August 2018: The Month I Read All the Library Books

You all are probably sick of hearing me talk about it by now, but I start graduate school for Library and Information Science in September. Which means I have a month before I go back to being a full-time student after two years outside of a classroom (I’m already having nightmares from anxiety).

Since I am currently in between temp assignments and focusing on part-time work, I will have (hopefully) enough free time to visit my local library until the semester starts. I don’t know how much I will have as a graduate student. That is why all the books on this rather ambitious TBR are library books. It seems only fitting, since I am going back to school to be a librarian. There are others books I already own I hope to get to, but for now the books from the library are ones I am focused on.

The library books I plan to read in August of 2018 are:

 

The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

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The Poppy War is one of those books that seemed to come out of nowhere and, suddenly, everyone on BookTube and the blogs are talking about it. Inspired by events of Chinese history, the novel follows a young woman enlisted into an elite military academy in the Empire and discovers her talents could help end a war threatening to tear the kingdom apart.

With all the books I wanted to read, The Poppy War had to take a back seat, at least at first. You all might be surprised to know what drew me to ultimately pick up the novel was certain events happening are inspired by The Rape of Nan King. I actually learned that in my junior year of high school, which was my favorite history class I ever took in school. So I already know how disturbing it is. I am mentally preparing myself the best I can for whatever The Poppy War can dish out at me.

 

Listen to Your Heart by Kasie West

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Besides being an iconic summer author, I checked out two of Kasie West’s books this month because they are cute, fluffy, and breezy reads, good to have to balance out the rest of my TBR.

The first Kasie West book, Listen to Your Heart, follows Kate, who gets reluctantly pulled into a podcast class by her best friend Alana. To her surprise, she gets chosen as a host and finds she has a talent for giving advice on the air. Then, an anonymous guy calls in, seeking help for his unnamed crush. Kate is positive it is her classmate Diego talking about Alana. But when she starts falling for Diego as well, she learns that taking your own advice is harder than giving it away.

 

The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

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I read Riley Sager’s debut novel, Final Girls, last year and, unfortunately, didn’t love it as much as I wanted to. But I enjoyed his writing style enough to want to keep picking up his books. I must admit, between The Last Time I Lied and Final Girls, the plot of the former intrigues me more.

In The Last Time I Lied, protagonist Emma is still haunted by the disappearance of her three cabin mates, Vivian, Natalie, and Allison, fifteen years ago from Camp Nightingale. When the founder asks her to return to the newly reopened camp, she jumps at the chance to finally get closure as to what happened to her friends. But the only security camera in the camp is pointed directly at Emma’s cabin, the same one she slept in all those years ago, and clues left behind by Vivian detailing the camp’s mysterious origins start to make her wonder if the truth is better off buried.

 

People Like Us by Dana Mele

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After finishing season 2 of Thirteen Reasons Why on Netflix, I had a craving for more dramatic young adult mysteries. While browsing the new additions shelf in the young adult section of my local library, I saw People Like Us. I knew a little bit about it from YouTube, so this was exactly what I was looking for.

Kay Donovan is the new girl at Bates Academy and has reinvented herself as this star soccer player that rules the school with her other popular friends. Then, the body of Jessica Lane is pulled out of a lake and she has left Kay an email threatening to expose the secret Kay has been hiding from everyone if she does not do what the dead girl says. Following the clues, Kay is soon wrapped up in a murder investigation and no one, including her, is above suspicion.

 

Labyrinth Lost & Bruja Born by Zoraida Cordova

From my understanding, Labyrinth Lost and Bruja Born are companion novels. The first, Labyrinth Lost, follows Alex, the most powerful bruja (witch) of her generation that ironically hates magic. On her Death Day celebration, she performs a spell to get rid of her powers. But the spell backfires, sending her family to Los Lagos, the in-between, forcing Alex to team up with a boy she does not trust in order to save them.

The second novel, Bruja Born, follows Lula, a bruja with the power to heal, except heal the wound her sister’s gifts inflicted on her. When her boyfriend tragically dies in a bus crash, she uses her healing powers to bring him back, but in doing so unlocks the door to the underworld.

 

The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis

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I read Fiona Davis’s other novel, The Address, back in July and enjoyed it. The Dollhouse is her debut. It follows Darby, who in 1952, comes to New York City for secretarial school and takes up residence in the Barbizon Hotel for Women, where young women of the 1950s lived as they attempted to achieve the success they craved. She befriends Esme, a maid in the hotel, who introduces Darby to the underground world of jazz and heroin.

Then, half a century later, Darby is still living in the Barbizon, now being converted to condos and hiding from the world midst rumors about an incident she was implicated in that ended badly. Her upstairs neighbor, journalist Rose Lewin, is drawn to her mysterious past; mostly as a distraction from her own messed up personal life. But as Rose begins her investigation into Darby’s past, her obsession takes her down a path that will change both women for good.

 

A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell

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After watching the trailer for the movie three times, I discovered that A Simple Favor, which is coming out in theaters this September, is based off a book of the same name. Widow and mommy blogger Stephanie, played by Anna Kendrick, and beautiful, mysterious fashion designer Emily, played by Blake Lively, are brought together by their sons and become best friends themselves. Stephanie is enthralled by Emily’s supposed perfect life, with a handsome British husband and successful career. Only after Emily goes missing does she realize there is more to her supposedly perfect best friend than she thought.

 

The King’s Witch by Tracy Borman

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The Tudor dynasty is one of my favorite periods of England’s history. The King’s Witch is the first in a historical trilogy that is set during the last years of the Tudors and into the Stuarts, a portion I know next to nothing about.

I found The King’s Witch browsing the new arrivals shelf in my library’s lobby. Written by a real historian, the novel follows a Wiccan named Frances, a beloved healer in Queen Elizabeth I’s court until the queen dies in March of 1603. After that, King James of Scotland takes the throne and Frances is more than happy to leave court, knowing James is a Puritan. But her ambitious uncle forces her back to London, where she is made a lady to James’s daughter, Princess Elizabeth, and unwittingly gets herself wrapped up in a deadly conspiracy that leads to the Gunpowder Plot of 1605.

