Top Ten Tuesday: Top Seven 2016 Releases I Wanted To Read But Didn’t Get To

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely folks over at The Broke And The Bookish.  Every week, bloggers share their own bookish top ten lists based on the topic of the week.  You can check out Ten Tuesdays here.

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Top Seven 2016 Releases I Never Got The Chance To Read

It seems like every year, there are always a bunch of books I want to read and never do.  I don’t have a full 10 books today, because I really couldn’t come up with 10.

  1. The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows.  I’ve wanted to read this for a while, but I never seem to get around to it. I know it’s not a 2016 release, but it’s still one I never got around to reading, even though I kept telling myself I would.
  2. Imprudence by Gail Carriger.  I was so excited about it when it came out but never got around to it.
  3. Midnight Bites by Rachel Caine.  Her Morganville Vampire series is one of my favorites, so when I saw she was doing a collection of the short stories, I knew I had to read it.
  4. Outrun The Moon by Stacey Lee.  I really liked Under A Painted Sky, and I’m looking forward to reading Outrun The Moon so much!
  5. Truthwitch by Susan Dennard.  I feel like I’ve heard a lot of good things about Truthwitch, and since I recently bought a copy at Barnes And Noble, I’m hoping I’ll actually read it.
  6. Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel.  I did pick this one up and a few pages in, realized the audio book was going to work a lot better for me.  I still need to listen to it, but hopefully, I’ll get to it this year.
  7. Empire Of Storms by Sarah J. Maas.  I really like this series so far, and even though I still need to read Queen Of Shadows, I can’t wait to read Empire Of Storms.

Books I Couldn’t Finish: Masters Of The Air by Donald Miller

masters-of-the-air-coverBook: Masters Of The Air by Donald Miller

Published October 2006 by Simon & Schuster|671 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: Adult Non-Fiction/History/World War 2/Military History

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Masters of the Air is the deeply personal story of the American bomber boys in World War II who brought the war to Hitler’s doorstep. With the narrative power of fiction, Donald Miller takes readers on a harrowing ride through the fire-filled skies over Berlin, Hanover, and Dresden and describes the terrible cost of bombing for the German people.

Fighting at 25,000 feet in thin, freezing air that no warriors had ever encountered before, bomber crews battled new kinds of assaults on body and mind. Air combat was deadly but intermittent: periods of inactivity and anxiety were followed by short bursts of fire and fear. Unlike infantrymen, bomber boys slept on clean sheets, drank beer in local pubs, and danced to the swing music of Glenn Miller’s Air Force band, which toured U.S. air bases in England. But they had a much greater chance of dying than ground soldiers. In 1943, an American bomber crewman stood only a one-in-five chance of surviving his tour of duty, twenty-five missions. The Eighth Air Force lost more men in the war than the U.S. Marine Corps.

The bomber crews were an elite group of warriors who were a microcosm of America — white America, anyway. (African-Americans could not serve in the Eighth Air Force except in a support capacity.) The actor Jimmy Stewart was a bomber boy, and so was the “King of Hollywood,” Clark Gable. And the air war was filmed by Oscar-winning director William Wyler and covered by reporters like Andy Rooney and Walter Cronkite, all of whom flew combat missions with the men. The Anglo-American bombing campaign against Nazi Germany was the longest military campaign of World War II, a war within a war. Until Allied soldiers crossed into Germany in the final months of the war, it was the only battle fought inside the German homeland.

Strategic bombing did not win the war, but the war could not have been won without it. American airpower destroyed the rail facilities and oil refineries that supplied the German war machine. The bombing campaign was a shared enterprise: the British flew under the cover of night while American bombers attacked by day, a technique that British commanders thought was suicidal.

Masters of the Air is a story, as well, of life in wartime England and in the German prison camps, where tens of thousands of airmen spent part of the war. It ends with a vivid description of the grisly hunger marches captured airmen were forced to make near the end of the war through the country their bombs destroyed.

Drawn from recent interviews, oral histories, and American, British, German, and other archives, Masters of the Air is an authoritative, deeply moving account of the world’s first and only bomber war.

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I really love history, and thought Masters Of The Air looked really interesting.  It’s a book I’ve been reading off and on for a while, but I had a hard time getting through it.

I only got about 100 pages in before deciding that this book isn’t for me.  It’s not that it’s uninteresting, because I did think it was a pretty informative book.  Before I picked this book up, I never thought about the Air Force not being its own entity.  For me, it’s always been separate branch of the U.S. military.  But it seems like there were different incarnations under the Army- at least from what I could tell.  There’s this guy, William Mitchell, and he fought hard for an independent Air Force.

Another interesting thing was that a lot of the pilots experienced some form of oxygen deprivation- very few died from it, but something 50 to 60% experienced it.  A lot of it was because of poor planning- there was such a focus on getting the planes (and men) into the air that they didn’t think about little things.  There was a bigger focus on bombing strategy and not a lot on preparing the crews to survive in the conditions necessary to actually executing that strategy.

So why didn’t I finish it?  I had a really hard time getting through it.  It’s very detailed, and just from the 100 pages or so I read, it was clear to me that Miller put a lot of research and time into this book.  Even randomly picking up the book and reading a chapter didn’t help- I felt like I was struggling to get through it.  Since it also focuses more on military history, it’s more technical than what I’m used to reading, and that was a contributing factor in my inability to get through it.   It’s not for lack of trying, and as much as I wanted to get through it, I knew it was time to put it down and walk away.

