Book Reviews, Reading, StephReads2018

The Astonishing Colour of After Review

It’s a truth that if you want to get me to read and love your book you need to have

1-an amazing cover

2- some sort of magical realism or fantasy (hopefully with dragons)

cat- really really good characters.

The Astonishing Colour of After has almost all of those things that I need. (Well, minus the dragons, but there’s definitely some magic involved!)

 

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First let’s just adore the cover of this book. It’s so pretty! (And the spine!!) I ordered the U.K. edition because I fell in love with the cover and because it was a floppy paperback, which if any of you know, is my all time favorite type of book.

Now…here’s the thing, this is going to be a non-spoilery review, though that being said while this seems like a wonderful and beautiful story, this deals with a lot of heavy topics such as depression and suicide. (This is not a spoiler, this is literally on the back of the book in the synopsis)

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So, first impression: This book is huge. I don’t know what the page count is for the US edition but my edition clocks in at 460 pages, which is slightly daunting.

This story starts with the suicide of Leigh’s mother and starts in the present tense, and then flashes back to when her mother was alive and back again. It’s slightly confusing though I noticed about half-way through the book that the chapters actually say which part it is. (Which was super helpful) But coming on the heels of this tragedy, Leigh’s dad decides they both need to go to Taiwan to meet up with the grandparents that Leigh never knew about. Leigh not only is having a hard time with the death of her mom, but also feeling some guilt about liking and kissing her best friend Axel, and she decides not to tell him that she’s going to Taiwan at all.

Instead of me just raving and going in circles, I’m going to point out some things that I just didn’t care for or that should have been caught during editing, and also some things that I loved.

Things that needed a bit of work:

-The cast of characters. Look I understand that we get the main character’s pov, and I understand that we need her pov, but the problem was that most of the other characters that interacted with her; her grandparents, her dad and even Axel, were sometimes flat and uninteresting. They didn’t really seem to have a purpose. I do have to say that they started to get more fleshed out towards the end of the book, but for the majority of this book I didn’t feel like we should care about them.

-the length. Did I mention that this was over 400 pages? This is not usually a bad thing but I felt like there was a section in the center that could have been scraped or tighter edited and wouldn’t have changed anything about this story.

Now to things that I loved:

-I loved the idea of Leigh and Axel having a colour moment. When things got weird or different, their first question to each other was “What Colour?” and they would explain the colours. Leigh also did this while describing things and emotions in Taiwan and it made me really happy because that’s kind of how I like to explain things, certain colours make me so happy.

-The setting! Oh my word, I’ve never been to Taiwan but reading this book was like I’ve been there. She describes the food and the way she felt and I just felt like I was seeing it all brilliantly displayed.

-The magical realism part. Ok, so this is where it gets a bit weird. Leigh is convinced beyond everything that her mom has turned into a bird. A big red bird. And she keeps seeing this bird everywhere. There’s also some interesting moments with incense and charcoal and memories but I’m not going to get into those. Also there was a slight twist at the end, which I kinda guessed but not fully, which is great!

Overall: even though there were a few difficulties and it was a pretty dense book- I liked it. I gave it 4.25 stars rating, and am pretty sure that I will pick this one up again because there was so much involved in it.

I do want to say, Emily X.R. Pan does not sugar coat what it’s like living with someone with deep depression/suicidal tendencies. This is not a happy book, but it’s a very real very honest book about these dark topics (and I did laugh quite a few times through out this because there were lighter moments) but warning you, if you think it might be too much, don’t read it.

I think for a debut it was wonderful and perfectly delightful. The lyrical writing reminded me of Laini Taylor and I read it in one night, so it’s pretty addictive.

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Synopsis

-When Leigh’s mother dies by suicide she leaves only a scribbled note–I want you to remember. Leigh doesn’t understand its meaning and wishes she could turn to her best friend, Axel, if only she hadn’t kissed him and changed everything between them. Guided by a mysterious red bird, Leigh travels to Taiwan to meet her grandparents for the first time. There, Leigh retreats into art and memories, where colours collide, the rules of reality are broken and the ghosts of the past refuse to rest…but Leigh is determined to unlock her family’s secrets, to remember.

