December Wrap Up, Part Two

In comparison to the first half of the month, the second half of December was absolutely awful. I’m in the middle of several books at the moment, so the first half of January is likely to be similar. I was trying to finish them up, but blogging takes a lot of time and I have so many posts to get out because whoops, I sucked at blogging in December too. I’m trying to be better in January, but man, it’s really hard to work full time and do literally anything else. Why is that?

This month I read 14 books for a total of 5,332 pages. The first half of the month contained all five of my five star reads, but the second half of the month had okay reads. Yeah… Let’s just hop right in!


12. Uprootedby Naomi Novik

I very much enjoyed the reading experience of this book, but I’m not sure it’s stuck with me the way that I thought it would. The beginning of this book is amazing and perfect. And then we have the usual young girl who winds up falling in love with the super old but looks young man, which is not a trope I love. I wish Twilight had been both the first and last book I read with that trope but it’s not been. That said, I enjoyed the magic in this book and I liked the female friendship elements, but also, I wish that the characters had been a little more developed. I gave this book 5/5 stars as soon as I finished it, but I’d say that upon reflection it might be much closer to a 3.5.


13. The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

I have such mixed feelings about this book that can basically be summed up with I adore Agatha and Sophie can choke. For some inexplicable reason, every time it seems like Sophie’s going to learn a lesson and grow, she manages to still revert to being a trash can human and I just cannot comprehend that concept. That said, my love for Agatha carried me through the first book in the series and through the beginning of the second.

If you haven’t heard of this middle grade series, it’s basically about this village from which two twelve year olds are kidnapped every four years and taken to The School for Good and Evil. One of the children is “pure good” and the other is “pure evil.” In theory it does a great job of examining the fact that the “good” people are always beautiful and blonde (but Agatha is none of those things and is good) and the “bad” people are always ugly. In actual effect, Sophie’s fat shaming never feels like it’s appropriately tackled and happens what feels like incessantly. So I enjoyed the book, but did not love it.


14. Only Enchantingby Mary Balogh

I know that I didn’t love Someone to Wed, but Balogh pulled me right back into her writing with Only Enchanting. There was only one thing that bothered me–there’s this whole section where the Viscount is thinking about how Agnes is basically a virgin even though she’s a widow because of the lack of passion in her first marriage. So other than that extremely irritating piece, I really enjoyed this book and would love to read more from the Survivor’s Club series. Flavian and Agnes are a couple that I just really enjoyed. Flavian’s injuries from the war have resulted in memory issues and a stammer, but something about Agnes makes him feel safe. I’m mostly thankful for this book for breaking me out of my slump-y feeling. I hadn’t finished a book for 11 days before I finished this one. Ridiculous!


And there you have it! Everything I read in December. This month was full of a lot of starting and not finishing books though so genuinely, hopefully January gets off to a better start. What was your favorite December read? Mine was Lair of Dreams and I’m so excited for my Audible credit to come through tomorrow! Oh, and The Hate U Give and Hunger. All excellent novels.

xx

January TBR

We’re trying something new in 2018, y’all, and I hope it works, but I am a little nervous about it. In an attempt to tackle my owned TBR and the books that I’m more reluctant to pick up, I made a TBR jar of my owned non-fiction books and one of my literary fiction/books that I’m less likely to pick up because… Well, I don’t really have a reason. Anyway, so that’s two of the jars and then the third one is for the re-reads I’ve decided I have to make something super important in 2018. So, long story short, I have three books on this list based on my new TBR jars. Plus, my January book of the month and the Storytime with Squibbles pick of the month! So, let’s dive in!


1. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

This is my re-read for the month so that I can eventually read La Belle Savage, which is the new installment, prequel thing to the series. Plus, I loved this story as a child so I’m very excited to dive back into the world. Once I finish it, I’m hoping I’ll be motivated to go ahead and pick up the second and third books in the series as they are all on my re-read list of 2018.


2. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

This has been on a TBR before, but it’s now one of my Read Harder Challenge prompts and I found it on audiobook through Hoopla so I’m finally going to read this book in 2018. It’s finally happening. Woo!

This is a series of essay from the incredible and incomparable Roxane Gay, who wrote Hunger, one of my favorites of the year and I think definitely my favorite nonfiction of the year. You’ll see my final decision in a few days on that one. I am really excited to get to this book!


3. All the Light We Cannot Seeby Anthony Doerr

I picked this up right before Christmas and when I posted about it in my Instagram stories I got several messages from people I know IRL who were so excited because they love this book. So I’m excited and also had to pull it from the jar because it’s adult and sometimes I’m just really slow to pick those up. But I do love historical fiction and I haven’t been reading as much (non-romance) historical fiction recently so I’m excited to finally get to this.

This book is about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

Marie-Laure lives in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where her father works. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, Werner Pfennig, an orphan, grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find that brings them news and stories from places they have never seen or imagined. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments and is enlisted to use his talent to track down the resistance.

Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.


4. The Round House by Louise Erdrich

This is the Storytime with Squibbles book club pick of the month and I’m so excited! This book is another one that tackles issues related to sexual assault, which I’ve been reading when I’m in the mood to set the world on fire (which has been quite often lately, actually). I’m also extremely excited to read about this from a Native American woman’s perspective. I realized I epically failed at reading Native voices in 2017 so I’m very excited to begin 2018 on the right note.

“Erdrich’s The Round House is a page-turning masterpiece of literary fiction – at once a powerful coming-of-age story, a mystery, and a tender, moving novel of family, history, and culture.” How could I not be excited to read this?


5. Love, Hate, and Other Filtersby Samira Ahmed

This is the book I’ve selected to be my January release of the month. I think this book is going to be incredibly powerful and important. I’ve already hear comparisons to The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. So this book is definitely a must read and I’m quite excited to start out 2018 with this book!


What books are on your January TBR? Let me know in the comments below!

xx

2017 End of Year Reading Survey

I saw this on Kayla’s channel, aka BooksandLala, and it seems like such a good way to start wrapping up the year before I bombard you with all of my favorites of the year. There are going to be three separate posts about that… Sorry not sorry. Anyway, Kayla pulled these from The Perpetual Page Turner‘s 200 questions. I’m just doing the ones Kayla did because I’m lazy, honestly.


1. How many books did you read?

According to Goodreads and as of December 30th at 4:07pm, I’ve read 238 books. I’ll probably hit 239 by the 1st, provided the rest of the night can be as devoted to reading as I would like. We’ll see how it goes.


2. Did you meet your goal?

Lol, let me tell you about my Goodreads goal. I hit it too quickly when I set it to 52 because I read a TON of romance novels at the beginning of this year to escape from law school because it was terrible. So I raised it to 100 and then I hit that too quickly so I raised it again to 200 because I don’t like to meet my goals too soon or something, idk. Anyway, I succeeded at reading over 200 books, but like, that goal was fake so it’s cool, but not that cool. So next year, I’m making my goal 100 and I’m not going to change it now matter how quickly I hit it.


3. Most read genre?

Romance. Easily. I think historical romance beat out contemporary romance, but I read over 100 romance novels this year.


4. Longest and shortest books you read.

The longest book I read this year was actually one I listened to on audio, The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss. This is the sequel to The Name of the Wind and the audiobook was 42 hours and 59 minutes long because it is 994 pages.

The shortest book I read this year was Beyond Denial, a 15 page short story by Kit Rocha.


5. Favorite book published in 2017?

I cannot pick just one, y’all, I really can’t. Right now, this minute, we’ll go with The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli. But there’s also, Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai, which I adore so, so much. And then we have the light-hearted I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maureen Goo, which was so cute and happy and I just loved it so much. Honestly, WHO KNOWS?

However, since we’re going with The Upside of Unrequited, let’s talk about how Becky Albertalli wrote a book about a girl who is exactly who I was in high school to the point that I cried, had an anxiety attack, and then finished the rest of the book because it was so good and cathartic. It’s kind of terrifying to be that seen? I don’t know if that’s something that makes sense to anyone else, but I’m telling you, for me, it is terrifying. Also, I need to progress past Molly and embrace being Becky Albertalli. Haha.


6. Favorite debut book in 2017?

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas because how could I pick something else? But actually, I also adored Done Dirt Cheap which was also a debut. Also there was Saints and Misfits, which was absolutely incredible and so important. So those three are my top debuts of 2017 and I am absolutely picking up future books by all three authors.

