My Favorite Books from 2019

Favorite Reads from 2019

The Witchlands series by Susan Dennard – Really enjoyed this series much more than I thought I would #thehypeisreal. Can’t wait for the next installment!
Reviews: Truthwitch, Windwitch, Bloodwitch

The Library Book by Susan Orlean – This was an amazing read! A must for every book lover.
Review

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill – A middle grade I read for book club and LOVED. It’s definitely middle grade, but I feel like I never would have understood its depths as a kid.
Review

Kid Gloves: Nine Months of Careful Chaos by Lucy Knisley – Sometimes graphic, but a REAL portrayal of conception, pregnancy, labor, and what it’s like to face impending parenthood.

Shades of Magic trilogy by V.E. Schwab – Blown away by this series and can’t believe I didn’t start it sooner.
Reviews: ADSoM, AGoS, ACoL

Vicious/Vengeful by V.E. Schwab – I’m very impressed by V.E. Schwab at this point. This is the best depiction of an antihero that I’ve ever read.
Reviews: Vicious, Vengeful

The Big Year by Mark Obmascik – I read this after rewatching the movie. Just as delightful.
Review

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – I’d been meaning to read this book forever and I finally did it. Amazing. I understand why it has the reputation it does. Zusak is a masterful author.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (reread) – For some reason I started doubting whether this book was as good as I remembered it being. After an audio book reread, I can confirm that it is for sure.

You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn – I didn’t expect much from this book, but was hit hard with unexpected emotion and characters with a surprising amount of depth.
Review

Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno – THIS IS WHAT HISPANIC CULTURE IS. The timing of when I read this book could not have been more perfect.
Review

First & Then by Emma Mills – I love the relationship between the main character and her cousin and that it doesn’t take a backseat to the romance.
Review

Adult summer reads | Mini-Reviews

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but ever since I started my job at the library last year I’ve been reading more adult books (rather than YA). Even though I had to leave my library job at the end of May, I’ve still been reading adult books! Here are a few that I’ve read since then (and I’m only just now noticing that all of these covers are red).

Dark MatterDark Matter by Blake Crouch

Going into this book, I knew it was about alternate timelines but nothing else about it. As the book starts, I felt like not much was happening and I was just waiting for Jason to figure out that he was in an alternate reality. With that being said, I did feel like the narrative picked up significantly when he and Amanda started traveling to different timelines. I liked the few chapters we got from Daniela’s perspective. It made me wonder what I would do if I started noticing small changes like that in my own husband. Without giving too much away, I thought the big discovery that happened 3/4 of the way through was mind blowing but also made perfect sense and really turned up the stress levels. One thing that didn’t make a ton of sense to me was the box itself. I didn’t really understand how it just…WAS in every reality. I feel like it should only exist in the realities in which it’s been built and you should only be able to travel between those realities? Like bus stops. I don’t know–maybe I’m just not understanding the science. Overall, I thought this book was pretty good and interesting, but it wasn’t AMAZING. 3.5/5

Purchase: Hardcover | eBook | Paperback

VengefulVengeful by V.E. Schwab

After the first book, my expectations for this one were HIGH. It didn’t quite live up to those expectations, but I still liked it. I thought the beginning was a lot slower and the time periods were harder for me to keep track of–I think there were maybe too many different Sydney time periods. As the story finally started to unfold, I wasn’t sure how all of the characters were going to fit together, but when I did start to see it, it was glorious. I thought Schwab did a great job of creating a new antagonist while also making room for Eli to continue being Eli. I wasn’t super invested in the mini-plotline of Sydney resurrecting Serena. I know they were sisters but…I just don’t see how Sydney could possibly think that would be a good idea–especially with her resurrection powers being less predictable on EOs. So yeah, in the end I didn’t think it was as good as the first book, but I liked it and I enjoyed how all the pieces fit together. Seems like there’s potential for a third book? I’d read it. 4.5/5

