The Return

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In which I explain why stopped blogging and announce my hesitant return.

Hello, everyone.

I’ve spent the past week plotting my return to blogging here at Betwined Reads. I spent some much need time thinking long and hard about what I want this space to be, what I have to offer, and for whom I am writing this blog. A necessary question I had to ask myself was what has kept me from blogging, and that was the hardest to fully nail down. Especially since it feels sometimes that I have nothing but time.

I used to think that I could not blog if I wasn’t reading or writing, that there’d be nothing of value to talk about. But recently I have been both reading and writing and I have still been hesitant to hit that “Write” button and start new posts.

So what else?

Blogging can be hard work. Dedicating time to sit down and write. Editing your words to make sure they’re as clear and concise as possible. Working on the presentation of the blog post (i.e. featured images, banners). It’s easy to get burned out! Especially if at the end of the day, you are not happy with what you are creating. And I have not been happy with my most recent blog posts.

When I would go back to reread my posts after I published them, I often felt that words rang hollow. It’s not that I have ever lied about my thoughts or opinions in my blog posts, but I have realized that I’ve censored myself.

Censored, how? you might be wondering. Well, I feel like I’ve kept you, my blog readers, at an arm’s distance, if that makes sense. Too a degree I think it’s something we all do, and that’s not the problem in itself. But I feel that what I’d censored has been an important part of what makes me me. And it has made me feel like a phony.

I’ve felt lost ever since graduating college in 2015, and even though I went straight to grad school that fall, I’ve felt like a paper bag floating in the wind. I’ve got no roots anywhere and feel directionless, especially since I still don’t know what I want to do with my life. I feel at such odds with the optimism of the young book bloggers filling this space and the young housewives and mothers who have stability and peace of mind to build and run their book blogs.

This is feeling of inadequacy is what I’ve been hiding. It’s scary. I often vacillate wildly between feelings of confidence/insecurity and optimism/hopelessness. Looking back at the past year’s posts, I don’t recognize myself in that false optimism.

So when I was thinking about how I might get back into blogging, I realized that I needed to abandon these subconscious desires to portray myself as someone who has it all together and figured out. I needed to stop looking at how other book bloggers write and find something that was authentic to me.

I thought about what I personally look for in a blog. In many ways, I realized that there are no bloggers (that I’m aware of) that really fulfilled what I was looking for. So my goal is fill that void with the blog posts I create moving forward.

I’m not faking optimism this time when I say I want to start posting regularly to this blog. I want to write blog posts about the books I’m reading and the things that are making me happy at the moment. I also want to help others who might feel as lost as I do. I’m going to start writing with the target audience of myself in mind.

A heartfelt thank you to everyone who made it through this entire post. And I’m sorry if I’ve in any way let anyone down.

If you are still on the fence about whether you want to be subscribed to this blog, I recommend checking out my recently updated About page that has been renamed The Girl & the Blog. My hope is that it does a good job of explaining what I like and what you can expect from the blog. I have many posts in the pipeline and can’t wait to start making things of which I can be proud.

Thank you for reading!
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October Wrap Up + November TBR

It’s a little late but I still wanted to do my October Wrap Up and November TBR, both of which I decided to combine because I didn’t feel I really had enough content for two separate posts. I didn’t read much in October and I don’t expect November to be much better because of NaNoWriMo.

I’m pretty happy at this point that I’m right on track with my Goodreads Reading Challenge, even if it’s only because I lucked out in starting a new trilogy with such short books that I could burn through them really quickly.

October ’17 Wrap Up

  1. Uprooted by Naomi Novik – Reviewed!
  2. White Cat by Holly Black
  3. Red Glove by Holly Black (didn’t finish until November 6th)

I loved what I read in October! I had suspected I would really like Uprooted, but it was still a lovely surprise of a read. It was nothing like I had expected and a refreshing standalone fantasy novel. There were some cliches that irked me, but overall I think the author managed to challenge them enough to satisfy me. The main thing I appreciate from a writer’s standpoint is how a book with magic can still have beautiful moments that illuminate human nature. I really hope to do that will the stories I write.

White Cat I started because I watched an interview with Leigh Bardugo and at 46:20 she recommends reading the Curse Workers trilogy by Holly Black if you’re a fan of Six of Crows. I was going to write a book review for it, but I started the sequel Red Glove immediately and then NaNoWriMo started and it just didn’t happen, which I’m super bummed about. I may read them again and try to do a series review or something because I think these books are a little underhyped.

