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

sagavol9

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

marinalibrarybook

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

twocankeepasecret

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

invisibleghostslibrarybook

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

vicious

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

shout

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?

Advertisements

The Book Buying Ban is Over!

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

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

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

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

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

Until then, here are the books I bought:

 

Sightwitch and Bloodwitch by Susan Dennard

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

 

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

themermaidsvoicereturnsinthisone

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

 

The Library Book by Susan Orlean

thelibrarybook

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

 

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

thehandmaidstalegraphicnovel

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

 

Mist, Metal, and Ash by Gwendolyn Clare

mistmetalandash

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

 

The Wicked King by Holly Black

thewickedking

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

 

Lady Smoke by Laura Sebastian

ladysmoke

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

 

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

theimmortalists

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

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

 

The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor

thechalkman

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

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

 

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

agentlemaninmoscow

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

 

Losing It by Emma Rathbone

losingit

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

 

The Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu

theredscrollsofmagic

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

 

Night Music by Jenn Marie Thorne

nightmusic

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

 

The Waking Forest by Alyssa Wees

thewakingforest

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

 

The Weight of a Thousand Feathers by Brian Conaghan

theweightofathousandfeathers

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

 

Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson

shout

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

 

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

longwaydown

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

 

A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena

agirllikethat

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

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

 

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

thehistorian

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

 

Suicide Notes by Michael Thomas Ford

suicidenotes

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

 

Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

wickedsaints

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

 

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus

twocankeepasecret

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

 

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

iamnotyourperfectmexicandaughter

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

 

Internment by Samira Ahmed

internment

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

 

Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy

once&future

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

 

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

thelibrarianofauschwitz

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

 

How to Make Friends with the Dark by Kathleen Glasgow

howtomakefriendswiththedark

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

 

Lovely War by Julie Berry

lovelywar

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

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

Are you already getting the feels? Because I am.

 

The Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston

theprincessandthefangirl

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

 

Heroine by Mindy McGinnis

heroine

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

 

Dear Martin by Nic Stone

dearmartin

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

 

Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith

fieldnotesonlove

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

 

You Asked for Perfect by Laura Silverman

youaskedforperfect

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

 

The Music of What Happens by Bill Konigsberg

themusicofwhathappens

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

 

We Rule the Night by Claire Eliza Bartlett

werulethenight

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

 

The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe by Ally Condie

thelastvoyageofpoeblythe

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

 

Izzy + Tristan by Shannon Dunlap

izzy+tristan

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

 

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

voicesjoanofarc

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

 

Squad by Mariah MacCarthy

squad

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

 

What is the best book you’ve bought recently?

2019 Reading Wrap Up #4

I’m back from my unexpected mini-hiatus!

For the last couple of weeks, I have been completely focused on my final assignments. I turned in my final paper last Monday and I start my new part-time temp job tomorrow. It’s in a fine arts library that I’m super excited for. I might take on another part-time job or an internship, if I can manage it. I’m devoting this summer entirely to making money and reading.

Since my last reading wrap up in March, I have read nine books. All of them were between four and five stars. All of them you should expect to see on my favorite reads list of the year. All of them I made a big mistake of picking up when I had so much homework. The books I read were:

 

The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

4.25 stars

thebloodofolympus

The Blood of Olympus is the final book in the Heroes of Olympus series and, I must confess, it was not my favorite. While I love Reyna and Nico (and I low-key ship Nico with Percy), we didn’t get enough of Leo, Piper, Jason, and the rest of the seven as much as I wanted. In my opinion, it made a lot more sense to narrate the final novel through all their perspectives rather than introduce two new narrators.

Still, I enjoyed The Blood of Olympus for how everything wrapped up in the central plot. The series was a fun read and the book made me laugh, a relief from any stress I was feeling. The book solicited my love for Leo Valdez as well as Leo and Calypso (which we were also denied more of). I like Piper and Jason grew on me. If anything, finishing The Blood of Olympus made me realize how behind I am on Rick Riordan’s books. I plan to remedy that soon enough.

 

Vicious by V.E. Schwab

5 stars

vicious

Vicious lived up to the hype. I enjoyed Victoria Schwab’s writing style and the character development. I liked Victor Vale more than I expected to, as he’s clearly a sociopathic anti-hero. But it shows in this novel, as well as the sequel, he does care for Mitch and Sydney in his own way and they’re like family to him. Eli, with his twisted moral compass, was a fascinating character as well. Sydney was easily my favorite.

As for the plot, it was fast-paced and read like a superhero/super-villain movie. Once I started reading, I kept reading until I had to put it down to tend to “responsibilities.” Then, as soon as I could, I started reading again. I read Vicious in a matter of days and, once I finished it, I had to read Vengeful immediately.

 

Vengeful by V.E. Schwab

4 stars

vengeful

Sadly, Vengeful was not nearly as entertaining as Vicious. The time jumps in this novel were off-putting. The plot was more focused on Victor and Eli, bringing up more problems that were resolved in the previous novel. The new character, Marcella Riggins, started off with such great potential. She was a woman murdered by her mob assassin husband after she caught him cheating and comes back from the dead as an EO with the power to literally ruin things with her touch. Then, by the middle of the novel, she lost any chance of complexity when she became consumed by her ambition to be in charge, eventually only becoming a plot device.

As for the other new female character, June, I had no idea what was going on with her or why she was so fixated on Sydney. There are holes in her backstory as well as her motive, leading me to believe there is potential for a third novel. The other characters—Victor, Eli, Mitch, and Sydney—didn’t seem to have much in their own development, either. While Vengeful was still enjoyable, I did not have as much fun as I did reading Vicious.

 

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

4.5 stars

themermaidsvoicereturnsinthisone

I made the mistake of picking up The Mermaid’s Voice Returns in This One while waiting for one of my classes to start right in the height of finals. All I wanted to do was read it. The Mermaid’s Voice Returns in This One is the third and final book in her first series of poetry. The first two being The Princess Saves Herself in This One and The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One. Unfortunately, despite owning this really pretty exclusive Target edition, it was not my favorite in the series.

