December Wrap Up

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So, it’s officially the new year! I know it’s already five days into 2018, but I still find myself forgetting, especially when I have to date something. Even though I read some graphic novels and some shorter books this month, I’m still really happy that I managed to get through eight books in December. I also read the longest and the shortest books that read this year in this month. I was pretty split in star ratings, with a few high rated books and a few low rated books, but overall it was a great reading month. I’m hoping that in the coming year I can keep up this pace and read five to eight books a month, but I guess we’ll see. This is what I read in December.

OVERVIEW

Total Books: 8

Total Pages: 2452

Male vs Female Authors: 5 to 5

Library Books vs Owned Books: 8 to 0

Audiobooks vs Physical: 1 to 7

1.  Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King & Owen King: 3 stars

This was the first book that I read this month, and I got through it with a pretty long audiobook. Before I get into the review I’ll just say that if you’ve been interested in this book but were intimidated by the size, pick up the audiobook! It’s narrated by Marin Ireland and she was absolutely great. She had a distinct voice for every character, which was pretty impressive for this tome, and her general narrating voice was clear and concise.

I haven’t read a ton of Stephen King’s books, but of the ones I have read, this is about mid-way on the list, not the best and not the worst.  I enjoyed how this book flowed, in the sense that, I couldn’t completely tease out what parts were written by Stephen King and which parts were written by Owen King, which I liked because it shows how great they worked together. The only part of this that I could pick out as true Stephen King style is the super in-depth description of literally EVERY character in the novel, of which there were many. I absolutely love King’s ability to write such a huge and diverse cast of characters that all have different personalities and motives, but that also feel like they all live and function together in a town, instead of a lot of random people that are stuck in the same place and orbiting each other.

I picked this book up because I was interested in the premise, and I think a lot of King fans were a bit skeptical of how it was going to be handled. We all know that Stephen King isn’t exactly concerned about being PC. In general I didn’t feel like the topic or the social commentary got in the way of the plot as it was being told. I was afraid that this would turn into a huge social commentary, but it didn’t. I wouldn’t say that it was handled in a great way, but it wasn’t offensive, at least to me it wasn’t. It actually went exactly where I assumed it would. As more and more women fall to this mysterious disease, the men left behind get more and more anxious and eventually devolve into senseless violence. I was surprised that the more moving commentary was made by the women in this story, especially once they had crossed over into ‘Our Place’, and were contemplating whether or not they wanted to stay in a world full of only women, or go back to the real world.

This is a hard book to unpack in a wrap up because there were so many characters and so much plot in this 700 page novel, but I will say that if you’ve been intrigued by this book but haven’t picked it up, go for it! It wasn’t the greatest King novel that I’ve read, but it definitely didn’t disappoint.

2. Saga, Volume 7 by Brian K Vaughan & Fiona Staples: 4 stars

I haven’t read anything from Saga since the late summer, so I picked this one up since the new volume just came out a few days ago. As much as I love this series, I felt that in the last few volumes the plot was taking a backseat to all the random sex and violence, but in this volume the story definitely came back around, and even though there wasn’t as much action or movement, there was a lot of story packed into this volume. One of the things that I absolutely love about Saga is Vaughan’s ability to create new characters and story lines, while also maintaining and furthering the older plots, and weaving all of them together into a cohesive timeline that drives the story. Each plot line, regardless of how insignificant it may seem, serves some purpose in the story, and this is an ability that I greatly appreciate in writers as not all can do it to this degree. I don’t want to say to much about this volume as it is the seventh one, but I will say that it definitely made me feel a lot of feelings!

3. Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King: 2 stars

I don’t have much to say about this book, mostly because I’ve been trying to block it from my memory. I didn’t enjoy anything about this book at all. Honestly, it’s probably the only thing I’ve read by King that I wish had been longer than it actually was. The plot had the potential to be interesting, but it seemed like once the button box was explained, it was like King didn’t know how to proceed with it in the story, so he just threw a whole bunch of violent plot points into the story and blamed it on the box. The plot also moved incredibly fast for a book that was under 200 pages. From beginning to end Gwendy goes from being 12 years old to a college-age adult. There aren’t many characters in this book, but even Gwendy, who is the main character, was very underdeveloped. She took a back seat to the plot, which was also underdeveloped.

4. Marrow by Tarryn Fisher: 4.5 stars

CONTENT WARNINGS for the following: mental illness, child neglect/abuse, drug use, sexual assault, and descriptions of murders/deaths.

This book was NOTHING like I thought it was going to be. It was absolutely crazy. I had never heard of Tarryn Fisher until I saw this book on one of BooksandLala’s haul videos and I’m so glad I picked it up. I took off a half a star because the last part of the book seemed like it was randomly tacked on and it didn’t flow as well as the rest of the story. This book is about a young girl named Margo and follows her from age 15 into her early twenties, and unravels her life living in a broken home in a poverty-stricken town that she believes she doomed to be bound to for the rest of her life. As harsh as this book is, if you can get past the hard topics in it, you are treated to a story that is an unapologetic exploration of violence in so many forms, and how it ripples out and affects so many people. The book really takes off after the death of a young girl named Neveah in Margo’s town. Margo goes on to become so intensely obsessed with the girl’s death and becomes convinced that the murderer is still walking free, upon which she decides to take matters into her own hands.

