A Bookish Update: What Have I Been Reading These Past Months?

Hello, my fellow book dragons! I really haven’t posted on my blog this year as much as I’d hoped to. Well, that’s gonna change and I’m gonna get back to posting regularly.

I’m not gonna post the wrap ups I never posted for March, April, May, June, July AND August cause that’s waaaay too many books to write mini reviews for, but I will give yall a brief overview of what I’ve been reading and which books I enjoyed (or didn’t enjoy). I chose 3-4 books from each month for which to list what I liked/disliked about them. A mini, 4 month wrap up.

I’ll post a separate wrap up for July and August so this post isn’t ridiculously long.

So, here goes!

 

March Reads:

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Books read: 9

Diverse books read: 4 (Daughter of the Burning City, Radio Silence, Of Fire and Stars, Ash Princess)

Diversity Present: 

Nothing Left to Burnthe main characters 2 best girl friends are in a relationship, one of them is bisexual (main character is straight tho)

Radio Silenceblack female main character, Asian love interest and secondary characters, written by a black authors 

Of Fire and Starsf/f romance, a bisexual main character and a lesbian main character, written by a lesbian author 

Daughter of the Burning Citybisexual main character of color, demisexual/romantic love interest

The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Lovewritten by an author of color

Like a River Gloriousnative american love interest

Mind Gamesblind main character, mentally ill main character 

Ash Princesspoc main character

Own Voices books read: 2 (Of Fire and Stars and Radio Silence

Longest read: Ash Princess (441 pages)

Shortest read: The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love (257 pages)

Favorite read(s): Daughter of the Burning City, Like a River Glorious, Of Fire and Stars, Ash Princess

Least favorite read(s): Nothing Left to Burn

Middle Grade Read: 0

New Adult/Adult Read: 1 (Radio Silence) 

Ratings:

Nothing Left to Burn-2/5 Stars

Radio Silence-4.3/5 Stars

Of Fire and Stars-5/5 Stars

Daughter of the Burning City-5/5 Stars

The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love-4/5 Stars

Like a River Glorious-5/5 Stars

Mind Games-4.3/5 Stars

Ash Princess-4.5/5 Stars

Crossing the Ice-4/5 Stars

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Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Pages: 384

Release Date: July 25th, 2017

 

Liked: Sorina is a bisexual female main character and Luca is a demisexual/demiromantic male love interest. I love the fact that Sorina has real live imaginary friends. It was darkly mysterious and enchanting. I love any book that has a magical circus in it, too.

Disliked: literally nothing! I loved everything about it from beginning to end.

 

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Crossing the Ice by Jennifer Comeaux

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Pages: 308

Release Date: August 7th, 2014

 

Liked: I love sports romances, especially between rivals and where each character is involved in a sport, not just the guy. I loved that the love interest was shy and quiet, I find that adorable. I liked that it revolved so much around ice skating, because I love it as a sport.

Disliked: It felt like something was missing, maybe I was expecting a little more…heat, sexier scenes. I don’t know why. I’m not sure if this book is considered YA or NA but for some reason I expected steamier makeout scenes. Oh well!

 

 

 

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Pages: 389

Release Date: November 22nd, 2016

 

Liked: there are two queer main characters: Dennaleia, who’s a lesbian, and Mare, who’s bisexual. It was magical, beautiful, suspenseful, heartbreaking love story full of suspense, politics and hate-to-love romance. I couldn’t put it down and I loved the way that the romance developed, and I loved many of the side characters as well. Especially Nils.

Disliked: that one death:(( (not of a queer character, don’t worry)

 

April Reads:

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Books read: 7

Diverse books reads: 1 (Song of the Current-biracial main character)

Diversity Present:

Song of the Currentbiracial main character, poc love interest

The Art of French Kissinga queer/multi-sexual Japanese love interest 

Own Voices books read: 0

Longest book read: Onyx and Ivory (512 pages)

Shortest book read: The Art of French Kissing (256 pages)

Favorite read(s): Sky in the Deep, Song of the Current, The Art of French Kissing, Beyond a Darkened Shore

Least favorite read(s): Sweet Black Waves

Middle Grade Read: 0

New Adult Read: 0

Ratings:

Sweet Black Waves-2.5/5 Stars

Onyx and Ivory-4.2/5 Stars

Sky in the Deep-4.5/5 Stars

Song of the Current-4.5/5 Stars

The Art of French Kissing-5/5 Stars

Beyond a Darkened Shore-4.5/5 Stars

 

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Air Awakens by Elise Kova

Rating: 3.8/5 stars

Pages: 340

Release Date: August 2015

Liked: The banter between Vhalla and Aldrik, Vhalla’s struggle to adjust to her newfound powers, the character development. I’m definitely intrigued enough by the characters that I’ll read the next book. The sexual tension between Vhalla and Aldrik is going to ignite at some point and I’m eager to see it happen.

Didn’t like:  The book definitely could’ve undergone another round of editing, and the plot didn’t really seem to go anywhere. I wasn’t completely “wow’d” and my high expectations were a little let down.

 

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The Art of French Kissing by Brianna R Shrum

Rating: 5/5 stars

Pages: 256

Release Date: June 2018

 

Liked: A COOKING SUMMER SCHOOL, hate-to-love romance, a Japanese and multisexual love interest, hilarity and heartache and friendship.

Disliked: ONLY THAT IT HAD TO END.

 

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Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Pages: 352

Release Date: April 2018

Liked: The amazing characterization, the raw emotion the relationships made me feel, the brutal action and violence scenes, the captivating storytelling.

Disliked: The character’s appearances weren’t really described so I had no idea how to picture them, aside from Eelyn, since she’s on the cover. And they felt a liiiiittle bit distant because of that. Just a little.

 

 

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Sweet Black Waves by Kristina Perez

Rating: 2.5 stars

Pages: 448

Release Date: June 2018

 

 

Liked: The two main characters and their enemies to lovers romance, the family dynamics, the complicated relationship between Iseult and her cousin.

Disliked: That baffling, godawful, what-the-fuck ending. I’m seriously still mad about it. Apparently this is the first in a trilogy so it MIGHT be redeemable but I don’t know if I even want to continue the series after this ending. I’m that mad. Also, Iseult’s cousin, the princess, really got on my nerves. I empathized with her a lot but her bratty behavior and naive attitude made me want to scream.

May Reads:

 

 

 

Books read: 12

Diverse books read: 9

Own Voices books read: 5 (Winterspell, Empress of a Thousand Skies, Timekeeper Emergency Contact, and Furyborn)

Diversity Present: 

Winterspell-bisexual main character

Beneath the Haunting Sea-main character of color

Empress of a Thousand Skies-main characters of color

Heart of Iron-2 gay main characters and a m/m romance, black female main character 

Timekeeper-own voices queer main character (main character is a gay boy, author is a bisexual woman)

Under Rose Tainted Skies-main character with OCD

Emergency Contact-female Asian main character, love interest/POV character with anxiety

Furyborn-2 bisexual main characters (Rielle and Eliana)

Ever the Brave-not diverse but written by an author of color (Hawaiian Native, I think) 

Longest book read: Furyborn (501 pages)

Shortest book read: Nothing but Sky (284 pages)

Favorite read(s): Ever the Brave, Wandering Star, Furyborn, Letting Go of Gravity, Timekeeper, Winterspell, Heart of Iron (that’s a lot, I KNOW)

Least favorite read(s): I didn’t really strongly dislike any books I read this month but I guess my least favorite would be Beneath the Haunting Sea, just because I didn’t feel all that connected to the characters and the story was really slow at times and I didn’t really care for the romance or feel too invested in the story.

Middle Grade Read: 0

New Adult/Adult Read: 0

Ratings:

Winterspell-5/5 Stars

Beneath the Haunting Sea-4/5 Stars

Empress of a Thousand Skies-4/5 Stars

Heart of Iron-4.5/5 Stars

Nothing but Sky-4/5 Stars

Timekeeper-4.5/5 Stars

Under Rose Tainted Skies-4.5/5 Stars

Emergency Contact-4/5 Stars

Letting Go of Gravity-5/5 Stars

Furyborn-5/5 Stars

Wandering Star-4.5/5 Stars

Ever the Brave-4.5/5 Stars

 

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Ever the Brave by Erin Summerill

Rating: 4.5 stars

Release Date: December 2017

Pages: 464

 

 

Liked: I love love LOVED the first book of this series, Ever the Hunted, and I couldn’t wait for more Cohen and Britta in book 2. They are one of my new favorite book couples. Their relationship is just so sweet and pure and adorable. I love it. I love prince Aodren’s character and I loved the introduction of his POV and I was satisfied with how everything worked out in the end

Disliked: Ever the Brave brought a lot of complications to Britta and Cohen’s tenuous new relationship and there were a lot of obstacles that came between them. And I get it. The author wanted to test their love for one another. While I appreciated the authors intentions, I also strongly disliked that Britta was given a second potential love interest as one of those obstacles. It just seemed uncessary and took away from the relationship dynamic between Britta and Cohen that I’d loved in book two, and left less room for swoony, heartfelt moments between the two of them. And that made me sad cause I was really looking forward to that. The magic of Britta and Cohens romance that I love in the first book felt a bit brushed a side and I was disappointed. BUT I still love this series and this world and these characters, and Britta and Cohen are still my absolute favorite couple. That didn’t change, even with all the complications they faced. I can’t wait to read my ARC of book 3 (That I got at Yallwest!!) Once a King, which is prince Aodren’s very own (love) story. I love Erin’s writing and storytelling and I need more asap!

 

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Wandering Star by Romina Russell

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Pages: 320

Release Date: December 2015

Liked: The. Romance. I definitely know who’s team I’m on. I also just genuinely loved this book a lot more than the first one. The characters were more developed, as was the plot.

Disliked: THE FATE OF A CERTAIN CHARACTER THAT BROKE MY HEART. Also, Ro being sooooooo indecisive about who she wanted to be with. Cmon girl, it’s obvious who you really love! I also really liked that aspect of the romance though because it lends more romantic suspense. Can’t wait to see where it goes in book 3!

 

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Emergency Contact by Mary H.K Choi

Rating: 4/5 stars

Pages: 400

Release Date: March 2018

 

 

Liked: Asian representation, talk of sexual assault and consent, a shy tattooed love interest. Witty, relatable, honest, realistic text messaging (no typing like: “wut r u doing” or usage of shortened words that no one actually uses while texting).

Disliked: I wasn’t all that satisfied with how Sam and Penny’s relationship progressed. I felt like we didnt get enough, somehow. And I felt unsatisfied with the ending, though I can’t really pinpoint why.

