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

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

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

 

The Last Letter from Your Lover by Jojo Moyes

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

 

Vanilla by Megan Hart

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

 

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

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

 

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Manon

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

 

Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

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

 

What are some romantic reads on your TBR?

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Get to Know Ya Tag!

I found the Get to Know Ya Tag on Kristin Kraves Books. I saw the opportunity to talk about some books I have not mentioned on my blog for a while now, or maybe some I’ve never mentioned before. Plus, it’s a super fun tag getting to know people.

I don’t know who created it, but if you do know, give them a shout out.

 

Favorite book of all time

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I honestly have no idea how to answer this question. It’s like asking me to choose my favorite child, or more appropriately, since I am childless, my favorite friend. That, and I firmly believe that nobody can have just one favorite book. How is that even possible?

So, I’m going to choose five of my all-time favorite books, which are:

The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

 

Favorite book five years ago

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At first, I was going to say maybe The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong or Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. For the heck of it, I checked on Goodreads for my reading stats in 2013. That was the year I picked up Confessions of a Murder Suspect by James Patterson.

Confessions of a Murder Suspect was the first novel in a young adult mystery/thriller series following Tandoori “Tandy” Angel, the daughter of two extremely wealthy parents who are found dead in their bedroom. The only suspects are Tandy, her twin brother Harry, and her younger brother Hugo, as well as their older brother Matthew. There were a lot of twists and turns as Tandy tries to figure out who killed her parents, even if it means she did it, but the plot twist shook me to my core. I was obsessed with Confessions of a Murder Suspect, as well as its sequel, The Private School Murders, which I also read in 2013.

 

Favorite Duology/Trilogy/Series

Not surprisingly, I have an answer for all three of these.

Duology: It’s a tie between The Wrath and the Dawn duology by Renee Ahdieh and the Passenger duology by Alexandra Bracken. Both of these made me feel everything plus they were fun, exciting reads with characters I adored.

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Trilogy: Easily the Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare. I found very little fault in these books when I read them. However, since I have not read Lord of Shadows yet and Queen of Air and Darkness is not out until December, I’m wondering if maybe The Dark Artifices will soon take its place as my favorite trilogy. And there are a few other contenders on my TBR that could prove worthy competition.

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Series: Does it count if your favorite series are incomplete? The two series (again, I’m indecisive) that I am certain are my favorites are the Stalking Jack the Ripper series by Kerri Maniscalco and the An Ember in the Ashes series by Sabaa Tahir. I just loved everything about these books.

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Last book you read

At the time I am writing this, the last book I read was A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell, a cheesy thriller about two mothers you think are best friends but they both have deep, dark secrets they use to manipulate each other. Unfortunately, it was not that entertaining.

 

Last book of poetry you read

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The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One by Amanda Lovelace, which I read and bought as soon as it came out. While I did enjoy it, sadly, I did not love it as much as her debut collection.

 

What book most influenced your life?

Honestly…I can’t say it was just one book, because a lot of books have influenced me in different ways throughout the years. To name a few:

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume is the book that awoke my passion for storytelling and inspired my first “novel” when I was eight years old.

At fifteen, The Darkest Powers trilogy by Kelley Armstrong made me realize my strongest writing niche was in the fantasy and paranormal genres.

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The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace and The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur came to me earlier this year, making me feel empowered when I wasn’t really feeling like it.

 

 

 

 

 

Book that made you ugly cry

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Definitely A List of Cages by Robin Roe made me ugly cry. It takes a lot to make me cry in books in general. With this book, it was a full on sob fest.

 

Book that made you laugh

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All the Rick Riordan books I’ve read so far. That includes the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series plus the first two books in the Heroes of Olympus series, The Lost Hero and The Son of Neptune.

 

Character you’d like to be for a day.

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No brainer: Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. I get to practice magic and go to Hogwarts, plus share a brain with one of the most badass women in literature.

 

Book so good you dreamt about it

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Hmmm…. I don’t remember my dreams. I remember my nightmares though. One book that was really good but also one I should not have read before bed was The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich. There was a scene with a mirror…and I have one in my bedroom, right across from my bed, so it took me a while to go back to sleep after.

 

Book you DNF’D

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After You by Jojo Moyes, which I tried to read over a year ago. I got about 35 pages in before I had to put it down. I think it bothered me that Me Before You got a sequel when it was perfectly fine as a stand-alone, in my opinion. However, I’ve heard decent things about the third book, Still Me, when Louisa goes to New York City, so I might pick up After You again, eventually.

