Kernels of Nonsense: Favorite Four-Star Reads of 2018

Welcome to another addition of Kernels of Nonsense, where I discuss random book and blogging related topics. With all the end of the year lists that came out, I always feel like we miss out on giving credit to books that might not have earned five stars from us, but which were nonetheless amazing four-star reads. In my experience, there are certain four-star reads that might have been five-stars if I had picked them up at a different time or ones that I could potential rate five-stars upon a second reading (at the end of 2018, I picked up Naomi Novik’s Uprooted again, originally a four-star read for me, but after this reread I had to bump it up to five-stars). For this post, I’m listing my ten favorite four-star reads of 2018. This was a lot more challenging than I thought it would be because there were some amazing four-star reads in 2018. Covers are linked to Goodreads.

1. Bruja Born by Zoraida Córdova

Zoraida Córdova’s Brooklyn Brujas series has incorporated so many things that I love with Latinx characters, magic, and sisters at its center. With Bruja Born, Córdova hit her stride, writing a sequel that managed to improve on the first. I am eagerly awaiting (2020?!) the final book in the series.

Read my review of Zoraida Córdova’s Bruja Born.

2. Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

Carmen Marie Machado has a truly unique voice. Her short-story collection Her Body and Other Parties was thought-provoking, eerie, and sometimes shocking. There is an adaption underway for this one and I cannot be more exited to see these stories on screen.

Read my review of Carmen Marie Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties.

3. The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

S.A. Chakraborty’s debut The City of Brass has some of the most vivid world-building I’ve come across. It was also one of the few adult fantasy novels I picked up in 2018 and gave me a hunger for more. I cannot wait to pick up the sequel to this one which is currently on its way to me (hurry up, mail!)

Read my mini-review of S.A. Chakraborty’s The City of Brass.

4. The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

Dhonielle Clayton’s The Belles is as stunning on the inside as it is on the outside. Clayton managed to appeal to all of my senses with her luscious prose and posed some interesting questions when it comes to how much value we place on beauty. If you haven’t gotten to this one, do so quick, the conclusion to this duology releases in only a couple of months.

Read my review of Dhonielle Clayton’s The Belles.

5. Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson

I think Lily Anderson is one of those rare writers who can write pretty much write anything. I loved both her previous contemporary novels (The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You and Not Now, Not Ever), and when I heard about Undead Girl Gang, which features a fat, Mexican, Wiccan MC, I knew I had to get my hands on it.

Read my review of Lily Anderson’s Undead Girl Gang.

6. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

If I had to make a list of the most epic novels I read, Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone would be high on my list. This is one of those books that I think will be credited with ushering in a new age of fantasy novels.

Read my review of Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone.

7. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

I buddy read N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season with Annemieke @ A Dance With Books and am so glad I did. This book has some of the best world-building I’ve come across and it’s partially told in second-person POV and to my surprise, I kind of loved it. I still need to continue this series, but hopefully soon.

Read my mini-review of N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season.

8. Pitch Dark by Courtney Alameda

More people need to pick up Courtney Alameda’s Pitch Dark. A combination of horror and scifi, this novel left me wanting more. I really enjoyed both of this novel’s leads and wouldn’t mind revisiting this world again.

Read my mini-review of Courtney Alameda’s Pitch Dark.

9. The Bear and the Nightingale by Kathrine Arden

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden was one of the most beautiful books I read in 2018. It’s one of those fantasies that I was completely swept up in. It takes its time unfolding, but once it does, it’s a really lovely story.

Read my review of Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale.

10. The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Holly Black’s The Cruel Prince impressed me on so many levels. I actually picked this one up twice in 2018, buddy reading it at the end of the year with Carolyn @ A Hundred Thousand Stories. I loved reading about this cruel, but beautiful Faerie world, but fell in love completely with the ambitious Jude.

Read my review of Holly Black’s The Cruel Prince.

Have you read any of these books? Which 2018 four-star reads really stands out to you? Let’s discuss in the comments.

Kernels of Nonsense: I’ve Been Bad, Bad Book Blogger

Welcome to another edition of Kernels of Nonsense. Here I discuss random bookish and blogging topics and hopefully start a dialogue with you. As always, it’s the beginning of the year and so I am aiming to do more of these posts, but only time will tell. Today I’m discussing reasons why I am a bad book blogger. These are aspects of book blogging I often see other people excel at and in which I fall short. These are areas where I’d personally like to do better, but more often than not, I miss the mark. Hope you enjoy this self-deprecating post and maybe it will make you feel a little more comfortable sharing a few of your blogger failings with me.

1. I Suck at Blog Hopping

Do you know how much I appreciate the bloggers who consistently comment on my posts? I appreciate them so much. They make me feel heard and make me feel like I am doing something right as a book blogger. I try my best to always comment back and usually succeed. The problem is me initiating the interaction. There are days when I am exhausted replying to comments and commenting back or I’ve just finished putting together a post, and when I think about blog hopping, I have nothing left in the mental gas tank. I do manage to do some blog hopping throughout the month, but it’s never as much as I want to do.

