Mid-Year Freak Out Book Tag! (2019)

It’s that time of year again! To freak out on how much I’ve read this year and what I have not…mostly the latter….

I entered 2019 with low expectations for reading. I set my Goodreads Reading Challenge to 30 books, under the assumption I would not have a lot of free time to read once I started my second semester. To my shock, I had more than I anticipated. I had two days in the middle of the week entirely devoted to homework, leaving more wiggle room on the weekends. In May, I beat my goal. Currently, I have completed 34 books and working on a 35th. I do not plan on raising the goal any higher.

While I’m glad I beat my goal, admittedly, I am feeling rather meh towards my reading so far this year. That’s my fault. From January to April, I was on a book-buying ban. Instead of diving into the plethora of unread books I already own, I checked out books from the library. Obviously, that’s not a bad thing. I did read some pretty good books, too. The trips to the library were meant to quench the annoying desire for “new” books. Also, I have come to the realization that I have an irrational fear of running out of books to read as well as the masochistic urge to deny myself what I want. There are unread books I own, yet I continuously refuse to read them because I fear I won’t have money to buy more later.

Being a bookworm can be weird.

Now, enough of the therapy session and onto what you all really came here for: the Mid-Year Freak Out Book Tag!

 

The best book you’ve read so far this year

I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing, but not a lot of books this year have felt like “the best book of the year.” I’ve given a few 5 star ratings, although none of them stand out more than the rest. However, here are seven books I’ve read so far this year I consider favorites, in no particular order:

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus

To Make Monsters Out of Girls by Amanda Lovelace

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

A School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin

Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Invisible Ghosts by Robyn Schneider

Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Your favorite sequel this year

Screenshot_2019-07-06 Saga, Vol 9 (Saga, #9)

 

Not a lot of sequels read this year so far, which is honestly unacceptable. I have way too many series sitting unread and uncompleted on my bookshelves. Even so, my favorite sequel hands-down this year will have to be Saga, Vol. 9 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples.

 

A new release that you haven’t read yet but really want to

Where to even begin with this one? One new release that I really want to read is Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuistan. The others are Teeth in the Mist by Dawn Kurtagich and Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson, two books I was anticipating that I recently bought.

 

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

Capturing the Devil by Kerri Maniscalco, the final novel in the Stalking Jack the Ripper series is likely the most anticipated release of the year for me. Another is To Drink Coffee with a Ghost by Amanda Lovelace, which comes out in September. I almost completely forgot about The Beautiful by Renee Ahdieh, a Gothic vampire romance coming out in October. Also coming out in October is The Fountain of Silence, a young adult historical fiction novel by Ruta Sepetys set during the Spanish Civil War. Lastly is The Testaments by Margaret Atwood, the sequel/companion novel to The Handmaid’s Tale releasing in September.

 

Your biggest disappointment

I thought I only had one…turns out, I have a few. The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab was not the best, although I’m not surprised since it was her debut novel. Though I gave them pretty decent ratings, Vengeful by V.E. Schwab and The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan did not live up to their predecessors in their respective series.

 

Biggest surprise of the year

Screenshot_2019-07-06 True Notebooks

 

I had to read True Notebooks by Mark Salzman for one of my classes. On my own, I rarely read nonfiction. I certainly would not have read one set in a prison. True Notebooks centers on a struggling author teaching creative writing to students in a juvenile detention facility. The book covered a lot of different issues within the American prison system, as well as unexpectedly humanized these young criminals society had cast aside.

 

Favorite new to you or debut author

It’s a tie between Karen M. McManus and Robyn Schneider. I liked their writing styles, how they developed plots, and their realistic young adult characters. I’ve only read one book from each of them so far, but I enjoyed Two Can Keep a Secret and Invisible Ghosts so much I plan to get my hands on their other books.

 

Your new fictional crush

Again, I could not narrow it down.

The first is Sebastian Wyatt from A School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin. If you love Thomas Cresswell from Stalking Jack the Ripper, Sebastian will turn your knees to jelly. The other is Liam Gerling from Evermore by Sara Holland. In the first book, Everless, he’s portrayed as an arrogant loner with a supposed nasty streak. In Evermore, we see a sweeter side to him that is impossible to resist. Lastly, Tyler and Kal from Aurora Rising by Aimee Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. Both of them were handsome, strong, and serious men that could be utterly adorable (especially Kal, the alien fae, OMG).

 

New favorite character

There are few characters I can say I have truly seen myself in. One of those is Rose Asher from Invisible Ghosts by Robyn Schneider. She was smart and sensitive, and had a lot to offer, but her own insecurities (and the ghost of her whiny dead brother) kept holding her back.  I also really liked Sydney Clarke and Victor Vale from Vicious from V.E. Schwab. Both were complex and flawed, especially Victor. And though I don’t think I would call her my new favorite character, I was fascinated by Tetisheri, the protagonist of Death of an Eye by Dana Stabenow, a book I stumbled upon at the library. She was a private yet caring young woman with a strong will and a sharp mind. Plus, she had a complicated backstory we don’t know much about yet.

 

A book that made you cry

Voices: the Final Hours of Joan of Arc by David Elliott made me feel all the feels. It hurt me knowing a heroic young woman was ultimately killed by the patriarchy she was trying so hard to save. Saga, Vol. 9 slapped me so hard across the face, it took me a minute to fully absorb how hard I’d been hit.