 

What book are you most excited to read?

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

A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Sea Witch by Sarah Henning

To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

…To name a few.

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I tag….

Grey (once she’s back from her hiatus! I completely forgot. Sorry Grey!)

Crystal

Shanah

Joe

And anyone else that wants to do this tag!

Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 Covers with Red, Orange, & Yellow

When Shanah announced June’s Top 5 Tuesday topics and I saw this first one, my first thought was: “Those are fall colors.” Anyone else think that?

As I was coming up with books to put on this list (and next week’s list, too, for that matter), I made a point of choosing ones that I have read but have never mentioned or ones I have not talked about in a while. I’ve been complaining too much about my TBR lately, acting like I have never read a book when I was not always such a lazy reader.

Here’s the proof:

 

Red Covers

 

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

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I read The Hunger Games trilogy my freshman year of college. I have some good memories attached to these books involving friends. I don’t think I have ever mentioned the trilogy on my blog, but Catching Fire was the first red cover I thought of.

 

Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

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I read Forbidden the summer before I started my blog. While it is a good book, I had overall mixed feelings about it. It follows an incestuous relationship between siblings Maya and Lochan, who are the primarily caregivers of their three younger siblings after their dad took off and their alcoholic mom stopped caring. Prior to reading it, reviews I heard about Forbidden promised a sad ending, which one can expect with a book like this, and people were actually shipping them. I personally felt bad for these kids and, logically, I could understand how they developed such feelings for each other, but I could not support the incest.

 

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

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If you are unfamiliar with Ernest Hemingway’s life story, The Paris Wife follows his years in Paris during the Roaring Twenties with his first wife, Hadley. The novel is narrated from Hadley’s first-person perspective, starting with her courtship with the younger, dashing war reporter Ernest, leading up to their glamorous but disastrous married life in Paris as he wrote his first novel, The Sun Also Rises.

            The thing about The Paris Wife is that I read it right as I was getting into literary fiction. I don’t think I appreciated it as much as I should have, though I remember liking the beginning half of it. Now that my reading tastes have changed a bit, I hope someday to give this book another chance.

 

Orange Covers

 

Half Lost by Sally Green

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Half Lost is the finale of the Half-Bad trilogy, an underrated young adult book series in my opinion. While I do agree that the magic system is a little confusing at first, once you get deeper into the books, it gets much easier to understand. Plus, Half Lost is not the typical young adult finale where everyone is happy and everything is wrapped up in a nice little bow. No—it’s messy and breaks your heart.

 

Yellow Covers

 

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes

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In 2015, Jojo Moyes was my author obsession. I bought The Girl You Left Behind after reading and loving Me Before You. The Girl You Left Behind is told in dual perspectives and time periods. The first is Sophie, a young French woman whose family runs a hotel in the countryside of France during World War I and must play host to German soldiers. Her husband, currently serving at the front, painted a portrait of her that becomes the obsession of a German captain. Sophie suddenly finds herself in a terribly comprising position. The second narrative is set in 2004 in London, following Liv, a young woman that was given Sophie’s portrait as a gift from her late husband. When she uncovers the portrait’s history, her sense of right and wrong it put to the test.

I really loved this book, though I enjoyed Sophie’s story more than Liv’s. It covers the history of stolen artwork and discusses if the art really still belongs to the family it was originally stolen from. It’s an interesting topic and I highly recommend reading The Girl You Left Behind if that is something you want to learn more about.

 

Have you read any of these books?

June 2018 TBR & Backlist Book Challenge

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

What I Lost by Alexandra Ballard

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

 

A Tragic Kind of Wonderful by Eric Lindstrom

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

And When She Was Good by Laura Lippman

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The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams

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The Merciless by Danielle Vega

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The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer

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Vanilla by Megan Hart

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Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein

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Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

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Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

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Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

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Every Fifteen Minutes by Lisa Scottoline

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The Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes

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Lucky in Love by Kasie West

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Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls by Lynn Weingarten

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A Madness so Discreet by Mindy McGinnis

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The Appearance of Annie van Sinderan by Katherine Howe

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Have you read any of my backlist books?

Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 Books I LOVED that Others DIDN’T

When it comes to reading, I don’t always follow the crowd. Most of my TBR—the physical one and on Goodreads—contain books that are not so hyped up or well known on bookish social media. Initially, I made this list of books I enjoyed that were underrated or flew so low under the radar barely anyone knows about them. Only that proved to be a little too long….

