Part Two of My 28th Birthday Book Haul

I knew this was going to happen….

            Though I still had a gift card from Christmas, for a while I avoided the current big blowout sale at Barnes & Noble. I had a list of books I wanted to buy that were not in the sale. Except said sale had other titles I also really wanted….

            In short, I cracked. And this won’t be the last part of my birthday book haul, either.

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas

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I do not think I’m alone in saying I loved Big Mav from The Hate U Give, and was super excited to learn he was getting a prequel novel.

The Damned by Renee Ahdieh

Tales from the Hinterland by Melissa Albert

The Damned (The Beautiful, #2)
Tales From the Hinterland (The Hazel Wood, #2.5)

These next two books are sequels/companions to series, one I have begun and the other I have not. Tales from the Hinterland is the book of fairy tales that inspired the events of The Hazel Wood. The Damned is the sequel to The Beautiful, a vampire romance series I hope to start at some point this year.

Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

Blood & Honey by Shelby Mahurin

Serpent & Dove (Serpent & Dove, #1)
Blood & Honey (Serpent & Dove, #2)

I’ve wanted so badly to read Serpent & Dove and its sequel Blood & Honey. Besides witches, one of my absolute favorite supernaturals, it’s set in historical France and has a hate-to-love romance between a witch and a witch hunter that are forced to get married. I know these books have received some mixed reviews, yet I can’t deny the excitement I feel.

The Exiles by Christina Baker Kline

The Exiles

Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore

Valentine

Florence Adler Swims Forever by Rachel Beanland

Florence Adler Swims Forever

The Last Story of Mina Lee by Nancy Jooyoun Kim

The Last Story of Mina Lee

I love adult literary fiction and they had some great selections in the Barnes & Noble sale. I managed to narrow it down to these four as ones I absolutely had to own. Two of these, Valentine and The Last Story of Mina Lee, were previous Book of the Month selections I was interested in. The Exiles is a historical fiction on England sending unwanted individuals to their colony in Australia. Lastly, Florence Adler Swims Forever is a family drama set during World War II that I had high on my radar.

Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Today Tonight Tomorrow

I Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick

I Killed Zoe Spanos

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

The Black Flamingo

Most Likely by Sarah Watson

Most Likely (Most Likely #1)

Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam

Punching the Air

Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen

Loveboat, Taipei (Loveboat, Taipei, #1)

The Ravens by Kass Morgan and Danielle Paige

The Ravens (The Ravens, #1)

Traitor by Amanda McCrina

Traitor: A Novel of World War II

Smash It! By Francina Simone

Smash It! (Smash It! #1)

More Than Just a Pretty Face by Syed M. Masood

More Than Just a Pretty Face

Faith: Taking Flight by Julie Murphy

Faith: Taking Flight (Faith Herbert Origin Story, #1)

I don’t think my love for young adult literature is going to change any time soon. These titles in particular are what made me blow money on the sale. Especially, The Black Flamingo and Punching the Air, two coming-of-age stories told in verse, and Faith: Taking Flight, which is about a plus-size superhero.

Today Tonight Tomorrow, More Than Just Like a Pretty Face, and Loveboat, Taipei sound like adorable YA romances that will do a good job distracting me until I find a job. I Killed Zoe Spanos, Traitor, and The Ravens sound like thrilling, entertaining YA mysteries and fantasies I will fly through. Lastly, Most Likely and Smash It sound like the empowering young adult novels I wish I had when I was younger.

What is your favorite thing to do for yourself on your birthday?

The Reread Tag

I don’t often reread books. Exploring new books always seemed way more exciting than revisiting old ones. Although admittedly, in the past couple of years, I’ve wanted to do it more often. However, in 2021, I don’t want to reread books at all. There are so many new books I want to read way more.

            Even though I don’t want to reread books, it does not mean I don’t want to talk about the ones I would reread. So, thanks to Kristin Kraves Books for introducing me to this book tag!

A childhood favorite that you could read 100 times and still love

I honestly don’t know if I have a specific answer for this one. Like I said, I don’t reread books often enough. Not as much as I did in high school, when I didn’t want to venture too far out of my comfort zone. Frankly, some of my childhood favorites I’m nervous to reread because I know they potentially did not age well, like any of the earlier Meg Cabot books.

A book you DNF’ed but would be willing to give a second chance to

After You (Me Before You, #2)

One example I can think of is After You by Jojo Moyes. It is the sequel to Me Before You that came out several years ago. I tried to read it, got 30 pages in, and set it aside. If I’m being honest, I had mixed feelings on its publication. However, despite my initial apprehension, I still bought the third and final novel, Still Me, without having read After You. I liked the main character, Louisa; I wanted to find out what happened to her following the events of Me Before You.