**********

Happy reading you wonderful book dragons! And remember, life is too short to read mediocre books!!

~Always reading~

Stephanie

(originally published as a guest post on thatbookgal.wordpress.com )

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Books, Reading, StephReads2018

Reasons BookNerds need large TBR’s

One thing I’ve noticed with being in the bookish community is that right around this time of year we all start thinking about our large/huge/mountianious TBR’s that we have. And it doesn’t help that most of the publishers want to see us die a slow and painful death and therefore make sure we either have this lofty goal of “zero by whatever” or getting rid of a lot of our books. (Nothing at all against getting rid of books that you are no longer excited for or that you are going to rebuy-I literally just did that this past month and got rid of over 30 books, and it was so freeing!)

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But with the new year, a lot of people like to start things fresh. They want to have that blank space (cue some old T-Swift y’all) to really do some great reading, or get to some of their backlist books (I’m all about that! Most of my books this year that I’m going to be reading are from 2017 and prior)

And one of the most asked questions I get is “Why don’t you get rid of all your books? How are you going to read all these books? Maybe you should stop buying books”

And since hurting people (outside of my novel) is kinda frowned upon, this is my response to why BookNerds need a large TBR: (Enjoy!)

-We are mood readers. Which means that we will read what we want when we feel like it. There are so many times when I start several books trying to figure out what my mood is, and once I find it (usually from my TBR) I am so happy when I find it! And mood readers really don’t go with set TBR’s, instead we tend to set a “tentative” TBR meaning it will change when we want.

 

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-Comfort. There is a level of satisfaction  we get when we look at our bookshelves that are arranged how we want and we are surrounded by books. My worst day is always improved by me coming in my room and looking at my beautiful shelves.

-There is such a thing as free shipping. Of course you do have to pay for a few extra books to get it, but dude, FREE SHIPPING to a bookworm translates as “WE WILL PAY YOU TO GET 2 MORE BOOKS” and of course we do, because if there’s one thing we know is we have very low self control.

-Cousins to the free shipping, is the booksales. Buy 2 get one free, well, why not? I mean, basically you are getting a free book so you might as well right?

 

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-If something happens and you have to stay barricaded in your room for weeks on end, such as the zombie apocalypse or a snowstorm, you never run out of things to do. TV and phones require electricity, and if you are like most bookworms you have a plethora of candles so therefore you will still be able to read!

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-Cover love is a real thing and how most of my TBR grows.

-There might not be books you touch for YEARS (totally true story, I legit just finished a book I have had on my TBR for 4 years this past month and it became one of my new favorites!!) and in that case it is such a great satisfaction that you can look at it and smile, knowing you beat the book, not the other way around.

-Sometimes in your huge TBR you discover new favorites. I know for me, when I shop on BookOutlet I know next to NOTHING about say 98% of the books I buy, but when I read them, they turn into some of my most read and most loved books. (Actually I go into most books blind because when I’ve read the synopsis that usually spoils me for it)

-Most of my friends are talking about it, and all of the things that they say are amazing and therefore instead of just chancing it at the library (though I do that a bit too) I basically buy it if I find it pretty cheap, because…why not? (again I have very little self control when it comes to books)

 

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-I’m determined that 2018 is the year I turn into an actual BookDragon, and like any good Dragon, I need a shiny hoard to keep and sleep in, gold is really uncomfortable so therefore I need some new shiny books to sleep with and near and under….and shoot just build me a little book igloo. I can sleep in there. (as long as there’s a blanket and pillow because even though I’m trying to be a Dragon, I do want some comfort)

So those are some of the reasons that BookNerds need a large TBR. What do y’all think? Where do you fall in the TBR scale? Do you hoard them, or release them? Do you have a large TBR?

Have a great day Dragons, and remember, life is too short for mediocre books!

~Stephanie

 

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31DaysofBlogmas, Books

The Start of my #31DaysofBlogmas journey (And why I’m doing this)

Hello friends!

