The Book Buying Ban is Over!

My book buying ban is over guys! Well, sort of…

I got a temp job at a fine arts library for the next twelve weeks. I’m itching to apply for another job, too, one that’s recently opened up that I really, really want (and it could potentially be longer term, too). If not that, then an internship.

Thing is, the temp assignment only started this week….

I was out of a job for months. Taxes came through for me this year. I thought I could hold out until the summer before I bought more books. Then, as you will see, I cracked. I managed to get to my favorite independent bookstore. Barnes and Noble had new releases for half price as well as sales and so did Books a Million. But, to be honest, I’m pretty impressed with myself that I lasted for so long.

As for the “sort of” part…the right thing for me to do is save money for the next two months as I get settled into my new job. Will I stick to that? I hope so.

Until then, here are the books I bought:


Sightwitch and Bloodwitch by Susan Dennard

The novella and the third book in the Witchlands series. I wanted to get into this series after reading the first book Truthwitch then buying the second novel Windwitch, then never did. Technically, I bought Sightwitch and Bloodwitch back in February, which led me into the book buying ban in the first place. But these are priority reads for the summer.


The Mermaid’s Voice Returns in This One by Amanda Lovelace


One of my most anticipated reads of the year. I bought the pretty Target exclusive edition. Amanda Lovelace is neck and neck with Emily Dickinson as one of my favorite poets, but sadly, I didn’t love The Mermaid’s Voice Returns in This One like I was expecting to. Check out my latest reading wrap up for my full spoiler thoughts.


The Library Book by Susan Orlean


A mandatory read if you are a librarian or a library science student. It is a nonfiction novel surrounding the fire at the Los Angeles Public Library in the 1980s and the author’s speculations on who/what caused the fire and why. She also goes into her love of books and libraries overall. I had this on hold at my library, but the list was long and my demanding school schedule caused me to cancel the hold (and return all the other books I had checked out at that time). Now, I own it.


The Handmaid’s Tale graphic novel by Margaret Atwood and illustrated by Renee Nault


A semi-impulse buy, I found this while browsing the book section of Target. I’ve wanted to reread The Handmaid’s Tale, especially with The Testaments coming out this fall. I didn’t want to read this right away, only I kept picking it up to gaze at the artwork. I read this recently, too. More on that in my reading wrap up.


Mist, Metal, and Ash by Gwendolyn Clare


This is the sequel to Iron, Ink, and Glass, which I have not yet read. It is a series set in an alternate history of 18th century Italy. The main character and her mother have the ability to, literally, rewrite reality through an ancient magical form of writing called scriptology. When her mother is kidnapped, the protagonist, Elsa, joins a secret society of people like her with an assassin on her tail. Unfortunately, I’ve heard virtually nothing about this series on social media, but I’m still hopeful.


The Wicked King by Holly Black


At this point in time, I still have not yet read The Cruel Prince. To be honest, I was hesitant about Holly Black after reading The Coldest Girl in Coldtown last year. Then, I read The Darkest Part of the Forest from the library and really enjoyed it. I like Holly Black’s take on fairy lore. Hopefully, I will get to both The Cruel Prince and The Wicked King around the time The Queen of Nothing comes out in November, so I can marathon.


Lady Smoke by Laura Sebastian


Lady Smoke is the sequel to another unread book I own, Ash Princess. It follows a princess who uses political maneuvering instead of a sword to get her kingdom back from the tyrant that murdered her mother then held the protagonist captive for ten years. From what little I’ve heard, Ash Princess has gotten mediocre reviews and there’s been next to nothing about Lady Smoke. That’s fine with me, though.


The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin


The Immortalists follows the four Gold siblings: Simon, Klara, Daniel, and Varya. In 1969, they sneak out in the middle of the night to have their fortunes told by a travelling psychic. She tells them when they are going to die, thus impacting each of the children differently as they move forward in their lives.

Literary fiction is a genre I’ve been getting more into within the last year or so, and most of what I read, I enjoyed. The Immortalists sounds like an interesting, thought-provoking one.


The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor


In 1986, Eddie and his friends are bored kids when they find a dismembered dead body in the woods surrounding their small English village. Next to the body is a chalk figure, just like the ones they use as their secret code. In 2016, now an adult, Eddie is trying to move on with his life when he receives a letter in the mail with a chalk figure drawn on it and then finds out his friends got the same message. One of them is dead.

I tend to enjoy mysteries that surround secrets or trauma from the main character’s childhood. The Chalk Man is an underrated adult mystery/thriller and I tend to really enjoy those. We shall see.


A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles


A Gentleman in Moscow is set in 1922 Russia. Count Alexander Rostov is sentenced to house arrest inside a luxury hotel, deemed an unrepentant aristocrat under the Bolshevik tribunal. Despite being trapped, the tall, imposing count has the perfect view of the political unrest in his country, as well as his eccentric, eclectic neighbors in the hotel. I don’t know much about Russia’s political history, so A Gentleman in Moscow will be an interesting read for me.


Losing It by Emma Rathbone


Admittedly, Losing It does not have the best reviews on Goodreads, only the plot hits so close to home. Julia Greenfield is still a virgin at twenty-six. She goes to visit her mysterious aunt Vivienne in North Carolina and discovers her aunt, at fifty-eight, is also a virgin. While trying to unravel the secrets of her aunt’s past, Julia spends the summer trying to prevent meeting the same fate.


The Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu


The first book in an adult fantasy trilogy set in the Shadowhunters universe, The Red Scrolls of Magic following Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood. While they are on vacation in Paris, an old friend of Magnus’s arrives to inform them a cult called the Crimson Hand is going around Europe raising demons. The cult was allegedly started by Magnus years ago—as a joke—but he’s taking the blame for it. Now, he and Alec have to chase the cult’s mysterious leader to clear his name. And, I would just like to point out, The Red Scrolls of Magic is probably the shortest Cassandra Clare book I’ve ever seen.


Night Music by Jenn Marie Thorne


Night Music is one of those hidden gems I found at the indie bookstore I’m shocked I haven’t seen anywhere on social media. It follows two music prodigies who are forced to work together when the boy becomes an apprentice to the girl’s famous composer father. After she flunks an audition to a prestigious music school where her father is on the faculty, Ruby has no idea what to do with herself. Oscar is a talented young composer determined to make a name for himself and does not intend on falling for his white benefactor’s white daughter. But with the connection between the two of them as hot as the New York summer, it’s easier said than done.


The Waking Forest by Alyssa Wees


While the plot of this next hidden gem does intrigue me, if I’m being honest, it was the cover that lured me in. The Waking Forest follows two main characters. The first is Rhea, whose backyard is at the edge of the Waking Forest, home of the Witch, the second protagonist. Rhea sees dark shapes lurking in her backyard that quickly vanish when she reaches them. The Waking Forest is home for the Witch, who sits on her throne of bones waiting for dreaming children to beg her to grant a wish. Both girls are approached by a mysterious stranger that offers them a chance to answer their wishes, if only they are willing to play a game. Rhea’s path collides with the Witch as the two find themselves trapped in the midst of deadly secrets to survive.


The Weight of a Thousand Feathers by Brian Conaghan


I apparently have a knack for finding “sick mom lit,” because I happened upon this one at the indie bookstore, too. The Weight of a Thousand Feathers follows Bobby Seed, who is trying to keep it together while taking care of his terminally ill mother, watching his younger brother, and navigating the waters of his relationship with his best female friend that wants a different kind of title. All while being a teenager still in high school. Then, his mom asks him to help her end her pain for good. Though the synopsis doesn’t outright say it, The Weight of a Thousand Feathers sounds like it’s going to be touching upon the topic of assisted suicide, which is a bold move to make for a young adult novel.


Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson


Shout was one of my most anticipated reads of the year. It is a free verse memoir poetry collection by Laurie Halse Anderson, beginning with her rape at thirteen by a “friend,” leading into her becoming an author and an advocate for survivors of sexual assault. I also recently read Shout, so you can find my full thoughts in my reading wrap up.


Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds


Long Way Down was previously a library book I had checked out but had not gotten around to reading. It is another free verse poetry novel, this one taking place during a teenaged boy’s elevator ride on his way to kill the person who murdered his brother. The elevator stops at different floors and he meets people who have already died that try to talk him out of his mission. I don’t know what it is, but I’ve been really getting into free verse novels lately. And, so far, I’m enjoying them.


A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena


The cover of A Girl Like That—a girl wearing sunglasses and a hijab on the cover along with the pink cheetah-print spine—has always caught my eye whenever I saw it in the library or the bookstore. For some reason, I never picked it up until now, when I finally read the synopsis.

The religious police is Jeddah, Saudi Arabia are called to the scene of a car accident where sixteen-year-old Zarin Wadia and her eighteen-year-old boyfriend Porus Dumasia are found dead. Though a good student and a bright, vivacious orphan, Zarin was labeled “a girl like that,” a troublemaker, by other kids’ parents. But when the police begin their investigation, everyone soon realizes there was more to Zarin than they ever knew.


The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova


A classic vampire novel, The Historian is a book I’ve known about for years that I finally caved into buying when I saw it for sale at the bookstore. An unnamed young woman finds a series of letters hidden in her father’s study that lead her to finish his journey to uncover the truth behind Vlad the Impaler’s ties to the infamous Dracula. Along the way, she unravels her family’s history, how her father’s madness and ruin may have led to the death of her mother. If The Historian is anything like The Swan Thieves, I expect beautiful prose and a twisty plot to keep me up until two in the morning to finish it.


Suicide Notes by Michael Thomas Ford


I had heard of Suicide Notes years ago and added it to my TBR on Goodreads, then proceeded to forget it existed. Then, just recently, it was repackaged and I found it at the bookstore. In case you don’t know, Suicide Notes is about fifteen-year-old Jeff, who wakes up in the psych ward after what appears to be a failed suicide attempt. Forced to endure a forty-five day sentence, he’s convinced there’s nothing wrong with him, not like the other patients. Then, his fellow inmates stop seeming so crazy.


Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan


Wicked Saints has blown up on BookTube. Though it has been getting rather mixed reviews since its release, it strikes me as the kind of book you should go into knowing as little as possible anyway. All I know it is about two warring kingdoms (as usual in high fantasy) and follows three main characters: a princess that can talk to gods; a prince that uses blood magic; and a monster boy. That’s really all I need to know.


Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus


Yet another book I’ve already read, Two Can Keep a Secret was previously a library book I featured in a reading wrap up a few months ago. It is a young adult mystery set in a small town where three girls have been murdered in the last twenty-five years, the first being the aunt of one of the main characters. True crime buff Ellery and her twin brother Ezra move in with their grandma just as another homecoming queen goes missing. As a series of threats appear around town, she takes it upon herself to get to the bottom of it.


I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez


As I frequently do, I recently checked out too many library books that I didn’t get to before their due date. I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter was one of them. It is a young adult contemporary novel about Julia, whose sister Olga was the “perfect Mexican daughter” that didn’t leave home to go to college or anything else their parents did not approve of. When Olga dies, something about her death doesn’t feel right to Julia. Enlisting the help of some friends, she digs into her sister’s life and finds there was more to Olga than their family knew.