 

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

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I have mentioned my love for historical mysteries, mainly ones that follow dual timelines where one person’s is connected to another’s by a tragedy or crime. The Broken Girls checks off some of those boxes.

The novel centers on a boarding school called Idlewild Hall, a place for girls that society does not want. Twenty years ago, journalist Fiona Sheridan’s older sister was murdered and her body was found outside the then-abandoned Idlewild Hall. Though her sister’s boyfriend was convicted of the crime, something about it never sat right with Fiona. In 2014, an unknown benefactor is reopening Idlewild Hall and she decides to cover the story. But the renovations reveal a clue that links Fiona’s sister’s death to another disappearance of a girl from Idlewild Hall in 1950.

 

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo has been literally everywhere since its release and I have not heard a single negative thing about it. On its own, the plot intrigues me. Monique Grant is a journalist whose entire life is falling apart until she is unexpectedly chosen to write the tell-all autobiography of Hollywood icon Evelyn Hugo. As Evelyn details her scandalous life to the journalist, Monique soon realizes she and Evelyn are connected by tragedy and painful truth. That being said, the hype this book has been getting is so enormous it’s more than a little intimidating.

 

My Name is Venus Black by Heather Lloyd

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Five years ago, straight-A student Venus Black commits a heinous crime and won’t say why she did it, other than blame her mother for her actions. To make matters worse, her mentally challenged younger brother has gone missing. Then, years later, Venus is released from prison and her brother is still missing. With a fake identity, she travels to Seattle to build a new life for herself away from her mother. Then, she meets a person that gets close to her heart and a little girl that reminds her of her childhood self, making Venus realize she needs to face the past in order to have a future.

 

Circe by Madeline Miller

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I recently began reading The Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan and The Lost Hero mentioned Circe. Having read The Odyssey in high school, all I knew about her was that she was the sorceress that Odysseus outwitted after she turned his sailors into animals and then he bedded her for reasons I forget why. Then, there was the 1997 miniseries where Bernadette Peters played Circe…. In this novel, though, Madeline Miller paints the first witch of Greek mythology in a different light: a strong woman blazing trails in a world run by men and a powerhouse that makes even the Olympians nervous.

 

The English Wife by Lauren Willig

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On the outside, Annabelle and Bayard Van Duyvil are the picture of perfection in turn-of-the-century New York. She’s an English rose and he the son of an old Knickerbocker family who live in an elegant house on the Hudson with adorable three-year-old twins. Then, Bayard is murdered the night he and his wife are throwing their Twelfth Night Ball and Annabelle presumably drowns. While the media is going crazy with the rumors, Bay’s sister Janie firmly believes her brother did not kill his wife and he was murdered for another reason. But when she teams up with a reporter to get answers, Janie discovers she didn’t know her brother or his wife as well as she thought she did.

 

Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West

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The second Kasie West book on this TBR/library book haul, Love, Life, and the List follows aspiring artist Abby Turner, who is dealing with an unrequited crush on her best friend Cooper and her mother’s growing anxiety issues while her dad serves overseas. After being rejected from an art show because her work lacks heart, she gives herself one month to complete a list of dares to give herself life experiences she hopes will improve her talent. But it’s going to be a lot harder than that.

 

What is the book you are most looking forward to reading in August?

 

My Pitiful June Wrap Up & Hopeful July TBR

Is it just me or was June emotionally draining?

I read only two books this entire month. I had more of an urge to buy books than read them (you will see the result of that in a week or two). I would not say the desire to read wasn’t there, but I really had to push myself to even pick a book up.

Then, the temp job I had left at the end of May asked if I could come back for another four weeks. Not that I am complaining—it was a nice state job I can put on my resume and my co-workers were awesome. Plus there was a swell restaurant across the street where I ate lunch every day run by funny Italian men. Still, I had to wake up at 4:30 every morning to catch a bus and the assignment itself could be mind numbing.

The best explanation I can come up with to appease myself is that what I was feeling was a combination of a reading slump, tiredness, the overwhelming desire to read all the books (TBR, library, and books I wanted to buy), and grief. It’s like I see, hear, or read something and I get into these terrible thought spirals where I am plunged back into memories of that last awful year of my mother’s life. Books helped a lot in the beginning. Lately, though, YouTube was a more engrossing distraction.

Fortunately, the bad days are few and far in between now. I’m trying to tell myself I cannot change the past and my life is now a wide, open, sea clear of my mother’s storms. I have great friends, an amazing dad and brother, a blog I enjoy, and graduate school and my future as a librarian to look forward to. And those bad days is just grief playing with my emotions. It will pass and it does.

But now enough of Debbie downing and onto the reader shaming! The two books I completed in June were:

 

The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler (library book)

4 stars

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Virginia Shreves is a sweet but insecure plus size girl and the youngest daughter in a family of slim overachievers. She puts her family on pedestals, especially her big brother Byron, and goes out of her way to please her parents. But when Byron is suspended from school for date rape, the Shreves family unravels, leading Virginia down the road to self-discovery.

I really wish I had read The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things when I was younger. Most of the books I read back then did not feature plus-size main characters. Virginia has some of the best character development I’ve seen in young adult literature, though the novel was too short and everything seemed to be resolved too fast. For my full thoughts on The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, go check out my spoiler-free review.

 

And When She was Good by Laura Lippman

3 stars

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This is the first and only book I completed of the Backlist Book Challenge I barely attempted in June. While I was excited to try it, I quickly learned that I am a control freak that prefers to arrange my TBR in a specific order I want to read my books. It is fair to say I overwhelmed myself.