A newer favorite you would reread

The Fountains of Silence
Before the Ever After

I have a few answers for this one. I would reread The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys, because I really like her writing and the characters in this novel were my favorite. I read Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson from the library and I would definitely reread if I get my own copy.

A book you hated and never want to read again

Woman of God

Woman of God by James Patterson…I despised this book. So why do I think about it so much? Because one of the protagonist’s “love interests” had one of the descriptions of my dream man and he was completely whipped by a woman who had no personality, no agency, etc.  

A classic you read in school but want to try again

The Age of Innocence

I own copies of a few classics I read in high school that I bought years after I graduated. In my sophomore year, I became briefly obsessed with Edith Wharton after we read Ethan Frome in my English class. I read her book The Age of Innocence for a book report that same year, I think. I barely remember anything about it but I want to reread it for fun without having to analyze the text.

An author you would reread anything from

With the Fire on High
Salt to the Sea

It’s a tie between Elizabeth Acevedo and Ruta Sepetys. Both of them have a beautiful writing style that sucks me in immediately.

A series you want to reread for the fun of it

Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices, #3)

If I would ever reread a series, my first choice would most likely be The Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare. If I ever wanted to get absolutely lost in my feelings, I would pick up these books.

A book you’ve read but want to listen to the audiobook

The Poet X

If I were to listen an audiobook, it would be the one for The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo. It is written in a slam poetry style and read by the author, a slam poet herself. I’m not an audiobook listener at all, though I would consider giving this one a chance.

What’s your favorite audiobook?  

Part One of My 28th Birthday Book Haul

When I made my reading resolutions for 2021, my primary goal for the new year was to set a limit of buying no more than ten books a month.

            Except my birthday month.

            Fortunately, my birthday is the first month of the year. Turning 28, I’ve reached the stage where people primarily give me money and gift cards. Which is fine, since I have no problem treating myself. There are few times in life when an individual is allowed to be selfish. Birthdays are one of them.  

            I don’t know yet how many parts 28th birthday book haul will be. But after what a crappy year 27 was, thanks to the pandemic, I deserve it even more.

January 2021 Book of the Month Selections

The Prophets by Robert Jones Jr.

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The Prophets is a historical fiction novel following two enslaved men in an innocent romantic relationship. When a fellow enslaved man becomes enthralled in the Christian religion and seeks to please the master, the young lovers find themselves in severe danger. 

The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin

The City We Became (Great Cities, #1)

I’ve been itching to get into N.K. Jemisin for years. When I saw The City We Became as an add-on for January, I thought now was my chance. It follows individuals who are the literal embodiment of the boroughs in New York City. When a super-powered “Karen” invades, they have to band together to protect the city. Since The City We Became appears to be a stand-alone, I figured it would be a good place to start with N.K. Jemisin.

The Heiress Gets a Duke by Harper St. George

The Heiress Gets a Duke (The Gilded Age Heiresses, #1)

I had The Heiress Gets a Duke added on Goodreads and my excitement was immediately peaked when I saw it as an add-on. I’m especially drawn to historical romances with a strong heroine motivated by something not marriage, which is the main character of The Heiress Gets a Duke. She wants to take over the family business, but when her parents promise her younger sister to a jerk duke, she steps in. Both the heroine and the duke in question get more than what they bargained for.  

Other Books

Troubled Blood by Robert Galbraith

Troubled Blood (Cormoran Strike, #5)

I’m aware of the subject matter of Troubled Blood—a man disguised as a woman killing people. However, I am of the belief to separate work from the author, especially in the case of J.K. Rowling/Robert Galbraith. Unless Troubled Blood really screws it all up, I love the characters Strike and Robin too much and enjoyed the previous books too much to give up on the Cormoran Strike series yet.

Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco

Kingdom of the Wicked (Kingdom of the Wicked, #1)

I want desperately to read Kingdom of the Wicked, a romantic historical fantasy about witches and demons in Italy. Only I refuse to read it until I finish the last two books in Kerri Maniscalco’s Stalking Jack the Ripper series. If Kingdom of the Wicked is anything like those books, it will be entirely worth the wait.

Lore by Alexandra Bracken

Lore

I’ve heard Lore described as The Hunger Games with Greek gods. I don’t need to know much more than that. This sounds like the kind of book you need to go into knowing as little as possible for the fun of it.

