2017 Reading Round-Up

Hello, one and all, all and one. It’s time for my 2017 reading round-up. It’s been a great year for me, reading-wise. I managed to read a total of 62 books, more than I’ve ever read in a single year. Those 62 break down to 31 graphic novels, 12 fantasy stories, 9 contemporary/literary fiction books, 3 historical fiction novels, 3 pieces of nonfiction, and 2 mysteries. Gosh, you can tell I work at a library for breaking them all down like that, can’t you?

If you remember last year’s post, I answered five questions about my reading. I’m doing the same this year, but one of the questions is different. Without further ado, let’s get going.

1.What book was your biggest disappointment?
I feel kinda bad to say it was this one, especially since I liked the first book quite a bit, but it has to be One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake. I was so pumped for this release, to the point where I would check our new YA shelf at work every day to see if it was there. But I was disappointed. The story seemed to meander almost as much as the characters did. In certain respects, it was a good book. Blake still retains her knack for vivid description and some of her characters did undergo interesting changes throughout the story (Jules, Katharine). But overall, this book just wasn’t good for me.

2.Which book(s) were your biggest surprise?
Last year I just had one, but this year I have two books that completely surprised me. The first is Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart. I’ve never read anything by E. Lockhart before, but I knew of her reputation for creating captivating, mind-blowing stories. I’m not going into too much detail about this book, because if I were to tell you too much about it, it would definitely spoil it. So I’ll just say that the two aforementioned adjectives describe it perfectly: captivating and mind-blowing. Definitely check it out.

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Photo credited to Amazon. 

The second book that was a huge surprise was Warcross by Marie Lu. She’s another one that, despite how popular her work is, I’ve never read anything of. I got really excited when I heard Warcross was a story that takes place mostly during a gaming competition. I grew up as a causal gamer surrounded by much more intense gamers, and I was curious how the story would incorporate an art form that has been so important over the last 30 years. The gaming is interwoven throughout the story in such a clever way that you can tell Lu has lots of firsthand experience with it (and she does). I’ll admit that this book didn’t hook me right away but I persevered and was not disappointed. I think I’ll try to read more of her work in 2018 because Warcross was so wonderful. I also can’t wait for the sequel!

3.What’s the book you’re most likely to reread soon?
I’ve been on a Broadway musical kick this whole year and in the middle of October I finally listened to “Dear Evan Hansen” and promptly fell in love while my heart was ripped apart by this musical’s deep and gut-wrenching message. About a week later, I was bored at work and I looked up the CD on Amazon to see how much it would cost and my jaw nearly hit the floor when I saw that they had the script available for sale. When I got home, I immediately reached for my Kindle, bought it, started reading, then had my heart ripped apart again. The musical is about a guy in high school who has extreme social anxiety and he gets caught up in a lie he tells to a grieving family. The music is beautiful but if you don’t know the background of the story, it’s a little difficult to tell what the music is all about. I guess their marketing people realized that and decided they better release the script so people could read it and know what exactly is going on. And as a script, it sets the scenes up so well and it’s just as well-written as the music and lyrics. The entire piece would be absolutely amazing to see on stage and I hope I’ll get to, someday.

4. Who are your favorite characters you encountered this year?
This is the new question! Last year, I listed my most unusual book, but I thought this was an unexpected and different question, especially since reading introduces us to so many new people.

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Photo credited to Amazon. 

Figuring out my favorite male character I read about this year was not difficult at all. It’s Maverick Carter from Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give.  Maverick is a shopkeeper and an ex-inmate trying to keep his family together and safe during race riots that erupt after a cop murdered his daughter’s best friend. Maverick was so much fun to read about and such a lovable, honest character. He does his best for his family, no matter what happens to him and does his best to make up for his past mistakes. He’s also hilarious, especially his theory about the Hogwarts houses being gangs. One of many important characters from an incredibly important novel from this year, Maverick is someone I’d love to meet in real life.
My favorite female character is from a manga series I read early this year, Iku Kasahara from Library Wars. This series is about a military force dedicated to protecting people’s right to read in a world where censorship is rampant. Iku is an incredible, zany girl. She has quite a short attention span and a shorter temper that often leads her into some sort of trouble. When she’s in trouble, though, it doesn’t take her long to figure a way out of it. She’s fantastic, just like this entire manga series. If you’re looking for a new manga, definitely check this one out.

5. What are your top three books of 2017?
I read a lot of great books this year, but I decided these answers based on which books have stuck with me the longest throughout the year.

Coming in at number 3 is Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. This is one of the works of nonfiction I read this year and in it Gilbert discusses not only her take on creative life and what that means but also tells the story of her creative life. I’ve never read anything by her before but I was intrigued by this book when it came out in 2015. I forgot it even existed until I had to shelve it at work and decided to take it home with me. Gilbert’s writing is incredibly accessible, even though she talks about lofty, complex ideas, you never feel lost or completely out of touch, as she grounds those ideas in practical advice and anecdotes from her life. If you’re a fan of books about creativity, this is one for you.