I was honestly under the impression that this would be a story about a young woman overcoming an incredibly hard life and it took a turn that I never would have suspected. This book is actually about the evolution of Margo’s character as she becomes a vigilante serial killer, starting with the murder of Neveah’s mother. It was interesting how Fisher made Margo into a vigilante killer, because you know that she is a murderer and not much better than the people she targets, but at the same time allows her character to go after people that most of us would turn a blind eye to if some act of violence were to befall them. Margo doesn’t go after just anyone, she goes after child murderers, child abusers, and rapists, among other things. Although Margo isn’t exactly made out to be a morally ambiguous person, you can still commiserate with who she is becoming and what she is doing.

Another great aspect of this book is that it touches on mental illness, and how it can instigate and intensify violent acts. Later in the book Margo is made privy to how her upbringing had effected her friendship with a neighborhood boy named Judah. As much as I loved this twist in the story, I wished that it was delved into further than “yup, you have a mental illness and it’s effecting your perception of reality”. Though it was acknowledged again after she left the hospital, it wasn’t thoroughly explained how she treated it or how it affected her. She didn’t even seem to have a huge life altering reaction to the fact, considering the circumstances surrounding it.

The characters in this book, even the side characters, are amazingly well rounded and fleshed out. They feel viscerally real and painfully flawed and, above all, they are all distinct from one another. I loved the way that Fisher designed the atmosphere of the Bone where every aspect, including the characters, help to create this hole in the wall town where that is full of misery, despair, and people going nowhere. It doesn’t just feel like the people there are miserable because of the place they live, but also that the town is a miserable place to be because of the people there, like a depressing but effective feedback loop.

I’m so happy that I found this author. I feel like this book is something I’ve been waiting for for a long time, in terms of how emotionally raw and uncomfortable it made me feel, the atmosphere that it created that grabbed me and pulled me in so much that I hated having to put it down. Above all, Fisher is not afraid to go there with her portrayals of how horrible human beings can really be. This is the only book I’ve read of Fisher’s, but I will definitely be on the look out for more of her books if they are as good as this one.

5. Autoboyography by Christina Lauren: 4 stars

I have no idea what compelled me to pick up this book as I don’t read a ton of contemporary, and when I do it’s never YA contemporary. I’m personally not into super fluffy and cutesy reads, and I feel like the majority of the most popular YA contemporary books I see people talking about fall into this category. That being said, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. In fact, I liked this so much  that I read it in one sitting. There are some problems with this book for sure, but I absolutely loved the conversations and topics that this book touches on.

This book delves into things like friendships, family bonds, first loves, sexuality, and religion. There were so many great moments in this book that deal with compromising one’s own feelings and sexuality for their religion and vice versa. And this book definitely doesn’t stray from candid and upfront conversation. One of my favorite scenes was of Tanner and Sebastian talking about their individual sexual identities and Sebastian is not able to admit that he is gay even though he admits he has feelings for Tanner. It shows how deeply ingrained people’s religious believes can be, especially when they are raised their whole lives in a religious community. I also liked the scene where Sebastian and Tanner are talking about Tanner identifying as queer and Sebastian is having trouble understanding why Tanner, who is bisexual, wouldn’t just choose to be with a girl since it would be ‘easier’ for him, especially where they live. I think this is a concept that almost every person who identifies as bisexual has had to tackle at least once in their lives, whether it’s coming from someone who really doesn’t understand, or someone who is just being an ass.

There is also a lot of talk about how religions that have historically been against homosexuality have tried to rewrite the rules of their own beliefs so that they don’t suffer as much public backlash for being homophobic. I think that most people already know how this one goes, but I find it interesting that a religion can say that it’s okay to gay, but actually acting on your feels is what is sinful. This seems crazy to me because so many religions also say that not being true to yourself is like a sin in and of itself because you are technically lying about who you are, and ignoring a whole part of yourself.

There is a kind of fine line that Tanner walks with everyone around him including his best friend Autumn. Because he is living in a town where a majority of the people are Mormon, and he is a senior in high school who is planning to go to an out of state college, he doesn’t tell anyone that he is queer, including Autumn. Although she, like him, is not from a religious family, he is still afraid that if he tells her she will either not be his friend, or tell other people. I liked this aspect of the story because it felt so true to life. There are so many times where we may not tell someone something for fear of the negative repercussions, even if we know the people we want to tell love us.

