Godshot

Author: Chelsea Bieker

Published: March 31, 2020

Publisher: Catapult

Where I picked up my book: Purchased from my local Indie (Old Firehouse Books)

Key Words: cults, coming of age, mother/daughter, religious trauma

My Rating: 4 stars

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My Thoughts:

First, give me any books about cults and I’m in, 100%. Add that the cult revolves around some bizarre religion-yes please! So I knew this book was going to be right up my alley. I immediately ordered it from my local indie and it didn’t disappoint. Second, books about disastrous mother/daughter relationships are also my jam…so another check on my list! Immediately upon porch delivery (thanks Old Firehouse Books for being so quick), I dug in and barely popped out until it was over. Here are some of my thoughts:

1. The atmosphere in this book was VIVID. Parched and dry land surrounds this town and I could almost taste the dust as I read. That is some magical writing right there.

2. If I could live in a world full of women somehow, I would. Also, cult-y Christian men are the worst (only my personal opinion folks). Screw the patriarchy!

3. Flawed characters is the name of the game and Bieker’s writing of them is amazing. I didn’t even know where to put my brain when it came to some of these characters (in the best sense that is). Do I feel bad for them, sad for them, mad at them, all of the above at all different times?! Most of the characters, yes, that is exactly how I felt about them. And then some I just despised. It was the definition of flawed characters and I’m always sold on that.

4. Humans are resilient and we really see this through the lens of Lacey.

5. There are some funny bits in this book and you’ll appreciate them so much and find yourself laughing and then almost feeling guilty for laughing. It’s all part of the experience of Godshot.

Ultimately, Godshot is about a young woman coming into her own and suddenly realizing the world she grew up in isn’t actually what she thought it was. ( I have a VERY similar story. No, I didn’t exactly grow up in a cult per say, but I did grow up in a fundamentalist Christian household and church and some of this book hit veryyyyyyy close to home. I walked the walk until I opened my eyes as a young teenager, looked around, asked questions, got curious and saw what was actually happening. I can remember it like it was yesterday and oh boy, thank goodness I opened those eyes!

If you enjoyed The Handmaid’s Tale, The Water Cure or The Girls-I think you’ll want to add Godshot to your must-read list! This is a debut novel and I’m real excited to see what else Bieker has to offer us!

As always, find me on Instagram, shop my paper goods at PAGEFIFTYFIVE and let’s be friends!

Bookishfolk…read instead.

The Grace Year

Author: Kim Liggett

Published: October 8, 2019

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Where I picked up my book: Pre-order from Indie

Key Words: Young Adult, Dystopian, Feminist

My Rating: 4 stars

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My Thoughts:ย 

If a young adult mix between The Handmaid’s Tale, The Power, Hunger Games, Wilder Girls with a touch of Swiss Family Robinson vibes sounds good to you, then this book has your name written all over it! I LOVED it and was completely immersed in the world that Liggett created for us. Recently, I have found myself soaking in as many dystopian thrillers as I can get my hands on (and I don’t even understand why because it feels like we are actually LIVING a dystopian thriller right now with the state of the government…but I digress). So when I saw this one popping up on my Bookstagram account, I thought yep, and immediately ordered it. I’m so glad I did. I usually delve more into the book a bit when I write a review, but sometimes things like plot, characters, action, etc. are better left unsaid. I think that is the case for this book. The only thing I will say is it’s feminist, witchy, full of friendship, relationships and adventure, apocalyptic, has a survivalist aspect, deceitful, freedom fighting and so much more. I was completely hooked from square one (let’s be honest, I was completely hooked from the cover alone) and it did not disappoint! The writing is smart and fast-paced (it’s one of those books I found myself frantically flipping through into the night) and the characters are so clearly written it feels like I know them days after finishing the book. I’m going through a lot of changes with work and life and this was a perfect book to snuggle up with after a long day and escape into. I’d highly recommend it!

As always, come find me on Instagram and let’s talk books!

bookishfolk…read instead.

