Hello, fellow book junkies! I’m almost afraid to check and see how long it’s actually been since I wrote a blog post. Sometimes, major life changes get so big and numerous they seem to pick me up and tumble me around for a while.
My whirlwind of the last year consisted of positive things: relocating to a rural, wild-west kind of town in the Mojave Desert, working toward a creative writing degree, and setting up a new piano lessons studio. They’re all good changes but have kept me away from my passions of writing fiction, reading books, and blogging.
But that’s how life is sometimes, and it’s okay.
I’m really itching to write YA fiction again and to read lots of new books. What are some great new YA books that have come out lately? I’d love if you could share!
Hello, fellow book junkies! Here’s a fun trick to try when your TBR list gets longer than a Duck Dynasty character’s beard. You know those books you clicked on as “want to read” way back when? They looked wonderful at the time, but in hindsight maybe they don’t need to take up quite so much space on your TBR. “Down the TBR Hole” is a brilliant way to whittle books off your list. It comes from Lia @ Lost in a Story, and I first saw it on Regina @ Bookish in Bed’s blog, so thanks, Regina!
How to go Down the TBR Hole: 1. Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf. 2. List books in ascending order (oldest first). 3. Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books. 4. Read the synopses of the books. 5. Decide: keep it or should it go?
Here are my five picks for the week. Let’s see if any make the cut.
When, oh, when will I finally get around to reading this timeless classic?! Anne of Green Gables is only 320 pages long, so I suppose even if it doesn’t totally keep my interest, it’ll be a quick read. Judging by the quote, it’s a pretty joyful story, too, which is something I can always use more of: “Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”
I’m kind of on the fence about this book. Some readers had a hard time with the oppressor-oppressed romance and relating to the main characters. It’s also a very heavy story–understandable considering the theme. Lies We Tell Ourselves has a lot going for it too. It’s an important story about racial oppression, which is something we have a long way to go toward needing to improve in society today. Apparently, Robin Talley has a great writing style (which is a big plus for me). It’s also well-researched, which is cool since I’ve been liking historical fiction a lot more lately. Oh, and we mustn’t there’s an F/F romance.
Is anyone else weary of stories about characters whose relatives die? This book opens with a nice, voice-y protagonist mentioning that her mother and sister have died. Uh-oh. I get that people die, and it is a very, very sad thing, but there are ways to build conflict and tension in a novel without needing people to die all the time. The opening of The Sky is Everywhere also has the MC saying her grandmother believes “a particular houseplant. . . reflects my emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being.” Quirky. I like it.
The Everafter has an average 3.71 rating on Goodreads. That’s a little on the low side, but then again rating isn’t everything. I loved The Graces by Laura Eve, for example, and can’t fathom why Goodreads insists it is only a 3.28 star read. Reviews of The Everafter also abound with the word “depressing.” That’s not a good sign. It’s hard enough to stay positive without reading a depressing story. Sorry but. . .
I really enjoyed books one and two of Kasie West’s Pivot Point and have been wanting to read something else by her. The Distance Between Us intrigues me with its premise: “Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers studies the rich like her own personal science experiment. However, the book is also labeled by some readers as a “cheesy romance.” (I should’ve have looked a little closer at the cover). I prefer books that explore human connections beyond stereotypical boy-girl romance, so. . .
Checking out ebooks on Overdrive is one of my favorite things. Who would ever have guessed that would happen? Flashback to three years ago, me on my soapbox, declaring: “I must have hard copies of books. Reading books isn’t the same without something to hold in my hands, pages to flip.” So now I’m pretty much converted. I officially read more e-books than hard copy books. I like being able to enlarge the font or brighten the screen on my Kindle Paperwhite, especially with its cover that makes me feel like I’m holding a real book (thanks for the Christmas present, hubby.)
Which takes me to why I’ve come to love Overdrive. It’s so great to be able to log in to Overdrive using my local library card and get access to all the ebooks in my county library system. And then have them send directly to my Kindle. Lately, however, it seems every single book I want on Overdrive is already checked out. This even includes older books like Unspoken from 2012 and Alexandra Bracken’s The Darkest Minds from 2011.