The first three on this list were no-brainers, as they are well known polarizing books. The rest, I turned to Goodreads and went through all the books I marked as “read.” I arranged them by “average rating” and preceded through the list of books I enjoyed that, according to Goodreads at least, most others did not.

I don’t know why I feel like I have to do this, but I also don’t want to be blasted in the comments later. There may be spoilers in this post. So, read at your own risk.

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

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 Let’s just get this one out of the way: yes, I liked Allegiant.

            I know why the overwhelming majority of people who have read it don’t like the finale of the Divergent trilogy. Most of the book is boring, leading to an ending that came out of nowhere (or so people think).

Truth be told, I went into Allegiant knowing the ending. While I agree with the consensus that it was overall boring, I appreciated the tragedy everyone else hated. Veronica Roth was, in my opinion, being realistic. In times of war, death happens. No one is immune to it. They honestly shouldn’t be, just because they are “main characters,” because that does not happen in real life.

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

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My most recent read on this list, The Hazel Wood is a dark fantasy novel that came out in January and was hyped up for a lot of people. When it released, people either liked it or disliked it, with very little in-between. Those who claimed not to like it said their opinion lied within the main character, Alice, who is definitely unlikable. Others said it was the big reveal that it made no sense to them or they simply did not like it. Ironically, it is those two things that are rooted in my enjoyment of The Hazel Wood.

 

 Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

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Another controversial book, I loved Me Before You for the same reasons other people had problems with it. While I understand it came off as ablest, I saw it for what I think the author was trying to say: the matter of choice. For someone like Will Traynor, a young man that lived one adventure after another, life as a quadriplegic was mentally and emotionally unbearable. Plus, he was more prone to getting sick and having to go to the hospital in his condition.

I watched my mother go through a similar situation. I know what poor quality of life that is. Louise did her best to convince Will life was worth living and she brought him happiness. But it did not change the fact that he was sick and there was no chance of recovery. Will had the opportunity to end his life on his own terms in a dignified way. That was his right.

Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke

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According to Goodreads, Wink Poppy Midnight has an average rating of 3.32 stars, low compared to my 4.5 stars. To be fair, it is not the kind of book for everyone. Much like The Hazel Wood, it is written like a dark fairy tale with three characters, one of them not very likable and another very quirky. There is an element of bullying in here that makes people uncomfortable, something I completely understand. The ending is not quite clean, either. However, I enjoyed Wink Poppy Midnight for the lyrical writing and the twisted fairy tale element.

 

City of Saints and Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson

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The ratings for City of Saints and Thieves on Goodreads were not terrible. Only the average rating of 3.92 stars compared to my 5 stars says something. With the push for diversity in young adult literature, I’m surprised no one is talking much about City of Saints and Thieves. The novel is set in the Congo and follows a teenaged refugee seeking revenge for the murder of her mother. Problem is, I think, the author is a white non-refugee, so people didn’t take the representation seriously. But we cannot discredit Natalie C. Anderson’s work with refugees, where she got her inspiration for this novel. She used the book to educate young people on what is really going on in third-world countries. Something I totally support.

 

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? Let’s discuss!

Top Ten Romance Novels on My TBR

I pride myself on being an optimistic realist…until I saw all the romance novels on my TBR.

I don’t generally gravitate towards books heavy with romance. I prefer romantic subplots. Only I think that has changed within the last year or so. Most of these books have other things going on besides the romance. Also, the majority of them are diverse, either featuring an LGBTQ couple or an element of mental illness.

The romance novels on my TBR that I am most excited to read are:

 

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion

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The sequel to The Rosie Project, which I have the audacity is my favorite contemporary romance, yet I still have not read its sequel. I can’t go into detail because of spoilers, but this book picks up right where the first one left off and Don is encountering a whole new set of social/romantic problems.

 

The Last Letter from Your Lover by Jojo Moyes

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Of all the Jojo Moyes books currently on my TBR, The Last Letter from Your Lover is highest on the list. Mostly because I am interested to see how the author handles another controversial topic: adultery. There are two intertwining storylines. The first is in 1960 about Jennifer, who wakes up from a car accident with no memory of her life. The only clue she has is a passionate letter from a man calling himself “B” and not the man who claims to be her husband. The other is Ellie, a journalist in 2003, who finds B’s letter and becomes fascinated with the lovers’ story. As the synopsis implies, she does this in hopes her own supposed adulterous affair can have a happy ending, too.

