5 Horror(ish) Books to Get Through Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day has never been my favorite holiday. I mean, I like chocolate as much as the next person, but it’s this holiday that comes with a lot of pressure if you’re in a relationship and can make people feel a little self-conscious if they’re not. I’m sure there will be many lovey-dovey posts today, but I wanted to do something a little different by posting a few horror(ish) recs.

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None of the following books are super scary. I’m a bit of a scaredy cat so I don’t usually read books that are too scary.

In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

In the Shadow of Blackbirds

Another plug for a great author, Cat Winters. This book is set during World War I, which is scary in and of itself, but it’s also during the Spanish Flu. People are dying left and right and that creates this really creepy atmosphere. Add to that some spirit photography and maybe some ghosts? I love the main character in this book because she’s tough and smart in a time when it girls were consistently underestimated.

eBook | Hardcover | Paperback

Spill Zone by Scott Westerfeld

Spill ZoneThis is a two book series of graphic novels by Scott Westerfeld. I don’t know if I’ve read anything else by him besides the Pretties series, but I really enjoyed these graphic novels. They’re so eerie and the artwork only amplifies that feeling. Especially when the main character goes into the spill zone, the colors are absolutely electric. It’s got a post-apocalyptic feel, a mute little girl, and a creepy doll.

eBook | Hardcover | Paperback

The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd

The Madman's DaughterI’ve definitely talked about this book on here before. This entire series is amazingly gothic and unsettling. The first book is based off of The Island of Dr. Moreau, the second is based off of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and the third is based off of Frankenstein. Each of those would also be a good candidate for this list if you’re interested in a classic horror read. (The eBook for The Madman’s Daughter is only $2.99 right now!)

eBook | Hardcover | Paperback

The Diviners by Libba Bray

The DivinersI’ve read this book most recently of the ones on this list. It’s a long book, so be ready for that, but I really loved the setting. It’s set in the 20’s in New York which proves to be the perfect setting for this ghost story. The main characters are fun and Evie is especially full of life. The last warning I have for this book is that it’s obviously setting up for a series. There are some story lines that don’t quite resolve and characters that don’t seem super important by the end of this book. If that’s your jam, though, I highly recommend.

eBook | Paperback 

Blue is for Nightmares by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Blue is for NightmaresI read this series when I was in high school and it was my first real foray into horror. It’s about a girl who is away at a boarding school (I’ve always been a fan of boarding school books) and she’s having these vivid dreams. At the end of each dream, she wakes up having wet the bed. She’s not sure why this is happening, but she’s had these types of dreams before. Last time, she didn’t listen to them and someone ended up dead. I like that these books have a slight supernatural element to it, but it’s not too heavy.

eBook | Paperback

What do you plan on reading this Valentine’s Day?

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10 Most Anticipated 2019 Books on My TBR

I know we’re already a couple of months into 2019, but I decided the other day to take a look at my TBR to see what books were coming out this year that I was especially excited for and there are so many! This list doesn’t include books that are already out like Bloodwitch or King of Scars. Books are in order of their Goodreads release date.

2019 TBR Books

I heard on a podcast the other day that preordering books actually really helps them out, which I didn’t know before. So if you’d like to preorder any of these books, I’m including Amazon affiliate links to their preorder pages.

Rayne & Delilah's Midnite MatineeRayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee by Jeff Zetner (2/26)

Every Friday night, best friends Delia and Josie become Rayne Ravenscroft and Delilah Darkwood, hosts of the campy creature feature show Midnite Matinee on the local cable station TV Six.

But with the end of senior year quickly approaching, the girls face tough decisions about their futures. Josie has been dreading graduation, as she tries to decide whether to leave for a big university and chase her dream career in mainstream TV. And Lawson, one of the show’s guest performers, a talented MMA fighter with weaknesses for pancakes, fantasy novels, and Josie, is making her tough decision even harder.

Scary movies are the last connection Delia has to her dad, who abandoned the family years ago. If Midnite Matinee becomes a hit, maybe he’ll see it and want to be a part of her life again. And maybe Josie will stay with the show instead of leaving her behind, too.

As the tug-of-war between growing up and growing apart tests the bonds of their friendship, Josie and Delia start to realize that an uncertain future can be both monstrous…and momentous.

This book seems like it’s going to be a great tale of best friend-ship and I am HERE for it.

Preorder: eBook | Hardcover

Field Notes on LoveField Notes on Love by Jennifer E Smith (3/5)

Having just been dumped by his girlfriend, British-born Hugo is still determined to take his last-hurrah-before-college train trip across the United States. One snag: the companion ticket is already booked under the name of his ex, Margaret Campbell. Nontransferable, no exceptions.

Enter the new Margaret C. (Mae for short), an aspiring filmmaker with big dreams. After finding Hugo’s spare ticket offer online, she’s convinced it’s the perfect opportunity to expand her horizons.

