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Wrap-Up: April

  • Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust (★★★★☆)
  • Darkdawn by Jay Kristoff (★★★★★)
  • Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White (★★★☆☆)
  • Bygone Badass Broads by Mackenzi Lee (★★★★★)
  • Sleeping Gods (Themis #1) by Sylvain Neuvel (★★★★☆)
  • Waking Giants (Themis #2) by Sylvain Neuvel (★★★★☆)
  • Only Human (Themis #3) by Sylvain Neuvel (★★★☆☆)
  • Asking For It by Louise O’Neill (★★★★☆)
  • This House is Haunted by John Boyne (★★★★☆)
  • The Death of Mrs Westaway by Ruth Ware (★★★★☆)
  • Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton (★★★☆☆)

MONTHLY TOTAL: 11
YEARLY SO FAR: 32

This has been a weirdly successful reading month for me, as you can see! I don’t think I’ve ever read ELEVEN books in a single month! Of course it helped that most of these were pretty great books, and even if they weren’t great, they were at-least page turners. (I highly doubt I will have the same level of productivity next month.)

Also I took like four days off work towards the end of the month just to chill at home and I think I read like three books in those three days alone? I love not having to go to work. Plus it was just really nice to not think about anything for a few days; I’ve been feeling rather overwhelmed lately due to my combination of applying to Fulbright, applying to various library school scholarships, grad school, work, and my own writing. It was nice to give myself a mini-vacation where I didn’t have to do anything or think about anything. Pretty much all I did was read, watch Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (a fantastic show, by the way!), and lie in bed.

I am still trying to read Jane Eyre, but I’m only like 85 pages into it. It’s not that it’s bad, precisely, just that there’s so many other books I would rather read more, and talking of page-turners…Jane Eyre is definitely not a page-turner. I’m also reading two non-fiction books, including Topographies of Whiteness: Mapping Whiteness in Library and Information Science, which is exactly what it sounds like. Since I’m getting my Master’s in Library and Information Science at the moment I want to try to read more books about the profession’s intersection with social justice, and this book is a compilation of some really interesting essays by librarians of color.

I also just started Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant aka Seanan McGuire, and I am SO EXCITED because I have been wanting to read that book for years.  In terms of TBR, let’s just say this month I overindulged in ARC requests. I also got a bunch of books out of the library and a bunch of the ebook holds I had came in, so…we’ll see. Your guess is as good as mine. I’d like to try to get to The Queens of Innis Lear, The Wicked Deep, The Broken Girls, Ash Princess, and hopefully a buddy read of The Raven Boys with Rachel. But y’all know me, I’m a big mood reader, so we’ll see!

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Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 Five-Star Predictions

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the fantastic Bionic Bookworm. This week’s topic:

APRIL 24TH – Top 5 Five-Star Predictions 

This is something I’ve seen Rachel do a couple of times, and I’ve been tempted to give it a shot myself, so now that it’s a Tuesday topic I guess the universe is compelling me to go for it.


darkdawnDarkdawn by Jay Kristoff: I made no secret of just how much I absolutely adored books one and two in this series. I don’t expect that I will feel any differently about the conclusion to the trilogy, even though conclusions are often controversial. Still, at the very least I expect Kristoff will wrap up loose ends and reveal everything about Mia’s powers. I expect Kristoff’s trademark snark and twists and turns and I have no doubt it will be a wild ride from start to finish.

 

 


leah on the offbeatLeah On the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli: I’ve read two books by Albertalli, and I’ve adored both of them. There’s something about this light, contemporary style that I adore. I can usually breeze through books like this super quickly because not only are they fun and engaging, but they’ve got this nebulous quality that makes you feel right at home. Leah is the snarky, fat, bisexual heroine I’ve been waiting for, and she is, unfortunately, in love with her best friend’s girlfriend, which promises some dramatic shenanigans. Plus it’s been said we’re getting more Simon and Bram!