Internment by Samira Ahmed


A contemporary with a dystopian twist, Internment is set in an alternate universe where all Muslim Americans are forced into internment camps. Seventeen-year-old Layla and her family are among them. To fight for their freedom, she builds friendships with others inside the camp, receives help from her boyfriend on the outside, and forges an unexpected alliance. This leads them into a rebellion against the internment camp’s director and the guards. I haven’t read Samira Ahmed’s debut novel, Love, Hate, and Other Filters yet, but Internment is making me eager to read her books.


Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy


As soon as I saw Once & Future on the Internet, I knew I had to read it. I own The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta, which I’m also interested in reading. But Once & Future is a reimagining of the tale of King Arthur set in space and the king is reincarnated in a teenaged girl. That’s all I needed to know. And the cover is gorgeous.


The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe and translated by Lilit Thwaites


The Librarian of Auschwitz was another book I previously checked out from the library a while ago and, of course, didn’t read. It is a nonfiction/historical fiction book about a young Jewish girl sent to the concentration camp Auschwitz and is the deemed the protector of the few books the prisoners managed to smuggle in with them. She does everything she can to keep the love of books alive as she and those she cares for endures unimaginable horrors.


How to Make Friends with the Dark by Kathleen Glasgow


How to Make Friends with the Dark is a book that covers a topic I can relate to. A teenaged girl named Grace, otherwise known as Tiger, ends up in foster care following the unexpected death of her mother. Her dad not in the picture, it was always Tiger and her mom against the world. Now, she’s on her own. How to Make Friends with the Dark is about her coming to terms with grief and moving on after losing the only family she had. Yes, I am a sucker for “dead mom” literature, apparently.


Lovely War by Julie Berry


I’ve read Julie Berry’s other books, All the Truth That’s in Me and The Passion of Dolssa and enjoyed both. Lovely War is a multi-generational story set between World War I and II. It is narrated by the goddess Aphrodite as she tells the story to her lover, Ares, and her husband Hephaestus in a Manhattan hotel room. It begins in 1917, where shy pianist Hazel falls in love with soldier James, who is later shipped off to the killing fields.

Along with him is Carnegie Hall musician Aubrey Edwards, who is a member of the all-African American regiment sent to help end the Great War. Romance is the last thing on his mind, until he meets a Belgian girl named Colette Fournier, a survivor of unspeakable tragedy at the hands of the Germans.

Are you already getting the feels? Because I am.


The Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston


I love fairy tale retellings, especially if set in a modern setting. The Princess and the Fangirl is the companion novel to Geekerella, a reimagining of Cinderella centered around a convention. The Princess and the Fangirl follows the co-star of the male lead in Geekerella, who is blamed for the leaking of a movie script and does a switch with a mega-fan that looks like her to find the culprit. At this point, I’ve heard several reviews of The Princess and the Fangirl. Unfortunately, they haven’t been as great as the ones for Geekerella. But there are so few retellings of any works by Mark Twain (The Princess and the Fangirl is a retelling of The Prince and the Pauper) that I still want to give it a chance.


Heroine by Mindy McGinnis


Mindy McGinnis is yet another author I’ve wanted to get into for years, even owned one of her books for the longest time, but, of course, have not gotten around to it. She is one where her books get mixed reviews. Such as, great things have been said about A Madness so Discreet and The Female of the Species, except some of her other works got flack. Heroine is her most recent novel. It is a contemporary, following a teenaged athlete who becomes addicted to drugs to keep playing sports after an injury. I rarely see these kinds of books, even though the topic is so relevant.


Dear Martin by Nic Stone


I want to improve on the amount of the diverse books on my TBR. Dear Martin is similar to The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. African-American teenager Justice finds himself in handcuffs after driving his ex-girlfriend home and he has no idea why. Told in letters to Martin Luther King Jr., he comes to terms with what is happening around him as one unfair thing leads to another.


Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith


Another book I recently checked out from the library but did not read, Field Notes on Love is a cute, fluffy young adult romantic contemporary. When his girlfriend dumps right before a cross-country train ride, British-born Hugo gives her ticket to Mae, who happens to have the same name as his ex (Margaret). An aspiring filmmaker, Mae challenges Hugo to follow his dreams, but will their romance end once the train ride does?


You Asked for Perfect by Laura Silverman


Ariel Stone has built his entire life around getting into college—violin first chair, community volunteer, and valedictorian candidate. After a failed Calculus quiz, he starts to pull all-nighters to keep his classmates from seeing any weakness. Reluctantly, he accepts help from a tutor, Amir, who provides too much of a distraction. But a relationship might be the thing that finally makes Ariel snap under pressure.


The Music of What Happens by Bill Konigsberg


Another LGBTQ+ romance, The Music of What Happens follows two openly gay boys in Mesa, Arizona, Max and Jordan. Laidback Max is gay and him nor anyone in his life is making a big deal about it. But despite this, he can’t bring himself to talk about an encounter with an older boy. Uptight Jordan is trying to hide the fact that his mom is spiraling while searching for his first kiss from Mr. Right who might not like him to begin with. In the heat of summer, their chemistry will be as hot as a June in Arizona. And this cover is adorable!


We Rule the Night by Claire Eliza Bartlett


A young adult fantasy stand-alone that sounds a lot like Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. Revna is a factory worker caught using illegal magic and general’s daughter Linne disguised herself as a boy to join the army. Both are offered a reprieve from punishment by joining a secret women’s military flight. The girls can’t stand each other as they are forced to take on terrifying missions under the cover of night. But if they can’t figure out how to work together, the enemy will kill them before they kill each other.


The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe by Ally Condie


The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe follows a young captain who is hell-bent on taking down the individual who murdered her beloved and robbed her of everything two years ago. As she navigates the treacherous waters of the Serpentine River, Poe discovers there is a traitor lurking her crew. From there, she will learn to move forward in her grief and anger, making a new path for herself. I haven’t read Ally Condie’s Matched trilogy, the cover for The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe (and my love of lady pirates) drew me in.


Izzy + Tristan by Shannon Dunlap


This one was an impulse buy. After learning the legend of Tristan and Iseult in my college English courses, I’ve been fascinated by the story. If you are unaware, it is an earlier version of the Lancelot and Guinevere legend. Izzy + Tristan is a retelling of the tale set in a modern-day Brooklyn neighborhood. Two teenagers are in an ill-fated love affair after Izzy starts dating Tristan’s cousin but falls for him instead.


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


I had heard about Voices through BookTube and bought it when I saw it on sale on Barnes & Noble’s website. It is a retelling of the final hours of Joan of Arc as told through different forms of medieval poetry, through the eyes of Joan, her friends and family, and others, including objects. I finished it in a day, unable to put it down as soon as I started reading. It was also in my latest reading wrap up, if you want to know my thoughts.


Squad by Mariah MacCarthy


You know what sold me on this novel? An outcast cheerleader gets involved with a transgender boy in what feels like love, only it isn’t. The cheerleaders at Marsen High School are normal girls trying to master the sport. But when Jenna finds herself suddenly on the outskirts, she sets out to take revenge on her former best friend while trying to come to terms in post-cheer life.


What is the best book you’ve bought recently?


BIG Birthday Book Haul 2019

Looking at the number of books I bought, my bank account, and my diminishing shelf space, I came to the realization that I have a problem. I mean, I always knew I did. Now, I really know.

The goal moving forward is not buy so many books at once or check out so many from the library and find a good place to donate books I likely won’t read again. Even though I don’t want them anymore, that doesn’t mean I do not care where they end up. I want to give these books to people who will appreciate them.

Regardless, every single book in this haul is one I am excited about.


Vengeful by V.E. Schwab


In case you live under a rock, Vengeful is the sequel to Vicious. I bought Vicious a few months ago when the new cover was released. This is one of the series I’m planning on reading in the next few months.


Fierce Like a Firestorm by Lana Popovic


Fierce Like a Firestorm is the sequel to Wicked Like a Wildfire and the concluding novel. It picks up right where the previous novel left off. While the world inside these novels is beautiful, the covers are just as gorgeous. However, Fierce Like a Firestorm looks about 100 pages shorter than Wicked Like a Wildfire. Truthfully, this has me a little worried.


Bright We Burn by Kiersten White


Going along with my reading resolutions, I bought Bright We Burn to finish the Conquerors trilogy, the previous two books being And I Darken and Now I Rise. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to finish this series. And I Darken was one of my favorite books the year I read it.


The Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo box set


Shadow and Bone

Siege and Storm

Ruin and Rising

This is a series I have wanted to get into for years. I had the Grisha trilogy saved on my both my Amazon wish list and a list of books I wanted to check out from my library at various points. Then, I couldn’t take it anymore. I bit the bullet and bought the box set. Leigh Bardugo is an author I’ve heard so many good things about, yet it’s taken me far too long to finally pick up her books.


The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven Boys

The Dream Thieves

Blue Lily, Lily Blue

The Raven King

I know…I planned on checking this series out of the library. Then, life happened and/or I checked out too many books (as is often the case). I didn’t even get to read the first book. I do like paranormal books. Maggie Stiefvater is another author I have known about for years and I want to read her books. And these seem like they might be easy reads for when I’m in the throes of graduate school stress. There is a strong chance I will (hopefully) enjoy The Raven Cycle series.


The Falling Kingdoms series by Morgan Rhodes

Falling Kingdoms

Rebel Spring

Gathering Darkness

Frozen Tides

Crystal Storm

Immortal Reign

A similar case to the Grisha trilogy and The Raven Cycle, Falling Kingdoms is a series I was interested in reading for years yet never knew if I wanted to buy it or borrow it. I took a chance buying the Falling Kingdoms series because I like high fantasy, even if the reviews of the later books are not that great. From what I’ve heard from those that have read Falling Kingdoms, this series is best read back to back anyway.


The Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams


The Summer Wives is a historical fiction novel set in dual time periods following the people connected to a murder that took place on an island of wealthy families. Historical mysteries are some of my favorites to read. Also, this beautiful hardcover book, like several others in this haul, were in the 50% off sale at Barnes & Noble.


The Glass Ocean by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, and Karen White  


Likely one of my favorite book covers in this haul, The Glass Ocean follows three women in two different time periods with ties to RMS Lusitania, which was sunk by a German U-boat in 1915. Struggling novelist Sarah Blake is looking for her next book idea when she finds a trunk belonging to her great-grandfather, who died on the Lusitania. Enlisting the help of a disgraced former Parliament member, whose family is connected to the tragedy, she finds something that could turn history on its head.

The other storyline is on the Lusitania in 1915. Southern Belle Caroline Telfair Hochstetter is trying to save her marriage while finding herself and resist her attraction to an old friend. Meanwhile, con woman Tess Fairweather is desperate to get out of the game, but she’s gotten herself in way over her head.


The Bookshop of Yesterdays by Amy Meyerson


The Bookshop of Yesterdays is one of those books that checks off a lot of my boxes in the adult fiction genre. It’s set in a bookstore, there are family secrets involved, and a strong mystery element more on the sad, fluffy side of things. This is one of the books I want to read ASAP—as soon as I clear off the TBR pile I already have, of course.


What They Don’t Know by Nicole Maggi


Admittedly, What They Don’t Know was an impulse purchase. I had never heard of it until I saw it on the Barnes & Noble website under the 50% off sale. Told in journal entries, it follows teenaged girls Mellie and Lise. After something horrible happens to Mellie, she withdraws from everyone and faces a life-altering choice on her own. Lise notices the changes in Mellie’s behavior and attempts to reach out to her. But in doing so she risks exposing a secret she wants to protect, even if it could help Mellie.

