Reader Problems Book Tag

I struggled to come up with ideas for blog posts that were not book reviews. I usually do book tags on my Books Amino app, but I recently discovered that typing on my computer is much more comfortable than typing on my phone. Plus, book tags are fun in general.

I saw Heather on the YouTube channel Bookables do this tag, the Reader Problems Book Tag, and decided to make my own contribution.

  1. You have 20,000 books (!!!) on your TBR. How do you decide what to read next?

There are books on my TBR that I have owned for a long time that I need to read. I have started series, am currently in the middle of series, and have series I need to finish. Many I owned for years, some I even love. Yet, somehow, I haven’t gotten around to reading them.

I determine priority by how much I want to read the books. I order them by my favorites, and then go from there. Sometimes, though, it also depends on my mood. Such as, if I’m reading a lot of fantasy, I tend to pick up another genre: contemporary, mystery, or historical fiction. Whatever book on my shelves is calling to me the loudest.

  1. You’re halfway through a book and you’re just not loving it. Do you quit or push through?

It seriously depends on what I’m feeling. When I read Traitor Angels by Anne Blankman, there were a few times I debated DNF-ing it. In the end, I pushed through and it was worth it. However, if I absolutely hate it, I will give up. I’m not going to waste my time.

  1. The end of the year is coming and you are so close but so far from your Goodreads goal. How do you catch up or do you not?

I did not meet my reading goal for 2016. When it became obvious I was not going to reach the end, I no longer cared. By then, I had hit an epic reading slump and decided to roll with it. I quit the reading challenge altogether. I felt free.

I did not set a goal for 2017, deciding that doing a Goodreads Reading Goal every year only adds unnecessary pressure to reading. Now, I can read what I want, watch Netflix or YouTube without feeling guilty, and the pressure to meet a deadline is off.

  1. The covers of a series you love do not match. How do you cope?

I honestly don’t care too much about book covers, unless it is truly ugly. I own several series where the covers don’t match, and they are even in various paperbacks or hardcovers. It does not bother me at all.

  1. Everyone and their mother love a book you don’t like. Where do you go to bond over shared feelings?

Usually Goodreads or my Books Amino app. Chances are, there will be someone there that feels the same way I do.

  1. You’re reading a book in public and you’re about to cry. How do you cope?

Close the book, put it back inside my bag, and pull out my phone to listen to music, if I am en route to work. If I am already at work, I close the book and put it back in my bag and find something to do. After that, I wait until I get home to keep reading within the privacy of my bedroom.

  1. A sequel to a book you love came out, but you forgot what happened in the last book. Do you reread the first book, look up the summary, or skip the sequel, etc.?

Since so many of the books on my TBR are sequels where the first books I read a while ago, I have thought about this often. But I have come to the conclusion I can read a synopsis online for a refresher, rather than reread the first book(s). If not, I just start reading the sequel anyway; something will jog my memory about what happened in the previous books.

  1. You do not want ANYONE to borrow your books. How do you politely tell them no?

I’m too much of a pushover to say “no” outright. I usually come up with an excuse about why I can’t lend them the book. However, if a really good friend asks me (which is rare, since none of them are readers like me), I don’t have a problem saying no. I once told my best friend: “I trust you with my life, not my books.”

  1. Reading ADD: you have picked up and put down 5 books. How do you get out of your reading slump?

Lately, whenever I get into a reading slump, I just roll with it. This usually happens when life gets busy. I have learned that I sometimes lose the desire to read and that is OK. I watch all the Netflix and YouTube I want, until I eventually get bored with it and decide to pick up a book again. This lasts for two or three weeks, at most.

However, if it has been too long, then I pick up a contemporary novel. Something light and fluffy or maybe a fast-paced mystery novel, like a James Patterson book. I get back into the swing of reading and everything is fine.

  1. There are so many new books coming out. How many do you actually buy?

I buy too many books, sometimes spending more money than I should. Before, I rarely had any regrets, because I always bought books I was genuinely excited to own and read.

But since I am now a poor college graduate currently working in a store that is about to close in two months, I am more selective about which ones I buy. If it is part of a series I love or an auto-buy author, then I will spend the money. On the flip side, if it is an author I have never heard of or it’s a brand-new release by a brand-new author, then I will see if it is available through my local library.