When the two meet, the attraction is undeniable, and both find more than they bargained for. As Mae pushes Hugo to explore his dreams for his future, he’ll encourage her to channel a new, vulnerable side of her art. But when life off the train threatens the bubble they’ve created for themselves, will they manage to keep their love on track?

I love everything Jennifer E Smith and I’m excited for another of her cute contemporary romances!

Preorder: eBook | Hardcover

The Raven's TaleThe Raven’s Tale by Cat Winters (4/16)

Seventeen-year-old Edgar Poe counts down the days until he can escape his foster family—the wealthy Allans of Richmond, Virginia. He hungers for his upcoming life as a student at the prestigious new university, almost as much as he longs to marry his beloved Elmira Royster. However, on the brink of his departure, all his plans go awry when a macabre Muse named Lenore appears to him. Muses are frightful creatures that lead Artists down a path of ruin and disgrace, and no respectable person could possibly understand or accept them. But Lenore steps out of the shadows with one request: “Let them see me!”

Cat Winters is one of the most underrated YA authors imo. Her books are slightly creepy, but not overly scary and her characters are always fierce, independent, and likable. This books seems like it’s going to be just as good as her others! (And I have an ARC, so I’m pretty satisfied).

Preorder: eBook | Hardcover

Hot Dog GirlHot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan (4/30)

Elouise (Lou) Parker is determined to have the absolute best, most impossibly epic summer of her life. There are just a few things standing in her way:

* She’s landed a job at Magic Castle Playland . . . as a giant dancing hot dog.
* Her crush, the dreamy Diving Pirate Nick, already has a girlfriend, who is literally the Princess of the park. But Lou’s never liked anyone, guy or otherwise, this much before, and now she wants a chance at her own happily ever after.
* Her best friend, Seeley, the carousel operator, who’s always been up for anything, suddenly isn’t when it comes to Lou’s quest to set her up with the perfect girl or Lou’s scheme to get close to Nick.
* And it turns out that this will be their last summer at Magic Castle Playland–ever–unless she can find a way to stop it from closing.

This book sounds funny and unique. It sounds like it’s got a really great cast of characters.

Preorder: eBook | Hardcover

Don't Date Rosa SantosDon’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Morena (5/14)

Rosa is cursed by the sea–at least that’s what they say.

Dating her is bad news, especially if you’re a boy with a boat.

But Rosa feels more caught than cursed. Caught between cultures and choices. Between her abuela, a beloved healer and pillar of their community, and her mother, an artist who crashes in and out of her life like a hurricane. Between Port Coral, the quirky South Florida town they call home, and Cuba, the island her abuela refuses to talk about.

As her college decision looms, Rosa collides—literally—with Alex Aquino, the mysterious boy with tattoos of the ocean whose family owns the marina. With her heart, her family, and her future on the line, can Rosa break a curse and find her place beyond the horizon?

THIS BOOK SOUNDS SO GOOD TO ME. It seems like it’s going to have this awesome setting and like the main character’s family is going to play a really prominent role.

Preorder: eBook | Hardcover

43667327The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen (6/4)

Emma Saylor doesn’t remember a lot about her mother, who died when she was ten. But she does remember the stories her mom told her about the big lake that went on forever, with cold, clear water and mossy trees at the edges.

Now it’s just Emma and her dad, and life is good, if a little predictable…until Emma is unexpectedly sent to spend the summer with her mother’s family—her grandmother and cousins she hasn’t seen since she was a little girl.

When Emma arrives at North Lake, she realizes there are actually two very different communities there. Her mother grew up in working class North Lake, while her dad spent summers in the wealthier Lake North resort. The more time Emma spends there, the more it starts to feel like she is divided into two people as well. To her father, she is Emma. But to her new family, she is Saylor, the name her mother always called her.

Then there’s Roo, the boy who was her very best friend when she was little. Roo holds the key to her family’s history, and slowly, he helps her put the pieces together about her past. It’s hard not to get caught up in the magic of North Lake—and Saylor finds herself falling under Roo’s spell as well.

For Saylor, it’s like a whole new world is opening up to her. But when it’s time to go back home, which side of her will win out?

Sarah Dessen. Enough said.

Preorder: eBook | Hardcover

Truly Madly RoyallyTruly Madly Royally by Debbie Rigaud (7/30)

Fiercely independent and smart, Zora Emerson wants to change the world. She’s excited to be attending a prestigious summer program, even if she feels out of place among her privileged, mostly white classmates. So she’s definitely not expecting to feel a connection to Owen, who’s an actual prince of an island off the coast of England. But Owen is funny, charming…and undeniably cute. Zora can’t ignore the chemistry between them. When Owen invites Zora to be his date at his big brother’s big royal wedding, Zora is suddenly thrust into the spotlight, along with her family and friends. Everyone is talking about her, in real life and online, and while Owen is used to the scrutiny, Zora’s not sure it’s something she can live with. Can she maintain her sense of self while moving between two very different worlds? And can her feelings for Owen survive and thrive in the midst of the crazy? Find out in this charming romantic comedy that’s like The Princess Diaries for a new generation.