So now I’m in this odd book-reading holding pattern. Since I must have something to read every day, as I wait for books I really want to read, I’m settling for books I kinda want to read–but which aren’t overly long so I’m not too invested once the book I really want comes off hold. You get me, right, fellow book junkies? 😀
Here are the elusive little whippersnapper books Overdrive refuses to release to me yet. All of them so good. All of them so not-yet-available.
Oh, and if Murphy’s Law of library books holds true, after waiting so (im)patiently for all of these books, probably all four will come off hold at exactly the same time, right? Meaning I’ll have two weeks to read them all. (Overdrive doesn’t allow renewals, so two weeks is it.)
Thanks to the beautiful book blogger with exquisite reading tastes, Cover2CoverMom, for this awesome book tag because, well, reflecting on books and movies might possibly make me happier than not having to wake up for work in the morning.
Best Book I’ve Read So Far In 2017
Illluminae by Amie Kaufman. It’s thrilling and entertaining. The hardcover version is super creatively presented through e-mails, case notes, diagrams, etc., but let me tell you a little secret: the audio book version is amazing, too. I worried it might not capture the unique storytelling of the hardcopy version, but the audio book was GREAT. No wonder it won the 2016 Audie Award for Multi-Voiced Performance!
Best Sequel I’ve Read So Far In 2017
Looking back on this year’s books so far, I’m surprised how few sequels I’ve read–or rather, maybe not that surprised, since I’ve always favored stand-alones. Nonetheless, in this category, I’ll have go with A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3) by V.E. Schwab. (More about that in a different category below.)
New Release I Haven’t Read Yet, But Want To
I’m excited about Renee Ahdieh’s newest book, Flame in the Mist. Her writing is lovely and the story takes place in Japan, so. . .
Most Anticipated Release for the Second Half of the Year
Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo!!!
Bardugo KNOWS how to write action and adventure. Her female characters are so strong–I’m thinking of Nina and Inej from Six of Crows. Yep, surely Bardugo will knock it out of the park with Wonder Woman.
Uh-oh. Okay, this is kind of like a kid being disappointed because Santa brought a shiny new bicycle rather than the motorized scooter the kid was expecting, but I have to say my biggest disappointment might have been A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab (gasp! my FAVORITE AUTHOR?!). Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the book immensely, but the disappointment stemmed from how a couple of huge plot points raised in the first book–that I was dying to see resolved–were glossed over in the finale. Otherwise, A Conjuring of Light was fantastic.
Because I was intrigued by the story and atmosphere of the movie Carol starring the Cate Blancett and Rooney Mara (probably two of the best actresses working right now), I wanted to read the book it’s based on. The The Price of Salt. gave me one of my favorite new (well, from the 1950s) writers, Patricia Highsmith. Her writing is flawless. I loved every word of The Price of Salt.
EVERY character in Laini Taylor’s Strange the Dreamer. Seriously, you guys, you have to read this one. The world-building will whisk you away.
Book That Made Me Cry
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry definitely made me cry. There were truly noble characters and powerful, moving moments. I definitely wiped tears from my cheeks as I read.
Book That Made Me Happy
Shocker: I don’t read a lot of happy books, so back we go to Illuminae. It made me happy because it had a fresh concept and was utterly entertaining.
Favorite Book to Film Adaptation I’ve Seen This Year
Wonder Woman!!!!!!!!! The scene when Diana bravely charges into No Man’s Land to draw enemy fire so the others can cross fires me up every time. Did you know the movie studio wanted director Patty Jenkins to REMOVE THIS SCENE ENTIRELY? It is the BEST SCENE IN THE MOVIE. Thank God Jenkins stuck to her guns.
Favorite Review I’ve Written This Year
This year has been so crazy busy I’m happy to have written ANY reviews!
Most Beautiful Book I’ve Bought So Far This Year
The blue and gold cover of Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor is everything. What a gorgeous color combination. I already liked it from the pictures I’d seen, but when I held the book in my hand, the gold shimmered and seemed three-dimensional. Beautiful!
Books I Need To Read By The End Of This Year
So. Many. The average number of books I read is WAY down from ten books to around four, so my TBR’s backing up worse than my kitchen sink at Thanksgiving. These are some of the many books I’d like to get to before the end of the year:
The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski
Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne Valente-Must read this if for no other reason than it has the longest title I’ve ever seen.
