Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books I’ve Read So Far in 2015

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Today’s theme was:

Top Ten Books I’ve Read So Far In 2015

According to my Goodreads challenge, I’ve read almost 80 books already in 2015. How can I possibly trim that down to TEN favorites? I got it down to fourteen, which is about as good as it’ll get. It was hard enough to do that. Haha.

Throne of Glass     My Heart & Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga     A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab     Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli     Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas [realized I never reviewed this one while compiling this list! Oops. Rest assured: I loved it | GR]
My Heart & Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga [My review | GR]
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab [My review | GR]
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli [My review | GR]
Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig [My review | GR]

Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley     None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio     Made You Up by Francesca Zappia     A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas     I'll Give You the Sun

Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley [My review | GR]
None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio [My review | GR]
Made You Up by Francesca Zappia [My review | GR]
A Court of Thorns at Roses by Sarah J. Maas [My review | GR]
I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson [review soon | GR]

The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan     Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu     The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh     The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan [My review | GR]
Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu [My review | GR]
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh [review soon | GR]
The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins [My review | GR]

Tell me your favorite books you’ve read so far this year!

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ARC Review: Little Pretty Things by Lori Rader-Day

Little Pretty Things by Lori Rader-DayAuthor: Lori Rader-Day
Genre: Thriller, Mystery
Publisher: Seventh Street Books
Publication Date: July 7, 2015
298 pages, paperback

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

NOTE:  I was provided with an ARC of this book from the publisher and author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much, Lori and Seventh Street Books!!

Last year I read and LOVED Lori Rader-Day’s debut novel The Black Hour (which I reviewed over on WatchPlayRead), so when Lori said she would send me an ARC of Little Pretty Things, I was SO excited! Lori’s second novel was just as thrilling, suspenseful, and well-written as her first.

I was immediately drawn into Juliet’s world – her job as a cleaning lady in a dive hotel in a small town, her compulsive desire to take the “little pretty things” left behind by her customers, her friendship with Lu, the slightly older Mexican woman who cleans at the hotel too, and her decade-old, but not forgotten rivalry with her best friend from high school, Maddy. Juliet and Maddy haven’t spoken in ten years, but Juliet hasn’t forgotten always trailing behind Maddy during all their track races, so when Maddy comes into town, Juliet brushes her off. But then Maddy gets murdered, Juliet is a suspect, and a lot of secrets come to light.

I am a big fan of books with flawed, far from perfect characters. They feel more human and more believable to me. This is a big reason in why I loved Little Pretty Things so much; Juliet is pretty messed up, she struggles with her compulsions, with her relationships, with her future, and I found myself rooting for her the whole time. She was stronger and more independent than she thought, and I liked seeing her realize who she could be. All of the characters in the book had their own problems and were all well-rounded and three-dimensional. I especially enjoyed the friendship between Juliet and Lu.

Lori did a great job at subtly hinting at who the real murderer was. I will say that I figured out who the murderer was pretty early on (I read and watch a lot of crime fiction), but it did not hinder my enjoyment of the story in the least. In fact, I was on the edge of my seat, racing through the book to see everyone figure it out. Lori does suspense SO well with pacing that reminded me of Maddy’s and Juliet’s races, fast and powerful.

The bottom line: While the story revolves around murder, this is a story of self-discovery and it questions how much our past can affect and shape us. It’s full of flawed, interesting, human characters that will pull you into the story immediately. Little Pretty Things is the best kind of mystery, and it’s not one you want to miss.

Rating: 8 – freaking fantastic

P.S. There’s a giveaway for a copy of Little Pretty Things on Goodreads that runs until July 26, 2015!

The Disney Book Tag

This tag was created by Katytastic over on YouTube to celebrate the release of The Isle of the Lost by Melissa de la Cruz. I was tagged by Aria at Book Monster and Maren at The Worn Bookmark! Thanks so much for the tags, Aria and Maren!