 

A book that made you happy

kissmeinparisscreenshot

A book I found browsing my library, Kiss Me in Paris by Catherine Rider, was an adorable young adult/new adult romance set during a 24-hour exploration of Paris. Serena arrives to Paris on a mission to collect mementos for her family after a tragedy until her strict schedule goes out the window. Broody Parisian photographer Jean-Luc is determined to show this uptight American girl the “real” Paris. As you can imagine, neither gets what they bargained for. If you love The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon, I highly recommend Kiss Me in Paris.

 

Your favorite book to movie adaption that you’ve seen this year

season 1 friends GIF by Good Omens

I have seen two book to movie adaptions so far this year. The first is Good Omens, the Amazon Prime show based off the book by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. I haven’t read the book yet. I only ended up watching the show because my dad was interested in it. Still, the Good Omens adaption was entertaining and made me want to read the source material.

season 2 trevor GIF by NETFLIX

The other is about two or three scores away from the original, and I’m not entirely sure if I watched in early 2019 or late 2018, but it’s the Netflix adaption of Castlevania. Castlevania is the name of a video game the show is supposed to be based on. Only there are elements in the storyline taken from Bram Stoker’s Dracula that make me still qualify it as a book adaption. The second season made up for the fail that was the first season with its dark humor and complicated views on humanity.

 

Favorite blog you’ve published this year

I’m not sure if I have one. To be honest, I was lacking in creativity during school (and now, if I’m being honest). I liked my Book Buying Ban Challenge post as well as the Game of Thrones tag. Book Blogger Confessions was fun. The Top 5 Tuesday on Slytherin House recommendations was also a good one.

I can’t pick one. Are you sensing a theme here?

 

The most beautiful book you’ve bought or received this year

Screenshot_2019-06-23 Sorcery of Thorns

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

 

What are some of the books that you need to read by the end of the year?

Where to begin?

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas (PLEASE DON’T AT ME!)

Tower of Dawn and Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas

Lord of Shadows and Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare

There are plenty more where those came from. I had these books on the list last year. They WILL be taken off this year.

 

What are some books that have been on your TBR for too long?

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Game of Thrones Book Tag

Confession time: I am not a Game of Thrones fan.

Yet I probably know as much about it as the true fan-people. If you are on social media, you can’t get away from the Game of Thrones memes and GIFs. In real life, my dad loves the show (until the finale) and so do the majority of my friends. I’ve gotten stuck in the middle of heated discussions over that week’s episode or conspiracy theories. I even watched a few episodes occasionally. But, for the life of me, the show could not hold my interest.

Well, except for the memes.

game of thrones judging you GIF

With badass women, court politics, dragons, and morally gray characters backstabbing one another, I should have liked Game of Thrones more than I did. Ultimately, I boiled it down to having a beef with the show. While I was at college, my dad put a TV in my bedroom so he could watch the show in peace because my mom hated it. Every time I came home, I was banished from my own room on Sunday nights. The reviews claiming the show portrayed graphic violence against women and mentions of incest didn’t help much. Needless to say, from then on, Game of Thrones was tainted for me.

Except my blog needs content and I need to write or I will explode. Shanah provided an outlet when she posted the Game of Thrones book tag on her blog recently. She didn’t tag me, so I tagged myself.

dance repays GIF

Before we go further, I should also mention that I only know maybe five of the families listed in this tag. So, I have no idea what their family mottos mean.

To the tag!

 

House Lannister (Hear Me Roar): Name a book that you originally loved but, upon a reread, you realized it wasn’t so great after all.

annoyed game of thrones GIF

I think most people can attest to this, but Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. I reread the book about two years ago randomly during a long reading slump, then ended up putting it down after a hundred or so pages. Unlike most people, it was not so much the borderline toxic, obsessive relationship. Back in the day, I was Team Jacob, so Edward Cullen was already a dickhead. It was the cringey, boring writing style that made me give up. I couldn’t do it. But I didn’t change my high star rating on Goodreads. I loved it as a teenager and, as flawed as it might have been, a lot of good came out of the Twilight saga.

 

House Stark (Winter is Coming): Name your most anticipated read for the year.

game of thrones GIF

Easily Capturing the Devil by Kerri Maniscalco, the final book in the Stalking Jack the Ripper series. I am deliberately putting off reading Escaping from Houdini solely for the purpose of preventing a book hangover or having to wait too long for the next book. Another close contestant is Teeth in the Mist by Dawn Kurtagich. Except I don’t want to read it too soon, since it seems she takes a while to write books and she’s from England, making the wait longer than others.

 

House Targaryen (Fire and Blood): Name a book that you felt completely slayed with fantastic characters, plot, pacing, etc.

 game of thrones hbo women feminism lady GIF

A completely unexpected book that slayed me earlier this year was A School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin. I went into it expecting a fun historical romance with spies. Instead, I got a group of strong, independent girls with their own talents and intelligence, swoon-worthy guys, and a fast-paced plot. It was a library book I read, though you can bet I will be buying my own copy, as well as the rest of the books currently out in the series.