 

 

 

 

June Reads:

Books read: 10

Diverse books read: 3 (The Kiss Quotient, Not Even Bones and The Imposter Queen)

Diversity Present:

The Kiss Quotientown voices autistic female main character, own voices Vietnamese love interest

Revenge and the Wildmain character with a prosthetic arm, scarred love interest, native american best friend and side characters 

The Imposter Queenbisexual main character (m/f romance)

Extraordinary Meansgay side character, Indian side character

Not Even Bonesmain character of color

Something Strange and Deadlyblack and Chinese supporting characters

Own voices books read: 1 (The Kiss Quotient)

Longest book read: The Imposter Queen (415 pages)

Shortest book read: How to Breathe Underwater (304 pages)

Favorite read(s): The Kiss Quotient, Revenge and the Wild, The Impostor Queen, Extraordinary Means, Something Strange and Deadly, Not Even Bones

Least favorite read(s): none of them, really

Middle Grade Read: 0

New Adult/Adult Read: 1 (The Kiss Quotient)

Ratings:

The Kiss Quotient5/5 Stars

Revenge and the Wild4.8/5 Stars

The Imposter Queen5/5 Stars

Extraordinary Means4.5/5 Stars

How to Breathe Underwater4.5/5 Stars

The Supervillian and Me4.5/5 Stars

Cruel Beauty4.3/5 Stars

City of a Thousand Dolls4/5 Stars

Not Even Bones-4.5/5 Stars

Something Strange and Deadly5/5 Stars

 

 

Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Pages: 384

Release Date: February 2016

Liked: WESTERN SETTING. STEAMPUNK. CANNIBALS. So many things I love in one book. A scarred but sexy love interest. Second chance friends-to-lovers romance. Some very morally grey characters. A main character with a terrifying past that left her without an arm. Mystery! Suspense! Creepiness!

Disliked: Maybe a liiiiiiittle more kissing? Some things felt unresolved. But to be honest I hardly care cause I loved everything else about this book. A brilliant new favorite.

 

 

 

The Imposter Queen by Sarah Fine

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Pages: 432

Release Date: January 2016

 

 

 

Liked: the fact that Ellie was not, in fact, the chosen one. Talk about taking a trope and turning it on it’s head!

Disliked: SPOILERS. Proceed with caution.

 

The ending??? Ellie and Oskar?? The fact that a certain someone said if they were to be together it wouldn’t end well and the fact that even thought they love each other, it was clear they wouldn’t end up together?? WHY WHY WHY. Their story is NOT over. There’s a sort of sequel but it follows entirely new characters and a new storyline but all I want is to know what happens next for Elli and Oskar?? THAT’S ALL I CARE ABOUT I DON’T WANNA READ ABOUT NEW CHARACTERS YET.

Update: I wrote the above before finding out something devastating about the end of this series. The third book combines Ellie’s POV and the POV of a new main character introduced in book 2, which i was initially ecstatic to hear, but after looking into it more I found out some awful spoilers that broke my heart and made me not want to continue the series. I’m super disappointed:(. The Imposter Queen will always be a favorite but I’m super sad about how the series ends, but I’m gonna pretend the last book doesn’t exist!

 

 

 

City of a Thousand Dolls by Miriam Forster

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Pages: 368

Release Date: February 2016

 

 

Liked: Very unique setting and concept. TALKING CATS. Main character with an unknown past. Murder-mystery. Very resourceful and smart main character with great friendships.

Disliked: The whole time I was reading this book, I thought it was a two book series. I thought there was a sequel. Maybe that’s part of the reason I was a bit disappointed with the ending, I thought there was gonna be more. But still, it felt like too much was left open and not resolved. So I’m sad about that. Also, it was very slow at times. But I do look forward to reading the authors other books!

 

 

 

 

And that’s it for now(:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Music Monday: The Darkest Minds Trilogy Playlist

In honor of one of my all time favorite books being made into a movie, I just had to make a playlist of songs that I feel encompass the feelings I went through whilst following Ruby’s journey. Some of the songs remind me of specific characters or scenes, which I noted in parenthesis.

You guys, I am soooooooo FREAKING EXCITED for this movie. It’s one of my favorite series of all time. I legitimately tear up every time I see a trailer or ad for it cause I’m so proud of Alex Bracken and so beyond psyched to see my favorite characters come to life on the big screen.  The spotify playlist is below.

 

The playlist:

Kids in the Dark-All Time Low

Anybody Out There-Tyler Shaw and Amaal Nuux

One by One-Against Me

Natural-Imagine Dragons

Yellow Flicker Beat-Lorde

Hear me NowAlok

Kidz-Take That

Dancing with a Wolf-All Time Low (Clancy)

Falling to PiecesFaith no More

Little Victories-Malia Civetz (Ruby and Liam, regarding “the memory incident”)

Safe and Sound-Taylor Swift

A Million on my SoulAlexiane

Skyfall-Adele

I hope you guys enjoy!!!

Farewell International Women’s Month: A Look at Some of my Favorite Female Writers and Characters!

International Women’s Month is coming to a close so I wanted to end it with a tribute to some of my favorite female writers and female characters! So here ya go!

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Top Ten Books by Diverse Female Authors

 

By a lesbian woman:

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth

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Favorite quote: “But if renting all those movies had taught me anything more than how to lose myself in them, it was that you only actually have perfectly profound little moments like that in real life if you recognize them yourself, do all the fancy shot work and editing in your head, usually in the very seconds that whatever is happening is happening. And even if you do manage to do so, just about never does anyone else you’re with at the time experience that exact same kind of moment, and it’s impossible to explain it as it’s happening, and then the moment is over.” 

By a bisexual woman:

Far From You by Tessa Sharpe

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Favorite quote: 

“But my heart isn’t simple or straightforward. It’s a complicated mess of wants and needs, boys and girls: soft, rough, and everything in between, an ever-shifting precipice from which to fall.” 

 

By an autistic woman:

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

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Favorite quote: 

“That’s what we do. We walk a tightrope every day. Getting out the door is a tightrope. Going grocery shopping is a tightrope. Socializing is a tightrope. Things that most people consider to be normal, daily parts of life are the very things we fear and struggle with the most, and yet here we are, moving forward anyway. That’s not weak.”

 

By a Korean woman:

Angelfall by Susan Ee

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Favorite quote:

“Asleep, he looks like a bleeding Prince Charming chained in the dungeon. When I was little, I always thought I’d be Cinderella, but I guess this makes me the wicked witch.
But then again, Cinderella didn’t live in a post-apocalyptic world invaded by avenging angels.” 

 

By a Hawaiin Native woman:

Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill

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Favorite quote:

“Our lives are, like these woods, ever changing. Nothing is static. And so you cannot count on an easy, carefree life to always remain that way. Or a harsh existence to stay the same. Life can get better. Or life can always become worse. And then you die. Don’t reflect on the negative. Think about all the positives in your life.” 

By a Muslim woman:

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

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Favorite quote:

“I spent my life folded between the pages of books.
In the absence of human relationships I formed bonds with paper characters. I lived love and loss through stories threaded in history; I experienced adolescence by association. My world is one interwoven web of words, stringing limb to limb, bone to sinew, thoughts and images all together. I am a being comprised of letters, a character created by sentences, a figment of imagination formed through fiction.” 

 

By a Pakistani woman:

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

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Favorite quote:

“There are two kinds of guilt. The kind that’s a burden and the kind that gives you purpose. Let your guilt be your fuel. Let it remind you of who you want to be. Draw a line in your mind. Never cross it again. You have a soul. It’s damaged but it’s there. Don’t let them take it from you.” 

By a Chinese woman:

Warcross by Marie Lu

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Favorite quote:

“But sometimes, people kick you to the ground at recess because they think the shape of your eyes is funny. They lunge at you because they see a vulnerable body. Or a different skin color. Or a different name. Or a girl. They think that you won’t hit back – that you’ll just lower your eyes and hide. And sometimes, to protect yourself, to make it go away, you do. But sometimes, you find yourself standing in exactly the right position, wielding exactly the right weapon to hit back.” 

By a Jewish woman:

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

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Favorite quote:

“Fix me,” I commanded him. “This thing, what I’ve done – there’s something wrong with me, Noah. Fix it.”

Noah’s expression broke my heart as he brushed my hair from my face, and skimmed the line of my neck. “I can’t”

“Why not?” I asked, my voice threatening to crack.

“Because,” he said, “You’re not broken.”  

 

Top Seven Female Characters

 

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Alex Craft from The Female of the Species

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“I am a wolf that my sister kept in a cage, until her hand was removed. I have been out, curious as I wake up from a lethargic solitude, self-enforced because I know I don’t belong here. It’s not safe for me to be out, but they rattled my cage. First Claire and then Jack. And now I’m awake, deviating from the paths I created in order to remain stable. I’m out, I’m awake, and afraid I won’t be easily put back.”

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“But boys will be boys, our favorite phrase that excuses so many things, while the only thing we have for the opposite gender is women, said with disdain and punctuated with an eye roll.”

Alex Craft is the teenage feminist warrior we all aspire to be. Well, despite the murder maybe, but I can’t say I pity the rapists that Alex takes it upon herself to punish. She doesn’t take sexist shit from any of her male classmates and always stand up for what’s right no matter what it may cost her, and that’s what makes her such an admirable heroine. 

 

Jude Duarte from The Cruel Prince

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“If I cannot be better than them, I will become so much worse.”

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“I am going to keep on defying you. I am going to shame you with my defiance. You remind me that I am a mere mortal and you are a prince of Faerie. Well, let me remind you that means you have much to lose and I have nothing. You may win in the end, you may ensorcell me and hurt me and humiliate me, but I will make sure you lose everything I can take from you on the way down. I promise you this is the least of what I can do.”

Jude isn’t afraid to stand up for herself and give people a taste of their own medicine, and I love her for that. She knows how to fight back and doesn’t hesitate to put people in their place. 

 

 

Nina Zenik from Six of Crows

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You have your own problems right now, Zenik, said a voice in her head. Stop worrying about saving the world and save your own ass. Sometimes her inner voice could be very wise.”

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“No, I don’t mean in the big ways.” Nina’s eyes took them all in. “I mean the little rescues.  Laughing at my jokes. Forgiving me when i was foolish. Never trying to make me feel small.  It doesn’t matter if it’s next month, or next year, or ten years from now, those will be the things I remember when i see you again.”

Nina Zenik is loyal to those she loves and will do whatever she has to do in order to protect them, even if it costs her. She’s confident and selfless and she brings light and humor and comfort to her friends in the darkest of times.

