Last Minute Stocking Stuffer Ideas for Book Lovers

Happy Holidays! Are you still scrambling to find some last minute stocking stuffers? Is someone you love a book worm? Well there’s still 8 days left till Christmas so here are some nifty and affordable bookish gifts that are sure to meet your favorite book-lover’s expectations!

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1.) My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by Stephanie Perkins & multiple YA authors (paperback)

Winter is great for curling up next to the fireplace and reading romantic holiday short stories. With diverse romances by so many wonderful authors -including Stephanie Perkins, David Levithan, Kierstan White, Holly Black, Rainbow Rowell and more-My True Love Gave to Me will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy inside this holiday season.
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2.) Page markers/stickers

Page markers are a great way to mark your favorite parts and favorite quotes without having to dog-ear pages or write annotations in the margins. And they’re super cute too! Just look at these adorable animal ones.

 

3. Harry Potter pop funko keychains

What book worm doesn’t love Harry Potter? I have  Newt Scamander keychain that I love, so get your book loving friend/family member/significant other their favorite HP character as a pop funko keychain!

                                     

 

 

4.) Library card socks

Encourage the book lover in your life to show off their reader pride with these cute and comfy library card socks. I especially like the yellow ones, but there are multiple colors to choose from.

 

5.) Magnetic book marks

Magnetic bookmarks are super handy and practical, not to mention adorable. These cupcake ones are especially cute!

 

 

6.) Fairy lights

Fairy lights are perfect for bookstagrammers who are looking to add a little extra pizzaz to their book photos. I have some of my own and I love adding them to photos, especially when I don’t have enough natural lighting to take a high quality photo.

 

 

7.) Clip on book light

I also have one of these myself, and it’s perfect for traveling, or if you’re sharing a room with someone but don’t wanna disturb their sleep by turning on a lamp or overhead light. It requires batteries instead of needing to be recharged, which I find very practical.

 

8.) Graphic book tote

How else is a book worm supposed to carry all the books she checks out from the library or buys at Barnes and Noble and used bookstores? I use mine all the time and it makes it so much easier to lug around heavy books. Plus, I love the quote on this one; “You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy books, and that’s kind of the same thing.” I’ve never heard a truer statement.

 

 

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So there you have it. Good luck with your last minute Christmas shopping and happy holidays to you all! I hope you have a wonderful last couple weeks of 2017.

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November Wrap-Up

November was a fabulous month for reading. I read 14 books! And I thoroughly enjoyed most of them. So many new books I can add to my favorites list!

 

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This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada
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As you’ll know if you read my review of This Mortal Coil from a couple days ago, I was absolutely mind-blown by this book! I mean, a world in which DNA can be altered and  the main character is an expert gene hacker? Such a genius, unheard of concept! Plus there’s a subtle yet powerful romance, a race to obtain a cure for a deadly plague, and a whole lot of action and unexpected betrayals. Definitely one of the best sci-fi’s I’ve ever read and one of my top ten favorite reads of this year. Read my review here.

 

 

 

Rating: 5/5 Stars

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The Killer in Me by Margot Harrison
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Have you ever wondered what it’d be like to see through the eyes of a killer? Ever since she can remember, Nina Barrows has been able to do just that. This story is told in dual POV’s by Nina and her friend Warren. We’re given a glimpse through the eyes of the Thief in the Night (as the killer calls himself) as Nina slips into his thoughts and sees through his eyes every night. As Nina and Warren travel through the desert together-Warren to visit a potential college and Nina to meet her birth mother-they each deal with their own internal conflicts. When Nina finally comes face to face with the killer she’s been connected to her entire life, she must decide whether her visions have any truth to them or are just a product of long lost memories that became warped and altered in her mind. This book was impossible to put down and there were a few shocking twists that completely blew my mind. I loved being inside both Nina and Warrens minds as they grew closer and worked to unravel the truth behind Nina’s haunting visions, and I was sad when their story came to a close. I’m definitely looking forward to Margot’s next book.

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

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How to Break a Boy by Laurie Devore

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I love love looooove reading about female characters who aren’t necessarily likable or noble or moral in the beginning but undergo a redemption arc and a mega transformation. As Olivia Clayton plots to get revenge on her ex-best friend turned frenemy, she finds herself falling for the guy she’s using as part of her plan, and discovers that it may be harder to leave behind her mean-girl ways than she thought.

Although it was very difficult to like Olivia at times, I was still rooting for her to get the guy and leave her back-stabbing, manipulative, mean-girl ex-best friend in the dust. There’s an abundance of drama and secrets, betrayal and internal conflict as Olivia learns to change her ways and discover what she truly wants and who she wants to be. I loved the banter and romance between her and Whit, the emotional and behavioral insight into Olivia’s character and her journey to redemption and self-forgiveness. Laurie Devore has a new book called Winner Take All releasing in January and I’m lucky enough to have snagged an arc! I can’t wait to see what’s in store for her second novel.

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

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Run the Risk by Allison Van Diepen

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I love second chance romances and I love bad-boy love interests who actually aren’t really bad guys at all.  So I was eager to read this love story about a girl who’s in love with the guy who chose the gang life over her but is trying to right his wrongs and prove to her that he’s changed. Overall I enjoyed the story and the characters. I thought Mateo was perfectly swoony and I liked getting to see how Grace’s relationship with her brother Alex changed for the better as she looked after him and tried her hardest to keep him out of trouble. I was a little disappointed in the lack of detailed romance scenes though. For some reason I assumed they’d be a little steamier and less fade-to-black. So that part kinda fell flat, although I liked the relationship between Grace and Mateo overall-it was made up of mutual respect, love, trust and passion, even if they had a lot of hurdles to overcome first. I’ll probably read more of Allison Van Diepen’s books and enjoy them more now that I know what to expect from them.

Rating: 4/5 stars

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This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

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I enjoyed This Shattered World as much as I did its predecessor These Broken Stars. Jubilee and Flynn are quite literally star-crossed lovers; they’re enemies on opposite sides of a rebellion. When the two cross paths, Flynn takes Jubilee prisoner in the hopes that he can negotiate her safe return in exchange for answers regarding a secret building hidden in the outskirts of the swamplands. But soon they find themselves working together to uncover the mystery behind the aforementioned hidden building-one that may be run by an organization that could be the very reason their world is at war.

It’s told in their alternating POV’s as they fight to survive and learn to trust one another and uncover the truth. I loved every action-packed second and the complicated enemies-to-lovers relationship between them. I loved getting to see more of Tarver and Lilac, the heroines of These Broken Stars, and how they interacted with Jubilee and Flynn as well. Now, on to book three!

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

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A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

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Henrietta ‘Nettie’ Howel has the power to burst into flames in a patriarchal Victorian London where men with magic are called sorcerers and women with magic are deemed witches and sentenced to execution. So when she’s forced to use her powers to save her friend, she’s shocked when she’s instead invited to train as a sorceress. They think she may be the prophesied one, the first female sorcerer in hundreds of years. As she trains to fight demons and harness her powers, she finds herself torn between handsome men, faces betrayal and self-doubt as she questions whether she really is who they think she is; a force destined to defeat the demons that have been terrorizing London for centuries.

A Shadow Bright and Burning was a wild ride from beginning to end. I’ve never had so many mixed feelings for so many characters before-from Rook to Magnus to Blackwood to Master Agrippa-they have so many different sides to them that are revealed in such astonishing ways and I was on edge the entire time, wondering who to trust and whom Henrietta would remain friends with or become enemies with. I was impressed with Nettie’s refusal to let her identity as the only female sorcerer cause her to feel inferior to her male counterparts. She worked hard to prove herself to those who treated her like dirt and I greatly admired her compassion for her friends and for the people of London she was trying to protect. I’m all for Rook and Nettie as a couple but I adored Magnus too, even though he really tested my patience at times with his arrogance. He completely made up for it though. I’m super excited to jump into book two, which came out in September.

Rating: 5/5 Stars

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The Accidental Bad Girl by Maxine Kaplan

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The Accidental Bad Girl is a May 2018 release, so I was lucky to get my hands on an arc this early. I have mixed feelings about it though. While I enjoyed Kendall’s character, and the supporting characters Gilly and Sloane, I felt like it was a bit unrealistic as a story for a highschool girl. The way she handled everything so expertly-being bribed by a drug dealer, being kidnapped by undercover cops, etc-seemed a little unbelievable.

I did really like the feminist aspects thrown in though-the way Sloane’s story was handled and how Kendall dealt with being ostracized and slut-shamed. And I was really disappointed with how Kendall’s relationship with one of the characters played out. It was an entertaining read that talked about some very important topics but overall It felt a bit too over the top to me and there were some parts I wish had turned out differently.

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

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Dig Too Deep by Amy Allgeyer

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I’m a bit of a tree hugger and a wannabe environmental activist so Dig Too Deep was a very motivational and refreshing read. It follows Liberty, who finds herself having to move in with her grandmother after her activist mother is arrested following a violent political protest. Liberty has always hated her mother’s activist nature. It causes her to feel neglected since her mother seems to care more about carrying out protests and fighting authority than she does looking after her own daughter. And now, with her mom in prison, Liberty is angrier towards her more than ever.

But upon arriving in her Grandmother’s small mountainside town of Ebottsville, Kentucky, Liberty finds that she may be more like her mother than she’d like to admit. The town’s water appears to be extremely dangerous and unhealthy. It’s neon orange, for one. And her grandmother is coughing up blood. Liberty suspects the mining company, owned by Ebottsville’s most richest and powerful man, Mr. Peabody. Officials claim the water is safe, but Liberty isn’t convinced, so she sets out to gather evidence and take the mining company down.

I loved Liberty’s persistence and determination, her passion to protect her grandma and stand up to authority. She was really brave to continue fighting for what she believed in, even after receiving threats from Peabody and his followers. I particularly loved this one scene where she stood up to an asshole of a guy who tried to get in her way and boss her around. Liberty’s story was inspiring and believable and I loved the relationship she had with her grandmother and with her new friend Dobber as well. I’d love to read more from Amy Allgeyer!

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

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Love Life and the List by Kasie West

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I’ve been reading Kasie West’s books for years. I can always count on her to deliver a light hearted but unforgettable romance about self discovery, family and personal growth. I loved Abby’s passion as an artist and admired her determination to improve her paintings and prove to herself and others that she had what it took to be a professional.

Friends-to-lovers romances are one of my favorite romance tropes so I loved seeing Abby and Cooper’s relationship develop very slowly from one of friendship to one of romance, even if it took awhile for Cooper to come anywhere close to admitting his feelings. Love, Life and the List is about a summer filled with new experiences, and about learning to put yourself out there. It’s about self growth, shown by how Abby forces herself to try new things and really put herself out there so that she can truly put her heart into her work. I loved every minute of it. Kasie never fails to write the most adorable, fun, contemporaries.

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

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Ripple by Heather Smith Meloche

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Ripple is told in the alternating POV’s of Jack and Tessa. Jack is struggling to look after his mom as her schizophrenia grows increasingly worse, whilst also struggling to stay out of trouble despite his penchant for pranks and challenging authority. Tessa is dealing with the pressure her Grandmother is putting on her to take over the family business, her drunken step dad’s constant yelling and insults, and the internal guilt and self-loathing she feels every time she sleeps with another guy behind her boyfriends back. But she can’t seem to stop and doesn’t know how else to cope. She wants to be an artist but can’t find the strength to stand up to her Grandmother. The two of them are brought together through circumstance and are drawn to each other over their equally complicated lives.

I thought the writing was gorgeous and the characterization of each of them very well done. I finished this one in about a day and although I enjoyed it for the most part, it did feel like everything came together a little too quickly in the end. I almost wish their story could’ve been split into two books, even though I usually prefer contemporaries as stand-alones. I just felt like I didn’t get to see enough of Jack and Tessa as a couple after they overcame their problems and their internal struggles. There was so much romantic and sexual tension between them but we didn’t really get to see it fully play out. Overall I enjoyed the story-line but I didn’t feel all that satisfied with the ending, and I’m not sure how I felt about the representation of Schizophrenia either. It seemed a bit over-dramatic to me.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

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Star Struck by Jenny McLachlan

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Unfortunately, I DNF Star Struck. It just wasn’t for me. I guess I found the main character to be too shallow and the storyline didn’t capture my interest. That’s just my personal opinion though! I’m sure some people may find it to be a cute, light-hearted read.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Firstlife by Gena Showalter 

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I’ve been a fan of Showalter since her Alice in Zombieland series. Somehow she knows how to mix just the right amount of humor and drama and action and tragedy-it’s never too overwhelmingly dark. Tenley or “Ten” is a snarky, resilient, independent and hilarious main character who is determine to make her own decisions regarding her afterlife and won’t let anyone force her to bend to their will; even when her own parents send her away to an asylum where she’s tortured and manipulated in an attempt to drive her to pick the realm that her parents have sided with. It was fascinating to read about a world in which the afterlife (life after death) is considered more important than a persons “firstlife.”

Troika and Myriad, the two afterlife realms, are vastly different and it’s obvious why Tenley has such a hard time choosing which one to sign with. The realms are at war with each other and each of them see Tenley as a vital addition to the betterment of their world. I loved Killian and Archer and Sloane and can’t wait to read book two and see how the ongoing war between the realms plays out. There’s no love triangle so don’t worry. Killian is the main love interest while Archer becomes more like a brother to Tenley. Gena never fails to deliver in the romance department and I’m looking forward to further development of Tenley and Killian’s relationship.

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

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Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh

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I love dark fantasies and I love books about zombies. Reign of the Fallen comes out in January 2018-so mark your calendars! I feel like there aren’t nearly enough zombie stories in YA! Or maybe that’s just me? The ‘zombies’ in this story are unique though. The main character in this story, Odessa, is a necromancer, someone in charge of raising dead royalty again and again so they can continue to rule and look after the kingdom. The dead must always wear shrouds that cover their entire face and bodies. If a living person catches a glimpse of their skin, it turns them into a ‘Shade’  which is a flesh eating monster that can only be killed with fire.

Let me warn you-this book made me SOB. There’s a particular scene that literally left me crying the entire rest of the time I was finishing the book. Ouch. I loved every second of this book though. The characters are extremely diverse-many of them are characters of color, and Odessa herself is brown skinned and bisexual. There are so many potential love interests, both male and female, and I can’t wait to see what happens in terms of the romance in book two.

This book was darker than I expected, although I don’t what exactly I was expecting. It’s a book about zombies, Becca, hello! Duh! It has an amazing plethora of characters, nail biting suspense and horror, adventure, grief and tragedy. There’s incredible world building as Odessa deals with loss and struggles with the idea that the ability to bring back people from the dead may bring back more harm than good. My heart still hurts over that one scene though. Ouch. You’re not forgiven yet Sarah! I’ll be participating in the blog tour for Reign of the Fallen next month and interviewing Sarah Glenn Marsh, so keep an eye out for that!

Rating: 5/5 Stars

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The Reader by Traci Chee

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The Reader is a diverse fantasy that take place in a world where books have been banned and reading is unheard of. Sefia is on the run after her last surviving family member is captured and taken away. Along the way she rescues and makes friends with a boy who has been imprisoned and forced to fight his whole life. Together, they set out to rescue Sefia’s Aunt Nin, using an old book that used to belong to her father as their only guide, and one that may be the reason her parents were killed.

The story switches between multiple POV’s and at times it was a little hard to keep up with everything and keep the many different characters straight. There are pirates and assassins and unlikely allies, but my favorite relationship was Sefia’s bond with Archer, a boy who doesn’t talk but who still seems to understand her better than anyone else. The writing is beautiful and elegant, the world building slow but mesmerizing. There are people with different types of powers too-like the ability to see into another person’s past or a glimpse of their possible future. Everything about the story-telling and the plot is unique and enchanting and it was hard to put down. Although it was difficult to follow at times, I’m definitely looking forward to reading the sequel.

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

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I also had the pleasure of meeting Jessica Cluess and Traci Chee -as well as Cindy Pon- at a book signing a few weeks ago! Jessica is one of the funniest authors I’ve ever met and both her and Traci were super sweet.

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So that’s that! Did you guys read any good books this month? Which was your favorite?

 

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Scorpio Season Vibes: The best Scorpio-esque books to read this month

 

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It’s November and you know what that means right? It’s officially Scorpio season! As a Scorpio myself and someone who finds astrology fun and interesting regardless of whether or not it has any scientific foundation, I thought it’d be fun to throw together a list of my favorite books that give off a very Scorpio-like vibe. I divided books into groups based on which Scorpio trait/vibe/stereotype I think they best represent.

 

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The Mysterious & Secretive

Scorpios are well known for the air of secrecy and mystery that apparently surrounds them. I can confirm, we do love our secrets and we’ve got the poker face down-pat. Scorpios are the definition of a closed book. These books feature spies and murder-mysteries, a mystifying carnival and a search for a long dead Welsh king. The curiosity and the mystical nature of these stories makes them the perfect addition to a Scorpio-inspired book list.

 

 

The Dark & Compelling

I’ve never been described as “dark” or “compelling” myself but I can see how these descriptors fit into the overall definition of Scorpios. I am drawn to very dark books and movies so maybe that’s where I fit into that stereotype. For this category, the “dark and compelling” refers more to the stories themselves than the characters. There are zombies and creepy woodland creatures, a stranded spaceship crawling with monsters that used to be human, and protagonists with terrifying supernatural abilities. If you love creepy, dreary and unpredictable, then these Scorpio-esque reads are right up your alley.

 

 

The Cunning & Ambitious

Although Scorpios are known for their loyalty, we also have a bit of a reputation for being very devious and determined when it comes to getting what we want. When it comes to these narrators, they exhibit these Scorpio-like traits to the fullest extent. Whether they’re seeking fortune and glory, power or freedom, these characters will stop at nothing to achieve their goals, through whatever means necessary.

The Vengeful & Fierce

As someone who is way too good at holding grudges, I love a good revenge story. From hunting down a gang of murderous cowboys to getting even with back-stabbing best friends or trying to obtain power over their oppressors, these vengeful gals have Scorpio written all over them. But their stories are about so much more than revenge-there’s romance, action, girl power, magic and fantastic world-building, all with a very Scorpio-like feeling encompassing it.

 

 

The Courageous & Profound

Bravery and intensity are two more traits that are often used to describe those born under the Scorpio star sign. Each of these protagonists aren’t afraid to break rules or stand up to authority or face their fears in order to achieve justice, independence or power. They don’t let the intensity of the hardships they endure along the way diminish their courage or stop them from accomplishing their objectives.

 

The  Resilient  & Independent

While I do consider myself to be very resilient and independent, the main characters in these books have me beat. I highly doubt I’d ever have the guts to hike the Appalachian trail by myself, for one. I most definitely would not survive more than 5 minutes on the run from bad guys in New York City all on my own either. So I guess they’re more Scorpio than I am. Darnit. I need to step up my game! Then there’s Sky-the main character in I’ll Meet You There-who’s struggling to get by with very little money in a small town and with an incompetent mom, and make it into her dream college so she can finally start a new life. Each of these stories and their narrators are inspiring and Scorpio-esque in their own way, and they just had to make it onto my list.

 

The Clever & Complex

For my last category, I chose books pertaining to Scorpio’s deep sense of intuition and the many layers that make up a Scorpios mind and soul. These attributes can be applied to the stories, characters or both. There’s scientific geniuses, crime solvers, computer hackers and criminal profilers, or just narrators who simply possess quick problem solving skills and have more sides to them than meets the eye. Scorpios are said to be almost psychic at times, and I’d like to think that I can be as well. It makes me seem cooler.

 

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So that’s that! I hope ya’ll had a fantastic November and I hope I’ve inspired you to pick up some of these wonderful Scorpio-ish novels. I may make another fun astrology-based blog post in the future, featuring book suggestions for each of the signs, so keep an eye out for that!

 

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It’s officially Autumn: So here are some of my favorite September releases of this year!

Over the last month, I finally got a chance to read some of my most anticipated September releases. I also got to meet 3 out of these 4 authors within the last month, which was very exciting!

Instead of writing separate full length reviews, I thought it’d be fun to make lists of my favorite things about each of them. So here are the things I enjoyed most about the following fall reads:

 

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There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins

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  • The PERFECT Halloween time read, as it takes place in autumn, in Nebraska, with lots of, ya know…corn. Corn mazes. It’s creepy as hell, gruesome and the perfect mix of horror, romance, humor and character development
  • It’s totally different from anything Perkins has written before. All of her previous books were fluffy, cute contemporary romances and while this one has romance too, it’s a horror story overall
  • Ollie is a pretty unconventional love interest. I mean, he has pink hair! He’s a bit of a social outcast, kinda seen as the school “weirdo” but is still totally adorable and swoony
  • Perkins makes you FEEL for each of the victims before they die by giving you a small portion of their POV and some insight into their life. You get to know them before they are killed off, which makes the story feel sadder and darker, yes, but also all the more real!
  • The main character has a mysterious secret in her past to be revealed. The intrigue!
  • I had literally no idea who the killer actually was. All my guesses were wrong. Never saw it coming. So I was on edge the whole time!
  • There are some pretty quirky side characters. I loved Makani and her friends and I loved Ollie. They were each very unique. Makani herself is a very bad-ass main character/girl of color

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An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

  • Another perfect autumn read, with beautiful descriptions that make you feel like you’re living in a cottage on the edge of the forest, with fall colored leaves falling down around you and the smell of pumpkin in the air
  • The main character Isobel is quirky, funny, eccentric. She’s a very talented painter who puts her heart into her work and is full of passion for what she does.
  • The romance is healthy and non-toxic. Consent and respect are both very important aspects of their relationship and it’s a beautiful thing to see.
  • There’s dark magic that works in unexpected ways, faeries, a hidden well that promises immortality but at a steep price; the inability to perform any form of art or craft
  • The love interest, the faerie prince Rook, isn’t the stereotypical dominant alpha male type who’s chock full of toxic masculinity. He’s sweet and gentle and respectful.

There are some creepy moments that accompany Rook and Isobel on their journey through the woods. Some of the fair folk are a bit..nuts..and many of them use a magic glamour to cover up their true appearances which are kinda…scary.


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Warcross by Marie Lu

  • Video games and virtual reality! I loved the feeling of becoming immersed in the digital age of a near-future
  • It’s set in Tokyo! A super high tech tokyo. Which is awesome cause not alot of YA books take place in Asian countries
  • The main character Emika is a bad-ass rainbow haired asian girl with extreme hacker skills and a super cool electric skateboard that she rides everywhere
  • There’s a swoony Japanese love interest; Hideo, whom you’ll immediately fall in love with. Well, maybe not immediately. He comes off as a bit prickly at first. But as he and Emika grow closely, his lovable qualities will become more prevalant
  • There are diverse side characters-disabled, queer and poc members of Emika’s Warcross team and I enjoyed getting to know them
  • I loved the teamwork aspect between Emika and her teammates and how they grew to trust and respect each other as they trained. The relationships between them grew stronger as they learned to rely on one another and it felt like they cared about one another as more than just teammates working to win a virtual reality game
  • There was an unexpected plot twist that reaaaaaally threw me. I seriously did not see it coming and never would have forseen it. I love being surprised like that!
  • The ending left me totally reeling and desperate for the sequel. Warcross is a duology so there’s only one more book to go!

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Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore

  • Reading this book kind of reminded me of a game of clue. Ya know, like…whodunit? Was it so-and-so in the ballroom with the candle stick? Except, instead of murder it’s stolen artwork
  • Remember those choose-your-own-adventure books you used to read as a kid? Jane, Unlimited reminded me of those, with the many alternating universes. There’s like 5 different mysteries going on in just this one book!
  • The book is also a mix of like 5 genres in one-mystery, horror, romance, etc, and it’s split into 5 different stories that all branch out from the different choices Jane makes. Sound confusing? It really isn’t, I promise. It’s what made it so hard to put the book down!
  • The story takes place on an island mansion that has a lot of secrets hidden behind its’ doors. The descriptions of the mansion’s many rooms are described so vividly and with so much detail that i felt as if I were inside the mansion itself, wandering its many different rooms and getting lost solving its various puzzles
  • There! Is! Bisexual! Representation! That’s right, our main character Jane finds herself attracted to both guys and girls. Its subtle but it’s there.
  • There is quite the eccentric cast of characters…and they’re all totally unique from each other so there’s no way you’ll get them confused. Some of them are very weird or mysterious or even obnoxious but each is unforgettable in his or her own way.
  • There’s an adorable, wise old bloodhound who follows Jane all around the mansion as she unravels each mystery, and seems to know all about the strange activities occurring within its walls and amidst its occupants
  • Our main character Jane has a really strange and unique hobby-she makes and designs umbrellas! The umbrellas are a pretty central the to the story and something that Jane takes very seriously and is very passionate about. Even the books cover resembles an umbrella!

 

Me and Stephanie Perkins at her Barnes and Noble book signingimg_9043-1Me and Marie Lu at Mysterious Galaxyimg_9042-1Me with Aditi Khorana, Kristin Cashore and Kierstan White at Mysterious Galaxy 

 

 

 

 

 

May Wrap-Up

I’ve decided to start posting wrap ups at the end of each month where I briefly review each of that months reads. But um, don’t hold me to that? I’m lazy yet simultaneously incapable of writing mini reviews. They always turn into full length reviews and therefore I spend way more time on them than intended. And it’s exhausting. I’m just giving it a try for now. Buuuuuut the reason for my exhaustion could simply be the fact that I read a total of 17 books this month. And left all the reviews till the last minute. SEVENTEEN YOU GUYS. That’s the most I’ve read per month this entire year. So Phew. Here we go.

 

After the Fall by Kate Hart


Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Raychel is sleeping with two boys: her overachieving best friend Matt…and his slacker brother, Andrew. Raychel sneaks into Matt’s bed after nightmares, but nothing ever happens. He doesn’t even seem to realize she’s a girl, except when he decides she needs rescuing. But Raychel doesn’t want to be his girl anyway. She just needs his support as she deals with the classmate who assaulted her, the constant threat of her family’s eviction, and the dream of college slipping quickly out of reach. Matt tries to help, but he doesn’t really get it… and he’d never understand why she’s fallen into a secret relationship with his brother. The friendships are a precarious balance, and when tragedy strikes, everything falls apart. Raychel has to decide which pieces she can pick up – and which ones are worth putting back together.

