The Haul That Made My Wallet Weep

Are you getting sick of book hauls on this blog yet?

Almost as soon as Thanksgiving dinner was over, I indulged even more in the Black Friday online sales. Unlike previous hauls, I went into my Black Friday shopping with a plan. I knew which books I wanted to buy. Some I had already read previously from the library and others were my most anticipated releases of the later part of 2019. The rest were on my young adult literature class’s reading list. That class had some really good selections.

It was going to stop there. With Christmas coming up, I wanted to spend more money on my friends and family than myself. Then, on my last day of work before Christmas break, I wondered if my dad bought me books. With three bookstores nearby…you can guess what happened.

Here are the books I bought as gifts to myself…but not the last books I bought in 2019…more on that later….

 

Thunderhead and The Toll by Neal Shusterman

Girls of Storm and Shadow by Natasha Ngan

The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White

The Beautiful by Renee Ahdieh

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Is anyone surprised to see Thunderhead and The Toll? After reading Scythe in 2019, I was not going to put off reading the rest of the trilogy for too long. They are currently sitting on my nightstand, in fact, so you know I’m serious. Another book currently residing on my nightstand, Girls of Storm and Shadow, the sequel to Girls of Paper and Fire. The first book was one of my most anticipated books of 2018. Naturally, I put off reading it. Now, I own both books and I can marathon the duology.

As for The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White and The Beautiful by Renee Ahdieh, I had been waiting on pins and needles for both. Though I’ve heard from other reviewers that there are not as much vampires as expected, I am not disappointed in The Beautiful. I love Gothic romances and Renee Ahdieh is the master of angst, in my opinion. In regards to The Guinevere Deception, it is a King Arthur retelling with Guinevere as a changeling sent to protect Camelot. I don’t care to know anything beyond that.

 

The Gentleman’s Guide to Getting Lucky by Mackenzi Lee

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The Gentleman’s Guide to Getting Lucky is the companion novella to The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue and The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy. All of these are currently on my nightstand. They are fun, lighthearted, and diverse young adult historical fiction novels that I put off far too long. Expect to see these books in a wrap-up within the first half of 2020.

 

The Hidden Witch and The Midwinter Witch by Molly Ostertag

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The Witch Boy, the first book in this graphic novel series, was one I bought on a whim a while back. After my young adult literature class, where we talked about diverse young adult books, I remembered this one. A boy wants to be a witch in a world where only girls can be witches and only boys can be shapeshifters. We see more books focused on gender expectations for girls, not so much for boys. The Witch Boy, The Hidden Witch, and The Midwinter Witch seem like a good place to start.

 

I’m Just Me by M.G. Higgins

Girls Like Us by Gail Giles

Far Far Away by Tom McNeal

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

Frogkisser! By Garth Nix

The Bitter Side of Sweet by Tara Sullivan

If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth

The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle

Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina

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All of these books were on the list for recommended reads in my young adult literature class. They are a mix of different genres: realistic fiction, historical fiction, and fantasy. I had them all checked out of the library a few months ago, but school got so busy. That was one of the things that made the class fun, the professor came up with so many good options.

 

I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

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The next three books had been checked out from the library early in 2019, when I was deep into my book buying ban. I Am the Messenger was one of my favorite books of last year, with Marina and The Darkest Part of the Forest coming in as honorable mentions. Marina was an atmospheric Gothic mystery set in Spain; I Am the Messenger was an intense contemporary; and The Darkest Part of the Forest was a freaky young adult fantasy with dark fairies.

 

The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black

American Panda by Gloria Cho

Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

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The Queen of Nothing, American Panda, and Pet I bought at my favorite bookstore before Christmas. I have not read The Cruel Prince and The Wicked King, the books before The Queen of Nothing, but this trilogy seems like a fun one to marathon.

To go along with reading more diverse historical fiction, I want to read more diverse young adult contemporary. As the daughter of a Portuguese immigrant, I realize my experience is very different from others. My dad is what you would call “Americanized,” whereas that is not the case for Mei Lu, whose Chinese parents have a whole set of rules for her to follow: go to school to become a doctor and marry a Chinese doctor. As you can probably guess, that is not what she wants at all.

After J.K. Rowling made her unsavory comment about transgender people, several library pages I follow released lists on trans-friendly fantasy novels. Pet was one I recognized, as I had seen the cover everywhere online. I also read it already. It is a contemporary-feeling Utopian/dystopian society where “monsters” no longer exist. The main character, a selective mute transgender girl named Jam, believes this until her mother’s painting brings to life a beast named Pet, who claims he’s here to hunt a monster. At first, Jam doesn’t want anything to do with Pet. But when he reveals that the monster he is hunting lives inside Jam’s best friend’s house, the beautiful, peaceful reality Jam has grown up in completely shatters.

 

But in all seriousness…are you sick of book hauls? What other content would you guys like to see on my blog?

50 Bookish Questions

I love talking about books (obviously). I love book tags. I love answering questions about books. That is why, when I saw this tag on Sahi’s blog a few weeks ago, I knew I was going to do it even if she hadn’t tagged me.

This one is going to be a long one, so let’s get right to it!

 

What was the last book you read?

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At the time I am writing this post, the last book I read was The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton. I had to read it for my children’s literature class.

 

Was it a good one?

I liked it.

 

What made it good?

Cute drawings and a beautiful color palette, with an important social message, I think.

Would you recommend it to other people?

Yes, but only to those who enjoy children’s picture books.

 

How often do you read?

I try to read at least 20 to 30 pages a day. There were times (like right now) I went several days without reading. Usually, though, I don’t last longer than a day.

 

Do you like to read?

Is water wet?

What was the last bad book you read?

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Sabrina by Nick Drnaso

 

What made you dislike it?

There was no character development and a one-dimensional plot.

Do you wish to be a writer?

Yes. I want to get back into creative writing in 2020. I even have a notebook set aside to write story ideas.

 

Has any book ever influenced you greatly?

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Most of the books I read influence me, to a certain extent. Two examples include The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace, a book that empowered me when I did not feel powerful, and Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume, inspired me to start writing.

 

Do you read fan fiction?

Not as much as I used to. I was more into it during high school until college, eventually only going back to read really smutty ones when I was bored.

 

Do you write fan fiction?

I did in middle school, I think.

 

What is your favorite book?

