Top Ten Tuesday: The Best of 2017 So Far

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week there is a new topic and this week’s topic is: Best Books You’ve Read In 2017 So Far

I haven’t been able to read as much this year as I thought I would (I’m about 14 books behind on my Goodreads challenge), but I’ve still read some good ones. Here they are in no particular order (titles link to Goodreads).

This Raging Light by Estelle Laure – 5 Stars
Once and For All by Sarah Dessen – 5 Stars
180 Seconds by Jessica Park – 5 Stars
The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy – 5 Stars – Review
The Whole Thing Together by Ann Brashares – 5 Stars – Review

Manners & Mutiny by Gail Carriger – 5 Stars – Review
A Million Junes by Emily Henry – 4 Stars – Review
Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer – 4 Stars – Review
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo – 5 Stars
Things I Should Have Known by Claire LaZebnik – 4 Stars – Review

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Sex Trafficking Isn’t Just In the Movies | Ruby in the Rough by Emily Shore

Ruby in the RoughRuby has survived in the Ghetto for four years thanks to her friend Ink and her own ingenious survival skills. The Ghetto is a place where women are bought and sold regularly and are solely around for breeding and pleasure purposes. The Ghetto is ruled by gangs, a corrupt police force, and brothels. Ruby must avoid each of those groups if she ever hopes to make it out of the Ghetto alive. But with her face plastered on wanted posters all around town, that’ll be harder than you’d think.

I feel like independently published books are always a bit hit or miss when it comes to the quality of the writing (mostly a miss if I’m being honest), so I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the writing in this book. It read well, the language flowed, and I didn’t find myself noting errors every couple of pages. In addition to the great writing, I thought the overall message of the novella was great. The author is really trying to bring awareness to sex trafficking and to help readers to understand how people get caught up in it and why they might stay. Even though she’s created a world that is pretty different from the world we live in, I don’t feel like the topics she touches on are foreign.

I thought the characters were alright, but sometimes fell a little flat. The most developed characters were Ruby, Ink, and Angel which makes sense because they were the main characters, but I do wish there had been some kind of development of Big Sister and the other gang boss. Or even Ruby’s brother. I recognize that it’s a novella, so there’s only time for so much, but maybe that just indicates that this shouldn’t have been a novella–it should have been a full-length novel.

Some other areas where I feel like more time would have been beneficial is with world building and the plot. I didn’t really feel like the world was built all that thoroughly. The Ghetto was described to be really dirty and undesirable, but I needed more. I wanted more than just visual descriptions. I just wanted the world to have more depth overall. Then for the plot, there were some things that happened really suddenly–I didn’t feel like I’d gotten enough build-up to the events that happened. There were times when I would have questions regarding the plot. Some of those questions got answered eventually, but I feel like an author should anticipate what questions the reader will have and answer them before the reader even forms them. In this case, it was more like the author’s thoughts were developing at the same time as my own and all of the sudden she’d come up with a question and then answer it. The ending also took me by surprise and I’ve found myself questioning why the author chose to end the book that way, again, instead of just making her book longer.

My main issue, I think, is that I didn’t always feel like Ruby’s actions always made sense given the situation. There were times when she was really rude to the gang bosses and I just wanted to be like, “Girl, SHUT UP. They will KILL you. Aren’t you supposed to be a survivor? This is not surviving!” I also wondered a few times why Ruby didn’t cut her hair short? If it’s so dangerous to be a girl in this city, I’m doing everything that I can to pass for a boy.

Overall, I felt like there were some minor things that didn’t make the most sense to me, and I think the story could have benefited from being about a hundred pages longer. With that being said, I again want to say how important the cause is that this author is bringing awareness to.

Overall Rating: 3
Language: Moderate
Violence: Moderate
Smoking/Drinking Moderate
Sexual Content: Heavy

Note: I received this book free from the author in exchange for an honest review. If you purchase this book, 50% of proceeds go back to Women At Risk, International – www.warinternational.org

Top Ten Tuesday: The Eternal TBR

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week there is a new topic and this week’s topic is: Top Ten Series I’ve Been Meaning To Start But Haven’t

So many guys. There are so many of these (links to Goodreads).

Series that I haven’t started yet

For most of these, I literally have the first book in the series just chilling on my shelf or Kindle, I just haven’t been able to get to them!

The Raven Cycle

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater – I’ve only heard good things about this series and the covers are so pretty!

His Dark Materials

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman – This is one that my husband wants to do a buddy read with me on. But I only want to do it if he can commit to finishing them all in a timely manner which…he can’t commit to :/

Shades of Magic

Shades of Magic by V.E. Schwab – I love these covers and I love This Savage Song and I’ve heard really good things…need I go on?

Red Rising Trilogy

Red Rising by Pierce Brown – This is one that I was really interested in a couple years ago, but have cooled off on since. I still want to read it though–my husband’s cousin gave this series a great review.