Anyway, And When She was Good is an adult fiction novel about Heloise, a high-price madam posing as a lobbyist in Washington, D.C. She gets swept up in a murder investigation when another madam in a neighboring county dies under suspicious circumstances and fears for her life at the prospect that Val, a murderer and her former pimp, could be released from prison on a technicality.

In my head, I compared And When She was Good to a less cheesy Lifetime suspense film. Heloise is a strong and self-assured but morally gray protagonist that makes many selfish mistakes out of self-preservation and has no scruples against using her sexuality to get what she wants. Val, the “villain” of the novel, was fascinating in that he was psychotic and unpredictable, yet he was the only man in Heloise’s life to respect her intellect. On the flip side to that, the pacing of the novel was off and the plot fell flat, as it took forever for anything to happen. If you are interested, go check out my spoiler-free review of And When She was Good for more of my thoughts.

 

Since my June wrap-up was so short, I figured I would combine it with my July 2018 TBR, just to fill up all the empty space….

When last month began, I realized I had almost forgotten about my Harry Potter reread. I read Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban towards the end of last year, then got wrapped up in all the shiny new books I had sitting on my shelves. I made it about 170 pages into Goblet of Fire before I set it aside a few weeks ago. I really enjoyed myself when I reread the first three books and shared my adultish thoughts with you all, so I want to keep moving forward with the Harry Potter series.

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The Heroes of Olympus was one of the series I hoped to read in 2018, though not as badly as some others, to be honest. Then, I reached a certain point in June where I needed something fun to read. I picked up The Lost Hero, the first book, on a whim. I had as much fun as I did when I read the original Percy Jackson books. Right now, I like the new characters Jason, Piper, and Leo. At the time I am writing this, I have about 100 or so pages left in The Lost Hero and I plan on reading the rest of the novels in July, which include:

The Son of Neptune

            The Mark of Athena

            The House of Hades

            The Blood of Olympus

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Lastly, being on brand, I went to the library.

I currently have three books checked out and another eight on hold (I never learn from my mistakes). The three I have in my possession at the moment are:

 

The Address by Fiona Davis

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The Address is a historical mystery set in dual time periods, following two women 100 years apart and their connection to the Dakota building in New York City. The first perspective is Sara, a young woman in 1884 who is offered the chance of a lifetime by famed architect Theodore Camden to work as a female manager in the Dakota. Then, years later, for reasons no one fully understands, Sara stabs Theodore to death.

The other perspective is Bailey, a recovering drug addict, interior designer, and granddaughter of the boy adopted by Theodore Camden. However, because she is not biologically related to Theodore, Bailey will not see a penny of his money. Then, Melinda, Theodore’s actual great-granddaughter, offers her a chance to redesign the Camden’s lavish apartment within the Dakota and, in doing so, Bailey uncovers secrets about Theodore’s murder and the truth about the acclaimed madwoman Sara.

 

Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman

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Tess lives in a medieval world where men and women are expected to live by certain rules, and dragons can do whatever they want. She is a magnet for trouble, but when she does something so disgraceful she can’t even think about it, instead of going to a nunnery, she disguises herself as a boy and, literally, walks away from it all. From my understanding, it is a novel about redemption and healing, following the younger sister of the main character in Rachel Hartman’s Seraphina series. I was more interested in Tess of the Road and, thankfully, I was told I didn’t need to read the original books to get into this one.

 

Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West

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What is summer without a fun, lighthearted young adult contemporary? While I have not heard some not so great things about the first books she published, Kasie West’s newest novels since P.S. I Like You are said to be up to par. Love, Life, and the List is one I’m most interested in. It follows Abby Turner, a seventeen-year-old dealing with an unrequited crush on her best friend Cooper and her mom’s growing anxiety about Abby’s dad being overseas, who tries to submit her art work into a show. But when the gallery owner tells her that her work lacks heart, she sets out to complete a list of goals within the next thirty days in hope to get some real inspiration for her art.

In case you were wondering, the books I currently have on hold are:

 

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Circe by Madeline Miller

Listen to Your Heart by Kasie West

The English Wife by Lauren Willig

My Name is Venus Black by Heather Lloyd

The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

 

Will I read all these books? More? We shall find out!

June 2018 TBR & Backlist Book Challenge

As I’m sure you are all aware by now, libraries are wonderful institutions. Why? Because free books to read, among other things. They just have one downside: free books to read.

In May, I checked out more books than I could manage from the library. I am only allowed to renew books once, and with the amount that I had left over unread, there was little chance of me reading them all by their new due dates. Plus, to be honest, I had lost interest in reading most of them, at least right now. Since I am in a strong contemporary mood at the moment, I narrowed down the four I wanted to keep to their renewal date and returned the rest.

Here are the library books I renewed to read in June:

 

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

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You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone is as far away from a lighthearted young adult summer contemporary you can get. It follows twins whose mother has Huntington’s disease. On their eighteenth birthday, the girls get a DNA test to determine if either of them carries the gene. Turns out, one does but the other does not. Despite being twins, the sisters already have a strained relationship because of something that happened in the past that they refuse to talk about but this new development could make things worse or maybe bring them back together again.

 

What I Lost by Alexandra Ballard

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Another not-so-fluffy contemporary, What I Lost follows Elizabeth, a teenaged girl who has recently entered treatment for anorexia. She plans to fake it all the way through, so she can get back to her mother, who has just as unhealthy eating habits as she does. But when Elizabeth receives packages she thinks might be from her ex-boyfriend, she wonders if maybe recovery isn’t such a bad idea.

 

A Tragic Kind of Wonderful by Eric Lindstrom

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Sixteen-year-old Mel hides the fact she is bipolar from her friends. As people try to get closer, she keeps everyone at arm’s length out of fear of rejection should they find out her secret. But when an old friend confronts her about why their relationship ended, the facade Mel has carefully constructed slowly crumbles.

