When We Were Infinite, by Kelly Loy Gilbert // Thoughts & Ramblings on a New Favorite

It’s been a long time since I last read a book that left me feeling viscerally changed. That is, until I finished reading When We Were Infinite a few days ago.

Sitting in the back of my family’s minivan, hurtling down a highway in Tennessee as rain pounded the windshield, I just stared at the blank page at the end of the book and thought- about the novel and the characters, yes, but also about how my life would never quite be the same now that I had read it. I could tell that the emotions I’d felt and the thoughts provoked by what I’d just read would be staying with me for a long, long time.

I’ve always read only recreationally, but ever since I started blogging and especially as I’ve become more involved in the world of Goodreads and ratings and reviews and to-be-read shelves and releases, I’ve become a much more critical reader. I no longer rate a book only on my enjoyment, but I’m also considering so many other factors as I read: do I truly like the characters? Am I bored at all? Is the writing exceptionally good?

Within the last year, I’ve found myself rating very few books five stars, and often I’ll already be thinking about the rating I’m going to give a book as I’m reading. (This might be unhealthy reader behavior.) When I was about a fourth of the way into When We Were Infinite, I knew it was going to be five stars. When I was halfway through When We Were Infinite, I knew I was going to need to talk about this book with someone, anyone. By the time I finished it, I knew that writing a blog post solely about this book was non-negotiable.

I’ve (much to my dismay) abandoned my blog terribly over the last school year. I wish I could attribute it to just being busy, but I know the reasoning lies much more with a lack of motivation or compelling content to blog about. But after finishing When We Were Infinite, I was overflowing with motivation and a desire to get all my thoughts out about this novel. Even if they’re scattered, even if this post isn’t as formatted as I normally would want and doesn’t follow the patterns of my ordinary content (something that caused me a lot of anguish over whether or not I should even post this), I ultimately decided that this is my book blog and there is no right or wrong way for me to talk about a book I truly loved (with no spoilers). So, here’s me doing just that- and thank you for being here. :’)

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Why Can’t I Stop Falling in Love With Fictional Characters? // An Exposé of Yours Truly

I don’t think I’m alone in the feeling of falling in love with fictional characters...

…or at least I hope I’m not. I’m not just talking about falling in love romantically, either. There are so many different ways that I can fall in love with a character. Sometimes, yes, I want to be with them, but sometimes I want to be them. Sometimes I wish I could be their best friend and sometimes I wish I could be a part of their family- no matter how it happens, I fall easily for people who are nothing more than just words on a page.

Just because I want a reason to talk more about the characters I *love* and because I’m interested to know if I’m the only one who finds themselves in love with fictional entities, I decided this would be a good idea for a post. I’m expecting to fangirl a lot in this because once I start talking about my favorite characters it takes a lot for me to stop. :’)

But someone please stop me once I mention Richard Campbell Gansey III for the 1000th time.

*clears throat* But anywayyy, I’ll be discussing a lot of different types of love and I hope that it will be able to give you some recommendations of what you should read if you’re also looking to fall in love with a new character. Onto the post!

I fall in love with characters because they exceed my standards.

This is going to be an ode to Emma Mills and Maggie Stiefvater for writing boys that actually have made me cry because of how much I wish they were real. I am well aware of how much I’m living up to being a teenage girl right now by having written that sentence, but I am entirely okay with it because of Gansey and Gideon Prewitt and August Shaw and Harry Potter and- I’ll cut myself off there.

I lose pretty much of semblance of my sanity when I think of any of these three characters because I just think about how sweet, chivalrous, and intelligent all of them are, and then it makes me happy. Plus, the fact that none of them are actually *perfect* and they all have their clear flaws, and yet they STILL just continue being their unproblematic, caring, thoughtful selves. I’m sorry, but it is entirely unfair that they have the audacity to be fictional and not real.

Maybe I should blame it on the fact that most fictional boys I fall in love with are written by women. Or maybe I should blame it on how they’re written by adults who might not know how teenage boys actually act. Or (and probably the most likely) I just haven’t met enough boys to actually find one who lives up to the high standards set for me by all of these fictional characters. Whatever the reasoning, I cannot stop falling in love with these boys that are decidedly not real because they very much so surpass all the qualities of boys that are in fact real.

Books Mentioned: Foolish Hearts, Famous in a Small Town, The Raven Boys, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

I fall in love with characters because I wish I could be their best friend.

