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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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?

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Book Blogger Confessions Tag

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

 

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

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

On to the tag!

 

Which book, most recently, did you not finish?

Fade Into You by Nikki Darling

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

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

 

Which book is your guilty pleasure?

The Women of the Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong

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

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

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

 

Which book do you love to hate?

The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot

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

 

Which book would you throw into the sea?

Woman of God by James Patterson

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

 

Which book have you read the most?

The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong

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

 

Which book would you hate to receive as a gift?

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

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

 

Which book could you not live without?

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

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

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

 

Which book made you angriest?

Whitefern by V.C. Andrews

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

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

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

 

Which book made you cry the most?

A List of Cages by Robin Roe

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

 

Which book cover do you hate the most?

The entire Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead

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

 

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

I tag:

Shanah

Joe

Grey

Crystal

Kristin

Sophie

Erica Mae

and everyone else!

 

 

 

2019 Reading Wrap Up #2 (2/23/19)

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

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

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

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

 

Evermore by Sara Holland (library book)

3.5 stars

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

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

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

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

 

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

5 stars

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

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

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

 

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

4.5 stars

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

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

 

To Make Monsters Out of Girls by Amanda Lovelace

5 stars

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

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

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

 

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

4 stars

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

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

 

True Notebooks by Mark Salzman (library book)

5 books

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

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

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

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

 

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

3.5 stars

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

My Favorite Books of 2018

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

Still, it was hard to keep the number down.

 

The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace

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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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Who Am I? A Book Tag

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

What protagonist are you most similar to?

relatable

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

How do your reading habits show off your personality?

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

 

What book taught you something about yourself?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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I tag!

Shanah

Crystal

Katie

Kelly

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

Kristin

Joe

Sophie

 

Three Books and the Memories Attached to Them

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

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

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

 

The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume

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

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

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

 

What is your greatest memory attached to a book?

 

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!

Mid-Year Freak Out Book Tag 2018

I know it’s June and we are halfway done through 2018 and my TBR at home is getting a little bit out of hand and I am this close to going on a book shopping splurge again with so many new books I want to read but…I really love the Mid-Year Freak Out Book Tag.

I look forward to doing this tag. I get to reflect on the books I’ve read so far this year and light a fire under my butt to read certain ones before the end of the year. It just makes me excited for the rest of my reading for the year, no matter how good or bad or mediocre the previous six months were.

On to the tag!

 

The best book you’ve read so far in 2018.

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Without a doubt, The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace. Every time I bring this book up, I say it came to me at the right time, which is absolutely true. I love Amanda’s free style poetry. Her voice is strong and unapologetic. The Princess Saves Herself in This One helped me feel empowered during a time I really needed it.

 

The best sequel you’ve read so far in 2018.

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Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco, the second book in the Stalking Jack the Ripper series and the first book I read in 2018. I loved it even more than Stalking Jack the Ripper, with the setting in a Romanian castle and all the Vlad the Impaler references. Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell are my Feysand, too.

 

New release you haven’t read yet, but want to.

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A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir, which I received six days before its release date! It is the third book in one of my all-time favorite series and I’m pretty sure it is going to destroy me.

 

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year.

My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows, the first book being My Lady Jane. My Plain Jane is a retelling of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte featuring ghost hunting and the occult, as well as I’m sure what is to be amazing, funny storytelling. Given how much I enjoyed My Lady Jane and that I love Jane Eyre, I already know I will love My Plain Jane.

 

Biggest disappointment.

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That would have to be Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I read it earlier this year, too excited to put it off because I thought it would be a thriller type novel in Fitzgerald’s writing style. Only what I did not know prior to picking it up was that it was published after he had gone dormant in the book world for nine years, and it showed. The book still had his social commentary and unlikeable characters, but the writing was dense, leaning towards over-explaining and over-foreshadowing, taking too long to get to the point. Plus, the characters in this novel were just plain boring for unlikeable characters. So, yeah, Tender is the Night really let me down.

 

Biggest surprise.

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When I picked up This Heart of Mine by C.C. Hunter last month from the library, I went into it with low expectations. It appeared as though the author was trying to mesh too many genres—contemporary, thriller, and magical realism—and I was nervous as to how she could possibly make that all work. Somehow, she figured it out.

 

Favorite new author (debut or new to you)

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Though I own most of her published works, I only started reading Marissa Meyer this year. I read Heartless, her stand-alone young adult retelling about the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, this spring and loved it. Reading that got me excited to read her claim to fame, the Lunar Chronicles, one of the most hyped young adult series.

 

Newest fictional crush

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Wallace Wartland from Eliza and Her Monsters from Francesca Zappia, one of the first books I read this year. Though he looks like the stereotypical big, handsome, blue-eyed football player, he is mostly a sweet, shy nerd that I adore.

 

Newest favorite fictional character

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That would have to be Virginia Shreves, from my most recent read, The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things by Carolyn Mackler. I related to her so much. It was the first time, in a long time, I truly saw myself, specifically my younger self, in a young adult novel. Virginia is a good person, and she comes into her own by herself. That is something I think we need more of in young adult literature these days.

