Books, Reading

Top Ten Best books I’ve read this year (so far)

Today I’m linking up with the Top Ten Tuesday post from Jamie over at the broke and the bookish (you can check her post here) and the prompt is the best books that we have read this year, so far.

Um, somehow it’s already the middle of the year? When precisely did that happen, because I sure didn’t sign up for my year to be almost over, especially when I think of all the books I’ve yet to read.

I actually thought that this prompt would be easy to do, but even with all the books that I’ve read so far this year, I seem to have a shocking low number of books that were so impressive that they earned a 5 star. But Ce’st Le Vie, we go on. These are in no order at all, nor are they all ones that are brand new (I’m good but darling I’m not that good), they might have been from years ago, but they are new to me, so that’s all that matters.

Now to the lists!

1- Duels and Deceptions by Cindy Anstey. This is a Regency era romance, with snark and laughter and I loved it. This is by the same author who wrote Love, Lies and Spies, and I thoroughly enjoyed this one (it’s not a sequel, perhaps it might be considered a companion novel?)

 Synopsis:  Lydia is trying to have her life go to plan, which means getting hitched to the man her late father prepared. However, her life goes off track when she, and her new law clerk Robert, are kidnapped. Now she has to escape, save her reputation and just possibly fall in love? Oh dear. 

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2-The Dragon with the Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis. MG. This is about a snarky dragon who gets transformed into a girl. And a very snarly girl at that. And there’s chocolate and snark and sass and dragons and I absolutely fell in love with this and with the writing! I loved it! (Also snark, sass, dragons and chocolate? It’s like the universe said I needed a book just for me and made it) It’s fantastic.

 

3-Inkheart by Cornelia Funke. I am a sad little melon ball that it took me until THIS YEAR to actually read this book. Because I know for a fact had I read it back when it came out, I would have pushed it on every single person that I know. And ones I didn’t. I have never known a book that was so obsessed with books and love of reading and it’s just amazing. (Also bad reader confession, I actually saw the movie first, had absolutely NO CLUE this was a book and loved the movie….now that I’ve read the book, I want to go and read all of the series) This sadly was a library book so I couldn’t keep it, but I’m probably going to be getting the U.K. cover set soon, because now I must read the whole thing.

 

4-The girl who fell beneath Fairyland and led Revels there by Catherynne M. Valente. MG Actually this whole series is pretty much fantastic and super under-rated. I feel like hardly anyone knows about it, even though it has some essential and wonderful things, like snark, sass, a Wyvern (book loving dragon) and a very strong female character. I only had heard of this series in December and this has quickly grown into one of my favorite series.

5- The Finishing School quartet by Gail Carriger. Ok, So I know it’s only supposed to be one book but honestly this quartet is just filled with complete awesome and I love it. Again this is a very under-rated series, I didn’t even know what it was called until I got to the last one. It revolves around a finishing school that is not exactly what it appears, instead of tutoring young women how to find wealthy husbands, it instead tutors them in how to survive the supernatural. Werewolves, vampires, steampunk, rich friendships and snark and sass….it made my day to find this series. I’ve started recommending it to everyone who likes steampunk/alternate history.

6-Unequal Affections by Lara Ormiston. An alternate retelling of Pride and Prejudice where Elizabeth accepts Darcy with his first proposal, instead of giving him a proper venting. It is one of my favorite retellings, because it really does feel like Jane herself could have written it. I loved reading it, and was on pins and needles at some points, even though I knew what would happen! Don’t get discouraged by the rather hideous cover though, it’s still worth it.

7-The long way to a small angry planet by Becky Chambers. Road trip, with aliens, in space. Pretty much sums it up. I personally loved this book and thought it was so complex and different and brilliant. How the aliens observed the humans so reminded me of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (which is one of the few books I like that is a sci-fi book) and there was so much snark and sass and diversity and it was great! (*Side note: it is not an epic space battle book, it literally is a road trip book but it’s still really great because the characters have so much depth and grit….I love them)

8-Outrun the Moon by Stacy Lee. This was an amazing book. Dealing with a young Chinese girl, her parents and their expectations of her life, and the great earthquake of 1906 in San Francisco. It explored racism, friendship and what expectations/ideals parents might put on you, but that you sometimes have to go find your own path. I highly recommend this book, also because it surprised me. I knew it would be good, but I didn’t realize how good.