The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas – Because EVERYONE is talking about it.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – I can’t believe I didn’t get to this in high school–sorry, Mrs. Bernard!
Ten Thousand Skies Above You (Firebird #2) by Claudia Gray
Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins
Alanna: The First Adventure (Song of the Lioness #1) by Tamora Pierce – I haven’t read any Tamora Pierce yet and really want to!
Hello, fellow book junkies and happy last day of 2016! Before launching into an exciting new year, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the best YA books and authors I read in 2016. I surpassed my 100-book reading challenge by 18 books and met many five-star worthy reads but, ultimately, these are the books that left the most lingering impression. Here’s the best of 2016.
Favorite New Author
V.E./Victoria Schwab – Thank you, 2016, for introducing me to the writing genius of Victoria “V.E.” Schwab. My gateway drug into Schwab ‘s amazing books was A Darker Shade of Magic, followed by: A Gathering of Shadows, Vicious, and This Savage Song. Oh, and I got to meet her at a book signing (my very first one). Yes, I am officially a Schwabling (at least I think that’s what they’re calling us diehard Schwab fans.)
Honorable mention: A.S. King – Her writing style is completely original and imaginative. I may not always love the plot, but I can’t get enough of her writing. I recommend starting with Reality Boy or Please Ignore Vera Dietz.
Without question, my favorite series was The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater! It had everything: memorable characters, amazing writing, off-the-hook world-building, great plot twists. Once I started with The Raven Boys, I could not stop.
The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter. I usually avoid sad stories, but Kletter is stunningly talented, and this story about a broken girl really moved me.
Honorable mention:The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner. Zentner got me good on this one. Tears were running down my cheeks before I fully realized what was happening.
The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella. Narrated in the best kind of wry, British style by Kathryn Kellgren. This fish out of water story made me laugh out loud, and the audiobook was perfect for listening to while putting around in the car.
Best Small Press Standalone
Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. It took a few chapters for things to come together, but once they did, there was no looking back.
The #1 Book No One Else Seems to Like But Me
The Graces by Laura Eve – I’m so glad I got a hold of this deliciously deadly, atmospheric book early on as a Netgalley ARC because otherwise I might have been turned off by the low 3.23 rating it currently has on Goodreads. Here’s to teen witches and morally ambiguous characters.
I would love to hear about YOUR favorite books of the year. To step up this challenge and give a massive New Year’s shout-out to bloggers who have brought so much bookish joy and friendship to my year, I hereby tag:
Hello, fellow book junkies! Well, here’s a recap of the final books I read in the year 2016. Each book was super unique and there were lots of YA speculative genres represented: fantasy, time travel, sci-fi, paranormal, f/f, dystopia0, horror. The flash reviews are listed by how much I liked each book, leading down to two fabulous five-star reads at the end.
The Dreamcatcher by Barrett – YA paranormal, F/F relationship, WOC main character. Dark magic influenced by Indigenous folklore (maybe). Adorable romance, but the paranormal element missed the mark. I’m getting nervous about reading books by YA authors who only go by one name. (See review for The 52nd by Dela). 3.5/5 stars
Side Jobs, Short Stories from the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher– This adult paranormal detective short story collection was recommended to me by my husband. Interesting concept. Funny, self-deprecating protagonist Harry Dresden is both a private detective and a warlock. The stories were entertaining until I lost interest about halfway through the book. Highlight: Murphy, the female non-magic police officer tiny in stature but with a big don’t-mess-with-me attitude. 3.75/5 stars
The Reader by Traci Chee – Officially one of my top eight favorite reads of 2016. This YA fantasy magic-adventure-fairy tale is engrossing and brilliantly structured with fantastic world-building, the kind of deliriously good book that whisks you away. Book two now, please. 5/5 stars
So long, books of 2016. Hello to all the new books to be read in 2017!
Hello, fellow book junkies! See that collage of books up there? Those are the diverse books I read in 2016. As I reflect on this topic, two key things come to mind:
#1 What exactly is a diverse book? My friend Naz @ Read Diverse Books explores this topic well in his post here, where he defines diverse books as those which “represent the variety of voices traditionally marginalized and underrepresented in the (Western) publishing industry.” Elsewhere on the ‘net I ran across a definition of diverse books as including books written by authors from minority backgrounds.