I’m always here for a celebrity/royal romance. I do take issue with the whole “The Princess Diaries for a new generation” because like…aren’t we still in the same generation as the Princess Diaries????

Preorder: eBook | Hardcover

Five Dark FatesFive Dark Fates by Kendare Blake (9/3)

Blake Teen Fantasy Novel #4 has descriptive copy which is not yet available from the Publisher.

Awesome synopsis. Jokes aside, I’m excited to see where the plot goes. Book 3 ended a little unexpectedly so we’ll see. I don’t believe things are exactly as they appeared to be at the end and I’m also curious to see how the “island mystery” part of it resolves. I’m hoping this book comes with a little more history of the island itself–I definitely enjoyed that aspect of book 3.

Preorder: eBook | Hardcover

The Seven Sisters by Neil Gaiman (9/15)

The Seven Sisters has descriptive copy which is not yet available from the Publisher.

Another great synopsis (no cover for this one either). I’m not actually convinced that this book is going to get published in 2019, but Goodreads says it is, so here’s hoping! I LOVED Neverwhere and I would read anything else set in that world.

Preorder: eBook | Hardcover isn’t available so I don’t know what that means?

The Starless Sea precoverThe Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern (11/5)

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a graduate student in Vermont when he discovers a strange book hidden in the library stacks. As he turns the pages, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, key collectors, and nameless acolytes, he reads something strange: a story from his own childhood. Bewildered by this inexplicable book and desperate to make sense of how his own life came to be recorded, Zachary uncovers a series of clues — a bee, a key, and a sword — that lead him to a masquerade party in New York, to a secret club, and through a doorway to a subterranean library, hidden far below the surface of the earth.

What Zachary finds in this curious place is more than just a buried home for books and their guardians — it is a place of lost cities and seas, lovers who pass notes under doors and across time, and of stories whispered by the dead. Zachary learns of those who have sacrificed much to protect this realm, relinquishing their sight and their tongues to preserve this archive, and also those who are intent on its destruction. Together with Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired protector of the place, and Dorian, a handsome barefoot man with shifting alliances, Zachary travels the twisting tunnels, darkened stairwells, crowded ballrooms, and sweetly soaked shores of this magical world, discovering his purpose — in both the mysterious book and in his own life.

If you haven’t read The Night Circus by now, where have you been? Her first book was so fantastic and this synopsis is just about EVERYTHING that I could ever want in a book. I’m hoping this book does for me what Caraval did not.

Preorder: eBook | Hardcover

What 2019 books are you most excited to get your hands on?

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2019 TBR Books

Why I Don’t Listen to Audiobooks

I’ve seen many people talk about how they love audiobooks and it helps them to read more throughout the month. Yeah, that’s great and all, but that only works for people who aren’t already using their time listening to something else like I am. I’m talking about PODCASTS.

Confession: I’m kind of addicted to podcasts? I can’t seem to stop subscribing. Even though my commute to work is literally like…less than five minutes, I turn on a podcast as soon as I get in the car. This is why I don’t have time to listen to audiobooks. I’m too busy using my 10 minutes of driving time and my 20 minutes of getting ready time a day listening to my podcasts.

What are these podcasts that are keeping me from being more productive in my daily reading? I’m so glad you asked. Here are the 8 podcasts that I listen to regularly along with a few that are more seasonal or I’m just getting into.

Podcasts That I Listen to Every Week

This American LifeI’m basic. Sue me.

Planet Money – I was an Econ undergrad, but you don’t have to be to listen to this podcast! Honestly, this is probably my fave. They have a few episodes a week that are 25 min max and they’re always SO GOOD. Super interesting/educational and also super easy to follow.

Criminal – I like true crime as long as it’s not TOO graphic and the thing I love about this podcast is that it focuses on all kinds of “crimes”. They have typical murdery type episodes, but they also had one on a streaker and the last one I listened to was about Sarah Winchester. Super interesting!

This is Love – This podcast is done by the same people and host as Criminal. I don’t like it quite as much, but I still find it pretty enjoyable.

Bookish Podcasts because I’m A Librarian

The Public Libraries Podcast – This podcast is great because it talks about various topics that public libraries deal with all the time (how to best serve the homeless population, how to get teenage boy of color interested in reading, how to teach teen parents about reading to their babies).

What Should I Read Next? – I really like this podcast because Anne Bogel (the host) is really engaging when she talks about books. Some book podcasts (like the two following this one) have hosts that tend to…fangirl over books for lack of a better term. That’s a bit of a turnoff to me. I want to listen to people talk about books, but I want to listen to them talk seriously about books. I don’t want to hear, “Ugh, you just have to read this book because it’s so great and…and the main characters are just so…ugh. You just have to read it.” Anne is super articulate when describing books and I appreciate that.

All the Books! – I listen to this podcast because I just want to be aware of what books are coming out and what might be popular.

Hey YA – Same as above except this one focuses on YA.

