Friday, November 17, 2017

End-Of-Year Book Tag

What better way to slowly get back into the swing of book blogging than with a tag? I've noticed that there are some people who don't really like doing tags that much, but I think they're really fun, and it's my blog, so here we go.

There's something so nice about the feeling of wrapping things up at the end of the year. Granted, it's a bit early to exactly do that, since we still have a month and a half left of 2017, but it's the start of that! And I found this great book tag started (I think) by Ariel Bissett over on YouTube that's a great transition into the end of the year. 
1) Are there any books you've started this year that you need to finish?
*glances at currently reading shelf* Let's not pay a lot of attention to how many books I've put down in the middle and not picked up yet, and how few of those I actually started this year. The three that I started in the past few months that I'd really like to finish before the end of the yaer are KALEIDOSCOPE SONG by Fox Benwell, STYLE by Chelsea M. Cameron,  and TUCK EVERLASTING by Natalie Babbitt. I've really enjoyed all of them so far, and I've pretty much just drowned in work or gotten distracted. I want to get back to them!

2) Do you have an autumnal/wintery book to transition into the end of the year?
This is more of a holiday-themed book than anything else, but it fits! I picked up WHAT LIGHT by Jay Asher at the library a couple of weeks ago, and I think it's really going to get me in the holiday mood. I'm probably going to wait a couple of weeks on this one, but it should be a quick read once I get to it.

3) Is there a new release you're still waiting for?
Let's momentarily disregard the fact that I'm quite a bit behind on new Kasie West releases to talk about the fact that she somehow has THREE 2017 releases! And we're still waiting on one of them! LOVE, LIFE, AND THE LIST was originally supposed to be a 2018 release, but it got pushed back, and I'm so excited for it! I'm sure I'll love it just as much as I love all of her contemporaries, and I love the bucket list trope (even if it's not quite a bucket list).

4) What are three books you want to read before the end of the year?
These are all highly anticipated 2017 reads that I just somehow haven't gotten to yet: LITTLE & LION by Brandy Colbert, A SEMI-DEFINITIVE LIST OF WORST NIGHTMARES by Krystal Sutherland, and THIS DARKNESS MINE by Mindy McGinnis.

5) Is there a book you think could still shock you and become your favorite book of the year?
This hypothetical honor has to go to THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END by Adam Silvera. He's already surprised me once this year with HISTORY IS ALL YOU LEFT ME, which ripped my heart out, left me in tears, and became and instant favorite, and I've heard such good things about his latest book that I'm hoping it will do the same thing.

6) Have you already started making reading plans for 2018?

Yes, I have! I'm probably going to do a lot of the same reading challenges I did this year: the Backlist Reader Challenge, the Debut Author Challenge, the Series Ender Challenge, and the Read It Again, Sam Challenge. I did pretty well on all of them this year except the backlist challenge, in which I am hopelessly behind. But who knows? Maybe I'll catch up. I'll definitely make a goal for next year that won't end up with such an end-of-year panic, though.

What are your end-of-year reading plans? Any good wintery reads that I should add to my list by the end of the year? Do you have any reading challenges to catch up on? Tell me in the comments!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Ten Books I Want My Cousins to Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature at The Broke and the Bookish. This week's theme: Ten Books You Want Your Children/Godchildren/Young Relatives/Etc. To Read.

Hi, everyone! *waves* Long time, no post. School kind of...ate me. But I'm back, at least for today. I don't know what I'm going to do about a consistent schedule, and I don't know whether I'm going to really start back now, but here I am. And what better place to start than a Top Ten Tuesday?

When I saw this week's Top Ten Tuesday prompt, my mind immediately went to my cousins, specifically the ones that are closest to my age. I have a feeling that the books I picked are more YA than a lot of other people's lists, because my cousins aren't all that little anymore! I'm the oldest of that group, and I love them dearly even though I don't get to see them a lot. There are so many books out there that I think they'd enjoy or that I think would be valuable for them to read (or both), so I already had part of this list in mind. Here it is!

THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas: Such an important read for everyone, and one you've probably heard the reasons for a million times by now, so I'll probably keep it short and sweet: I don't know how else to convey such an important message in such a compelling manner.

THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES by Mindy McGinnis: Not only do I think this is an incredible piece of literature, but I also think it's incredibly important. Most of my cousins are girls, and they need to know how to defend themselves and that sexual assault is never the victim's fault. (Usual disclaimers that people of all genders need to know that, and that what we really need to do is preventative on the offense rather than the defense, but still.)