So if you have been following me for a while, you know I’m not the best at keeping up with my blog, and I have lapses in which I write for a few times and then forget about writing for like a month.

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I was reading ‘Real Artist’s don’t Starve’ and one of the chapters talked about how you should practice your art in public, which went on to explain that what it meant by that is that if you wait till the perfect time and place for you to showcase your art or passion, you will end up without anything. *Side note, this book is one I’m highly recommending now to everyone even if you aren’t creative because it was so good!*

And I started thinking about that. About how I call myself a writer but the only real writing that y’all might see me do is on here every now and then, while I keep all my passion and words of my novels I’m working on locked deep inside and away from any sort of public criticism. Which honestly makes me laugh now that I’m thinking of it.

I mean, I want to enter in one of the professions where people make it a job to tell you precisely why they hated your book or why they thought this was horrid, and yet I can barely stand to show my work off?

Which pushed me to my decision.

For the 31 days of December, which I’m tagging as #31DaysofBlogmas I will be writing in here, every single day.

Will I fail? Oh most likely.

Will I have some posts that will be all pictures and barely any words? Yes.

But will I try to do this? Yep.

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Yeah, so this is my plan, and I’m hoping that I can at least finish 20 out of the 31 days, which would make me happy, if I finish all of them, well maybe I’ll reward myself with more books 🙂

Happy reading Dragons, and remember, life is too short for mediocre books!

~Stephanie

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Books, Reading, Uncategorized

The Color project review (cue all the feels y’all)

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Every booknerd I know has “a list” of books they cannot wait to have in their hands, to cry over and love and basically recommend to ALL THEIR FRIENDS, and I am no different. My list was relatively short, and there were smatterings of different genres and one of the most anticipated reads was The Color Project written by Sierra Abrams.

I randomly got an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) at the beginning of May and sat down and read it in one sitting. Like I was so engrossed in this book and the story that I didn’t even put it down while I was making dinner (which is why that day I had very sad tacos consisting of tortillas, one piece of chicken, no sour cream or cheese and hot sauce on only one of them)

This book is pure 100% perfection. But of course I can’t just state that and expect y’all to go and get it (though you should) so I shall show you some lists of what I absolutely loved in this book! (because lists convince everyone, general fact.)

Can we first just talk about how ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS the cover is? The design and color and it’s just so pretty!! I honestly want to take ALL THE PHOTOS with this book because it is just so pretty!

-I adored Levi. He is precious and wonderful and real, no 2d romance trope for him. He is driven, having started The Color Project and loves to be goofy and just…. *Swoon* seriously, some of the girls who have already read this have been like “He’s mine” and I hate to tell them, but Levi is so totally mine it’s not even funny.

-Bee. Oh my gosh she is just a sweet little bundle of anxiety and worry and I LOVED reading about a character who actually had trouble stating what they were feeling. She is snarky and fearful but at the same time, she’s the person you root for. She does this thing where she will say something and then she will think “WHAT AM I DOING?’ and I relate to that so much y’all.

-Gretchen. Oh I’m Gretchen. I love her with her positive upbeatness and the things she says randomly and just…I now need a spin off story with Gretchen and what she is doing and a love story of her own (hint, hint Sierra)

It would take forever and a day to go through all the wonderful characters that I fell in love with so let me just stop there and start with some of the other things that I loved!

-Characterization: You guys know when you get into a book and realize that the plot is the only thing that you like because none of the characters are redeeming? NOT IN THIS BOOK!! Y’all, all of these characters are fleshed out and full dimension. They actually have side lives and laughs and different personalities and that is so wonderful to read about.

-Families. There are so many positive families in this book and I just loved them all! The Wescotts with their cute parent’s romance and the older brother and younger sisters, the single mom, and even the crew at TCP: and the best thing is that they ACTED like normal families, like the teasing and annoying habits but at the end of the day they loved each other and that was good. You can definitely tell that Sierra comes from a bigger family because how she treats her creations of family they are spot on! (Especially coming from someone who was older of 2 girls)

-The Feels. I won’t say much about this but one thing: THIS IS A KISSING BOOK AND I APPROVE! Seriously I kept telling Levi and Bee to kiss already because the feels are so real and wonderful in this book. Also, there may or may not have been some ugly crying. Just as a forewarning.