The only real problem that I had with this book was when Tanner and Autumn had sex after Sebastian broke up with him. It wasn’t even that they did it, but it was just wrapped up to nicely and to quickly. After it happens nobody is upset, no feelings are hurt, no relationships are broken. Tanner is freaking out for a day and then everything is fine with him and Autumn and within a week, everything is okay with Sebastian as well. I didn’t like this plot point because it didn’t add anything to the story at all. It happens, everyone is fine with it, the story moves on. If they added this to the story it should have at least had a greater affect on the character’s relationships with each other, or not have been in the book at all. Apart from this plot point, any other problems that I had with the book were mostly nit-picky things that weren’t completely poorly done, but that I felt could have been tweaked a bit to make them better.

6. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch: 2.5 stars

I’m not 100% sure what I was expecting from this book, but this was nothing like even the vaguest idea of what I thought it would be going in. The premise of this story is extremely interesting, especially since it’s focusing on technology that is something we are currently trying to understand. In general  this book was a little more romance-focused and not as technology-focused as I hoped it would be. I was completely into this story until about 75% of the way through. I didn’t like the constant back and forth into all of the different parallel universes, just because all of them were incredibly brief, and in most of them it seemed like he should have known that what he was looking for wasn’t there right away.  There were a few plot points in the story that I felt were created, and could have taken the story somewhere compelling, but were dropped relatively quickly and were never touched on again. This book honestly felt like a disjointed action movie.

There were a few times in the story where there were some cool conversations about the multiverse, what it means for us if it truly exists, and how it effects us. My favorite of these conversations centered around the question of whether or not every version of us in every multiverse is connected to each other and if all of this different versions are just various parts of a whole person.

This book fell off for me in the last quarter, when Jason finds his way back to the universe he originally left and the multiple copies of himself from other universes followed him back there. First of all, there were just to many and it seems completely ridiculous. Three or four copies, maybe, but there were almost a hundred of them. Secondly, the explanation of how and why they all managed to follow him back was flimsy at best. It makes sense how the version of him that he switched places with got there, and even why he was there, but the other versions didn’t really have a reason to  be following him to his universe, because there would be a version of Daniela and Charles in theirs or they wouldn’t even know about Daniela and Charles because they wouldn’t have existed at all where they came from. Also, Jason needed a drug to move between the universes, so how the hell did all of these copies of him get that drug, because if they were living in a universe where they picked their career over Daniela, then they wouldn’t have even wanted her in the first place so they would have to reason to follow Jason back to the original universe. Are you confused yet? So was I. I still am honestly.

Overall, I think this was a cool concept for a book, and there is a lot of interesting topics that can be explored, and while I completely understand that as of right now we don’t fully understand the concept of superposition, teleportation, or if the multiverse is even a thing (fingers crossed, because, how awesome would that be), I felt that a lot of the finer details of this story weren’t as fleshed out as they needed to be for it to work like I hoped it would.

7. The Hole by Hye-Young Pyun: 2 stars

I was really intrigued by this book when I first saw it about a month ago at work and I picked it up a few times over the fall but never reads it until just this month (December). I thought that I was going to love this book because of the topic, but even at 198 pages I could barely force myself to finish this. I don’t know if this is more of a problem with translating certain terms and phrases, general emotional tone from Korean to English, the writing itself, or if it’s just a cultural difference in story telling, but pretty much everything in the story fell flat for me.

I couldn’t connect to the characters in any capacity. The wife is not a character that you get to know in present tense because she has already pasted away at the beginning of the story, so all of the information that we get about her is automatically colored by Oghi’s impression of her, which is not that great to begin with. The two women characters are so painfully bland for most of the book that they may as well not even be there. They don’t even have names. The mother-in-law only becomes somewhat interesting a little more than halfway through the story and at only 198 pages it was a little to late for me. She flips from ridiculously demure and unassuming to this absolutely cruel person who is taking out her pain on Oghi, but it isn’t done in a very believable way.

I did feel bad for Oghi at the beginning of the story. This book puts him in a situation that would be hard for anyone to bare, but the story doesn’t really follow him trying to deal with and understand his situation or try to deal with the way his life is now, he’s just constantly whining and, while I could understand how this could be a coping mechanism for someone suddenly thrust into this situation, he just became more and more annoying as the story went on. I don’t know if the reason presented at the end of the book about how they ended up getting into the accident was supposed to be a plot twist, but I didn’t think it was really necessary for the story overall and just felt like an add on. The ending of this book was kind of confusing and ends on a bit of a cliffhanger as far as what happens to Oghi, but to be honest, I don’t really care. I’m just happy that I’m done with this book. It’s not the worst book I’ve ever read, but it wasn’t that good either, and ultimately it’s forgettable for me.

8. Monstress, Volume 1: The Awakening by Marjorie Liu & Sana Takeda: 4 stars
I’ll just start by saying that the art in this graphic novel is absolutely stunning. The attention to detail is amazing and you can tell that the artist put so much love and so much of herself into the work that she does for this story. Even if you read this and don’t like it, you can’t deny that the art is beautiful.

