the once upon a time book tag

Hello, everybody, and welcome back to Quote, Unquote!

Today I’ll be participating in a fun tag co-created by Merie Shen of Imperial Scribis. This one has been sitting in my inbox for a little while now as I’ve been stewing over my answers, and I think it’s finally time to share them with the world!

Without further ado…let’s jump right in.

the rules

  • thank the person who tagged you
  • use the tag graphic above (optional) (I opted not to for this one!)
  • name a book for each of the following 12 categories
  • tag as many people as you would like

the fairytales

Cinderella: a book that changed your life

Does the Bible count? I mean, technically it did change my life, but I don’t think that’s the answer y’all are going for here.

This one took me a lot of thought, but I’d have to say Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli.

I read Stargirl in middle school. It was one of the first books that I read that could be considered YA romance (though it’s honestly debatable whether it’s YA or MG), and it kicked off my love for the genre. Pretty soon I was reading more and more of the genre, and that lead to me wanting to write it. I credit Stargirl, in part, with my love of writing.

Sleeping Beauty: a book that took you forever to finish

I received Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights for my birthday in December of 2021, started it, and didn’t finish it until last month. Whoops.

Technically speaking, I took a long break, but if you classify “taking forever to finish” as “the interval between which one started and finished the book being long,” I’d say fourteen months is a pretty long time. (In fact, it was almost exactly fourteen months!)

Also, can we take a second to appreciate the Penguin Clothbound Classics editions? One day I am going to own every single one of them. They are gorgeous.

A Thousand and One Nights: a book you couldn’t stop reading

I started Crumbs by Danie Stirling in the afternoon, and when my mom poked her head in my room to tell me to come help with dinner, I felt like I was waking up from a trance. I plan to post a book review very soon, so I don’t want to spoil too much, but this is the best graphic novel I have ever read. It was just so CUTE. And the art style was AMAZING. And I LOVED IT SO MUCH. I couldn’t put it down. AAAAHHHH.

Little Red Riding Hood: a book you recently read in an unfamiliar genre

I had to look way back in my reading log to find something that wasn’t contemporary, fantasy, memoir, or dystopian sci-fi, and the earliest deviation I found was from October of last year.

#MurderTrending was recommended to me by a friend who loves thrillers. I’m not super into them, but I’ll read them from time to time, and I had to admit that this was a fairly interesting read. It was certainly fast-paced and action-packed and kept me on my toes. It was a little bit too gory for my taste, but then again, I am unable to handle even the slightest amount of gore, so that might just be me. Overall, a pretty good book.

The Wild Swans: a book with your favorite sibling relationships

The entire Boxcar Children series holds so much nostalgia for me. The original series was twenty-one books (one of which I have been searching for for years), and they’re all chock-full of the siblings solving little mysteries.

They’re intended for a younger audience and published in the 1920s, so there isn’t a whole lot of plot (they just happen to discover a lot of lucky things), but I love it. Sometimes it’s nice to read something lighthearted, you know?

And I love Henry and Jessie and Violet and Benny (and, of course, their grandfather). Their dynamic is just so sweet. I highly recommend all of the Boxcar Children books.

Snow White: a book filled with beautiful prose

You know it already. I’ve ranted and raved about The Book Thief so often on my blog. This was the book that taught me how to write prose. The descriptions, the emotion, the phrasing—yes. Just yes. If you haven’t read The Book Thief yet, you are missing out spectacularly.

Rapunzel: a book that you procrastinated on reading after buying

There are several books that I have acquired years ago and still haven’t read. Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke, Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson (although in my defense that thing is a brick), The Summer of Broken Things by Margaret Peterson Haddix…I could probably keep going. I need to get on that.

The Little Mermaid: a book that took you on a magical journey

Um…all of them?

I recently reread the WondLa series after a few years and ohhh boy. Ohhhhhh boy. I love these books so much. They’re such well-thought-out, well-written, all-around-amazing books with a teensy little bit of social commentary on humanity and nature.

I love the worldbuilding and the transformation of the characters, watching them grow up in just three books. I love the way the story never goes exactly where you expect it to. I love everything about this series, and I think that it’s a tragedy that it doesn’t get as much press as some of the more mainstream dystopian series.