I could go on and on about how much I want to be with Gansey (except I mostly just want him to be with Blue, you feel?) or anyone else, but at the end of the day, the strongest love I’ve ever felt before is the love I have for my friends. On a much smaller level, I feel a lot of that same platonic love towards characters that I just know I would be best friends with.

I think one of the fictional characters I’ve fallen platonically in love with the most is Anne Shirley. I know I’ve mentioned this many times before, but my idealistic self can imagine nothing better than to grow up alongside Anne in Avonlea. Running through flower fields, naming every animal and bush we encounter, braiding each other’s hair. Anne is such a kindred spirit. Her fiery temper and wit would balance out my wide-eyed, sweet disposition and we’d be an unstoppable pair.

My list of characters I would want a best friendship with goes on. What I wouldn’t give for study sessions with Hermione Granger, to eat a waffle with Nina Zenik, to spend a day solving puzzles with Reynie Muldoon, or even bake cupcakes with Lara Jean Covey. I’ve fallen in love with these characters because I can truly see myself being friends with them, and I would give anything to be able to dive into their worlds and live a day alongside them.

Books Mentioned: Anne of Green Gables, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Six of Crows, The Mysterious Benedict Society, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

I fall in love with characters because they make me want to a be a better version of myself.

You can learn way more about yourself from a book than you might think. Reading isn’t just going on the journey of a character, you’re going on the journey with the character. I may sound like an overzealous elementary school librarian saying that, but hear me out. As a reader, you to live through the main characters and maybe even realize that you’re capable of what they’re capable of, too. At least for me, my goals always seem more attainable if I’ve seen someone else reach them, too.

Whether you watch your dreams play out directly on page, like with a character getting the scholarship they wanted or spending their time volunteering or getting the role in a play or in a more abstract sense, like watching a character learn to love themselves and their talents, you can vicariously live through the characters. For me, this helps motivate me to be a better version of myself- maybe one that my favorite character would be proud of. If they can do it, I can.

I fall in love with characters because I want to be a part of their family.

I could write a whole post on fictional families that I love (and maybe one day I will). Family relationships are something that I think most books are lacking in, so when I do find a novel that explores family relationships, I’m automatically interested. When it turns out that this family is close-knit, boom, I’ve fallen in love.

Okay but?? How am I supposed to resist a family that enjoys eating waffles together and invites all their friends over for meals and has so much for love for every single last sibling, no matter how young? Am I not supposed to instantly fall in love simultaneously with every March sister because their sister dynamics are perfect? How would I ever be able to resist a forged-together found family entangled with whimsy and magic and love?

The answer is, I definitely cannot resist any of those. Which is why I so often find myself falling in love with fictional families. Just give me the sibling relationships and parent-child bonds and found families and dare me not to fall for them.

Books Mentioned: The Boy Who Steals Houses, Little Women, The House in the Cerulean Sea

I fall in love with characters because I get emotionally attached way too easily.

I’m really calling myself out with this one, but it couldn’t be more true. In real life and with books, it does not take a lot for me to become emotionally attached to someone or something. What can I say, I’m a sensitive enneagram type 2.

This is why I end up rating a lot of books based on how connected I felt to the characters- because if you can get me attached, I am attached. This is also why I cry a lot while reading (and while watching shows or movies) because I get very invested in my characters and whatever happens to them. Needless to say, if I get emotionally attached, I am in love and I will not stop talking about a character. I’ll probably make a Pinterest board and then make it my singular personality trait on my blog.

My peak emotional attachments belong to: the Golden Trio, the gangsey, and pretty much anyone from Percy Jackson. I would say I’m especially attached to characters if they are associated with a nostalgic book or series for me, but to be honest, Gansey is proof that I can become attached at any given moment. :’)

Books Mentioned: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, The Raven Boys, The Blood of Olympus

What I’ve learned about myself from this post is that I’m probably unhealthily in love with way too many characters at this point. Can you blame me, though? Sometimes I can’t get over how lucky we are to have so many books with so many characters in existence- even if it’s only fiction, they give me so much comfort.

Thank you so much for reading this post! I hope that you could be led in the direction of some new characters or that this provoked some thought on why you love (or don’t love) characters. I’m thinking of all of you, and hoping that you’re staying safe and healthy even with everything going on in the world right now. I’m trying my very best to not disappear off the face of the blogging community again, so it’s with true hope that I say I’ll see you all again soon. :))

Why do you love characters? Do we share any of this is common? Can anyone else not go three sentences without mentioning Gansey or is that just me? I would love to talk to you in the comments.

