It’s Monday and I’m exhausted

May 22, 2023

The end of semester fatigue is real, and I am not sure when it’s going to end. Like, it has just been a lot and all I want to do is sleep. I was thinking something was wrong with me, but I had a psychiatrist appointment last week, and she pointed out that I’m coming down from all the adrenaline of the semester and moving my daughter back into town so of course I’m exhausted. And then I talked to a few colleagues who said they are feeling the same way. So I’ve decided to stop fighting it and just lean into the exhaustion. Hopefully, it’ll be over before the week is out, and I’ll feel more like a full human before the week is up. Hopefully.

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So, here are the books I’ve read since my last post:

Nic Blake and the Remarkables: The Manifestor Prophecy (Nic Blake and the Remarkables #1)Nic Blake and the Remarkables: The Manifestor Prophecy by Angie Thomas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I listened to the audio of this, narrated by Joniece Abbott-Pratt. Logging the hardcover to get an accurate end of year page count.

I thought this book was stellar. I gasped out loud TWICE because of the plot twists. (I went in without reading the book flap/summary so have no idea if that first twist is part of the marketing or not.) As I have mentioned in other reviews, it is pretty hard for a book to surprise me, and I was–as the youth say–shook.

I loved that one of the (eventual) trio was a preacher’s kid, which brought a different flavor and perspective to dealing with the magical creatures. (“My daddy tells me to take Jesus with me wherever I go” will probably go down as the most underrated but effective quote of the year for me.) I also loved that the book explores being betrayed by the adults in your life who may mean well but are also human and make mistakes–even if it is to try and save your life. Thomas also really digs into the mythos of being a chosen one and what that means, which I really appreciated. My only complaint is that I wish there were more female characters, sigh.

As for the narration, I have mixed feelings. I think it was good overall in terms of the character voices and choices, but I didn’t always love Nic’s narrative voice, which is kind of a problem since the story is in first person. Basically, she sounded like a stuffed up kid who often used upspeak. It was distracting when there were long periods of exposition, but whenever there was a lot of dialogue, I barely noticed. So I would give the narration 3.5-4 stars, but the overall story is pretty close to perfect as far as I’m concerned.

I would highly recommend this to fans of HP and/or Percy Jackson. I wish this book had been around when my daughter was deep in her Percy Jackson/mythology phase.

Big thanks to and Balzer + Bray for the advanced listener copy!

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The Neighbor FavorThe Neighbor Favor by Kristina Forest

DNF @ 149 pages

As the World Turns had a storyline where a baby was switched at birth and at one point, almost every character was lying to one of the mom’s faces because they knew about the switch. So anyway, I quit watching the show because of that, and I quit this book because one of the characters is knowingly lying to the other FOR A VERY STUPID REASON. I can forgive a lot of things in romance but lying to someone’s face being a primary plot point is not one of them.

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The Very Secret Society of Irregular WitchesThe Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was very cute and fun to read on the plane/while traveling. It was exactly the low stress kind of post-semester read I was looking for. I only guessed half of the twist at the end–well, more like 3/4 of it–so big props for that. I loved the found family and the general relationships of all of them, but I would have liked more character development so it felt a little less surface and the characters were more memorable as full people instead of outlines. All in all, though, it was pretty much exactly what I wanted/needed/expected, so it worked for me.

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UpstateUpstate by Kalisha Buckhanon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This has been on my TBR list forever and a day (since 2010!), but I had to finally give it a go once I found out Chadwick Boseman narrates the male character’s sections. So, obviously, I read this one with my earholes.

The biggest compliment I can give this book is that I knew going in that it was about a guy and a girl writing to each other once the guy went to prison; the title of the book is literally UPSTATE; and still, during the part when Antonio was on trial, I said to myself OUT LOUD, “Oh no, this is not going to end well for him.”

The other compliment is that the letters felt like real letters two kids (and eventual adults) would write to each other. A lot of time with books, it’s very clear that the letters are written because it’s a book by the way the information about the characters is divulged. But in this one, it felt very authentic. Buckhanon never over-explains any of the characters or their backstories. Instead, things are revealed in a way that feels organic to the relationship between the characters and the world they inhabit. And, on that note, the world feels fully fleshed out, especially as the reader learns more about both of their families and friends.

As for the audiobook/narration portion, this book is EXCELLENT. First of all, I had to look up where Chadwick Boseman is from because he sounds like my cousins and not like someone from South Carolina. So I would say the accent was pretty accurate. I mean, it was pretty uncanny. The female narrator, Heather Alicia Simms was also excellent. The way she changed her voice to fit the different stages that Natasha was in her life was perfect. She really went from sounding like a high-spirited teenaged girl to a professional woman with gradual shifts in the narration throughout so you could really hear her mature.

All in all, I thought this was phenomenal. I’m a little upset that it took me so long to read it, but I’m also glad I waited because I probably wouldn’t have listened to it if I had read it before.

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Have a great week, everyone!

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