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.

Image result for warcross

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.

Image result for the hate you give

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!

Image result for strange the dreamer

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!


Four-sentence book reviews #2

Hello, everyone! I hope you’re having a great day! I recently counted up the books I’ve read so far this year and I’ve already read more books than it took me all of last year to read. So I thought I’d write more four-sentence reviews.

1. The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine

Peregrine, or Perry for short, fights to earn her parents’ affection by being the model of a Latki warrior maid, though she ultimately cannot, for reasons she cannot expect. As you may remember, the book this is a prequel to, The Two Princesses of Bamarre, is one of my favorites and I was thrilled to return to this world. This is an incredibly faithful prequel and it was absolutely fascinating to see the origins of Bamarrian society and its traditions. Wonderful characters and a thrilling story, this is definitely one middle-grade story you don’t want to miss!

Lost Kingdom

Credited to goodreads.

2. Lost in a Book by Jennifer Donnelly.

This story looks at the time Belle was entrapped by the Beast, their friendship, and an escape she finds through a book in the castle’s library, which contains a story that seems deceptively perfect. As much as I love the story of Beauty and the Beast, I’ve never thought about the time where they lived together in the castle and this book is an interesting window into that time. Belle and the crew are well thought-out and portrayed very well. This book was released by Disney in conjunction with the remake of the 1991 film that came out in March, but Donnelly takes the story and the characters and makes it completely her own.

3. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1)

Isn’t this cover gorgeous? It’s even better in person. Credited to goodreads.

Orphan Lazlo Strange has always dreamed of the famed city that has come to be known only as Weep and, when a band of strangers from Weep come to town, he has the opportunity to make that dream come true. This is my first foray into Laini Taylor’s writing and what a foray it was. I just finished reading it this morning and all I can say is that the characters, the writing, and the world are all so well-developed that it makes me green with envy. If you think the world of YA fantasy is full of unreadable drek, then read this book and prepare to enter a dream.


4. The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis

This is the beginning of the Chronicles of Narnia series, need I say more? Learning how Narnia was formed and getting to see Digory and Polly go on adventure after adventure was just wonderful. I’d never read this before and all I wanted to do was go back in time and thrust it into the hands of didn’t-like-to-read-eight-year-old-me. Truly a great start to a series that deserves its classic status.

That is all for now, loves! In slightly related news, the first round of revisions are soon to commence on my book, which I am both excited and slightly terrified for. I will probably be writing about that at some point, but I am wondering, is there a specific part of the revision process you would like me to talk about? Or any part of the writing process, really? Let me know and I’ll do my best for you! Thanks for reading and I will see ya’ll soon.

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.

ever the hunted

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!

Image result for NewsPrints ru xu

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