Top 5 Tuesday: Top 10 All-Time Favorite Books of 2019 (so far)

Thank you Shanah for taking pity on us for this week’s topic. I had no idea how I could narrow it down my all-time favorite books to five, never mind ten. But even that list will go far beyond ten.

Since we are coming up on the halfway point of 2019, it seemed like a fitting time to do a check in on my overall reading of this year. This list is comprised of ten of my favorite books I’ve read so far in 2019. Those are:

 

I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

iamthemessengerlibrarybook

I Am the Messenger has not gotten the best reviews compared to Markus Zusak’s other novel The Book Thief, but, as you can see, I enjoyed it. I liked the writing style and the coverage of different issues young people face in their lives and the desire to be something greater than yourself. Ed carried the book with his good heart, strong moral compass, and dry sense of humor. You might have to suspend your disbelief on certain scenarios, but I like that in contemporary novels.

 

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

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The latest volume in the Saga graphic novel series, I was bored throughout most of it. While it covered a topic like irrational fear spread through fake news, not much happened. Then, the ending did. While I saw it coming in the first volume, it had not gone the way I expected. It hit me with all the feelings and took me a couple of days to recover. I have no idea what I’m going to do until volume 10.

 

To Make Monsters Out of Girls by Amanda Lovelace

tomakemonstersoutofgirls

Yet again, Amanda Lovelace has earned a spot on my favorites. I loved To Make Monsters Out of Girls, in which she opens up about her experiences with being The Other Woman and domestic violence. While she is honest about her mistakes and what choices she made cost her, she also reminds women that they will not always be the bad guy and they are still worthy of love and respect. I still have not figured out how to review poetry. The best I can offer is my emotional reaction, which is I felt everything.

 

Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

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Marina is set in 1970s Barcelona, Spain and follows fifteen-year-old Oscar, who gets swept up in a dark mystery with an enigmatic girl named Marina. Like all his other books, it had beautiful, descriptive writing and a twisty plot that you never knew where it was going to take you next. This is one of those books where you are better off going into the plot knowing as little as possible.

 

A School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin

aschoolforunusualgirlslibrarybook

Another library book I went into with mediocre expectations, A School for Unusual Girls is set during the era of Napoleon at an English boarding school where girls with “unusual” gifts—i.e. a knack for science like the protagonist Georgie—are trained to be spies. I loved this book. It was fun and fast-paced. Georgie and the other girls at the school, along with their headmistress Emma, are all strong, smart, and independent in their own right. The guys—Sebastian Wyatt, Captain Gray, Lord Ravencross—were all swoon-worthy and the relationships were adorable. A School for Unusual Girls is the first book in the series, so you better believe I will be buying my own copy of this book, as well as the next two books.

 

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus

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Two Can Keep a Secret blew me out of the water. I flew through it in a few days, probably finishing homework too quickly to get back to reading. I liked all the characters—true crime buff protagonist Ellery, her twin brother Ezra, Malcolm, who is the other narrator, and Malcolm’s best friend Mia—and the writing and the plot made me want to keep reading. Then, it ended with likely the best line a mystery novel can end with.  

 

Invisible Ghosts by Robyn Schneider

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This book got a tiny bit of hype on BookTube when it first came out a year or two ago, but I almost completely forgot about Invisible Ghosts until I found it browsing my library. It is one of the few books I saw both my current and past selves represented in a character. Rose Asher is an introvert intentionally cutting herself off from the world not only out of shyness, but to spend time with the ghost of her older brother Logan. You see her gradually come out of her shell as she finds her “people” as well as comes to terms with her grief. It’s one of the books on this list I still catch myself thinking about frequently.

 

Vicious by V.E. Schwab

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Vicious is a book I have heard nothing but amazing things about for years and I finally read it. Thankfully, it lived up to the hype. V.E. Schwab did a good job blurring the lines between good and evil, and painting the world she created with more gray than black and white. For a sociopath, Victor Vale was surprisingly more likeable than I expected him to be. His friendship with Mitch and his protectiveness of Sydney added a deeper human quality to him. As for Eli, he was one of the most interesting villains I’ve read. The writing was also amazing and the plot was fast-paced and entertaining.

 

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

voicesjoanofarc

Voices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc was in my most recent book haul. I was not planning on reading it. But it was calling my attention from its new home on my bookshelves and I was looking for something short to read, being in the height of finals at the time. I finished this book in a day and it was amazing. The writing was lyrical, written in various styles of medieval poetry, through the eyes of Joan, the people that knew her, and other perspectives, even inanimate objects. It explored different issues of sexism in medieval society and how ultimately Joan was killed by the patriarchy she was trying to protect. That hit the barb home.

