Book Roundup: May 2017

NUMBER OF BOOKS READ: 11

NUMBER OF FEMALE AUTHORS VS MALE AUTHORS: Great month for ladies! 9 women (one who wrote two of my books), and 1 male.

NUMBER OF DIVERSE (non-American) SETTINGS: Two travel memoirs that take place all over the world, two fantasies, two set in Europe, and one set in a dystopian near-future America… does that count?

RATINGS SPREAD:  Three 5-star; Two 4-star; Four 3-star; Two 2-star. Interesting spread.

 

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WHAT I READ: A Court of Wings and Ruin (ACOTAR #3) Sarah J. Maas

WHY I READ IT: Duh.

WHAT I THOUGHT: *hearts for eyes* FOREVER.

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WHAT I READ: Into the Water (Paula Hawkins)

WHY I READ IT: Hawkins wrote The Girl On The Train, which I did enjoy.

WHAT I THOUGHT: No, thank you. I generally love this style of book and it was one of the most boring and confusing thrillers I’ve ever read.

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WHAT I READ: Windfall (Jennifer E. Smith)

WHY I READ IT: The author is actually friends with my roommate.

WHAT I THOUGHT: It was cute enough, but there was a lot that had me shaking my head and wishing the author had fleshed it out more.

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WHAT I READ: Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3), Sarah J. Maas

WHY I READ IT: Still trying to slug through one of my favorite’s authors beloved series

WHAT I THOUGHT: I like it enough to read the next one, but I still don’t love it NEARLY as much as ACOTAR series. Sorry not sorry!

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WHAT I READ: The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)

WHY I READ IT: I first read it 4 years ago (almost to the day, according to Goodreads) and decided to give it a re-read with the new Hulu show.

WHAT I THOUGHT: Worth the hype.

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WHAT I READAll Over The Place: Adventures in Travel, True Love, and Petty Theft (Geraldine DeRuiter)

WHY I READ IT: I’ve been a big fan of the author’s blog The Everywhereist for years.

WHAT I THOUGHT: Just what I wanted – a quick, breezy afternoon read, but utterly delightful, hilarious, and thoughtful.

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WHAT I READ: Beartown (Fredrik Backman)

WHY I READ IT: Backmann, the author of A Man Called Ove, is one of my favorite authors and an automatic read for me.

WHAT I THOUGHT: Utterly different from his other novels, no one would qualify this book as “feel good” or “whimsical.” Despite the challenging subject matter, I absolutely loved it and this was one of the best books I’ve read this year.

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WHAT I READ: At Home In The World: Reflections on Belonging While Wandering the Globe (Tsh Oxenreider)

WHY I READ IT: I’m always interested in travel writing, particularly with this theme of the pull of being a homebody while also having wanderlust.

WHAT I THOUGHT: As a series of blog posts, I bet this would be great. As a novel with no central theme, it was an incredibly weak read.

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WHAT I READ: First Ladies (Kate Andersen Brower)

WHY I READ IT: The premise – exploring the lives of First Ladies from Jackie Kennedy to Michelle Obama – sounded interesting.

WHAT I THOUGHT: Interesting premise, uneven outcome. It was basically just a series of anecdotes.

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WHAT I READ: The Hate U Give (Angie Thomas)

WHY I READ IT: It’s a very popular contemporary book inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement.

WHAT I THOUGHT: Far smarter people than me have written exhaustively about this book, but I will just say it sunk deep into my bones and I can’t stop thinking about it.

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WHAT I READ: Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? and Other Questions You Should Have Answers To When You Work In The White House (Alyssa Mastromonaco)

WHY I READ IT: I heard the author interviewed on Pod Save America and was intrigued about a memoir written by a woman working in the Obama White House.

WHAT I THOUGHT: The title is terrible, but this was amusing enough to read over a quick two-day period.

All the Flailing, or: A Grown-Up Fairy Tale, Concluded

I’ve made my love for Sarah J. Maas’ fantastic seriesA Court of Thorns and Roses, no secret. Her first two books were sexy, compelling, well-crafted, scary, fun, and just a damn delight to read. So when the third book (and end of a trilogy) finally comes out after much anticipation, what’s a girl to do – except read frantically for a week straight (while wishing the book would never end)? At one point, I was so invested in the book I actually stayed in the car like a dog while my gentleman went into the store for thirty minutes. And ladies and gentlemen, it was worth it. (It was less worth it when his best friend pounded on the window to scare me.)

WHAT I READ:

A Court of Wings and Ruin (Sarah J. Maas)

SNAPSHOT REVIEW:

On a scale of 1 to 5 Cauldrons, I give this book and series 5(million) magical bargain-binding tattoos.

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS:

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit-and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords-and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

HOW IT MADE ME FEEL:

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Mostly, it made me feel sad because the trilogy is now over – but we will always have rereads. (And, Maas is writing three more offshoot books set in the same world, and I am SO excited to revisit these characters already).