Purchase: Hardcover | eBook | Paperback (preorder)

Magic for LiarsMagic for Liars by Sarah Gailey

I like that Ivy isn’t stupid. That feels kind of weird to say, but sometimes main characters can be a little clueless? I like that we get to see her explanations for how and why she’s manipulating/evaluating people. She’s observant–other characters can’t easily pull one over on her. I liked this world that’s been created. It’s Harry Potter-esque (what magical world isn’t at this point?) but from a non-magical perspective. I thought Ivy’s musings while watching the teenagers doing flippant magic was really compelling. If I were in Ivy’s place I would also be frustrated at seeing kids do stupid magic. You could do so much more and you’re using your magic to change the color of your locker? Or something dumb like that. One issue I did have was that Ivy really didn’t want Rahul to know she wasn’t magical, but I feel like she said 1,001 dumb, non-thinking things to him that would have tipped him off. But overall, I thought this was a really great mystery (and one that I was actually able to solve myself before the end!) and I could maybe see this becoming a series? Like Ivy could go investigate other magical cases. We’ll see. 4/5

Purchase: Hardcover | eBook

I’m back baby! | July Wrap-Up & TBR Update

The reading! It’s happening! I’m finding glorious pockets throughout my day to read and it’s making my life so full right now!

monthly tbr

Also read/reading:

Books finished this month: 11
Books currently reading: 4

Overall TBR:

TBR at the beginning of the year = 383
TBR at the beginning of July = 472
Books added to TBR = 8
Books read/deleted from TBR = 11
Total on TBR now = 469

How did your reading go this month?

Morally grey characters dressed in black | Vicious by V.E. Schwab

ViciousVictor has been thinking about the moment he would confront his former best friend Eli for a long time. For 10 long years while in prison to be exact. He wants to punish Eli but unfortunately for Victor, Eli is a little…unkillable. With Victor’s former cellmate Mitch and a runaway named Sydney by his side, Victor will put his plan into motion and finally find the justice he’s been seeking.

TL;DR – Schwab’s storytelling devices keep the plot moving quickly and the suspense high. While there are no good guys in this book, there are plenty of likable characters.

Purchase: Hardcover | Paperback | eBook

I loved this book so much–possibly more than her Shades of Magic series (which I also LOVED). I first encountered this author’s YA books (under the name Victoria Schwab) and was immediately hooked on her world-building. I had no idea what was to come when I made the leap to her adult works. Her skill in creating likeable “bad guys” is out of this world. Victor is not a good guy. He’s done bad and questionable things, but I still REALLY LIKE him. It’s the darnedest thing. All the characters, in fact, are incredibly well fleshed-out. They all have depth and I felt like the reader gets to know them on a deeper level than we do most characters in books. And don’t even get me started on the antagonists… (so evil, but also evil isn’t quite the right word?).

The world that Schwab has created for this story isn’t that different from the one we’re currently in except for the existence of EOs (ExtraOrdinaries). The entire concept of EOs isn’t necessarily revolutionary (think X-Men) but the way that they get created in her world seems entirely too plausible. What Eli and Victor do with that information also seems extremely realistic (without being too spoilery).

This story could have been told in a really linear, straightforward way, but that’s not how Schwab has decided to tell it. Chapters all start with a reference to an event: “6 hours before”, “10 years ago”, “The day before”. That kind of thing. This lets the reader know that we’re building up to some big event, but we don’t know exactly what it’s going to be until it’s almost upon us. This creates an almost unbelievable amount of tension as we’re left trying to figure out what we’re building up to. The way the different timelines and the story is woven together is just plain genius.

You guys. This book is GOOD. Highly, highly recommend if you’re looking for something a little sci-fi-y but not like, too sci-fi-y. I would also recommend if you’re just plain looking for a good book to read.