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I do not have a specific favorite book. For the sake of the question, though, I will say my favorite book that I have read so far in 2020 is To Drink Coffee with a Ghost by Amanda Lovelace.

 

What is your least favorite book?

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A surprisingly easy answer: Woman of God by James Patterson.

 

Do you prefer physical books or reading on a device (like Kindle)?

I exclusively read physical books. Too much screen time makes me feel nauseous.

 

When did you learn to read?

According to my dad, when I asked him for an assignment last semester, when I was one year old I was pretending to read. But when I actually learned to read, it was probably around five years old.

 

What is your favorite book you had to read in school?

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I enjoyed most of the required reading I did in school. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton….The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald….The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde….The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo….Those are the first ones I thought of, but there are a lot.

 

What is your favorite book series?

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Ummm…I don’t have a single favorite series. Who does? My current top three favorite series are Stalking Jack the Ripper series by Kerri Maniscalco, The Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare, and An Ember in the Ashes series by Sabaa Tahir.

 

Who is your favorite author?

Again, how do you pick just one? Off the top of my head, a few of my favorite authors are Kerri Maniscalco, Sabaa Tahir, Renee Ahdieh, Cassandra Clare, Cynthia Hand, Laurie Halse Anderson, Robert Galbraith, Markus Zusak….

 

What is your favorite genre?

My favorite genre is fantasy, both adult and young adult.

 

Who is your favorite character from a series?

A recent new favorite character is Xiomara from The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo. She is a strong-willed girl that tries to hide her vulnerable side because the people around her just won’t get it, or at least she thinks most of them won’t. I felt so much for her and I identified with her.

 

Has a book ever transported you somewhere else?

It’s easy for me to get lost in a book, unless I am distracted.

 

Which book do you wish had a sequel?

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The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager, though I’m not sure how the plot would work out. The twist revealed at the end of this book has potential of being another good psychological thriller, depending on how the author chooses to go about it.

 

Which book do you wish DIDN’T have a sequel?

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Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes, the companion to You, should not exist.

 

How long does it take you to read a book?

It depends on a bunch of different factors. If I have a lot going on, I sometimes don’t have the energy to read. In those cases, it would take me longer than a week to finish a book. It also depends on page count; longer books, 500 and up, tend to take a while for me to get through, even if I do not have much going on.

 

Do you like when books become movies?

If it is done right.

Which book was ruined by its movie adaption?

Divergent (Divergent, #1)

Divergent by Veronica Roth, no question.

Which movie has done the book justice?

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The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, a movie I dare say I liked more than its source material.

 

Do you read newspapers?

Not as much as I should.

Do you read magazines?

Nope, I find them boring.

Do you prefer newspapers or magazines?

Neither.

 

Do you read while in bed?

Yes, I have gotten back into reading before bed, although I lapsed after starting the new semester.

 

Do you read on the toilet?

Ummm…no.

 

Do you read while in the car?

Does reading on a bus count? If not, no, I don’t read while in the car. I don’t know how to drive, so I am always the passenger looking out the window. On the bus, I will read if I am awake and the lighting allows it.

 

Do you read while in the bath?

If I had a bathtub or owned any kind of fancy bath products, I might. I don’t read in the shower, either. I don’t wear my glasses and I would hate to get my book wet.

 

Are you a fast reader?

I consider myself a fast reader, for the most part. Although sometimes maintaining my focus is hard.

 

Are you a slow reader?

Sometimes, if I’m struggling to focus or I’m not that invested in a book.

 

Where is your favorite place to read?

My living room couch.

 

Is it hard for you to concentrate when you read?

If there are too many distractions or I am just not in a good headspace at the moment, then I do have a hard time concentrating on reading. But if a book is really good, I can usually mentally block out noise around me.

 

Do you need a room to be silent when you read?

Not necessarily. If I am reading in my bedroom, I prefer to have my white noise machine on. I have managed to focus on reading in other noisier situations as well. Although, now I’m thinking about it, I might prefer silence.

 

Who gave you your love for reading?

My dad, who read bedtime stories every night when I was a child, and my aunt, who is a librarian and continued to encourage me to read while my parents wanted me to do more “normal” kid things.

 

What book is next on your list to read?

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Right now, I am currently reading The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan. While I am working my way through that, I will pick up the next books I need to read for my children’s literature class from the library.

 

When did you start to read chapter books?

Third grade.

Who is your favorite children’s author?

J.K. Rowling or Rick Riordan.

Which author would you most want to interview?

Carlos Ruiz Zafon seems like he would be interesting to talk to.

Which author do you think you would be friends with?

Christine Ricco of Polandbananasbooks on YouTube and the author of Again, But Better. She’s out loud quirky and I love those kinds of people. I think our respective energy would feed off each other.

 

What book have you reread the most?

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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, a book I have read at least three times.

 

Which books do you consider “classics?”

Books that have already been labeled “classics” are the books I think of as classics. Though Harry Potter is a good contender for this title.

 

Which books do you think should be taught in every school?

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Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds, Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan, and Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson.

 

Which books should be banned from all schools?

NO BANNING BOOKS! PERIOD!

I tag…EVERYONE!

Would you ever ban a book from a school? If so, which one?

(POST AT YOUR OWN RISK!)

Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 Reasons I Rate a Book 5 Stars

What makes me rate a book five stars? I never thought about that before….

When Shanah released the list of topics for January 2020, this is the topic I was most excited to write. I like it when I actually have to think of an answer.

For me to rate a book 5 stars, the book must have:

 

Great writing

If I don’t love an author’s writing style, chances are I’m not going to give it 5 stars. Sometimes, I do not mind juvenile or simplistic writing, as long as it goes with the narrative, such as the novel is told from the perspective of a younger protagonist. But if I find the writing too simplistic or cringey or repetitive, then forget it. If I think the writing style is beautiful, then I will give it a high rating.

 

A well thought-out plot and character development

Plot and character development go hand in hand in my book. Sometimes, I can overlook one for the sake of the other, but it has to be for a good reason. If a book is more of a character study and the protagonist goes through a major development, but there isn’t much a consistent plot, I’m fine with it. If a novel is more plot-driven without so much of a focus on characters, but the plot is entertaining, it’s no big deal. But to get 5 stars, the book has to have both in equal measures.

 

The ability to hold my attention, even when I’m not reading it

A common indicator that I will give a book 5 stars is if I’m thinking about reading it when I’m not reading it. If I am at work or school and I look for any excuse I can to take a break so I can read more, that is when I know a book is on the 5-star track. If I am in the process of reading the book and it’s the only thing holding my attention, that is also usually a sign of a 5-star read.

