The Grinch Book Tag

This is the first time in years I can say I am not in the Christmas spirit. It’s starting to snow where I live. The tree is up and it’s one of the prettiest my family has ever had. We’ve watched my favorite movies, Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, The Muppets Christmas Carol, and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. One of my friends already sent me a gift. Two days ago, five boxes from Amazon were delivered to my house that my dad says are all presents for me. And he gave me an early gift, as a thank-you for all I’ve done for him and the family these past few months.

I know I deserve it. I earned it. Then, something else happened later that day which turned me completely into a Grinch.

That’s why I think it is so fitting to do Thoughts on Tomes book tag The Grinch Book Tag. Because even Christmas has a dark side.

 

Half the lights on the tree are burnt out: name a book, series, or character that started out good but went downhill.

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A series that went downhill for me was Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead. I pushed myself to finish the series this year because I love the characters. Rose and Lissa have one of the best female friendships in young adult literature. The books were fun to read, albeit too long. It wasn’t horrible, but I think it could have been four books and end up a much better series.

 

Annoying great-aunt Sally that won’t leave you alone: name a book you didn’t enjoy but everyone else seems to love so it never goes away.

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I’m not entirely sure. I would say The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, but no one is really talking about it constantly. However, it might be nice to open Instagram and not see so much Feysand fan art….

 

Your pets keep knocking over the Christmas decorations: name a character that kept messing things up for everyone else and you can’t name a villain.

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My first thought was Clary Fray from The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. There is something really dumb that she did in City of Lost Souls that made me question how much of her brain she really uses. Overall, she does a lot of things on impulse that borderline recklessness.

 

You hear your parents putting out the presents and learn Santa is not real: name a book you were spoiled for.

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I was spoiled for one of the short stories in Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy, but it was my own fault. It was the story that focused on Alec and Magnus, so if you read this anthology you know which one I’m referring to. Actually, to be truthful, knowing this spoiler is what got me to read the anthology, because I wanted to get to that story.

 

It’s freezing outside: name a main character you could not connect with.

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Definitely Brigid Fitzgerald from Woman of God by James Patterson. She was the least interesting heroine Patterson has ever written. There were some truly awful things that happened to her and I literally did not care. Plus, as shocking as this might be, I had a hard time connecting to Feyre from the A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas. My best guess is because she was too much of a “special snowflake” for my taste.

 

Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” is playing on repeat and giving you anti-romantic feelings: name a couple you couldn’t stand.

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Snake and Reggie from Definitions of Indefinable Things by Whitney Taylor. I liked her but could not stand him. She could do better.

 

That scratchy homemade sweater you got for Christmas years ago: show some books on your shelves you aren’t motivated to read but don’t have the heart to get rid of them.

The thing is, the books I’m not motivated to read right now I still do want to read. The books that are outside of my comfort zone, I usually save for when I am in a reading slump.

Kindred by Octavia Butler

The Merciless by Danielle Vega

Room by Emma Donoghue

 

Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer: name a character death you are still not over.

the grinch vintage GIF by The Good Films

Spoilers for the Saga graphic novels!

            The death of Marko and Alana’s unborn baby at the end of Saga, Vol. 7. That was not expected at all.

 

The malls are overly crowded with shoppers: name a book series that went on for too long.

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The House of Night series by PC Cast and Kristin Cast. It is a series from the early 2000s set in a vampire boarding school with Wicca-based magic. The books were fun and easy to read when I was in the middle of my college finals. But by the fifth or sixth book, I gave up. There were too many in the series (eleven in total). I just don’t have the time nor interest to devote myself to the rest of House of Night.

 

The Grinch: name a main character you hate (not a villain).

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The main character in Fracture by Megan Miranda. I really did not like her at all. Delaney? I think that was her name. Anyway, Fracture was disappointing because of her, which is why I have not picked up any of Megan Miranda’s other novels since then.

 

Thank you to Sam from Thoughts on Tomes for bringing back her original tag this year! Hopefully this Grinch feeling won’t affect anyone else this Christmas season.

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Thoughts I Had Rereading “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” as an Adult

I knew I was not going to finish my reread of Harry Potter before 2017 was over. Truthfully, I almost gave up on it, because there were books I had checked out of the library, as well as ones sitting unread on my shelves, that I wanted to read more. But rereading Harry Potter has been enlightening. I enjoy writing down my thoughts on the Harry Potter books as told through the eyes of a 24-year-old. A 25-year-old come January—by then, I will have entered Harry’s full-fledged teenaged years, when things really start to get dark.

The main reason I picked up Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is because it seemed like a proper way to end the first half of the reread with the one I always thought was my favorite book in the series. Now, I have some things to reconsider….

            SPOILERS AHEAD!

 

Why send the dementors to Hogwarts?

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The main reason I ask this question is because I am beginning to realize that Harry is an asset to the wizarding world. Essentially, he protects them from the possibility of Voldemort’s resurrection. At this point in time, Harry is unaware of the prophecy surrounding his birth. The dementors were sent to Hogwarts to protect Harry under the idea that keeping him alive prevents Voldemort from returning. That’s just my theory.

 

Why give a thirteen-year-old a potentially dangerous item like a time-turner?