THE NAMES THEY GAVE US by Emery Lord: This book touched me for so many reasons, but I think the reason I most want to put it in my cousins' hands is that even though Lucy's situation was totally different from mine, it really reinforced the idea that I'd be okay in the end. I think everyone needs a book like that.
SIMON VS THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA by Becky Albertalli: Because a) everyone needs a book as happy as this one, and b) everyone needs to read a book that asks why white and straight are the defaults and really brings that message home.

THE WEE FREE MEN by Terry Pratchett (Tiffany Aching #1): Really all of the Tiffany Aching books, but you have to start from the beginning, so I am. These books show that logic, perseverance, determination, and a little bit of cleverness can be your best weapons - plus maybe a frying pan.

IF THE WORLD WERE A VILLAGE by David J. Smith: Even though this is a picture book, it made the cut because I think it's still an amazingly powerful book. It's probably a little out-of-date by now, considering it's based on statistics, and I don't know if there's a more recent edition, but it takes various statistics about the world's population, from language to health to religion and everything in between, and gives it to you in the form of a hundred people. It makes everything so real.

CODE NAME VERITY by Elizabeth Wein (Code Name Verity #1): Yes, this is arguably my favorite book ever, but I also want my cousins to read it because of the importance of friendship and bravery throughout. Queenie and Maddie depend on each other during the whole story, and it would be a wonderful gift if my cousins could each have a friendship like that.

HISTORY IS ALL YOU LEFT ME by Adam Silvera: Another one of my absolute favorite books that I swear I'm not including just because it's one of my favorite books; it's also an incredibly important read about mental health and learning to put your life together again after loss. Both subjects are handled beautifully, and it's a book that I think a lot of people don't know they need so much.

CARAVAL by Stephanie Garber (Caraval #1): All of my cousins have something in common that I don't: they all have at least one sibling. Because I'm an only child, I never really know which sibling relationships in books are the most realistic, but I think that the one in Caraval was one of the most ideal realistic ones, and I want all of my cousins to value each other as much as Scarlett and Tella do.

ANNE OF GREEN GABLES by L.M. Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables #1): Another children's book, this time very intentionally. I don't want my cousins to ever be those people who think they've gotten to old for children's books, and I hope that they're like Anne Shirley in that they always see a bit of the fantastical in the world.

What books do you think all young people should read? Do you have any younger cousins? Have you also been eaten alive by school this semester? Tell me in the comments!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Another Round of Mini-Reviews

Once again, I'm behind on my ARCs. I know, I know. I'm working on it. So it's time for another mini-review post! All of these books have been published in the past few weeks, so you can go out and buy copies right now if you're so inclined!

I received all of these books on NetGalley from their respective publishers in exchange for honest reviews.

MASK OF SHADOWS by Linsey Miller
Sourcebooks Fire; August 29, 2017
384 pages

I'll admit that I put this off a bit because I'd seen a few negative reviews out a few months in advance. But I really had nothing to worry about! I was hooked by the end of the first chapter, and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Sal and hearing about all of their escapades. And it was so nice to be in a world where the majority of characters just accepted Sal's changing pronouns and their gender with no questions asked except "how can I make you feel more comfortable?" I'd definitely like to see more of that explored in fantasy worlds, because if we can have dragons and fairies, we can certainly have a bit of diversity. Back to this book specifically, though - I loved the idea of an assassin competition, and while I understand why so many people drew parallels between it and THE HUNGER GAMES, I think the vastly different setting really set it apart for me. And the romance was wonderful. It really showed that you can have instant chemistry between two characters without falling into the trap of instalove.
Goodreads summary:
Sallot Leon is a thief, and a good one at that. But gender fluid Sal wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class and the nobles who destroyed their home.

When Sal Leon steals a poster announcing open auditions for the Left Hand, a powerful collection of the Queen's personal assassins named for the rings she wears -- Ruby, Emerald, Amethyst, and Opal -- their world changes. They know it's a chance for a new life.

Except the audition is a fight to the death filled with clever circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and vicious ex-soldiers. A childhood as a common criminal hardly prepared Sal for the trials. But Sal must survive to put their real reason for auditioning into play: revenge.