Podcasts That Are a Tad More Seasonal

Invisibilia – This podcast talks about the invisible forces that shape us. It’s a super interesting premise and I like that they kind of go all over the map. It’s not one that I would want to listen to always, though, so it’s good that it’s a little more seasonal.

Serial – If you haven’t heard of Serial, then you’ve been living under a rock for the last three years. Obviously, I thought the first season was super engaging. I only got like…2.5 episodes into season 2, though, before I got bored. Season 3 came back with a vengeance and I really liked following stories from the one court.

Found – This is a podcast based on found objects–letters, notes, flyers, receipts. Sometimes they’re actually able to track down the origins of the found objects, but other times they just discuss a broader theme based on the object. It’s made me a lot more aware of the “trash” that I might find laying around.

Revisionist History – This is Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast. I think I’ve read almost if not all of his books by now and I really enjoy them. His hosting skills are quite good as well.

New Podcasts That I’m Trying

Household Name – These guys teamed up with Planet Money for an episode on Panera Cares and I really enjoyed it. It talks about brands. I’m only a couple of episodes in, but I think this could be one that I add to my weekly rotation.

Endless Thread – Last Seen (below) played a preview of one of their episodes and I thought it was really well done. I think the premise is that it explores a different Reddit thread each episode? But I’ve only listened to the one, so I’m not sure about this one yet.

Podcasts That I’ve Finished

Last Seen – This podcast is about an art heist that occurred almost 30 years ago at the Gardner Museum in Boston. The art still hasn’t been recovered and the hosts detail the multiple theories that have crept up over the years.

Dirty John – This is now a television series and the story is CRAZY. It’s about this guy who cons a lady into falling in love with him and it doesn’t end well.

Dr. Death – This podcast is about a doctor who was operating in Texas but was causing all these problems and some of his patients even died. He clearly should not have been operating, but proper protocol wasn’t followed so he ended up operating on like…a ton more people than he should have.

S Town – This is by the same people who do This American Life and Serial so obvi I listened to it. You think the podcast’s going to be about one thing, but then it takes a turn and you think it’s going to be about something else, but then it takes another turn and ends up being about something else entirely.

Do you listen to podcasts? Which ones? Let me know what other podcasts I should be listening to instead of audiobooks!

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12 Buzz Books for Spring/Summer 2019 (NetGalley Buzz Books)

NetGalley puts out this great compilation every season of some of the hot new Young Adult books that will be coming out. Here are my thoughts on the 12 books featured.

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RomanovRomanov by Nadine Brandes (5/7)

The history books say I died.

They don’t know the half of it.

Anastasia “Nastya” Romanov was given a single mission: to smuggle an ancient spell into her suitcase on her way to exile in Siberia. It might be her family’s only salvation. But the leader of the Bolshevik army is after them . . . and he’s hunted Romanov before.

Nastya’s only chances of survival are to either release the spell, and deal with the consequences, or enlist help from Zash, the handsome soldier who doesn’t act like the average Bolshevik. Nastya’s never dabbled in magic before, but it doesn’t frighten her as much as her growing attraction for Zash. She likes him. She thinks he might even like her . . .

That is, until she’s on one side of a firing squad . . . and he’s on the other.

Cover: This cover is beautiful! I love the colors and the castle especially. I am so IN for anything about the Romanovs. 7/10

Premise: Very intriguing. I like the element of magic coming into this story. I’m not exactly sure how I feel about the Bolshevik romance…but who am I kidding? I’ll probably love it. 7/10

Excerpt: This sounds great so far! It sounds like they’re painting Rasputin to be a good guy at this point? I mean, maybe I’m biased from the Anastasia movie, but that guy seriously gives me the creeps, so I hope we find out later he’s a villain. 8/10

TBR?: Yes

Preorder

Once and FutureOnce & Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy (3/26)

When Ari crash-lands on Old Earth and pulls a magic sword from its ancient resting place, she is revealed to be the newest reincarnation of King Arthur. Then she meets Merlin, who has aged backward over the centuries into a teenager, and together they must break the curse that keeps Arthur coming back. Their quest? Defeat the cruel, oppressive government and bring peace and equality to all humankind.

No pressure.

Cover: I mean…I kind of like the cover, but I feel like it also looks like a ton of other covers I’ve seen. 6/10

Premise: This book is being sold as “inclusive” and as a “bold original retelling”. This is definitely not the first “King Arthur as a girl” book that I’ve seen or read. I don’t really know how King Arthur being a girl is “inclusive”? That stuff aside, though, it does sound interesting. 6/10

Excerpt: I’m not super impressed by the excerpt. The main character seems kind of annoying and the book is supposed to be set in the future, but it doesn’t really feel like the future. 4/10

TBR?: Probably not

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The Missing of ClairdeluneThe Missing of Clairdelune by Christelle Dabos (5/7)

Book 2 of the Mirror Visitor Quartet

When our heroine Ophelia is promoted to Vice-storyteller by Farouk, the ancestral Spirit of Pole, she finds herself unexpectedly thrust into the public spotlight and her special gift is revealed to all. Ophelia knows how to read the secret history of objects and there could be no greater threat to the nefarious denizens of her icy adopted home than this. Beneath the golden rafters of Pole’s capitol, Citaceleste, she discovers that the only person she may be able to trust is Thorn, her enigmatic fiancé. As one after another influential courtier disappears, Ophelia again finds herself unintentionally implicated in an investigation that will lead her to see beyond Pole’s many illusions to the heart of the formidable truth.