  1. After you bought your new books, how long do they sit on your shelf before you start reading them?

Again, it depends on my reading moods. Sometimes, new books sit on my shelves for months before I pick them up. Other times, I pick them up right away, like I did with Milk and Honey recently and whenever a new Saga graphic novel comes out. I try to get my older priority books out of the way before I move on to my new additions.

That was the Reader Problems Book Tag! What would be your answers to any of these questions? Let me know in the comments.

January 2017 Wrap Up

I read a total of five books in January. That’s pretty good after weeks of barely reading anything. Taking off monthly TBRs has allowed me to read whatever I want, while still crossing off the priority books on my list. Plus, I met my goal of reviewing at least three of the books I read this month. I hope to continue with this trend for the rest of the year.

This month, I read:

 

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

3.5 stars

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All the Bright Places was my first book review of 2017. I have owned this book for a while and had heard mixed things about it. Some people loved it and said it changed their lives. Others said it was OK, but the portrayal of mental illness was an issue. I fall into the latter category.

When I first picked up All the Bright Places, I was just coming off my epic reading slump from December. I needed a contemporary to help me get back into the swing of reading. That is exactly what this book did. I flew through it in a few days and I really enjoyed it. However, there were some issues with it, which I go into further detail about in my review, if you are interested.

Link: https://jillianthebookishbutterflyblog.wordpress.com/2017/01/10/review-of-all-the-bright-places-by-jennifer-niven-spoiler-free/

 

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

4 stars

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Milk and Honey is a recent book purchase; I went on a spending spree in honor of my 24th birthday this month. I had heard so many great things about this poetry collection, but I didn’t intend on picking it up right away. However, the book I was currently reading at the time was slow. Milk and Honey was simply calling to me from its new home on my bookshelf.

I have a full review on this book, too. Since it’s a poetry book, you can’t really have spoilers. To sum it up, I enjoyed Milk and Honey very much and found it an interesting read, except I was not blown away by it like so many others. I determined it was because of my own personal experiences, particularly my relationship with members of the opposite sex, is why I did not feel so connected to the content.

Still, I would recommend both women and men read Milk and Honey. Something can be gained for both of the sexes reading this book.

 Link: https://jillianthebookishbutterflyblog.wordpress.com/2017/01/15/review-of-milk-and-honey-by-rupi-kaur/

 

Traitor Angels by Anne Blankman

4 stars

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This is one of the books on my TBR I was really looking forward to. It’s a historical fiction young adult novel about Elizabeth Milton, the daughter of poet John Milton, who teams up with a handsome Italian scientist to unlock a secret hidden within her father’s poem, Paradise Lost. It was also the book I took 10 days to read, despite it being roughly 380 pages.

To sum it up, the writing was very good, the characters were great, and the plot was intricate. Despite all this, I considered putting it down several times while reading, because it was so slow. I pushed through and I’m glad I did. The final chapters were packed with action. By no means a disappointing book. I go into more detail in my review.

Link: https://jillianthebookishbutterflyblog.wordpress.com/2017/01/21/review-of-traitor-angels-by-anne-blankman-spoiler-free/

 

The Rose & the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh

5 stars

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I meant to read this at the end of 2016 and, of course, that was an epic fail. Still, I’m glad I finally read it.

The Rose & the Dagger is the sequel to The Wrath & the Dawn, and the last book in the duology. The writing was beautiful and the world building was fantastic. Some of the perspectives I read from were boring, like Shazi’s younger sister Irsa, but I warmed up to her by the end of the book. For most of the book, I wanted to give it 4.5 or 4.75 stars. I found the plot to be lagging at times, but then there were moments that brought me close to tears. If you have read The Rose & the Dagger, you know what scenes I am talking about.

Shazi and Khalid have made it on my list of favorite literary couples. They love so much it hurts. I never thought I would love angsty romance until I read about these two.

 

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

4.5 stars

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The Sun is Also a Star was one of the books in my birthday book haul. Like Milk and Honey, I did not plan on picking this up right away. But YouTube was blowing up with it, praising it and giving it rave reviews, even from reviewers that did not usually read contemporary YA novels. Plus, I read Nicola Yoon’s debut novel, Everything, Everything, last year and I really liked it.

The Sun is Also a Star tells the story of Daniel, a Korean-American, and Natasha, a Jamaican immigrant, and the day they spend together before Natasha and her family are deported. I had heard the story is heavy with insta-love, only it was written in a way that did not make it feel as such.

Daniel and Natasha are both likable protagonists. As two people, they are so different, yet their personalities don’t clash as a couple. He’s a dreamer that helps her find passion in life. She brings him back down to earth to face his problems.