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We all know Hermione is responsible and smart. But in Prisoner of Azkaban, she is still thirteen. She still has a lot to learn, no matter how bright she is. Also, knowing what I do about Dumbledore, I wondered if he suspected Sirius Black was innocent for years and used Hermione to do it. There is also the matter of Hagrid’s Buckbeak, who was being persecuted by Lucius Malfoy because of Draco. Once again, Dumbledore gets in the way of something the Malfoys want.

So, Dumbledore allowed McGonagall to give Hermione the time-turner to take all the classes she wants and when the time came, she knew how to use it to help Harry save Sirius and Buckbeak.

 

Which is worse: the dementors or Lord Voldemort?

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One wants to rule the world, while the other lives off everyone’s misery and eats away at your soul and sanity.

Looking at most of Voldemort’s followers, they were already nuts before they joined him (i.e. Bellatrix Lestrange). He preyed on the weak of society, like Peter Pettigrew, and anyone who dared to challenge his power was squashed. Voldemort, surprisingly, also did not believe in waste. When he arrived at the Potter house, as told in Harry’s flashbacks in Prisoner of Azkaban, he had no intention of killing Lily Potter because she was of no use to him. It was only when she refused to stand aside did he kill her.

As for dementors, they are simply soulless. They survive on the purpose of making others miserable. They steal their victims’ ability to feel happiness or cheerfulness. They create an environment of darkness that makes a person lose his or her mind.

So, which do you think is worse?

 

What would be my boggart?

I had to really think about this. I still don’t know.

 

The wizarding world is not just Hogwarts.

Just from Hogsmede alone, we see how magical the wizarding world is as a whole. The witches and wizards of London are surrounded by magic every day. Plus, we also see a dark side of it with Azkaban and its dementors.

 

Ron and Hermione are good friends to Harry but they don’t fully understand what he is going through.

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This became apparent to me after the prediction of the Grim, when Hermione kind of scoffed it off as nothing. Then, there is Ron, pushing Harry into potentially dangerous situations even as he fears the Grim. With Lord Voldemort slowly rising back to power and his followers coming out of the woodwork, death is following Harry everywhere he goes. So, the Grim is not exactly a prediction that can be brushed off.

 

The adults should have told Harry the truth about his connection to Sirius Black from the start.

The way I see it, Harry’s childhood has already been taken from him. His parents were murdered and he was almost killed as a baby. The Dursleys mistreated him for eleven years. Another adult (Quirrell) tried to kill him his first year of Hogwarts. The way I see it, the adults don’t give Harry the credit he deserves.

 

How Ron and Hermione become a thing is beyond me.

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They are thirteen in Prisoner of Azkaban and already at each other’s throats. Both of them are right and wrong at equal terms, but their personalities just don’t match.

 

Quidditch is the only sport I like.

The Quidditch matches in Prisoner of Azkaban were the most entertaining scenes in this novel.

 

Does Hermione have a problem admitting when she’s wrong?

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Ron calls her out on it in this book, and in certain situations, I have to agree with him. The situation with the Firebolt I can understand. She knew Sirius Black was after Harry and did not want him to be harmed. Harry acknowledged that. It was the situation with Crookshanks that made me wonder.

Ron came back to his dorm to find his rat gone, his bed covered in blood, and orange cat hair on the floor. To anyone, that is enough convincing evidence that Crookshanks attacked Scabbers. Ron might have not liked the rat much, but anyone losing a pet that way would be upset. If that was me, I would be upset with Hermione, too, especially since she continued to defend her cat’s innocence. And we can’t forget her boggart: Professor McGonagall telling her she failed all her exams.

I learned this the hard way, too, Hermione: sometimes you are wrong. And that is OK.

And, if I was Ron and Crookshanks went after my dog, we would definitely have a problem.

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Harry and Malfoy’s rivalry mirrors that of Severus Snape and James Potter.

Snape went out of his way to get James in trouble, just like Malfoy goes out of his way to cause problems for Harry. Has anyone else picked up on this?

 

Hermione teaches the boys maturity while they teach her to relax once in a while.

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Harry and Ron don’t take school as seriously as Hermione does nor do they focus on helping Hagrid free Buckbeak. Then, they realize how thoughtless they had been and try to amend it by helping. Hermione threatens to tattle to McGonagall about the Marauder’s Map. Eventually, though, she realizes the map has its uses and it’s really not hurting anyone. But that is why their friendship works.

 

The movie adaption of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was better than the book.

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I know it is very controversial to say such a thing. But after rereading the third Harry Potter book, I began to realize books 1-3 were fillers. They set up the plot to carry us into Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, with the return of Voldemort.

The movie adaption of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban cut out the boring thirteen-year-old friend drama between Ron and Hermione. It also showed a glimpse of Severus Snape’s better nature JK Rowling spends seven books trying to convince us exists. In the book, during the scene inside the Shrieking Shack, Snape is knocked out and does not wake up until after the fact. In the movie adaption, he comes to his senses just as Lupin turns into a werewolf and Snape pushes the children behind him as the werewolf lunges for attack.

I don’t know if that was written into the movie or not, but it was the first time any of us had seen genuine kindness from Severus Snape towards Harry Potter.

 

What thoughts have crossed your mind when you read (or reread) Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban? Let’s discuss!

Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 “New to Me” Authors in 2017

Sadly, there were not a lot of “new to me” authors in 2017. This was not the best reading year, in terms of quality…but more on that later. On the flip side, the new authors I did discover were good ones whose books I will pick up again.

 

Agatha Christie

andthentherewerenone

I read Agatha Christie’s novel And Then There Were None around Halloween this year and I own another book by her, The Monogram Murders. She’s a great mystery writer. And Then There Were None was a fast-paced mystery with morally gray characters: that’s how I like my mystery novels. I attempted to read The Monogram Murders, but I was in the middle of a reading slump. What little I read, though, I enjoyed.

 

Becky Albertalli

simon

theupsideofunrequited2

The Upside of Unrequited, which is Becky Albertalli’s second published novel, blew up on BookTube in the spring. At the time, I was just starting to get into lighthearted young adult contemporary novels. Though I’m 24, I never related so hard to a contemporary novel like I did to The Upside of Unrequited. It’s a story about a shy overweight girl who has had 26 crushes but no boyfriend and finally has the initiative to change that. The writing wasn’t anything special, but it was a fun read. Because of The Upside of Unrequited, I bought Becky Albertalli’s first novel, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. It’s one of the books I am most excited to read.

 

Susan Dennard

I had heard of Susan Dennard years ago. Her fantasy novel, Truthwitch, was everywhere. I meant to check it out of the library, but when my birthday in January rolled around, I bought myself a bunch of books. Truthwitch was one of them. I figured I take a chance on it, because the reviews promised badass witches, strong lady friendships, and diversity. After being slightly disappointed by Sarah J. Maas, I needed that. Truthwitch did not disappoint and I soon bought the sequel, Windwitch. No, I haven’t read it yet, but it is on my priority TBR for 2018.

 

Kasie West

I received Kasie West’s novel P.S. I Like You from an Owlcrate box. The story follows Lily, a high school junior that starts exchanging letters with an unknown classmate in her chemistry class in a You’ve Got Mail situation. It was cute and easy to read. It also encouraged me to pick up more young adult contemporary, which then led to The Upside of Unrequited. I also bought her latest release, Lucky in Love. However, I have heard mixed things about Kasie West’s books, so I am keeping my expectations low going forward.

 

Lyndsay Faye

janesteele

I read Jane Steele, which is a reimagining of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, in April and loved it. In fact, I dare say I enjoyed it more than the actual Jane Eyre. The main character, Jane Steele, was a good-natured but morally conflicted serial killer. The writing was beautiful and showed a darker, more realistic side of Victorian London. Charles Thornfield, the Mr. Rochester of the story, is ten times sexier than the original. I am interested in reading more of Lyndsay Faye’s work, particularly since one of them is called The Gods of Gotham.

 

What was your favorite “new to you” author of 2017?

The Christmas Song Book Tag

I was at a loss for Christmas ideas for my blog. To be truthful, I have not been in the Christmas spirit lately…but you all don’t need my drama to bring you down.

I saw this Christmas Song Book Tag floating around and immediately jumped on it. If there is anything I love, it is Christmas music.

 

“You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch”: Name a villainous character you couldn’t help but love.

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Tamlin from the A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. While I do not approve of his actions in A Court of Mist and Fury, I can’t forget the sweetheart he was in the first book. Tamlin is broken and I’m not sure a lot of people see that.

 

“All I Want for Christmas is You”: Which book do you most hope to see under your Christmas tree?

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Scarlet, Cress, Fairest, and Winter, the remaining books in the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. I already own Cinder, the first book in the series. I have wanted to get into this extremely popular series for a long time.

 

“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”: Name a character that overcomes major obstacles and learns to believe in themselves.

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Because I am currently rereading the series, I will have to go with Harry Potter for this question. I’m on page 183 of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and, at thirteen, Harry already has so much to deal with. And I know it will only get worse from here.

 

“Santa Claus is Coming to Town”: Which character do you think would be on the top of the naughty list? Which character do you think would be at the top of the nice list?

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Looking at the books I’ve read so far this year, the top spot of the Nice List would go to Nicholas Carter from the Passenger duology by Alexandra Bracken, for his self-sacrificing actions in Wayfarer. As for the Naughty List, the top spot would belong to Snake from Definitions of Indefinable Things by Whitney Taylor, for getting a girl pregnant, for being arrogant, and for being a big baby.

 

“Frosty the Snowman”: Which book just melts your heart?

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Two books tied for melting my heart in 2017: Love and First Sight by Josh Sundquist and The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli. Love and First Sight is about a blind boy falling in love for the first time and learning to live as a sighted person after an experimental surgery. It is a sweet book but has more depth to it than one might think. The Upside of Unrequited is about a teenaged girl who finally has the imitative to find her first boyfriend after 26 crushes. This book was simply too cute for words.

 

“Feliz Navidad”: Choose a book that takes place in a country other than your own.

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The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, which takes place in Barcelona, Spain in the 1920s and 1930s. Though it was a different time period, the author made the city appear beautiful and mysterious.

 

“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”: Which holiday-themed book do you use to spread the Christmas joy?

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I make it a point to watch at least one version of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol every year. That’s the story that always brings me the most Christmas joy.