How to Review Books

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Even though the title of this post might make you think that I’ve got my shit together and I’m going to provide you with a list of 1-10 steps to review a book…you’d be mistaken. I have no idea what I’m doing when (and if) I review a book, and the more I talk to people over on Bookstagram about this, the more I’m learning there is no right or wrong way to go about reviewing books. When I first started this Bookstagram, I spent time only periodically mentioning books, what I was reading, or books I was buying, and that was pretty much it. Taking pretty photos was the name of the game. Then, once I started receiving books from publishers in the mail, I started thinking that I needed to up my game and write more reviews on my blog and Instagram and interact more professionally on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, my blog, or wherever else book reviews are valued. These publishers are reaching out because they want to generate some buzz about a book and we are the ones to do it. I wouldn’t call us smaller accounts ‘influencers,’ but publishers are definitely looking for some buzz when they send you a book and there is some responsibility associated with this. So, after about a year or so of being pretty serious on Bookstagram, I got my shit together and I created a spreadsheet where I itemized books I received from publishers, took note of what was asked of me, marked where and how I shared about the book, gave a star review, marked if I had mentioned it in Bookstagram yet, etc. All was good and I was feeling like I was finally in control of this thing called Bookstagram (PS this is a hobby. No one pays me to do this. Sometimes, I receive a free book in the mail, but that’s it. I think I forget that sometimes). Anyways, I digress…So all felt more organized and less chaotic for this hobby of mine and that felt good. That is…until I received a book in the mail from a publisher that I thought I was going to love, but ultimately, I found problematic parts that rubbed me the wrong way. I was all prepared to create that perfectly honest post, but all of a sudden, I went down a spiral of slight panic (if I’m being honest). Here is my dilemma (also-completely 1st world problems so take this anxiety with a grain of salt but still…). 1, I want to have good relationships with publishers who send me a free book and hopefully, generate more good buzz to get the word out 2, I want to make sure I never dissuade anyone from reading a book they may like and 3, I want to review books in a 100% authentic way for all of you reading my reviews. Is there a formula for that? Is there a way to organize my reading life that will accommodate all of that? The odds of me buying a book I don’t love are slimmer, but being given a book by a publisher that I wind up not loving is more possible. Will I piss off a publisher if I give their book a negative review and that’s it for my time of receiving books to read and review? Will a reader be turned off from a book that I didn’t love but they might?! I’m telling you-I went down a crazy rabbit hole of insecurity and a bit of anxiety with this one. BUT, my best end result from a lot of thinking was this…You do you Boo. A friend of mine on Instagram (@caseythereader) mentioned that publishers know that not all books are for everyone. And that’s so true. We all know that. I might recommend a book to a friend and they wind up reading it and not liking it. It’s a bit of a bummer, but we all move on (hopefully after a good discussion if it’s your friend). Obviously, this discussion doesn’t usually happen with a publisher, but still-I’m positive Casey was right. They know not every book is for everyone. Secondly, I never want to be dishonest in a book review. Or be deceitful in any way just to save face with a publisher and therefore continue to get free books. That was the overwhelming advice I received when I threw this question out to the Bookstagram community. Be honest! Thirdly, find some good things to mention in your review. There is always some good things in every book and they are worth mentioning. After all, this book is someone’s pride and joy that they created and it’s been through a lot of eyes before it got to me. If it’s published, odds are, there are some good things worth mentioning. Fourth, if there are problematic things in a book, they are worth mentioning in a constructive way too. And lastly, I don’t have to review every book I read. That’s probably not even possible anyways, and also-most books I receive from publishers do not mention HAVING to write a review about the book anyways. In fact, they oftentimes say, if you liked the book, feel free to rate and review it. ‘Liked’ being the key word. So there you have it folks! I have come up with a plan for myself in terms of how and when I rate, review and post about books. Here is it if you’re interested:

  1. If I receive a book from a publisher, write the info down and any details I might need (follow ups, emails, pub dates, requests for review, Instagram post dates, etc) and put it in my pile on ‘books from publishers’
  2. If I purchase or get a book from the library-I do me! (it will likely sit on shelf longer than I want it to. Story of my life lol)
  3. Post a photo on Instagram upon receiving a book, purchasing a book, or starting to read a book.
  4. If I enjoy the book, read, rate, post and give it all the love (with details why). Write a blog post too! THE BEST FEELING!!
  5. If I felt meh about a book, just give it a star review on Goodreads and move on. People don’t necessarily care about a meh book. It’s always hard to articulate why I felt meh about it anyways, so just move on (unless of course I made a promise to receive a book in exchange for an honest review. In that case, give an honest review). *this rarely happens
  6. If I personally found something problematic in a book, it might be worth mentioning (but again, I don’t have to). Be truthful, find the positives and be specific. A blog post is optional, but give it a few days before I write it. Time is think is always good ๐Ÿ™‚ Same thing as #4-if I made a promise to exchange, do that.
  7. Remember this is not a job, it’s a hobby and I’m usually under zero obligation to review a book. It’s kind of part of the unwritten deal and best practice if the book was from a publisher, but, for the most part, I’m under no obligation.

So that’s my plan from now on. Praise the good, possibly mention the problematic and leave the meh alone. *this may all change tomorrow and I’m okay with that too ๐Ÿ™‚ But also-this is a hobby and I need to stop worrying so much about this and start reading! That’s what brought me here to begin with.

What is your method of reviewing books? Do you feel you need to review every book you read? Are you more choosy with book reviews? Is my anxiety at fault for all of this?! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Head over to Instagram and let’s chat! Find me @bookishfolk

bookishfolk…read instead.

My Current Bookish Life

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I thought I’d give you a little update on my reading life, what I’ve been up to in the literary world, and some exciting things coming down the pipe! The last few months have been a fantastic time for me and my reading life. I’ve read some great books, heard some fantastic authors speak, received some wonderful books in the mail and signed up to participate in some exciting literary events! Here is a little synopsis of a few of those things!