I feel like I understood only about 90% of what’s going on, but the main story is easy enough to follow that all of the world-building that isn’t explained up front doesn’t get in the way of enjoying and understanding. This story definitely doesn’t hold your hand and explain every aspect of the world to you as you go along, and I feel like it really works for this story. There is a lot that is not explained up front but I can’t wait to see how it unfolds in later volumes. I love this story so much because this is the bad-ass female lead that I’ve been looking for. She actually does bad ass things instead of just talking about them and she can be incredibly brutal, but she still has another side to her where she is a confused young woman who is trying to understand who she is and what is happening to her.

he only reason this isn’t a five stars is because it does feel a bit like a set up for a major story arc to come in the next volumes, but even for what it is, it is amazing. There is a lot of story is this first volume so it felt a little busy. However, if the plot line is tightened up in the  next volume it could be right up there with Saga as my favorite graphic novel series.

This wrap up turned out to be much longer than I thought it would be, but I’d like to write longer reviews for the books I read in 2018. If you’ve read anything on this list, let me know what you thought about it! And if it motivates you to pick one up, let me know which one. What was the best book you read in December?

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Top 5 Wednesday: 2018 Wishlist

Top 5 Wednesday is a GoodReads group where participants discuss their top 5 favorite books for a different topic every week. There are new topics posted every month on this page.  This group is hosted by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes and Lainey from gingerreadslainey.

This week’s topic is not to list specific book titles that you are looking forward to, but to instead discuss some themes and ideas that you really love and are hoping to get more of in the releases of the coming year.

1. More ‘Found Families’

This is a concept that I really fell for after reading Six of Crows, but I love the idea of a bunch of broken, wayward people making a home in their friendships. I think there is something powerful and profound about starting over again and allowing yourself to reinvent the idea of what a family truly is. This concept can be done for so many reasons and in so many different ways that it’s something that will never bore me. Plus it gives the author a way to pull together characters of varying  personality types without feeling to forced.

2. More Genre-Blending

This one might just be something that’s new to me personally, but I’m really loving the concepts of books that either blend together multiple genres or that completely defy the boundaries of genre all together. There’s a lot of space for this one to go wrong, and I think it takes a an author who really knows what they’re doing to get it right, but when it’s done right, the resulting reading experience is so refreshing to me.

3. Less Love Triangles

I think this is one that almost everyone can agree on. I don’t really know why this trope keeps rearing it’s ugly head, but i’m getting more and more sick of it every year. It seems to be dying off, but at the same time it’s like authors and publishers, especially in YA, don’t want to give it up. I’m not saying I never want to see it again, or that a book can’t be good of there are multiple love interests, but as of right now I’m firmly against any type of love geometry.

4. More Standalone Novels

This one for me is specifically aimed at fantasy and sci-fi, whether it’s adult or YA. There are way to many trilogies out there that have absolutely no business being trilogies. I understand that it makes authors stay relevant, especially if they have nothing else in the works, and that it make the author and the publisher more money if the story is broken up. It also makes me hate that series and not want to read it anymore. I think even a duology could solve the problem for most of these unworthy trilogies. If you have a great story that was specifically written to take place over three books, fine. But there are so many trilogies that you can tell were a simple story made it last one, maybe two books tops, and were poorly dragged out to fill three 300-400 page books. It gets painful after awhile, especially when it’s an author whose writing I really enjoy because it makes me think that their ability to craft a good story is lacking and makes me not want to bother reading their work anymore.

5. Diversity In Fantasy & Sci-Fi

2017 has been a great year for diversity, there’s no denying. I’m so happy that this concept is being woven into so many conversations this year and, while there were a few times it did get a little ugly, this is obviously an important topic that we need to make sure becomes the new normal and not just a fleeting trend. Anyone that reads a lot of fantasy and sci-fi knows that the diversity narrative, in the past, didn’t get picked up as often  in our favorite genres. This year I’ve noticed that it is starting the bleed into these genres and, judging by some upcoming releases for 2018, there’s going to be a big diversity boom, specifically in fantasy and sci-fi.

There are honestly to many great concepts and themes that I’m hoping to see more of next year, but these are some of my most anticipated for 2018. What are you looking forward to in the stories to come next year? Let me know!

Top 5 Wednesday: Top 5 Books of 2017

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Top 5 Wednesday is a GoodReads group where participants discuss their top 5 favorite books for a different topic every week. There are new topics posted every month on this page.  This group is hosted by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes and Lainey from gingerreadslainey.

A lot of people usually don’t like to make these lists until after the new year, with good reason. There is always the chance that you’ll be able to cram in one last four or five star book before the end of 2017, but in general, I feel like we all know what our favorites of the year are already. I feel like this is really just a list of the books I’ve read in the past few months, just because I wasn’t reading a lot before finding the online book community, but I have found some gems in the second half of the year. These are five of my favorite books from 2017. These books are in no particular order.

1. Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman

I read this book in the spring on a whim. I’ve been interested in and thinking about studying neuroscience in the future, and I have a three cousins who have Asperger’s Syndrome. I didn’t think that I would like this book just because it’s really long and dense, but it really blew me away. It’s an incredibly well researched history of autism and Asperger’s Syndrome from the 1930’s up until today. This book was so amazing to me because it really breaks down how and why autism went from being something that we originally assumed to be a rare disorder to something that is becoming more and more common. It also looks at the rise of psychiatric and psychological treatment of disorders, the history of asylums and institutions in the United States, as well as the unforgiving way in which families with members suffering from mental illnesses or disorders were treated for decades. I felt so much sadness and anger while reading this book, but also a great sense of hope and joy for the generations of young people today who are dealing with an ASD. If you know anyone with an ASD this is a great book to pick up. It’s a dense read but it’s 100% worth it.

2. Saga by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples

Before falling into the online book community, I didn’t a lot of graphic novels. Actually I didn’t read any at all. Saga was the first graphic novel I read this summer because so many people that I was following were raving about it. I think I officially picked it up when Hanna from A Clockwork Reader was talking about it. This series is absolutely stunning both in storytelling and art work. I picked up Book 1 and Book 2 and read each of them in one day. I know a lot of people felt like the series was faltering a bit in volume five or six, but I’ve never felt like this story has had a dull moment. Maybe a few stretches, but nothing dull. I recently picked up volume 7 since the next volume is coming out in early January, and it was gutting. I know that Brian Vaughan has said that he wants this series to go on as long as possible, and I feel like, if done right, there is so much that could be delved into. Regardless of whether or not this story goes on forever, I hope it doesn’t slow down any time soon.

3. Marrow by Tarryn Fisher

I heard about Tarryn Fisher while watching a Booksandlala video and looked in my library catalog to see if we had any of her work. We had one copy of Marrow in the entire state, so I went with it. Holy. Shit. This is probably the most intense book I’ve ever read. It’s so emotionally full and brutal and raw. It is definitely stuffed full of content warnings, but if you aren’t someone who affected by strong content you should give this a try. This story is about a teenage girl who is growing up in a town submerged in poverty and what she goes through with her mother, but it really takes off after the murder of a young girl and deals with how this event affects the main character and how it shapes her. Although the book focuses on a teenager this is 100% an adult novel. I had a few small issues with the back half of this book, but in general I thought it was an incredibly powerful read that touches on poverty, how the world we grow up in shapes us, family relationships, friendship, mental illness, and violence in it’s most insidious forms. This is the only book I’ve read of Fisher’s and I already consider her a new favorite author.

4. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

I read Shadow and Bone a few years ago, before the third book was published, and I liked it and wanted to continue, but it wasn’t a priority. I picked up Six of Crows in September and I honestly couldn’t believe that this was written by the same person who wrote Shadow and Bone. This book is so well written, with blunt language that falls into poetic prose at all the right times, while maintaining it’s sarcastic edge. The part that really did it for me was the characters. One of the reasons I didn’t immediately continue on with the first series was because I didn’t feel connected with the characters in the story, but this story’s character are so much more well rounded and fleshed out. I appreciate the way their individual back stories were weaved into the greater narrative over the course of the novel. Leigh Bardugo’s writing has come so far in a short amount of time and I can’t wait not only to finish this duology, but to see what types of stories she produces in the future.

5. The Shining by Stephen King

Up until this year I hadn’t read anything by Stephen King, and I also hadn’t seen any of the movies based on his work. I figured The Shining is a King classic so I decided to pick it up and it has set a super high bar for all the rest of his books that I’ve read since. This book was super creepy and introduced me to one of my new favorite story types, the sentient haunted house that is no only haunted but kind of alive in some way. This book is not only about someone going crazy, but about family ties and how fragile they can be, especially when someone is struggling with controlling their own demons. The actual writing style is like being stuck in the mind of someone who is going crazy because there are a lot of sections where the writing goes in circles. This book is a horror classic for a reason and, although the movie was a huge let down for me, I’m happy I always have the book to go back to.

Top 10 Tuesday: Books I Hope Santa Brings

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Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly prompted created by The Broke and The Bookish. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, that’s okay! This weeks prompt is really just about ten books that you’ve been looking at for a while and are hoping to get soon. You can spin this for any winter holiday you happen to celebrate. I’ve never really gotten a lot of books for Christmas, but I do usually get cash from a few family members, which is just as good. So these are the books I’m hoping to either get for Christmas or pick up before the end of the year, most of which I’ve been wanting to get into for a while now.

1. Red Rising by Pierce Brown

When I first read the synopsis for this I didn’t completely write it off but I wasn’t interested in picking it up right away. I was pretty burnt out from all the dystopian books and movies out there, but I kept it in the back of my mind for a few months. I’ve been noticing that this book has been getting a lot of buzz since the fall and I’ve heard a lot of people saying it’s not a typical dystopian novel. I’ve been getting more and more hyped for this book and I’m itching to get my hands on it.