Blink; September 5, 2017
304 pages
This was a really nice contemporary. The thing that made it stick out to me was something you'll know if you've read the summary: the main character has epilepsy. This was the first book I'd read about an epileptic character, and it's still the only one about an epileptic main character. I'm not epileptic myself, so I can't speak to the quality of the representation - if anyone knows of a person with epilepsy who's reviewed the book, please let me know so I can link to their review here - but I thought that seeing that kind of thing in an otherwise typical contemporary novel was very important because it adds a whole new set of obstacles that the disabled community can identify with and that is eye-opening for the abled community. My favorite part of the book was also tied into the disability aspect: the service dog. Just so adorable! And the fact that he was a service dog instead of just a pet meant that he was around a whole lot more, so I got a lot more attached.
Goodreads summary:
Emilie Day believes in playing it safe: she’s homeschooled, her best friend is her seizure dog, and she’s probably the only girl on the Outer Banks of North Carolina who can’t swim.

Then Emilie’s mom enrolls her in public school, and Emilie goes from studying at home in her pj’s to halls full of strangers. To make matters worse, Emilie is paired with starting point guard Chatham York for a major research project on Emily Dickinson. She should be ecstatic when Chatham shows interest, but she has a problem. She hasn’t told anyone about her epilepsy.

Emilie lives in fear her recently adjusted meds will fail and she’ll seize at school. Eventually, the worst happens, and she must decide whether to withdraw to safety or follow a dead poet’s advice and “dwell in possibility.”

WELCOME HOME ed. by Eric Smith
Flux; September 5, 2017
352 pages

Like all anthologies, this one was a bit of a mixed bag. There were some stories I loved, some I really didn't care for, and some I didn't have any strong feelings about one way or the other. The one thing that I thought all of them had in common (besides the overall adoption theme of the anthology) was that they were really short. In so many cases, I didn't think they were fully developed, or I found myself wondering if I could have liked them more if they'd been expanded for a few more pages. I think I would have enjoyed reading this more if I had read a story or maybe two at a time in between reading other novels. That way, they're more spaced out and I don't keep as many plotlines in my head at once.
Goodreads summary:
Welcome Home collects a number of adoption-themed fictional short stories, and brings them together in one anthology from a diverse range of celebrated Young Adult authors. The all-star roster includes Edgar-award winner Mindy McGinnis, New York Times bestselling authors C.J. Redwine (The Shadow Queen) and William Ritter (Jackaby), and acclaimed YA authors across all genres, like Adi Alsaid, Lauren Gibaldi, Sangu Mandanna, Karen Akins, and many more. 

ODD & TRUE by Cat Winters
Amulet Books; September 12, 2017
368 pages

Once again, Cat Winters doesn't disappoint! I was so excited to get this ARC because I'm a huge fan of Cat Winters, and I'm really mad at myself for not getting to this earlier. But I got to it now, and it was really, really good! Od and Tru's relationship was very interesting, and the fact that we got to see things from both sisters' perspectives was a nice surprise. I love having alternating past and present chapters, and I thought that that added a lot to the story. I also really liked the disability and chronic pain representation - as someone who occasionally walks with a cane, though not for the same reason as Tru, there were a few parts I thought it should have been brought up and wasn't, but overall it was done very well and I'm so thrilled to have a character like that. And not only that, but a character who's seen with her cane on the cover of the book! (I'll admit that I thought it was another weapon at first, but I think I just wasn't looking closely enough.) And that ending! Major spoilers, so I won't say anything, but it was perfect.

Goodreads summary:
Trudchen grew up hearing Odette’s stories of their monster-slaying mother and a magician’s curse. But now that Tru’s older, she’s starting to wonder if her older sister’s tales were just comforting lies, especially because there’s nothing fantastic about her own life—permanently disabled and in constant pain from childhood polio.

In 1909, after a two-year absence, Od reappears with a suitcase supposedly full of weapons and a promise to rescue Tru from the monsters on their way to attack her. But it’s Od who seems haunted by something. And when the sisters’ search for their mother leads them to a face-off with the Leeds Devil, a nightmarish beast that’s wreaking havoc in the Mid-Atlantic states, Tru discovers the peculiar possibility that she and her sister—despite their dark pasts and ordinary appearances—might, indeed, have magic after all.

What are some of your favorite books that you've read recently? Are any of these on your TBR? Any of these that hadn't been on your radar before? Tell me in the comments!