The Hate U Give is one that I’m sure you’ve heard of and if you haven’t, I’m not sure how you’ve missed the phenomenon that is THUG. Angie Thomas writes such realistic and beautiful relationship dynamics between siblings, between parent and child, between parents, between neighbors, between classmates… You get the point. Angie Thomas is a Queen and I cannot wait to pick up her next book.


7. Favorite book not published this year?

Hold Me by Courtney Milan was published in 2016 and is absolutely one of my favorite books of the year. I didn’t know I was capable of caring more about Maria than Tina because Tina is so precious, and I really didn’t think I would care about Jay as much as I care about my little smol child, Blake, but uh… Yeah, I did. I do. Maria and Jay are the best couple to have ever coupled and I love them and their story so freaking much, I can’t stand it. This book is Milan at her most perfect, in my opinion, and I think Milan writes romance that is so believable and lovely and impactful so that’s saying something.

Another favorite of the year from pre-2017 was Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. An absolutely excellent YA Fantasy novel, honestly.


8. A book that lived up to the hype.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas has received so many awards and people in the online bookish community have lavished praise on this book because of how important it is. The importance is not at all an understatement, but also, the book is so well-written and the characters are so lovely that it absolutely deserves every bit of hype it gets.

I feel similarly about Simon vs. the Homosapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. This book was and is so remarkably well-written and Becky created characters you can’t help but fall in love with and utterly adore. Even the side characters are fully fleshed out and you just want them to all be happy. I’m so excited to see THUG and Love, Simon on the screen! It’s going to be a great year for adaptations in 2018, I just know it.


9. A book that did NOT live up to the hype.

The Vegetarian by Han Kang. This book is beloved by the lit fic world and has won awards, but goodness, I cannot tell you why. I hated this book. I think there’s a 90% chance that I’m just not smart enough for the book, but also, I’m a smart person so… Idk. I feel the same way about The Great Gatsby, like I must be missing something, but I’m pretty sure both books are just problematic af and I’m not here for that.


10. Book that felt like the biggest accomplishment?

Honestly, probably Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race because of how overwhelmingly reluctant I am to pick up nonfiction, especially nonfiction that isn’t in audio format or a memoir. This book was such a great read and I made it through fairly quickly and would absolutely recommend. But I definitely felt so accomplished for making it through!


11. Favorite character.

JUST ONE? How am I supposed to choose? Probably Livvy from Hate to Want You because I really related to her, even though we really don’t have much in common. Or Molly from Upside because same girl. Or Inej from Six of Crows because holy cow, batman. What an amazing human. Or NINA from Six of Crows cause my girl is a Hufflepuff and I love her. Or Collin from the Bridgerton series by Julia Quinn. Or Sera from The Day of the Duchess. Honestly, just there are so many characters I love.


12. Least favorite character.

Oh goodness. Right now it’s Mabel from The Diviners series because she is tHE MOST ANNOYING and I cannot with her.


13. Most shocking book/moment.

*Spoiler Alert for Crooked Kingdom*

MATTIAS

I couldn’t believe it. I’m still bitter.


14. Favorite couple/OTP.

Maria and Jay from Hold Me. My forever faves.


15. The best written book you read this year.

Oh dang. These questions are tough… I’m going with Far From the Tree by Robin Benway. I felt like the book was exquisitely crafted and I really appreciated how unique each characters voice was in the POVs, as well as how she managed to create such a wide cast of side characters without them feeling repetitive or flat. It absolutely deserved the National Book Award (which is not to say that others did not, just, this one was great).


16. Book that you pushed the most people to read in 2017.

Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai is a book that I literally have not shut up about since I read it. I don’t know if I’ve convinced anyone to pick it up, but it’s the one I’ve tried the hardest to get people to read, I think.


17. Favorite book cover of the year.

Ooh, I have a couple choices for this one. Bad Romance by Heather DeMetrios is stunning, but also I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maureen Goo has the prettiest spine ever. They also both contain really incredible stories.


18. What book made you cry the most?

I cried reading Hate to Want You too many times. It was just SO GOOD.


19. What book made you laugh the most?

Ooh, I am unsure… Maybe Beauty and the Mustache? Penny Reid’s sense of humor in that book just really got me. But also, I know I laughed quite a few times listening to Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick. She’s honestly just so funny and self-deprecating in a way that’s relatable and not depressing.


20. A new favorite author you discovered this year.

I’m interpreting this as not a debut author, but regardless I think my answers would be the same. I have so many answers for this honestly, so I’m just going to list them in chronological order. Sarina Bowen, Alisha Rai, Julia Quinn, Lisa Kleypas, Kelly Bowen, Becky Albertalli, Alyssa Cole, and Kit Rocha. So mostly romance authors who are the easiest to binge read, I feel, which results in them easily sky-rocketing to favorites and must buys.


21. Favorite book you re-read this year.

Omg, did I even re-read anything besides A Wrinkle in Time? THIS IS NOT A QUESTION I SHOULD HAVE TO ASK. I did not. This is why one of my goals is to re-read more books.


22. Were you happy with your reading year?

Yes. I thought it was really great, actually. I read a ton of amazing books and really got to delve into romance more fully.


23. What will you do different in 2018?

I have got to re-read more in 2018. I’m also trying to read the books that I own and get my TBR back down to a somewhat reasonable amount. Please.


And there you have some answers to some very fun questions. 2017 is basically over and I’m honestly just so amazed we survived. So, here’s to 2018 and surviving another year!

xx

2018 Reading Goals

I’ve been thinking a lot about my goals for my reading in 2018. I’m not necessarily someone who likes to set a ton of New Years Resolutions because I mostly don’t keep them, but I think it’s important to critically evaluate the reading I’m doing to make sure I’m spending my time reading in a way that’s benefiting me. So these are just a few goals I have for myself in 2018.


1. Read More Nonfiction

Even though this is not my favorite genre, now that I’m out of school, for good, I feel like I should probably start learning the things no one bothered to teach me in school, to read books that challenge me and my thinking or further my feminist theory and knowledge, and let’s just go ahead and throw in some more celebrity memoirs for levity. Interestingly, it seems that audiobooks and non-fiction is apparently the best way for me to read this unfavored genre so we’ll see how it goes. Some of the books I would like to get through in 2018 include Bad Feministand Shrill.


2. Read More Male Authors

If your eyebrows have shot up because virtually everyone whose voice is loud (i.e. the book reviewers at The New York Times) need to be reading more women, I read virtually no books by men. Fewer than 10% of the books I read in 2017 were by men and while I would like to continue not reading too many white men, especially dead white men, I would like to be a little more even in my numbers. By which I mean, just achieve 10%. So for every ten books I read, I only have to read one book by a man. This seems do-able. I would like to read more Santino Hassell and The Serpent King by Jeff Zetner so perhaps they will help me achieve this goal.


3. Read More Adult Books

I’m a real adult now–cue the sobbing–so I should probably start reading books that have characters in their–oh God–late 20s. But 26 is mid-twenties, right? So maybe just more New Adult. LOL, I DON’T KNOW ABOUT THIS GOAL, Y’ALL. We’ll figure it out though. It’ll be fine. Basically just read more books with women who are not 18 or younger. I read plenty of adult romance, so I’ve got that aspect covered, but I’m still reading so much YA fantasy and contemporary. I need to find adult books, including literary fiction, that I actually enjoy and can relate to the characters as they are in the book rather than my 17 year old self being like, “Hey! That’s me!” We’ll see.


4. Re-Read Books More

I’ve made myself a list, that I haven’t posted here yet, of 18 books I would like to re-read in 2018 because I’ve realized I’m quite terrible at re-reading my books anymore. I used to love to do that, but I haven’t re-read Pride and Prejudice, for example, since undergrad probably. At one point, I’d re-read it so many times my book fell apart. So it’s time for some re-reading to happen and to be a part of my life again. I’m really looking forward to this concentrated effort even though I’m also a bit nervous about re-reading Harry Potter after all this time.


5. Read More Diversely

I thought I’d done a pretty good job reading more diversely this year and that I just had a few trouble spots to sort out in 2018 and to an extent, I guess that’s true, but I didn’t even manage to hit 25% of my books being from authors of color in 2017. I was close, kind of. At the time I’m writing this I had read 48 books from authors of color out of 238. So, not really that close. But I’m also in the middle of four more books by authors of color I’m hoping to complete in the next three days. Wish me luck.

Anyway, due to reading most of Courtney Milan and Alisha Rai’s backlists, the amount of books I read by Asian American authors was significantly higher than any other demographic. I need to read more books by Latinx and Native authors in 2018 especially, but I need to increase the amount of books read by all marginalized racial/ethnic groups significantly. I would like to shoot for somewhere between 25-50%. I know that’s a wide range, but I’m bad at making goals, okay?

