The Reading Rush Wrap-Up


The Reading Rush is over! I managed to read 8 books in 6 days, which is rather odd as it was meant to be 7 books in 7 days, but.. yeah, welcome to my brain. Though I'm still too awkward and self conscious to join in with the photo challenges and Twitter sprints, I did have a lot of fun challenging myself to read more than I normally would. The badges on The Reading Rush site being a major bonus!

The Great Alone
by Kristin Hannah
Prompt: Read A Book In The Same Spot
Page Count: 435

Thirteen-year-old Leni Allbright's life gets turned upside down when her father, recently returned from the Vietnam War, announces that they're packing up and moving to Alaska. It is there our story starts. We follow Leni and her parents as they become self efficient and learn how to navigate this new world of living off the land, wolves, and black Winters. I was pretty darn sure this was going to be a 5 star read (check out my 5 Star Book Predictions blog post for the proof) so I chose to kick off the readathon with it. I'm so very disappointed. This wasn't necessarily a bad book, but it definitely warrants a standard 3 star rating. The overall story had promise but I feel as though it ought to of ended at least 5 plot-twists before the end. It. Just. Kept. Going.

The Great Gatsby
by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Prompt: Book You Meant To Read Last Year
Page Count: 182

When Nick moves into the house opposite the notorious Jay Gatsby, he quickly becomes fascinated with the lavish parties that take place each night. From the beautiful people to the endless supply of alcohol. Before long he finds himself taking part in the shenanigans of the great Gatsby, but at what price? I hadn't read this classic prior to this readathon, so I wasn't sure what to expect. I loved it. Daisy was by far my favourite character, and though written rather densely, the overall story kept my attention. I wanted more of the world.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrow 
Prompt: Title With 5 Or More Words
Page Count: 290

The year is 1946 and Juliet Ashton, a 30-something British journalist, is emerging from the war with a desire to write about anything else. After receiving a letter from a resident of Guernsey who has obtained a copy of a book that once belonged to her, she begins to correspond with a multitude of people who live on the island. From there we learn what it was like to live on the Nazi occupied island for 5 long years. Written in letter format, this is undoubtedly a marmite book. The story interested me, as I hadn't heard of Guernsey's side of the war. But the first half of this novel dragged beyond belief. The characters were all a little too familiar and I felt that some letters were just not needed. The last half, however, put a constant smile on my face. The writing became witty, which may be down to Annie Barrow taking over after her aunt became too unwell to finish the novel alone. All in all, I enjoyed it but you have to have patience. I'm looking forward to watching the movie adaption!

The Perks Of Being A Wallflower
by Stephen Chbosky
Prompt: Read and Watch a Book To Movie Adaption 
Page Count: 213

When Charlie begins high school, he's riddled with fear. After the death of his Aunt Helen, otherwise known as his best friend, his life has been on a dark path. He's unseen. A coming-of-age story filled with troubles, passion, and self discovery. This is my favourite book of all time. I've read it multiple times, and it has not yet faltered in touching my heart. I was a wallflower, probably still am. Though  Charlie's situation is not something I can relate to, I do think that if an introvert, we will all find a piece of ourselves in him. This was the first book that made me feel not so alone, and that is priceless.

The Travelling Cat Chronicles
by Hiro Arikawa
Prompt: Debut Novel
Page Count: 224

This a beautiful story of man and cat as they travel across Japan to visit people from the man's past. I went into this book expecting a few laughs (it's mostly written from the cat's POV) and heartbreak. I got both, but I also got a 5 star read that I would recommend to near enough anyone. This isn't a fictional travel memoir, which the synopsis made it seem. It's a book with heart and though I think you'd get more from this book by being a cat lover, it is also filled to the brim with wonderfully written characters who each hold up on their own.