2. A Darker Shade Of Magic by V. E.  Schwab

I think this series is one of the most popular in the book community right now and I still haven’t read it. I read The Archived a long time ago when it first came out, before I even knew who Victoria Schwab was, but apart from that I haven’t read any of her books. I feel like for most people her work is hit or miss, but of the synopses I’ve read of her novels I think I will really enjoy her works, and I think this will be a great place to start.

3. The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin

I started reading this book and got about fifty pages into it before midterms came around. By the time things died down this was due back to the library. I know this book series got picked up to become a TV show and, even though I don’t have cable, I’d like to get through it before it comes out. From what I did get to read I already know I’m going to love this book. I’ve already bought two books from her Inheritance trilogy and I don’t even know what it’s about… that’s how good her writing is.

4. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

I’ve been flip-flopping about whether or not to read this since it came out, but I’ve recently heard a lot of great things about it from multiple people. I don’t think I’ve heard anything bad about it yet. From what I remember it’s got some time travel elements, which I’m always down for.

5. Mud Vein by Tarryn Fisher

I recently read Fisher’s book Marrow in November and it blew me away! I had some nit-picky problems with the ending but it was so emotional and raw and I’m surprised that more people don’t know about her. I picked Mud Vein for this list, but honestly if I can get my hands on ANY of her work, I’ll read it.

6. Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

I’ve been putting off reading this series because I don’t have a copy of Ruin and Rising, which I know is ridiculous, but I know that it’s going to be a series that I binge in a weekend and I don’t want to start it without having all three. I reintroduced myself to Leigh Bardugo’s writing and remembered how much I loved it, and now I need more!

7. The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

I heard about this book the month before it came out and, as much as I want to read it, I can’t get it from my library, and since I buy most of my books secondhand, I can’t bring myself to spend $30 on a book, as much as I know I’ll love it. I have a sinking feeling that this book is going to destroy me, so I want to read it while I’m on break between semesters so I have time to get over the soul crushing impact.

8. The Grace Of Kings by Ken Liu

To be completely honest, I don’t really remember what this one is about, but I know that Ken Liu and Cixin Liu have been getting a ton of praise in the SFF community lately between The Dandelion Dynasty and The Remembrance of the Earth’s Past series. I didn’t really like the Three-Body Problem which was more on the sci-fi side, but I think that the Dandelion Dynasty will be a little easier to wrap my head around.

9. The Tiger and The Wolf by Adrian Tchaikovsky

I heard about this book about halfway through October and I’ve been interested in it ever since. I didn’t realize how long it was until I tried to read it for Tome Topple in November. One word: shapeshifters. I’m so down. I’m not into paranormal romance and I feel like its been hard to find a good book about shifters lately since a lot of the YA and adult fantasy is revolving around ‘the chosen one’ and ‘kingdom in peril’ tropes. I think those things are in this book also, but… shape shifters.

10. Daughter Of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

This one is kind of a cheat because I already know that I’m getting the whole series box set of this, but ever since I picked up Strange, the Dreamer this summer I’ve been wanting to get my hands on more of Laini Taylor’s work. I feel like you either love that flowery, poetic writing style, or you don’t, but I love it and I’m dying for more.

So, this is a pretty abbreviated list of books I want to get soon. I’m trying to be good next year about buying books and getting my owned TBR under control, so I figure if I buy all the books I want to read before the new year they’ll still technically count as part of my owned TBR. Plus, all the good sales are always after Christmas, right? What books are you hoping to find waiting for you under the tree this year? Let me know!

 

Top 5 Wednesday: Bookish Things You’re a Grinch About

Top 5 Wednesday is a GoodReads group where participants discuss their top 5 favorite books for a different topic every week. There are new topics posted every month on this page.  This group is hosted by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes and Lainey from gingerreadslainey.

Today’s topic is a fun way to kick of the end of the holiday season! It’s not about things that really irritate or anger you about books, just little things that make you internally groan when you see them.

1. Dust jackets

Dust jackets of one of the major reasons I hate buying hardcover books. They are so in the way when I’m trying to read a book and if you take it off then the cover of the book gets dirty. It’s not like anyone will know once I’m finished with it… but I’ll always know. I’ve noticed a lot of books being published as naked hardcovers, with the art design directly on the cover, and I’m really loving them and hoping that more publishing companies move towards that instead. I think the whole look is a lot sleeker and nicer and I’ll never have to worry about losing or ripping a jacket ever again.

2. Mass Market Paperbacks

I have a love hate relationship with paperbacks. I love paperbacks much more than hardcovers, mostly because they are cheaper and, since I carry my books around with me everywhere, they are a lot less heavy and bulky. That being said, I’m really not a fan of the mass market style. This is mostly because I love to annotate the books that I own and that can be pretty hard when the words are microscopic and there’s barely any space between the lines. I mostly bring this one on myself because I will never not buy a mass market paperback if it’s an option. College kids have to cut corners any way they can!

