Image Slider

The Best and Worst of Summer 2017


I don't think I've ever read so many books in a single season. (And I think July is topping the amount I've read in a single month ever.) But with the combination of an operation and recovery time and my lack of summer classes and the fact that most of my friends stayed near their respective universities for the summer, I had so much time to read.

And because I don't want to write this post out for twelve years, here is a quick rundown of all the books I've read between the months of July and September with my star ratings, and at the end I'll tell you my favorite and least favorite reads of the summer.

(Sorry if my graphics are wonky and weird, Pic Monkey is a dick and decided to basically shut down the entirety of their free services and I haven't found an alternative I like yet.)

Books marked with a single asterisk (*) were provided via the publisher or Netgalley for review purposes. All opinions are my own.
All links direct to my goodreads reviews of each book

A MADNESS SO DISCREET - 4.5 stars | LUMBERJANES, VOL. 6 - 3 stars
THE ROYAL WE - 3.5 stars | THE UPSIDE OF UNREQUITED - 5 stars
GOLDIE VANCE, VOL. 2 - 4 stars | MARCH: BOOK TWO - 5 stars
SLEEPING GIANTS - 3 stars | GIANT DAYS, VOL. 5 - 3 stars
OUR DARK DUET - 2.5 stars | EXIT WEST - 5 stars

**I didn't rate Fantastic Beasts because rating it felt like rating an article(s) on a wikipedia page. This is all information I could have just gotten on the HP Lexicon or the HP Wikia, but I wanted to listen to Eddie Redmayne read the audiobook.


FINAL GIRLS - 2 stars | THE BACKSTAGERS, VOL. 1 - 5 stars
BLOODLINE - 4 stars | POE: STORIES AND POEMS* - 4 stars

**You can check out my Goodreads review, where I talk about each story individually. Overall, this book was kind of a mess. (Not going to lie, half the reason I didn't rate it was because it probably averages out to a 2/5 or lower, and I didn't want some booktube stans coming after me.)



THE CHAOS OF LONGING* - 2 stars | SECRETS FOR THE MAD* - 4 stars
THE PENELOPIAD - 4 stars | GIANT DAYS, VOL. 7 - 4 stars
THE PARK BENCH* - 3 stars | THE HANDMAID'S TALE - 4 stars


OKAY

Whew. I'm actually so happy with the books that I read these past three months. There were a few flops, but they were vastly outnumbered by the amount of books that I absolutely loved and ones that I really enjoyed. I also read a fair number of adult books, which feels like such a big accomplishment. 

ALSO, I finished my 52 book Goodreads challenge!! *celebrates* *bakes cake* 

The arbitrary number that I'm shooting for by the end of the year is 80. I'm already past 60 at this point, so it's possible but I'm not holding myself to that number.

Now, onto . . .


None of these are bad books. Most of them just aren't for me. Additionally, most of these are victims of hype. I was too excited and expected too much from these.

  • Because You Love to Hate Me: I think there were three stories out of thirteen that I actually enjoyed from this collection. Had this just been an anthology (sans booktuber essays and prompts) I might have actually enjoyed it. The villains weren't very villainous and the stories that I enjoyed the most were mostly from contemporary authors, which was a weird surprise.
  • The Chaos of Longing: I think if you like modern poetry like milk and honey and the princess saves herself in this one then you will like this, but I'm not the biggest fan of that type of poetry and if I didn't have to review this book, I would have DNFed it.
  • Our Dark Duet: I'm going to defer you to my Goodreads review for this one because I have a lot of thoughts. Mainly, this felt very contrived and didn't have much of a plot for the first half of the book. I wasn't impressed.
  • Final Girls: This may be because I don't read a lot of thrillers or it may be because I start off reading thrillers with a much more skeptical eye than other books. But I definitely guessed the ending thirty pages in, and I wasn't on the edge of my seat or anything. Also, this book does that thing where a man writes under a feminine sounding name so that they gain an audience quicker. Not a fan.


I actually have a pretty even split between graphic novels/comics and actual real books for this list, which is exciting because it means that I had time to read multiple physical novels, which is always exciting.

COMICS & GRAPHIC MEMOIR
  • Giant Days: I'm so happy that Giant Days is still on this list. It continues to be one of my favorite comics on the market right now, and I've never read seven volumes of a comic and still love the most recent issues as much as I loved the first ones. 
  • March, book two: This is such an important and beautifully written memoir by Congressman John Lewis about his time and involvement in the Civil Rights movement. This specific volume talks about the freedom rides, the march on Washington, and more. 
  • The Backstagers: I love finding new comic series, and this is an incredible one. If you like Lumberjanes and theater, you will love this. 