 

“Sleigh Ride”: Which fictional character would you choose to spend the holidays with (doesn’t have to be a love interest!)?

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I think this goes without saying but the Blackthorn from Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare. They are such a close-knit, loving family, and they would know the holidays are about appreciating those you love.

 

“Baby, it’s Cold Outside”: Which book would you sacrifice to a fire to warm yourself against the cold?

got GIF by Game of Thrones: #PrepareForWinter

I hate the idea of burning books, so this question kind of makes me uncomfortable. But if it was between hypothermia and me I would likely burn Woman of God by James Patterson, one of my most hated books of 2017.

 

“Do you hear what I hear”: Which book do you think everyone should read?

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One book I don’t talk about a lot that I think everyone—especially young girls—should read is Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston. The book follows Hermione Winters, a high school cheerleader who is drugged and raped at cheerleading camp, and finds out she is pregnant as a result. But she refuses to be anyone’s cautionary tale.

Exit, Pursued by a Bear talks about abortion in an honest way and shows readers there is nothing to be ashamed or afraid of. Hermione and her best friend Polly have the strongest female friendship I have ever seen in young adult contemporary literature. Plus, the rest of the cheerleading squad, the girls and boys, rally behind Hermione after she is raped. Hermione defies the labels, making it clear she is not a victim and shoots down rape culture. Most importantly, there is the positive support Hermione receives from her family, school, the local police, and her community that many rape victims sadly do not experience in real life.

 

“Father Christmas” by the Kinks: Which book was just mean, i.e. it made you ask the author ‘Why are you making me read this?’ Even though you couldn’t put it down?

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For this question, I’m going to say Go Ask Alice. It was a banned book I have wanted to read for a long time. Despite it being so boring, I could not stop reading.

 

I tag anyone that wants to do this tag!

Top 10 Hyped Books on My TBR I’m Excited For

Like most people, I sometimes buy books based on the hype surrounding them. As of right now, my physical TBR is well over 100 books. There are a lot of popular books that I picked up in 2017 that I was excited for but, naturally, never got around to reading them. Several of these were 2017 releases featured in the Goodreads Best Books of 2017.

Some of these I am certain I will like. Others, I am slightly apprehensive about because they have so much hype, it is best to brace myself for disappointment.

The top ten hyped books on my TBR I’m most excited for are:

 

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

eliza

Of all the books on this list, Eliza and Her Monsters is the one I am most excited to read. It follows Eliza, a shy teenager with a double-life as the anonymous artist of a popular web comic. She keeps it a secret from her family and has no friends at school, until she meets Wallace, the new boy in school that turns out to be a fan fiction writer for her comic. Their new friendship is soon put into jeopardy when Eliza’s secret identity is revealed.

This summer, I read Francesca Zappia’s debut novel, Made You Up, which is about Alex, a schizophrenic teen trying to separate delusion from reality while solving a mystery at her new school. I loved that book. Because of that, added to the praise I’ve heard, my expectations are high for Eliza and Her Monsters.

 

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee

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When The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue first came out, I didn’t intend on buying it. Not entirely sure why. It follows Monty, a bisexual young lord living the carefree life of a scoundrel that has to grow up fast as his father expects him to take on more responsibility. He goes on a summer tour across Europe with his best friend Percy, whom he has a crush on, and his little sister Felicity. But then the trio find themselves in a world of trouble.

I saw the cover of The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue in the bookstore/café a few blocks away from the library I worked at over the summer. Seeing it in person drew me in. So, I bought it. The reviews of this book promised elements I am excited for—diversity, historical Europe, and fun antics.

 

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

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I read The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli, her most recent release, this summer and liked it way more than I expected to. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda was her debut novel. It follows Simon, a closeted gay teen, who is sending emails to a boy named Blue at his school. But Simon doesn’t know who Blue is. And then the class clown threatens to expose his secret.

If Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is anything like The Upside of Unrequited, I expect humor, cuteness, and a fun, easy read.

 

Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas

towerofdawn

Last year, Sarah J. Maas announced Tower of Dawn, her Chaol Westfall story in the Throne of Glass series went from a novella to a novel. Though I am still devoted to Chaol, I was apprehensive about this book because he has gotten such a bad reputation. However, Tower of Dawn has received praise that has made me very happy and excited to pick it up. Only, I think should read A Court of Wings and Ruin first.

 

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

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An Enchantment of Ravens is one of those books that came out of nowhere. What drew it to me was that is sounded so much like A Court of Thorns and Roses, my favorite Sarah J. Maas book (without having read Tower of Dawn yet). Isobel, a human girl who lives in a village close to the fairy kingdom, paints portraits for the fae. When she gets her first royal client, Rook, the autumn prince, she makes the mistake of painting human sorrow in his eyes. Rook then drags Isobel back to the fairy kingdom to stand trial.

Not only is the cover for this book gorgeous, An Enchantment of Ravens is a book I am almost positive I will love when I read it. It has a lot of story elements I love and people whose reviews I trust have read it, too, and loved it. I am desperately hoping this book will not disappoint.

