december rewind \\ swimming in winter

what happened in december

  • I met Nic Stone! She’s the author of the YA book DEAR MARTIN, which my library system used as their pick for a program that encourages people to read all the same book. My library then hosted an event where Nic Stone came to talk to a bunch of kids who we bused in from various schools and then had a discussion, Q&A, and signing, and it was all very interesting. Nic was very engaging and cool and the kids asked surprisingly good questions. I was unfortunately getting over a stomach virus that day so I was quite out of it, but overall it worked out pretty well and I’d love to have more authors come to the library in the future. Her lipstick game was also so on point and has inspired me to attempt to become a lipstick queen in 2019.
  • The holidays. My parents came and visited my boyfriend and I and stayed at a cool Air BnB that was a farm and had an indoor pool that we swam in on Christmas. I felt really guilty and anxious for a lot of their visit though because I just wanted things to be the same as they were when I was a kid and we always had Christmas at my childhood home, but I couldn’t do that this year because I had to come to work the day after Christmas. I was just so worried that my parents, especially my mom, would hate the new Christmas and not enjoy it and it would be my fault. I kept apologizing because I felt so emotional and depressed and disappointed and everyone said this was a fine way to spend Christmas and they were just happy to see me, but I still felt really guilty about it and just couldn’t get over it. On the bright side, SWIMMING and also we watched the second Incredibles.
  • I decided I want to work in children’s librarianship. For many reasons, I have come to the decision that if I don’t get the children’s job I’m currently in the running for, I am going to tell my bosses that I want to work toward becoming a children’s librarian in the future. One of my bosses said last week that she “can really see me as a children’s librarian” and I have “a children’s librarian demeanor,” so I don’t think they will be surprised. I worked in children’s when I first started working in libraries and really liked it, and I just hate working with adults so much and working in children’s would ensure that adults I worked with would be parents, and therefore significantly less annoying and hopefully less rude and aggressive than adults I currently have to deal with at the library. I’d also like to have library programs that people actually come to, and kid’s programs are so fun and cute and fun to plan and prep for. All in all I just feel children’s is a better fit for me than teen and adult reference.

 

what I read

This month I read a couple books, but the only ones that matter are FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS and KINGDOM OF THE BLAZING PHOENIX. Sorry, other books; you just can’t compare. I am not yet done with KINGDOM, but I am enjoying it so far so I’m still including it on this list because Julie C. Dao is a QUEEN (but not one who eats the hearts of her enemies; just crushes them with her words).

 

blogging things

This month, an exciting thing occurred: I reached 300 followers! I’m very proud of myself even though it feels like a small number to me because it’s only my first year and when I blogged before, it took me five years to reach just over 300 and not a single, slightly-less-than-a year.

I also got the nicest compliment from my mom about my blogging. She said she’s always enjoyed reading my blogs, but that this blog is just so much better and I really have my own voice now. Something I’ve been worried about is whether my voice stands out among other bloggers I follow who have really unique voices, so it was so nice to hear that this blog has given me my own voice and that it has improved from my other ones.

 

around the blogosphere

Here are some posts I thought were cool this month:

  • This post is technically from late November, but I had to include it. Kaleena made an AMAZING book blogger organization spreadsheet that is already saving my 2019 reading and blogging life.
  • Sam wrote a fascinating post about cancel culture in the YA world that I think is so important and relevant.
  • Evelina wrote a very helpful post on requesting ARCs from NetGalley as a blogger with an interview from a real publicist!
  • CW introduced an adorable new corgi character, Bao, at The Quiet Pond, and unwrapped gifts for its inhabitants from fellow bloggers!
  • Shealea created #Project14Lists and wrote about how her reading has changed in 2018.

 

book haul highlights

I got…an embarrassing number of books this month. I somehow ended up with 18???? This is unusually high even for me. To be fair, most of them were eARCs and books I bought at the end of November, so maybe it’s not *that* bad??? Anyway, here are some of the titles from my haul that I am extra excited about:

 

  • Somewhere Only We Know | Maurene Goo – Okay, so I didn’t love Goo’s last book, THE WAY YOU MAKE ME FEEL as much as I’d hoped. But I still have super high hopes for this book because I just adored I BELIEVE IN A THING CALLED LOVE so so much! This one is about a K-Pop star and it’s obviously a romance and I’m anticipating all the cuteness and best ships.
  • Going Off Script | Jen Wilde – By now, you have probably noticed how much I LOVED Jen Wilde’s 2018 release, THE BRIGHTSIDERS, so obviously I was going to read her next book no matter what it was about. GOING OFF SCRIPT is about a girl who starts interning on her favorite TV show, writes her own script, and shares it with the head writer…only he passes it off as his own writing, plus makes her gay character straight.
  • The Everlasting Rose | Dhonielle Clayton – I accidentally got two copies of this, because I got one copy at a library meeting literally one day before my review copy request to the publisher went through. I’m planning to give my first copy to a fellow librarian who was interested in reading it. But OMG I finally got approved by Disney for a review copy and it’s my second most anticipated book of the year!!!! (Sorry, first place goes to A. G. Howard’s book, STAIN. Anyway.)
  • Fake It Till You Break It | Jenn P. Nguyen – I am so psyched for this one because it’s about childhood friends who hate each other but fake date to appease their parents and hate-to-love and fake relationships are my favorite romance tropes EVER. If this book isn’t fantastic, I’m going to be v sad.

 

 

 

 

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2019 reading goals

2018! Is! Almost! Over! Woohoo!! In terms of reading, I guess 2018 was not a terrible year. I read 70 books (as of the writing of this post, anyway. Hopefully by the time it is posted I’ll be at at least 72?) I really wanted to get to 75 this year after I passed my goal of 80 and got to 70 by mid-December, but that did not occur. I think I read mostly good books, too, though I was disappointed by some of my most anticipated reads. Anyway, it is that time of year where everyone starts making goals for next year, so today, I wanted to share some of my reading-related goals for the new year in beautiful 2019, which will hopefully be better than 2018.