NOVELS
  • The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue: BI-SEX-U-AL MAIN CHARACTER. Also, historical fiction. Also, alchemy. Also, a kick-ass female character. It was amazing. I'd be shocked if you haven't heard of it. It was so amazing, and I loved Lee's writing style. It was funny and also heartbreaking and I cried 1000% more than I thought I would.
  • Exit West: Okay, this was absolutely fantastic, and my favorite adult book of the year thus far. This is a magical realism refugee story. It's so short, and if you need a push to pick this up, this is that push.
  • Dress Codes for Small Towns: Duuuuudees. This is the best book I've read this entire year. Oh my gosh. Read my full review because I cannot coherently talk about this book in fewer than 500 words.

*gives you a cookie for making it to the end* You did it! Tell me what your favorite book of the summer was down in the comments. Also, have you read any of these books? Tell me what you thought of them!


Follow

Books I Want to Read This Fall | 2017 TBR

"Top Ten Tuesday" is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish to share lists (because we love them) about books and bookish things.
lol @ me for ever thinking I'm going to read all of these books in the first three months of my junior year of college. But it's not a post on my blog if I don't set goals that I ultimately won't meet.

On with the show!


  • SIEGE AND STORM: I read Shadow and Bone last year, and for who knows what reason got about halfway through this book before just putting it back on the shelf and forgetting about it. Even though I've read the Six of Crows duology already (and I'm fairly certain that I know how this trilogy ends), I really want to read these last two books because I'm so excited for Language of Thorns to release is just (!) one (!!) week (!!!).
  • JANE, UNLIMITED: I've never read any Kristin Cashore, but her Graceling series has always sounded so intriguing. I've heard fantastic things about her writing, and my dear friend Emma lent me her ARC of this so I need to read it ASAP.
  • THE REST OF US JUST LIVE HERE: The running theme of this list is "I haven't read anything from this author, but I hear endless raving about them" and that's also the case for this book. I've had this on my shelf since it was released and it's about damn time I got around to reading it.
  • THE DIVINERS: Fall seems like the perfect time to read this book because a) it's got a really spooky, paranormal vibe and b) the third book is releasing this season so if I like it, I can continue on with the series.
  • WONDER: Literally everyone that I know that's read this book has loved it. I currently have it out from my library and desperately want to read this before the movie comes out.


  • WILD BEAUTY: Another ARC that I have yet to get to but am incredibly excited to read. This is written by a Latina author with Latina main characters and it's magical realism. It's so many of my favorite things in one book. Also, look at that cover and tell me you don't want to read it.
  • LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE: (see also: The Rest of Us Just Live Here) I just got this book from my Book of the Month box for September. I have zero idea what this is about, and that's how I want to go into this book.
  • LOST STARS: I am a nerd. I love Star Wars. I need things to distract me from what will probably be the death of Rey's character development that will happen in Episode VIII. I loved Bloodline by Claudia Gray, and this audiobook is available through my library's overdrive.
  • THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD: I've been interested in this book since it released. A book about the underground railroad where it's an actual railway with trains? Sign me up. Also, it won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, so I have high expectations.
  • ARTEMIS: Even though I've heard some mixed things about this, I'm still really excited to dive into my early copy of Andy Weir's newest book. I absolutely loved The Martian, so I'm really anticipating reading his newest book that's set on the moon. 

These are the main ten books that I'm hoping to get to this fall. Of course, there are also a lot of comics and graphic novels/memoirs that I need to read as well, but I wanted to just stick with novels for this list because I like setting unrealistic expectations for myself.


Follow

September 2017 | Currently Reading

Currently Reading is a monthly feature on my blog, where I catch you up on the books that I'm currently reading (or at least attempting to read).