#2 I must read more diverse books!
During the course of the past year, I thought I had read many more diverse books, but as I reviewed the list, I was surprised that only 12% of them qualified as books written by minority authors and/or representing marginalized voices. I love fiction that explores new cultures and alternate ways of perceiving the world. Expanding awareness is one of my favorite things, so toward that end, I will make a concerted effort to read more diverse books in 2017.
Without further adieu, here are the diverse books I read in 2016.
Books written by authors from minority backgrounds:
Hello, fellow book junkies! In the merry month of December, I’m strolling down memory lane and reminiscing about the wonderful books I read in 2016. Today I’d like to share with you about my favorite cover of the year, plus my new fictional crush.
And, somehow, the cover of The Star-Touched Queen nearly manages to capture the ethereal beauty of Roshani Chokshi’s writing.
The cover of This Savage Song is so eye-catching. I like the combination of black and red, and the best part is the font. Plus, seeing covers on the computer, it’s easy to miss the fine detail that goes into the artwork, but if you look closely at this cover, inside the violin is an image of an urban alleyway. Pretty cool.
There’s something about The Graces cover that appeals to me–the symmetry, perhaps? Another thing about this book, I really liked it, but for some reason it has a low 3.23 on Goodreads. I disagree!
And the winner is. . .
A Thousand Pieces of You. This cover is a genuine work of art. Look at those watercolors and that genius reflection. This is a cover for the ages.
New Fictional Crush
And, lastly, a quick word about my new fictional crush. I know, I know, I’m several years behind on Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series, but I am
finally getting caught up and loving how adventuresome, stoic, and gorgeous Zane is in Pretties (Uglies #2). He will definitely give David a run for his money. I choose you, Zane!!
Hello, fellow book junkies! It’s December, a fine time for reflecting on all the wonderful books read in 2016. For days 3 and 4 of @AnneReads’ “All the Books of 2016″ challenge , I’d like to share with you about my new (for the year, and possibly all-time) favorite author and my biggest reading surprise of 2016.
“New Favorite Author”
This past February I was blown away by a little tome of amazingness called A Darker Shade of Magic, written by V.E. Schwab. The writing, characters, and world-building were all outstanding. If you want to know how I felt about discovering this new author, imagine the scene in the movie Young Frankenstein when Madeline Kahn sings.
A week later, V.E. Schwab blew into my town to promote A Gathering of Shadows, so that’s when I decided to attend my first book signing. 🙂 I wrote about it here. In addition to adult fiction, V.E. Schwab publishes YA under the name Victoria Schwab. She’s super connected to her fans. Check out her honest, funny Twitter feed here.
“Biggest Reading Surprise of 2016”
Omigosh, there’s a revelation about one of the characters in Maggie Steifvater’s The Raven Boys that took me by such surprise that it’s quite possible I may still be recovering from it. If you’ve read the book, you surely know what I’m referring to. If you haven’t read it, then by all means get started. The Raven Cycle series is so good!!!
Hello, fellow book junkies! I am thrilled to share this first in a series of retrospective bookish challenges for each day of December. I first noticed “All the Books of 2016” (created by @AnneReads for #bookstagram) on Cristina @ My Tiny Obsessions‘ blog and knew right away I had to do it. Think about reading? Delight in all the books I’ve read this year? Yes, please. XD
In case you’d like to do it too, here are all the challenges @AnneReads came up with:
For this post, I’d like to start with challenges 1 and 2. . .
“First Read of the Year”
My first read of 2016 was The Diviners by the “divinely” talented Libba Bray. This spooky paranormal YA story set in 1920s NYC was a fun book to start the year with. I happily lost myself in the adventures of Bray’s amazing characters and felt transported right out of the 21st century. At 578 pages, The Diviners was the second longest book I read–the longest being book #2 in the Diviners series, Lair of Dreams, at a whopping 618 pages. Which brings me to my next topic. . .
“Shortest Book I Read”
If graphic novels don’t count, then the shortest book I read was The Day We are Born by Philippa Cameron at 210 pp. I wish I had more to say about this book but, alas, the story did not rise to the level of the evocative title.