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9-The Color Project by Sierra Abrams. Ok so this is slightly cheating as it’s not out until July, but I got an ARC of this and I read it and fell in love with Levi and Bee and everyone. This is a book that is about learning to trust when you have been failed, learning to love outside your plan and being 100% exactly who you are. I loved it so very much (in fact, you can check out my entire squee-like review here if you want to) but seriously, go preorder this book, you won’t regret it.

10-The burning page by Genevieve Cogman. This is the third in the Invisible Library series, and this book was fantastic. The Invisible Library series deals with parallel worlds, dragons (yay!), snark, sass, kickin’ Librarians who are the guardians of the worlds, books, vampires and some romance. I honestly got into this series because of the cover, but the cover is just a small part of how awesome this series is. Please go check it out, you won’t regret it.

So that’s my list of the best books I’ve read so far this year.  There are quite a few new books that are on my radar that aren’t here yet, or even out in the world yet, but I can’t wait for them (short list includes The Dire King*, Retribution Rails, Wonder Woman, and so many others!) 2017 has been (so far) a great year for books, and I hope that it gets even better.

*Oh look, I almost made it through one post without mentioning my absolute love for the Jackaby series….and then I failed….oh well.

What were some of your best books this year? What books should I add to my list to check out? What is one of your favorites?

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

~Stephanie

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Books, Reading

my literary love of the library

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When I was growing up, if we told my parents that we were bored, there would be only one thing said to us, “You can’t be bored, you have library books. Go read.” If however, we would say that we had finished them, and our sister’s books as well, they would tell us that we had ten minutes and they would take us to the library.

And then I would stagger out with another 20 books to read in a week and hoping my sister got some different Sweet Valley High or Nancy Drews then I did, so that I would have at least 40 books to last me for the whole 2 weeks.

I still frequent the library.

In fact, I just came from there today. Monday’s are always library days. It’s like me rewarding myself with books because I survived another Monday, but also that’s when the majority of my books are due, or when my holds show up. So I have just started going to the library on those days.

I really enjoy getting books from there, even though there are sometimes when I have to wonder what made that splotchy brown stain and hope that it wasn’t blood or something else, but maybe just dropped coffee?

This year I decided that I was going to implement a new rule so that if I wasn’t thrilled with a book I could just stop, and not feel guilty, and that is the rule of 50/5. If I’m not liking the book, not liking the characters and there isn’t something that is making me want to continue this book, after 50 pages or 5 chapters (whichever comes first) I can quit.

Growing up I was taught to finish each and every single book that I started, but even then there were sometimes when I just didn’t care for the book or I didn’t like what happened and would just set it down. Now because of my tenacious hold on my library books, I am totally fine with DNF’ing a book because it didn’t cost me anything. I didn’t pay for it, I didn’t get it for a gift, it was simply a book that while others might have liked, I didn’t care for, and that’s okay.

The truly great thing about reading is that there are so many books for so many different things. For instance, this time round at the library I happened to get a few YA books, but also I got a book about Nikola Tesla (because he fascinates me) a book about WW2 and a retelling of a fairy tale. On my hold’s list I have an autobiography about Theodore Roosevelt, a book about how to speak French fluently, and a book that I put on there because one of my friends just read it and said it was wonderful.

You don’t have to read what everyone else is reading and I think that’s what the best thing is about the library because if you are interested in it, they usually have it. And they never look down on the fact that your tastes range wildly from one section to the other. I mean, I browse my friends on goodreads (I’m dreams_in_blue on there if you want to be friends and see what I’m reading) and if I find something that sounds interesting it goes straight onto my hold list.

There are a few that I have already preordered simply because I know I’m going to love them (Short list: When Dimple Met Rishi, I believe in a thing called love, the Color Project, Sparks of Light, the Names they Gave us) but there are some that I would prefer to read from the library to see if they are worth it.

What about you friends? Do you utilize your library? What’s the best series/book you have found by random chance from there? What is one book you wish your library carried? Let me know down below!

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

~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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Books, BookTube, Reading, Uncategorized

#Read30Days

 

I have a sort of reputation as being “The Bookworm” in my group of friends in real life. They call me when they have recommendations for books or when they have heard about a book but are wondering if it’s worth it or not. I generally can tell them if it’s good, or if I haven’t read it, if I’ve heard it’s good or not.

I actually like this reputation, not only does it make me feel awesome to help someone out, but usually I can walk away with a good book rec as well, which is always nice.

But lately I haven’t been reading as much as I would like to. In fact, I haven’t been reading much at all for the past 3 weeks. I still have finished a few books, and I still want to read, but I’m finding that it’s so much easier to just turn on Netflix or go to social media and let my brain just relax then it is to pick up a book and start reading.