 

House Baratheon (Ours is the Fury): Name a book that ended with a cliffhanger that genuinely pissed you off.

game of thrones television GIF

I won’t say I was pissed off, but I was not entirely satisfied with the ending of The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan, the final book in his Heroes of Olympus series.

 

House Martial (Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken): Name a book or series that’s been on your TBR since the dawn of time.

game of thrones television GIF

The Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi, the Anna and the French Kiss trilogy by Stephanie Perkins, and the Selection series by Kiera Cass. The first two I currently have checked out from my local library, while the Selection series I plan to read, also from the library, later this summer. I’ve had these books on my Goodreads TBR for years, ever since I discovered BookTube and I was brought into a platform that introduced me to a plethora books I might not have found otherwise.

 

House Boulton (Our Blades Are Sharp): Name the most graphic or disturbing book you’ve ever read.

sophie turner television GIF

Horns by Joe Hill, which follows a young man, Ignatius, who was accused of raping and murdering his long-time girlfriend. A year after her death, Iggy gets drunk, pees on a statue of the Virgin Mary, and wakes up the next morning with horns protruding from his head. The magic of the horns compels people to reveal their deepest, darkest, most disturbing, most lustful, and sometimes grossest desires to Iggy. Thus, he intends to use them to track down his girlfriend’s real killer. And, in case you are unaware, Joe Hill is the pen name for Stephan King’s son. So, yes, like father, like son in terms of all that is graphic and messed up.

 

House Tyrell (Growing Strong): Name a book or series that gets better and better with every reread.

olenna tyrell GIF

Admittedly, I don’t reread books or completed series often enough. The ones I have reread have been only once or twice, and my feelings didn’t change. However, a book I reread last year, but in a different format, was Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. It was published in a graphic novel format last year.

Emily Carroll’s artwork added something more to Speak instead of taking something from it. She used a black-and-white art style that resembled the bleakness throughout the story. Yet the way she drew the characters, particularly Melinda, empathizes how young they all are going through and doing things like this. I don’t know if that makes any sense.

 

Are there any other fake Game of Thrones fans besides me?

 

game of thrones drinking GIF by Sky

 

I tag:

Crystal

Rebecca

Kristin

Grey

Nope Book Tag (featuring random Game of Thrones and cat GIFs!)

I thought once school was out for the summer, my creativity would flow again and I would be able to write more for my blog. Only I think my brain is still in recovery.

Also, I’m still backed up on some blog posts. I saw this book tag, the Nope Book Tag, on Crystal’s blog a while ago. Thankfully, this is the last one I needed to finish.

Side note: I love Crystal’s blog and I hope you all check her out!

On to the tag!

 

NOPE ending: a book that made you go NOPE either in denial, rage, or simply because the ending was terrible.

grumpy cat no GIF by Internet Cat Video Festival

The ending of The Everlasting Rose by Dhonielle Clayton, a recent read. The ending was not terrible, but it was rushed and I went into the novel thinking that it was the last book in a duology. Although, there were too many loose ends and, after a search on Goodreads, there is at least one more book. I suppose I am in denial—I only wanted two books. Not that I don’t enjoy the series. Dhonielle Clayton is a good writer, but the world she created in The Belles already feels like its running dry of story ideas.

 

NOPE protagonist: a main character you dislike and drives you crazy.

Aelin from the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas as well as Feyre from the A Court of Thorns and Roses series. I liked Aelin way better when she was Celeana and, honestly, I don’t think she’s fit to be a queen. She’s too wild and a hothead. Regarding Feyre, she was too much of a wishy-washy special snowflake for my taste. Part of the reason I haven’t gotten to the final novels in the respective series is because of them.

 

NOPE popular pairing: a “ship” you don’t support.

thank GIF

Cassian and Nesta from the A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas. I really like him but can’t stand her. He could do so much better.

 

NOPE protagonist action/decision: a character decision that made you shake your head.

cat no GIF

Most of the character decisions in Vengeful by V.E. Schwab, mainly the ones done by Marcella and Victor.

 

NOPE genre: a genre you will never read.

grumpy cat no GIF

Dark erotica, like an abduction turned romance. I fully understand Stockholm Syndrome is a real thing. I just don’t want to see it in any sexual capacity.

 

NOPE book format: a book format you hate and avoid buying until it comes out in a different edition.

whats up workaholics GIF

I prefer hardbacks and paperbacks over e-books and audiobooks. E-books you can’t smell and you have to stop reading to charge the battery. Audiobooks can be expensive and there’s the risk of a sucky narrator. But I don’t necessarily hate either of them, since it’s so easy for me to avoid them altogether.

 

NOPE trope: a trope that makes you go nope.

break up love GIF by Denyse

One trope I’ve seen a lot, particularly in young adult novels, is authors butchering one love interest that was perfectly fine in the previous novel(s) for the sake of making a new love interest look more appealing, or simply introducing a new love interest for the sake of drama in an otherwise stable relationship. This trope is usually the most annoying to me because I’m always loyal to the ships I sail.

 

NOPE recommendation: a book recommendation that is constantly hyped and pushed at you that you simply refuse to read.

high school GIF

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien and Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. Normally, I love high fantasy, but for whatever reason, I could not get into the media adaptions for neither of these works. With all the books I want to read, I’ll probably never get to these anyway. I won’t force myself to, either.