In short: if a book makes me ignore my responsibilities or my friends or my family, it’s a good book.

 

The ability to make me really think and feel something

I read for the enjoyment of reading. But I also don’t read just for the act of reading. I will read fluffy books to pass the time and relax. On the flip side to that, I tend to gravitate towards books with heavy plots or themes more often. If a book challenges my way of thinking, makes me consider something I hadn’t before, or makes me feel like I’m a real character in the book, then it is a candidate for a 5-star rating.

 

The ability to make me cry

I am genuinely not a book crier. I cry in movies, because the act of seeing it on the screen versus reading it on the page bothers me more. However, there are the exceptions that have made me cry in real sadness from what I read. And I’m talking real crying, not getting misty-eyed. If a book makes me shed tears, it’s a 5-star, hands down.

 

What makes you rate a book 5 stars?   

When You Work Near Three Bookstores (a book haul)

You read that right. I work near three bookstores.

When I’m strapped for cash, I can control myself. But when I’m getting a steady flow of money, my self-control is pretty much nil. There were points I tried to reign myself in. As you can probably tell, it didn’t always work out.

Oh well, I got new books. Pretty new books for you guys to look at.

 

A Gushing Fountain by Martin Walser, translated by David Dollemayer

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I found A Gushing Fountain inside the free books cart at the library I work in. It follows a young boy growing up in small-town Germany trying to live a normal life when Hitler comes into power. Though the people around him whisper Hitler can save them, the reality of what is happening does not fully hit the main character, Johann, until his older brother dies on the battlefield.

 

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

To Drink Coffee with a Ghost by Amanda Lovelace

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These two books were some of my most anticipated releases of 2019. I wasn’t going to buy The Testaments right away, then I saw it for 30% off at one of the bookstores and hesitation went out the window. As for To Drink Coffee with a Ghost, I had planned on reading this right as I bought it, as I usually do when I get a new Amanda Lovelace book. But once I realized this book was about the her tumultuous relationship with her late mother, I had decided it might be better if I put this one off. (You will find out how that went in a reading wrap-up.)

 

A Certain Age by Beatriz Williams

The Map of Salt and Stars by Zeyn Joukhadar

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier

The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo

Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

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The next six books I bought at the used bookstore. All of these were in amazing condition, and most of them new released hardcovers. I read Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale a few years ago and heard good things about The Great Alone. Jacqueline Woodson is an author I have heard so many great things about, yet I read only one of her books since middle school. I had been seeing Red at the Bone everywhere; the cover is too pretty to ignore.

A Certain Age is the third book I own written by Beatriz Williams and is an adult historical fiction featuring an age-gap romance. A Single Thread, The Night Tiger, and The Map of Salt and Stars were books I had been planned on getting from the library, eventually. I jumped at the chance to buy them when I saw them at such low prices.

 

The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis

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In my favorite bookstore near my work, they have a section where they sell discounted books in new or good condition. The Dollhouse was on sale for five dollars and I had ten….But I genuinely wanted it. Fiona Davis is a women’s fiction/historical fiction author I want to read more of. I really enjoyed her book The Address. The synopsis of all the books she has published thus far, as well as the next one she has coming out this summer, promise her a spot on my favorite historical authors list, right along with Ruta Sepetys.

 

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

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I originally read Through the Woods Halloween 2016 from the library. I finally got around to buying my own copy, intending to reread it Halloween 2019. That didn’t happen, but I did reread it. Through the Woods was my first read of 2020, and I’m glad I did it was. (More on that in a future wrap-up.)

 

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

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One of the most hyped-up books of the 2019, The Fountains of Silence is set in Spain during the Spanish Civil War. I want to read this book right now, but so many other books on my TBR have priority right now, including Ruta Septeys’s debut novel, Out of the Easy.

 

Warlight by Michael Ondaatje

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Swing Time by Zadie Smith

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I’ll admit…these three were impulse buys. Well, two of them, really. My school’s bookstore was selling some books 50% off. I was only going to get An American Marriage, as it was the one I wanted the most. Swing Time was on my radar, yet a book I kept forgetting about. Then, I read the synopsis more closely, realizing it follows an adult female friendship tested by a competition. Reading more diverse authors is something I need to work on. As for Warlight, it was a World War II mystery. That’s all I needed to know.

 

Capturing the Devil by Kerri Maniscalco

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The final novel in the Stalking Jack the Ripper series and will definitely be reading within the first six months of 2020. This series ending is both bitter and sweet. Thankfully, I have Kerri Maniscalco’s next book, Kingdom of the Wicked, to look forward to.

 

Now Entering Addamsville by Francesca Zappia

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In a past post, I said Francesca Zappia could probably write magical realism well. Now Entering Addamsville, which I found out was coming out after publishing that blog post, is a horror/mystery novel following a girl that can see ghosts and is being blamed for a series of murders. I have had a good track record with Francesca Zappia, so I’m hoping it stays that way with Now Entering Addamsville.

 

I, Claudia by Mary McCoy

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I, Claudia was one of the recommended books for my young adult literature class. I picked up to read from the library, except failed to finish it before it was due back, even after renewal. What I did read, however, I really enjoyed. I probably would have bought a copy anyway, if I had read it all the way through the first time.

 

The Library of Lost Things by Laura Taylor Namey

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The Library of Lost Things was a book I was low-key anticipating for 2019. It came out in October, and follows a teenaged girl trying to lead a normal life while hiding her mom’s extreme hoarding. My mom was a hoarder. Maybe not as bad as ones you might have seen on Hoarders, but the fact that it took such a big dumpster to clear out most of her stuff was enough to confirm it. Also, lately I’ve noticed I am more drawn to books, either young adult or adult, that center on relationships between mothers and daughters. Mostly bad ones, obviously.

 

Girls Like Me by Lola St. Vil

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Girls Like Me was a book I had my eye on for months after casually finding it on the shelf at one of the bookstores. Told in verse, the book follows a plus-size girl grieving the death of her father and dealing with bullying at school. Then, she falls for a boy online and wonders if she dares to open herself up to a new person.

 

Invisible Ghosts by Robyn Schneider

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Invisible Ghosts was one of my favorite reads of 2019 and one I originally read from the library. I loved the book’s portrayal of grief and coming out of one’s shell. I saw so much of myself in Rose, the main character. I still think about it often, too.

