Blogoversary and Bookish Resolutions

Happy Blogoversary to me!

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Today, I’ve been blogging for SIX years. This blog began as a New Year’s resolution that I’ve stuck with for six. whole. years. CRAZY! There have been times when I thought about retiring my blog because it’s a lot to keep up with but I keep going because I love books that much and I can’t help but talk about them.

Last year, I made the following resolutions.

1.Stay consistent with my blogging throughout the year.

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I’m fairly satisfied. I’ve stayed mostly consistent but I’m trying not to stress myself out, which requires me to be okay with ghosting from the blogging world for awhile.

2. Focus on quality over quantity for reviews.

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I met this goal because I wasn’t worried about reviewing every book I read, but focused on writing quality reviews at a steady pace. So I’m going to call that some high quality H2- oh, er, reviews.

3. Write more.

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Since last year, I’ve written two novels  — a contemporary romance and a YA Fantasy. I’m now in the editing stage to get my manuscripts prettied up for querying. So NAILED it!

4. Get more ARCs.

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FAILED! I absolutely failed. I think I got as far as glancing at my netgalley account and then nothing. I’ve read a lot of good books this year, just no advanced copies.

Now for my 2018 Bookish Resolutions.

  1. Read what I want to read. I’m such a mood reader and I often feel pressured to read the newest books instead of what I really want to read. Here’s to reading what I want, when I want in 2018.
  2. Participate in Top Ten Tuesday…sometimes. I love lists and I adore reading other bloggers’ Top Ten every Tuesday, but I’ve never taken the time to get it together and do it myself. So I’m going to try, but I can’t guarantee I can pull it off every week because of time and sometimes I just don’t like the topic.
  3. Start Querying. I’ve written a few novels, found some critique partners and I’m in the thick of heavy edits. My goal this year is to start querying agents because I’ve realized that getting published really is my new dream.
  4. Get ARCS. Yeah, I’m going to try this one again. Fingers crossed!

What about you? Any bookish resolutions?

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2017 End of Year Survey

I know it’s now officially 2018, but I wanted to participate in this year’s (2017) End of Year Survey created by The Perpetual Page-Turner.

Number Of Books You Read: 105
Number of Re-Reads: 1
Genre You Read The Most From: Romance

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1. Best Book You Read In 2017?

(If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2017 release vs. backlist)

A Court of Wings and Ruin by S.J. Maas

Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff

Wildfire by Ilona Andrews

Breath of Fire by Amanda Bouchet

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

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Violet Grenade by Victoria Scott. I thought I was going to love this one but I ended up hating it.

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

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Hunted by Megan Spooner. I liked this one way more than I expected.

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

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I pushed Ilona Andrews Hidden Legacy series, and of course, anything written by Sarah J. Maas.

 5. Best series you started in 2017? Best Sequel of 2017? Best Series Ender of 2017?

Started: Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller

Sequel: Tied by Carian Cole

Ender: A Court of Wings and Ruin by SJM

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2017?

Laura Thalassa and Amanda Bouchet

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

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Devils Within by S.F. Henson. Although this book is YA, which I read all the time, it wasn’t the kind of YA I typically read.

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

I binged the Hidden Legacy series by Ilona Andrews

 9. Book You Read In 2017 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

I don’t typically re-read, but if I do, it’ll probably be SJM’s ACOTAR series.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2017?

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Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff. It’s badass and aligns completely with this story.

11. Most memorable character of 2017?

Cat Fisa from the Kingmaker Chronicles by Amanda Bouchet. She’s a badass heroine that can tell when people are lying.

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2017?

A Court of Wings and Ruin or Tower of Dawn by SJM

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2017?

I want to say Hunted by Megan Spooner or the Fallen World Trilogy series by Laura Thalassa

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2017 to finally read? 

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Outlander, definitely

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2017?

From A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas:

“Remember that you are a wolf. And you cannot be caged.”

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2017?