Disney

  1. The Little Mermaid – a character who is out of their element, a “fish out of water”

Rachel from Jennifer Mathieu’s latest novel, Devoted, leaves the home and family she’s known her whole life to start fresh in the “real” world. She doesn’t really understand how the real world works and must navigate first jobs, first roommates, and figuring out what she truly believes.

  1. Cinderella – a character who goes through a major transformation

Kristin from I.W. Gregorio’s debut None of the Above finds out that she is actually intersex. Her life, identity, and world are completely turned upside down and she must figure out who she really is while everyone else does too.

  1. Snow White – a book with an eclectic cast of characters

I’m going to go with a children’s book for this one: The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers is filled to the brim with eclectic characters…er, crayons. Overworked Blue and Mediator Green and WHO IS THE TRUE COLOR OF THE SUN? Yellow or Orange?! Love it.

  1. Sleeping Beauty – a book that put you to sleep

Hands down: If I Stay by Gayle Forman. Ugh.

  1. The Lion King – a character who had something traumatic happen to them in childhood

Harry Potter. Duh. He had like a million traumatic things happen to him while he was a child. Actually, all of those kids who went to Hogwarts during those years had pretty traumatic things happen to them.

  1. Beauty and the Beast – A beast of a book (a big book) that you were intimidated by, but found the story to be beautiful

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber is 500 pages long and absolutely intimidating. I’m so glad I read it though. Not only is it physical beautiful (the pages are gilded – they are gold-edged) but the story is incredibly fascinating and strange and…definitely beautiful.

  1. Aladdin – a character who gets their wish granted, for better or worse

I’m going to have to go with Maren on this one: Simon from Becky Albertalli’s debut Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda wishes with everything he has to meet Blue, the boy he’s been emailing back and forth for months, and is it for better or worse? You’ll just have to read it and find out. 🙂

  1. Mulan – a character who pretends to be someone or something they are not

Lila Bard in V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic dresses up like a man in order to be accepted socially, or at least so she doesn’t draw attention to herself. I chose her because even though she’s pretending to be someone she isn’t, she’s an incredibly badass character.

  1. Toy Story – a book with characters you wish would come to life

Hands down, I would want the characters from Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle books to come to life. I just want to be best friends with all of them: Blue, RONAN, Gansey, Noah, Adam, and definitely Chainsaw. I want to hang out at 300 Fox Way and fly around in helicopters looking for Glendower.

  1. Disney Descendants – your favourite villain or morally ambiguous character

I’m a big fan of morally ambiguous characters in books. They are often more complex, more interesting, and more terrifying than the protagonists. My favorite is probably Kevin from We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver. He may not be so morally ambiguous. I mean, it’s pretty obvious that he is absolutely evil, but why is he that way? Nature? Nurture? It’s just absolutely fascinating to read about him. Plus, Ezra Miller does a pretty amazing job at portraying him on screen.

I’m tagging: 

Rachel at Confessions of a Book Geek

Alison at Hardcovers and Heroines

Shaina at Shaina Reads

Kay at It’s a Book Life

Joey at Thoughts and Afterthoughts

Waiting on Wednesday: I Crawl Through It by A.S. King

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share a book that we are eagerly anticipating!

I Crawl Through It by A.S. KingPublisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Authors: A.S. King

Release date: September 22, 2015

Synopsis from Goodreads: A boldly surreal novel from one of the best YA writers working today.
Four talented teenagers are traumatized-coping with grief, surviving date rape, facing the anxiety of standardized tests and the neglect of self-absorbed adults–and they’ll do anything to escape the pressure. They’ll even build an invisible helicopter, to fly far away to a place where everyone will understand them… until they learn the only way to escape reality is to face it head-on.

Why I’m excited: Are you kidding? This sounds freaking incredible. I always get excited for magical realism, but this sounds like it’s going to take it even farther. I’m really looking forward to meeting these four teenagers and going on this journey with them. Surreal and brilliant – the two words that come to mind when I read that synopsis.