84, Charing Cross Road
by Helene Hanff
Prompt: Purple On The Cover
Page Count: 114 

A collection of correspondence in the wake of the war between a New York woman and a used book store worker in London. My husband read this sometime last year and has since urged me to give it a whirl, and I'm really glad I did. This is a blimp of a book, but it truly packs some wit that I did not expect. I find it difficult to go into an in depth review of anything non-fiction, so I'm going to make this snappy. If you enjoy discussions on books, WW11 tidbits, or books of letters, then I would wholeheartedly recommend this. It's dry but isn't that the best kind of wit?

Station Eleven
by Emily St. John Mandel 
Prompt: Debut Author
Page Count: 378

In the aftermath of a flu that wiped out most of the world, a group of survivors travel around America putting on Shakespeare plays. But when a few of them go missing, they begin to expect that they aren't as alone after all. I messed up royally on this one, I accidentally got my titles confused and initially read this for 'Debut Novel' not realising that I intended it as a back up for 'Book I Meant To Read Last Year'. Regretfully, it didn't work for any other prompt so I had to make-do and admit defeat in reading this for nought. Alas, it was a fairly good read though didn't quite live up to the hype I've seen around it. It had a good mix of characters, but I often wished to stay with the 'before' characters more than the survivors.

Chi's Sweet Home: Volume 1
by Kanata-Konami
Prompt: Read a Book From a Non-Human Perspective
Page Count: 168

Thank fudge for manga's. After my mishap written above, I was in full blown panic. So I grabbed the shortest thing I could possibly pick up that was on my TBR. Enter in: Chi. Again, this as a suggestion of my husband's as he's big into anything that resembles Japanese entertainment and cats. I however, was reluctant. Bar my Buffy the Vampire Slayer graphic novels, I hadn't really read anything in this  field of books. But, ya know, cats. This was an adorable read that made me want to continue with the series. Each scene reminded me of one of my cats, so I was that annoying person saying "That's Bruno!", "That's Lea!", That's Dresden!" repeatedly.

So there we have it. Now onto the N.E.W.T.s! If you have no idea what this is, click HERE to watch all about this Harry Potter readathon. I may write up a TBR, but it seems rather unlikely. I'll instead post it on my Bookstagram at @BranchingPages

What book would you urge me to pick up next? Let me know!

The Reading Rush 2019 | TBR + Recommendations


The Reading Rush (once known as The Booktubeathon) is a week long annual readathon that the booktube community takes part in. This year they revamped the entire thing and made it all smancy with a website that has a more interactive feel with profiles, badges, and personal goals. Fun! Go have a look and add me on RootingBranches. If you're seeking more information check out the video explaining it all HERE. The readathon is taking place July 22nd - July 28th! Without further ado, this is my TBR complete with other suggestions in case you're here for some inspiration! I've linked each title with it's Goodreads page to make it easier for you.

Side-note: I'm a mood reader, so I've given myself back-up options. I advise you do the same, there is nothing worse than having to read something that you really aren't feeling.

1. Read a book with purple on the cover.
My Pick: My Lovely Wife In The Psych Ward by Mark Lukach
This non-fiction read has been sitting on my TBR for a few months so I'm really excited about finally picking it up. Why does non-fiction always seem to take a backseat to fiction? This is the memoir of a man as he deals with the breakdowns his wife experiences, leading up to her being committed. I've read a lot of books about mental health, but never from the POV of the person in the background of someone else's story. So that alone compelled me to buy it.

Back-Up: A Series Of Unfortunate Events: The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket

Recommendation: Matilda by Roald Dahl (Most covers I see online have purple on them)

2. Read a book in the same spot for the entire time.
My Pick: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott. Fitzgerald
I've never read this classic story of rich men, dazzling women, and a world that rivals that of Crazy Rich Asians. I think, I'm not really sure. I've somehow completely been unspoiled for this book, I'm unsure what it's actually about. I ought to be ashamed of that, but instead I'm quite excited to give it a read.