Shortest: What About Her by Emma Tharp

Longest: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff

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

(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)

Serenity and The King from the Fallen Trilogy by Laura Thalassa,  Cat and Griffin from the Kingmaker Chronicles by Amanda Bouchet, and of course, Rhys and Feyre from ACOWAR by SJM

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

I have no idea on this one.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2017 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

Pipe Dreams by Sarina Bowen

21. Best Book You Read In 2017 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

The Fallen World trilogy by Laura Thalassa was a recommendation and I am SO thankful!

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2017?

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Griffin from the Kingmaker Chronicles by Amanda Bouchet

23. Best 2017 debut you read?

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Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser

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

Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller

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

Twist by Kylie Scott

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2017?

Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

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Tied by Carian Cole

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2017?

Nine Minutes by Beth Flynn

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

Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas because she left us with the “Fireheart” chapter that made me want the final book NOW!

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New favorite book blog you discovered in 2017?

I’ve followed a lot of new people but I enjoy posts from A Novel Glimpse and Twin Bookmarks because we have the same taste in books and they recommend some great books I’ve never heard of before.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2017?

Probably Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff because I was so on fire when I wrote my review or the few times I used gifs writing Mini-Reviews, which I think I’ll try to do more of in the future.

 

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

I would say my monthly recap posts because I have fun putting them together and sharing a bit of what I’m doing outside of my reading life.

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

I went to see Sarah J. Maas at the Tower of Dawn release and UtopiaCon was awesome this year. Also, S.F. Henson, who wrote Devils Within, lives in my area and visited my book club!

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2017?

The best moments for me is when I can convince someone to read something they love or when I find a new book/author based on another blogger’s recommendation.

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

I’m an aspiring author so I’ve been trying to juggle reading, blogging and writing. This makes it hard to focus sometimes, and inevitably, something falls off my radar for a period of time.

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

My most viewed was surprisingly my review for The Chemist by Stephanie Meyer and That Time I Met Sarah J. Maas.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

Probably any time I write a discussion post.

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

I love receiving my Uppercase Box, which is a YA monthly book subscription, each month. I also buy a book quite often from my daily Bookbub email newsletter much to my wallet’s dismay.

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

I met my goal of 100 books for the Goodreads Challenge. I want to join other challenges but I don’t have time to be that organized.

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1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2017 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2018?

 

I’ve resisted reading the last book in Kim Harrison’s Hollows series and Chloe Neil’s Chicagoland Vampire series because I don’t want to let go of those characters yet.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2018 (non-debut)?

A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas

3. 2018 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

 4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2018?

Blood Fury by J.R. Ward and Rage by Cora Carmack

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2018?

See my upcoming post on Bookish Resolutions.

Top Books of 2017

I can’t believe it’s already the end of the year but I’m all about this Christmas cheer.

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According to Goodreads, I’ve read 96 books so far this year. (Still on track to reach 100 by end of the year.) Here’s a list of my top ten for the year of our Lord 2017 (in no particular order).

  1. A Court of Wings and Ruin By SJM – Such a fitting end to my favorite series.
  2. Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller – The Pirate story that I didn’t know I needed in my life.
  3. The Fallen World Trilogy by Laura Thalassa — This was the first time I’d read this author and now she’s on my auto-buy list.
  4. A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet — My new favorite Fantasy Romance series. It’s up there with Kim Harrison, Ilona Andrews and Patricia Briggs.
  5. The Hidden Legacy series by Ilona Andrews — She writes the most amazing sexual chemistry. Read it!
  6. Roar by Cora Carmack — This story made my tornado-chaser-loving heart go pitter patter.
  7. Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff — Bloody brilliant, gentlefriends!
  8. Tied by Carian Cole — She knows how to rip out my heart, stomp on it, dust it off and hand it back while I nod in gratitude.
  9. An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson — Best fae story I’ve read all year!
  10. Tower of Dawn by SJM — That twist, you guys! I can’t believe what this means for the last book!

And now some honorable mentions…

The Great Pursuit by Wendy Higgins – So. Freaking. Good!

Sanguine Moon by Jennifer Foxcroft – This story has a piece of my heart. I can’t wait to read the next one.

Devils Within by S.H. Henson – In these dark times, this story is more relevant than ever.