 

Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

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I had every intention of reading Lord of Shadows after I read Lady Midnight this summer. I even bought it as soon as it was released. Recently, I realized it took me so long to pick this book up because Queen of Air and Darkness was not expected to come out until 2019, so I decided to save Lord of Shadows until 2018. Now, the first book in The Last Hours trilogy has been pushed back to be replaced by Queen of Air and Darkness, which comes out just in time for Christmas 2018. However, I am still a bundle of nervous excitement to read Lord of Shadows…. especially after I accidentally figured out one of the Blackthorns dies.

 

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

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Marissa Meyer is an author I have wanted to get into for a while. Since I received this edition of Heartless in an Owlcrate box, I have put it in several TBRs. I don’t know why I have not read it yet, because I’m interested in the story. It is a fantasy stand-alone novel that is a retelling of the origin story of the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland. Heartless is one of the books I plan to read early on in 2018. And I mean it this time.

 

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

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Caraval is the book I gave into the hype by buying it instead of checking it from the library, especially with all the mixed reviews around it. Overall, the premise did intrigue me: a girl has to compete in a circus-type game to save her sister. Plus, there is a sequel, Legendary, coming out in 2018, which is slightly disappointing due to the lack of fantasy stand-alones in young adult. Yet, I am curious to see where Stephanie Garber plans to take the story.

 

History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

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Adam Silvera is another author I have wanted to get into for a long time. Of all his published works so far, History is All You Left Me is the one that interests me the most. It follows Griffin, who is struggling with his OCD and his grief after the death of his first love Theo. Griffin always believed he would get back together with Theo someday, but that is not going to happen now. Ironically, the only person that truly understands what he is going through is Theo’s current boyfriend, Jackson. History is All You Left Me will most likely be in my January 2018 TBR.

 

Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab

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Our Dark Duet is a book I am genuinely mad at myself for not reading yet. I loved This Savage Song, the first in the duology. The series is set in a dystopian world where monsters are created from the violent acts of humans. The story follows Kate, a human that wants to be a monster, and August, a monster that wants to be a human. who have read Our Dark Duet said they loved it more than This Savage Song.

Seriously, I need to read this ASAP.

 

Which of these books have you read? What did you think of them? Please no spoilers!

Black Friday Book Haul

My bank account hates me right now….

After a stressful few weeks, I took “treat yo self” to the next level. Despite being currently unemployed, I went on Books a Million’s website to take advantage of their Black Friday discounts. I bought ten books, all of them sequels to ones I own but have not read yet. To be honest, I regretted it at first. Then, I saw how pretty they were in person and thought about all the exciting reading I will be doing in 2018. Now, I feel better about it.

On Black Friday, I bought:

 

One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake

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One Dark Throne is the sequel to Three Dark Crowns, which I received in an Owlcrate box. Three Dark Crowns follows three princesses, triplets separated to three territories within their kingdom—the elementals, the naturalists, and the poisoners—to train their abilities until they are sixteen. Then, the girls will fight to the death and the winner becomes queen. What is most interesting about these three princesses those is that only one of them actually has powers.

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake is one of my all-time favorite books. I think it is because I associate her with horror is why I was hesitant to pick up Three Dark Crowns right away. That, and some mixed reviews. But as the books get more buzz, the reviews have gotten better, particularly for One Dark Throne.

 

Remember Yesterday by Pintip Dunn

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Remember Yesterday is the second novel in the Forget Tomorrow trilogy. It is set in a dystopian society where, when a person turns seventeen, they receive a memory from their future selves. In the first novel, protagonist Callie receives a memory of her future self murdering her younger sister and, despite her attempts to conceal it, is sent to a prison meant for those destined to become criminals. Now, Callie has to figure out a way to prevent such a future from happening and find out why her future self sent her that memory in the first place.

 

The Wish Granter by C.J. Redwine

thewishgranter

The Wish Granter is the second novel and companion to The Shadow Queen. The series is set in a high fantasy world with each novel a retelling of a fairy tale, such as The Shadow Queen being a retelling of Snow White. The Wish Granter centers on a princess who must save her brother from The Wish Granter, a man that stole the king’s soul in exchange for power and the throne.

 

The Crown’s Fate by Evelyn Skye

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The Crown’s Fate is the sequel to The Crown’s Game and the last book in a duology. Set in Imperial Russia, it follows two magicians competing to be the tsar’s personal magician. Naturally, there is one problem: the two magicians fall in love. The Crown’s Game has good reviews and it sounds like something I will like. It might be too early to say it, but I think The Crown’s Game and The Crown’s Fate could be new favorites.

 

Umberland by Wendy Spinale

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I received Everland, the first book in the series, in an Owlcrate box. Everland is a steampunk retelling of Peter Pan set during World War II London where an evil doctor is targeting children midst a deadly plague. Umberland is the sequel and a retelling of Alice in Wonderland. This is another series I was excited to read when I got it, but for whatever reason I haven’t yet. Now, I am even more motivated to pick up these books soon, as the third book in this series, Ozland, which is a retelling of The Wizard of Oz, comes out in April.

 

Retribution Rails by Erin Bowman

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The companion novel to Vengeance Road, Retribution Rails follows Charlotte, an aspiring journalist and Reese, a gangster desperate to escape the gang he was dragged into by a stranger. They are on the hunt for a mysterious gunslinger that can solve Reese’s problems. As the title suggests, it is centered in the Wild West around the development of railways and a train robbery gone wrong. Plus, the covers in this western series are gorgeous.