 

My Thoughts:

This book was dark, gut-wrenching, tragic and very, very impactful. I found it interesting to read from pov’s of two characters, boy and girl, who weren’t each others love interests. Raychel and Matt have been best friends since they were kids, and one of them may or may not want something more, but they’re not necessarily a good match. Nothing in this book will go in the direction you expect it to.

This book is not a love story.  It has some romance, but it takes up very little of the book and is far from being all rainbows and unicorns. I was also surprised at how….problematic and frustrating Matt could be at times. Entitled, selfish and even a little misogynistic at times. I wouldn’t call him a horrible person, but he did come off as very morally grey at times. In the end though, I think he really learned from it all and went on to become a better person. This was one of the most harrowing and heartbreaking books I read this month, and I could not recommend it enough. But um…brace yourself…….and……..(spoiler-ish alert)……………………………………………………keep the title and cover of the book in mind. It’s called After the FALL for a reason ya know? *sobs into handkerchief*

5/5 stars

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This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp


Synopsis:

Everyone has a reason to fear the boy with the gun.

10:00 a.m. The principal of Opportunity, Alabama’s high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 a.m. The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

10:03. The auditorium doors won’t open.  10:05. Someone starts shooting. Told from four perspectives over the span of 54 harrowing minutes, terror reigns as one student’s calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.

My Thoughts: 

So, this one has been on my kindle for a while now but I hadn’t really given any thought towards picking it up any time soon. But then I found out via twitter that Marieke Nijkamp is an autistic (like me) author! And this dramatically increased my interest, so I started reading and finished the book within a day. A day! That’s how impossible-to-put-down it was.

It tells the story of a school shooting, so of course it’s full of death and blood and terror and grief. The accounts of the 54 minute shooting are told from 4 alternating pov’s-all of whom have some sort of connection to the shooter.

My heart was pounding the entire time I read and I grew so attached to these characters whose lives I only got a small glimpse of. I don’t think I spent a single second reading this book without wasn’t sobbing or fuming or shaking in terror.

By the time it was over I was exhasted, devastated and in a perpetual state of shock and awe, not wanting to say goodbye to Tomás, Claire, Autumn and Slyvia. I even felt a multitude of mixed emotions for the shooter himself, bullied and knocked down by life to the point that he enacted a cold hearted plan for revenge, sending his former classmates to participate in his terrifying game of survival.
5/5 stars

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Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith

Synopsis:

This romantic story of hope, chance, and change from the author of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight is one Jenny Han says is filled with all of her “favorite things,” Morgan Matson calls “something wonderful” and Stephanie Perkins says “is rich with the intensity of real love.”

Alice doesn’t believe in luck—at least, not the good kind. But she does believe in love, and for some time now, she’s been pining for her best friend, Teddy. On his eighteenth birthday—just when it seems they might be on the brink of something—she buys him a lottery ticket on a lark. To their astonishment, he wins $140 million, and in an instant, everything changes.

At first, it seems like a dream come true, especially since the two of them are no strangers to misfortune. As a kid, Alice won the worst kind of lottery possible when her parents died just over a year apart from each other. And Teddy’s father abandoned his family not long after that, leaving them to grapple with his gambling debts. Through it all, Teddy and Alice have leaned on each other. But now, as they negotiate the ripple effects of Teddy’s newfound wealth, a gulf opens between them. And soon, the money starts to feel like more of a curse than a windfall. As they try to find their way back to each other, Alice learns more about herself than she ever could have imagined . . . and about the unexpected ways in which luck and love sometimes intersect. 


My Thoughts:

As you can imagine, after finishing those first two heart-obliterating reads, I wanted to read something a little lighter. So I picked up this gorgeous book about luck and love and staying true to yourself even when faced with major life changes.

We’ve all wondered what it would be like to win the million dollar lottery, right? Of course you have. Don’t lie. In Windfall, that’s exactly what happens to Ally’s friend Teddy after she buys him a lottery ticket as a joke for his 18th birthday. Teddy, whose been poor for years as he and his mom struggle to make ends meet in the aftermath of his fathers departure, is suddenly a millionaire. And both his and Ally’s lives are turned upside down.

Suddenly Teddy is buying everything he ever wanted and although he swore to Ally that he wouldn’t change, he’s already starting to become someone completely different. When Alice was just 9 years old, she won the worst possible lottery when her parents both died within a year of each other. Since then, she’s moved in with her aunt and uncle and her cousin Leo-whose become more of a brother to her-and it’s been her, Teddy and Leo against the world. Oh, and she’s in hopelessly unrequited love with her best friend.

But now, Teddy no longer has to worry about money and everything changes drastically. and although he offers Alice half is winnings, she isn’t so sure she’s willing to take on that kind of responsibility, especially as she watches Teddy struggle with his sudden fame and fortune and teeter on the verge of unrecognizable. I even found myself cringing at some of the things he said, did and bought. Teddy wasn’t perfect at all, he didn’t immediatly donate large ammount of money to charity, but Alice did eventually help him see all the ways he could make a difference, and once some of the excitement wore off, he began to open his eyes to all the good he could do-as well as all the things he couldn’t-with his large sum of money.

This was a cute, quick read, despite it being over 400 pages. I tore through it pretty quickly. I really loved the relationships between Alice and Teddy and Leo and appreciated Smith’s take on the well known theory that love can’t buy happiness, nor can it fix all your problems. In fact, it can even bring you even more problems; people who befriend you just for your money, strained relationships even with those you love most, unwanted attention and expectation and a whole lot of responsibility.
Although this book wasn’t entirely mind blowing or life changing, I thoroughly enjoyed it-the characters were multi dimensional, the story touching and thought provoking and light hearted, and the writing simple yet true. This is the first book I’ve read by Jennifer E Smith that’s written in first person as opposed to 3rd and I hope she continues to write more books in first person because I think she does it well. And I generally think that contemporaries are better off written in first person. Overall, this was definitely worth the read!

Rating: 4/5 stars

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//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=beccavz-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=006231064X&asins=006231064X&linkId=72acbeeaa360c81595d1ef514e346580&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

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Synopsis:

Graceling meets The Selection in debut novelist Victoria Aveyard’s sweeping tale of seventeen-year-old Mare, a common girl whose once-latent magical power draws her into the dangerous intrigue of the king’s palace. Will her power save her or condemn her?

Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood—those with common, Red blood serve the Silver- blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own.

To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard—a growing Red rebellion—even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays, the only certainty is betrayal.

 

My Thoughts: (possible vague spoilers ahead)

This book has been on my shelf for years, and although I was wary of picking it up because of the excessive hype surrounding it, I am so glad I did! It’s a compelling  examination of privilege and power in a world where a person’s worth is determined by the color of their blood-those with silver blood are high ranking and have powerful abilities, while those with red blood are powerless and living in poverty. But when Mare discovers she has abilities in spite of her red blood, everything she knows threatens to collapse.

Boy oh boy this book is FULL of unexpected betrayals and really really hard-to-like supporting characters. It’s full of nasty, over privileged silver bloods who think they’re better than everyone and don’t have an inch of sympathy for the red bloods living in poverty and basically enslaved by them. I was devastated (and still am) over one particular character whom I THOUGHT was trustworthy and different from all the other silver bloods but turned out to be the most malicious and dangerous of them all. IT TORE ME APART. I totally did not see that one coming. Seriously, I cried I was so shocked and upset. I’m dying to pick up the next book but I typically like to space my series out a bit so I don’t finish them too quickly. Plus, the fourth and final book doesn’t come out for another year. I HATE LONG WAITS.

I don’t even know what to think about the possible romantic love interests in this book. Everything about them is just so messy and unpredictable and I was torn between tolerating and hating them. God they’re so frustrating. I don’t even know if I like them but I’m still hoping for a particular outcome with one of the brothers, even if he, um…has questionable morals, to say the least. Can you see how worked up I’m getting? GAH.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

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//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=beccavz-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=054481519X&asins=054481519X&linkId=3abbafceb8d74a8acf593c61b73a9510&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake

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Synopsis:

Grace, tough and wise, has nearly given up on wishes, thanks to a childhood spent with her unpredictable, larger-than-life mother. But this summer, Grace meets Eva, a girl who believes in dreams, despite her own difficult circumstances. 

One fateful evening, Eva climbs through a window in Grace’s room, setting off a chain of stolen nights on the beach. When Eva tells Grace that she likes girls, Grace’s world opens up and she begins to believe in happiness again.

How to Make a Wish is an emotionally charged portrait of a mother and daughter’s relationship and a heartfelt story about two girls who find each other at the exact right time.

 

My Thoughts:

Ever since I read Ashley’s debut novel Suffer Love in January, I knew I wanted to read more of her books. So when I found out she was releasing a f/f contemporary with a bisexual main character, I was ecstatic! And, as I mentioned a few posts back, I was able to snag an ARC copy at YallWest in April! I loved everything about this book-Grace’s uberclose but platonic relationship with her best friend Luca, the family drama and Grace’s strained relationship with her mother, and of course, the budding romance between her and Eva.

Grace’s life has always been difficult because of her mother, who’s constantly finding and losing new boyfriends and moving them in and out of new homes with each guy she inevitably breaks up with. Eva on the other hand, is dealing with the recent death of her own mother. So in some ways, they’re more alike than they realize; Eva’s mother is gone, and Grace’s mother has never really been much of a mother at all. And as Eva begins spending more time with Grace’s mom, Grace starts to feel jealous and left out, as she watches her mother do all the things for Eva that she never did for her own daughter.

Grace’s mom was SO. FREAKING. FRUSTRATING. She ENFURIATED me. I had no sympathy for her, despite what she’d gone through with losing her husband when Grace was too little to remember. She behaved selfishly and recklessly and blamed everyone else around her for her own mistakes and lapses in judgment. I don’t know how Grace even had the patience to put up with her. Kudos to her for putting up with as much as she did.

The development of Grace and Eva’s relationship was slow and sweet and perfectly paced. They both provided each other with well needed distractions from each others lives and the mischief they got into was hilarious. Grace’s best friend Luca was adorable and he was so supportive of her, even when she made things difficult and snapped at him for calling out her mom’s problematic behavior. If there’s one thing YA is lacking, it’s more platonic guy/girl friendships. Theirs was very touching and inspiring and I hope to see more of it in books.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

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//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=beccavz-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=148141884X&asins=148141884X&linkId=088d30f460ef2a881d0acd9032e6f15e&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>All in Pieces by Suzanne Young

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Synopsis:

From New York Times bestselling author Suzanne Young comes a heartrending new novel about a girl struggling to deal with anger issues while taking care of her younger brother with special needs.

“Anger-management issues.”

That’s how they classified Savannah Sutton after she stuck a pencil in her ex-boyfriend’s hand because he mocked her little brother, Evan, for being disabled. That’s why they sent her to Brooks Academy—an alternative high school that’s used as a temporary detention center.

The days at Brooks are miserable, but at home, life is far more bleak. Savvy’s struggling to take care of her brother since her mom left years ago, and her alcoholic dad can’t be bothered. Life with Evan is a constant challenge, but he’s also the most important person in the world to Savvy.

Then there’s Cameron, a new student at Brooks with issues of his own; a guy from a perfect family that Savvy thought only existed on TV. Cameron seems determined to break through every one of the walls Savvy’s built around herself, except if she lets herself trust him, it could make everything she’s worked so hard for fall apart in an instant.

And with her aunt seeking custody of her brother and her ex-boyfriend seeking revenge, Savvy’s fighting to hold all the pieces together. But she’s not sure how much tighter she can be pulled before she breaks completely.

 

My Thoughts:

I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I would have liked, considering I’ve loved all other books I’ve read by Suzanne Young. I got through it easily enough. It wasn’t boring or slow, but I found myself unimpressed by the love interest, Cameron. And he takes up a lot of the story. He wasn’t all bad. He had good motives and cared for Savannah but his “I don’t care” attitude was a little tiring and he came off as a too nonchalant and somewhat cocky for my taste.
I did, however, enjoy the relationship between Savannah and her little brother, Evan, who was autistic. She took good care of him in the absence of their neglectful father, and it was clear she loved him with all her heart. Although she didn’t always have the most patience or the best methods for dealing with his meltdowns, she was obviously trying her hardest and wanted the very best for him.
I also liked her relationship with her friends and how protective she was of her brother. She always stood up for him, even ruining her relationship with (awful) her ex boyfriend in defense of him. So, all in all, this book was entertaining and touching in parts, but hard to fully appreciate what with the somewhat unlikable romantic interest.

 

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

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//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=beccavz-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=0544932056&asins=0544932056&linkId=5c281cd7441042c68d9849d0fbdb3d86&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily by Laura Creedle (Dec 2017 ARC)

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Synopsis:

When Lily Michaels-Ryan ditches her ADHD meds and lands in detention with Abelard, who has Asperger’s, she’s intrigued—Abelard seems thirty seconds behind, while she feels thirty seconds ahead. It doesn’t hurt that he’s brilliant and beautiful. 
     When Abelard posts a quote from The Letters of Abelard and Heloise online, their mutual affinity for ancient love letters connects them. The two fall for each other. Hard. But is it enough to bridge their differences in person?  
     This hilarious, heartbreaking story of human connection between two neurodivergent teens creates characters that will stay with you long after you finish reading. 
My Thoughts:
I had never heard of The Letters of Abelard & Heloise-which this book is somewhat based on-nor The Love Letters of Abelard & Lily before I was handed a free ARC at the HMH Teen booth at YallWest last month.
It’s a December release, which is probably the reason it hadn’t caught my attention yet. I knew nothing about it when I was handed a copy, I was only excited to be getting more free books.
But when I read the synopsis on the back of the book, I was pleasantly surprised and delighted to find that is what a love story between two neurodivergent teens-a main character with ADHD and a love interest on the autism spectrum, diagnosed with Aspergers.
The ADHD portion is “own voices” as the writer herself has ADHD. And although she isn’t autistic, I thought her portrayal of autism and her autistic characterization was well done and a well written representation.
As for the story itself, I did enjoy it a lot. The main character Lily, struggles a lot, with time management, and memory, and focus. A lot of symptoms of ADHD are similar to those of autism, which is why I think her portrayal of both were very well done. Abelard is realistically portrayed without being too stereotypical, and without being shown in a too-negative light because of his autism. The only complaint I have is that his personality fell a little flat to me. It’s common for autistic people to come off as a little expressionless and lacking feelings or emotions, so I don’t fault Laura for that, but I still felt as though I didn’t really get to know enough about him. I would have liked to see past his walls a little more.

The relationship between Abelard and Lily was sweet and complicated and believable, although I personally think things moved a little too fast. Lily fell for him a little too quickly and their relationship progressed to love a bit suddenly, but I guess it’s normal for teens in high school experiencing their first relationship to feel that intensely. All in all, this was a light, romantic, and mostly satisfying read.

Rating: 4/5 stars

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The //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=beccavz-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B00YM6RDVC&asins=B00YM6RDVC&linkId=b0a99f816888608850640404206d3f12&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Love Me Never trilogy by Sara Wolf

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Synopsis:

Don’t love your enemy. Declare war on him.

Seventeen-year-old Isis Blake hasn’t fallen in love in three years, nine weeks, and five days, and after what happened last time, she intends to keep it that way. Since then she’s lost eighty-five pounds, gotten four streaks of purple in her hair, and moved to Buttcrack-of-Nowhere, Ohio, to help her mom escape a bad relationship.

All the girls in her new school want one thing—Jack Hunter, the Ice Prince of East Summit High. Hot as an Armani ad, smart enough to get into Yale, and colder than the Arctic, Jack Hunter’s never gone out with anyone. Sure, people have seen him downtown with beautiful women, but he’s never given high school girls the time of day. Until Isis punches him in the face.

Jack’s met his match. Suddenly everything is a game.

The goal: Make the other beg for mercy.
The game board: East Summit High.
The reward: Something neither of them expected.

 

My Thoughts:

This series was seriously addicting. I finished all 3 books within a week! As soon as I finished one, I immediately picked the next one up. The main character Isis is hilariously sarcastic and cynical, the love interest/arch nemesis is intense, brooding and intriguing, and the mystery of Jacks past unravels shockingly and unexpectedly.
The side characters are equally adorable; Wren is adorably dorky and Kayla is surprisingly sweet and loyal.
Isis is tough and witty and a master at hiding her true feelings, and so is Jack, which makes the banter between them frustrating because neither of them want to admit the attraction they feel or put aside their rivalry, but that just makes these books all the more fun! Isis is constantly spewing hilarious jabs and jokes and smart-ass comments so there’s never a dull moment. And she’s a strong person too, still dealing with the aftermath of her sexual assault and the bullying she endured for her weight. This trilogy was an emotional roller coaster from start to finish.

 

Series Rating: 4.5/5 stars

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//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=beccavz-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1442429992&asins=1442429992&linkId=c56530e188f141df9775cce895bd8a43&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Blood Red Road by Moira Young

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Synopsis:

Saba has spent her whole life in Silverlake, a dried-up wasteland ravaged by constant sandstorms. The Wrecker civilization has long been destroyed, leaving only landfills for Saba and her family to scavenge from. That’s fine by her, as long as her beloved twin brother Lugh is around. But when four cloaked horsemen capture Lugh, Saba’s world is shattered, and she embarks on a quest to get him back. 
 
Suddenly thrown into the lawless, ugly reality of the outside world, Saba discovers she is a fierce fighter, an unbeatable survivor, and a cunning opponent. Teamed up with a handsome daredevil named Jack and a gang of girl revolutionaries called the Free Hawks, Saba’s unrelenting search for Lugh stages a showdown that will change the course of her own civilization. 

 Blood Red Road has a searing pace, a poetic writing style, and an epic love story—making Moira Young is one of the most exciting new voices in teen fiction.

 

My Thoughts:

If you loved Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman as much as I did, then you’ll probably enjoy this one as well! It’s full of old western slang and a similar plot of an eighteen year old girl who sets off on a journey across the plains to seek revenge and rescue her twin brother from the men who took him. Saba’s determination and bravery make her a likable narrator, even if she can be a little hot-headed at times.

Saba is captured and beaten and forced to battle opponents by a ruthless mad-man, distracted by her tag-along little sister who just can’t seem to stay put and do as she’s told ,and finds herself falling for a boy who joins her in her pursuit of the hooded horsemen who took her brother. It’s fast paced from beginning to end, with monsters of both the human and non human variety and the snark and banter between the characters will keep you entertained in between the action sequences.

Rating: 4.5 Stars

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//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=beccavz-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=0062418351&asins=0062418351&linkId=cc9d83129d0c91065daef2d74448c54a&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy

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Synopsis:

From Julie Murphy, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dumplin’ and Side Effects May Vary, comes another fearless heroine, Ramona Blue, in a gorgeously evocative novel about family, friendship, and how sometimes love can be more fluid than you first think. Perfect for fans of Rainbow Rowell and Morgan Matson.

Ramona was only five years old when Hurricane Katrina changed her life forever.

Since then, it’s been Ramona and her family against the world. Standing over six feet tall with unmistakable blue hair, Ramona is sure of three things: she likes girls, she’s fiercely devoted to her family, and she knows she’s destined for something bigger than the trailer she calls home in Eulogy, Mississippi. But juggling multiple jobs, her flaky mom, and her well-meaning but ineffectual dad forces her to be the adult of the family. Now, with her sister, Hattie, pregnant, responsibility weighs more heavily than ever.

The return of her childhood friend Freddie brings a welcome distraction. Ramona’s friendship with the former competitive swimmer picks up exactly where it left off, and soon he’s talked her into joining him for laps at the pool. But as Ramona falls in love with swimming, her feelings for Freddie begin to shift too, which is the last thing she expected. With her growing affection for Freddie making her question her sexual identity, Ramona begins to wonder if perhaps she likes girls and guys or if this new attraction is just a fluke. Either way, Ramona will discover that, for her, life and love are more fluid than they seem.

 

My Thoughts:

This book was on my must-read list from the very second it caught my eye. A bisexual, blue haired main character? An exploration of the ways in which sexuality can be fluid? Tight family bonds and friendships? Count me in! And Ramona Blue did not disappoint. Ramona is a very inspiring character; she’s comfortable in her sexuality and refuses to hide the fact that she’s attracted to girls and always has been. Her relationship with her sister Hattie, the way she supported her during her pregnancy was admirable and her confidence in herself was uplifting. It’s a very rare thing to come across a book with an openly gay character who falls for someone of the opposite sex, as opposed to the other way around.

I loved the way Ramona and Freddie’s relationship moved slowly from friendship to love, and I loved that this was a biracial relationship, as Freddie is black. Freddie is a total sweetheart and a gentle soul and I admired the way he accepted Ramona and allowed her to educate him and didn’t question when she began to fall for him despite claiming to only like girls. He didn’t ask her to label herself or rush into things and it was impossible not to adore him completely.

Ramona’s bond with her family is strong and heart felt; they’ve been through so much together ever since hurricane Katrina left them with only a trailer for a home, and Ramona does her best to support her family both financially and emotionally. And Freddie helps her see that, even though she’s poor, even though she feels obligated to stay and help her sister raise her baby, she still owes it to herself to find what makes her happy and pursue a life outside her small hometown. This is an important book for lgbtq teens and adults alike and if it isn’t already on your tbr, you should add it now!

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

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//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=beccavz-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1500209015&asins=1500209015&linkId=132fed8049e3e29816f1442d7d96a477&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Puddle Jumping by Amber l. Johnson

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Synopsis:

When it comes to love there’s no such thing as conventional.

Everyone thinks Colton Neely is special.

Lilly Evans just thinks he’s fascinating.

Once friends when they were younger, their bond is cut short due to her accident prone nature and they go their separate ways. Years later, they meet again and Lilly learns that there is something special about the boy she once knew, but she has no idea what it all means. And she’s not sure if she’s ready to find out.

When he walks through the corridor of her school the first day of her senior year, she knows that it’s time to get to know the real Colton Neely. The more she learns, the deeper she falls.

Their friendship grows into love, even as Colton does not express it in words. But one decision threatens to break down the world that Lilly has tried so hard to integrate into and she must figure out if the relationship can survive if they are apart.

 

My Thoughts:

This was an okay read. I enjoyed it for the most part. The only reason I really read it was for the autistic rep-the love interest has aspergers syndrome. And the rep wasn’t exactly horrible per say, I actually thought it was fairly well done. The story itself was just a little too insta-love and moved a bit too quickly for my tastes. The romantic interest also came off as a little too juvenile to me, which I know is pretty common for people on the spectrum, but I guess it just felt a little too stereotypical to me.

Rating: 3/5 stars

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//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=beccavz-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=0761388664&asins=0761388664&linkId=ff4cd6988829ed0e37f77dc5d7fd977a&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Shadowlark (Skylark #2) by Meagan Spooner

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Synopsis:

Ever since she escaped the city within the Wall, Lark Ainsley’s wanted one thing: to find her brother Basil. She’s always believed he would be the one to put an end to the constant fear and flight. And now, hidden underground in the chaotically magical city of Lethe, Lark feels closer to him than ever.

But Lethe is a city cowering in fear of its founder, the mysterious Prometheus, and of his private police force. To get the truth about Basil, Lark has no choice but to face Prometheus.

Facing her fears has become second nature to Lark. Facing the truth is another matter.

Lark never asked to be anyone’s savior. She certainly never wanted to be anyone’s weapon. She might not have a choice.

My Thoughts:

This was another incredible addition to the Skylark trilogy! Shadowlark was just as creepy and mysterious as book one, with more romantic tension, more unforseen obstacles, and the shocking truth regarding Lark’s brother was equal parts devastating and a major turning point in the story. There were parts so creepy that I was literally hiding under my bed covers and shaking. Seriously. And Oren just becomes more and more endearing the more we get to know him and see past his steely exterior. We get to see so much more of his love for Lark in this book, their relationship progresses significantly.

Rating: 5/5 Stars

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//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=beccavz-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=0147511461&asins=0147511461&linkId=c3cae22f36fd27484f55c4043f588555&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Half Bad by Sally Green

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Synopsis:

In modern-day England, witches live alongside humans: White witches, who are good; Black witches, who are evil; and sixteen-year-old Nathan, who is both. Nathan’s father is the world’s most powerful and cruel Black witch, and his mother is dead. He is hunted from all sides.

Trapped in a cage, beaten and handcuffed, Nathan must escape before his seventeenth birthday, at which point he will receive three gifts from his father and come into his own as a witch—or else he will die. But how can Nathan find his father when his every action is tracked, when there is no one safe to trust—not even family, not even the girl he loves?

In the tradition of Patrick Ness and Markus Zusak, Half Bad is a gripping tale of alienation and the indomitable will to survive, a story that will grab hold of you and not let go until the very last page.

 

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed this book for the most part. It was weird and different and intriguing, the writing style was unique and compelling, and I found myself already becoming attached to the characters. Which is why it sucks that I found out some not-so-great news about the series. Apparently the first two books consist mainly of queerbaiting-tempting the audience with the promise of a gay relationship, only to kill off the main love interest in book 3. Which is really not okay. The “kill your gays” trope has been worn thin and it’s really disappointing that such a promising series of m/m representation had to take such an over done, tragic turn. I most likely will not finish the series. I did enjoy this book well enough as a standalone to give it 4 stars, though.

 

Rating: 4/5 stars

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//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=beccavz-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B01LL0346O&asins=B01LL0346O&linkId=e5719621da231a3faacb62824effd42b&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

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Synopsis:

Eighteen-year-old Eliza Mirk is the anonymous creator of Monstrous Sea, a wildly popular webcomic, but when a new boy at school tempts her to live a life offline, everything she’s worked for begins to crumble.

Scott Westerfeld’s Afterworlds meets Nimona in this novel about art, fandom, and finding the courage to be yourself. Features illustrations by the author throughout. Perfect for readers of Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, this is the second novel by the acclaimed author of Made You Up.