2. I’m Not a Bookstagrammer or on Facebook, Nor Do I Have a YouTube Channel

Anyone who knows anything about book blogging knows that right now Instagram is the place to be. Way back when I first got into social media, tumblr became my home and though tumblr is all but dead, I still find myself using the app whenever I snap a few bookish pictures. I never made the leap to Instagram and now it feels too late. I also know I lack the talent, imagination, and time required to take good enough pictures for the place anyway. I am one of the few people who has never been on Facebook, not even for my blog. Booktubers are a big thing as well. Sometimes it feels like this is where publishers are willing to invest time and money and us traditional book bloggers get left in the dust. While I don’t think I’d be bad in front of a camera (that’s a lie; who even likes their face?), I am kind of a perfectionist and I can see myself obsessing over the little things in a video and then scrapping the whole thing because I’m so dissatisfied. I don’t know if I’m missing out not being on these platforms, but every time a publisher asked for numbers for these, I feel like I am.

3. I Don’t Interact Enough on Twitter

I actually do have a Twitter account, but I always feel like I’m not very good at it. Some people are so good at shouting about their favorite books all the time and I feel productive if I mention them once or twice. I’m terrible at interacting on Twitter as well. I do a decent amount (this is the lie I tell myself), but let me tell you, there are an innumerable amount of times where I have typed up a reply and then promptly deleted it. In fact, I often type up tweets and then end up deleting them. I have the most fun on Twitter when I do bookish chats, but it never feels like I do enough throughout the year.

4. I Don’t Come Up With Original Blogging Ideas Throughout the Year

You know those bloggers who are super creative and they have some incredibly unique series of posts going on at one time or another? How do they do it? Sometimes I’ve got nothing and it just feels like my blog is staying afloat with the same ol’ memes and reviews. I’d love to incorporate more original content, but I lack the graphic designer skills, I can’t put together a playlist because I’m still obsessively listening to only Hamilton, and any readathons or blog ideas I have crumble in my head at the very thought that no one will end up joining. Any original ideas I do have are just being recycled by me every year, so they aren’t new.

5. I Struggle All the Time With Reviewing

I’m like a little boat that keeps sputtering and sputtering and can’t quite get itself to move forward. Reviewing is something I really do enjoy, but it’s also the most difficult aspect of blogging in my opinion. I can put together a meme post real quick and even this post right here is taking less time than most of my mini-review posts. Perhaps it is because I am a perfectionist that I struggle so much with the reviews. Sometimes it’s that first sentence I can’t quite find the words for, other times I am lost trying to find the right words for a synopsis, and sometimes I just lack any kind of motivation required to write a full review. Mini-reviews have helped in this area, but I still kind of feel like a failure when I’m not pumping out a decent amount of full reviews throughout the month.

Bonus: A few blogging activities that I’ve always been interested in, but usually fail to join because I’m so good at being a bad book blogger – blog tours, readathons, author interviews, street teams, book conferences, and author signings.

Do these failings sounds familiar? Do you have any advice at getting better in any of these areas? Any blogging failure you’d like to get off of your chest? Let’s discuss in the comments.

Kernels of Nonsense: Five Books I’d Love to Reread

Yes, it’s been months since I put together a Kernels of Nonsense post, but the end of the year is fast approaching, so I wanted to make sure I got at least one more of these posts in. There is no denying it any longer, I am officially in a reading slump. While I do think this is the best time to be in a slump (I completed my Goodreads goal and all but accepted meeting the Debut Author Challenge to be out of reach), it is the worst time because although the stress of meeting certain goals is gone, there are still a number of books I wanted to get to by the end of the year. Instead I am just sitting here staring at said books and wondering where the heck my motivation disappeared to. About a week ago I tweeted that I had the urge to just drop everything and reread old favorites and now that this slump has set in, I’m starting to think that’s not a bad idea. So bearing in mind my slump doesn’t extend into rereading territory, here are five (technically six) books I’m seriously considering rereading to close out 2018.

1. The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

I think it’s safe to say that Holly Black’s The Wicked King is one of the most anticipated 2019 reads in this community. I loved The Cruel Prince and have already preordered the sequel. This was one of my earlier 2018 reads and it feels like I need to a refresher before the sequel’s release. I’ve been itching to do a reread of this one for the last couple of months and there is no time like the present.

2. Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho

Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho is one of my very favorite books and one I’d like to see get more attention in the community. It feels like I’ve been waiting forever for the sequel and now that we finally have a date (The True Queen, March 12th 2019), I want to experience everything I loved about this first book again before the next one is out.