In between Natasha and Daniel’s chapters, there were insights to other people they interacted with as well as what I call “fun fact” sections. Those I had mixed feelings about. Some I enjoyed, like Irene’s chapters. Others I found boring, like the lawyer and his love affair with the paralegal. The ending is what made this book for me, though.

 

What was your favorite book you read in January? Mine was The Rose & the Dagger.

Review of Traitor Angels by Anne Blankman (Spoiler Free)

Traitor Angels is a young adult historical fiction novel set in England, circa 1666. It follows sixteen-year-old Elizabeth Milton, the daughter of literary legend John Milton, the mastermind poet behind Paradise Lost. At the beginning of the novel, she has been helping her father write Paradise Lost, an epic poem depicting the fall of Satan, when the king’s men arrest him. Fearing for her father’s life, she sets out to uncover the secrets hidden within Paradise Lost, with the help of Milton’s houseguest, Antonio Viviandi, an Italian scientist. But what they uncover could rip society as they know it in half.

The whole pacing of this novel was so slow. It picked up with action here and there, but by the middle of the book it was really starting to lag. I had to pick up another book to read to make it feel like it was going faster. However, after finishing Traitor Angels, I realized it was not the action-packed high fantasy novel I was used to, nor was it a modern contemporary where the characters had cellphones, cars, and Google. Every resource these characters had is what was available to people in 1666. So, if you are someone that does not like slow pacing, be wary of that going into this book.

On the flip side, the lovely writing of the novel made up for the slowness. Anne Blankman has a way with words; I found myself rereading passages. She accurately describes England and the religious, as well as social and economical, turmoil it was in under King Charles II. The characters had several debates about religion and science, which was considered “right” and if the two could ever coexist. It was explained in a way that anyone could understand. It made me realize that people of the modern age take for granted the more liberal thinking our society possesses now, whereas in Milton’s time, anyone who dares express a different opinion was considered a heretic.

As a main character, Elizabeth Milton was refreshing. She was neither a hot-tempered badass nor a great beauty. She was pretty, but not devastatingly so, and did not have a lot of opportunity to show it off in the Puritan clothes she typically wore. It was showcased a few times in the novel she knew how to defend herself.

Only Elizabeth’s greatest asset was her brain. She used her head to not only solve the riddle hidden within Paradise Lost, but also to get out of other messy situations. She was strong in her own way: rejecting society’s expectations of her gender and embracing her passion in astronomy and science.

While the developing relationship between Elizabeth and Antonio is a subplot, it does not take away from the main focus of the book. It presents some conflicts, mostly because the two disagree on several topics early on in the novel as well as later, but it is healthy. The two test each other’s thinking. Despite the views of women in the 17th century, Antonio seems to view Elizabeth as his intellectual equal. He teaches her what he knows, rather than insist it is all too complicated for a girl to understand.

Some of the side characters in Traitor Angels were more fleshed out than others. It depended on how large their role was later in the story. Like Elizabeth’s stepmother Betty and her sisters Anne, Mary, and Deborah. They served as Elizabeth’s primary motivation in her quest to free her father. Without Milton’s financial support, though significantly limited, the women would be forced to fend for themselves. In a society where women depended on men for virtually everything, that is devastating.

I will be honest: I almost gave up on this book. As I mentioned before, the writing was beautiful but very slow pacing. It lagged so much and I had trouble dealing with it. Then, I pushed through to the halfway point. I got to the Big Reveal to what the master plot really was. I had to keep reading. It made the last half of the book fly by. In the end, I am so glad I did not give up on finishing this book.

Overall, I give Traitor Angels by Anne Blankman 4 stars. If you like young adult historical fiction, I highly recommend this book. If you are interested in John Milton and Paradise Lost or you like fictionalized retellings about famous authors, I recommend you read Traitor Angels.

 

Review of Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

A book of free verse poetry…not much room for spoilers.

I bought Milk and Honey as a birthday present to myself. I had heard such great things about the poetry and its contribution to the feminist movement. I wanted to get into poetry more in 2017 than I did in 2016. Since I have 110 unread books gathering dust on my shelves, I had no intention of picking Milk and Honey up right away. Except the other book I was currently reading got off on a slow start. Plus Milk and Honey was calling to me from its spot on my bookshelf, refusing to be ignored.