  • The Handmaid's Tale: I have been reading this book since March. I mean, I read almost the entirety of it in three or four days and then put it down until about a week ago because--let's be real--it was just hitting a little too close to home as a young woman living in the United States. But now, I only have about forty pages left in this book. I'm hoping to finish this today. *crosses fingers and locks self in room until book is finished*
  • Wonder: This is such a cute and important middle grade novel about a boy with a facial deformity that goes to school for the first time. It's a little heavy-handed, but it's middle-grade so that's to be expected. (Also, I'm so excited for this movie. Daveed Diggs is in this movie and I'm so proud of him.)
  • Lost Stars: Jesus Christ. I am such a nerd. Also, I stand by the fact that Star Wars has some of the best-produced audiobooks out there. There's music and character voices and multiple narrators. As far as the story, this is a YA dual perspective novel following a Rebel pilot and an Imperial officer. It feels a little Romeo and Juliet, which (in my opinion) isn't really an idea that works when one side is literally a space version of Nazis. I'm hoping it gets better, but if you're looking for a Star Wars book, I'd tell you to pick up Gray's Bloodline.
  • Full Frontal Feminism: This is a book I'm reading for my Women and Gender Studies class this semester. It's a pretty interesting and informative read. It's talking about a lot of stuff and discussing a lot of history that I already know and am well acquainted with. Though, if you're thinking of picking this up, definitely grab the second edition; it's far better.

These are all the books I'm currently reading! If you've read any of these books, let me know your thoughts down in the comments, and tell me what books you're currently reading!


Follow

My Life in Books | Tag


I saw this tag on Lauren @ Bookmark Lit's blog and, being a starved-for-ideas college student, wanted to do this tag. This tag was so much fun. I couldn't find the original tag, but I loved the questions and had to do it for myself.


Find a book for each of your initials:


M | Missoula by Jon Krakauer
G | Giant Days by John Allison
W | When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

I wanted to pick some books that I have actually read and liked because this is my name, the essence of my physical person. Picking a book for G was easy, but there are not enough books that start with M and W. 



Count your age along your bookshelf. What book is it?


The Perks of Being a Wallflower | I actually just bought this from a local used bookstore because I've wanted to reread this for some time. I loved this book when I read it absolutely ages ago and (controversial opinion) don't really like the movie (except Ezra Miller, he's a gem). This is probably the first book I ever read with queer characters, so it has a special place in my heart.

Pick a book set in your city/state.


Dress Codes for Small Towns | There are not a lot of books that take place in Tennessee, much less Nashville-area, Middle Tennessee so this one was actually pretty difficult. Most of Dress Codes takes place in a small town in Kentucky, but there are a couple of points in this book when the group will drive down to Nashville. I'm counting it.

Pick a book that represents a destination you'd love to visit.


The Shadow of the Wind | SPAIN. BARCELONA. I haven't read this book, but it takes place in 1940s Spain, and there is nowhere I'd rather travel in the entire world than Spain so that I can put my in-progress Spanish degree to work.

Pick a book that's your favorite color.


Exit West | Like most adults, I don't have a singular favorite color. I like black, but that's not a very fun answer. So, I picked Exit West which has some of my favorite hues of blue and also has some beautiful typography.



Which book do you have the fondest memories of?


The Invention of Hugo Cabret | In middle school, I was the nerd that volunteered to work in the school library and shelve books during our ''homeroom period" because it combined a few of my favorite things: books and being relatively alone. At the end of the year, all of the student volunteers got to skip class and hang out and eat in the library. The librarians surprised us all with brand new copies of this book. It was the first time I ever remember being properly gifted a book, bow and all, and I read it four times in a row because I loved it so much.


Which book did you have the most difficulty reading?


The Scarlet Letter | The Puritans are not the most exciting people, nor is it the most exciting period in American history. This is a book I had to read for a class in high school and, admittedly, the only book I never fully finished for a class.


Which book on your TBR pile will give you the biggest sense of accomplishment when you finish it?


Anna Karenina | Not only is this book massive in page count, but also in density because it's a novel by a Russian author with so much Russian political and cultural influences and references. I've started this book a few times now, but always stop about 100 pages in because I have the attention of a squirrel and get distracted by new, shiny books.

Have you done this tag? Tell me down in the comments your favorite book that starts with one of your initials!


Follow

What I'm Currently Reading (+ #TheReadingQuest Update) | August 2017

I used to do these posts all the time on my blog, and I'm one of those people that reads about five books at once. I'm going to try and do this monthly to show what I'm reading in what format and what I think of it so far! I'm thinking I'll post these on the second or third Friday of every month, but *shrug*
As for the Reading Quest, I haven't completed any of the challenges yet because I've been packing everything away for my move back to college and just haven't had the time. But I am reading four books that fit into three of the side-quests. (And I'm almost finished with my first book!)