My second favorite book of the year is Max by Sarah Cohen-Scali. This novel tells the story of Max, a boy born in Hitler’s Lebensborn program, a program which was to effectively engineer the “perfect race”. I will say that, though this story is told from the point of view of a child, I don’t think anyone under fourteen should read this, simply due to its subject matter. That being said, I think everyone over fourteen should read this at some point. I’ve learned quite a bit about the Holocaust and the devastation the Nazi regime caused throughout the world. I never considered how devastating it would be to be a child born as a result of this program. It’s a truly eviscerating but absolutely necessary story.

And my favorite book of 2017 is….Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor!

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Photo credited to Goodreads. 

If you remember the second of my four sentence reviews, I gushed about this book. And I haven’t stopped gushing or thinking about this story since I finished it back at the end of May. It’s the story of an orphan who has longed to journey to a forgotten city ever since he was little and he’s pretty much resigned himself to never having that dream come true. Until a group of strangers come to town and give him the chance to go to that city. This word “epic” gets tossed around when talking about fantasy stories, but this story is truly epic in its scope, world, characters, and everything. This is another book that I almost put down due to the fact that I had trouble focusing, but I’m so glad I didn’t. I would have cheated myself out of a brilliant adventure and heady romance if I had. I hope I can write like this someday.


So that’s my reading round-up for 2017! It’s hard to believe that this year is nearly over. Thank you all so much for a great year here on the blog. I hope 2017 was a great year for you and that good things are in store for you in 2018. See you next year!


End of the year book tag

Hello, lovely people. So there has been a new book tag floating around the bookish side of Youtube that I thought would be fun to cover here on the blog. If you couldn’t guess by this post’s title, it’s the end of the year book tag. I’ve been wanting to do this for a while and now that the new year is less than two weeks away, I think it’s a good time to put this up. So let’s get started.

  1. Are there any books you started this year that you need to finish?
    Like about 5. Currently I’m reading Before the Devil Takes You by Libba Bray, Renegades by Marissa Meyer, All Rights Reserved by Gregory Scott Katsoulis, War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, and Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth by Frank Cottrell-Boyce. So yeah, I’ve got some work to do.

2. Do you have an autumnal book to transition into the end of the year?
I haven’t been reading too much lately, so I’m fairly sure that I won’t be able to finish most of these, so I bet all of the aforementioned books will transfer into the beginning of 2018. At the very least, I’ll definitely have Tolstoy with me.

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Photo credited to Amazon. This is the edition I have. It’s massive but thorough in its footnotes, which is good for such a big novel.

3. Is there a new release you’re still waiting for?
No, I’m doing alright. Most of the books I’m champing at the bit for aren’t being released until mid to late spring of next year, so I have some time to catch up and read some more of my never ending “to be read” pile.

4. What are three books you want to read before the end of the year?
I definitely want to finish Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth. I just started reading it today on my lunch break and have been enjoying the story so far. And if I can finish either Before the Devil Breaks You or Renegades, I’ll be a happy camper.

5. Is there a book you think could still shock you and become your favorite book of the year?
No, I think my favorite book of 2017 is pretty much set. But you’ll have to wait until my 2017 reading wrap-up to find out what that book is *cough coming up soon cough*

6. Have you already started making reading plans for 2018?
Yes, I have! I surprised myself by wanting to make reading resolutions after originally watching different tag videos. I normally don’t like making plans for my reading because I don’t like planning things out too much, especially activities that I do for fun, such as reading. But I have made three easily achievable goals for myself and we’ll see how they go. Those goals are 1. to finish reading Jane Austen’s novels (I haven’t done that yet, much to the embarrassment of my English major side). 2. Read at least one work of nonfiction (I’ve managed to read three works of nonfiction this year and, though I am a really slow nonfiction reader, I’ve been enjoying delving more into the genre and I want to read more of it). And, finally 3. Read at least one of Toni Morrison’s works (I read part of Beloved  for my women writer’s class during my final semester and I wasn’t able to finish it, unfortunately. I hope to remedy that).

There we have it, folks. What about your end of 2017 reading? Have any tomes that you’re scrambling to finish? Let me know in the comments. I’ll link the original video down below. I hope you’re having a great week. Bye for now!

A letter to Jane Austen, on the 200th anniversary of her death

Dear Miss Austen,

I hope you will forgive my tardiness in writing to you. This week’s business caught me unawares. I’m sure you will forgive me when I tell you I was tending a library.

I feel the need to mark this occasion, though it is a sad one. You have been such a tremendous friend to me and to millions of others, and though I wasn’t a thought in anyone’s mind when your funeral was held 200 years ago, I will eulogize you now.

Though I never did and never could meet you when you were alive, I feel as though I know you through your stories. My mother bought me Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice for Christmas when I was thirteen. I received the rest of your books for my subsequent birthday. It took me a while (I am a terribly slow reader when it comes to the classics), but I grew to love your stories and, through them, you. In your works, I found ladies who understand what it’s like to deal with the challenges of growing up, of finding love and losing it, and of learning how to go after your desires. These ladies quickly became friends and role models. I still aspire to be as selfless as Anne Elliot, as witty as Lizzie, and as determined as Emma.