I read some reviews on What They Don’t Know and found out Mellie’s secret is that she was raped and became pregnant as a result. The only other book I read that covered such an important topic was Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston. If you ask me, more books need to talk about things like this.


Broken Things by Lauren Oliver


A book I previously checked out from the library and renewed twice but still didn’t get around to reading (because I’m a heathen), Broken Things is a young adult mystery novel. It follows two girls named Mia and Brynn, who were accused of murdering their friend Summer five years ago. The girls were obsessed with the novel The Way into Lovelorn, especially its villain Shadow, so much so fiction blurred into reality. Everyone thinks Brynn and Mia are responsible, particularly because of the manner Summer was killed. But when something once insignificant related to Summer’s murder resurfaces, the surviving former friends are reunited to face a long shadow of memory that has been waiting.


The Darkest Legacy by Alexandra Bracken


The spin-off to The Darkest Minds trilogy, The Darkest Legacy is set five years later after the final novel. Now seventeen, Suzanne “Zu” Kimura is a spokesperson for the interim government, advocating for the rights of other children like her. But when she is accused of a horrific act, she must go on the run with people she’s uncertain she can trust to clear her name as well as find a way to save those that were once her protectors.


Damsel by Elena K. Arnold


When Ama wakes up in the arms of Prince Emory, she has no memory of being rescued by him or being held captive in a dragon’s lair. She is one in a long of damsels rescued by a crown prince from a dragon and brought back to his kingdom as his bride. Ama is all on board for being a princess, but once she gets the court, she realizes there is more to the tradition of dragons and damsels than anyone knows. I love novels that turn fairy tale tropes on their heads.


Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart


Sisters Serina and Nomi live in a world where women have no rights. Serina was groomed to be a Grace, the image of a perfect woman to sit beside the prince on his throne. Then, her headstrong younger sister Nomi catches the eye of the heir. After failing to protect a dangerous secret, Nomi is forced into a position she never wanted while Serina is sent to an island where she must fight to the death to survive.


A Heart in the Body in the World by Deb Caletti


In the spirit of Forest Gump, Annabelle runs from Seattle to Washington D.C. in an attempt to outrun the tragedy of her past and the person that haunts her. Accompanied by her grandfather in his RV and her two friends, her cross-country run captures media attention, along with various distractions. Despite the overwhelming support, Annabelle cannot escape the feelings of shame and guilt of what happened back home. Slowly, she leaves the past behind her as she runs to her destination, as well as what lies ahead.


Save the Date by Morgan Matson


I checked out Morgan Matson’s most popular novel, Since You’ve Been Gone, from the library last summer, but didn’t get around to reading it. When I saw Save the Date on sale from Barnes & Noble, I took a chance. The author’s most recent release, it takes place over the course of a weekend at protagonist Charlie’s older sister’s wedding. With all four of her older siblings under the same roof for the first time in years, Charlie is looking forward to the wedding. Only nothing is going according to plan.


How She Died, How I Lived by Mary Crockett


A year ago, Kyle texted five girls and only one, innocent Jamie, was kind enough to respond. And it got her killed. Now, the four who could have been are grappling with their survivor’s guilt in different ways, but the narrator in particular is stuck between the horrifying past and her anger. When she becomes drawn to Jamie’s boyfriend Charlie, their relationship is haunted by what-ifs as Kyle’s trial goes underway. But how does one learn to live again knowing she could have met the same fate as Jamie?


The Last to Let Go by Amber Smith


Brooke Winters comes home one day to find her mother has killed her abusive father. Her dreams of transferring schools and getting away from her dysfunctional family are shattered. Now, she and her siblings are left to fend for themselves. In the year following, she is left with the aftermath of the truth of her family and if what her mother did was murder or self-defense—and if it wasn’t wrong.


Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood


Hag-Seed is a modern-day retelling of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest in a prison. After his production is cancelled by his scheming assistant, artistic director Felix takes a job teaching theater to prisoners at a correctional facility. Comforted by the ghost of his daughter Miranda—twelve years dead—Felix uses the play the prisoners put on to get revenge on those who cheated him out of his career. But another unexpected plot twist happens when his ghost daughter wants to be a part of the prisoners’ production.


Lavinia by Ursula K. Le Guin


Along with Hag-Seed, I found Lavinia inside a used bookstore a block away from a library I went to for a job interview. Besides being in perfect condition and at a cheap price, something about Lavinia called to me.

Much like Helen of Troy, Lavinia, princess of Latium, started a war. Unlike Helen of Troy, Lavinia started a war because she wouldn’t be given or taken by a man she didn’t want. Though being told by a soothsayer she is destined to marry a great hero and be the mother of a mighty dynasty, Lavinia’s parents want her to marry someone else. Her chance arrives in the form of warships sailing into the mouth of Tiber and she takes the opportunity to finally put her destiny into her own hands.


The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan


The only book in this entire haul I have read. The Astonishing Color of After was one of my favorite books of 2018, so I’m glad I finally have a copy (even though I probably shouldn’t have spent the money on it yet). It follows grief-stricken Leigh after her mother commits suicide. Believing her mother turned into a bird, she goes to Taiwan to meet her estranged maternal grandparents and find the bird. While there, she uncovers secrets of her mother’s past and learns how those revelations can help her move forward.


Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo box set

Six of Crows

Crooked Kingdom  

This Six of Crows box set was an impulse buy and not. It’s a series I’ve wanted to get into for a while. All I know about it is that it follows six people on a heist set in the same world as the Grisha trilogy. Lots of people seem to love these books. Which only makes me more cautious going into the Six of Crows duology with all this hype around it. I’m pretty confident I will at least like it. Besides, the covers are gorgeous.


Have you read any of these books and what did you think of them?

Christmas/Early Birthday Book Haul

Remember all those books I had on my Christmas wish list? Turns out, only one of them was under the tree. From my dad’s point of view, it makes sense, since I buy myself so many books throughout the year. I got a lot of other nice things, like three Harry Potter Funko pops, new jackets, and Amazon gift cards.

But the best part about Christmas? Having a birthday in January.

Dog Happy Dance GIF

(I fully accept the fact I am greedy.)

There are still a lot of books featured in this haul. Some I bought or received before Christmas, the rest I got with my Amazon gift cards or bought while shopping at Target recently as an early birthday present to myself. And, like always, this will be a long one.


Pre-Christmas Books


The Deepest Blue by Sarah Beth Durst


On the last day of my recent library temp job, the departments had their annual Christmas cookie crawl. In addition to cookies, the Reading Advisory department was also handing out wrapped advanced reader copies of books the library received from publishers trying to sell their books. I picked the one that read “adult fantasy, nature spirits, and a competition to be queen” written on the label. To my surprise, it was The Deepest Blue, which is by an author, Sarah Beth Durst, and part of a series I have been interested in for a while.


Bone Gap by Laura Ruby


Bone Gap is a book I have wanted to read for years, but I always forgot about. It is a magical realism contemporary novel that is a retelling of the Hades and Persephone myth set in a strange small town.


The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein


Code Name Verity is one of my all-time favorite novels. The Pearl Thief is the prequel to that novel. It follows Julie before she was Verity as she investigates a murder and theft her new friends are suspected to be involved in.


The Spring Girls by Anna Todd


If I am being honest, the cover was part of the lure for this book. The Spring Girls is a modern-day retelling of Little Women, following the daughters of a high-ranking solider growing up on an army base. It seems like fun, maybe a little trashy, the kind of book I might save for a reading slump.


The Rattled Bones by S.M. Parker


Another slight impulse buy, The Rattled Bones is a young adult horror novel following a girl haunted by the visions of a ghost. When she becomes involved in an archeological dig, she uncovers a dark history about her waterfront community and a tragedy that has been kept silent for many, many years.


Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper


Family drama, evil mother, daughter trying to claim her birthright from said evil mother, witches, and a dark, secluded island protected by magic. Salt & Storm checks off a lot of my boxes.


Mechanica and Venturess by Betsy Cornwell

Mechanica is a retelling of Cinderella set after she gets her happily ever after. Mechanica is an inventor living with her wicked stepmother and stepsisters until she sneaks out one night to attend the ball. She meets the prince and falls in love. Then, she wonders if it is really what she wanted after all. Venturess is the sequel to Mechanica.


Christmas Day


The Lost Queen by Signe Pike


The one book on my Christmas 2018 wish list that I found under the tree, The Lost Queen is set in sixth-century Scotland and tells the story of a queen lost from history, whose twin brother inspired the legend of Merlin. I am glad I have it; the synopsis is fascinating to me and the cover is stunning facing forward on my bookshelves.


Amazon Gift Cards


Persepolis and Persepolis 2 by Marjane Satrapi

A banned book I have been dying to read for years now, Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel memoir. The daughter of Marxists and the great-granddaughter of the country’s last emperor, both volumes cover her life, beginning with her childhood during the Islamic Revolution and leading up to her early adulthood as a university student as the chauvinist government rises to power.


Gareth Hinds is a graphic novel artist I happened upon randomly and fell in love with his artwork. From what I have seen on Amazon, he retells classics in graphic novel format, using different color schemes that seem to somehow match the theme of the story. I had to refrain myself from buying so many of his works, but I narrowed it down to:

Beowulf and The Odyssey, two epics I wanted to reread on my own, outside of school. Reading them in graphic novel format made them less daunting.

Poe: stories and poems is probably my favorite graphic novel I bought ever. I had to stop myself from reading it so soon and focus on my library books first.

Romeo and Juliet, I bought this one because I almost borrowed it from my college advisor but felt bad about taking it. I also figured this one would be a good Shakespeare play to read in a different medium.


The Witch Boy by Molly Knox Ostertag


One of the cutest books I own now, The Witch Boy is a middle grade graphic novel. Aster comes from a magical family where boys are shapeshifters and girls are witches. Only he can’t get a hang of shapeshifting nor can he help looking in on the witch lessons the girls get. When one of the boys in his group goes missing, Aster risks breaking the rules to use the magic he’s learned to help.


The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang


The Prince and the Dressmaker is another graphic novel breaking the gender rules. Prince Sebastian of Paris is looking for a wife, or at least his parents are looking for one for him. While trying to deal with his duties as prince, he has a big secret. By night, he puts on dresses and becomes Lady Crystallia, the glamourous fashion icon. The only other person who knows is his best friend and dressmaker, Frances. But with her own dreams on the line, how much longer can she protect her best friend?


Spell on Wheels by Kate Leth, Megan Levens, and Marissa Louise


Spell on Wheels is one of those books that suddenly popped up on YouTube with everyone talking about it before vanishing again. I wanted to get into graphic novels more and this one appealed to me. It’s about three witches and best friends who go on a road trip of revenge to find the person that stole their spellbook. Plus, it looks like only one volume is out, so I don’t have to get caught up in a series. Except from what I’ve heard, I could be disappointed by that like other people.


Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka


Besides graphic novels, memoirs and nonfiction are other kinds of work I want to get into. Like Persepolis, Hey, Kiddo is a graphic novel memoir about the author growing up with a drug addict mother. He is raised by his grandparents until he finds information about his mysterious father.


Early Birthday Books


Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare


The third and final book in The Dark Artifices trilogy. This will be the year I will read Lord of Shadows back to back with Queen of Air and Darkness. It will happen. Can’t wait.