 

Vanilla by Megan Hart

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I bought Vanilla back during a time I was interested in erotic fiction but did not want to read the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy because of the atrocious writing excerpts I saw online. Regarding Vanilla, I am still interested; primarily because it is the woman, Elise, who wants to be the dominant one in the bedroom. Then, she meets Niall, a sweet, non-kinky guy that gives her a run for her money. The whole novel is basically them trying to navigate their relationship, in and out of the bedroom, when both are used to wearing the pants (so to speak).

 

How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake

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All her life, Grace’s world has revolved around her alcoholic mother Maggie. Then she meets Eva, a girl who challenges her to finally take her life into her own hands. But as the girls pursue a relationship, Maggie does something unthinkable that forces Grace to choose between staying with what she knows or going after the life she deserves. Having spent five months taking care of my own mother and putting my life on hold, I think I can relate to this novel on some level.

 

Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

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Though I’m not always a fan of the “guy shows girl the truth” trope, or whatever it’s called, I am still interested in Under Rose-Tainted Skies. Seventeen-year-old Norah suffers from OCD and agoraphobia. As a result, she never leaves her house. Then, when struggling to bring her groceries in, she meets her neighbor Luke. Through their friendship and eventual relationship, Norah realizes she does not have to live her life defined by her mental illness.

 

Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

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I already have high expectations for Autoboyography, despite having not read anything by Christina Lauren before. Bisexual Tanner Scott was forced to go back into the closet when his family made the move from California to Utah. As he enters his final semester of high school, he is counting the days until graduation. On a dare by his best friend, he takes a writing class where the students are charged to write the first draft of a book in four months. Except that is not Tanner’s biggest problem: it is Sebastian Brother, the Mormon prodigy that mentors the class.

Bisexual main character, Mormon love interest, and a writing class: this already sounds like a recipe for one of my favorite books of the year.

 

The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily by Laura Creedle

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Lily has recently gone of her ADHD medication and is trying to adapt to the changes. Then, she meets Abelard, a boy on the autism spectrum that enjoys medieval literature as much as she does. The two bond over The Love Letters of Abelard and Heloise, eventually falling hard for each other. But as the relationship gets complicated, Lily fears she will get the same unhappy ending as her idol, Heloise. I say, two kids with neurological disorders falling in love over literature? Count me in!

 

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

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Rufus and Mateo are two teenaged boys that get a call from the organization Death-Cast declaring September 5th is their last day on earth. They connect on the Last Friend app and spend the day together living an entire lifetime in New York City. I totally just butchered the synopsis, but I read Adam’s other book, History is All You Left Me, which deals with similar topics such as relationships and grief. That one really pulled at my heartstrings, so I can’t imagine what They Both Die at the End might do to me.

 

Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

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After the death of her mother, Lina fulfills her mom’s dying wish by going to Tuscany, Italy and reconnecting with her long-lost father. At first, Lina is reluctant to do so, but when she inherits her mother’s diary that she kept while in Tuscany, a world of new possibilities opens up to her. And, of course, she has a male companion to help her along the way.

Given the circumstances of my life currently, I’m a little nervous how close Love and Gelato might hit home for me. I think that’s why I’ve put off reading it.

 

Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy

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When Ramona Blue first came out, there was a lot of controversy surrounding it. The protagonist, Ramona, a teenaged girl struggling to keep her family together that identifies as lesbian, questions her sexuality when her childhood best friend, Freddie, comes back into her life. People seemed to think the synopsis implied that “the right guy can make a lesbian straight.” However, Julie Murphy herself said, though she is married to a man, she is bisexual and sexuality is more fluid than people think. Once I heard that, I was sold on Ramona Blue.

 

What are some romance books on your TBR?

Romantic Recommendations: My Top Ten Favorite Romance Novels

Happy Valentine’s Day!

If you have someone to share this day with, enjoy it with him or her and I urge you to continue to express your love even after today. If you are #foreveralone like me, that’s just as well—indulge on chocolate, buy yourself something you like, and, of course, read romantic books!

Today, I am recommending my top ten favorite romance novels for you to read either today or any day where you are in a particularly romantic mood (keep your mind out of the gutter, you cheeky monkey).

 

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

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Arguably my all-time favorite contemporary romance, The Rosie Project follows Don, a socially awkward genetics professor trying to use science to find his perfect mate. Then, he meets Rosie, a young woman looking for help in tracking down her biological father. She helps him loosen up and teaches him that science is not always the answer. Naturally, adorableness and drama ensue from there.