 

A book that made you cry

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I wouldn’t say this book made me cry full-on tears—other books in previous years have brought on waterfalls—but a book that definitely made me feel emotional, especially in the beginning portion, was The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan. A teenaged girl learns to cope and tries to find answers to family secrets in the wake of her mother’s suicide. This book had its moments where it hit close to home, in certain aspects of the main character’s grieving process and her memories of her mother.

 

A book that made you happy

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Definitely My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows made me happy. The authors took what was a serious, unhappy, and certainly not funny time in history and turned it all on its head, with hilarious storytelling and comedic situations.

 

Favorite book to film adaption you saw this year.

Comic books count right? A movie I watched based on a comic book is Doctor Strange. I personally have not read anything from Marvel or DC, though admittedly I prefer the latter’s movies and superheroes. Doctor Strange was the only Marvel movie I was interested in watching, primarily because it had more of a magic element than the others did. I watched it on Netflix a few months ago and I still think about it—I absolutely adored this film more than I thought I would. And Benedict Cumberbatch…..swoons.

Doctor Strange Marvel GIF

 

benedict cumberbatch marvel GIF

 

The favorite review you’ve written this year.

If I have to say a favorite review I’ve written this year, it’s a tie between reviews I did for Speak the graphic novel by Laurie Halse Anderson and The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace. Those were more about the reasons why young women should be reading them and I go into some spoiler detail.

 

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

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Autoboyography by Christina Lauren, one of the books I bought at the very beginning of 2018 for my birthday. The cover catches my eye all the time when I’m looking at my shelves.

 

What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas, Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas, Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare, Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi, Furyborn by Claire Legrand, Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli…just to name a few. There are a lot more that I want/need to read before the end of 2018. It is a matter of if I will get to them and not beat myself up if I do not.

 

What are the books you want to read before the end of 2018?

 

The Birthday Book Tag

I saw Shanah do this tag on her blog earlier this week (happy belated birthday, by the way). My birthday is actually in January but I really don’t care. I enjoy doing book tags and this one looked like fun. And a forewarning: you will see the same book for a lot of these questions….

On to the tag!

 

Birthday cake: a book with a plot that seems cliché but you adore it anyway.

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When I first heard of This Heart of Mine by C.C. Hunter, the synopsis sounded a little cliché, yet I was still interested in it. The main character, Leah, loses her heart to a virus and must live on an artificial one until a donor can be found. Given her rare blood type, that does not seem likely, then a heart miraculously appears. Only the original owner was a classmate that allegedly committed suicide. After the transplant surgery, Leah starts having dreams that make her wonder if her donor actually did take his own life or he was murdered and she promises to help his twin brother get answers.

As I am writing this, I am almost finished with This Heart of Mine. So far, it has been true to advertising: contemporary, with elements of mystery and magical realism thrown in. I was mainly interested in this novel because of Leah getting a transplant and how such an event can impact a seventeen-year-old. I just did not know how C.C. Hunter was going to work in the other elements. So far, though, it seems to be working.

 

Party guests: your most anticipated book release this year.

A Court of Frost and Starlight…PSYCH!!!

My most anticipated release of the entire year is A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir, the third book in her An Ember in the Ashes series. The first two books were mind-blowing and I know this newest release is going to be just as amazing. Plus, Sabaa Tahir isn’t afraid to kill her darlings…so I am filled with both anticipation and a lot, a lot of fear.

 

Birthday presents: a book that surprised you with how much you loved it.

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That would have to be This Heart of Mine again. I have been in a fierce contemporary mood lately, after all the fantasy I was reading. While I generally enjoy the genre, I normally pick it up when I need a break from the heavier stuff I normally read. I went into This Heart of Mine with low expectations. And, like I said, it has passed them so far.

 

The Happy Birthday song: a book that certainly deserved all the hype it got.

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Definitely Eliza and Her Monsters, which was equally parts serious and cute, and the perfect love letter to fandom culture. I found little flaw within this book. I read this at the beginning of the year and I am still thinking about it.

 

Happy music: a book with some very beautiful and truly memorable quotes.

thisheartofmine

Again…This Heart of Mine by C.C. Hunter has some beautiful quotes. Leah, the protagonist, thought a lot about death after her heart failed and she had to live on the artificial one, knowing that it could only buy her a few years. It has great writing in general.

(This is the last time I will mention This Heart of Mine, I swear).

 

Getting older: a book that you read a long time ago, but you think that you would appreciate it more if you read it as a more mature reader.

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For summer reading in high school, I read a book called Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin. A teenaged girl dies unexpectedly and goes to a place called Elsewhere, where those who have died live life backwards until they are infants and reincarnated back to Earth. I do remember enjoying it back then. By the time I read it, we were allowed to pick from a list of summer reading books the school recommended. I still own it, even though I only read it that one time. I have been thinking of picking up Elsewhere again, except I want to be in a safe mindset, after everything that’s happened so far this year.

 

Sweet birthday memories: a book that kept you incredibly happy during a sad or demanding period of your life.

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The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace, which I read during a time of heavy grief earlier this year. It made me feel rejuvenated and empowered during a time I thought I didn’t have it in me.

 

What was your favorite birthday present you ever received?

Mine is a Hallmark Ariel figurine my dad gave me for my 21st birthday. It wasn’t even something I directly asked for. I just mentioned seeing it in the store and then on my birthday he surprised me with it.