 

The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things by Carolyn Mackler

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Probably the least serious novel on this list, The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things follows Virginia, the plus-size black sheep in a family of athletic overachievers. After her crush succeeds in getting a feel under her shirt, Virginia is worried of what he will think if they go any further. But when shocking allegations are made against her brother, her family unravels midst her own struggles to accept her body image.

These library books I know I will read in June. However, there are other developments. Recently, I was making yet another attempt at a list of TBR books I want to read. I think I finally got it at the exact amount of pages I want and the books are in the order I want to read them in (at least at this present moment). Still…there are many other books I own that I want to read; yet with so many trips to the library or bookstore or Amazon, they keep getting put on the backburner. So, I came up with an idea, similar to something I’ve seen other people do.

I picked fifteen backlist books off my TBR and assigned each of them a number. Once I finish reading the library books, my plan is to go to random.org and use that to randomly select which backlist book I read first. I hope to read at least four of these in June. The key thing I must remember is that, once Random gives me a number, that is the book I read next (unless it was already used, but you get my drift). I know there is little chance I will get to all of these (though it would be awesome if I did), so the ones I do not get to this month will be put aside for the next time I decide to do a Backlist Book Challenge.

The books I selected for my first Backlist Book Challenge are:

 

And When She Was Good by Laura Lippman

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The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams

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The Merciless by Danielle Vega

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The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer

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Vanilla by Megan Hart

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Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein

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Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

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Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

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Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

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Every Fifteen Minutes by Lisa Scottoline

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The Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes

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Lucky in Love by Kasie West

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Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls by Lynn Weingarten

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A Madness so Discreet by Mindy McGinnis

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The Appearance of Annie van Sinderan by Katherine Howe

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Have you read any of my backlist books?

Books I Want to Read Between May and August of 2018

In March, I went on a book-buying binge that added a lot of books to my physical TBR that made it harder than it already was to pick a book to read. In April, I had too long of a TBR that I barely put a dent in. Now, I’m behind on my Goodreads challenge.

So, I decided to do something different. Instead of doing TBRs during the summer, I am giving myself a list of books to read between May and August. I will still do monthly wrap-ups; I actually like doing those, looking back on the reading I did every month. This way, I am giving myself a deadline for priority books, while still having wiggle room for other books.

If this list works out, I might do one for September through November. By then, I will have started graduate school. Who knows how much free time I will have once I get into the trenches of academia?

Anyway, the books I plan on reading this summer are:

 

Daughter of the Siren Queen by Tricia Levenseller

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The perfect summer read in my opinion, The Daughter of the Siren Queen is the sequel to Daughter of the Pirate King and the last book in the duology. It picks up right where the first book left off, with Alossa and her crew in a race against rival pirates for an ancient treasure. There’s a lot more going on than that, particularly since Alossa is half siren, but I won’t get into more details because of spoilers. You better believe I will be reading Daughter of the Siren Queen soon, though.

 

A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

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The sequel to The Star-Touched Queen, A Crown of Wishes follows the younger half-sister of the main character in the previous novel, who becomes a political prisoner in a rival kingdom and must compete in a race with a sneaky prince for her freedom. I enjoyed The Star-Touched Queen and people have said the companion novel is even better, so I’m hyped for it.

 

Windwitch by Susan Dennard

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I loved the first book in the series, Truthwitch, and I forced myself to put off Windwitch for two reasons. First, I had other books before that one I wanted to read first (think I read all of them?). Second, I knew the next book in the series, Bloodwitch, would not be out for a while; I would need something to hold me over. But I have put it off for long enough now. I want to get back into the series.

 

Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab

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Why have I not read this??? I loved This Savage Song. I wanted to read Our Dark Duet when it came out last year yet I never got around to it. (Story of my life.) I’m making it a priority for this summer, though. Hopefully, I haven’t forgotten too much from the first book….

 

Now I Rise by Kiersten White

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Now I Rise is another anticipated sequel of one of my favorite reads of 2016, And I Darken. It is a retelling of Vlad the Impaler if he was a woman and the first book had been so much fun. Plus, the final book in the trilogy, Bright We Burn, is coming out in July. I need to get on this!

 

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

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I have briefly mentioned my love-hate relationship with Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy. These are like guilty pleasure reads for me, as they are for a lot of people. But they are problematic, for a lot of reasons. Still, I plan on finally finishing this trilogy, because I made it this far and I want to see it through…even if I have been spoiled for some things….

 

Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

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Unlike Sarah J. Maas’s books, I put off Lord of Shadows not because I had problems with Lady Midnight. In fact, the previous book made me think The Dark Artifices could be my new favorite Shadowhunter Chronicles series after The Infernal Devices. Lord of Shadows fell to the wayside on my TBR because I had no idea when the sequel, Queen of Air and Darkness, was coming out and the book is said to be an emotional roller coaster. I had to prepare for that.

 

Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas

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I’m actually shocked I have not read Tower of Dawn. I was more excited for this one than A Court of Wings and Ruin…. Mostly because I am still a loyal Chaol Westfall fan girl and Tower of Dawn is supposed to be his redemption arc. The fact that it has been getting great reviews and some even said it is their new favorite book in the series just makes me even more excited to finally read Tower of Dawn.

 

Cinder

Scarlet

Cress

Fairest

Winter

By Marissa Meyer

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After reading Heartless, I know for certain I will like the Lunar Chronicles series. While the books are a series of companion fairy tale retellings, the science fiction aspect has always made me weary. Still, my fascination with this series was strong enough that I never let go of Cinder after owning it for at least two years and getting the remaining books this past Christmas. Now it is time to get on one of the most beloved young adult series.

 

The Kiss of Deception

The Heart of Betrayal

The Beauty of Darkness

By Mary E. Pearson

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The Remnant Chronicles is another young adult series I have wanted to get into for years. The reason I was so interested in this one was because the main character is a princess that runs away on her wedding day and chooses to become a waitress rather than live like royalty. Plus, she’s got two love interests, one was the prince she left at the alter and the other an assassin sent to kill her. The Kiss of Deception received a lot of hype when it came out, but it died down after the last two books. Miraculously, I have never been spoiled for anything that happens in this series. And I want to keep it that way!