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, smart, and friendless. Online, Eliza is LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of a popular webcomic called Monstrous Sea. With millions of followers and fans throughout the world, Eliza’s persona is popular. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves her digital community.

Then Wallace Warland transfers to her school, and Eliza begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile. But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart. With pages from Eliza’s webcomic, as well as screenshots from Eliza’s online forums, this uniquely formatted book will appeal to fans of Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona and Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl.

 

My Thoughts:

Man, I just love books about fandoms and fangirls and creative, artistic, main characters. I loved that the author featured passages and artwork from Eliza’s web comic Monstrous Sea in between chapters. It made it seem all the more real, gave some more insight into the extent of Eliza’s passion and artistic ability and why her story and characters meant so much to her. Wallace was the perfect geeky love interest for this type of story and I loved how soft and shy and adorable he was, as well as open and honest.

I found it really touching the way Eliza’s younger twin brothers stood up for her and were there for her when her secret was revealed to the world. Until then, she had genuinely believed her brothers hated her, but the support they offered and the pride they had in her work was truly heart warming and open Eliza’s eyes to the fact that her family cared more than she gave them credit for.

Her parents were frustrating, however, as they didn’t see her web comic as anything more than a hobby, one that took up “too much” of her time, and I think that was the main reason Eliza felt out of place in her own home and generally hated being forced into family outings. Eliza’s character development and the growth of her relationship with her family was remarkable and by the end of the book, I was feeling hopeful that things between them could begin to change for the better. Her relationship with Wallace was super cute, as was their shared passion for Eliza’s web comic, the way it brought them together and helped them both open up and come out of their shelves. I loved this book as well as Francesca’s first book, and I definitely consider her a favorite author of mine.

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

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//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=beccavz-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1250129664&asins=1250129664&linkId=e03852a54b791bc958dba731eed28f92&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Flashfall by Jenny Moyer

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Synopsis:

Orion is a Subpar, expected to mine the tunnels of Outpost Five, near the deadly flash curtain. For generations, her people have chased cirium—the only element that can shield humanity from the curtain’s radioactive particles. She and her caving partner Dram work the most treacherous tunnel, fighting past flash bats and tunnel gulls, in hopes of mining enough cirium to earn their way into the protected city.

But when newcomers arrive at Outpost Five, Orion uncovers disturbing revelations that make her question everything she thought she knew about life on both sides of the cirium shield. As conditions at the outpost grow increasingly dangerous, it’s up to Orion to forge a way past the flashfall, beyond all boundaries, beyond the world as she knows it.

 

My Thoughts:

Flashfall is right up there next to Meagan Spooner’s Skylark trilogy for favorite YA dystopian of the year. With a unique setting and stunning atmospheric plot, it was impossible to put down and I am anxiously anticipating the sequel. I liked the interesting exploration of a world that relies on the mining of cirium to protect them from a radioactive curtain.

One of my favorite romance tropes is the friends-to-lovers trope, so I absolutely adored the growth of Orion’s relationship with her mining partner, Dram. They relied on each other both physically and emotionally, watching each others backs as they searched the tunnels and scaled rock walls and providing one another emotional support in the aftermath of family members lost to the flash curtain.

Orion is the kind of character never to give up, no matter how dim the chances of survival, or how dire the prospects . That’s not to say she didn’t have her moments of self doubt or lack of faith when faced with life threatening situations, but she was always quick to pick herself back up and continue fighting. If you’re looking for a YA dystopian that’s a little bit out of the ordinary, then I recommend you pick this one up!

 

Rating: 5/5 stars

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And that’s that! Phew. I read a lot of books this month.

YallWest 2017 Recap

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So. As you may know if you follow me on Instagram or twitter (both @beccasbookrealm ), I attended my very first YallWest book festival up in Santa Monica the other weekend, April 29th-30th! I met some of my all time favorite authors-including Alexandra Bracken and Claudia Gray-and It was quite an experience. So I thought I’d share it with y’all, and break it down a bit:

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The Preparation & Planning

I was beyond desperate to make it to YallWest this year. I only found out about the book festival just last year (sad, I know) but was unable to go, which was tragic because my entire Instagram feed was full of people showing off their new ARCS (ARC=Advanced Reader Copy, aka an uncorrected paperback copy of a book that has not yet been released!) and book swag and signed books. So, I was determined to find a way to make it this time. Spoiler alert: I did!

I asked my slightly-less-nerdy-than-me friend Amanda to come with me, and she was all too happy to tag along, despite only knowing a few of the authors. (You’re a trooper, Amanda! Thanks for letting me drag you around for a whole day!) And as it turned out, she has an aunt who lives up in L.A, about 40 minutes or so from Santa Monica, so we were able to stay with her Friday and Saturday night. I am forever grateful to the book nerd Gods and Goddesses, and to Amanda’s gracious aunt.

I packed a lot of books to bring. A. LOT. And I knew I couldn’t carry them all on my back without breaking it. SO. I asked my dad to help me create a makeshift book cart using a book basket of mine and a little rolling cart from which I had unattached a cooler. And it actually worked pretty well! While standing in line, though, I talked to someone who had a much more professional looking rolling cart-they were everywhere, so many people had them!-and he told me that they sell them at target for 20-30 bucks. Oh well. Next year, I’ll be more prepared!

Not to say that I was necessarily under-prepared this year…I don’t think I forgot a single thing from sunscreen to portable chargers to food to chap stick.

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I poured over the schedule dozens of times, all the ARC drop lists I could find, and tried to get a feel for the layout of the highschool by looking over the map. Not that any of this really helped much. It was still chaotic and stressful and the event itself wasn’t very well organized-the majority of the people volunteering couldn’t even point us in the direction of any of the booths or events. So it was kind of a mess. But was it still 100% worth it? You betcha.

 

YallWest Preview Night (Friday April 29th, 4-8 p.m)

By the time Amanda was dropped off at my house, it was already about a half hour later than we’d decided to leave, thanks to horrendous Socal traffic. So naturally, I was already super stressed knowing we were probably going to be at least a half hour late.

Thanks to traffic, my lack of experience in driving around L.A, and our difficulty in finding a parking spot, we were more like an hour late. But you know what? It all worked out!

By the time we arrived, we hadn’t really missed anything; the lines had formed for the wristbands needed to meet the authors, and they had some giveaways going on at a small stage off to the side, but that was it. The volunteers on stage were calling out for people wearing merch inspired by certain books or movies-for instance, “ruby red slippers” from The Wizard of Oz, aka red shoes. Then they’d pick a person from the crowd or the wristband line and they’d go up and spin the wheel of author names for a chance to meet one of them. For those who landed on an author they had no desire to meet, they offered free books or YallWest clothing.

We had barely been in line 10 minutes when they called out for someone wearing “something Star Wars related.” Well, I was sure I had to be wearing something from Star Wars, so I looked down at my outfit and, sure enough, I was wearing my hand made Millenium Falcon necklace that I’d received in one of my past Owlcrate subscription boxes! So I jumped in the air and frantically waved my hand around until I grabbed their attention and got called up to the stage to spin the wheel.

After landing on an author I had no desire to meet, I had my pick of either a YallWest T-shirt or a hard cover copy of King’s Cage, book three in the Red Queen series! Having recently started Red Queen, I opted for King’s Cage, and I now have the first three books in the series! Score!

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By the time we made it to the front of the line, they had run out of wristbands for the two authors Amanda and I both wanted desperately to meet-Alexandra Bracken and James Dashner. We were devastated, of course, but we got wristbands to meet some other authors I was looking forward to meeting, and in the mean time, I bought those authors’ books!

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Kate Hart, Caleb Roehrig and S. J-Jones were all super sweet, and I’m glad I got to meet them! I just recently finished After the Fall and it was an impossible-to-put-down gem of a book that left me a sobbing, blubbering, miserable mess. But um, don’t let that deter you! It’s definitely one of the most impactful books I’ve read this year and one of my new favorites. If you’ve read and enjoyed The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis (another new favorite I read this year) then I think you’ll love this one.

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Then we got in line to meet Maurene Goo and get ARCS of her upcoming May 30th release “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” !

 

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After meeting the above authors, we decided to chance it and get in line to see Alexandra Bracken despite not having wristbands. We had to let a few people with wristbands cut in front of us, but by some miracle-or simply because Alex is an angel who stayed an hour over time so she could meet everyone-we still got to meet her, as well as James Dashner! So all in all, the day wound up being a huge success despite our arriving late.

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Can you just see the awe and admiration in my face? Thank god I didn’t completely embarrass myself. Alex is a total sweetheart, she’s gorgeous, she’s amazingly talented and I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to meet her!

 

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Unfortunately, I didn’t have a book for James Dashner to sign, but Amanda let me borrow her copy of The Maze Runner so we could pose for a picture!

 

 

YallWest ( Saturday April 30th, 9 a.m to 7 p.m)

We arrived at the parking lot across the street from the high school at around 8:30, a half hour before the event was supposed to open, and already a huge line had formed along the sidewalk and around the block. (next year, I’m gonna get there at like 6 a.m. I swear to god).

We got in line and stood in the heat for more like an hour instead of a half hour, because they let us in at 9:30 rather than 9. So already, I was a little miffed since I’d had this whole schedule planned out. Then I found out that they’d apparently let people at the 11 a.m. entrance in before us? And because of this, I missed out on one of my top priority ARCS of the day-Adam Silveras ‘They Both Die at the End’. Not cool. Seriously, I hope they’re better organized next year. 90% of the volunteers couldn’t even manage to point us in the right direction or answer simple questions and it made the whole thing a lot more stressful than it should have been.

But alas, I have no room to complain any further, as I received plenty of free books and made many of my favorite authors! Much of the day consisted of standing in long lines, but they were all worth it! I got numerous bookmarks and pins and other swag and even a few posters! Here’s a brief recap of the books I got and authors I met:

 

 

Free books and Arcs I received:

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At the very first tent we went to-where I missed out on grabbing a copy of They Both Die at the End-I received an ARC of Sarah Mylnowski’s July release ‘I See London, I See France.’ Although it wasn’t my first pick, I found myself pleasantly surprised by the books synopsis. I haven’t read a book by Sarah since I was in middle school, but this one sounds promising! The main characters 19 years old, which immediately sparked my interest, since most YA books have characters within the 14-18 age range, so it was nice to find one with a character closer to my age. Plus, a book involving adventures and romance and traveling across Europe? Always right up my alley.

 

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Amanda and I standing in one of the many long lines of the day

At the I Read YA booth, we received ARCS of ‘Dark Breaks the Dawn’ by Sarah B Larson, as well as finished copy’s of Elizabeth Eulberg’s ‘Just Another Girl’ and Wendy Spinale’s ‘Everland.’ I’d already brought my own copy of Everland to get signed, so I passed on that one, but I did wind up buying the sequel, ‘Umberland’, at the book sale booth. At the time, the book hadn’t even been officially released, so I was pretty ecstatic!

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At the HMH Teen booth, Amanda and I each received multiple ARCS. I got one of my most anticipated-How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake-thanks to one of the wonderful women working the booth who made sure I got a copy! I will forever be grateful to her. ‘Your One and Only’ is an early 2018 sci-fi release, making it the latest release date ARC I received that day. And the Premise sounds very promising!

The most pleasant surprise though, was the ARC I received of a December release featuring an autistic love interest. I’m already half way through ‘The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily’ by Laura Creedle, and I’m thoroughly enjoying it! You don’t find a lot of disability representation in books, and you find even less with autistic representation. So I am beyond grateful to have received and advanced copy of this book.

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I got three more ARCS from favorite authors-one of which was signed! I got to very briefly meet Kasie when she signed my book, but there was a long line of people behind us so they had to keep it moving along. We got cookies along with our partial ARCS of ‘There’s Someone Inside Your House’, and we got to spin a wheel that determined whether we “lived” or “died.” Amanda and I both “died” via books and book related objects falling on top of us. BUT we still managed to “survive” anyways since the only cookies left were the ones that had “I survived” written in frosting. Hah!

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We received our last ARC of the day, ‘The Waking Land’ by Callie Bates, in between our 5 p.m panel and the 6 p.m finale. Every single one of these books intrigue me, and I can’t wait to them all!

Amanda and I at the 5 p.m panel “The Persisters”, where Alex Bracken, Victoria Aveyard and Danielle Paige talked about feminism, female role models, bad-ass female characters and sexism in media!

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I don’t have any pictures of the 6 p.m finale, but let me tell you that it’s definitely not something you want to miss out on! Several of the authors were called on stage to participate in different games such as “never have I ever” or “taboo” and a few of them read some not-so-great short stories of theirs they’d written back before they had any true writing talent and experience. It was hilarious! Amanda and I were cracking up the entire time.

 

Authors I met/Books I got signed:

 

 

Wendy Spinale (Everland & Umberland)

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Zoraida Cordova (Labyrinth Lost)

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Lauren Oliver (Before I Fall)

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Claudia Gray (Defy the Stars & Star Wars: Lost Stars)

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Tamara Ireland Stone (Every Last Word & Time Between Us)

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Adam Silvera (More Happy Than Not) and Adi Alsaid (Lets Get Lost)

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Tricia Levenseller (Daughter of the Pirate King)

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And that’s a wrap! I had a fabulous time and hope to make YallWest a yearly tradition!

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Most Anticipated of 2017 (First Half)

The beginning of a new years means new debuts and sequels we’ve all been waiting for what feels like forever! Here are my most anticipated releases for the first half of 2017, in no particular order! I’ll post my most anticipated releases for the second half once we’re about halfway through the year.

(p.s. It took me nearly a whole month to get around to making this post, so many of these January releases are now available and on my shelf!)

Sequels:

 

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Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken (Jan 3rd)

 

Passenger was a favorite read of 2016 and ever since I read the last page, I’ve been impatiently awaiting this duologies final installment. I’m desperate to see if Etta and Nick can beat the odds and find their way back to one another as they travel throughout time. This one is already on my shelf, so I’m going to pick it up ASAP!

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Starfall (Starflight #2) by Melissa Landers (Feb 7th)

 

I LOVED the undeniable chemistry between Cassia and Kane in Starflight so I’m ecstatic that they get their own story in Starfall. Plus I’m excited to see more of Solar and Doran and the rest of the crew! I have an empty spot on my shelf just for this book.

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Lifeblood (Everlife #2) by Gena Showalter (Feb 28th)

 

Another sequel in a series I have not yet started but know I will love because of the author!

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Future Threat (Future Shock #1) by Elizabeth Briggs (March 1st)

 

The ending to Future Shock left me feeling sad with the turnout and desperate to see if Elena and her friends are able fix the future without dying in the process. And I can’t wait to see more of the relationship between Elena and the adorably geeky Adam!

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Enemy Exposure (The Raven Files #2) by Meghan Rogers (March 14th)

 

I only just finished Crossing the Line about a week ago and I’m grateful I didn’t pick it up until this month, so I only have to wait until March for book two! I can’t wait to see how Jocelyn tackles the unexpected new changes to her life, to see her take down Kato, and to see the beautiful and inspiring friendship between her and Travis inevitably become something more. I love that the first book was focused more on Jocelyn’s personal healing and her finding first real friendships than it was on the romance. I feel like the build-up from super close friends to romantic interests will be worth the wait! Also, I can’t wait for more high stakes spy missions, super sleuthing and action packed adventure!

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The Adjustment (The Program #4) by Suzanne Young (April 18th)

 

Suzanne Young knows how to write books that make me both sob and swoon at the same time. She’s a pro at writing romance and a pro at creating unique concepts and I can’t wait to be introduced to these new characters in this amazing series about a world where suicide is considered an epidemic!

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Legion (Talon #4) by Julie Kagawa (April 25)

After reading book two of this series, Rogue, I’ve been eagerly anticipating the arrival of book four. According to fellow readers, book three ended in quite the cliffhanger, so I decided to withhold picking it up until Legion’s release! I’m still not sure how many books will be in this series. Five, I think? I honestly hope this is the last one. I just hate waiting for sequel releases! Also, I’m all for Ember and Garrett as an endgame couple, so I’m eager to see how everything turns out between them after how they left things at the end of Rogue.

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A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3) by Sarah J Maas (May 2nd)

 

A Court of Mist and Fury was one of my top 2016 reads, and after that shocking ending I am buzzing with anticipation for the final installment of this trilogy. I just can’t wait to see what Feyre and Rhysand have in store for the spring court. And of course I’m looking forward to more steamy romance scenes as well.

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Lord of Shadows (Lady Midnight #2) by Cassandra Clare (May 23rd)

 

I haven’t even read Lady Midnight yet but I love anything written by Cassandra Clare that takes place in the Shadow Hunter universe so I know it’ll be amazing! I’m waiting until Lord of Shadows is released to start LM.

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Thirteen Rising (Zodiac #4) by Romina Russell (Aug 29th)

 

The Zodiac series is one of my current favorite guilty pleasure reads and I can’t wait for the final book to be released! I was heartbroken over the end of Zodiac and although book three is now out, I can’t even bring myself to pick up book 2 until all four books are out! Maybe I should never again begin a series until all books are released? Nah, I don’t think I could hold myself back. The waiting part is truly awful though!

 

 

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By Authors I Love:

 

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Roseblood by A.G Howard (Jan 10th)

 

A fantasy retelling of Phantom of the Opera! I got this one in the mail via Owlcrate this month!

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History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera (Jan 17th)

 

An LGBT romance following gay teen Griffin as he struggles with obsessive compulsive disorder and the death of his ex boyfriend (and first love) Theo, and finding solace in the one person who understands how he feels-Theo’s new boyfriend, Jackson. I loved Adam Silvera’s debut novel More Happy Than Not, which also featured a gay main character, so I can’t wait to read this one!

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The You I’ve Never Known by Ellen Hopkins (Jan 24th)

 

A contemporary from my favorite writer of prose/verse YA, following two young women as they try to make sense of the unexpected changes in their lives. Ariel, while struggling with her complicated feelings for both Gabe and Monica, is given the shock of her life when the mother she’s never known shows up out of the blue, challenging what Ariel has been told her whole life-her mom didn’t abandon her, her father kidnapped her fourteen years ago. Maya has run away from an abusive mother and into the arms of an older guy she thinks she can trust, but soon finds herself alone and with a baby on the way.

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By Your Side by Kasie West (Jan 31st)

 

A contemporary romance from the queen of contemporary, about two teens who end up locked together in the library for a weekend. They form a grudging friendship despite their differences and despite Autumn’s distate for Dax’s bad boy status.

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Wires and Nerves by Marissa Meyer (Jan 31st)

 

A graphic novel spin-off of The Lunar Chronicles series, following our beloved android Iko as she fights to protect earth from wolf-hybrid soldiers, falls in love and reunites with the rest of the Rampion crew from the original series. I can’t wait to see more of my favorite characters in graphic novel form!

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Off the Ice by Julie Cross (Feb 28th)

 

Claire O’Connor is back in Juniper Falls, the last place she wants to be. She’s only staying long enough to help dad and keep the family business up and running at the hockey bar beside the ice rink. Then there’s Tate Tanley, whom Claire hasn’t seen since the night before she left town, who’s gotten a whole lot hotter than she remembers. When Tate is suddenly recruited to take over for the hockey teams star goalie, he’s thrust into the spotlight. And Claire has sworn off Juniper Falls hockey players for good. But love can’t always be planned, even if the timing is horrible. For both Claire and Tate, hockey is more than just a game, but neither of them may be able to survive a body check to the heart. Julie Cross is one of my new favorite authors. She’s definitely now on my auto-buy list!

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Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennet (April 4th)

 

Classic movie lover Bailey “Mink” Rydell has been crushing for months on the witty film geek she only knows online as “Alex.” They live on opposite coasts until her father moves them to California, to the same surfing town that Alex lives in. Bailey is hesitant at first to tell Alex that’s she now lives in his hometown. What if he thinks she’s stalking him? What if he isn’t who she thinks she is? When she gets a job at the local museum, she immediately finds an arch-nemesis in the hot but irritating security guard, Porter Roth. As Bailey straddles the confusing line between love and hate with Porter, she finds herself having to decide between clinging to her fantasy online crush or jumping into a complicated romance with Porter. But the one thing she doesn’t know is that Porter is Alex….approximately. I loved Bennett’s YA book The Anatomical Shape of a Heart, and this upcoming release sounds so cute and fun!

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Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray (April 4th)

 

Another Sci-fi from Claudia Gray! Noemi and Abel are enemies on opposite sides of an Interstellar war who find themselves having to work together as they set off on a journey through the stars. Noemi is a seventeen year old soldier who vows to protect her planet Genesis, even at the cost of her life. The people of Genesis have fought Earth’s “mech” armies for decades to no avail. To people on earth, she’s seen as a rebel and an enemy. Abel has been abandoned in space for years and is the most sophisticated mech prototype ever made. When a surprise attack leaves Noemi stranded aboard his ship, Abel’s programming gives him no choice but to obey her and aid her in her mission to save Genesis-even though it will kill him. But as they voyage through the galaxy, Noemi begins to see Abel as more than a machine, and Abel’s devotion to her may turn out to be more than just a product of his programming. The last YA Sci-Fi I read from Claudia Gray made my list of 2016 favorite reads, so I’m eagerly anticipating this one.

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A Million Junes by Emily Henry (May 16th)

 

A magical, supernatural twist on Romeo and Juliet! In the town of Five Fingers, Michigan, the O’Donnells and the Angerts each have their own mythical legacies, but both families keep quiet about the incident that caused the century old feud between them, except to state that it started with a Cherry tree. June O’Donnell doesn’t need any more of a reason to hate the Angerts. They were her fathers enemies and will therefore always be hers . But when Saul Angert, the son of her father’s arch rival, returns to town, June finds herself unable to stay away from him and unable to hate this boy she was born to loathe. Saul’s arrival sparks a chain reaction of magic and ghosts conspiring to reveal the truth of the incident that triggered the feud and June must decide whether it’s time for both families to let go of the past.

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Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia (May 30th)

 

In real life, Eliza Mirk is shy, awkward and severely lacking in the friend department. Online, however, she’s known as anonymous creator of the wildly popular web comic Monstrous Sea. When Wallace Warland, Monstrous Seas’ biggest fanfiction writer transfers to her school, Eliza begins to wonder if a life in the real world could be as fulfilling as her life online. But when Eliza’s secret is suddenly shared with the world, the life she’s always known falls apart and she has to find away to navigate this new reality, as well as her growing relationship with Wallace.

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Coming up for Air by Miranda Kenneally (July 1st)

Another of my favorite contemporary romance writers has a new book coming out this summer! Maggie spends all of her free time swimming. She’s swimming for a scholarship and to train to qualify for the Olympics. Her best friend Levi is on her team and always there to cheer her on, but he’s already earned an Olympic tryout and Maggie feels even more pressured to put all of her focus into swimming. But when Maggie goes away on a college visit, she begins to see how many high school experiences she’s missed out on by spending so much time being in the pool. And so she decides to make the most out of her senior year. The first thing on her list is to make out with a guy, and Maggie thinks Levi just might be the perfect candidate, as they already spend a lot of time together. But as she finds her feelings for Levi changing, she must determine how much she is willing to lose in order to win.

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What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum (July 11th)

When an unexpected friendship develops between the popular Kit Lowell and the socially isolated David Drucker, everyone is surprised. Kit is drawn to David’s blunt honesty and David admires Kit’s inquisitive nature. When Kit asks David to help her look into the tragic car accident that resulted in her fathers death, he jumps right in. But the truth isn’t what they’d expected and their friendship may not be able to survive the truth. Tell Me Three Things was one of my favorite reads of 2016 so I can’t wait for Julie’s second YA novel!

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This is How it Happened by Paula Stokes (July 11th)

 

Amazon Synopsis:

The author of Girl Against the Universe and Liars, Inc. plunges readers into a world where the internet is always watching—and judging—in this compelling story about mistakes, repercussions, and online vigilante justice. Perfect for fans of Sarah Darer Littman’s Backlash or Robyn Schneider’s The Beginning of Everything.

After waking up from a coma, Genevieve Grace can’t remember the car crash that killed her boyfriend Dallas, a YouTuber turned teen music idol. Genevieve knows she was driving, but because of what’s been reported in the media, everyone assumes the other driver, Brad Freeman, is guilty. As she slowly pieces together the night of the accident, Genevieve is hit with a sickening sense of dread—what if she’s the one at fault?

While the internet and social media viciously condemn Brad, Genevieve escapes to her father’s house near Zion National Park to hide from curious classmates and intrusive reporters. But she quickly realizes that she can’t run away from the accident. And eventually, she will have to come to grips with what happened…and her role in it.

I loved Stokers’ novel Girl Against the Universe-it was one of my favorite reads of 2016! Although this book sounds a lot darker than GATU, I’m looking forward to reading more of her work.

 

 

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Contemporary’s:

 

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Under a Rose Tinted Sky by Louise Gornall (Jan 3rd)

Amazon Synopsis:

Norah has agoraphobia and OCD. When groceries are left on the porch, she can’t step out to get them. Struggling to snag the bags with a stick, she meets Luke. He’s sweet and funny, and he just caught her fishing for groceries. Because of course he did.  

     Norah can’t leave the house, but can she let someone in? As their friendship grows deeper, Norah realizes Luke deserves a normal girl. One who can lie on the front lawn and look up at the stars. One who isn’t so screwed up. 

     Readers themselves will fall in love with Norah in this poignant, humorous, and deeply engaging portrait of a teen struggling to find the strength to face her demons.



This story concept surrounding a mentally ill teen confined to her house due to agoraphobia has been done before, but that doesn’t make me any less intrigued! I’m interested to see which direction this author decides to take with this story and with Norah’s complicated romance with Luke.
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Whenever I’m With You by Lydia Sharp (Jan 3rd)

Amazon Synopsis:

After Gabi’s parents’ divorce, she moves from California to Alaska with her dad. At first, it feels like banishment–until she meets Kai. He welcomes her into his life, sharing his family, his friends, and his warmth. But as winter approaches, Kai pulls away for seemingly no reason at all. He’s quiet, withdrawn. Then one day, he disappears.

Kai’s twin brother, Hunter, believes Kai is retracing their missing father’s steps in the wilderness north of Anchorage. There’s a blizzard on the way, and Kai is alone out there. Gabi’s frustration over his emotional distance quickly turns to serious concern. This is the boy who saved her from the dark. She can’t lose him to it.