What I’ve been reading recently:

-Loads of queer books and I’ve never felt so at home as I do within this genre. Representation matters and I’ve always know that concept, but reading so many books this past month where I can recognize myself-that has made me feel more whole. A few fantastic books I’ve read are: Red, White and Royal Blue, Rubyfruit Jungle, The Lost Coast, Annie on My Mind and Tomorrow Will Be Different, to name a few.

What I’ve been up to (literary version):

-I saw Casey McQuiston (author of Red, White and Royal Blue) speak and it was fantastic! I honestly couldn’t love this book more if I tried, but listening to her speak about it was the icing on the cake!

-I also heard Kali Fajardo-Anstine speak (author of Sabrina and Corina) and she was real, honest and SO inspiring! Her book is magical and I highly recommend grabbing a copy!

What’s coming up for me:

-I just purchased tickets to Literary Sojourn Festival of Authors and I’m so excited I can hardly contain myself! Andrew Sean Greer, John Burnham Schwartz, Madeline Miller, Jennifer Clement, Esi Edugyan and Rebecca Makkai will be there and I might pee myself just thinking about all of those amazing authors in one place and that I get to hear them speak! Now I better get reading the large reading list ahead of me ๐Ÿ™‚

-I also volunteer with the Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association for their trade show and I’m absurdly excited for that as well!

-I purchased a Little Free Library and I’m pumped to build it and put it up in the front yard! I’m equally terrified to see how my dog will handle the extra foot traffic in the front of the house, but we’ll have to wait and see how that part goes.

What books I’m excited to dig into:

Beautiful Liars, The Beekeeper of Aleppo, Under the Udala Trees, China Dream, The Bookish Life, We Love Anderson Cooper, Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls, A Little Life and soooooo many more!

That’s it folks! If I could just surround myself with books, bookish friends, bookstagram and book events 24/7, I’d be a happy human. So far, I’m doing a pretty good job of making that a reality ๐Ÿ˜‰

Happy reading! As always…come find me on Instagram or comment here with what your reading life looks like!

bookishfolk…read instead.

#TakePrideInReading

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June is Pride month here in the U.S. and myself, along with a bunch of other Bookstagrammers, started a reading challenge to help spread the word and raise awareness about queer authors characters and topics AND to celebrate just what this month truly means to so many of us. Here is how we’ve planned it out. Each week, there are 2 prompts. Our job is to read books that fit the prompts for the week, post about books that correlate, talk about books and authors that fit into each week, and/or post stacks of books that we pull from our shelves or pick up from the library that check the box for that week! It’s a fantastic way to read more queer lit, but also, it’s a great way to really think about our history, where we came from, how we got there, who helped us along the way, see where we stand now and to celebrate all there is to come. It’s only been a little over a week but it’s just been the BEST time! I love reading queer lit, but this has expanded my TBR pile exponentially and I couldn’t be more excited! So I wanted to make sure all of my blog friends knew about this challenge as well! Again, all the fun takes place over on Instagram-so find me there at bookishfolk and follow along using the hashtag #takeprideinreading. And bonus, I’ve seen SO many people over on Instagram talking about how they want to read more queer books and learn more about our history and I basically sob the majority of the day now just thinking about how something so small (like a reading challenge on Instagram) can have such an effect on so many people. It makes me the happiest.

Prompts:

Week 1: Voices Across the Spectrum, Breaking the Binary

Week 2: Community Classic, Unsung Classic

Week 3: Intersectional Voices, Know Our History

Week 4: LGBTQIA+ Genre Fiction, Personal Awakening

As you can see, we’re only on week 2, so we’ve still got a ways to go exploring these themes and celebrating the diversity of queer life! And please know, this is for all of us-you don’t have to be queer to participate. As long as you’re here to be respectful, ready to learn and grow, and read some fantastically queer books-we’re happy to have you along for the ride ๐Ÿ™‚

In case you’re interested, here are the bookstagrammers that are hosting the challenge: These humans are wonderful people to follow for all sorts of reasons! Give them a look over on the gram!

@thefeministreader @readrunsea ย @allisonreadsdc @basiclandcave @bklnbooks @caseythereader @franniereads @hisreadingnook @inkoneverypage @lesbeebooks @lupita.reads @mina_reads @readingschmitt @readmollyread @shelfbyshelf @thealchemyofbooks @whatsjennareading @booksnblazers @bowtiesandbooks @caseythecanadianlesbrarian @djenneg.reads @khakipantsofsex @queerafricanreads @roams.and.reads @talialune @ultimatelybookish @bookishfolk

YAY PRIDE MONTH and YAY QUEER BOOKS! As always, find me on Instagram and please let me know what books you’re reading this month! I’d love to hear!

bookishfolk…read instead.