Part One really sucked me in. Amanda opened up about her own “Me Too” story and I appreciate what an extremely brave thing that was. Still, by Part Three, I was starting to get bored. I felt like she was repeating herself in a lot of the poems. While I love her writing and style of poetry, eventually I was reading just to finish it. Regarding the subjects covered in The Mermaid’s Voice Returns in This One, I think she handled it well, yet I somehow kept getting the “all guys are bad” vibe. I know we all hate the “I’m a nice guy” type, but there are men who are genuinely good men. Regardless, Amanda Lovelace is still one of my favorite poets.

 

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

5 stars

voicesjoanofarc

Voices is a novel written in various forms of medieval poetry about the final hours of Joan of Arc before she is burned at the stake as a heretic. In addition to Joan’s perspective, we also see snippets of her life, her mission, and her death through the eyes of the people and even the objects around her. Her parents describe how a pious though slightly rebellious girl grew into a martyr, wearing men’s clothing and leading an army against the English to put the (sexist) Prince Charles back on the throne.

Besides the beautiful prose and the “insights” of objects like Joan’s sword and her discarded dress, what got to me was that, in hindsight, what led to Joan’s demise was the patriarchy. In between sections of poems, there are excerpts the author took of the transcripts from her trial as well as the one after her death, of which her supporters moved to clear her name. Once I started reading Voices I couldn’t stop. It was so short and I was so captivated, I finished it in a day.

 

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

4.75 stars

thehandmaidstalegraphicnovel

I have been wanting to reread The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood for a while, especially with The Testaments coming out in the fall. The graphic novel adaption was the perfect alternative.

While I overall enjoyed the beautiful artwork, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was missing. Some things were taken out and/or modified to fit the graphic novel format, which I understood. We also got a little more exploration on certain gender/sexuality issues brought up, like how the protagonist, Offred, was her husband Luke’s mistress before she was his wife and how her friends viewed her actions versus how the new society of Gilead viewed it. (Spoiler: neither was pleased with her choices, for different reasons.) Still, while the central plot points were kept, I didn’t feel the same emotional punch as I did with the original novel.

But, if you have read and loved The Handmaid’s Tale, I recommend reading the graphic novel, nonetheless.

 

Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson

4.75 stars

shout

Another of my anticipated releases of the year, Shout is a novel written in verse, told in a vignette style as the author covers different events in her life. Laurie Halse Anderson describes how she was sexually assaulted at thirteen, which led her into a wild few years until she got her act together. Then, as an adult and after some more troubling encounters with members of the opposite sex, she became a reporter and an advocate for survivors of sexual assault.

I wanted to give Shout five stars and I almost did. In the first half, in addition to the aftermath of her rape and her high school years, she talks about her parents’ tumultuous relationship and how her dad was a war hero turned drunk pastor that occasionally beat his wife. I loved how she handled honestly discussing her rape and how her inner strength helped her turn her life around. We also see the first draft of Speak. But after Part Two, it steadily grew more boring. It took me a little longer than it should have to finish, but not really because of finals. Despite my feelings that it dragged in certain parts, Shout was a powerful read and, like Speak, I highly recommend everyone read it, especially girls.

 

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

4.75 stars

persepolis

If you remember, I mentioned Persepolis, as well as the sequel Persepolis 2, in my Top 5 Tuesday five-star predictions. Well, as you can see, it didn’t quite make it.

            I enjoyed the history aspect of this graphic novel and I liked the black-and-white comic strip art style. I liked learning about the Islamic Revolution through the eyes of someone who actually lived in Iran during that time, as well as from someone whose family was emotionally impacted by the changes in the country. Truthfully, I was bored for the majority of the story. It was the last 100 or so pages that gave me the emotional impact I was looking for. Until then, I didn’t feel connected to the plot or the narrator Marjane, who, frankly, I didn’t always like.

 

Persepolis 2 by Marjane Satrapi

4.5 stars

persepolis2

Unfortunately, I was even more bored reading Persepolis 2 than I was the first volume. While I liked it well enough, I did not feel as much emotion as I was expecting. It took too long for her to move the plot back to Iran. To be honest, I didn’t care for Marjane much, even if I sympathized with her at points. I wanted more on the country’s political climate than her series of failed relationships. But I did eventually see how the new roles for women brought on by the new government in Iran played into her personal life.

My favorite aspect of the Persepolis graphic novels, as a whole, is getting a view of Iran’s Islamic Revolution through an Iranian that did not agree with the ideology of the country’s new government. Marjane’s family were communists and Marxists, and many of their close friends and family were persecuted by the regime, so they didn’t see what was happening with rose-colored glasses. Most people seem to have the misconception all Iranians supported the Islamic Revolution. Marjane proved otherwise.

 

What was your favorite book that you’ve read recently?

Book Blogger Confessions Tag

Spring break is over and I’m trying really hard not to stress about the assignments I have due next week.

 

stressed out community GIF

 

I told myself taking a break from school work the past two days was good for my mental well-being, allowing my brain batteries time to recharge. Besides reading, writing is the most therapeutic form of release. I didn’t realize how badly I needed it until now.

Thankfully, I saw this book tag on Rebecca’s blog. It looked easy and fun. Plus, it got me to talk about something I don’t bring up often: books I didn’t like.

On to the tag!

 

Which book, most recently, did you not finish?

Fade Into You by Nikki Darling

fadeintoyoulibrarybook

I found Fade Into You while browsing the new arrivals in the young adult section of my library. From the synopsis on the back cover, it sounded like a memoir of the author’s high school years in the mid-1990s as she struggled with drug addiction and adolescence. Nineteen pages in, I was like….

bradley cooper wtf GIF

            I think the author was trying to write the book through the eyes of a teenager that was high all the time. But still…one minute, the narrator was having a spat with her mother, the next she was talking about dead hamsters. I couldn’t take it.