The Chemist by Stephanie Meyer – Judge me if you want, but Stephanie Meyer can write, y’all.

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi — I’m late to the party on this one but it deserves all the hype.

When It’s Real by Erin Watt – Simply a pleasure to read!

 

Can you tell that I had some trouble narrowing it down? What do you think? Read any of these? Share in the comments!

 

Hunted by Meagan Spooner

Hunted By Meagan Spooner hit me like a cupid’s arrow straight to the heart. I tried to resist, but ultimately, I fell in love with this story and it left a permanent mark.

24485589 (1)Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them.

So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?

This is the third book I’ve ever read from Meagan Spooner. The first book, Skylark,hated. The second book was These Broken Stars, which I loved, but it was written with another author so I wan’t sure how much of it I liked was Spooner. So when uppercase box (monthly YA book subscription) sent me Hunted, I groaned and set it on my shelf to collect dust. Plus, Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses will be, forevermore, the best Beauty and the Beast retelling *cue inner Kanye* OF ALL TIME!

Now I may have spoken too soon, because unlike ACOTAR, Hunted is a closer retelling but with a unique, magical twist. And dare I say, I now love them both.

“Fire cannot hurt us. And yet, when we light her a lantern, there is a moment as we watch the wick flare in the darkness-a moment in which I want to touch the flame. Just to see if I can still be burned.”

Hunted was a beautiful story. The writing was excellent, the descriptions awe-inspiring and it was so heartbreakingly romantic. I loved the slow burn between Beauty and Beast. Typically I hate “verbatim” retellings, but I loved this one because the plot was very similar but the world building was outstanding. The magical forest, the believable secondary characters, and the coming of age confusion that makes YA so fun to read had me devouring this book quickly.

“She wept because she did not know what she wanted, and because she wanted everything.”

The overall theme and message by the end caught me by surprise and made my heart soar. It was so beautiful and it truly struck me in the heart dead center. I think this book changed me somehow. Or at least changed my outlook. Gah! It’s just so freaking beautiful!

“There’s no such thing as living happily ever after — there’s only living. We make the choice to do it happily.”

Hunted was romantic, magical and hauntingly mesmerizing. If you like YA fairytale retellings, this book is for you.

STARS: 5 out of 5

Devils Within by S.F. Henson

I didn’t know what to expect with Devils Within by S.F. Henson but it blew all my expectations out of the water.

31213050.jpgKilling isn’t supposed to be easy. But it is. It’s the after that’s hard to deal with. 

Nate was eight the first time he stabbed someone; he was eleven when he earned his red laces—a prize for spilling blood for “the cause.” And he was fourteen when he murdered his father (and the leader of The Fort, a notorious white supremacist compound) in self-defense, landing in a treatment center while the state searched for his next of kin. Now, in the custody of an uncle he never knew existed, who wants nothing to do with him, Nate just wants to disappear.

Enrolled in a new school under a false name, so no one from The Fort can find him, he struggles to forge a new life, trying to learn how to navigate a world where people of different races interact without enmity. But he can’t stop awful thoughts from popping into his head, or help the way he shivers with a desire to commit violence. He wants to be different—he just doesn’t know where to start.

Then he meets Brandon, a person The Fort conditioned Nate to despise on sight. But Brandon’s also the first person to treat him like a human instead of a monster. Brandon could never understand Nate’s dark past, so Nate keeps quiet. And it works for a while. But all too soon, Nate’s worlds crash together, and he must decide between his own survival and standing for what’s right, even if it isn’t easy. Even if society will never be able to forgive him for his sins.

Like a teen American History X, S.F. Henson’s Devils Within is gut-wrenching, thought-provoking, no-holds-barred look at the plague of white supremacy in contemporary American culture that may have you examining your own soul.

I fell in love with Nate from the very first page. I loved being in his head and reading about his inner thought process. It was both fascinating and bizarre, familiar and foreign. Nate had such a strong voice and perspective.