 

Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter books

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“Actually I’m highly logical which allows me to look past extraneous detail and perceive clearly that which others overlook.”

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“I’m a mudblood! Mudblood, and proud of it! I’ve got no higher position under this new order than you have, Griphook! It was me they chose to torture, back at the Malfoys’!”

 

Hermione was one of the very first female characters I looked up to. I’ve always admired her intelligence, her snark, her dedication to her studies and her whip smart quick thinking that always got Ron and Harry out of trouble. 

 

Dana Scully from The X Files

Image result for dana scully“Time passes in moments … moments which, rushing past define the path of a life just as surely as they lead towards its end. How rarely do we stop to examine that path, to see the reasons why all things happen, to consider whether the path we take in life is our own making or simply one into which we drift with eyes closed?”

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“Nothing happens in contradiction to nature, only in contradiction to what we know of it”

 

I only started watching The X Files a couple of years ago, and I immediately fell in love with Scully and her emotional and intellectual bad-assery. She may be a skeptic but she knows her stuff and her role as both an FBI agent and a medical doctor make her impossible not to look up to as a source of inspiration. 

 

 

Barbara Gordon (aka Batgirl)

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“You know what I really dislike about you, Knightfall? Aside from everything, I mean? It’s how you just. Keep. Under-estimating me.”

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“Wait for a hero? Barbara Joan Gordon — Be your own damn hero.”

 

 

Ever since I started reading comics a couple of years ago, Barbara has been a number one fave. She’s no damsel in distress; she saves herself and can hold her own in a fight just like any male superhero. She’s confident and clever and everything you could want from a female superhero. 

 

Ruby Daly from The Darkest Minds

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“Chubs didn’t have to finish. I knew what I’d been when I’d found them: a terrified splinter of a girl who had been shattered a long time ago. I had nothing, and no one, and no real place to go. Maybe I was still broken and would always be—but now, at least, I was piecing myself back together, lining up one jagged edge at a time.” 

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“We have learned that life is one journey, and the purpose is not to reach some treasure at the end of it, but to find the courage to decide which paths to take, who to travel with, and to let things fall into place as they should and will.

Ruby Daly is one of my all time favorite dystopian heroines. From a young age, she endures so many unthinkable horrors and has to do unfathomable things in order to survive. But nevertheless, she persists, and manages to fight back and fight for good without losing herself in the process; without letting her hardships change her for the worse.

 

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So there’s that! Do we have any faves in common? Who are your feminist inspirations? Favorite female characters? Favorite female writers? Let me know!

Monthly Wrap-Up: February

I read a total of 9 books this month! In order to keep track of where I am with my reading goals, I’ll add how many books of each category I read in my monthly wrap-ups; diverse books, sequels, middle grade and adult, etc. Although I’ll list any diversity each book has, I’ll only actually count a book as diverse if the main character themselves is of a diverse identity that’s overtly stated in the text. If the love interest is a person of color, bisexual, etc, I’ll make note of that but won’t count it as a diverse book.

Diverse books read: (The Nowhere Girls, Lucky Few and The Summer I Wasn’t Me)

Books read by diverse authors: (Neal Shusterman, Kathryn Ormsbee and S Jae. Jones)

Own Voices books read: 0

Sequels read: 0

Middle grade read: 0

New adult/adult: 0

Graphic novels/comics read: (for school)

Longest book read: Wintersong (448 pages)

Shortest book read: Scythe (335 pages)

Favorite read of the month: Gray Wolf Island, The Nowhere Girls, Truthwitch and Scythe

Least favorite read of the month: The Summer I Wasn’t Me

 

 

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Gray Wolf Island by Tracey Neithercott

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Something about the cover, title and synopsis of Gray Wolf Island had me deeply intrigued the minute I came across it. Although the ending left me feeling slightly dissatisfied- which I think was mostly just because I didn’t want to say goodbye to the characters so soon- overall I enjoyed it very much. The characters are imperfect and unforgettable, each with secrets of their own, and they really just made me think, a lot.  About what makes a person bad or good, about forgiveness and the choices that define us.

Gray Wolf Island is a mystery, surrounding a treasure hunt on a mysterious island but it’s also a story about the power of friendship and secrets. There’s a sweet romance too, between the main character and a wannabe “bad boy” who’s really just an adorable nerd. I cried and laughed and experienced many different conflicting emotions regarding some of the characters. Although the end results of their treasure hunt felt a little anti climatic, Gray Wolf Island is a book that I thoroughly enjoyed and definitely won’t ever forget. The characters worked their way into my heart and I fell in love with their emotional journey and their relationships with one another.

Format read: Kindle ebook

Release date: November 2017

Genre: YA mystery/supernatural

Diversity: Charlie, one of the main characters, is Korean

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

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The Valiant by Lesley Livingston

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I haven’t read many fictional books set in ancient Rome, yet alone featuring female gladiators, so The Valiant was lots of fun to read. Fallon’s story is one of loss, love, inner strength and personal growth as she’s forced to fight for survival and freedom in a harsh new unfamiliar environment; in the territory of her enemies. There was a strong female friendship I loved, between Fallon and a girl she initially didn’t get a long with, and a quasi enemies-to-lovers romance that was sweet and built on mutual respect. There’s a lot of blood and violence and a good amount of action, but what I enjoyed most was Fallon’s emotional journey as she grew to accept her new circumstances and learned to move forward and make the best out of the abrupt change in direction her life had taken.

I enjoyed reading The Valiant, although it was slow in parts and I had some moments of frustration towards some of the character’s actions. I don’t find myself dying to jump into the sequel because the ending felt mostly satisfying and the story wasn’t wholly memorable or captivating, but I will pick it up eventually just to see more of the Fallon and Cai and the rest of the characters.

Format read: ARC paperback

Release date: February 2017

Genre: YA historical (Greek and Roman)

Diversity: none

Rating: 4/5 stars

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The Summer I Wasn’t Me by Jessica Verdi

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The main thought I had while reading this book is that it felt kind of like a watered down version of The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth. The book is set at a gay conversion camp but takes place in modern day instead of the 90’s. The central lesbian romance was cute enough, but felt a little forced and bland to me. I felt like I didn’t really get to know the love interest, Caroline at all. There were a lot of tough topics brought up but some of what went on at the camp seemed a little dramatic at times, a little unbelievable and ridiculous. I mean, I can’t speak from experience as to what it’s like in these camps but The Miseducation of Cameron Post felt more realistic to me than The Summer I Wasn’t Me.

What I did like about The Summer I Wasn’t Me were the strong friendships formed between the main character Lexi and some of the other kids at camp-especially Michael, who was hands-down my favorite character, with his witty remarks and the way he always spoke his mind and was very open in his disdain towards a camp meant to turn people “straight.” I’m glad he was a central character to the story. Overall, I would’ve liked to feel more chemistry in the romance department and although I sympathized with Lexi, I didn’t become all that attached to her or her story.

Format read: paperback

Release date: April 2014

Genre: YA contemporary LGBT romance

Diversity: lesbian main character, gay secondary characters, a central f/f romance

Rating: 4/5 stars

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The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed

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The Nowhere Girls is one of the most powerful books I’ve read this year. I’ve described it as a 2.0 to Jennifer Mathieu’s Moxie (which I loved) because it’s so much more diverse and tackles a wider range of issues among young women. It follows a group of girls who start a club at their highschool to protest rape culture and stand up to their sexist classmates, namely the three boys who were accused of rape by a girl who formerly attended the school. Although there are 3 main characters from which we’re given different points of view, there are also various perspectives scattered throughout the book from anonymous girls of all different types, experiencing all manner of sexism and discrimination. It made the book feel all the more raw, as it really highlighted the ugly stuff that many teens girls and women experience.

As for the diversity, all 3 of the main characters are diverse: Rosina is a latina lesbian, Grace is fat and Erin is autistic, diagnosed with Aspergers. They’re each vastly different from one another and come from very different backgrounds and households.

As an autistic person myself, I felt that Erin’s character was a very accurate representation of a teen with autism, even if I couldn’t relate to her myself all that much. Every autistic person is different, so just because I couldn’t see myself in her doesn’t mean the representation was innacurate. Erin did have some stereotypical mannerisms and traits but the author addressed that and I felt that overall she gave a very educated portrayal of an autistic person. Rosina was a very feisty character with a sharp tongue and Grace was shy but strong-willed and determined to bring justice to the girl who was raped by three boys at her school and bullied into silence. Together, I thought they made a very dynamic trio.

Format read: ARC paperback

Release date: October 2017

Genre: YA contemporary

Diversity: there are 3 main characters and they’re all diverse: Grace is fat, Rosina is latina and a lesbian, Erin is autistic

Rating: 5/5 stars

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Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

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Although I’d seen Truthwitch floating around for awhile before I decided to read it, I never really had any interest in it for the longest time. For some reason I cast it off as a book I had no desire to read. I’m not sure why exactly and I can’t remember what it is that made me change my mind but I’m so glad I decided to give this one a go! Truthwitch is what I would call a “friendship book” first and foremost. A lot of the storylines focus is on the relationship between best friends Safiya and Iseult, and the lengths each of them will go to protect the other.

The book is told from four different pov’s: Safiya, Iseult, Prince Merik and Aeduan, one of the antagonists. There is a budding romance between Safi and Merik that I can’t wait to see develop more in the following books and I get the sense that Aeduan isn’t as evil a character as I first presumed him to be. So I’m looking forward to seeing how all four characters and the relationships between them grow in book 2. There’s also quite a bit of fighting and action throughout the book as Safi and Iseult try to flee their enemies. And of course there’s magic as well, as all four of the main characters are witches with their own unique power.

Although the plot could move a bit slowly at times, I found that the relationships made up for it. Prince Merik and his friend Kullen also had a really close bond that I loved. The ending left me reeling and a bit devastated in regards to a particular character and I’m dying to see what happens with them in the next book. Overall, Truthwitch was an unforgettable and unique read!

Format read: Kindle ebook

Release date: January 2016

Genre: YA epic fantasy

Diversity: I think Iseult is a poc?

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

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Me with Susan Dennard and Holly Black at their Mysterious Galaxy signing!