Cover: I quite like this cover. It’s deceptively simple by just being one color, but there’s a lot going on. 7/10

Premise: I haven’t read the first book yet so I’m skipping both the premise and excerpt.

Excerpt: Skipped

TBR?: The first book is called A Winter’s Promise and it sounds very intriguing. So the first book is on my TBR, at least. Also, this book was originally written in French, so this would be great for any “books originally written in another language” challenges.

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Much Ado About Mean GirlsMuch Ado About Mean Girls by Ian Doescher (4/23)

Power struggles. Bitter rivalries. Jealousy. Betrayals. Star-crossed lovers. When you consider all these plot points, it’s pretty surprising William Shakespeare didn’t write Mean Girls. But now fans can treat themselves to the epic drama–and heroic hilarity–of the classic teen comedy rendered with the wit, flair, and iambic pentameter of the Bard. Our heroine Cady disguises herself to infiltrate the conniving Plastics, falls for off-limits Aaron, struggles with her allegiance to newfound friends Damian and Janis, and stirs up age-old vendettas among the factions of her high school. Best-selling author Ian Doescher brings his signature Shakespearean wordsmithing to this cult classic beloved by generations of teen girls and other fans. Now, on the 15th anniversary of its release, Mean Girls is a recognized cultural phenomenon, and it’s more than ready for an Elizabethan makeover.

Cover: The cover doesn’t THRILL me. I’m not making grabby hands at it, but it’s okay. 5/10

Premise: I don’t know how I feel about this book…I feel like there’s definitely a group of people out there who will love this book. I’m just not really sure it’s for me. The original movie is so good, I have a hard time believing that iambic pentameter is really going to make it better. 4/10

Excerpt: The writing just doesn’t flow like Shakespeare. Sure, it might technically be in iambic pentameter, but it still reads kind of jerkily. I’m sure the author worked really hard on it though. 3/10

TBR?: No

Preorder

Please Send HelpPlease Send Help by Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin (7/16)

In this hilarious follow-up novel to the New York Times bestseller I Hate Everyone But You, long distance best friends Ava and Gen have finally made it to the same time zone (although they’re still over a thousand miles apart).

Through their hilarious, sometimes emotional, but always relatable conversations, Ava and Gen are each other’s support systems through internships, relationship troubles, questionable roommates, undercover reporting, and whether or not it’s a good idea to take in a feral cat. Please Send Help perfectly captures the voice of young adults looking to find their place in the world and how no matter how desperate things seem, you always have your best friend to tell it like it is and pick you back up.

Cover: I’m not a huge fan of the cover. The colors and font just aren’t doing it for me. 3/10

Premise: I was NOT a fan of the first book (I DNF’d after 115 pages). This book claims that it’s going to be relatable, but I did not find the characters relatable at all in the first book so…not buying that. 1/10

Excerpt: Nope. 1/10

TBR?: No

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VoicesVoices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc by David Elliott (3/26)

Told through medieval poetic forms and in the voices of the people and objects in Joan of Arc’s life, (including her family and even the trees, clothes, cows, and candles of her childhood). Along the way it explores issues such as gender, misogyny, and the peril of speaking truth to power. Before Joan of Arc became a saint, she was a girl inspired. It is that girl we come to know in Voices.

Cover: Not a huge fan of that cover. For some reason it looks a little old-fashioned to me. 3/10

Premise: The premise is interesting…I could see it either being really good or really weird.  But I’m betting more on weird. 4/10

Excerpt: The writing is actually quite beautiful. I’ll admit that I don’t know that much about Joan of Arc, so this might be a good read for me. 6/10

TBR?: Yes

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Descendant of the CraneDescendant of the Crane by Joan He (4/2)

Princess Hesina of Yan has always been eager to shirk the responsibilities of the crown, but when her beloved father is murdered, she’s thrust into power, suddenly the queen of an unstable kingdom. Determined to find her father’s killer, Hesina does something desperate: she engages the aid of a soothsayer—a treasonous act, punishable by death… because in Yan, magic was outlawed centuries ago.

Using the information illicitly provided by the sooth, and uncertain if she can trust even her family, Hesina turns to Akira—a brilliant and alluring investigator who’s also a convicted criminal with secrets of his own. With the future of her kingdom at stake, can Hesina find justice for her father? Or will the cost be too high?