 

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

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If you are looking for something cutesy and fun, I recommend P.S. I Like You. Sixteen-year-old Lily is bored during chemistry class one day and writes song lyrics on her desk. The next day, someone completes the lyrics. She then begins to exchange letters with the mysterious writer, eventually falling for him. Though you can kind of guess who Lily’s pen pal is, the story was still a fun read, with a little more than the romance to it.

 

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

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Another cute, lighthearted read, The Upside of Unrequited follows Molly, who has had twenty-six crushes but no boyfriend. When her twin sister Cassie starts dating a girl named Mina, she is introduced to Mina’s hipster sidekick Will. It seems like the perfect situation for Molly to get her first boyfriend. But then Molly’s new co-worker Reid comes into the picture.

 

The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough

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I always describe The Game of Love and Death as the offspring of The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Love and Death personified compete in a competition every few centuries by creating an epic love story between two star-crossed lovers. This time, it is Flora and Henry, two young people in 1930s Seattle. She’s black with dreams of becoming a female pilot and he’s a privileged white boy with no idea of what to do with his life. Love does everything he can to give Flora and Henry a happy ending, only Death is non too keen on seeing that through.

 

Love and First Sight by Josh Sundquist

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A book that took me by surprise when I read it myself on Valentine’s Day last year, Love and First Sight is about Will, a blind boy that transfers to a mainstream high school. He meets a group of cool new friends and even falls for a girl, Cecily. After he and Cecily start dating, he learns of an experimental surgery that promises his eyesight. But when Will goes through with it, he sees that Cecily does not fit the traditional standards of beauty. And he has to figure out if that is really as important as he thinks it is.

 

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

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Probably one of the most beloved books on this whole list, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is the cutest and fluffiest read. Simon, who is a closeted gay teen, is exchanging emails with another boy at his school that is also gay and in the closet. Their banter is adorable and they help each other come out of their shells. If you read any book on Valentine’s Day, read Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda.

 

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

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I am well aware of the controversy surrounding Me Before You, yet something about Will and Lou’s relationship stuck with me. Lou is a quirky young woman hired by quadriplegic Will’s family to be his caregiver and companion. As the pair bonds, she learns something shocking about her client. Then, Lou makes it her mission to show Will that life can still be worth living regardless of circumstances. If you are looking to cry, Me Before You is a good one.

 

History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

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If you aren’t interested in Me Before You but are still looking for a good cry, History is All You Left Me is another option. Griffin loses his first love, Theo, in a drowning accident. Though they broke up, Griffin was convinced he and Theo would get back together, only that is not happening now. The whole of History is All You Left Me is a reflection on Griffin’s relationship with Theo, before and after they broke up. And it is so cute you might want to cry a little more.

 

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

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Almost everyone, when asked their favorite Jane Austen couple, will most likely say Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. I do like them a lot, but Edward and Elinor, and Marianne and Col. Brandon are the ones that really make me swoon. Elinor and Marianne are two sisters caught up in their own love stories. Elinor falls in love with Edward, a sweet and shy young man that failed to mention he already had a fiancée. Marianne is swept off her feet (literally) by Willoughby, who she thinks is her dream man, until she starts to see family friend Col. Brandon in a new light. Sense and Sensibility is probably my all-time favorite classic novel, too.

 

Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown

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Spunky and openly gay Jo is entering her senior year of high school when her minister father marries his third wife. The family then moves from Atlanta to a small town in Georgia. In exchange for her own segment on her father’s radio show, Jo agrees to spend her senior year pretending to be straight. At first, things are fine and Jo is having fun. Then, of course, she meets a girl. Not only is Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit a cute romance, it also has great discussions on religion and its relationship to sexuality.

 

What are you reading today for Valentine’s Day?

New Years Resolutions Book Tag

My life is so crazy right now, I don’t even know if it is worth my time to make New Years Resolutions. As far as I’m concerned, January is my free trial month for 2018.

Thankfully, there are books. The reading resolutions I set for myself are the goals I know I can accomplish this year.

 

An author you’d like to read that you’ve never read before.

It is a tie between Jodi Meadows and Adam Silvera. Jodi Meadows co-wrote My Lady Jane with Cynthia Hand, whom I have read before, and Brodi Ashton. Jodi has other published works I am more interested in than anything else Brodi has written. One of those books being Before She Ignites, which is about a princess with anxiety and OCD fighting for the rights of dragons. That was all I needed to hear.

As for Adam Silvera, I own one of his books, History is All You Left Me. I bought this one because, of his three books currently out, this is the one I was most drawn to. Virtually everyone who has ever read anything by him loves him. Plus, he’s known to make people cry.