 

A Great and Terrible Beauty

Rebel Angels

The Sweet Far Thing

By Libba Bray

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An older series I have wanted to read for a long, long time, the Gemma Doyle trilogy is a young adult historical fantasy series about a teenaged girl who goes to a boarding school with sinister secrets and a magical society. This trilogy has kind of fallen under the radar over the years; no one really talks about it anymore. But it’s time I read the series I am almost positive I will love, simply based on what I know about the series. Even though I have not read anything by Libba Bray before. I’m really taking a chance on Gemma Doyle.

 

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? Which one should I read first?

Books I Want to Read April 2018

You will notice that I am not calling this post “April 2018 TBR”….

In case you did not already know, I started a new job that involves a long bus ride to and from. Ideally, that promises a lot of reading time. Except I have to get up super early in the morning, when it’s still dark out, and coffee doesn’t always work. Even reading after work is proving to be a challenge, because my brain is simply too tired.        My complaining aside, the job is going well so far and I have time on the weekends to read, but I’m being lazy. And after breaking my book-buying ban, my physical TBR once again has gotten dangerously overwhelming. I won’t even let myself visit the library, because I have so many books at home that I need to read, that I want to read.

Will I read all the books on this list? I hope so, but I’m not counting on it. If I can get through most of these, many of which are carried over from March, I will be satisfied.

In April, I want to read:

 

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

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As I am writing this, I am currently 39% through Heartless and I had stopped reading for a while. But not because something was wrong—I actually was having a lot of fun. I think I fell into some sort of weird slump trying to get into the swing of my new schedule. Surprisingly, after the rereading fail that was Alice in Wonderland, I am even more determined to finish Heartless soon, before I fall into a real reading slump in the middle of what could be a potentially awesome book.

 

The Beast is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale

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The Beast is an Animal is an underrated book that, to me, sounds a lot like some popular ones. It’s kind of a messed up retelling of Beauty and the Beast: a girl trying to hide her magical powers from the magic-hating people that raised her, feels drawn to the demons that destroyed her own village when she was a little girl. The Beast is an Animal sounds like a dark, twisted book, perfect to read as winter makes its way into spring.

 

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

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I NEED TO READ THIS! I WANT TO READ THIS! GUYS MAKE SURE I READ OF FIRE AND STARS IN APRIL! COME UP WITH A PUNISHMENT! HOLD ME ACCOUNTABLE!!!

 

Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas

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A rare fantasy stand-alone novel, this one is about a princess who never expected to be queen suddenly ascends the throne after everyone else in the royal family is poisoned. While trying to catch the killer, she must contend with court politics and proving to everyone she can be a queen. Another one I really, really want to read….

 

Freeks by Amanda Hocking

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A girl that grew up in a freak show searches for a normal life, only to have the dream taken away by her newly discovered magical abilities that hold the key to defending the circus from an evil ancient force in the town they are currently visiting. From what I’ve heard, Freeks is a fun, fast read.

 

RoseBlood by A.G. Howard

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A Phantom of the Opera retelling set at a boarding school in Paris…and the book is printed in red ink. Seriously, that makes me even more excited.

 

Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge

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ANOTHER BOOK I MUST READ! LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD! DEMONS! POSSIBLE HATE TO LOVE TROPE! THAT IS ALL!

 

Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab

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Like so many other books on my general TBR, I’m shocked I have not picked up Our Dark Duet yet. It is the sequel to This Savage Song, which was one of my favorite books of 2016. I really wanted to read Our Dark Duet and it was getting good reviews. But I am scared of the emotional roller coaster I’ve heard this book is.

 

Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter

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I remember being really excited for Vassa in the Night when I got it in an Owlcrate box. It is a retelling of Baba Yaga and Vasilisa the Beautiful set in an alternative Brooklyn. Plus, it’s short and from what I’ve heard, the whole book is weird. That’s all I need to know right now.

 

A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

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A Crown of Wishes is the companion novel to The Star-Touched Queen, a book I read last year that I enjoyed. It follows the younger half-sister of the main character of the previous book, who is competing in a race with a prince from a rival kingdom in hopes of freeing herself as a political prisoner. The two venture into a dark world where nothing is what it seems. Since I liked The Star-Touched Queen so much, my expectations are high for A Crown of Wishes.

 

Windwitch by Susan Dennard

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The sequel to Truthwitch, one of my favorite books of last year. I wanted to read it as soon as I bought it over the summer, but I had to refrain myself. The third book in the series, Bloodwitch, won’t be out for a while and at the time I knew I wouldn’t have anything else to potentially hold me over. But with Sightwitch out in the world, I can safely read Windwitch and hopefully not go into a full-blown book hangover.

 

Now I Rise by Kiersten White

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Now I Rise is the sequel to And I Darken, a historical retelling if Vlad the Impaler was a woman. I liked the first book very much and I’ve put off the second book long enough. As far as I know, this series (which will be wrapping up this summer) is highly underrated. I have no idea why that is.

 

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

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Yeah…I know….

In recent years, I have developed a love-hate relationship with Sarah J. Maas. I love her characters. I love the world she creates. I love the romances. But she also has a bad habit of totally butchering a specific character’s development solely for the purpose of making another love interest look good. And we all know about her problems with diversity.

Yet, her books are highly addictive. I want to know what happens next with these characters, with this story. And I will likely read A Court of Frost and Starlight when it comes out in May, too.

But, if I am being totally honest, there are other books on this month’s list that I want to read just a tiny bit more than this one….

 

Let’s do a poll: which three books do you think I should read after Heartless?

March 2018 TBR

I hope I don’t jinx myself by saying 2018 has been a good reading year so far. Last month I got distracted by library books, so my unread books at home were ignored. I will still pay regular visits to my library, because I want to support the institution to which I plan to build my career. But the ones I already own need to be a priority.

