how i annotate books

I write in my books.

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I think you all know that by now because I talk about it often. I think it is so important, especially as a book reviewer because it really allows you to connect with the novel. You can be critical while still following and enjoying the book. It also makes a book more unique and special. It’s like having a conversation with the characters. I know that in the future it will be so fun to look back on and read through the pages.

How I do it:

What I Use-

  1. black pen!!
  2. 4 highlighter colors
  3. post-it notes (diff sizes)
  4. post-it tabs

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The Process-

  • I use a black pen to write in the books
    • typically this involves little comments to respond to dialogue
    • I also write comments about problematic parts of books
    • Sometimes at the end of each chapter, I write little summaries or thoughts I had about them
  • The 4 highlighters are what I use to really get analytical
    • yellow- important scenes
    • pink- love/romance
    • green- favorite quotes
    • blue- things to mention in review
  • Post-it notes
    • I use the post-it notes when I have more to say than can fit on the page
    • sometimes I want to write a couple sentences down but there is no room so I write it on the post-it
    • I do not use these too often
  • Post-it tabs
    • These correspond to my highlighters
    • I put them in when I highlight a part so that I can easily flip to the different sections without skimming through each page

Here are some examples of pages in my books: (not all of the pictures follow my current system)

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That is basically it to how I annotate! I hope this post was helpful.

If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them down below. Do you annotate in your books? Let me know how!

xo, Jessica

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Review: By a Charm and a Curse

I was sent an advanced copy of the book in order to review it for a blog tour.

I haven’t done a review in what feels like forever! I knew I wanted to participate in the blog tour of this book because the description is so interesting! Check it out below:

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Synopsis (Netgalley):

A kiss is never just a kiss.

Le Grand’s Carnival Fantastic isn’t like other traveling circuses. It’s bound by a charm, held together by a centuries-old curse, that protects its members from ever growing older or getting hurt. Emmaline King is drawn to the circus like a moth to a flame…and unwittingly recruited into its folds by a mysterious teen boy whose kiss is as cold as ice.

Forced to travel through Texas as the new Girl in the Box, Emmaline is completely trapped. Breaking the curse seems like her only chance at freedom, but with no curse, there’s no charm, either—dooming everyone who calls the Carnival Fantastic home. Including the boy she’s afraid she’s falling for.

Everything—including his life—could end with just one kiss.

After reading Caraval by Stephanie Garber last year, I have been dying to pick up another carnival-related book.

This one was the perfect choice.

The beginning is a little slow, but the pace picks up a few chapters in. The humor is a little different than what I am used to in my YA books, but I loved it a lot. The writing flows really well, almost like a poem. I really appreciated how easy to read it was. Often times in fantasy novels, I get confused by all the extravagant words, especially in the world-building. This was easy to follow along with.

The characters were also really relatable. I loved Emma a lot because of how sweet she was. Although she was in a tough position, she always strived to do what is right.

The romance was also done very well in this novel. It wasn’t too lovey-dovey or too heavy. The relationship didn’t take anything away from the plot, which I liked.

Overall, if you were a fan of Caraval or The Night Circus, I would highly recommend this book! The setting/world was just amazing, and the storyline was great. It was a really enjoyable read for me and I can’t wait to buy the finished physical copy.

rating: 4/5 stars

xo, Jessica

popular books i haven’t read

Many of you are going to be shocked that I haven’t read some of these books yet, but please don’t be offended! There are so many books that I have been dying to read, but with my TBR list constantly growing, it would be impossible to get to them all.

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The Sun is Also a Star

This book hasn’t been out for too long, so that is my excuse for not reading it yet. I swear I will get to it soon because it sounds really good. I read Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon and I really enjoyed it. I just have too many books to read right now and this is not at the top of my list.

Heartless

I am not a huge fan of fantasy books to begin with, so that is why I never really got around to reading this. It has been on my TBR list for a really long time but I don’t know if I will ever even read it. I don’t really have the desire to anymore.

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Out of the 5 books on this list, this one is at the top of my priority reads. I can’t believe that I still haven’t purchased a copy of this book. I need to get around to it really soon because I don’t want to watch the movie until I read it.

Eleanor and Park

I used to want to read this so bad back when everyone was extremely obsessed about it. However, I am not really interested in reading this or any of Rainbow Rowell’s books anymore (sorry don’t be mad at me).

The Night Circus

I have heard about this book for such a long time now on Booktube and book blogs. Especially during the time that Caraval was hyped, everyone was talking about it. I really enjoyed Caraval and everyone compared it to this book, so I know I want to check it out soon.