  1. Read 50 books. I’m keeping my official GR challenge goal small again so it’s more manageable. My actual hope is to read 5 books per month, which would bring me to about 60 books this year, so hopefully I’ll get to that.
  2. Acquire only 5 books per month. I decided to make this goal when I accidentally acquired 18 books this past month in December…oops. I really need to get my ARCs under control, as well as my requesting, so hopefully this will encourage me to be more strategic and selective about what I request.
  3. Read 1 backlist book per month. So I don’t continually miss out on books I really wanted to read because I’m afraid of missing out on new releases but then miss out on older really good releases.
  4. Increase my reading pace. My reading pace went up slightly last year, I think, but I used to be able to read up to 125 books per year, and I always feel like a bad bookworm/blogger when I see other bloggers who manage 200 or more, which has probably never been realistic for me, but I’d like to get back up to 100 per year at least. I don’t know how to do this, but maybe it could happen.
  5. Read more middle grade and children’s books. I’ve always enjoyed MG books, especially fantasies, so this should be a fun task. I’ve also decided I want to work toward being a children’s librarian if the job I’m currently in the running for doesn’t work out, so I want to expand my knowledge of kids’ books for that. Plus, they’re all short and cute and fun and quick to read, so that would be nice.
  6. Continue rereading books. I really enjoyed rereading TATBILB and a couple other series last year, and I’d like to reread FURTHERMORE so I can read WHICHWOOD and also reread the INKHEART trilogy since I never read book 3. I have found rereading quite lovely and would like to keep doing more of it.
  7. Try out adult romance. I’ve been kind of interested in trying out romance because I’ve so enjoyed my fluffy YA contemporaries, but also want to experiment with reading more adult books. Romance seems like it might be a good genre for me to try, and there are a few romances that look good that I want to try reading.

 

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annual end of the year survey!!

Today is one of my favorite blog postings of the year, aka the annual End of the Year Survey hosted by The Perpetual Page Turner that I’ve done every year since I first started blogging! I am so excited that I am a) once again blogging so b) I get to do the survey this year! Woohoo!

Note: all graphics by The Perpetual Page Turner!

**2018 READING STATS**

 

Number Of Books You Read: 70
Number of Re-Reads: 9!
Genre You Read The Most From: It’s probably a tie between contemporary and fantasy, since those are basically the only genres I read

 

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1. Best Book You Read In 2018?

Ummmm…This is a hard question. I read so many good books! I usually pick a contemporary book, but this year I’m actually going with a fantasy, the book that destroyed my entire soul, aka FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS by Julie C. Dao.

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2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

LEAH ON THE OFFBEAT by Becky Albertalli. I had SUCH high hopes for this book–it’s the sequel to Simon Vs., one of my favorite queer books, plus the MC is fat AND bi, aka me. However, it was EXTREMELY disappointing–Leah was so mean for seemingly no reason, and she makes a super hurtful bi comment that is never fully addressed even though this book is touted as such amazing bi rep. #notafan

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

Definitely INVISIBLE MONSTERS by Robyn Schneider, which is about a girl who sees her brother’s ghost, and a childhood friend who returns with a secret. I wasn’t expecting…honestly, anything from this book, but it was SO GOOD!!

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 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

Probably THE BELLES, which is somewhat surprising given that when I first read it, I wasn’t sure if I liked it or not.

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 5. Best series you started in 2018? Best Sequel of 2018? Best Series Ender of 2018?

Series started: SHADOW & BONE by Leigh Bardugo (I finally read it!!)
Sequel: LEGENDARY by Stephanie Garber
Series ender: ALWAYS & FOREVER, LARA JEAN by Jenny Han (reread, but still amazing!)

 

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2018?

Probably Leigh Bardugo. I can’t believe I never read her books before and now I’m dying to finish RUIN & RISING so I can move on to SIX OF CROWS and then read KING OF SCARS next year!

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

Oh, hands down WARCROSS by Marie Lu. I NEVER read sci-fi, but this book was AMAZING and is a new favorite book.

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 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

Apparently I’m just going to gush about WARCROSS for a bit, but it was SO GOOD and action-packed and the world building was on point and just…<3 <3 <3 WARCROSS <3 <3 <3

 

 9. Book You Read In 2018 That You Would Be MOST Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

SIEGE & STORM by Leigh Bardugo…I started RUIN & RISING a while ago but found the beginning a little slow, so I put it down. But now, I can’t remember for the life of me what happened in SIEGE & STORM, so I may have to reread it even though I only read it a few months ago.

 

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2018?

LET’S TALK ABOUT LOVE by Claire Kann!

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11. Most memorable character of 2018?

Xifeng from FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS. Girl is FIERCE and DARK and CRAZY and OMGSOTWISTED.

 

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2018?

Can I just pick FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS for everything on this list? I just love it so much and the writing is amazing! It’s like reading a long fairy tale.

 

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2018?

MONDAY’S NOT COMING by Tiffany D. Jackson was very thought-provoking. It’s a thriller that deals with a lot of important issues, like child abuse and neglect and the importance people place or don’t place on the disappearance of girls of color, and just…you need to read it!

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 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2018 to finally read? 

SHADOW AND BONE wins again, folks! I know why I didn’t read this until 2018 but I also don’t know why?? Like?? It’s so good?? How did I not?

 

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2018?

–I don’t do quotes–

 

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2018?

Shortest: WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE by Shirley Jackson
Longest: A COURT OF WINGS AND RUIN by Sarah J. Maas

 

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

(Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)

Again, MONDAY’S NOT COMING…that was the most…intense (and disturbing!) twist I have ever read in YA.

 

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

Lira & Elian from TO KILL A KINGDOM. It also works because the boat literally takes place on a ship.

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19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Xifeng and Guma from FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS. Their relationship isn’t…good…but it’s so interesting and complex and layered.

 

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2018 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

WARCROSS by Marie Lu. I read but didn’t like THE YOUNG ELITES one time.

 

21. Best Book You Read In 2018 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure/Bookstagram, Etc.:

Probably Cait from Paper Fury’s book, A THOUSAND PERFECT NOTES.

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22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2018?

I know this is bad, but…the Darkling…

 

23. Best 2018 debut you read?

It’s a toss up between SEA WITCH by Sarah Henning and TO KILL A KINGDOM by Alexandra Christo. I would’ve picked THE HAZEL WOOD since it was pub’ed this year, but I read it in 2017!

 

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

Can I PRETTY PLEASE pick WARCROSS for literally everything??

 

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Ooh, def SAVE THE DATE by Morgan Matson. That book was a ball of cotton candy fluff that was so joyful and delightful and just…[insert heart eyes here]

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26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2018?

Oh lord, WHEN MY HEAR JOINS THE THOUSAND. That book, y’all.

