Still Here Book Review

Still Here sounded interesting (I’ll leave a full synopsis below) and I really really wanted to like it. Still Here is very different from any other book that I’ve read before, so I was excited to get started. I put off reading this book for awhile after I received it, simply because I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump. But I finally picked this one up.

**I received Still Here from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest book review, all opinions are my own.**


And I read the first chapter, then the next chapter, and the next. I read about 70 pages before I had to stop. It wasn’t that this book wasn’t interesting because it was, but it wasn’t what I was looking for at that moment. As I said before, I liked the idea of this book more than I ended up liking this one. A few years ago when I was reading one of Gretchen Rubin’s books I read something that stuck with me, if she doesn’t enjoy a book, she stops reading it. No regrets, no guilt, just moving on.

I recognize that I’m not going to like every book out there. I also realize that because I love to read, I want to read a lot, and I’d love to be spending the time reading books that I truly enjoy. Still Here was good, but it didn’t do it for me. I tend to read up to page 50-100 if I’m not loving a book before I decide to keep going or not. I’d like to finish this book at some point, but right now just isn’t the right time for me.

Why then, you might ask, am I writing a review? Mainly because I feel like it’s going to be awhile before I get around to reading this book again. I plan on keeping it but saving it for later. When that will be, I’m not sure, but since I received this book from Blogging for Books a few months ago, I felt that I should write my review even though I haven’t finished the book.

A few reasons why I didn’t finish Still Here:

  • I just couldn’t get into the story. There was a lot of background information which I felt we could learn more as the story went along
  • The beginning was very slow for me and being in a reading slump, I wanted (needed) something that would pull me in quickly.
  • I got bored. I didn’t want to, and as I mentioned, I think I’ll actually like this book, now just isn’t the time to read it.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

A profound and dazzlingly entertaining novel from the writer Louis Menand calls “Jane Austen with a Russian soul”

In her warm, absorbing and keenly observed new novel, Lara Vapnyar follows the intertwined lives of four immigrants in New York City as they grapple with love and tumult, the challenges of a new home, and the absurdities of the digital age.

Vica, Vadik, Sergey and Regina met in Russia in their school days, but remained in touch and now have very different American lives. Sergey cycles through jobs as an analyst, hoping his idea for an app will finally bring him success. His wife Vica, a medical technician struggling to keep her family afloat, hungers for a better life. Sergey’s former girlfriend Regina, once a famous translator is married to a wealthy startup owner, spends her days at home grieving over a recent loss. Sergey’s best friend Vadik, a programmer ever in search of perfection, keeps trying on different women and different neighborhoods, all while pining for the one who got away.

As Sergey develops his app—calling it “Virtual Grave,” a program to preserve a person’s online presence after death—a formidable debate begins in the group, spurring questions about the changing perception of death in the modern world and the future of our virtual selves. How do our online personas define us in our daily lives, and what will they say about us when we’re gone?


I do hope to finish this book at some point in time, but right now, I’ll be reading a bunch of fantasy novels since they have captured my attention recently! What have you been reading this week?

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I’m Back + Book-Tube-A-Thon

Hey guys, it’s been a hot minute (like 3 weeks since I last posted — just hiding my face in my hands right now, nbd.) Anyway, life has been a little crazy and to be honest I’ve been feeling a little down in the dumps, not exactly sure why. But, I’m back and I’m here to stay! (Planning to write 2-3 posts a week.)

The past few days I’ve been watching a LOT of Booktube (People on YouTube talking about books) and then I found out that this week is Book-Tube-A-Thon, which basically means you try to read 7 books in 7 days. And I decided to give the challenge a try. I’ve been in a HUGE reading slump lately (like I haven’t been reading much at all, which makes my heart sad) but I hoping this will help get me out of the slump. I guess every year (sorry, I don’t actually know that much about this challenge because I just found out about it yesterday) they have 7 themes of different books to read, so here’s my list.