 

Crossed & Reached by Ally Condie

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In case you were unaware, Crossed and Reached are books 2 and 3 in the Matched trilogy by Ally Condie. The series came out during a time where young adult dystopian trilogies were everywhere in the bookstores. It is set in a world where you are matched to your presumed soulmate based on math. The main character, Cassia, is the first to be matched to two boys, which naturally causes a major problem in the system.

I bought the first book, Matched, while I was vacationing in Texas two years ago. Aside from the “matched” aspect, I have heard this world is also void of the arts, something that really fascinates me.

 

A Poison Dark and Drowning by Jessica Cluess

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A Poison Dark and Drowning is the second book in the Kingdom on Fire series, the first novel being A Shadow Bright and Burning. It is set in Victorian London, following Henrietta, who tries to hide her magical abilities until she must use them to save a friend. Instead of being executed as she expected, she is praised as the Chosen One, destined to protect the city from the ancient demons. Only the last female sorcerer went crazy and, what’s more, Henrietta might not actually be the Chosen One.

I want to read the series because I’ve heard two things. First, it turns the Chosen One trope on its head. Second, it has been recommended to fans of the Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare, my favorite series in the Shadowhunter Chronicles.

 

The Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman

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The Dark Days Pact is the sequel to The Dark Days Club, which is like the world of Shadowhunters set in Regency London. It follows Lady Helen, a girl of high society who trains to be a demon hunter. The Dark Days Club got a little buzz on BookTube when it first came out, but no one has talked about it since. This surprises me as well as makes me a little nervous. Surprises me, because lots of people love the Jane Austen period and the Shadowhunters world. The Lady Helen series has both. Makes me nervous because I’m wondering just how good these books are.

 

Which of these series have you read? Please no spoilers!

December 2017 TBR

Guys…how is 2017 almost over?

I am out of my reading slump, but my physical TBR is so big, it’s still hard to pick what to read next. That’s why I am saving it for 2018, when January will be too cold to walk to my local library to escape my house. Plus, I am really excited about all the books I currently have checked out from the library. They make me want to read.

In December, I hope to read:

 

On the Fence by Kasie West

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I checked out On the Fence because, after the intensity of Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker and the sadness of Woman of God, I need something short and sweet. Kasie West fits the bill. On the Fence is about Charlie, a sixteen-year-old tomboy that is thrown into the world of girly things when she is forced to take a job at a women’s boutique to pay off a speeding ticket. Though she has already met a boy, she finds herself falling for her childhood friend and neighbor, Braden. Only revealing her feelings for him could lead to a disaster.

As of now, I have only read P.S. I Like You by Kasie West. Most of her books have mixed reviews. So, I am keeping my expectations low for On the Fence.

 

Every Last Word by Tamera Ireland Stone

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I have wanted to read Every Last Word for so long. It is on the more serious side of young adult contemporary, the kind I prefer, following a teenaged girl that is hiding her OCD from her popular-crowd crew but finds solace with new friends in a poetry club. I have heard so many great things about Every Last Word and it seems like the perfect kind book to include in my end-of-the-year TBR.

 

Final Girls by Riley Sager

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Given that December is all about coziness and holiday magic, Final Girls, a slasher-type mystery about a young woman on the hunt for a serial killer targeting survivors of violent crimes, seems significantly out of place. But when I was voting in the Goodreads Best Books of 2017, I realized that a lot of the books nominated this year I had not read. Final Girls blew up everywhere, with readers either loving it or hating it. Now that 2017 is almost over, I decided it was time to give the book a chance.

 

Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein

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Elizabeth Wein wrote Code Name Verity, one of my all-time favorite books. I’ve wanted to get back into her works for a long time. Black Dove, White Raven was one I was especially interested in, so I was really glad when I saw it in my public library.

Black Dove, White Raven follows Teo and Emilia, the children of female stunt pilots and best friends. Emilia’s mother adopts Teo after his mother dies and keeps her promise to his mother by choosing to raise him in a place he won’t be discriminated by the color of his skin. She relocates their new family to the beautiful and peaceful Ethiopia, until the country is torn apart by war with Italy. That is when Teo and Emilia find themselves in a center of a conflict that could lead to one’s downfall but the other’s salvation.

 

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

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The companion novel to Code Name Verity, Rose Under Fire, follows Rose, an American female pilot, who is captured by Nazis and sent to Ravensbruck, the notorious women’s concentration camp. If it is anything like Code Name Verity, it will be all about strong women and stronger female friendships in the face of adversity. Plus, after reading Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly, another book featuring Ravensbruck, I am already mentally preparing myself for the emotional turmoil I will likely be in when I read about what Rose might endure at the concentration camp.

 

The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand

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I needed a Christmas-themed book to balance out the darker material on my TBR. The Afterlife of Holly Chase is a retelling/reimagining of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Holly Chase is a spoiled seventeen-year-old who was visited by the Three Ghosts of Christmas that showed her how naughty she was in hopes she would change her ways. But she didn’t, so her afterlife is spent working as a Ghost of Christmas Past for Project Scrooge, an organization dedicated to helping other Scrooge types. Only this year, the afterlife is going to get a little more interesting for Holly….