 

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

THE BRIGHTSIDERS by Jen Wilde!!!!!! I will stan that book forever and ever it is so queer and positive and FANTASTIC.

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28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

Oh great, here we go again with FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS. I’m sorry! I just love that book so much!!

 

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2018?

Lianne Oelke’s NICE TRY, JANE SINNER. It was an amazing representation of depression written in a journal and script format.

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30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

Ugh, LEAH ON THE OFFBEAT, again. This book just read like Simon fanfic to me and the bi rep was actually terrible and Leah is a horrible human.

 

book-blogging

1. New favorite book blog/Bookstagram/Youtube channel you discovered in 2018?

OMG, so many! Caro of The Bookcheshire Cat, Michelle of The Writing Hufflepuff, Lu of It’s Lu Again…Can I list everyone I follow on one post please?

 

2. Favorite post you wrote in 2018?

I really liked my tarot reading of WARCROSS.

 

3. Favorite bookish related photo you took in 2018:?

4. Best bookish event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events,  etc.)?

I met Nic Stone because we hosted her at the library where I work! I embarrassed myself and she said she likes my (real) name!

 

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2018?

Making so many book blogging friends! Getting back into blogging!

 

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

I fell into so many reading slumps. And I keep getting increasingly frustrated at my reading pace. I feel like I read so slowly now. I used to be able to read 100+ books, and this year I barely read 70.

 

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

Most viewed: How Book Blogging Has Changed

 

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

Um…all of them????

 

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

Unicorn Crate! I got a couple boxes this year and I LOVED them. They are so beautiful and it’s YA fantasy!!

 

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

I set a goal to read 50 books at the beginning of the year and read about 70. At the end of the year I tried to make it to 75 but as of the writing of this post I do not think that is going to occur.

 

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1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2018 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2019?

AUTOBOYOGRAPHY by Christina Lauren! I keep meaning to read that book, and it blew up for a minute on the book blogosphere earlier in the year.

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2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2019 (non-debut)?

Hazel Wood 2!!!!!!

 

3. 2019 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

WILDER GIRLS by Rory Power–pitched as a feminist LORD OF THE FLIES <3 <3

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 4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2019?

FINALE by Stephanie Garber!!!!!!!

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5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2019?

Increase my reading pace. Stop getting into so many slumps. Stop putting pressure on myself about reading. Try scheduling my TBR.

 

6. A 2019 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone (if applicable):

I haven’t actually read any yet (that I recommend, anyway…)

 

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things I accomplished this year

Thinking on the positive side is very hard for me, not only because of mental health stuff, but also because I am just generally very hard on myself. When I do something that’s a big deal, I always tend to think oh, maybe it’s not a big deal because I never thought I *wouldn’t* do the thing. But, in reality, I did do a lot of big things this year, so this post is my retrospective year wrap-up just focusing on positive things that happened.

  • I moved out of my parents’ house. This is the biggest thing for me. Living at home for two years after college was really hard for me because it felt like regressing to teenagehood after four years of independence while I lived at school. And, even though I would never judge anyone else for living at home after school because it is very practical for a lot of people, I felt like I was failing. So moving out was a big deal, especially considering how horribly anxious I was.
  • I got my first full-time job. As a librarian, which is my field! I got what I considered my dream job, a teen librarian in the city where I went to school and most wanted to live in order to be closer to my friends (and eventually boyfriend). The job has been a struggle in a lot of ways but I have definitely learned a lot and done a lot of things I thought I couldn’t do before.
  • I got my own cats. It was an adjustment at first because I really missed my childhood/home cats. But I love Willow and Cedar so so so so much, and I cannot imagine my life without their cute furry faces. I have been a good cat mom and converted their dad into a cat person, so those things are all big successes.
  • I learned to parallel park. This may not seem like a big deal but in the city where I live, it is essential to know how to parallel park, and it is something I previously never thought I could do that I now do on a fairly regular basis. Go small adult things!
  • My anxiety got better. When I first moved and basically for the past few years, my anxiety and depression were TERRIBLE. I honestly probably shouldn’t have been working at all while it was so bad, because there were days I had to go home early from work because I had a panic attack or couldn’t go in because I felt so terrible. But, with the right meds and getting more confident at my job, my anxiety has become much more manageable. I think to some degree I’ll always have a little anxiety and depression, but it’s at least liveable now and not constant and destroying my life.
  • …I started blogging again!! I almost forgot that I started this blog again this year. I blogged for about 5 years before quitting for a while after I graduated college, but I missed it too much and I’m so so happy I came back to it. In addition to simply starting again, I also have made it a much more fulfilling experience this time around by actually talking to people via comments and creating a new Twitter account just for blogging where I talk to people sometimes and even tag authors in tweets where I gush about their books which is something I never though I’d do.

So I guess in reality I did do a lot of good things this year. I feel like the biggest accomplishment for me is definitely my mental health improving, since that has been a challenge for me for my whole life. I am hoping in 2019 I continue to get better and am able to do more things that I never thought I’d do as I do so.

what did you accomplish in 2019 that you’re proud of? tell me in the comments!

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bookish naughty or nice tag

After I woke up from my post Christmas grocery shopping nap, I got bored and decided to do the Bookish Naughty or Nice Tag because no one tagged me in it yet [insert sad face here] and I feel like determining that I am probably mostly on the “naughty” end of things this year, much like my kittens. Anyway, this tag was created by Jenniely. Here are the rules:

  • Tag & link the person who tagged you
  • Tag and link me/this post (if you would be so kind, I love reading your answers!)
  • Tick/cross off the ones you’ve done
  • Tag another 10 people!

 

Received an ARC and not reviewed it?  !

Um…it is actually embarrassing how many times I have done this. One of my goals for 2019 is to be better about requesting ARCs in general so I maybe don’t have to tick this one off as much? I have eARCs dating as far back as 2014 that I still haven’t read. Yes, I am terrible.

 

Have less than 60% feedback rating on NetGalley? x

I actually have 90ish% now. I don’t review anymore on NG because I’m on it as a librarian, but I can still say whether I’m going to buy it for the library, and if I decide I’m not interested in reading it, I just check that I’m not buying it for the library or recommending it for reader’s advisory. So my feedback rating stays pretty high.

 

Rated a book on Goodreads and promised a review was to come and it never did?

I don’t often post reviews on GR (something else I’d like to get better at next year…) so I have never done this. Woohoo!