 


creatures of will and temperCreatures of Will and Temper by Molly Tanzer: Okay, first of all, I need y’all to understand the inordinate amount of admiration I have for this cover. Just. Look at this cover. Look at it. Look at its intricacy and detail, its classic artwork, its borders, its fonts…I just. It looks like a 19th century painting. It looks like an illustration straight out of a demonology encyclopedia. I actually just purchased this book and it arrived yesterday and I spent like ten minutes just staring at this cover because it is so beautiful. But aside from the cover, the story reads like something made for me: Victorian London, a female fencer, demons, an underground society fighting said demons. I mean. Can you say custom-made?


the poppy warThe Poppy War by R.F. Kuang: This book has been getting a lot of hype in adult fantasy circles, and rightly so! First off, the author is younger than I am, in her very early twenties, and is a 2018 Marshall Scholar. Second, though a fantasy, it deals intimately with the violence of the Sino-Japanese War, particularly an frequently forgotten event called the Rape of Nanking, which I actually wrote my undergraduate thesis about! I won’t link to information, but you can look it up if you so choose; just know that it is one of the most horrific wartime acts ever committed. The sheer brutality of it is overshadowed only by the fact that it was completely forgotten in the aftermath of the war, and to this day there are segments of Japanese society that continue to deny it ever happened. That should tell you something about what to expect from this book. All reviews coming in so far say that this is a topic that Kuang handles deftly and intelligently.


american islamophobiaAmerican Islamophobia by Khaled Beydoun: I really admire Beydoun’s work and scholarship. In particular, he’s written a lot about the odd classification of Middle Eastern and North African folks as “white” on the US Census, and the history of that and the ramifications of a potential MENA category on the 2020 census. I think he’s a brilliant and incisive scholar, and given that this book was just published a couple of weeks ago, it promises to be timely and relevant to today’s political situation.  This is generally the type of non-fiction book I tend to love. Given that I myself am Middle Eastern and come from a Muslim family, I think the book will also resonate with me on a personal level. I am so confident I will love this book that I am strongly tempted to buy it so I can have it on my shelf to highlight and make notes in.

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Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 Books I Didn’t Like That Others Loved

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the fantastic Bionic Bookworm. This week’s topic:

APRIL 10TH – Top 5 Books I Didn’t Like That Others Loved

I kind of love getting salty about popular books that I didn’t like, so let’s get to it!


the wrath & the sawnThe Wrath & The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh (GR Rating: 4.18)

This is probably more a case of unmatched expectations than anything. I should have expected that a retelling of Scheherazade would be heavy on the romance. That’s my bad. But I also found it annoying that the protagonist was ~super special~ and everyone felt the need to mention this every other page. Characters were pretty bland, to the point where there were some I couldn’t tell apart. This is one of those situations where I wouldn’t have given this book a second thought only it’s somehow become one of the most popular YA fantasy books out there for some reason.

roarRoar by Cora Carmack (GR Rating: 3.98)

WHY does this book have such a high rating?? This is a book that I actively disliked, not only because it wasted a great premise for a terrible romance, but because said romance was so, so, so gross. I mean, I don’t know, maybe I just have a really low tolerance for the Inexplicable Heterosexual Romance, but the whole relationship in this book came off as super creepy and misogynistic, with the male love interest literally saying that the female MC “belongs” to him and that he has to protect her and getting turned on when she resists his advances. I could not get past that, and the rest of the book – that is, the threadbare plot – is boring and terrible.

abyss surrounds usThe Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie (GR Rating: 4.01)

I didn’t hate this book, but I didn’t like it either. No one was more disappointed about that than me, trust me. This book is so hyped as a fantastic f/f romance, but…I did not like that romance. I didn’t think the leads had any chemistry and I kind of hated one of them. Which is a shame, because there were a ton of other things about this book that were super cool. The concept is great and there’s a ruthless lady pirate and the main character is super badass. But the romance just dragged it down for me.

darkest mindsThe Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken (GR Rating: 4.24)

I gave this book a 3 rating because I was being nice, but if I think back to it it was probably closer to a 2 or a 1.5. I really do not understand the hype about this book? It’s super boring and the worldbuilding makes literally no sense whatsoever. And the disappointing thing is it’s such a fascinating premise if only it had been handled in a more logical fashion, but alas. At this point I don’t think I even remember the characters’ names because it was just that forgettable.

children of blood and boneChildren of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (GR Rating: 4.38)

I’ve talked about this before, but the reaction to this book is just inexplicable to me. Like, it wasn’t a terrible book, I get that, but I also don’t think it needs to be treated like the second coming of Jesus? The way everyone is talking about it I literally feel like I read a different book. Personally, I thought the writing was juvenile, the plot generic and insanely tropey, the romance awful, and the dialogue stilted. The worldbuilding was fresh, but that was literally it. Other than that there isn’t anything in this that’s new. It’s actually the most formulaic YA fantasy I’ve ever read, just cliched trope after cliched trope. Every time I read another glowing, out-of-this-world fantastic review I feel like I’m losing my mind.