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

My Calamity Jane (The Lady Janies, #3)

My Calamity Jane is the final novel in the The Lady Janies trilogy and the one that has gotten the least positive feedback of the three. It is a fantastical retelling of Annie Oakley with werewolves. I like the story of Annie Oakley and I want to read more Westerns, so I’m going into My Calamity Jane still optimistic.

Mad, Bad, & Dangerous to Know by Samira Ahmed

Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know

Mad, Bad, & Dangerous to Know is a young adult historical fiction novel set in Paris told in dual timelines with a Muslim main character. Obviously, I’ve wanted to read this book since I heard about it. Actually, all three of Samira Ahmed’s books sound incredible and I own all of them.

The Forgotten Kingdom by Signe Pike

The Empire of Gold by S.A. Chakraborty

Sex Criminals, Vol. 6 by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky

The Lost Book of the White by Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu

Dear Justyce by Nic Stone

How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories by Holly Black

The Forgotten Kingdom (The Lost Queen Trilogy, #2)
The Empire of Gold (Daevabad Trilogy, #3)
Sex Criminals, Vol. 6: Six Criminals
The Lost Book of the White (The Eldest Curses, #2)
Dear Justyce (Dear Martin, #2)
How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories (The Folk of the Air, #3.5)

The second to last batch of books on this haul are sequels, prequels, or final novels to series I’ve either started or have not begun yet. Dear Justyce is the companion to Dear Martin, following a character mentioned that was sent to prison during the first book. How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories is the prequel to The Folk of the Air trilogy, which I have not read yet. Sex Criminals, Vol. 6 is the last installment in a graphic novels series I’ve only read the first volume of, but now own all the rest and plan on marathoning when I’m in the need of a raunchy laugh.     

The Lost Book of the White is the next book in the series following Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood. The Empire of Gold is the final novel in an adult historical fantasy trilogy that includes The City of Brass and The Kingdom of Copper. The Forgotten Kingdom is the second novel in a historical fiction series set in medieval Scotland, the first being The Lost Queen.  

The Devil’s Slave by Tracy Borman

The Fallen Angel by Tracy Borman

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The Devil’s Slave and The Fallen Angel are the second and third novels in the Frances Gorges trilogy. The first novel, The King’s Witch, follows a young woman who was a respected healer in the court of Elizabeth I. After the queen’s death, Frances plans to retire to the countryside. Only she gets dragged unwillingly to the court of the new king. Her fondness of the king’s daughter further drags her into political intrigue, leading to the infamous Gunpowder Plot. The trilogy in question supposedly follows that healer, Frances Gordon, before, during, and after those events.

Have you read any of these books?

Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 Books I Will Definitely Read This Year

First off, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!

            Why does 28 feel so old and yet so young at the same time?

            I have many books on my TBR pile that I have every intention of reading this year. Books I was so excited for when I got them. Ones by authors I adored. Series I want to start and finish, along with others I am desperately behind on and need to finish. It was hard to keep this list to five, honestly.

            The five books I definitely will read in 2021 are:  

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

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After reading The Afterlife of Holly Chase, My Lady Jane, and the Unearthly trilogy, Cynthia Hand is on the fast-track to becoming a favorite author. The Last Time We Say Goodbye is a contemporary novel with a more serious edge to it, though. After her brother Tyler committed suicide, Lex has had her grief under lock and key. Trying to forget the text message from her brother that could have changed everything, she eventually realizes a ghost does not have to be real to keep you from moving on. 

The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily by Laura Creedle

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Lily Michaels-Ryan is off her ADHD meds and failing one of her classes when she meets Abelard, a gorgeous boy on the spectrum. They bond over their shared love of medieval literature and fall hard for each other. But when things start to get complicated, Lily decides to do what she does best: destroy things. The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily is a novel I randomly found at Barnes & Noble that I have not heard anyone else talk about. Is that for a reason or have I found a hidden gem?

Heretics Anonymous by Katie Henry

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When an atheist is sent to a Catholic high school, he finds a group of misfits who get together to challenge the religious hierarchy at their school. Since Heretics Anonymous came out around 2015 or 2016, I’ve heard good things from those that have read it. I also want to read Katie Henry’s books, as the concepts of the other two she currently has out sound as interesting as Heretics Anonymous. Although, that might not happen in 2021.

What I Lost by Alexandra Ballard

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What I Lost follows a teenaged girl in treatment for an eating disorder receiving strange packages she presumes are from her ex-boyfriend. These packages are what help her realize why resisting treatment is not a good idea and her mother’s encouraging her obsessive calorie-counting is part of the problem. As I am well aware of how touchy the topic weight and body image can be between mothers and daughters, that aspect of What I Lost has the possibility of hitting a nerve.