These books are everything I love about reading, and if you don’t stop everything you are doing and read them, then God, Jed, I don’t even want to know you.

Grown-Up Fairy Tale

There’s nothing I love more than a spicy YA book, except possibly a spicy YA book based on a fairy tale, ESPECIALLY a fairy tale that coincidentally had a live-action movie retelling coming out at the same time I was giving it a read. Yes, folks, you read that confusing sentence correctly: I just reread A Court of Thorns and Roses and man, do I love that book.

In a nutshell, A Court of Thorns and Roses is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, except it’s gritty and violent and sexy and has less inanimate objects singing and dancing. I slammed through it in one long travel day in 2015, and read the equally-as-excellent follow-up A Court of Mist and Fury as soon as it came out in the spring of 2016.

WHAT I READ:

A Court of Thorns and Roses and A Court of Mist and Fury (Sarah J. Maas)

SNAPSHOT REVIEW:

On a scale of 1 to 5 faeries, I give both books 5 steamy sex scenes.

#FirstFifty Synposis

Very human Feyre is out in the woods doing her daily task of hunting in order to feed her family (two lazy sisters and a disabled father). While out in the woods, she sees a giant wolf that she surmises must be a faerie – a magical creature that inhabits the land north of the wall, a creature that is supposed to stay in his land. She makes the decision to kill the faerie and sell its pelt – a decision that soon leads to a wrath-filled High Fae breaking down her door, informing her that she broke the faerie/human treaty, and that the only way to atone is to come over the Wall with him and live in his palace for eternity. (Real Beauty and the Beast vibes here, folks).

HOW IT MADE ME FEEL:

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Last week, when I was sick and craving a familiar book, I decided to give these books a reread – and I instantly remembered why I loved them so much. (Especially since I haven’t read them since the one and only other time, there was a ton I didn’t remember!). AND, the third book comes out in 6 weeks. NEED I SAY MORE?! Why are you still here, reading this? You should be out reading these books!

My 2016 Favorites

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: when all the “best of” book lists come out! And because this is essentially my private journal, I would be remiss to not list my own favorites and a reflection on my stats.

(According to my Goodreads)

BOOKS READ: 131

NUMBER OF PAGES: 47,918

MY AVERAGE RATING FOR 2016: 3.6 (I’m pretty kind, huh?)

 

MY 2016 FAVORITES, in no particular order

(Note: While I reread and rating as 5 stars some of my favorites this year, including the Harry Potter series and Sisterhood Everlasting, I elected to leave them out of my tally)

First, a pre-script:

Turns out a good chunk of my favorites are follow-ups to books I read in 2015. So you know what that means, folks – you basically get DOUBLE the books to catch up on, because the first books in these series/duologies/trilogies are some of my other all-time favorites!

Gemina, by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

This feels a little silly because I just flailed about this book last month, but I STILL AM OBSESSED WITH IT. I go into much greater detail in my blog post, but it’s such a miraculous and creative book with everything a girl could want: interesting plot, fun characters and character development, and have I talked about the design too much, or what

Pair this with a delicious 2015 Illuminaewith a flirty dessert of the final in the trilogy in 2017.

Crooked Kingdom, by Leigh Bardugo

UUUUGH another recent flailCrooked Kingdom is the amazing and fun follow-up to Six of Crows. Goodreads tells me this is a duology, which is only terrible because I could read about these characters for the rest of my life (and probably will, because I just got the boxed set for Christmas). Considering these two books combine capers, action, amazing heroines, tons of crime, and just a dash of romance, how could  I not love it?

Court of Mist and Fury, by Sarah Maas

Okay, this is the last “second in a series” book that I read, loved, and 5-starred this year, but it (and its predecessor) really are some of my favorites. Picture Beauty and the Beast, but add in more sex, and you have this book. It is kinda young adult, but shows two adults in a relationship actually, you know, having a relationship, and there is something so satisfying about that (although it makes me blush to think of my mother reading the same passages I am. Oh my!). Steamy, romantic, kick-ass, and the second book completely flips the premise of the first book on its head. I can’t even imagine what Maas is going to pull off in the third one.

Some Kind of Happiness, by Claire Legrand.

The first book I posted about, and one of my top reads for 2016 (and my life). There’s not much more I can say about it. It’s beautiful, quiet, hopeful, sad, and the perfect description of what it is like to suffer from anxiety. As the book starts: If you are afraid, sad, tired, or lonely; if you feel lost or strange; if you crave stories and adventure, and the magic possibility of a forest path – this book is for you.