 

Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds

Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All by Laura Ruby

Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay

The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake

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 These last four books were on a “20% off” table at the bookstore where I eat at least once a week. Look Both Ways I bought because I had just read and loved Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds. I have already read it, but more on that in a wrap-up. The Last True Poets of the Sea I knew about since late 2018 or early 2019, as it is a queer intergenerational magical realism story about women on the sea, and it’s been a high priority to buy since then. Same for Patron Saints of Nothing, which follows a teenaged boy travelling to the Philippines to investigate the suspicious death of his cousin. Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All has the kind of synopsis that leads me to think I’m better off going into it blind.

 

If you worked near a bookstore, what would you do?

My Most Notable Books of the Decade

My memory is terrible. Most times, I don’t remember what I did the day before, never mind what happened ten years ago. Then, people on YouTube and WordPress started sharing their “favorite books of the decade.” I didn’t open a Goodreads account until 2012, but I did keep record of books I read prior to that. It also helps that I reread books a lot in high school.

I tried to keep this list as short as possible. Only I realized that picking one book for every year was easier said than done. So let’s get right to it.

 

2009

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Rapunzel: The One with All the Hair by Wendy Mass

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Bliss by Lauren Myracle

Jinx by Meg Cabot

The Darkest Powers trilogy by Kelley Armstrong (2009-2011)

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer (2009-2011?)

 

2010-2011

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Avalon High by Meg Cabot

My Sweet Audrina by V.C. Andrews

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Women of the Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong (2011-2015)

Heather Wells books 1-3 by Meg Cabot

 

2012-2013

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The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins (2012-2014)

The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff

The Millennium trilogy by Stieg Larsson

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

2014-2015

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The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare (2014-2015)

Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas (2014-2017)

Confessions series by James Patterson (2013-2015)

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Saga graphic novels

 

2016-2017

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We Believe You by Annie E. Clark and Andrea L. Pino

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

An Ember in the Ashes and A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir (2016-2017)

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

2018-2019

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Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace

To Make Monsters Out of Girls by Amanda Lovelace

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

 

The Secret Life of Bees and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian were books I read for book club, one of the few things I loved about high school. I would read the latter for about three more times over the next five years. Meg Cabot took up most of my junior high and high school years. I loved the Heather Wells series, despite never having finished it to this day, as well as Jinx and Avalon High. I read The Mediator series, my absolute favorite work ever by Meg Cabot, before the decade began, probably 2007 or 2008. Avalon High, as well as Rapunzel: The One with All the Hair by Wendy Mass, were I think the ones that inspired my love for fairy tale retellings.

If I had to pick the most notable books on this entire list, it is The Darkest Powers trilogy by Kelley Armstrong. Besides introducing me to my favorite genre—fantasy—it helped me find my niche in terms of writing. While I might enjoy reading contemporary or historical fiction, fantasy was the most fun and where I thought I produced my best work. Anna Dressed in Blood and The Space Between were other big influences on writing, as well as the dark, creepy novels of V.C. Andrews. I was also reading a lot of adult mystery thrillers at the time, hence the James Patterson books.

I started college in 2012 and graduated in 2016. 2012 is when I found Goodreads, which I found through the early days of BookTube, though I wasn’t so hardcore into it at that point. By 2015, however, I was reading a lot of the popular titles like Throne of Glass, The Mortal Instruments, and An Ember in the Ashes because of the steadily growing BookTube community. I was also adding books to my TBR left and right, and buying books now that I was making my own income. Something I’m sure many of you can relate to.

Though BookTube might have encouraged me to stretch my wallet a little too far, it also introduced me to a variety of books I never would have picked up on my own. 2015 or 2016 was the year I picked up graphic novels, which led to me finding the Saga series.

Honestly, it is truly hard for me to explain why so many of these books are notable. They just are. There are books, like The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace, that came to me right when I needed them. There are books like The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo and Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia where I saw myself genuinely portrayed in a fictional character. Even books I only read once and didn’t necessarily love I still think about from time to time. All the books I read impact me in some way or teach me something I needed to know. I would like to think this is the same for all readers.

 

What were your most notable books of the decade?

 

 

Top 5 Tuesday: Five Books I NEED to Read in 2020

I admit…I was not going to do this week’s Top 5 Tuesday….

I realized two things. First, I apparently like to deny myself things I want to read. Second, when I went on that book buying ban at the beginning of 2019, I was consumed with library books to compensate for not being able to buy any. Between these, I ignored the books I wanted/needed to read off my TBR.

Four out of the five books from last year’s post are still on my TBR. It would be too embarrassing and anxiety-inducing to repeat the list. But the ones on today’s post are books I have wanted to read for ages anyway. Most of them I plan on reading within the next few months, as they are already sitting on my nightstand.

Five (of many) books I need to read in 2020 are:

 

Escaping from Houdini and Capturing the Devil by Kerri Maniscalco

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I hesitated reading Escaping from Houdini for fear of a book hangover when it came out in 2018. That, and the reviews were not great. Now, Capturing the Devil is out, with more promising feedback. Although, there is something bittersweet to the end of one of my favorite series.

 

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue/The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy/The Gentleman’s Guide to Getting Lucky by Mackenzi Lee

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This series by Mackenzi is just one I really want to get into. Diverse historical fiction is something I want to read more of. Plus, there is a fourth book in this series coming out in 2020, The Nobleman’s Guide to Ships and Scandals.

 

My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

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I loved My Lady Jane by these authors. I love Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I love historical fantasy. I loved the other books written by Cynthia Hand I read. In short, I want to read My Plain Jane and stop denying myself things I want.

 

Prisoner of Night and Fog/Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke by Anne Blankman

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The Prisoner of Night and Fog duology is a series I have owned for literally years and never read it. In case you didn’t know, it is a young adult historical fiction set in World War II Germany and follows Hitler’s niece, Gretchen, who learns what an evil man her uncle truly is and helps a Jewish reporter uncover a conspiracy. If that doesn’t sound awesome, I don’t know what does.  

 

The Madman’s Daughter, Her Dark Curiosity, and A Cold Legacy by Megan Shepard

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Another series I have owned for years and not read. I honestly have no idea why. Each book is a retelling of a classic horror novel following the daughter of a mad scientist trying to outrun her father’s legacy while coming to terms with her own dark impulses. I definitely need to read The Madman’s Daughter trilogy in 2020.