 

Which book is your guilty pleasure?

The Women of the Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong

womenoftheotherworld18

These books are urban fantasy, the keeper of a lot of problematic tropes, i.e. borderline abusive relationships. I say I love this series and it holds a special place in my heart as inspiration for my writing. That is still true. Even at sixteen, I knew there were some problems that could not be overlooked. It didn’t change my love for the books, though. Only now, remembering how much I actually hated Elena Michaels and Clayton Danvers’s relationship, I’m starting to have second thoughts.

Clay changed Elena into a werewolf without her consent. He was extremely possessive, to a point where he almost killed a teenaged boy (who happened to be the son of a childhood friend) for having a crush on Elena. Elena herself could be nasty and petty. And she could be abusive towards Clay as well. It was overall an extremely toxic relationship.

I think that’s why I haven’t gotten around to rereading The Women of the Otherworld series and considering unhauling them. Elena and Clay’s relationship is not the only problem within this series, either. If it was just that, I would have done it already. Yet, if it came down to it, I don’t know if I could go through with getting rid of the series. Like I said, a guilty pleasure.

 

Which book do you love to hate?

The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot

anne hathaway shut up GIF

I didn’t like these books when I read them in high school and I still don’t. Even now, when I think about them, I’m filled with annoyance. I hated Mia. I didn’t like Michael. I despised Lily. Overall, when I’m in a bad mood, I take my anger out on this series (which is funny because I don’t own the books anymore).

 

Which book would you throw into the sea?

Woman of God by James Patterson

womanofgod

The fact that I enjoyed so many of Patterson’s other books only makes me madder. While I love the idea of a female pope, the whole book was executed poorly. No plot, no character development, and more than a little insta-love. Reading Woman of God was not a pleasant experience. So much so, I don’t know if or when I will pick up another of Patterson’s books.

 

Which book have you read the most?

The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong

darkestpowers

I probably reread The Summoning, the first book in The Darkest Powers trilogy, at least three or four times. I reread it each time I got the next book in the series. And I’m pretty sure I read the series straight through once I had all the books. I loved the series, but I was also an unemployed fifteen-year-old that had to rely on her birthday and Christmas for gift cards as well as not having access to a well-stocked library. So, I did a lot of rereading back then.

 

Which book would you hate to receive as a gift?

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

aristotleanddantescreenshot

I wanted so, so much to love this book. I tried to, even though I had to sincerely push myself to read it. The writing made me cringe and the romance felt forced. If I got this as a gift, I honestly don’t know what I would do with it. I’d likely smile, say thank you, and take it. Then put it somewhere on my shelves I wouldn’t have to see it too much. Depending on whoever it was that gave it to me, I might keep it forever or wait a while and then get rid of it.

 

Which book could you not live without?

The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace…or just books in general.

theprincesssavesherselfinthisonefeb18

For the sake of the tag, I picked The Princess Saves Herself in This One, which is true. It was my favorite book of last year and now one of my all-time favorite books. I read it at a time where I was caught between grief and a hard place, wanting to get my life started again but fully aware my family still needed me. Then, I read The Princess Saves Herself in This One. I was rejuvenated.

But, if I’m being honest, all the books I have read got me through a lot over the years, as much as people have.

 

Which book made you angriest?

Whitefern by V.C. Andrews

Screenshot_2019-03-10 Whitefern (Audrina, #2)

I nearly screamed from excitement when I saw we were getting a sequel to V.C. Andrews’s one stand-alone novel, My Sweet Audrina. I almost bought it, but it was $20. Thank God I didn’t.

This “sequel”, or rather the ghostwriter, completely butchered what happened in the original novel. Instead of a spunky, curious heroine determined to find answers, Audrina became a passive participant, waiting for things to happen to her. Another character did a total 180 that made no sense. I could deal with mediocre writing, but if you are going to write a sequel to a book like My Sweet Audrina, you better get all your ducks in a row first.

 

Which book made you cry the most?

A List of Cages by Robin Roe

uglycry

I am not a book crier. I might get teary-eyed, but never a full on sob fest. A List of Cages is the exception. I distinctly remember tears streaming down my face as I got into the graphic depictions of child abuse. I wanted so badly to protect the boy but I couldn’t. It hurt my heart more knowing there were real kids out there living through this on a daily basis.

 

Which book cover do you hate the most?

The entire Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead

vampire academy rose hathaway GIF

I don’t make a big deal about book covers. To me, it’s whatever. Even with the Vampire Academy series, I wouldn’t go as far as to say I hate them. More that they are so cheesy they don’t do anything for me.

 

What is a book you enjoyed but you hated the cover?

I tag:

Shanah

Joe

Grey

Crystal

Kristin

Sophie

Erica Mae

and everyone else!

 

 

 

2019 Reading Wrap Up #2 (2/23/19)

When this semester started, I was fully prepared to not be reading much. A month into last semester, I was completing one or two books in the span of a month. So far this semester, I have read seven books.

Granted, most of these were graphic novels. And it helps to have two free days in the middle of the week. Since I get up early enough, I get an adequate amount of homework done where I can read in the afternoons. This also usually leaves my weekends open.

This wrap up is a combination of books I own as well as library books, plus one book that was a recommended read for one of my classes. But more about that in the wrap up.

Between the last week of January until now, I read:

 

Evermore by Sara Holland (library book)

3.5 stars

evermorelibrarybook2

Evermore is the sequel to Everless and is the concluding novel to the duology. In case you are unaware, Everless is set in a fantasy world where time is based in currency taken from the blood. The main character, Jules Ember, returns to the manor home she fled years before to earn money for her ailing father. In the meantime, she learns something about herself, as well as the kingdom at large.

While I enjoyed Evermore, I think I liked it a little less than Everless. The writing was atmospheric, yet a little too flowery at times. The magic system was fascinating and so was the mythology, however I think there were still holes in the story. Though I liked Jules and adored the romance in this novel, even if some might say it came out of nowhere, the plot was slow, then rushed to reach a resolution.