A Christmas Carol is one of my favorite classics and a movie I always watch during Christmas. I have read Cynthia Hand’s Unearthly trilogy, which is one of my favorite trilogies of all time. So, I have every faith she will do the original A Christmas Carol justice with her novel The Afterlife of Holly Chase.

 

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

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Much like Final Girls, The Bear and the Nightingale is another book featured on this year’s Goodreads Best Books of 2017 that I did not read. Based in Russian folklore, the novel follows Vasilisa, a teenaged girl using her secret abilities to protect her family from the ancient spirits of the forests surrounding their home. While the synopsis intrigues me, the reason I was hesitant to pick up The Bear and the Nightingale was because people who have read it compared it to Uprooted by Naomi Novik. I did not hate Uprooted, only I won’t say I loved it either. That is why I checked The Bear and the Nightingale out of the library, to be safe.

 

What books are you going to read in December?

November 2017 Wrap Up

When November started, I was content to embrace the reading slump and focus on my writing. For a while, I was writing a little bit, although not as much as I would have liked. Then, towards the middle of the month, I got the urge to read again, despite still in the throes of a slump. I wanted to buy books more than read them (which my bank account currently hates me for). I checked out library books, which helped.

In total, I read four books in November. All of them falling in or under the 3 star range. I don’t know if it was because of the books I chose to read or if it was because of the reading slump. Not that it should matter—I’m back to reading again, just in time for the end of the year.

In November, I read:

 

My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem

3 stars

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A YouTube video I watched on reading slumps recommended reading a book outside of your comfort zone to get out of a slump. That is initially why I picked up My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem, a nonfiction work about how her experiences travelling and her nomadic childhood influenced her life. However, I was reluctant to read it after her comment that Millennial women only supported Bernie Sanders because “that was where the boys are.” That really got under my skin. Only I knew I could never part with this book because my favorite professors in the Women & Gender Studies program at my college gave this to me when I graduated and they signed it.

So, in the midst of a reading slump, I decided to give Gloria Steinem a chance. I have to say, it was an unexpectedly enjoyable read and educational. It helped me get out of my reading slump somewhat. But I am still picky about what nonfiction I read.

 

Lies She Told by Cate Holahan (library book)

3 stars

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Lies She Told is about Liza, an author struggling to meet a 30-day deadline for her next potential bestseller midst trying to conceive with her husband David, who is currently distracted by the disappearance of his best friend. In between Liza’s chapters, we also get excerpts from her novel, which follows Beth, a new mom that kills her husband’s mistress. Liza’s reality then blurs with her character’s story after her husband’s best friend’s body is found in the East River like Beth’s husband’s mistress.

I would have done a full review of Lies She Told but I had so many mixed feelings it was hard to put into coherent words. The writing was good, but the second half of the novel really started to drag. It was fast-paced, the kind of book you want during a reading slump, but the characters were one-dimensional. I wanted to like Liza or Beth, but I could only sympathize with them. My feelings towards Liza in particular were mixed; while some bad things happened to her, some of her own behavior was selfish and she had her own consequences that I felt were fitting. So, overall, Lies She Told was just meh for me.

 

Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker (library book)

3.75 stars

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I wouldn’t go as far to say as to say Emma in the Night was a disappointment, but I was more excited for it than I was for Lies She Told. Unfortunately, it did not live up to the hype I had built up in my head.

It is about two sisters, Cass and Emma, that disappear and only Cass returns three years later. As she tells the story of what happened to her and Emma during the years they were gone, FBI psychologist Dr. Abby Winter starts to find holes in the story, focusing on Cass’s narcissist mother, Judy.

I wanted to give Emma in the Night 4 stars, only I ultimately had some problems with it. Cass was an unreliable narrator, but the reveal behind her story made no sense in the end. How Dr. Winter came to this revelation didn’t really make sense to me, either. Then again, I did not go to school for psychology like the author, Wendy Walker, supposedly did. I didn’t really care for any of the characters. The writing was good, though. Overall, Emma in the Night was a good book but I’m glad I got it out of the library instead of buying it.

 

Woman of God by James Patterson (library book)

1 star

womanofgod

Very controversial! This is the first time I have ever given a James Patterson novel a 1-star review. While I love the idea of a female pope—and I hope I live to see the day—and support female clergy, there were too many problems with Woman of God for me to enjoy it.

The plot, if there was one, was so boring it made me question why I kept reading. The writing made me feel detached from everything, even the truly terrible things that happened. I honestly felt like I didn’t care. The main character, Brigid, had no development to speak of. And there was so much insta-love it made me want to puke.

Because of Woman of God, James Patterson is firmly a “library only” author from now on.

 

How was everyone else’s reading in November?

 

November 2017 Book Haul

The books in this haul are a result of a hard day I was rewarding myself for. Some of these I’ve read previously as library books and the rest are parts of series I want to start next year. There are six books in total which, compared to my past hauls, is very small. However, I should call this haul November 2017 Book Haul Part 1, because of Black Friday….

 

Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke by Anne Blankman

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Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke is the sequel to Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman. It is a young adult historical fiction duology set in Germany during World War II following Hitler’s “niece” as she uncovers his secret plans and becomes involved with a Jewish reporter.