Cover: This is a great cover. It’s very reminiscent of classic Asian artwork that I’ve seen. It also gives me Alice in Wonderland vibes? 7/10

Premise: Yeah. I’m into it. 8/10

Excerpt: The writing is good and I like the use of alliteration (not sure if it’s intentional, but I like it). 8/10

TBR?: Yes

Preorder

A Place for WolvesA Place for Wolves by Kosoko Jackson (4/2)

James Mills isn’t sure he can forgive his parents for dragging him away from his life, not to mention his best friend and sister, Anna. He’s never felt so alone.

Enter Tomas. Falling for Tomas is unexpected, but sometimes the best things in life are.

Then their world splits apart. A war that has been brewing finally bursts forward, filled with violence, pain, and cruelty. James and Tomas can only rely on each other as they decide how far they are willing to go―and who they are willing to become―in order to make it back to their families.

Cover: I like this cover quite a bit. I like the contrast of the black and white photo in the background and the bright font colors. 8/10

Premise: It’s described as Aristotle and Dante meets Code Name Verity. I’m not necessarily buying that since Code Name Verity is one of the greatest best friendship stories I’ve ever read and this is definitely a romantic relationship… I think they just said Code Name Verity because there’s a war? 3/10

Excerpt: The writing is good, but I still have no sense of what the plot might be. It seems like the book might be told in the “present” and in flashbacks provided by letters that James has written to his sister and I do like that. 4/10

TBR?: No

Preorder

OperaticOperatic by Kyo Maclear illus. by Byron Eggenschwiler (4/2)

It’s almost the end of middle school, and Charlie has to find her perfect song for a music class assignment. The class learns about a different style of music each day, from hip-hop to metal to disco, but it’s hard for Charlie to concentrate when she can’t stop noticing her classmate Emile, or wondering about Luka, who hasn’t been to school in weeks. On top of everything, she has been talked into participating in an end-of-year performance with her best friends.

Then, the class learns about opera, and Charlie discovers the music of Maria Callas. The more she learns about Maria’s life, the more Charlie admires her passion for singing and her ability to express herself fully through her music. Can Charlie follow the example of the ultimate diva, Maria Callas, when it comes to her own life?

Cover: I like the top half of the cover, but not so much the bottom half and I can’t really articulate why. 5/10

Premise: I like the premise quite a bit. I like the idea of our main character discovering and delving into a new passion. I also like that this is a graphic novel. I don’t like the possibility of a love triangle that has been presented. 6/10

Excerpt: Yes. I loved it. I love that the drawings don’t feel super finished–they mostly seem like just pencil drawings and I think it’s a really good feel for the book. I’m invested in Charlie’s story already. 8/10

TBR?: Yes

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OutcastsOutcasts by Claire McFall (4/23)

Book 3 in the Ferryman series

Tristan and Dylan have escaped death and conquered destiny. Nothing is stopping them from being together.

But every action has a consequence, and their exile to the real world has caused an imbalance in the afterlife. It’s owed two souls – and it wants them back.

When the world of the dead claims Dylan’s parents to restore the balance, Dylan and Tristan are offered a terrible bargain: stay together and condemn innocent souls to death, or return to the wasteland to take their place and be separated. Forever.

Are they willing to make the ultimate sacrifice?

Cover: I like the cover–I like the simplicity and the colors. I don’t like the title font. 7/10

Premise: I haven’t read the first two books so I’m not going to rate the premise or excerpt.

Excerpt: Pass.

TBR?: I feel super torn regarding the premise of the first book. On one hand, it’s a little intriguing. On the other hand, it reads like a bunch of other supernatural romance books I’ve already read. Back on the first hand, it has a semi-high rating on Goodreads (3.87). I just don’t know.

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BloodleafBloodleaf by Crystal Smith (3/12)

Princess Aurelia is a prisoner to her crown and the heir that nobody wants. Surrounded by spirits and banned from using her blood-magic, Aurelia flees her country after a devastating assassination attempt. To escape her fate, Aurelia disguises herself as a commoner in a new land and discovers a happiness her crown has never allowed. As she forges new bonds and perfects her magic, she begins to fall for a man who is forbidden to rule beside her.

But the ghosts that haunt Aurelia refuse to abandon her, and she finds herself succumbing to their call as they expose a nefarious plot that only she can defeat. Will she be forced to choose between the weight of the crown and the freedom of her new life?

Cover: The cover looks dark and mysterious and exciting. For some reason I really like the title font and the background color really speaks to me. 8/10

Premise: We’ve had an ARC of this book sitting in or workroom for the last two months. The premise isn’t super compelling to me and that’s why I haven’t picked it up before now. I just doesn’t feel very original? Heir that has forbidden magic that they must keep hidden…I just feel like I’ve heard it a couple times before. But, like it’s got a 4.02 on Goodreads? 4/10

Excerpt: I feel like the author’s trying too hard. Something about the adjectives used just doesn’t feel very smooth. 4/10

TBR?: No

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To Best the BoysTo Best the Boys by Mary Weber (3/19)

Every year for the past fifty-four years, the residents of Pinsbury Port receive a mysterious letter inviting all eligible-aged boys to compete for an esteemed scholarship to the all-male Stemwick University. Every year, the poorer residents look to see that their names are on the list. The wealthier look to see how likely their sons are to survive. And Rhen Tellur opens it to see if she can derive which substances the ink and parchment are created from, using her father’s microscope.