The Frog Prince: a book that made you want to turn into a frog because you hated it so much

How about Apologia Exploring Creation through Chemistry?

Nah, just kidding. Chemistry and I have a mutual hatred.

It took me a while to find this book in my reading log, but once I read the synopsis, I was reminded why One Night That Changes Everything had the “would not reread” tag on it.

The premise was promising, but the characters were flat, the plot was unrealistic, and the writing was terrible. I put it down feeling completely dissatisfied and like I had just wasted my time reading it. Not a good feeling to walk away from a book with.

(I’m going to be honest—I hate trashing books like this. I’m terrified that the author is going to see it and be hurt. So if you’re Lauren Barnholdt and you are reading this, I am so sorry.)

Peter Pan: a book that reminds you of your childhood

My copy of The Wishing Spell is so beat up by now that the entire book split in half. I loved this whole series as a kid, probably because the bookish, introverted, overly geeky heroine reminded me of myself. I remember my mom getting this for me at a homeschool book sale (because of course) and being utterly absorbed in it for the rest of the day. Good times.

The Goose Girl: a book you had low expectations for but ended up loving

I am not particularly a fan of John Green. When I first read The Fault in Our Stars, I didn’t really get what all the fuss was about. It was slightly absurd and overly pretentious. So I wasn’t expecting to like Paper Towns, but I ended up falling in love with it.

It’s still absurd and pretentious, mind you, but the premise, the plot, the characters are all so three-dimensional. The high stakes kept me on the edge of my seat. I still reread it every so often, even though the long philosophical ramblings don’t really make much sense. (I feel like you either love or you hate John Green’s style. I’m not quite sure how I feel about it.)

Hansel and Gretel: a book that made you hungry

The Magic Cake Shop by Meika Hashimoto feels like a fever dream of mine. When I was a kid, elementary school perhaps, I used to check this book out of the library at least every other week. There was just something about it. Maybe it was the illustrations that looked somehow exactly like the illustrations in the American Girl books of the time.

I barely remember what happens in this book. It feels like something my fourth-grade brain made up, but I just asked my sister and she remembered it, so I guess not? Unless it was a shared hallucination.

Anyway, there was cake. Lots and lots of cake. I remember that. I mean, obviously.

Okay, I just checked, and our library still has it. I’m going to read it and report back to you.

the tags

Honestly, tagging people on blog tags has always been a struggle for me, so I’m going to just leave this open for whoever would like to participate. Let me know if you do! I’d love to see your answers.

Thank you again, Merie and Diamond, for this lovely tag! I had a lot of fun answering your questions.

Thank you so much for reading, and I’ll see you next Wednesday!


four reasons to read the classics

Hello, everybody, and welcome back to Quote, Unquote!

The classics are the bane of high schoolers everywhere. Austen, Brontë, Dickens, Carroll…they’re a standard of almost every curriculum. Many people grumble over reading them.

But there are valuable, legitimate reasons that you should read them. I’m here to show you the light.

1. they provide a glimpse into how life used to be

Not only can you ponder over the ways people used to live and what life was like way back when, it also provides a firsthand account of what moral standards used to be.

Take, for example, books such as Mark Twain’s classic The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The book centers around slavery and often uses language that would be quite shocking to today’s reader. It’s been condemned for this, but at its core, the only reason that this would be considered offensive is if it was written nowadays by an ignorant author. The morals were different back then, and so there is nothing wrong with this, and it’s actually quite an effective way of demonstrating morality changes.

2. you will be able to understand references

Because the classics are just that, classics, they are often referenced in pop culture. Taylor Swift’s lyrics come to mind (as they often do)—in her song “New Romantics”, she sings, “We show off our different scarlet letters,” which is a reference to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. “Wonderland” from 1989 and “long story short” from evermore both have references to Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, and “cardigan” from folklore references Peter Pan. In “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” from reputation, she sings “Feeling so Gatsby for that whole year”, obviously referencing The Great Gatsby. Taylor’s lyrics are jam-packed with nuanced references.