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite TTT topics

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Today’s theme was:

In honor of 5 years of Top Ten Tuesday ( our first Top Ten Tuesday debuted June 21, 2010) — My Ten Favorite Top Ten Topics We’ve Ever Done In The Past 5 Years

Well, I’ve only been doing Top Ten Tuesday for a little over a year, so I’ll be choosing my TTT topics from those instead of all five years’ worth of topics. I think that’ll be easier, and I can link you up to those posts on my blog! Here we go!

One of my favorite classes that I took during my Publishing Master’s course was design. Compiling a list of Ten Book Cover Trends I Like and Dislike was challenging and fun!

Who hasn’t thought of the Top Ten Characters They Would Want with Them On A Deserted Island? I know I have.

The Top Ten Book Characters That Would Be Sitting At My Lunch Table was a lot of fun because I got to think back to high school and imagine myself hanging out with all these awesome characters!

You guys know how much I love to travel, so the TTT topic “Ten Places Books Have Made Me Want To Visit” was definitely one of my favorites!

A lot of the time, secondary characters make up a lot of the story, but completely under the radar. There are a lot of Characters I Wish Would Get Their OWN Book.

This was my first New Year’s with a blog, so it was fun to come up with Top Ten Goals/Resolutions For 2015, bookish or not.

Every bookworm has at least some bookish related problems. Here’s Ten Book Related Problems I Have.

Since starting my blog, I’ve gotten really into reading and collecting comics, so when we had a freebie post one week, I created a list of Ten comics for readers who would like to try them.

I’m one of those readers that has a notebook with me at all times when I’m reading to write down quotes or passages that mean something to me. Here’s my Top Ten Inspiring Quotes from Books.

Making up the list of my Top Ten ALL TIME Favorite Authors was really fun! I adore all of the people on that list.

Which TTT topics have been your favorite?

ARC Review: The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina GeorgeAuthor: Nina George
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Crown
Publication Date: June 23, 2015
400 pages, hardcover

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

NOTE: I was provided with an e-ARC  of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Crown for letting me read this!

I am so sad about this one. From the synopsis, I thought this book was going to be absolutely perfect for me, but The Little Paris Bookshop is not at all what I was expecting. Perdu owns a literary apothecary, from which he “prescribes” books to people based on what they need from the book. He uses his ability to find the exact book a reader needs, even if it means forcing them not to buy something else. But he’s still haunted by an ex-lover from twenty years ago, and when he finally reads the letter she left him so long ago, he decides to take off and visit the South of France. Doesn’t that sound perfect for a book and travel lover??

The Little Paris Bookshop had an absolutely wonderful start. Perdu’s Literary Apothecary and the neighborhood where he lives in Paris are enchanting and I honestly wish I could visit his book barge – how cool would that be?! I loved the descriptions of his ability to prescribe the perfect book and the eclectic cast of characters that live in his building. Even twenty years later, Perdu is still heartbroken over his lost love, and the emotions he feels are quite beautifully and sadly described.

But then Perdu reads the letter from his lost love, Manon, and everything changes – for him and for the reader. He decides to set sail for the town where Manon was from, along with a bestselling author with writer’s block and eventually a lovesick chef. The story turns into this long, rather boring trip along the Seine with stops at cute little towns along the way. I really enjoyed seeing all these towns, with their underground tango clubs and interesting people. But after a while the story bored me. I was not longer enchanted by Perdu, especially because the whole literary apothecary thing is only really mentioned at the beginning. From about 50% to 75% of the way through, I was flipping pages as quickly as I can because I was bored. I wasn’t expecting this to be a romance in the most literal sense, and I’m not much of a romance girl. But there are a lot of people who are. I can see the merit in this one and I know a lot of people will fall in love with it. I can even see myself liking it a lot more in the future. Possibly. If you’re a romance fan, and would like to travel to France for a little while, check this one out.