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Did any of these books surprise you? Let me know if I absolutely need to read any of these books on the list!

xo, Jessica

my favorite underrated books!

The book community hypes up so many novels and I often find myself only reading the books that are trending. That being said, I never read any books outside of that small circle of highly popular ones.

This is so sad to me.

There are so many amazing books that people just don’t know about so they never read. Before social media was a huge part of my life, I would go to the library or the bookstore and just read the inside flaps of books to see what they were about. That was how I picked books to read. Now I don’t even know what the books I own are about at all, I just know I have heard about them online.

Today I want to recommend some of my favorite underrated books!

Talking as Fast as I Can- Lauren Graham

This one I’m sure many of you have heard of, especially if you are a Gilmore Girls fan like me! I adored Lauren’s writing style so much, and hearing her read the words made the experience so much better. It really made me fall more in love with her, and I am so glad I got to read this.

Everything You Want Me to Be- Mindy Mejia

I got this book in a subscription box and at first I was a little skeptical. However, I really ended up enjoying the book, and I am so glad I read it. It is full of twists and really interesting characters.

Sanctuary Bay- Laura J. Burns

This book was so good. I remember being completely shocked by every page. I would love to read a sequel to this book because I really miss the world and characters. Definitely give it a try.

Confess- Colleen Hoover

Colleen Hoover is a popular author. This book does not get a lot of attention though, which is unfortunate. I enjoyed it so much, as I do all of her books. It was also a really quick read for me. I’ve even gotten many of my friends to check it out as well.

7300 Days- Isabella Mente

This is such an underrated poetry book. Isabella deserves way more recognition than she gets, and I will back her on any of her projects. She is also such a sweetheart and I love talking to her. If you are a poetry fan, check out this book because it is so beautiful.

Every Last Word- Tamara Ireland Stone

I think I have talked about this book a total of 7 times at least on this blog, but it is one of my all time favorites. I felt really connected to it and I loved the plot twist. I genuinely didn’t see it coming. I plan on re-reading this book in 2018.

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Please leave some of your favorite non-hyped books down in the comments! I am always looking for new books to read.

xo, Jessica

top 10 books of 2017

2017 was a really amazing reading year for me, and while I am sad for it to be over, I am also really excited to see how well 2018 goes for me! I read so many great books, so narrowing this book down was extremely difficult! But, I have done it, and here are my top 10 books of the year!

10. Never Never

I absolutely love Colleen Hoover, and I have read so many of her books (and I own so many more). I read this e-book towards the beginning of the year, and while it is really short, it was so fascinating. I haven’t gotten to part 2 or 3 yet (I have no excuse), but just the first part was enough to make me fall in love. Hopefully I will get to the other 2 very soon!

9. Eighteen Years

I just recently finished reading this but it was a great collection of poetry! I wanted to read it for such a long time and then I finally got around to it. It was so emotional and strong.

8. Always and Forever, Lara Jean

This is the finally book in the trilogy, and it was my favorite. It was such a great way to end the story of Lara Jean. I fell in love with the characters even more, and it was so sad to think that it was going to be over. I really enjoyed the book, mostly because the series was really important to me.

7. Caraval

Coming in at number 7 is this widely known book! I absolutely loved reading it and I was so fascinated the entire time. The plot twist was crazy, and the world was so interesting. I am glad I decided to read it, even though it’s not something I would normally pick up.

6. Illuminae

This is another book that I wouldn’t normally gravitate towards but I got it for a really good price online. I was a bit confused by it when I first started it, but soon I was completely hooked. I absolutely need to read the second book, but I haven’t had a chance to pick it up yet. I highly recommend giving it a try because the style was so unique.

5. The Princess Saves Herself in this One

This was the first book I finished in 2017, and it set my year off on a good start. When I think of poetry, this is the book that comes to mind. Since reading it in January, I now own a total of 3 copies (all signed) and I have read it twice. The poetry is amazing, the author (Amanda Lovelace) is so sweet, and the message is empowering. I suggest this book to everyone and I talk about it so often.

4. Talking as Fast as I Can

If you love the show Gilmore Girls (like I do), then you have to read this book! It is written by Lauren Graham (Lorelai) and it is an autobiography. She talks all about the show in a comedic way, as well as different events in her life. It was so interesting to listen to (I got the audiobook) especially in her voice.

3. Everything Leads to You

This book really showed me a different side of the film industry that I hadn’t thought about in the past, so it was so interesting to learn about. The entire story was also really cute. I will probably be re-reading this soon, too.