In March, I hope to read:

 

Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

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Flame in the Mist is one of the books I really need to get to in 2018. It was marketed as a Mulan retelling, however reviews say otherwise. That’s not a big deal to me. The novel is set in feudalist Japan, where Mariko, the daughter of a samurai, is betrothed to the son of the emperor’s favorite consort. En route to her wedding, her entourage is attacked by the Black Clan, a group of assassins. Disguised as a boy, Mariko infiltrates the clan to find out who wants her dead.

I’m so excited to read Flame in the Mist. Why haven’t I yet?

 

The Beast is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale

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The Beast is an Animal is a young adult horror/fantasy novel that has flown completely under the radar. When Alys was seven her village was attacked by soul eaters, twin sisters controlled by a thing called the Beast. She and the other children in her village were spared, but sent to a nearby village that teaches them to fear magic. Unfortunately, Alys possesses some secret magical abilities of her own. Powers that make her feel connected to the soul eaters and the Beast. Powers that could also save the village she calls home from the darkness threatening them.

I just hyped The Beast is an Animal up for myself again.

 

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

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I honestly have no idea why I have not read Of Fire and Stars. It is about two princesses falling in love and one of them, who is betrothed to the other princess’s brother, is hiding her magic in a kingdom that hates magic. I really think I will like this book once I read it. But I need to be held to it this time.

 

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

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After finishing Cynthia Hand’s Unearthly trilogy and reading her recent release, The Afterlife of Holly Chase, I am certain I will enjoy My Lady Jane (even though I have not read anything by Jodi Meadows or Brodi Ashton). My Lady Jane is a humorous retelling of Lady Jane Grey’s story, in which the Nine Days Queen gets a happier ending that does not involve being tried as a traitor or a beheading. She’s one of my favorite historical figures, too. It would be nice to see her story get some justice.

 

Freeks by Amanda Hocking

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Freeks is part of a growing trend of young adult circus books, this one about Mara, a girl who has grown up in a travelling circus. When the circus arrives in a small town and she meets a local boy, she thinks she has found an opportunity to leave the circus behind for a normal life. But when she discovers she has powers she never knew she had, it is up to Mara to save her family from the evil forces hiding in the town.

Freeks got a tiny bit of buzz when it was first released, but it has died down since then. While the reviews might not be particularly spectacular, they do promise a fun and easy read. And the concept kind of reminds me of Season 4 of American Horror Story: Freak Show.

 

Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge

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Another book I have had on my TBR for a ridiculously long time is Crimson Bound. It is a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood and follows Rachelle, a young girl that has devoted her life to protecting her world from dark magic. When she was fifteen, she made a horrible mistake that bound her to the magic she swore to defeat. Three years later, after being forced to guard Prince Armand, a man she hates, Rachelle sets out to uncover a legendary sword that could protect the kingdom from those hell-bent on destroying it.

I read Rosamund Hodge’s debut novel, Cruel Beauty, years ago and it is one of my favorites. I am both excited and nervous to read Crimson Bound; excited, because the story sounds unique, and nervous because, like I said, it has been years since I read anything by Rosamund Hodge. I hope my tastes have not changed too much that I can’t enjoy it.

 

RoseBlood by A.G. Howard

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RoseBlood is yet another retelling on this list, this one The Phantom of the Opera. Rune is an opera singer with a beautiful voice, but her gift comes with a price (naturally). Every time she sings, she feels physically weak. To distract her from this terrible affliction, her mother sends her to RoseBlood, a conservatory in Paris. The school is rumored to have ties to the Phantom of the Opera and while she is there, Rune develops a friendship with a mysterious boy named Thorn. When the Phantom sets his sights on Rune for a dark purpose, Thorn must choose between saving the girl he is falling for or be the minion of the only father he’s ever known.

As a disclaimer: I have not read the original story of The Phantom of the Opera. However, thanks to Wishbone the dog, I have a general knowledge of the plot. Then again, I have no clue to how much inspiration RoseBlood takes from the source material.

 

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

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The last retelling on this TBR, Heartless is a retelling origin story of the Queen of Hearts. Before she was the infamous villain on Alice in Wonderland, she was Catherine, a sweet young woman that just wanted to open a bakery with her best friend. Instead, her parents and everyone else in Wonderland expect her to marry the King of Hearts. But when Catherine meets Jest, the court jester, she decides it is time she put her fate into her own hands.

Can we take a moment to appreciate how gorgeous the Heartless Owlcrate exclusive cover is? And why I have not read anything by Marissa Meyer, who is probably one of the most popular young adult authors right now?

 

Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas

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One of the rare young adult fantasy stand-alone novels, Long May She Reign centers on Freya, who is twenty-third in line to the throne and has no hopes over ever becoming queen. That is fine with her, as she is content to living her life studying alchemy. But when the entire court is poisoned, including the royal family, she suddenly finds herself with a crown on her head. Now, Freya must catch the killers before they come after her while navigating the tricky politics where everyone is in it for themselves. And she will do anything to prove herself worthy to rule a kingdom.

 

Thanks everyone for putting up with me as a dwell on all the unread books I own! (I sound annoying even to myself sometimes.)

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What is everyone reading in March?

 

 

February 2018 TBR

It’s already February. What is happening?

I’m pretty excited for my February TBR. This month, I want to read classics and start series that have been on my shelves for a while. I’m still in a historical fiction mood, but I left enough room if I want to finally pick up a fantasy novel or read a romance as we get closer to Valentine’s Day. This is another monthly TBR I am confident I can complete (hopefully I’m not jinxing myself).

In February, I hope to read:

 

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

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One of Jane Austen’s least popular works, Mansfield Park follows Fanny Price, who goes to live with her wealthy cousins but feels like an outcast due to her humble upbringing. While her uncle is away, the children are drawn to brother and sister Mary and Henry Crawford. Only Fanny sees the Crawfords are not the best influence on her cousins and finds herself completely isolated.