Leave Me, by Gayle Forman

To be honest, I was a bit surprised I had rated this five stars – I remembered it more as a four-star read – but I must have been in a generous mood that day! Gayle Forman is an automatic read for me, after absolutely loving If I Stay/Where She Went and Just One Day/Just One Year (Just One Day is genuinely one of my all-time favorites). I didn’t love this one QUITE as much but I think I will in the future when I’m closer to the main character’s experience (who is a middle-aged mother). Even without identifying 100% with the MC I still loved it deeply – which is the hallmark of an excellent novel and novelist.

Salt to the Sea, by Ruta Sepetys

I read this one way back in April and TBH don’t remember a whole lot about why I liked it, but it’s been popping up on a bunch of “best of 2016” lists so just read what one of them have to say about it, OKAY?! Do I have to do all the work for you?!

Quality of Silence, by Rosamund Lupton

Look ma, I can read adult books, too! (Although to be fair to me, Leave Me is adult, A Court Of Mist and Fury should be considered adult, and the whole disparagement of the Young Adult genre disgusts me as much as people mocking “chicklit.” ANYWAY). This novel was incredibly interesting for its third, main character of Alaska. Sure, there’s mother-daughter dynamics, looks at man’s impact on the environment, thriller mystery, even a MUUUURDER, but the look at desolate Alaska is what grabbed me. (Best paired with a viewing of the TV show Fortitude, which is super creepy and awesome.)

High Dive, by Jonathan Lee

Probably my most impressive-sounding book this year when someone asked me, “So, what’re you reading about now?” This book explores a fictionalized telling of the attempted assassination of Margaret Thatcher. Most interesting for me as a dumb American who was not alive when this took place, this book was based entirely on a true story and thus gave me a really cool look into a piece of recent history (including the tensions between England and Ireland, and some of the history of the IRA) that I knew very little about.

 

And there you have it, folks! For such a voracious reader, I’m apparently very picky in my ratings. I’ll try to be a little less selective next year.

Coming up soon, my LEAST favorite books of 2016! You’re on notice, BOOKS.

 

Behind-the-scenes look: I originally intended to get to 10, but by the time that I sifted through my 5-star books of 2016 and removed the ones that were rereads of old favorites, turns out I hadn’t given a huge number of books high ratings!

 

Book Roundup: November 2016

Weirdly enough, I didn’t do particularly well this month with number of books read, even though none of my books were particularly long. I’m hoping to get some more under my belt this month – I have two cross-country flights ahead of me, and a couple weeks of holiday relaxing to knock out some more pages.

STATS:

Number of books read: 8

Number of female authors vs. male authors: 2 males, 7 females (one book had co-authors)

Ratings spread: Two 5-Star, Four 4-Star, Two 3-Star

Want more? Goodreads, baby

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WHAT I READ: Commonwealth, Ann Patchett

WHY I READ IT: One of those must-reads of 2016

WHAT I THOUGHT: I liked it, but there was a bit too much dipping in and out of other character’s perspectives for my taste.

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WHAT I READ: Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg

WHY I READ IT: #NastyWomen unite

WHAT I THOUGHT: Essential reading for every human. I learned SO much from it.

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WHAT I READ: The Sun Is Also A Star, Nicola Yoon

WHY I READ IT: One of those oft-loved YA authors!

WHAT I THOUGHT: Delightful, realistic, charming.

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WHAT I READ: The Trespasser, Tana French

WHY I READ IT: I LOVE Tana French and read all of her novels as soon as they come out.

WHAT I THOUGHT: Another fantastic addition to the Dublin Murder Squad for Tana – she’s great at writing compelling mysteries that also allow for character development.

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WHAT I READ: The Hating Game, Sally Thorne

WHY I READ IT: Some of my favorite bloggers lauded its praises.

WHAT I THOUGHT: I was thoroughly entertained – and loved their chemistry – but at times wanted a little bit more out of it.

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WHAT I READ: The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out Of A Window and Disappeared, Jonas Jonasson

WHY I READ IT: It was in one of those displays at the bookstore: “If you liked A Man Called Ove, you’ll like this!”

WHAT I THOUGHT: A similarly delightful book about a grumpy Swedish old man, but went on a little too long for my tastes.

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WHAT I READ: Gemina, Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

WHY I READ IT: I LOVED the first book, Illuminae.

WHAT I THOUGHT: Remarkable purely for its design, but the story itself is tightly written and compelling.

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WHAT I READ: Without You, There Is No Us, Suki Kim

WHY I READ IT: This book kicked up a storm in the past few years when the (female) author, an investigative journalist who went undercover at risk of her own life to write it, found out this book was designated by her editor as a memoir in the Eat, Pray, Love vein – even though it’s not a memoir.

WHAT I THOUGHT: As a piece of investigative journalism (which this is – don’t be fooled by the insulting “memoir” designation) this is a fascinating look at North Korea and compelling to consider what the author went through to collect this information. But, looking at it as a full-length book, I’m not sure there was enough new information throughout the book to insist upon so many pages. May have been better as a long-form article.