Do any of y’all share my dislike for these books? Let me know in the comments!

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20 Questions Book Tag

I ran into this tag over at Kristin Kraves Books. I’ve been really into book tags recently because I am procrastinating super hard on everything in my life. Literally, I have like five different things I should be doing right now, but instead I’m just…staring into space and doing book tags. Alas.


1. How many books is too many books in a book series?

It depends on the series! There are some series that are so clearly dragged out for no reason (*cough*Throne of Glass*cough*) but some that I don’t mind being lengthy if they’re actually delivering decent content. I’m always super impressed by ridiculously long series, like the Malazan, which is, what, like twelve books or something? That’s an insane number. I think something like that might be too much. Maybe 3-7 is a good sweet spot to aim for?

2. How do you feel about cliffhangers?

Depends on the cliffhanger! If the book can still stand on its own and the cliffhanger is just there to sort of…open the doorway for another book, that’s fine. But if the arc of the book has been building towards something and it’s not resolved, then no. That’s just bad writing. A book should be able to stand on its own.

3. Hardcopy or paperback?

Paperback, though I am starting to had hardcovers less! I think paperbacks looks nicer and are easier to hold and carry, but I can see why a lot of people prefer hardcovers.

4. Favorite book?

Yikes, just one? Impossible. I can talk about my favorite *kind* of book, though? Things I prefer in a book? There are a few elements I need in a book for it to become a favorite. First, rich writing – there are a lot of books that treat writing like an afterthought to plot and pay no attention to the way the words feel. I like my books to have language that’s beautiful; I don’t even mind if it’s on the lighter side of purple prose. Second, women. The book needs to have women in prominent roles. If the book doesn’t have women in prominent roles, I’m not likely to even read it, let alone like it. Third, some kind of plot-driven suspense. There needs to be something happening and it should be exciting and not just a character being introspective about life.

5. Least favorite book?

So, basically, the opposite of everything I talked about above, but also, I really dislike books with an Inexplicable Heterosexual Romance. That is, a romance that isn’t good or makes no sense and it’s there just to be there; you see this a lot in YA, where the book doesn’t even need a romance but it’s there anyway. Also, girl on girl hate is the worst.

6. Love triangles, yes or no? 

Okay, I know this is going to sound weird especially since I’m generally not a fan of romance, but I adore love triangles. I don’t know. I’m trash like that. Literally, a love triangle is usually the one thing that can make me stomach a romance. I don’t know why I’m like this.

7. The most recent book you just couldn’t finish?

UGH, it was Red Sister by Mark Lawrence, and I’m STILL UPSET about it. I wanted to like it so much, but I just hate the way Mark Lawrence writes. It’s this weirdly ostentatious writing that’s really hard to follow and reading felt like such a chore. Plus I couldn’t connect to any of the characters.

8. A book you’re currently reading?

I’m reading  three books right now: an academic text about relationships between women in the Victorian era, Mackenzi Lee’s Bygonne Badass Broads (which is awesome), and Jane Eyre (less awesome). I’m genuinely worried at how long it might take me to finish Jane Eyre because while it’s not torturous, I’m not as invested in it as I hoped I might be.

9. Last book you recommended to someone?

Hmm, I think I recommended The Beautiful Ones to Rachel a while back?

10. Oldest book you’ve read? 

Wuthering Heights, maybe? It’s an a 1847 book. Actually, no! Pride and Prejudice, published in 1813, is older.

11. Newest book you’ve read? 

Uhhhhhhh Circe and Ace of Shades, both of which came out two days ago!