  • THE GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE: No one has shut up about this book even since before it released. This fits into the Time Warp challenge since it takes place in the 1700s. I am loving this book. I only have about 120 pages left, so *fingers crossed* hopefully I can finish it today. This book is hilarious and heartbreaking and has a bisexual main character. It's simultaneously a fun romp through Europe while also bringing up very hard and timely issues (e.g. racism, homosexuality, and female roles in the 1700s).
  • WELCOME HOME: I actually started this before the challenge, and it doesn't really fit into any of the challenges. But this is an MG/YA anthology all about adoption that I've been reading a few stories out of each week. I'm really enjoying this, and I've been discovering so many new authors to read.  
  • THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY: This is the nonfiction book that I'm currently reading. This takes place during the construction of the World's Fair in Chicago, all about the main architects and also the serial killer H.H. Holmes. This is my Respawn book, and I'm reading the physical copy this time and really enjoying it. (Can you say that about a book about a serial killer? Well, I am.)
  • PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: Look who is 20 years old and finally reading Jane Austen's most famous work. This is my Open World book. I'm less than 100 pages into this. So far my thoughts: Darcy's an ass and I low-key hate him & Elizabeth is a sassy little shit and I love her. I'm listening to this on audio, but I may have to switch over to a physical copy because I get so distracted while listening to it.

READING QUEST STATS


Character Class: Mage
Current Level: 1
Overall EXP: 10
Overall HP: 63

Total Pages Read: 534
Total Pages Remaining: 744

I could be doing better, but I'm not angry or upset with how I'm doing. My reading is definitely going to slow down since I start school next week, so my extreme catch-up during the summer is going to pay off. 

Are you participating in The Reading Quest? How are you doing so far? If not, what are you currently reading? Tell me down in comments!


Follow

Dress Codes for Small Towns by Courtney Stevens | How Faith and Queer Meet

The author was very kind to send me this book upon request so I could read it and review it prior to release. All opinions and thoughts are my own. All quotes are subject to change and will be updated after release if different.



Everyone has that one book that they relate to above all others. It's their book. It feels like somehow the author knows the inner-workings of all their relationships and the innermost thoughts they've never shared with anyone.

For me, that's this book.

Let me give you a quick rundown of the story. This is a slice-of-life, character-driven story following this group of friends called the Hexagon (because that's what everyone calls a group of six friends, obvs) in a small town in Kentucky, but our main character is the preacher's rebellious daughter Billie McCaffrey. (If that sounds kind of like Footloose, it's because it's kind of like Footloose.)

Before I get to the review, I do want to address this quickly. I've seen quite a few reviews that say Billie is genderfluid, which I would say is inaccurate. She is a tomboy, she does question gender and what that means and why certain genders have certain roles in society, she does have male friends and has traditionally masculine hobbies and interests, she does have maybe romantic feelings for a girl, but she doesn't specifically question her own gender and the fact that she is a girl. It's actually made quite a point of that she is a girl. So, if you're going into this expecting a main character that's genderfluid, I would say this story isn't that, but it is a great examination of gender roles and stereotypes that exist.

But on the note of diversity, I would like to say that there is a demisexual character in this book, and I really appreciate the way he was represented and how his story fits into the narrative.
He liked girls too. And boys. And anyone that made him feel deeply. [...] Most people want puddles to splash around in; Thom wants souls where scuba diving is encouraged.

ANYWAY


I adored this book. I've never seen so much of myself and my life in every character and every place on every page. There was no one character that I saw and said That's me but there was a piece of me in every single character. So, for me, they're all "realistic" characters. They are all going through the things my friends and I went through our senior year in small town, church town, somewhere near Nashville, Tennessee. The Hexagon was my group of friends. The one that wanted more than anything to get out, the one that was only there by happenstance, the one that was born there and will die there, the one that wonders if they belong there.

There's not much plot to this book, but there is the ever-present fear that the Harvest Festival--the festival that's brought their town together for as long as all of them can remember--might be happening for the last time because it's main financial contributor just died.

Naturally, our main character and her friends want to save the Harvest Festival. On this journey, Billie tries to figure out who she is, who she loves, and how she fits into this town that is always judging her. She falls in love (??), kisses some friends, and figures out who she is.