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DNF.  I don’t feel like it’s fair to give a star rating for something I didn’t get very far into before deciding to not finish it.

Book Review: A World Without You by Beth Revis

a-world-without-you-coverBook: A World Without You by Beth Revis

Published July 2016 by Razorbill|372 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

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What would you do to bring back someone you love? After the unexpected loss of his girlfriend, a boy suffering from delusions believes he can travel through time to save her in this gripping new novel from New York Times bestselling author Beth Revis.

Seventeen-year-old Bo has always had delusions that he can travel through time. When he was ten, Bo claimed to have witnessed the Titanic hit an iceberg, and at fifteen, he found himself on a Civil War battlefield, horrified by the bodies surrounding him. So when his concerned parents send him to a school for troubled youth, Bo assumes he knows the truth: that he’s actually attending Berkshire Academy, a school for kids who, like Bo, have “superpowers.”

At Berkshire, Bo falls in love with Sofia, a quiet girl with a tragic past and the superpower of invisibility. Sofia helps Bo open up in a way he never has before. In turn, Bo provides comfort to Sofia, who lost her mother and two sisters at a very young age. 

But even the strength of their love isn’t enough to help Sofia escape her deep depression. After she commits suicide, Bo is convinced that she’s not actually dead. He believes that she’s stuck somewhere in time — that he somehow left her in the past, and now it’s his job to save her. 

In her first contemporary novel, Beth Revis guides readers through the mind of a young man struggling to process his grief as he fights his way through his delusions. As Bo becomes more and more determined to save Sofia, he has to decide whether to face his demons head-on, or succumb to a psychosis that will let him be with the girl he loves.

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I have so many thoughts about A World Without You!

So, I have to admit that I knew I wanted to read this book, but that I didn’t know what it was about going in. At first, I didn’t realize it was a contemporary, because of the whole school-for-kids-with-special-powers aspect.  As the book went on, I realized that, in fact, the book was not sci-fi or paranormal or fantasy- basically, whatever genre you classify kids-with-special powers as.  That was when I realized the book was more contemporary than anything else.

I was a little disappointed that it was a contemporary novel, because I think it had a lot of promise if it had stuck to the idea that Sofia was trapped in 1692 Salem, Massachusetts, and not the aftermath of her suicide. I do think the books works better if you don’t know that going in, because the paralyzing fear that something is wrong is much more palpable.  I kind of liked that I didn’t realize something was wrong at first, because everything seemed so normal.  But it was frustrating at the same time, because it became a story I wasn’t as interested in.

I think, had I known going in that Bo had severe mental illness, I would have spent the book frustrated knowing what was going on, and waiting for him to catch up and figure everything out.  There is an undercurrent of fear and confusion and you really see Bo lose all sense of time and reality.  It’s also the most severe case I’ve seen in any YA book that deals with mental illness- I think Identical by Ellen Hopkins is the only other one I can think of that comes remotely close, and it’s pretty similar in that you don’t realize what’s going on until the end of the novel.

I did really want the story where Bo has to go back in time to save Sofia- partly because that part of the novel really interested me, but I’m also curious about how Revis would tell that story.

I feel like the blurb gave away way too much.  I know I mentioned that this a book that may be better if you don’t know what’s going on, and you’re figuring things out right alongside Bo.  But I still think it works better if you know nothing.

We also get a few chapters narrated by Phoebe, who is Bo’s sister.  I feel like her chapters were meant to show how different they are, and how everything that is going on with Bo affects her.  Her chapters were boring and flat, and I feel like all she did was complain about how no one paid attention to her because she’s the good student who’s going off to college.  It’s clear that her parents seem to be focused on Bo- which is understandable- but I do understand that her parents probably don’t give her a lot of attention because she’s the one they DON’T have to worry about. And given everything going on with Bo, she probably feels like she has to do well.

It is hard to say for sure, though, since most of the book focused on Bo, and we only get a few chapters focusing on Phoebe.

The last chapter- an epilogue- was really weird for me.  It did leave you wondering if maybe Bo did have some sort of power or ability but no one realized it because it presented as something else.  It’s ambiguous enough that you’re not sure, but…I am not a fan of the epilogue.  I know it’s trying to wrap up with what happened the previous chapter, and that if the book had ended with that chapter…it would have been a hell of a cliffhanger.  But I felt like the epilogue took away a lot of the fear and confusion that we saw in the chapter before it, and it really lost the darkness and edge that it would have had otherwise.

The moment between Bo and Phoebe was weird- if Bo does have a mental illness, then was it just a coincidence? It did feel off, like maybe he did have some sort of supernatural ability, but no one believed him.  I wonder if maybe he did, but it wasn’t said outright, because it would have contradicted everything in the book?  Maybe I’m wrong, but I felt like you could see it that way.

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3 stars.  I do think it works better if you don’t read the blurb, but it’s also a really good look at mental illness.  It’s just not for me.

The End Of Year Survey For 2016

I really love the End Of Year Survey that Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner does every year, and I figure this is a great time to do it!  You can check it out here.

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2016 Reading Stats:

Number Of Books I Read: 123

Number Of Re-Reads: I honestly have no idea- I’m pretty sure I re-read some stuff, but I don’t track it.  Unless you count the Welcome To Night Vale book, because I did read the print book and listen to the audio book because I couldn’t make up my mind about which format I wanted to read it in.  That’s only one I can remember off of the top of my head.

