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All the Books (and Series!) I Need to Read Before the End of 2016!

"Top 5 Wednesday" is a weekly meme created by Lainey at GingerReadsLainey on Youtube and hosted by Sam at Thoughts on Tomes. You can find the goodreads group here.

AN EMBER IN THE ASHES BY SABAA TAHIR: The sequel to this book comes out this year, and dear lord, the hype for this book (and it's sequel) is insane. I got this in a Book Outlet order last school year and never read it. I at least want to give the first book a try and see if the series is for me around the time that the sequel comes out.

MY BRILLIANT FRIEND BY ELENA FERRANTE: I literally just picked these two up last night at a used bookstore for $11.50, and they're in basically brand-new condition. I have heard so much about this series, and it sounds like a really interesting character piece. Also, Max and Mari love it, so I know it's going to be good.

THIS SAVAGE SONG BY VICTORIA SCHWAB: Eeeeeeee! My excitement for this book (and Schwab's writing) never ceases. I'm currently making my way through ADSOM, and I'm basically in love with Schwab all over again. I read Vicious last year and it ended up being one of my favorites of the year. This one just released and it's basically Romeo and Juliet + monsters - romance, and that just speaks to me on so many levels. 

A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC & A GATHERING OF SHADOWS BY V.E. SCHWAB: As stated above, I am currently reading ADSOM and despite the mentions of a horrible cliffhanger at the end of the second book, I am basically falling over myself to finish what is out of this trilogy. (Also, I preordered AGOS and am slightly ashamed that I haven't read it earlier.)

SIEGE AND STORM, RUIN AND RISING & SIX OF CROWS BY LEIGH BARDUGO: If you follow me on any other social media outlet, then you know that I am going to a Crooked Kingdom signing at the end of September . . . and I haven't read further than Shadow and Bone. (Although, I am halfway through Siege and Storm.) Basically, I have zero time to read these books before meeting her, and I want to be able to fangirl over the Darkling and Kaz like everyone else does.

What are the books that you neeeed to read before the end of the year? Tell me down in the comments, and if you did this week's topic, link it down below so that I can read it! Thanks for stopping by.


HELLO SOPHOMORE YEAR | all the books I brought to college

It's sophomore year! I'm in a dorm with good lighting, and I even have my own private room. (AKA: Many more blog posts and bookstagrams from yours truly!) I have the Jane Eyre blanket from Evie's S6 shop (it looks amazing on a blanket if you're looking for a cute blanket) on my chair (it's usually around me because for some reason my room is freezing) and so many of Cait's (paperfury) and Evie's mugs in my kitchen.

The only one out of this lot that I've read is Shadow and Bone, which I brought for two reasons. 1) So I could take pretty bookstagrams of the whole trilogy and 2) I'm going to a signing at the end of September for Crooked Kingdom and--knowing me--I won't have time to run home and grab it before the signing. This is also why I brought along both my ARC and hardcover copy of Six of Crows (I need the hardcover signed, but I still need to read it and prefer paperbacks.)

Also, Schwab is my favorite, and I'm in a really big fantasy mood right now so I brought her books along as well.

A Short Interlude for Comic Relief

HAMILTON: THE REVOLUTION: Like I would leave this behind.
ALEXANDER HAMILTON: Because I totally have time to read this.
STORMDANCER: I definitely need to start another fantasy series.
PRINCESS OF THORNS, DAUGHTER OF DEEP SILENCE, ILLUSIONS OF FATE: I feel guilty because these have been on my shelf forever. Maybe a new location will make me want to read them?
THE MARVELS: A picture book because college is hard.
GIRL ONLINE: ON TOUR: I'm only reading this because I think the third book might have a good message.
THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL #1: See also: Stormdancer.

Now back to your regularly scheduled blog post.

These were all ones that, when I looked at my "shelves" at home, I didn't want to leave behind for two months. Order of the Phoenix is my favorite Harry Potter book, so I knew I had to bring it along because you never know when a reading slump will hit (especially in school). Second Chance Summer, or The Book I've Been "Currently Reading" Since June. The Light Between Oceans is a book club pick for September, and all the others are books that I brought for variety (what if I'm in a fantasy, historical fiction, sci-fi, mystery mood?) on my shelf.

I brought too many books! How do you decide what books to take with you when you go somewhere? (Basically, I need major advice.)


12 Months of Recommendations | #MonthlyRecs

It's not news to anyone that I have been incredibly patchy in my blog posting this past year. A pair of my favorite BookTubers, Trina @ Between Chapters and Kayla @ Kayla Rayne, run a monthly recommendations group over on Goodreads. This month is the one-year anniversary of this group, so for this month's topic, they decided to do a look back on all of their previous topics. So, it's almost like a tag.