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Scythe by Neal Shusterman

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Scythe was my very first read by Neal Shusterman! I’d heard a lot of great things about his writing and was intrigued by the premise of Scythe, which depicts a world in which everyone is immortal and can be brought back from death. In order to keep the population from exploding, there are people known as Scythes, who are of the highest authority and who kill or “glean” people at random. Scythe switches between the povs of two teenagers who have been chosen to become apprentice Scythes. Neither of them are very keen to become professional killers but both have their reasons for agreeing to do so. I was very surprised by the direction Scythe took. Every time I thought I could predict the characters actions or what would happen next, I was surprised.
Scythe is a book that makes you think a lot about death, about the cost of immortality, about what it means to be human. The end of each chapter features a journal entry from one of the more experienced Scythes as they reflect on their jobs as killers and the ways that humanity has changed since the Age of Mortality, as they call the time period before immortality became something everybody had.
Both Citra and Rowan were determined not to become the kind of Scythe’s who get drunk off the power and authority that comes with being one and find sick pleasure in the act of gleaning in a cruel manner. I found it intriguing being inside both their heads as they both encountered very different roads on their paths to Scythedom. I enjoyed the vast world-building and deeply philosophical storyline of Scythe and I’m definitely going to be reading Shusterman’s other books.

Format read: Kindle ebook

Release date: November 2016

Genre: YA sci-fi/speculative fiction

Diversity: none but Neal Shusterman is a black author

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

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Me with Neal Shusterman at his Mysterious Galaxy signing!

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The Coldest  Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

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The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is my third read by Holly Black, and although it’s not my favorite book by her, I still enjoyed it and the familiarity of her story telling. Coldest Girl is a vampire book, featuring a sexy vampire love interest and some very morally grey characters. Like Scythe, it’s a book that makes you think a lot about death and what it means to be immortal. Does becoming a vampire turn good people into monsters or does it simply awaken an evil that hides inside all of us?

I really admired Tana’s selflessness and her willingness to help a vampire boy she barely knew. She was bold, loyal and resourceful. I also liked all the side characters-Aidan, Valerie, Jamieson, Midnight and Winter and of course Gavriel. Many of these characters weren’t all good or all bad and some of their motives were questionable, which I think made the story more suspenseful and mysterious. Overall, Coldest Girl was a fun read!

Format read: Kindle ebook

Release date: September 2013

Genre: YA fantasy/supernatural

Diversity: Tana’s ex boyfriend Aidan is bisexual, and a girl she befriends named Valerie, is trans

Rating: 4.3/5 stars

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Me with Susan Dennard and Holly Black (again) at their Mysterious Galaxy signing!

 

 

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Lucky Few by Kathryn Ormsbee

Lucky Few is one of the many books that’s been on my shelf for at least a year so I decided to finally pick it up. It surprised me in a lot of ways, mostly positive! Stevie, the main character, is homeschooled, which is something I rarely see in YA so I found that to be an interesting new perspective. Stevie is also diabetic, so kudos for some disability representation. I absolutely loved the friendship between Stevie and her best friend Sanger, a fellow homeschooler. They were close as sisters and understood each other on an almost psychic level and were both really supportive of the other.

When Stevie’s new neighbor Max tells them about his mission to fake his death in 23 ways – as a form of some sort of bizarre exposure therapy after surviving a freak accident that left him with only 3 fingers on one hand – Sanger convinces Stevie to team up with him and help him complete his list of fake deaths. This results in a lot of humor, new experiences, relationship conflict, first love and a very unique and interesting coming of age story.

Besides the fake deaths, there’s a whole lot more going on in Stevie’s life; her cousin Joel isn’t acting like himself, the political protests Stevie’s been attending to prevent the water at her and Sanger’s favorite hangout from being destroyed by pollutants may have been for nought, Sanger breaks the news that her and her moms will be moving out of the state at the beginning of the summer, and Stevie has an actual near death experience of her own.

Overall, Lucky Few was a very fun, thoughtful and influential read. The only thing I disliked was that I wanted to see Stevie and Max’s relationship progress more, and the ending left me feeling a little unsatisfied in that aspect because it just didn’t feel completely resolved. Max was quirky, odd, and endearing, if not a bit stubborn at times, but I loved how honest and unconventional a love interest he was. He felt like an authentic teenage boy, rather than some of the suave, brooding, ultra macho bad boys we sometimes see in contemporaries.  I can’t wait to see read more of Ormsbees books!

Format read: Kindle ebook

Release date: June 2016

Genre: YA contemporary

Diversity: Stevie’s best friend Sanger is a woc and has two moms, Stevie is diabetic, Kathryn Ormsbee is an asexual author

Rating: 4/5 stars

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Wintersong by S. Jae Jones

I had a lot of mixed feelings whilst reading Wintersong. There were times I thought my overall feelings towards the book would be disappointment, and at times I wasn’t even sure whether I wanted to keep reading. But then something would happen to change that and make me feel more like I was reading a masterpiece. So I needed a few days to organize my thoughts after I finished the book and I decided a solid 4 stars was a good rating. Not a favorite but I still enjoyed reading it.

I loved how lyrical Wintersong was. The main character lives and breathes music and it’s reflected in her thoughts and the overall writing. The romance was very intense and although it was definitely my favorite part of the story, it was also a bit frustrating and confusing at times. The Goblin King has many different sides to him and sometimes it was hard to keep up and understand his true intentions. But in the end, it was one of the most beautifully written romances I’ve read in YA. It was slow and sensual and there are some beautifully written sex/makeout scenes. I also liked seeing a slightly older YA main character; Liesl is 19 going on 20, and I’ve always felt that YA should expand to include characters in their 20’s, since Young Adult technically means anyone from 15 to their late 20’s.

Wintersong was a bit somber at times; mystical and enchanting at others. I really enjoyed all the different relationship dynamics-the way Liesl bonded over a shared love of music with her brother, the love and understanding between Liesl and her sister Käthe despite their vast differences and the fiery, passionate romance between Liesl and The Goblin King. I’m sure I’ll read the sequel eventually, but I’m in no rush to after all the muddled emotions that Wintersong left me with.

Format read: Kindle ebook

Release date: February 2017

Genre: YA historical fantasy

Diversity: Liesl’s younger brother Joseph is gay, S Jae. Jones is an Asian American author

Rating: 4/5 stars

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Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

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Unfortunately, this one just wasn’t for me. I wanted to like it but the writing was just too poor and the storyline too ridiculous that I couldn’t take it seriously.

Format read: kindle ebook

Release date: April 2014

Genre: YA fantasy/classical retelling

Diversity: none but Danielle Paige is a black author

Rating: DNF (did not finish)

 

 

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And that’s it for February! I’d say it was a pretty good reading month overall. Did yall read any good books last month? What were your faves? Least faves?

 

 

Monthly Wrap-Up: January

I read a total of 12 books this month! In order to keep track of where I am with my reading goals, I’ll add how many books of each category I read in my monthly wrap-ups; diverse books, sequels, middle grade and adult, etc. Although I’ll list any diversity each book has, I’ll only actually count a book as diverse if the main character themselves is of a diverse identity that’s overtly stated in the text. If the love interest is a person of color, bisexual, etc, I’ll make note of that but won’t count it as a diverse book.

Diverse books read: 2 (Renegades and Not Your Sidekick)

Books read by diverse authors: 2 (Not Your Sidekick and Ever the Hunted)

Own Voices books read: 1 (Not Your Sidekick)

Sequels read: 2 (Glass Sword and The Winner’s Crime)

Audio books listened to: 1 (Ever the Hunted)

Middle grade read: 0

New adult/adult: 0

Longest book read: Renegades (576 pages)

Shortest book read: Not Your Sidekick (294 pages)

Favorite read of the month: Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett and To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

Least favorite read of the month: Renegades by Marissa Meyer

 

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The Sound by Sarah Alderson

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Sarah Alderson’s Out of Control was one of my favorite reads of 2016, so I had high expectations for this one. Although I did enjoy it, it didn’t blow me away like Out of Control did. Somehow the writing just felt more….juvenile, I guess. It felt like it was a different author almost. The whole serial killer aspect wasn’t nearly as suspenseful as I’d hoped. The romantic and sexual tension between Ren and Jesse was off the charts though and definitely my favorite part of the book. Overall, The Sound was a fun an entertaining read, and I finished it very quickly. It wasn’t super memorable but I enjoyed reading it.

(full review)

Format read: kindle ebook

Release date: May 2014

Genre: YA mystery/thriller

Diversity: main character has asthma (disability rep)

Genre: YA mystery

Rating: 4 Stars

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To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo (ARC)

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To Kill  Kingdom was everything I hoped it would be and more. I love reading about brutal, violent and morally ambiguous characters who undergo a huge personal development as they experience things through a different perspective and learn to change their ways. I loved that the book switched between Lira and Elian’s perspectives, as they came from opposite worlds and had such different viewpoints. There was plenty of action and suspense, near-deaths and a slow burn romance. Lira’s fierceness and determination was greatly admirable and I loved her despite some of her questionable decisions. The ending was everything I hoped for and left me completely satisfied. MARK YOUR CALENDARS FOR THIS ONE, OUT MARCH 6TH.

(full review)

Format read: ARC

Release date: March 6th 2018

Genre: YA fantasy/folklore

Diversity: Elian is presumably a poc, as he’s described as having brown skin

Rating: 5/5 Stars

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Renegades by Marissa Meyer

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I went into this one expecting a lot. I loved Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles series and I had hopes that this one would live up to the hype. Unfortunately, I was disappointed in some aspects but not all. I enjoyed the different characters and how they came from opposite worlds. I always enjoy reading from two vastly different perspectives. Adrian and Nova were very passionate characters who were both very stubborn and intent on achieving their goals, but I felt like I didn’t connect to them as much as I would have liked. The story-line didn’t appear to go anywhere, the plot was slow and the character development felt weak, if not non existent. Overall, I thought the premise was interesting and I think the characters have potential. I may read the next book just to see if things improve.

(full review)

Format read: ARC

Release date: November 2017

Genre: YA sci-fi/dystopian

Diversity: Nova is Filipina, Adrian is black and has two dads

Rating: 3/5 Stars

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Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett (ARC)

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Jenn Bennett has proven time and time again that she can write a truly remarkable and unforgettable story of romance and self discovery, and Starry Eyes is yet another excellent example that did not disappoint. I love second chance romances and Bennett perfectly captured the ups and downs of mending a broken relationship. Zorie and Lennon’s story was heartwarming and heartbreaking and hilarious. As they navigate the dangerous and wonders of the wilderness, they find themselves navigating a fragile new romance as well. Lennon is an expert in all things related to nature and camping and hiking and it made him so adorably geeky and lovable, as did his eccentric goth-like style and fringed haircut. Plus Zorie is an astronomy geek, yes!! She gets hives too, so A+ for representation of a main character with a skin condition. Overall, Starry Eyes is a powerful tale of forgiveness and second chances and it met every one of my expectations.