2. The Hate U Give

I’m sure you have already heard about this book, but if you haven’t, you need to go read it right now. It was so POWERFUL. It really took my breath away. The story is very relevant to the world right now and deals with race issues (black lives matter movement). I think this needs to be read by everyone, and it would be a great book to read at school.

1. Turtles All the Way Down

This is John Green’s latest novel, and it was BEAUTIFUL. It was such a relief to read a book that accurately portrayed OCD and anxiety. People often think I am exaggerating when my compulsions get the best of me, but they are true. I wish I could hand all of my friends this book to read in order to understand me better. I often don’t know how to phrase my own anxieties, but he did it in the perfect way.

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What were some of your favorite books of the year? I would love to know! Leave it down in the comments :)

xo, Jessica

Turtles All The Way Down- Review

As you may have heard, John Green’s new book, Turtles All The Way Down, came out on October 10th. I was extremely excited to read it, because I have loved previous books by him.

I purchased the audiobook and began listening to that a few days after the release. Before I could even get 1/4 of the way through, I knew I had to own the physical copy. On Tuesday, I bought a signed edition from Target, and having it in my hands made me feel so much closer to it. I could actually see the words he had written, and it made the whole experience even better for me.

Goodreads synopsis:
Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts. 

In his long-awaited return, John Green, the acclaimed, award-winning author of Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars, shares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity in this brilliant novel of love, resilience, and the power of lifelong friendship.

My review:

I immediately fell in love with this book. This was the first book that I truly felt connected to the main character of a novel. I could relate to so many of the thoughts she had and it helped me make sense of my mind. The way John phrased Aza’s anxiety is the best description I have read. It really coincided with my own anxiety, and I could not be more grateful for this novel.

It really focuses on the struggles of everyday life of what it is like to live inside your own head. I feel like I can give this book to someone if I ever had to explain my anxiety to them. For me personally, it is extremely difficult to put my anxiety into words because I can not fully understand it half of the time. But when I read these words, it was as if every thought I had was written out for me.

Not only does she struggle with anxiety, but she also has obsessive thoughts which I can relate to as well. The combination of OCD and anxiety is extremely difficult and draining. You can feel how tired Aza is from suffering from this.

I had tears in my eyes while reading this book.

It was poetic and thought provoking and absolutely everything I needed to read, especially right now.

I think I may have found my new favorite YA book.

Rating: 5/5 stars

xx, jessica

my current thoughts about the book community

When I was in middle school (and even younger than that) I went to the library or bookstore at least weekly, and I picked up tons of books. I chose books simply based on the cover and the synopsis- especially the synopsis. The more involved I become in the book community, the more I find myself doing less of that.

I now tend to pick up books based on what other people think of them without even forming my own opinions or considering if I will like the book or not. I can’t even tell you how many books I bought just because I heard people in the book community like them. I don’t even know what half of the books I buy are about at this point!

I began reading fantasy books more and more often, which I don’t even like. I’m more of a contemporary and mystery/paranormal reader. Sure, there were a few fantasy books I enjoyed reading, but there were so many that I forced myself to read just so I could be part of the loop.

Sometimes I feel like I’m going to be shamed for not reading or not enjoying something that was incredibly hyped by everyone. I also don’t want to attend any book events because I know that there are a TON of books I haven’t read and I don’t want people to think I don’t belong there.

Basically, the point of this post is to say that I want to start reading for myself again. I don’t want to fall out of love with reading because I don’t enjoy what I pick up. I also want to say that this is a criticism of myself, not the book community. There are so many wonderful people and the place is so welcoming. This is just how I am currently feeling!

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Do any of you feel the same way or am I alone in this one? Have you picked up any books solely because of the book community, without even knowing what it’s about?

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24 hour read-a-thon

12:02 am
i decided to try the 24 hours of reading trend that I first saw done by Zoe! She recently hosted a second read-a-thon but I wasn’t able to do it that day! So here I am doing my own.

It’s currently midnight, meaning the start of the 24 hours. I’m a huge morning person so I don’t stay up late at night. I am struggling to stay up even now. So, I’ll just start with telling you all my TBR for today!

Then I plan on waking up around 7 to begin reading!

So here’s the TBR-
– Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins- I’m currently on page 108
– History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
I will see you in the morning when I begin reading!

8:28 am
I woke up later than I had hoped to (7:50), so by the time I ate breakfast and got ready for the day, I am just now starting to read.

I am starting with Anna and the French Kiss! I’m going to try to read 100 pages in one sitting. I have some tea in hand, so I should be good.

9:42 am
I read up to page 177 in Anna. I decided to take a little break to watch some youtube videos.

I’m planning on reading more of Anna in an hour or so when I go to barnes and noble. I’ll keep you updated!