 

Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson

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Another novel written in verse and another of my most recent purchases, Shout was another anticipated release this year that I had to read before I picked up any other book. It is a memoir, in which the author opens up about her parents’ tumultuous relationship caused by her father’s PTSD and drinking, her rape at thirteen, how she learned to cope with her trauma in the years following, and what led her to become an advocate for survivors of sexual assault, which then led to her writing Speak. Though it was not quite a five-star book like I expected, Shout was still a powerful novel that I highly recommend everyone read.

 

What is your favorite book you’ve read so far this year?

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Top 5 Tuesday: 11 Debut Novels I Want to Buy (Eventually)

One of the things I love about Shanah’s Top 5 Tuesday topics is that she leaves them open to interpretation. With “Top 5 Debut Novels,” I could not keep it at five. There are a lot of books coming out this summer, or are already out, that I have my eye on. Worse still, my new top is smack in between two bookstores. But the promise of textbooks on the horizon and empty hangers asking for new clothes in my closet have me trying to refrain from going overboard with every paycheck.

Key word trying.

            Here are the eleven debut novels I am most excited to add to my bookshelves (or check out from the library, whichever comes for):

 

Again, but Better by Christine Riccio

Screenshot_2019-06-02 Again, but Better(1)

I’ve been following Christine’s writing vlogs since she started her novel project in 2016. Besides liking Christine and her videos, I’m drawn to this book anyway. The cover is super pretty and it’s about a shy bookworm that studies abroad in London in hopes of getting out of her shell to improve her college experience.

 

Wilder Girls by Rory Power

Screenshot_2019-06-02 Wilder Girls

An all-girls boarding school on an island is quarantined after a virus infects and kills the teachers then leaves the students horribly mutilated. The girls are left to fend for themselves on the island to wait for a cure and never go beyond the walls of the school. But when one goes missing, another girl dares to venture into the world outside to find her. In doing so, she uncovers more to the story than what she and her friends knew.

 

We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

Screenshot_2019-06-02 We Hunt the Flame (Sands of Arawiya, #1)

A girl disguises herself as a man to hunt in a cursed forest to feed her village and a prince assassinates those who dare to challenge his father the sultan. They are two heroes that don’t want to be heroes. Now one has to hunt the other as they are both in search of an ancient artifact that can save their kingdom from war.

 

Nocturna by Maya Motayne

Screenshot_2019-06-02 Nocturna (A Forgery of Magic, #1)

Finn is a skilled thief and shapeshifter that can disguise her face as anyone she wants. She’s blackmailed by a mobster to steal something from the royal palace, which causes her to cross paths with Prince Alfie. Grief-stricken by the murder of his older brother, Alfie feels he can never live up to his brother’s legacy and seeks forbidden magic to bring him back from the dead. But when he meets the shapeshifting thief, an evil force is accidentally unleashed. Aside from having a gorgeous cover, Nocturna is also based in Dominican mythology, something I am very interested in reading.

 

The Tiger at Midnight by Swati Teerdhala

Screenshot_2019-06-02 The Tiger at Midnight (The Tiger at Midnight Trilogy, #1)

Having just watched the live-action Aladdin, I’m craving more desert fantasy. Based on Indian and Hindu mythology, The Tiger at Midnight follows a rebel called the Viper and a soldier who are forced into a power play as the Viper seeks revenge for those who took everything from her. Both think they’re calling the shots, but they are only pawns in a larger, deadly game.

 

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

Screenshot_2019-06-02 Spin the Dawn (The Blood of Stars, #1)

Spin the Dawn was a book I heard about on Hailey in Bookland’s most anticipated books of 2019 then forgot it until I made this list. A girl disguises herself as a boy to join a competition to become the emperor’s royal tailor to provide for her family. Then, she is presented the challenge of creating three dresses for the emperor’s betrothed—from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of the stars—and travels to the depths of the kingdom, finding more than she anticipated.

 

Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens by Tanya Boteju

Screenshot_2019-06-02 Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens

Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens follows a bored, awkward queer teen named Nima who is in love with her straight friend and still reeling from her mom’s sudden departure. After an encounter at a festival, she is drawn into the drag scene where she not only learns how to love and accept it and herself, but also how to accept when love is lost. Plus, this cover is so freaking pretty.

 

How it Feels to Float by Helena Fox

Screenshot_2019-06-02 How It Feels to Float

Biz lost her dad when she was seven, although everyone but her thinks that. She doesn’t tell anyone she can still see him, or about her chaotic thought patterns, or how she kissed her friend Grace or noticed the new boy Jasper. Then, something happens to Biz one day at the beach and the strings that held her together for so long finally give way at the seams. The ghost of her dad disappears, leaving her to wonder if it might be easier to either disappear altogether or find her dad and bring him back to her. But there is a third option Biz has yet to find.