I would also like to read books by and about nonbinary, intersex, asexual, and trans characters next year. I read a total of seven books that meet those categories, which I think is mildly pathetic. I know there isn’t the largest selection of books about characters belonging to these marginalization, but there are definitely more than I’ve read. I’m definitely hoping to get to Tash Hearts Tolstoy next year.

Finally, I would like to read more books with characters who are neurodiverse and/or experience some sort of physical limitation/disability. I’m less concerned about hitting a specific number goal here because if I don’t beat five I’m concerned, but I do want to read more books that have this representation in them. One book I’m excited to hopefully get to in 2018 is You’re Welcome Universe, but I welcome any and all recommendations in this category.


I don’t know if that seems like a lot of goals to you, but I’m pretty excited to make sure that I’m doing better about making conscious decisions about the books I choose to read next year. I want to be more deliberate in both the books I pick up from the library as well as the ones I buy to ensure that I am able to meet these goals. Do you have any reading goals in 2018? Let me know in the comments down below!

xx

Reputation Book Tag

It’s been one month and eleven days since Reputation by Taylor Swift was released and I just found these book tags, so I feel betrayed and now I have three that I’m super excited to do. Fortunately, I’m going to two Taylor concerts this coming summer so I have appropriate points in time that I can be extra about Taylor Swift that make sense. First up, I bring you this tag by Sarah’s Bookshelves that made me subscribe to her immediately because ARE YOU KIDDING? This tag is the best. I am adding one element since I can’t play the music, which is that I’m inserting my favorite lyric from each song. So let’s get started.


1. Ready for It: A 2018 release you are READY FOR

Favorite Lyric: Every love in comparison is a failure

A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole, which I feel like I can’t stop talking about? Prince Harry’s engagement certainly didn’t curtail my excitement for this beautiful book. Also, the title of this series is Reluctant Royals? I’m so on board, it’s not even funny.


2. End Game: Characters that either SHOULD have been end game, or should NOT have been end game

Favorite Lyric: I don’t wanna miss you, like the other girls do; I don’t wanna hurt you, I just wanna be drinking on a beach with you all over me

There is no other option for me here than Dramione, as in Draco x Hermione because a) Draco deserved a redemption arc and b) Hermione deserved someone intelligent and ambitious and who would respect her for those things. And while Draco was absolutely awful to Hermione, this is where a) the redemption arc comes in and b) Draco never pretended to be anything but Hermione’s enemy. The thing that kills me the most about her relationship with Ron is that he was supposed to be her friend and yet he belittles her interests often. And that’s setting aside that fact that he left them in Deathly Hallows and everyone still insists he’s loyal. Bye.


3. I Did Something Bad: A character decision that was terrible, but you loved reading anyway

Favorite Lyric: If a man talks shit, then I owe him nothing

(Quick side note: I literally screamed when I heard this line, because Taylor Swift has embraced being 28 and I am LIVING for it.)

Hmm… The Female of the Species? It probably makes me a terrible person that I was cheering Alex on when she was engaged in violence, but like, don’t commit sexual violence, ya know?


4. Don’t Blame Me: A book or series you are shamelessly addicted to

Favorite Lyric: For you, I would cross the line

I know that Harry Potter is a thing that we’re all cool with loving now (WHERE WAS THIS ATTITUDE DURING HIGH SCHOOL?), but uh, I’m legitimately shameless. I wore my new Hufflepuff shirt to work out in today. I wore my Hufflepuff hair tie to the bar exam for good luck. I wear my Hufflepuff sweatpants with my Hogwarts t-shirt and Hufflepuff sweatshirt and it is a LOOK. My obsession is beyond what I feel like is cool, but I cannot be bothered. Plus, I got complimented on my shirt this morning so thanks for making my day, music teacher woman! I’m glad your kids love your Harry Potter decorated classroom.


5. Delicate: A book that has a bad reputation, but that you enjoyed

Favorite Lyric: We can’t make any promises now can we, babe? But you can make me a drink.

Oh buddy, unpopular opinion alert, but I enjoyed Fifty Shades of Grey. Listen, I think this book is hella problematic and even though I didn’t know it started as Twilight fanfiction, I still kept expecting Christian to turn out to be a vampire, but I enjoyed this book on several levels. For one, I enjoyed analyzing Christian as a character because he is one messed up dude. For another, I really liked watching Anastasia come into her own. If I re-read it today, I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to get past the problems, but at the time, I definitely enjoyed it.


6. Look What You Made Me Do: A book that book tube made you read

Favorite Lyric: Honey, I rose up from the dead, I do it all the time

The Night Circus! A Clockwork Reader on YouTube hauled yet another copy of it and I was like, dang, maybe I should read that? So I did–several months later–and I really enjoyed it (though not as much as she did!).


7. So It Goes…: A book you read but can’t remember anything about

Favorite Lyric: I’m yours to keep and I’m yours to lose

I’m relatively sure that I’ve in fact read all of Persuasion by Jane Austen, but I remember literally none of the details, which is making me question myself. It’s such a problem.


8. Gorgeous: A book with a gorgeous writing style

Favorite Lyric: You should take it as a compliment that I’m talking to everyone here but you (but you)

(This song is so relatable to my anxiety and the way I avoid people I like…)

I’m struggling so much to come up with an answer for this question and I cannot figure out why. I know I was recently raving about Kelly Bowen’s writing though, so we’ll go with The Lady in Red, which is the novella of hers I read recently. It was very good, though I’m still unclear why it’s holiday themed because, it’s set in the summer? I thought? Maybe I misread… But there’s definitely no holiday celebration.


9. Getaway Car: Your favorite love triangle

Favorite Lyric: I wanted to leave him, I needed a reason

I actually really enjoyed the love triangle in the To All the Boys I Loved Before series. I understood the progression and shifting dynamics in the relationships Lara Jean had with both Peter and John. But it ended the way I wanted, so I was pretty pleased. I haven’t read Always and Forever, Lara Jean yet though. It’s on my list!


10. King of My Heart: What character is the king of your heart? Fave character of all time.

Favorite Lyric: Say you fancy me, not fancy stuff and all at once this is enough

Oh my goodness, what a question… Probably Hermione Granger. Actually, definitely Hermione. I swear I tried not to answer Harry Potter things for all of these questions!


11. Dancing With Our Hands Tied: A book that started off great but had a bad ending

Favorite Lyric: I’m a mess, but I’m the mess that you wanted

Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe. Now, to say that it started off great is a bit of an exaggeration, but it started off in a way that I was enjoying: light, fun, not taking itself seriously. And then it went off the rails into completely ridiculous in a way that I hate, resulting in my rant post about it.


12. Dress: A new adult book you loved

Favorite Lyric: I’m spilling wine in the bathtub, you kiss my face and we’re both drunk

Hi, hello, have you read Sarina Bowen yet? Because I fell off the deep end and have read almost her entire backlist and I did it all in a month and a half because OH MY GOD, I love her. The The Ivy Years seriesis so obnoxiously good, I can’t handle it. Seriously, highly recommend if you haven’t tried them. SO GOOD.


13. This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Book that made you want to break everything you own (out of frustration, sadness, anger…)

Favorite Lyric: Because forgiveness is a nice thing to do… *maniacal cackling* I can’t even say it with a straight face

Well…. I threw Me Before You across the room because I was so upset so, we can go with that one. I might have been channeling the scene from Silver Linings Playbook where Bradley Cooper chucks his book out his window. It seemed cathartic. It wasn’t. Crying for ages afterward helped a bit.


14. Call it What You Want: A book title you would have call something else

Favorite Lyric: You don’t need to save me, but would you run away with me?

Honestly, The Lady in Red makes no sense as a title for that book. I do not get it. I know I need to stop repeating books in the same tag, but I can’t help it! I’m stuck on this one.


15. New Years Day: A book that you finished, but stuck with you the next day (and for life)

Favorite Lyric: Don’t read the last page, but I stay…

Do not say Harry Potter, do not say Harry Potter.

Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner pops in to my head at various moments in my life. It was the first book I read where a fat main character gets a happy ending even though she has to go through a lot to get it. A lot does not include losing weight though. I appreciate everything about that book, honestly, which is why I want to re-read it this year.