 

NOPE cliché/pet peeve: a cliché or writing pet peeve that always makes you roll your eyes.

game of thrones sigh GIF

That love cures all in any compacity. That’s all I’m going to say.

 

NOPE love interest: the love interest that’s not worthy of being one/a character you don’t think should have been a viable love interest.

olenna tyrell GIF

Seung, a character from Where I Live by Brenda Rufener, a book I read earlier this year. He was the best friend of the main character, who had a crush on him and could only talk about how hot he was. He had no personality to speak of. I simply couldn’t see what there was for her to like about him so much.

 

NOPE book: a book that shouldn’t have existed.

game of thrones GIF

I know I gave it a decent rating on Goodreads, but Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes. It is the sequel to You, which should have been awesome. Instead, we get a bloodthirsty yet totally boring stalker, an annoying new love interest I think I hated more than I was supposed to hate said stalker, and a plot that involved more sex than stalking. At the time I read Hidden Bodies, I had loved You so much and was so excited for the sequel, I couldn’t bring myself to give it a bad rating. Since then, I’ve seen other reviews that validated the negative feelings I have towards Hidden Bodies. I even unhauled it as a result.

 

NOPE villain: a scary villain/antagonist you would hate to cross and would make you run in the opposite direction.

game of thrones GIF

Gaea from The Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan. Since she’s the actual earth, running away from her would be very, very difficult.

 

NOPE death: a character death that still haunts you.

basically the worst GIF

One of the four perspectives in Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys and the one character I did not want to die.

 

NOPE author: an author you have had a bad experience reading and have decided to quit.

forever crying game of thrones GIF

Eliza Wass, who wrote The Cresswell Plot and The Life and Death Parade. The Cresswell Plot was a novel I remember being really excited about, then was relieved I checked it out from the library when I read it. A novel about extreme religious ideals in families that was not written well, I forgave it because it was her debut novel. Then, I read The Life and Death Parade last year, a book about a girl tracking down an elusive group she hopes can bring back her dead boyfriend, and was again deeply disappointed by the failed potential. Safe to say, I don’t think I’ll read any more of Eliza Wass’s books.

 

I don’t know who else has done this tag, but consider yourself tagged if you want to!

 

Who is an author you’ve had a bad experience with?

 

 

 

 

 

 

2019 Reading Wrap Up #4

I’m back from my unexpected mini-hiatus!

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

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

 

The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

4.25 stars

thebloodofolympus

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

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

 

Vicious by V.E. Schwab

5 stars

vicious

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

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

 

Vengeful by V.E. Schwab

4 stars

vengeful

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

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

 

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

4.5 stars

themermaidsvoicereturnsinthisone

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

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

 

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

5 stars

voicesjoanofarc

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

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

 

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

4.75 stars

thehandmaidstalegraphicnovel

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

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

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

 

Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson

4.75 stars

shout

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

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

 

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

4.75 stars

persepolis

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

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

 

Persepolis 2 by Marjane Satrapi

4.5 stars

persepolis2

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

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

 

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

My Book Buying Ban Challenge of 2019

I’m calling this a challenge as if I have any say in the matter….

I am a month into my second semester. I like my classes so far and I started my archives internship, which could either be pretty fun or really complicated. While I have two full days in the middle of the week where I don’t have to travel two hours into the city and I can devote it entirely to homework, it’s slowly becoming a problem. My temp agency has had a heck of a time finding me part-time work. I’ve applied to several places over these past few weeks, but not all of them responded and the one that did was a rejection.

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Between Christmas, my birthday, and those weeks I didn’t have work on my last assignment, my funds are stretched thin. Buying books right now is not a good idea. I learned that the hard way when I bought two books I really wanted. Whatever money I have left must go towards lunch at school, train rides, and bus fare.

For the next I don’t know how many months, I’m on a book buying ban. Even if the assignment my consultant recently found for me works out, my bank account needs a break. It would be wise if I waited to get my finances under control before I splurged on my next book haul. Especially since it is a big kick in the gut every time I have to accept the money my dad offers me.

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While I have many unread books at home, there are a select few that have been on my TBR for longer than they should have been. Those are the ones I should focus on. I also want to spend this time taking full advantage of the library, checking out books I am interested in, and rereading old favorites.

Recently, I realized I rather like having large TBR piles. It is my over indulgent book hauls that are the problem. In the past, to get my spending under control, I did the “you read X number of books off TBR, you can buy more.” Sometimes, it worked, at least for a few months. Now, I have a stronger motivation of saving money.

The books I want to cross off my TBR the most are:

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

Tower of Dawn and Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas

Vicious and Vengeful by V.E. Schwab

The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir

The Labyrinth of the Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Smoke in the Sun by Renee Ahdieh

Fierce Like a Firestorm by Lana Popovic

Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab

A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

Windwitch, Sightwitch, and Bloodwitch by Susan Dennard

Now I Rise and Bright We Burn by Kiersten White

Lord of Shadows and Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

The Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

The Remnant Chronicles by Mary E. Pearson

Falling Kingdoms series by Morgan Rhodes

The Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

 

I’ve been an avid user of libraries for years. Now that I’m on track to being a librarian, it’s been an even bigger push to practice what I preach. There is a long list of backlist titles I have wanted to get to for years, like The Selection series by Kiera Cass and the Shatter Me trilogy by Tahereh Mafi. Those I am checking out from the library in the next few months, once I get through the stacks I have currently. Also, there are other books that have caught my eye while browsing various places, books I am interested in reading but not enough where I want to risk the money to buy them or they are so old I would have a hard time buying a copy anyway. Or I actually do want to buy them except my bank account is like…

the office no GIF

Thank God for the library.