So Gabi and Hunter agree to head out together on a wild journey north–a trip that will challenge them physically and emotionally, as they try to convince the boy they love to return home.

 

I will NEVER tire of road trip books and books that involve treks through the wilderness! They’re never boring and full of adventure and self discovery. I bought this on my kindle the day it came out and I can’t wait to read it.

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A Season of Daring Greatly by Ellen Emerson White (Feb 14th)

 

Amazon Synopsis:

Eighteen-year-old Jill Cafferty just made history. Her high school’s star pitcher, she is now the first woman drafted by a major league baseball team. Only days after her high school graduation, she’ll join the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Class A Short Season team . . . but not everyone is happy to have her there.

On top of the pressure heaped on every pitcher, Jill must deal with defying conventions and living up to impossible expectations, all while living away from home for the first time. She’ll go head-to-head against those who are determined to keep baseball an all-male sport. Despite the reassurance of coaches and managers alike, a few of her teammates are giving her trouble. The media presence following her at each game is inescapable. And to top it all off, Jill is struggling with the responsibilities of being a national hero and a role model for young women everywhere. How can she be a role model when she’s not even sure she made the right choice for herself? Didn’t baseball used to be fun?

This literary and engrossing story of a young woman trying to mark out a place for herself in a male-dominated world will captivate fans of Friday Night Lights, The Art of Fielding, John Corey Whaley, and Laurie Halse Anderson.

 

I really enjoy sports books involving female main characters slaying at sports usually dominated by men, so this one sounds right up my alley.

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Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer (April 4th)

 

Amazon Synopsis:

Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother’s death, she leaves letters at her grave. It’s the only way Juliet can cope.

Declan Murphy isn’t the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he’s trying to escape the demons of his past.

When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can’t resist writing back. Soon, he’s opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they’re not actually strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.

 

I love romances that involve letters being passed back an forth. It’s a very old timey concept that I never tire of and I love the idea of two teens falling for each other through anonymous letters in which they share their deepest thoughts and fears and insecurities. Looking forward to this ones release!

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How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake (May 2nd)

 

Amazon Synopsis:

Grace, tough and wise, has nearly given up on wishes, thanks to a childhood spent with her unpredictable, larger-than-life mother. But this summer, Grace meets Eva, a girl who believes in dreams, despite her own difficult circumstances. 

      One fateful evening, Eva climbs through a window in Grace’s room, setting off a chain of stolen nights on the beach. When Eva tells Grace that she likes girls, Grace’s world opens up and she begins to believe in happiness again. 

      How to Make a Wish is an emotionally charged portrait of a mother and daughter’s relationship and a heartfelt story about two girls who find each other at the exact right time.



I very recently finished Blake’s first novel Suffer Love and I thoroughly enjoyed it, so I can’t wait to read her first f/f romance!
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Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy (May 9th)

 

Amazon Synopsis:

From Julie Murphy, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dumplin’ and Side Effects May Vary, comes another fearless heroine, Ramona Blue, in a gorgeously evocative novel about family, friendship, and how sometimes love can be more fluid than you first think. Perfect for fans of Rainbow Rowell and Morgan Matson.

Ramona was only five years old when Hurricane Katrina changed her life forever.

Since then, it’s been Ramona and her family against the world. Standing over six feet tall with unmistakable blue hair, Ramona is sure of three things: she likes girls, she’s fiercely devoted to her family, and she knows she’s destined for something bigger than the trailer she calls home in Eulogy, Mississippi. But juggling multiple jobs, her flaky mom, and her well-meaning but ineffectual dad forces her to be the adult of the family. Now, with her sister, Hattie, pregnant, responsibility weighs more heavily than ever.

The return of her childhood friend Freddie brings a welcome distraction. Ramona’s friendship with the former competitive swimmer picks up exactly where it left off, and soon he’s talked her into joining him for laps at the pool. But as Ramona falls in love with swimming, her feelings for Freddie begin to shift too, which is the last thing she expected. With her growing affection for Freddie making her question her sexual identity, Ramona begins to wonder if perhaps she likes girls and guys or if this new attraction is just a fluke. Either way, Ramona will discover that, for her, life and love are more fluid than they seem.

 

I’m always looking for books with bisexual representation! This one sounds super cute and compelling and I can’t wait to read more about Ramona and Freddie.

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Grit by Gillian French (May 16th)

 

Amazon Synopsis:

Raw and moving, this contemporary realistic debut novel will leave readers of E. Lockhart and Gayle Forman breathless as it unflinchingly unfolds the tragic secrets being kept in a small, deceptively idyllic Maine town.

Seventeen-year-old Darcy Prentiss has long held the title of “town slut.” She knows how to have a good time, sure, but she isn’t doing anything all the guys haven’t done. But when you’re a girl with a reputation, every little thing that happens seems to keep people whispering—especially when your ex-best friend goes missing.

But if anyone were to look closer at Darcy, they’d realize there’s a lot more going on beneath the surface. Staying out late, hooking up, and telling lies is what Darcy does to forget. Forget about the mysterious disappearance of her friend. Forget about the dark secret she and her cousin Nell share. Forget about that hazy Fourth of July night. So when someone in town anonymously nominates Darcy to be in the running for Bay Festival Princess—a cruel act only someone with a score to settle would make—all of the things that Darcy wants to keep hidden threaten to erupt in ways she wasn’t prepared to handle…and isn’t sure if she can.

I love dark stories and I love sexually confident and empowered female characters, and this one sounds mysterious and compelling!

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Maybe in Paris by Rebecca Christiansen (June 20th)

 

Amazon Synopsis:

Keira Braidwood lands in Paris with her autistic brother, Levi, and high hopes. Levi has just survived a suicide attempt and months in the psych ward—he’s ready for a dose of the wider world. Unlike their helicopter mom and the doctors who hover over Levi, Keira doesn’t think Levi’s certifiable. He’s just . . . quirky. Always has been.

Those quirks quickly begin to spoil the trip. Keira wants to traipse all over Europe; Levi barely wants to leave their grubby hotel room. She wants to dine on the world’s cuisine; he only wants fast food. Levi is one giant temper tantrum, and Keira’s ready to pull out her own hair.

She finally finds the adventure she craves in Gable, a hot Scottish bass player, but while Keira flirts in the Paris Catacombs, Levi’s mental health breaks. He disappears from their hotel room and Keira realizes, too late, that her brother is sicker than she was willing to believe. To bring him home safe, Keira must tear down the wall that Levi’s sickness and her own guilt have built between them.

I like the autistic representation and of course I’m always up for some romance and adventure and family drama taking place in Paris!

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Run the Risk by Alisson van Diepen (April 11th)

Amazon Synopsis:

From the author of On the Edge and Light of Day, Run the Risk is a romantic and gritty story, perfect for fans of Simone Elkeles.

Grace has done her best to move on since her ex-boyfriend Mateo chose gang life over her. But even though years have passed, she hasn’t forgotten him—especially since she’s seen her younger brother Alex drawn to a life on the streets. She can’t bear to think of Alex making the same mistakes as Mateo, but she feels him slipping away.

So when Mateo suddenly resurfaces, insisting he’s left gang life behind him, Grace sees an opportunity. Maybe he could be the one to reach Alex and pull him away from the edge. She tells herself she’s only talking to Mateo again because of Alex, but her feelings quickly return. Can she ever trust Mateo again? And is saving her brother worth risking a broken heart? With everyone she loves in danger, Grace must decide how much to sacrifice before it’s too late.

Run the Risk is set in the same world as Allison van Diepen’s previous novels Light of Day and On the Edge (readers will recognize some of their favorite characters in this book) and features a diverse cast. With romance, action, and realistic friendships, this is a gripping story about the dangers one girl faces to save the people she loves.

 

They had me at “perfect for fans of Simone Elkeles”! This story sounds perfectly dangerous and romantic, just like Elkeles books so I have high hopes!

 

 

 

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Debuts:

 

100liessaintsandthievespoisonskissafterthefallcaravalbreakaboywaitformetocatchakillerpiratekingsevendayswelcomeuniversebloodroselastthingcoldsummeroutofwaterloveinterestlyingdimplemetrishiperfect10wingjones

The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti (Jan 3rd)

 

Amazon Synopsis:

Hawthorn wasn’t trying to insert herself into a missing person’s investigation. Or maybe she was. But that’s only because Lizzie Lovett’s disappearance is the one fascinating mystery their sleepy town has ever had. Bad things don’t happen to popular girls like Lizzie Lovett, and Hawthorn is convinced she’ll turn up at any moment-which means the time for speculation is now.

So Hawthorn comes up with her own theory for Lizzie’s disappearance.  A theory way too absurd to take seriously…at first. The more Hawthorn talks, the more she believes. And what better way to collect evidence than to immerse herself in Lizzie’s life? Like getting a job at the diner where Lizzie worked and hanging out with Lizzie’s boyfriend. After all, it’s not as if he killed her-or did he?

Told with a unique voice that is both hilarious and heart-wrenching, Hawthorn’s quest for proof may uncover the greatest truth is within herself.

This sounds super mysterious and unique and I love the idea of a girl immersing herself in another girls life in order to solve her disappearance. I sense lots of potential drama, unexpected twists and some possible romantic tension too!

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Poison’s Kiss by Breeana Shields (Jan 10th)

 

Amazon Synopsis:

A teenage assassin kills with a single kiss until she is ordered to kill the one boy she loves. This commercial YA fantasy is romantic and addictive—like a poison kiss—and will thrill fans of Sarah J. Maas and Victoria Aveyard.
 

Marinda has kissed dozens of boys. They all die afterward. It’s a miserable life, but being a visha kanya—a poison maiden—is what she was created to do. Marinda serves the Raja by dispatching his enemies with only her lips as a weapon.
 
Until now, the men she was ordered to kiss have been strangers, enemies of the kingdom. Then she receives orders to kiss Deven, a boy she knows too well to be convinced he needs to die. She begins to question who she’s really working for. And that is a thread that, once pulled, will unravel more than she can afford to lose.
 
This rich, surprising, and accessible debut is based in Indian folklore and delivers a story that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

I’ve read plenty of books featuring main characters will a kiss or touch that kills, but I like the twist on this one-the main characters job is to use her power as an assassination tool, and the overall story is based on Indian folklore. Can’t wait to dive in!

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After the Fall by Kate Hart (Jan 24th)

 

Amazon Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Raychel is sleeping with two boys: her overachieving best friend Matt…and his slacker brother, Andrew. Raychel sneaks into Matt’s bed after nightmares, but nothing ever happens. He doesn’t even seem to realize she’s a girl, except when he decides she needs rescuing. But Raychel doesn’t want to be his girl anyway. She just needs his support as she deals with the classmate who assaulted her, the constant threat of her family’s eviction, and the dream of college slipping quickly out of reach. Matt tries to help, but he doesn’t really get it… and he’d never understand why she’s fallen into a secret relationship with his brother. The friendships are a precarious balance, and when tragedy strikes, everything falls apart. Raychel has to decide which pieces she can pick up – and which ones are worth putting back together.

I’ve been hearing great things about this book for weeks now. It sounds dark and compelling and I’m especially interested because it’s told from both Raychel and Matt’s POV’s. Books about sexual assault can be difficult to read but I’m eager to see how Raychel copes and how her relationships with the two brothers work out.

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Caraval by Stephanie Garber (Jan 31st)

 

Amazon Synopsis:

Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or a performance. It’s the closest you’ll ever find to magic in this world . . .

Welcome, welcome to Caraval―Stephanie Garber’s sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game.

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

I always look forward to any book in which sibling love and loyalty is one of the main focuses. I’ve had my eyes on this one for several months now. I was intrigued by the idea of a magical circus full of fantastical performances and elaborate games. I’ve seen some teaser quotes from the book on twitter that hint at plenty of romance as well (;

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How to Break a Boy by Laurie Devore (Jan 31st)

Amazon Synopsis:

In this YA contemporary romance, there’s only one rule: Keep your enemies close and your friends closer.

Olivia Clayton has mastered the art of tearing others down to stay on top. She and her best friend, Adrienne, rule their small southern town like all good mean girls do—through intimidation and manipulation.

Until Olivia suffers a family tragedy and catches Adrienne sleeping with her boyfriend. Olivia decides to make a change, but it’s impossible to resist taking down Adrienne one last time. Up to her old tricks, Olivia convinces golden boy Whit Du Rant to be her SAT tutor and her fake boyfriend. But when it starts to feel real, Whit gets caught up in Olivia and Adrienne’s war.

Olivia may ruin everything she touches, but she won’t go down without a fight—not if it means losing Whit.

And definitely not if it means losing what’s left of herself.

This sounds wonderfully dramatic and fun. I can’t wait to see how Olivia enacts her revenge and the fake-relationship-turned-something-more has always been a cute romance trope that I love!

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Wait for Me by Caroline Leech (Jan 31st)

 

Amazon Synopsis:

The perfect blend of sweet romance and historical flavor, Wait for Me, from debut author Caroline Leech, brings a fresh new voice to a much-loved genre.

It’s 1945, and Lorna Anderson’s life on her father’s farm in Scotland consists of endless chores and rationing, knitting Red Cross scarves, and praying for an Allied victory. So when Paul Vogel, a German prisoner of war, is assigned as the new farmhand, Lorna is appalled. How can she possibly work alongside the enemy when her own brothers are risking their lives for their country?

But as Lorna reluctantly spends time with Paul, she feels herself changing. The more she learns about him—from his time in the war to his life back home in Germany—the more she sees the boy behind the soldier. Soon Lorna is battling her own warring heart. Loving Paul could mean losing her family and the life she’s always known. With tensions rising all around them, Lorna must decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice before the end of the war determines their fate.

I’m usually not one for books taking place during the war period, but this one just might be an exception! I love the idea of two teens from opposite sides falling for each other, and I’ve never read a book taking place in the 40’s so this should be interesting!

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To Catch a Killer by Sheryl Scarborough ( Feb 7th)

 

Amazon Synopsis:

In To Catch a Killer, a contemporary mystery by debut author Sheryl Scarborough, a teenage girl uses forensic science to solve the cold-case murder of her mother.

Erin Blake has one of those names. A name that, like Natalee Holloway or Elizabeth Smart, is inextricably linked to a grisly crime. As a toddler, Erin survived for three days alongside the corpse of her murdered mother, and the case—which remains unsolved—fascinated a nation. Her father’s identity unknown, Erin was taken in by her mother’s best friend and has become a relatively normal teen in spite of the looming questions about her past.

Fourteen years later, Erin is once again at the center of a brutal homicide when she finds the body of her biology teacher. When questioned by the police, Erin tells almost the whole truth, but never voices her suspicions that her mother’s killer has struck again in order to protect the casework she’s secretly doing on her own.

Inspired by her uncle, an FBI agent, Erin has ramped up her forensic hobby into a full-blown cold-case investigation. This new murder makes her certain she’s close to the truth, but when all the evidence starts to point the authorities straight to Erin, she turns to her longtime crush (and fellow suspect) Journey Michaels to help her crack the case before it’s too late.

I will never EVER tire of murder/mysteries. This one sounds deliciously creepy, daring and fast-paced. Plus there’s the added bonus of some romance as well!

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Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller (Feb 28th)

 

Amazon Synopsis:

There will be plenty of time for me to beat him soundly once I’ve gotten what I came for.

Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map―the key to a legendary treasure trove―seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship.

More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.

In Daughter of the Pirate King, debut author Tricia Levenseller blends action, adventure, romance, and a little bit of magic into a thrilling YA pirate tale.

PIRATES. That’s one thing I wish I could find more of in YA. I’m always dreaming of books involving pirate ships and adventure and magic. This book had my attention as soon as I saw the title. And it’s a pleasant bonus that our main character is a female pirate captain! So bad-ass!

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Seven Days of You by Cecelia Vinesse (March 7th)

 

Amazon Synopsis:

Anna and the French Kiss meets Before Sunrise in this smart and swoony debut.

Sophia has seven days left in Tokyo before she moves back to the States. Seven Days to say good-bye to the electric city, her wild best friend, and the boy she’s harbored a semi-secret crush on for years. Seven perfect days….Until Jamie Foster-Collins moves back to Japan and ruins everything.

Jamie and Sophia have a history of heartbreak, and the last thing Sophia wants is for him to steal her leaving thunder with his stupid arriving thunder. Yet as the week counts down, the relationships she thought were stable begin to explode around her. And Jamie is the one who helps her pick up the pieces. Sophia is forced to admit she may have misjudged Jamie, but can their seven short days of Tokyo adventures end in anything but good-bye?

 

Another thing I don’t think YA has enough of is books taking place in countries other than America or Europe. I’m so excited that this one takes place in Tokyo! I can’t wait to see how this complicated overseas romance plays out.

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You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner (March 7th)

Amazon Synopsis:

When Julia finds a slur about her best friend scrawled across the back of the Kingston School for the Deaf, she covers it up with a beautiful (albeit illegal) graffiti mural.
 
Her supposed best friend snitches, the principal expels her, and her two mothers set Julia up with a one-way ticket to a “mainstream” school in the suburbs, where she’s treated like an outcast as the only deaf student. The last thing she has left is her art, and not even Banksy himself could convince her to give that up.
 
Out in the ’burbs, Julia paints anywhere she can, eager to claim some turf of her own. But Julia soon learns that she might not be the only vandal in town. Someone is adding to her tags, making them better, showing off—and showing Julia up in the process. She expected her art might get painted over by cops. But she never imagined getting dragged into a full-blown graffiti war.
 
Told with wit and grit by debut author Whitney Gardner, who also provides gorgeous interior illustrations of Julia’s graffiti tags, You’re Welcome, Universe introduces audiences to a one-of-a-kind protagonist who is unabashedly herself no matter what life throws in her way.

A book featuring a deaf main character and a graffiti war is something I didn’t know I needed until now. I love books involving the arts and I can’t wait to find out who Julia’s anonymous opponent is!

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The Heartbeats of Wing Jones by Katherine Webber (March 14th)

Amazon Synopsis:

Jandy Nelson meets Friday Night Lights in this sweeping, warm, arrestingly original novel about family, poverty, and hope.
 
Wing Jones, like everyone else in her town, has worshipped her older brother, Marcus, for as long as she can remember. Good-looking, popular, and the star of the football team, Marcus is everything his sister is not.
 
Until the night everything changes when Marcus, drunk at the wheel after a party, kills two people and barely survives himself. With Marcus now in a coma, Wing is crushed, confused, and angry. She is tormented at school for Marcus’s mistake, haunted at home by her mother and grandmothers’ grief. In addition to all this, Wing is scared that the bank is going to repossess her home because her family can’t afford Marcus’s mounting medical bills.
 
Every night, unable to sleep, Wing finds herself sneaking out to go to the school’s empty track. When Aaron, Marcus’s best friend, sees her running one night, he recognizes that her speed, skill, and agility could get her spot on the track team. And better still, an opportunity at a coveted sponsorship from a major athletic gear company. Wing can’t pass up the opportunity to train with her longtime crush and to help her struggling family, but can she handle being thrust out of Marcus’s shadow and into the spotlight?

Although the synopsis of this book sounds heavy and bleak, I was immediately intrigued at the prospect of reading the POV of a teenage girl whose big brother-and biggest role model-makes a terrible mistake, thus changing her perspective of him forever. I can already sense that this book will bring many tears but I’m super eager to see how the author handles this topic. Plus, here’s a fun fact: I’ve actually had a very similar story idea about a girl whose older brother is the best person she knows until the day he drives drunk and kills another driver, killing himself in the process. So I really want to see how Webber chooses to write this story.

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Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves (March 28th)

 

Amazon Synopsis:


The thrilling first book in a YA fantasy trilogy for fans of
Red Queen. In a world where social prestige derives from a trifecta of blood, money, and magic, one girl has the ability to break the spell that holds the social order in place.

Sixteen-year-old Anna Arden is barred from society by a defect of blood. Though her family is part of the Luminate, powerful users of magic, she is Barren, unable to perform the simplest spells. Anna would do anything to belong. But her fate takes another course when, after inadvertently breaking her sister’s debutante spell—an important chance for a highborn young woman to show her prowess with magic—Anna finds herself exiled to her family’s once powerful but now crumbling native Hungary.
 
Her life might well be over.
 
In Hungary, Anna discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. Not the people around her, from her aloof cousin Noémi to the fierce and handsome Romani Gábor. Not the society she’s known all her life, for discontent with the Luminate is sweeping the land. And not her lack of magic. Isolated from the only world she cares about, Anna still can’t seem to stop herself from breaking spells.
 
As rebellion spreads across the region, Anna’s unique ability becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romani, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she’s always wanted, or embrace her ability and change that world forever.

I’ve had an eye on this one for awhile now too! The concept of a girl living in a world of magic but having no magical abilities herself is one that immediately captured my attention. I can’t wait to see which side of the rebellion Anna winds up on, and how her relationship with Romani develops.

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The Last Thing You Said by Sara Biren (April 4th)

 

Amazon Synopsis:

Last summer, Lucy’s and Ben’s lives changed in an instant. One moment, they were shyly flirting on a lake raft, finally about to admit their feelings to each other after years of yearning. In the next, Trixie—Lucy’s best friend and Ben’s sister—was gone, her heart giving out during a routine swim. And just like that, the idyllic world they knew turned upside down, and the would-be couple drifted apart, swallowed up by their grief. Now it’s a year later in their small lake town, and as the anniversary of Trixie’s death looms, Lucy and Ben’s undeniable connection pulls them back together. They can’t change what happened the day they lost Trixie, but the summer might finally bring them closer to healing—and to each other.

Another dark but intriguing story idea. I’m looking forward to seeing how Lucy and Ben help each other move past Trixie’s death and whether or not they can find a way to be happy together again.

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Girl Out of Water by Laura Silverman (May 2nd)

 

Amazon Synopsis:

Fans of Jenny Han and Sarah Dessen will fall in love this contemporary debut about finding yourself-and finding love-in unexpected places.

Ocean breeze in her hair and sand between her toes, Anise can’t wait to spend the summer before her senior year surfing and hanging out on the beach with friends. Santa Cruz is more than her home-it’s her heart. But when her aunt, a single mother, is in a serious car accident, Anise must say goodbye to California to help care for her three young cousins.

Landlocked Nebraska is the last place Anise wants to be. Sure, she loves her family, but it’s hard to put her past behind her when she’s living in the childhood house of the mother who abandoned her. And with every Instagram post, her friends back home feel further away.

Then she meets Lincoln, a charismatic, one-armed skater who challenges her to swap her surfboard for a skateboard. Because sometimes the only way to find your footing is to let go.

As I mentioned above, I never tire of sports romances where the girl is equally as sporty as the guy. Bring it on!

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Cold Summer by Gwen Cole (May 2nd)

 

Amazon Synopsis:

Today, he’s a high school dropout with no future.

Tomorrow, he’s a soldier in World War II.

Kale Jackson has spent years trying to control his time-traveling ability but hasn’t had much luck. One day he lives in 1945, fighting in the war as a sharpshooter and helplessly watching soldiers—friends—die. Then the next day, he’s back in the present, where WWII has bled into his modern life in the form of PTSD, straining his relationship with his father and the few friends he has left. Every day it becomes harder to hide his battle wounds, both physical and mental, from the past.

When the ex-girl-next-door, Harper, moves back to town, thoughts of what could be if only he had a normal life begin to haunt him. Harper reminds him of the person he was before the PTSD, which helps anchor him to the present. With practice, maybe Kale could remain in the present permanently and never step foot on a battlefield again. Maybe he can have the normal life he craves.

But then Harper finds Kale’s name in a historical article—and he’s listed as a casualty of the war. Is Kale’s death inevitable? Does this mean that, one of these days, when Kale travels to the past, he may not come back?

Kale knows now that he must learn to control his time-traveling ability to save himself and his chance at a life with Harper. Otherwise, he’ll be killed in a time where he doesn’t belong by a bullet that was never meant for him.

Another book taking place during the war period that I’m actually very eager to read! I love the added twist of parallel worlds and a boy stuck in between them. I’m marking this ones release date on my calendar.
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The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich (May 16th)

Amazon Synopsis:

There is a secret organization that cultivates teenage spies. The agents are called Love Interests because getting close to people destined for great power means getting valuable secrets.

Caden is a Nice: The boy next door, sculpted to physical perfection. Dylan is a Bad: The brooding, dark-souled guy, and dangerously handsome. The girl they are competing for is important to the organization, and each boy will pursue her. Will she choose a Nice or the Bad?

Both Caden and Dylan are living in the outside world for the first time. They are well-trained and at the top of their games. They have to be – whoever the girl doesn’t choose will die.

What the boys don’t expect are feelings that are outside of their training. Feelings that could kill them both.

I never ever tire of spy-centric YA novels.  I love all the sleuthing and hacking and action that come with them. And is it just me who is sensing a possible gay romance here between Caden and Dylan, or am I simply delusional? Guess I’ll have to wait and find out!

 

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When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon (May 30th)

 

Amazon Synopsis:

A laugh-out-loud, heartfelt YA romantic comedy, told in alternating perspectives, about two Indian-American teens whose parents have arranged for them to be married.

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

People have been talking about this book for months and I can see why! I’ve never read a YA romance about a modern day arranged marriage. I can’t wait to see how these two Indian-American teens fall in love despite being brought together by their parents expectations.

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One of Us is Lying by Karen M. Mcmanus (May 30th)

 

Amazon Synopsis:

The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars, One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.
 

Pay close attention and you might solve this.
On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
    Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
    Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
    Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
    Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
    And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.
 
Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose? Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

They had me at “The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars”. I can’t wait to put my detective skills to the test to try and figure out who the killer is!

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Perfect Ten by L. Philips (June  6th)

Amazon Synopsis:

Who is Sam Raines’s Perfect Ten? 

It’s been two years since Sam broke up with the only other eligible gay guy in his high school, so to say he’s been going through a romantic drought is the understatement of the decade. When Meg, his ex-Catholic-turned-Wiccan best friend, suggests performing a love spell, Sam is just desperate enough to try. He crafts a list of ten traits he wants in a boyfriend and burns it in a cemetery at midnight on Friday the thirteenth.
 