There are obviously plenty of other songs that reference classics, but I’m obsessed with Taylor Swift and her gorgeous lyrics. My point is, pop culture often gains a new level of meaning once you’ve absorbed the classics.

3. they challenge your brain

People spoke much differently when these books were written than they do now. Oftentimes when reading the classics, it’s hard to determine what’s actually going on underneath the fanciful old language.

But don’t let that deter you! In a world where everything is dumbed down into abbreviations, slang, and shorthand, it’s rewarding to read something so challenging. Keep a dictionary nearby—a paper one, if you can. Look up unfamiliar words. It’s going to be worth it. I promise.

4. they can change your life

The books that challenge us the most are the books that most often stick with us. Classics can change your outlook. Many people, after reading books such as Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, admit to the book having changed the way they view life and society. These books are classics for reasons—they carry messages still valuable to us today.

final thoughts

Another benefit of reading classic books is that people will think you’re smart when you slip Jane Eyre or A Tale of Two Cities into conversation. And hey, if that’s the only reason you read them, at least you will have read them.

What are some of your favorite classic books? Do y or like to read classics, or do you find it difficult? Let me know.

Thank you so much for reading, and I’ll see you next Wednesday!

the new year’s resolution book tag

Hello, everybody, and welcome back to Quote, Unquote!

It’s been a while since I’ve done a blog tag, and I saw this one on E. G. Bella’s blog and decided to steal it.

Well, I don’t really have anything else to say, so I’m just going to jump right in. Let’s go!

an author that you’d like to read (that you’ve never read before)

Sara Ella, Joanne Bischof, and Nadine Brandes. Starting in September, these three ladies are going to be among my writing instructors, and I’d like to brush up on their books before I start. I’ve been meaning to pick up Coral (Ella) and Sadie on the Rocks (Bischof), and I’ve heard good things about Wishtress (Brandes). But I’d like to read all of their books!

a book that you’d like to read

Um, all of them?

I’ve heard good things about The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, and I love bees, so that one is definitely on my list. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is a bookstagram classic that’s been on my TBR pile for a while. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, Six of Crows by Marissa Meyer, The Maze Runner by James Dashner, and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alice Sáenz are also cult classics that I’ve been meaning to read for a while.

a classic you’d like to read

All of Jane Austen’s books! I’ve owned Mansfield Park for a while now but just…haven’t read it for whatever reason. It’s a little intimidating, not going to lie. And I have some beautiful copies of Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion, and Emma that I also haven’t read for whatever reason.

a book you’d like to reread

I reread the entire Harry Potter series every single summer. It’s honestly one of the highlights of my year, which I know sounds kind of pathetic, but there’s something comforting about hanging around outside rereading one of your favorite series.

a book you’ve had for ages and want to read

I picked up The Summer of Broken Things by Margaret Peterson Haddix at the thrift store a while ago, and it’s still sitting unread on my shelf. It’s got a beautiful cover, too—honestly, that might have been one of the reasons I bought it. Maybe I’ll post a review when I’m done.

a big book you’d like to read

Not so much “like to read” as “like to have read”, but A Patriot’s History of the United States. It is one of the thickest books I’ve ever encountered. I’m going through it for my junior year in high school right now, and I honestly can’t wait to be done with it.

an author you’ve previously read and want to read more of

Emma Lord is one of my most favorite contemporary authors, and she recently released a new book! I still haven’t read the book she released before that, so I need to pick both of those up at the bookstore.

a book you got for Christmas and would like to read

I received a book called Making Stuff and Doing Things from my grandparents for Christmas. It’s a compilation of zines with all sorts of things from making record bowls to doing your own bookbinding. I’ve thumbed through it a little bit, but I’d really like to read it cover to cover.

a series you want to read from start to finish

The Chronicles of Alice and Ivy by Kellyn Roth. I saw Kellyn speak at the YWW Conference, and she keeps posting little things about her characters on her Instagram story, so I want to support a fellow indie author and finally understand the jokes.

do you set reading goals? if so, how many books do you want to read in 2023?