Credits for image in my featured image >> Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

An Update on My 5 Star Predictions! // Exposing My Skills As a Psychic (7 Months Later)

Way back in January, when the world wasn’t turned upside down, I made some five star predictions.

I like how my January self thought that I would do an update post on what I ended up thinking about the books in March, and here we are in August and I just now finished reading them all (I think that’s fairly representative of 2020)…but even though it took me much longer than I thought to read them all, I did it within the year and I guess that can be some sort of accomplishment!

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I haven’t looked back on this list in a while, other than to occasionally see what books I still had left on it, so this post is basically going to be testing just how psychic my January self was. Or at least how well I know my reading tastes. (Although a fun fact is that my friends always joke that I’m psychic because I have pretty good intuition and I also somehow always manage to guess what song is going to be played right before it comes on, but I’m no Adam Parrish).

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The Folklore Book Tag // In Which I Love Taylor Swift and Reading Way Too Much

Taylor Swift released a new album, and in conclusion, I am not okay.

I don’t exactly have the words to explain my happiness when I found out about the surprise release of Folklore, but I won’t lie, there were tears. Taylor Swift has been my favorite artist since her debut album released and I spent hours laying on the floor next to my CD player memorizing every song, and while I’ve loved everything she’s put out, this album has a special piece of my heart.

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I could go on and on, but the lyrics (her best ever), storytelling, and genre (indie folk/soft pop/alternative?!) could not be more perfect. It’s genuinely my favorite album yet and!! I haven’t stopped listening to it or screaming about it since it released. So you can imagine my excitement when Ilsa created The Folklore Book Tag, and now I can talk about the album here while also talking about books!!

A major thank you to both Ilsa and Rhi for tagging me- I’ve loved talking about this album with both of them so far, so this was especially happy.🤍 I’m very much looking forward to talking about the songs, sharing my favorite lyrics at the end of each song, and tying them back to books using Ilsa’s prompts!! (Also, I will be using the graphics she created, so a thank you to her for that too.)

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Mini Reviews From Quarantine Pt. 2 // The Second Installment of Me Crying Over YA and MG Novels!

I’m back again with more mini reviews!

As I’ve said a few times, one of the good parts about quarantine for me has been getting back into reading frequently. I didn’t realize quite how much I’d gotten out of the habit of reading consistently until I recently looked back at some monthly recaps from late 2019 and saw that during the school year I sometimes…didn’t read anything at all the whole month.

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Knowing that I’ll probably be in a similar situation like that again (though at this point, I would welcome in-person school stress, knowing my school will probably be online for the foreseeable future), I’m trying to take advantage of all my free time to read as much as possible! That’s resulted in me having read a lot of books that I would very much like to scream about and recommend to you.

To follow up with my first mini reviews from quarantine post, I’m going to be reviewing (in a bullet point fashion) some more books I read so far during quarantine! I’m unfortunately very behind on my reviewing, so these are mostly ones that I read in May but I will be doing more to talk about ones I’ve read in June and July as well.

I’m writing this post while absolutely freaking out about Taylor Swift’s surprise announcement of her new album, Folklore, coming out in (at the time of me typing this) around six hours, so I feel kind of like I’ve just had ten shots of espresso. Hopefully my nervous and excited energy translates into enthusiastic reviews and not rambling, muddled ones??

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Ranking Romance Tropes in Books From Worst to Best!! // Aka Exposing My Inner Romantic

Tropes. What would books be without them?

The answer, naturally, is less cliche. But even though tropes represent major cliches in books, I definitely don’t think that undermines their ability to move a plot along, develop characters better, or overall make a reading experience more enjoyable! It really just depends on how they’re used, the frequently with which they’re used, and if they’re able to be effective in the story.

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There are a ton more tropes besides just romance ones, but I thought it would be fun to go through some of the most well-known tropes often seen in YA fantasy and contemporaries, and rank them according to how much I like reading them!! If I have a particular book (or books) that fit with the trope and I want to recommend, I’ll do that too.

This is just my opinion, and whether you agree with my ranking or not, I hope you can at least relate to some of this post- and I’m very much looking forward to the comments section because I would love to talk about what everyone else’s thoughts are on all of these. Without further ado, to the ranking!

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12 YA Book Recs Based Off TV Shows!! // Stranger Things, Gilmore Girls, Friends, & More

Fictional worlds have my whole heart.