Back-Up: She Felt Like Feeling Nothing by r.h. Sin

Recommendation: Evidence of the Affair by Taylor Jenkins Reid (currently free on Amazon Kindle/as a audiobook!)

3. Read a book you meant to read last year.
My Pick: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
If you read my blog on a regular basis (which *flattered, awkward, shy* thanks, I mean, yeah, you're great, super cool, thanks, again.) then you'll know that this has been on my TBR for way too long. Kristin Hannah is one of my favourite authors and this is her latest release, which I already know I'm going to love. This is a coming-of-age story about a young girl as her father comes home changed from the Vietnam War, and moves them across the country to Alaska. There her family tries to keep from falling apart.

Back-Up: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Recommendation: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

4. Read an author's first book.
My Pick: Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healy 
This was a total cover buy, but after hearing so many positive things about it, it's been bumped up my TBR list. A story about a seventy-year-old woman with Alzheimer's as she tries to solve the mystery of her best friend's disappearance. This has been described as a book with a heart, so though it's a little bit big for a readathon, I'm taking the plunge and choosing it.

Back-Up: My Squirrel Days by Ellie Kemper

Recommendation: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

5. Read a book with a non-human main character.
My Pick: The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa
This prompt stumped me. I automatically assumed I'd have to read a fantasy and got intimated by the 500 plus page reads I have on my TBR. Then I came to my senses and saw what was right in front of my eyes - many cat related books. I settled on this tale of a companionship between man and cat, as they journey across Japan together. It's written from the cats perspective which fits the prompt perfectly. This seems like a quick read, hilarious, and is likely to end leaving me happy or devastated. I'm probably going to cry, and I'm okay with that.

Back-Up: Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne

Recommendation: And The Ocean Was Our Sky by Patrick Ness

6. Pick a book that has five or more words in the title.
My Pick: A Stranger In The House by Shari Lapena
I like variety during a readathon, so a thriller was a must. They're fast paced, entertaining, and usually at the very least enjoyable. The only thing I know about this book is that it involves a wife who loses her memory after an accident of sorts. I try to go into thriller/mysteries blind as the synopsis can sometimes give too much away.

Back-Up: The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom

Recommendation: The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice Of A Thirteen-Year-Old Boy With Autism by Naoki Higashida

7. Read and watch a book to movie adaptation.
My Pick: The Perks Of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
I've been wanting to reread my favourite book for a while now, so this is perfect! Charlie is a high school student who is shy, introverted, and socially awkward. In today's society, he would have anxiety. When he falls into a friendship group of wallflowers, he starts to open up about himself. My husband hasn't watched the movie yet, so we're going to do a double feature with whichever book he decides to do for this prompt. Be sure to have a nosy at his TBR over on SomewhatNerdy.

Back-Up: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer

Recommendation: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

B O N U S (multi-purpose books)

The Perks Of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

  • Read in the same spot
  • Authors first book
  • Over 5 words
  • Book to movie
Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone by J. K. Rowling
  • Purple on the cover
  • Read in the same spot
  • Authors first book
  • Non-human main character
  • Five or more words in the title
  • Book to movie
Carrie by Stephan King
  • Purple on the cover
  • Read in the same spot
  • Authors first book
  • Book to movie
Have any other multi-usable book suggestions? Leave them below!

Are you taking part in The Reading Rush? Let's support each other! Tweet me at @RootingBranches or get in touch through my Bookstagram @BranchingPages where I'll be updating my process throughout the week.

Keep reading,

May & June Book Wrap-Up


Hello there! This is long overdue. I went home for the month of May and came back to the US late June, so I really didn't get much reading done which made writing up a wrap-up seem rather pointless. Then time ran away from me and June's got pushed back. So, we have a duo wrap-up! Yay! Here are all the books I read in the months of May and June.

by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman 

“...and I realize that this is the true core of human nature: When we've lost the strength to save ourselves, we somehow find the strength to save each other.” 