In case you were wondering, these are the books I currently have checked out:

 

Sweetpea by C.J. Skuse

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

True Notebooks by Mark Salzman (this is actually a book I checked out for school)

A School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin

Invisible Ghosts by Robyn Schneider

Where I Live by Brenda Rufener

Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

Dear Mrs. Bird by A.J. Pearce

Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika Sanchez

Even When You Lie to Me by Jessica Alcott

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus

The Disturbed Girl’s Dictionary by NoNieqa Ramos

Black Flowers, White Lies by Yvonne Ventresca

Dead to Me by Mary McCoy

Blood and Salt and Heart of Ash by Kim Liggett

Hunting Annabelle by Wendy Heard

Sad Perfect by Stephanie Elliot

My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier

The Art of Starving by Sam J. Miller

The Treachery of Beautiful Things by Ruth Frances Long

Born of Illusion by Teri J. Brown

If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio

The Sweetest Spell by Suzanne Selfors

The Looking Glass by Janet McNally

The Healer by Donna Freitas

In Paris with You by Clementine Beauvais

My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life by Rachel Cohn

The Second Life of Ava Rivers by Faith Gardner

The Wren Hunt by Mary Watson

If Only by Jennifer Gilmore

Reader, Come Home: the Reading Brain in a Digital World by Maryanne Wolf (another book I checked out by recommendation of a professor)

Dark of the West by Joanna Hathaway

The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox

White Stag by Kara Barbieri

The Birds, the Bees, and You and Me by Olivia Hinebaugh

The Antidote by Shelley Sackier

Stolen Time by Danielle Rollins

 

Yes. I am a crazy library person. But I will read all these books. Even if I have to renew them.

Rereading books is something I’ve wanted to do for so long. There are series I own in which I read the first book, bought the rest of the series, then never read them. It’s been so long, I have to reread the first book before I even thinking about reading the others. These include the Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children series by Ransom Riggs and The Queen of the Tearling trilogy by Erika Johansen.

Second, there are books I own that I have marked as “read” but I don’t remember reading them. Before college, I had a habit of reading multiple books at a time, then I would get bored with certain ones and mark them as “read” on Goodreads without having finished them. I was a lazy reader back then, sadly.

My main reading resolution of 2019 is to do an unhaul. There are books I know I will never read again, I realized problems with them, like the Archie Sheridan and Gretchen Lowell series by Chelsea Cain. The same can be said for the Women of the Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong; I don’t know if I would be able to tolerate the borderline problematic urban fantasy tropes now like I did at sixteen. Other books I outgrew them and I’m mainly keeping them for the nostalgic value, like The Mediator series by Meg Cabot and the Twilight saga by Stephenie Meyer. Unfortunately, with limited shelf space and outrageous book-buying urges that are constantly at odds with the dedicated librarian, nostalgia has to step aside.

 

 

Right now, I have typed up a whole reading list of books I want to read before I break my book buying ban. Will I be able to stick to this? I have no idea and, if I know myself, there is a strong probability I will change my plans to something else. All I know is that I cannot buy books right now. Which I’m sure my bank account will be very relieved about.

 

Do you have tips for a book buying ban? Any are much appreciated!

 

 

 

 

 

Top 5 Tuesday: Five Adventurous Books for Gryffindors

First off, shout out to Shanah for this brilliant idea for Top 5 Tuesday. When I think February, I think “love” and “romance,” thanks to Valentine’s Day. But Harry Potter is much better!

For this week’s theme, and the themes following, I selected books I think those in the respective Hogwarts Houses might like based on the personality traits they value. Gryffindors are known for their bravery, but of all the Houses, I feel they produce the least amount of readers (with Hermione Granger being the exception, of course). If a Gryffindor did decide to read a book, it would have to be something with a lot of action. And the protagonist absolutely cannot be a wimp. They would rather be off fighting dark wizards and saving the day, so the book better be worth their time.

The five books I would recommend to the lionhearted, adventurous Gryffindors are:

 

The Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan

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Besides being action-packed and bursting with humor, every single one of the seven main demigods could be a Gryffindor. Percy Jackson especially, with his sense of humor, loyalty, and strong moral compass. Leo, Harry, and Ron would be best buds, as none of them take themselves seriously. Annabeth and Hermione would definitely get along, as they are both strong, intelligent women that are natural leaders driven by pride. When first introduced, Hazel and Frank come off as weak, but they grow into their roles, much like Harry did. Piper has a good head on her shoulders and she is there when you need her to be, while Jason has no problem leading the charge in battle. Of all the books I recommend on this list, a Gryffindor reader would definitely enjoy The Heroes of Olympus series.