 

A book you’d like to read.

I have a whole Top 5 Tuesday post on this, but of course those were not the only ones. Another book I really want to read in 2018 is Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge. Inspired by Little Red Riding Hood, the story follows Rachelle, a young woman who made a terrible mistake when she was fifteen that is forced to guard Prince Armand, a man she hates. To atone for her past sins, she forces Armand to help her in her quest for a sword to protect the realm from evil. If Crimson Bound is anything like Rosamund Hodge’s debut Cruel Beauty, I expect a dark and twisted novel.

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A classic you’d like to read.

I have quite a few I could answer for this question. The first would be The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton, an author I loved in high school yet I have not read another book by her in years. Others would be The House of Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux, and The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald. A classic I would like to reread—because I’m pretty sure I did not read it the whole way through the first time for school—is Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.

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A book you’d like to reread.

In 2018, I want to finish my reread of the Harry Potter series. I made it up to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban before 2017 was over. As of right now, I’m not quite sure when I will get to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, but hopefully this summer.

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A book you’ve had for ages and want to read.

The Last Letter from Your Lover by Jojo Moyes, which I bought back in 2015 when I was really into reading her all books after Me Before You. This particular novel is set in dual time periods. The first is in 1960, following Jennifer Stirling, who wakes up in the hospital after a car accident with no memory of the accident itself or even who she is. Her only clue is a passionate letter from someone named “B,” supposedly her secret lover. The other POV is Ellie Haworth in 2003, a journalist that stumbles upon B’s letter and becomes obsessed with the couple, hoping their happy ending could mean the same for her own affair.

What do you think? The perfect Valentine’s Day read?

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A big book you’d like to read.

A big book I have on my TBR that I do not talk about often is The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee. It is a historical fiction novel set in Paris, where American orphan turned glamorous opera singer Lilliet Berne has made a name for herself. When her chance at an original role finally comes, she realizes that the story is based off a secret that could ruin her if ever revealed. But who has betrayed her?

The Queen of the Night speaks to me on a certain level: a nineteenth-century mystery set in Paris with dark secrets in the opera. That is all I need to know and that is all I want to know.

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An author you’ve previously read and want to read more of.

That would definitely be Elizabeth Wein. I read one of her books, Code Name Verity, three years ago and loved it. It is a World War II novel following female fighter pilots. I enjoyed her writing style and her characters. At the end of 2017, I checked out two of Elizabeth Wein’s other books, Rose Under Fire and Black Dove, White Raven, from the library. Unfortunately, I did not get around to reading them. But I have every intention of reading them in 2018, either buying my own copies or checking them out of the library again.

 

A book you got for Christmas and would like to read.

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The Fate of the Tearling, the final book in the Queen of the Tearling trilogy by Erika Johansen. Except to do that, I need to reread The Queen of the Tearling and read The Invasion of the Tearling. When will I get to that? I have no idea.

 

A series you want to read (start and finish).

There is a Top 5 Tuesday post on this, too, coming tomorrow. For the sake of not repeating myself, there are other series I want to read start to finish in 2018. Such as, the Wolf by Wolf duology by Ryan Graudin, the Eurona duology by Wendy Higgins, and The Crown’s Fate duology by Evelyn Skye.

 

 

A series you want to finish that you’ve already started.

Obviously, the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas as well as her original A Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy, with the former finishing in September. But there are others not as popular, mainly the Daughter of the Pirate King duology by Tricia Levenseller, whose sequel, Daughter of the Siren Queen, is coming out in February, and Fierce Like a Firestorm, the sequel to Wicked Like a Wildfire by Lana Popovic, the last book in the duology coming out in August.

 

Do you set reading goals? If so, how many books do you want to read in 2018?

This year, I set a Goodreads Reading Goal of 100 books to read in 2018. Last year, I didn’t. But now my physical TBR has gotten well over 180 books, so now it is time to take a hammer to it.

 

Any other reading goals?

I have a whole blog post on my Reading Resolutions of 2018. One of my priority goals for this year is to read ten classics. I read less than five in 2017. After four years of studying English literature, that is embarrassing. Plus, there are beautiful editions of classics collecting dust on my shelves, such as Mansfield Park and Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen.

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What are your New Years Resolutions (reading or otherwise) for 2018?

 

My Top Ten Unexpected Favorite Books

I got this idea from Regan over at Peruse Project on YouTube. These are the books that I picked up never expecting to like as much as I did. Some of these are quite popular, which is mainly why I was skeptical about them to begin with. Others were outside of my comfort zone or I initially went into them with little expectations.