When the California drought escalates to catastrophic proportions, one teen is forced to make life and death decisions for her family in this harrowing story of survival. This is a realistic dystopian YA novel, that makes you really thirsty. It was.. okay. A little meh. Not to give any spoilers, I just found the outcome rather pointless and made the whole reading experience not worth it. If you want an easy read that isn't very light-hearted, pick this up. Just don't expect anything overly interesting.

Rating: ★★

Maybe In Another Life
by Taylor Jenkins Reid

“Life is long and full of an infinite number of decisions. I have to think that the small ones don’t matter, that I’ll end up where I need to end up no matter what I do.” 

When twenty-nine-year-old Hannah is faced with the decision of whether to go home with her best friend or her ex boyfriend Ethan, we follow both courses that her life could've taken. In concurrent storylines, she lives out her days in these parallel universes. In one, her and Ethan decide to make another go of their relationship. In the other, her life is completely flipped upside down, but is it for the better? Is there any Taylor Jenkins Reid book that I don't love? No, no there isn't. This is a refreshing idea for a book and as always, I loved her storytelling. The characters were great, I cried, I smiled, and I had a constant cinnamon roll craving thanks to Hannah's love of them. The only thing that lowered this from a 5 star read was the sometimes repetitive scenes that took place in both timelines, which became a little annoying. Otherwise, it was perfect. And I'm probably reaching for something to criticise it for as I can't just give Taylor Jenkins Reid books constant praise.. or can I?

Rating: ★★★★

Skyward (Skyward #1)
by Brandon Sanderson

“You get to choose who you are. Legacy, memories of the past, can serve us well. But we cannot let them define us. When heritage becomes a box instead of an inspiration, it has gone too far.” 

Spensa is a teenage girl living among the remnants of the human race, trapped on a planet that is constantly attacked by mysterious aliens. Training to become a pilot in the shadow of her father's past, she pledges to be the woman she wants to be - going down fighting. So when she finds the wreckage of an ancient ship, she wants to fix it up - if she can while navigating her new life in flight school - and reach the stars. But the ship is like nothing she has ever known, it has a soul. This was the first YA Brandon Sanderson book I picked up, so I wasn't sure what to expect. I liked the book, the characters were humorous and the story had a classic Brandon Sanderson feel. But there were some aspects that felt unnecessarily classic YA. Random romances that didn't need to be there and some dialogue that read cheesy. Nevertheless, I found it enjoyable and I will be picking up the sequel.

Rating: ★★★★

Evidence Of The Affair
by Taylor Jenkins Reid

“It seems as if you see me exactly as I wish to be seen. There is no greater gift than that.” 

Through the form of letters, this is a short story revolved around a man and woman as they come to terms with the knowledge that their mutual marital spouses are having an affair. I never knew such a short book (a mere 115 kindle pages) could pack such a punch of emotions. This was beautiful, so beautiful. I found myself crying and aching for the characters as they talk about the loss of their marriages and find peace through their newly discovered friendship. If you like anything Taylor Jenkins Reid has written, pick this up.

Rating: ★★★★★

by Leïla Slimani

"The baby is dead. It took only a few seconds."

Translated by Sam Taylor, this French to English thriller was for sure... interesting. Louise, a forty-something woman, is hired to be the nanny to Myriam's two children. She appears to be kind, quiet, and the all round perfect edition to the household. She is quickly viewed as a part of the family - going on vacation with them, joining in at dinner parties, staying overnight. But things begin to change when lines are crossed and dependency is beginning to define the relationship between parents and nanny. I was expecting a twisted story that would play on my mind, but I was instead given a weird and meh book. I kept waiting for something to happen, for something to snap, but it just didn't. We ended the book with pretty much the same feelings after the prologue. The cover is pretty though, so yay.

Rating: ★★

Normal People 
by Sally Rooney

“Marianne had the sense that her real life was happening somewhere very far away, happening without her, and she didn't know if she would ever find out where it was or become part of it.” 