I read Traitor Angels by Anne Blankman, her historical fiction stand-alone novel following poet John Milton’s daughter Elizabeth as she investigates a mystery involving Paradise Lost, at the beginning of this year. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. The Prisoner of Night and Fog duology looks like a great series to binge-read this winter 2018.

 

Bright Smoke, Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge

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I have read only one book by Rosamund Hodge—her debut Cruel Beauty—and I another by her, Crimson Bound, but I have not read it yet. I have wanted to get back into her work for a while, especially when Bright Smoke, Cold Fire came out. It is a retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet with necromancy thrown in. Given how creatively Cruel Beauty mixed Beauty and the Beast with Greek mythology, I’m curious to see how Bright Smoke, Cold Fire will turn out.

 

Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin

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Blood for Blood is another sequel to Wolf by Wolf, a novel I own but have not read yet and I really want to. It is an alternate history young adult novel set in a world where Hitler won World War II. The story is centered around a cross-country motorcycle race where a shape-shifting concentration camp survivor intends to win to kill Hitler for revenge. This is another duology I am looking forward to binge.

 

Sparks of Light by Janet B. Taylor

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Sparks of Light is the sequel to Into the Dim, a young adult historical fiction fantasy novel about time travel. Hope thinks her mother is dead, until she learns her family comes from a long line of time-travelers. She goes back to the 14th century to find her mother, who is trapped. Again, I have not read Into the Dim, which I got for Christmas last year and was excited to read it ironically. As of right now, I don’t know if it is just Into the Dim and Sparks of Light, but it seems like a great time to finally catch up on the series before any more potential books come out.

 

City of Saints and Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson

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City of Saints and Thieves is one of the books I read from the library. Set in Kenya, it follows Tina, a refuge from the Congo, who is out for revenge against the man she believes killed her mother. This book beat my expectations; it was fast-paced and I had a hard time putting it down. I bought City of Saints and Thieves because I wanted my own copy.

 

Wicked Like a Wildfire by Lana Popovic

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Wicked Like a Wildfire follows twin sisters with magical abilities to make anything beautiful that uncover a dark curse in their family. Despite my mixed feelings about this book, I am still interested in continuing with the series. The sequel, Fierce Like a Firestorm, comes out next year. Plus, the cover is so gorgeous, how can you not want it on your bookshelf?

 

Just wait for the Black Friday book haul….

What I am Thankful For

Totally stepping out of my comfort zone by writing this and posting it unedited. But given that Thanksgiving is tomorrow, I figured now is as good as time as any to talk about all I am thankful for. And maybe it will get my writing juices flowing again.

I have been seeing people create their “Books I’m Thankful For” blog/videos this past week. I attempted to write such a list, but I could not narrow it down. Because I realized I am thankful for books in general, not just any specific books.

I feel like I am now in a place where I am comfortable talking about this. But my mom has been in hospice since the week before Halloween. She has been ill for a decade and two of her major organs (kidneys and liver) are failing. Though my dad is taking half days at work, for six hours a day I am basically by myself taking care of my mom. My brother is autistic and there is only so much he can do/handle. It’s been tough; I’m starting to notice the affects the stress has had on my body, such as weight gain and my hair feels thinner than normal.

However, I tell myself that if I had a job right now, I would go crazy not knowing how my mom is. If she had to go to a facility, all I would do is worry about if she is getting what she needs or if she’s being ignored. For me, that is worse.

I’m not sure how, but I’m managing.

Despite my annual end-of-the-year reading slump, books have helped me get through these last few weeks. When I have managed to open a book, it has distracted me from all that is going on right now. On that note, I’m thankful for my local library, which is close to my house and their well-stocked supply of books.

Books have distracted me in other ways. I’m already making reading plans for 2018. The books I have on that TBR are making me excited for next year. I finally have something to look forward to.

One thing I have learned that is, in during times of grief, you learn who is there for you and who is not. I’m thankful I have a group of supportive friends, as well as a strong, caring community on Facebook. For the first two weeks my mom was on hospice, outside my family, I only told three of my closest friends what was going on. They were amazing, naturally, but I didn’t say anything on Facebook because I felt like I was looking for pity. Then, my friend urged me to do so, promising the community would be more caring than I thought.

She was right.

People were so supportive and caring and even those I barely spoke to asked if there was anything they could do. It was more than what my family got from some relatives.

After that, I didn’t cry so much. For that, for their kindness and my friends’ support, I am thankful.

Blogging has helped me get through this time, too. As I expected, my story writing took a hit. I got frustrated and distracted one day, then decided to put it off. I’ve been meaning to get back to it, but now I feel like I have to start all over again. On the flip side, focusing on my blog has helped a great deal. I’m drafting ideas for future blog posts, which distracts me and makes me feel relaxed, even for a little while.

No matter how bad a day might get, I tell myself that some people have it worse than I do. I know people in situations similar to mine have had the healthy parent walk out, leaving them the burden of such a responsibility, or worse, mentally check out and refuse to acknowledge it at all. I have a roof over my head, a bed to sleep on, and food in the kitchen.

Books and blogging give me happiness. My brother and my dad give me motivation to carry on, because I know they carried the brunt of this while I was in college. And, of course, many supportive friends and a few caring relatives.

Happy Thanksgiving! ❤