Genre I Read The Most From: Contemporary- with 38 books!

Best In Books:

1. Best Book You Read In 2016:

Contemporary: It’s a tie between George by Alex Gino and Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

Fantasy: A Court Of Mist And Fury by Sarah J. Maas and The Beauty Of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson

General Fiction: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t: The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick.  I really liked it but not as much as I thought.  It just didn’t have the same appeal My Life Next Door Had.

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read: All The Beautiful And Ugly Things by Bryn Greenwood.  This book was a good surprise, and I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I loved it.

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did): I feel like I talked about George by Alex Gino a lot- I’m not sure how many people picked it up specifically because I mentioned it, but I think everyone should read it!

5. Best series you started in 2016? Best Sequel of 2016? Best Series Ender of 2016?

Best Series I Started: Court Of Fives by Kate Elliott

Best Sequel: A Court Of Mist And Fury

Best Series Ender: The Heart Of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson.

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2016: Yaa Gyasi- Homegoing was amazing

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone: It’s a tie between Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi and Behold The Dreamers by Mbue Imbolo

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year:  I’m going with Harry Potter And The Cursed Child for this one, and that’s because I was excited to get my copy at midnight that I knew I couldn’t go to bed until I read the entire script.  It doesn’t exactly fit, but that’s the book I’m going with.

9. Book You Read In 2016 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year: A Criminal Magic by Lee Kelly

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2016: I love this one, and I don’t know why.  But it’s so pretty!

shiny-broken-pieces-cover

11. Most memorable character of 2016: Gabi, from A Girl In Pieces.  I loved her, and she has a really unique voice.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2016: This is a hard one, but I think I’m going to go with All The Ugly And Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2016: All-American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely.  There are no words to describe how much this book made me think, but it was such an eye-opener for me.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2016 to finally read: The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick.  I’ve wanted to read it for a while, but never got around to it until last year.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2016:

“You look around at the people in your life, one by one, choosing to hold on to the ones who make you stronger and better, and letting go of the ones who don’t.”

From Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2016:

Shortest: The House On Mango St by Sandra Cisneros (110 pages) and Perfect by Natasha Friend (4 hours, 30 minutes)

Longest: The Beauty Of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson (688 pages) and World War Z by Max Brooks (12 hours, 8 minutes)

17. Book That Shocked You The Most: Soldier by Julie Kagawa.  I was not expecting that ending at all.  I will be so glad when the next book comes out so I can find out what happens.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!): Valek and Yelena from Night Study

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year: Melissa and Kelly from George.  I love their friendship and how supportive Kelly was.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2016 From An Author You’ve Read Previously: And I Darken by Kiersten White.  I swear, every book she does is so different than the last one, but it was such a great book!

21. Best Book You Read In 2016 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure: Court Of Fives by Kate Elliott.  I read it solely based on Gail Carriger’s recommendation.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2016: Rhysand from A Court Of Thorns And Roses.  I don’t think an explanation is needed.

23. Best 2016 debut you read: In the interest of mixing up and NOT putting a book I’ve mentioned already, I’m going to go with False Illusions by A. Cramton!

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year: The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye is one of the more vivid settings- I loved the Night Circus feel that the book has!

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read: The BFG by Roald Dahl.  It definitely made me smile!

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2016: Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone.  It’s the only one where I remember crying when I was reading it.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year: Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli.  This book deserves more attention!

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul: This is another hard one, but I think I’m going to go with All The Ugly And Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood.  But I also think Missoula by Jon Krakauer would be either choice.  I wish I could make up my mind, because there are too many good choices.  These are my top 2 choices, though, so at least I was able to narrow it down.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2016: I have to go with the Welcome To Night Vale book for this one- I highly recommend the audio book, if you do decide to pick it up!

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it): Take A Chance and One More Chance by Abbi Glines.  I read a couple of other books by Glines and really liked them, but these two were so frustrating to read.  Just thinking about them makes me angry!

My Book/Blogging Life:

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2016: Paper Fury!  Her blog was new to me last year, and I don’t know why I didn’t start reading it before!!!  Her blog is absolutely delightful and fun.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2016: The reviews I wrote for Take A Chance and One More Chance.  As much as I didn’t like those particular books, it was good to get my frustrations out.

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog: I think I’m going to have to go with the posts I did about the Gilmore Girls revival: one with no spoilers, Part One (With Spoilers) and Part Two (With Spoilers).

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.): Going to the signing for the Welcome To Night Vale scripts.  It was so much fun to hear them talk about one of my favorite podcasts ever.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2016: I have to pick?  Probably the Welcome To Night Vale signing I went to.

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year: Lack of motivation.  I had a hard time getting myself to write blog posts this year.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views): Top Ten Books For People Who Like The Iron Fey.  I published this post in July 2012, and it’s STILL my most popular post.  I’ve done a couple of updated posts, but the original one is still going strong, which is completely awesome.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love: I honestly don’t know.  I’m good with whatever people want to read, and I don’t know that there’s one particular post that needs a little more love.

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.): Read Diverse Books.  It’s one of my new favorite blogs, and I’ve come across so many books I haven’t heard that I want to read.

10. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year: Close to half of the books I read last year were diverse/#ownvoices, and I definitely paid more attention to what I was reading.

Looking Ahead:

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2016 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2017: My entire TBR pile?  I’m only half-joking here, but…I think I’m going to go with A Thousand Boy Wishes by Tillie Cole.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2017 (non-debut): Red Hot Rain by Rachel Caine.  I was surprised to find out there was going to be another Weather Wardens book, but I’m really looking forward to it.

3. 2017 Debut You Are Most Anticipating: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.  I am looking forward to this book so much I pre-ordered it.

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2017: A Court Of Wings And Ruin by Sarah J. Maas.  After the way ACOMAF ended…I just need to read it.

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2017: There are so many things I could say, but if I have to pick one…listen to more audio books.  I’m going with one audio book a month this year.

6. A 2017 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone: I haven’t read any 2017 releases yet, but I know I have a couple ARC’s I need to read.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten 2017 Debuts I’m Excited For

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely folks over at The Broke And The Bookish.  Every week, bloggers share their own bookish top ten lists based on the topic of the week.  You can check out Ten Tuesdays here.

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Top Ten 2017 Debuts I’m Excited For

When I pick up books to read, I don’t always pay attention to when it was published or whether it’s a debut book. It is fun to look through the lists of books being published for the year, and these are the 2017 debuts I’m looking forward to reading.

  1. Caraval by Stephanie Garber.  It’s about this legendary, once-a-year show and it sounds really good!
  2. Gilded Cage by Vic James.  Gilded Cage is about aristocrats who have magic, and the commoners who serve them for 10 years.  It sounds like something I’d love, and while it does seem like a lot of similar books are out there right now, this one caught my attention.
  3. Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones.  It’s Goblins and sacrifice and I want to read it now!
  4. Wicked Like A Wildfire by Lana Popovic.  This book seems very magical, and there’s a lot of secrets to uncover.  I’m definitely intrigued.
  5. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.  This book definitely caught my eye, and it’s inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement.  I have the feeling it’s going to be heartbreaking to read, but I also have the feeling it will be worth it.
  6. American Street by Ibi Zoboi.  American Street looks so good!  It’s about a girl who immigrates to the U.S. from Haiti, and has to navigate a new place without her mother.  I’m definitely looking forward to reading it!
  7. Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves.  Just from the summary, I get a Red Queen vibe from the book.  I kind of get a similar vibe for Gilded Cage, but it’s not going to stop me from picking this book up!
  8. Frostblood by Elly Blake.  I’m getting a Hunger Games meets Red Queen vibe from the book, but I’m still intrigued by opposing magical abilities coming together to change everything.
  9. The Hidden Memory Of Objects by Danielle Mages Amato.  I’m looking forward to this book because it’s about a girl who can see memories attached to objects…and uses that ability to figure out what happened to her brother.
  10. The Color Project by Sierra Abrams.  I think why I’m looking forward to this book is because Bee doesn’t want to reveal her real name to someone she meets.  I don’t know why that got my attention, but it did.

2016: A Year In Books

Since I did a post looking back at everything I did last year, I figured I do a bookish recap too!  I figured I do a numbers/resolution post, but the 2016 End Of Year Survey is in the works too.  I should be posting that sometime this week, and that will be more focused on the books I read last year.

Some General Stats:

  1. Total Books Read: 123
  2. Shortest Book I Read: The House On Mango St. by Sandra Cisneros at 110 pages
  3. Longest Book I Read: The Beauty Of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson at 688 pages
  4. Total Pages Read: 38,445 for 115 e-books/print books
  5. Shortest Audio Book: Perfect by Natasha Friend at 4 hours, 30 minutes
  6. Longest Audio Book: World War Z by Max Brooks at 12 hours, 8 minutes
  7. Total Hours Listened To: 73 hours, 31 minutes

5 Most Read Genres:

  1. Contemporary: 38 books
  2. Fantasy: 29 books
  3. General Fiction: 10 books
  4. Historical Fiction: 9 books
  5. Re-Telling: 9 books

Some Random Stats:

  1. 11 books were from 2016 debut authors
  2. 70% of the books I read were YA, 21% were adult, and 9% were NA, middle grade and children’s.
  3. 74.9% were from the library, 21.9% were books I own, and the remaining 4% or so were ARC’s or borrowed.
  4. 54% were print books, 40% were e-books and 6% were audio books.
  5. 62% of the books I read were 3 stars or higher, and I ended up not finishing 39 books this year.  I’m not sure about how many books I re-read, but that might be something to track this year.

How I Did With Last Year’s Reading Goals:

  1. I read, on average, 5 diverse books every month, and overall, 48.9% of the books I read last year were diverse.  I was hoping I would reach 50%, but I got pretty close, and I am determined to have half of the books I read this year be diverse.
  2. Apparently, one of my goals last year was to get back into reading after a reading slump.  Even though I’m feeling sort of blah about a lot of the books I read this year, I did pay more attention to what I was read, and I did get out of my comfort zone a little bit.
  3. This brings me to not doing the Goodreads challenge last year.  It took a lot of pressure off, and I feel like I was able to focus more on WHAT I was reading, instead HOW MUCH I was reading.  It is a good challenge, and it definitely works for a lot of people- it worked for me for quite a few years, but at this point in my reading life, I have other things I want to focus on in terms of reading.  I may come back to the Goodreads challenge at some point, but not anytime soon.
  4. Not surprisingly, I didn’t read a lot of the books I own.  I did use the library a lot- around 74% of the books  I read were from the library, but I think it’s partially because the books I own weren’t too appealing last year? Maybe?  I’m not really sure.