I checked both Everless and Evermore out of the library. Despite that I was interested in the synopsis, I didn’t want to risk the money on them. The concept seemed so out there for me to wrap my head around it.

Overall, I say I enjoyed the Everless duology. I might buy my own copies someday, and will likely read anything else Sara Holland writes.

 

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

5 stars

sagavol9

It took me a while to come up with something to say about the ninth volume of the Saga graphic novels. At least, something coherent or not a spoiler.

Even as they brought up strong criticism about media and intentionally spreading fear, there was a point I suspected it would be another “filler” volume, until the ending happened. The last thing I have to say is that what I have been anticipating since the first volume finally happened. Yet, it was not quite how I expected it to happen. This particular event was also coupled with something I had not seen coming. It added on more to the emotional preparation I had built up from the previous eight volumes.

Needless to say, it’s going to be a hard year before the next installment of Saga.

 

Poe: Stories and Poems: a graphic novel adaption by Gareth Hinds

4.5 stars

poegraphicnovel

Gareth Hinds is a graphic artist that recreates classic stories in graphic novel adaptions. Poe: stories and poems is the first of his that I read. Inside are illustrated adaptions of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death, The Cask of Amontillado, Annabel Lee, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Tell-Tale Heart, The Bells, and The Raven. While the language has been condensed a little to fit the graphic novel format, the artwork in this collection is simply gorgeous. He uses different color schemes to match each work, like beachy pastels for Annabel Lee and a monochromic one for The Raven.

If I was rating the Poe graphic novel on artwork alone, it would be five stars. However, the majority of the stories featured in this were not my favorite of Edgar Allan Poe’s works. Gareth Hinds’ illustrations added something to them, though. The visuals in The Cask of Amontillado gave me a new appreciation for it. I already loved The Tell-Tale Heart, so the artwork added more to it. Yet the artwork for The Masque of the Red Death didn’t quite appeal to my imagination. So, if I’m being perfectly honest, I’m rating this Edgar Allan Poe graphic novel mostly on my reading experience.

 

To Make Monsters Out of Girls by Amanda Lovelace

5 stars

tomakemonstersoutofgirls

The Princess Saves Herself in This One had an emotional impact on me, The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One unfortunately did not have the same effect. Because of that, I kept my expectations for To Make Monsters Out of Girls neutral.

To Make Monsters Out of Girls was originally published on Wattpad under a different title. After her success with her previous works, it was republished with a new title as well as illustrations that added something to already hard-hitting, lyrical free verse poetry.

I’m not entirely sure how to review a poetry collection, beyond rating it by how it made me feel. I love Amanda’s style of poetry; how direct and honest she is. I also appreciated how she owned up to her mistakes, like how she was involved with a man already in a relationship. I enjoyed the topics covered in this collection and how it made me think and feel. I had the same kind of reading experience with To Make Monsters Out of Girls as I did with The Princess Saves Herself in This One.

 

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

4 stars

andtheoceanwasoursky

And The Ocean Was Our Sky is a retelling of Moby Dick through the eyes of the whale. Bathsheba is a member of a whale pirate crew that hunt humans, claiming to be protecting the ocean from the world above. When they capture a human, it leads Bathsheba and the rest of her crew on a mission they deem to be their destiny. But as the whales carry out their mission and she talks more with their human captive, she has doubts about not only their mission, but the relations between humans and whales.

I flew through And The Ocean Was Our Sky like I thought I would. It is a combination of prose and beautiful dark blue/black/white/red artwork, as illustrated by Rovina Cai. Patrick Ness does a good job blurring the lines between who is right and wrong between the whales and humans, making neither look entirely innocent. Bathsheba is the narrator and we see directly through her eyes as the world she thought she knew unravels around her. I wanted to give it five stars but the plot twist kind of threw me for a loop. I had no idea where the author was going with it.

 

True Notebooks by Mark Salzman (library book)

5 books

truenotebookslibrarybook

Nonfiction is a genre I don’t reach for often, if at all. True Notebooks is a book recommended by the professor of my Friday class, Literacy Services to Underrepresented Populations, in preparation for our visit to a correctional facility in a few weeks.

True Notebooks is about the author, Mark Salzman’s, experiences as a creative writing teacher in a juvenile detention center. When his friend first approached him with the opportunity, he tries to think of ways to politely decline until he is persuaded by Sister Janet, a nun in charge of the program trying to rehabilitate these incarcerated minors. The book chronicles the various challenges Mark encounters—rowdy students, illiteracy, prejudice from outsiders and insiders, among other things—and how he not only helps his students, but they help him.

The book is narrated primarily from Mark’s first-person perspective, with samples of his student’s writing. For the first half of the book, the boys annoyed me. By the middle, as they began to understand these writing classes were a privilege that had to be earned, they had my sympathy. I felt the justice system was being too hard on most of them for a single mistake they made at fifteen.

However, towards the end of the book, you realize some of those boys had good reason to be in prison. They severely injured or even killed someone. And, while most of the boys grumbled society failed them (which in some cases, it was true), there were those that understood they were their own people who made their own choices that got them to where they were. That is what I appreciated the most about True Notebooks: there was more gray area than black or white.

 

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black (library book)

3.5 stars

thedarkestpartoftheforestlibrarybook2

The Darkest Part of the Forest is a young adult fantasy novel based around traditional, non-Sarah J. Maas fairy folklore that I have had my eye on for years. Holly Black is also an author that has peaked my interest, especially since she published The Cruel Prince. Before I bought The Cruel Prince, though, I had owned one of her first works, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. I read it last year, wanting to read her previous works before the new. While I liked the nostalgia I got for my Twihard years, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown was ultimately boring. Since I heard mention that a character from The Darkest Part of the Forest might make an appearance in The Cruel Prince, I checked it out of the library to read, instead of buying it.

