Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Reads of 2017 So Far

Top Ten TuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is an original blog meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is “Best Books You’ve Read In 2017 So Far (break it down however you want — by genre, strictly 2017 releases, whatever!)” Yes, I’m so excited for this week’s topic. I’ve read some amazing books this year and cannot wait to share them all with you. Seriously, who else is having a stellar reading year so far? Covers are linked to Goodreads.

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1. Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson – It’s been months since I finished this debut novel and I am still thinking about it. If you haven’t picked it up, do it. It’s haunting.

2. Windwitch by Susan Dennard – I’ve read some stellar fantasy duologies during the last couple of years, but it’s been a while since a fantasy series has really grabbed a hold of me and I am thoroughly enjoying this one.

3. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – The 2017 debut of the year was everything I expected it to be and so much more. Seriously, pick this one up as soon as you can.

4. When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore – I missed out on reading this one when it first came out, but this novel has solidified my enthusiasm for any subsequent novel by Anna-Marie McLemore.

5. A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi – This is my favorite book that I’ve read so far this year and even though I didn’t fall in love with the first book in the series, Chokshi’s writing made me want to try this sequel anyway and oh my gosh, it was everything I love about fantasy books!

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6. A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab – This was one of the best conclusions to a series I’ve ever read and though I was sad to say goodbye to a series with such amazing world-building, I look forward to seeing what other worlds Schwab decides to write.

7. Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina – Do you ever come across an MC who really speaks to you and you can’t help but relate to? Nora from Burn Baby Burn was like that for me and I can’t get her out of my head. In a good way of course.

8. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secret of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz – I finally read this one! And by read, I mean listened to the audiobook. It was every wonderful thing everyone promised it would be and I have plans to read a physical copy over the summer.

9. I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo – I think this is the cutest contemporary that I’ve picked up so far this year. I was wholeheartedly invested in this one from start to finish.

10. Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson (Illustrated by Adrian Alphona) – This final spot was really hard to fill, but I decided to go with Ms. Marvel because this year is the first time I’ve picked up a graphic novel and I loved so much about this one. I’ve already read through volume four, so it’s safe to say I’m quite the fan now.

Honorable Mentions: Because I really can’t help it with this list, I want to mention both Lilliam Rivera’s The Education of Margot Sanchez & Rhoda Belleza’s Empress of the Thousand Skies. I couldn’t quite find a place on my list for these two. It wasn’t because I didn’t love them just as much as the others, it’s that I ran out of room, but both are fantastic debuts and I can’t wait for more from both authors.

Have you had the pleasure of reading any of these titles? Are any on your TBR and you need an extra nudge to pick it up? Let me know in the comments and be sure leave a link to your own TTT post, so I can visit.

Mini Reviews: The Upside of Unrequited + The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

MiniTime for another round of mini-reviews. If you ever have trouble writing reviews, I’d recommend writing a couple of mini-reviews throughout the month. I always have those days when writing a full review feels impossible, so having the mini-review in my back pocket is always helpful. Today, I’m sharing a few thoughts on Becky Albertalli’s The Upside of Unrequited and N.K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. Hope you enjoy. Also, I apologize for one of these mini-reviews being less mini than I originally intended. Whoops. Covers below are linked to Goodreads.

Title: The Upside of Unrequited
Author: Becky Albertalli
Series: N/A
Pages: 336
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Release Date: April 11th 2017 

      “Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.
      Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. If Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

      There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker, Reid. He’s a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him.
      Right?”

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“I’ve never told anyone this—not my moms, not even Cassie—but that’s the thing I’m most afraid of. Not mattering. Existing in a world that doesn’t care who I am.”

I’m one of the few readers left who hasn’t picked up Becky Albertalli’s Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. I do plan to read it this summer, but her most recent work The Upside of Unrequited has received so much praise, in a moment of weakness, I ended up checking it out from the library. Molly Peskin-Suso has never been in a relationship. Known for her constant crushes, Molly is used to being on the fringes, of enjoying the feeling of having a crush, but never actually doing anything about it. When her twin sister Cassie falls hard for her first girlfriend Mina, Molly is unexpectedly pulled into a scheme to get her her first boyfriend. While the novel focuses on Molly’s love life (or lack thereof), I think the most important relationship in the novel is Molly’s bond with her sister. When Cassie begins dating Mina, Molly feels her twin pulling away and moving on without her. Molly has a lot of insecurities that most often manifest themselves in her fear of rejection. It isn’t easy for Molly to overcome these insecurities and I think this struggle is what makes her really relatable. Some of her self-esteem issues stem from being fat and feeling judged by other people based solely on this, but I got the feeling that Molly’s thoughts of inadequacy had more to do with always having her sister to compare herself to, and Cassie has always been more outgoing and experienced than her twin. Molly is really honest about her feelings regarding her sister and her new relationship. Sometimes it’s the more petty feelings that get the better of her, but their bond is so important to each of them that despite all the bumps in the road, they find a way to forgive one another. I’m a little partial to nerdy love interests, so Reid’s character was one I took to very quickly. The rapport between Reid and Molly was really sweet. I think I started shipping them from their very first interaction. I also want to mention that I got a lot of Lara Jean vibes from Molly. They’re both hopeless romantics who start off never dreaming of vocalizing their feelings to their crushes.