My Reading Goals For This Year:

While we’re on the topic of goals, let’s talk about what I want to accomplish this year, in terms of reading.

  1. Not doing the Goodreads challenge.  I talked a little bit about it above, but it was a huge relief to NOT do it last year.  I have reading goals in mind, but not of the “how many books do I want to read this year” variety.  It’s just not a goal for me right now, but like I said, it’s something I may come back to in the future.
  2. Half of the books I read this year will be diverse/#ownvoices!  I was so close to that number last year, but more importantly, it’s really important to me that I keep reading books that are about and written by people from marginalized groups.
  3. I also want to read more translated books!  Shadow Of The Wind was really interesting, and I really liked The Vegetarian, so I am determined to find more translated books.  I’m always looking for suggestions!
  4. This year, I really want to listen to more audio books!  I feel like there isn’t enough time in the day for audio books and podcasts, but this year, I want to listen to at least one audio book a month.

I think that wraps it up.  Have a great week!

Currently Obsessed With: Wrapping Up 2016!

Happy new year!  I hope everyone had a safe and fun New Year.  I spent New Year’s Eve with a friend, and we watched Clue the movie, played a game, and watched the Doctor Who Christmas special.  It feels like 2016 went by so fast, and it was an interesting year, to say the least.  It felt like so much happened!  I thought, instead of just focusing on December, I’d take a look back at the whole year.

Currently Obsessed With

Crochet:

This was the year of the crocheted blanket!  I made quite a few blankets- I finished three, and I’m still working on another one.  Blankets are so easy, and I don’t have to think about what I’m going to work on next, but I also want to work on something different, so maybe I’ll find some other projects to work on.  I’m hoping this is the year that I actually make fun hats for NaNo earlier in the year, instead of scrambling to make something in October.

Books:

I got quite a few of them!  I got the screenplay of Fantastic Beasts as a present, I got the first 2 Iron Fey books on audible, and I bought An Ember In The Ashes by Sabaa Tahir and Sorcerer To The Crown by Zen Cho.  I wasn’t sure what to get on Audible, because I have my eye on quite a few new-to-me books.  Nothing seemed right, and when I was looking through my wishlist, I noticed the Iron Fey books and decided to get the first 2.  They are narrated by one of my favorite narrators, it’s what I’m in the mood for right now.

I also bought A Thousand Boy Wishes by Tillie Cole, and I pre-ordered The Hate U Give and Frostblood with a Barnes and Noble gift card.  It was so hard picking which books to get- I had a hard time deciding between 2017 releases, and I have the feeling I’ll be pre-ordering quite a few books this month.

5 Favorite Things I Watched:

  1. Stranger Things is really good, and one of my favorite new shows!
  2. Fantastic Beasts was my most anticipated movie this year, and I have three words: erumpet mating dance.
  3. Deadpool was fun!
  4. The new Gilmore Girls episodes did not disappoint, and I loved going back to Stars Hollow.
  5. Finding Dory was adorable.

Fun Things From The Last Year:

  1. My trip up to Oregon.  I went for a cousin’s wedding, and had a great time.
  2. All of the book events I went to!  In particular, the signings for the Welcome To Night Vale scripts, And I Darken by Kiersten White, Imprudence by Gail Carriger and The Beauty Of Darkness by Mary Pearson.
  3. I had a great time at the midnight release party for HP & The Cursed Child.  When Deathly Hallows came out years ago, I never thought we’d get another midnight release party, and it was a nostalgic night but also cool to have another midnight party for a Harry Potter book.
  4. NaNoWriMo- it’s come and gone, but I wrote at a lot of cool places, and I won.  I do want to go back to it at some point this year, hopefully soon.  If I wait any longer, I probably won’t go back to it.

Some Cool Things To Check Out:

Dinosaur Tail Feathers!  These look so cool!

National Geographic’s 50 Best Images Of The Year.

I have food on the brain today, because I want to make these french toast roll-ups, this Cheesy Beef Enchilada Rice Bake, this chicken parmesan casserole, these Asian Pork Rolls, and Bacon Cheddar Waffles And Chicken.

While we’re at, here some of my favorite links from the last year:

The 100 Most Influential Photos Of All Time

Amazing Photos From A Pilot

Here are some cool photos of the Northern Lights

One more picture-filled link: 20+ Rare Historic Photos

Anyone want to play Jane Austen Bingo?

I really need to make these crispy chicken thighs again, because they were AMAZING!

And I am so glad I came across this DIY Oatmeal Packet, because I now make my own oatmeal packets instead of buying them from the store.  I love oatmeal, and this so much cheaper!

Looking At Last Year’s Resolutions:

To be honest, I’m only doing the non-bookish resolutions, because I’m saving those for another post.

I did not crochet 52 granny squares, and I most certainly did not work on a chevron blanket I have sitting next to me. I also didn’t go out of my way to exercise, and I had a pretty good year.  My room is organized enough, though it could probably be a little more organized.  And I saved some money, but not as much as I wanted to.  I’m still not sure what goals I want to accomplish this year.  I have some reading-related goals, but absolutely nothing in terms of stuff that’s not reading-related.  If I can come up with something, I’ll be sure to share!