 

Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

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Skyward is a science fiction novel where pilots risk their lives defending their planet from an evil alien race and the society’s culture thrives on valor. To the point where you show any sign of weakness, you set yourself up for humiliation, even branded a coward in some instances. Protagonist Spensa is definitely a Gryffindor, though unfortunately in possession of the House’s worst qualities: arrogant, impulsive, hot-tempered, and often doesn’t think before she acts.

Which is why only a Gryffindor can truly appreciate Skyward. While the rest of us might see the beliefs of this society as reckless, Gryffindors respect bravery and value it over most things. Also, this book is filled with exciting scenes on the battlefield and there is never a dull moment.

 

The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins

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Katniss Everdeen is without a doubt a Gryffindor, one that any would aspire to be. It takes a lot of courage to do what she did—volunteering to participate in the Hunger Games to save her sister, taking on a government system at seventeen—and to survive what she did. While there are some slow moments, particularly in the second book Catching Fire, there is an overwhelming feeling of intensity throughout the series. You’re on edge the entire time, waiting for the next thing to happen.  

 

The Darkest Minds trilogy by Alexandra Bracken

It’s been a few years since I read The Darkest Minds trilogy and, truth be told, I personally didn’t love it as much as I did Alexandra Bracken’s Passenger duology. I don’t know if I would classify Ruby, the main character of The Darkest Minds, as a Gryffindor. Personally, I think she’s more a of a Slytherin or a Ravenclaw, sneaky enough to spend five years hiding her powers in plain sight from those holding her captive. The other main characters, like my favorite Zu, are definitely Gryffindors. But the real reason The Darkest Minds trilogy is on this list is the non-stop action, the violence, and the bold government take-down done by kids with guns. I think some Gryffindor readers might enjoy that.

 

Saga graphic novel series by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples

I’m not exactly sure why, but I feel like most Gryffindors would enjoy comic books or graphic novels. Superhero comic books to be exact, the ones with all the action and butt-kicking and saving the day. Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten around to DC or Marvel or any superhero comics yet. In the meantime, I’m recommending the Saga graphic novel series.

These graphic novels are explicit—not for the faint of heart (like a Gryffindor). They are also highly entertaining and the world is complex. The main characters, Marko, Alana, and their daughter Hazel, would all be in Gryffindor House. This family has been through so much, yet they manage to stay together as a group as well as stay strong as individuals. And this series has some good humorous moments, too.

 

Anyone else think Gryffindors are not big readers? Would you recommend to a Gryffindor the same books I did or different ones?

My Favorite Books of 2018

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

Still, it was hard to keep the number down.

 

The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace

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

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

 

The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

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

 

Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco

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

 

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

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

 

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

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

 

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

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

 

Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

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

 

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

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

 

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

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

 

The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan

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

 

Daughter of the Siren Queen by Tricia Levenseller

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

 

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

 

2018 Bookish Survey

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

 

Reading Stats

Number of books you read: 57

Number of rereads: 3

Genre you read the most from: young adult

 

Best in Books

Best book you read in 2018?

The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace

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

Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann

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

This Heart of Mine by C.C. Hunter

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

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

 

Best series you started in 2018?

The Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan

 

Best sequel of 2018?

Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco

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Best series ender of 2018?

Daughter of the Siren Queen by Tricia Levenseller

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Favorite new author you discovered in 2018?

Amanda Lovelace

 

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

Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

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

The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

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

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

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

(Once I get my own copies.)

 

Favorite cover of a book you read in 2018?

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

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

 

Most memorable character from 2018?

Cath from Heartless by Marissa Meyer

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Most beautifully written book read in 2018?

The Beast is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale

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

The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Shortest and longest book you read in 2018?

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

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

 

Book that shocked you the most.

The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

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

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

Leo and Calypso from The House of Hades by Rick Riordan

 

Favorite non-romantic relationship of the year.

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

 

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

Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

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

 

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

The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

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Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2018?

Remy from The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

Wallace from Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

 

Best 2018 debut you read?

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

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

Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

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

The Book Jumper by Mechthild Glaser

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Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2018?

History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

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Hidden gem of the year?

The Book Jumper by Mechthild Glaser

The Beast is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale

 

Book that crushed your soul?

Sold by Patricia McCormick

The Opposite of Innocent by Sonya Sones

The House of Hades by Rick Riordan

 

Most unique book you read in 2018?

Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman

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

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

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Blogging/Bookish Life

Only answered the questions relevant to me.

 

Favorite post I wrote

Recommending Books I Didn’t Love, But You Might

 

Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2018?

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Looking Ahead

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

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

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

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

Lovely War by Julie Berry

Teeth in the Mist by Dawn Kurtagich

 

 

2019 debut you are most anticipating?

Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto

The Dead Queens Club by Hannah Capin

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

Capturing the Devil by Kerri Maniscalco

 

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

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

 

There’s my 2018 bookish survey!

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

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December 2018 Wrap Up

How is 2018 over?

Every year around this time, I see people talking about how such-and-such year was the “best year” or the “worst year” for them. I personally don’t agree with those statements—unless every day of your life for a year was total crap, then I am deeply sorry.

The beginning of 2018 was hard. I lost my mom and my grandmother within three weeks of each other. Grief is something I have been living with, will probably continue to live with, for a while longer. I had the scare of my life when my dad got into a car accident in October (he’s fine, thank God). But I also got my acceptance letter to graduate school in January and had a successful first semester. No year will ever be perfect, but no year could be terrible, either.