In the province of Caldon, where women are trained in wifely duties and men are encouraged into collegiate education, sixteen-year-old Rhen Tellur wants nothing more than to become a scientist. As the poor of her seaside town fall prey to a deadly disease, she and her father work desperately to find a cure. But when her Mum succumbs to it as well? Rhen decides to take the future into her own hands—through the annual all-male scholarship competition.

With her cousin, Seleni, by her side, the girls don disguises and enter Mr. Holm’s labyrinth, to best the boys and claim the scholarship prize. Except not everyone’s ready for a girl who doesn’t know her place. And not everyone survives the maze.

Cover: Yes. THIS is a good cover. 9/10

Premise: I am all in for this premise! A labyrinth sounds so deliciously twisty and full of puzzles (I love books with puzzles). I was actually so close to requesting this on NetGalley already, but I was worried it won’t live up to my expectations. 9/10

Excerpt: The writing is not as compelling as I would have hoped. That dampens my enthusiasm for this book a little. 7/10

TBR?: Yes

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Let me know in the comments what you’ve heard about these books!

My Bottom 6 Reads of 2018

Last week I did a post about my favorite six reads from 2018, but now I want to introduce you to my least favorite six reads from last year.

least favorite reads 2018

S.T.A.G.S. STAGSS.T.A.G.S by M.A. Bennett
Read: 1/21

This book sounded like it was going to be exciting and suspenseful, but it just wasn’t. It was a huge letdown with dull characters, extreme foreshadowing to the point of ruining any suspense that may have been created, and an unbelievable plot. To be honest, I didn’t really care if anyone made it out alive.

My Review | Goodreads

In the Hope of Memories by Olivia RiversIn the Hope of Memories
Read: 3/28

I like scavenger hunts, but this one was just so weird and seemed super difficult–like how did they figure out ANY of the clues? But honestly, the worst part was that each of the characters was so unlikable. From their POV chapters they were okay, but when they POV switched, they were back to being jerks again. Just not really enjoyable on any level.

My Review | Goodreads

Murdertrending

#Murdertrending by Gretchen McNeil
Read: 7/21

I thought this book sounded so interesting at first. I’m in for any book about a reality show. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel like this book was executed very well. The premise was strong, but fell flat when the characters were introduced and the book finally got going. I think it would’ve been more interesting if the protag had actually been guilty or something. I just saw on Goodreads that there’s going to be a second book…HOW.

Goodreads

The Darkest MindsThe Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
Read: 9/1

I think this one might be a case of reading a book too late. I think if I’d read this book right when it came out, I would have loved it. Unfortunately, I’ve read so many dystopian books about teens with special powers at this point, that this one was just extremely underwhelming. The romance was so bad and our main character is needlessly secretive imo. While I did like the secondary characters Chubs and Zume, they weren’t enough to save this book. I will not be continuing with the series (or watching the movie).

My Review | Goodreads

Love a la ModeLove à la Mode by Stephanie Kate Strohm
Read: 12/6

So. Much. Fabricated. Drama. Let’s suspend my disbelief that Henry and Rosie’s families would ACTUALLY send them to Paris for culinary high school, there was just so much going on here that didn’t make sense. The book feels like it was written by a fan of Food Network–not someone who actually knows food. Also, I don’t appreciate a white author including a tiger mom type character to create more drama. Read my original review for more thoughts on that.

My Review | Goodreads

Sawkill GirlsSawkill Girls by Claire Legrand
Read: 12/30

I’m still mulling this one over. The beginning was delightfully mysterious and creepy with just a hint of magical realism and I was here. for. it. But then what was happening got more fully explained and it turned weird and sci-fi-y for a bit. In the end, I just feel like the book lost its way. If it had stuck with the magical realism, I think that could’ve really worked, but it didn’t, so here we are.

Goodreads

My Top 6 Reads from 2018

I was looking back through my Goodreads for this post and I was so surprised to see the books that I’d read at the beginning of 2018–it’s just felt like so long since I read those books. Does that happen to anyone else? By December, I’ve completely forgotten what I’d read in January. But anyway, here are my six favorite reads from 2018.

Favorite Reads 2018

I Am the MessengerI Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
Reread: 1/20

I love this book. It delivers such a powerful message in a really understated way. It makes me think about all the choices we make every day and the people that we pass on the street. We never know someone else’s story or how a small kindness from us may impact their lives. In the end, this book just makes me want to be a better person.

My Review | Hardcover | ebook

Alex, ApproximatelyAlex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett
Read: 2/5

This was such a cute contemporary romance! Was the plot predictable? Extremely. And yet…that didn’t take away from my enjoyment of it. I loved the summery, beachiness vibe that was coming off it. Even though it wasn’t summer when I read it, I almost felt like I was at the beach on a nice summer day. If her other books are as good as this one, she’ll definitely be a new auto-buy author for me.