3. Truthwitch & Windwitch by Susan Dennard

Another highly anticipated sequel of mine is Bloodwitch. I feel like this series found its perfect pacing and balance between plot and characters in the second novel. But it has been almost two years since I read Windwitch and I want to go into the third without scratching my head trying to remember what happened in the previous novels. February cannot come fast enough.

4. Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Do you ever feel like you just want to reread something that wows you? Well, Naomi Novik’s Uprooted did just that and with Spinning Silver sitting on my shelf, I sort of feel like I need to revisit this one. I also have a feeling I’ll end up adjusting my rating on this one from four stars to five with a reread.

5. The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

I think ending the year with a reread of one of your favorite books is the best way to go out. I read Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s The Beautiful Ones way back in February and all those warm and fuzzy feelings are still there. I keep saying it but this is one of those rare instances where a novel felt truly perfect to me.

Do you do a lot of rereading throughout the year? What’s the last book you reread? A book you’d like to revisit if you could? Let’s talk in the comments!

Kernels of Nonsense: In Which I Tell You How I Really Feel…

Kernels of Nonsense is now a place for discussion posts and any assortment of other random book & blogging related topics I come up with. This post was inspired by Amber Elise @ Du Livre‘s confession post Blogger Confessions. If you haven’t gotten a chance to read her candid confessions, I encourage you to do so. It’s so refreshing to see another blogger’s unapologetic take on certain subjects. The point of this post is to get a little more honest than I usually am and help you get a better glimpse of who I am as most of these are views are ones I rarely ever share openly.

When I was first inspired by this idea, I started a list of things I wanted to mention on my phone and so much just spilled out of me. I had no idea I felt so strongly about so many things. As it were, I will probably do another post like this one in the future, so this is just a tiny glimpse into some of my opinions.

1. Let’s just dive in. I sometimes wonder if Leigh Bardugo will ever write a book that takes place in a different world than her Grishaverse. I love Six of Crows. It’s one of my favorite books. When everyone was celebrating a Nikolai duology, I was sighing heavily, knowing I would need to go back and finish the Grisha Trilogy, so I’m up to date on the characters (but do I really want to?) when I really just want to see what she can do with a different world. I have all the books in the Grisha Trilogy, but the more time that passes, the less interested I am in having to read them.

2. I get really anxious about authors following me on Twitter for several reasons. First, if I haven’t read their book and end up hating it, chances are much higher they’ll see my negative review even when I don’t tag them in it. Second, what if they stop following me for whatever reason and I happen to click on their Twitter bio only to discover that they have in fact unfollowed me? Now I’m left to wonder why…what did I do?…what did I not do?…is it me?…is it them?…why????!!!!

3. This has happened on several occasions. I interact regularly with another blogger, but then they end up going on a long hiatus or just drop off the face of the earth without notice. They are gone for like a year. I then clean out my feed, unfollowing these inactive bloggers, thinking they’re never coming back. And then BAM. They come back. And I feel really awkward following them again because maybe they’ll think I never followed them in the first place or that I unfollowed them at some point because I was annoyed by them. What do I do?

4. I once won a book through a giveaway and never received it in the mail. I didn’t contact the blogger because it wasn’t her responsibility, it was the publisher’s, but I’m still really bitter about it. Here’s the kicker. I don’t actually remember the name of the book. I know I added it on Goodreads when I won, but off the top of my head, I just remember it was about a friendship between two girls. Yet, I still remain bitter. I will take this bitterness to the grave.

5. I love the idea of having a coblogger. I think if I found the right person, we’d do incredible things together. A weight would also be lifted off my shoulders and I wouldn’t have to worry about the blog being sparse because this perfect coblogger would carry her weight. Her reviews would always be thoughtful and put together nicely. We could play off each other’s strengths and weaknesses and create incredible content. In reality, I trust nearly no one. My philosophy is if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. The only way it would be possible to have a coblogger is to have some kind of trial run where I could cut the strings at the end without feeling guilty (I will feel guilty because I want to be nice) because inevitably you’ll probably going to let me down (I know this because I’m really not nice).

6. Who decided enamel pins were the new thing? I have nowhere to put them and no real use for them. I think they’re okay, but I haven’t been caught up in the trend like everyone else. If I was a kid with a backpack, I could totally see the appeal, but as an adult, I don’t get it. Also, funko pops. I mean, they can be cute, but I can’t see myself spending money on them.

7. There is a really popular blogger who I see on my TL all the time and who rubs me the wrong way. I confess that the main reason is because they blocked someone in the community that I really respect and every time I see someone retweet them or like one of their tweets, I think about this. I should probably just mute them. Does this make me a horrible person that I just don’t think we’d get along well? I’m sure this person is nice enough, but I’m always thinking of how they blocked this other blogger because she asked them a question they didn’t like. Coward. That’s too harsh, isn’t it? I still think it though.

Have you ever made a confession post? Do you agree or relate to any of my views? Let’s discuss and feel free to share an opinion in the comments that you rarely ever talk about. I will only judge you a little bit.