Rating: 4/5

★★★★


Title: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
Author: N.K. Jemisin
Series: Inheritance Trilogy, #1
Pages: 425
Publisher: Orbit
Release Date: October 1st 2010

      “Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky. There, to her shock, Yeine is named an heiress to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into a vicious power struggle with cousins she never knew she had. As she fights for her life, she draws ever closer to the secrets of her mother’s death and her family’s bloody history.
       With the fate of the world hanging in the balance, Yeine will learn how perilous it can be when love and hate – and gods and mortals – are bound inseparably together.

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“Hunched around the pike and clutching its shaft, the man’s body shivered even harder than before. Belatedly I realized that some other force besides his cry shook him, as his chest began to glow red-hot around the pike’s tip. Smoke rose from his sleeves, his collar, his mouth and nose. His eyes were the worst of it, because he was aware. He knew what was happening to him, knew it and despaired, and that, too, was part of his suffering.”

If I had to describe N. K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms in one word it would be epic. Yeine is a character that I was immediately drawn to. She comes from a matriarchal society (which I really wanted to know more about) and is pulled into this game of musical heirs by her grandfather. Dekarta Arameri disowned his daughter the moment she chose to marry a Darre and Yeine is a constant reminder of this betrayal. Either Yeine or one of her cousins, Scimina and Relad, will inherit the throne and death surely awaits those who aren’t successful. Scimina is ferocious, she has no qualms about doing whatever it takes to be Dekarta’s successor and neither her brother nor her newly arrived cousin will stand in her way. We don’t learn much about Relad, but he isn’t above making deals under the table to insure his survival. Just as important as the human players in this story are the mercurial gods who once ruled the world with astounding power, but who have now been imprisoned by one of their own. Caged in human form by day and forced to obey the whims of the ruling Arameri family, the Enefadeh can be either friend or foe to Yeine, but they are also keeping close a secret that will shake the very foundation of Yeine’s world. Among these is the dangerous, yet intriguing Nahadoth, who Yeine cannot help but be drawn to. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms masterfully weaves issues of colonialism, racism, and political intrigue into a fantasy setting that excites the imagination with every page turned.

Rating: 4/5

★★★★

The Friday 56: A Crown of Wishes

The Friday 56The Friday 56 is a weekly blog meme hosted by Freda’s Voice. Join us every Friday and share an excerpt from a book you’ve been reading.

Rules:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader.
*Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post here in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url. It’s that simple.

**Be sure to leave a link to your Friday 56 post in the comments!**

“They can’t kill us,” said the vanara. He nodded to them. “Well, you, certainly. And her. There is no better food to a vishakanya than human desires. And don’t look at me like that, rude girl. You won’t meet your end with them. We’d rather save the pleasure of killing you ourselves.”

I have a new favorite 2017 book! Roshani Chokshi’s A Crown of Wishes had great world-building, well-rounded characters, a slow burn romance, and a story that just left me breathless. Read my glowing review of this one here. Cover is linked to Goodreads.

Goodreads Synopsis:

      “She is the princess of Bharata—captured by her kingdom’s enemies, a prisoner of war. Now that she faces a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. But should she trust Vikram, the notoriously cunning prince of a neighboring land? He promises her freedom in exchange for her battle prowess. Together they can team up and win the Tournament of Wishes, a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor. It seems like a foolproof plan—until Gauri and Vikram arrive at the tournament and find that danger takes on new shapes: poisonous courtesans, mischievous story birds, a feast of fears, and twisted fairy revels. New trials will test their devotion, strength, and wits. But what Gauri and Vikram will soon discover is that there’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire.

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Series I’ve Been Meaning to Start

Top Ten TuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is an original blog meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is “Top Ten Series I’ve Been Meaning To Start But Haven’t.” When I first saw this week’s topic, I thought that there couldn’t possibly be this many series I have on my TBR, but just haven’t started yet. But then I looked at my Goodreads To-Read shelf. It turns out there are a lot of series I’ve been meaning to pick up (an many on my shelf!), but just haven’t gotten around to. All I can say is someday…someday. Covers are linked to Goodreads.

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Have you started/read any of these series? Do you have a favorite from my list that I must start yesterday? Are these also on your TBR? Let’s discuss in the comments and be sure leave a link to your own TTT post, so I can visit.

Have you signed up for the Summer 2017 Comment Challenge for July? If you’re looking for a fun summer challenge and are interested in meeting new bloggers, we’d love to have you join us. Each month (June-August), we’re pairing bloggers and encouraging them to comment on each other’s blogs all month long. Only one week left to sign up. Click the image to the left for all the details!

Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

Title: Alex, Approximately
Author: Jenn Bennett
Series: N/A
Pages: 391
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: April 4th 2017

      “Classic movie fan Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online as Alex. Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.
      Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new archnemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever it is she’s starting to feel for Porter.
      And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.”

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“My cheeks catch fire. I want to melt into a puddle and slide under the tacky orange carpet. I can’t look at him now, much less come up with a witty response. My mind has flipped on the autopilot switch and blanked out, and all I’m aware of is the sound of my own pulse throbbing in my ears.”

Jenn Bennett’s Alex, Approximately is the terrific summer read with a fun, beach setting and adorable first love story at its center. Bailey Rydell hates conflict. She’s more likely to retreat into herself than face any of her problems head on. The mounting tension between her mom and stepfather is almost too much to handle, but instead of sticking it out, she hops on a plane and travels across the country to move in with her father in California. This new town means new possibilities. It also means that Bailey might just get to meet her online crush, “Alex” with whom she shares a passion for old movies. Bailey doesn’t expect Porter Roth to ruin all her summer plans. Their chemistry is undeniable, but Bailey’s tendency to evade uncomfortable situations might derail their relationship.

I loved that even though this contemporary focuses on Bailey falling in love for the first time, it also gave the protagonist an important character arc that revolved around her alone. A traumatic past experience has caused Bailey to retreat into herself and as a result, she isn’t always good at forming new relationships. She’s used to compartmentalizing and this tendency to keep parts of her life separate makes it hard for her to open up to new people. Her online relationship with Alex that mostly revolves around their love of old Hollywood classics is only one facet to who she is and although I would have like to have seen more of this relationship, I think it was important to give Bailey’s real life relationship with Porter more of the spotlight. It is through this relationship that Bailey is forced to confront her propensity to bail when things get tough and though it’s a slow process, she does end up understanding that running away is the worst possible way to deal with her problems.

Porter was a really sweet love interest for Bailey. At first he does come across as a real jerk and though I don’t think this was really necessary, it thankfully doesn’t last long because it would have been really hard to root for this relationship if Porter had continually antagonized Bailey. I appreciated that Bailey wasn’t the only one hesitant about their relationship. Porter’s last serious relationship didn’t end well. These trust issues made him more relatable when he could have very easily been a cliché love interest. Several of his interpersonal relationships play vital roles in the story which gave him added depth.

The book does have some shortcomings. If you read the synopsis, the main plot twist isn’t meant to be concealed from the reader. I went into the novel knowing important information the characters didn’t. I thought the author would play with the idea of mistaken identity more, so was kind of disappointed that the identity of Bailey’s online friend really wasn’t much of a factor until the very end of the book. I also found it really hard to wrap my brain around Bailey’s mom’s complete absence. There is absolutely no contact between the two of them during the entire duration of the novel and although we’ve given a semi-convincing reason as to why at the end, I still found it hard to believe. I feel that this relationship was a missed opportunity. Part of the reason behind Bailey’s attitude toward conflict stems from what she’s learned from her mother, so it would have been interesting to actually explore this relationship rather than be told about it.

Bennett does a wonderful job of capturing those new, exciting feelings that come with your first serious relationship. I also appreciated that the author allows her characters to make mistakes and learn from these experiences. If you’re looking for a summer read that will have you swooning and agonizing over the ending Alex, Approximately is the one for you.

4/5

★★★★

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Literary Fathers & Father-Figures

Top Ten TuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is an original blog meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is “Father’s Day related Freebiefavorite dads in literature, best father/daughter or son relationships, books to buy your dad, worst dads in literature, etc. etc.” Am I the only one who seriously struggles when it comes to buying a gift for the old man? My dad is one of those guys who never tells you if he wants anything, so I’m always at a loss. For this week’s topic, I’m sharing some of my favorite fathers and father-figures in fiction. I’d like to note that this list was easier to put together than the Mother’s Day one *side-eyes authors*. Covers are linked to Goodreads.

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1. Arthur Weasley from Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

2. Mo Folchart from Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

3. Mr. Bennet from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

4. Hans Hubermann from The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

5. Matthew Cuthbert from Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

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6. Maverick Carter from The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

7. Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

8. Desi’s father in I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo

9. Tom Imura from Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry 

10. Keith Mars from Veronica Mars

Are you a fan of any of these fathers or father-figures? Which fictional father on television is your favorite? Let me know in the comments and be sure leave a link to your own TTT post, so I can visit.

Have you signed up for the Summer 2017 Comment Challenge for July? If you’re looking for a fun summer challenge and are interested in meeting new bloggers, we’d love to have you join us. Each month (June-August), we’re pairing bloggers and encouraging them to comment on each other’s blogs all month long. Click the image to the left for all the details!