One of my favorite thing about this book is its discussion on sexual fluidity. It's not always easy to figure out and it's not always a thing that makes sense to everyone. It's messy and it's okay if it takes a while to figure it out.
I think there's a place where love equals history and a place where love equals the a future and a place where love is just love and it doesn't go away no matter whether you get it back or not. Figuring out the difference--is impossible.
But my definite favorite thing about this book is the discussion of Christianity and queerness. It's never anything I've read before (and especially not in YA), and it was done so well. It discusses the difference between people's reactions and God's reaction and how they're not always the same thing. This book's existence means so much to me, and I hope it finds its way into so many queer, teen Christian hands so that they don't feel so alone.
I decided that church members would never tell me what to do again. (Jesus could have his say--I was a person of faith; I just wasn't a person of legalistic bullshit.) Those women threw stones over a football and a girl who girled differently from them. That's the real problem--not people leaving the church, not Christians acting like Pharisees, not making up rules that don't exist.

I've said this about a few books now, but expect to see this on a favorites list at the end of the year. I loved and adored this. So, go preorder it. Reserve and request it at your libraries, pick it up next week when it releases. Just go do it. You'll love it.


Dress Codes for Small Towns by Courtney Stevens
Other Novels: Faking Normal | The Lies About Truth
Published: 22 August 2017
Format - Length: ARC - 352 pages
Source: Author
Genre: YA Contemporary
Goodreads | My Goodreads Review
Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Book Depository
As the tomboy daughter of the town’s preacher, Billie McCaffrey has always struggled with fitting the mold of what everyone says she should be. She’d rather wear sweats, build furniture, and get into trouble with her solid group of friends: Woods, Mash, Davey, Fifty, and Janie Lee.

But when Janie Lee confesses to Billie that she’s in love with Woods, Billie’s filled with a nagging sadness as she realizes that she is also in love with Woods…and maybe with Janie Lee, too.

Always considered “one of the guys,” Billie doesn’t want anyone slapping a label on her sexuality before she can understand it herself. So she keeps her conflicting feelings to herself, for fear of ruining the group dynamic. Except it’s not just about keeping the peace, it’s about understanding love on her terms—this thing that has always been defined as a boy and a girl falling in love and living happily ever after. For Billie—a box-defying dynamo—it’s not that simple.

Follow

Favorite Books of 2017 (So Far)


I've seen a few people do posts like this this and last year, and I prefer it to the Mid-Year Book Freak Out because I don't have to talk about books I didn't like. Also, I've read some fantastic books so far this year, and if this list is any indication, then making a single list at the end of the year will be near impossible.

Now, these aren't all books that released in 2017 (though many of them are), but rather books that I have read and loved so far this year. Also, these are in no particular order because I could not do that to my children.

All links go to my full Goodreads reviews if you want more detail about my thoughts!
  • FAKING NORMAL: This is definitely a book that I would never have picked up because there's a person on the cover, and nothing about it is particularly striking. But I got to listen to Courtney Stevens talk on a panel at SEYA-fest in March and immediately went to buy her book. This is an honest and raw depiction of how one girl handles the time after being raped. 
  • WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI: I'm sure 99% of you have heard all the great and wonderful praise about this book, but it's all true. It's kind of ridiculous, but it's basically a Bollywood movie in a book so it's ridiculous by nature but also extremely heartwarming. 
  • THE UPSIDE OF UNREQUITED: Another one that so many people have read and loved this year, but it really is that good. For me, it was so amazing to see Albertalli's writing improve, but I also adored how she connected this book to her previous one. It's almost Matson-like and it's probably one of my favorite things that contemporary authors can do.
  • A CONJURING OF LIGHT: I was pretty skeptical going into this final book in the Shades of Magic trilogy because I was not a huge fan of the second book. But I adored how Schwab concluded this series and wrapped up everyone's character arcs. I loved this.
  • MARCH, BOOKS ONE AND TWO: If there is one (or two, technicalities) book that I would tell every single person to read, it would be this one. 
  • RADIO SILENCE: Now, I said that these were in no particular order, which is true about all the books except this one. If I had to pick a singular favorite book of the year at this point, I would tell you Radio Silence. This book is phenomenal. 
  • SLEEPING GIANTS: I only gave this book 3.5 stars, but this book was still one of my favorite reads (and listens--pick up the audiobook if you can) this year. (Clearly, it's on the list.)
  • GIANT DAYS, VOL. 4: Definitely my favorite volume of this comic series so far. It's also just one of my favorite comics out on the market right now. I can only tell y'all to read this so many times.
  • EXIT WEST: Just an amazing, amazing book. It's a refugee novel with magical elements and it's done absolutely wonderfully. This is a short book, less than 250 pages, and absolutely flies by. 
What have been some of your favorite reads so far this year? Have you read any of these? Are they on your TBR? Tell me down in comments!


Follow