 

Sadly, these books are not the only books I need to read in 2020. They are just the tip of the iceberg….

2019 Bookish Survey

I’ll be honest guys…I felt a little lazy with this post.

When I first drafted my 2019 bookish survey, I followed the survey created by Perpetual Pages. However, beyond the basics stats and a few other details, there is not a lot I wanted to talk about in terms of my reading for 2019.

Graduate school has taken up most of my life. My TBR was constantly put aside due to stress as well as other outside forces. Thus, 2019 was a mediocre reading year. Not that I didn’t read any good books or completely lose an interest in reading. I just was not reading what I wanted to.

I realize now it was a combination of stress of school, the book buying ban I went on at the beginning of the year, as I found myself using the library almost too much, and the fact that I apparently like to deny myself things I want.

Now that we got that therapy session out of the way, here is my 2019 bookish survey.

 

Basic Statistics

Number of books read: 59

Number of rereads: 3

Average length of books I read: 284 pages

Pages read: 16, 775 pages read across 59 books

Average rating for 2019: 3.7

 

2019 Reading Resolutions Recap

“Unofficially” read 30 books

Prioritize and marathon series

Make smaller TBRs but be flexible

Unhaul books

Practice borrowing before buying

 

What do I think of this?

Given that I set a goal of 30 books and read 59 while being a graduate student and working part-time, this is pretty impressive. The 3 books I reread were for school.

The average length of books I read—284 pages—bothers me probably more than it should. The same goes for the page count, 16, 775 pages across 59 books. These particular stats brought to my attention that I was not reading a lot of bigger books, like I had done in previous years. The longest book I read in 2019 was 560 pages.

I know a lower page count isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Considering the circumstances, it makes sense. I was gravitating towards shorter books, not having the focus for long books, due to all my energy being thrown into school. However, it also means I wasn’t challenging myself as a reader and that the larger books on my TBR, such as the Cassandra Clare and Sarah J. Maas books, were ignored. Not to mention all the adult high fantasy I’ve had on my Amazon wish list and Goodreads for who knows how long.

The average rating of 2019 does not surprise me at all even as it disappoints me. Like I said, I had a rather mediocre reading year. Nine books were 5 star reads, and three were 1 star reads. Another three were 2 stars. The rest were between 3 and 4 stars. Even most of the 5 stars I read this year are not ones I am filled with joy thinking about, compared to some others.

Again, this is my own fault. I disregarded the series I wanted to prioritize and marathon—the books that were genuinely making me excited about reading—out of stress. I was also using the library more in order to sedate my urges to buy books during my self-imposed book-buying ban. If I had stuck to the resolution of prioritizing and marathoning series, I might have had a better reading year in terms of the average rating.

 

Blogging & Bookish Life

For the thousandth time already…grad school took over my life. My blog, and my creativity, suffered as much as reading did.

I did not have any favorite posts that I wrote this year. I wrote stuff I liked, but nothing comes to mind at the moment. If I wasn’t in school, I was focused on work. If I wasn’t focused on work, school had my attention. There was a point where I felt slumpy, when even rereading old favorites for a class was a struggle. A few books, like The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo, pulled me out of it, only for me to be shoved back under with books like Landscape with Invisible Hand by M.T. Anderson.

Eventually, though, I reached a point where I realized I needed a creative outlet in order to function. Towards the end of the previous semester, I made it a point to work blogging around schoolwork. This proved beneficial and I’m hoping I can continue to do so once I am in the throes of my final semester.

I sound like such a negative Nelly. My bookish life was not all bad in 2019. I used my local library a lot, as you probably already guessed. I’m putting myself through this torture to become a librarian, so naturally I should support the institution. I love the library I currently work in. There are three bookstores near where I work. I did an unhaul of books a few months ago when my school did a book drive for a program in Rwanda. I’m sure there were a lot of other good bookish things that happened in 2019…if only my memory wasn’t so terrible.

 

Looking Ahead

The amount of TBR books still sitting unread on my bookshelves is embarrassing. I know I own them and I can read them whenever I want. But these books have sat unread for longer than they should have. Not to mention all the series I’ve fallen behind on.

What is my number one priority book of 2020? All the books. A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir…A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas…Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab…Lord of Shadows and Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare….I could go on….

I’m anticipating a lot of books in 2020, as well. That doesn’t help my TBR, or my wallet in some cases. The Burning God by R.F. Kuang…Aurora Burning by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff…Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare…The Night Country by Melissa Albert. Those are just the tip of the iceberg. Not to mention all the new-to-me authors coming out with their debuts or the next installments of series in 2020. That is a whole other post in and of itself.

In 2020, I would like to get back to blogging consistently, as well as provide more creative content for my platform. I’m hoping I can work that around school, particularly since I want to get back into doing monthly TBRs and wrap-ups. Getting back into doing regular book reviews would also be ideal.

The main blogging goal for 2020 would be to start a blog series. Like continuing with the “recommending books I didn’t like” posts. As well as doing recommendation posts for hidden gems. I would also like to work on other ideas I’ve had, like a “random reads” series, where I go to the library and pick up a bunch of books on a whim, then review them in a single post. I might get back into reacting to rereads, like I did with Harry Potter before I gave up. With The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes coming out in May, I might do one for the original The Hunger Games trilogy. Lastly, writing more discussion posts, too, is something I want to work on content for.

My main reading goal of 2020 is read all my priority books. To give myself motivation, I am only allowing myself to buy books once I complete between 10 to 20 books off my priority TBR (after January, my birthday month). Sticking to reading lists yet making sure I’m flexible is another. I know now I’m not a mood reader, but allowing myself to change my mind is important, so I don’t become a stickler in all aspects of my life. Reading is not that serious.

Reflecting on 2019 actually makes me excited for 2020, if you can believe that. I have a feeling it will be a good year for reading. 2020 feels like it might be a good year overall.

Hopefully I didn’t just jinx it….

(Belated) Barnes & Noble Blowout Book Haul

I was actually in the process of typing this original post in September when I started school. I forgot I had it until I realized I never actually shared what I bought during the Barnes & Noble blowout sale summer 2019. Which is a shame, because all of these books I am excited for and some of you have convinced me to read with your own blogs.

This haul is round one of my “End of 2019 book haul” posts. It is what happens to me when I have money.