(full review)

Format read: ARC

Release Date: April 3rd 2018

Genre: YA contemporary romance

Diversity: Lennon is Egyptian American, his birth father is Egyptian American and Muslim and he lives with his two moms.

Rating: 5/5 stars

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Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

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This book had so much potential, but unfortunately it let me down in a lot of ways. I loved that the main character Audrey Rose was a fierce forensic scientist with a lot of passion for her work, and that she didn’t let men talk down to her for participating in a “mans” profession. I was never bored while reading and there was a whole lot of suspense and creepiness that kept my interest piqued. But overall I was disappointed with the reveal of the killer. It seemed very sudden and unrealistic to me. I also felt like the romance fell flat despite having so much potential. I really liked Thomas a lot but the excitement of their romance seemed to evaporate about halfway through the book. I know there’s a sequel and a third book coming out this year but I’m not sure I’m up to reading them.

(full review)

Format read: kindle ebook

Release date: September 2016

Genre: YA historical/mystery

Diversity: Audrey Rose’s mother is part Indian

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

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Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

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Seraphina is definitely one of the most unique books I’ve ever read. The writing feels very mature and complex, it almost felt more like an adult book than a YA one. There were a lot of big words I’d never heard before and a lot of fantasy terms I didn’t know the meaning of, so I had to pay very close attention to context. This made things a little hard to follow at times, and parts of the book felt very slow because of it. Overall though, I loved the story and the characters enough to overlook that. The plot revolves mostly around Seraphina’s inner grapple with self acceptance, her visions, and her interactions with both humans and dragons alike as she tries to determine who she can trust. Some may say this makes for a slow plot because of the lack of action but I personally felt the story to be very engaging. I was not disappointed with the ending and I can’t wait to read the sequel Shadow Scale.

(full review)

Format read: kindle ebook

Release date: July 2012

Genre: YA fantasy

Diversity: none

Rating: 4.5/5

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The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski

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THIS IS BOOK 2 IN A SERIES & CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE WINNER’S CURSE.

What. A. Ride. The second book in a trilogy is typically the slowest, and although I’ll admit that it took me awhile to get into The Winner’s Crime, I can fortunately say that it did not disappoint. The complicated relationship between Kestrel and Arin is forbidden romance at its finest, even if one or both of the characters are totally in denial about their love for one another for most of the book. I wanted to shake the characters in frustration at times. Kestrel sacrifices everything for the greater good and puts herself at great risk in order to help Arin’s people, but Arin has no idea about the real motives behind Kestrel’s new status as bride-to-be of the crown prince. The stakes are higher than ever and the tension between Kestrel and Arin at its peak as they both do what they have to in order to survive and stand up to authority. The ending was a complete shock and I will be picking up the last book in the trilogy ASAP!

(full review)

Format read: paperback

Release date: March 2016

Genre: YA fantasy

Diversity: Arin is a poc

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

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Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

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THIS IS THE 2ND BOOK IN A SERIES & WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR RED QUEEN.

I was nervous to start this one because I’ve seen a lot of mixed reviews on it and the following book in the series. Although it got off to a bit of a slow start, I can still say that this was one hell of a sequel! I’m still in shock over Maven’s reveal of his true character at the end of Red Queen. I genuinely loved him as a character and was devastated and shocked by his betrayal.  As for the rest of the characters, they sure love to piss me off. Especially Cal. The boy really needs to get his head out of his…er…nether regions. Mare, however, really steps up in book two. She’s twice as bad-ass and full of much anger and determination, all of which lends her the bravery she needs to lead a rebellion…even if she spends half the book mourning “the Maven she thought she knew.” Me too, Mare. Me too. I can’t say I blame her. But she still does a great job of bringing the newbloods together and leading them into battle.

(full review)

Format read: hardcover

Release date: February 2016

Genre:  YA fantasy/dystopian

Diversity: none? I’m not entirely certain of Mare’s ethnicity. She’s sometimes described as having darkish skin but she has blue eyes so I’m not 100% sure whether she’s a woc.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

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Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne (ARC)

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Although I’ve never really been one for classics and have never read Jane Eyre myself (although I know the general gist of it) I typically tend to enjoy classical re-tellings, so I was excited to read this sci-fi version of Jane Eyre in space! I found Brightly Burning very difficult to put down, and I absolutely love that in a book. Although it’s not completely action packed, the slow-burn chemistry between Stella and Hugo kept my interest, and the creepy mystery taking place on Stella’s new ship of employment The Rochester made me want to keep reading into the night. I didn’t immediately guess the reason behind The Rochester’s peculiar occurrences, so I loved the suspense and perplexity of not knowing! My only complaints are that the excitement of the romance seemed to fizzle out after they finally kissed, maybe because of everything that happened after. I also felt like the ending was a bit rushed and came together too quickly, but maybe that’s just cause I read the book so fast! Overall, I think Alexa Donne is a great story teller and I thoroughly enjoyed her futuristic take on Jane Eyre!

(full review)

Format read: ARC

Release date: May 1st, 2018

Genre: YA sci-fi/classical retelling

Diversity: none

Rating: 4/5 stars

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Not Your Sidekick by C.B Lee

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What’s better than a superhero book made up of queer and poc teens? Not much. I’d heard a lot of great things about this one before finally picking it up; for one, it has own voices representation for both bisexuality and Asian-American heritage! It was a very fun and quick read. Although it was a little slow at times and the writing a bit simple, I loved every single one of the characters, so that made it worthwhile. Jess is a very likable and relatable narrator. She’s the only one in her family so far who doesn’t appear to have any powers or special skills, so she’s trying to come to terms with that fact and decide what she wants to do with her life if it doesn’t involve following in her parents footsteps. The relationship between Jess and her romantic interest Abby, is adorable. And hilarious, because Jess can be super oblivious at times. Overall, Not Your Sidekick was a super sweet and lighthearted read about a diverse group of characters fighting for justice against unlikely suspects.

(full review)

Format read: kindle ebook

Release date: September 2016

Genre: YA sci-fi/fantasy

Diversity: an asian bisexual heroin, f/f romance, black ftm transgender best friend and a woc best friend, written by an asian and bisexual author

Rating: 4/5 stars

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Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill

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I listened to the audio book of Ever the Hunted and I am so glad I did. The narrator has a British accent, which is always more fun, and she lends so much passion and vibrancy to Britta’s voice. Although Britta’s story is ultimately one of revenge it’s also one of friendship, self discovery, survival, forgiveness and adventure.  It’s a journey through woods and across lands as Britta learns of all the secrets her father kept from her, a shocking truth about her mothers past, struggles with her feelings for her childhood best friend and tries to find answers that’ll bring her closure regarding her fathers death. It felt perfectly paced to me and not too over-dramatic or unrealistic. The romance in Ever the Hunted is of the friends-to-lovers kind, one of my favorite kinds of love story tropes. I’m mad at myself for taking so long to read this one but at the same time I’m glad I did because now book 2 is out and I won’t have to wait a year to read it!

(full review)

Format read: audio book

Release date: December 2016

Genre: YA fantasy/supernatural

Diversity: none, but the author is asian

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

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Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson

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It didn’t take me more than a chapter for me to become fully engrossed in Walk on Earth a Stranger. I love Westerns, which is what immediately drove me to pick this one up. I’m also a fan of the girl-disguises-herself-as-a-boy trope, so that drew me in as well. It reminded me a lot of one of my favorite books Vengeance Road with the inclusion of that trope and the Western setting. I was a bit surprised that the majority of the book centered around Leah and her travel companion’s journey across America to California. I thought Leah’s ability to sense the presence of gold would come into play a little more. I presumed it would lend a little more of a fantasy element to the story.  I love stories of survival and harrowing expeditions though, so I didn’t consider that to be a huge disappointment. The romance between Leah and her childhood friend Jefferson is very subtle and very slow burn and doesn’t fully develop, but this is book one in a trilogy so I’m excited to see their budding romance blossom even more in the second and third books.

(full review)

Format read: kindle ebook

Release date: September 2015

Genre: YA western/historical fantasy

Diversity: the main characters best friend/love interest is half cherokee native american

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

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So there’s that! Overall, it was a pretty good reading month. How many books did you guys read in January? Did we read any of the same ones?

Waiting on Wednesday: My Most Anticipated 2018 YA Releases! (First Half)

 

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we’re all eagerly anticipating!

 

 

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Debuts

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So. Many. Debuts. I mean, just look at them all. I tried to narrow this list down but there are just way too many amazing sounding first books coming out this year-all sorts of unique sounding stories in all different genres. There are plenty of books with diverse characters to look forward to as well-State of Grace, Children of Blood and Bone, Love and Other Carnivorous Plants, American Panda, etc etc! I particularly can’t wait to read State of Grace, as it’s a contemporary about an autistic girl navigating high school social life, and is written by an autistic author. #ownvoices for the win♥♥

 

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Sci-Fi and Fantasy’s

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Would you look at those gorgeous covers? Every single one of them is mind blowingly beautiful, and the stories themselves sound just as intriguing. I hope they don’t disappoint.

 

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Sequels

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So many sequels I will KILL for are coming out this year, and several series are wrapping up (Talon saga, Frostblood series, Everlife series, Red Queen series etc) as well! This means I’ll no longer have to endure the agony of waiting an entire year to see what happens next. Phew. I absolutely hate waiting.

 

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Contemporaries

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I feel that YA contemporaries are severely underrated and underappreciated. I’ve just never understood why some people downright refuse to read them! Some of my favorite books of all time take place in contemporary settings, with adorable romances, relatable family and friend relationships, and diverse characters battling everything from mental illness to bullies to social norms. All of these right here captured by interest immediately upon reading the descriptions so you can bet I’ve got all their release dates marked down on my calendar.

 

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By Authors I Love

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You know that feeling you get when you first see the cover of a new upcoming book by a favorite author of yours? Yea, that’s one of the greatest feelings ever, especially when the synopsis sounds just as intriguing as the cover makes it out to be. So many authors I adore are releasing new YA’s this year and I can’t wait to get my hands on each and every one of them!

 

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So there’s a look at my most anticipated (so far). It’ll be interesting to look back at the end of the year and see which books disappointed, which ones lived up to my expectations and even which ones didn’t even make the list but still managed to snag a spot on my list of favorites! Which 2018 releases are yall most looking forward to?

 

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Reign of the Fallen Blog Tour: Q&A with Sarah Glenn Marsh!

If you’ve seen my last 4 or so blog posts, then you know how in love and obsessed I am with Sarah Glenn Marsh’s Reign of the Fallen. It takes place in a world where royalty is brought back from the dead again again so that they can continue to rule the kingdom in semi zombie form.