12. Favorite author?

N.K. Jemisin, V.E. Schwab, Amanda Downum, Alison Goodman

13. Buying books or borrowing books?

Both! I love the feeling of buying brand new books, but I also hate buying book and then not loving it. Plus, as a librarian I’m very gung-ho about borrowing from your local library!

14. A book you dislike that everyone else seem to love?

I’m turning into an absolute broken record about this  but Children of Blood and Bone. I don’t even dislike it that much but it’s one of those petty things where seeing how much everyone loves it is making me dislike it more.

15. Bookmarks or dog-ears?

I never dog-ear. Bookmarks are so much fun!

16. A book you can always reread?

Harry Potter and Sweep.

17. Can you read while hearing music?

Nope! I can’t do anything while listening to music, honestly. Even when I write, I have to be in a very specific headspace to be able to concentrate while listening to music. Generally I’m a big fan of silence, and I need absolute silence to concentrate. I’m very easily distracted.

18. One POV or multiple POV’s?

It depends, but generally I do like multiple POVs, so long as they are in third person. I can’t stand multiple first-person POVs (Children of Blood and Bone had THREE of these).

19. Do you read a book in one sitting or over multiple days?

It is extremely rare that I will read a book in one sitting. It either has to be the best page-turner ever or really short. I love reading but I just can’t concentrate on a book for that long.

20. Who do you tag? 

I’ll tag whoever wants to do it, tbh.

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Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 Books I Loved That Others Didn’t

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the fantastic Bionic Bookworm. This week’s topic:

APRIL 10TH – Top 5 Books I Loved That Others Didn’t

I am super late to the party as usual, but I really wanted to do this one, so here I am! Not all of the books below are universally hated; in fact, most of them are just unknown or obscure. It’s actually made me wonder about what I might be missing out on now that I tend to read newer and buzzier books. I am super influenced by Goodreads ratings whether I want to be or not, but of course those ratings are not always going to be an accurate predictor of my own enjoyment of a book. I don’t know! I’m not really saying anything in particular here, just that I’m glad I picked up these books when I did!


the girl in the roadThe Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne. I’m not gonna lie, this book is hella weird. It takes place in an ambiguous future where India is connected to Africa via a weird energy bridge called The Trail. One woman decides to embark on this dangerous journey.  In the other perspective, a girl from a different time is on her own journey in Africa, with a beautiful and enigmatic woman named Yemaya, after the Nigerian sea goddess.  The two women have a surprising and harrowing connection. This is not usually the type of book I read, but I was very intrigued by the concept and the setting! It’s not often futuristic books like this are set in Africa. I don’t even know if I truly understood everything here, but I found it very thought-provoking and moving.


dreams of shreds and tattersDreams of Shreds and Tatters by Amanda Downum. I am honestly surprised this book has such a low rating! This is a super, super creepy story influenced by Robert W. Chambers’ The King in Yellow, a collection of weird short stories that influenced the Cthulu mythos. Downum’s book has the sort of Lovecraftian cosmic horror that many of us are familiar with, but it’s not Lovecraftian at all! This book freaked me out and is everything I aspire to be as a horror writer. True, it’s a little slow, but it’s super diverse and really unsettling and beautifully written.

 


when the sea is rising redWhen the Sea is Rising Red by Cat Hellisen. When I finished this book I remember being stunned by how much I loved it and how refreshing it was. Though YA fantasy, it seemed apart from other YA fantasy books, playing with and subverting families tropes. The main character runs away from her wealthy family and becomes attached to a boy who is a street lord. She also meets a vampire and it feels like a love triangle. It sounds suuuuper lame and tropey, but somehow it’s not? Everything is subverted? It’s got this really mature and engaging tone and it’s literally the most atmospheric book I’ve ever read.  Oh, and the sequel? Incredible.