Enter three seemingly perfect guys, all in pursuit of Sam. There’s Gus, the suave French exchange student; Jamie, the sweet and shy artist; and Travis, the guitar-playing tattooed enigma. Even Sam’s ex-boyfriend, Landon, might want another chance.
 
But does a Perfect Ten even exist? Find out in this delectable coming-of-age romcom with just a touch of magic.

A m/m rom-com? Say no more.

 

 

 

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Fantasy:

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Frostblood by Elly Blake (Jan 10th)

Amazon Synopsis:
Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a Fireblood who has concealed her powers of heat and flame from the cruel Frostblood ruling class her entire life. But when her mother is killed trying to protect her, and rebel Frostbloods demand her help to overthrow their bloodthirsty king, she agrees to come out of hiding, desperate to have her revenge.
Despite her unpredictable abilities, Ruby trains with the rebels and the infuriating–yet irresistible–Arcus, who seems to think of her as nothing more than a weapon. But before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to compete in the king’s tournaments that pit Fireblood prisoners against Frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her–and from the icy young man she has come to love.
Vivid and compelling, Frostblood is the first in an exhilarating series about a world where flame and ice are mortal enemies…but together create a power that could change everything.


I’ve had my eye on this one for awhile. I love the idea of a world in which people are divided by two drastically different magical abilities, and I can’t wait to see how the romance between a Fireblood and Frostblood plays out!
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The Valiant by Lesley Livingston (Feb 14th)

 

Amazon Synopsis:

Princess. Captive. Gladiator. Always a Warrior.
 

Fallon is the daughter of a proud Celtic king and the younger sister of the legendary fighter Sorcha. When Fallon was just a child, Sorcha was killed by the armies of Julius Caesar.
 
On the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is excited to follow in her sister’s footsteps and earn her place in her father’s war band. She never gets the chance.
 
Fallon is captured and sold to an elite training school for female gladiators—owned by none other than Julius Caesar himself. In a cruel twist of fate, the man who destroyed Fallon’s family might be her only hope of survival.
 
Now, Fallon must overcome vicious rivalries, deadly fights in and out of the arena, and perhaps the most dangerous threat of all: her irresistible feelings for Cai, a young Roman soldier and her sworn enemy.  
 
A richly imagined fantasy for fans of Sarah J. Maas and Cinda Williams Chima, The Valiant recounts Fallon’s gripping journey from fierce Celtic princess to legendary gladiator and darling of the Roman empire.

An elite training school for female gladiators?! A romance between two teens who are sworn enemies? That’s all I needed to hear. Count me in.

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Hunted by Meagan Spooner (March 14th)

Amazon Synopsis:

Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones–and in her blood. 

 Though Yeva grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them. 

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

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

 

This sounds like an intriguing retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and I’m never one to turn down a fairy tale remix. This version sounds like it has a little bit of magic and fantasy as well!

 

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Summoner Rising by Melanie McFarlane (March 28th)

 

Amazon Synopsis:

Law One: A summoner is responsible for all creatures she lets through from the netherworld.

Dacie Cantar wishes someone had explained the Laws of Summoning to her before she watched a shadowy creature crawl out of a painting at the local arcade.

But at least it explains the strange things she’s witnessed since moving in with her great-aunt, after her mother’s untimely death. But who wants to be followed by shadows the rest of their life?

Add that to being stalked by a strange boy at school, who just might be her Tovaros or soulmate, and it’s about all Dacie can handle in her new life.

As she nears her seventeenth birthday, will she be ready for her new responsibilities, or will the shadows that stalked her mother until her death, finally consume Dacie, too?

And then there’s Law Two…

 

To be honest, what first drew me to this book was its cover. But the premise sounds interesting too, and I can’t wait to read more about the netherworld and all of its creatures.

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Towards a Secret Sky by Heather Maclean (April 4th)

Amazon Synopsis:

Toward a Secret Sky by New York Times bestselling author Heather Maclean is a new breed of YA novel: an intelligent adventure-quest crossed with a sweeping, forbidden love story. A mix of reality and possibility, this fast-paced thriller will appeal to fans of Stephenie Meyer and Dan Brown as it leads the reader on a breathless flight through the highlands of Scotland, the secret city under London, and history itself.

Shortly after 17-year-old Maren Hamilton is orphaned and sent to live with grandparents she’s never met in Scotland, she receives an encrypted journal from her dead mother that makes her and everyone around her a target. It confirms that her parents were employed by a secret, international organization that’s now intent on recruiting her. As Maren works to unravel the clues left behind by her mother, a murderous madness sweeps through the local population, terrorizing her small town. Maren must decide if she’ll continue her parents’ fight or stay behind to save her friends.

With the help of Gavin, an otherworldly mercenary she’s not supposed to fall in love with, and Graham, a charming aristocrat who is entranced with her, Maren races against the clock and around the country from palatial estates with twisted labyrinths to famous cathedrals with booby-trapped subterranean crypts to stay ahead of the enemy and find a cure. Along the way, she discovers the great truth of love: that laying down your life for another isn’t as hard as watching them sacrifice everything for you.

 

Forbidden romance and booby traps and labyrinths? I’m intrigued.

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Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis (April 11th)

Amazon Synopsis:

Kings and Queens rise and fall, loyalties collide, and romance blooms in a world where the sea is rising—and cannot be escaped.

Khosa is Given to the Sea, a girl born to be fed to the water, her flesh preventing a wave like the one that destroyed the Kingdom of Stille in days of old. But before she’s allowed to dancean uncontrollable twitching of the limbs that will carry her to the shore in a frenzy—she must produce an heir. Yet the thought of human touch sends shudders down her spine that not even the sound of the tide can match.

Vincent is third in line to inherit his throne, royalty in a kingdom where the old linger and the young inherit only boredom. When Khosa arrives without an heir he knows his father will ensure she fulfills her duty, at whatever cost. Torn between protecting the throne he will someday fill, and the girl whose fate is tied to its very existence, Vincent’s loyalty is at odds with his heart.

Dara and Donil are the last of the Indiri, a native race whose dwindling magic grows weaker as the island country fades. Animals cease to bear young, creatures of the sea take to the land, and the Pietra—fierce fighters who destroyed the Indiri a generation before—are now marching from their stony shores for the twin’s adopted homeland, Stille.

Witt leads the Pietra, their army the only family he has ever known. The stone shores harbor a secret, a growing threat that will envelop the entire land—and he will conquer every speck of soil to ensure the survival of his people.

The tides are turning in Stille, where royals scheme, Pietrans march, and the rising sea calls for its Given.

 

 This sounds really interesting, I can’t wait to read more about Khosa and Vincent and their kingdoms!

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Roar by Cora Carmack (June 13th)

 

Amazon Synopsis:

New York Times bestselling author Cora Carmack’s young adult debut: Roar.

In a land ruled and shaped by violent magical storms, power lies with those who control them.

Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people.

To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. At first, the prince seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks―storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings. They’re storm hunters.

Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage.
She might not have magic now, but she can steal it if she’s brave enough.

Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master.

 

I love Cora’s New Adult books so I can’t wait to read her debut YA Fantasy!

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The Library of Fates by Aditi (July 18th)

 

Amazon Synopsis:

A romantic coming-of-age fantasy tale steeped in Indian folklore, perfect for fans of The Star-Touched Queen and The Wrath and the Dawn

No one is entirely certain what brings the Emperor Sikander to Shalingar. Until now, the idyllic kingdom has been immune to his many violent conquests. To keep the visit friendly, Princess Amrita has offered herself as his bride, sacrificing everything—family, her childhood love, and her freedom—to save her people. But her offer isn’t enough.

The unthinkable happens, and Amrita finds herself a fugitive, utterly alone but for an oracle named Thala, who was kept by Sikander as a slave and managed to escape amid the chaos of a palace under siege. With nothing and no one else to turn to, Amrita and Thala are forced to rely on each other. But while Amrita feels responsible for her kingdom and sets out to warn her people, the newly free Thala has no such ties. She encourages Amrita to go on a quest to find the fabled Library of All Things, where it is possible for each of them to reverse their fates. To go back to before Sikander took everything from them.

Stripped of all that she loves, caught between her rosy past and an unknown future, will Amrita be able to restore what was lost, or does another life—and another love—await?


I’m looking forward to this culturally diverse fantasy! I haven’t read many books involving Indian folklore.
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New Adult/Adult (17+) :

 

Image result for dating you hating youImage result for brave jennifer l armentroutImage result for brave jennifer l armentroutUnrest (Unknown Trilogy Book 2) by [Higgins, Wendy]Under the Bleachers: a Novel by [Allen, K.K.]72 Hours by [Jewel, Bella]

 

Till Death by Jennifer L. Armentrout (Feb 28th)

 

A new thrilling mystery/suspense adult novel from my favorite guilty-pleasure author! Sasha Keaton is returning to her West Virginia hometown for the first time in ten years, since she escaped the infamous serial killer known as the “Groom.” She’s only here to help run her family Inn. But when Sasha is threatened, FBI agent Cole Landis vows to protect her the way he couldn’t a decade earlier. As women start disappearing and the romantic tension between Cole and Sasha grows hotter, Cole does everything he can to make up for failing to stop Sasha from being taken all those years ago, but someone is watching and each mistake could be their last.                                                                                This sounds super suspenseful/creepy and romantic, one of my favorite combinations!

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The Song Rising (The Bone Season #3) by Samantha Shannon (March 7th)

 

I just recently finished The Bone Season in late 2016 and Samantha Shannon is to blame for my sudden new interest in finally picking up adult novels! The second I picked it up I could not put it down and I purchased the second book before I’d even finished the first! This series is full of strange and intriguing characters, a wholly creative futuristic plotline, and whole lot of paranormal suspense and mystery. I can’t wait to see what’s next in store for Paige and her friends.

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Dating You/Hating You by Christina Lauren (June 6th)

Christina Lauren became one of my new favorite New Adult authors in 2016 after I read the first three books of the Wild Seasons series. This co-writing duo sure knows how to write sexy romances between equally lovable and relatable characters. The love scenes are just as well written as the characters, and the characters are complex and flawed and multi dimensional, which I love. Although their books are primarily romances, they also focus a lot on character development and how they struggle to overcome obstacles in their lives. This stand-alone contemporary follows two agents from competing Hollywood firms who hit it off despite their awkward first meeting at a mutual friends Halloween party. But when their two agencies merge, they find themselves competing for the same position, and their could-be-romance turns into an all out war.

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The Struggle (Titan #3) by Jennifer L. Armentrout (March 20th)

I can’t wait for the conclusion to this series!!

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Brave (Wicked #3) by Jennifer L. Armentrout (sometime this summer??)

 

Wicked and Torn were two of my favorite 2016 NA reads and I need the final book now!!!

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Unrest (Unknown #2) by Wendy Higgins (Feb 14th)

Book two in Wendy Higgins first New Adult series. I’m currently reading the first one and loving it!

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Until it Fades by K.A Tucker (May 2nd)

Twenty-four year old waitress and single mom Catherine Wright just wants to live a happy and simple life with her five-year-old daughter, and never again be the talk of the town. One night, Catherine saves a man’s life, and later discovers that she rescued hockey icon Brett Madden. Not wanting to be thrust into the spotlight, Catherine hides her identity from the media. But when Brett winds up on her doorstep looking to thank her, they form an immediate connection that she can’t ignore. K.A Tucker is a favorite NA/Adult author of mine and this one sounds really intriguing!

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Under the Bleachers by K.K Allen (Feb 28th)

Amazon Synopsis:

One kiss can change everything.

Fun and flirty Monica Stevens lives for chocolate, fashion, and boys … in that order. And she doesn’t take life too seriously, especially when it comes to dating. When a night of innocent banter with Seattle’s hottest NFL quarterback turns passionate, she fears that everything she once managed to protect will soon be destroyed.

Seattle’s most eligible bachelor, Zachary Ryan, is a workaholic by nature, an undercover entrepreneur, and passionate about the organizations he supports. He’s also addicted to Monica, the curvy brunette with a sassy mouth—and not just because she tastes like strawberries and chocolate. She’s as challenging as she is decadent, as witty as she is charming, and she’s the perfect distraction from the daily grind.

While Monica comes to a crossroads in her life, Zachary becomes an unavoidable obstacle, forcing her to stop hiding under the bleachers and confront the demons of her past. But as their connection grows stronger, she knows it only brings them closer to their end.

It’s time to let go.

To have a future, we must first deal with our pasts. But what if the two are connected?


Ooo I always love a romance that involves facing ones dark past and learning to move beyond it.

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72 Hours by Bella Jewel (April 4th)

Amazon Synopsis:

A red-hot, pulse-pounding thrill ride by USA Today bestselling author Bella Jewel!

It’s all part of his sick game. A game he’s been planning for an entire decade. Now everything is perfect: One woman and one man have been selected. They used to be a couple―and they can no longer stand one another. They are the perfect victims. He doesn’t intend for the game to be easy. He wants to push them to the brink of insanity, to make his hunt real. . .

Lara and Noah have has been captured and dumped into a massive wooded area. There’s only one rule in this fatal game: They will have 72 hours to find a way out before a sadistic serial killer begins his hunt . . .But what he never could have expected was the explosive passion that ignites between the two ex-lovers―one that makes them strong. Fierce. And determined to do whatever it takes to escape―and to survive.

72 Hours by Bella Jewel is a sexy, page-turning thrill ride!

What’s better than a story with an equal mix of horror/suspense and romance? Not much.

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The One That Got Away by Melissa Pimentel (July 18th)

 

Amazon Synopsis:

A smart, funny, and modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, where a young woman comes face-to-face with a lost love, proving that the one that got away is sometimes the one you get back.

Ruby and Ethan were perfect for each other. Until the day they suddenly weren’t.

Ten years later, Ruby’s single, having spent the last decade focusing on her demanding career and hectic life in Manhattan. There’s barely time for a trip to England for her little sister’s wedding. And there’s certainly not time to think about seeing Ethan there for the first time in years.

But as the family frantically prepare for the big day, Ruby can’t help but wonder if she made the right choice all those years ago? Because there’s nothing like a wedding for stirring up the past . . .

I’m always down for a good second chance romance!

 

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So there you have it! My most anticipated 2017 releases up until July! Are you guys looking forward to any of these?

 

The Best of 2016 Part 2: New Adult & Adult

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 I told you my favorite Young Adult reads of 2016, now it’s time to showcase my favorite New Adult and Adult reads of the year! Anyone under 17, this post is not for you. Most of these contain either graphic sex or violence-or both. New Adult books fall between the Young Adult and Adult categories, and typically feature college age characters anywhere between 18 to 25 years old. “Adult” books occassionally contain main characters 25 as well, so I guess it really depends on how the author and their agent decide to market the book.
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My Favorite NA reads of 2016: (In no particular order)

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Wicked and Torn by Jennifer L. Armentrout

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With the exception of The Problem With Forever, I usually prefer Armentrout’s series over her stand-alones. The Wicked trilogy is one of only two New Adult fantasy trilogies she’s written, so I was eager to jump into this one.
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 Twenty-two year old Ivy Morgan is a New Orleans college student who’s struggling with more than just class finals and term papers. She works for The Order, an organization whose purpose is to hunt down and kill the dangerous Fey who roam the streets disguised as humans. Her duty to The Order is her life, and the only protection she has. Especially considering her grave mistake four years previously that resulted in the deaths of three people she loved dearly.
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Ren Owens is new in town and to the New Orleans Order. Right away, Ivy finds herself drawn to his forest green eyes and flirtatious behavior towards her. But she’s wary of letting herself get close to anyone again, after what happened.Image result for white background
Before she knows it though, they’re working together, talking and growing closer and Ivy might just be falling in love again for the first time since her boyfriends death four years ago. But then there’s a shocking new discovery made about the fey and the impending disaster has Ivy pushing Ren away again, afraid to lose anyone else.
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Ivy is a very spunky, sarcastic character and Ren’s flirty behavior and smart-ass remarks created quite the banter between them. It took me awhile to warm up to Ren at first; he seemed a little too cocky, a little too domineering. But he proved to have good intentions in the end, and made up for his initial behavior in more ways than one.
He was determined to draw Ivy out of the protective cocoon she’s retreated into since the tragedy she’d endured, and he encouraged her to not dwell on the negatives, on her past, or the “what ifs” of the future. He encouraged her to open her heart up to love and new possibilities again.
There were many heart wrenching moments in Torn, and although I know what to expect
from Armentrout by now, I found myself in tears of shock and dismay throughout the book, hoping desperate that Ren and Ivy would be able to handle the unexpected barriers that arose between them. But Ren really is a good guy and he did the right thing in the end. The end of book 2 left me satisfied yet still impatient for the final book, being released this summer. Why does it have to be so far away?!
  

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The Return by Jennifer L. Armentrout

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Yet another Armentrout favorite I read this year. After being introduced to Seth in the Covenant series, I was eager for him to have his own story and get his own happy ending. So I was super stoked when Jennifer released the first in a trilogy centering around Seth. We get a look inside his head as he encounters new dangers and new love, and like any Armentrout book, this book was packed with romance, action and humor from start to finish.

The chapters switch between Seth’s perspective and that of a new character, named Josie. Josie is a college student living a relatively normal college life until the day Seth shows up to find her and bring her back to the covenant, and she finds that she’s a demigod whose powers have not yet manifested.

From there, much chaos, drama and romance ensues. Josie is a quirky, likable character and Seth turned out to be the hero we all knew he could be despite his actions in the Covenant series. I can’t wait to dive in to book two, but I’m waiting until the final book is released early this year!

 

 

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The Wild Seasons series by Christina LaurenImage result for wild seasons series by christina lauren

These books follow the stories of four friends as they navigate life and love and each find their own romantic happy endings. I haven’t had a chance to read the fourth book yet, as it was released very recently, but I loved the first three and I’m sure it will be no exception!

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filthyIn Sweet Filthy Boy, Mia and her friends travel to Vegas for a post college graduation get-away, where they meet a trio of hot guys-an aussie, a canadian and a cute french guy named Ansel-at a bar. They wake up the next morning, each couple married to each other in a unanimous, drunken Vegas wedding. While their friends instantly set about getting their marriages annulled, Mia and Ansel are hesitant to break things off so quickly.

As the night they spent together slowly comes back in bits and pieces, Mia can’t deny the connection this boy she’s only known for a day. She told him everything about how she got the scar on her leg and how it changed her life. She told him about her past and her fears and her desires, and he listened with endless patience and understanding.

Their friends call them crazy, but Mia has always went with her gut, and her gut tells her that her feelings for this Ansel go beyond the physical, and that she’d be a fool to not give this thing they have-whatever it is-a chance. So in a split second decision she agrees to take off with him to spend the summer in his apartment in France.

Right away, it’s clear that things aren’t going to be as simple as they were that one night, and they struggle to navigate their growing relationship in this new environment. Mia is falling for Ansel hard, but does he feel the same way? Does he regret inviting her to stay with him? And is there more to his past than he’s letting on?

 Mia was relatable to me in a lot of ways-she was very shy and quiet at times, so that people often underestimated her. She could also be very fierce and witty and brave at times. Ansel was sweet and dorky yet equally sexy and intense as well. Yeah, there’s a lot of sex and we all know lust can easily be mistaken for love, but I’ve read many New Adult books with similar situations, and I felt that relationship was genuine. It was complicated and sometimes messy, but genuine.

Despite their awkward start upon arriving in France, I felt like they came to really see each other for who they were and accepted one another’s flaws. They really grew to care for each other as they tried to work out exactly what had drawn them to each other in the first place.

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rowdyIn Dirty Rowdy Thing, Harlow and Finn can’t deny the attraction they’ve felt since they met in Vegas. They got married in a drunken haze, spent the night rolling in the sheets, then had the marriage annulled, all within a couple days. Following their quickie wedding in Vegas, Harlow later shows up at Finn’s house in Vancouver Island for a weekend fooling around. Image result for white backgroundFrom then on they develop a sort of friends-with-benefits relationship, and while both of them sense they could become something more, they’re afraid to pursue it, worried it could ruin what they have and complicate their mutual friend group.

Unlike in Sweet Filthy Boy, this love story is told in alternating chapters between both Finn and Harlow’s POV’s, so we get to see the struggles they’re dealing with in their individual lives. Harlow is struggling to cope with the news of her mothers breast cancer diagnosis. Finn has taken care of the family business for years now, but the fishing boat he and his brothers have owned for year may be on its last leg, and they can’t afford a new one. So Finn joins his friends in downtown San Diego, seeking a solution to keep him family’s fishing business from going down hill. And in Harlow, he finds a much needed distraction from his family drama, as does Harlow in him.

For Harlow and Finn, the sex was a huge part of their slowly evolving relationship, as it was the only way either of them felt they could communicate, and the only time either of them were willing to show any ounce of vulnerability. It was the only time Harlow felt comfortable giving up some control. And although Finn wasn’t usually the type to engage in casual sex, he couldn’t seem to get enough of Harlow.

Outside of the bedroom, however, they find it harder to get along. Finn can’t help but see Harlow as a privileged rich girl whose never struggled a day in her life. Harlow, of course, oftentimes becomes fed up with his hot and cold behavior towards her, and his judgmental attitude. Finn could be really stubborn and prideful at times and there was a point in the story where he took Harlow’s attempts to help him as personal attack to his ego. Harlow wanted so badly to help Finn fix his problems but was hesitant to open up to him regarding her own issues, which caused some more tension between them down the road.

Overall though, these two fit beautifully together in spite of their differences. It took some time, but they eventually worked things out and came to a mutual understanding, each of them acknowledging the mistakes both of them had made, and forgiving each other for them.

I loved Harlow’s bluntness and how direct she was. She didn’t shy away from conflict, went after what she wanted and was perfectly capable of handling things on her own. She does have a hard time coming to terms with the depth of her feelings for Finn, but she’s smart and mature in how she handles their relationship in the long run.

Finn was a lot softer and more sensitive than I would have thought after our brief introduction to him in Sweet Filthy Boy, but he too had a bit of a controlling side and was as much of a fixer and get-shit-done type of person as Harlow. This second addition to the Wild Seasons series was just as hot and heart warming as the first, and I have definitely found a new favorite NA author in Christina Lauren!

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darkwildIn Dark Wild Night we’re finally given Lola and Oliver’s story, the only couple out of the six friends who never consummated their “marriage” or became anything more than friends the night in Vegas. They mutually decided to maintain a platonic relationship, although secretly, they’ve both always wanted more but are completely ignorant to each others shared feelings. Like in Dirty Rowdy Thing, this story is also told in alternating POV’s.

Lola is probably my favorite character of this series so far. She’s a huge comic nerd and has even published her very own graphic novel, a story she’s been working on since she was fifteen. She’s fiercely passionate about her work it was very inspiring to see a woman become so successful in an industry typically dominated by men.

Many people see comics and graphic novels as primarily “guy things” and as her novel began the process of becoming a movie, she experienced a lot of sexism from the filmmakers and producers. But she stood her ground as they tried to change her non romantic graphic novel into a romantic film and continued to invalidate all her complaints that they were incorrectly interpreting her story. She stood firm in her opinions and didn’t let the Hollywood bullies shut her down. She was a very empowering female narrator and her flaws only made her feel more real.

Oliver is the adorably dorky, nerdy, glasses-wearing type. He was very supportive of Lola’s career and never doubted her intelligence or ability. I loved that they were friends-best friends-for months before they became something more. I never get tired of friends-to-lovers romances. From the beginning, it was obvious that they both loved each other in a more-than-friends kind of way, but were both blind to the fact that they shared these feelings.

Lola’s past brought up some complications in their delicate new relationship. Her mom had abandoned her and her dad when she was a young girl, and her fear of being left again resulted in her shutting Oliver out suddenly and without explanation. It took her awhile to see that Oliver was nothing like her mom, and it brought out Oliver’s own insecurities as he worried that she didn’t fully trust him or didn’t love him the way he loved her.

This was one of the sweetest, most thought provoking NA romances I’ve read. It’s without a doubt my favorite book in this series so far, and Oliver and Lola are hands down my favorite couple. I loved watching this sweet, nerdy couple start off as friends with a shared love for comics and slowly move towards something more. This story was equal parts romance, equal parts the story of a woman finding her path as a graphic novelist, and I loved every second of it.

 

 

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Books 1 & 2 of The Radleigh University trilogy by Dahlia Adler

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This college trilogy tells the love stories of three friends, each featuring diverse main characters and romances. They’re full of fierce female characters and sexy romantic interests, with plenty of hilarious and swoon-worthy moments. I have yet to read the final book in the series Out on Good Behavior, but I’m excited to as it’s a f/f romance! They can be hard to find within the NA category.

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I’ve already written a review for Last Will and Testmant, in which college sophomore Lizzie’s life is turned upside down when her parents die in a sudden car crash, leaving her as guardian to her two younger brothers. As she struggles to balance her college work and new guardian status, she finds herself seeking the help of her class TA Connor.

Connor has never been Lizzie’s biggest fan, and Lizzie only ever seen him as preppy, uptight know-it-all. However, as he proves to be both an excellent tutor, babysitter and friend, she finds herself falling for him despite knowing that a relationships between teacher and student is expressly forbidden.

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firstrefusalIn Right of First Refusal, we’re given a look into Caitlin’s life as an ambitious college lacrosse player struggling with unexpected family drama and the sudden appearance of someone from her past.

The day Cait moves into her new dorm, she gets the shock of her life upon meeting her roommate’s boyfriend; Lawrence Mason, who just happens to be the boy who broke her heart two years previously, and who now works as the school’s new basketball student-coach.

Cait and Mase agree it’s best to keep their history a secret from her roommate, but Cait is surprised at how determined Mase is to ignore their past and the connection they shared. He seems to want nothing to do with her now, but she can’t figure out why. When Cait begins posing as the girlfriend of a player on Mase’s team, she can’t help the satisfaction she gets at seeing him as jealous as she’s been ever since she met his new girlfriend. It’s obvious that they never stopped caring for each other. They’ve always had something real, ever since since they were brought together by a shared love of athletics at a sports camp two years previously. So why did he break things off? And is it impossible to ever get him back?