Thankfully, I enjoyed The Darkest Part of the Forest. The writing was lyrical and the town of Fairfold a beautiful, atmospheric kind of creepy. I liked the traditional dark faerie folklore woven in and how the humans coexist with the fairies as they have always been there. The Sleeping Prince, a horned boy sleeping inside a glass coffin in the woods, was treated like a weird tourist attraction. I liked the protagonist, Hazel, her brother Ben, and Jack, Ben’s changeling best friend. The plot twist I kind of saw coming, but I liked it nonetheless, mostly because I don’t see it used often.

My favorite part about The Darkest Part of the Forest was the primary focus the relationship between Ben and Hazel. Though they resent each other deep down for different things and a lot of bad stuff happened to drive an emotional wedge between them, the siblings put each other ahead of everything. They both have love interests, but the romance is more of a side plot than a driving force.

Which leads me into the things I didn’t like about the novel. While I liked Hazel’s love interest, Ben’s romantic relationship feels too much like insta-love for me to get on board with. The writing was overly descriptive and sometimes certain scenes took too long to get to the point. Lastly, the ending seemed to drag on for longer than it should have, although it might feel that way to me because I checked the library book out for too long and I had to return it, so I had to read fast.

 

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

 

In case you are curious, here is the link to my first reading wrap up of 2019.

My Favorite Books of 2018

When I was making this list, I realized I read a lot of good books in 2018. More than I have in previous years, I think. In finding my favorites, I stuck with the ones who left a lasting impression on me, made me feel a lot of feelings, or I found myself thinking about often. Thus, save one, these books are arranged in no particular order.

Still, it was hard to keep the number down.

 

The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace

theprincesssavesherselfinthisonefeb18

If I had to choose which book was my absolute favorite of the year, it would without a doubt be The Princess Saves Herself in This One. Even more surprising, it is a book of poetry, something I don’t often reach for. I even remember the day I read it.

I read The Princess Saves Herself in This One roughly a month after my mother died. In addition to dealing with my grief, there were other things going on that took a hit at my self-esteem and self-worth. I picked up The Princess Saves Herself in This One at bedtime then didn’t stop until I finished it until the wee hours of the morning. Amanda Lovelace had said the words I needed to hear. I had felt validated and empowered.

 

The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

thelasttimeilied

I find it ironic: last year, Riley Sager’s debut novel, Final Girls, was on my disappointing reads of the year. The Last Time I Lied, in my opinion, was way better. It was fast-paced and engaging. The plot had me guessing and the author did a good job leaving breadcrumbs, building the suspense. Most of the characters were likeable, but they were not all innocent. And the ending blew me out of the water. I would definitely reread The Last Time I Lied, now that I own my own copy.

 

Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco

huntingprincedracula18

I don’t know where to begin in describing my love for the Stalking Jack the Ripper series. Audrey Rose is strong, smart, and sassy, but she has a vulnerable side she learns to embrace. Thomas Cresswell is flawed, but still knows how to pull at your heartstrings and he really does try to do right by those he cares for. The setting of Romania was beautiful; the way Kerri Maniscalco wrote it made me want to visit the country, especially the old castle the medical school is set in. Lastly, the mystery was fun and twisty, and more than a little bloody.

 

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

elizaandhermonsters18

Eliza and Her Monsters was another book that hit me with the feels. I saw a lot of my teenaged self—and my current self—in Eliza. She was shy and had trouble making friends. She wanted to let people in, but it felt safer in the world of fiction. She loved the art she created, putting herself into something that her family didn’t really understand. Then, she met someone who allowed her to let her walls down. The romance was adorable. Eliza and Her Monsters was a quick read that played with my emotions. I actually felt seen in this book.

 

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

myladyjanemar18

There is no other word to describe My Lady Jane better than fun. While I had read Cynthia Hand’s Unearthly trilogy and enjoyed it, I went into My Lady Jane with low expectations. It was good that I did, though. The world was a good blend of history and fantasy. The authors wrote this book like an entertaining textbook where they broke the fourth wall and narrated the story to the reader like this is actually what happened to the real-life Lady Jane Grey. The characters were amazing and the romance was adorable. Why did I wait until 2018 to read it?

 

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

heartlesscover1

I absolutely adored Heartless. The writing was delicious and lyrical. The world of Wonderland was as magical as it was dark, better than Lewis Carroll’s version, in my opinion. The story was compelling, watching Cath go from a sweet girl who only wanted to open a bakery with her best friend to the evil Queen of Hearts. It didn’t just happen; there were different factors that contributed to her falling apart in what I thought was a realistic way. I know it’s a stand-alone, but I really want a sequel to Heartless where Cath meets Alice.

 

Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

flameinthemistmar18

I know a lot of people were disappointed by Flame in the Mist. It was advertised as a Mulan retelling but it didn’t really have that. I personally still enjoyed the book regardless. Mariko is the kind of protagonist I want to see more of in young adult: her brain is her weapon instead of a sword. The romance was steamy, even if it felt a little like insta-love. I liked the world of feudalist Japan Renee Ahdieh created. The writing was as beautiful and captivating as ever. Flame in the Mist is the kind of book I would be scared to reread someday because I don’t want to find anything that could taint my love for it.

 

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

thehazelwood918

One of the most polarizing books published in 2018, I originally checked out The Hazel Wood from the library because I had no idea how I would feel about it. As you can see, I enjoyed it very much. Melissa Albert writes so beautifully you would never guess this was her debut novel. The protagonist, Alice, was unlikeable in every sense of the word, but she had a reason to be the way she was. The world of the novel was dark and creepy. My favorite part of the book was definitely the fairy tales, how they were way more twisted than even the Grimm Brothers, without the moral lessons at the end. The Hazel Wood is written like a stand-alone, though I am glad we are getting more books.