 

Never-Contented Things by Sarah Porter

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Never-Contented Things was an impulse buy. I own Sarah Porter’s novel Vassa in the Night that I got from an Owlcrate box but have not read. When I saw this book on sale, I resisted. Then, I saw that Never-Contented Things is about an evil fairy Prince’s obsession with two mortal foster-siblings. After reading Holly Black, I want to read more into darker side of fairies.

 

Slayer by Kiersten White

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Though I have only read one or two of Kiersten White’s books, I like her writing and storytelling. Slayer takes place in the same world as Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Admittedly, I never watched Buffy. I was too young when the show aired and my love of vampires really didn’t happen until Twilight. I do like the concept of Slayer though: a girl who resents Buffy Summers discovers she is the last Slayer, a fate she does not want. I like it when books turn the Chosen One tropes on their heads.

 

White Stag by Kara Barbieri

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A lesser-known fantasy, White Stag follows Janneke, the youngest of seventeen sisters that was raised to be the male heir. The sole survivor of her village’s massacre, she is abducted by goblins. To survive, she dives deeper into her more “monstrous” side, all the while luring her captor, Soren, further into the world of humanity. White Stag should be an interesting one.

 

Crown of Feathers by Nicki PauPreto

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I have wanted to buy Crown of Feathers for so long, since it came out February 2019. When I saw it on sale, I did not hesitate. Two sisters on opposing sides, one an evil queen and the other disguising herself as a boy to join an elite group of phoenix riders. Best part, the sequel, Heart of Flames, is coming out in two months.

 

Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

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Four Dead Queens has gotten mixed reviews since its release. It has been compared to Divergent by some reviewers. However, it is a stand-alone fantasy with a murder mystery and the protagonist is a thief that accidentally gets swept up in the plot, teaming up with someone else to save the queens before they are assassinated. Thus, I’m willing to give it a chance.

 

Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith

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Another book I have wanted since it came out, Bloodleaf is a retelling of The Goose Girl with blood magic. A princess with blood magic, hated by her own people, is forced to go on the run. As a peasant, she has the freedom and happiness she never had before. But when her past comes back to get her, she must ask herself if she’s willing to give up all she has now to save the people that wanted her gone.

 

Sky Without Stars by Jessica Brody and Joanne Rendell

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Yet another book I have wanted to buy since it came out, Sky Without Stars is sold as Les Miserables in space. After I watched the anniversary production on TV, I’m more fascinated with the original story. So, naturally, I have high expectations.

 

Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

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I will admit…I did not pay much attention to Sky in the Deep when it came out. I was not that interested in Vikings. Then, everyone started raving about it. The book finally got my attention when the sequel, The Girl the Sea Gave Back, was released. As for Sky in the Deep, it follows a seventeen-year-old warrior who sees her brother, who she thought dead, fighting on the battlefield with an enemy clan. This leads to her clan and her brother’s new one to put aside their differences to defeat an ancient enemy out to kill them all.

Side note: I like stories where enemies have to team up to take down another, bigger bad.

 

The Tiger at Midnight by Swati Teerdhala

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The Tiger at Midnight is another story where enemies have to team up. I had this book on another Top 5 Tuesday post, my most anticipated debuts this summer. After reading The Wrath and the Dawn and An Ember in the Ashes, I was looking for more desert fantasies. Best part, an assassin and a solider, both with ties to a bloodthirsty, powerful general, work together but they both think they are calling the shots. Only both are pawns in a deadly political game.

 

Hope and Other Punchlines by Julie Buxbaum

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Soon-to-be seventeen-year-old Abbi’s life has been forever marked by a photo: her as a toddler in a paper crown, holding a balloon as the Twin Towers burst into flame behind her. When she gets a job as a camp counselor two towns over, she thinks she finally has a reprise from notoriety. But when she meets Noah, whose life has been impacted by “Baby Hope,” the two must work together to ask difficult questions neither is sure they want the answers to.

 

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

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I bought With the Fire on High right after I bought The Poet X for school. Now that I know I love Elizabeth Acevedo’s writing, my expectations are through the roof. I also have not read a lot of books with teen mothers as protagonists or where cooking is at the forefront. And can we take a moment to appreciate how gorgeous this cover is?

 

Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart

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I read We Were Liars a few years ago and really liked it. Genuine Fraud is another book by this author has gotten mixed reviews. I’ve also heard that this one is as mind-boggling, if not more so, than We Were Liars. That’s all I want to know. I think Genuine Fraud is one of those books best to go into blind.

 

Nocturna by Maya Motayne

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Nocturna is a fantasy based in Dominican mythology following a grief-stricken prince and a shape-shifting thief. And there is death magic. If the insides are as beautiful as the outside, I expect a very, very good novel.

 

All Our Broken Pieces by L.D. Crichton

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Lennon Davis is a troubled girl with OCD trying to escape her tragic past. Kyler Benton is her neighbor that watches her flick her light switch twenty-five times a night from his treehouse. Despite his father’s warnings, Kyler can’t stay away from Lennon, his new muse, even as he hides from everyone else under his oversized hoodies. Can anyone say angsty teen romance?

 

The Things She’s Seen by Ambelin Kwaymullina and Ezekiel Kwaymullina

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A murder mystery told through a perspective of a ghost? I’m in! Beth watches over her grief-stricken detective father since the accident she died. He is the only one that can see and hear her, until Isobel. Isobel is the only connection Beth’s father has to the crime he investigating, a fire at a youth correctional facility where a body burned beyond recognition was discovered. This leads into a heartbreaking mystery and friendship that transcends life and death.  

 

Amelia Westlake was Never Here by Erin Gough

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Isn’t this cover adorable? Harriet is a wealthy, smart, perfect overachiever and Will is a troublemaker who has never met an injustice she didn’t fight. And they hate each other. But when the swim coach’s inappropriate behavior is swept under the rug, the girls join forces (see a theme here?). They pose as Amelia Westlake, who takes on the wrongs happening at their private school. And fall for each other in the process.

 

The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg

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Ana is one of the seven princesses, an android working in The Kingdom, an immersive fantastical theme park. Her only purpose is to make dreams come true…until she falls in love with a park employee named Owen. When she is charged with his murder, it ignites a trial of the century. Through courtroom testimonies and her memories, Ana will unravel a story of love and lies, and learn what it means to be human.