At the end of the novel, we get “Jean Perdu’s Emergency Literary Pharmacy: From Adams to Von Arnim”. This was hands down my favorite part of the book. Books prescribed for certain “ailments” such as The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy for “a sense of humor failure” or 1984 because it “reduces gullibility and apathy.” I wanted more!

The bottom line: Not what I was expecting or really in the mood for. It had a beautiful literary beginning but then fell a little flat for me from there. Much of the middle was dull and rather tiresome to read, in all honesty. I am so sad too because I really wanted to like this book about books.

Rating: 4 – Eh. This is bad.

Book Review: More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

More Happy Than Not by Adam SilveraAuthor:  Adam Silvera

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Publisher: Soho Teen

Publication Date: June 2, 2015

293 pages, hardcover

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

More Happy Than Not was one of my most-anticipated reads for the year, and I was not disappointed at all. It’s hard to review this one simply because it is one of those books you must read to experience. The synopsis doesn’t give much away, except this: The Leteo Institute has developed a procedure to alter and remove certain memories, and when Aaron (whose friends aren’t that great, whose mother is overworked and hardly ever there, whose brother is distant, and whose father committed suicide) meets Thomas and can think of no one but him, he decides to turn to Leteo to “straighten himself out” because being gay isn’t welcome where he lives. That’s not even half of the book though, but I honestly can’t tell you anything else without spoiling it or giving something away.

I can talk about Adam’s writing though, which is honest, heart-wrenching, sad, hopeful, and wonderful. Aaron’s voice is so well-done. Chapters can move from gut-wrenchingly sad to laugh-out-loud funny within a page, and it never once felt disjointed or stilted. I will say it was hard to connect with Aaron at first, mostly because he’s not really sure who he is, but I definitely wanted to keep reading. It’s practically impossible to not want to reach into the book and hug him, to want to be his best friend, to tell him to keep going, keep trying, keep living. He’s a brilliant character.

Remember how I said you can’t really talk about this book without giving anything away? Well, it’s true, because there are many twists and turns and surprises throughout this whole book. I never once knew what was going to happen next and I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see. My heart was broken and put back together and broken again. I cried and laughed and cried some more. This book is a rollercoaster in the best sense of the word.

More Happy Than Not is a book of self-discovery and acceptance. It’s about being okay with who you are and not caring what anyone else thinks of it. It’s also about heartbreak and pain and hope. A few quotes I especially liked:

“Sometimes you just have to push ahead to find what you’re looking for.” (Page 136)

“Sometimes pain is so unmanageable that the idea of spending another day with it seems impossible. Other times pain acts as a compass to help you get through the messier tunnels of growing up…” (Page 270)

The bottom line: There’s no way to summarize this book or how wonderful it is without simply saying, “Go read it.”

Rating: 8 – freaking fantastic

Book Review: The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins (ARC)

The Library at Mount Char by Scott HawkinsAuthor:  Scott Hawkins
Genre: Fantasy, Horror
Publisher: Crown
Publication Date: 6/16/15
388 pages, hardcover

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

NOTE: I was provided with an e-ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Crown for letting me read this!

I have no idea how to write this review. I have no idea what I read. I do know that I LOVED this book. I do know that I couldn’t put it down and I hated when I had to for work. I do know this book is completely nuts, insanely creative, seriously bizarre, and decidedly well-written. I know all of those things and yet I still have no idea what I read.

Do you ever request a book on Netgalley or buy one at the book store and think it sounds amazing but by the time you get to it, you’ve forgotten what it was about? That was me with The Library at Mount Char, so I went into it expecting nothing and I was completely blown away by it – not only because it’s super awesome but because it’s absolutely insane. Carolyn was a normal, American girl once, but when her parents (and the parents of the other children in her neighborhood) died, Father adopted them. They were each given a different catalog, a section of the Library (wait until you see the Library!!), to study – from languages (Carolyn’s catalog) to war to resurrection. They were not allowed to study outside of their own catalog. Now, Father is nowhere to be found. Will they be able to find him or will someone else gain control of the Library?