This story takes on a very hot topic right now — racism. And not just normal racism (although I could argue that the author calls that out as well), but radical racism. The kind of racism where people carry tiki torches and participate in lynchings. It’s sad to say, but this story is so relevant today. I felt like Henson executed this story in such a great way because her protagonist was so believable. I felt his pain. I felt his confusion about what was right and wrong. I felt the way he fought through the brainwashing of his childhood. The fear. The desire for approval from a horrible parent. The desire to be normal, have friends. Gah, this story was just so good!

I usually require some kind of love story in the books I read, and even though there was a hint at a potential romance, I didn’t miss that element of the story at all. The way the story unravels with his unlikely friendship with Brandon and his difficult relationship with his guardian left me turning pages faster and faster.

All I can say is read it. There’s a reason it’s been named Book of the Year, and I wholeheartedly agree.

STARS: 5 out of 5

Warcross by Marie Lu

Warcross by Marie Lu was everything I hoped it would be but it got a little confusing at the end. Luckily, this is just book one, so I have time to figure it out.

29385546For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

I’m not much of a gamer, but I know enough gamers and am aware of pop culture to truly enjoy Lu’s latest masterpiece. She created a colorful, dynamic world, where it felt like I was in a game. I’ve played some MarioKart in my day, and I even caught the “Leeeerooooy Jeeeenkiins!” shoutout.

Emika was the best kind of heroine. She was street smart and badass. I mean, she’s a bounty hunter for pete’s sake! I also loved that she was great with technology, hacking and all that awesome STEM stuff. Emika is the kind of heroine that will inspire young girls everywhere to pursue careers in technology.

This story faltered with Hideo. I loved him at first. He was the socially awkward billionaire creator of Warcross. I loved the push and pull of the relationship between him and Emika as they try to unravel the mystery of who’s messing with the Warcross games. Toward the end, Hideo as a character took a wrong turn and plunged into the abyss. I don’t understand how he went from point A to point B as a character. It was like whiplash for the reader. My difficulty understanding his motives made me dislike him and I don’t know if that was the author’s intent. I do know that it left a sour taste in my mouth and my overall enjoyment of the novel took a plunge by the end.

I did see the twist at the end coming, but I was still shocked and it left me with so many questions. Because of this, I’ll most likely read the next book to see what happens.

STARS: 3.5 out of 5 

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson is one of the best classic “fae” books I’ve ever read in a long time, where the fae are beautiful but dangerous, and humans are momentary and easily breakable.

30969741Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized among them. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes – a weakness that could cost him his life.

Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love, violating the fair folks’ ruthless Good Law. There’s only one way to save both their lives, Isobel must drink from the Green Well, whose water will transform her into a fair one—at the cost of her Craft, for immortality is as stagnant as it is timeless.

Isobel has a choice: she can sacrifice her art for a future, or arm herself with paint and canvas against the ancient power of the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.

This book surprised me. The story was enchanting; the writing was mesmerizing. I felt myself fall into the story and frolic between the pages until the very end, where I was rudely dropped back into the mortal world. The characters were intriguing and unique. I mean, the fact that Isobel has twin sisters that were originally baby goats until a fae turned them into humans is just so freaking different. I loved her bond with her aunt but I specifically loved that Isobel had such a strong disposition, where she didn’t waste her enchantments on frivolities but spent them on protection for her family and necessities like food. I respect the hell out of her.

My respect only grew as the story progressed because even though we know she’ll inevitably fall for the love interest, we don’t know when, and I was pleasantly surprised that she held out, kept her feelings to herself. She didn’t fall into Rook’s arms from the moment he showed her a bit of affection and declared her undying love. Their love was slow (although not really a slow burn, there was minimal burning but the heat was sweet and just enough to satisfy this reader) and she made logical decisions.

Isobel was such a self-aware narrator. I laughed out loud when she recognized that she was becoming one of those lovestruck girls but she had enough self-awareness about it to make her a lovable protagonist as opposed to just another dumb teen girl who loves too easily.

I’m having trouble putting into words what I loved about this book. It was entertaining. It had me on the edge of my seat, hoping against all odds their love would persevere the obstacles. The art was gorgeously depicted and I felt like I knew Isobel.

If you like tales of whimsy, magic and forbidden love, An Enchantment of Ravens is for you.

STARS: 4.5 out of 5