Favorite Picture I Took:

I didn’t take a lot of pictures, but the one below is my favorite.  It’s a photo of Mt. Shasta in Northern California.

Mt Shasta

Music:

I thought I’d share a playlist of my favorite songs from the last year!  Minus I Don’t Wanna Live Forever, because it’s not on spotify, but it’s one of my favorite songs right now.



I hope everyone has a wonderful and amazing year!

Book Review: The Flame Never Dies And Behold The Dreamers

the-flame-never-dies-coverBook #1: The Flame Never Dies By Rachel Vincent

Published August 2016 by Random House Children’s Books|241 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: Well Of Souls #2

Genre: YA Dystopia/Paranormal/Post-Apocalyptic

What It’s About: For fans of Cassandra Clare and Richelle Mead comes the unputdownable sequel to The Stars Never Rise, a book Rachel Caine, author of the bestselling Morganville Vampires series, called “haunting, unsettling, and eerily beautiful.”

ONE SPARK WILL RISE. Nina Kane was born to be an exorcist. And since uncovering the horrifying truth—that the war against demons is far from over—seventeen-year-old Nina and her pregnant younger sister, Mellie, have been on the run, incinerating the remains of the demon horde as they go.

In the badlands, Nina, Mellie, and Finn, the fugitive and rogue exorcist who saved her life, find allies in a group of freedom fighters. They also face a new threat: Pandemonia, a city full of demons. But this fresh new hell is the least of Nina’s worries. The well of souls ran dry more than a century ago, drained by the demons secretly living among humans, and without a donor soul, Mellie’s child will die within hours of its birth.

Nina isn’t about to let that happen . . . even if it means she has to make the ultimate sacrifice.

What I Thought: I liked it, but not as much as I thought I would.  I think a lot of it is that things were resolved pretty well in the first book, and it did work well as a stand-alone.  I don’t regret reading it, because The Flame Never Dies answers some questions and resolves some loose threads that came up in The Stars Never Rise.  But at the same time, it worked so well as a stand-alone that while I liked it, I’m also sort of meh about it.  What I think surprised me with this book is that, like the first book, things are resolved, with some loose threads and unanswered questions. From what I can tell, there will be only two books, so at least the overall story is resolved.  But things are open enough that there really could be another book in the series to answer those questions.

I was kept on the edge of my seat, though, and there were several times where you’re reading it, knowing that something is about to happen, and you’re just waiting for it to actually happen.  There weren’t a lot of surprises, but there were a few, and she does have a way of making you WANT to keep going.  There is part of me that wants more, but at the same time, I feel like, with this series, Vincent knew her stopping point and where things were headed.  It is nice knowing that the idea won’t get old because it’s being spread out over all of these books, and it easily could have gone that way.  But it didn’t, and I really appreciate that.

My Rating: 3 stars.  It’s enjoyable and fun, but I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as the first book.

behold-the-dreamer-coverBook #2: Behold The Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

Published August 2016 by Random House|380 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: Adult Fiction/Adult Literary Fiction

What It’s About: Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, has come to the United States to provide a better life for himself, his wife, Neni, and their six-year-old son. In the fall of 2007, Jende can hardly believe his luck when he lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Clark demands punctuality, discretion, and loyalty—and Jende is eager to please. Clark’s wife, Cindy, even offers Neni temporary work at the Edwardses’ summer home in the Hamptons. With these opportunities, Jende and Neni can at last gain a foothold in America and imagine a brighter future.

However, the world of great power and privilege conceals troubling secrets, and soon Jende and Neni notice cracks in their employers’ façades.

When the financial world is rocked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Jongas are desperate to keep Jende’s job—even as their marriage threatens to fall apart. As all four lives are dramatically upended, Jende and Neni are forced to make an impossible choice.

What I Thought: I ended up really liking it! Behold The Dreamers was a really good look at what it’s like to be in immigrant in the U.S. Things like the Great Recession and the collapse of Lehman Brothers really does have an effect on EVERYONE, and that was something I never thought about before. They came here for a better life, and they ended up not being able to stay, for a lot of different reasons- the biggest reason being their lawyer. Their lawyer didn’t seem all that great, or interested in truly helping them. I can easily picture families or people like the Jongas hiring a lawyer who seems more interested in the money they’re getting than actually helping their clients.

I felt for them, and how hard they both worked to have a better life for them and their children, only to have it change so much. They do end up going back to Cameroon, and it seems like they’re set financially over there, but they tried so hard to stay here. I felt like Behold The Dreamers showcased how desperate people are to come here and stay here, and how they will do anything to have a life here.

I definitely thought Jende and Neni were a lot more sympathetic than Jende’s employers.  I get they were affected by it to, but it was hard to sympathize with a family who seemed to be more interested in maintaining their lifestyle than actually trying to work on themselves.  They do seem to have their issues, but they were far more unlikable. The Edwards family were much meant to contrast the Jonga family, and you see how different things are for the privileged and those who come here, hopeful and wanting a better life.  Perhaps that is what Mbue was going for, and I did feel for all of the characters, even when it was hard to care about them and like them.

My Rating: 4 stars.  I really liked seeing Jende and Neni come to the U.S., full of hope and optimism, only to have their dreams dashed.  It’s such a great read, and I really recommend it!