Let's get started!

I 100% picked this book up because of a review by Cait @ Paper Fury (we've all done it, be honest), and I am so glad that I did as it was one of the most unique--as well as favorite--books that I read last year.

This is a book about a book who has OCD and joins a support group to help him learn how to try and live a normal life when everything around him feels abnormal and when he feels like he doesn't belong in this world.

The kids in the support group use superhero names (i.e. Batman, Robin, Aquaman) for themselves in order to help them deal with all of the different issues that they have in their lives.

I thought that this book dealt with OCD very realistically and very honestly, and I definitely think that you should pick it up.

(Also, the audiobook is great, if you want to listen to this book.)

This comic series! GUYS, you need to read this series. If you are someone to shy away from comics because they are sci-fi and/or fantasy heavy, this is a contemporary comic series following three university roommates (it's set in the UK) and all of their college shenanigans. This is an ongoing series, and it is by far my favorite comic. I think that these characters are so well developed and created. All three of the girls are so incredibly different, and all of the side characters surrounding them are fantastic as well.

This is one that I picked up way back when the movie with Daniel Radcliffe (and yes, I did go see the movie just because he was in it) came out, so it has been quite a while since I read this. However, it is still one of the creepiest books I've ever read. That may be because I don't really read creepy books or it could be because it's a fairly classic ghost story that's stood the test of time.

You read it and then tell me.

For me, I had a hard time sleeping for a solid week after reading this book.

This is a total cheat, but I've never followed the rules anyway so I don't know what y'all were expecting. This is a trilogy of comic volumes . . . so, I think that's as close as we're going to get.

This is a 15 issue run of Black Widow by Nathan Edmondson with art by Phil Noto. I think this is really good if you've watched the MCU movies and said, "Give me more Black Widow!" and then gotten curious about her backstory and have done a couple of scrolls through Wikipedia or the Marvel Wikia.

It keeps a lot of the air of mystery and questioning around Natasha and her motives and her sense of judgment; however, it also answers a lot of questions, and it gives you a lot of looks into the people--superheroes and not--who have played a big role in Natasha's life.

Wow. Wowowowowowow. This is one of the best books I've read this year by far.

A lot of people pitch this as a traveling band of actors that make their way through a post-disease America by performing Shakespeare. And that's true, but there is so much more that pitch is leaving out. It explores the dynamics of groups of people. It explores the emotional needs of people and how people and parts of our past help us survive in tough times.

It's spectacular. Read it, now.

I feel as though pitching this to you as only a fantasy novel because it's almost a mix of fantasy, dystopian, and futuristic alien (??? - that's not a genre, but okay Monica, let's continue) novel. However, I absolutely love this book and needed to squeeze it into this recommendations post. I needed to, okay?

This book is amazing, and the main character Paige is completely kick-ass and so strong-willed. It is an adult and it does have a very throw you into the world vibe to it. Just remember that there's a glossary in the back. It will be your best friend for the first 100 pages until you get a grasp on the world. There is also a chart at the front that shows all the different types of clairvoyants.

Again, I was going to find a way to put this into this recommendations post because it's one of my favorites and how have you not read this book yet?

It's college best friends gone wrong with superpowers, and it's all about the line between good and evil, hero and villain. The writing is fantastic, the characters are incredibly well crafted, and if that hasn't convinced you then the dynamic between Eli and Victor feels very Hamilton and Burr to me.

I could have put this in three other categories, but I decided to put it in this one.

Other categories this book could fit into:
Empowering Females
Favorite Bookish Friendship
Books You Need to Read By the End of the Year

This is another one that, if you haven't read it yet, I would highly recommend listening to the audiobook for. There are three voice actors for the three women's perspectives, and they do an incredible job with all of the voices. And if you've seen the movie, it is similar enough where it's the same story but different enough where you will get so much more meaning out of the book if you read it.

Wow. Another book I haven't shut up about. Is anyone surprised? No. 

I have a whole review up for this book if you want to read all of my flailing thoughts about it. Basically, Mark Watney gets stuck on Mars after a set of circumstances and his crew believes him to be dead. Surprise! He's not dead. This is genuinely the only survival story that I have ever seen/read that I've ever enjoyed. As a rule, narrators in survival stories get really annoying and whiny because they're on the brink of death 90% of the time. Mark Watney's humor and intuitiveness is 100% what got me through this story.

It's inspiring, and it made me believe in humans again.

This is another one that I have a separate review for.