Overall Rating: 5
Language: Moderate
Violence: Heavy
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate
Sexual Content: Mild

How Ashley got her groove back | July TBR

I’m hoping I get my groove back this month at least. Towards the end of June, I felt my groove was on its way back, so we’ll see if that continues. It may get thrown off because we’ve got a family reunion to go to, but for now I think I’m getting into a rhythm and I hope that’s reflected by my reading.

Since I’m reading Jane Eyre through Serial Reader, it’ll probably still take me a month or two before I finish it. And I’m working through the Flavia de Luce mysteries on our morning walks, so those will be ongoing as well. Does anyone have any good, light series that they’d recommend as audiobooks? I’d prefer a series with lots of books that is different from the Flavia de Luce mysteries (and that won’t have a million holds on them *cough* Harry Potter *cough*). I could see myself getting tired of the Flavia mysteries and wanting to switch off every other book.

What are you guys reading this month? Let me know in the comments!

Welcome to a California Summer | June Wrap-Up & TBR Update

You guys. Where we’re at in California is SO HOT. We’ve been told that if you can survive July and August then you’ll make it, but I’m all like JUNE HAS BEEN UPPER 90s/LOW 100s EVERY DAY SO HOW COULD JULY AND AUGUST BE WORSE. Guess we’ll see.

monthly tbr

Also read/reading:

Books finished this month: 4 (with 2 DNFs)
Books currently reading: 3

Man, I really need to get back on track with my ARCs.

Overall TBR:

TBR at the beginning of the year = 383
TBR at the beginning of June = 460
Books added to TBR = 18
Books read/deleted from TBR = 6
Total on TBR now = 472

How did your reading go this month?

Update on My 2019 Reading Goals

At the beginning of the year I had this post listing my reading/book goals for 2019. Now that we’re about halfway through the year, I thought I’d give a little update as to where I’m at! For those of you too lazy to click my link (sheepishly raises hand), here are my 2019 goals:

  • Reread the Harry Potter series
  • Stardust by Neil Gaiman
  • Neil Gaiman books in general
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • Jane Eyre
  • VE Schwab books

2019 Reading Goals

Reread the Harry Potter series

Hello goal that is apparently never going to happen. I checked out the audiobook for The Sorcerer’s Stone at one point, but never got around to listening to it. I thought audio could be the way to go, but I’m so

bad at listening to audiobooks when I’m subscribed to too many podcasts. The holds lists are always so long for these books too…I honestly don’t know if this will get completed.

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Yeah…haven’t even gotten close on this one.

Neil Gaiman books in general

I did purchase an eBook copy of Good Omens when it was on sale a few months ago. That combined with the TV show…I think I’ll get to it this year. Beyond Good Omens, I have a physical copy of The Anansi Boys on my shelf. I’m pretty sure I read that one way, WAY back (when I was probably too young to be reading it) but I want to read it again when I’ll actually remember stuff. I’ve also heard good things about Norse Mythology so that’s on my list. Oh! And I read Coraline.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Confession: I had a physical copy of this book, but I’d bought it secondhand from a library book sale and it wasn’t in great condition. So in this last move, I got rid of it *puts face in hands*. However, I did this fully intending to check it out from the library. It was one that I figured I would definitely be able to check out. Long story short, I’m still planning on reading this!

Jane Eyre

A couple of years ago, I posted about this wonderful app that allows you to read classic books in digestible little chunks. I stopped using it after finishing Northanger Abbey but writing this post has given me a burst of (perhaps misguided) inspiration! I’ve just redownloaded the app and added Jane Eyre to my list. So we can mark this goal as “IN PROGRESS”.

VE Schwab books

Finally, the only goal I actually feel good about. Yes, I finished the Shades of Magic trilogy and LOVED IT. I’m so glad I finally read these books! I’m currently on hold for Vicious and I intend to love it just as much as Shades of Magic.

So by my count, I’ve finished like… 1.5/6 goals. We’ll see how the rest of the year goes!

What were your 2019 reading goals and how are you doing with them?