As it turns out, Milk and Honey did not blow me away like it has so many other people. The writing was lovely, melodious, and the poetry touched on some important issues, such as sexual abuse and toxic relationships. I also enjoyed the drawings that accompanied several of the poems.

The poetry within Milk and Honey is divided into four parts: the hurting, the loving, the breaking, and the healing. Of these four, the loving was my favorite, with the healing coming in second.

The first section of the collection, the hurting, did its job: it hit me in the feels. This was the section that talked most about the abuse many women face in their lifetime at the hands of men. That our patriarchal society teaches girls they only serve to pleasure men with their bodies. However, when I thought about it later, something did not sit well. Maybe it was only me that noticed, but sometimes the poetry felt like the writer was lumping all men in the same category. That all men are abusive and all men treat women like sex objects. I think of my closest male friends, who would sooner chop off their own hand before they hit a girl. Then again, I also have a healthy relationship with my father, so perhaps that could somehow impact my view of men.

The next section of Milk and Honey, the loving, was, as I said earlier, my favorite in this poetry collection. I enjoyed every single poem. Some were longer than others, yet I read it all in one sitting. It described romantic relationships between the sexes perfectly. The passion one feels for another person, even if the other person might not be their ideal partner. The problems encountered within the relationship, as well as how both individuals help, or hurt, the other. How some relationships, regardless of how well they started out, fail in the end no matter how hard the people involved try to keep it together. And that, sooner or later, the lovers must give up and move on.

The breaking, which is the next section of Milk and Honey, was my least favorite. It was slower than the others in terms of pacing. I felt like it dragged on. However, what I did appreciate about some of the poems in this section was that the writer acknowledges that both partners hurt each other in the relationship. People have a tendency to blame everything that went wrong in their relationship on their ex, but it takes two to tango. That’s the whole point of an equal relationship.

The last section of Milk and Honey is the healing. What I loved most about the poems is that the writer encouraged self-love. The only way to find happiness in a relationship is to find happiness within yourself first. You must learn to love yourself before anyone else can love you. I also appreciated how she found her own healing through her writing, whereas the unfortunate trend in novels is the individual healing through a new romantic relationship. While that can work out in some situations, the best way to heal, as the writer points out, is to heal yourself and not let someone else do it for you.

Overall, I give Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur 4 stars. A truly great poetry collection that I think women and men should read. Women would be encouraged to embrace themselves for who they are and men would develop a deeper appreciation for the opposite sex. I highly recommend this.

Review of All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven (Spoiler Free)

My first book review of 2017!

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven is the first book I read in 2017. I hit a huge reading slump in the middle of December, right before Christmas, and I wanted to start the New Year off with something contemporary, as well as a book I have put on hold for a while. I’ve owned this book since summer of 2015 and it was a young adult novel everyone raves about. I figured it was a good place to start.

All the Bright Places is told in dual perspective of Theodore Finch, commonly known as Finch, and Violet Markley, two high school seniors in Indiana. Finch is the class “freak.” Violet is a popular girl who recently lost her older sister in a car accident. The two could not be more different. But when he saves her from nearly falling from the school bell tower, their lives start to change—one for the better, the other for the worst.

I started this book thinking it was the author’s first novel. However, All the Bright Places is Jennifer Niven’s young adult debut. Regardless, her writing is very good. She describes various places in Indiana her characters travel to with vivid imagery. She describes a realistic image of high school life and how awful students can be to each other. She reminds the audience, as well as Finch and Violet, that no one is perfect and everyone has problems they must deal with. Yet, at the same time, I felt disconnected from the characters. I liked them and I could sympathize with them, only I could not feel all of what they were feeling.

I liked both Finch and Violet in equal measures. Between the two of them, though, I was rooting for Finch. It was troubling watching him succumb to his own demons while he helped Violet recover from her grief. Violet, at least, had the love and support of her parents. Finch’s family was dysfunctional and they were not there for him like they should have been.

As for the side characters, they were meant to move the plot along rather than be actual characters. Such as, Violet’s parents: at one point in the novel, they disapprove of her relationship with Finch, causing her to sneak around with him, even though they were fine with him to begin with.

My main issue with this book is the portrayal of mental illness. It felt more dramatic than I imagine it would be in real life. A lot of the things that happened I felt were exaggerated for the sake of the story. I also thought the novel could have ended a lot quicker than it did, maybe cut off a few pages.

Overall, I give All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven 3.5 stars. I enjoyed reading it, though I was not blown away by it. This is a book, I think, that would translate well into a film.