 


the drowning cityThe Drowning City by Amanda Downum. Yes, Amanda Downum again! She is one of my all-time favorite authors and I think she is ridiculously underappreciated. The Drowning City is an adult high fantasy about a political spy, but it’s set in a world that’s completely gender neutral. As in, men and women are completely equal; sexism is not a thing. I didn’t even know I needed that until I read it; it was so unbelievably refreshing to see female characters in so many roles usually reserved for men and to not have anyone comment on it one way or another. The setting is rich (inspired by the author’s time in Southeast Asia!) and the writing atmospheric. Yes, it’s a bit slow, but I loved it, and her second book in this series is even better.


the beautiful onesThe Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. This book has a decent Goodreads rating, but not nearly enough love and recognition, in my opinion. Basically, this book is a better written Jane Austen novel with a touch of fantasy. Moreno-Garcia writes beautifully, with elegantly crafted sentences that hearken to the 19th century (which is when the book is set) without overwhelming or mystifying you with period language. This is a character-driven romance, which is usually the type of story I run far, far away from, but it actually ended up being one of my favorite books of 2017, if not a contender for absolute favorite. This is the sort of book I can see myself curling up with and reading again and again just for the pleasure of it.

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The Wonder Woman Book Tag

the-wonder-woman-book-tag

I saw this tag over on Melanie‘s blog, and it’s really short and fun so I thought I’d give it a shot! (Also it’s one in the morning and I’m not sleepy so here I am.)

Wonder Woman: Your favorite badass female book character…

a gathering of shadowsThis is probably a surprise to no one, but V.E.Schwab’s Lila Bard is one of my favorite female characters of all time. I love that she’s a female hero with typically masculine traits, I love that she’s ruthless and does what she has to do without feeling useless guilt, I love that she craves power, I love that she’s not afraid of her power, I love that she’s adventurous, and I love that she wants to leave her mark on the world. I read a post by Schwab a while back where she was relating Hamilton lyrics to her characters, and Lila gets this gem: “There’s a million things I haven’t done, but just you wait. Just you wait!” How fitting! (and also shout-out to Mia Corvere of the Nevernight Chronicle by Jay Kristoff, a female assassin who is super badass!)

Fantasy Island: A book setting you want to escape to…

sweepEither I haven’t been reading too much high fantasy or I just like my modern life too much. I’m gonna go with an urban fantasy answer: the Sweep world by Cate Tiernan. It’s basically our world, except Wiccan magic really exists.  Tiernan crafted her magic system in such a way that it had fourteen-year-old me truly believing in its existence; that is, she incorporated a lot of real-life elements of Wicca (a real pagan religion) but mixed it with false elements. In her world, there are Wiccan clans you are descended from, and people have magical powers to varying degrees. Magic can vary from cooling your hot tea to lighting a candle with your mind to shape-shifting.

London: A hyped book that let you down…

children of blood and boneI just do not get the hype for Children of Blood and Bone.  I didn’t hate this book, but I didn’t like it either. I found it generic, immature, poorly written, and melodramatic. There are so many reviewers whose opinions I usually trust and/or share who are rating this highly, and I’m starting to believe we read different books because ??? I’m sorry but this book is just so aggressively mediocre?? Like I appreciate that the setting is very cool and very fresh but otherwise the book has so little going for it, in my opinion. And it’s one of those things where I’m seeing it everywhere and everyone is lavishing praise on it and I’m over here like ??? Did I read this wrong???

Steve Trevor: A book that has a beautiful cover and a great story (i.e. good personality)…

the city of brassIt’s funny how difficult it is to find a book that has both of these things! But The City of Brass was the best high fantasy book I read last year, and probably the best I’ve read in many years. It features a sensible heroine, stunning writing, a heterosexual romance I was actually on board with, a morally grey male love interest, rich world-building, and complex political intrigue. I’ll probably have to reread this book before I jump into the second one because there are so many details I’m sure I’ve forgotten, but that won’t be a problem because I literally loved this book so much. And the cover. I mean, God, look at it! It’s atmospheric, it has gorgeous colors, elegant font, a sky full of stars…! I cannot wait to see the cover for the sequel!

Lasso of Truth: A book you hated…

roarSpeaking of books with gorgeous covers and stories that don’t match…Roar is another relatively popular and well-received book that I just Do Not Get.  It’s almost entirely romance, and a really gross heteronormative romance at that (the male love interest literally calls the female MC’s mouth his “territory” at one point).  Said gross romance overshadows all the things about this book that were interesting: side characters and the worldbuilding involving SENTIENT NATURAL DISASTERS.  Also, this book is boring. I don’t even remember what the supposed plot was about because it was so blah and was taken over completely by the awful romance.