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

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Turns out, I’m a magnet for “sick mom” lit. You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone follows twin sisters whose mother has Huntington’s disease. When they get tested for the disease, one has the gene but the other does not. This adds further strain on the sisters’ already tense relationship. Rachel Lynn Solomon is another author I want to get into, starting with You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone.

What books do you definitely plan on reading in 2021?

Bookish Memes: Worthwhile or Worthless? (Let’s Talk Bookish)

I’ll be honest—it took me a while to get into bookish memes.

            When I started blogging, I did not go out of my way to become involved in the blogging community. I did my best to advertise my content, yet did not pay attention to others. After all, why would anyone bother with my work if I did not provide them the same amount of traffic?

Eventually, I realized book tags, wrap-ups, and TBRs were not all I could be doing. Bookish memes opened the door a lot wider.

            As of right now, I only participate in two bookish memes. The first, and most recent I joined, is Let’s Talk Bookish. The other, which I’ve been doing for around two years, is Top 5 Tuesday. Despite my best intentions, I don’t write for all the topics in every month. I enjoy working on them and do try to go out of my comfort zone in writing. However, sometimes I don’t have anything to say or the topic is honestly not particularly appealing to me. That being said, there have been occasions where Top 5 Tuesday or Let’s Talk Bookish come up with ideas I never would have thought of. Those are often the most fun.

            Do I interact with other people’s weekly memes? Not as much as I should. It’s definitely not as much as people interact with my weekly posts.

When I first began participating in the bookish memes, it was as much about posting content as much as having an opportunity to interact with other book bloggers. Sometimes, it is still primarily about posting content. My blog is basically my portfolio, for when/if I ever found a job involving writing book reviews or another sort of writing job.

            Regarding interaction—the amount of interaction I get with other book bloggers make the time spent working on the posts worth it. I’ve had predominantly positive interactions with people who comment on my posts. Besides the views and content it provides my blog, I have found like-minded people I can talk to about books. I hope to maybe participate in more bookish memes, or even create one, as I continue blogging.

            In short, I think bookish memes are worthwhile. If while participating in a bookish meme bloggers are provided with a topic they might not have thought of, it could provide a spark of creativity. It could also provide the opportunity to think outside of their comfort zone. Bookish memes also deliver traffic to book bloggers’ platforms, having a bookish meme as a jumping off point for other bloggers to find them. Lastly, bookish memes offer the opportunities for interaction with other book bloggers and creators.

            What would make anyone think bookish memes are worthless? 

21 Books to Read in 2021

2021 is the year I want to take a hammer to my physical TBR. Thanks to my lack of self-control in terms of book-buying and utilizing the library way too much in 2020, I own over 600 unread books.

            There are a lot more than 21 books I want to read in 2021. These are just the tip of iceberg.

            14 of the books on this list are my unread 2020 Book of the Month selections. I would rather get to them as soon as possible. Those are:

The Library of Legends by Janie Chang

The Library of Legends

The Knockout Queen by Rufi Thorpe

The Knockout Queen

The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd

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A Good Marriage by Kimberly McCreight

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One to Watch by Katy Stayman-London

One to Watch

The Boy in the Red Dress by Kristin Lambert

The Boy in the Red Dress

The Shadows by Alex North

The Shadows

Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein

Head Over Heels

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

Girl, Serpent, Thorn

The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany by Lori Nelson Spielman

The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany

White Ivy by Susie Yang

White Ivy

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

These Violent Delights (These Violent Delights, #1)

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

Legendborn (Legendborn, #1)

The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins

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What other books do I want to read in 2021? For the sake of keeping this list to 21, here are 7 more that are on the higher end of my to be read pile:

Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer

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When Midnight Sun was announced in May, I went back and forth on whether or not I wanted to buy it or borrow it, if I even wanted to read it. Now, I’m going into it with very, very low expectations.

The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye

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The Paragon Hotel is set in 1921, following a young white woman on the run following an drug deal gone wrong. She finds sanctuary at the black-only hotel in Portland, Oregon called the Paragon Hotel, right as the KKK invades the city, and helps the residents find a missing mulatto child no one else cares about.

The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner

The Jane Austen Society

The Jane Austen Society follows survivors of WWII coming together over their mutual love of Jane Austen. Besides the cover alone filling me with such happiness by looking at it, I’m positive I will love this book.

Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel

Darling Rose Gold

Years after testifying against her mother’s lifelong abuse, everyone is shocked when Rose Gold lets her mother live with her when she is released from prison. Unknown to Rose Gold, her mother has plans for revenge. Unknown to her, Rose Gold has a plan of her own.

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

My Dark Vanessa

I have mentioned My Dark Vanessa in several TBR posts since I bought it. Even though the subject matter is typically touch and go with me, but I’m still hopeful My Dark Vanessa will not disappoint.

Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal

Unmarriageable

A retelling of Pride and Prejudice set in Pakistan where the Lizzy Bennet character is a teacher actually teaching Pride and Prejudice and feminism to her female students? I seriously hope I get to this one in 2020.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Shockingly, I have not yet read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, the darling of the book world. But 2020 is going to change that. Time to see what all the hype is about.  

The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar

The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock

When the captain of his ship sells it for a mermaid, merchant John Hancock’s life is turned upside down, in more ways than one. The mermaid’s existence propels him into high society, where he meets a beautiful courtesan named Angelica Neal. This meeting leads to a collision of ambitions that could either make or destroy them.

What backlist books do you want to read in 2021?

The Last 10 Books Tag

Go figure…a month of spitting out content and now the idea pit is dry. But that’s why we have book tags, don’t we?

            I found this tag on Kristin Kraves Books, who has earned the title of my Book Tag Provider. So, thank you my friend!  

The Last Book I Gave Up On

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Last year, when I was naively thinking of all the things I wanted to accomplish in 2020, I made a list of books I wanted to unhaul. That unhaul would include a slight purge of my TBR pile. One of those TBR books was The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks. I have absolutely no interest in reading this book anymore. If I’m being honest, I bought it on impulse while walking through Rite Aid, during the first year I started earning my own income.  

The Last Book I Gave Up OLast year, when I was naively thinking of all the things I wanted to accomplish in 2020, I made a list of books I wanted to unhaul. That unhaul would include a slight purge of my TBR pile. One of those TBR books was The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks. I have absolutely no interest in reading this book anymore. If I’m being honest, I bought it on impulse while walking through Rite Aid, during the first year I started earning my own income.  

Last Book I Re-read

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A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, which I reread in May during a reading slump and stayed up until the wee hours of the morning crying over.

Last Book I Bought

Dear Justyce (Dear Martin, #2)
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The books I recently acquired at the same time were Dear Justyce by Nic Stone and The Lost Book of the White by Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu.

Last Book I Said I Read But Actually Didn’t

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The last time I said I read a book but I didn’t actually was when I was a sophomore in college. In my British Writers II class, we read Waterland by Graham Swift. It was the driest book we read in that class, which might not have been so bad since we also read Hard Times by Charles Dickens. But I absolutely could not stand the narrator in Waterland, to a point where I could not bring myself to finish it. I just looked on SparkNotes for a summary instead.

Last Book I Wrote in the Margins Of

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I highlighted and scribbled in textbooks I used in school, but to me, those don’t count. I never write in books.  

Last Book That I Had Signed

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I haven’t been to a book signing since college, when I went to my professor’s book launch party. The most recent signed book I acquired was last year, when I accidentally bought an Owlcrate copy of Amber & Dusk by Lyra Selene through Amazon.

The Last Book I Lost

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I don’t know if it counts, but the last book I “lost” was His Hideous Heart by Dahlia Adler. It was a library book I am positive I returned. After I finished it, I put it the backpack I use when I return library books. I distinctly remember leaving it in the outside bin designated for returns and all the other books I returned with it were cleared. Plus, on top of that, my bedroom is so small, it’s impossible I would not be able to see it if I did still have it. Yet, His Hideous Heart is marked as “overdue” on my library account. Fortunately, because of the pandemic, the library is not charging fines. But if it continues, I might have to call them about it.

            (Pray for me.)

The Last Book I Had to Replace

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I can’t remember having to replace a book, ever. While a lot of my books have some wear and tear, none are damaged enough to qualify for a replacement.

The Last Book I Argued Over

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I didn’t necessarily arguewith anyone over it, but Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz. When I admitted I didn’t love the  writing style, the people I talked to on the Internet were polite in disagreeing with me. Still, posting a rant review on such a beloved novel made me a little nervous.

The Last Book I Couldn’t Find

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Over the summer, when I was pulling books by Black authors off my shelves, I almost forgot about Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson. Only it wasn’t where I thought I put it. After a few moments of panic, I found it in the back of the shelves inside my bed.

Have you ever lost a library book?  

Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 Anticipated Debut Novels and Books by New-to-Me Authors of 2021

In the last week of December, I wrote a post on my most anticipated books of 2021 by authors I’ve already read from. Turns out, there are more debut authors and authors I’ve wanted to get into for years also coming out with books in 2021. However, I managed to narrow it down to five for today’s post.

            Five of the debut novels and new-to-me authors that make me worry about my wallet in 2021 are:

The Wide Starlight by Nicole Lesperance

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When I read in the synopsis for The Wide Starlight it is “for fans of The Hazel Wood and The Astonishing Color of After,” I didn’t need to know anything else. A teenaged girl goes looking for her mother, whom she believes is lost in the Northern Lights. I don’t know if it’s going to be fantasy like The Hazel Wood or magical realism like The Astonishing Color of After, but I’m here for it.

What Big Teeth by Rose Szabo

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When I read that What Big Teeth was a modern Addams Family, I clicked the “want to read” button pretty quickly. Normal-looking Eleanor returns home to her monstrous family after they sent her away to boarding school years prior. The only person that truly welcomes her home is her Grandmother Persephone. When Grandmother Persephone suddenly dies, to keep her family from falling apart, Eleanor calls on her other grandmother, Grandmere. But when she finds herself under tyranny, Eleanor is forced to finally face the monstrosity lurking inside her. 

These Hollow Vows by Lexi Ryan

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These Hollow Vows followsBrie, a human that hates the Fae. When her sister is sold to the king of the Unseelie court, Brie ventures into the faerie world to save her. She makes a deal with the king to collect ancient fae relics in exchange for her sister’s freedom, posing as the potential bride to a faerie prince while working with the leader of a rebel fae group. Both men are dangerous, seductive, and winning her heart.

Does it sound like A Court of Thorns and Roses? Yes. Am I still trash for it? Absolutely.

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado

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Whenever I find a book with any sort of plus-size representation, especially a young adult novel, it immediately has my attention. Charlie Vega is plus size and proud, with a supportive best friend. When one of the cutest boys in school asks her out, Charlie is super excited…until she learns he asked out her friend first. I didn’t even read full synopsis on Buzzfeed before I added Fat Chance, Charlie Vega to my Goodreads TBR.

If the Shoe Fits by Julie Murphy

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Julie Murphy is an author whom I own three books by and still have not read yet. When it was announced she was writing an adult series of fairy tale retellings with plus-size heroines, I nearly jumped up and down with excitement. If the Shoe Fits is a loose Cinderella retelling, following an aspiring shoe designer who volunteers to be a contestant on her stepmother’s dating show in order to jump-start her fashion career. Instead, she finds herself a plus size fashion icon, filled with unexpected inspiration, and even discovers, most unexpectedly, love.

I NEED. THIS. BOOK. 

What is a debut novel you are anticipating in 2021?

How Did I Do on My 2020 Reading Goals and Resolutions?

If I know anything about myself, it is I expect too much of myself. In all aspects of my life. Reading is no exception.

            Looking back on the reading goals and resolutions I set for myself in the first and second half of 2020, I realized…I had no idea what I was doing. Fortunately, not all of my goals for 2020 were a flop. Only, it’s not as satisfying as I wanted it to be.

First half of 2020

Set a Goodreads goal of 50 books

When I set this goal in January, I knew I was going to be reading a lot for my classes. Thanks to the roughly 40 picture books I read, I beat this goal in March.

Read more of the books I own than library books

95% of what I read in 2020 were library books. Because of this, and all the book-buying I did, I now have over 600 books on my physical TBR. While this might not be a bad thing—depending on who you ask—the fact that I read so many books from the library instead of ones I owned eventually became a major problem. One I absolutely need to avoid in 2021.  

Buy books for every 10-20 owned books I read

It doesn’t matter what I tell myself…if I have money, I will buy books. I’m not sure if book buying bans work on me anymore. That’s why, this year, I’m giving myself a limit each month. We will see how that goes.

Complete the series on my priority TBR pile

Didn’t happen. Let’s move on.

Get back into writing book reviews, monthly wrap-ups, and TBRs

This one I made because I was still in graduate school and not posting wrap-ups or TBRs regularly. Once we went into lockdown, I didn’t have to wait until May to get back into those posts. As for book reviews, even during the lockdown, I didn’t write as many as I would have wanted to. Probably because most of the books didn’t provide me with a lot of things to say.

Stick to reading lists, but be flexible

I obviously did not stick to the reading lists I had created for 2020, since I read mostly library books and often didn’t feel like reading.