The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton


One of the books I originally had on my Christmas wish list, The Clockmaker’s Daughter is a historical fiction novel set in dual time periods. In modern-day London, archivist Elodie Winslow finds a woman’s photograph and a sketch inside an old satchel believe to be connected to the events that happened at Birchwood Manor. No one knows what really happened the summer of 1862 besides one woman was murdered, another disappeared, and a man’s life was ruined.


Puddin’ by Julie Murphy


Puddin’ is the companion novel to Dumplin’, which I have not yet read. I haven’t watched the Netflix movie either. I have the book and I will read it before I watch the movie. I just want to read these books for the body positivity and plus-size main characters.


The War Outside by Monica Hesse


Haruko and Margot meet at the high school in Crystal City, a family internment camp in 1944 America for people accused of assisting the enemy. Despite being different in many ways, the girls bond over their shared situation as their families fall apart. But in an atmosphere of fear, their friendship is tested as they struggle to trust anyone, even each other.


Little White Lies by Jennifer Lynn Barnes


Little White Lies is a young adult contemporary mystery novel set in the American South. Eighteen-year-old Sawyer Taft accepts a six-figure contract from her estranged grandmother to participate in this year’s debutante season. Besides needing the money, she sees it as an opportunity to find out who her father is. But Sawyer gets more than what she bargained for when she makes friends with the other debutantes and discovers her family is not the only one with skeletons in the closet.


The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris


The Tattooist of Auschwitz is the real life story of Holocaust survivor, Lale Sokolov. A Slovakian Jew that can speak multiple languages, his captors make him the tattooist of Auschwitz, permanently marking his fellow prisoners. For two and a half years, he will bear witness to the monstrosity of human nature as well as bravery and compassion, eventually using his privileged position to sneak in food to keep the prisoners alive.

I already know my heart can’t take it.


What was your favorite gift you received for Christmas?


Black Friday 2018 Book Haul

What does one do on Thanksgiving, after two helpings at dinner, two glasses of blush wine, a slice of pecan pie, and a bowl of vanilla ice cream? Go onto Barnes and Noble’s website and indulge more in the Black Friday sale.

I purposely waited until Black Friday to buy these nine books I had been itching to get my hands on. And, of course, I regret nothing.

On Black Friday, I bought:


Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas


No way was I buying this behemoth of a book at store price. Kingdom of Ash is the final novel in the Throne of Glass series. At this moment in time, I have not read Tower of Dawn, although I think it might be better that way. I have a habit of putting so much space between Sarah J. Maas books that I forget some of the details that happened in the previous installments, especially when there is so much going on.


And The Ocean Was Our Sky by Patrick Ness and illustrated by Rovina Cai


I read A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness a few years ago and enjoyed it. Though I haven’t gotten around to his other books yet, And The Ocean Was Our Sky, his latest release, is one that attracted me the most. It is a reimagining of Moby Dick told through the eyes of the whales as they hunt humans. I’ve skimmed through it since it came in the mail and the artwork is stunning.


The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee


The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy is the companion novel to The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, which I have not yet read. It follows the younger sister of the main character in the first book, Felicity, who is an allegedly asexual aspiring doctor in the 18th century travelling to Germany to become an apprentice to a physician. She receives money from a mysterious benefactor for the journey and in return Felicity allows the woman to join her disguised as a maid. But soon she learns that the motives of her benefactor are not as benevolent as they appeared.


What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera


Ben is on his way to the post office to send back his ex-boyfriend’s things when he bumps into Arthur, a theater nerd interning at his mom’s New York law firm. From there, the boys have a series of several failed first dates that lead them to wonder if they are meant to be. Though I haven’t heard the best things, I still hope the insides of What If It’s Us is as cute as the outside.


Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan


Likely one of my most anticipated releases of 2018, Girls of Paper and Fire is set in a world where the cruel emperor chooses eight girls every year to serve in his harem as concubines. This year, a ninth girl has been chosen and she has every intention of taking the patriarchy down from within. And, in the process, has the forbidden romance you least expect. I want to read Girls of Paper and Fire immediately in 2019…along with many, many other books.


Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean


Mari has spent her whole life training to compete to be the next empress. The competition should be simple enough: conquer the palace’s seasonal rooms—Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall—and then marry the prince. All girls can compete, except for the yokai, supernatural beings the current emperor is bent on enslaving and destroying. And Mari is one of the yokai. Struggling to keep her true identity secret, she meets Taro, a prince with no interest in ruling, and Akira, a half-yokai outcast. Together, these three will determine a fate of a kingdom where not everything is what it seems.


An Assassin’s Guide to Love and Treason by Virginia Boecker


Another of my anticipated releases, An Assassin’s Guide to Love and Treason is set in Elizabethan England. After Lady Katherine’s father is killed for being an illegally practicing Catholic, she discovers he was part of a plot to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I. To get revenge, she joins a theater troupe performing William Shakespeare’s newest play in front of the queen. Only what she doesn’t know is that it is all a ruse planned by the queen’s spy Toby Ellis. He and Katherine are cast as the lead roles, but as they grow closer, the situation becomes much more complicated.


The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

the71 2deathsofevelynhardcastle

Every night, Evelyn Hardcastle is killed at a gala party hosted by her parents. Every night, Aiden Bishop fails to save her. He is given seven days to catch Evelyn’s killer by living the same day over and over, in another guest’s body each time, until he solves the mystery. But it seems everyone at the party has a reason to hurt Evelyn.


The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner


Jewish sisters Liba and Laya live sheltered lives in the woods. When their parents leave to visit their dying grandfather, the girls witness their mother turn into a swan and their father into a bear. This leads them to wonder if the old fairy tales are true. Then, despite their mother’s warnings, one of the sisters falls for a stranger when a group of mysterious men pass through town. But there are far more dangerous things lurking in the woods.


Did you buy any books on Black Friday?

Autumn 2018 Book Haul Part 2

Feels like it’s been ages since I posted Part 1. But now that I have more free time than I know what to do with, I can get back to shaming myself for buying so many books.

While some of these books I’ve had my eye on for a while, the majority of them were more or less impulse buys. By that, I mean they were not on the original list of books I wanted to buy in 2018 (long story) but ones I had heard about through social media that caught my attention or I randomly found while browsing the indie bookstore near my work.

Even worse, most of these books I bought in the same trip to the store; I had a rough time towards the middle of the semester. Buying books made me feel better, despite what my wallet says.

I am excited to read all these books and they do look nice on what limited shelf space I have left. J

In Part 2 of my 2018 autumn book haul, I bought:


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


Saga, Vol. 9 is the latest installment in one of my favorite series, as well as my current favorite graphic novels. The synopsis for each new volume in this series is always vague, but Vol. 9 is supposed to be the most shocking one yet about fake news and real terror. But I already know I will at least give it 4 stars. None have disappointed me yet.


Sex Criminals, Vol. 2-5 by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky


Sex Criminals is another graphic novel series I have wanted to finish for a while. I read the first volume two years ago and distinctly remember liking it, though not loving it. Still, I want to continue with the series mainly for the entertainment value as well as wanting to read more sex positive literature. The sixth and final volume of Sex Criminals will come out in summer of 2019, so I plan to be all caught up by then.


The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily A. Danforth


The Miseducation of Cameron Post was one of those books I saved years ago on Goodreads, but always forgot about, even after learning they were making a movie. What got me thinking about it again was during a mock reference interview for one of my classes. My partner wanted articles on conversion therapy. If you are unaware, The Miseducation of Cameron Post follows title character, Cameron Post, who is sent by her religious aunt to a conversion camp to be “fixed” after getting caught kissing a girl. As strange as it is, those have always been a topic of fascination for me.


The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta


Teodora “Teo” DiSangro is the daughter of a mafia don and she can turn people into music boxes or mirrors. Her family keeps her abilities secret as they take out enemies to the family. Then, the Capo, the new ruler, sends poisoned letters to the heads of the Five Families. With four and her father fighting for his life, Teo transforms herself into a boy to travel to the capital to seek revenge. Along the way, she meets another gender-fluid shape shifter named Cielo; together, they uncover sinister secrets that could doom their world if they don’t do something about it.


Uncharted by Erin Cashman


Uncharted is one of the books in this haul I stumbled upon at the bookstore and the synopsis caught my attention. To cope with the guilt she feels about her role in her mother’s death, seventeen-year-old Annabeth turns to books and painting. She accompanies her father to the funeral of family friends and meets the couple’s son, Griffin, who is changed by his own grief. A few nights later, Annabeth’s father goes missing in the woods. Suspecting Griffin knows more than he’s saying, particularly regarding the seven months his parents went missing in Ireland, Annabeth fears her father isn’t dead but in fact the victim of something worse. Fantasy and reality dangerously blur as she searches for answers, leading to a secret that some would kill to protect.


The Air You Breathe by Frances de Pontes Peebles


An adult historical fiction novel, The Air You Breathe follows two young women from very different classes that forge a strong friendship that spans decades. One is the spoiled daughter of a sugar baron and the other is an orphan working in the kitchen. As children, they bond over their shared love of mischief. As they grow older, they bond over a love of music. With one the singer and the other the composer, they embark on a musical career that tests their friendship. But through it all is the fear that neither girl can survive without the other.


Paris by the Book by Liam Callanan


When eccentric novelist Robert Eady vanishes, he leaves behind his wife Leah, their two daughters, plane tickets to Paris, and a half-finished manuscript Leah had no idea he was writing. It leads her and her daughters to Paris, where they hope to find Robert. Instead, they find an English-language bookshop with an owner eager to sell. Leah impulsively buys the store, if only to have a reason to stay in Paris. But as the family settles into the Parisian lifestyle and fall in love with beloved French classics, Leah makes some startling discoveries that lead her to question if she knew Paris, or even her own husband, as well as she thought she did.


The Witch Elm by Tana French


Tana French is an author I’ve wanted to get into for a few years now. She writes an adult mystery series called the Dublin Murder Squad, which follows a group of detectives in the UK. However, I have mixed feelings towards books like that now, though I was obsessed with them in the later years of high school/early years of college.

The Witch Elm is a stand-alone novel with a plot that is right up my alley. It follows Toby, a once carefree charmer with everything going for him until he walks in on a burglary and is beaten within an inch of his life. To recover from the trauma, he returns to his family’s ancestral home to care for his dying uncle. But when a skull is found inside the trunk of an elm tree on the property and an investigation gets close to home, Toby must face the possibility his life was not what he thought it was.


Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen by Sarah Bird


Cathy Williams was born into slavery, but her mother never let her think herself a slave. Her chance of escaping bondage comes in the form of wayward Union soldier Philip Sheridan who takes her into service. At the end of the war, unwilling to give up the taste of freedom she earned, Cathy disguises herself as a man and joins the Buffalo Soldiers. Inside the ultimate man’s world, she refuses to give up until she finds her family and the only man worthy enough to have won her heart.


The Darkling Bride by Laura Anderson


Another book that caught my eye at the indie bookstore, The Darkling Bride is set in the Wicklow Mountains of Ireland, inside the Deeprath Castle. The Gallagher family has called the castle home for seven hundred years, but the estate is now slated to fall into public trust. Scholar Carragh Ryan is hired to take inventory of the library, but when she meets Aidan, the current Viscount Gallagher, she realizes her assignment might be more challenging than she thought. Only as she uncovers the castle’s history of unexplained, violent deaths and the legends of the Darkling Bride, a dangerous woman whose wrath allegedly haunts Deeprath Castle, Carragh will get more than she ever bargained for.


Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi


Homegoing is a book I had my eye on since I first heard about it. Once I saw the hardcover for sale at the bookstore, I knew there was no chance of turning it down again. It follows three hundred years of one family, starting with two half sisters named Effia and Esi, born into two different villages in Ghana with no idea the other exists. Effia is married off to a wealthy Englishman and her descendants will face generations of warfare in Ghana and clash with British colonization. As for Esi, she is sold into slavery and lives on a plantation in the American South, where her descendants will face the Civil War leading up into the jazz clubs and dope houses of twentieth century Harlem.


Dracul by Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker


Like in previous years, I have not read the majority of the books nominated for the 2018 Goodreads Best Books of the Year awards. While flipping through the nominees, the cover of Dracul caught my eye and I read the synopsis. The next time I was at the bookstore, I bought it.

Written by Bram Stoker’s great-grandnephew, Dracul explains the origin story of the infamous novel Dracula. It begins with Bram Stoker as a child, sickly and bedridden, being cared for by a woman named Ellen Crone. When a series of strange murders occur in a neighboring town, Bram and his sister Matilda notice a bizarre, frightening behavior change in Ellen until she suddenly disappears from their lives. Years later, as young adults, Matilda comes home from studying in Paris to tell Bram she saw Ellen, leading the Stokers to realize the nightmare from their childhood was only the beginning.


Mark of the Beast by Adolphus A. Anekue


The one book in this haul I did not buy, it was an early Christmas present from one of my best friends. And she knows me well. Mark of the Beast follows Dr. Regina Dickerson, a Catholic physician in San Diego, who discovered violent criminals carry a certain genetic disposition in their blood. With her theory constantly proven valid by several experiments, the media coverage installs a fear in the public of witch hunts and forcible genetic testing. Then, after declaring a connection between genetic coding and the mark of the devil, Dr. Dickerson has to find her own answers in lieu of many people wanting her dead.


Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?

Autumn 2018 Book Haul Part 1

What’s the best part about working at the library? Going to the bookstore a block away.

Admittedly, I have not been reading much, but I have been buying a lot of books. It’s all a part of self-care…at least that’s what I tell my bank account. Also, many of these books were library books I previously checked out and didn’t get to read, but I really wanted to. Now, I own them, so I can read them whenever I want.

I’m calling this part one because I bought so many books between September and October that I had to split it in half. Not to mention the ones I bought on Black Friday….

From Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the bookstore near my work that I’ve visited frequently over the past several months, I bought:


Circe by Madeline Miller


After reading the first three books in the Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan, I remembered how much I like Greek mythology. The novel is a reimagining of the tale of the sorceress Circe, who Odysseus meets in his travels. But she is more than the Bernadette Peters character from the 1990s miniseries. Circe is the first witch—and a woman who made the king of the gods nervous.


The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid


I am probably one of the few people who have not read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. It has the elements I like: an aging movie star, Evelyn Hugo tells her life story to a young reporter and the novel goes back and forth between timelines. Turns out, the reporter, Monique, is connected to Evelyn Hugo’s tragic history in a shocking way. Plus, Evelyn has more than a few secrets. While I am intrigued, the flip side is the book is so hyped, I’m nervous of what will happen if I find any critiques with it.


Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton


My favorite types of historical novels are ones with dual timelines, where a crime or a tragedy in someone’s present timeline affects someone else’s in a future timeline. Next Year in Havana is a generational story following freelance reporter Marisol in 2017, who travels to Cuba to fulfill her late grandmother Elisa’s dying wish to have her ashes scattered in her old country. While in Havana, Marisol discovers family secrets that connect her grandmother, who in 1958 was the sheltered daughter of a sugar baron, to the Cuban revolution and how Elisa’s past can teach her to be brave now.


The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss


Mary Jekyll is penniless following the death of her father, the infamous Dr. Jekyll. When she learns that her father’s murderous friend Edward Hyde has eluded authorities, she sees an opportunity to improve her financial situation by helping Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson track him down. She begins with Edward’s daughter, Diana, who is living on the streets as a feral child. But in doing so, Mary discovers more women who have been victims of horrifying experimentations at the hands of other mad scientists: Justine Frankenstein, Catherine Moreau, and Beatrice Rappaccini. Together, these monster women will take down the monster men that created them.


The Broken Girls by Simone St. James


Twenty years ago, reporter Fiona Sheridan’s older sister was murdered and her body was found near the ruins of Idlewild Hall, an institution for “troubled” girls. Though her sister’s boyfriend was convicted for the crime, something about the case never sat right with Fiona. With Idlewild Hall under renovations by a mysterious benefactor, she takes the opportunity to investigate its ties to her sister’s death. In doing so, she finds that, in 1950, another girl had vanished and someone in the present day will do anything to make sure his or her secrets are never uncovered.


My Name is Venus Black by Heather Lloyd


Five years ago, Venus Black was a straight-A student with a passion for astronomy—until she commits a horrible crime. She won’t say why she did it; all she says is that she blames her mother. To make matters worse, her younger brother, Leo, goes missing. When Venus is released from juvy with a new identity, Leo is still missing, and she moves to Seattle for a fresh start. But when she meets new people, mainly a girl who reminds her so much of her past self, Venus realizes the only way to have a future is to confront the demons of her past.


The English Wife by Lauren Willig


On the surface, Annabelle and Bayard Van Duyvil are the image of a fairy tale. He’s the son of an old Knickerbocker family and she’s an English rose that grew up in a Tudor manor house. Then, Bayard is found with a knife in his chest and Annabelle is presumed drowned midst rumors she’s having an affair. Only Bay’s sister Janie is convinced someone killed both of them. Teaming up with a reporter, she digs deep into their lives and finds out she did not know her brother or Annabelle as well as she thought she did.


The King’s Witch by Tracy Borman


Frances Gorges only wants to go back to her normal life after serving as a beloved healer in the royal court for several years and taking care of Queen Elizabeth I on her deathbed. She especially wants to get out after King James of Scotland takes the throne. Unlike his predecessor, James is a Puritan and does not tolerate anything that could be thought of as witchcraft. But when Frances is forced back to James’s court to care for the princess, whom she grows very fond of, she becomes swept up in what is to be the Gunpowder Plot of 1605.


Providence by Caroline Kepnes


Jon and Chloe are best friends, the only people who understand each other in their small New Hampshire town. Then, Jon’s substitute teacher who is obsessed with H.P. Lovecraft and has a plot to save humanity abducts him. Eventually, he escapes, only to discover he has a new power that puts anyone he has strong feelings for in danger, especially Chloe. He runs away to find answers, but is chased by a detective investigating a series of vigilante killings that could be connected to Jon’s abduction.


Girl at the Grave by Teri Bailey Black


Years ago, Valentine watched her mother murder a man in cold blood and then be hanged for it. Since then, she has lived alone in their small town, where she faces suspicion and ridicule. When a string of murders happen, the townspeople immediately suspect her. Surprisingly, the only person who believes Valentine is innocent is Rowan Blackshaw, the son of the man her mother killed. Valentine takes it upon herself to catch the real killer, but doing so could expose her own secrets, as well as an unexpected truth about her mother.


The Labyrinth of the Spirits by Carols Ruiz Zafon


Ever had that feeling when you discover an author you adore came out with another book you had no idea about? That’s what happened to me. I was in the bookstore near my work and I saw it on the shelves. Not only that, it is part of his Cemetery of Forgotten Books series. The Labyrinth of the Spirits follows Alicia Gris, a spy for the Spanish secret police, who is investigating the disappearance of Spain’s Minister of Culture, leading her to Fermin and the Sempere family. I already know from Zafon’s previous books this will go in every possible twist and turn you can imagine, expertly blending in history and literature. And I want to read it now.


Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco


The third novel in the Stalking Jack the Ripper series, Escaping from Houdini is one of my most anticipated releases of the year. Unfortunately, since its release, it has not been getting the best reviews. I actually watched a spoiler-filled video on it, with the intent to mentally prepare myself for when I do read the book. And I don’t think my emotions will be able to handle it.


Lethal White by Robert Galbraith aka J.K. Rowling


The book I have been waiting for the past two years, Lethal White is the fourth book in the Cormoran Strike series. While everyone else has been begging for more Harry Potter stories, I’m in my little corner tapping my foot, waiting for more on Strike and Robin. But even though I want to read Lethal White immediately, I know it will likely be another two or three years before we see the next installment. I don’t think I will be able to last that long once I read this book, especially if it is heading in the direction I think it is.


Vanilla by Billy Merrell


This is a book that always caught my eye whenever I visited that indie bookstore near my work. It is a coming-of-age story about first love between two boys, Vanilla and Hunter. The boys have been together since seventh grade but now they are in high school and having problems, such as Vanilla isn’t sure if he wants to have sex with Hunter and he doesn’t like his boyfriend’s friends.

I wanted to check this book out of the library, but after a few visits and noticing no one bought it, I caved. Still, I have faith I will enjoy it, because I want to read more LGBTQ books and it is written in verse.


Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie


I read And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie last year and I want to read more of her works. Problem is, I never know which one to pick up next. Murder on the Orient Express was recently made into a movie and, from what I’ve seen, it seems like one of her most popular novels after And Then There Were None. It follows the famed fictional detective Hercule Poirot as he investigates a baffling murder on a train where everyone is guilty, and a killer lurks among the passengers.


Mirage by Samaiya Duad


Eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer that longs for adventure away from her occupied homeland. She gets her wish in the most unexpected way when she is abducted to the royal court. Turns out, she is nearly identical to the cruel Princess Maram, who is so hated by the conquered kingdom she needs a body double to act in her place in public. Though forced into her new role, Amani can’t help but fall for the beauty of the royal palace lifestyle—and the princess’s fiancée. But if she wants to survive, she must play a dangerous political game that could get her killed.


Seafire by Natalie C. Parker


After reading the Daughter of the Pirate King duology by Tricia Levenseller, I am itching for more pirate books. Seafire follows a crew of pirate women, led by Caledonia Styx, who are survivors of the destruction left behind by a bloodthirsty warlord Aric Athair. The crew are hell-bent on revenge, especially Caledonia, who lost her entire family at the hands of Aric. The girls rely only on each other, but when a boy saves one of them and wishes to defect from the warlord’s men, Caledonia wonders if this boy will ruin everything they’ve worked for if they take him on.


The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker


The Silence of the Girls follows Briseis, the queen of one of Troy’s neighboring kingdoms that was conquered by the Greek warrior Achilles and his army. After her husband and brothers are killed in the war, she is made Achilles’s concubine and sent to a camp along with other women. Then, she finds herself in between Achilles and the brutal political leader Agamemnon, the two men who lead the Greek army into a confrontation that will forever change the ancient world. But The Silence of the Girls is really about those history forgot: the women in the Greek camps.


The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar


One night in 1785, merchant Jonah Hancock opens his front door to one of his captains eagerly informing him he sold one of Jonah’s ships for a mermaid. Except this mermaid is a corpse and it looks nothing like Ariel. This astounding discovery catapults Jonah into high society, where he meets the beautiful courtesan Angelica Neal. Driven by this chance encounter, these two ambitious individuals soon realize that even the most priceless of objects can lead to the greatest of consequences.