Wonder Woman’s Shield: A book so sad that you need a shield…

we are okaySo, I don’t read a ton of sad books, because I’m one of those weirdos who doesn’t like it when a book crushes my heart and demolishes my soul. I generally like books with closure and somewhat-happy endings. One of the only sad books I can think of is We Are Okay, which is a very heavy look at grief and loneliness that expertly utilizes a bleak setting to reflect emotion. The MC in this book suffers a heavy loss and I could literally feel her sadness poring through the pages – I think I may have cried at one point? Like nothing that terribly sad happened, but the author just wrote it so well I felt like all these emotions were pressing down on my chest and choking me.

 

Ares: a villain that is scary, but you can’t seem to hate them…

now i riseThis is a question that clearly seems to want you to talk about ATLA’s Azula (or Legend of Korra’s Kuvira, who is one of my favorite villains of all time)…but I will try to keep this book-related.  I don’t know if this counts, but Lada Dracul? She’s not quite a villain, but she’s definitely an antiheroine who by the end of the second book has become rather terrifying, and I LOVE HER. I love her growth and her arc and her self-isolation and her single-mindedness and how she’s not totally likable and I can’t wait to see how much more vicious and bloody she becomes in the third book.  She needs to become Lada the Impaler, yes? I’m certain Kiersten White will not disappoint on this front.

The Amazons: A book that you wish had more/better LGBT+ representation…

circeHalf of the Western literary canon, dear Reader…but I will try to stick to one book, and that book is Madeline Miller’s Circe.  Like, are you telling me Circe lived on that damn island with all those other nymphs for hundreds of years and never had even a tryst with any of them? I ain’t buying it. There was so much of a focus on Circe’s relationships with men, and yes, yes, I get that Miller was generally sticking to the truth of the various myths about Circe, but she embellished/straight up invented a whole bunch of other stuff, so I don’t really see why there couldn’t have been more Sapphic women.

 

Justice League: What superhero book friends do you tag…

Pace Amore Libri
Spotlight on Stories
Lost Purple Quill

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The Netflix Book Tag

I should be doing something more productive like working on my Fulbright essays or my novel, but I’ve had a rather tiring day at work and I haven’t had my daily coffee so my brain is fizzling out. So therefore, to waste time until I can go home and eat a hearty dinner (yes, I’m also starving), I’m going to do this tag, which I got from Rachel!

RECENTLY WATCHED: The last book you finished reading.

girls made of snow and glassGirls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust! You can find the book review on here if you’re so inclined (it’s just the previous entry on my blog) but I liked it a lot! I didn’t love it with all my heart, but I definitely enjoyed it and I appreciated what it was trying to do. Also, fantastic character work!

 

TOP PICKS: A book that has been recommended to you based on books you have previously read.

wicked comethThe Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin. Rachel actually recommended this book to me a while ago because it’s about women in 19th century London, which really is enough to get me to check out any book. Plus it’s shelved as LGBT and it features two female characters, so that bodes very very well! I tried to get it out of my library but apparently it’s only been published in England so far, so they couldn’t purchase it! I might buy it myself at some point unless I see plans for it to be published in the US.

RECENTLY ADDED: The last book you bought.

I went to a used bookstore and found Shanghai Girls by Lisa See and a delightfully pulpy edition of Uncle Silas by J. Sheridan LeFanu! Rachel has sung the praises of the former (if I’m remembering correctly), so I’m excited to read it, and the latter is part of my whole ~exploring Gothic classics~ phase but it also sounds so cool?? It’s a locked room mystery?? With occult and supernatural themes?? Bring it on. Also, I don’t know if this “counts” but State of Sorrow was this month’s FairyLoot book, and I definitely paid money for that, so I’m putting it on here.

POPULAR ON NETFLIX: Books that everyone knows about. (2 you’ve read and 2 you haven’t read or have no interest in reading.)

In YA/fantasy circles, Truthwitch and the Shades of Magic series are pretty well known! I’ve read both, loved both.