Reread books

I reread five or six books in 2020. A surprisingly successful one. Ironically, also one I did not care if I completed or not.

Read before bed

This is one of the reading resolutions I had the most energy for at the beginning of the year. Then, after three months, I didn’t. But it is one I want to make more of a habit in 2021.

Read all library books borrowed and not take out so many at a time

Thinking I had all this free time to read, and that I would even have the motivation to read, I went crazy borrowing books from the library. When the lockdown bled into the summer and I was in desperate need to get out of the house, I went even crazier.

Unhaul books

This is the only one where not completing it was not my fault. No place nearby me was accepting donations and my grad school closed before they hosted their annual book drive.

Do a blog series

I honestly wanted to do this so bad. But as much as this platform provided a distraction during the quarantine, the quarantine still hindered my creativity.

Second half of 2020

No book buying

Considering I found myself unemployed in June, not buying books was easy the second half of the year. It wasn’t until November that I cracked.

Reach a goal of 100 to 110 books read

The desire to read came in ebbs and flows for me; that’s why I wasn’t entirely sure I could read over 100 books. I never formally set it to 100 or more on Goodreads—it was 80, then 90 after I changed it from 50. Then, I had my most successful reading month in November and made it to 107.

Read more books I own and avoid frequent trips to the library, but if borrowing more books, only check out as many as I can read

I never checked out as many as I could read. I would borrow at least 20 books from the library, then manage to read only a handful.  

Read at least nine books a month

In all fairness, I read at least five books a month, which is perfectly fair. I did not utilize all the free time I had. In short, I could have read at least nine books a month, but certain circumstances prevented me from doing so.

Complete the series on my priority TBR pile

I finished zero book series in 2020.  

Stick to reading lists, but don’t be so flexible

Reading lists…TBRs…those went out the window in 2020. I read what I felt like, if I didn’t change my mind about it five minutes later.

How did you do on your own 2020 reading resolutions and goals?

2020 End of the Year Reading Stats and Survey

Normally, in my yearly surveys, I follow the template provided by Perpetual Pages. However, there are a lot of questions I don’t have answers to and/or don’t apply to me in 2020. So, I am doing something a little different this year. I’m writing an essay.

Basic Statistics

I read a total of 106 books in 2020. My average rating is 3.9 stars. I rated twenty-eight books 5 stars, forty-two books 4 stars, twenty-seven books 3 stars, six books  2 stars, a single book 1 star, and two books with no rating.

Predominantly of what I read in 2020 were picture books. This is what led to me having an average book length of 173 pages across an overall page count of 18,338. In the early part of the year, the picture books I read were for a class. One of those picture books was Freight Train by Donald Crews, a board book that was the shortest book I read in 2020.Months later, I picked up a lot of the nominees in the picture book category in the Goodreads Choice Awards. Some of the picture books I picked up in 2020 were actually rereads from my childhood, like Madeline and The Boxcar Children.

As for the other rereads, one was Through the Woods by Emily Carroll, which was my first read of the year. I had hit a reading slump at the end of 2019. I heard rereading a favorite book can help gain momentum for the new reading year. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes are books I reread in May when I fell into a reading slump after graduation.

What I Read

If I had to pick a best book of 2020, it would be either To Drink Coffee with a Ghost by Amanda Lovelace or Aurora Burning by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. The former was the most beautifully written book I read in 2020, but the latter has continued to sit in my feelings many months later. Aurora Burning was also the best sequel I read in the entire year. One of the couples, Aurora and Kal, are my OTP of the year. I thought I would love Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, one of my most anticipated releases of 2020, only it did not quite meet my expectations.

            The Winter King by C.L. Wilson is best series I started in 2020, the best book from a genre I don’t typically read from, the longest book I read in 2020, the book that had the best world-building, and my most surprising book of the year. I went into The Winter King expecting insta-love and more smut than plot. Instead, I got a slow-burn romance and a well thought-out plot. On top of that, the hero, Wynter Atrialan, is my newest fictional crush. The only other new fictional crush I read in 2020 that rivaled Wynter in perfection is Daniel Matheson, one of the main characters in The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys.   

            I also started the Bloodlines series by Richelle Mead and Dear Martin series by Nic Stone in 2020. Dear Martin was my most thought-provoking/life-changing book of 2020, making Nic Stone my new favorite author I discovered in 2020.  