My Review | Hardcover | ebook

Bone GapBone Gap by Laura Ruby
Read: 3/3

I haven’t read a TON of magical realism, but this book makes me want to read more. The magic in it was so subtle and it was so beautifully written. The characters are sympathetic and the “twist” towards the end really took me by surprise. It’s an interesting story with interesting characters. I would definitely recommend this book.

My Review | Hardcover | ebook

Now, I know what you might be thinking, “What? No good reads between March and October? That’s seven whole months!” Well, what happened was…I had a baby. I had a baby at the beginning of April and then I wasn’t really reading very much (I was bingeing Parks and Rec and playing Zelda instead). But then I did start reading again and this is where the rest of this post picks up.

Muse of NightmaresMuse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor
Read:  10/18

Muse of Nightmares was almost everything that I hoped it would be. Still wildly imaginative with amazing writing. It also brought in another element that created another dimension to the story. Without giving away any spoilers, this was a good follow-up to Strange the Dreamer, even if there were some choices that I didn’t quite agree with. I also liked how Taylor subtly tied this book in with her other series. (And the hardcover is only $10 right now which is cheaper than both the paperback AND the ebook! Click link below.)

Hardcover | ebook

NeverwhereNeverwhere by Neil Gaiman
Read: 11/20

So, apparently, I’ve been sleeping on Neil Gaiman this whole time. Like, I’d read a couple of his books, but after reading this now I need to read EVERYTHING. My friend picked this for book club and I wasn’t really expecting much, but WOW. Easily my favorite read of 2018. Gaiman is funny and insightful and obviously a very, very talented writer. Please. Just read this book.

My Review | Hardcover | ebook

The Feather ThiefThe Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson
Read: 12/19

I legitimately never thought that I would like a non-fiction book like I like this one. It’s FASCINATING. I obviously love all things heist and the fact that this is an actual heist makes it that much more exciting. Johnson does such a good job of making every aspect of this book interesting–not just the crime part. The history of Wallace as well as all the information on Victorian salmon fly-tying is so easy to read and digest. Do yourself a favor and pick this up.

My Review | Hardcover | ebook

Blog posts to share | March 2018

Here are some of my favorite blog posts from other bloggers for the month. Enjoy!

Shanah @ Bionic Book Worm talked about staying motivated to read – I definitely have periods of my life where I read less than others. Sometimes I get home from work and all I want to do is eat, watch Netflix, and then go to bed. And that’s okay! It’s okay if I don’t read every day, because I know that some days I will literally spend 6 hours reading.

Angelica @ The Book Cover Girl discussed how YA is moving away from the trilogy to other formats This is definitely something that I’d noticed. For the most part, I agree with what she’s saying and I definitely agree that the duology is underrated. I also think that single books are underrated, but that might just be me.

Jess @ Reads and Dreams reconsidered some books that she had previously DNF’d – This is something that I definitely need to look into doing as well. It’s hard because I already have so many other books that I want to read, but I think it’s worth doing every once in a while. Sometimes you start a book and it’s just not the right time for YOU even though the book might actually be great.

Savannah @ The Book Prophet talked about why she likes reading negative reviews I wholeheartedly agree here. I LOVE reading negative reviews. For some reason, those reviews just feel more honest to me and it’s always fun when you’ve got an unpopular opinion about something and find someone else who shares it. I also like reading negative reviews when I’ve really enjoyed a book because a) Sometimes it opens my mind to things that I hadn’t considered before, b) Sometimes I just have an argument with the reviewer in my head.

Cristina @ Girl in the Pages gave some non-traditional advice for getting into audio books – Again, my struggle with audio books. This post really got me thinking about how I choose to listen to audio books and which books I choose. I already know that I’m very picky when it comes to narrators, but I didn’t even consider that some genres might be better suited for me than others–I just assumed I would listen to the same kind of stuff that I read, but that may not be true.

Kristilyn @ Reading in Winter talked about some reality checks when it comes to blogging – I really loved this post because it’s SO TRUE. I can’t really do it justice, so I’m just going to say GO READ THIS POST. If you’ve ever felt overly pressured as a blogger, you need to read what Kristilyn has to say.

Krysta @ Pages Unbound discussed why she limits the amount of books that she owns – This is similar to the previous post in a lot of ways because I think it tangentially touches on pressures that bloggers have. I think sometimes we think if you don’t have a gorgeous shelfie on your Insta, are you even a real book blogger? The answer is YES. You can still be a great book blogger and not own that many physical books. If you know you’re never going to read a book again, there are so many other places that it can go!

Marty @ The Cursed Books talked about how blogging might be bad for your reading and what we can do about it – This is definitely something that I’ve struggled with and I think she gives some really good advice about dealing with the pressures that blogging brings. The struggle is real!