The Darkest Minds series

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken – I was interested in these books, but then I heard that the movie would be coming out with Mandy Moore in it.

The Young Elites series

The Young Elites by Marie Lu – I enjoyed her other series, so I’m interested in this one too.

His Fair Assassin trilogy

His Fair Assassin by Robin LaFevers – I tried reading the first book once and didn’t really get into it. Now, I feel like the timing is right and that I’d really enjoy these books.

The Dark Artifices by Cassandra Clare – I’ll basically read any book about Shadowhunters.

The Witchlands by Susan Dennard – I’ve heard good things about this series–just need to start reading the first book (which is currently on my Kindle…)

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch – Basically the same story as The Witchlands. Also, those covers are super appealing to me for some reason.

BONUS: Started, but not finished

Flavia de Luce by Alan Bradley
Stopped after: The first book. I have like…the next five on my shelf. I think I just need to be in the right mood and then I’ll read all of them in like 2 weeks.

The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare
Stopped after: Book #5. Here’s the thing. I was waiting for book #6 to come out and then when I finally got it, I had forgotten everything that had happened in the previous books. So I wanted to reread the first 5, but that’s a much bigger commitment than just reading the last one.

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
Stopped after: The first book. These just take a while to get through. I’ll make it eventually.

Lorien Legacies by Pittacus Lore
Stopped after: Either #5 or #6. But that in and of itself is the problem. I can never remember which book I’m on and there are so many!

Jackaby by William Ritter
Stopped after: The first book. I have books 2 and 3 on my shelf, just waiting. I really enjoyed the first book so there is no reason why I shouldn’t enjoy the next two…I just haven’t felt particularly enthused (even though I still want to read them).

The Remnant Chronicles by Mary E. Pearson
Stopped after: The second book. I think I’ve been telling myself that I want to reread the first two books before finishing the third, but I just need to own up to the fact that this will never happen and just finish the series.

Legend by Marie Lu
Stopped after: The second book. This is a series that I picked up, read the first two books, and then forgot about while I was waiting for the third book to come out. Now I have the third book on my shelf, but can’t remember anything that happened in the first two books.

Which of these unread/unfinished series should I move to the top of the list? What are some series that you have yet to start/complete?

 

June Reading Update

June

ARCs
Paper Hearts by Ali Novak – Read, review coming
The Bakersville Dozen by Kristina McBride (blog tour 7/1) – Currently Reading
Waste of Space by Gina Damico
Hello, Sunshine by Leila Howland
Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine – Read, review coming
But Then I Came Back by Estelle Laure
Zero Repeat Forever by G. S. Prendergast

Other
Once and For All by Sarah Dessen – Read, review coming
Ruby in the Rough by Emily Shore – Currently Reading
China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan – Read
The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis – Currently Reading

So far this month I’ve only managed to finish 4 books and have been awful at reviewing. Fingers crossed I can pull it together for the second half!

How is your June reading going? What’s been your favorite read so far?

Summer Cleaning Mini-Reviews

If Spring Cleaning is a thing, that means Summer Cleaning is too, right? I have so many backlogged ARCs to review, it’s not even funny. Covers link to Goodreads.

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Say No to the Bro by Kat Helgeson [ARC]

Okay…to be perfectly honest I read this back in April and I’m having a hard time remembering everything. The notes that I wrote down for this, though, are as follows: “I’m not really buying their relationship. I feel like it doesn’t fit with who I think the characters are.” From what I remember of the book, all of a sudden the two main characters were dating and I was like, “Okay, that’s random.” Like, not random plotwise, but random because it didn’t feel genuine. I also remember not really liking any of the characters–they all just seemed really selfish to me. 2/5

Seeking MansfieldSeeking Mansfield by Kate Watson [ARC]

I always love a good Jane Austen retelling and I’d heard good things about this book, so I was super excited. The issue I had with the original Mansfield Park is that I felt like Edmund just randomly decided to like Fanny in the end. Like, what was going on? Fanny deserves better than Edmund shrugging his shoulders going, “Well, I guess I’ll just marry Fanny now since that last relationship didn’t work out.” So I was hesitant going into this book in case it was the same thing. To some extent it was, but I did like the ending of this retelling better than the original ending. One thing that really bugged me is that I don’t feel like Harlan would have acted how he did towards Finley if he really respected her dad as he said he did. There was also a lot of angst that I could have done without. 4/5

A Million Junes

A Million Junes by Emily Henry [ARC]

First of all, stunning cover. My first impression was that the main characters were both super likable which is always nice. I also rejoiced to find a main character who loved both her biological father as well as her step-dad. I’d been searching for such a book and I absolutely loved the relationships that June had with both her father and her step-father. The plot itself was a little abstract and I did find myself confused a time or two, but I was still okay with it. The magical realism aspect of the book was so well done and definitely gave the entire story a dreamy quality. In my opinion, this book was a definite step up from Henry’s last book. I also thought this book was a really great look at grief and grieving in general. 4/5