I don’t necessarily set reading goals—I just like to see where the year takes me. However, I only started tracking my books last year, and I read over 120, so I know I can easily hit over 100. Maybe I’ll be a little ambitious and set a goal of 150 books this year, but I’m not necessarily going to be strict about it. I guess we’ll see.

any other reading goals?

I’d like to read more biblical nonfiction. I want to dive a little deeper into my faith and read more nonfiction, so why not combine those two? I’ve been pretty good about reading more nonfiction lately, and I think I’d like to expand that even more.

I also just want to have fun reading. I devoured books when I was younger. I used to come home from summer library trips and lie in the grass and just read two or three books at a time (usually Warrior Cats, heheh). So I’m not putting too much pressure on myself. I want to enjoy it like I used to.

Well, that about wraps it up! I’m not going to tag anyone here, but feel free to post this on your own blog (and let me know when you do!) or just answer the questions in the comments. I want to know what you’re reading in 2023!

Thank you so much for reading, and I’ll see you next Wednesday!

book review: Run by Ann Patchett

It seemed from this moment of repose that God may well have been life itself. God may have been the baseball games, the beautiful cigarette he smoked alone after checking to see that all the bats had been put back behind the closet door. God could have been the masses in which he told people how best to prepare for the glorious life everlasting, the one they couldn’t see as opposed to the one they were living at that exact moment in the pews of the church hall, washed over in the stained glass light. How wrongheaded it seemed now to think that the thrill of heartbeat and breath were just a stepping stone to something greater. What could be greater than the armchair, the window, the snow? Life itself had been holy.


Since their mother’s death, Tip and Teddy Doyle have been raised by their loving possessive and ambitions father. As the former mayor of Boston, Bernard Doyle wants to see is sons in politics, a dream the boys have never shared. But when an argument in a blinding New England snowstorm inadvertently causes an accident that involves a stranger and her child, all Bernard Doyle cares about is his ability to keep his children–all his children–safe.

Set over a period of twenty-four hours, Run takes us from the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard to a home for retired Catholic Priests in downtown Boston. It shows us how worlds of privilege and poverty can coexist only blocks apart from each other, and how family can include people you’ve never even met. As an in her bestselling novel, Bel Canto, Ann Patchett illustrates the humanity that connects disparate lives, weaving several stories into one surprising and endlessly moving narrative. Suspenseful and stunningly executed, Run is ultimately a novel about secrets, duty, responsibility, and the lengths we will go to protect our children.

my thoughts

I found this book at the thrift store with no dust jacket on it, so I looked up the synopsis on Amazon, and before I even finished reading the synopsis I knew that it was going to come home with me.

I love books that are set in one day—for example, The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon and They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera. Both books that I have read that were set in one day are some of my favorite books because they are so masterfully done. So I had high expectations for this book. I knew that it would be a little different because the two examples mentioned above were targeted towards young adults and this was more of an adult book, but I still expected it to impact me in the way those two books had.

What hit me first upon opening the book was the lack of paragraph breaks. Seriously, the paragraphs stretch on forever. They could be a bit info-dumpy, but for the most part, they kept me immersed in the story. Frankly, I was surprised by this—most of the time, books with long paragraphs are really good at allowing my mind to wander. But this one pulled me in.

The next thing I noticed were the characters. From page one you could see their struggles and desires so clearly. I loved the way Tip loved fish. Characters having a “thing” that they like to do, that their whole life centers around, is common, but I’ve never seen one so unique as ichthyology. Now I’m wondering why we don’t see things as unique as that ever.

I think that perhaps the best part about this book was that the plot twists just kept coming, and you never saw them before they hit you. Seriously, it was just blow after blow. This book kept me on my toes and wanting to learn more. I commend any book that can hook me in like that.

This book portrayed a lot of controversial themes such as racial equality, privilege and poverty, and religion, but I thought it did so very well. The characters would often quote speeches throughout the book, many by civil rights leaders, and I liked how there was “real-world” evidence sprinkled in the story.

Were there shortcomings in this book? Of course. Every book has them. Because this was written from a third person omniscient perspective, sometimes it was hard to tell who was narrating at any given time. Between that, the plot twists, and the long paragraphs, sometimes I got lost and had to go back and reread. I also thought that the ending was neatly wrapped up—a little too neatly for real life, perhaps.

