Most Surprising Reads of 2018

I had so many “Best of 2018!” posts planned but life got in the way and I didn’t have time to write them promptly, and when I found the time I was so burnt out from the reading the same post over and over again that I just didn’t want to add my own two-sense in the already overflowing pot.

I read a lot of really great books this year, but I also read a lot of books that completely surprised me. Some of my favorite books of the year are on this list, but some are not. These books are either 4 or 5 star reviews!

I’ve set this post up with the book, a simplified summary from Goodreads, and a short note about the book. Cover photos are linked to their Goodreads page! Ratings are either linked to reviews posted to this blog or to Goodreads.

The Diviners series by Libba Bray

The Diviners (The Diviners, #1)Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will, and Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer. As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps and, unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened.

I feel like might be the last person on the planet to read The Diviners and I only started reading it because I heard the audiobooks were amazing. I was pretty hesitant to read this series because it contains a bunch of elements of things I generally don’t like (paranormal, fantasy, incomplete series, etc) but it’s become one of my favorite series, especially as I continued reading them.

Ratings and reviews: The Diviners: 3 stars | Lair of Dreams: 4 stars | Before the Devil Breaks You: 5 stars Continue reading “Most Surprising Reads of 2018”

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December in Review: 15 Books

HAPPY NEW YEAR 🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉 New Year’s is one of my favorite holidays, but before I get into my 2018 favorites, reviews, and wrap-ups, I can’t ignore December as a whole month!

I had some fantastic reads this month, and also a few disappointments. The large majority of my books this month were 4 and 5 star reads!

Different from my monthly wrap-ups, which focus more of patterns in my reading habits and is just me rambling on forever (because that’s my brand), monthly reviews are more like lists: easy to scroll through to get the whole picture of my reading month. Listed is the title, author, publication date, and cover along with the genre and age range (if applicable). I also have my rating and a three-word description of my reading experience! The links will either go to a longer review I wrote on this blog or a shorter review I wrote on Goodreads. All the cover photos are linked to their Goodreads page.

TOTAL BOOKS: 15

🌟: 0
🌟🌟: 2
🌟🌟🌟: 1
🌟🌟🌟🌟: 8
🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟: 4

 

Fake BloodFake Blood by Whitney Gardner
Published: Sept 4, 2018
MG Paranormal
hilarious, satirical, realistic
🌟🌟🌟🌟

Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orïsha, #1)Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Published: Mar 6, 2018
YA Fantasy
bingeable, dynamic, intense
🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women

The Radium Girls by Kate Moore
Published: May 2, 2017
History
repetitive, feminist, digestable
🌟🌟🌟

 

Into the WaterInto the Water by Paula Hawkins
Published: May 2, 2017
Mystery
confusing, underwhelming, blah
🌟🌟

 

Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women's AngerGood and Mad by Rebecca Traister
Published: Oct 2, 2018
Feminist Theory
powerful, fierce, phenomenal
🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

Love WorksLove Works by Janice Mirikitani
Published: Jan 1, 2003
Poetry
stunning, emotional, historical
🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for WhitenessI’m Still Here by Austin Channing Brown
Published: May 15, 2018
Memoir
transforming, digestable, personal
🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

Exit WestExit West by Mohsin Hamid
Published: Mar 7, 2017
Magical Realism
condense, evocative, timeless
🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

CirceCirce by Madeline Miller
Published: Apr 10, 2018
Fantasy
lyrical, complex, engaging
🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

The CorrectionsThe Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
Published: Sep 24, 2001
Contemporary
lengthy, overwhelming, extra
🌟🌟

 

Horimiya, Vol. 8Horimiya vol. 8 by Hero and Daisuke Hagiwara
Published: Jul 18, 2017
YA Romance
cute, fluffy, charming
🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

GeorgeGeorge by Alex Gino
Published: Aug 25, 2015
MG Contemporary
simple, accessible, relevant
🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

A Christmas CarolA Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Published: Dec 19, 1843
Holiday Classic
uplifting, atmospheric, descriptive
🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

Sister Outsider by Audre LordeSister Outsider by Audre Lorde
Published: Jun 1, 1984
Essays
academic, intersectional, critical
🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air, #1)The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
Published: Jan 2, 2018
YA Fantasy
disturbing, surprising, addictive
🌟🌟🌟🌟

I read some surprisingly great books this month and thoroughly enjoyed most of them. Let me know if you’ve read any of these because I’d love to talk about them? Which books were your favorites for December?