 

Folded down the page of a book?  !

I used to be a notorious dog-earer. So technically this is a yes. But I no longer do this and cringe if I ever forget a bookmark at home and have to do it to a precious book.

 

Accidentally spilled on a book?  x

I would NEVER. EVER.

 

DNF a book this year?  !

Um, well yeah. I don’t know if this is a naughty or nice thing, since I think it’s way better to DNF a book you don’t like than waste time on something you’re just going to hate-read.

 

Bought a book because it was pretty with no intention of reading it?  x

Actually, I don’t think I have ever done this.

 

Read while you were supposed to be doing something else?  !

Um, me reading at work all the time is a thing that sometimes happens…

 

Skim read a book?  !

Not a whole book, but sometimes if a book is slow or I’ve spent too long reading it and want to move on to something else, I will skim read the end.

 

Completely missed your Goodreads goal?  x

I don’t think so.

 

Broke a book buying ban?  x

I have never even attempted to put myself on a book buying ban because I know I will break it immediately.

 

Started a review, left it for ages, then forgot what the book was about?  !

Definitely intended to review a book, left it for ages, and then forgot what it was about.

 

Wrote in a book you were reading?  !

I had to annotate heavily in high school, so unfortunately, yes. Though tbh I think people should be allowed to do whatever they want to their own books.

 

Finished a book and not added it to Goodreads?  x

No

 

Borrowed a book and not returned it to a friend?  x

Nope. I don’t borrow or let people borrow books.

 

Dodged someone asking if they could borrow a book?  !!

Lol literally just did this last week with a former coworker. Sorry, but NOBODY gets to borrow my books, especially an ARC.

 

Broke the spine of someone else’s book?  x

Definitely not.

 

Took the jacket off a book to protect it and end up making it more damaged?  x

I actually hate taking the jacket off a book.

 

Sat on a book accidentally?  !

…probably?

 

I tag…anyone who still wants to do this after the holiday season!

 

 

 

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blogmas day 12: most disappointing books of 2018

You knew this was coming, right? There had to be a break from all the gushing over amazing books I read in 2018, didn’t there? Well, the answer is…yes. Yes, I must rant about my most disappointing reads of 2018.

Here they are, in all their glory:

 

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I had such high, HIGH hopes for TWINKLE, probably more so than any other on this list. I LOVED Sandhya Menon’s first romcom, WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI, and was absolutely dying to read her next book. Unfortunately, this book not only fell flat, but I downright hated some aspects of it. My main quip is that Twinkle herself is just a terrible character. I thought she was so immature and annoying, and I didn’t believe her passion for film. This book definitely favored the romance over characterization. I wish more time had been spent adding more believable details to Twinkle’s interest in film and her as a person.

 

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I was expecting a lot from this book because of the queer and mental health rep aspects. According to my review, I did like the mental health and eating disorder rep, but as for the queer stuff, it ultimately disappointed me. I just wanted more out of the romance, and wish there wasn’t a thing with someone else on the side that didn’t need to be there and didn’t seem to go anywhere. The thing that really killed it for me was the tragic twist in the middle. It struck me as very trite.

 

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Everything about this book was a bust. It really read more like Simon fanfic than an actual story with a character with a well-developed personality, which Leah did not have. Leah went around being mean to and hurting people with no real consequences, and there were so many loose ends when the story was over that felt wrong to me. The most upsetting thing was a hurtful bi comment that Leah makes to her so-called crush, where she says there’s no such thing as being “low-key bi” which I really felt on a personal level because I guess I could describe myself as low-key bi. I also honestly didn’t ship the romance and thought it was awkward and forced and there just for the sake of making Leah queer.

 

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Can I include books I DNF’ed?? Yes? Okay. I actually gave my copy of this book to someone via #bookishwish because I disliked it so much and wanted it out of my life. I was super disappointed to learn that this was only going to be a novella, as I hate novellas and find them kind of pointless. The first half of the book proved my point, as nothing interesting happened and it had no plot to speak of.

 

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This was a poetry collection I was psyched for because it was body positive and queer (I think??) overall, these poems just didn’t resonate with me and I felt like I had read all of them before. There didn’t seem to be any sort of organization so I struggled finding my place in a coherent narrative like most poetry books I’ve read seem to have. I found myself reading it but not really absorbing any of the words. There was too much poetry about clouds and stardust that read as a bit cliche to me. I was just not impressed by this collection at all.

 

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This is another poetry collection, this time by Cyrus Parker, who is the partner of Amanda Lovelace, a poet who is actually good (unless she’s writing about Cyrus, in which case, gag). I am 99% certain the only reason this collection was published was his connection to Amanda, because these poems are GARBAGE. They are honestly so, so bad I don’t even know where to begin. They have no heart or soul, and I didn’t know until I read this that poetry could also tell and not show.

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blogmas day 11: the christmas stocking tag

I was tagged by the lovely Caro to do the Christmas Stocking Tag! This is a very good thing because I was struggling to come up with things to post between now and my end of the year wrap up and goals posts, so woohoo for posts! The original tag was created by Kate @ readingthroughinfinity.

You get up on Christmas morning and your stocking is full! You take it down and start to unwrap the treats inside. The first thing you see is…

An orange! Which book is refreshing and vibrant, both inside and out?

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If Caro hadn’t picked it already, my pick for this one definitely would’ve been THE BRIGHTSIDERS by Jen Wilde, but I’m going to try not to steal anyone’s answers! So, I’m going to go with…THE SUMMER OF JORDI PEREZ! This book, about a queer, plus size fashionista, was so heartwarming and fun! I loved Abby and her friendships and romance, and wish more people talked about this delightful book!

 

The next thing you see is a bag of chocolate coins. (Yum)

Which book have you recently bought that was expensive, but totally worth the high price?

Um….I haven’t actually bought any really expensive books lately? I don’t tend to buy anything over the typical $20 hardcover price.

You also pull out a bath bomb.

Tell us about a book that had explosive action scenes.

I’m going to steal my answer from another post I’m writing and go with WARCROSS and WILDCARD. I realize I don’t actually read many books that would be described as “action-packed” but WARCROSS definitely fits the bill!

 

Next is a pack of playing cards.

Which series won you over?

I’d probably have to go with TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE for this one. Shockingly, the first time I read the first book, I really wasn’t sure if I liked it. I found Lara Jean immature and annoying. Something still compelled me to keep going with the series, and I’m really happy I did, because I loved the second and third books, and when I reread the series, I loved all of them (well, I guess I could’ve done without the second one and John Ambrose McClaren).