As for Bloodlines, I managed to read the first three books before I gave up. Twice, I borrowed the final three books from the library, only to return them unread a few weeks later. At best, I could only get through 50 pages of The Fiery Heart each time I tried to read it. I attribute this to the fact that the fourth book introduced Adrian Ivashkov’s first-person perspective and I am not an Adrian fangirl by any means. Despite the hate I’ve seen her get on the Internet over the years, Sydney Sage, the main character of Bloodlines, is my most memorable character of 2020. I related to her on so many levels and I think we need more heroines like her—ones whose brains are their weapons instead of a sword.

            My favorite books from genres I don’t typically read from or was out of my comfort zone were Dewdrop by Katie O’Neil and Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper. Dewdrop, a picture book,was the most wholesome book I’ve ever read. Stella by Starlight was the one that showed me middle grade novels can handle hard topics while still being sweet and innocent. Another middle grade novel, Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson, has my favorite non-romantic relationship of the year. The main character, ZJ, has a loving family that manage to stay together during a time of severe trauma.  

            The most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year is a tie between Aurora Burning by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff with Home Before Dark by Riley Sager. Despite the former being a young adult science fiction and the latter an adult thriller, both were thrilling to me and made me want to read them any chance I got.   

            The one book that truly put a smile on my face was I Work in a Public Library by Gina Sheridan. These are the author’s musings of her time working in a public library. I didn’t read a lot of pretty books, either. The most beautiful cover I read in 2020 was With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo.

Two books that made me cry were A Monster Calls by Patrick Nessand To Drink Coffee with a Ghost by Amanda Lovelace. After everything I had went through since I last read it, A Monster Calls hit a nerve.As for To Drink Coffee with a Ghost, it struck a deeper nerve I had thought I would never hit. Except the only book that truly crushed my soul was Aurora Burning.

I read a few hidden gems in 2020.One of those titles was What the Night Sings by Vesper Stamper, an illustrated novel about the aftermath of World War II following Holocaust survivors. Pet by Akwaeke Emezi is another hidden gem I don’t see many people on the Internet talk about and is also the most unique book I read in 2020.  

Blogging/Bookish Life

2020 is one of the times I am most grateful for my blog. My favorite posts I wrote were the grad student book tag I created and my reading and quarantine discussion post. I also liked several of my Let’s Talk Bookish posts, such as my feelings on my reading in 2020, the one where I ask if I deliberately put off books I want to read, and the care and keeping of a to be read pile.

            Since it was 2020, therewere several challenges related to my blogging and reading life this year. Concentrating on books and picking what to read next was probably the biggest bookish problem I had. The lockdown seriously affected my mental health. As such, I felt like some of my ideas for my blog were “wash, rinse, repeat,” not the least bit original.

            Did I complete any reading challenges or goals I had set for myself at the beginning of the year? Yes, I did. At the beginning of 2020, I had set a Goodreads goal of 50 books. I beat it in March, a week before my university and the place I worked announced the lockdown. Initially, I had no intention of raising that goal. Then, as the quarantine dragged on into the summer, I lacked motivation to read. I thought raising the Goodreads goal might help; first to 80, then to 90.  It did help, somewhat.  

By the middle of the year, I set an unofficial goal of reading 100 to 110 books a year. Reading 107 books (technically, 106 since I read two different formats of the same picture book) I unexpectedly met that goal.

Looking Ahead

There are so many books I did not read in 2020 but will be a priority in 2021. Some of those books will be A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas; A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir and A Sky Beyond the Storm by Sabaa Tahir; Escaping from Houdini and Capturing the Devil by Kerri Maniscalco; Children of Blood and Bone and Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi; and Thunderhead and The Toll by Neal Shusterman. On top of that, I’m anticipating a few books by non-debut authors, such as Lore by Alexandra Bracken.

2021 is also the year of debuts. Two of the 2021 debuts I am most anticipating is The Wide Starlight by Nicole Lesperance and What Big Teeth by Rose Szabo. At this moment in time, the only series ending I’m most anticipating is the final novel in the Aurora Cycle by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.

The one thing I hope to accomplish in my reading and/or blogging life in 2021? I want to take a hammer to my physical TBR. I want to primarily read the unread books I own, the ones that have been gathering dust on my shelves for far too long. 2020 was the year of mainly library books. With all the unread books I personally own, it wasn’t the best idea. Besides, the books I own are actually the ones I wanted to read.

I also want a life/reading/blogging balance. As soon as the restrictions are lifted, I want to live again in 2021. I want to go back to work and hang out with my friends face to face. And WITHOUT MASKS and SOCIAL DISTANCING. I still want to read whenever I have down time, read between 5 to 9 books a month, and write more book reviews and recommendations. However, other things will take priority in the new year.