved ones and family correlate these epic poems with me, and always bring me new editions from their travels, and give me gifts for special events and holidays the same way they do with Harry Potter. One of the most prized possession I own is an edition of The Odyssey that was given to me by someone who meant a lot to me, at a very important time in my life. And these two tomes will always be a big part of my identity, and I will always recognize that they not only shaped me as a reader, but they shaped me as a human being, too.

So, when I found out that that Greek mythology retelling queen, Madeline Miller, was writing a book centered around Circe, I knew it was going to end up being one of my favorite books of all time. And it ended up being everything I wanted and more. I hate to throw around the word masterpiece, but if I had to pick a book to give that title to, I’d pick Circe.

“Odysseus, son of Laertes, the great traveler, prince of wiles and tricks and a thousand ways. He showed me his scars, and in return he let me pretend that I had none.”

And even though Odysseus plays a huge role in this story, this book is Circe’s and Circe’s alone. We get to see her growing up in Oceanus, with her Titan sun god father Helios, and loveless nymph mother Perse, and her three more ambitious siblings, Aeëtes, Pasiphaë, and Perses. We get to see her living her life of solitude, exiled on the island of Aiaia. We also get to see her make a few very important trips, that are very monumental in Greek mythos. But we get to see all of Circe, the broken parts, the healing parts, and the complete parts. We get to see her love, her loss, her discovery, her resolve, and her determination. We get to see her question what it means to be immortal, what it means to be a nymph in a world ruled by gods, and what it means to just live. Her journey is unlike anything I’ve ever read before, and probably unlike anything I will ever read again. I have no combination of words to express how much her life and her story means to me. But I promise, I’m not the same person I was before reading this book.

“…All my life had been murk and depths, but I was not a part of that dark water. I was a creature within it.”

This is ultimately a story about how different the tales will always be told for a man. And how the ballads will always be sung for heroes, not heroines, even if a woman was truly behind all the success the man greedily reaped. How the light will always fall to vilify the woman and showcase her as a witch that needs to be tamed, a sorceress that needs to be subdued, or an enchantress that needs to be defeated. Women, no matter how much agency they carve out in any male dominated world, will always be a means to an end to further the achievements of man. Always. And Circe displays that at the forefront of this story.

Circe is most well known for turning Odysseus’s men into pigs when they come to her island in The Odyssey, but Madeline Miller does such a wonderful job weaving all this Greek mythology into a fully fleshed out, brand-new tale. She has created something so unique, yet so breathtakingly good, I think so many readers will find it impossible to put this new-spin of a story down. I was completely captivated and enthralled from the very first line to the very last line. This book just feels so authentic, I felt like I was in the ocean, on the island, and traveling right beside Circe throughout. And I never wanted to leave her side.

“It was their favorite bitter joke: those who fight against prophecy only draw it more tightly around their throats.”

Overall, I understand that this is a book that is very targeted to me and my likes. Not only is this a character driven story, with a main protagonist being a character I’ve been in love with for over a decade, but the writing was lyrical perfection. I’m such a quote reader, and I swear I would have highlighted this entire book. This book is also so beautifully feminist that it makes me weep just thinking about the things Circe had to endure. And it showcases the unconditional love of found families, yet also between a mother and her child, while simultaneously abolishing the notion that blood is worth more than anything else in any world. This book heavily emphasizes that you will never be the mistakes that your parents have committed. The entire story is a love letter to love itself and reveals all the things we are willing to do in the name of it. And most importantly, this is a book about how we are truly only ever in charge of our own stories, even though our actions may change the fate for others around us. Please, pick this masterpiece up, and I hope it changes your life, too.

Thank you, Madeline Miller, I will carry your Circe in my heart for the rest of my life.

“That is one thing gods and mortals share: when we are young, we think ourselves the first to have each feeling in the world.”

Trigger/Content Warnings: Violence, gore, murder, torture, physical abuse, child abuse, thoughts of suicide, brief scene with cutting, graphic childbirth scenes, mention of bestiality, mention of incest, animal sacrifice, death of a sibling, death of a child, death of a loved one, death of an animal, rape, adultery, and war themes.

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.


✨ Signed and personalized copies are available through Main Point Books! (They can ship anywhere in the US, anywhere in the UK, and also to some other international locations!)

The Bear and the Nightingale (The Winternight Trilogy, #1) by Katherine Arden


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“Tell the story of Frost, Dunyashka. Tell us of the frost-demon, the winter-king Karachun.”

This book is magical. This book is whimsical. This book is one of the best things I’ve read in my entire life. I loved this with every bone, every red blood cell, every molecule in my body. This book was nothing short of perfection, and I’m sorry to gush, but I never expected this story to captivate me the way it did.

“In Russian, Frost was called Morozko, the demon of winter. But long ago, the people called him Karachun, the death-god. Under that name, he was king of black midwinter who came for bad children and froze them in the night.”

I’m not even sure where to begin with this story, but I guess I will start by saying that this story is a love letter to stories everywhere. This book is a mash-up retelling of many Russian fairy tales, but with unique spins of them, which are woven together to tell such a beautiful tale that makes me breathless just thinking about how expertly it is crafted.

Vasilisa and her family live on the edge of the Russian wilderness. Vasilisa’s father rules these lands, and her mother died giving birth to her, knowing that she was special. Vasilisa was raised by her mother’s nursemaid, who is constantly telling her fairy tales that most Russians fear, but Vasilisa loves.

“You must remember the old stories. Make a stake of rowan-wood. Vasya, be wary. Be brave.”

Vasilisa soon realizes that she is indeed special, and that she can see creatures that most people cannot. And, again, instead of feeling fear, she feels compassion and befriends and takes care of all the different creatures that dwell on her lands.

And even though Vasilisa’s family accepts her, the rest of the community cannot see past how different she is. Vasilisa’s father tries many different things to get her to want the same things most girls in this time want (marriage, babies, performing “womanly” duties), while Vasilisa only wants to be free and see the world.

Meanwhile, there is a frost-demon that does everything to ensure him and Vasilisa’s paths cross. And Vasilisa couldn’t resist the urge to go to him even if she tried. Then a beautiful story unfolds about a girl, a nightingale, and a bear, who are destined to have a story told.

“Before the end, you will pluck snowdrops at midwinter, die by your own choosing, and weep for a nightingale.”

Like I️ said, it’s now an all time favorite for me! I️ truly loved this story that much. It deserves all the praise, all the hype, and all the love.

This book had absolutely everything that I love in my fantasy:
✘ Feminist as all hell
✘ Magical forest
✘ All the morally grey characters
✘ Mythology and folklore
✘ Little fae folk saving the day
✘ Wintery setting

And when I say that this is the perfect winter read, I mean it with everything that I am. Never have I ever read a better seasonal read. Please give this a try in the upcoming months. I promise you, you won’t regret it

This book was nothing short of magical. From the lyrical prose, to the atmospheric town and forest, to the characters that constantly had me crying, to the message that girls can be anything they want to be, no matter what society tries to confine them to. This book is a tangible piece of heaven and I am so thankful that I was able to read this before the end of 2017, because it truly is a shining star in 2017 publications. I cannot wait to start my ARC of The Girl in the Tower tonight!

“I am only a story, Vasya.”

And this book is extra special to me, because this is the book that all the wonderful people at The Goodreads Power User Summit gave to me! Which makes it all the sweeter that it ended up being one of my favorite books of all time.


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