How I’m Structuring My Monthly TBRs in 2019

🌟 T’IS THE SEASON FOR LIST MAKING!!!! 🌟

Y’all I LOVE goal setting. Like to the point where I have a 12 page google doc of my 5 year writing plan broken down by month (I’m seriously not joking 😅). I love New Year’s Resolutions, I love monthly goals, I love to-do lists, and I love reading everyone else’s goals and lists for the new year!!!

I’m going to try to calm down for the rest of this post but like, no promises 😬.

One thing I really want to do this year is be more intentional with my reading. I’m not entirely a mood reader; I don’t really DNF books but I also feel like whether or not I enjoy a book definitely depends on where I’m at in my life at that moment.

I don’t want to get too in-depth into my reading goals because I’m saving that post for next week (which now I’m thinking that might be slightly redundant but that’s a question for future Seal).

Ok anyway (my excitement for this post is making me DISTRACTED but like I’m not apologizing).

I realized this past year that structured TBRs work really well for me. I read about half of the books on my TBR, and I’m really content with that success rate. I like to use TBRs as more of a guideline and most of the time I end up reading the books I miss in the following months anyway.

Like always, I have an incredibly ambitious list so I’m just gonna slide right into it. Continue reading “How I’m Structuring My Monthly TBRs in 2019”

November 2018 Wrap-Up: Was I the only one on the planet not in a reading slump??

  • Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver
  • Dreamin’ Sun vol. 1 by Ichigo Takano
  • In This Corner of the World by Fumiyo Kouno
  • I’ll Be There for You by Kelsey Miller
  • Fruits Basket Another vol. 2 by Natsuki Takaya
  • Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan
  • The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
  • The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
  • Severance by Ling Ma
  • Far From the Tree by Robin Benway
  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  • Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  • Beartown by Frederick Backman
  • The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht
  • The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
  • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
  • They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
  • The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
  • Shakespeare: The World as a Stage by Bill Bryson
  • A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
  • Girl Out of Water by Laura Silverman
  • Too Much Happiness by Alice Munro
  • Maximum Ride: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports by James Patterson

  • Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
  • Sweet Blue Flowers vol. 1 and 2 by Takako Shimura
  • Orange: Future by Ichigo Takano
  • Emma vol. 5, 6, and 7 by Kaoru Mori
  • Yostuba&! vol. 1, 2, 3, and 4 by Kiyohiko Azuma
  • The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
  • Feed by M.T. Anderson
  • The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl by Melissa Keil
  • Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
  • Horimiya vol. 6 and 7 by Hero and Daisuke Hagiwara
  • Kimi ni Todoke vol. 6, 7, and 8 by Karuho Shiina
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
  • The Deepest Roots by Miranda Asebedo

That’s books hauled list though… 😑

It was an accident!! All the books from Severance down were purchased at my library’s used book sale! Every November my library holds their annual book sale and it’s one of my most anticipated events of the entire year. I gave myself a budget of $40 and ended up spending only $33 on 15 books! So I can’t even be mad at myself. And it also gave me the opportunity to rearrange some of my shelves(re: the books on my floor in front of my shelf) in order to fit all of those new books! 😈 So really, was buying this many books this month a mistake? Probably. Do I regret? Not right now, at least. Maybe in like three months when I still haven’t read any of them…

Anyway, November was a MONTH. I feel like I didn’t read a single wrap-up (or watch a single wrap-up video) where someone in the book community had a good month, so clearly I’m not alone. That said, I feel like when I’m struggling reading has been my reprieve, so at least my reading month was great. (Actually this was my strongest reading month of the year by a landslide, which is unreal.) Continue reading “November 2018 Wrap-Up: Was I the only one on the planet not in a reading slump??”