And there you have it! This tag was so fun for me to do and I hope you enjoyed it as well. If you also love Taylor Swift or you have a favorite lyric of your own, please leave it in the comments below because fangirling over Taylor Swift is so much a part of my life that my co-worker made a tally sheet to count how many times I talk about her. Whoops.

xx

18 Most Anticipated Books of 2018

There are a massive amount of books I’m excited about in 2018 and there’s a reason I like to have a most anticipated list that comes out seasonally, but here are the eighteen that I think I’m the most excited to get my hands on in the new year.


1. Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire

You’ve seen this book before on my Most Anticipated Books of Winter, so it should come as no surprise to find it here as well. The third book in the Wayward Children series, Beneath the Sugar Sky is apparently a direct sequel to the first book. I am incredibly excited to read it. As it’s a sequel, I will simply say that this series is about a school that takes in children who have gone to other worlds (think Narnia or Wonderland) and then return back to our earth and are unable to cope so they get sent to Eleanor’s Home for Wayward Children. While the second book was a prequel that followed two of the characters from the first book into the world they found, this book is apparently a blend of the school and a new world. I’m very excited to read it!

Release Date: January 9, 2018


2. Love, Hate, and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

This Own Voices novel about a Muslim American teen tackles dealing with normal teen issues and Islamaphobia and has been getting absolute rave reviews. I heard someone compare it to The Hate U Give and I am here for it! Like I said in my Most Anticipated Winter Edition, I’m trying to read books for more than just an escape and I think this book is a perfect book for that goal. Here is the Goodreads synopsis:

Maya Aziz is torn between futures: the one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter (i.e.; staying nearby in Chicago and being matched with a “suitable” Muslim boy), and the one where she goes to film school in New York City–and maybe, just maybe, kisses a guy she’s only known from afar. There’s the also the fun stuff, like laughing with her best friend Violet, making on-the-spot documentaries, sneaking away for private swimming lessons at a secret pond in the woods. But her world is shattered when a suicide bomber strikes in the American heartland; by chance, he shares Maya’s last name. What happens to the one Muslim family in town when their community is suddenly consumed with hatred and fear?

Release Date: January 16, 2018


3. A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole

I was already pumped about this book and then Prince Harry and Megan Markle got engaged and now I’m dying to get my hands on this book! Here’s the Goodreads synopsis:

Between grad school and multiple jobs, Naledi Smith doesn’t have time for fairy tales…or patience for the constant e-mails claiming she’s betrothed to an African prince. Sure. Right. Delete! As a former foster kid, she’s learned that the only things she can depend on are herself and the scientific method, and a silly e-mail won’t convince her otherwise.

Prince Thabiso is the sole heir to the throne of Thesolo, shouldering the hopes of his parents and his people. At the top of their list? His marriage. Ever dutiful, he tracks down his missing betrothed. When Naledi mistakes the prince for a pauper, Thabiso can’t resist the chance to experience life—and love—without the burden of his crown.

The chemistry between them is instant and irresistible, and flirty friendship quickly evolves into passionate nights. But when the truth is revealed, can a princess in theory become a princess ever after?

Release Date: February 27, 2018


4. Hello Stranger by Lisa Kleypas

I’ve been excited for this book since I read Kleypas’s interview in Cosmopolitan discussing how she’s started incorporating feminism more in her romance novels and let me just say that I’ve noticed. I cannot wait for this book which features Dr. Garrett Gibson, the only female doctor in England at the time. Love of my life, Dr. Gibson is. I’m just saying. Here’s the Goodreads blurb:

A woman who defies her time

Dr. Garrett Gibson, the only female physician in England, is as daring and independent as any man—why not take her pleasures like one? Yet she has never been tempted to embark on an affair, until now. Ethan Ransom, a former detective for Scotland Yard, is as gallant as he is secretive, a rumored assassin whose true loyalties are a mystery. For one exhilarating night, they give in to their potent attraction before becoming strangers again.

A man who breaks every rule

As a Ravenel by-blow spurned by his father, Ethan has little interest in polite society, yet he is captivated by the bold and beautiful Garrett. Despite their vow to resist each other after that sublime night, she is soon drawn into his most dangerous assignment yet. When the mission goes wrong, it will take all of Garrett’s skill and courage to save him. As they face the menace of a treacherous government plot, Ethan is willing to take any risk for the love of the most extraordinary woman he’s ever known.

Release Date: February 27, 2018


5. Tyler Johnson Was Hereby Jay Coles

I’m excited about this book for many reasons, not the least of which is that I think this book is going to add to the incredibly important and growing list of books that directly tackle police brutality against black bodies. In lighter reasons to be excited about this book, take a look at this gorgeous (and symbolic!) cover! Here’s the Goodreads blurb:

When Marvin Johnson’s twin, Tyler, goes to a party, Marvin decides to tag along to keep an eye on his brother. But what starts as harmless fun turns into a shooting, followed by a police raid.

The next day, Tyler has gone missing, and it’s up to Marvin to find him. But when Tyler is found dead, a video leaked online tells an even more chilling story: Tyler has been shot and killed by a police officer. Terrified as his mother unravels and mourning a brother who is now a hashtag, Marvin must learn what justice and freedom really mean.

Release Date: March 20, 2018


6. Hurts to Want Youby Alisha Rai

I am so in love with this series, it actually hurts. Alisha Rai is an amazing author and I’m so excited for Evangaline’s story, I cannot stand it. Also, are you kidding me? Livvy and Nico’s wedding? YES PLEASE. But just feast your eyes on this synopsis:

Well-behaved women don’t lust after men who love to misbehave.

Heiress Evangeline Chandler knows how to keep a secret . . . like her life-long crush on the tattooed hottie who just happens to be her big brother’s friend. She’s a Chandler, after all, and Chandlers don’t hook up with the help. Then again, they also don’t disobey their fathers and quit their respectable jobs, so good-girl rules may no longer apply.

Gabriel Hunter hides the pain of his past behind a smile, but he can’t hide his sudden attraction to his friend’s sheltered little sister. Eve is far too sweet to accept anything less than forever and there’s no chance of a future between the son of a housekeeper and the town’s resident princess.

When a wedding party forces Eve and Gabe into tight quarters, keeping their hands off each other will be as hard as keeping their clothes on. The need that draws them together is stronger than the forces that should shove them apart . . . but their sparks may not survive the explosion when long-buried secrets are finally unearthed.

Release Date: March 27, 2017


7. Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

It’s hard to come up with more things to say besides shrieking about how excited I am about this book, but genuinely, so excited for another beautiful book by Becky Albertalli. A new to me in 2017 author, Albertalli is also probably already one of my favorite authors. An Own Voices book in terms of fat girl rep, Albertalli has already brought me to tears with Molly in The Upside of Unrequited, and I can’t wait to see what she brings with Leah. Also, I’m so excited to get snippets of Simon and Blue! Here’s the Goodreads blurb:

Leah Burke—girl-band drummer and master of deadpan—takes center stage in this novel of first love and senior-year angst.

When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.

So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.

Release Date: April 24, 2018


8. A Court of Frost and Starlightby Sarah J. Maas

Currently coverless, A Court of Frost and Starlight is Sarah J. Maas’s newest attempt at a novella and I would not be at all upset if her fingers slipped and this turned into a full length novel about REDACTED and Feyre and the gang, to be honest. I would love to assume you’ve all either read A Court of Thorns and Roses or seen spoilers, but I’ll continue saying redacted for a few more months. Of course, leaving it redacted means I can tell you legitimately nothing about the plot of this novella other than it is continuing the series as a bridge between the old and the new, apparently. Personally I hope it’s just full of domestic scenes of my favs being mates, but you know, SJM likes to rip your heart out sometimes.

Release Date: May 1, 2018


9. The Way You Make Me Feelby Maureen Goo

I fell head over heels for Goo’s I Believe in a Thing Called Love so I’m unbelievably excited for this book. I want to read Goo’s entire backlist in the meantime, but when May 8th rolls around, you’d best believe I’m picking myself up a copy of this beautiful book. Here’s the Goodreads blurb:

Clara Shin lives for pranks and disruption. When she takes one joke too far, her dad sentences her to a summer working on his food truck, the KoBra, alongside her uptight classmate Rose Carver. Not the carefree summer Clara had imagined. But maybe Rose isn’t so bad. Maybe the boy named Hamlet (yes, Hamlet) crushing on her is pretty cute. Maybe Clara actually feels invested in her dad’s business. What if taking this summer seriously means that Clara has to leave her old self behind? With her signature warmth and humor, Maurene Goo delivers a relatable story of falling in love and finding yourself in the places you’d never thought to look.