Told during their high school and college days, Connell and Marianne are the most unlikely of couples. In high school he's the popular guy and she's the intense 'weird' girl (think 'She's All That'). But when they some into contact, they release that they have a connection unlike anything they've yet to experience. Skip forward a few months, and their roles have switched in university. She's now the popular attractive girl and he's the lost student. This book seems to be a love or hate it situation, I've read such varying reviews. I personally loved it. It was devastating, the story was sad and I do think that's why so many people hated it. You have to be prepared to get your heart shattered. I initially gave this a 4 star rating, but the longer it sat with me, I couldn't get the characters out of my mind. So, I pumped this to a sparkling 5 star rating.

Rating: ★★★★★

by Stephenie Meyer

“I like the night. Without the dark, we'd never see the stars.” 

Edward is a perfect vampire, so when he meets a clumsy human called Bella who smells like a perfect meal, how can he resist? But can they survive an evil vampire trying to kill the first woman he has ever loved? A dad with a shotgun? A werewolf child who gets paid by his dad to turn up at their first prom together? He doesn't know, but he does know that a lion will not give up on his lamb. I chose to reread this for the Popsugar Reading Challenge prompt 'Read a book that makes you nostalgic', and you know what? I still enjoyed it. It's terrible but great. I don't think you can ever hate something that you once loved so much. Granted, I would've once given this a 5 star rating and it's now lessened to a 3 star, but it's Twilight. There's a part of me -and I didn’t know how potent that part might be- that will always partly be a Twihard.

Rating: ★★★

What books are you hoping to pick up this Summer?

Dreamcasting Books | Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid


Whenever I finish a book that I enjoyed, I instantly imagine who would play each character if a movie or mini series was to ever be made. My husband does the same. We were recently discussing this and I suggested we do a few posts where we dreamcast some of our favourite books. He said 'let's do it!" and here we are. My first book of choice is a newly favourited book by Taylor Jenkins Reid, 'Daisy Jones & The Six'.

If you want to read my fangirl review of the novel click HERE, if not, then enjoy the following post.

Age: 19-28
Description: Skinny, tall, full lips, copper hair, blue eyes, high cheekbones.
Dream Casting: Troian Bellisario

The story revolves around Daisy so her casting would be a critical decision. We not only need someone who fits the criteria of being absolutely gorgeous, but we need someone who can own both her sexuality and give a convincing performance during Daisy's low points. Bonus points for choosing an actress who has that raspy singing voice that Daisy becomes known for. My vote would 110% be Troian Bellisario. 

Mostly known for Pretty Little Lies and appearing on a fair few Indie projects, her acting ability is beyond her years. She can appear both full of youth and as a wounded soul, which sums up Daisy's story pretty perfectly. The copper hair and blue eyes would be needed to be done with a dye job and some contacts, but otherwise I think she could fill the role phenomenally.  And as demonstrated on her Instagram (@sleepinthegardn) she has a soft spot for the time periods that Daisy Jones & The Six is set in, which would undoubtedly help her get into the spirit.

Age: 22-32
Description: Dark hair, dark eyes, high cheekbones.
Dream Casting: Robert Pattinson

Billy Dunne is our main man. Described as the sex symbol of the band, he is both the eye candy and main singer of The Six. His story is as rough as Daisy's. When we're introduced to his character, his band is slowly growing in the music industry meaning that drugs and alcohol become second nature to his lifestyle. Think Bradly Cooper's character in A Star is Born. He has addictions, a tough role in the way of feeling like he carries the band, So again, that opens us up to the question of 'who can both sing and act in such a heavy role? 

I was reluctant to put Robert Pattinson as my pick as I know people either love or hate him. But if you have only ever seen him in Twilight and are judging him on that, then you don't get a vote. He fits the bill to play Billy, so I'm doing it. Edward Robert is my pick. He can sing, he's handsome in the way that Billy is described, and he has a good acting range. If he was cast in this role, I really wouldn't second guess it. 