11:38 am
i’ve been at barnes and noble for about an hour now but I didn’t do much reading. I had to study for the SAT and do some writing. I only got to page 202 of Anna so far.

When I get home I plan on starting History to change things up a bit.

2:08 pm
I am finally at page 307 of Anna, which means I have less than 100 to go!

Im going to start History now, and take a little food break!

6:49 pm
The last time I updated this, I said I would start History. I did, but only 17 pages.

I couldn’t stop thinking about Anna, so I decided to finish that book instead. Which was amazing, by the way. I ended up giving it a 4/5 stars. I am extremely happy with how it ended because I didn’t love it in the beginning.

I am now going to continue reading History until I need to pick up my sister. Then I will run a bath (and read in there for a bit) before getting ready for bed. I am going to stay up as long as it takes to finish History. It shouldn’t be long though, as the book is under 300 pages.

11:03pm
I only read 61 pages of History and now it’s time for bed! I was going to stay up late until I found out I was working early tomorrow morning.

I wish I had read more but I decided to watch a movie with my mom instead.

As a whole, this read-a-thon was less successful than I had hoped. However, I did read more than I usually do in a day.

I read a total of 325 pages. Not impressive but at least I finished a book. I did end up getting busier as the day went on, so I’m not going to be too hard on myself.

I really enjoyed this experience though, and I think next time I will stay up all 24 hours to get the most reading done.

Anyways, let me know if you enjoyed this post and if you would like to join me next time so I’m not doing this alone (and so that I’ll be more motivated)!

See you soon,

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“loves me not, loves me” // book review

*I received this book for review, but all opinions are my own*

Loves Me Not, Loves Me by Brittany Julian is a poetry collection split into 2 parts. The first part, “Heartache’s Interlude” focuses on heartbreak and the pain caused by it. It also details the healing and forgiveness you must do for yourself.

The second half is about love. A main focus in this book is that you can’t have love without heartbreak, and vice versa. You need to go through some hardships to be able to feel love completely.

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I really, really enjoyed this book. The poetry is amazing and relatable. Even if you have never gone through heartbreak or experienced true love, you can feel the words the author is writing nonetheless.

I haven’t read any poetry books in a couple of months, but this one reminded me why I love them so much.

Here is one of my favorites:
please don’t convince yourself
that you are too complex
to be loved
you are not a problem
waiting to be solved
there is no algorithm
for us humans
who fall in love
no way to calculate
if the love will be worth the loss
in the months to come
or if all the frogs i’ve kissed
have led me to meet
one f****** prince

If you want to purchase the book yourself, check it out here!

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June TBR

This is going up a bit late, as June has begun about a week ago now. I haven’t done a lot of reading last month, and I began a lot of books but never finished them. This month I will hopefully have more time to read once school ends. I might also pick up volunteering at the library again, which will definitely be motivational.

All the books I plan on reading I already own because I am currently on a book buying ban. I have at least 25 books at home that I purchased and haven’t read yet, so I plan on only reading those for the next couple of months without purchasing new ones.

Here are some books I plan on finishing or starting this month. Let me know if you’ve read any of them!

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  1. The Space Between The Stars by Anne Corlett: I received this ARC a few weeks ago and I have yet to read it (which I am super sad about because it is being released the 13th)! It is super intriguing and I highly suggest you check it out. It sort of gives me Illuminae vibes, and it’s a genre I don’t normally read, so I am excited to get to it. Thank you so much to Penguin Random House for sending me this!
  2. The Map That Leads To You by J.P. Monninger: This is another ARC I got from St. Martin’s Press (thank you) which happens to come out the 13th as well. I started reading this one already and I FELL IN LOVE. I think this is going to become one of my favorite books of all time. I have covered the pages with post-it notes already because there is so much that tugs at my heart. I feel really connected to it, and I will definitely be finishing it soon.
  3. The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr: I have a funny story for this one- The only reason I bought it was because Target had signed copies. I picked one up and kept looking around the store. Then I noticed that some of the pages were bent in the copy I had, so I went back to switch it and grabbed a copy that wasn’t signed. Oh, well. Anyways, I heard some mixed reviews on this. I hope I enjoy it, otherwise not getting a signed copy will make me really upset, haha.
  4. 1984 by George Orwell: This is a classic that I definitely need to read. I’ve heard so many people talking about it and I have been wanting to read it for so long. I really hope I get around to it really soon.
  5. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf: Clearly I have been in the classic mood recently. I picked this book up from the library, and I started it but haven’t finished yet. I am probably going to finish this one first out of all on the list because I need to return it soon.

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