Book Review: Shiny Broken Pieces And The Boy Most Likely To

shiny-broken-pieces-coverBook #1: Shiny Broken Pieces by Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton

Published July 2016 by HarperTeen|384 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: Tiny Pretty Things #2

Genre: YA Contemporary/Mystery

What It’s About: June, Bette, and Gigi have given their all to dance at Manhattan’s most elite ballet school. Now they are competing one final time for a spot at the prestigious American Ballet Company. With the stakes higher than ever, these girls have everything to lose…and no one is playing nice.

June is starting to finally see herself as a prima ballerina. However, getting what she wants might cost her everything—including the only boy she’s ever loved. Legacy dancer Bette is determined to clear her name after she was suspended and accused of hurting her rival, Gigi. Even if she returns, though, will she ever regain the spotlight she craves? And Gigi is not going to let Bette—or the other dancers who bullied her—go unpunished. But as revenge consumes her, Gigi may be the one who pays the price.

After years of grueling auditions, torn ribbons, and broken hearts, it all comes down to this last dance. Who will make the cut? And who will lose her dream forever?

What I Thought: After reading Tiny Pretty Things, and after hearing there was a sequel, I knew I had to read Shiny Broken Pieces. It picks up where Tiny Pretty Things left off, and you learn what happened the night Gigi was injured. It’s been a while since I’ve read TPT, but I remembered enough to get me through SBP, and it really is Black Swan meets Pretty Little Liars. Only this time, there is a new mean girl, and I was really sad to see the change that Gigi made. At least she recognized it wasn’t who she wanted to be, and the events from months earlier really changed her- and not for the better. I get things really changed her, but she became the person that hurt her. I was a little surprised by Cassie, and I didn’t realize how much things changed her until the end of the book. I don’t really remember her from TPT, though, so that might be why I was surprised.

There is a lot of mystery and back-stabbing, and that kept me going, even though I found I didn’t care for Bette’s story or June’s story all that much. June, I think, has the most to decide, and it seems like her future is up in the air. It’s very open-ended, and even though she’s set to go to college, there is also the possibility of going to Salt Lake City and dancing in their ballet company, but you don’t get a decision either way. It does seem like she was leaning towards ballet, but at the same time, it seems like maybe she’s done ballet too? I am curious about Gigi and Bette, and where things ended with them.

To be honest, I’m not sure how I feel about it. I did really like it, and I did like seeing the fallout of Gigi’s injury. I also really liked seeing them go for their dreams, which they all worked really hard for. But it didn’t have the same appeal as the first book, and some of the mystery didn’t hold quite as well this time around. It did hold my attention, though, and I did want to see what was really going on.

My Rating: 4 stars. I really liked it, and I liked the mystery and seeing the fall-out from the previous book.

the-boy-most-likely-to-coverBook #2: The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Published August 2015 by Dial Books|428 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: My Life Next Door #2

Genre: YA Contemporary

What It’s About: Tim Mason was The Boy Most Likely To find the liquor cabinet blindfolded, need a liver transplant, and drive his car into a house

Alice Garrett was The Girl Most Likely To . . . well, not date her little brother’s baggage-burdened best friend, for starters.

For Tim, it wouldn’t be smart to fall for Alice. For Alice, nothing could be scarier than falling for Tim. But Tim has never been known for making the smart choice, and Alice is starting to wonder if the “smart” choice is always the right one. When these two crash into each other, they crash hard.

Told in Tim’s and Alice’s distinctive, disarming, entirely compelling voices, this novel is for readers of The Spectacular Now, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, and Paper Towns.

What I Thought: I read My Life Next Door a few years ago and absolutely loved it, so when I found out there was going to be a book about Tim and Alice, I knew I had to read it. It took me a while to actually read it, but while I liked it, I didn’t like it as much as I loved My Life Next Door. I loved reading about Tim and Alice, and I loved seeing them fall for each other. I felt for Tim, who worked so hard to overcome his addictions, and trying to be responsible for Calvin and doing the right thing for him, even when it turned Calvin wasn’t his. I really related to Alice, who took on a lot of responsibility after her dad’s accident, and how much she has to deal with.

I did like seeing what things were really like for the Garrett’s, and how horrible Samantha’s mom really was. It seemed like she tried to do the right thing, at least for a while, but it didn’t seem to take long for her to try to get out of it, once she realized how much it was going to cost her. As much as I liked Tim and Alice, their story didn’t have the same hold that Jace and Samantha’s did. We barely saw them- which I get, considering we already got their story. But considering Jace is Alice’s brother, and both Jace and Samantha are best friends with Tim, you’d think they’d pop up more than they actually did. It just didn’t have the same magic that My Life Next Door did. I think part of it is that the book randomly switches between Tim and Alice’s narration- you’ll get both of them narrating in the same chapter, and it didn’t work that well for me. It seemed too random and sudden, and it took me out of the story a little.

My Rating: 4 stars. I really liked The Boy Most Likely To, but it didn’t have the same appeal that My Life Next Door did.

Book Review: Heartless, Conviction, and Court Of Fives

heartless-cover-marissa-meyerBook #1: Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Published November 2016 by Feiwel & Friends|464 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Re-telling

What It’s About: Long before she was the terror of Wonderland, she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love. Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.

Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

In her first stand-alone teen novel, the New York Times-bestselling author dazzles us with a prequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

What I Thought: I really liked Heartless!  The Lunar Chronicles is one of my favorite series, and when I found out Meyer was coming out with another book, I knew I had to read it!  At first, I wasn’t sure about it, and initially, it was just okay.  But the more I read, the more I fell in love with the book, and the more I liked Catherine.

She’s an interesting character, and at first, she really is the sweetest person who loves baking.  It was hard to see her becoming the Queen Of Hearts that we all know in Alice In Wonderland, but the change she made into the character we all know was really believable.  It was a pretty fast change, but it worked for her character, and it was easy the events that led to her change were so easy to believe and made perfect sense for her.

By the time I was finished, I was ready for more set in this world, and that was when I realized that it was a stand-alone.  Which is fine, since it is Meyer’s take on Alice In Wonderland and the Queen Of Hearts.  But I am curious to see what Alice In Wonderland would be like if it were done by Meyer, because she did something pretty cool with Cinder.

My Rating: 4 stars.  It took me a little bit to get into Heartless, but by the end, I really wanted more set in this world!

conviction-coverBook #2: Conviction by Kelly Loy Gilbert

Published May 2015 by Disney Hyperion|352 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

What It’s About: Ten years ago, God gave Braden a sign, a promise that his family wouldn’t fall apart the way he feared.

But Braden got it wrong: his older brother, Trey, has been estranged from the family for almost as long, and his father, the only parent Braden has ever known, has been accused of murder. The arrest of Braden’s father, a well-known Christian radio host, has sparked national media attention. His fate lies in his son’s hands; Braden is the key witness in the upcoming trial.

Braden has always measured himself through baseball. He is the star pitcher in his small town of Ornette, and his ninety-four-mile-per-hour pitch already has minor league scouts buzzing in his junior year. Now the rules of the sport that has always been Braden’s saving grace are blurred in ways he never realized, and the prospect of playing against Alex Reyes, the nephew of the police officer his father is accused of killing, is haunting his every pitch.

Braden faces an impossible choice, one that will define him for the rest of his life, in this brutally honest debut novel about family, faith, and the ultimate test of conviction.

What I Thought: I really wanted to like Conviction, and it seemed like it would be a great book, but it ended up being really frustrating to read. There were so many different angles, and I felt like none of them really got the attention they deserved. There’s Braden, and the complicated family stuff- his mom left him, and the same happened with his half-brother’s mom. There’s a dad, who seems abusive, and pushed baseball on his kids because his dream of being a professional baseball died when he got injured. And all of the stuff with a brother, who’s gay, and was kicked out and basically almost killed by their dad. On top of that, Braden’s dad is accused of killing a cop, and people may or may not have lied about what happened that night.

I felt like a lot of things weren’t clear, like with what happened on the night that the cop died, and things were hinted at, but for the most part, nothing was clearly mentioned or explained. That was when it matched up with what was previously mentioned in the book, and there was definitely at least one time, where things didn’t match up at all.

Not only that, but you have different time lines- there’s Braden’s memories of his dad, there what happened the night the cop died, and what was going on in the present, and it made things less coherent and really jumbled. It didn’t feel very focused, and I felt like I was reading all of these different pieces that didn’t really come together. The flashbacks were also poorly done in my opinion, and randomly thrown in with no transitions before and after.

My Rating: 2 stars. I didn’t dislike it enough to give it 1 star, but it was really confusing and all over the place. I can see why people like it, but it wasn’t for me.

court-of-fives-coverBook #3: Court Of Fives by Kate Elliott

Published August 2015 by Little, Brown Books For Young Readers|448 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Court Of Fives #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

What It’s About: On the Fives court, everyone is equal.

And everyone is dangerous.

Jessamy’s life is a balance between acting like an upper-class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners. But away from her family, she can be whomever she wants when she sneaks out to train for the Fives, an intricate, multilevel athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom’s best competitors.

Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an improbable friendship between the two Fives competitors—one of mixed race and the other a Patron boy—causes heads to turn. When Kal’s powerful, scheming uncle tears Jes’s family apart, she’ll have to test her new friend’s loyalty and risk the vengeance of a royal clan to save her mother and sisters from certain death.

In this imaginative escape into an enthralling new world, World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott’s first young adult novel weaves an epic story of a girl struggling to do what she loves in a society suffocated by rules of class and privilege.

What I Thought: I picked up Court Of Fives based solely on the recommendation of Gail Carriger, and it was a fun, interesting read. I do feel like there are a lot of similar books out there, plot-wise but I really liked this one because it felt different enough to hold my attention. I really liked the competition, and how things aren’t what they seem.

It’s interesting that the history they know seems to be slightly different than what actually happened (which isn’t surprising at all), and I was really intrigued by the original story, and the parallels to Jessamy’s family, particularly with her parents. I did like that her dad stuck by her mom, even though it would have advanced his career a lot more. He still seemed really ambitious, and it didn’t seem to matter in the end, since they lost their main protector. But it did seem to matter to him, at least for a little while.

I kind of wish the competition was explained a little more, because even now, I’m not quite sure how to explain it, or even what it is. Something about it reminded me of the actual Hunger Games, but far less deadly. And something that relies a lot more on actual practice and logic and strategy. I’m definitely looking forward to reading the rest of the series, and how things work out for Jessamy and her family.

My Rating: 4 stars. This was intriguing and interesting and a really good read.