 

You also get a candle.

Which character is a symbol of hope in their story?

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She’s not really in this book much, but I’m going to pick Jade, Empress Lihua’s daughter from FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS. I’m cheating a little because I just started the sequel.

 

There are socks inside too.

Is there a book that you think really encompasses all the distinctive tropes of its genre?

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BEAUTIFUL CREATURES definitely has all the tropes of the paranormal genre: dreaming about a mysterious girl who the hero then meets and falls in love with, a small, weird town, a character coming into their powers when they turn sixteen…this book has it all.

 

There’s also a notebook.

Which author’s writing process do you find most interesting/inspiring?

Ummmm…I don’t really know much about authors’ writing processes?? I guess if I had to pick I’d go with C. G. Drews, aka Cait of Paper Fury, aka author of A THOUSAND PERFECT NOTES. I love all her posts about her writing process and her pictures of her outlines and outline snippets. I feel like if I ever encourage myself to write, I’ll be an outliner.

 

To go with the notebook, there’s a fancy pen.

Is there a book or a series that you’d change if you’d written it yourself?

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I’m picking LEAH ON THE OFFBEAT because this book had SO MUCH POTENTIAL to be great and yet it was just squandered. I would’ve given Leah a reason as to why she was so mean, and also discussed her hurtful comment to Abby. I also would’ve tied up her loose ends with that guy that she basically led on, and would’ve had her feel bad about it (to a reasonable degree).

 

There’s also a small bedside clock.

Which book took you a long time to pick up but was worth it in the end?

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I didn’t read this for the longest time because I was starting to get into contemporaries when it first came out. BUT I finally buckled down and read it and I’m SO GLAD I did. I absolutely love these books and really need to push through the slow beginning of RUIN & RISING so I can find out what happens and if Alina loses her shit.

 

Your pile is getting really big. You reach in to pull out the last gift and it’s… a lump of coal? You’re a little disappointed. But you look closer and realise there’s a seam running through the coal. You crack it open and sitting inside is a tiny golden snitch.

Tell us about a book that surprised you in some way.

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Yes, I am going to gush about WARCROSS for forever and ever, even though I didn’t love WILDCARD as much. I think one of the reasons I love it so much is that I wasn’t expecting to like it…at all. Sci-fi is not my thing even a little, so I was shocked when this turned out to be so good.

 

 

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blogmas day 10: queer books of 2019 i want to read

Prepare yourselves for another loooooooooong post of amazing books coming out in 2019…only this time, they’re QUEER. This is a list of all the books in 2019 I’m hoping to read that feature queer characters!

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Seventeen-year-old Rukhsana Ali tries her hardest to live up to her conservative Muslim parents’ expectations, but lately she’s finding that harder and harder to do. She rolls her eyes instead of screaming when they blatantly favor her brother and she dresses conservatively at home, saving her crop tops and makeup for parties her parents don’t know about. Luckily, only a few more months stand between her carefully monitored life in Seattle and her new life at Caltech, where she can pursue her dream of becoming an engineer.

But when her parents catch her kissing her girlfriend Ariana, all of Rukhsana’s plans fall apart. Her parents are devastated; being gay may as well be a death sentence in the Bengali community. They immediately whisk Rukhsana off to Bangladesh, where she is thrown headfirst into a world of arranged marriages and tradition. Only through reading her grandmother’s old diary is Rukhsana able to gain some much needed perspective.

Rukhsana realizes she must find the courage to fight for her love, but can she do so without losing everyone and everything in her life?

my comments: I have literally had a dream about this book because I’m so excited about it. NEED!!!!

 

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At the Medio School for Girls, distinguished young women are trained for one of two roles in their polarized society. Depending on her specialization, a graduate will one day run a husband’s household or raise his children, but both are promised a life of comfort and luxury, far from the frequent political uprisings of the lower class. Daniela Vargas is the school’s top student, but her bright future depends upon no one discovering her darkest secret—that her pedigree is a lie. Her parents sacrificed everything to obtain forged identification papers so Dani could rise above her station. Now that her marriage to an important politico’s son is fast approaching, she must keep the truth hidden or be sent back to the fringes of society, where famine and poverty rule supreme.

On her graduation night, Dani seems to be in the clear, despite the surprises that unfold. But nothing prepares her for all the difficult choices she must make, especially when she is asked to spy for a resistance group desperately fighting to bring equality to Medio. Will Dani cling to the privilege her parents fought to win for her, or to give up everything she’s strived for in pursuit of a free Medio—and a chance at a forbidden love?

my comments: I actually started reading this book a while ago and wasn’t feeling it so I put it down but I also didn’t know IT IS QUEER!?!?!?!?!?!?!? So I might pick it up again because I’m now pretty sure I know what the ship is and I am shipping. It.

 

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Hannah’s a witch, but not the kind you’re thinking of. She’s the real deal, an Elemental with the power to control fire, earth, water, and air. But even though she lives in Salem, Massachusetts, her magic is a secret she has to keep to herself. If she’s ever caught using it in front of a Reg (read: non-witch), she could lose it. For good. So, Hannah spends most of her time avoiding her ex-girlfriend (and fellow Elemental Witch) Veronica, hanging out with her best friend, and working at the Fly by Night Cauldron selling candles and crystals to tourists, goths, and local Wiccans.

But dealing with her ex is the least of Hannah’s concerns when a terrifying blood ritual interrupts the end-of-school-year bonfire. Evidence of dark magic begins to appear all over Salem, and Hannah’s sure it’s the work of a deadly Blood Witch. The issue is, her coven is less than convinced, forcing Hannah to team up with the last person she wants to see: Veronica.

While the pair attempt to smoke out the Blood Witch at a house party, Hannah meets Morgan, a cute new ballerina in town. But trying to date amid a supernatural crisis is easier said than done, and Hannah will have to test the limits of her power if she’s going to save her coven and get the girl, especially when the attacks on Salem’s witches become deadlier by the day.

my comments: 1) I have an eARC of this, and it is the first thing I have been approved for from Penguin on Edelweiss (yay, they don’t hate me anymore!!) 2) QUEER!!!! WITCHES!!! IT!!!!!! ME!!