 

The Beholder by Anna Bright

Screenshot_2019-06-02 The Beholder

Selah is a princess that has waited her whole life to embrace her duty to marry for her kingdom and find happily ever after. But after a humiliating public rejection, she goes along with her stepmother’s plan of travelling the seas from country to country to find a husband. If she doesn’t come back engaged, she doesn’t come home at all. But while Selah embarks on the journey of a lifetime, she finds more than her stepmother’s schemes hiding belowdecks.

 

This is Not a Love Scene by S.C. Megale

Screenshot_2019-06-02 This Is Not a Love Scene

Aspiring filmmaker Maeve has a rare form of muscular dystrophy and is wheelchair-bound. Her friends and passion for what she does distracts her from constant rejection from the opposite sex. Then, she meets Cole Stone, a hot older guy starring in her senior film project that is giving her looks she’s never gotten before. With this new attention and unexpected confidence, Maeve gets a taste of teenaged dating life, both physically and emotionally. But when it comes to choosing between what she needs and what she wants, and getting an answer out of Cole, suddenly romance doesn’t look so fun anymore.

 

The Art of Breaking Things by Laura Sibson

Screenshot_2019-06-02 The Art of Breaking Things

Skye is enjoying her time partying with friends and counting down to graduation and art school until her mom rekindles a romance with the man who betrayed Skye’s trust years ago. Too young to understand what happened to her, she kept quiet. Torn between running away and staying to protect her younger sister, she must find the courage to reveal the secret she’s hidden for so long. With the help of her friends and her artwork, Skye becomes her best ally and finds her words.

 

What is your most anticipated debut of the summer or of 2019 overall?

 

           

Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 Sequels I Need to Get to

I have a large pile of unread books on my shelves. While I get excited about all the books I can read, naturally, there are a lot of books that have remained unread for longer than they should. Some of them are sequels.

For some of the books on this list, I read the first book a few years ago and, since then, the series are complete. It’s not that I didn’t like the first book. In fact, I loved them, in most cases. But, for whatever reason, I didn’t get around to finishing the series.

Five sequels on my TBR that I need to get to are:

 

Dance of the Red Death by Bethany Griffith

Screenshot_2019-04-16 Dance of the Red Death (Masque of the Red Death, #2)

One of the oldest books on my TBR, Dance of the Red Death is the sequel to Masque of the Red Death and the final book in the duology. The first book is a retelling of Edgar Allan Poe’s short story of the same name, set in a darkly glamourous dystopian society where a disease has ravaged the city and only the wealthy can afford masks to protect themselves from it. The main character, Araby, is still grieving the death of her twin brother at the hands of the plague and turns to drugs at nightclubs to forget it all. There, she meets two boys that draw her into a rebellion against the royal family.

I read The Masque of the Red Death back in 2012 or 2013. It took me a while to buy Dance of the Red Death. I distinctly remember enjoying the former, so I honestly have no clue why I have not gotten to the sequel. In the meantime, I won’t unhaul the books because I want to give the series one more chance. Hopefully, I’ll get to them this year.

 

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simison

Screenshot_2019-04-16 The Rosie Effect (Don Tillman #2)

The Rosie Effect is the sequel to The Rosie Project and follows the couple who got together in the first book after they got married. The Rosie Project was a cute, fun read that pulled at my heartstrings. I have literally no idea why I have not read The Rosie Effect. With a third book, The Rosie Result, coming out next month, now is the time to finally read The Rosie Effect.

 

Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs

Screenshot_2019-04-16 Library of Souls (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children, #3)

Library of Souls is the third book in the Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children series. When I bought it, it was supposed to be the final book. Apparently, now there is going to be another series with Jacob and the peculiar children in America. Personally, I’m not entirely sure if I want to read the new books.

I gave Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children a rather high rating on Goodreads, but that was back during a time I was discovering so many new books and not reading very critically. When I read Hollow City, it was fun, only it didn’t make me that excited for Library of Souls. I debated unhauling the books, except I want to give the trilogy one last chance before I do that.

 

The Invasion of the Tearling and The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

I read The Queen of the Tearling back in 2015, around the time the paperback was published and lots of people were raving about it on BookTube. I did enjoy it. I liked how it was a grittier high fantasy with some dystopian elements. I liked how the main character was a strong and flawed queen not everyone likes. I planned on continuing with the series. Only the problem I remember with The Queen of the Tearling with how the story dragged for too long in certain spots. But this series is one I plan to finish in 2019.

 

Thirteen by Kelley Armstrong  

Screenshot_2019-04-16 Thirteen (Women of the Otherworld, #13)

Thirteen is the final book in one of my favorite series yet it is the oldest book on my TBR pile. Truthfully, I think I know why I have not read this book. Not because I don’t want it to end—Kelley Armstrong has made certain that the Women of the Otherworld will never be truly over with short story collections and graphic novels. I realized recently it’s because there are problematic themes within the series that I could ignore as a sixteen-year-old but not as a twenty-six-year-old. Someday, I will unhaul the Women of the Otherworld series. Before I do that, I want to reread the first twelve books and read Thirteen at least once, because this series means so much to me.