Release Date: May 8, 2018


10. A Reaper at the Gatesby Sabaa Tahir

The third book in Tahir’s epic fantasy, A Reaper in the Gates has me super excited because I still don’t understand anything that happened at the end of A Torch Against the Night. That may sound like hyperbole, but uh, it really isn’t. I unhauled my copy of A Torch Against the Night because I want the new pretty covers so I’m definitely going to have to pick those up before release day because I definitely need a re-read. Here’s the blurb for the first book, in case you haven’t picked these up yet:

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

Release Date: May 22, 2018


11. Wicked and the Wallflower by Sarah MacLean

Sarah MacLean is an auto buy author for me and I love her. This is the blurb for her upcoming, still without a cover, start of a new series, masterpiece, which I’m getting vague Lord of Scoundrels vibes from:

When Wicked Comes Calling…

When a mysterious stranger finds his way into her bedchamber and offers his help in landing a duke, Lady Felicity Faircloth agrees—on one condition. She’s seen enough of the world to believe in passion, and won’t accept a marriage without it.

The Wallflower Makes a Dangerous Bargain…

Bastard son of a duke and king of London’s dark streets, Devil has spent a lifetime wielding power and seizing opportunity, and the spinster wallflower is everything he needs to exact a revenge years in the making. All he must do is turn the plain little mouse into an irresistible temptress, set his trap, and destroy his enemy.

For the Promise of Passion…

But there’s nothing plain about Felicity Faircloth, who quickly decides she’d rather have Devil than another. Soon, Devil’s carefully laid plans are in chaos, and he must choose between everything he’s ever wanted…and the only thing he’s ever desired.

Release Date: June 19, 2018


12. The Other Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn

I did not enjoy the second book in the Rokesbys series, but I have faith in Julia Quinn considering I devoured almost her entire backlist and had only one disappointment in 2017. And this book sounds so good, like can I have it right now good?

She was in the wrong place…

Fiercely independent and adventurous, Poppy Bridgerton will only wed a suitor whose keen intellect and interests match her own. Sadly, none of the fools from her London season qualify. While visiting a friend on the Dorset coast, Poppy is pleasantly surprised to discover a smugglers’ hideaway tucked inside a cave. But her delight turns to dismay when two pirates kidnap her and take her aboard a ship, leaving her bound and gagged on the captain’s bed…

He found her at the wrong time…

Known to society as a rascal and reckless privateer, Captain Andrew James Rokesby actually transports essential goods and documents for the British government. Setting sail on a time-sensitive voyage to Portugal, he’s stunned to find a woman waiting for him in his cabin. Surely, his imagination is getting the better of him. But no, she is very real—and his duty to the Crown means he’s stuck with her.

Can two wrongs make the most perfect right?

When Andrew learns that she is a Bridgerton, he knows he will likely have to wed her to avert a scandal—though Poppy has no idea that he is the son of an earl and neighbor to her aristocratic cousins in Kent. On the high seas, their war of words soon gives way to an intoxicating passion. But when Andrew’s secret is revealed, will his declaration of love be enough to capture her heart…?

Release Date: July 24, 2018


13. Catwoman: Soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas

A controversial choice for a favorite author, but Sarah J. Maas is absolutely one of mine. I love the way she creates worlds and I love the way she includes over the top dramatic sex scenes in her books because I love romance. So I’m extremely intrigued to see her take on Selina Kyle. Here is the extremely intriguing blurb:

Two years after escaping Gotham City’s slums, Selina Kyle returns as the mysterious and wealthy Holly Vanderhees. She quickly discovers that with Batman off on a vital mission, Batwing is left to hold back the tide of notorious criminals. Gotham City is ripe for the taking.

Meanwhile, Luke Fox wants to prove he has what it takes to help people in his role as Batwing. He targets a new thief on the prowl who seems cleverer than most. She has teamed up with Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn, and together they are wreaking havoc. This Catwoman may be Batwing’s undoing.

In this third DC Icons book–following Leigh Bardugo’s Wonder Woman: Warbringer and Marie Lu’s Batman: Nightwalker–Selina is playing a desperate game of cat and mouse, forming unexpected friendships and entangling herself with Batwing by night and her devilishly handsome neighbor Luke Fox by day. But with a dangerous threat from the past on her tail, will she be able to pull off the heist that’s closest to her heart?

Release Date: August 7, 2018


14. The Governess Gameby Tessa Dare

I was just talking to one of my friends about how much I adore Tessa Dare, which is not surprising because she is definitely one of my favorite authors. This book is the second in her newest series and if it’s anything like The Duchess Deal, I’m absolutely going to love it. We’re still in the teaser stage of the Goodreads blurb:

He’s been a bad, bad rake… and it takes a governess to teach him a lesson.

Release Date: August 28, 2018


15. Throne of Glass #6/7 by Sarah J. Maas

It depends on how you count Tower of Dawn for how you number this final book in the Throne of Glass series, but regardless I am DYING in anticipation. I’ve been in agony since the cliffhanger ending of Empire of Storms and I swear to goodness, if my precious baby is not safe by about 100 pages in, I will be screaming. Tbh, I will probably be doing that regardless if Tower of Dawn was any indication… Anyway. Super excited about this book.

Release Date: September 4, 2018


16. What if It’s Usby Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

These two authors are such good friends and I adore them both. Becky’s writing has me absolutely enamored and Adam’s makes me want to cry so we’ll see how this book turns out. (Please God, let it be a HEA.) Here’s the Goodreads blurb for what promises to be a beautiful story:

What If It’s Us opens as Arthur and Ben meet at the post office as Ben is shipping his ex-boyfriend’s things back to him. They subsequently endure the frustration of knowing there was a missed connection, before the universe pushes them back together again in a series of failed “first” dates.

Release Date: October 2, 2018


17. An Unconditional Freedom by Alyssa Cole

I’m so in love with this series. I really like the way Cole blends historical fiction with romance in a way that in the first two seemed to fluctuate as to which genre was the more prominent, but since I love both and I love her writing, I was able to adjust. I’m extremely excited to see Daniel get his HEA with his person as opposed to with Elle, who definitely belongs with Malcolm, sorry, honey. Here’s the Goodreads blurb:

Janita Sanchez didn’t pay much attention to the war. She was more interested in balls and potential husbands. In her small Floridian town, she still felt more Cuban than American, and whether the North or South won didn’t make much of a difference to her. However, Janita’s life changes forever when a man offers her a deal: spy for the Confederacy and ensure her father’s release from prison.

Daniel Cumberland barely remembers the carefree days of his youth, marked by life as a freedman and days whiled away with Elle, the girl he thought he’d marry. Then a dark series of events changed him forever. After Elle refused to marry him, he was captured by slavers and subjected to months of abuse. Even his rescue was a humiliation—-his freedom came at the hands of the man Elle chose to spend her life with instead. The white man she’d picked over him.

Aimless and unmoored, Daniel agrees to join the 4L, a league of covert operatives of color helping to take down the Confederacy. It’s his last shot at doing something meaningful, and a vent for the rage that won’t leave him. When he meets new recruit Janita, he feels something other than pain and anger for the first time in months. When they’re paired together on an important mission, they give into their mutual passion. But the past is never really the past, and the ghosts that haunt Daniel and Janita could ruin their chance at happiness—-and the Union’s chance of winning the war.

Release Date: October 30, 2018


18. Courtney Milan Anything…

After the Wedding Find Me And finally, we have anything that Courtney Milan releases in 2018 because both could come out in 2018 and I want them both. I’m afraid to get my hopes up and I know she’s dealing with a massive amount of attention right now, not all of it good, so I’m patiently waiting for this dumpster fire of a year to fade away and hopefully my favorite authors can get some time for themselves to recharge so they can create. I say this like there’s a good chance 2018 is going to be less tragic of a political landscape, but uh, we’ll see, I guess. and


So there you have it! Even though this is a list of 18, which seems like a lot, there are so many more books that I’m excited about and new to me authors that I’m excited to discover. Let me know in the comments some of the books you’re excited for in 2018!

xx

December Wrap Up: Part One

How are we already halfway through December? This month is flying. This whole year has been a weird mix of going fast and feeling like we’re slogging through it and it’s never going to end. But regardless, we’re in December and I’ve read some pretty exciting books this month so let’s get started!


1. Defenselessby Elizabeth Dyer

I have a full review of this book already posted, so I’ll keep this part short and sweet. I enjoyed this romantic suspense novel and would definitely recommend it, although there were elements that I did not love as much as I would have liked. For example, the main character is pretty much the only woman in the entire novel. So. That was fun. Check out my review if you want to see more of my thoughts!