The main character Odessa is a bisexual woman of color and her story is one of self discovery, grief, recovery, friendship, adventure, betrayal and so much more! I’m so grateful to be participating in this blog tour and to have had to opportunity to write out 20 questions for Sarah Glenn Marsh to answer! Reign of the Fallen is out on the 23rd of this month, so mark your calendars and pre-order asap! I promise you won’t regret it.

 

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Q: Who is your favorite Reign of the Fallen character? Who was your favorite character to write? Least favorite?

SGM: My favorite character has to be Odessa. She’s flawed, like we all are- I mean, I know some people who think they’re perfect, so maybe not everyone would agree, but- I love that she makes mistakes and learns and stumbles and changes her mind as she faces down terrible circumstances.

My favorite character to write? Oh gosh, that’s tough to say; I feel like my answer to that could easily change from day to day, but right now? Lysander! Love that grizzly bear.

My least favorite to write were the villains, but I won’t name names to avoid spoilers. To get just a tad more specific: a certain henchman was my least fave. I didn’t want to even think about being in that guy’s head. Too slimy.

 

Q: Which Hogwarts house would you assign each of your characters too? Zodiac signs?

SGM:
Odessa: Gryffindor (although, like Harry, the Sorting Hat would debate putting her in Slytherin!)
  Evander: Hufflepuff
  Valoria: Ravenclaw
  Simeon: Hufflepuff
  Danial: Gryffindor
  Jax: Gryffindor
  Meredy: Ravenclaw
  Kasmira: Slytherin
  Hadrien: Ravenclaw
As for Zodiac signs…hmmm…I’m going to put it to anyone who’s read the book to chime in with their interpretations, because I like hearing others’ thoughts! 😀
Here are my personal interpretations of which zodiac sign I (Becca, not Sarah) think best describes each Reign of the Fallen character:

Odessa-Libra

Evander-Cancer

Jax-Aries

Simeon-Taurus

Hadrien-Aries

Meredy-Scorpio

Valoria-Pisces

Danial-Cancer

Kasmira-Leo

 

 

I also did polls on twitter to get other people’s opinions (I gave them an option of four zodiac signs per character) so here are the results from those!

Odessa

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Odessa (9)Odessa (10)

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Q: Which character would you say is most like you? Who do you wish you were more like?

SGM: I’m most like Evander- looking for adventure, a big dreamer, a romantic, always trying to please others even when that means putting aside what I want.

I wish I were more like Odessa- more unapologetic, and a total badass (I’m so not! I have no pain tolerance and would definitely run the other way if I saw a monster with no eyes!)

Q: Which would you rather be in the land of Reign of the Fallen: a necromancer, a weather mage or a beast master? 

SGM: Well, following the rules of the magic system, I’d be a beast master because of my green eyes! And lucky me, that’s exactly what I’d want to be, with an awesome bird of prey for my animal companion.

However, if I had to pick something else, I’d like to be a weather worker. Being able to summon lightning seems pretty sweet, even knowing the risks involved!

Q: If you lived in Odessas world, would you jump at the chance to bring someone you love back from the dead? Would it be worth the risk of them possibly becoming a shade and always having to cover their face with a shroud? Would you want to be brought back from the dead yourself? 

SGM: Ooh, good question. I would neither bring anyone back nor want to be brought back myself—I’m a rule-follower and super risk-averse, so the trade-off doesn’t sound very good to me! Of course, in the midst of grief, I might change my mind and try to bring someone back…but then Odessa would probably appear to knock some sense into me!

 

Q: Who do you ship Odessa with? (Am I allowed to ask that? Hah) 

 

SGM: I don’t even know how to answer this without spoilers, but I’ll try: *Insert bear emoji here*

How’s that? 😉 I will say though, for other shippers: I’m all about that! Write me the fanfic and I’ll read the heck out of it!

 

Q: Did you always know that Odessa was going to be a bisexual character

SGM: Yes! When I started building the world for Reign, I believe I’d recently finished watching The Legend of Korra, a wonderful show—and I had been so moved by learning that Korra was bi, and seeing the sweet, supportive relationship she developed with her eventual girlfriend, Asami. It was powerful, seeing someone who shares my identity as a heroine and main character in a show I loved so much (I even keep up with the graphic novels that followed!), and I knew that going into Reign, I wanted to write a YA heroine who also shared my identity. As an aside, though: I wrote Reign for *me.* I didn’t know if the world was ready for a bi heroine in a YA fantasy, but to my surprise, sharing this story with others turned out to be an amazing, empowering experience.

Q: Who is the first bisexual character you remember seeing or reading in media?

SGM: I think it might’ve been some of the characters in the Kushiel’s Legacy Series by Jacqueline Carey, which I read when I was a bit too young for some of the content (like torture, yikes!) in those books. Whoops! 13- or 14-year-old Sarah was not ready for that. I will say, though, that those books treat bisexuality as accepted, so they had some good things going for them!

 

Q: Did you gain your inspiration from any particular tv shows or books? Which authors would you call your biggest inspirations? 

SGM: As mentioned a little earlier, Legend of Korra was definitely an inspiration when writing Reign! Overall though, I tried to avoid being inspired by any books or shows, particularly because I wanted to be sure my version of necromancy was unique. I did my world building while only reading like, adult nonfiction books (and the occasional ghost story, because I just can’t stay away from those!).

As for authors who are my biggest inspirations: Patricia McKillip, hands down. Her writing is the strongest and most beautiful I’ve ever read, and I wish I had a style as elegant and mysterious as hers. If you’re not familiar with her work, here are some titles I love: Ombria in Shadow, Winter Rose, and The Forgotten Beasts of Eld.

Q: Are you a pantser or a plotter?

SGM: Reformed pantser, now plotter! I pantsed a lot of Reign, only knowing the major plot points, but now that I write books under contract, I find I have to share the plot with certain people ahead of time (like my editor)—so basically, I had to become a plotter! Luckily, I found a method for plotting that works well for me, so I think the change has been a good one!

Q: Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

SGM: I don’t, unless someone deliberately tags me in one. Reviews are for readers, not for me as the author, because I can’t go back and change a book that’s already written and printed! I’m lucky that I’ve only ever been tagged in friendly reviews, and hope that continues to be the case; I’d be crushed to be tagged in a negative review because that would be mean-spirited on the reviewer’s part, knowing I was going to see something I didn’t want to, and I’d never wish that kind of negativity on anyone!

 

Q: Do you have a playlist for Reign of the Fallen?

SGM: I sure do! Here’s a sampling of the track list—in some cases, I’ve noted which songs match up with certain characters:

Battlefield by SvrcinaTheme song

Is There Somewhere by Halsey – Odessa and Evander

Heathens by Twenty One Pilots

When it Comes To Us by Frances

Running with the Wolves by Aurora – Meredy

I Will Not Bow by Breaking BenjaminOdessa

Forfeit by ChevelleJax

Bow Down by ChvrchesValoria

Young God by Halsey

Lover. Fighter. By SvrcinaDanial

 

Q: How do you choose the names of your characters?

SGM: That depends on the type of story I’m writing; if it’s historical, or set in a certain place, I like to look at census data and pull real first names from there, then mix them up with various last names. However, for Reign, I’ll be honest and admit that I simply did google searches for ‘unusual names’ and picked ones that sounded *almost* like names we’re used to hearing, but not quite. Here’s an example of what I mean: “Meredy,” one of Odessa’s friends in the story, sounds a lot like “Meredith” or “Melody,” but is unique all the same.

 

Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers? What would you tell your younger self about writing? 

SGM: Here’s my best advice for aspiring authors, broken into three parts:

Get others to critique your work, but more importantly, offer to critique for others! Critique as much and often as you can. There’s nothing like finding the strengths and weaknesses in a variety of different authors’ work to teach you about how to edit your own stories.

Read voraciously in the genre/category in which you want to publish. When you’re doing that, and you have a strong response to something- love it, or not so much- try to identify what it is you’re enjoying, or what’s not working for you about the story you’re reading. You’ll pick up things you might like to try in your own writing this way (for instance, maybe you’ll be inspired to try a new POV!), and will also identify things you may want to avoid (the things that don’t work for you as a reader).

Seek community. In the online writing community, I’ve found like-minded people, learned more than I ever would have imagined possible, and made life-changing connections with wonderful authors and bloggers who I’m so happy to call friends. You have everything to gain by interacting with other book lovers online!

As for what I’d tell my younger self about writing, I’d say this:

Treat your dreams seriously, as if they’re possible, and you’ll be a big step closer to actually making them happen. I wish I had done this when I dreamed of being an author someday, because I would have started working on telling book-length stories much sooner!

Q: Favorite YA book you read last year?

SGM: It’s so hard to choose just one, but I have to give that honor to Nic Stone’s DEAR MARTIN for being the most impactful, heart-wrenching, thought-provoking read of 2017. If you haven’t checked it out yet, or gotten to hear Nic speak at a book event, I’d suggest doing both of those things ASAP!

 

Q: If you were a character in Reign of the Fallen, what would your fantasy name be?

SGM: Oh, this is fun to think about! Well, since my only naming schematic was “unusual,” and I’d want something that sounds close to my real name…probably Saskia or Sadira!

Q: Have you ever thought about having a book trailer? Do you ever play out ideas for one in your head? Do you have any celebrities in mind that you’d pick to play your characters? 

SGM: I would love a book trailer for Reign! The story has always felt cinematic to me, and I could see everything playing out in my mind on a screen as I wrote.

As for a dream cast to play the characters, here are some ideas:

Odessa: Hannah John-Kamen

Valoria: Evanna Lynch

Meredy: Saoirse Ronan

Kasmira: Lyndie Greenwood

Simeon: Cole Sprouse

Danial: Hale Appleman

Jax: Ricky Whittle

Hadrien: Tom Felton

Evander: Liam Hemsworth

Q: What types of scenes are hardest to write?

SGM: Why, death scenes, of course! Not that there’s any of *that* in the sequel to Reign

Q: Do you write a certain amount of words or pages per day? Per week? 

SGM: I don’t force myself to write every day- only when I’m feeling it, otherwise I’ll work on brainstorming, or edits, or other aspects of author life- but when I’m drafting something and need to get words down, an average day for me would look like 2-3K. If I push myself and stay disciplined, 10K written and edited would be a good week for me. 15K has happened before, too!

 

Q: Can you tell us anything at all about book 2? Or about any other books/series youre currently writing? Whats next? 