If that doesn’t sound absolutely fascinating to you, get out of my face. Haha. The world that Hawkins has created is intriguing, dark, horrible, and wonderful all at the same time. The Library at Mount Char is…disturbing yet full of humor, which is part of the reason I liked it. This is one of the weirdest books I’ve ever read. The “librarians” had it rough growing up with Father to put it mildly and there isn’t one of them that’s not a little off. They scared me and freaked me out and fascinated me. They murdered without reason, hurt others without emotion, destroyed without care. The last fourth of the novel was unputdownable for me. I couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen.

The bottom line: The Library at Mount Char is dark, disturbing, strange, scary, and absolutely wonderful. It’s not for everyone. But it was definitely for me.

Rating: 9 – Practically perfect

Book Review: The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes (ARC)

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie OakesAuthor:  Stephanie Oakes

Genre: Young adult,

Publisher: Dial Books

Publication Date: June 9, 2015

400 pages, hardcover (395 ARC)

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

Shout out to the wonderful Little Shop of Stories for letting me take this ARC! Check them out if you’re ever in Decatur, GA!

Cults, “Prophets”, jail, hands being chopped off…basically, ALL the craziness you could possibly want in a book. The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly is a fascinating and seriously disturbing look into the kind of cult that would follow a man into the woods because he claims to speak to God.

Minnow Bly was a member of the Kevinian cult, a follower of the Prophet (whose real name is Kevin). When she rebels against everything she’s been taught, he takes her hands. But now the Prophet is dead and their camp is destroyed, and even though Minnow knows something, she’s in juvenile detention for the crime.

My favorite part of the book was the theme of self-discovery. Minnow must figure out who she is and what she believes while in juvie – does she believe in what the Prophet told her? Does she even believe in God anymore? Who is Minnow Bly? We learn about her past through flashbacks and her present in juvenile detention, which means Minnow was really well-developed. She was passionate and curious and I loved seeing her grow.

Stephanie Oakes’ writing is gorgeous. I was completely engrossed in the story because of her writing. If this is her debut, I can’t wait to see more. It isn’t one of those super action-packed books where something is happening every single page, but it didn’t need to be. It’s more of a character study on Minnow, a cult/mindset study on the Kevinians. I don’t know if I can say I truly loved this book. It’s…disturbing and horrifying in a way that not many books are but man, if it isn’t fascinating.

The bottom line: The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly is thought-provoking, intriguing, beautiful, sad, hopeful, and so many other adjectives. Well worth the read.

Rating: 8 – Freaking fantastic

Waiting on Wednesday: Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, Deborah Biancotti

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share a book that we are eagerly anticipating!

Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, Deborah BiancottiPublisher: Simon Pulse

Authors: Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, Deborah Biancotti

Release date: September 29, 2015

Synopsis from Goodreads: Ethan, aka “Scam,” has a way with words. When he opens his mouth, whatever he wants you to hear comes out. But Ethan isn’t just a smooth talker. He has a unique ability to say things he doesn’t consciously even know. Sometimes the voice helps, but sometimes it hurts – like now, when the voice has lied and has landed Ethan in a massive mess. So now Ethan needs help. And he needs to go to the last people who would ever want to help him – his former group of friends, the self-named “zeros” who also all possess similarly double-edged abilities, and who are all angry at Ethan for their own respective reasons. Brought back together by Scam’s latest mischief, they find themselves entangled in an epic, whirlwind adventure packed with as much interpersonal drama as mind-bending action.

Why I’m excited: It’s Scott Westerfeld. Is that answer enough? No? Okay: superpowers, gorgeous cover, dystopian, super interesting premise, and Scott Westerfeld. Is that better? I’m a little hesitant of co-authored books, but this one sounds really cool and I’m definitely looking forward to it.