20 Underrated Books I Want to Read in 2017

Everywhere you look, you see people blogging or filming about the popular books they haven’t read yet. I have my own list, one I posted on Books Amino (as jillianbutterfly21), and I can do one here if you want to see it. However, for this post, I’m writing about books that you don’t see often on blogs or Booktube or Instagram. The ones that flew under the radar I want to read.

 

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston

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This book got some buzz when it first came out March of 2015, but not the kind of attention A Court of Mist and Fury or Harry Potter and the Cursed Child got. Although, given the content of the book, I feel it should get more recognition.

Based on William Shakespeare’s lesser-known play, The Winter’s Tale, Exit, Pursued by a Bear is the story of Hermione Winters, a popular high school cheerleader who is raped at cheerleading camp and becomes pregnant as a result. Only she refuses to be someone’s cautionary tale.

From what I have heard of this book, it is more about friendship, as Hermione’s primary support system is her best friend Polly. It is supposed to be an empowering read, about finding strength within oneself. Of all the books on this list, Exit, Pursued by a Bear is the one I am making sure I read first.

 

The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley

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Set in Cornwall, an English seaside town, Eva Ward travels to the house she spent her summers as a child to spread her sister’s ashes. She goes to stay with family friends while visiting, except her friends are not the only ones living in that house. Eva starts travelling between present time and 100 years before, where she falls in love with a dashing stranger. But can she really live in two different worlds?

I saw this in my local library and meant to add it to my TBR pile. Then, Sasha Alsberg mentioned it on her YouTube channel. Not surprising, considering the story is reminiscent of Outlander. I liked Outlander, didn’t fall in love with it, and I haven’t seen the TV show yet. Still, I think there is a chance I will like The Rose Garden as well.

 

Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse

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I’m surprised Girl in the Blue Coat hasn’t gotten a lot of attention, especially given the popularity of WWII books thanks to Ruta Sepetys and Marcus Zusak.

Set in Amsterdam circa 1943, the story follows Hanneke, a young Dutch woman, who works in the black market as a way to support her family as well as rebel against the Nazis after her boyfriend is killed at the front. Then, a client makes a shocking request: she asks Hanneke to find a Jewish teenaged girl she’s been hiding in her attic that disappeared without a trace.

I had checked out Girl in the Blue Coat from the library months ago, but I haven’t gotten around to it again yet. Although, since January is my birthday month, and I think I might really like this book, I kind of want to buy it.

 

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

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I had heard of this book years ago and I saw it again on a video by Thoughts on Tomes. According to her, it is a loose retelling of Hades and Persephone, although it does not stay true to certain elements of the original story.

From the synopsis, a stranger kidnaps a teenaged girl in a cornfield and two brothers try to find her, it does sound like Hades and Persephone. But there are also mentions that other people in the same town, Bone Gap, have gone missing and that strange things have happened over the years. To me, that sounds a lot like magical realism, which reminds me of The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton. However, also considering the fact that the other townspeople’s lives play a role, reminds me an awful lot like Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone, a book I was excited for but was disappointed by. Regardless, I’m still curious to read Bone Gap.

 

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

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From what I heard about Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer, it takes inspiration from The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. I read The Bell Jar two years ago and I loved it.

This novel, Belzhar, is supposed to be about a teenaged girl, still reeling from the untimely death of her boyfriend, who is sent to a therapy camp in Vermont to deal with her grief. While there, she becomes fascinated with the works of Sylvia Plath. But she also becomes more consumed by her memories and grief than ever. Except now she has to move on—if she can face the truth.

I have wanted to read this book for over two years and came close to buying it several times. I almost bought a YA Quarterly Literary Box because it had this book in it (I was interested in the other books in the box, too, of course). I still want to buy it, but given my local library is five minutes away from me, I think we all know what the better option is.

 

Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman

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Vengeance Road is a young adult Western that came out in 2015. Disguised as a boy, an eighteen-year-old girl goes in search of the man who killed her father, aided by two brothers and an Apache girl.

The only Westerns I watch are Clint Eastwood’s old films and my favorite is one of the more comedic adaptions, Two Mules for Sister Sarah. I don’t lean towards anything so dark in Westerns such as the plot of Vengeance Road. But this is the kind of story you don’t see often in young adult literature, so I want to give it a chance.