It’s like I have gotten out of the habit of how much fun reading really is, which frustrates me, which then causes me to go back to Netflix because why would I pick up a book? (this doesn’t even make sense to me as I’m writing it but still)

So I was watching on SarawithoutanH’s booktube and she was having this same problem and decided to do a challenge to read for 30 days straight. Even if it was just for like 10 minutes or so, just to get her back in the habit of daily wanting to read.

And I first thought that it was a cool challenge but since I had no problem reading everyday, while it was cool, it wasn’t for me. Then I started thinking when I had read a book last, or really when I had picked up a book last. Before I knew it, I realized I was in the same spot, where I liked to read but at the moment I wasn’t reading.

So I decided to do this challenge. I’m going to do the #Read30days on my twitter, and I’m going to document it on my insta-stories, that way you can see how I’m doing. (Both twitter and instagram are dreams_in_blue for the newbies here)

Read for 30 days. At first I wanted to be super competitive with myself and try to finish a book a day, and that lasted maybe 5 minutes, 4.5 of them laughing hysterically at myself, and then I decided to just read each day. Solid uninterrupted reading time.

So I’m going to be doing this for the month of March. If anyone wants to join me, just let me know. This is super lowkey, just to let you know, the goal is just to simply get back into the reading habit, not to try and read as much as possible. (although that’s a good goal too)

Anyway Dragons, have a great night and remember, life is too short to read mediocre books!!

~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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judgement free zone

So something happened the other day that kinda wrecked what I was going to talk about today, and even though it happened over a week ago, it still bothers me every single time that I think of it, or try and talk about it, so this personally is going to be a sort of rant, but not much of one.

For the seasonal time of the holidays in the US over here, I worked a second job as a bookseller at Barnes and Noble. I really do love telling people what I thought of certain books and what they should or shouldn’t get, (which is also why I started this blog) and I love seeing kids get excited about reading.

So I was checking out this girl who was maybe about 8 or 9 and she was getting a couple of books, one of which was the Ever After High Book #3, which she said was one of her favorite series. Now, I had just come on shift and had passed the newest book when I came in so I told her about it. Her face lit up and she asked her mom and dad if she could get that one as well. Her parents agreed and she sprinted off and got it.

(this part was awesome, I love seeing kids run for books).

Then the girl asked if I had read them. Well, I had so I told her yes I have, they are pretty cool. The girl standing next to me on the cash register snorted with laughter but didn’t say anything until the girl left.

Then my coworker, still laughing, manages to say “Nice lie about those books, good thing you thought on your feet to sell more.”

Me: Why would I lie to someone? I don’t care if she bought another book or not, I was just letting her know.

And this dear readers was where it went down hill. This coworker proceeded to not only mock me, but also anyone who had the audacity to read something outside of their age group. She said “If you are older than 16 you shouldn’t be reading anything that is geared towards Kids or Teenagers.”

I couldn’t put into words precisely what I was thinking because I was so irritated.

I know I told her that she shouldn’t have any judgments on what people choose to read or not to read, and that age shouldn’t tell me that I can’t pick up a YA book and enjoy it.

I love YA, simply because there is a lot in there that you don’t realize. Not just the Hunger Games/Divergent/Twilight but more thought-provoking, more plot entertaining, more of a thrill than most of the adult books I’ve read. Age should never deter you from buying or reading a book, just because you are older than teen or YA, doesn’t mean that you should feel shame for liking or reading that book.

Let’s be real, all of us have a guilty book pleasure, one that we read but that we would never admit to anyone that we like. Maybe because of the stereotype surrounding it, maybe because it’s in the wrong section, or maybe because we just feel “too old” to be reading something that 12 year olds are reading, but let’s stop bookshaming each other. Let’s stop making the snide comments about age, or gender or whatever.

Do you like it? Do you enjoy it? Then why does it matter what others say or think? At least you are reading.

Personally I think that we need to just remind people that reading is reading, no matter what you are reading. (ok one exception because I know that I know that people are going to start twisting saying that I’m saying that kids should read whatever they want, no…the age rule doesn’t apply to them. They need to read in their genre, but for adults it doesn’t matter. Got it? Ok good)

For the record, when I got off of work that day I walked over to the YA section and picked up Jackaby which I had been waiting for, for about 2 months to come out, and went through her line. And when she rolled her eyes at me again, I laughed and said “I can’t wait to read this book. It’s for me.”

Cheers friends.

Stephanie

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