 

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When Ari crash-lands on Old Earth and pulls a magic sword from its ancient resting place, she is revealed to be the newest reincarnation of King Arthur. Then she meets Merlin, who has aged backward over the centuries into a teenager, and together they must break the curse that keeps Arthur coming back. Their quest? Defeat the cruel, oppressive government and bring peace and equality to all humankind.

 

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Sana Khan is a cheerleader and a straight A student. She’s the classic (somewhat obnoxious) overachiever determined to win.

Rachel Recht is a wannabe director who’s obsesssed with movies and ready to make her own masterpiece. As she’s casting her senior film project, she knows she’s found the perfect lead – Sana.

There’s only one problem. Rachel hates Sana. Rachel was the first girl Sana ever asked out, but Rachel thought it was a cruel prank and has detested Sana ever since.

Told in alternative viewpoints and inspired by classic romantic comedies, this engaging and edgy YA novel follows two strongwilled young women falling for each other despite themselves.

my comments: I’m a *little* nervous about this one because I started the author’s first book, NOT THE GIRLS YOU’RE LOOKING FOR, and wasn’t a fan of the writing style, but I still want to give this one a try because that cover?? is?? so cute?

 

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The spellbinding tale of six queer witches forging their own paths, shrouded in the mist, magic, and secrets of the ancient California redwoods.

Danny didn’t know what she was looking for when she and her mother spread out a map of the United States and Danny put her finger down on Tempest, California. What she finds are the Grays: a group of friends who throw around terms like queer and witch like they’re ordinary and everyday, though they feel like an earthquake to Danny. But Danny didn’t just find the Grays. They cast a spell that calls her halfway across the country, because she has something they need: she can bring back Imogen, the most powerful of the Grays, missing since the summer night she wandered into the woods alone. But before Danny can find Imogen, she finds a dead boy with a redwood branch through his heart. Something is very wrong amid the trees and fog of the Lost Coast, and whatever it is, it can kill. Lush, eerie, and imaginative, Amy Rose Capetta’s tale overflows with the perils and power of discovery — and what it means to find your home, yourself, and your way forward.

my comments: sorry for including this one on two lists but MORE QUEER WITCHES YASSSSSSS

 

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Seventeen-year-old Bex is thrilled when she gets an internship on her favorite tv show, Silver Falls. Unfortunately, the internship isn’t quite what she expected… instead of sitting in a crowded writer’s room volleying ideas back and forth, Production Interns are stuck picking up the coffee.

Determined to prove her worth as a writer, Bex drafts her own script and shares it with the head writer―who promptly reworks it and passes it off as his own! Bex is understandably furious, yet…maybe this is just how the industry works? But when they rewrite her proudly lesbian character as straight, that’s the last straw! It’s time for Bex and her crush to fight back.

my comments: I honestly keep forgetting what this book is actually about but I don’t care because it’s JEN WILDE aka author of the best queer book ever aka THE BRIGHTSIDERS <3 <3 <3

 

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Before, Jessica has always struggled with anger issues, but come sophomore year that all changes when Vivi crashes into her life. As their relationship blossoms, Vivi not only helps Jess deal with her pain, she also encourages her to embrace her talent as an artist. And for the first time, it feels like the future is filled with possibilities. After In the midst of senior year, Jess’s perfect world is erased when Vivi suddenly passes away. Reeling from the devastating loss, Jess pushes everyone away, and throws out her plans to go to art school. Because art is Vivi and Vivi is gone forever.

Desperate for an escape, Jess gets consumed in her work-study program, letting all of her dreams die. Until she makes an unexpected new friend who shows her a new way to channel her anger, passion, and creativity. Although Jess may never draw again, if she can find a way to heal and room in her heart, she just might be able to forge a new path for herself without Vivi.

my comments: This author’s last queer book, GEORGIA PEACHES AND OTHER FORBIDDEN FRUIT, totally stole my heart and I am DYING to read more queer stuff from her!

 

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It’s 1989 in New York City, and for three teens, the world is changing.

Reza is an Iranian boy who has just moved to the city with his mother to live with his stepfather and stepbrother. He’s terrified that someone will guess the truth he can barely acknowledge about himself. Reza knows he’s gay, but all he knows of gay life are the media’s images of men dying of AIDS.

Judy is an aspiring fashion designer who worships her uncle Stephen, a gay man with AIDS who devotes his time to activism as a member of ACT UP. Judy has never imagined finding romance…until she falls for Reza and they start dating.

Art is Judy’s best friend, their school’s only out and proud teen. He’ll never be who his conservative parents want him to be, so he rebels by documenting the AIDS crisis through his photographs.

As Reza and Art grow closer, Reza struggles to find a way out of his deception that won’t break Judy’s heart–and destroy the most meaningful friendship he’s ever known.

my comments: I don’t actually know much about the 1980s AIDS crisis, so this will be interesting to read, especially from a YA perspective. I’m also very happy one of the characters is Iranian, since my boyfriend is Persian and I’m very interested in learning more about the culture.

 

Are any of these already on your TBRs for 2019? Have I made your TBR piles bigger?? #sorrynotsorry

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blogmas day 9: books i want to read in 2019

For today’s blogmas post, I’m going to share a LOOOOOOONG list of books I want to read in 2019. Tomorrow’s post is going to be specifically queer books I want to read in 2019, so I’m going to try not to put those on this list so we have some variety.

  • Crescent City | Sarah J. Maas | 2019Set in a world where humans struggle to survive amid intricate hierarchies of demons, shifters, angels, and countless other magical creatures, Crescent City tells the story of half-human, half-Sidhe Bryce Quinlan. After the brutal slaying of her best friend, Bryce joins forces with a powerful warrior-angel to hunt down the killer, leading them toward a treacherous enemy that could destroy the fabric of their world. The series will feature an array of captivating new characters, including a spitfire heroine who will stop at nothing to avenge her friend and protect her vibrant city, an epic world on the brink of war, and Maas’ signature heart-pounding romance.
    why I want to read it: I need more SJM while I get over my ACOTAR series withdrawal!!! Plus I’d be very interested in reading an adult fantasy from her
  • There’s Something About Sweetie | Sandhya Menon | May 14, 2019Ashish Patel didn’t know love could be so…sucky. After being dumped by his ex-girlfriend, his mojo goes AWOL. Even worse, his parents are annoyingly, smugly confident they could find him a better match. So, in a moment of weakness, Ash challenges them to set him up.