On a happier note, I had a good reading month in December, a nice way to wrap up my 2018 reading year. In the past, I got hit with a huge reading slump in December. That wasn’t the case this year. I read a total of five books, which were:

 

The House of Hades by Rick Riordan

4 stars

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It took me almost two months to read The House of Hades—not because I hated it, but because of graduate school. And the emotional turmoil I was in for most of it.

I won’t get into too much because of spoilers, but if you have not read the Heroes of Olympus series, I’m sure you can guess where the seven chosen demigods have ended up. While I enjoyed the character development, as well as several of the relationships presented in this installment, and the moments that pulled on my heartstrings (I seriously love Bob), The House of Hades was not my favorite in the series. Some scenes took too long to resolve, some problems seemed to be unnecessary to have, and there were too many POVs yet there were characters I thought didn’t get enough page time. I plan to wrap up reading this series by reading The Blood of Olympus during my winter break from school.

 

Sold by Patricia McCormick (library book)

5 stars

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An older title on this list, Sold is set in Nepal and follows thirteen-year-old Lakshmi, who narrates the story in verse. While life is hard and her stepfather is not the most responsible individual, Lakshmi finds happiness in the simple pleasures of life. Then, a monsoon destroys her family’s crops. Her stepfather informs her she will go work as a maid in the city to support the family. Though sad to leave her home, Lakshmi is more than happy to help. Only it is too late when she realizes she’s been sold into prostitution.

In her author’s note, Patricia McCormick explained she took inspiration from stories of many girls, like Lakshmi, who were sold into prostitution either intentionally or unintentionally by their parents. Besides the disgusting treatment she receives at the hands of the men she is forced to serve, Lakshmi is also abused by the brothel madam, who cheats her and the other girls out of their earnings. Aside from Lakshmi, you get the stories of the other prostitutes and the children growing up in the brothel. Even in those dark moments, there is happiness for Lakshmi and that really got to me.

 

Girls on the Line by Jennie Liu (library book)

2 stars

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After reading Sold, I was looking for another short, intense book I could fly through. Girls on the Line is set in modern-day China (2009), told through the eyes of two seventeen-year-old orphans, Luli and Yun. After turning of age, Luli leaves the orphanage she has lived in since she was eight and joins Yun at a factory. While shy Luli is trying to get her footing in the real world, Yun is thriving on the independence and head over heels with her boyfriend Yong, ignoring the rumors about him being a “bride trafficker.” Then, she gets unexpectedly pregnant and fired in the same day. And, several days later, goes missing.

Girls on the Line covers the laws in China surrounding the country’s One Child policy and its mistreatment of women, as well as discussions around bride trafficking, in which men pay for young women to be kidnapped and brought to them, and child trafficking. The book focuses heavily on female friendship and covers the different issues young women, specifically young Chinese women, face in the modern day. However, the story was terribly slow, despite being roughly 250 pages. I was really bored the entire time I was reading Girls on the Line.

 

Skyward by Brandon Sanderson (library book)

4 stars

skywardlibrarybook

My first Brandon Sanderson book and I am glad to say I enjoyed it. He is an author I have been interested in picking up for years, but he has so many books I never know where to start. Skyward caught my interest after Booksplosion announced it as their December read.

Set on a planet where the supposed last of humankind is defended by pilots, Skyward follows Spensa, a sixteen-year-old girl who lives in the shadow of her father, who was labeled a coward and killed after fleeing a battle. She is determined to get into flight school and fulfill her dream of becoming a pilot. Despite other people’s efforts to break her will, Spensa refuses to back down. Then, she makes a shocking discovery in a cavern that changes everything.

Skyward was fast-paced and fun. Spensa was a bold, brash, and interesting heroine. I actually did not like her at first. She is flawed but she grows throughout the novel. There are side characters I also enjoyed that I hope we will know more of in future books. My main complaint about the book was how long it was; it could have shaved a few hundred pages and done fine, I think.

 

Part of Your World by Liz Braswell (library book)

2 stars

partofyourworldlibrarybook

I honestly don’t have much to say regarding Part of Your World. The latest installment in the Twisted Tales, a reimagining of Disney movies in book form. While I enjoyed As Old as Time, the Beauty and the Beast retelling I read earlier this year, I was not blown away by it. Sadly, I was even more disappointed by Part of Your World.

            The plot takes place five years after the events of the original film, only Ariel did not defeat Ursula and King Triton was killed. She returned to Atlantica as its voiceless queen and Ursula, disguised as Princess Vanessa, marries Prince Eric and rules his kingdom. When she receives word her father could still be alive, Ariel returns to the human world, where she is reunited with the prince she thought she would never see again.

Part of Your World was just boring with overly flowery writing. The characters were flatter than the original Disney creations. The motivations didn’t make any sense. It was honestly a struggle to get through.

 

Happy New Year everybody! Looking forward to 2019!

What I Read Recently #1

I’ve been up for almost an hour and, as I begin to write this post, I’m already worrying about the amount of homework I need to complete today. I have to rationalize it that writing this post is getting my brain warmed up to write two papers I have due in the next couple of weeks. That is how much graduate school is taking over my life right now.