I chose a Jane Austen book to read in February because she’s one of the most beloved romantic authors in history. I picked Mansfield Park because, from my understanding, there is a romance between Fanny and her cousin Edmund. I want to see how that is going to play out.

 

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

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A young adult historical fiction series, the Prisoner of Night and Fog duology is set in 1930s Germany. Gretchen Muller is a Nazi darling, the daughter of a man that gave his life protecting her uncle “Dolf” and groomed to be Adolf Hitler’s pet. All her life, she was shielded from the inhumane acts committed by her Uncle Dolf. But when she falls for a handsome Jewish reporter and finds evidence her father was actually murdered to cover something up, she is forced to choose between the life she’s always led or embrace the truth, even if it kills her.

After reading Between Shades of Gray, I’m on a World War II literature kick. Last year, I read Anne Blankman’s recent stand-alone novel, Traitor Angels, which follows John Milton’s daughter, Elizabeth, as she solves a mystery surrounding Paradise Lost. I enjoyed that book very much, so I’m hoping I will also enjoy her debut, Prisoner of Night and Fog, as well as its sequel Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke.

 

Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Pop culture have most people thinking otherwise, but The Great Gatsby was not F. Scott Fitzgerald’s only book. Tender is the Night follows a well-to-do American couple, Dick and Nicole Diver, who are vacationing on the French Rivera. A psychiatrist, Dick is a Nicole’s doctor in addition to being her husband. Her wealth allows them to live the lifestyle they want. But when the Divers meet beautiful Rosemary Hoyt, their marriage is called into question, as well as Dick’s own sanity.

Of all the new Fitzgerald books I own now, I was most drawn to Tender is the Night. I might be wrong, but it sounds like it has a thriller element to it. Dick is a psychiatrist, apparently with the need to keep Nicole dependent on him. Whether or not Nicole’s growing strength has anything to do with Rosemary, I’ll have to find out.

 

Wolf by Wolf & Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin

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Like I said before, I’m on a World War II fiction binge. Wolf by Wolf is set in an alternate history where the Axis Powers won the war. To celebrate their victory, Germany and Japan host a cross-continental motorcycle race where the winner has a private audience with Hitler.

In 1956, Yael, a death camp survivor, joins the race with the mission to win and kill Hitler. Because of human experimentation, she can shape-shift and joins the race disguised as Adele Wolfe, the previous year’s only female rider. But two people who know Adele are suspicious and when she gets closer to other competitors, Yael wonders if she can be ruthless as she needs to be to complete her mission.

I think the Wolf by Wolf duology sounds fun and exciting. I can’t wait to finally read these books.

 

What are you reading in February?

January 2018 TBR

Welcome to 2018!

            My first TBR of the year already makes me excited for the reading I am going to do in 2018. These are books I have put off for too long. It’s time to open them before they collect dust on my shelves.

In January, I want to read:

 

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

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A beloved young adult novel that is being made into a movie this year, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is about a gay teenaged boy not yet out of the closet. He has been exchanging flirty emails with a boy called Blue at his school that is also gay and in the closet. Only Simon has no idea who Blue is. And his secret is in danger of being exposed when a classmate discovers the emails.

I read The Upside of Unrequited, Becky Albertalli’s most recent release, and really enjoyed it. From what I know about this book, I expect Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda to be cute, fun, and fluffy.

 

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

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Quirky Swedish woman Sara travels to Broken Wheel, Iowa to meet her pen pal Amy. Only she arrives just in time for Amy’s funeral. While the people of the farm town welcome her, Sara finds the citizens of Broken Wheel are devoid of the joy of literature. To honor her pen pal’s memory, Sara opens a bookstore in Broken Wheel with all Amy’s books. Thus, a whole new life is brought to Broken Wheel.

I like to start the new year with some cozy books because it’s bitterly cold where I live. The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend fits the bill.

 

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

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Set in 1987, fourteen-year-old June is left heartbroken by the death of her best friend and confidant, her uncle Finn. At Finn’s funeral, June meets a mysterious man named Toby, who was also a friend of her uncle, making him the only person that fully understands what June is going through. As the two grow closer, June realizes that love and friendship can be found in unexpected places, and this new friend could be the person she needs most.

I’ve had my eye on Tell the Wolves I’m Home for a long time. Then, last year, I saw this beautiful paperback version in Target. After walking by it too many times, I finally caved and bought it. This seems like the perfect kind of book to read during the winter; a mixture of contemporary coming-of-age and historical fiction.

 

Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco

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The sequel to Stalking Jack the Ripper, my all-time favorite book of 2016, Hunting Prince Dracula was one of my most anticipated releases of 2017. This book is set in Romania, where protagonist Audrey Rose Wadsworth and her companion Thomas Cresswell are attending an elite forensic pathology school inside a converted castle. While there, they encounter a serial killer whose method bears a disturbing resemblance to Vlad the Impaler.

That is all I need to know. My expectations for Hunting Prince Dracula are already high.

 

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

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Carry On by Rainbow Rowell is probably the most well-known and beloved book on this list. It is based off the fan fiction written in Fangirl, loosely inspired by the Harry Potter series. Simon Snow is a wizard at a magical school destined to be the Chosen One…but he’s not very good at it. There is also the matter of his roommate and nemesis Baz, who might be more than that.

Even after all these years, I have never been spoiled on anything that happens in Carry On, aside from a possible gay romance. I plan to keep it that way. I’m sure many of you will be very happy once I actually read it. I’m looking forward to it, too.

 

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

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Between Shades of Gray is a young adult historical fiction novel set during World War II. Fifteen-year-old Lina and her family are torn away from their home in Lithuania by Soviet soldiers and sent to a work camp in Siberia. Using her artwork, she communicates messages to her father in his prison camp, reassuring him she, her mother, and her little brother are still alive. Through all this, Lina’s personal strength is put to the test as she spends years struggling to survive.