In your stories, I also found something that I didn’t know I was looking for. I discovered the sense of human continuity that only stories can bring, the knowledge that though people’s circumstances and social and political climates change, human nature remains the same. It is so lovely to pick up a book and read that a heroine from two hundred years ago had the same hopes and fears that a somewhat awkward heroine, such as myself, now has. That sense of continuity, of belonging not just to my time and place, but to a greater family called humanity, is such a gift. And you gave that to me and I’ll always be thankful.

Miss Austen, you worked so hard and received so little success during your brief time on this earth. But I am happy to tell you that things have changed. Women can now be and are recognized as great writers and contributors and storytellers. You helped pave the way for the rest of us and I can never thank you enough for that as well. Your determination in continuing to put pen to paper has helped me and so many others take up our own pens and write our own stories. Your struggles have borne much fruit. I hope that you know that and that you are proud of all of us.

God rest you gently, Miss Austen. May your stories and your legacy always live on.

Infinities of love,


Three four-sentence book reviews

Hey, everyone! I’ve been reading quite a few books this year. I might have mentioned that I used to keep a book review blog, which I unfortunately had to delete due to college getting in the way of things. Now that I have this website (and it’s almost been a year, can you believe that?), I’d like to get back into reviewing. Back on the old blog, I’d go into lengthy analyses and discuss different character traits and plot lines. Those kinds of posts, while fun to write, were awfully time-consuming, so for brevity’s sake and to give myself a bit of a challenge, I’m going to limit these reviews to four sentences. If ya’ll like them, I might try to do this regularly. All of that said, let’s get to it.

1.Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill.

Britta Flannery, a bounty hunter’s daughter, decides to hunt her father’s killer, who could be her best friend and secret crush, Cohen McKay. Set in the soon-to-be warring worlds of Malam and Shaerdan, the world is richly described and interestingly detailed. It’s a tad slow at the start since there is so much information to absorb as the story goes along, but the ensuing action and tremendous character development make it definitely worth the wait. I’m already eager for the sequel and kudos to the people who made this glorious cover.

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The book looks so much better in person. The picture doesn’t capture the intricacies of the embossing. It’s a beautiful book. Photo credited to Goodreads. 

2. Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones.

Described by the author as a story that started out as “50 Shades of Labyrinth” (see the full story here), this novel follows the story of Liesl who journeys to the kingdom Underground when her sister Kathe is taken by goblins, where she is determined to save her from the Goblin King himself. Though I enjoyed this book, there really isn’t too much plot to it (but the descriptions of both the landscapes and the music are just awesome). It mainly focuses on the relationships between the characters, chiefly between Liesl and the Goblin King, but also between Liesl and Kathe, and the relationships between the girls and their family. It’s not the type of book I normally read (I’m not really a romance story kind of girl), but I totally enjoyed it all the same.

3. NewsPrints by Ru Xu.

This is a graphic novel that focuses on a character named Blue who has to disguise herself as a boy so she can work at the town’s newspaper. In doing this, she encounters all sorts of interesting people and finds herself in a bunch of different situations, all the while fighting to keep her true identity a secret. The art style of this graphic novel is so, so endearing and lovely, especially with how Ms. Xu uses lighting. This is definitely one you don’t want to miss (because of plot twists I don’t want to spoil) and one I can’t wait to see more of.

That’s all for today! Let me know what you think of these books and this reviewing style in the comments. Bye for now!

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I think this is one of the work-in-progress stills. Still so awesome! Photo credited to Ms. Xu’s tumblr.

Thoughts on finishing a first draft

Guys. IT’S DONE! The first draft of the novel I’ve been working on since last June is done, as of 10:19 p.m last night. Huzzah!

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Courtesy of Tumblr.

I can’t believe it’s done but at the same time, I’m so glad it is. I feel slightly less relieved than when I turned in my thesis, which was when I felt the most relieved I’ve ever been about finishing anything. At the same time, I miss it already and I feel like, with a lot of work ahead, it could be something good.

This isn’t the first first draft I finished. I finished the 188 page mess of a first draft of a different novel on New Year’s Eve in 2009. This one is 275 pages and is still a mess, but so much less so, it seems. Maybe it’s because I let myself work on the scenes I wanted to work when I wanted to work on them. Perhaps it’s because I’m not 15 any more, as I was when I finished my first initial draft of that other story. I know so much more about writing and about myself and maybe that’s what has made all the difference between that first story, which was so difficult to write, and this one, which was much easier to handle.

I’m sorry if this doesn’t make much sense. My brain is still so addled from finishing it. But I just wanted you to know that the first draft is done and you’ll no doubt be hearing more about it as I revise and eventually send it out into the world. But first, it’s time for a break to pursue some other projects.

That’s all for today, loves.