SGM: Let’s see. Odessa gets an adorable new companion in book two. As in, not a person, but a creature—I’ll leave you all to guess what kind in the comments below! You’ll also get to see Kasmira really use her weather working power, which was fun to write. You’ll get to see some of the wider world outside Karthia, and learn how other cultures treat necromancers and the Dead; you’ll also see plenty of familiar faces mixed in with some new favorites. Oh, and the black fever sucks. You might’ve gotten a hint of that in the first book, though…

As to what’s next: I’m dabbling on two different fantasy projects which include family bonds, queer people being awesome, ownvoices rep for bisexuality and anxiety, and…well, I’d better hush about them for now, but hopefully I’ll be bringing you some more fun reads in the future!

 

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And that’s that! Thank you so much to Sarah Glenn Marsh for taking the time to answer my questions, and to Penguin Random House for asking me to participate in the blog tour for this wonderful book!

What are you guys most excited for in book two? Who do you ship Odessa with? Favorite character? What kind of creature do you think Odessa’s new companion is going to be? Which zodiac sign would you assign to each character? Let me know! (But use spoiler warnings if necessary please!)

 

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My 2018 Bookish Resolutions!

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It’s that time of year again where we come up with a whole bunch of goals we know we won’t follow through with. Hah! Just kidding. Kind of. I actually think I have a shot at sticking to my resolutions this year. I have faith and so should you!

 

1.) Read a total of 100-125 books. 

I surpassed my Goodreads challenge of 100 books this year, so I’m sure I could read 125 with no trouble! No more slacking off. If I’m reading a book and not enjoying it, I’ll put it down instead of forcing myself to sludge through it, and I’ll pick up something else. I don’t want to feel like I have to finish every book I pick up. Otherwise, reading becomes unenjoyable! I’ll be happy if I finish anywhere between 100-125 books.

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2.) Read at least 15 books I already own.

I have wayyyyy too many unread books on my shelves so I’ve made it one of my goals to read at least 10 of them that I’ve owned for at least a year or more. That way I can get rid of any ones I don’t like and make more room on my shelves. And I won’t have to feel guilty every time I look at my bookshelf full of unread books.

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3.) Read 5 or more middle grade books. 

I’ve been wanting to dive back into middle grade for awhile now, and since some favorite YA authors of mine have recently published middle grade books, I think their books would be a great place to start! I really wanna read The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding by Alexandra Bracken, Click’d by Tamara Ireland Stone, Ice Wolves by Amie Kaufman (out in February 2018) and Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi.

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4.) Get back into reading comics. 

I recently got into comic books and graphic novels but I was so focused on books in 2017 that I didn’t pick up even one. There are several series I wanna continue and others I want to read for the first time. Some of my favorites are Lumber Janes, Fables, Saga and Batgirl!

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5.) Attend Yallwest 2018. 

I attended Yallwest with my friend Amanda for the first time in 2017 and we both loved it! We’re already making plans to attend again this year.

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6.) Read at least a sequel a month. Finish those series! 

There are soooo many series I’m in the middle of and need to finish. I’d especially like to pick up sequels for series I started a year or two ago, before it gets to the point where I have to re-read the first book before continuing!

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7.) Go to the library more often. 

I very rarely visited the library or checked out books this year. And I miss it!

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8.) Publish at least 3 blog posts a month.

No more going for several months without posting. I’m going to be active on my blog now that I have a new and fully functioning computer! Blogging is so much more enjoyable now that I have a computer that doesn’t operate like it’s from the dinosaur ages.

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9.) Listen to more audio books. 

2017 was the year I decided to give audio books a try and I enjoyed every one I listened to, so I’m eager to listen to more! I just started listening to Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill last night and the narrator has a British accent, so I’m really enjoying it so far. British accents just make everything more fun, amiright?

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10.) Read in places other than my bedroom. 

I do most of my reading in my bedroom, which is nice and cozy, but I’d like to get outside more! At least when the weather’s nice. It’d be great to spend time reading at the park or the beach or the library or other outside reading areas. I’m sure I’d be able to find a comfortable, secluded spot somewhere.

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11.) Read more New Adult and Adult/General Fiction. 

I think I read a total of two new adult books in 2017, and zero adult. I’ve been having some serious withdrawal from the lack of new adult romance. There’s some general fiction I’ve been meaning to pick up as well. I’m itching to pick up The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon -the sequel to The Bone Season– A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab , The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen and The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden. I’m also looking forward to Barbed Wire Heart -out in March- by Tess Sharpe, who wrote one of my all time favorite YA novels Far From You.

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12.) Do monthly wrap-ups on my blog or write and publish at least 3 reviews a month. 

I’d love to start actually writing reviews for a lot of the books I read! It’d be nice to do monthly wrap-ups where I write a mini review for each book I read in a month, like I know a lot of bloggers do. I don’t know if I’d be able to keep that up though, so I’ll least make it a goal to write a couple reviews a month. I’ll post them either on Goodreads, Amazon, Netgalley or directly on my blog.

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13.) Read more diverse books by diverse authors. 

A little over half the books i read in 2017 were diverse, but in 2018 I want to read even more than that and up my percentage to more like 80%!

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14.) Read a classic or 2!  

I’ve never been one for classics, despite having read plenty of twists and re-tellings of them. So I’d like to read a few of the ones I’ve hear so much about like Jane Eyre, Little Women, Frankenstein,  or Pride and Prejudice and so on…

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15.) Participate in more monthly instagram book challenges and diversity bingos!

I didn’t participate in any instagram challenges last year and I think I only did one bingo. Well, challenges and bingos are fun so I’d love to become more involved in them!

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16.) Gain at least 5k followers on my bookstagram. 

I’ve been stuck at around 4.6K followers for what feels like..3 years now? It’s kinda like I lose as many followers as I gain, so my follower count never really goes anywhere. I’m starting the new year fresh with new photos and a new theme. Things seem to be looking up already so maybe 5k by the end of the year isn’t too much to hope for!

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17.) Read a collection or two of poetry and read more fictional books written in verse! 

Over the last couple years I’ve come to love fiction books written in verse, so I’m sure I’d enjoy reading a poetry collection or two. I’d especially love to read Milk and Honey by Rupi and The Princess Saves Herself in This One. As for YA fiction, I hope to read more Ellen Hopkins and Lisa Schroeder.

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18.) Request less arcs on Netgalley and have at least an 80% feedback ratio. Try to review all the unreleased arcs I get from publishers.

I know I’m not the only one who can get a little carried away with requesting Netgalley arcs. There’s just so many upcoming releases that sound interesting! But I’ve made it a goal this year to only request 2-3 E-arcs a month, so that I actually have the time to read and review each of them. I’d like to get my feedback ratio on Netgalley to at least 80%. As for physical arcs, I’d like to review each and every one a publisher sends my way. Before the release date!

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19.) Read a Stephen King book!

Yea, I know. I’m despicable. The only King book I’ve read is his autobiography, which I found really interesting. So I’m looking forward to completing this goal! I’d love to read It, but the book is so intimidatingly large that I think I’ll start smaller. Any suggestions on where to begin?

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20.) Read some non-fiction or autobiographies. 

I’ve never really been one for non-fiction. I just tend to find them…boring? Sorry. But there are some celebrity autobiographies that have been released within the last couple years that I’d be willing to give a try. So I think I’ll start there.

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So there you have it! Do you guys have any similar reading/blogging goals? Do you guys read poetry, classics or non fiction? How many books do you wanna read this year?

 

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2017 Wrap-Up!

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Can you believe how quickly 2017 went by? It seems like just yesterday that all the books I owned fit on one shelf and didn’t take up space on my bedroom floor. Not that I’m complaining, really, because it’s more books in my collection!

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Books Read in 2017

 

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I read a total of 102 books this year and therefore exceeded my Goodreads goal of 100 books by 2 books! Go me! And I thoroughly enjoyed a good number of them, so I can definitely say that 2017 was a very good year for reading.

 

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Pie charts

Now here’s a look at what I read in 2017, with some snazzy pie-charts for reference. Thank you to Cait at Paper Fury for providing the website I used to make these and for giving me the idea for pie charts in the first place!

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Unsurprisingly, contemporary and Sci-fi/fantasy/dystopian were my most read genre this year. I found so many new favorites within those categories!

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I generally tend to like or love most books I read. I rarely give a book anything under 3.5 stars. I guess I’m just good at picking out books I know I’ll enjoy. I’ll read pretty much any genre within YA- but I know what kind of stories I’m looking for and how to pick out ones that are likely to meet my expectations.

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This was my first year trying out audiobooks, which is why the percentage is so small. I had never really considered audio books before but I’m so glad I did! I hope to listen to a lot more in 2018. I just love being able to lay down, close my eyes and listen to somebody else narrate the story.

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So when it comes to diversity, it looks like I read about…half diverse and half non diverse, leaning a little more towards the diverse side. In 2018 I’m hoping to up that diversity percentage even more!

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Favorite Reads of 2017

Now lets take a look at which of those 102 books were my favorites!

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Favorite 2017 Releases

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So many wonderful new releases in 2017! I read my first Marie Lu book and loved it, read my first Julie Murphy book and loved it, thoroughly enjoyed Stephanie Perkins drastic change in genre, and discovered many new debut books to add to my favorites list. So if you haven’t read any of these ones, get on it! Hopefully they’ll blow you away like they did me.

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Favorite ARC’s of 2018

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2018 will be a fantastic year for debuts, sequels and new books from previously known authors alike. Check out my previous blog post here to see why these 10 are my favorite ones so far!

 

devilsI also recently finished Devils Unto Dust by Emma Berquist -which comes out in April- and I absolutely loved it! Too bad I didn’t finish it in time to have reviewed it in my latest “top ten” post featuring my favorite 2018 releases. 4.5/5 stars!

 

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Favorite lgbtq reads

Every year there are more and more lgbtq releases in YA, and it’s a beautiful thing! I love that we get to see so many queer characters in all different genres, not just contemporary. I absolutely loved these 8 books right here and I recommend them to anyone and everyone looking for gay or bisexual characters in all manner of settings.

 

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Favorite books by previously known authors

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I read my first Julie Cross book in 2016 and fell in love. Now she’s one of my favorite contemporary romance authors! Gena Showalter has been a favorite since I read her Alice in Zombieland series. Rebel Spring and Future Threat were sequels that also didn’t disappoint. I’d previously read books by Stacey Kade, Karole Cozzo and Sara Wolf (under a different name) but these books in particular really blew me away.

 

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Favorite new-to-me authors

Isn’t it a great feeling when you read a book by an author you’ve never read before and suddenly you have a new favorite? Now I have all their future books to look forward to!

 

 

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So that’s it for 2017! Do we have any favorite 2017 reads in common? How many books did ya’ll read? Any disappointments? Any wonderful new author discoveries?