 

Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto

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Another Western young adult novel on this list, this one with more magic and steampunk, Revenge and the Wild follows Westie, an inventor’s adopted daughter with a robotic arm, that teams up with her father’s assistant to prove a wealthy family that recently hired the scientist to build wards to protect the city are the same cannibals that killed Westie’s biological family years ago.

Western, a disabled but badass female lead, magic clashing with science, revenge, and cannibals: what more could you want from a book?

 

These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

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After reading Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco, I have developed a weakness for young adult historical fiction mysteries, particularly ones with a strong female protagonist from a wealthy family that rejects society’s expectations of her to pursue her own ambitions. These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly seems to fall into that category.

Jo Montfort, a smart, wealthy heiress about to graduate finishing school, wants to become a reporter at her father’s newspaper rather than be married off to some rich guy. Then, her father suddenly dies after accidentally shooting himself with his own gun. Only Jo knows her dad well enough that he would never do something so dumb. So, she sets out for answers with, of course, the help of a mysterious boy with a few secrets of his own.

I’ve never read anything by Jennifer Donnelly and everything in the plot sounds kind of trope-y. But I need something to hold me over until I get my hands on Hunting Prince Dracula, the sequel to Stalking Jack the Ripper, coming out September 2017.

 

Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit

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Anna and the Swallow Man reminds me a lot of The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. A little girl named Anna living in Poland during WWII, witnesses her father, a professor of languages, be taken by the Nazis. Then, she meets the Swallow Man, a magical being that takes her into the woods and protects her. But even he cannot be trusted in Nazi-occupied Poland.

I checked this book out of the library months ago and I started reading the first few pages. I think I liked what I read. Problem was, I hit a reading slump and I had a pile of library books due back way too soon. I have every intention of picking this book up again, which is why I asked for it for my birthday (if my dad saw I emailed him my Amazon wish list).

 

The Memory Book by Lara Avery

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Another young adult contemporary on the darker side, The Memory Book focuses on Sammie, a teenaged girl with a rare genetic disorder that takes away her memories. She keeps a journal to record all the important moments of each day, as a way to remind her future self all the goods things she can’t remember.

I happened upon this book at my local library and intended to read it (sensing a theme here?). I never got around to it, but I don’t see it anywhere on bookish social media. That is kind of surprising; I figured quite a few people would gravitate towards this kind of topic, considering there is another popular YA novel floating around with a similar plotline isn’t there?

 

Tangled Webs by Lee Bross

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Tangled Webs is set in London, circa 1725. Lady A, aka Arista, is a notorious blackmailer keeping the secrets of London’s rich and powerful. Except she’s only 16 and everything she’s doing, she’s doing under the orders of an abusive guardian. After her guardian tries to hurt her, she teams up with the master thief of London in order to collect enough funds and get herself out of the city for good. But when she meets a new guy that gives her hope, Arista begins to wonder if she can really leave her past behind altogether.

I don’t remember how I found out about this book. But, as with the reason behind These Shallow Graves, I need a good YA historical fiction with a badass female until I get my hands on Hunting Prince Dracula.

 

The Blood Between Us by Zac Brewer

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The Blood Between Us is a YA mystery/thriller novel about Adrien, the adopted son of two scientists that died in a lab fire, who returns home after years away to attend a boarding school where his sister, Grace, is also a student. Though he struggles to reconnect with her, Grace has made it clear she wants nothing to do with the boy her parents took in. Then, Adrien discovers that his sister might know more about their parents’ death than she lets on and to find the truth, he could risk putting himself in danger.

I heard about this book from Emma of emmmabooks on YouTube months ago. She raved about it and how much she liked the author, except I haven’t seen it anywhere else since. This is also one of the books I’m apprehensive about. I’ve learned in recent months that, while the plot can sound absolutely amazing, the book itself could turn out to be a flop.

 

The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee

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One of the few adult novels on this list, The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee is based on historical events. The story centers on Lilliet, a beautiful and talented American-born opera singer living a successful life in Paris. When she is offered the chance of a lifetime, she is shocked to discover that part of the performance is based on something from her own past she desperately wants to conceal. But who would do such a thing to her and what do they want?

I really, really want this book for my birthday. The Queen of the Night has been on my radar for a while now. I know they have it in my local library, but the book is over 500 pages and I want to take my time with it. Both hardcover and paperback editions are pretty, although more so the paperback for its simplicity and the hardcover for its spine. The book also reminds me a lot of a favorite book of mine, The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova, another story inspired by events in French history.