While the romance in Morgan Matson's newest contemporary is by far my favorite that she's written, the friendship is probably my favorite in all of YA. It's not a friendship without its issues and problems, and it's nowhere near perfect. However, I found it a really honest depiction of friendships, especially in high school.

Also, it's a friendship group which is something often absent in YA as well.

Not only does this book take place in Paris and Germany, it also features travel. We have two main characters in this book.

The first is Marie-Laure, who is a blind French girl living in Paris with her father in the time era of WWII. She loves reading when her father can afford her a new braille book and enjoys walking to the museum after memorizing the streets of Paris through a model that her father built for her. Eventually, they have to leave Paris and end up traveling to what they hope is safety through the country.

The second is Werner, who is a young German boy with an exceptional talent for fixing radios. The Nazis end up finding out about Werner and his talent through the talk of the people in the town, and he is recruited by the Nazis.

Doerr paves the path for two very different characters and slowly works them together throughout the story. It's absolutely amazing. Please please please read it if you haven't.

Carol Danvers, y'all. Carol Danvers. If you haven't been on the internet in the past month, you may have missed that Brie Larson got officially announced as Captain Marvel at SDCC '16. If you don't know, Captain Marvel is the Avenger's emissary in space. Yes, it's as awesome as it sounds. She lives in the Statue of Liberty, she's friends with Spider-Woman, she may or may not be dating Iron Patriot. Yet, she is willing to leave all of that behind to serve her world and be the best pilot in space. She maintains her relationships in space and she forms all kinds of new intergalactic relationships.

If you're a fan of MCU, definitely pick up this 15 issue run following Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel.

Have you done this? What is a book with little to no romance that you loved? Tell me down in the comments!

Can We Be Critical about Our Favorites? | Book Discussion

With all of the talk about Cursed Child surfacing up, this is something that I have been thinking about a lot. I’ve read a lot of five star reviews about—not only this book but so many different books—this that say something along the lines of “I had a lot of problems with this book and the story, but I’m giving this five stars because it’s Harry Potter and I can’t not give 5 stars to a Harry Potter book.” I also watched Sam @ Thoughts on Tomes’s new video this morning and this can serve as a sort of response to that video. (linked below)

As someone who has gotten a lot more conservative with star ratings recently, I find this shocking. Everyone’s rating system is different; I totally get that, I do. However, I highly doubt that anyone’s rating system goes:

· 1 star: A, B, C reasons

· 2 stars: D, E, F reasons

· 3 stars: G, H, I reasons

· 4 stars: J, K, L reasons

· 5 stars: M, N, O reasons and anything written by J.K. Rowling

Okay, so that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but you get my point, right? Insert the author of your favorite series or the writers of your favorite TV show. Is that still true?

Now, I don’t want to be the rating police and say that if you gave this book or that book a five star rating because it’s part of your favorite series and X author can “do no wrong” that you’re wrong or that you aren’t a real reader/reviewer. If you say that you’re a reader or a reviewer, then you are a reader or a reviewer. It’s that simple. However, I would like to encourage you to be a more critical reader.

Think of the book world like politics. (Stay with me.) We the readers are the citizens of Bookternet. The authors are our Representatives. If we never tell our representatives, “Hey, you know how you only had one female character in your book, and she was a poor representation of a woman,” then they will never know that they were doing something wrong (I mean, logically they could, but just go with me here) or that it was something that the people they were representing cared about.

For example, I absolutely love the Shatter Me trilogy. I love Tahereh Mafi’s writing style, and I am so happy with the character development of Juliette throughout the series. But do I also think that there was zero world building? Yes. Do I think that Juliette has any healthy romantic relationships? No. Do I think Warner is entitled and emotionally abusive to Juliette? Yes. This series is not without its flaws, but I still love it. I am not okay with everything that Mafi does in the story and how she treats certain characters, and I am able to critically look at the story while still enjoying it.

Another example to bring it full circle—good job, Monica, gold star for you—is Harry Potter. There is zero diversity in those books. Racially, religiously, on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum or otherwise. And I am not talking about separate from the books. Rowling telling me that Dumbledore was gay and that Hermione could potentially be black if the reader wanted her to be black doesn’t make Dumbledore gay or Hermione black. If it’s not written in the text, then it’s not diverse.

Inversely, I think it’s important to be able to point out the things that we did like in a book that we didn’t like. For example, if you read a book about a person with OCD—yay, diversity!—but it is only a plot-point or a way for the character to meet their “true love” who can solve all of their problems, then point out in your review, “Hey! I am really glad that this book covered a person who is struggling with OCD; however, I do not like how it was dealt with in X, Y, and Z situations.”

What are your thoughts on this topic? Can we be critical and a fangirl about the same book? Tell me your thoughts in the comments below!