So as a wrap up (though I could go for quite a long time gushing about this book) if you are fans of Morgan Matson and Emery Lord you need to get this book. Sierra’s writing is phenomenal and does not sound like a debut novel. You need this book. Sadly it doesn’t come out till July but preorders are available (the links are down below for both the e-book and regular)

Favorite quotes:

-I was light and stardust in his hands.

-There is darkness but in that darkness are a million pinpricks of light and they are all shining at me.

-You should be doing all the things that will make you happy if the world does end tomorrow.

Synopsis: 

Bernice Aurora Wescott has one thing that she doesn’t want anyone to know, her name. 

That is, until Bee meets Levi, the local golden boy who runs a charity organization called The Color Project. 

Levi is not at all shy about attempting to guess Bee’s real name; his persistence is one of the many reasons why Bee falls for him. But while Levi is everything she never knew she needed, giver up her name would feel like a stamp on forever. And that terrifies her. 

When unexpected news of an illness in the family drains Bee’s summer of everything bright, she is pushed to the breaking point. Losing herself in The Color Project–a world of weddings, funerals, cancer patients, and hopeful families that the charity funds–is no longer enough. Bee must hold up the weight of her family, but to do that, she needs Levi. She’ll have to give up her name and let him in completely or lose the best thing that has ever happened to her.

 

This book is incredible. I am so happy that it actually exceeded my expectations and I cannot wait for it to be out in the world for everyone to enjoy! Now if you’ll excuse me, writing about this book has made me realize I really need to reread The Color Project again.

Happy Reading Dragons!

~Stephanie

 

 

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10 books I’m constantly recommending

 

Ok, so I was going to do this for the Top Ten Tuesday post but I fell a bit behind so I thought I would put my own spin on it and state some of the top books that I constantly am recommending to people. These will range from “Do you want YA, adult etc.” to simply “You should read this book”

These are in no particular order, just how I thought of them. Enjoy!

1- The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. (All of them but specifically the Voyage of the Dawn Treader) Narnia was my gateway to reading fantasy. It was the turning moment for me realizing that fictional characters could make you cry and laugh, and I wanted nothing more than to find a passage to Narnia. I cannot imagine what my reading would be like if I hadn’t discovered Narnia, and I’m so thankful for that series.

2- From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankwieler by E.L. Konigsburg. This holds sweet memories as it was one of the books my mom would read out loud to my sister and I when we were younger, one chapter per night. I loved the story of Jamie and Claudia running away to hide out in a museum. Always struck my fancy and I will admit I thought about doing that sometimes after a fight with my sister. And it’s one that I recommend simply because it’s a great quick read.

3-Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Seriously this is one of my all time favorite books, it has it all: Romance, intrigue, wealth and snobbery, and it’s one of my favorites of all time. Besides, after watching the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth playing Mr. Darcy, tell me if he isn’t your ideal bloke. 🙂

4-The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. This book is my stepping stone into high fantasy. There are elves, and dwarfs and even dragons. I love the simple story of a small hobbit going there and back again, and it makes me so happy. The only thing that could have made this better was that the movie adaptation was better than what it was. But all in all, this was an amazing book and one I always read right before I need courage to do something or to remind myself that even the smallest person can change the course of the history.

5-Jackaby series by William Ritter. This series really got me into YA about 3 years ago. It is like a Buffy meets Sherlock meets Supernatural, in the 19th century. I love this series, where there are vampires, skin shifters, dragons and guardians. It has so much action and such a strong female character that I gush about this series pretty much all the time. It makes me so happy.

6-The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater. This is a magical realism series regarding Cabeswater, a search for a Welsh King, an amplifier, Raven boys and magic. I fell in love with how Maggie writes her stories and how she drizzles each word with magic and strength. This was one of the best series that I have read so far, and I cannot wait to read more by her.