    The Patels insist that Ashish date an Indian-American girl—under contract. Per subclause 1(a), he’ll be taking his date on “fun” excursions like visiting the Hindu temple and his eccentric Gita Auntie. Kill him now. How is this ever going to work?

    Sweetie Nair is many things: a formidable track athlete who can outrun most people in California, a loyal friend, a shower-singing champion. Oh, and she’s also fat. To Sweetie’s traditional parents, this last detail is the kiss of death.

    Sweetie loves her parents, but she’s so tired of being told she’s lacking because she’s fat. She decides it’s time to kick off the Sassy Sweetie Project, where she’ll show the world (and herself) what she’s really made of.

    Ashish and Sweetie both have something to prove. But with each date they realize there’s an unexpected magic growing between them. Can they find their true selves without losing each other?

why I want to read it: I need Sandhya Menon to redeem herself after TWINKLE, plus diverse rom com companion to DIMPLE, plus fat MC??? YESSSSSSSS!!!!!

  • Love, Inc. | Jill Twiss | 2019 – YA romantic comedy about a teen entrepreneur who “creates a personalized subscription box service that guarantees true love… for everyone but herself.”

    why I want to read it: I love subscription boxes, romcoms, and this plot just sounds so good!

  • The Boy Who Steals Houses | C. G. Drews | April 4, 2019Sam is only fifteen but he and his autistic older brother, Avery, have been abandoned by every relative he’s ever known. Now Sam’s trying to build a new life for them. He survives by breaking into empty houses when their owners are away, until one day he’s caught out when a family returns home. To his amazement this large, chaotic family takes him under their wing – each teenager assuming Sam is a friend of another sibling. Sam finds himself inextricably caught up in their life, and falling for the beautiful Moxie. 

    But Sam has a secret, and his past is about to catch up with him.\

why I want to read it: It’s Cait of Paper Fury’s second book!! I will read literally everything she writes!!

  • Enchantee | Gita Trelease February 5, 2019When smallpox kills her parents, seventeen-year-old Camille Durbonne must find a way to provide for her frail sister while managing her volatile brother. Relying on petty magic–la magie ordinaire–Camille painstakingly transforms scraps of metal into money to buy the food and medicine they need. But when the coins won’t hold their shape and her brother disappears with the family’s savings, Camille must pursue a richer, more dangerous mark: the glittering court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

    With the dark magic she learned from her mother, Camille transforms herself into ‘the Baroness de la Fontaine’ and is swept up into life at the Palace of Versailles, where aristocrats both fear and hunger for la magie. Her resentment of the rich at odds with the allure of glamour and excess, Camille is astonished to find that her would-be suitor Lazare, a handsome young inventor whom she thought shared her dreams of liberty, is also living a double life.

    As the Baroness de la Fontaine, Camille gambles at cards and flirts, desperate to maintain her place at court and keep herself and her sister off the streets. But la magie has its costs. When a scheming courtier blackmails her and Lazare’s affections shift, Camille loses control of her secrets. Then revolution erupts, and she must choose–love or loyalty, democracy or aristocracy, reality or la magie–before Paris burns.

why I want to read it: black magic version of Marie Antoinette times???

  • The Everlasting Rose | Dhonielle Clayton | March 5, 2019 – SEQUEL TO THE BELLES NEED I SAY MORE NO I THINK NOT!!!!

 

  • Home and Other Punch Lines | Julie Buxbaum | 2019 Sometimes looking to the past helps you find your future.

    Abbi Hope Goldstein is like every other teenager, with a few smallish exceptions: her famous alter ego, Baby Hope, is the subject of internet memes, she has asthma, and sometimes people spontaneously burst into tears when they recognize her. Abbi has lived almost her entire life in the shadow of the terrorist attacks of September 11. On that fateful day, she was captured in what became an iconic photograph: in the picture, Abbi (aka “Baby Hope”) wears a birthday crown and grasps a red balloon; just behind her, the South Tower of the World Trade Center is collapsing. 

    Now, fifteen years later, Abbi is desperate for anonymity and decides to spend the summer before her seventeenth birthday incognito as a counsellor at Knights Day Camp two towns away. She’s psyched for eight weeks in the company of four-year-olds, none of whom have ever heard of Baby Hope. 

    Too bad Noah Stern, whose own world was irrevocably shattered on that terrible day, has a similar summer plan. Noah believes his meeting Baby Hope is fate. Abbi is sure it’s a disaster. Soon, though, the two team up to ask difficult questions about the history behind the Baby Hope photo. But is either of them ready to hear the answers?

why I want to read it: I LOVED the author’s first book, TELL ME THREE THINGS!!

  • The Lost Coast | Amy Rose Cappetta | May 14, 2019Danny didn’t know what she was looking for when she and her mother spread out a map of the United States and Danny put her finger down on Tempest, California. What she finds are the Grays: a group of friends who throw around terms like queer and witch like they’re ordinary and everyday, though they feel like an earthquake to Danny. But Danny didn’t just find the Grays. They cast a spell that calls her halfway across the country, because she has something they need: she can bring back Imogen, the most powerful of the Grays, missing since the summer night she wandered into the woods alone. But before Danny can find Imogen, she finds a dead boy with a redwood branch through his heart. Something is very wrong amid the trees and fog of the Lost Coast, and whatever it is, it can kill. Lush, eerie, and imaginative, Amy Rose Capetta’s tale overflows with the perils and power of discovery — and what it means to find your home, yourself, and your way forward.

why I want to read it: It’s! About! Queer! Witches!! (I guess this will be going on two posts, but it’s okay because OMG it sounds amazing!!)

  • Symptoms of a Heartbreak | Sona Charaipotra | May 21, 2019 Fresh from med school, sixteen-year-old medical prodigy Saira arrives for her first day at her new job: treating children with cancer. She’s always had to balance family and friendships with her celebrity as the Girl Genius—but she’s never had to prove herself to skeptical adult co-workers while adjusting to real life-and-death stakes. And working in the same hospital as her mother certainly isn’t making things any easier.

    But life gets complicated when Saira finds herself falling in love with a patient: a cute teen boy who’s been diagnosed with cancer. And when she risks her brand new career to try to improve his chances, it could cost her everything.