 

Fiendish by Brenna Yovanoff

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Clementine, a girl with magical powers, is trapped inside a cellar for ten years pinned down by willow tree roots. She has no idea who put her there or why, just that everyone in her small town is afraid of her and people like her, the ones with special gifts. When a boy saves her from her prison, Clementine sets out to find who locked her away. Only her search for the truth awakens a dark magic hiding within the town.

I read another book by Brenna Yovanoff, The Space Between, years ago. It’s about the daughter of Lilith and Lucifer who falls in love with a human boy—it is one of my favorite books ever. I want to read all of her other books and Fiendish is the one I plan to start with.

 

Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

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Made You Up is about Alex, an eighteen-year-old girl with schizophrenia, who is struggling to tell the difference between illusion and reality. Aside from her younger sister, the only friend she feels she has ever had is a boy she met when she was eight years old in a supermarket. A boy her mother told her was an illusion. Then, at the start of her senior year, Alex meets Miles, the boy she met all the years ago she thought was made from her imagination.

Another book raved by Emma, I haven’t seen or heard much of this book otherwise. It reminds me a lot of The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter, in that a teenaged girl with a mental illness is trying to get a hold of her life, but being normal after all she’s been through is harder than she thought it would be.

 

Whisper to Me by Nick Lake

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Supposedly written in letter form, Whisper to Me tells the story of Cassie, who is writing to the boy whose heart she broke, trying to explain why she pushed him away as well as what happened to her one fateful summer. That is all I need to know and my brain is already wracking with what could have happened to this girl. There is also a journey of self-discovery, and how love of your family, friends, significant other, and yourself can save you.

Reading the synopsis, it reminds me a lot of Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson and Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. Will I get to this book soon? I don’t know, but I want to.

 

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

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Set in 1987, Tell the Wolves I’m Home is about fourteen-year-old June, whose uncle Finn, an artist that is the only person she felt understood her, dies. She meets a friend of Finn’s named Toby, who helps her through her grief while she helps him through his. But this friendship leads June to question what she knew about her uncle, her family, and even herself.

           Every time I go to Target, I see this book and I always want to buy it, yet I never do. The cover always catches my eye, but I try not to let that be the motivation, no matter how intriguing the plot is. I’ve been disappointed by pretty books before. Thankfully, I can get this out of my local library.

 

The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler

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Young librarian Simon Watson lives alone in his family home, a house on the cliffs overlooking the sea. His parents are both dead—his mother in fact drowned—and his sister ran off to join the circus as a mermaid. Then, he receives an old book from an antique dealer inscribed with his grandmother’s name. With the help of his friend and co-worker, Alice, Simon sets to unravel his family’s hidden history before his sister meets the same fate as their ancestors.

A plot heavy with magical realism, books, and hidden history reminds me a little of The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin or The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton. I gave The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry a 3 star rating, but I think I would have enjoyed it more than I did if I wasn’t in the middle of a reading slump. I think I will enjoy The Book of Speculation, though.

 

Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan

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Daughter of Deep Silence, a young adult thriller about a girl out to get revenge against the people she thinks murdered her loved ones, got some buzz when it first came out. Carrie Ryan, from my understanding, is better known for her other book, The Forest of Hands and Teeth. Of the two, Daughter of Deep Silence interests me the most.

The plot reminds me a lot of Cruel Beauty by Rosamond Hodge, in that the protagonist, Frances, falls in love with the boy she intended to kill in her revenge plot. Only what she thought happened to her best friend and her parents might not be the truth after all. And she has more to lose than she thought she did.

 

Pretending to be Erica by Michelle Painchaud

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Pretending to be Erica is a book with a plot I’m amazed Booktube is not raving about. Violet, the daughter of a notorious Las Vegas crime boss, has spent her whole life becoming Erica Silverman. Erica, an heiress, was abducted at the age of five and never seen again, and Violet’s father plans to turn his daughter into Erica. After years of surgery and blackmail, seventeen-year-old Violet appears to the Silverman family as Erica, complete with totally faked PTSD. But Violet has a mission: steal a legendary painting owned by the Silvermans. The only thing is, can she go through with it?

I don’t want to get my expectations too high for this one. According to Goodreads, the book is only 272 pages. How the author plans to tell a story like this in so few pages, I don’t know. But, thankfully, there is always the library.

 

What underrated books have you read or that you want to read in 2017? Has anyone read the books on this list?