7-Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo. This is a gritty heist book where none of the crew is good, or nice or actually very good except for Matthias. And it’s amazing. Think V for Vendetta with the wisecracks of Oceans 11 and food, and you might have the start of what this is about. I love the snark, and the heist and this is one I cannot believe was just a duology because it was so good I needed more, like yesterday.

8-The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. This is one of my absolute favorite books, it has magic and a game and love and a circus. Not just any circus though, this circus is only done up in black and white with dashes of red, and it is specific to talents. Why have a large tent when you can have many small tents where you can see the illusionist or the lion tamer or have a cloud maze? Trust me when I say I wish she would write something else, because her writing is fabulous.

9-Cards on the Table by Agatha Christie. I am a sucker for mysteries, and you add the Great Christie onto that, I’m gone. She is one of my favorite authors and the reason that I love this book so much is that it is one of 4, like she doesn’t introduce a random person towards the end that could do it, it is only one of the 4 previous introduced. Also I love her twists and turns. And then there was none is another favorite of mine.

10- The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord. This is a sweet and wonderful story that revolves around Max and Paige and I just fell completely in love, head over heels for their story and build up. They are slight friends that turn to good friends and maybe more? Plus Max is a geek who knows and loves things like Firefly, Star Wars and Chucks. I love him immensely and want him all for myself. Like, no one else can have him.

Honorary Mentions: The Mysterious Benedict Society trilogy by Trenton Lee Stewart; Scorpio Races by Maggie Steifvater; The gold seer trilogy by Rae Carson; Love fortunes and other disasters duology by Kim Karalius; P.S. I like you by Kassie West; Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman; The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien; A darker shade of magic by V.E. Schwab; Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson; Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling; Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman; The invisible library series by Genevieve Cogman; the Rebel Mechanics series by Shanna Swendson; Uprooted by Naomi Novik; The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen. 

 

What are some books you constantly recommend? Any that you have read on the list that I recommend to people? Any you now want to read? Let me know in the comments below!

Cheers!

Stephanie

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Books, BookTube, Reading, Uncategorized

steps for how you become a “READER”

There are certain things that happen when you become a reader, things that people maybe should have prepared you for, things that you won’t expect to happen just because you are reading a book.

See, it starts small, you get a recommendation from a friend, you get a coupon in the mail you decide that maybe you should check out whatever book they were talking about, because they won’t ever stop till you finally read it.

So you go to the store and find it. Surprisingly (especially if they are someone who knows books) you will have no problem finding it. And then you buy it, making some little joke about how it’s something your friend wants you to read, because you would never actually read something like this in real life.

Then you go home. Maybe you set the book down and forget it for a few days until you meet up or hear from that friend again, and then somehow mention that you got that book they are always going on about. Which makes you have to be able to read it now, without any excuse.

But then, you actually liked the book.

And then you found yourself spending more time on sites like Amazon and BookDepository, finding cheap books because a hunt, and then you discovered the bookish community.

A whole community of people who not only talk about books, blog about books, but also take pictures of books, and even film about books. You find people that you absolutely love to watch and read every review they write.

And then you realize that you are drooling over shelfies (pictures of bookshelves), wanting all your books to match and you start having almost an attack because you see people bending their books backwards or dog-earring pages. And your collection of books starts to rival those BookTubers that you see.

How did it get to this, just one simple step at a time.

Congratulations you are now a reader.

Welcome to the rest of your life.

Grab a new book, get some tea or coffee, and enjoy this new life that you have embarked on.

Cheers fellow readers,

Stephanie

 

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Top Ten Tuesday: 10 books that have been on your TBR since the beginning of time….

So, let’s be real y’all.

I have a lot of books. Mainly because I am a book-hoarding, shiny loving dragon who prefers to never run out of books to read because then that would be a fate worse than death.