 

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

theastonishingcolorofafter

The Astonishing Color of After was one of the most hyped books of 2018, and it is well deserved. Others said it was slow, but I read it in two days. I was immediately sucked in. The writing was beautiful and handled the topic of suicide in a delicate yet hopeful way. Emily X.R. Pan blended contemporary and magical realism beautifully. The characters were realistic in that some of their decisions made me mad. I loved Leigh, the protagonist, and how she handled her mother’s passing and her determination to get the answers she deserved. Unfortunately, I currently don’t own a copy of The Astonishing Color of After but once I do, I just might reread it (eventually).

 

The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan

thesonofneptune

I read books one through four of The Heroes of Olympus series in 2018. I liked The Lost Hero. The ending of The Mark of Athena broke my heart. The House of Hades put me on the edge of my seat. But I didn’t love those as much as I did the second novel in th series, The Son of Neptune. The plot was fun and not as intense, at least until the end. Percy was at his finest, and beats Rhysand in the book boyfriend department (fight me). Hazel and Frank are my two new favorite demigods, after Leo Valdez. And I laughed a lot while reading The Son of Neptune, which is a surefire way to get on my favorites list.

 

Daughter of the Siren Queen by Tricia Levenseller

daughterofthesirenqueen918

The concluding novel in the Daughter of the Pirate King duology was just as fun, exciting, and steamy as the first one. Alossa is a fiery, prideful protagonist I could not help but adore. Riden is swoon-worthy and the romance was written in a way that made me feel all of what they were feeling—love and pain. The story was fast-paced and thrilling. Life on the seas was brutal but there was never a dull moment with Alossa and her pirate crew. Plus, there was a great fantasy element thrown in with the world of sirens as well as watching Alossa battle with her dual nature.

 

What was your absolute favorite book that you read in 2018?

 

2018 Bookish Survey

This is going to be a super long post, but I got this survey off the blog Perpetual Pages. 2018 is the first year I’ve done my reading stats, so here it goes!

 

Reading Stats

Number of books you read: 57

Number of rereads: 3

Genre you read the most from: young adult

 

Best in Books

Best book you read in 2018?

The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace

theprincesssavesherselfinthisonefeb18

 

Book you were excited about and thought you were going to love more but didn’t?

Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann

letstalkaboutlovelibrarybook

 

Most surprising (in a good way or a bad way) book you read?

This Heart of Mine by C.C. Hunter

thisheartofmine

 

Book you “pushed” the most people to read (and they did)?

I talked a lot about certain books this year, but as far as I know, I hadn’t been able to convince anyone else to read them.

 

Best series you started in 2018?

The Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan

 

Best sequel of 2018?

Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco

huntingprincedracula18

 

Best series ender of 2018?

Daughter of the Siren Queen by Tricia Levenseller

sirenqueen718

 

Favorite new author you discovered in 2018?

Amanda Lovelace

 

Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

skywardlibrarybook

 

Most action-packed/thrilling/un-put-downable book of the year?

The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

themarkofathena

 

Book you read in 2018 that you would be most likely to reread next year?

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

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

(Once I get my own copies.)

 

Favorite cover of a book you read in 2018?

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

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

 

Most memorable character from 2018?

Cath from Heartless by Marissa Meyer

heartlessapr18

 

Most beautifully written book read in 2018?

The Beast is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale

thebeastisananimalapr18

 

Most thought-provoking, life-changing book of 2018?

The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace

theprincesssavesherselfinthisonefeb18

 

Book you can’t believe you waited until 2018 to finally read?

The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things by Carolyn Mackler. I really needed a book like this when I was fifteen.

theearthmybuttbigroundthings

 

Favorite passage/quote from a book you read in 2018?

“Sometimes your heart is the only thing worth listening to.” Heartless, Marissa Meyer

“Does ‘doing exactly what I want’ mean not thinking about other people’s feelings? Because that’s just not the kind of person I am.

Maybe it can mean whatever I want it to mean, like taking care of myself and not letting people walk over me.” The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, Carolyn Mackler

“If I ever have a daughter, the first thing I will teach her to love will be the word “no” & I will not let her feel guilty for using it. – “no” is short for ‘fuck off’” The Princess Saves Herself in This One, Amanda Lovelace

 

Shortest and longest book you read in 2018?

Shortest book: Stuart Little by E.B. White (131 pages)

Longest book: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (734 pages)

 

Book that shocked you the most.

The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

thepoppywarlibrarybook

 

OTP of the year (you will go down with this ship)

Alosa and Riden from Daughter of the Siren Queen by Tricia Levenseller

Leo and Calypso from The House of Hades by Rick Riordan

 

Favorite non-romantic relationship of the year.

Alys and her foster mother in The Beast is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale

 

Favorite book you read in 2018 from an author you’ve read previously

Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

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

 

Best book you read in 2018 that you read solely on a recommendation from somebody else/peer pressure/bookstagram, etc.

The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

thepoppywarlibrarybook

 

Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2018?

Remy from The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

Wallace from Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

 

Best 2018 debut you read?

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

theastonishingcolorofafter

 

Best world-building/most vivid setting you read this year?

Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

skywardlibrarybook

 

Book that put a smile on your face/was the most fun to read?

The Book Jumper by Mechthild Glaser

thebookjumper918

 

Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2018?

History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

historyisallyouleftme18

 

Hidden gem of the year?

The Book Jumper by Mechthild Glaser

The Beast is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale

 

Book that crushed your soul?

Sold by Patricia McCormick

The Opposite of Innocent by Sonya Sones

The House of Hades by Rick Riordan

 

Most unique book you read in 2018?

Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman

tessoftheroadlibrarybook

 

Book that mad you the most mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

aristotledantelibrarybook

 

Blogging/Bookish Life

Only answered the questions relevant to me.

 

Favorite post I wrote

Recommending Books I Didn’t Love, But You Might

 

Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2018?

Getting nominated for all these different award posts (some of which I didn’t get around to responding to, but thank you so much to those who tagged me!).