On top of Mase’s reappearance in her life, Cait is also dealing with her dad getting remarried to a girl not much older than she is. That and the fact that he’s moving across the country. He’s pestering her and her sister to transfer colleges and move out to California so they can stay close to each other, but Cait is perfectly happy where she is. Her dad just doesn’t seem to understand how important her lacrosse team is to her or realize how difficult it would be to just pack up and leave all her friends and sports commitments behind.

Cait is a very level-headed, hard working girl whose passion for lacrosse and loyalty to her friends made her an easy character to like and sympathize with. She’s a team player on and off the field; reliable, responsible and always there to support her friends, as long as they do the same for her.

I loved Cait’s story because I feel like it’s hard to find sporty romances where the girl is as much a player as the guys are. Usually it’s just the guy who’s the athelete. Girl’s sports are often overlooked and I liked how much work Cait put into improving her game, how big a role it played in her overall strength and resilience as a person.

Although this book is primarily a romance, it was also so much more. It was about Cait’s perseverance as an athlete even amidst the pressure that sometimes came along with it, and her growth as a person as she struggled to adjust to Mase’s presence in her life and the new differences between them. It was about her friendships with Lizzie and Frankie and her struggle to adapt to the changes in her relationship with her father. Cait is a very empowering character whose drive and passion is very inspiring and easy to relate to.
Mase, although a bit stingy towards Cait upon their reunion, was very supportive of her dedication to lacrosse and never doubted her strength in both mind and body.She and Mase shared a fierce competetiveness both on and off the field and it showed in how they bantered and danced around their feelings for one another. Although Mase tries to claim that what they’d had had been anything more than teenage lust, they eventually found themselves unable to deny the attraction and emotion bond between them that’d never really gone away. I loved this second chance sports romance and can’t wait to dive into Out on Good Behavior!

Diversity bonus: this is a biracial romance, as Mase is black!

 

 

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The Off-Campus series by Elle Kennedy

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Yet another college centric series following the love stories of three separate couples, each with vastly different main characters navigating their own relationship complications. In this case, the love interests are all friends and hockey players on the same college team. The fourth book The Goal was released just a few months ago, and I started reading just a few days ago! I have no doubt it’ll be as romantic and hilarious as it’s companions.
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thedeal{Trigger warning: (off page) rape & domestic violence}
In The Deal we meet 20 year old college junior Hannah Wells, a sarcastic, intelligent and fiercely independent brunette who thinks she’s finally found a guy who can turn her on. Ever since she was raped five years ago, all her attempts to attain a fulfilling sex life have failed. She was a virgin when it happened and attributes that to her lack of a sex drive.
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 She’s attended therapy in the five year since it happened, is in a good mental place, and has supportive parents who’ve defended her and stood by her even since. But she’s afraid the act of violence may have ruined any chance she has at ever getting intimate with someone….and enjoying it. Now she has her sights set on a hot football player named Justin, and is determined to capture his attention.
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 Garrett Graham is a hockey player with a bit of a reputation as a man-whore around campus. He shares a Philosophical Ethics class with Hannah, the one class that he currently happens to be borderline failing. So, knowing that she’s acing it, he enlists Hannah’s help in achieving a passing grade.
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 She’s very reluctant to help him though, having pinned him as a typical dumb jock with nothing but hook-ups and partying on his mind. But eventually she caves and they make a deal: she’ll agree to tutor him, and he’ll help her capture Justin’s attention by escorting her to a party that he’ll be attending. Garrett claims it will improve her social status by making her seems unattainable-something that is sure to pique her crushes attention.
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 While Garrett is undeniably gorgeous, Hannah doesn’t have any initial attraction to him. And Garrett is only interested in utilizing Hannah’s smarts so he can maintain a passing grade. But soon, amid the banter and traded quips, they become good friends. And after a kiss that eventually leads to more intimate activities, they become more than friends.
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 Hannah and Garrett were two very lovable characters with realistic qualities both negative and positive, and we got to see inside both their heads since the chapters switched between their POV’s. Garrett could be very cocky and teasing at times but he was also trustworthy, gentle, affectionate and often times loyal and selfless to a fault. The combination of traits made him feel more real-he wasn’t too perfect, but he was an overall good guy who wanted the best for the people in his life and had a lot of passion for his role as a hockey player.
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 The playful repartee between them was both amusing and endearing and I loved that they became close friends before they moved anywhere near relationship status. When Hannah opened up to Garrett about her past and how it still impacted her life, he didn’t flinch at the prospect of emotional bonding like some guys might. He was very patient and understanding as their relationship slowly progressed, and eventually opened up to Hannah about his imperfect past as well.
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 While Garrett has Hockey, Hannah has her own passion for singing and hopes to win the $5000 scholarship at the upcoming Winter Showcase. We got to see more of her life aside from just the romance aspect (same with Garrett), which I loved. She was the opposite of a pushover and didn’t let anyone tell her what to do, and I really admired her dedication to singing and how determined she was to perform what she wanted to in spite of certain complications that arose. I loved Garrett and Hannah’s love story from start to finish and was impressed with how deep and realistic her characters and their lives where. Elle Kennedy is definitely an NA writer to watch!
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themistakeIn The Mistake John Logan is struggling with the feelings he has for his best friend’s girlfriend, Hannah. But Hannah is happily in love with Garrett and Garrett with her. Not that Logan would ever make a move on his best friend’s girl anyway.
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One night, Logan mistakenly knock on freshman Grace Iver’s door. Grace is a “good girl”, one who gets stellar grades, keeps to herself and has never done anything rebellious in her life. Until Logan shows up at her door, interrupting her solo movie marathon.
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She lets him in so he can borrow her phone to call his friends, but Logan quickly becomes distracted by the fact that Grace had been watching Die Hard. Soon, he’s joined her on the bed to share gummy bears and finish the movie on her laptop. And before they know it, they’re making out, despite Logan’s rule against hooking up with freshmen and his lack of interest in anything serious.
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Grace is shocked that hockey star John Logan is in her bedroom, kissing her. But after their brief hookup, he takes off suddenly and Grace is left feeling embarrassed and confused. They soon cross paths again though, and begin fooling around regularly. Until she confesses the fact that she’s a virgin, which drives Logan away, after he states that he’s not looking for anything serious and may have feelings for someone else. Understandably angry, Grace kicks him out for good. And thus begins Logan’s attempts to win Grace’s forgiveness and woo her all over again. He realizes he’s made a big mistake, and is willingly to do whatever it takes to win her back.
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Like the rest of the books in this series, and like many NA romances in general, this romance switches between both Grace and Logan’s perspectives. Logan has resigned himself to a life spent taking over the family business, despite his professional hockey star status and being a shoo-in to be drafted into the NHL. His brother has put his life on hold to handle their fathers mechanic shop while Logan attends college. After he graduates, Logan will take over the business and the care of their alcoholic father.
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After Logan breaks her heart, Grace spends the summer rebuilding her emotional strength, and starts off her sophomore year by making positive changes to her life, which includes ending toxic relationships. I could relate to a lot of her friendship issues and insecurities. She kinda let people push her around at times couldn’t help but compare herself to other girls. But inspite of her messy friendships, Grace is very independent, intelligent and self respecting, and isn’t going to forgive Logan so quickly. She wanted him to prove to her that he truly liked her and wasn’t interested just because of her hard-to-get attitude. She pushes him to make up for how he treated her and show her that he’s worthy of a second chance.
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And show her he did. Logan’s attempts to flatter Grace and the lengths he went to to earn her forgiveness were hilarious and sweet and romantic. He writes crappy but heartfelt poetry, among other things, and it was admirable how seriously he took the second chance she gave him. Logan, in spite of his initial lack of proper respect for Grace, is a true gentleman and romantic. I found myself forgiving him long before Grace herself did. The Mistake is full of snarky dialogue, realistic characterization and lots of sexy scenes, and I was drawn in from the very first chapter. Grace and Logan were so sweet and cute together and they will be hard characters to forget.
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 thescoreIn The Score, we finally get inside Dean’s head, another of the hockey players we were introduced to in The Deal. Dean’s sexual reputation very much rivals that of his friends. He rarely hooks up with the same person twice, and is very open and unashamed of his over-abundant sex life. But he’s also respectful of the girls he’s with-he never slut shames and always makes sure anyone he hooks up with is looking for the same thing he is; nothing more than a night of no-strings-attached sex.
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Allie doesn’t do casual sex. She’s a relationship person through and through, and craves the emotional aspect of being with someone as much as she does the physical. So no one expects her to hook up with Dean when she crashes at him and his friends place one night. Both Allie’s best friend Hannah, and Dean’s best friend Garrett, are extremely protective of her and instruct Dean not to make any sexual advances on her when she spends the night. He can’t keep himself from trying to woo her, though, and Allie finds herself unable to resist the offer. And suddenly Dean, who usually never goes back for seconds, finds himself unable to get enough of Allie.
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Allie is a talented and hardworking actress who’s majoring in drama. Her drive and dedication were very admirable and inspiring. Dean works equally hard, gets excellent grades and is overall a very kind and selfless guy in spite of his manwhore status. He’s not quite as passionate about hockey as his friends are, but just as good a player. And although he grew up in a very rich home, he’s still humble and works to earn his own money. I liked how persistent Dean was of Allie, how he went from wanting only sex to wanting so much more.
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Allie was reluctant to become involved with him, because she was sure he’d never be able to commit to a relationship, and she didn’t want her heart broken. But eventually she saw how sweet of a guy he really was, and couldn’t help but give in. They form a casual friend-with-benefits relationship, and Dean is surprised to find himself wanting more. He’s never really been in a serious relationship though and is unsure of how to proceed.
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There’s an unexpected tragedy that occurs near the middle-to-end of the book, and it creates some huge complication for Allie and Dean, and she begins to wonder whether their relationship will really be able to last. Dean however, is very patient and gives Allies the space she needs to wrap her head around things and find it in her to forgive him. I was a little frustrated with of both them regarding the whole thing, but it helped me to understand their actions better being able to see inside both their minds.
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The chemistry between Allie and Dean was off the charts, as were the love scenes. I loved how their tentative friends-with-benefits relationship developed into something much stronger, how they slowly grew to trust, respect, and really know one another. I can’t wait to finish The Goal. Elle Kennedy is another NA author who became a favorite of mine this year!
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 2016 NA Honorable Mentions:

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My Favorite Adult Novels of 2016:

Wondering which Adult books I read this year? I only got around to reading two, but they both made the favorites list. They were also the first Adult books I’ve willingly read! I already wrote mini reviews for them in my recent post Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten 2016 Reads That Lived Up to the Hype, so click the link to read my thoughts on Uprooted by Naomi Novik and The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon!
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So that’s a wrap on 2016! 🙂 Here’s to 2017 and all its new book releases.
I can’t wait to find more favorites!
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The Best of 2016 Part 1: YA

 

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It’s that time of year again, when we look back on all the amazing books and series we read this year, and look forward to those coming next year. I read a total of 136 books this year, but here are the books that blew me away or were simply unforgettable-all rated 4.5 stars or higher. I will be splitting my favorites into 2 separate posts: Young Adult, then New Adult+Adult. Starting with YA!

 

 

My Favorite YA reads of 2016: (In no particular order)

 


{By the way, I already wrote mini reviews for the seven books shown below so if you want to read them, revist my last post Top Ten Tuesday:Top Ten Books That Lived Up to the Hype, for short reviews of:  Throne of Glass, Falling Kingdoms, Everything Everything, An Ember in the Ashes, The Winners Curse,  Six of Crows, and Cinder. And for reviews of Alex Bracken’s Passenger and Elizabeth Brigg’s Futureshock just click the titles to be redirected to those pages!}

 

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“Mini” Reviews: 

 

1.) Out of Control by Sarah Alderson: 

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This book was action packed from beginning to end. Chapter one literally started out with a bang. Seventeen year old Olivia-after being brought in by police as the only witness to the murder of her legal guardians-finds herself fighting to survive when she winds up in the middle of a police station shooting, with only a 19 year old car thief named Jaime by her side.

We’re given glimpses of Olivia’s shady past that explain her father’s overprotective behavior and possibly the reason they’re being persued. Being inside her head kept the story alive. Her mind was sharp and though her fear threatened to overwhelm her, she and Jaime made a good team and kept each other on their feet.

I was on the edge of my seat throughout this entire book. It’s full of non stop action and suspense as they race across the streets of New York, and the growing romance between Olivia and Jaime is addictive. There’s also diversity! Jaime, our sexy, badass hero, is part Cuban. He’s flirty, intelligent, understanding, loyal and compassionate, and I immediately adored him. There was a shocking twist to the story that I did not see coming, and the ending was absolutely perfect.

 

2.) Shutter by Courtney Alameda

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Lights! Camera! Poltergeists! This YA horror had everything I look for in a scary book: spine tingling paranormal encounters, a unique and interesting plot, gore and violence, and even a little romance. This book is an urban fantasy and was basically a teenage Ghostbusters meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Hell yes!

Micheline Helsing is a “tetrachromat”; she can see the auras of the undead in a prismatic spectrum. Descended from a powerful lineage of Ghosthunters, she was trained since she was a kid to destroy both corporeal and spirtual monsters. The corporeal are taken down by bullets, while the spiritual are exorcised via lens to capture their spiritual energy on film.

When a routine ghosthunt goes awry, the four of them find themselves infected with a curse known as a “soulchain”, that, if not exorcised from their bodies in seven days, will kill them. The story follows Micheline and her friends as they take off on a wild goose chase after this poltergeist that’s wreaking havoc among the citizens of San Francisco.

I loved the friendships between Micheline and her best friends Oliver, Jude and Ryder. Each boy was compelling in their own way. Jude is a snarky, darkly humorous character who can see people’s potential deaths when he touches them. Oliver, who’s of Stoker lineage, is the tech wiz who designed Micheline’s camera. And then there’s Ryder, the boy she has known and loved forever, who’s always been by her side in times of hardship.I fell for each of them and the support they offered one another; the way they all looked after each other and Micheline. The friends-to-lovers romance between Ryder and Micheline was super sweet and heart warming.

I loved the brilliant idea of a special camera to capture the spirits of evil ghosts, and the incredibly creative world Alameda created, where the existence of all sorts of supernatural creatures is common knowledge. Also, how Micheline and her friends all live in a sort of community made up of ghost hunters in training, all descendants of the Van Helsings, the Stokers and other well known names from classic horror novels. I loved that tie-in of Dracula. Super cool!

The minimal insight we were given into Micheline’s past was intriguing, although her backstory was extremely sad and dark; so terribly tragic that it showed how strong she was to be able to carry on. She was extremely brave, tough and protective of her friends. I honestly wish this book had a sequel because I was so sad to leave these characters behind! I was left devastated that their story was over. It all wrapped up nicely at least. But, seriously. I had a book hangover for like 2 weeks.( Actually, I don’t think its ended.)

 

3.) The Leaving Season by Cat Jordan

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This emotional rollercoaster had me torn between crying and swooning until the end. When Middie’s boyfriend Nate leaves for a year abroad volunteering in Central America, she’s left feeling lonely and uncertain of how to go about her senior year without him. Then tragedy strikes, driving her towards an unexpected friendship with Nate’s best friend, Lee, whom Middie hates and has only ever seen as a slacker and a druggie.

As she and Lee grow closer, Middie begins to see that maybe her relationship with Nate wasn’t as perfect as she’d once thought, and that she may not know him as well as she’d thought. Middie has grown used to being defined by Nate for so long, to being his shadow, while Lee encourages her to take risks, to look at the world from a different perspective, and become her own person.

Torn between loyalty to her long term boyfriend and her growing feelings for Lee, Middie struggles to find her path and come to terms with these new developments in her life. It was a beautiful story of friendship, romance and personal growth.

I thought both Nate and Lee were important and interesting characters, who’s contrasting personalities showed how different Middie was when in their separate presences. Middie was likable and relatable, her ways of dealing with grief and change understandable and realistic. Despite her moments of self-absorbtion and stubborness, she is someone who always looks out for the people in her life and feels things deeply. Lee, although complicated and snarky at times, turned out to be so much sweeter, intelligent and more compassionate than Middie had ever assumed of him, and their love story was beautiful and eye opening.

 

4.) Beyond the Red by Ava Jae

redKick-ass alien princess who is the first female ruler in generations? Check. Queer alien royal with an evil streak? Check. A strong-willed orphan rebel who perseveres in spite of the discrimination he faces due to his mixture of both human and alien DNA? Check!

The only thing better than a YA book about aliens is a YA book with poc aliens and gay aliens and a slow-burning romance. None of the characters are easy to like at times, but you will find yourself rooting for them. Nevertheless, even hard to completely despise Kora’s violent and tyrannical twin brother who belives he deserves the throne more than she does.

Eros is captured and sent to be Kora’s bodyguard, and after losing so much, he is extremely wary of her and harbors a lot of hatred towards her and her staff. But as they realize both their lives are at stake, they have to learn to trust and protect one another. I loved the blossoming friendship between Kora and Eros, and how it slowly grew towards something more.

The world of the Seraphon is described beautifully-the blazing red sand, different cultures and politics were all so captivating to read about and the subjects of race, racism and homophobia come up many times. Beyond the Red is a brilliantly diverse sci-fi full of characters both poor and rich, good and evil, and I can’t wait for the sequel to see what Kora and Eros do next to save their world from her brothers thirst for power and blood.

5.) Star Wars: Lost Stars by Claudia Gray

loststarsHaving grown up watching Star Wars and reading YA, I was stoked to find a book that was a combination of both. By one of my favorite authors, no less!

This galatic adventure follows two childhood best friends Ciena and Thane, who grew up on the planet of Jelucan and spent their younger years learning to fly together. Eventually, they set off to start schooling at the Imperial Academy where they’ll train as fighter pilots under the reign of the Galactic Empire.
The book takes place over the course of several years, introducing Ciena and Thane at eight years old and following them all the way until they’re in they’re early 20’s. Over the years they’re driven apart again and again by conflicting loyalties and viewpoints, but always manage to find each other again. Throughout their schooling and the years after, as they’re hardened by the rigorous training and demands of the Empire, they make new friends, face unexpected obstacles, and are shaped into adult versions themselves who couldn’t be more different from their childhood selves.
When Thane’s growing distrust and disdain for The Empire leads to his decision to abandon his position, he joins the rebellion against Darth Vader and the Empire. Ciena remains behind, stubbornly holding on to her faith . Over the years their friendship  slowly develops into something more, even as the divide between them continues to grow. How can they be together now that they’re on opposites of the rebellion and therefore sworn enemies?
This unique journey through the Star Wars universe had me hooked from start to finish, with all its ups and downs and unpredictable complications that rose up between Ciena and Thane over the years. The chapters switch back and forth between the third person POV’s of both of them, and I thought it was intriguing to be given a glimpse inside the minds of two characters who’d grown up in the same world but chosen completely different paths. Especially since the Star Wars movies have only really shown us the ‘good guys’ side of the story. But here, we’re given the perspectives of two teens who’ve been on the other side of the rebellion from the beginning, and have never known any other way. We’re shown that it is never completely black and white, and that innocent lives were lost on both sides.
It was frustrating at times when they would go years without seeing one another, without even knowing if the other was alive. Ciena was most frustrating of all, with her stubborness blinding her to the truth for so long. At the same time though, I could understand her internal conflict.
I loved watching both characters change and grow over the years and when it was over it felt too abrupt and the ending felt a little too open. But it was an exciting and emotional ride until the end and I couldn’t have asked for a better YA version of Star Wars.
I think this book will appeal to all ages though; both young adults and adults, because it’s very maturely written & follows the characters well into their adult years. So don’t let the YA label stop you from picking this one up!
6.)Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

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Tell Me Three Things was a cute, quick read about navigating a new school, a new step family, and new relationships. It’s been barely two years since Jessie’s mom died, and already her dad has eloped with a woman he met online, and up and moved them to the opposite side of the country to live with her and her pretentious teenage son.
From day one, she feels out of place among her priviliged classmates at her pompous new high school and it’s clear that the popular girls look down on her. She’s desparately missing Chicago and is resigned to a shitty junior year when she receives an email from an anonymous person who calls themself somebody/nobody (SN, for short). SN won’t confess to her who he or she is, only revealing that they go to Jessie’s school and thought she could use a friend to help her survive as the new girl in an unfamiliar environment.
As they continue to talk online, they become quick friends, bonding over mutual losses and sharing details about each others lives. Jessie finds herself depending on this mystery person to help her survive the bullies that torment her at school, to help her deal the difficulties of her new home life.

This invisible savior could be anyone…..her step brother, the boy she likes, any of the girls she’s befriended. Or a complete stranger. Is it possible that the one person she needs the most is someone she’s never met?

This was one of the most realistic high school stories I’ve read. The funny dialogue and quirky conversations hold your attention and Jessie’s inner monologue is relatable and allows to connect to everything she’s feeling. Jessie was perfectly imperfect; she could be quick to judge, insecure, struggled to communicate her feelings, and sometimes failed to see more than one side of things. Overall though, Jessie had a lot of mental strength, made the best of a series indimidating life changes and eventually found acceptance and even appreciation for her new home.

A lot of different topics came up, from homophobia to teenage sex and relationships. The number of times the topic of sex was brought up among Jessie and her new friends actually felt very realistic for their age group. The teenage years are the years that many people first begin to navigate sexual and romantic relationships and I feel that it’s important to address the potential complications that may arise in highschool romances. The author really captured exactly how teenagers think and react to certain topics or situations.

Then there’s the boy, of course. Ethan. He was cute and sweet, although his own issues initially caused him to hold Jessie at arms length. But he never judged and was a sweetheart to Jessie and they slowly formed a tentative friendship. There are other boys that capture Jessie’s attention too, as she’s unsure of Ethan’s feeling and wary of getting her hopes up, but they didn’t hold a candle to his genuine personality and open mind.

I thought the mystery SN person would be completely obvious and I thought I had it down at times but the author just kept me second guessing until the very end. I cannot reccommend this book enough, it’s witty and raw and so unbelivably real that you’ll almost feel like you’re reading a true story. It’s inspiring and emotional and truly worthy of the hype surrounding it.

 

7.) The Forbidden Wishby Jessica Khoury
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As you may know, I love love LOVE retellings of all kinds. So I was immediately hooked by the idea of a re-telling of Aladdin-in this case a complicated romance between a young boy named Aladdin and the genie he finds in a lamp-a teenage girl who’s been trapped inside said lamp for years and years, in a seventeen year old body.
Zahra hasn’t seen the world outside the lamp in hundreds of years. Her very existence is now illegal and she must disguise who she is in order to survive, until her new master has been granted his three wishes.
As she grants Aladdin’s wishes, the two of them dodge several enemies and encounter the multiple obstacles that arise in her attemp to help him avenge the deaths of his parents. Aladdin soon begins to fall for her, but Zahra, still ashamed of her past, refuses to let him get close. There’s no way they can be together anyway, not when the fobidden wish that could set Zahra free has dire consequences. But when the king of the Jinn offers her a chance to be free forever, she has to decide wether her freedom is worth betraying the boy she’s fallen in love with.
Both Zahra and Aladdin’s backstories are tragic and largely affect their relationship in the present. Aladdin is determined to achieve vengeance and Zahra is afraid to let herself get close to another human after what happened to her only friend so many years back. Aladdin’s only intention upon first discovering Zahra is to use her to go after his enemies but as he comes to know Zahra and see who she really is, he begins to worry over what her fate will be when his three wishes are up.
Aladdin comes off as very reckless and one-track-minded at first but his selflessness shows in how he refuses to give up on Zahra and continues to protect her even it means losing his chance to avenge his parents. I loved being inside Zahra’s mind. I loved Aladdin’s acceptance of her and how fiercly he believed in her and saw the good in her. The romance was beautiful and the story was intriguing, unique and suspenseful from start to finish.
 I’m usually pretty wary of fantasy stand-alones. In my experience, fantasies are usually better as trilogies or series. This book though, was wrapped up very nicely and perfectly paced from beginning to end.
8.) The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
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 After hearing so many great things about Holly Black, I decided to finally give her a try. And I’m so glad I did!
This stand-alone contemporary fantasy takes place in a small town where humans and mythical creatures co-exist. The most infamous of these creatures lies in a glass coffin in the woods, a faerie prince with horns on his head and pointed ears, who’s been asleep for decades without ever waking.
Hazel and her brother Ben have always been enchanted by this strange boy and have loved him since their childhoods. Then one day, the boy wakes up, and chaos ensues. A horrible curse befalls the town, and soon they’re fighting to survive and unlock the secrets of the forest. Their beloved prince may not be the hero they’d always imagined him to be, and they have no clue as to his true intentions. Hazel begins waking up with leaves in her hair and mud on her shoes, with no recollection of the night before.

Reading this book felt to me like reading a favorite classic faerie tale, only it was purely original and full of surprising twists I never would have predicted. It has diversity too; Hazel’s brother Ben is gay. Ben’s best friend Jack (Hazel’s long time crush), is black. I loved the darkly magical feel of the story and the glances we were given into Hazel and Ben’s childhoods, which really helped to tie together the overall mysteries they faced in the present. There’s more than one romance taking place and I found them both to be surprising but satisfyingly sweet.