Follow Me Back

Follow Me Back by A.V. Geiger [ARC]

So…this book is CRAZY. As I was reading, I thought that this was a nice departure from my normal genres–I don’t read a lot of thrillers (psychological or otherwise). I honestly didn’t expect too much from the plot. I thought it would just be a very basic twist at the end. But about halfway through I started to suspect that things weren’t going to end up being the way I thought they would be. Was Eric going to end up being the stalker instead of Tessa? What about that weird Mrs. Eric Thorn from Twitter? How does she fit in? What the heck happened to Tessa last summer? Then the ending kind of came out of nowhere, but it also makes sense. At this point, however, I find myself very uncertain about the very end (was it an epilogue?). I didn’t anticipate this being more than one book and I’m very confused as to what is actually happening. Confused in a good way though. The only thing I didn’t particularly care for is the way that Tessa’s mom and boyfriend treated her mental issues. I mean, I don’t know how I would react in their shoes, but they seemed so insensitive! Also, WHAT IS UP WITH TESSA’S PSYCHIATRIST??? 4/5

Songs About a GirlSongs About a Girl by Chris Russell [ARC]

I had high hopes for this book because I thought it was going to be something a little more similar to Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway. Like, the main character goes to school with a guy who ends up being a massively famous pop star and turns out he carried a secret torch for her all through high school and so all the songs on his band’s new album are about her. That’s not what this book was about (but that would be an awesome book, right?). I didn’t really understand the plot all the way and I was really confused as to why Charlie felt so strongly that she needed to lie to her father. And I didn’t understand why she was being targeted at school. Also, to be honest, I thought this was going to turn into an accidental incest situation. It didn’t, but I had no idea where the plot was going for a while if not in that direction. 2/5

They All Fall DownThey All Fall Down by Roxanne St. Clair

This book could have been so good, but instead it was just freaking weird. I don’t know…somehow I thought there was going to be a little bit more of a mystery involved that the reader could try to solve. Instead, it’s just a big conspiracy thing that’s plopped in your lap in the last 50 pages. The characters were strange while also being blatant stereotypes (brooding bad boy, aggressive jock, mean girl cheerleaders). In addition, I thought Kenzie’s best friend was basically the most annoying side kick of a character I’d ever read. She only cares about becoming more popular and gets super upset when Kenzie isn’t interested in being popular as well. That drama was so unnecessary and just made the book that much harder to get through. Don’t read this. 2/5

Crazy Rich AsiansCrazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Okay, let me stop you right there. This is not a book about Asian people who are crazy and rich. This is a book about Asian people who are crazy rich. Get the difference? This book was surprisingly funny and exasperating all at the same time–there are some seriously ridiculous characters and situations. As someone who is half-Chinese (I’m descended from Hong Kong peasants–no shame) I felt like this book was so refreshing. 99% of the characters in this book are Asian (with the exception of an Au Pair here or there). This book depicts such a wide range of Asian people and I loved it. We’re not all the same, you know? And even though the characters in this book are crazy rich (and I’m not) I still felt like I could relate to them? Anyway, this book gave me a giant hankering for some dim sum. I need a pineapple bun, stat. 4/5

Note: ARCs were received for free in exchange for an honest review.

TRAILER: Wonder by R.J. Palacio

This trailer is a couple of weeks old now, but I haven’t seen many people posting about it. I read this book a couple years ago for one of my classes and I absolutely loved it. This is a book that I want all of my kids to read. The movie looks like it’s going to be amazing and it definitely has an all-star cast with some up-and-coming child actors who look like they know what they’re doing. Overall, I anticipate this movie being a MAJOR tearjerker.

What do you guys think? Have you read the book? Will you see the movie? Will you be bringing a pack of tissues with you like I will?

Top Ten Tuesday: The Last Ten eBooks I’ve Added to My Kindle

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week there is a new topic and this week’s topic is: 10 Books From X Genre That I’ve Recently Added To My TBR List

I had a birthday a couple of months ago and was gifted an Amazon gift card from my thoughtful husband. I decided to just add it to my Amazon account for whenever I saw a book that I’ve been wanting had been discounted. So here are the books I ended up getting:

1) An Uncertain Choice series by Jody Hedlund

2) Gem & Dixie by Sara Zarr

3) Fireworks by Katie Cotugno

4) The Siren by Kiera Cass

5) The Neverland Wars by Audrey Greathouse

6) Secret Society Girl by Diana Peterfreund

7) Resonance by Erica O’Rourke

8) The Rose & Dagger by Renée Ahdieh

9) Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

10) What’s A Soulmate? by Lindsey Ouimet

Which of these have you heard of/read? Which should I move to the top of my TBR?