Goodreads Choice Awards 2018 Predictions

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: Goodreads Choice Awards!!!!!!!

Seriously I LIVE for these awards and I cannot wait to see the results!

I thought it would be fun (for me, and maybe for you who knows!!) to make a list of my winning predictions and see if I’m right! Originally I was going to wait to write/post this until after the winners were announced but then how would people know if I was being honest or not?? I mean, as a lifetime (professional) Girl Scout I know that I am honest and fair but still.

So I’m posting this now, before voting ends and the results are announced. I might go back and update this later with the winners, or I might make a short follow-up post. We’ll see! I’m kind of winging this whole thing (aka this post is a Hot Mess).

Side-note: My own personal philosophy is that I feel weird voting for books I haven’t read. Therefore, there are some (actually quite a few) categories that I didn’t vote in at all; this may be because the books I’ve read didn’t make it into the final round, or because I just didn’t read any book from that category!! (The Goodreads Choice Awards are also a rude awakening for just how many new releases I buy but never read!!)

I’ve organized this post by category in order of how they appear on Goodreads, with my original and current vote, along with my prediction and a brief note.

Fiction:

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Prediction: An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

This category honestly could’ve been anything. I was close to picking Hank Green’s novel, but since it just came out a few months ago, I figured that many people hadn’t read it.

 

Mystery & Thriller:

Original Vote: The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

The President Is Missing by Bill Clinton

Prediction: The President is Missing by Bill Clinton & James Patterson

For this section I went off gut instinct based on the popularity of the authors. Stephen King could be another potential winner, but I feel like this book got a ton of hype.

 

Historical Fiction:

Current Vote: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

Prediction: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

The first book I actually voted for in the final round!! Not to toot my own horn, but I do believe this book will win. Kristin Hannah got a ton of hype surrounding The Nightingale and I think this carried over to this book as well. Continue reading “Goodreads Choice Awards 2018 Predictions”

September 2018 in Review

I read so many great books this month that it was hard to remember them all!

Coming out of a slow reading summer, I definitely had to catch up on a lot of my manga series and audiobooks that I’d cast aside. I didn’t realize how heavily my reading habits relied on audiobooks until I didn’t have access them!

I felt like September was a pretty well-rounded reading month for me; I had quite a bit of books that were published in 2018, as well as books that were published earlier. I had a wide range of genres and authors as well.

Different from my monthly wrap-ups, which focus more of patterns in my reading habits and is just me rambling on forever (because that’s my brand), monthly reviews are more like lists: easy to scroll through to get the whole picture of my reading month. Listed is the title, author, publication date, and cover along with the genre and age range (if applicable). I also have my rating and a three-word description of my reading experience! The links will either go to a longer review I wrote on this blog or a shorter review I wrote on Goodreads. All the cover photos are linked to their Goodreads page.

Lumberjanes, Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy

Lumberjanes vol. 1 by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters, Brooke A. Allen
Published: Apr 7, 2015
YA Fantasy
wild, feminist, creative
🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

SunburnSunburn by Laura Lippman (ARC)
Published: Feb 20, 2018
Mystery
disappointing, thoughtful, noir
🌟🌟

 

Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to You, Vol. 4Kimi ni Todoke vol 4 by Karuho Shiina
Published: May 4, 2010
YA Romance
soft, slow, subtle
🌟🌟🌟 Continue reading “September 2018 in Review”