 

This Time Will Be Different by Misa Sugiura

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Another beautiful cover, This Time Will Be Different follows a teen girl and her aunt trying to save their family’s flower shop from the family that turned on hers when her grandparents were sent to an internment camp during World War II. Not much else I want or need to know.

 

The Haunted by Danielle Vega

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Danielle Vega is an author where I own most of her books and have read none of them. The Haunted follows a teen girl with a wild past that moves to an old haunted house in a small town with her family. She thinks her new town won’t offer any excitement, but it will get her away from the horrors she experienced in her old one. Only when weird things start happening inside her new house, she enlists the help of a local boy to get to the bottom of it before she’s next.

 

Midnight Beauties by Megan Shepard

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Midnight Beauties is the sequel to Grim Lovelies, a fantasy set in Paris following animals turned to humans trying to solve the mystery of who killed the witch that turned them. And I have not read Grim Lovelies yet. I’m looking forward to reading this duology, though I’m not sure when I will get to it.

 

Which of these books have you read? What did you think of them?  

Worst & Most Disappointing Books of 2019

I would like to consider myself a critical reader. In more recent years, I have become more selective with the books I choose to read. The thing is, I want to also make sure I span my horizons if I ever want to be a reader’s advisory librarian. But, still, there are still a few flops in between the gems.

Fact is, not everyone reads the same book. Just because one person did not like a book does not diminish its value. Or the value of the people who like the book the person did not like.

The thing is, a year ago, I did not like throwing salt on books. Either because people got offended or thought something was wrong with them for liking a book. We all know that is not the case. (At least, I hope so.)

Now, I just want to throw around some shade when I’m having a bad day. Some of the books on this list I can say I genuinely did not like; the rest were ones I was looking forward to but they disappointed me.

The worst and most disappointing books I read in 2019 were:

 

Kill My Mother by Jules Feiffer

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It feels a little unfair to put Kill My Mother on this list. I found it randomly in the graphic novels section of the public library. But this story was a complete mess, no matter how much I liked the noir style artwork.

 

The King of Elfland’s Daughter by Lord Dunsany

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I went into this book expecting one of the “best fantasy novels of all time,” as according to a list I found while I was doing a project for school. Instead I got something without plot, dialogue, character development, any substance to speak of. In short, I was glad to return it to the library.

 

Landscape with Invisible Hand by M.T. Anderson

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I had to read Landscape with Invisible Hand for school. That’s my own fault; I chose this one because it was the shortest. Plus, 2019 was the year of me liking science fiction. I wanted to give it a chance. Then, I read Landscape with Invisible Hand. It had a poorly executed plot and flat characters. Everything about this book was one-dimensional.

 

The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

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The Near Witch is Victoria Schwab’s debut novel and a product of the 2015 young adult. As in, the cast was predominantly white, the main character was all about the “I’m not like other girls,” and the insta-love took the stage midst the characters trying to find missing children. While I would not say I hated this book, The Near Witch was definitely not up to par with This Savage Song or Vicious.

 

Where I Live by Brenda Rufener

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A book about teen homelessness filled with kids trying too hard to be quirky. The characters were two-dimensional at best, same as the plot. Where I Live had so much potential, then fell flat. I’m pretty sure this was a debut novel as well, so I can’t judge the author too harshly.

 

In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak

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This is another book I feel unfair about putting on this list. In the Night Kitchen was a book I randomly selected off the American Library Association’s list of most banned books. Also, it was a children’s picture book, so maybe it’s too young for me now. (Which is alarming, as I am taking a class on children’s literature this spring.) In the Night Kitchen was the book that helped me realize I don’t have patience for nonsense.

 

The Everlasting Rose by Dhonielle Clayton

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I went into The Everlasting Rose expecting it to be the final novel in a duology. As much as I liked Camille, her love interest Remy, and her sisterhood with her fellow Belles, not to mention the trials and tribulations that come with being a Belle, this whole book was a let-down. The plot was a drag, yet rushed to reach a conclusion at the end. I left The Everlasting Rose very unsatisfied.

 

Dancing with the Enemy: My Family’s Holocaust Secret by Paul Glaser

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Dancing with the Enemy is one of the few nonfiction books that I had been on my radar for years. Set during WWII, it follows a dance teacher giving lessons to Nazis to survive. How does that not sound incredible? Yet this book was just flat. I felt nothing for anyone. The writing made me feel disconnected. No matter what I learned, I got nothing out of it.

 

 

What was your least favorite book of 2019?

 

My Favorite Books I Read in 2019

I read 59 books in 2019. For a graduate student working a part-time job, that’s not terrible. And it’s two books more than I read in 2018. However, much like 2018, I still had a rather “meh” of a reading year. Unlike 2018, I do not have a specific favorite book in 2019. Although, I think I had more favorites this year than I’ve had in recent years, which is also saying something.

Quality over quantity, right?

My favorite books of 2019 are:

 

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

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I could not find a single flaw with this book. The writing was beautiful. I loved the protagonist, Xiomara, and related to her so much. Thanks to school, I finally got to read The Poet X this year before it got so far gone on my TBR backburner. It is probably one of the books that saved my reading this year.

 

They Called Us Enemy by George Takei

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Another book I read for school, and it is a memoir/nonfiction graphic novel. While I have had graphic novels on my favorites list, I don’t think I have ever included any memoirs or nonfiction books. 2019 was the year of nonfiction, which I will go further into in my yearly reading review.

But They Called Us Enemy follows Star Trek actor George Takei as a child living inside a American Japanese internment camp during World War II. The thing that blew me away about this graphic novel was how forgiving Takei was towards the American government. Despite what he, his family, and so many others had to endure, he understands that the government reacted out of fear and fear makes people act irrationally. They Called Us Enemy was just compelling overall.

 

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

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Jason Reynolds is an author I have known about for years. School is what made me finally read Long Way Down, which I had bought intending to read it whenever. The book is written in the most beautiful, emotional verse, with a realistic portrayal of grief and a look at certain rules in a community that do not have to be a way of life. I read this book in a day. I don’t know how I managed to function afterwards.

 

Saga, Vol. 9 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples

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Has there ever been a year where a Saga comic hasn’t ended up on my favorites list? I don’t think so. Right now, if I had to pick a favorite in the series so far, it would be Volume 9. What I had anticipated since Volume 1 finally happened. Only it was not quite what I expected. It left me feeling like “What the f–k!” 