But I miss my blog and writing for fun. Unfortunately, I haven’t read much for pleasure in the last two months. I want to read, I just don’t have much time or energy for it lately. I have to remind myself to make sure I take breaks when I can, to let my batteries recharge. So, that’s what I’m doing right now.

From the beginning of September to the middle of October, I have read a total of four books. Those are:

 

The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

4.75 stars

themarkofathena

I finished this the week before I started graduate school. And I realized later it is the worst book to pause at in the middle of the Heroes of Olympus series. If you have read this book, you know the ending is a cliffhanger that makes you want to drop everything to read The House of Hades. But I had to stop myself from doing that and favor books that were not likely to be so life consuming.

Besides that, I did enjoy The Mark of Athena very much, although I think The Son of Neptune is still my favorite. The Mark of Athena had some of the best Leo moments as well as adorable relationship moments between Annabeth and Percy. The plot was stronger in this one, we got to see places like Rome, and encounter familiar characters from mythology, like Hercules (who, by the way, is not like the guy from the Disney movie).

As of right now, my plan is to get back into the Heroes of Olympus series around Thanksgiving break…hopefully.

 

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

3.5 stars

mansfieldpark718

It took me almost a month to finish Mansfield Park. Not because I didn’t like it—because of graduate school. Mansfield Park is one of Jane Austen’s least popular works, and I can guess why. Compared to a character like Lizzy Bennet, Fanny Price stays on the sidelines most of the time. The drama doesn’t involve her until near the second half of the book and most of the plot are people hanging out being teenagers. And, of course, there is the fact that Fanny’s only obvious love interest is her cousin, Edmund.

But I personally saw a lot more of myself in Fanny than I have in most other Jane Austen heroines. She’s quiet and shy, but very observant. She comes off as naïve, but she sees right through Henry Crawford when he starts toying around with Julia and Maria. And she does try to be nice to everyone, even the Crawfords. I found the drama of this novel to be extremely entertaining, especially since it was so tame compared to what you see now in most contemporary young adult novels. In terms of the romance, I don’t think it was unusual for that time period, given cousins married often. So, I took it with a grain of salt. Overall, I enjoyed Mansfield Park very much.

 

The Opposite of Innocent by Sonya Sones (library book)

4 stars

theoppositeofinnocentlibrarybook

At the beginning of October, I felt compelled to check out a bunch of library books. The Opposite of Innocent was one of them. It was the first that I read and as soon as I finished it, I brought it back to the library because it disturbed me so much.

Told in verse, The Opposite of Innocent follows fourteen-year-old Lily, who is madly in love with Luke, her father’s best friend. After travelling for two years, Luke returns and stays with Lily’s family. They soon begin a physical relationship that turns sexual and then abusive very quickly.

The Opposite of Innocent was one of those books I had to be careful when and where I read it. Because once I picked it up, I wouldn’t want to put it back down. While there were many parts I was uncomfortable—which I think was the author’s intention—the story is an important one. When I become a librarian, this is definitely a book I will encourage young girls, as well as boys, to read, so they can be wary of grooming and know that Luke’s behavior towards Lily, even though he says he loves her, is unacceptable. I wanted to give The Opposite of Innocent five stars, for the honest portrayal of pedophilia and Lily coming into her own. But I took off a star for the anticlimactic ending and I wish it were slightly longer.

 

The Life and Death Parade by Eliza Wass (library book)

2 stars

thelifeanddeathparadelibrarybook

Ever had that experience with a book where you are left feeling why did I read this? That’s what happened with me with The Life and Death Parade.

The novel follows Kitty, whose boyfriend, Nikki Bramley, died unexpectedly after a psychic told him he had no future. Grief has torn her away from the Bramley family, and she makes it her mission to track down the psychic that gave Nikki his fortune. Instead, she finds Roan, a master con artist she brings to the surviving Bramleys in hopes his tricks will give them comfort, as well as give her clues to the Life and Death Parade, a group of charlatans that mess with the balance between the living and the dead. But Kitty, like the Bramleys, soon falls under Roan’s dark spell.

I had read Eliza Wass’s novel, The Cresswell Plot, two years ago and I was terribly disappointed by it. But I wanted to give her a second chance, since it was her debut novel. Unfortunately, The Life and Death Parade was a let down, too.

Her writing was still good; she created a spooky atmosphere that was perfect for Halloween. The portrayal of Kitty’s grief felt realistic in that she wasn’t thinking clearly most of the time and she was beating herself up for not always being the most loving girlfriend (she was the daughter of the family’s maid, so their class difference bothered her, among other things). Since Eliza Wass lost her own husband, I can imagine she was reliving her own experiences. But that’s about it.

The characters were one-dimensional and not much happened in terms of their development, including Kitty. Roan is probably the only one I would call interesting, except barely. Though he was only seen at the beginning of the novel and in flashbacks, I found Nikki to be utterly annoying. As far as plots go, this one was weak. Nothing made sense. Lastly, the ending wrapped up too quickly. It happened so fast the book ended before I could process it. If she had allowed herself to write a few more pages, I think Eliza Wass could have done much better with The Life and Death Parade.

 

What books have you read recently?