Overall, though, I think that this book was a very thought-provoking read. Although it was outside of my normal genres, I am very glad that I brought it home to read.

how to move past reader’s block

Hello, everybody, and welcome back to Quote, Unquote!

Writers like to talk about having writer’s block. But there’s another affliction that often hits bookworms: reader’s block.

Also known as a reading slump or rut, this sad condition can affect anyone who likes to read. It can be caused by having too many or not enough books to read; not knowing what to read; being overwhelmed by the sheer number of books they “should” read; not enough trips to the library: any number of reasons, really.

Reader’s block is, unfortunately, a common malady, but not to worry! Liesl Brunner, BD (book doctor), is here to prescribe a few quick fixes. This is kind of weird, so I’ll stop talking like I’m a doctor now.

Anyway. Here are a few tips to move past a reading slump.

1. reread your comfort book(s)

This one always works for me. Depending on the mood I’m in, I’ll go back and reread The Hunger Games or maybe even Little House in the Big Woods. Reading something I’m familiar with helps me to get back into the reading mood without the unexpectedness of a book I haven’t read before. Usually, I’ll then want to go read something similar to the book I just finished, and voila! Right out of that reading slump.

2. read something in your genre

This is along the same lines as the last one. If your old books just aren’t doing it for you anymore, find a book similar to one you recently finished and enjoyed. If you don’t already have something on your TBR waiting to be read, turn to the Internet. One of my favorite sites for this kind of thing is, because it doesn’t require a sign-in. You could also use Goodreads, and I’ve heard that Likewise is also good, although it’s more geared towards TV shows and movies.

3. ask a friend for book recs

The key with this one is to ask a friend who has a similar taste in books as you. If I was in a reading slump, I would go ask for book recommendations from my friend who likes contemporary, not my friend who likes thrillers, because I’m not a thriller person. Try also looking at blogs, Instagram, or Pinterest; doubtless you’ll find some glowing reviews of certain books that will inspire you.

This one might work well for you if you like discussing books because your friend will be expecting you to read the book. They’ll be excited to hear what you thought about it and have a discussion with you. Accountability is always nice.

4. go to the library or bookstore

This is seriously my #1 pick-me-up for finding new books. Generally, when I’m in a reading slump, I’ll head over to the library and find some books in the YA section with pretty covers or intriguing titles. (Whoever said not to judge a book by its cover needs to be set loose in the wilderness.) I’ll pick out a few and then read the blurbs, and if they’re lucky, they’ll come home with me. Finding new books is always a fun time and should be treated as such. Take a one or two or ten home and understand that you might not read all of them.

I hope that now, next time you find yourself not wanting to read or not having any books that interest you, you’ll know what to do. Reader’s block is a sad case, but it’s easily treated and shouldn’t be feared.

Until next time,

let’s talk about Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Hello, everybody, and welcome back to Quote, Unquote!

By the time you read this, I will probably be in class, and we will probably be discussing none other than Lewis Carroll’s classic masterpiece, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Now, if you haven’t read this before, I urge you to close this email or this browser tab and go do so. You will probably be lost without context. Even the Disney movie may have left some things out of the original book (I’ve never seen it, so I wouldn’t know).

This year, we’re studying British literature in our homeschool community. We’ve gone through several great classics like Pride and Prejudice, A Tale of Two Cities, Jane Eyre, and the like. And this week, we were assigned to read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

I was excited about reading this book, and, if I’m honest, part of it was because it was short. Like, the entire thing (my copy, at least) is about 90 pages. I’m a fast reader, so I can knock that out in about an hour. (Not to brag or anything. I mean, I am sort of bragging, but…I’m going to stop now.) We were only given a week to read this, so it was a welcome break from the 400-page novels we were given last semester.

I’d read abridged kids’ versions before this, so I knew the general plot, and, of course, I was familiar with some of the characters. Being a book intended for children, it wasn’t that hard to follow. In the note included at the beginning of my edition, it says that “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is credited with having been the first great imaginative book for children whose principal goal was to entertain rather than instruct.” I thought that was interesting, and I also thought that Carroll really succeeded in that goal, because I’m certain that absolutely nothing instructional could be taken out of this book.