2. Beyond Pain by Kit Rocha

I’m completely enamored with this series, but so far this third book has been my least favorite. I don’t know why I was so unable to connect with Six and Bren as characters, but I really was. That said, I still very much enjoyed this book. I also appreciated that it moved the plot forward. Mostly though, I’m beyond excited for Rachel’s book, which I think is up next! I need to stop wanting to spend my entire paycheck on books, but… They’re just so good!


3. Friends Without Benefitsby Penny Reid

I enjoyed this one even more than the first in the series, which I read last month. Elizabeth and Nico have so much chemistry and the history between them made the course of their relationship make sense. Also, just Elizabeth as a character is wonderful. And Nico as a character as well, really.

Basically, this book follows Elizabeth, a doctor in Chicago, and Nico, a famous comedian. The two went to the same high school and have some sort of history, though you find out the exact nature of that history as the book unfolds. Nico shows up in Elizabeth’s hospital one day with his niece to try and get her into this new study for the disease she has, which I am currently blanking on.

What I loved the most about this book was all of the familial elements. Getting to meet Nico’s family was such a joy because they all felt like very distinct characters with their own unique personalities. Definitely would recommend if you’re in need of a laugh and something cozy after a hard day.


4. Love Hackedby Penny Reid

And this book marks where my love affair with Penny Reid started to show some cracks… For the most part, I really enjoyed this book as well, there were just a few things that I couldn’t really describe that kept me from loving it. Now, I liked Sandra and Alex as characters, well… That is, I really liked Sandra as a character and my feelings about Alex were pretty up and down.

This book follows Sandra, a psychologist who hasn’t made it past the first date in years without making the man she’s dating cry because apparently something about her just makes these men start to self-disclose really personal things. When she’s on one of these first dates and the man leaves, Alex–her waiter–finally confronts her about what she’s doing to these dudes. Their relationship is complicated by secrets Alex is keeping and also a little bit by the fact that Alex is much younger than Sandra.

Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed this book, but there was just something that I wasn’t able to love it as easily as I did Friends Without Benefits. That did not stop me from reading Marie’s book right after that though.


5. Dating-Ish by Penny Reid

So I skipped ahead in the series because I had bought Dating-Ish several weeks ago when it was a Kindle Daily Deal and I decided I could skip Fiona’s book and just come back to it. I think I regret that decision… I really like Marie as a character and I think Matt is mostly okay, but there were parts of this book that I just hated so much.

The plot of this book is that Marie is going on a first date with someone she’s pretty sure is going to be perfect. But then this guy shows up who looks nothing like his picture and is asking her questions like it’s an interrogation. He finally says something to offend her and she leaves. Later, it turns out that this guy is Matt, Fiona’s neighbor, and he is a scientist doing stuff with artificial intelligence. Marie winds up teaming up with Matt on a series of articles she and a co-worker are writing together that’s basically about ways to replace dating.

The plot itself is very fun. I don’t love Matt, but he’s fine. The part that got me to really dislike this book was a conversation 32% of the way in the book when the knitting group discusses whether or not terms like “Femi-Nazi” or “Grammar Nazi” are offensive. Kat is, apparently, Jewish, so she becomes the token person to try and articulate her feelings about the term. At some point though, one of the characters starts complaining about how people just need to learn to talk through these issues and… Well. Here’s the thing. All of the characters are white. All of them. And if you’re going to have a conversation like this in your book, could you please make sure it’s done well? I know I’m not the only one bothered by this conversation because so many reviews talk about it on Goodreads. So… Yeah, I’m sure I’ll continue reading Penny Reid because for the most part I’ve enjoyed her writing, but wow, did that really ruin this book for me.


6. Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray

Hello, my name is Jenica, and I am complete trash for this series. Everything about The Diviners series is so wonderful, from the seamless way Bray created a group of diverse characters (who all feel three-dimensional) to the plot to my precious bby, Evie, who needs therapy in the worst way. I can’t say much about this book because spoilers, but I will reiterate that the audiobook is magical.

I will also mention that we get introduced to Ling Chan, a disabled Chinese-American young woman, who adds to the diversity of characters in this series and I love her. Also her mom is Irish, but because she married a Chinese man, she’s now considered Chinese because the Chinese Exclusion Act and associated laws were supremely f**ked up.

I did feel like the plot progressed more slowly in this book than in the first one, but Evie and Sam…. They’re my ship, y’all. I will go down with it, because I’m pretty sure Jericho is Evie’s end game. I hope I’m wrong about that. Also, am I the only one who literally cannot stand Mabel? She infuriates me. Anyway, I’m very excited for January when I get my next Audible credit so I can continue to book three!


7. The Hate U Giveby Angie Thomas

I am beyond late to reading this book, but I will nevertheless join the masses screaming about how amazing and important this book is. Angie Thomas’s debut (DEBUT!!!) is honestly one that should be considered a modern classic. It is marvelous. I cannot use enough words to explain to you how fantastic it is so instead I’ll just give you a quick little summary.

Starr Carter is dragged by her friend, and her brother’s half-sister, to this party that gets broken up when a gang shooting occurs. Starr leaves the party with one of her childhood best friends, Khalil, and they are stopped by a police officer for a broken tail light. Khalil’s story ends the way we’ve seen too many black men’s stories end when they’ve been stopped by the police for some nonsensical reason and Starr is the only witness.

The book really explores how Starr has to switch between two worlds, her poor black neighborhood, and the mostly white prep school she attends. She has to be careful never to get angry so as to not seem like the ANGRY BLACK WOMAN and she even has to talk differently. This book explores so many deep themes, but ultimately, is a story of family and inner strength. It’s an incredibly important read and if you haven’t picked it up yet, please do.


8. The Obelisk Gateby N. K. Jemison

I picked this book up the other day and then basically read it in one sitting. One very long sitting because the book is over 400 pages, but I just could not put it down! I think it moves faster than The Fifth Season, but it could also be because I was already attached to the characters that had me flying through the book.

Again, I can’t say much, but I did appreciate the places the plot moved and I adore the new POVs. It’s so interesting. I still have some unanswered questions, but it was nice to get answers to some of the questions I had at the end of The Fifth Season. I’m extremely excited to pick up the third and final book in this trilogy and then I’m probably going to dive in to The Inheritance Trilogy because I already have it and I’m a little in love with N.K. Jemison right now.


9. Third Rail by Santino Hassell

I said this on Goodreads, but I really don’t think I’m even remotely part of the intended audience for this book. I like erotic romance sometimes, often, and I read m/m romance novels not infrequently. This novella has an established couple (both men) who enjoy having a third person and choose Chris to be that third.

It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy the book, because I did for the most part, but this is the first time I’ve read a m/m book and felt like I was objectifying or fetishizing gay relationships somehow? I’m not articulating this well and it seems especially ridiculous that I would feel this way given that Hassell is, I think, the first Own Voices m/m romance author I’ve read from. I think I’m definitely going to give him another chance–I already own Fast Connection, so hopefully I’ll not feel so odd about that one? We’ll see!


10. The Female of the Speciesby Mindy McGinnis

I buddy read this with Dani from Dani’s Bookshelf (you should definitely subscribe to her blog if you haven’t already because she’s wonderful!) and I am so glad I read it with her! There is so much to unpack in this book. I’m still not sure I’ve completely wrapped my head around everything that happened, to be honest, which means that I’m still not sure what to rate this book, but I’m leaning toward five stars. This book was not always easy to read, but it was compulsively readable. Both of us read it in one day.

Basically, the story follows three different characters, Alex–known at school as the girl whose sister died (read: was brutally murdered after being raped); Peekay (short for Preacher’s Kid); and Jack (cute boy, a bit of a player, and someone who wants to escape from their small town). Alex has very violent urges related to men who commit violence against women, so, as I’m sure you can imagine, this book deals a lot with violence and sexual assault. Overall, I would definitely recommend this for one of those days where you want to burn the world down.


11. Hungerby Roxane Gay

I promise you, I did not think I had read this many books this month, but whoops. I guess so. Everyone has already talked about this book, I think; it won the Reading Women Award for Nonfiction for 2017 and it’s already hit many best of 2017 lists. There is, of course, a reason for this. Roxane Gay wrote the most honest memoir I’ve ever read.

This is a memoir of Roxane’s body, a body that is morbidly obese, a body that she built as a fortress after being gang raped at 12 and then things spiraled a bit out of control. She is brutally honest about so much, including her jealousy of women with eating disorders. Her candidness about everything she has been through, including being a black woman in rural areas in the midwest, is awe-inspiring, honestly. I don’t think I’m as honest with myself as Roxane was to the world. I find her indescribably brave and will probably be in awe of her until I die.