Anyway, here about my top ten unexpected favorite books:

 

Saga graphic novel series

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At the time I picked up the first volume of Saga, I was interested in branching out into graphic novels. Everyone and their mother on BookTube were obsessed with them, so it seemed like a good place to start. Prior to that, I was not really into science fiction.

Then, I read Saga, Vol. 1 in less than 48 hours and loved it. I grew attached to Marko, Alana, and baby Hazel. The artwork was beautiful. The story was compelling. As soon as I got my next paycheck, I went to Newbury Comics to buy the volumes that were out at the time. Since then, when a new Saga volume comes out, I pre-order it.

 

Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke

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Wink Poppy Midnight was the second novel by April Genevieve Tucholke I read. The previous one I read, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, I was disappointed by. I had heard of Wink Poppy Midnight but had no interest in reading it.

Then, I saw it in Target and the cover drew me in. So, I said “to hell with it” and bought it. When I read Wink Poppy Midnight, I had great fun. The story read like its own folklore. The characters were like the ones you see in fairy tales. It was weird in an entertaining way. Wink Poppy Midnight is what encouraged me to give April Genevieve Tucholke a second chance.

 

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

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I first read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie my freshman year of high school for the book club I was a part of. I thought the title was dumb, so I expected the book to be, too. Then, I read it, finishing it in two days.

Junior Spirit, a fourteen-year-old Native American boy, attends an all-white school off his reservation in hopes of building a better future for himself. He faces racism at his new school and everyone but his family on the reservation turns against him. Despite this, and several tragedies, Junior triumphs.

I have read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian at least five times over the years. I used it when I was a teaching assistant in college. I still laugh when I read it, even though I know what is going to happen. I totally judged it by the cover when I first read it.

 

Love and First Sight by Josh Sundquist

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Love and First Sight was recommended to me on Goodreads because of certain books I liked. It is about a teenaged boy named Will, who was born blind, that transfers to a mainstream high school. There, he makes new friends and meets his first love, Cecily. Shortly after he starts dating Cecily, Will is offered the opportunity to undergo an experimental surgery to give him his sight. The surgery works, but when he lays eyes on Cecily, he realizes his friends exaggerated her appearance, and Will tries to deal with that.

Love and First Sight is mainly a discussion about body image and living with a disability, and how it can affect your relationships with others and how people treat you. I enjoyed Will as a protagonist and the comedic writing style was similar to John Green’s. It was adorable and funny, though it had depth to it. I expected to enjoy this book, but loved it way more than I thought I would.

 

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

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Young adult contemporary is not a genre I typically reach for. The Upside of Unrequited is about Molly, a teenaged girl who has had twenty-six crushes but no boyfriend. When her twin sister Cassie’s new girlfriend Mina tries to set her up with her friend Will, Molly thinks it is the perfect situation for her first boyfriend. That is, until her nerdy new co-worker Reid comes along.

While the writing style was juvenile, The Upside of Unrequited was a lighthearted, fluffy book I found myself relating to. It was filled with diversity, portraying real life families and teenagers in 2017. I suspected I would like this book if I gave it a chance. I just never expected to enjoy it so much.

 

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

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Three years ago, the book Me Before You was everywhere. I bought it during a Books a Million “buy two, get one free” online sale, thinking it was another chick-lit novel. In case you are unaware, the story follows Lou, a quirky English girl who takes on a job as a caretaker of cranky quadriplegic Will Traynor. When she discovers some startling information about her client, she sets out to prove to him that life is still worth living.

The ending of Me Before You was not what I expected. It is one of the few books that brought me to tears. Though I see the problematic things now, at the time the story introduced some interesting questions that made me think about individual people’s choices regarding how they choose to live, or end, their lives.

 

We Believe You by Annie E. Clark

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We Believe You is a book I bought my senior year of college during my school’s annual Consent Day. It is a nonfiction book that took me completely by surprise: a collection of stories from survivors of campus sexual assault and the aftermath of the attacks.

We Believe You is powerful and empowering, as well as incredibly sad and uncomfortable at times. There were times I literally felt sick to my stomach, not because of the graphic accounts of the victims (though many were hard to read) but because the way the survivors were treated afterwards by the justice system as well as friends and family. Whenever I get the opportunity to talk about this book, I take it. Every college girl should read this.