    • Book with a Person on the Cover: P.S. I Like You by Kasie West. I read this one last year, but it’s one of my favorite YA contemporaries and I’ve been wanting to read it again. I actually finished this one this morning before work! (I had almost 3 hours to read since the pup woke me up early) and I loved it just as much the second time around, I definitely recommend!
    • A Hyped Book: A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab. So many people love this book and this series. I read the first book, and to be honest, it wasn’t my favorite. I’m listening to the audio book of AGOS and so far I’m enjoying it a lot more than the first book, which I’ll take as a good sign.
    • A Book Read In One Day: I actually read books in one day (sometimes in one sitting) all the time, but we’ll see if I actually have time for this. I picked Illuminae for this challenge. Even though this book has 400+ pages, because of the way it’s written and the story line, I think I’ll be able to read this in one day. I’m saving this one for Saturday when I know I’ll be home and able to read.
    • A Book with A Character Different than You: This one was tough simply because I had no idea what book to choose. I have a few options: Of Fire and Stars is a fantasy novel featuring a f/f romance (haven’t read many LGBTQ+ books simply because I don’t know where to find them) and I’ve had this one since December or I’ll read/listen to Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. Simon has been on my TBR for quite some time now, but we’ll see if I can get it from the library.
    • Read Outdoors: This one will be a challenge, mainly because I’m inside most of the time, but I’m hoping to finish reading Furthermore (which I absolutely love so far!) and I figure that since I sit outside with the dog often, maybe I can sneak in some reading while Persephone chews on a stick.
    • Bought Because of the Cover: Okay okay so I bought this book because of the cover and because I’d heard a lot of good things about it, but I’m hoping to also read Six of Crows. This is also a pretty hyped book and I cannot wait to dig in!
    • And last but not least, 7 books in 7 days: I have about 100 pages left in The Queen of the Tearling which I’m hoping to finish either tonight or tomorrow morning!

Wow… That’s so many books! So much reading, in just a week! We’ll see what happens! On Instagram, I only posted 4 books because realistically working a full-time job means less time to be reading, but I did want to see what I could read this week. Also, I know that I don’t have a YouTube channel (but I’ve toyed with the idea of starting one…) but I still wanted to take part in this challenge. Are you joining the Book-Tube-A-Thon this year? What are you reading?



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Top Ten Tuesday {1} – Favorite Books in 2017

This morning I found a new blog to read (always a fun time!) but I loved the list she made today about her top 10 favorite books from this year so far, and I wanted to do the same for my post today. So, I got the idea from Adventures of a Book Junkie who got the idea from The Broke and Bookish. I love lists, so we’ll see if I make Top Ten Tuesday a thing, but for this week, the top 10 books I’ve read in 2017. These are in no particular order, just some of the books I’ve really enjoyed this year.

Top Ten Favorite Books in 2017

1. the princess saves herself in this one by Amanda Lovelace. This book reminded me of Milk and Honey. I LOVED this book, partly because I love poetry and partly because I thought this message was so important. I’d love to read this one again but it’s currently loaned out to a friend.

2. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. THUG was eye opening to me. I gained a lot of insight into the Black Lives Matter movement and I was changed by reading this book. I hope that now that I’ve read it I will be a better person.

3. Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia. Be still my fangirl heart. I adored this book so much that I devoured it in less than 2 days. Eliza inspired me to start working (even harder) on my own novel. I felt connected to the characters and it was easy to geek out about books while reading this one.

4. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. Creative living, something that I need in my life. For me, that means writing, and sometimes sewing. I realized, after reading Big Magic, that there are so many things that I let hold me back from living the way I want to. Big (and small) changes came after reading this.

5. Girls in the Moon by Janet McNally. Sisterhood. Love it. I love the relationship I have with my own sister, so reading books about sisters is always fun.

6. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I know, I know… This book has been out forever, but I hadn’t ever read it. ((WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG TO READ THIS BOOK?!?!) I love reading WWII novels, and The Book Thief did not disappoint. If you haven’t read this one, you need to, this is one I plan on reading again and again.

7. Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner. It’s no secret that I LOVE Jeff’s books and his writing (and I got to meet him earlier this year! *total fangirl moment* Anyway, what would you do if your 3 best friends died and you might be partly to blame? Yup.. this book is so good. (I also love The Serpent King which I read last year.)

8. Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller. I wasn’t sure what to think as I read Swimming Lessons, it was truly unlike any book I’d ever read before. This story still sits with me, I actually think about it often, even though I read it 4 months ago. I don’t know how to tell you why I liked this book so much, but you’ll just have to read it for yourself and tell me what you think.

9. Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur. I mentioned this one earlier, but poetry, surviving after sexual assault. Important for anyone to read.

10. Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow. Dealing with mental illness, abuse, and recovery this book was different than most YA books I’ve read, but it really spoke to me.

That’s my list! What are some of your favorite books from 2017? Let me know below!


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All These Wonders: Book Review

I love stories. Real and fiction, I love learning about different experiences and seeing the world through someone else’s eye. That’s probably one of the reasons why I enjoy reading so much. And, it’s on of the reasons I enjoyed reading The Moth Presents All These Wonders: True Stories About Facing the Unknown.

Story after story of different life experiences about living life and facing the unknown. All These Wonders is a fantastic read. Normally, I read books like a novel, but this one had me jumping around. There are seven different sections each with 6-7 short life stories about that section. Plus the forward is by Neil Gaiman so…. Do I really need to say anything else?