Summer 2018 Reading Wrap-Up: my (hopefully!!) largest haul of the year

June (& BookCon!!)
  • Making Friends by Kristen Gudsnuk (ARC)
  • When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore
  • I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez
  • Emergency Contact by Mary H. K. Choi
  • Check Please!: #Hockey by Ngozi Ukazu (ARC)
  • The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
  • Christmas by Accident by Camron Wright (ARC)
  • Dear Ijewale, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Red Rising by Pierce Brown
  • And Then There Were Crows by Alcy Leyva (ARC)
  • Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power! by Mariko Tamaki and Brooke Allen
  • Geekerella by Ashley Poston
  • Pop Sonnets by Erik Didriksen
  • The Last Summer of the Garrett Girls by Jessica Spotswood
  • The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco
  • The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
  • When Katie Met Cassidy by Camille Perri
  • The Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir
  • Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot
  • Nothing Happened by Molly Booth
  • Dear Life by Alice Munro
July
  • The Courage to Be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi
  • The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager
  • The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  • Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson
  • Honey Farm by Harriet Alida Lye (ARC)
  • Ordinary People by Diana Evans (ARC)
  • 30 Before 30 by Marina Shifrin (ARC)
August
  • The Air You Breathe by Frances de Pontes Peebles
  • To Be Honest by Maggie Ann Martin (ARC)
  • Fruits Basket Another vol. 1 by Natsuki Takaya
  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

June
  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
  • Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen
  • Emma vol. 2 by Kaoru Mori
  • Check Please!: #Hockey by Ngozi Ukazu (ARC)
  • Dreams of Falling by Karen White (ARC)
  • The Forever Summer by Jamie Brenner
  • Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power! by Mariko Tamaki
  • Kimi ni Todoke vol. 3 by Karuho Shiina
July
  • Paper Girls vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan
  • The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  • The Museum of Us by Tara Wilson Redd (ARC)
August
  • I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez
  • Camp Rolling Hills: Freefall by Stacy Davidowitz
  • The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski
  • The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski
  • Making Friends by Kristen Gudsnuk (ARC)
  • The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski

Continue reading “Summer 2018 Reading Wrap-Up: my (hopefully!!) largest haul of the year”

September TBR List (& a Brief Life Update!)

After a brutal summer of eyeing all of the books I brought with me to camp but barely had time to read, I’m barreling into the fall with full force! Today is my first day back at my full-time job, and while it’s bittersweet to be back in a cubicle after ten weeks in the woods, I’m excited to sit in air conditioning and re-organize my desk. I feel almost as if I’m starting a new job; I don’t have any projects going on at the moment!

Outside of work, I’ve been so eager to get back into my reading habits (also my bookshelf needs some reorganization!!). I’ve already made lists upon lists of the books I need to read; I’m so behind after BookCon in June! My writing habits have always needed some work, but what better time to develop a stronger routine than in the fall, the time of academic rebirth!! If you couldn’t tell by my exclamation points, I’m really excited to be back into the groove of things.

I read 3 out of the 6 books from my June TBR. To be honest, only 1 of those books I finished in June, and the other two I finished in July, but since I didn’t have a TBR for July or August, I’m still counting it! Lined up I have seven books on my TBR for the month.

I’ve set this post up with the book, a simplified summary from Goodreads, and a short note about the book. Cover photos are linked to their Goodreads page!

Buddy Read: Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan (own)

Crazy Rich Asians (Crazy Rich Asians, #1)

When Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home and quality time with the man she hopes to marry. But Nick has failed to give his girlfriend a few key details. One, that his childhood home looks like a palace; two, that he grew up riding in more private planes than cars; and three, that he just happens to be the country’s most eligible bachelor.

This has literally been sitting on my bookshelf for at least two years and it’s always a book I pass up. My friend and I are trying to power-through it before the movie is out of theaters! Continue reading “September TBR List (& a Brief Life Update!)”