 

Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

Putting my blog on the back burner when school started and realizing my reading habits will change as my life does.

 

Most popular post this year on your blog (whether it be by comments or views)

People seem to like my salty review of A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell.

 

Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I didn’t read 100 books like I wanted, but I did manage to complete about half of my reading goals, like reading more debut novels and writing more book reviews.

 

Looking Ahead

One book you didn’t get to in 2018 but will be your number one priority in 2019?

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

acourtofwingsandruin

 

Book you are most anticipating for 2019 (non-debut)?

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood, which is the sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale.

Lovely War by Julie Berry

Teeth in the Mist by Dawn Kurtagich

 

 

2019 debut you are most anticipating?

Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto

The Dead Queens Club by Hannah Capin

crownoffeathersscreenshot

 

Series ending/a sequel you are most anticipating in 2019?

Capturing the Devil by Kerri Maniscalco

 

One thing you hope to accomplish or do in your reading/blogging life in 2019?

Maintain a good amount of reading while adulting, such as choosing it as a better option of self-care than watching TV or YouTube.

 

There’s my 2018 bookish survey!

What is one thing you hope to do in your reading life in 2019?

2018goodreadsscreenshot

Autumn 2018 Book Haul Part 1

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

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

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

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

 

Circe by Madeline Miller

circe

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

 

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

thesevenhusbandsofevelynhugo

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

 

Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton

nextyearinhavana

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

 

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

thestrangecaseofthealchemistsdaughter

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

 

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

thebrokengirls

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

 

My Name is Venus Black by Heather Lloyd

mynameisvenusblack

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

 

The English Wife by Lauren Willig

theenglishwife

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

 

The King’s Witch by Tracy Borman

thekingswitch

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

 

Providence by Caroline Kepnes

providence

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

 

Girl at the Grave by Teri Bailey Black

girlatthegrave

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

 

The Labyrinth of the Spirits by Carols Ruiz Zafon

thelabyrinthofthespirits

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

 

Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco

escapingfromhoudini

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

 

Lethal White by Robert Galbraith aka J.K. Rowling

lethalwhite

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

 

Vanilla by Billy Merrell

vanillamerrell

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

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

 

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

murderontheorientexpress

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

 

Mirage by Samaiya Duad

mirage

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

 

Seafire by Natalie C. Parker

seafire

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

 

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

thesilenceofthegirls

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

 

The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar

themermaidandmrshancock

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

 

To Make Monsters Out of Girls by Amanda Lovelace

tomakemonstersoutofgirls

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

 

Pride by Ibi Zoboi

pride

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

 

Rule by Ellen Goodlett

rule

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

 

Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa

shadowofthefox

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

 

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White

thedarkdescentofelizabethfrankenstein

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

 

Give the Dark My Love by Beth Revis

givethedarkmylove

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

 

Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd

grimlovelies

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

 

The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke

thebonelessmercies

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

 

When We Caught Fire by Anna Godbersen

whenwecaughtfire

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

 

The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

thelasttimeilied

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

 

Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak

bridgeofclay

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

 

A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

averylargeexpanseofsea

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

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

 

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

hisfairassassintrilogy

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

 

What books have you bought recently?

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

 

Who Am I? A Book Tag

I saw this tag on YouTube, done by Samantha from Thoughts on Tomes. It is inspired by the PBS miniseries The Great American Read, in which people vote on the best book ever written out of 100 well-known classics, such as Harry Potter and The Handmaid’s Tale. As far as I known, no one on the blogs has done this tag. It looked so interesting I couldn’t pass it up.

 

If your life were a book genre, what would it be?

beckyalbertalli

Logically, it would be more like a contemporary, something Becky Albertalli might write. It would read like an introverted twenty-five-year-old bookworm trying to “adult” with little social life and an awkward love life. A little mystery thrown in there, too, like “what the hell am I going to do with my life?”

 

What villain from a book do you identify with the most?

heartlesscover1

Though she doesn’t start off as a villain, she becomes one. It’s Catherine Pinkerton from Heartless by Marissa Meyer. At the beginning of the novel, she’s a sweet girl with big dreams. Then, her parents force her into an engagement she doesn’t want, she’s being courted by a guy she doesn’t love, her best friend turns her back on her, every attempt she makes to pursue her dreams gets squashed, and she loses the one person that accepted her for who she was. I experienced similar things, where people lacked faith in me and wanted me to do something else, because they didn’t think I could do the things that I wanted or they wanted me to become someone else. In a way, I could relate to Catherine “turning over to the dark side” because, after getting hurt so much, I turned people away until I found those I could let in.

 

What protagonist are you most similar to?

relatable

I picked three characters I related to the most, for different reasons. The first is Molly from The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli. I related to her social awkwardness regarding the opposite sex and her inexperience with dating, plus the weight problems and body image. Not only does she gain confidence in dating, she learns to accept her body for what it is.

The next is Elodie from The Forbidden Orchid by Sharon Biggs Waller. She was the oldest daughter who had to take on adult responsibilities in her family. With my mom being sick for so many years and my dad being stressed out between trying to do right by her and my autistic younger brother, I had to take on more responsibilities than other people my age had, much like Elodie.

Lastly, there is Eliza from Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia. Reading from Eliza’s perspective was the first time I saw a genuine portrayal of myself, especially when I was a teenager. Besides the love of her art and the social awkwardness, there were similar feelings of anxiety in social situations, like being in a room with a lot of people. That, and just feeling disconnected from others in general, save for a few.

 

Which book did you connect with in the past that you no longer do?

harrypotterseries

I hate to say it but…Harry Potter. In my reread of the series, I made it to the fourth book and the magic has, unfortunately, kind of faded for me. I still see the value in the stories, of course. But I’m 25 years old now. Reading the books now are more about gaining a new perspective on a popular series rather than nostalgia or even serious enjoyment.

 

What recent book read would you love to be a character in?