Also famous in YA circles is The Winner’s Curse, a book that is highly praised and has actually been recommended to me several times, but…maybe when it was published it seemed original but now, with a thousand other YA plots similar to it, it feels very derivative. I have little interest in reading it because there are so many other books that take on similar themes and do it better. And then, of course, there’s John Green’s Looking for Alaska, which sounds like embodiment of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope with a side of brooding white boy, and, yeah, no thanks.

COMEDIES: A funny book.

godsgraveI’m reading Godsgrave now, and it’s hilarious. Which is strange for a book that is steeped in slavery and blood and guts, but the narrator is so freaking funny. I’ve literally laughed out loud so many times when reading this book. There’s such dry tongue-in-cheek humor here that I love. Of course the first book was hilarious too, but I feel like the humor has really found its feet here (or maybe I’m just more used to it). To be clear, though, this book is definitely not a comedy.

DRAMAS: A character who is a drama queen/king.

libba brayIf there’s one thing I remember about The Diviners, it’s that Evie O’Neill was a complete and utter drama queen.  She’s a clairvoyant who…is sent to live in the city with her uncle? I think? Anyway I remember her being very dramatic and big-hearted and spirited and I’m so excited to read this entire series once the fourth and final book is released (or at least announced). Also, because I definitely don’t see people complaining about this enough, WHY did they change the cover design???

ANIMATED: A book with cartoons on the cover.

uprootedI kind of took this to mean some kind of cartoonish art? Which few of the books I’ve read seemed to have, but perhaps Uprooted fits the bill? I feel like I read this book so long ago but it was just in 2016, wasn’t it? True to form, I’ve forgotten most of it, but I remember the writing was pretty, there was a great female friendship that should have been Sapphic but alas, and an actually decent heterosexual romance that I did not hate? But I also remember being very quizzical about a rapist character being humanized.

WATCH IT AGAIN: A book or series that you want to re-read.

I read Daughter of Smoke and Bone back in 2013. I liked it a lot, though it was exciting and well-written and pretty original! I’m not sure why I never continued with the series, though? I’ve been meaning to re-read the first book because I’ve forgotten nearly everything (of course), and because Laini Taylor is one of those authors that everyone loves.

DOCUMENTARIES: A non-fiction book you’d recommend to everyone.

I read a lot of non-fiction so I’m going to have a hard time recommending just one, so I’m choosing my top three, books that are super important but still accessible and readable and not super dry or academic.  The New Jim Crow is probably the one that folks are most familiar with, and its summary is, basically, if you think the U.S. has any sort of fair justice system, prepare to have your entire belief system shattered. It focuses specifically on racial injustice but in the process also reveals a legal system that is fundamentally broken.

Queer Injustice does a similar thing, only it focuses on the arbitrary criminalization of LGBT people. This was one of the first non-fiction books I ever read, and it was the first book that made me realize that non-fiction could be so engaging.

Finally, Do Muslim Women Need Saving is a book that on its face seems to be about a rather obvious and simple concept but actually delves deep into a big philosophical question: why are Western values considered the best values? Why is sexual freedom considered the height of freedom? Why do we assume that the West’s version of enlightenment/freedom/democracy is what the entire world needs to adhere to? In a world shaped by imperialism and colonialism what do those things even mean? It’s a mindfuck in the best way.

ACTION AND ADVENTURE: An action-packed book.

empress of a thousand skiesEmpress of a Thousand Skies is a book that made my jaw-drop with the amount of chapter cliffhangers it had. But it never really felt cheap, it was just exciting and fast-paced. I’m really annoyed though because even though I literally read it last year I’ve already forgotten half of what happened so I’ll probably have to re-read or at least skim it before picking up the sequel.


NEW RELEASES: A book that just came out or will be coming out soon that you can’t wait to read. 

beneath the citadelThere are so many incredible YA fantasy books coming out this year and the next that I’m losing track. Some of the ones I’m really, really excited about – like Emily A. Duncan’s Something Dark and Holy – don’t have covers yet, so I’m going to go with Destiny Soria’s Beneath the Citadel. I really liked this authors historical fantasy novel even though it wasn’t as gripping as I had hoped, but I’m really looking forward to her high fantasy debut! But do allow me to say that I loathe this cover because it looks like something out of Nickelodeon’s Secrets of the Hidden Temple circa 2005. Not a great look.