 Ben and Hazel were very close despite being so close in age. I loved their relationship and the way they both looked after one another in a home where their parents seemed too busy attending parties to pay attention to their children and the trouble they often found themselves in. Jack was mysterious yet endearing and the prince was intriguing and not at all like I expected. I loved this darkly enchanted tale and I can’t wait to read more from Holly Black!
 9.) Five Nights at Freddy’s: The Silver Eyes by Scott Cawthon 

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 I know what you’re thinking. A scary story based off a video game featuring killer anamatronics? Cheesy! Stupid! Weird! But don’t let the story’s origin as an overrated video game dissaude you from reading this book. It was extremely well written, with diverse characters and a surprisingly deep plot.
This story is written by the same guy who developed the games. I find it unfair that a single person can hold so much talent! Seriously, the writing was beautiful and entrancing. I literally finished the book within one day.
Ten years after the horrific murders that tore their small town apart and led to Freddy Fazbears being shut down, Charlie and her childhood friends reunite on the tragic anniversary.
We’re given the whole backstory as to how this abandoned arcade and it’s haunted robotic animals came to be. Our main character, Charlie, is the daughter of the man who owns the restaurant and designed the infamous animatronics, and has grown up surrounded by her father’s inventions.
We’re really given a deep look into Charlie’s mind and her flash backs were so vivid that I felt every emotion she experienced through them. There were parts that made me want to cry, parts that made me laugh, and I couldn’t out the book down because I just needed to know more about Charlie’s past and her father and how everything happened.
I was surprised by how attached I became to all the characters, and despite my lust for blood and gore, I found myself cringing at every terror, praying they’d all make it out alive. It wasn’t all-out terrifying necessarily, but it was still suspenseful, creepy and intriguing and had me biting my nails at parts. I wish there were more YA Horror novels like this out there. Here’s to hoping Scott Cawthon writes a sequel or another stand-alone!
10.) Rumble by Ellen Hopkins

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This past year, I’ve fallen in love with books written in verse and I’m eager to read as many as I can get my hands on. Ellen Hopkins is known for writing in verse and having heard greats things about her books, I picked Rumble as my first read by her. And it proved to be a fantastic choice!
This book, while very dark and dismal at times, tackles some very important issues regarding bullying and LGBT discrimination. And it totally shits on bible-thumping homophobes, which I’m all for!
After losing his brother to suicide, Matt has become an angry, bitter shell of the person he used to be. He constantly fights with his girlfriend, he doesn’t trust anyone-including his former friends-and the tension between his parents at home is nearly tangible. His grief over the loss of his younger sibling and animosity towards his classmates and parents is threatening to push him over the edge.
He blames the bible thumping religious freaks at school for his brothers death-he knows for a fact that they bullied his brother to suicide simply because he was gay. He blames his parents for not accepting their son and worrying more about what other people thought than the toll their lack of compassion and understanding was causing him.
But mostly he blames himself. For not realizing the extent of the pain his brother was experiencing, for not being there for him, for not standing up for him or protecting him.
Matt is a complicated character, who’s behavior is questionable at times, even if you understand where his negative feelings are coming from. Overall, though, I loved how much he grew as a person after his brother died. He wasn’t afraid to speak his mind, to call out his parents and classmates on their bigotry and lack of sympathy, and their refusal to see the role they played in driving Zach to take his own life.
 Seriously, his classmates and parents pissed me off so much, I praised Matt for speaking up and shutting down their ignorant arguments and attempts to excuse the blatant homophobia they continued to spew, even after the tragic consequences it had already brought about. His strictly religious girlfriend Hayden was equally obnoxious and close minded, although she hides it well in the beginning.
This book is devastating and had me crying more than once, and I was deeply impressed with the intensity of the emotions Hopkins was able to provoke in me. I honestly wanted to throw the book at a wall at times. Unfortunately, this story represents how much of the world treats the LGBT community, and the hypocrisy and injustice brought to light here is something that will always need to be addressed.
11.) Lies I Told by Michelle Zink

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I loved this story following a family of con artists, moving from town to town as they target their next victims. Our main character, Grace has always been conflicted over this lifestyle, and the role she’s expected to play in helping her adoptive parents pull off their heists.
She feels like she has no choice but to go along it with. Her adoptive brother keeps urging her to runaway with him, but she can’t bring herself to abandon her parents. After all, they got her out of foster care and gave her a proper family; even if it came at a price.
Soon Grace finds herself falling for the son of their current target-a rich boy who seems to have it all, but who’s family is hiding secrets within their California mansion. The plan is already in motion and there’s nothing she can do to stop it. Then things start to fall apart and she has to decide where her loyalty lies-with her new friends, or with her family and the only life she’s ever known.
Grace’s brother Parker was frustrating at times but he appeared more determined than her at first to quit this life. Grace’s stubborness was frustrating as well. At times I just wanted to yell at her to stand up for herself and try harder to get out of this situation. I could see why she had a hard time going against her parents, even as she saw how sweet and humble Logan really was despite his family’s wealth.
Their parents frustrated me more than anything, with their greed and lack of sympathy for what the constant moves and conning was doing to their adoptive children.
The story was frustrating, compelling and  complicated. I couldn’t put it down.  AAAAAND there’s a sequel, which I need to read immediately. It ended with quite the cliff hanger.
12.) Starflight by Melissa Landers

starflight

Melissa Landers is the queen of fiery sci-fi romances and outer space journeys full of both action and self discovery. The romance trope in this book is one that I never love-two people who hate each other in the beginning but eventually find themselves falling in love.
Solara is desparate to get away from Earth, from the judgement that follows her everywhere she goes thanks to the engine grease underneath her fingernails and the tattoos on her knuckles that mark her as a criminal. Space travel is not cheap though, and she finds herself with no choice but to indenture herself to someone she despises: Doran, a former classmate and pretentious rich boy who’s made her life miserable as long as they’ve known each other.
Before they know it though, they’re on the run together; Doran having been framed for conspiracy. Solara cons him into acting as her servant when they find themselves on board the Banshee alongside a crew of odd characters. As they run from their enemies, they have to come together in spite of their past and their differences, and work to protect the ship mates that have come to feel like family.
I loved the banter between these two vastly different former enemies and how they slowly grew to trust and understand each other. It was honestly hilarious how the tables ended up turning when the roles were reversed and Doran found himself serving Solara instead. I won’t reveal how exactly it happens to avoid giving away spoilers, but it gave me a really good laugh.
Doran is a huge asshole in the beginning-there’s no denying or excusing that. He’s had some hardships in his own life though, that help to explain his behavior and give us some insight as to why he’s so angry and unpleasant upon first impression. Solara doesn’t allow him to trample all over her, and I really admired how she didn’t hold back or hesitate to stand up to him. Doran eventually begins to redeems himself and the two of them slowly come to understand each other. The other members on board the crew are equally interesting and likable, especially childhood friends Cassia and Kane whose relationships may be developing into something more. I can’t wait to read their story in Starfall, the companion to Starflight coming out early 2017!
13.) Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman

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Will I ever tire of the book trope featuring young women dressing as men and embarking on a high-stakes journey of action, drama and self discovery? Nope! And this one was especially unique, as it takes place in the Wild West!
We follow eighteen-year-old Kate as she disguises herself as a young boy and sets off across the gritty deserts in pursuit of the men who murdered her father to get their hands on notebook containing the location of a hidden gold mine. She’s tough as nails, fiercly independent, and willing to do almost anything to track these madmen down and make them pay.
Along the way she becomes allies with Cowboy brothers Will and Jessie (who refuse to let her continue on her road to vengeance alone) and a Native American girl who gets caught in the cross-fire, and is trying to find the way back to her people.
As they race across the rugged California plains, Kate’s friends try to warn her of the possible costs of chasing a gang of gun-toting bandits, but there’s no way she’s giving up now. Don’t they know that nothing gets in the way of a woman seeking revenge? Nothing-not bullet wounds, not the blazing desert heat or relentless dust of the plains, and certaintly not her growing attraction for the oldest of the brothers.
Kate, although sometimes brave and stubborn to a fault, isn’t afraid to talk back to anyone who disrespects her. She is admirably independent, not needing anybody to take care of her, although there were times it would have been better for her to take someone else’s advice or allow them to help her. She was so determined to rely on no one that she didn’t always stop to think before rushing into things alone.
There were scenes that were shocking, heartbreaking and nail bitingly suspenseful. The romance was very subtle but still sweet, even though they both had very different end goals in mind and had trouble seeing eye to eye. An abundance of Wild West slang and detailed descriptions of 1800’s California makes this tale feel all the more authentic.
I was devestated the book had to end; it just felt like way too early to say goodbye to these characters, and I was reeling after all the hardships they’d faced. This book, though, is definitely one I won’t forget.
14.) More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera 

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An extremely well written diverse read about a gay teen in a speculative near-future in which there is a facility with the technological ability to erase any particular memories that one may want to forget.
In the months since his dad’s suicide, Aaron has been struggling to find happiness. He has girlfriend he adores and who loves him back. But sometimes it feels like there’s something missing from his life. And there’s the new kid in town, Thomas, whom Aaron finds himself drawn to. As Aaron and Thomas grow closer, he’s confused by his growing feelings. He has a loving girlfriend, he’s happy, he’s straight. Right? But as his feelings grow stronger, Aaron considers turning to the Leto Institute to straighten (pun intended) himself out, even if means forgetting who he is.
In his small town, it’s near impossible to hide secrets. The bullies in town prey on weakness and being gay means having a constant target on your back. But is it worse than living a lie, and trying to force yourself to be someone you’re not?
Oh, Aaron. Poor kid has been through so much. But he’s resilient and stronger than he even realizes. He’s stubbornly determined to move on from his past, even if it may mean forgetting himself. He deals with some real assholes on a daily basis. Homophobes, nosy neighbors, and even his own so called “friends” put pressure they put on him to be “normal.” Although his “friends” and neighbors are hardly more than a bunch of intimidating bullies, Aaron knows it’s safer to stick with them and blend in rather than attempt to go it alone.
Aaron’s friendship with Thomas was sincere and sweet. Thomas was really supportive of him and accepting of his past. He didn’t care what other people thought and didn’t feel the need to pretend to be someone he wasn’t just to please everyone else. He was there throughout Aaron’s struggle with regaining old memories and coming to terms with who he really was. I liked Thomas a lot and I loved every moment he and Aaron spent together.
This isn’t a light hearted story by any means, so be warned. Aaron has a pretty sordid past, and his present life is just as miserable at times. But it’s an important story about self acceptance, overcoming major life obstacles and learning to stand up for yourself. Most of all, it’s a story of family and friendship. It’s heavy on the heart but eye opening and well worth the read.
15.) What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler 
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 This another important story that focuses on a very heavy topic, and one I think everyone should read.
Rape and rape culture are sadly still very prominent in our society, and while this book is heart breaking, it’s one I’m very glad to have picked up. The main character herself is not the rape victim, rather, one of her classmates, Stacy is. Kate doesn’t remember much about what happened the night of the party. She remembers Stacey Stallard handing her shots, and her friend/quasi boyfriend Ben taking her keys and getting her home early. But the next morning, a picture of Stacey passed out over baskeball star Deacon Mill’s shoulder appears, and Stacey levels charges against four of Kate’s classmates.
The town is torn abart by controversy, with most people dismissing Stacey’s allegations as false. They become furious with her for jeapordizing their basketball teams reputation by accusing four of their main stars. As facts continue to surface, Kate finds herself unable to ignore the clues and begins to question the truth of what happened that night. Who was involved? Who saw what happened? And is Ben telling the truth about not being a witness, or could he possibly have something to do with it?
Oh. My. God. This book made me cry so much. It was horrifying the way people talked about Stacey and how they blamed her and made excuses for jocks and the horrible things that had been done to her. I was furious with some of Kate’s friends and how their fear over what their classmates might think kept them from defending and speaking up for Stacey. They weren’t nearly as bad as some of the other people, but they did nothing to help the situation either.
Kate was slow to act as well, but her actions impressed me in the end. She was very determined to get to the bottom of it all and didn’t hide her disgust towards anyone who spoke horribly of Stacey or defended her rapists. There was a certain someone I was wary to trust from the beginning, but I found myself begging that my suspicions would be false. Regardless of that particular outcome, this book will very likely leave you in tears and with a heavy heart, but you’ll be very grateful to have read it because of how much it makes you think and feel. It perfectly captures the horrible way many rape cases are handled and the lack of compassion people can have for victims.
No character is perfect, and the males especially play a huge part in the authors main objective, from Kate’s younger brother, to Ben, to anyone who stood by Deacon and his friends and refused to believe Stacey’s story. Some of them redeem themselves, some of them not so much. I found the ending happy, but not entirely in the traditional sense. This book is so much different from any I’ve read before but I will never regret picking it up.
16.) The Nature of Jade by Deb Caletti
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This cute contemporary romance had so many things I love; elephants, a flawed yet likeable main character, an accurate potrayal of mental illness and a cute guy with a baby!

High school senior Jade is living with an anxiety disorder and often finds herself overwhelmed and overthinking everything. Although she knows her fears are irrational, she can’t escape the terrifying thoughts and loss of breath that accompany them. To deal with her anxiety, she often finds herself watching the live cam of the elephant enclosure at the nearby zoo. She finds the familiarity of their routine soothing and comforting. One day, she sees a boy her age stop in front of the enclosure: a boy with a baby.

Over the next few weeks she sees the boy several more times on the livestream, and she begins to wonder about him. Is he a babysitter? A nanny? Is the kid his brother or his son? Soon she begins working at the zoo where she finds solace in the family of elephants she tends to and the other employees she befriends. And eventually she meets the boy, whose name is Sebastion, and who is indeed the father of the child he carries on his back.

Soon, Jade finds herself falling in love with Sebastion as she spends her days with him and his activist grandma on their Seattle houseboat, watching over his son Bo together and sharing their fears and secrets and dreams. But Sebastion is hiding something about his past, and it may just come back to haunt them.

Jade’s inner monologue is easily relatable and although her thoughts tend to ramble, she was cleary a very intelligent and open minded character. She had strong opinions and attention to detail and a very sharp mind. She worried over nearly everything, but well, that’s anxiety disorder for you. I liked her a lot and admired her strength and determination not to let her anxiety overcome her life, although a lot of the time with mental illness, you don’t have much of a say in the matter. Sebastion didn’t appear to be nearly as  multi dimensional as Jade did, since we only really got to see the positives when it came to him. I would have liked to see more sides to him, but I feel like the role he played in Jade’s story was perfectly subtle and sweet. He was very accepting and understanding, a perfect gentleman who wasn’t quick to judge or express negative emotion.

Jade’s family and the conflict between her and her parents played a large role in the book as well, as did her relationships with her friends. I easily understood a lot of the frustrations she dealt with in her home and school life and how she struggled to see which friendships were real and which ones were shallow. I will definitely be seeking out more books by Deb Caletti!

17.) The Problem With Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout

rb4Armentrout’s books have long been a guilty pleasure of mine, but this gem is a true masterpiece. It realistically tackles the difficulties of living with anxiety as a teenager in high school, especially for a foster child still recovering from a traumatic childhood.

Mallory hasn’t seen her childhood friend and protector Ryder, in years. Not since the incident that separated them and landed her in the hospital. Four years later she has a loving foster family and is getting to ready to tackle her next big obstacle-attending public school for her senior year, after years of homeschooling. Her extreme fear of public speaking and social interaction has her anxiety through the roof, and she has no idea what to expect.
What she least suspects, though,  is to run in to Ryder on the first day of school. She hasn’t seen him since she was thirteen, and although they’ve both changed tremendously, they recognize each other immediately and quickly reunite as friends. And eventually, as they get to know each other again, they even begin to see each other as something more.
But Ryder’s life isn’t quite so put together as it initially seemed. He and his foster brothers have gotten caught up in some dangerous crowds, and although they’ve tried to put it behind them, they may not be completely out of the woods.
Mallory always thought Ryder was the stronger of the two of them, the one who didn’t need protecting. As she watches him lose his grip and his life begins to spiral out of control, she begins to see that their past affects him more than she could have thought. And she has to decide wether she should fight for him or just let him go.
Mallory’s struggle with anxiety was very relatable and believable. As someone with anxiety myself, I felt like that part of her was realistically portrayed-the extreme shyness, occasional stuttering, the intense fear of public speaking. I knew exactly how she felt at particular moments. The steps she took to fight it and her determination to not let it take over her life was admirable and inspiring. She slowly learns to stand up for herself and love who she is.
Ryder Ryder Ryder! This boy was just so ridiculously sweet and gentle and understanding. He was an amazing friend to Mallory-enouraging and accepting and patient. He was exactly what Mallory needed at that time in her life. He’s just gorgeous inside and out. I mean seriously, can’t you just hear me gushing? Definitely one of my favorite book boyfriends.
Overall, a perfectly romantic and heart breaking yet inspiring read about self love and acceptance, overcoming your past, and the power of family and friendship. Most of Jennifers work are simply guilty pleasures for me, but this book is by far her best work, by far my favorite, and a complete and total masterpiece. Here I go, gushing again!
18.) Chasing Truth (The Eleanor Ames series) by Julie Cross

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 Julie Cross is becoming a new favorite author of mine. Her characters just feel so much more unique and complicated than most, which makes them more real to me.
Chasing Truth is the first in a series, and it follows former con artist Eleanor Ames as she struggles to live a normal life free of her past. Her parents are no longer in the picture (although she’s initially vague about the reason) so she lives with her older sister and her (sister’s) boyfriend.
Things haven’t exactly gotten off to a good start so far: Ellie’s first and only friend at her new high school commits suicide by gun just months after they meet. Eleanor is sure that there’s more to it, and is determined to uncover the truth.
When Miles moves in next door, he’s instantly suspicious of her and seems to dislike her from the moment they meet. The feeling is mutual, and Ellie keeps her distance. But soon she starts to question his reason for being here; Is Miles arrival in her town just coincidence or is he here for a reason? And could he possibly have something to do with Simon’s murder?
As they form a steady friendship, their feelings for each other grow complicated, hovering somewhere between romantic and friendly, but they’re still wary to trust one another completely. Given Miles’s aversion for any kind of law breaking or injustice, Ellie is sure he’d hate her if he discovered the truth about her family. But as they begin working together towards a common goal, she finds she has bigger issues to deal with. The closer they get to the truth, the less they know who they can trust and the higher the stakes are.
Miles is a very serious and intense guy, with little patience for games or anyone who plays them. As he and Ellie become friends though, he shows a softer, more sympathetic side of himself. Ellie is a well-written protagonist, guilty over her past and desperate to make up for it and move on. She’s admirably confident at times but vulnerable at others, and she felt more believable to me because of it. I liked how many different sides there were to her.
There’s also some diversity in this book, in case you were wondering. There’s lots of kissing as well, many different types of characters, and a whole lot of mystery and suspense. I’m anxiously awaiting the release of book two!
19.) Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes

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Despite our main character’s tragic past and her string of terrible luck, Girl Against the Universe was one of the funniest, most heart-warming reads of this year.
Ever since she was little, Maguire has had terrible luck. Or, more accurately, she seems to bring bad luck to everyone around her; from rollercoasters flying off tracks, to houses catching fire, to the car wreck that killed her dad and brother. But Maguire? She survived without a scratch, like all the other times. So she can’t help but feel like a bad luck charm, stuck drowning in survivors guilt and terrified of getting close to anyone, lest she ruin their life too.
When she moves to a new school, Maguire meets Jordy, a tennis star who seems to have everything-girls, money, a solid tennis career, and a loving family. But as they grow close, she sees that things aren’t all that simple for him either. Jordy tries to show her that the events in her past weren’t her fault and that she can change her luck if only she stops blaming herself for every little mishap.
Jordy and his sister were both very likable characters who brought a lot to the story and some much-needed positivity to Maguire’s life. Jordy was adorably awkward and easy going and an easy-to-love character.
The romance was super sweet, as were the friend and family relationships, and I loved this story that was both moving, inspiring and cute as heck. It was a compelling sports romance about letting go and learning to look at life in a more positive light.
20.) Summer of Supernovas by Darcy Woods

supernovas From the very first chapter, this book had me laughing out loud. Literally. The main character Wilamena is one of the most eccentric and entertaining narrators I’ve ever read. She’s weird and she knows it; she owns it. She’s exactly who she wants to be, with her cat eye glasses and astrology obsession. She doesn’t pretend to be anyone she’s not. She gets herself into some pretty hilarious and ridiculous situations that had me simultaneously giggling and cringing from second-hand embarassment.

Ever since her mom died in a car accident a few years previously, Wil’s lived with her grandmother. Her grandmother doesn’t believe in all the “astrological houey” that Wil and her mom, an expert astrologist, lived by and insists that it’s ridiculous for her  to live her life according to the stars. But Wil is determined to live by her mother’s beliefs and continue her legacy, so she ignores her grandmothers warnings.
When her horoscope tells her that she has an opportunity, a certain period of time to find long lasting love, she sets out to find someone who’s star sign is said to be her perfect match. She finds him…and his brother.
As she starts dating Seth, her “perfect match” she grows closer to his brother Grant. Even as she’s falling for him she refuses to let go of her mothers beliefs, denying their attraction to each other, because she just knows things couldn’t possibly work out between two incompatible signs…right? Torn between her heart and wanting to honor her mothers memory, Wil has to decide whether dating someone from the “right” side of the chart is worth losing her shot at true love and her own happiness.
Grant is the cute, sensitive guitar-playing type. He’s gentle, sweet, patient, a good listener, and adorably dorky. His brother Seth had his moments too, but Grant is definitely the brother I’d choose. Seriously, such a cutiepie. A talented, good looking cutiepie. I loved him. He was perfect for Wil and loved her for who she was, even in her moments of stubborness and quirkiness.
And Wil’s best friend Iri was an amazing person as well; equally quirky and hilarious. I loved their friendship and how they were more like sisters to each other. I’d totally read a book about Iri if Darcy Woods were to write one.
If you’re looking for a touching, light-hearted romantic read with lots of star gazing, kissing and laugh-out-loud moments, then pick this one up! It’s a good read for any time of year.
21.) Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf

Image result for breaking beautiful by jennifer shaw wolf If there’s anything I love more than romances, it’s books featuring twins who are each others best friends. And this book has both! But this is not a light-hearted book at all. It follows the story of a girl named Allie struggling to adapt to life after the death of her boyfriend; a boyfriend who abused her both emotionally and physically, unbenownst to both her twin and her best friend Blake.

 Allie doesn’t know what happened the night her boyfriend Trip, died. All she knows is that his car went off a cliff, and that she was able to jump out of the car just in time. But she didn’t escape unharmed; her fall from the truck resulted in a nasty head injury that landed her in the hospital. This left her with a scar across her cheek, her previously long, golden hair now cut in an ugly bob and a partially shaved head.
In the two years that she and Trip dated, her friendship with Blake had faltered as a result of her boyfriend’s possesive behavior. Now, he’s back in her life, trying to help her put her life back together, and she has no idea where they stand. Her lack of motivation to leave the house and learn to live again has her pushing both Blake and her twin Andrew away, but they’re determined to be there for her.
Trip had been admired by many, and had lots of friends and girls fawning over him. Allie’s classmates are suspicious about her role in his death, blaming her. And Allie is terrified they might be right-that she may have played a deliberate role in his death to escape the pain he put her through.
Blake was hard to get a read on at first. I wasn’t sure how much he knew about the accident, what he knew about her relationship with Trip, or what his exact feelings were for Allie. But I liked that he believed her, was there for her despite how she had cut him off over the past couple years. He was gentle and patient with her, with an understanding for what she was going through. It was obvious he cared a lot for her-possibly even in a more-than-friends type of way, but he never pushed her or demanded anything of her. I could tell Allie missed their friendship as much as he did, and that she may have felt the same way until Trip invaded her life. Blake was a closed book much of the time but his motives still felt genuine to me, and the romance developing between them was slow but sweet.
Her twin brother Andrew was a total sweetheart and the best brother anyone could ask for. He felt her pain and his obvious love for his sister was shown through both his actions and words. Andrew is wheelchair-bound and living with cerebral palsy, which makes it hard for him to communicate, but he didn’t let it stop him from trying to get through to Allie. The sibling bond between them was powerful. They stood up for each other and would do almost anything to keep the other safe, and I thought it was a beautiful relationship that brought this book to life.
This story deals a lot with grief and Allie’s struggle for self acceptance, but it’s also a murder-mystery from start to finish, with plenty of suspenseful and creepy moments. It deals with a very heavy topic, but is overall a positive book about survival and repairing broken relationships.
 22.) Summer of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider

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Yet another book featuring both twins and lots of romance! This time, much less dark and taking place in Hawaii during the summer.
After discovering her boyfriend has been cheating on her, Sloane finds herself with a broken wrist from a sloppy punch she delivers to his nose. So she is all too relieved to be spending the summer at her mom’s house in Hawaii. Especially considering the other girl just happens to be her best friend-who’s now pregnant.
Sloane is determined to have an unforgettable summer and forget all about her disloyal ex-boyfriend and traitorous former friend. But even in Hawaii, she can’t escape the never-ending texts and emails they’re firing her way.
In Hawaii, she meets Finn, and as they spend time together, the chemistry between them is threatening to turn their friendship into something more. Sloane doesn’t know if she’s ready to move into another relationship so quickly. Her feelings for Finn seem real, but can things between them be any more than just a summer fling or a rebound to mend her broken heart?
While this book was mostly a cutesy summer romance, there were parts that had me so frustrated and angry that I wanted to throw the book out the window. Her former boyfriend and best friend don’t let up in their barage of texts and emails, even going so far as to try to guilt trip her into responding and manipulate her into giving them another chance by bombarding her with positive memories of their pasts together. Seriously, I wanted to scream at them. I wanted Sloane to tell them off, but she didn’t, and it frustrated me.
Even Finn had me frustrated at times, with his jumping to conclusions and stubborn refusal to listen to explanations before making an assumption. Overall though, he was by far a better person than Sloane’s lying ex and aside from one incident, he treated her wonderfully. He was understanding and patient regarding her reluctance to jump into another relationship, and he helped her to live the amazing summer she wanted so she could temporarily forget the betrayal she’d left behind.
Sloane didn’t always stand up for herself the way I wanted her too, but I admired her strength and maturity in handling it all, and how she didn’t easily give in to her friend and ex’s pleas for forgiveness. So, although this was primarily a cute and fun summer read, it definitely dealt with some pretty serious topics surrounding friendships and relationships as well. Although we didn’t learn too much about her twin, I did like how well they got along and the protectiveness he had for her.
The romance between Sloane and Finn is full of sparks and cute moments I thought he was the perfect guy to help her forget her asshole ex. The feelings between them didn’t feel forced or fake or too sudden either. Their relationship, while rocky at times, felt real and healthy. I would, without a doubt, pick up another book by this author!
23.) Rogue (Talon #2) by Julie Kagawa

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I’ve always loved Julie Kagawa’s work, and this series is no exception. I read the first book in this series, Talon, a few years ago, and while I did enjoyed it, I didn’t LOVE it like I did it’s sequel. Rogue just felt so much more complex to me, the characters more real, the plot more interesting and intense. And the romance was twice as hot.
It’s hard to review a book two without giving spoilers, but the main reason I love this series overall is-dragons! Yes, a few of our main characters are dragons who have the ability to change into humans. Ember and her twin brother Dante, are sent to live among humans, as part of the assimilation process of their training. Each young dragon in their community is given a career based on their skills and assets. And once they’re of age, they’re expected to complete all missions given without complaint. But first, they have to learn to disguise themselves in the human world and blend in among them.
Garrett has been raised his whole life to hate dragons, and trained since a kid to hunt and kill them. His new mission? To find the young dragons hiding out in crowded beach town and kill them. He and Ember meet, and begin to fall for each other, but Garrett doesn’t know who-or what-she really is. Nor does Ember know who he is. Will he ever be able to look past his prejudices, or will he not hesitate to kill her once he discovers the truth?
I already liked the characters in book one, but book two just took them and expanded them, made them more real, more dimensional, more developed. And the storyline was twice as suspenseful and quicker paced. I’m getting ready to read book 3, and book four comes out early 2017! I can’t wait to see what direction this series takes.
24.) A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

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From the well-known and loved author of Throne of Glass, comes A Court of Mist and Fury, the much anticipated sequel to A Court of Thorns and Roses, which I also read this year. But this sequel just stomps all over it. There is no comparison. This is just one kick-ass follow-up of a novel.
Book one began with Feyre struggling to provide food and clothes for her family. Since her mother died and their dad lost their house, they’ve lived in poverty on the edge of the woods. Feyre does all of the hunting, the cooking and preparing of meals, but doesn’t get much gratitude from her bratty older sisters or crippled father. She seems to be the only one working to keep them fed.
One day, Feyre kills a wolf in the woods. Later that evening a terrifying beast appears at her home, demanding she pay for the life she took, which also happened to be a fairy, a human’s mortal enemy. To save her family from the beast’s wrath, she agrees to be taken into the fairy realm, where she’ll live out the rest of her life.
While there she discovers that there’s a huge threat to both her world and the Fey’s world, one that she must find a way to stop before it spreads past the wall dividing the two worlds.
As Feyre falls in and out of love,dodges death, and adjusts to life in this strange new land, she discovers that things aren’t necessarily as black and white as she’d thought, that not all faeries are evil.
Book two was just twice as incredible as the first one. There’s incredible character development in Feyre, slowly developing friendships and relationships between those she’d previously considered enemies, and a whole lot of world building. I personally think that A Court of Mist and Fury is Sarah J Maas’s best work so far.
Disclaimer: A Court of Mist and Fury fits more under the “New Adult” category despite its label as a Young Adult novel. I don’t think it’s really suitable for anyone under 17 or so.
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Top YA Series I read in 2016:

 

Illuminae and Gemina by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

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If you’ve read my review of Illuminae then you’ll know why I love these books so much: the unique formatting is made up of emails and IM’s, hacked documents, drawings, diagrams, diary entries and more. The characters are hardass troopers , the plot is nail-bitingly addictive and full of of action, violence, conspiracy, suspense, romance, a whole lot of creepy, and even plenty of humor.