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Top Ten Early 2018 Releases I’ve Read so Far

2018 is going to be an excellent year for YA debuts, sequels and new books from favorite authors. How do I know this? Because I’ve already read several 2018 releases! Here are my favorite January and February releases (so far).

 

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Gunslinger Girl by Lyndsay Ely     Release Date: January 2nd, 2018

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What I loved about it:

  • I love YA westerns and I love them even more when they’re blended with other genres! Gunslinger Girl is kind of a western/dystopian mix, with a western setting in the era of a second civil war.
  • An eccentric cast of characters! My favorite in particular was the love interest, Max, with his spiky hair and eyeliner and huge heart.
  • A bad-ass heroine who’s tough both physically and emotionally. Not only can she shoot a gun with near perfect aim,  she’s also resilient, whip-smart, resourceful and can hold her own.
  • There’s a circus! Kind of. Any kind of circus in a non-contemporary setting is something I’m always excited to see. This one in particular consisted of some very deadly and dangerous acts.

 

 

Pitch Dark by Courtney Alameda      Release Date: February 20th, 2018

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What I loved about it:

  • Courtney Alameda’s first book Shutter was a favorite read of 2016 so I was beyond excited to get my hands on an arc of her second book. Well, it didn’t disappoint, not by a long shot!
  • It has two of my favorite things ever in books: outer space and horror!
  • It features a fierce Latina main character with a talent for hacking, and a deep knowledge of ancient artifacts from long forgotten and destroyed planet earth. She’s super loyal to her family and friends and her fierce love for them is shown through her actions, her thoughts, her selflessness and the way she puts her own life in danger for the sake of theirs.
  • It’s told from the POV’s of two teens from opposite worlds. Laura, who’s lived a privileged life, has grown up in space working with her parents to preserve ancient human artifacts and protect the future of the human race. Tuck on the other hand, lived on earth for most of his childhood before boarding his mother’s spaceship to leave behind a planet succumbing to human pollution, and he and his crew have slept in stasis for about 400 years. So they’re quite literally from different worlds, despite them both being human.
  • It’s a story about people fighting for their lives while stranded in space after two ships crash into each other. There are various types of monsters living in the deepest and darkest parts of the ship and a whole lot of creepiness and suspense ensues. I looooooove creepiness!

 

 

Everless by Sara Holland     Release Date: January 2nd, 2018

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What I loved about it:

  • Everless has such a unique concept; it’s set in a world in which time is used as currency. Year’s of peoples lives can be taken through extracting their blood, and the blood is then turned to iron stored in coins. All debts and payments are made using the blood-iron.
  • There’s a very unexpected turn regarding the romance aspect; it seemed obvious who the main character, Jules, would fall for but then I sensed the beginning of a very subtle romance between her and someone else unexpected….and the way things ended left me very eager for book two! The romance is very, VERY subtle though, and the story relies more on plot and world building, which I think worked out very well in this case.
  • Amazing world building and character development! There were so many twists and turns and revelations, so many difficult choices to be made, mysteries to unravel, evils to fight…Jules has to determine who she can and cannot trust.
  • Did I mention plot twists? I NEVER saw these ones coming. I was honestly shocked. I love being shocked.

 

 

Daughter of the Siren Queen by Tricia Levenseller    Release Date: February 27th, 2018

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What I loved about it:

  • Alosa is just as fierce and ruthless as before but we get to see a different side to her as well. This side lets her to view the life she’s always known from a different perspective and allows her to stand up to someone she’s revered her entire life. We see a softer side to her as well, as her relationship with Riden develops.
  • All of Alosa’s relationships are put to the test. Her crew member’s loyalty and trust in her is tested. Stakes are raised and lives are lost. Her growing romance with Riden forces her to stop and evaluate herself and decide who she wants to be.
  • We get to see more of Alosa’s siren powers put to use! I felt like seeing this new part of her and how she used it really helped me to feel more connected to her and understand her actions and feelings.
  • There are cannibals! And other terrifying beings. That’s all I’m gonna say. Don’t wanna give too much away!

 

 

Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh    Release Date: January 23rd, 2018

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What I loved about it:

  • Zombies! It has zombies! But they’re different from the typical zombies. When people die, they can be brought back from the dead but it comes with a price; they must remain shrouded at all times, with all their skin covered. If someone catches a glimpse of their skin……BAM. They turn into a flesh-eating monster that won’t stop killing until it’s killed with fire. I loved this interesting and unique twist on zombies.
  • A bisexual heroine! There are multiple potential love interests for the main character Odessa, including both boys and girls.
  • Lots of characters of color, & lgbt characters. The world of Reign of the Fallen is one in which love is love and all sexualities are accepted and normalized. Straight isn’t the default and not all the characters are white!
  • Tragedy! I cried a lot while reading this book and although I kinda hate when a book breaks my heart, I also kinda love it too. It’s a love-hate relationship. Books are supposed to make you FEEL things and that’s exactly what Reign of the Fallen did.
  • Strong platonic friendships. Odessa has many faithful friends who’ve always been there for her and continue to look out for her throughout the many trials and dangers they endure together. She also makes a few new friends along the way. I found both her old and new friendships to be very heartwarming and motivational even as I was crying my eyes out. Jax and Simeon are both sweethearts, and I really came to like Valoria and Meredy as well.

 

 

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black    Release Date: January 2nd 2018

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What I loved about it:

  • Faerie land! I love magical, dangerous, woodland settings filled with fantastical creatures and ruthless faerie princes.
  • Twins! I’m always down for reading a book with twins so I was immediately hooked upon being introduced to Jude and her identical twin sister Taryn. They’re both vastly different in the ways they deal with living as mortals in such a terrifying, merciless world full of immortal fey.
  • Some subtle lgbt representation: Jude and Taryn’s older sister Vivienne is bisexual, and although she’s only a side character, I still appreciated the presence of a non-heterosexual character. Although she didn’t play a huge role, I really liked Vivi’s character a lot; her snark, her wit, her defiance against Maddoc, and most of all her loyalty to her sisters and the way she looked after them.
  • Jude! Jude! Jude! What a sly, wicked clever heroine. I rooted for her whenever she stood up to her bullies and was very impressed with her quick thinking, her survival skills and the ways she adapted to any sudden and unpredictable new situation. She’s definitely somebody I’d want on my side in faerie land.

 

The Queens Rising by Rebecca Ross    Release Date: February 6th, 2018

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What I loved about it:

  • Revolution! The heroine, Brienna, and her companions are preparing to rebel against a ruthless king and replace him with the princess whose rightful seat on the throne he stole. I love stories about people banding together to overcome an unfair dictatorship and restore peace and justice to a land that’s been ruled with violence for too long.
  • The romance is subtle and slow-burn but sweet. The main character and the love interest are close friends before anything romantic happens between them and nothing about their romance was rushed or overdone.
  • There were many strong friendships-from the relationship between Brienna and her passion sisters, to her relationship with her new family and the princess and everyone else she worked with to take over the tyrannical king. There was a strong sense of companionship at the heart of the story and many new relationships were formed throughout Brienna’s journey.
  • Action! Adventure! Intense fight scenes! I can’t even put into words how intense it all was. There’s so much suspense and excitement as Brienna and her comrades plan and prepare to take down the king without getting caught or killed in the process.

 

 

Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke    Release Date: January 9th, 2018

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What I loved about it:

  • It was a great portrayal of mental illness and self recovery!
  • It’s written in a unique format, featuring journal entries detailing Jane Sinner’s journey into adult life, independence, recovery, and life on a reality tv show
  • Weird characters. Some of the people Jane was competing against on the reality show were just downright strange and that made the whole experience all the more entertaining to read about from Jane’s perspective as she wrote in her journal
  • A veryyyyyy suble romance. It makes up a very small part of the book, as Jane and her romantic interest are just friends for the majority of her time on the reality show. They were also competing against each other to win the show, so that was a bit of a hinder on their relationship. So this book was not heavy in romance at all and there wasn’t much room for swooning but that really fit Jane’s story perfectly. It was cute, but didn’t overshadow Jane’s personal journey.
  • Jane is kind of a prickly character at first. She’s hard to understand and she can come off as kind of selfish and non-empathetic and blunt at times. But that made me like her more because she was unusual and wasn’t afraid to speak her mind. And as the book goes on you get to see that she actually feels a lot more than she appears to and cares a lot more than she shows.

 

 

Winner Take All by Laurie Devore    Release Date: January 30th 2018

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What I loved about it:

  • I loved reading from the POV of a female character who’s ambitious and driven and determined to get her way. It made her hard to like at times but I admire a heroin who won’t back down from a fight and doesn’t give up easily. Nell’s unhealthy desire to remain on top made her an imperfect character, but I couldn’t help but root for even as I found myself wanting to shake some sense into her.
  • The romance! Laurie Devore really knows how to write a romance that is equal parts adorable and intensely passionate. I loved her first book How to Break a Boy, and her second novel didn’t disappoint either.
  • Jackson! What a sweetie. Sometimes. He had some serious issues, but so did Nell. But overall, although it took Nell awhile to see it, he had a whole lot of respect and patience for her and it was apparent that he still liked her in-spite of her tendency to be over-dramatic and overly competitive. Jackson could be an asshole at times, just like Nell could be extremely difficult by constantly needing to be on top. My god there was a whole lot of drama and two of them together was a mess at times but I appreciated their imperfect relationship and how the ups and downs shaped their characters and the dynamic between each other.
  • The family aspects. I felt like Devore did a really good job portraying Nell’s issues with her family and the pressure she felt from her mom’s expectations and her parents arguments. It gave me a lot more insight into her character and the reasons behind her competitive, ambitious nature.

 

Meet Cute by multiple YA authors     Release Date: January 2nd, 2018

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What I loved about it:

  • So many authors I love! I adore cutesy stories and I was so happy to see so many great writers included in this short story compilation.
  • I loved the overall concept for the short stories-romances or friendships beginning with two people meeting in unexpected places or brought together through unexpected circumstances. Each story was unique and entirely different from the last.
  • Plenty of diversity! There are love stories between two boys or two girls, plenty characters of color, a transgender character, and more! I loved the variety and that there were more than just heterosexual, white romances.
  • An abundance of genres! There are contemporary meet-cute stories, and science fiction or fantasy ones as well. So I was never bored reading through these touching tales. I loved the majority of them. Such feel good romances!

 

 

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So there’s that! I wish I could’ve had time to read and review all the January-February releases, but 10 is better than none! Have you guys read any of these yet? Which ones are you most anticipating?