I’ve never read anything by Holly Black before (other than her co-written middle grade fantasy The Iron Trial, which I felt was really derivative of Harry Potter). I feel like the Curse Workers trilogy is something I would’ve really loved in middle school when I was an avid reader. But I still enjoyed them a lot reading them now.

The books are set in an alternative universe U.S. on the east coast where the magical mafia is a thing! Workers are people who are born with one of seven abilities: physical, memories, luck, emotions, dreams, death, and transformation. People wear gloves because everyone fears being worked upon. In the backdrop of the stories, the government is trying to pass legislation that makes testing mandatory so that workers are identified.

I love the protagonist Cassel. He’s adorable and reading from his perspective is refreshing for me personally for two reasons. One, because I feel like I’ve been reading a lot of novels with female protagonists. I hadn’t noticed until I read this book and am hearing him talk about his girlfriends and realize just how subtly different it is to be a boy than a girl. The second reason is just because I don’t read a lot of books set during high school anymore, so the background concerns about staying out of trouble in school and worrying about homework and grades took me back.

November ’17 TBR

As I’ve mentioned loads in the past week, I’m participating in NaNoWriMo so I don’t think I’ll be reading too much, but given that it is the end of the year already somehow I want to stay on track! So I’m still planning on reading at least three books: one novel, an anthology, and a non-fiction book.

Books I Want to Read

  1. Black Heart by Holly Black
  2. The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo
  3. A Nervous Splendor: Vienna 1888-1889 by Frederic Morton

I’ve already read Black Heart, because I totally procrastinated on this post. It was a satisfying conclusion to a too short series. I’m honestly distraught that I won’t have these books to look forward to at night and when I want to procrastinate on writing.

Next up is The Language of Thorns, which I pre-ordered ahead of its September release this year. I think an anthology is a smart choice for NaNoWriMo, because I won’t need to binge it all in one go; I can read a story here and there and not feel like I’m spending too much time away from my own story.

I may also be able to read A Nervous Splendor at the same time. This novel is one I bought for my German Lit. class last fall and it’s somewhat inspiring the world and some events in my novel so I figure it’s a good time to finally read it and hope it positively influencing my worldbuilding.

End Note

Sorry this post is coming so late, but writing and reading have taken up a majority of time of late. I’ve also been working on job application and will soon start grad school application. I plan to release a NaNoWriMo writing update very soon (maybe even tonight), so stay tuned for that! I don’t have many words yet but I have gotten a lot done.

Thank you for reading!
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Uprooted by Naomi Novik | Book Review (Spoiler-Free)

Released: May 19, 2015
Pages: 435 pages (paperback)
Theme(s): Magic, human nature, friendship, tolls of war, value of life
Genre(s): YA / Fantasy / Fairytale
Age Group: 14+


“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But when the dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

My Thoughts

Uprooted is a standalone, fantasy novel that has been on my radar for a long time. I love fairytales of all sorts so this book’s summary seemed right up my alley, especially I was in the mood for what I thought might be a little light-hearted romance. That it is not; but nevertheless  I enjoyed it tremendously. It was beautifully told and the story really resonated with me, probably because of how unflinchingly honest it was about human nature and relationships.

I didn’t fall in love with this book all at once. It took me a little while to really get into the story, especially as the protagonist Agnieszka at first felt like a Mary Sue. But we soon find what makes her special and her follies are given somewhat of an explanation and, thus, turn into her personal strengths.

I really enjoyed how the story was told. The novel is written entirely from the perspective of Agnieszka, as if she’s telling this story to us directly, with hints of something like foreshadowing which is never too heavy handed but is a subtle reminder of no matter how dark things become that she’s made it out. My only critique in terms of style is that at times the story seemed to drag and force you to put aside your questions to be stumbling around in the moment with Agnieszka.

Why You Should Read It

  1. Strong Female Friendship. Agnieszka’s main driving force throughout the novel is protecting her best friend Kasia. Much of their lives are defined by the knowledge that either of them might be whisked away by the Dragon, although everyone believes it will be Kasia who everyone sees as special. After Agnieszka is chosen, we get to see the aftermath and how they grow closer after the Wood tries to tear them apart.
  2. A Beautiful Mad World. If you’re someone who loves vivid and fantastic world-building and imagery, then I think you will enjoy this book. As I was reading I felt I could see the world unfolding in my mind’s eye like a cinematic experience. The world is essentially a character in the story, magnificent and terrifying. It reminds me of nothing else I’ve read in recent years. Or ever.
  3. Horror & Suspense. Although it is at times a slow-burner, this is the most suspenseful novel I’ve read in a long time. There are moments where I felt like I was reading a psychological thriller. The antagonist is the Wood, which is ever creeping up upon the villages and has the power to corrupt people’s minds and bodies. The country is low on wizards so it is near impossible to tell if someone has been corrupted until they have snapped and are causing pain and suffering in their neighbors and loved ones.