To Make Monsters Out of Girls by Amanda Lovelace


I thought I had to wait a full agonizing year for The Mermaid’s Voice Returns in This One after binge-reading the previous books in this poetry series The Princess Saves Herself in This One and The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One. Then, Amanda Lovelace pulled a Beyoncé with To Make Monsters Out of Girls. It is another poetry collection, originally published on Wattpad under a different title, but now edited and illustrated for my eager eyeballs.


Pride by Ibi Zoboi


A remix of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Pride is set in a gentrified Brooklyn neighborhood where Zuri Benitez lives with her family. Proud of her neighborhood and her Afro-Latino roots, she is not the least bit thrilled when the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street with their plans to “clean up.” She makes every effort to avoid the Darcy’s two sons, even as her older sister falls for one of them. But as she is forced to find common ground with arrogant Darius Darcy, Zuri struggles to find her place in a world she was once so familiar with.


Rule by Ellen Goodlett


Though I have not read the original source material, lately I have been drawn to retellings of King Lear by William Shakespeare. Unfortunately, the last one I read, The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton, I just could not get into, no matter how much I liked her writing style. However, Rule seems to be a little more up my alley. Three girls who are from different parts of the kingdom are brought to the dying king’s royal court. Turns out, they are his illegitimate daughters and, following the mysterious death of their half-brother, are his only heirs. Only one can succeed the throne, so the girls will have to compete for the crown. But someone knows their deepest, darkest secrets and is intent on keeping the girls from fulfilling their destiny to rule.


Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa


Shadow of the Fox follows two characters, one a samurai and the other a Kitsune (a fox shape-shifter), who are hunting for the missing pieces of a scroll that could summon a dragon to grant a wish. The last wish 1,000 years ago left their world in chaos, and the hope is that a new wish could save the kingdom. Both main characters are keeping secrets—such as one of them already has a piece of the scroll—but they have to work together before the scroll falls into the wrong hands again.


The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White


Elizabeth Lavenza is an orphan on the verge of being kicked out into the streets when she is adopted by the Frankenstein family to be a companion to their odd son Victor. While she is treated very well by the Frankensteins, her survival depends on keeping Victor happy. No matter how depraved his requests are, she complies. But in all her manipulation, Elizabeth could never have imagined what he would ask her to do next.


Give the Dark My Love by Beth Revis


Seventeen-year-old Nedra leaves her rural hometown of Lunar Island to attend a prestigious academy to study medicinal alchemy. A scholarship student, she does not quite fit in with her wealthy classmates, who look down on her. Except for Grey Astor, who is taken by Nedra’s intelligence and her dedication to her studies. Then, a deadly plague sweeps through the countryside, getting dangerously close to Nedra’s family in the north and to the cities. As the body count rises and the need for a cure turns to desperation, she turns to the darkest practice of alchemy: necromancy.


Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd


Anouk is a Beastie, an animal enchanted into human form, and destined to serve the evil witch that turned her. When the madam is found murdered, Anouk fears she will be blamed for it. Pursued by the Haute, a magical underground society, Anouk and the other Beasties go on the run through Paris. But they have three days to find the real killer before they turn back into their animal forms for good. And, as Anouk will find out, the Beasties might have more power than they ever knew.


The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke


April Genevieve Tucholke is one of those authors where there is a 50/50 chance I will not like her books. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea? Not crazy about the romance or the plot. Wink Poppy Midnight? An almost-five star read for its setting and complex characters. Then, I found out she was releasing The Boneless Mercies, which is a gender-bent retelling of Beowulf with five female mercenaries hunting a monster. A reimagining of my favorite epic poem with an all-female cast in April Genevieve Tucholke’s quirky writing style? I’m in!


When We Caught Fire by Anna Godbersen


Emmeline, though part of Chicago’s high society and engaged to its most eligible bachelor, can’t forget her childhood sweetheart, Anders. Her childhood best friend, Fiona, has pursued Anders, but when he hooks up with Emmeline one last time, Fiona feels betrayed. Finding out a love triangle was the main plot point almost put me off—until I found out these three lovers are somehow connected to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Now, you have my attention, When We Caught Fire.


The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager


The only book in this portion of the haul that I previously read, The Last Time I Lied is about Emma, who returns to the camp where her three friends disappeared fifteen years ago to get to the bottom of the mystery of what happened that night. I never thought I would love this book as much as I did, after being so let down by Final Girls. I’m still thinking about The Last Time I Lied, too, months after reading it. I had to have my own copy, even if just to reread my favorite scenes. Limited space be damned.


Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak


Bridge of Clay probably trumps Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas for a lot of people’s most anticipated released of this year—if not life. It is the first book Markus Zusak has published in ten years since The Book Thief. All I know about it is that it follows five brothers living with an abusive alcoholic father in Australia and there is a murder that happens. Whether or not it is one of the brothers that is murdered or someone else, that’s all I need to know. Bridge of Clay is a book I want to go into knowing as little as possible.


A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi


Tahereh Mafi is a very popular author I have known about for years yet I keep putting her books on the backburner. I’ve heard mixed things about her Shatter Me trilogy. I have it on my list of books to check out from the library, but I forget it’s there until I’m adding new books to the list. Then, A Very Large Expanse of Sea was announced.

What drew me to this novel was the fact that it is set in 2002 and follows a Muslim teenager who uses break dancing to cope with the abuse she has suffered since the attacks on 9/11. When she meets a boy brave enough to get close to her, she wonders if it is time to finally let people in again. Of all Tahereh Mafi’s books, A Very Large Expanse of Sea is one I knew I had to read.


Grave Mercy, Dark Triumph, & Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers


The His Fair Assassins trilogy is a series I have wanted to read for years. I had it on a list of books I wanted to check out from the library, but always forgot they existed as new titles came out. His Fair Assassins are companion novels following three girls training to be assassins at a nunnery run by Death himself. I saw on BookTube that the series was getting new covers in preparation for the first book in the spin-off series, Courting Darkness. I hate to say it, but the cover changes is what mainly inspired me to finally pick up this series. The covers catch my eye every time I look at my shelves, so now there is positively no way I could forget about them.


What books have you bought recently?

(And part 2 coming in a couple of weeks…)


Library Book Haul: October 2018

Hi everyone!

School is going good so far and I really like the place I work in, but I unfortunately haven’t done a lot of reading for fun lately.

As you would expect, there is a lot of reading involved being a library science student, so it takes away from my TBR pile. I actually enjoy myself when I do read, but by the time I finish my school assignments for the day, all I want to do is watch YouTube videos. Which is why I’m wondering if it was smart to check out so many library books.

I learned in undergraduate that you must give yourself 24 hours off at least once a week to let your brain’s batteries recharge, otherwise you will just burn out too soon. Reading is a form of self-care for me and I’m wondering if falling asleep next to my laptop regularly is unhealthy. I thought checking out library books would give me motivation to read since they have a deadline. We will see how that works out.

Here are the library books I checked out:


The Witches by Stacy Schiff


I have lived in Massachusetts my whole life and been to Salem twice. I only know what I was taught in school about the Salem Witch Trials. The Witches is a nonfiction book taking a new perspective on the girls who started it all. Stacy Schiff discusses the life of a Puritan teenager and how certain pressures of society could have led to the girls behaving the way they did. She will also look into the role of religion; how the colonies were trying to form their own identity while still remaining loyal to the mother land England. I plan to pick this up the closer we get to Halloween.


The Opposite of Innocent by Sonya Sones


I found The Opposite of Innocent on Riley Marie’s channel on YouTube when she read it during the Contemporary-A-Thon. It is a young adult novel told in verse, following Lily, who is sexually abused by someone she’s loved for years. After being away for several years, family friend Luke comes to live in Lily’s house when she is fourteen years old. Eventually, they begin a sexual relationship, becoming even more abusive as time goes on. I’ve only read one book that heavily features pedophilia, so we will see how I fare with this one.


With Malice by Eileen Cook


For this Halloween season, I was more attracted to mystery/thrillers than I was to horror novels. With Malice follows Jill Charron, who wakes up in a hospital bed with no memory of the last six weeks, including her trip to Italy and the accident that killed her best friend Simone. Jill is certain she would never hurt Simone, only the evidence is saying otherwise. As she tries to put the pieces together, she has no idea who she can trust. And Jill is starting to fear what she is truly capable of.


Tangled Webs by Lee Bross


Another mystery novel, this one historical set in 1725 London, Tangled Webs follows Arista, otherwise known as Lady A. Serving her abusive master, Bones, Arista is an expert blackmailer whose currency is in secrets. When Bones attempts to be rid of her for good, Jonathon Wild, rescues her. Arista agrees to his offer for a partnership, if only to get away from Bones. But when she meets Grae Sinclair, a wealthy young man that loves her for who she is, she thinks she finally has a chance to escape this life of thievery as Lady A. But can you really escape your past? Not quite sure which direction Tangled Webs is heading in, but it is a book I have wanted to read for a while now.


The Life and Death Parade by Eliza Wass


Two years ago, I read Eliza Wass’s debut novel, The Cresswell Plot, and was deeply disappointed. While I enjoyed her writing style and the sassy main character, the book had a weak plot and, looking back on it, not much research was done into religious cults other than the information you can find on TV shows. When I saw on the library stacks she came out with another book, I didn’t pay too close attention, until the cover drew me in.

Kitty’s boyfriend, Nikki, went to a psychic who told him he had no future and now he’s dead. Torn from the family as they all grieve, she hunts down the psychic Nikki talked to and meets Roan, a boy her age with connection to the Life and Death Parade, a group that exploits the thin veil between the land of the living and the dead. Among them is the psychic. Now, Kitty is hell-bent on getting answers. Roan promises to help her get them. Only he’s not telling her everything there is to know about the Life and Death Parade.


The Lies They Tell by Gillian French


On Goodreads, The Lies They Tell is compared to We Were Liars by E. Lockhart and I Was Here by Gayle Forman, both of which I enjoyed. But what actually drew me in was the book trailer on Facebook when the book was released earlier this year. The Lies They Tell centers around a tragedy in a small Maine town where four of the five members of the wealthy Garrison family were killed in a fire. Everyone blames the property’s caretaker, the town drunk; only his daughter Pearl doesn’t believe it. While working as a waitress in a country club, Pearl sees Tristan, the last surviving Garrison, who is sad and quiet compared to his arrogant friends. To clear her father’s name as well as hopefully give Tristan closure, she gets closer to the group to find the truth. But in doing so could trap her in a web of dangerous secrets.


The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender


Katie Alender is an author whose books I’m interested in, yet I keep forgetting she exists. I read one of her novels, Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer, years ago. I think I enjoyed it, though I don’t remember anything about it. Anyway, The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall seemed like an ideal Halloween read, set in a haunted house that used to be an asylum for “troubled” girls who were actually just strong-willed. The protagonist, Delia, also a strong young woman, gets trapped inside the house along with its previous victims. To free herself, she must uncover the dark truths hidden inside the walls of “Hysteria Hall.”


These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly


Jennifer Donnelly is an author I’ve heard of for years. I’m drawn to so many of her work, but These Shallow Graves is the first one I picked. Jo Montfort is beautiful, rich, and, like the other girls in her graduating class from finishing school, is about to be married off to a wealthy bachelor. Only that is the last thing she wants. Jo would much rather be a reporter and work at her father Charles Montfort’s newspaper. Then, her father accidentally shoots himself while cleaning his gun, but only Jo seems to think he was too smart to clean a loaded revolver. She takes it upon herself to find answers, except too many secrets are buried in plain sight. With the help of a reporter, Jo puts her own future on the line to seek the truth.