I loved Gemina as much as I did Illuminae, and the banter between our new characters Hanna and Nik was hilarious and heartfelt. I loved the relationship Hanna had with her dad, and Nik with his cousin. Their relationship reminded me in many ways of Katy and Ezra, but was so unique at the same time. Hanna goes from being a priviliged rich girl living a sheltered life as the station captain’s daughter to running for her life from the bad guys who’ve put a target on her back. Nik, the resident drug dealer and member of a notorius crime family, also finds himself fighting for survival when an exchange goes awry. Despite his liftstyle, Nik was a very selfless and sympathetic character, a real teddy bear at heart. And Hanna turns out to be a whole lot more than the spoiled rich girl people have her pegged as.

There were scenes that sent shivers down my spine and others that had me sobbing so hard I had to put the book down for a week. Literally. So be warned! But it is so so so worth it. I had the pleasure of meeting Jay and Amie at a book signing/discussion in San Diego a couple weeks ago and I can tell they are two of the funniest authors I have ever met. I can see why they work so well together-they have the same sense of humor and balance each other out perfectly.

Fun Fact: I met the authors at a book signing just a few months ago, and Amie said the Jay is to blame for any over-abundance of gore and death, and that it’s him we should curse to high heavens when we find ourselves bawling our eyes out and cringing in shock at two in the morning. So blame him, I have. But I must admit he is a wonderful writer and story teller, as is Amy. I’m super stoked that there will be a third book in this series released next year! I’m jumping in anticipation. Hopefully my heart can handle it.

 

The Darkest Minds trilogy by Alexandra Bracken

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Another popular series that lived up to the hype, these are without a doubt the best YA Dystopian books I have ever read. You can read a mini review for The Darkest Minds on my previous post Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books That Lived up to the Hype. But here’s an overall summary of my love for this series and why it was one of the best ones I read this year.

Alexandra Bracken knows how to bring to life a band of diverse and eccentric characters, and I was highly impressed with how real they felt and how unique they all were to each other. Ruby is a character you’ll instantly be rooting for when you learn of the hardships she’s been through, and the supporting characters each bring something original to the story. You won’t have a hard time remembering their names or distinguishing between them.

The trilogy is overflowing with tear-jerking moments, shocking twists and a whole lot of car chase scenes as our group of escapees flee from enemies determined to throw them back into the rehabilitation camps or use them in their fight against the government. Romance, violence, friendship, action, terror, and the supernatural collide in a post-apocalyptic world thrown into disarray by the sudden appearance of frightening new mutant abilities in the current generation of teens.

 

The Naturals series by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

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This is a psychologically thrilling series about a young girl who is asked to come join a group of teens-all of whom have different crime solving abilities- and put her own abilities to the test to help them solve murders.

Cassie’s mom was murdered when she was younger, but they never found her body nor her mother’s killer. Cassie accepts their request, hoping to possibly find some answers regarding her mother’s death. They’re only allowed to work on cold cases, however, so she may not find the answers she’s looking for. However, soon they find themselves caught up in a current murder investigation-one that just might have something to do with them.

As the series goes on, they tackle multiple mysteries and bad guys, each new spree of murders seeming to connect to each of their past, dredging up old memories and involving them more than they ever would have expected.

Each of the five teens have their own tragic pasts, but each of them gained some insight into the murder investigations because of it. Each of them deal with it in their own way, and although they clash constantly, they look after each other and work with one another. Each of them are both likable and hard to like at times.

But I truly loved all of them-especially Dean, despite how broody and bitter he appears at first impression. The whole lot of them-Dean, Michael, Sloane, Lia and our main character Cassie are all very multi dimensional and intriguing personalities, and we get glimpses into each of their pasts.

We even get the POV’ of the killer every other chapter or so, which I found very interesting and extremely well written. This is such an exciting crime series, and I definitely suggest it to lovers of crime tv shows. I actually have yet to read the final book Bad Blood, but I hope to sart it soon!

 

The Ascendance trilogy by Jennifer A. Nielsen

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The love I garnered for this series took me by surprise. I didn’t expect to become so invested in the journey and trials of a fourteen year old orphan boy. But before I knew it I was hooked on this trilogy, despite my tendency to avoid books containing little to no romance and featuring young male protagonists. It was just so interesting, so impossible to put down, and the characters, especially our main character Sage, are just so exciting and unpredictable and unique.

After being caught trying to steal some meat from a vendor, Sage finds himself taken from the orphanage by a mysterious stranger. The guy’s mission? To find a suitable imposter to fill the role of the king’s long-thought dead son and present him as the false prince. And this very well may be a fight to the death. His only option is to win the role of the imposter.

He makes some unlikely friends along the way; a mute servant girl, even one of his captors, and the other boys he’s competing with.

Sage is impossible not to like, despite some of his questionable behavior and decision making. He’s confident, snarky and unafraid to speak up to anybody. But underneath it all, he’s just a teenage boy trying to survive among wolves and remember who he is even as he’s trained to be someone he’s not.

I tore through this series in just a few months, not wanting Sage’s journey to ever end. There’s action, adventure and suspense from beginning to end, and Sage is a character you won’t forget any time soon.

 


The Bloodlines series by Richelle Mead

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I don’t read very many vampire books anymore, but this series is just so addicting and the whole cast of characters is impossible not to adore.

Sydney is an Alchemist, part of a group of humans who protect humans and vampires from each other, and hide the existence of vampires from the mortal world. When she’s woken up in the middle of the night, she’s terrified that they’re finally going to send her to the Alchemist rehabilitation center, as punishment for helping and befriending a vampire. They protect vampire secrets, but to get too close to one is seen as taboo.

Instead, she’s given a new assignment, to pose as a senior at a high school in Palm Desert with a young vampire princess as her roommate; a princess who is in great danger and needs to be hidden away from potential assasins.

At first, Sydney is not pleased. Although these are the kinds of jobs her alchemist status require, she believes vampires are truly unnatural creatures. She’s terrified at having to live with one and work alongside the other vampires and half vampires assigned to protect the princess. They’re all posing as siblings, but she can barely stand to be around them, scared of the magic and strength they possess.

As the series goes on, though, Sydney begins to see that not all vampires are evil, and that the alchemists aren’t all good. She makes vampire friends, falls into a forbidden romance, and comes to care for her team of fake “siblings.” She uncovers secrets regarding the alchemists and finds herself trusting them less, and the vampires more.

Sydney is an interesting character-she’s a huge nerd who knows pretty much everything there is to know about everything. She’s very studious, and very set in her ways. She actually enjoys school and the comfort it brings her, especially math and chemistry-how everything has a straight forward answer that can be solved with a little bit of hard work. And when she can’t find an answer to something, it drives her a little mad. She’s very stubborn, kinda anti-social and lacking in people skills, but very likable all the same-loyal, intelligent, selfless and fiercly independent and determined to get the job done.

The romance slowly builds up over the course of the six book series, with them starting as just-barely-friends and eventually becoming more as their story progresses. Adrian, Adrian, Adrian. The funny thing, is, when he was first introduced in Mead’s other series Vampire Academy, I wasn’t much of a fan of the “rebel bad boy” vibe he gave off, as though he didn’t care for anything aside from smoking and booze and girls. But in this series he’s a much bigger character and we get to see whole new sides to him-and I fell in love right alongside Sydney.

Then there’s Eddie, the super sweet vampire body-guard assigned to protect the princess. Then of course there’s the princess herself, Jill. Eddie is just so nice and selfless and an all around good guy that it’s impossible not to like him. Jill comes off as a little bratty at first, but I came to admire her love for her friends and her strength of spirit.

The characters and ever-growing high stakes suspense of this series made it impossible to put down, and I hated to say good bye to everyone, even after six books! It was a very original vampire universe that hooked me in from the start.

 

The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer

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I wrote a short review of Cinder in my last post if you want to check it out! These were some of my favorite retellings I read this year. We have well-known characters such as Cinderella, Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel brought back to life with very unique personalities and living in a science fiction version of Europe.

The author somehow manages to weave their stories together and introduce multiple character POV’s without it being confusing. It’s seriously impressive! There’s so much going on at once- plenty of romance, action, kick-ass female characters, and of course, an evil queen trying to destroy them all. But Myers manages not to make it too convoluted, and despite it being based on retellings, the series isn’t at all predictable, and tells an entirely new story. So if you haven’t picked these up yet, what are you waiting for?

 

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Aaaaaaand that’s a wrap! But here’s a list of my 2016 ‘Honorable Mentions’, or just some more favorites I was too lazy to write reviews for. Aside from One was Lost, which you can find here.

 

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten 2016 Reads that Lived up to the Hype

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish in June 2010. Each week they post a new Top Ten list  that one of their bloggers will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All you need to do is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post. Have fun with it! It’s a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.

If you don’t want to follow the weekly topics, you can come up with your own instead, and it doesn’t have to be a list of ten. It can be top 5, top 15, top 50! Whatever you want.Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish in June 2010. Each week they post a new Top Ten list  that one of their bloggers will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All you need to do is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post. Have fun with it! It’s a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers. If you don’t want to follow the weekly topics, you can come up with your own instead, and it doesn’t have to be a list of ten. It can be top 5, top 15, top 50! Whatever you want.

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So over the past several months I’ve finally gotten around to reading some of the books that people have been raving about for years, and have been on my TBR list for as long. So I decided to share those that I found to be just as amazing as everyone said they were! In no particular order.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten 2016 Reads That Lived up to the Hype


1) Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

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Kick-ass lady Assassins+romance+mystery & suspense and a whole lot of creepy? Count me in! I have no idea why I took so long to start this series. Celaena is brutal and fierce and downright terrifying at times. I loved the idea of a contest to become the king’s champion and new assassin. It kept me on the edge of my seat.

Celaena’s past has hardened her into a  ruthless, tough as nails and fiercly independent woman who does things her own way and is not intimidated by much. She doesn’t let people in easily, but those she considers friends, she will not hesitate to protect with her life.

As a notorius assasin whose name is well known, she has to hide her true identity from all except a select few members of the castle staff, or risk being targeted by opponents looking to eliminate her fom the competition.

There was an unexpected scare factor brought on by the mysterious murders of Celaena’s opponents and the investigations she conducts regarding the strange and sinister things happening around the castle. I found myself shivering at the creepiness of particular scenes.

I was intrigued by the supporting characters Dorian, Chaol and Nehemia. Dorian is the crown prince, son to the greedy, bloody-thirsty king whose competition she’s been all but forced into. But Dorian is the complete opposite of his father, and disagrees with his father’s violent and tyrannical methods. Chaol is captain of the guard, assigned to watch over Celaena. His initial lack of trust and respect towards her-he’s understandably wary due to his knowledge of her past-has them butting heads throughout most of the book. Chaol becomes one of my favorite characters, as we eventually get to see many different sides to him and learn more about who he is outside of being the king’s guard. Although the book focuses primarily on Celaena’s pov, we did get plenty of chapters in their perspectives as well. I can see why this series has become so wildly popular!

 

2.) Cinder by Marissa Meyer

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Who doesn’t love a good fairy tale retelling? Especially one set in the future, with added sci-fi elements, cyborgs and diverse characters? I always get super excited at the prospect of reading a new twist on an old fairy tale, and this book fulfilled my expectations!

It’s set in China, with a 16-year old half-cyborg named Cinder as our new Cinderella. It has many of the familiar elements found in the original story; a poor orphan girl with a tragic background as our “princess”, an evil step mother and step sister, a ball, and of course, the beginnings of a fairy tale romance between Cinder and the Crown Prince Kai, eighteen year old heir to New Beijing’s throne.

In this case, our heroine is a gifted mechanic. Her reputation as the best mechanic in New Beijing brings prince Kai to her weekly market booth with a request for her to fix his broken android, and although he jokes that it’s simply a “matter of sentimentality” Cinder suspects there’s more to it from the urgency she senses in him.

Although Prince Kai appears to harbor an interest in her, Cinder is convinced that if he knew the truth about her being part android, he would never be able to see past it, so she keeps him at a distance.

When Cinder’s step sister (the non evil one) becomes ill with the plague, her step-mother blames her and volunteers her body to be studied for plague research, and while there, she discovers something unusual about her inner workings. Something that could put her in real danger.

It was a riveting twist on a classic tale, definitely one of the best retellings out there!

 

3.) Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

Magic and murder and mayhem oh my! I almost didn’t read this book. I don’t know why. I’ve had an ARC of Falling Kingdoms sitting on my shelf since 2012 and I almost sold it at a garage sale just because I’d never really heard anyone mention it before.

Which is ridiculous, cause I love a lot of obscure books! But suddenly reviews and odes of love to this series started appearing all over my instagram feed. Had this book just suddenly gained a huge following, or had I simply been blind to it all this time? Either way, I decided to give it a try as I noticed more and more of bookish friends fawning over it. And I’m so glad I did!

Falling Kingdoms is told from the POV’s of four main characters-as well as some smaller supporting characters-and takes place in a land where magic has long since been forgotten. These four teenagers lives change drastically as they discover shocking truths and cross each others paths.

Lucia, a young daughter adopted into a royal family at birth, discovers the truth about her past and a supernatural prophecy she’s said to be at the center of. Privileged young princess Cleo sets off on a perilious journey in search of healing magic thought to be long extinct. Jonas, driven by grief, anger and a deep need for vengeance, soon finds himself the leader of a rebellion against the tyrannical king. And Lucia’s older brother Magnus struggles with his forbidden romantic feelings and the increasing pressure from his cold-hearted father to become as ruthless and blood-thirsty as he is.

Be warned: there is a fair number of deaths in this book, and plenty of gore and violence. You may cry or gasp in shock and revulsion. It’s not for the faint hearted. But the characters-although not always likable-are so uniquely interesting and the plot so unpredictable that you won’t be able to put it down even as you are sobbing or wanting to scream in the characters faces. So grateful for the book bloggers who persuaded me to give this one a go!

 

4.) The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

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The Darkest Minds is without a doubt my all time favorite YA Dystopian. Each character won my heart, every twist and turn had me on the edge of my seat, and I was drawn into Brackens unique world of a Nation terrified by the frightening and unexplainable supernatural powers developing in teens across the country.

From the beginning our main character Ruby has already endured so much, from the metaphorical loss of her parents to the suffering she endured in the rehabilitation camps’ where ‘freak’ kids like her with dangerous powers are sent and forced to work and obey, or be killed.

The camps are said to be protecting and healing the nation’s kids, but only those living the nightmare know the truth about them. They’re doomed to years of labor and  horrible treatment, and possibly death if they step one foot out of line. The parents, clueless to the reality of these camps and both terrified for their kids and terrifed of their abilities, have no choice but to send them away, unsure if they’ll ever see them again.

The kids are separated by colors that lable the powers they have-red being the most dangerous, followed by orange, yellow, blue and green. As one of the dangerous ones, Ruby knows that she must hide her powers from the leaders of the camp, or risk never making it out alive. When she escapes with the help of a mysterious stranger she’s not sure she can trust, she ditches her, only to be picked up by a van of kids of varying colors, also on the run from the authorities.

Liam is an absolute sweetheart, sometimes selfless to a fault, and from day one was determined to know Ruby and draw her out of her shell. Liam’s friend Chubs, who’s suspicious of Ruby at first, is fiercly loyal and willing do anything to protect his friends. And eventually he begins to slowly warm up to her. Then there’s Zu, a mute eleven year old girl with fingertips that have the power to spark electrical fires, but who has a heart of gold. We meet more lovable characters as the series goes on, each of them vastly different and equally memorable as the last.

And guess what? The Darkest Minds is currently in the process of becoming a movie! 100% confirmed, this fantastic dystopian story will be coming to theaters within a couple of years! I’m excited; are you?!

 

5.) Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo 

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What happens when six teenage outcasts band together on a heist to break someone out of a highly guarded prison in exchange for a hefty amount of money? A whole lot of tension, fighting, deception, near-deaths and action packed adventure! I fell in love with Kaz Brekker and his gang of criminals as they joined together on the most dangerous mission of their lives.

There’s Nina, a Heartrender using her healing abilities to survive the slums. A runaway named Wylan has a skill for bomb making-and is being used as leverage in case his father tries to go back on the deal he made with Kaz and his crew. A spy, Inej, known as The Wraith, was kidnapped from her family at 14 and sold to the owner of a pleasure house where she was forced to entertain until Kaz found her and offered her a spot among The Dregs. Matthias is a convict seeking vengeance, and was raised to hate people like Nina-the Grisha. And Jesper, a sharp shooter with a gambling addiction and an ally of Kaz’s, simply can’t walk away from a challenge.

Together, they just may be able to pull it off. If they don’t kill each other first.

 I loved every minute of their high-stakes journey across Ketterdam and The Ice Court, and the banter between the six of them was entertaining & full of snark and wit as they learned to work together and tried to tolerate one another. I came to love them more and more as we were given glimpses of their pasts, and I was on the edge of my seat at every obstacle and surprise they stumbled upon along the way. Definitely worth the read and worthy of the hype!

I actually had the pleasure of meeting Leigh Bardugo last week! Total fangirl moment. Plus she told me she liked my “mermaid hair.”

 

6.) The Winners Curse by Marie Rutkoski

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At seventeen, Kestrel lives a lavish, priviliged life in an empire built on slavery and war. But, as a General’s daughter she has only two choices: join the military or get married by the time she turns eighteen. Neither of which she has any desire to do.

As a slave, Arin has no more than the clothes on his back, a musical gift, and his role as member of a rebellion planning to take back the land that was once theirs.

When Kestrel spontaneously purchases Arin at a market auction, these two teens from entirely separate worlds form an unlikely friendship, despite their vastly different backgrounds.

Arin is hardened from a life of poverty and hardship, and finds it difficult to adjust to a life where his “master” treats him more as an equal than as a slave. Upon first impression, he sees Kestrel as no more than a spoiled, selfish rich girl.

Having lost everything to Kestrels people, he harbors a whole lot of anger and hatred towards her and is initially wary of her motives in purchasing him. But eventually, as they bond over a shared love of music, he begins to see that there’s a lot more to her than just being the pampered daughter of a wealthy general.

While navagating a world of extravagant balls, duels, dirty gossip and messy politics, Arin and Kestrel try to fight their growing feelings for one another and play the roles they’re meant to play. Their people are enemies, and to love each other would be a betrayal to both their countries. But they can’t erase the romantic tension between them, and things are bound to end in disaster.

I loved Kestrel, who, while not much of a fighter-due to both lack of ability and lack of desire to engage in physical combat-makes up for her poor battle skills with intelligence and passion for the things and people she cares about. Some may call her cowardly & spineless, but I disagree.

She stood up for Arin despite the consequences, refused to fall into the trap of societal drama and expectations, and was determined to live her own way rather than submitting to her fathers wishes for her. There are more ways to exhibit strength than the physical, and I think that, despite her avoidance of confrontation, she was exceptionally strong in both mind and spirit.

 

7.) Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

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I posted a review for Illuminae all the way back in March, so click the link to read all about my love for this uniquely formatted, action packed sci-fi!

 


 

 

 

8.) Uprooted by Naomi Novik 

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Uprooted is the first adult book I’ve willingly read-and I loved every minute of it!

It takes place in a land situated on the edge of a cursed forest. The townspeople rely on the magic of The Dragon, a 100+ year old wizard-still sporting the appearance of a young man-to protect them.

But there is a price. Every ten years, he leaves his castle and pays a visit to the village, where all girls 17 years of age line up so that he may pick up one them to take home to his castle for a decade. No one knows what happens to these girls or what his intention is. They don’t come back after the time is up, instead choosing to move far away, insisting that the Dragon never laid a finger on them.

Everyone knows that Kasia will be chosen this year-she’s the most beautiful, the most talented, the most envied. Her best friend, Agnieska, knows it too. And she’s prepared for it all their lives. But when the Dragon comes, it’s not Kasia he chooses. It’s Agnieska. Full of magic, horror, violence, friendship, and even a dash of unexpected romance, this fantasy was impossible to put down!

The “dragon” aka Sarkan, was a very compelling character. At first impression, he appears to be no more than an angry, bitter, and indimidating asshole of a wizard, but in the span of time that the story takes place-around a year or 2-we see many different sides of him, and discover why it is that he brings these girls to his castle.

Hint: it involves magic.

There were parts of this book that were a whole lot more creepy and terrifying and gory than I had expected, but I’m not complaining because those moments just made the book all the more addictive! There were monsters and journeys through cursed forests and people driven to madness by the infectuous horrors hidden within the woods.
The intense bond of friendship between Kasia and Agnieska fueled much of our main characters actions, as she was willing to do anything to protect her.

This is a classic story of good vs evil, as Sarkan and Agnieska work to protect the villages from the poison of the woods, but it’s also a story of friendship, self growth, adventure and perserverance. I was so sad that it had to end!

 

9.) The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

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The second adult novel I read this year, The Bone Season follows the story of nineteen-year-old clairevoyant Paige Mahoney and her life as a dream walker in the year 2059.

In the future, people with supernatural abilities exist. But they are seen as abominations to society, their very existence an act of treason.

Paige works for the criminal underworld of Scion London. It’s her job to retrive information by breaking into peoples minds.

When a desperate act of self defence leads to her being chased down, drugged, and captured, she finds herself imprisoned behind the walls of a hidden city where people like her live under the control of an inhuman species called the Rephaim, and are treated as slaves, forced to use their powers as entertainment or labor in exchange for protection from the zombie like creatures that live in the shadows. While there, she meets and befriends other clairevoyants close to her age and they rely heavily on one another for support and survival.

Paige is chosen as the first human tenant to the Rephaite known as Warden, blood consort to Nashira Sargas, blood sovereign to the Rephaim. As Warden helps Paige learn to harness her powers and expand her abilities, she struggles to trust and understand him. Her natural instinct is to hate him, but as she works with him, she realizes he has secrets and motives she never would have suspected. With very few allies in this strange new world, Paige must determine who is trustworthy if she hopes to have any chance of regaining her freedom.

Paige is an excellently portrayed character-someone with deep emotions, never-ending determination and complete loyalty to her companions. We’re given glimpses of her past-how she initially discovered she was clairevoyant as a child, her relationship with her friend Nick, and the criminal work she performed for her boss, Jaxon, while in Scion.

We don’t know much about Nick straight away, but as we were given more glimpses of him in Paige’s past, I came to love him and hope for a reunion between the two of them. Paige’s new friends Liss and Julian were both likable characters as well, although I would have liked to know more about Julian.

Warden was definitely one of the most complex characters, and one of whom we learned the most about. Paige could be stubborn in her feelings towards him at times, even as she learned more about his past and his intentions.

It’s a beautifully written supernatural dystopian and story of a young girl in a world that fears and despises her, who encounters numerous changes and hardships and losses but still manages to hold onto who she is. I couldn’t recommend it enough!

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So these are some of my favorite popular books and series I finally got around to this year! Have you read any of these? Did they fulfill your expectations? Let me know!

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