And now I have to wait over a year for Volume 10….

 

Voices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc by David Elliott

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Voices is one of the most unexpected books of the year. I went into it knowing I would like it, as Joan of Arc is one of my favorite historical figures. Plus, I generally enjoy books written in verse. It was how much I liked Voices—reading it in a day, giving it five stars—is what surprised me.

The book is not just written in verse; it is written in different forms of medieval poetry. And it’s not just written from Joan’s point of view. We also get the point of view of other people involved, as well as objects, even the fire as she is burned at the stake. In between are transcripts from the trial where she was convicted as a heretic and the other that cleared her of wrongdoing centuries later. Most of all, it was the emotion I felt for Joan, who was turned on by the very people she risked her life to protect, that made Voices a new favorite.

 

To Make Monsters Out of Girls by Amanda Lovelace

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Since 2018, Amanda Lovelace is quickly making her way up to my favorite authors. To give you an idea, To Make Monsters Out of Girls is after To Drink Coffee with a Ghost and The Princess Saves Herself in This One but comes before The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One and The Mermaid’s Voice Returns in This One. But I still gave it five stars. It covered important women’s issues and told reality as it was. Amanda Lovelace did not shy away from admitting the mistakes she had made in her life, but said those mistakes did not diminish her worth. The same goes for everyone else. That is something all people need to hear, not just women.

 

The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang

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I read The Dragon Republic over the summer and I think about it almost daily. This one is more of a political fantasy with a lot of battle scenes and magic woven in. Not all the characters, the protagonist Rin included, are likeable. But they are real people making real mistakes. R.F. Kuang does not shy away from the realities of war, racism, drug abuse, and trauma, among other things. While there is no specific romance, the possible relationship in this series and what happened between them made me feel the butterflies, then tore my heart out at the end. Though I liked the first book, The Poppy War, it was The Dragon Republic that won me over.

 

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

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I went back and forth on reading Scythe for years, since its release. Young adult dystopian novels are a hit or miss for me. Everyone and their mother was singing praises for Scythe, yet I kept ignoring it. Then, I had to read it for my young adult literature class this past semester. I could not stop reading, even when I had other homework I had to do. It even made me cry at one point, which rarely happens. As soon as I finished reading, I bought the sequels, and you better believe I will be finishing the Scythe trilogy in 2020.

 

Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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Another surprising favorite of 2019, I went into Aurora Rising with low expectations. I did not love Illuminae by these authors. Initially, I was going to ignore Aurora Rising but seeing the beautiful cover everywhere made it hard. Now, I’m glad I gave this book a chance. I loved all the characters and their individual sense of humor. The plot was fast-paced and sucked me right in. I love all the couples, even though I still kind of ship everyone with each other. I’m awaiting Aurora Burning (with my alien fae baby Kal on the cover) on pins and needles.

 

A School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin

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A School for Unusual Girls seemed like a lighthearted historical romance. While it feels like that at first, there is more to it. I loved the narrator, Georgie, and all the other girls in the spy school, Stranje House. The romances were just adorable, and all the male characters will make your knees weak. And the plot was fast-paced and compulsively readable. A School for Unusual Girl was absolutely fun and cute.

 

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus

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Two Can Keep a Secret was a book I checked out from the library with low expectations. Mostly because I did not hear the best things about Karen M. McManus’s debut novel, One of Us is Lying. Two Can Keep a Secret intrigued me, though. This was another favorite book I flew through and had so much fun reading. I liked all the characters and there was diversity without it being in your face. The ending is what threw me for a loop—one of the best I have read in a young adult mystery novel.

 

Invisible Ghosts by Robyn Schneider

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What I loved so much about Invisible Ghosts was how accurately I saw my high school self—maybe even my current self—in a fictional character. It hit close to home in a lot of different ways: the complicated feelings of grief, finally finding your “people,” and the familiarity of living inside your own shell while wanting to break out of it. Invisible Ghosts, now that I own a copy, is one I definitely plan on rereading sooner rather than later.

 

A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

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One word to describe A Crown of Wishes: beautiful. Beautiful writing, beautiful atmosphere, and beautiful characters. I loved the setting of this novel more than I did the one in The Star-Touched Queen, with the exciting games, the magical riddles, and trickster gods and monsters. I liked the characters in this one more than the ones in the previous novel, too. They were all flawed, especially the female lead Gauri, but they learned from their mistakes and grew from them.

 

Windwitch, Sightwitch, and Bloodwitch by Susan Dennard

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Ever read a book series you were excited about, loved all the books currently out, and then regretted it? I finally caught up with the Witchlands series after reading Truthwitch, the first book, in 2017. While the magic systems are somewhat confusing to me even after four books, I admit I’m in it more for the characters and kingdom politics at this point. I am attached to all the main characters and some of the secondary characters, while there are plenty others I think can go choke. And there is so much fascinating political maneuvering that puts Game of Thrones to shame. I have no idea how I will survive as I wait for the next book without any set release date.

 

I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

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Nobody talks about I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak, and when they do they don’t have anything nice to say. I liked it regardless. I loved Ed Kennedy’s snarky sense of humor, and I consider him book boyfriend material. It brought up a lot of valid social questions, particularly those regarding young people trying to find their way in the world. Needless to say, having loved two of Markus Zusak’s books, it raised the bar for Bridge of Clay.

 

Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson

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Laurie Halse Anderson is an author that also never disappoints me and one I am desperately behind on her books. Shout is her memoir, written in verse, about her sexual assault when she was thirteen and the rest of her life following that, leading up to her writing Speak. Shout made me think and feel things that so many other people try to sweep under the rug, maintaining a hopeful feeling throughout.

 

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

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Persepolis was another book I had had on my radar for years and finally read it in 2019. Only the first volume is on my favorites list, though. This one is set in Iran during the 1970s and at the height of the new regime. The author was a young girl growing up in an upper-class family during the political uprising and was directly impacted by what was going on in the country at the time. Besides the social and political criticism, Persepolis was also filled with emotional turbulence that made me want to put it on my favorites list.

 

And, of course, what is a favorites list without….

 

Honorable Mentions

Vicious by Victoria Schwab

 

Praise Song for the Butterflies by Bernice L. McFadden

 

Evermore by Sara Holland

 

True Notebooks by Mark Salzman

 

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

 

Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar

 

Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan

 

You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins

 

Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

 

What were your favorite books that you read in 2019?