The Leaving by Tara Altebrando


Whenever I saw this book in stores or online, it was usually put under the “mystery” section of young adult. Reading the synopsis, though, I’m wondering if there might be some kind of horror or supernatural element at play. In The Leaving, six kindergarteners went missing without a trace. Eleven years later, five out of the six return, now sixteen and apparently fine with no memory of where they came from or what happened to them. Except Avery, the sister of the boy who is still missing, is not buying it.

How does someone abduct six little kids and then all of them come home brainwashed? I’m going to find out, I guess.


The Blood Between Us by Zac Brewer


Another young adult mystery/thriller, The Blood Between Us follows Adrien, the adoptive son of two scientists who is separated from his sister, Grace, the biological child, after their parents are killed in a fire. The competition between them continues when they are reunited at the elite boarding school where their parents taught. Adrien wants to move on with his life and avoid Grace, only someone is not letting that happen. And when he begins to wonder if his sister knows more about their parents’ deaths than she is letting on, the old wounds he thought he healed from are reopening worse than before.


Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik


Spinning Silver has taken BookTube by storm since it came out. While everyone that has read it seems to enjoy it and the story is a loose retelling of Rumplestilskin, I am still cautious entering this novel. The last book I read by Naomi Novik, Uprooted, was a bit of a let down for me. I liked her writing style and the strong female friendship element, but beyond that, I found it quite boring.

In case you are unaware, Spinning Silver follows Miryem, the daughter of a moneylender that is reluctant to collect debts. With her own family on the brink of poverty, Miryem has no problem hardening her heart and making the villagers pay back what they owe. But after turning a pouch of silver to gold, she catches the attention of fae-like creatures that want to make use of her gift.


Part of Your World by Liz Braswell


The newest release in the Twisted Tales series by Disney, Part of Your World is a reimagining of the movie The Little Mermaid. In this novel, Ariel never defeats Ursula and her father, King Triton, is killed. Five years later, Ariel is the voiceless queen of Atlantica and Ursula rules Prince Eric’s kingdom on land. When she finds evidence her father could still be alive, she goes back on land, reunited with the prince she thought she would never see again.


The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater


Probably one of the most well-known and beloved young adult series to come out in the last ten years, The Raven Cycle follows wannabe-psychic Blue and her friends the Raven Boys in their quest for a sleeping Welsh queen in modern-day Virginia. This series has been on my radar for a long time. I went back and forth on buying it but listening to reviews about the storyline over the years, there was a 50/50 chance I was not going to love this series like so many others. The Raven Cycle kept getting forgotten in the wake of other series and books. Now, though, autumn seems like a good as any time to read it.


Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds


Jason Reynolds is an author that’s been around for a few years, I think, but it’s only just this past year I’ve heard of him. Long Way Down is supposedly one of his best works. Told in verse, it follows a sixteen-year-old boy on his way to kill the man that murdered his brother. In the elevator, on his way up to his destination, it stops at every floor and he meets people that have already passed who try to talk him out of his mission. Long Way Down is a book I hope I will enjoy.


Notes from My Captivity by Kathy Parks


Something I occasionally like to do when I go to my local library is check out random books I come across. Notes from My Captivity is about an ambitious teenaged girl who goes on vacation with her family to Siberia. At first, she dismisses her stepfather’s belief that there is a family of hermits living within the wild winter of the Siberian countryside. But when she is separated from her family and actually abducted by said hermits, she must rely on her wits to get out—even if it means seducing their youngest son.


The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Berube


There’s something wrong with Marianne, only it is not because she quit dancing, or due to her parents splitting up, or her mother checking herself into a hospital. Marianne is losing time and blacking out. Objects are breaking whenever she gets close to them. And she is doing things she would never do on purpose. Believing she is haunted, she gets a new friend to help her perform an exorcism, only it makes the entity even angrier. It demands Marianne return what she stole, but what was it? She will have to figure that out before the thing drags her to the other side.


What books have you checked out of the library recently?

I Cracked: A Book Haul

I have no excuses.

I am currently jobless.

I already promised myself I’d go on a book-buying ban until Black Friday.

I have sixteen library books sitting in my bedroom at home.

I went to a mall for the sole purpose of visiting the Barnes & Noble there.

I told myself just LOOK.

Instead, I listened to the little bookish devil on my shoulder when he said, “But you came all the way out here. And they are 20% off.”

Bottom line? I am a hypocrite and it’s my own fault.

While I do feel guilty, the look of these books still makes me embarrassingly happy. But I am writing this post to publicly shame myself into not buying any more books, at least not until my next temp assignment comes in and I’m getting steady income.

Will I stick to it this time? I hope so.

Until then, here are the books that I bought:


The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James


I’m starting to get more into science fiction, a genre I rarely picked up before. The Loneliest Girl in the Universe follows Romy, the daughter of astronauts that travelled along with her parents and their crew on a spaceship to another planet on a mission to establish civilization there. En route, there is a horrible accident, leaving Romy the sole survivor. For years, her only contact is her therapist from NASA, but the messages take months to transmit. Then, she gets good news: another ship is on its way to her. But as she starts texting the spaceship’s captain and receives bizarre messages from NASA, Romy starts to wonder if maybe being alone isn’t such a terrible thing.


Sea Witch by Sarah Henning


Likely my most anticipated read of the summer after A Reaper at the Gates and My Plain Jane, I was too impatient to wait for my library to come up with a copy, so I bought one. Sea Witch is a reimagining of the origin story of the sea witch in Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tale The Little Mermaid. The witch was once a girl named Evie, who is close to the royal family but ostracized by the rest of the kingdom. As a child, she lost one of her best friends, Anna, in a drowning accident. Then, years later, a mysterious woman appears bearing a striking resemblance to her dead friend, leaving Evie to find out if her friend is really alive or if some sort of dark magic is at play.


Heretics Anonymous by Katie Henry


I found out about Heretics Anonymous through Emma from emmmabooks on YouTube. Besides her singing its praises, what interested me most about this novel was the Catholic school setting. As a child, I briefly attended Catholic school and, like the characters in this novel, I didn’t fit in. Heretics Anonymous is about a boy named Michael, an atheist that is sent to a Catholic school by his parents. While there, he meets an assorted group of students that don’t fit in either—a girl that wants to be a priest, a gay Jew, a wiccan, and a Utilitarian—and urges them to challenge the hypocritical religious hierarchy at their school.


Isle of Blood and Stone by Makiia Lucier


One of the books in this haul I’m super excited for, Isle of Blood and Stone follows Elias, a young ship captain that is best friends with Ulises, the king of St. John del Mar. The kingdom is still haunted by the disappearance of the king’s two older brothers eighteen years ago and Elias never forgot his father, who died trying to defend the princes from their kidnapper. Then, two maps appear with troubling riddles written in Elias’s father’s handwriting, raising questions about what really happened to the lost princes. Elias, Ulises, and their best friend Mercedes follow the clues in the maps, leading to long-buried secrets and shocking betrayals others will do anything to keep hidden.


The Bird and the Blade by Megan Bannen


How many novels in the world are there about the Great Khan and the Mongol Empire? Not many. The Bird and the Blade follows Jinghua, a slave girl that helps Prince Khalaf and his father escape after their kingdom is conquered by enemy forces. At first, she plans to flee to her homeland the first chance she gets, but her already slim chances are made even more impossible when she falls in love with the prince. Khalaf comes up with the idea to forge a marriage alliance with Turandokht, the beautiful and cunning daughter of the Great Khan in hopes of saving his kingdom. But Turandokht will only marry the man that can solve her three riddles and, should they fail, they will be executed. With the prince’s life and his kingdom in the balance, Jinghua agrees to help him solve the riddles, all the while hiding her own dangerous secrets and accepting the fact she will lose the boy she loves to a girl that will sooner kill him than love him.


Fawkes by Nadine Brandes


A fantastical reimagining of the Gunpowder Plot, Thomas Fawkes has been infected by the Stone Plague and, if he doesn’t do something soon, he will become a lifeless statue. Unfortunately, the kingdom is divided between the Keepers and the Igniters, who blame each other for the cause of the plague. Thomas is the son of Guy Fawkes, the leader of the Keepers. His father comes up with a plan to use thirty-six barrels of gunpowder to assassinate the Igniter King, puting an end to the plague. Only doing that will kill the family of the girl Thomas loves. With his own life on the line and the kingdom falling apart, he must decide where his loyalties lie.


Heart of Thorns by Bree Barton


A book I recently mentioned in my Random TBR post, Heart of Thorns is a young adult high fantasy with elements that remind me of The Handmaid’s Tale and the Salem Witch Trials. Mia has trained her whole life to be a Huntress to kill the Gwyrach, half-girl, half-god monsters in a world where only women can possess magic. Then, her father announces she will marry Prince Quin instead. Only she’s not having that. On the eve of her wedding, she escapes and discovers she is one of the Gwyrach. But as she looks into her past for answers and questions the motives of former friends, Mia wonders if everything she was raised to believe is true.


OK…I know I should feel guilty, except now I reminded myself how awesome these books are.


Have you read any of these books?

Summer 2018 Book Haul Part Three: July

I wore myself out with the amount of books I bought in May and June. By the time July rolled around, the urge had subsided. There was just enough of it left to get books I had wanted for a while. Now, I got it out of my system.

I figured I have at least a month and a half left to fully enjoy my local library until I get swept up in the throes of graduate school. By then, I’ll have more than enough TBR books at home to keep me preoccupied when I’m not doing schoolwork…at least until the Black Friday sales.

In July of 2018, I bought:


The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty


When The City of Brass was released towards the end of last year, I knew right away I would like it if I read it. The novel is set in in 18th century Cairo. The main character, Nahri, is a con woman who thinks she doesn’t have any real powers until she accidentally summons a djinn warrior. The djinn warrior then takes her to a dark world of jinni, Daevabad, where Nahri is swept up in deadly court politics.


Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert


Little & Lion is one of the young adult contemporary novels I am most excited for. The protagonist, Suzette, who is black, Jewish, and bisexual, returns home to L.A. for the summer after attending boarding school in New England. When she learns that her stepbrother, Lionel, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, she hopes to convince her parents to let her stay in L.A. to give her brother support. But as she settles into her old life, Suzette falls in love with a new girl…the same one Lionel also loves. And as his mental state collapses, she must decide how to help her brother before he hurts himself.


The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware


The Death of Mrs. Westaway follows Hal, who receives a letter claiming she has been left a substantial inheritance by her grandparents. Strangely enough, Hal’s grandparents died years ago, so she knows the letter is not for her. But money problems convince her to go anyway. Once she arrives, she quickly learns something is very, very wrong with the situation and this mysterious inheritance is at the center of it.

I read Ruth Ware’s novel, The Woman in Cabin 10, last year and ultimately I was not impressed. Then, The Death of Mrs. Westaway was released. Unlike her other two books—The Lying Game and In a Dark, Dark Wood—I was interested in the plot of The Death of Mrs. Westaway as it reminded me of something Agatha Christie might write. Ironically, someone Ruth Ware is often compared to.


The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn


From what I have heard, The Woman in the Window is a book people either love or hate. Agoraphobic movie buff Anna Fox spends her time watching her neighbors through her window. She takes particular interest in the Russells, the new family in the neighborhood. Then, one night, Anna glances out her window and sees something she shouldn’t.