 

What are the oldest sequels on your to be read pile?  

Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 Mind-Blowing Mysteries/Thrillers

Mystery and thriller novels were, and still are, some of my favorite genres. Growing up with crime shows like CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and Law & Order: SVU led into it. I was obsessed with James Patterson in high school (not the case anymore). Mystery is actually how I got into urban fantasy. Most of the ones I read had a murder mystery plot or had a main character that was some sort of investigator.

Nowadays, I don’t think I read as much mysteries or thrillers as I used to. But I’ve definitely read enough within the last year or so that blew my mind. Those are:

 

Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith

Screenshot_2019-02-04 Career of Evil (Cormoran Strike, #3)

The third book in the Cormoran Strike series, Robert Galbraith/JK Rowling explored the more dark side of humanity in this one. We dive deeper into Cormoran Strike’s backstory, mainly the death of his mother Leda Strike and his interactions with two very evil men he investigated while he was still with the army. We also learn more about Robin’s past, which leads me into a trigger warning for rape, domestic violence, and child sexual abuse. Aside from that, I flew through this book as it took me through one twist after the other. After finishing the book, it took me a while to emotionally recover.

 

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

Screenshot_2019-02-04 And Then There Were None

And Then There Were None is a classic mystery, published in the 1930s. It follows ten people, who are lured to an island off the coast of England by a mysterious stranger that then traps them inside with the promise of killing them all for their respective crimes. There is no other way on or off the island, so it has to be one of the “guests.” But just when you think it might be one person, they get killed off. Agatha Christie does a good job at making everyone look guilty. And having the characters die one by one to coincide with a creepy nursey rhyme adds a level of gruesomeness to it.

 

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus

Screenshot_2019-04-16 Two Can Keep a Secret

The most recent read on this list, Two Can Keep a Secret is set in a small Vermont town with a reputation for killing teenaged girls. True crime buff Ellery and her twin brother Ezra move to this town to live with their grandmother when another girl goes missing and strange, frightening threats appear. While I’m not sure many would call this book “mind-blowing,” since it is a young adult mystery, I still enjoyed it. I was surprised by who the killer was. Two Can Keep a Secret was highly entertaining and I wanted to give it five stars, only it didn’t quite get there.

 

The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

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After being disappointed by Riley Sager’s debut novel, Final Girls, I went into The Last Time I Lied with low expectations. It follows Emma, who returns to the camp she visited fifteen years ago to find out what really happened to her three friends who vanished the summer she was thirteen. Like Final Girls, I flew through it, but I enjoyed The Last Time I Lied ten times more. I particularly like mysteries where not all of the characters are likeable, including the main character. The plot kept me guessing and entertained, and the ending I didn’t see coming.

 

Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco

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Hunting Prince Dracula is the second novel in the Stalking Jack the Ripper and probably my favorite in the series so far, even though I haven’t read the third book, Escaping from Houdini. Hunting Prince Dracula was set in Romania, at a medical school inside a castle. There was a lot of blood, a lot of death, a lot of mystery, and a lot, a lot of steaminess. I actually almost gave Hunting Prince Dracula four stars until the end blew me out of the water.

 

What is your favorite mystery novel you’ve ever read?

Top 5 Tuesday: Books I Predict Will Be 5 Stars!

I like to keep an open mind when it comes to books. There have been books I wasn’t sure about that I ended up loving. There were others I was certain I’d adore but didn’t. And there are the few I read the synopsis for then put down immediately.

The books on this week’s Top 5 Tuesday are books on our TBRs we predict will be five stars. Some of these I’m positive will be five stars, or at least I’ll give them high ratings, others make me nervous because of the hype around them. The books on this list are:

 

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

thesevenhusbandsofevelynhugo

If I give The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo so much as a four stars, I will blame BookTube, Goodreads, the book bloggers, and all their friends and family for it. You all have hyped this book so much for me, my expectations are astronomically high.

 

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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It’s the same for The Hate U Give as it is for The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. I probably would have read it eventually, as I want to read more diversely. But as I said, this book is hyped and it has already been made into a movie. This book probably will be five stars…but in the off chance it’s not, I will be a very, very sad human.

 

Lethal White by Robert Galbraith

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This one is a no-brainer. Lethal White is the fourth book and most recent installment in the Cormoran Strike series. While The Cuckoo’s Calling was OK, The Silkworm and Career of Evil were amazing. I love Strike. I love Robin. These books are huge but fast-paced and mind-blowing. I can only imagine how many twists Robert Galbraith is going to take with Lethal White.