    It turns out “heartbreak” is the one thing she still doesn’t know how to treat.

why I want to read it: diverse forbidden romance ooh ooh yes yes

  • If You’re Out There | Katy Loutzenhiser | March 5, 2019After Zan’s best friend moves to California, she’s baffled and crushed when Priya suddenly ghosts. Worse, Priya’s social media has turned into a stream of ungrammatical posts chronicling a sunny, vapid new life that doesn’t sound like her at all. Everyone tells Zan not to be an idiot: Let Priya do her reinvention thing, and move on. But until Zan hears Priya say it, she won’t be able to admit that the friendship is finished.

    It’s only when she meets Logan, the compelling new guy in Spanish class, that Zan begins to open up about her sadness, her insecurity, her sense of total betrayal. And he’s just as willing to throw himself into the investigation when everyone else thinks her suspicions are crazy.

    Then a clue hidden in Priya’s latest selfie introduces a new, deeply disturbing possibility. Maybe Priya isn’t just not answering Zan’s emails. Maybe she can’t.

why I want to read it: I am in the mood for a good thriller.

 

  • Finale | Stephanie Garber | May 30, 2019 – FINAL BOOK OF THE CARAVAL TRILOGY!!!!!!
  • Fake it Till You Break It | Jenn P. Nguyen | June 18, 2019Mia and Jake have known each other their whole lives. They’ve endured summer vacations, Sunday brunches, even dentist visits together. Their mothers, who are best friends, are convinced that Mia and Jake would be the perfect couple, even though they can’t stand to be in the same room together.

    After Mia’s mom turns away yet another cute boy, Mia and Jake decide they’ve have had enough. Together, they hatch a plan to get their moms off their backs. Permanently. All they have to do is pretend to date and then stage the worst breakup of all time—and then they’ll be free.

    The only problem is, maybe Jake and Mia don’t hate each other as much as they once thought…

why I want to read it: I am all about the fake relationship trope!!

  • Wilder Girls | Rory Power | July 19, 2019 It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her.

    It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.

    But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there’s more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.

why I want to read it: it’s pitched as a feminist LORD OF THE FLIES plus it has a QUARANTINE and a plague!!!!

  • A Dress for the Wicked | Autumn Krause | August 6, 2019Nothing much happens in the sleepy town of Shy in Avon-upon-Kynt. And for eighteen years, Emmaline Watkins has feared that her future held just that: nothing.

    But when the head of the most admired fashion house in the country opens her prestigious design competition to girls from outside the stylish capital city, Emmy’s dreams seem closer than they ever have before.

    As the first “country girl” to compete, Emmy knows she’ll encounter extra hurdles on her way to the top. But as she navigates the twisted world of high fashion she starts to wonder: will she be able to tailor herself to fit into this dark, corrupted race? And at what cost?

why I want to read it: It’s pitched as two of my favorite things, THE BELLES and THE LUXE series, AND there’s a fashion competition?? Bring me all those Project Runway comp titles!!!!

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missed potential and meh // the similars

Title: The Similars
Author: Rebecca Hanover
Pages: 352
Date published: January 1, 2019

When six clones join Emmaline’s prestigious boarding school, she must confront the heartbreak of seeing her dead best friend’s face each day in class.

The Similars are all anyone can talk about at the elite Darkwood Academy. Who are these six clones? What are the odds that all of them would be Darkwood students? Who is the madman who broke the law to create them? Emma couldn’t care less. Her best friend, Oliver, died over the summer and all she can think about is how to get through her junior year without him. Then she comes face-to-heartbreaking-face with Levi—Oliver’s exact DNA replica and one of the Similars.

Emma wants nothing to do with the Similars, but she keeps getting pulled deeper and deeper into their clique, uncovering dark truths about the clones and her prestigious school along the way. But no one can be trusted…not even the boy she is falling for who has Oliver’s face.

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This had all the makings of a book with the potential to be good: emotional impact, friendship feels, boarding school drama, clones and an interesting futuristic world, romance…but most of those things ended up fizzling out. I was kind of interested in this book when I started reading it, but was honestly not planning on reading the sequel, so maybe my luck with this one was doomed from the start. So, let us examine my thoughts on it a bit more in depth with things I liked and didn’t like:

  • Darkwood. With a name like Darkwood, obviously the boarding school thing was going to be dramatic. I will say THE SIMILARS delivered on the promise of mysterious boarding school shenanigans, complete with a secret society. I guess the Ten isn’t really a secret society, since the whole school and the headmaster knows that the top testing students land a place in the Ten, but they might not know about what goes on at the group’s midnight meetings. Darkwood also came equipped with misfits, outcasts, and queen bees to fulfill all your boarding school drama dreams.
  • The characters were lacking. My main quip with this book is honestly mostly the character development. Emma might be the protagonist, but she doesn’t seem like a super important part of the story until A Twist at the very end of the book. My issue with her and the Similars is that none of them felt like real teens. They didn’t do teen-y things and were too serious and definitely didn’t talk the way teens talk. They also all spoke the same way and nobody had a unique voice, so it was sometimes hard to keep the dialogue straight.
  • It didn’t feel like real YA. I mean, it is YA, but it felt like what adults *think* YA should be. I was looking forward to the book mainly for the tropey stuff, but I thought it would be *new* takes on the tropes, but everything ended up feeling very formulaic. It was like, “oh, YA has pretty people, boarding schools, bitchy girls who want to ruin everyone’s lives, drama, and, let’s not forget, romanceeeeee”
  • Everything felt forced. Especially at the end, the drama was super forced, especially since they literally go in someone’s memories and see what motivated their entire scheme, which was not only boring, but a really lame entire chapter of info-dumping. I also didn’t believe most of the relationships, including Emma’s friendship with Oliver, because we didn’t see it, we are only told how they were such great friends. The romance was expected but still didn’t feel real, and the first kiss felt like lip mashing for the sake of lip mashing.
  • I didn’t predict all of the twists. Initially, I did think I was going to be able to predict most of the twists, which turned out not to be the case.
  • Pacing. The pacing was okay for the first 75%, but after that, the plot really rushed and felt awkward. Everything seemed to happen all at once, plus we had the info-dump chapter where we learned way too much, and had generally no time to react to new information. Plus, a major twist was dumped in the last chapter, but the book continued slightly after that. It felt like a lot of moving forward and stopping suddenly.

I don’t know why it happens that I always end up reviewing books I don’t like. Maybe I need to read different books? Or not read books that I am not extremely excited about in the first place? I don’t know. But either way, this book was very disappointing, awkward, and did not live up to my hopes for it. Alas.

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