 

A World Without You by Beth Revis

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A World Without You is about a teenaged mental patient, Bo, who thinks he can time travel. At the beginning of the book, his girlfriend Sofia commits suicide, only Bo firmly believes she is trapped somewhere in time. Beth Revis writes in a way that blurs the fantasy with reality. In my opinion, A World Without You could possibly fall under the magical realism genre. But the way the story played out, there were times I honestly believed Bo was time-travelling and everyone around him thought he was crazy, which is a common theme in young adult novels.

In short, I had expected to like A World Without You when I picked it up from the library last year. Only I anticipated a 4-star read instead of a 5-star read.

 

Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown

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Last year, I picked up Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit from my local library for two reasons: I loved the cover and I wanted to read more diversely. It follows Jo, an openly gay preacher’s daughter that is forced to go back in the closet for her senior year when she leaves Atlanta to live with her father and his new wife in a small Georgia town. Naturally, she meets a girl and the promise she made to her father is put to the test.

For the first half of Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit, I was thinking the book was a 3-star/3.5 star. Then, something happened in the middle that bumped it up to a 4 star. Jo is a sassy protagonist and there was some great talk about religion’s relationship with sexuality, and how certain communities are more accepting than others. There was also a strong family presence, which I appreciated, and Jo’s stepmother, Elizabeth, was not the “wicked stepmother” stereotype.

 

The DUFF by Kody Keplinger

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The DUFF is about sassy, strong-willed Bianca that gets in a sexual relationship with her worst enemy, Wesley, to distract herself from her problems at home. Wesley calls her the DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend. Despite some problematic stuff going on, the book is all about body image, high school expectations, and accepting yourself for who you are. The DUFF was a lighthearted, funny read with some serious topics thrown in.

 

What books did you never expect to be a favorite when you read them?

The Fall Book Tag

When Shanah over at @BionicBookworm created this book tag, I was ecstatic. I love seasonal tags and fall is my favorite. It means cooler weather, Halloween is coming up, Christmas is around the corner, and, when I was growing up, a new school year. Although, hopefully this time next year, I will be starting my first semester as a graduate student.

Now, onto the tag!

Crisp fall air: a book that felt fresh and new.

The Upside of Unrequited

The book that came to mind is The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli. The protagonist, Molly, is overweight and has anxiety. Her twin sister Cassie is a lesbian whose girlfriend, Mina, is Korean-American and pansexual. The sisters are sperm donor babies born to two moms. One of the moms, Nadine, is black, while the other mom, Patty, is Jewish and bisexual. Reid, one of Molly’s love interests in the novel, is also an underrepresented body type, “husky.” The Upside of Unrequited is just full of diversity.

Howling winds: an ending that blew you away.

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Saga, Vol. 7 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples—the story started off slow and didn’t get interesting until the middle half. But the ending of that graphic novel went there. Worse yet, when I read it, I was on the train home from work and couldn’t cry because there were people around.

Comfy sweaters: book that gave you the warm and fuzzies.

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Love and First Sight by Josh Sundquist, which follows Will, a teenaged boy born blind that undergoes an experimental surgery that promises to give him his sight. At the beginning of the book, he transfers to a public high school from his school for the blind, where he makes new friends and falls in love for the first time, with a girl named Cecily. Will and Cecily’s relationship has its ups and downs, but is so cute it made me feel like my heart might burst with the cuteness.

Bright colors: cover with either red, orange, or yellow.

I found covers for all three of these colors.

Red: The Wrath & the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh. While the plot seems more like a summer read, the color on the cover reminds me of leaves turning red in fall.

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Yellow: The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes. Some might consider this shade of yellow to be too bright, but historical fiction is an ideal read for the autumn season.

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Orange: Half Lost by Sally Green. This is the perfect shade of fall orange, in my opinion.

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Leaf fight: a book with non-stop action.

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir was non-stop action from the beginning. There were three storylines going on at once, yet it was easy to follow along. Sabaa did a great job with developing plot, building suspense, and working in character development. I could not put it down when I read it. Plus, the third book in the An Ember in the Ashes series, A Reaper at the Gates, is coming out April of 2018 and I am PUMPED!

Pumpkin spice: your most anticipated read.

At this moment in time, An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson is my most anticipated read. This book doesn’t come out until the near end of September, but the reviews are good and I have a feeling I will enjoy this book when I read it.

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Random question: how do people feel about the cover change with the An Ember in the Ashes series?

            I have a love/hate relationship with it, honestly. I like the cover for A Reaper at the Gates, only I am too attached to the original covers of the first two books.

 

Thank you Shanah for making the tag!