 

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

girlsofpaperandfire

From reviews I’ve seen, Girls of Paper and Fire can be either a four star or a five star read for me. It is set in a world where every year a demon king collects eight girls from the human villages to serve as his concubines in the royal palace. This year, there is a ninth girl and she’s fed up with what’s going on. She plans to take the king down from the inside. In the meantime, she falls in love with someone you’d least expect: another woman. I didn’t need to know much else about Girls of Paper and Fire.

 

Persepolis and Persepolis 2 by Marjane Satrapi

Persepolis is a memoir graphic novel I’ve wanted to read for years. It follows a young woman’s adolescent years in Iran during the Islamic Revolution, leading up into the modern times under the laws of the regime covered in Persepolis 2. Memoirs and nonfiction are works I tend to go into with caution. Nonfiction tends to be dry for me. Memoirs are something I want to dive into more, especially after reading True Notebooks by Mark Salzman. With the overwhelmingly positive reviews and beautiful artwork, Persepolis seems like a good stepping stone.

 

What are some of your five-star predictions?

An Unofficial Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 Popular Books I Have No Interest in Reading

Since there was no Top 5 Tuesday topic this week, I decided to make my own. A controversial one at that.

I pride myself on reading widely. I read long books and short books. I read both young adult and adult books, across a variety of genres, overhyped or under-hyped. I think that’s why I’m so drawn to a career as a reader’s advisory librarian: I read so many books, I want to encourage others to do the same.

But like any reader, there are books I have no interest in. No matter how much praise it’s getting, it’s not drawing my attention in libraries or bookstores or gaining a spot on my ever-growing Goodreads TBR and Amazon wish list. Some of the books on this list I originally had on Goodreads, but have since taken off. With all the unread books I own and the ones I want to read eventually, not to mention stories I someday want to reread, there are even some beloved titles that just don’t make it to my list of priorities.

Those are:

 

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

Screenshot_2019-04-09 An Absolutely Remarkable Thing

I know lots of people love An Absolutely Remarkable Thing. Thing is, I don’t get it. Alien robots and social media? While I liked Hank’s brother John Green’s books when I read them, I didn’t love them either. In fact, I unhauled them recently.

Regarding An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, I have come to the conclusion you have to be involved to a certain level of social media to really get anything out of it. For me, blogging is a hobby I don’t take too seriously. Social media is more of a platform to kill time on. I don’t care that much.

 

The Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin

Screenshot_2019-04-09 A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1)

Me not wanting to read the Song of Ice and Fire has nothing to do with me watching the show. In fact, I could care less about Game of Thrones. I’ve watched episodes occasionally, but it’s more of something I ended up watching because my dad is hogging the TV.

Actually, I used to resent Game of Thrones because I would get kicked out of my own bedroom on Sunday nights. My mom hated it, so my dad would watch it on the TV he stashed in there while I was in college. That hasn’t been an issue for a while—I got new bedroom furniture as a graduation present and it took up enough space where the table with the TV no longer fit—but still. Game of Thrones and I don’t have the best relationship.

game of thrones drinking GIF by Sky

Tangent aside, I’m not intimidated by larger books. Larger adult high fantasies are something I’ve gotten more into recently. It’s my lack of interest in the overall Game of Thrones that is a big deterrent.

 

Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Similar to Game of Thrones, I have seen bits of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies, yet never had the desire to pick up the source materials or even see the film adaptions through. I realized I don’t have a problem with too many characters and storylines. If done right, I find them entertaining. But for whatever reason, like Game of Thrones, I have just never been compelled to read the Lord of the Rings or the Hobbit.

denied lord of the rings GIF

 

 

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Screenshot_2019-04-09 Crazy Rich Asians (Crazy Rich Asians, #1)

I have a strong suspicion I won’t like the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy by Kevin Kwan. How can you not tell your girlfriend about your family? How could you let your mother and grandmother treat her like that? It’s already making me mad. Aside from that, reviews I’ve seen say Crazy Rich Asians is dense and the POVs can get mixed in together so much you don’t quite know who is narrating. I don’t have time for that, sorry.

 

The rest of the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon

I read Outlander a couple of years ago. I enjoyed it, but I wasn’t head over heels in love like so, so many other people. I liked Claire, but, sadly, Jamie Fraser doesn’t do it for me. I had the rest of the books in this series on my Amazon wish list for the longest time. I intended to pick up the rest of the series, yet seemed to forget they existed. Right now, there are about nine books in the series and they are all long. That is not what’s keeping me away. It’s the fact that Outlander was so boring for me for most of the time I was reading it.

At this point in time, I have no interest in completing the series. However, it is a hard maybe. If I were, I would definitely have to reread Outlander. Which, admittedly, is not something I’m looking forward to….

 

What popular books do you have no interest reading?

Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 Romantic Reads (on my TBR)

When Shanah announced April’s Top 5 Tuesday topics, I had no idea how I wanted to write today’s topic or even if I wanted to (my love life is currently nonexistent and I’m not feeling particularly romantic because of it). I consider myself a hopeless romantic, yet I was never drawn to novels where the plot was all about the relationship. I definitely avoided those cheap-looking mass market paperbacks with the half-naked men and women on the cover or the ones with the really, really cheesy titles.

However, in the past few months, I find myself adding more romantic reads to my TBR on Goodreads, even buying them. The ones that don’t have the cheesy titles or terrible covers (or they’re not that bad of covers). The most romantic-sounding books on my TBR pile that I currently own are:

 

The Last Letter from Your Lover by Jojo Moyes

thelastletterfromyourlover18

On this list, The Last Letter from Your Lover is the book I’ve owned the longest. I bought it back in 2015, when I was first introduced to Jojo Moyes after reading Me Before You and was obsessed with reading every single one of her books. This one follows dual timelines, the first in 1960, where a woman wakes up from a coma after a car accident with no memory of who she is and then finds love letters addressed to her from someone called “B,” who is not the man she is supposedly married to. The other timeline is set forty years later, where a lovelorn reporter finds the letters and investigates the story of the star-crossed lovers in hopes of she might also find a happy ending in her own unconventional love story.

 

Vanilla by Megan Hart

vanilla18

I bought Vanilla when the movie for Fifty Shades of Grey came out and I wanted to dip my toes into the waters of erotica fiction. Though I haven’t read it still, from the synopsis, it is more about an adult romantic relationship than kinky sex. Alex is a strong woman who likes to be dominant in and outside of the bedroom. Then she meets sweet Niall, who should not be her type at all as he is too “vanilla” for her tastes. But when he takes a chance on wooing her, the lovers find themselves struggling to find common ground in the relationship when both are so used to taking the lead.

 

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

thekissquotient

The Kiss Quotient is another adult romance novel following a young woman on the Autism Spectrum who really wants to be in a romantic relationship but lacks dating experience and struggles with intimacy. So, she hires a male escort to teach her the art of the bedroom. That is all I wanted to know about The Kiss Quotient. That is all I needed to know about The Kiss Quotient. Reminding myself it is on my TBR, sitting up front on my bookshelves, only makes me want to read it this second.

 

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Manon

whendimplemetrishi

A popular young adult novel that took the book world by storm a couple of years ago, When Dimple Met Rishi follows two Indian-American teenagers who meet at a STEM camp through an arrangement made by their parents in hopes of making a match. The girl, Dimple, rejects everything her Indian upbringing represents and just wants to focus on her education while the boy, Rishi, is a hopeless romantic that embraces his Indian culture. Naturally, love and chaos ensue. Better believe I will be reading When Dimple Met Rishi this year.

 

Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

autoboyography

Another book I want to read this year, Autoboyography is an LGBTQ+ young adult romance following two boys. Bisexual Tanner is forced back into the closet when his family moves from California to a conservative town in Utah. In his senior year, he takes a creative writing seminar where he meets Sebastian, the class mentor. Sebastian is a Mormon and the son of missionaries. He’s too scared to come out to his family and the community, but when he begins a secret relationship with Tanner, things get way more complicated. And can we take a moment to appreciate how beautiful this cover is?

 

What are some romantic reads on your TBR?

Top 5 Tuesday: Five Complicated Characters for Complicated Slytherins

When I think of Slytherins, and I think of characters like Draco Malfoy and Severus Snape and Albus Severus Potter, I think of one word: complicated.

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            Complicated, because, in the case of Draco, they show different sides of themselves when you least expect it. In the case of Snape, they spend seven books proving how horrible they are until the last second when they do something so unbelievably unselfish you wonder why they acted the way they did. And, because of a character like Scorpios Malfoy, you realize not all Slytherins fit the mold the rest of us made for them.

In the previous posts this month, I recommended specific books for members of the houses. This week, I put on the Sorting Hat and thought of five book characters I think would fit right in with the Slytherins. And it was surprisingly easier than I thought.

 

Lada from And I Darken trilogy by Kiersten White

Screenshot_2019-02-17 And I Darken (The Conqueror's Saga #1)

Lada was the first Slytherin I thought of. The girl is the definition of ruthless. She will attack first, ask questions later. While I admire her determination to take back her family’s empire and to prove a woman can be as strong as a man, she tends to treat those who love her like crap. Though her love interest is seriously unlikeable, her little brother Radu is not. Lada justifies her neglect as a way to protect him so he can’t be used against her, but that doesn’t mean her overall behavior towards him should be tolerated.