And instead of being a smart bookish dragon and actually reading ALL THE BOOKS that are on my TBR pile…stack….mountain….I just banish them to the back of the pile and get new shiny books, ones that I read.

yep, I buy new books and read those, instead of the ones sitting there giving me stares…I’m fine…

This is in no particular order, and it’s quite a list of shame to be honest. To make sure that I got some that have been hanging around for a while, I limited my pickings to those that had been added before January 2016, that way I could tell how old “approximately” these books were. 🙂

1- Mistborn. This one should come as no real shocker to anyone who follows me on instagram or on Booktube, because that baby has been on so many of my TBR listings for months that it’s not even funny. I personally am interested in finishing the story, and Branden writes really well. I mean he builds a scene and it’s fantastic how great he builds the world, but this is huge.

Plus when i first got it I was unaware that it is in fact a trilogy, and every single one of those is way over 600 pages, really makes me just wonder if I could actually get through all of them…and considering the fact that I have been working on Mistborn for about 10 months well, yeah the trilogy is not looking solid.

2-Wolf by Wolf.

Alternate history where Hitler is still alive and you win a race to talk to him? Yes please that sounds amazing. And yet this book still is on my shelf, waiting for me to pick it up and read it.

3-The Nightingale.

I have heard rave reviews about this book, from a lot of BookTuber’s who loved this book, and I even got this for a random gift last year. And yet I still haven’t started it. I really think because this and Wolf by Wolf are both WW2 novels, maybe it’s a mood thing? Maybe I have to be in the right sort of mood to read those books? Or maybe I just don’t feel like sitting down with history for an evening. 🙂

4-A Tale of Two Cities.

This one has been on my TBR almost as long as Mistborn, and I’ve been working on it almost as long. I think the reason for the stopping and starting on this one is because Dickens is just…dull. And dark. And also, wouldn’t know a comma if it bit him in the armpit. But I want to read him. You know why, seriously, the main reason I want to read Dickens is because The Doctor is such a fanboy of him and his work (see Episode The Unquiet Dead). And I thought about it and realized I have only read 2 I think of his, the Oliver Twist one, and the one with the cake and the weird lady who stayed in her wedding gown? Great Expectations? But I’ve never really read any other of his, and wanted to try. I might get this one done by next year.

5-Tonight the streets are ours.

Ok, I bought this one when it first came out, because the cover was gorgeous. I wanted to read it right away but it still sits because of two reasons, the first is that I have heard of a lot of mixed reviews of this book, and because I am an indecisive dragon, I have let myself get jaded by those; and the second is that I found out that this author wrote a book that I have previously read, but actually really strongly disliked. Which makes me really uneasy to try and read it.

6-Rook.

I want to read this book badly. A standalone, with swoon-worthy scenes, set as a post-apoptotic society that has pieces of modern time but no knowledge of what it is, along with a pretty kickin’ female lead? Sign me up! Unfortunately, this is one you cannot read with another book racing through your head, and I was trying to read it with another book and that didn’t fly.

7-Graceling.

I really don’t know why I haven’t started this one. Possibly because it’s huge. And I got it just because hello sale at BookOutlet (I keep their site quite busy). But all in all, I haven’t even started it, so who knows when I will even start it (I hear 2018 is looking better for reading all these)

8-the Grisha trilogy.

Well, actually the last 2 of them, Siege and Storm and Ruin and Rising. I fell in love with Leigh’s writing with Six of Crows and bought the Grisha trilogy immediately, and read the first one right away. But because I have a lot of books that I keep buying, I didn’t finish the series. And because my spirit animal is Dory, I cannot really remember anything about the first book, but do I reread the first book, when my TBR is so high? Who has the time for that?

9-TID: The clockwork princess

This is probably one of the ones I know I’m actually not going to finish. And the main reason is that I didn’t care for 2 of the 3 main characters and I felt like the story line was just not pulling me in. So that is one that is on my TBR that I just probably will be doing a book unhaul with.

10-Dreams of gods and monsters.

Again, I read the first 2  books quickly, but didn’t get into the last one quick enough, and now all the memories of the first two books are gone. I’m sure I should reread the trilogy, mainly because I loved the first two, but I also have some trepidation of how it might end.

So that’s my TBR list of shame. What’s yours? Do you have any immediate recommendations for me to get started on right away? What does your TBR look like?

 

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