I listened to this book on audio, which she narrates herself. Be forewarned that listening to the first quarter of the book is difficult if you are in public because you will probably want to cry. I know I did.


Okay, that is everything I read this month! I’m in the middle of so many other books, but to be honest, I make zero promises about finishing any of them. Well, besides Uprooted and most likely The School of Good and Evil. We shall see. What have you been reading this month? Any last minute potential favorites of 2017? Let me know in the comments!

xx

Wrong to Need You: A Spoiler Free Review

Alisha Rai delivered again. Wrong to Need You was a fantastic follow up to one of my favorite books of 2017. I will forever and always appreciate Rai’s stories with main characters dealing with mental health issues and finding love because we deserve that. I am also here for female friendship and sisterhood. So shout out to Alisha Rai for providing me with all of those in one book. I can’t wait to see how she handles Evangeline’s story in Hurts to Love You. Anyway, let’s hop to it!


Goodreads Synopsis

He wasn’t supposed to fall in love with his brother’s widow…

Accused of a crime he didn’t commit, Jackson Kane fled his home, his name, and his family. Ten years later, he’s come back to town: older, wiser, richer, tougher—and still helpless to turn away the one woman he could never stop loving, even after she married his brother.

Sadia Ahmed can’t deal with the feelings her mysterious former brother-in-law stirs, but she also can’t turn down his offer of help with the cafe she’s inherited. While he heats up her kitchen, she slowly discovers that the boy she adored has grown into a man she’s simply unable to resist.

An affair is unthinkable, but their desire is undeniable. As secrets and lies are stripped away, Sadia and Jackson must decide if they’re strong enough to face the past…and step into a future together.


My Thoughts

Sadia and Jackson have an interesting dynamic. I didn’t realize based on the blurb that the two were basically best friends growing up, which makes this also a sort of friends to lovers type of trope. However, Jackson left after the fire at the grocery store and he hasn’t responded to Sadia’s emails. At all.

To me, what I love about this book is how much healing needs to take place in each of their lives. And they can help one another along with that, but it’s not enough that they have each other back in their life.

For Sadia, her family plays such an extraordinary role in shaping her, as I think most of our families do. It was interesting to see her as a mother, daughter, and sister because I think navigating each of those identities gets passed over in a lot of books, but I know how different my dynamic is with my parents than with my sisters, and it’s different again depending on if it’s just me and one sister or me and both sisters. So needless to say, I adored the family aspect of this book. For Jackson, he obviously has the crime he didn’t commit element set up, but this also created some family tension for him as well. Neither of their issues are solved immediately, which I really appreciated.

Also, the anxiety representation was lovely. I really enjoyed the scene where Sadia’s anxiety acts up at a really inconvenient time because HELLO, REAL LIFE. I wish I could relegate my anxiety to times where it doesn’t get in the way of my life, but that is not real. So it was really nice to see that represented on the page.

The cameos of Livvy and Nico were excellent tidbits as well. I made one of my friends read Hate to Love You and she didn’t like it (baffling), but one of the things she mentioned was that she didn’t feel like Livvy and Nico could have possibly worked out their issues so quickly. So I thought it was nice to see them still figuring things out in this book because I do think that makes Nico and Livvy’s HEA that much more real. Ultimately, I loved this book, but not as much as I loved the first one, which I think has to do with how much I connected to Livvy as a character more than anything it says about Sadia or Jackson.


I honestly just adore Alisha Rai’s writing and am here for everything she writes ever. If you haven’t hopped on the Alisha Rai fangirl train, please read one and join me.

Until next time!

xx

Tis The Season Book Tag

I went searching Ali’s (HardbackHoarder) tags playlist to find something Christmas-y and found this one, originally created by

RichardMediaGeek, which you can find here. I’m getting extremely excited for Christmas now that I’m settled in to my new apartment and have my Christmas tree up and our decorations out.

Christmas is my favorite holiday because I adore having an excuse to shower my friends and family with gifts and to write out holiday cards letting them know how much I love and appreciate them. I also love cozying up with hot chocolate and a good book when it gets cold outside, which North Carolina is mostly doing. Thank you, NC. Anyway, let’s hop to it!


1. Do you have a favorite Winter read?

Hm.. I don’t think so, actually. I’m truly awful at re-reading books any more. I don’t know why that is or even when that happened. However, I will say that hockey books in the sports romance genre feel especially fitting during winter. So I’m hoping I can pick up a few more of those this year.


2. Find a book with blue on the cover!

I’m much too lazy to get up and take a picture of this book, but I can see Burial Rights by Hannah Kent from where I’m sitting so I’ll insert the cover here. I have this book out from the library right now and I really need to actually read it, but I’m on an ebook kick right now.

I’ve heard such good things about this book though from both Joce at SquibblesReads and Kendra Winchester from the Reading Women podcast/her YouTube channel. So, hopefully I will get this finished before it’s due back to the library!


3. Find a book you’d use as the star on a Christmas tree?

What does this question mean? I’m not really sure. I’m going to answer this in two ways. First, the book that I think had the prettiest cover of 2017, Bad Romance, which I would put on the tree because gorgeous.

But, if we’re going with the book that means the most to me so I would put it on top of the tree because it’s magical and I love it so much, I would probably use Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I mean, are you really surprised?


4. Pick one fictional place that would be perfect for a Winter vacation!

Hogwarts. Okay, that’s really just my forever and always place I want to go. But you’ve seen the movies! It looks so fun!


5. Pick one fictional character you’d take with you on your Winter vacation!

I want to go on a winter vacation with Jamie and Wes from the Him and Us duology by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy. I love them and I think it would be so fun to go on vacation with them. They would have to teach me how to ice skate well enough to play hockey, but you know. I think we would have fun. I’m ignoring that being the third wheel would be awkward because in my mind Blake and Jess would be there too. I’m doing a terrible job with this whole one character thing. I’m like, let’s just bring the whole hockey team! Woo!


6. Name one book on your Wishlist this year!

Lol, just one? The Fate of the Tearling is one I really need to read so it would be great if my mother was not insisting on buying me ZERO books this year. The struggle is real, y’all.


7. Favorite Holiday drink, treat, & movie?

Holiday Drink: Starbucks has this snickerdoodle hot chocolate, which is the best thing to have ever blessed my taste buds. I like to get it with espresso shots because I’m obnoxious.

Holiday Treat: So I’m in love with this cinnamon sugar pie crust thing that my grandma and my dad make. It is amazing, but I have no idea what it actually is called.

Movie: Oh… Well, Love Actually, of course, I’m very basic. But also Serendipity is the best movie ever so… Yeah.


Yay for my first holiday tag! Let me know your favorite winter reads if you have one, I’m curious!

xx

Highly Anticipated Books: Winter Edition

The normal disclaimer that the seasons I am using does not follow exactly with the actual calendar, which would tell you that December 21, 2017 begins winter this year, applies. Winter is here! Sort of. I mean, North Carolina is just weird, you know? We do our seasons oddly. Anyway, here are the ten books I am most looking forward to in the final month of 2017 and the beginning of 2018!


1. Roomies by Christina Lauren

I’ve already read this book and absolutely loved it, but I really want a completed copy for my shelves because I think this is a book I could re-read again and again. And it’s already been long enough since I read it so I’m pretty sure I could go for a re-read already. This book is a modern day marriage of convenience and I love it! Here’s the Goodreads synopsis:

Rescued by Calvin McLoughlin from a would-be subway attacker, Holland Bakker pays the brilliant musician back by pulling some of her errand-girl strings and getting him an audition with a big-time musical director. When the tryout goes better than even Holland could have imagined, Calvin is set for a great entry into Broadway—until he admits his student visa has expired and he’s in the country illegally.

Holland impulsively offers to wed the Irishman to keep him in New York, her growing infatuation a secret only to him. As their relationship evolves from awkward roommates to besotted lovers, Calvin becomes the darling of Broadway. In the middle of the theatrics and the acting-not-acting, what will it take for Holland and Calvin to realize that they both stopped pretending a long time ago?