 

Audrey Rose Wadsworth from the Stalking Jack the Ripper series by Kerri Maniscalco

Screenshot_2019-02-17 Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper, #1)

Audrey Rose represents the more positive traits of the Slytherin house: demands respect from others, ambitious, self-reliant, and assertive. She pushes Thomas away not because she is disinterested or denying her feelings, but because she is terrified of losing her independence to a man. She can be charming when she wants to be. She likes praise when it’s owed to her. But, unfortunately, from what I’ve learned of Escaping from Houdini, she might be disloyal, too….

 

Shazarad from The Wrath & the Dawn duology by Renee Ahdieh

Screenshot_2019-02-17 The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn, #1)

Like Audrey Rose, Shazi has the better qualities of the House. While her bravery might make her a Gryffindor, once she is inside the palace and interacting with Khalid, she shows her inner green serpent. A Gryffindor would have tried to stab him the first chance she got, but Shazi buys her time. She charms him with the tales from A Thousand and One Nights. She survives on her wits and occasionally uses her charm, or her body, to get what she wants. Shazi went into that palace prepared and driven to get justice for her friend and all those other girls. While she might only trust a few people, once you have her, she is yours.

 

Grace Marks from Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

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When you look at Grace Marks, you could see either one of two things: an innocent Irish girl falsely accused of a crime or a conniving murderess that seduced a hapless man into killing two people. Grace shows you what she wants you to see. She’s selective with her loyalty, only that is because she grew up in an abusive household, then endured more years of abuse at the hands of a patriarchal society. She’s also realistic in how she sees the world. She has no problem calling out everything wrong with the world others ignore. The best part about Grace, though she comes off as docile, she can cut you down with her words, so politely you don’t realize you’ve been insulted until she walks away.

 

Lizbeth Salander from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Screenshot_2019-02-17 The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium, #1)

Lizbeth is the ideal Slytherin. Though she’s not exactly charming, she operates on her own moral code. She is ruthless and determined in her pursuit to make sure those who hurt others don’t get away with it. She makes sure people like rapists and those who take advantage of the less fortunate get what they deserve. Lizbeth also incredibly adaptable, changing her looks and personality to fit in with any setting in her mission. And she’s scary smart.

 

Who is your favorite non-Harry Potter character Slytherin?

Top 5 Tuesday: Five Books for Hufflepuffs to Give Them All the Feels

The one I’ve been waiting for! My Hogwarts House!

For years, I thought I was Ravenclaw. Then, I finally joined Pottermore around the time everyone else was having their “House crisis” from the updated test. Admittedly, I was surprised by my results. But once I heard someone say “our symbol is the badger because we’re cute and cuddly until someone pisses us off” I fully accepted my Puff status.

Hufflepuffs are known for their loyalty and motivated to always do the right thing. They are also adorable and are deep in their feelings—or at least this Hufflepuff is. Though all these books are some of my favorites, they all have elements Hufflepuffs would appreciate: friendship, love, found family, and a hardworking, determined main character.

Here are my recommendations for my fellow Hufflepuffs:

 

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

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While this book is a far cry from “cute and cuddly” The Astonishing Color of After covers the topic of suicide in a serious but surprisingly hopeful way. The main character, Leigh, is a Hufflepuff: she’s hardworking and determined to get answers, even if everyone thinks she’s going crazy from grief. She is loyal to her best friends and her family. The Astonishing Color of After is filled with all sorts of love, friendship, and family. If you want a good cry or you want to feel everything, this is the book.

 

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

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The Upside of Unrequited is the iconic Hufflepuff in book form: cute and fluffy. If she was into Harry Potter, the narrator, Molly, would be a Hufflepuff. Aside from the diversity packed inside, the main friend group is solid. Molly is best friends with her twin sister Cassie as well as her cousin Abby and has two other best friends that are there for her. There is also a tight-knit family and a sweet romance that pulls at your heartstrings. The Upside of Unrequited is a fun read for anyone, not just Hufflepuffs.

 

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

Screenshot_2019-02-06 The Secret Life of Bees

I read The Secret Life of Bees in my high school book club. I completely forgot about it until I turned to Goodreads to find inspiration. If you are unaware, The Secret Life of Bees is set in 1960s South Carolina. Fourteen-year-old Lily lives with her abusive widowed father who says Lily killed her mother when she was four years old. The only person that Lily receives any love from is the family’s African-American maid, Rosaleen. After Rosaleen is viciously assaulted while in police custody for something she didn’t do, the two run away to Lily’s mother’s hometown. There they meet sisters and beekeepers August, June, and May, who take them into their home.

The Secret Life of Bees is all about family, specifically found family, and loving yourself as much as others love you. Lily spent her whole life believing her mother abandoned her before accidentally getting shot, then lived with a father who resented her for something not her fault. But with the help of Rosaleen, August, June, and May, she finds acceptance and learns blood does not make a family.