I mean, seriously though? Read it. It’s such a weird book. I know that’s the point, but like…really? I would like to know what Lewis Carroll was on when he wrote it. It would certainly explain a lot.

While reading, I was struck by how real Alice seemed to be. She is only a young girl, after all, and I think Carroll portrayed this well. One of my favourite things is how Alice continually talks about her cat and how much she misses her, because as any of my friends can tell you, I’m the exact same way. (Not a week goes by in class where my classmates don’t hear “I miss my cat.”)

But I cannot get over how weird this book is. I’m sorry. I want to like it, I really do. And I do like some of the aspects, like Alice’s character as mentioned above, but the weirdness factor is a little too much, even for me.

Overall, I would give this book a five out of ten. I regard and respect it as a classic work of literature, but if it wasn’t on my syllabus, I would be okay with that.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this post. I’m thinking of doing some more like this, instead of my typically structured book reviews. Let me know how you liked it and I’ll see you next Wednesday!

how to get back into reading this year

Hello, everyone, and welcome back to Quote, Unquote!

Because you’re here on my book-related blog, reading this book-related post, I’m going to assume that you like books. I mean…it would just make logical sense.

And if you do like books, I’m also going to assume (pretentiously, I know) that you like to read. Because…that’s what you usually do with books.

But the problem is that sometimes it’s hard to actually sit down and read books when your life is so chaotic. Especially now, when you might be hitting the February struggles with getting back into school, work, college, whatever you’re doing. It might be tough to spend time reading for pleasure when you know there’s so much other stuff you could be doing, so you forgo it in favour of “productive” work.

What if I told you that reading for pleasure is productive? What if I told you that those few stolen moments you take before bed or on your commute (hopefully not if you’re the one driving) are totally worth it?

Reading, even books that my mom would deem “potato chip books” (i.e. ones that are not educational in the slightest), has immense benefits. It allows you to immerse yourself in another world for a little bit, escaping the stresses of this one. When my grandfather passed away recently, I brought several books down for the funeral, knowing that I would need them more than ever–and they helped immensely. They gave me a break from the absolute chaos of organizing the funeral, the visitation, everything.

So now that you’ve seen the benefits of reading, you might be asking, How do I find time to read?

There are a couple of ways:

1. don’t push yourself.

Pressure is one of the worst things you can do to yourself when it comes to something that’s supposed to be done for fun. You don’t have to read new books. You don’t have to read books that others say you should read. Just read for fun. If you have a certain goal that you want to hit–great! But it’s just a goal. It’s not mandatory, so if you don’t reach it, then you don’t have to punish yourself.

2. make it fun.

If you haven’t read for a while and you want to get back into it but just don’t know what to read, try reading something you’ve already read before and really liked. Maybe it’s a book from your childhood, maybe it’s one that you keep coming back to when someone asks you what your favourite book is. It can be something a middle-schooler would read–there’s no shame.

Also–read what you want to read! You don’t have to challenge yourself by reading something totally outside your genre right out of the gate if you don’t want to. If your taste in books is the sort of Twilight-esque teen vampire romance novels, go for it. I won’t judge–much. If you hate a book that you’re halfway through, it’s okay to DNF (did not finish) it. Even the most voracious bookworms do that sometimes.

3. work it in.

Figure out what time is best for reading for you. When can you steal a few moments to sneak away into another world? Here are a few ideas.

  • While eating lunch
  • Right after waking up (if you’re a morning person)
  • Right before bed
  • Or both–bookend your day with reading
  • While commuting (you can listen to an audiobook if you’re driving/walking/biking)
  • Right after you get home from work or school
  • In the bathtub (be careful not to drop it!)
  • When you’re bored and wasting time (instead of scrolling mindlessly on social media)
  • In line at the grocery store, DMV, etc. (it pays to keep a book in your bag!)
  • Whenever you need a break from blue light (e.g. in the middle of a work day)

I hope that with these few tips, you feel inspired and ready to take on a new book or three.

Until next time,