I learn so much from reading the stories of other people. I get such a thrill from sharing my own story. We truly do learn so much from each other. This book made my heart sing and I plan to come back again and again to re-read my favorite stories.

Telling your story, as honestly as you can, and leaving out the things you don’t need, that’s vital.  – Neil Gaiman

I’d never heard of The Moth before I saw this book on Blogging For Books. I’m a story collector and when I read about this book I knew I had to add it to my collection. Real, honest stories are the best. There’s something about the rawness and the vulnerability of the author that engages my spirit. I want to be like that, honest and raw about my life, which is why I love reading books like these.

Do you love stories? If so, this book is for you. I promise you’ll find at least one story that will hit home and make you feel all of the feelings. All These Wonders will inspire you, enlighten you, and make you laugh. This is one you don’t want to miss!

Full Goodreads Summary:

From storytelling phenomenon The Moth, 45 unforgettable true stories about risk, courage, and facing the unknown, drawn from the best ever told on their stages
Carefully selected by the creative minds at The Moth, and adapted to the page to preserve the raw energy of live storytelling, All These Wonders features voices both familiar and new. Alongside Louis C.K., Tig Notaro, John Turturro, and Meg Wolitzer, readers will encounter: an astronomer gazing at the surface of Pluto for the first time, an Afghan refugee learning how much her father sacrificed to save their family, a hip-hop star coming to terms with being a one-hit wonder, a young female spy risking everything as part of Churchill’s secret army during World War II, and more.
High-school student and neuroscientist alike, the storytellers share their ventures into uncharted territory and how their lives were changed indelibly by what they discovered there. With passion, and humor, they encourage us all to be more open, vulnerable, and alive.”

I’ve made it a goal to read one fiction novel and then one non-fiction novel to add more variety to my reading. What books would you recommend?


* I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
** This post contains affiliate links. This means if you make a purchase using these links I will receive a small commission. All proceeds help grow My Hopeful Story.

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Coping with Anxiety: Reading

A few months ago I wrote started this blog series, coping with anxiety and I wrote about yoga and how beneficial it has been in helping my anxiety. But then I never wrote another post in that series, but I’m getting back to that now, now that I have a plan to blog more regularly. Today I wanted to talk about something that’s a passion and a deep love of mine, reading.

Where the love affair began.

I think I’ve always been an anxious person, like it’s always been inside of me and then after going through something traumatic it finally hit me full force. It hasn’t been easy living with anxiety, but finding different things that help me cope is HUGE. And reading has always been one of those things, I’ve been reading for as long as I can remember. And unfortunately for me, I only started keeping track of what books I was reading last year, which is a bummer cause there’s 20 years of books I’ve read that I don’t have a record of. But thank goodness for Goodreads now!

My mom loves to tell the story of when I was 2 or 3 and my dad came home from work and my mom said “Look, Tay can read,” as I opened up The Very Hungry Catepillar and followed along with my little finger and ‘read’ the book word for word (I had it memorized) But obviously, my love for books has been around for longer than I can even remember.

Reading calms my soul

I don’t know when reading became my escape, but at some point it did. Books became my escape from the stress and drama of life in high school. Nearly every night I would stay up until 2 a.m. reading, which probably explains my emotional state from that time, since I wasn’t sleeping much. But I had/have a great love of entering a story that wasn’t my own. I was able to disappear for awhile and I loved that.

I know (or hope) that I’m not the only one that feels this way. True, I use reading as an escape, but even more than that, I use it because for me it is a form of meditation. I am able to be in the moment, even if that moment is fiction. When I get lost in a book, I am calm. Reading makes my soul steady. I have found that reading every day isn’t just a want, but it is an actual need. But, when life changes or my anxiety goes up, reading is the first thing to go! But I’m working on this.

Why reading is good for my anxiety.

I love stories. Love them. Just this morning I was thinking about how I am a collector of stories, fiction and non-fiction. I love learning about people and where they came from, and I love doing that same thing when I read. Life is tough and if I get caught up in my anxious or worried thoughts I only spiral faster. But reading someone else’s story grounds me to reality,  and helps me see between my rational fears and the irrational thoughts.

Reading is my saving grace. Books are my life line when I’m having a bad day. Which is why, if you find me buried in a book, know that I’m enjoying it and that I just needed to escape reality for a little while. I read for fun. I read when I’m stressed. Basically, I just read all the time.

Free Delivery on all Books at the Book Depository
I don’t know if there is any scientific study about this (hmmm maybe I’ll look into it) but for now, I’ll just keep on reading. (Which is by far my favorite coping skill) What is your favorite coping skill??

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