Age: 21-30
Description: Broad shoulders, dusty brown hair, handsome but still a little rough around the edges.
Dream Casting: Johnathan Jackson

I know Jonathan Jackson from Nashville, and he has always impressed me with his portrayal of the character he plays. In retrospect, his character is fairly similar to Graham. He's an overly confident young man who sometimes doesn't think about his actions. He messes up relationships with women and blames everything except himself. Yet once he meets the right woman, he tries to change his ways. He grows on your heart. So I may be semi cheating with this pick as he has already played a Graham role for me, but if you aren't familiar with Jonathan Jackson, what do you think about his look for Graham?

Description: Graham says she looks like Ali MacGraw, I'm 99.9% sure that there aren't any other descriptions throughout the novel. Comment down below if I'm mistaken!
Dream Casting: Olivia Cooke

Karen becomes the guitarist of The Six near the beginning of the story. Her and Graham dabble in a romantic relationship, but that isn't what defines her character, which I loved. She's reluctant to give into her sexual side as her previous work in bands always led to her being asked out/hit on. But as the book goes on, she embraces her female side due to Daisy's presence. In my mind, I imagined her baby-faced, petite, but with a tomboy side. I think Olivia Cooke suits Karen's role perfectly, and she gives off the indie vibe that Karen needs.

Age: N/M
Description: Gorgeous girl. Long brown hair, down to her waist, and big brown eyes. Short. 
Dream Casting: Anna Kenrick

Camila is easily one of my favourite characters of the book. She doesn't fall into the 'jealous girlfriend' trope which I appreciated. Partner to Billy, she doesn't involve herself in the music scene but travels with Daisy & The Six when they go on tour. She's kind, mature, and someone you would want to befriend in real life. Anna Kenrick has always been likeable no matter the role - looking at you Jessica (her character from Twilight) - so  I think she'd suit Camila's character.

Age: N/M
Description: British, real tall, fat guy in a suit,  a face only a mother could love.
Dream Casting: Hugh Laurie

For this casting, I'm ignoring a lot of the description. Not only couldn't I think of anyone, but I don't particularly enjoy picking someone based on those descriptors. Teddy is the agent guy throughout most of this book. He's the guy keeping everyone together. The wise guy people go to. My husband suggested Hugh Laurie and now I can't get him out of my head for the role. If they want to make his character unhealthy, make him eat greasy food and smoke a lot. Hugh has the charisma to bring the role of Teddy to life. 

There are so many other characters to this book, but to prevent this post from becoming overwritten, I'm going to stop here. As mentioned above, this was in collaboration with my husband @BilliamSWN so be sure to go check out his post where he dreamcasted Less by Andrew Sean Greer over on SomewhatNerdy.

If you got to choose which book was next turned into a movie, which would you choose?



My husband's aunt recently offered us some carrot hummus during a visit and it was overly delicious. We instantly asked for the recipe and have made it multiple times since. I adore hummus with a side of some pita chips and veggies, both as a snack and a meal. So I thought in the case of you having similar taste, I'd share the recipe. Thank you to Debbie for sharing with us, and thus me with you.

  • 1 lbs boiled carrots (I use an average bag)
  • 2 tsp harrisa paste
  • 2 tsp white wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp honey (could substitute to make vegan)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of kosher salt (to taste)

Peel and boil your carrots until fork tender.

Add all your ingredients to a blender, and blend to your desired texture.*

S T O R E  T I M E
Keep refrigerated for up to 4 days.

*Alternatively you could use a hand masher and mix well with a fork.


  • 1 wholewheat pita bread per person, cut into triangles
  • Pinch of kosher salt
Preheat your oven to Gas Mark 5/350°F.

Spread your triangles evenly on a baking tray, bake for 10 minutes, turning the chips after 5 minutes.

What's your favourite snack that doubles as a light lunch? 

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