May Reading Wrap-Up: Four of these books were added to my “favorites” list

books hauled

  • South Toward Home by Julia Reed (ARC)
  • Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
  • 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
  • The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
  • Camp Rolling Hills: Breakout! by Stacy Davidowitz
  • Camp Rolling Hills: Freefall by Stacy Davidowitz
  • A Little Bit of Dreams by Stase Michaels
  • The Museum of Us by Tara Wilson Redd (ARC)
  • I Do Not Trust You by Laura Burns and Melinda Metz (ARC)

books read

  • American Street by Ibi Zoboi
  • Emperor Mage by Tamora Pierce
  • Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot
  • The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur
  • Emma by Kaoru Mori
  • The Realms of the Gods by Tamora Pierce
  • The Art of Happiness by Dalai Lama XIV and Howard C. Cutler
  • Kimi Ni Todoke vol. 2 by Karuho Shiina
  • The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
  • Because I Was a Girl ed. by Melissa de la Cruz
  • Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver
  • Camp Rolling Hills: Breakout! by Stacy Davidowitz
  • Azumanga Daioh: The Omnibus by Kiyohiko Azuma
  • Horimiya vol. 3 by Hero and Daisuke Hagiwara
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  • Brave by Svetlana Chmakova
  • 1984 by George Orwell

What A Month!! I honestly cannot believe I read this much this month; it’s unreal. Considering I worked overtime every paycheck and added up almost 1,200 miles on my car (just for work!!) this month, I’m shocked I even had time to sleep let alone read.

I know this gigantic “read” list is primarily because five of the books listed were audiobooks and five books were graphic novels/manga so it made it easy to read so much. I also realized I read a lot of middle-grade novels (five total but including audiobooks and graphic novels) so those are just naturally an easier read for me because of the language and format of the book. I also credit my local library to sucking me into it’s wide open mouth and swallowing me whole; a whopping fourteen books this month came from my local library, either in print or through Overdrive. (Embarrassingly I only read three of my own books this month. You can see why my gigantic physical TBR is such a problem.)

Moving past my shock over the quantity of books I read, I need to focus on the quality of the books I read but man oh man did it leave me with some HIGH expectations!!

I would say my average rating for books is around 3⭐ or 4⭐. If I like a book (and generally I read books that I enjoy) it’s a 3⭐ rating. If I really like it, it’s a 4⭐ rating. I’m stingy with my 5⭐ books; often it has to completely blow me away. I gave four books a 5⭐ rating this month (and one very high 4.5⭐ rating) and I’m shocked that it got to that many. Continue reading “May Reading Wrap-Up: Four of these books were added to my “favorites” list”

May in Review

My favorite types of posts to write are the monthly recurring posts that keep track of my reading habits. I also am a habitual list-maker so making these are so fun for me!!

Different from my monthly wrap-ups, which focus more of patterns in my reading habits and is just me rambling on forever (because that’s my brand), monthly reviews will be more like lists, and easy to scroll through to get the whole picture of my reading month. I’ll have the title, author, publication date, and cover along with the genre and age range (if applicable). I’ll also have my rating and a three-word description of my reading experience! The links will either go to a longer review I wrote on this blog or a shorter review I wrote on Goodreads. All the cover photos are linked to their Goodreads page!

[I was also toying around with different ways to express marginalized characters. I’ve seen some people use emojis which I really like, but I also feel like emojis don’t always accurately express the identification of the characters. Like if a character is trans I don’t just want to label it as LGBTQ+ ya know? Or if there’s mental health rep, I want to be specific on what exactly that entails, not just use an umbrella term. I also don’t know how in-depth to go. Should I just focus on main characters? What about secondary or tertiary characters?? I’m really just struggling with how to keep this short and sweet. For this month I couldn’t decide on a method I felt comfortable with so I’m going to skip it (idk if that’s the right choice or not!!). Does anyone have any suggestions on what you’d either like to see or what you haven’t seen yet but you think might work well??]

Anyway, here’s a list of all the books I read in May!

American Street

American Street by Ibi Zoboi
Published: Feb 14, 2017
YA Contemporary
stunning, honest, magical
🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

Emperor Mage (The Immortals, #3)Emperor Mage by Tamora Pierce
Published: Nov 17, 1994
MG Fantasy
political, tricky, powerful
🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

Heart Berries: A MemoirHeart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot
Published: Feb 6, 2018
Memoir
poetic, wrenching, raw
🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 Continue reading “May in Review”