3. Book Blurb Mashups

“It’s this book meets that book and totally for fans of that book”. Lies, lies, and more lies. I can’t think of one book I’ve ever read that has this a a blurb that actually emulated any of the books mentioned in the book blurb mashup. To me, this kind of blurb just tells me what genre the book falls under. The other reason I’m not a fan of this is that it doesn’t always allow the book it stand on it’s own unique qualities and instead relies on the reader’s previous interest in some other book that they read to pick up this one.

4. Books With No Synopsis

On the topic of book blurbs, how on earth can you publish a book with absolutely no synopsis on it what so ever? I don’t care what six other authors and the New York Times  thought about the book. If I don’t know what it’s about, I’m not buying it. This problem has been significantly reduced for me since joining and following the book community because I know what most of the books in the second hand shops are when I go now, but it’s still frustrating when I find older books that no one is talking about.

5. Movie Book Covers

As  much as I dislike the shiny “Major Motion Picture” stickers slapped on book covers that take delicate precision to remove, I really hate when the actual movie poster is used to replace the original cover. I’ve seen the commercial every ten minutes for the past two months when I’m watching TV, please stop trying to shove it in my face even more! I think I’m personally just getting sick of all the book to movie adaptations that have been flooding the market lately because, for the most part, they are poorly done and so much is left out to accommodate a two hour time frame. You wanna make a movie? Fine. But keep your movie poster off my book please.

I think this list could go on and on and on and on…. but this is probably the five things that annoy my the most about physical books. I just realized that none of these have to do with the actual content of the books, but that’s a whole other topic. What are some bookish things that you’re a Grinch about?

Top 10 Tuesday: Ten Bookish Settings I’d Love to Visit

Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly prompt created by The Broke and The Bookish. I was in love with this week’s topic until I sat down to actually try and come up with ten settings I’d want to visit. I feel like this topic lends itself more to fantasy and sci-fi books and I’ve been reading a lot of books that take place “in real life”. So boring, right? I did manage to come up with enough settings and I had to reach into the DEEP past for one or two of these which only made me feel like I really need to step my reading game up in the coming months.  These settings are in no particular order.

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1. The Kiesha’ra Series by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

This series is probably the oldest one on this list. I read a lot of Amelia Atwater-Rhodes’ books when I was in middle school and I feel like her books have been lost to time because they mostly came out before the Twilight series and the subsequent YA boom. Despite this, or maybe because of it, I loved the uniqueness of these books because they don’t really don’t have a ton of cliche YA tropes. This entire series consists of 5 books (Hawksong, Snakecharm, Falcondance, Wolfcry, and Wyvernhail) and follows multiple kingdoms of different shapeshifters. I’m pretty sure that this was my first introduction to shifters as a young adult and I have a lot of nostalgic feelings about this series. I would love to fall into this book’s setting just to be around all the shapeshifters.

2. The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Pirates, assassins, witches, and ninjas! And all in one book! Honestly, what more could you ask for? Again, this is a book I haven’t read in years, but I remember liking it so much because it was so different from all of the other formulaic YA books I had been reading at the time. This book gives you a little bit of everything, from ships on the high seas, to cities bursting with magic, and dangerous deserts, and still manages to be cohesive instead of overwhelming. And, once again, I don’t think this book ever really got the hype it deserved.

3. Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

I just finished reading the first book in the Southern Reach trilogy and, while the setting is, for the most part, relatively normal, I can’t shake the feeling that there is something much more sinister and mysterious going on in Area X. I’m still wondering if there is something in the environment that is driving the groups crazy and turning then against each other, but the plot is so open ended and unexplored at the end of book one that I have a least a dozen theories about where it’s going to go.

4. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Honestly, I would visit any setting the Laini Taylor creates. Her writing is so beautiful and her descriptions of setting are so vivid that they feel real. What I love most about her writing is how the descriptions are so effortlessly woven into the stories and not dumped on you all at once. I don’t think I’d like to live in the dreamless city that most if this story takes place in, but, in true book nerd fashion, I just want to live in the library Lazlo worked in before he left. If he can live their why can’t I? To be fair though, I already work in a library, so I’m not to far from accomplishing my goal.

5. Six of Crow by Leigh Bardugo

Although Six of Crows takes place in a few specific locations, I would really just like to live in the Grishaverse. I feel like this is a tougher one because there are a lot of scary places with some vicious characters running around, but the entire world is full of such beautiful and interesting magic that I can’t resist.

6. The Raven Cycles Series by Maggie Steifvater

This series was one that really got me back into reading after a my second year of college, and while I know there are a lot of people that don’t love this series as much as I do, I still enjoy returning to it when I’m stuck in a slump. Apart from a desire to befriend the characters in this book, I want to visit Cabeswater. It’s magical. It’s a forest. How much more do you need? The idea of being in a place that is not only a dream, but could literally make your dreams come to life is something I would love to experience.

7. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

I feel like this one is cheating and if you’ve read the book or seen the movie you probably understand why. This book takes place in six different settings in six different time periods.  The one that intrigued me the most was Neo Seoul, which takes place in the future. The plot in Neo Seoul follows a young woman who is a clone that is  used as a slave and becomes self aware of her and other clone’s situation and raises a rebellion against the society’s treatment of them. Kind of intense, but the book covers some pretty interesting concepts that I think our own society is going to have to face in the coming decades with the rise of robotics and AI, and in the movie Neo Seoul was visually stunning. I feel like the idea of going to the future just to see how we turn out is something that everyone thinks about at some point.

8. Saga by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples

I think that fact that this is a graphic novel seriously lends to my desire to visit literally any part of the universe in Saga… except maybe the sex planet. Again,  the idea of exploring the universe and finding out what’s out there is something a lot of people think about at least once. For me, this is something I think about a lot, but since I’m to scared to fly in a plane let alone a spaceship, Saga is the next best thing for me. One of my favorite things about this story is the ability of Vaughan to create so many stories that are taking place literally across galaxies and still be able to tie them together so effortlessly.

9. The Shining by Stephen King

The Overlook hotel is the epitome of one of my new favorite concepts in horror… the sentient haunted house. I would love to go to a haunted house in real life, as long as it’s not my house. But this book is so creepy because of the way the entities of the house work against the characters to drive them crazy.

10. Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

As a rule I try not to include Harry Potter on any list like this if I can help it, but I think this topic is the most perfect one to include it so, here it is.  This book is so nostalgic for me because it was the first chapter book that I read on my own that wasn’t a Magic Tree House book. These books are really what got me into reading as a child and even as an adult I still return to them from time to time. Can we all just live at Hogwarts please? I feel like this is the childhood dream of most people in my age bracket.

Tome Topple (Round 5) TBR

Tome topple is back for the fifth and final round of the year and while I don’t generally like making TBRs because I hardly ever stick to them, I like to make them for readathons to keep myself on track. Tome topple was the first readathon I participated in and I love that it’s dedicated specifically to tackling larger books.

Tome topple is a readathon hosted by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes and co-hosted by six other people (listed in link). The readathon runs from Friday November 17 to midnight on Thursday November 30 and there are six challenges that are not required to complete but are there to help compose a TBR. I’ve created an overly ambitious TBR for myself but I’m not planning on getting to all of them. I have 2 books that I’d really like to get to and 2 books that are back ups just in case the dreaded tome topple curse hits. Here are the books I plan to read.

The Tiger and the Wolf by Adrian Tchaikovsky

If I’m not mistaken I actually got this recommendation from Sam’s channel. I’d never heard of it before watching her video a few weeks ago, but I’m glad I did because the basic plot line of this story sounds a little like a series I read years ago in middle school by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes. I’m super excited that this book is about shape shifters because I can’t remember the last time I read a good shifter story. This is about a young girl whose parents are leaders of rivaling shifter tribes and while each side can only shift into one respective form, she has the ability to shift into both a tiger and a wolf. The jacket description on this seems a little vague so I’m really excited to jump into this and find out the deeper story in it.

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

I saw this book in the magazine we get a work every month called Book Page. This magazine shows all of the new releases for the coming month and I saw this while flipping through while on break one night. This is the book that I’m the most interested in reading for this readathon and I really hope that I’m not over-hyping this for myself, but I can’t wait to start it. This book is about a man named Cyril Avery who one day finds out that he was adopted by his parents, and spends a lifetime trying to find out who he really is. This book follows Cyril on the journey of his life in Ireland from the 1940’s to present day. I’ve flipped through this book a little bit already and found a few heart-wrenching scenes, so I’m literally over here just waiting for Friday to roll around.

The Diviners by Libba Bray

I’ve been going back and forth on this book for about two years now, which is absolutely ridiculous. I’ve seen a few booktubers that I like talking about it the past two months or so, so I decided it’s now or never. If I finish the two books above, I’m going to dive into this one, but even if I don’t get to it during the readathon I’m still going to read it. This book follows Evie O’Neill who is sent to live with her uncle in 1920’s New York where she gets caught up in a occult-surrounded murder mystery. I’m 50/50 on this book to be honest. I think the premise is sounds interesting, but I’ve never read anything by Libba Bray and I don’t know anything about her writing style.

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

The second I put down Six of Crows I wanted to bit this one up, but I resisted because it took me awhile to get through the first one and I was afraid that it would take me even longer to get through this one, so I let it go for a while. I’ve been eyeing this for the past three or so weeks and I want to get to it before the end of the year, readathon or not. This book is the continuation of the plot from Six of Crows and deals with the aftermath of the heist that happens there. I absolutely loved these characters and I can’t wait to get back to them and this world and this story.

I’m so excited for this round of Tome Topple and I’ve been saving my books for it! I always love getting through a really long book, especially if it’s something good a super immersive. I have a few school exams coming up so I’ll be cramming in some hefty studying between now and Friday so I won’t lose to much reading time. If you’re participating in Tome Topple let me know what you’re reading!