My biggest criticism of the book after having now read the whole thing is that it feels a bit disjointed. I was terrified of the antagonistic force throughout the entire novel, which caused a lot of suspense. But finding out the “why” of it all didn’t do much to satisfy me, maybe because of how out of nowhere it came after the rest of the novel with no real hints. I also felt there was a lack of justice that was just devastating because of how much pain and sorrow the Wood had caused.

I do like where how the novel ends with Agnieszka and the Dragon, as it feels very believable and realistic. But also hopeful.

Have you read Uprooted? What did you think?

Thank you for reading!
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Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo | Book Review


Released: August 29, 2017
Pages: 384 pages (hardcover)
Theme(s): Friendship, diversity, humanity, good vs. evil, loyalty, honor, war
Genre(s): YA / Comics
Age Group: 10+


Daughter of immortals.

Princess Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mortal. Diana will soon learn that she has rescued no ordinary girl, and that with this single brave act, she may have doomed the world.

Daughter of death.

Alia Keralis just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn’t know she is being hunted by people who think her very existence could spark a world war. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery.


Two girls will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. Tested beyond the bounds of their abilities, Diana and Alia must find a way to unleash hidden strengths and forge an unlikely alliance. Because if they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war.

My Thoughts

In this book we meet Diana, the daughter of clay who longs for glory and to be an equal to her sisters, the famous female warriors throughout history who called out to a deity before their death and were deemed worthy to enter the utopia of Themyscira. As she is racing to prove her capabilities to her sisters she hears a call for help at sea and, despite her better judgement, answers it.

After finding that Alia, the girl she saves, is not just poisoning her land (for no mortal may step foot on Themyscira) but also the next warbringer who is descended from Helen of Troy herself. Thirsting for glory, Diana decides to go on a quest to cleanse Alia of her curse and keep the world from spiraling into chaos.

What I Liked

I loved the mythology of this book! I don’t know how much of it existed before or how much of it was Bardugo’s contribution, but it makes a lot more sense to me than that presented in the recent Wonder Woman (2017) movie staring Gal Gadot. That the women came from all over the world by the grace of so many deities made it inclusive in a way that made me so happy.

I also loved that Bardugo took advantage of the opportunity to make this book so celebratory of diversity and diversity in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Alia is half-Greek/half-black and super smart. As we get to know her, we see how her parents raised her to aware of how people may treat her because of her brown skin but also to be proud. Bardugo also avoids tokenism by including a cast of diverse friends in form of Theo and Nim, characters who brought so much humor and heart to the story.

On the subject of friends, I loved how this book celebrated the power of friendship and choosing your tribe. While many YA novels these days make romantic relationships integral to the protagonist’s storyline, this one has friendship at the heart. Yes, there’s some romance in it; but more important is the bond between friends that Diana forms with Alia and her friends. In this book, it’s because of friends that Diana sees the good worth saving in humanity.

What I Disliked

I can’t really fault this book at all. The onus is on me; this kind of book just isn’t really my style. It wouldn’t have been something I picked up if it wasn’t written by Leigh Bardugo who is one of my favorite authors. I also wasn’t the biggest Wonder Woman fan beforehand. While I do love Bardugo’s Diana tremendously, I’m not sure I’d like her written by anyone else.

While I can appreciate what Bardugo has accomplished in this book, it doesn’t really change the fact that I’m not a big fan of stories where the protagonist and antagonistic forces are so disconnected. Saving the world for the sake of saving humanity is the such a basic and boring plot to me. There were some surprises though!

Have you read Wonder Woman: Warbringer? What did you think?

Thank you for reading!
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August ’17 Wrap Up

I cannot believe how much I accomplished this month, especially as August is typically such a blah month. This month I was able to almost catch up on my Goodreads Reading Challenge by reading a grand total of EIGHT books! I’m not sure the last time I’ve read so much, but I’m still two books behind schedule. I’m less stressed out about it and am confident I’ll be completely caught up by the end of September.