 

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Screenshot_2019-02-06 Eliza and Her Monsters

Another more hard-hitting contemporary but still on the sweet side, Eliza and Her Monsters follows a shy high school student with a double-life as the mastermind behind a popular web comic. Though it gets heavy later on, the first half of the novel is loaded with cuteness. Eliza is a Hufflepuff: works hard on what’s important to her, good-hearted, even when she wanted to hide, and accepting of others most teased or ignored. Her new friend and love interest, Wallace, is another Hufflepuff, with his patience, kindness, and honesty. They packed on the feels already loaded into Eliza and Her Monsters.

 

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Screenshot_2019-02-06 Code Name Verity (Code Name Verity, #1)

Code Name Verity is focused on friendship, particularly female friendship. Two best friends and female pilots in World War II are separated after an attack. One of them is abducted by the Gestapo for enemy intel. Told between flashbacks and alternating points of view, the kidnapped pilot “Verity” reveals her name to be Julie, a British spy. As she hangs on to hope that she will make it out alive, her friendship with Maddie is what gives her strength to endure as, under torture, she reveals her secrets that might or might not save her life.

If you want a book about a good, strong friendship between two strong, flawed women, Code Name Verity is the perfect choice. It’s about what happens when you find your “person,” and how that kind of unconditional love can either make you or break you or both. The novel overall is plain amazing, filled with tense moments, female pilots kicking butt, and real-life action from World War II.

 

Would any of my fellow Hufflepuffs read the books I recommended today?

Top 5 Tuesday: Five Mystery Books for Ravenclaws

Growing up, I thought I was a Ravenclaw. I identified more with Luna Lovegood than Hermione Granger, given that Luna was unapologetically a weirdo. I love to read and I put education ahead of most things. Then, Pottermore crushed my dreams. But more on that another week…

Since Ravenclaws love to use their intellect, mystery books are right up their alley. They also might enjoy books that make them think about serious issues other people avoid in polite conversation, and gain a new perspective on things.

Basically, Ravenclaws love to read. So, here are five books I would recommend to Ravenclaws (or anyone else that likes these kinds of books).

 

Traitor Angels by Anne Blankman

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This was the first book I thought of for Ravenclaws. It is a historical mystery set in fifteenth century England and centered around John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost. After her father is arrested by the king’s men, Elizabeth Milton teams up with an Italian scientist named Antonio to clear her father’s name. They find the answers they are looking for hidden within Paradise Lost and uncover a secret that could send the medieval world into a frenzy.

Traitor Angels takes one twist and turn after another. It brings up a lot of questions about religion, science, and morality that make you think. Elizabeth Milton is definitely a Ravenclaw, too. While she can use a knife when she needs to, her best weapon is her brain. She’s smart and keeps a cool head in dangerous situations. If you don’t mind books on the slower side, Traitor Angels is a good read for Ravenclaws.

 

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

Screenshot_2019-02-04 And Then There Were None

The mother of all “who done it” books. Agatha Christie does an amazing job at creating morally gray characters and makes it clear no one is innocent. Any of the people trapped on this island inside this mansion could be a killer, or it could even be someone else. You never really know. And Then There Were None is an intense read. I think most Ravenclaws like to be challenged.

 

The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

A book about books? Isn’t that what most Ravenclaws want? Both The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel’s Game have mysteries centered around books. The former is set in 1950s Barcelona, where a young boy becomes enthralled with a mysterious author whose books are being systematically destroyed and sets out to find the culprit. The latter takes place thirty years earlier, following a struggling writer with an unexpected connection to the family from The Shadow of the Wind as he goes on a mission from a benefactor with ulterior motives. While I personally enjoyed The Shadow of the Wind more than The Angel’s Game for its mystery aspect, both are complicated stories with complicated characters.

 

I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

Screenshot_2019-02-04 I Am the Messenger

One of the more contemporary novels on this list, I Am the Messenger is a mystery, but it focuses on the idea of “do the right thing.” Underage cab driver Ed Kennedy is feeling a little lost until he accidentally stops a bank robbery. After that, an enigmatic mastermind sends him on various missions of helping and occasionally hurting others that need it. Along the way, different questions are asked, leaving it up to Ed (and the reader) to find the answers. I felt intellectually and sometimes morally challenged while reading I Am the Messenger, so I think Ravenclaws would definitely like this one.

 

The Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling)

Is it weird to recommend a book written by the same author who created Hogwarts and the four Houses?

Nah.

The main character, Cormoran Strike, is an army investigator turned private detective that toes the line between Ravenclaw and Gryffindor. He is so smart and pays such close attention to detail, it’s amazing how he figures it out. His assistant and the other main character, Robin, is definitely a Ravenclaw; she’s feisty and sharp as a whip. The plots of the novels in this series are intricate, mapped out to the last detail. Something I’m sure a Ravenclaw would appreciate.

 

Have I convinced any Ravenclaws to read at least one of these books? Would you recommend these also?