I’ve been in love with books for as long as I can remember, and I think the fact that I’m even here, blogging about books, speaks to that. More recently though, maybe in the past three or so years, I’ve also fallen in love with fictional worlds in multiple TV shows. I love talking about both books and television, so I thought it would be fun to combine both of those loves into one post!

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So because I’m actually a Fangirl™ I’m going to be giving book recommendations based off of some of my favorite TV shows. My hope is that if you’ve seen the show and enjoyed it, you might be able to find some books to read. But alternately, if there’s a book you enjoyed, you might get a show recommendation as well!

Don’t take this as an exact translation, since I’m going to focus more on the overarching themes or specific characteristics for each book, but hopefully it can be a pretty accurate depiction of the show versus the books. Also, I think I’m being creative by writing this post?? But if it turns out it’s already been done, please know that I wasn’t aware.

So, for lack of a better way to start the post, let’s get to the recommendations!

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The Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag 2020 // In Which I Freak Out Over New Releases & Soft Characters

It’s that time of the year again.

I know it, you know it, the WordPress Reader definitely knows it- it’s time for everyone to freak out about everything we’ve read in 2020! Although I’m unfortunately still behind on my Goodreads challenge (will I ever catch up?), I’ve read a lot of books worthy of all the love and appreciation so far this year, and I’m so excited to scream about them in this post.

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I’ve participated in this tag the past two years (my 2018 and 2019 posts), so even though I’m cutting it close by posting this on the second to last day of June, tradition must continue. Besides, it wouldn’t really be June if I didn’t spend at least a little bit of time having an existential crisis over what I have and haven’t read so far, right?

Thank you so much to Sophie and Abi for tagging me in this! I definitely recommend that you read both of their posts (Sophie’s here, and Abi’s here) and check out the rest of their blogs too, because they’re both phenomenal people and bloggers. I really appreciate them tagging me and I’m very excited to get to answering these questions!

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Mini Reviews From Quarantine pt. 1 // 5 Books w/ Family Relationships, Romance, & Amazing Messages

Me, reviewing books?

This is when you know the quarantine has gotten to me. I’m mostly kidding, but actually sort of not, because I just went back to look at my previous posts and realized the last time I wrote reviews (and they were mini, not even full) was in July. Which was almost a year ago. So I’d say this post is way overdue.

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One good thing about being at my house almost all the time now is that I’ve been able to read a lot of new books!! I read some of these books using Overdrive, but some of them are ones I’ve owned for a while and never got around to reading and then realized how disappointed I was in myself for having an unread book on my shelf, and with the free time, thought it would be even more disappointing if I didn’t read it now. Both access to books online and unread books on my shelves allowed me to have books to read even in this time of staying inside.

Thankfully, after spending March and April trying to get access to books online, my library started doing curbside pickup in May! Now, in mid-June, they’re opening back up with distancing measures and mask guidelines and everything, and I haven’t gone yet, but I’m hoping to go really soon.

Anyway, I’ve read a lot of books I enjoyed and wanted to talk about in the last couple of months, and after promising mini reviews both in my April and May recaps and going through the comments to make sure I’m talking about all the books people wanted to hear about- I’m finally actually writing them! This post was originally going to include over ten books, but it was getting way too long, so I’m only going to talk about five books in this post and review the rest in a part two later this month.

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The Percy Jackson/Heroes of Olympus Book Tag // Middle Grade Recs, Unexpected Gems, & Fangirling!!

2020 was singlehandedly saved by Rick Riordan announcing the Percy Jackson TV show adaptation.

I know how dramatic that sounds, but I’m really not exaggerating that much…this is probably the best piece of news I’ve heard in recent months!! After a childhood spent loving Percy Jackson and the Olympians and then later waiting for the releases of each new Heroes of Olympus novels eagerly, and then being disappointed by the movies that did come out, this new has been a long time coming.

I honestly can’t believe there’s going to be a TV show about Percy Jackson with all the details and different seasons for each book?? This is a reader’s dream.🥺 Along with the rest of the Percy Jackson fanbase, I’ve been properly freaking out over this news, so naturally I was very excited that May created a book tag about PJO/HoO, because now I have the chance to scream about it on my blog!

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A huge thank you to May (the creator), Lily, and Rhi for tagging me to take part in this- I adore all three of them both as humans and as bloggers, so if you haven’t already checked out their content before, I can assure you that you most definitely want to. I’m very appreciative of their tagging me, and I really just am so excited to participate!

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