I read Ruta Septeys’s most recent release, Salt to the Sea, another World War II story, and it ripped my heart out. But I loved it. I expect no less from Between Shades of Gray.

 

History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

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A young adult contemporary by a beloved author, Adam Silvera, History is All You Left Me follows Griffin, a young boy that loses the love of his life, Theo, in a tragic boating accident. Griffin always thought he and Theo would get back together someday. Ironically enough, the only person that truly understands what he is going through is Theo’s current boyfriend, Jackson, and the boys form an unlikely friendship.

I have not read anything by Adam Silvera; History is All You Left Me is the one by him that interests me the most. Since it falls on the more serious side of contemporary, this book seems like a good book to read in dark, cold January.

 

The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler

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The Book of Speculation is a novel that has some of my favorite elements: magical realism, historical fiction, and family mystery. The protagonist, Simon, receives an old book from an antique bookseller containing his grandmother’s name with a strange story about his family that comes from a long line of circus mermaids. In this book, he must decode a long-buried mystery before the drowning curse claims his sister.

I don’t want to get my expectations too high before reading The Book of Speculation. I’ve had my eye on it for a while. Like I said, it has a lot of story elements I enjoy. And I have not heard a lot about it in general.

 

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

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After Carry On, Eliza and Her Monsters is another very popular young adult novel on BookTube. It is about Eliza, a shy high school student that has created Monstrous Sea, the most popular web comic on the Internet. Only no one in her real life knows about it and she has no friends at school. Then, she meets a new student named Wallace, who also happens to be the most popular fan fiction writer for her web comic. As the two begin a friendship, Eliza’s secret identity is suddenly exposed.

I read Francesca Zappia’s debut novel, Made You Up, in 2017 and it was one of my favorite books of the year. Eliza and Her Monsters speaks to the nerd in me with its fandom culture. As you can imagine, my expectations for this novel are already astronomically high.

 

What books are you most excited to read in January?

December 2017 TBR

Guys…how is 2017 almost over?

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

In December, I hope to read:

 

On the Fence by Kasie West

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

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

 

Every Last Word by Tamera Ireland Stone

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

 

Final Girls by Riley Sager

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

 

Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein

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

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

 

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

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

 

The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand

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

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

 

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

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

 

What books are you going to read in December?

October 2017 TBR

Now that I have a set plan for my end-of-the-year reading, I am confident I will be able to stick with my TBR this month. Since I completed seven books in September, I want to challenge myself this month by reading nine—more than what I have read most months all year. I am certain I can complete this TBR, though, because these are books I not only need to read, but want to read.

In October, I aim to read:

 

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

Continuing on with my reread of the Harry Potter books, Chamber of Secrets and Prisoner of Azkaban are both books in the past that have competed for the title of my favorite book in the series. Last year, as I started the first reread, I made it through the first half of Prisoner of Azkaban before I gave up. Since I am doing individual reviews of the books as I read them, hopefully that will not happen again.

 

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

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One of my favorite things to read in October are mystery and thriller novels. And Then There Were None is said to be Agatha Christie’s best work. It is set on an island in a mansion, where ten strangers are stranded during a violent storm with a killer stalking them. They have to find out who the killer is before he or she gets them next. It sounds claustrophobic and terrifying and I’m already excited.

 

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier

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Moving on with the mystery books, My Cousin Rachel follows Philip Ashley, a wealthy young man that takes in his cousin’s widow, Rachel, after said cousin’s unexpected death. As affection blossoms into attraction, he begins to suspect there is more to Rachel than meets the eye. But the key to saving his own life lies in if he can determine whether Rachel is a killer or a victim. I love a good Gothic romance mystery.

 

The House of Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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I read The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne in high school and it was one of my favorites. I also read and enjoyed several of his short stories in college. I bought this beautiful edition in Salem, Massachusetts two years ago, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s own hometown. Fitting, don’t you think?

The story behind The House of Seven Gables is one of my favorite tropes in literature: cursed family sagas. A greedy family falls from grace and generations of their family are haunted by mysterious deaths. Then, one of the family members uncovers a secret that could save them from the curse, or it could destroy them altogether.

 

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

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Thanks to Wishbone the dog, I am already familiar with the story of The Phantom of the Opera. Although, all I know is that the Phantom is obsessed with Christine, a beautiful young singer with a mysterious past, to whom he gives secret music lessons. Only Christine is in love with her childhood friend, a French count.

For years, I was convinced it was a Gothic romance. However, reading the back cover of the edition I own, The Phantom of the Opera is told in police reports, newspaper clippings, and witness interviews. This has me both intrigued and apprehensive. Intrigued, because I like mystery stories told in that kind of format. Apprehensive, because Dracula by Bram Stoker, another classic Gothic novel, was written in a similar format and I felt it did not work with the story. I did enjoy Dracula, except not as much as I thought I would.

 

Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut

I read Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut on a professor’s recommendation in college. It was weird as hell, but I enjoyed it anyway. Bluebeard is a novel by Vonnegut I have not heard much about. My parents owned this copy, only I have no idea if either of them actually read it (I get my reading skills from my aunt). Aside from that, all I know about Bluebeard is that it is a fictional autobiography of a seventy-two-year-old man hiding a big secret on his Long Island potato farm. Given that Kurt Vonnegut wrote it, I anticipate weirdness.

 

Love Story by Erich Segal

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I am totally read Love Story this month in honor of Dark Shadows, one of my favorite movies Freeform has played during their annual 13 Nights of Halloween TV event. It is a romance following two teenagers, Oliver and Jenny, who has very different backgrounds but are kindred spirits in every other way that matters. Love Story is a favorite book of Barnabas and Vicky. I’m aiming to read this around the same time Dark Shadows airs on Freeform, if it does this year. If not, I’ll still read it anyway.

 

What is everyone reading in October?