Naturally, The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan, to hang out with Percy Jackson and all the other demigods. Also, in the past month, I’ve read The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager, which I can’t stop thinking about. Despite what went down, and knowing I am not a nature or camping person, I would not have minded being a character in that novel.

 

How do your reading habits show off your personality?

besideTBR

My reading habits have taught me I am a control freak in every aspect of my life. For the longest time, I thought I was a mood reader. In recent months, I figured out that I like to make reading lists. Just picking up whatever book I feel like or using a number generator to pick my next read doesn’t work for me. My TBR is organized in a Word document in the order I want to read them in. If I do change my mind about the certain order, I can easily go back and fix it.

 

What book taught you something about yourself?

Not just one book has taught me something about myself. I’ve learned various things from almost every book I read. To name a few:

The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things by Carolyn Mackler: I saw someone with my body type portrayed in a young adult novel, trying to shop for cute clothes. Like Virginia, I learned to embrace my body type for what it is and take care of my body. Not to be more attractive, but to take care of myself. My only responsibility is to myself.

theearthmybuttbigroundthings

 

The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace: This poetry collection taught me that I have more power than I know, I don’t owe anybody anything, and I have the right to put myself first if I need to.

theprincesssavesherselfinthisonefeb18

 

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume: This is the book that made me realize I want to be a writer and that is where my passion lives.

fourthgradenothing

 

The Women of the Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong: These books taught me I want to be a writer in the fantasy/paranormal genre as well as the mystery genre.

womenoftheotherworld18

 

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli: This book taught me that I am not the only one with a virtually nonexistent dating life during a time where it seems everyone else has more experience than I do.

theupsideofunrequited17

 

I tag!

Shanah

Crystal

Katie

Kelly

Grey you’re going to have LOADS of fun when you get back 😉 (Also, let me know if it’s annoying! I don’t want to bug you!)

Kristin

Joe

Sophie

 

Three Books and the Memories Attached to Them

I saw this post done on Books Amino by someone named Storm Rodrigues, so thank you to them for giving me the idea!

It was a struggle to come up with at least three books with solid memories. My memory is crap. I’m pretty sure there are more memories regarding books I own. But these were the ones I came up with.

These memories are all over the place. Some books have more than one memory attached to them. They all hold significance.

 

The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace

theprincesssavesherselfinthisonefeb18

I read The Princess Saves Herself in This One back in February or March of this year. My dad had asked me to take care of my grandmother, who was just diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. This was barely a month after my mom passed away, after fifteen long weeks of me taking care of her when she went on hospice.

I said no. I wanted to go back to work with the temp agency and get a full-time job. But Dad threatened to quit his job if I didn’t do it. We need the insurance, so I agreed to watch my grandmother once a week and my dad made the arrangements with my uncle. Thankfully, shortly thereafter my aunt got wind of what the two brothers were doing and squashed it. She didn’t want to put me through that again. Still, the way my dad treated me, more concerned about the house my grandmother owns than my mental health, it seemed I was the built-in caregiver.

I had gotten The Princess Saves Herself in This One out of the library. One night, I couldn’t sleep, so I picked up the book. And I kept reading until the wee hours of the morning, only breaking for a few hours of sleep, and then picking it right back up as soon as I awoke.

Everything Amanda Lovelace wrote in her first poetry collection was exactly what I needed to hear at the time. I had a complicated relationship with my mother. I had felt like I was being used by family members to deal with problems they didn’t want to. The Princess Saves Herself in This One reminded me that I do have power, and I can say no, even if other people get pissed off. My own well-being should be my priority, always.

 

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

partimeindian

There are two different memories attached to this book. First, is my high school book club in my freshman and sophomore years.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian was the first book we read freshman year. I thought the title was stupid; then, I read it in two days and loved it. The best part was sitting around with the other club members and the librarian who advised the group talking about it. After so many years, I thought I finally found my people. Unfortunately, the book club was disbanded my junior year because the librarian in charge, Mrs. Davis (who I adored), retired. So, you can imagine my anger when, on my last day ever of high school, I found out the book club had been revived by another school librarian.

In my sophomore year of college, I was a teaching assistant for my school’s First Year Seminar program. In addition to the summer reading book, the professor I worked with liked to have other books for the students to read, specifically ones about other cultures. When she asked for recommendations, the first book I thought of was The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. She read it, loved it, and we used it for our students.

The professor I was TA for submitted The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian as an option for the first-year summer read for the incoming freshman class. Other professors on the committee read it and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. After a vote, it was picked for the freshman summer read in 2014. Several events throughout the first semester were held in honor of the book. Such as, a Native American woman from a local tribe gave a presentation and we watched Smoke Signals. The professor in charge of the entire first-year seminar program, a professor I had in another class, gave me a shout-out for recommending the summer reading book at the viewing of the movie.

The best part, though, was that my students loved the book.

 

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume

fourthgradenothing

The oldest memory on this list and one I will always hold dear. I read Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing when I was eight or nine years old. After I finished the book, I had the urge to find a notebook and pencil and write my own story.

In ten “chapters” (ten pages), I wrote a whole story about how a ten-year-old girl’s life changes after her older brother leaves for college. First off, I was eight years old and I am the first-born. There was no one in my life at the time that was old enough to be in college. I have no clue how I came up with that idea. Second, the main character’s name was Mariah, named after a Ralph Lauren girl (long story). Third, her older brother’s name was Gohan after a Dragon Ball Z character…. Lastly, that “novel” was not the last time I heard from Mariah (which was actually not spelled that way, but I forget the way I wrote it). I wrote several other stories from her perspective, as well as two other girls named Chelsea and Elizabeth.

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing awoke something in me that wanted to be a writer. My parents said I was always a storyteller, making up stories on the spot. Up until then, I never wrote anything down. Once I did, I couldn’t stop. I filled every notebook I could get my hands on. I was putting my imagination to good use. And I have Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (and Judy Blume, too), to thank for that.

 

What is your greatest memory attached to a book?