Some people have compared The Woman in the Window to The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. One reviewer I trust regarding opinions on thrillers said if you liked the latter, you will most likely enjoy the former. Since Anna is agoraphobic, I’m curious to see just how she goes about to solve a potential mystery.


Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng


I swear everyone and their mother have read Little Fires Everywhere at this point. I read Celeste Ng’s debut novel, Everything I Never Told You, about two years ago and enjoyed the insights she provided on family dynamics. Little Fires Everywhere takes a look at the supposedly perfect suburbia Shaker Heights where everyone follows the rules. Elena Richardson is the self-imposed queen of Shaker Heights and the principle ruler-follower. But when free-spirited artist Mia Warren and her teenaged daughter Pearl rent a house from the Richardson family and the Richardsons’ friends want to adopt a Chinese-American baby, Elena’s once cookie-cutter world is thrown into a tailspin.


Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman


I knew I wanted to read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine when I heard the words “socially awkward heroine that struggles with social skills.” Eleanor never thought life should be better than fine. She avoids social interactions and spends her weekends alone. When she and her co-worker, Raymond, a shy IT guy, save an elderly man named Sammy, the two men allow Eleanor the opportunity to finally open her heart to others and repair the damage done to it.


The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord


The Names They Gave Us is the second “girl with a sick mom” book I bought this summer. Lucy is a pastor’s daughter who has everything going for her, until her mother’s cancer reappears. She would rather spend her summer as a counselor at her parents’ church camp, but her mother asks her to instead be a counselor at a camp across the lake, for kids that have had a rough time. While there, Lucy unexpectedly makes new friends with the other counselors, challenges her faith, and faces some old secrets about her family.

I learned about Emery Lord and her books about a year ago. I meant to check The Names They Gave Us out from the library eventually. Then, I saw this beautiful paperback on Amazon and I realized how relevant this book is to me currently.


Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough


Blood Water Paint was a book randomly featured in a haul video by Hailey in Bookland and, once she described it, I knew I had to have it. Written in verse, tells the story of famed painter Artemisia Gentileschi. It begins when she is twelve, after her mother dies and she helps her father grind pigments for his paint. By the time she is seventeen, she is already one of Rome’s most talented painters, even though no one knows her name. But the time is 1610 in Rome and women are seen as inferior to men. So when she is raped, Artemisia must choose a life of silence or a life of truth.

            I want to read Blood Water Paint really, really bad!


The Game of Hope by Sandra Gulland


Did anyone know Napoleon had a stepdaughter named Hortense? Because I didn’t, not until I saw The Game of Hope, again, in that haul video by Hailey in Bookland. Inspired by her autobiography, the novel follows Hortense, who starts the novel at a boarding school for aristocratic girls, where she enjoys reading, painting, composing music, and daydreaming about her brother’s fellow officer. Her mother, Josephine, has recently married Napoleon, who is a poor successor to her recently guillotined father in Hortense’s eyes. But her entire future is thrown off course as her stepfather rises to become the most powerful man in France and Hortense is handed a fate she did not choose.


Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh


Reign of the Fallen is a book that has been flying under the radar that I had seen on one or two YouTube videos. The cover is cool, with the pretty shade of pink and the bejeweled skull. Plus, it has necromancers.

The main character, Odessa, is a master necromancer in the kingdom of Karthia. Her job is to retrieve the souls of royals after they die from the beautiful yet dangerous Deadlands and bring them back to the mortal world as Shades. The trick is to keep them shrouded; if any flesh is exposed, Shades become grotesque zombies. Then, after a series of vicious attacks on Shades and the death of a fellow necromancer, a conspiracy is revealed: someone is turning Shades into zombies and training them to attack.


Blood and Sand by C.V. Wyk


In Blood and Sand, Attia is a warrior princess of Thrace, the greatest warrior kingdom anyone had ever seen since Sparta, until they are conquered by the Romans. Attia is then given as a gift to Xanthus, the strongest gladiator of his generation and the Champion of Rome, by his master. Only Xanthus is a slave, too, forced to fight for the Republic of Rome.

Attia and Xanthus form a bond that sparks a rebellion. A rebellion that will then lead to the destruction of Rome and give rise to the legend of Spartacus who, for all we know, could have been a woman.


The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand


The Last Time We Say Goodbye follows Lex, whose life is forever altered after her brother Tyler commits suicide. Now, her family is falling apart, her boyfriend left her, and her friends walk on eggshells around her. She’s trying to get her life back together, but she has a secret. Tyler sent her a text the night he died—something that could have changed everything.

I’m super excited for The Last Time We Say Goodbye, despite it being such a deep, dark story. After reading comedic novels like My Lady Jane and The Afterlife of Holly Chase, I want to see how Cynthia Hand deals with such a serious topic like suicide.


That’s the last of them! Have you read any of these books and what did you think of them?

Summer 2018 Book Haul Part Two: June

I don’t know about everyone else, but June was an emotionally challenging month for me.

I’m not sure why. I had registered for my first semester of classes in grad school. While I had to get up super early in the morning to catch a bus, the temp assignment I had was a nice state job I could put on my resume and I was around a lot of fun people. Yet, I had been in a weird funk. I had little to no motivation to read but I wanted to buy every single book on my Amazon wish list.

I had to get creative with space on my bookshelves and ignore occasional side-eye from my dad, but I think buying these books, adding them to my TBR, made me excited for reading again.

In June, I bought:


The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith


After rereading Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson and watching Season 2 of Thirteen Reasons Why, I realized I know little about victims of rape or sexual assault and the trauma the survivors endure after, whether they choose to report the crime or not. I personally never have been a victim of a sex crime, but I want to understand, so I can sympathize with those that are. The Way I Used to Be is the story of Eden, who is raped by her brother’s best friend in her own bedroom and never reports the assault. The novel follows her through her freshman into her senior year of high school and how the trauma affects her throughout her high school career.


Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen


Orphan Monster Spy is a World War II story following Sarah, a blond-haired, blue-eyed Jewish girl that witnesses her mother shot at checkpoint. She is then recruited by a spy to infiltrate a boarding school for the daughters of high-ranking Nazis. Her mission is to befriend a prominent scientist’s daughter and steal the blueprints for a bomb strong enough to take out the entirety of Western Europe. Since her mother was an actress, Sarah knows she can play the part. Only she never expected to be in a fight for her life.


Vicious by V.E. Schwab


I told myself I was not going to buy any of Victoria Schwab’s other books until I read Our Dark Duet, the concluding novel in the Monsters of Verity duology. Admittedly, I was more inclined to check out her A Darker Shade of Magic trilogy before I even thought about Vicious. Then, I saw on Amazon this gorgeous redesigned cover….

You could argue that Vicious was primarily a cover buy, but the story does sound cool. Amazingly enough, I have never been spoiled for anything; all I know is that it is about two former college roommates that developed super human powers after an experiment and then, ten years later, one is trying to kill the other.


Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson


Before I got into high fantasy, urban fantasy and paranormal suspense were my favorite genres. Undead Girl Gang got a little bit of hype on YouTube recently. It sounded like so much fun. Amateur witch Mila refuses to believe her best friend Riley was involved in a suicide pact with June and Dayton, two mean girls at their high school. So, she uses a spell in an ancient grimory to bring the girls back to life. Problem is, none of them remember their deaths. However, they do remember their grudges. Which means Mila has seven days to get three dead girls in line and catch a killer before he or she strikes again.


What I Lost by Alexandra Ballard


Having struggled with weight problems basically my whole life, eating disorders have always been a topic that disturbingly fascinated me. Mostly because that, while I was always conscious of how my weight could affect my health, I never had the mindset to intentionally starve myself. What I Lost follows Elizabeth, who enters treatment for anorexia but, of course, thinks she’s totally fine. She plans to fake it as much as she can, then get out of treatment and return to her mother, who also has a size 0 obsession. Then, while in the treatment center, Elizabeth receives mysterious packages, presumably from her ex-boyfriend, that make her wonder if treatment really is where she belongs.


A Tragic Kind of Wonderful by Eric Lindstrom


A Tragic Kind of Wonderful follows Mel, a sixteen-year-old girl hiding her bipolar disorder from her friends and her struggling to let others in when she wants to keep them at arm’s length. Then, an old friend confronts her about why their relationship ended. When the facade Mel has built for herself slowly crumbles, she must decide if it is time to tell her friends the truth about her diagnosis.

Mental illness is another topic close to my heart. While I personally do not have one, people I love do. I’m glad to see their stories finally represented in literature.


You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon


You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone follows twins Adina and Tovah, whose relationship is strained by not only something that happened in the past they refuse to speak of, but also their mother’s Huntington’s disease. When the girls turn eighteen, they get tested to find out if either carries the gene—one does, while the other does not. This puts further strain on the relationship as the two girls, both very ambitious, head down different paths and one embraces her Jewish religion while the other rejects it.

I just realized something: I bought two “teenaged girl with a sick mother” books in this summer (you will see the other one in Part Three). I guess I’m a masochist.


Beyond a Darkened Shore by Jessica Leake


Beyond a Darkened Shore, from my understanding, is inspired by Norse mythology. Ciara, princess of Mide, protects her people with her ability to control her enemies’ minds. But when a crow appears to her, promising greater threats to come, she reluctantly joins forces with young Northman leader Leif. Not only does he possess an impressive army fleet, he also has the same prophetic dreams as Ciara, leading them to use their shared power to protect their kingdoms from a common enemy.


Onyx and Ivory by Mindee Arnett


Yet another high fantasy on my TBR, Onyx and Ivory is the story of Kate, otherwise known as Traitor Kate, the daughter of the man who attempted to assassinate the high king, and Corwin, the high king’s second son, who is more than happy to let his brother be their father’s successor. After years of being separated, the two are reunited when Kate uses her ability to communicate with animals to save Corwin from being killed by nightdrakes, deadly flightless dragons that are supposed to only come out at night yet Corwin’s peacekeeping tour was attacked in broad daylight. As the nightdrake attacks become more vicious and more frequent, the two team up to uncover a conspiracy that threatens the kingdom.


The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova


An adult historical fiction mystery novel, The Shadow Land is set in Sofia, Bulgaria, where American Alexandra Boyd goes on vacation to hopefully heal after the death of her brother. While helping an elderly couple into a taxi, she accidentally takes one of their bags and discovers an urn containing human ashes. To locate the family, she goes by the name on the urn—Stoyan Lazarov—who turns out to once have been a talented musician whose life was shattered by oppression and his secrets still carry over into the present day.

Elizabeth Kostova is best known for her novel The Historian, although I have not read it yet. A novel of hers that I have read, The Swan Thieves, was another historical mystery I loved for its beautiful writing and intricate storytelling. I expect the same from The Shadow Land.


The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang


The Kiss Quotient is a cute, steamy adult contemporary that came out of nowhere on BookTube that I was instantly drawn to, for two reasons. The first is the Asperger’s representation, because my little brother is on the autism spectrum. The second is that the main character, Stella, who has Asperger’s, is a smart thirty-year-old with a good job but severely lacking in the dating department than most people her age…something I can relate to. To solve her problem, Stella hires male escort Michael Phan to teach her about intimacy, only she gets a little more than what she bargained for.

So far, the reviews I have seen regarding The Kiss Quotient say that it is a sweet romance with lots of sex positivity. And I’m here for it.


Which of these books have you read and what did you think of them?