Release Day: December 5, 2017


2. After the Wedding by Courtney Milan

My December book of the month, After the Wedding is a book I’ve been looking forward to for ages and I am so happy that it’s finally here! Well, almost here, but you know what I mean. This is the second book in the Worth Saga and I highly recommend the series. Well, at least, I recommend the first book. Probably the novella too, but I haven’t read it quite yet. Gotta get on that. Here’s the Goodreads synopsis:

Adrian Hunter has concealed his identity and posed as a servant to assist his powerful uncle. He’s on the verge of obtaining the information he needs when circumstances spiral out of his control. He’s caught alone with a woman he scarcely knows. When they’re discovered in this compromising circumstance, he’s forced to marry her at gunpoint. Luckily, his uncle should be able to obtain an annulment. All Adrian has to do is complete his mission…and not consummate the marriage, no matter how enticing the bride may be.

Lady Camilla Worth has never expected much out of life—not since her father was convicted of treason and she was passed from family to family. A marriage, no matter how unfortunate the circumstances under which it was contracted, should mean stability. It’s unfortunate that her groom doesn’t agree. But Camilla has made the best of worse circumstances. She is determined to make her marriage work. All she has to do is seduce her reluctant husband.

Release Date: December 12, 2017


3. Heart on Fire by Amanda Bouchet

Now, unlike many romance novel series, you really need to have read this particular series in order. The Kingmaker Chronicles is a fantasy romance series that is absolutely amazing. The first book was my favorite and I didn’t think the second necessarily lived up to how great the first was, but I’m hooked to the story and absolutely need to know how it wraps up. I will note that this book cover confuses me because it is so different from the other two books in the series. So is this the final cover? I don’t know. I’m so confused! Anyway, I’m providing you with the synopsis of A Promise of Fire, book one in the series here:

Catalia “Cat” Fisa is a powerful clairvoyant known as the Kingmaker. This smart-mouthed soothsayer has no interest in her powers and would much rather fly under the radar, far from the clutches of her homicidal mother. But when an ambitious warlord captures her, she may not have a choice…

Griffin is intent on bringing peace to his newly conquered realm in the magic-deprived south. When he discovers Cat is the Kingmaker, he abducts her. But Cat will do everything in her power to avoid her dangerous destiny and battle her captor at every turn. Although up for the battle, Griffin would prefer for Cat to help his people willingly, and he’s ready to do whatever it takes to coax her…even if that means falling in love with her.

Release Date: January 2, 2018


4. Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire

Another book in a series, I’m so sorry, but if you haven’t given The Wayward Children’s series, you absolutely should. Mini reviews for the first two are in the August Wrap Ups linked on the side. This series is incredible and so fun and fantastical. Now, you can’t read Beneath the Sugar Sky unless you’ve read the other two, so again, I’m going to provide for you the Goodreads synopsis for the first one, Every Heart a Doorway below:

Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children
No Solicitations
No Visitors
No Quests

Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere… else.

But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.

Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced… they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.

But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter.

No matter the cost.

Release Date: January 9, 2018


5. Love, Hate, and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

I’m trying to read more books that have difficult subject matter instead of using books as escapism. I think I read enough that I should be able to strike the appropriate balance and Love, Hate, and Other Filters is absolutely a book that I think is a must read. It’s an Own Voices book about a Muslim, Asian-American, who has to deal with Islamaphobia after a suicide bomber who shares Maya’s last name strikes in America. Such an important topic and I’m really excited to read the book! Here’s the Goodreads synopsis:

Maya Aziz is torn between futures: the one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter (i.e.; staying nearby in Chicago and being matched with a “suitable” Muslim boy), and the one where she goes to film school in New York City–and maybe, just maybe, kisses a guy she’s only known from afar. There’s the also the fun stuff, like laughing with her best friend Violet, making on-the-spot documentaries, sneaking away for private swimming lessons at a secret pond in the woods. But her world is shattered when a suicide bomber strikes in the American heartland; by chance, he shares Maya’s last name. What happens to the one Muslim family in town when their community is suddenly consumed with hatred and fear?

Release Date: January 16, 2018


6. Still Meby Jojo Meyes

And another in a series, woo! This is the third book in the Me Before You series, which is problematic af, but also I’m in love with it. Fortunately, we’ve moved past Will and… well, we’ve moved past him, so hopefully this book will be just good and not also problematic. Anyway, Lou is off to New York in this one, leaving behind everything in London, including… Dang, you cannot discuss the third book in a series without spoiling things. So yeah, we’ll just leave it at I’m excited for this book and go from there. Here’s the movie trailer for Me Before You for a nice change of pace:

Release Date: January 30, 2018


7. American Panda by Gloria Chao

I am so excited for this book! It sounds like it’s going to be super cute and funny, which is always a win and it’s about a character who sounds pretty unlike me (except for our mutual distaste of the requirements for becoming a doctor). So I’m very excited! And this cover is absolutely adorable. Here is the Goodreads synopsis:

At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents’ master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies.

With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can’t bring herself to tell them the truth–that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese.

But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels?

Release Date: February 6, 2018


8. The Bellesby Dhonielle Clayton

The buzz about this book has me super hyped for it and I’m really hoping it lives up to my extra high expectations. And now the release date has been moved up! Here’s the Goodreads synopsis:

Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orléans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.

But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite—the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orléans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land. But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie—that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision.

With the future of Orléans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide—save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles—or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever.

Release Date: February 6, 2018


9. A Princess in Theoryby Alyssa Cole

By now, you all know that I’ve fallen in love with Alyssa Cole and I am beyond excited for this new series she’s started! This is the first contemporary I’ve read from her, though I’m not sure if it’s her first contemporary… Anyway, the cover is beautiful (seriously, great job, Avon, you’re killing it lately!) and the synopsis is so intriguing. I just can’t wait! Here’s the Goodreads blurb:

Between grad school and multiple jobs, Naledi Smith doesn’t have time for fairy tales…or patience for the constant e-mails claiming she’s betrothed to an African prince. Sure. Right. Delete! As a former foster kid, she’s learned that the only things she can depend on are herself and the scientific method, and a silly e-mail won’t convince her otherwise.

Prince Thabiso is the sole heir to the throne of Thesolo, shouldering the hopes of his parents and his people. At the top of their list? His marriage. Ever dutiful, he tracks down his missing betrothed. When Naledi mistakes the prince for a pauper, Thabiso can’t resist the chance to experience life—and love—without the burden of his crown.

The chemistry between them is instant and irresistible, and flirty friendship quickly evolves into passionate nights. But when the truth is revealed, can a princess in theory become a princess ever after?

Release Date: February 27, 2018


10. Hello Strangerby Lisa Kleypas

One of my favorite romance authors ever (and basically half of America’s romance readers, I think) has a new book out in her latest historical romance series and I am beyond excited. We’re getting the story of Dr. Garrett Gibson, the first and only at the time female doctor in England. Kleypas is such a fun writer, I think she blends plot and witty banter well, so I’m really excited for this one. And again, Avon did such an amazing job on the cover! Here’s the Goodreads blurb:

A woman who defies her time

Dr. Garrett Gibson, the only female physician in England, is as daring and independent as any man—why not take her pleasures like one? Yet she has never been tempted to embark on an affair, until now. Ethan Ransom, a former detective for Scotland Yard, is as gallant as he is secretive, a rumored assassin whose true loyalties are a mystery. For one exhilarating night, they give in to their potent attraction before becoming strangers again.

A man who breaks every rule

As a Ravenel by-blow spurned by his father, Ethan has little interest in polite society, yet he is captivated by the bold and beautiful Garrett. Despite their vow to resist each other after that sublime night, she is soon drawn into his most dangerous assignment yet. When the mission goes wrong, it will take all of Garrett’s skill and courage to save him. As they face the menace of a treacherous government plot, Ethan is willing to take any risk for the love of the most extraordinary woman he’s ever known.


There you have it! Except I had to whittle this list down from 15 so here are five honorable mentions: Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kahn, a book with a beautiful cover and a black, asexual heroine, out on January 23, 2018; A Land of Permanent Goodbyes by Atia Abawi, a story of a Syrian refugee that sounds like it’s going to be heartbreaking and amazing, out on January 23rd as well; Broken Beautiful Hearts by Kami Garcia, a contemporary YA about a girl escaping an abusive relationship that I am super excited about, out on February 6, 2018; A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena, which I really just need you to read the synopsis of because there’s so much going on there, out February 27, 2018; and finally, The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani DasGupta, a middle grade story about a girl whose parents go missing, a demon is involved, and oh yeah, she’s an Indian princess, out on February 27th as well.

So now, for real, I will leave you with books I am SO excited about and very much looking forward to. What books are you looking forward to in the next three months? Did I miss something that I’m definitely going to want to read? Let me know!

xx

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