I think I have definitely gotten my reading mojo back. I did a lot of rereading this August, but I think it’s good to reread. You pick up more than you might’ve upon the first read a book, and I think each time I return to an old favorite I’m a slightly different person. So even if I know what’s going to happen in a book, I am thinking about how my thoughts have changed between readings. Fortunately, there hasn’t been any drastic ones this time around!

What I Read

  1. Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen (★★★½)
  2. Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi (★★★)
  3. Maus I by Art Spiegelman (★★★½)
  4. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (reread) (★★★★)
  5. Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling (★★★★★)
  6. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt (reread) (★★★★★)
  7. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (reread)(★★★★★)
  8. Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter (★★★★★)

It’s hard to choose a favorite book that I’ve read this month, as I read somewhat diversely and was more than pleasantly surprised at quite a few of my reads this month. I already knew I loved We Were Liars, and that did not change; I was as supremely moved as I was the first time I read it. I think I have to go with Vassa in the Night. I haven’t had a chance to put my thoughts into words, but it was so strange and so beautiful. I really loved the updating of a Russian fairytale to urban Brooklyn and all the diverse characters. I plan to write a book review of this book as soon as possible.

This month I also acquired a lot of books! You can see a full list on my post A Book Haul of eBooks and Fairytales, which went up earlier this week. Vassa in the Night was one of my new purchases, and some of my upcoming reads will no doubt be pulled from this list.

End Note

In the past, my monthly wrap ups included a bit more on my writing and the things I’ve watched, but I chose to keep it simple because I want to focus more on the gorgeous books I’ve read. I have a September TBR in the works that you will hopefully see tomorrow night. It will include a short list of goals I have for the month of September as well with regards to my writing habits and possibly creative projects.

Thank you for reading!
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Beginning Again, Goals, and Re-Introducing My WIP | Novel Progress #1

Yes, I am back! I will resume blogging about writing here on Betwined Reads. I feel like I’m finally in a good place where I can talk about my novel writing progress as I have both the time and the excitement to do so. To show that I am serious about it (or rather super excited about it), I’ve created a new page in my navigation bar where you can easily access all the Novel Progress posts I create on my writing journey.

In this introductory post, I will talk about what you can expect from these new weekly Wednesday posts, my current writing goals, and hear more about the novel I’m currently writing.

The Format

In each post, I generally start out with a general update about how my novel is progressing. I will likely try to highlight the most noteworthy things I’ve realized or accomplished. Then I will share some tips or advice I have found that related to whatever I’m currently working on, including links to resources I’ve found valuable. And finally I will end with some self-prescribed “homework” goals I hope to complete by the next time I write.

These posts will go up every Wednesday, unless there is an unforeseen circumstance. In October, I think I will try to organize more formal posts related to NaNoWriMo preparation, which will hopefully be useful to anyone who has not participated in the month-long writing event before or who needs the extra push to join in the frenzy!

Writing Goals

As I stated in By the first day of fall…, I hope to be already writing by September 22, 2017. This goal still stands, but I do not intend for this to mean that I’m writing everyday. Rather, I’d like to be writing specific scenes every now and then so that I may hone the craft, if you will. It’s been so long since I dedicated time to actually writing and I want to be practicing regularly each week on any scene that I feel inspired to write at the time.

If I’m doing that regularly, I think I will be in a good place to participate confidently in NaNoWriMo in November. I want to the most prepared I’ve ever been before by the start of November 1st so that 50,000 words is a breeze and I’m happy with the quality of my words.


I’m currently writing a novel I’m calling The Log when I talk about it online. It’s not about a log, although, each time I think about it I feel like I should find a way to include one…It’s a YA novel with a young (~15 y/o) female protagonist set in a fantasy world which is like a steam punk version of the early 20th century. I’m not heavily basing her world on any one country, but in my head I am kind of referencing early U.S. history of the founding and expansion as I world-build. There’s magical creatures, adventure, mysteries, secrets, all that fun stuff!

End Note

I hope you’re as excited about these posts as I am! I think that many book bloggers out there are also aspiring authors or even just writing enthusiasts, so hopefully there’s a little something for everyone in these upcoming posts. I love reading and hearing about people’s writing progress as they tend to inspire me when I’m feeling low and also make me feel less crazy about pursuing this crazy project.

Thank you for reading!
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A Book Haul of eBooks and Fairytales

A few weeks ago after I learned my free time would be severely limited as result of my new job, I decided to treat myself to some new books. As I was browsing for the books I would purchase, I realized one of the books of an author I was looking into was free in […]