Top 5 Wednesday – March 29th, 2017

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Top 5 Wednesday was created by Lainey at Gingerreadslainey and is now hosted by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes. Every week, book reviewers all over the world are given a bookish topic and respond with their top 5 books (or elements of books) that relate to that topic. Click here for the Goodreads group if you would like to learn more about Top 5 Wednesday and join in!

This week’s Top 5 Wednesday topic is the top five books you think will be considered classics one day. I absolutely love this topic! It’s so cool to speculate on what novels we read now that might become important and well-love reads for many upcoming generations. We get to imagine the future of the literary history that is being create here and now!

This was actually surprisingly tricky for me to compile because a large number of my favorite novels are already considered classics. But I finally managed to come up with a few novels that I love and really hope to see on the list of classics sometime down the line! 🙂

5. The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

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4. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

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Click here to read my full review of Gone Girl!

3. The Giver by Lois Lowry

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2. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

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1. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

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Click here to read my full review of A Monster Calls!

Honorable Mentions:

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin
Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan

I’d love to hear what books you guys think will become classics one day! Let me know in the comments! 🙂

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Review: If I’m Found by Terri Blackstock

ifimfoundIf I’m Found by Terri Blackstock

My Rating: 4/5 TARDISes

Series: If I Run #2

Date Published: March 21st 2017

Publisher: Zondervan

Pages: 352 pages

Source: Publisher

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: Is Dylan hunting Casey to prosecute her or protect her?

Casey Cox is still on the run, fleeing prosecution for a murder she didn’t commit. Dylan Roberts—her most relentless pursuer—is still on her trail, but his secret emails insist that he knows the truth and wants to help her. He’s let her escape before when he had her in his grasp, but trust doesn’t come easily. 

As Casey works to collect evidence about the real murderers, she stumbles on another unbearable injustice: an abused child and a suicidal man who’s also been falsely accused. Casey risks her own safety to right this wrong and protect the little girl from her tormenters. But doing so is risky and just may result in her capture—and if she’s captured, she has no doubt she’ll be murdered before she ever steps foot in a jail.

In this riveting sequel to the USA Today bestseller If I Run, evil lurks, drawing Casey out of the shadows . . . but there is light shining in the darkness. Is Dylan a provision from the God who loves her, or another heartache yet to happen?

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This is a spoiler-free review, however, it may contain spoilers for the previous book, If I Run.

Once again, Terri Blackstock provides us with another fast-paced, gripping read—full of moments of action and unexpected twists equal to those of it’s predecessor. Blackstock skillfully creates a novel that is suspenseful, exciting, and completely addictive. The end of each chapter keeps you wanting more, making it an engrossing read that is extremely hard to put down. She continues to capture her readers with shocking—and some times infuriatingly unjust—developments, as well as characters that are easy to connect with and care about. And even as the book comes to a close, the final pages are enough to leave any reader craving more.

Casey and Dylan’s story continues as she runs for her life from the corrupt detectives who are bent on capturing her and as he works to save Casey from the dangers that lie back in Shreveport. Much like the first novel, this one is primarily a dual perspective narrative, split between Casey and Dylan. However, one notable difference is that we get a small glimpse into the mind of Detective Gordon Keegan, Casey’s most immoral and relentless pursuer.

Again, Blackstock does a wonderful job of giving each narrator a very distinctive voice, and I enjoyed being able to hear multiple sides of the story. Her writing and transitioning between perspective is very fluid, and she has a style that is easy to read and get swept away with. However, one thing I would have liked to have seen more of in terms of the narrative was Detective Keegan’s point of view. It made the story even more riveting to have a narrator speaking from such an opposing view to Casey’s and Dylan’s, but he ends up only narrating two chapters in the entire novel.

I loved getting to see more of Casey and Dylan, and really diving in to their personalities and what causes them to act in the ways that they do. There was a lot more detail about their individual struggles and how they are pushing on, trying to find ways to overcome these obstacles. It was also exciting to finally see their individual storylines truly—and literally—converge. These two kind and caring souls will do anything they can to make sure justice is served, and finally seeing them interact shows how well they compliment each other.

Casey is such an amazing heroine; she is so caring and puts everyone else’s needs above her own at all times. There were certain instances where I found myself a little frustrated by what she was doing. The obviously dangerous risks she was taking were much more prominent and a little bit more outlandish in this book. However, as I think back on these moments, they were very representative of her overall selflessness, and I applaud Blackstock for further demonstrating this as well as how she has both evolved and stuck with her natural instincts during her time as a fugitive.

I noted Blackstock’s ability to create very relatable and engaging characters in the first novel and that continues to be strong in this one as well. The subplots are definitely less developed than last time, however, this is indicative of Casey having a decreased ability to linger in one place for an extended amount of time. Despite this, I felt that the new side characters and their own storylines were fairly well-developed. She once again adds an equally intriguing subplot into the cat-and-mouse chase that is the main narrative.

This novel deals much more heavily with the subjects of faith and religion than the previous installment did—particularly on Christianity as a whole, and Casey’s gradual understanding of God. I find that it can be a rather difficult task to use these themes in a story without overpowering the reader, especially if they do not follow the same practices as described. Personally, I easily get very uncomfortable when reading about or discussing religion, simply because I believe it is a deeply personal and private thing. I am by no means against novels having elements of religion in them, in fact I applaud authors for using a subject like this, but only when it is done correctly.

Blackstock, in my opinion, went about addressing this topic in a good way. As I said, I find that I can be extremely sensitive to this subject being brought up—however, I did not feel completely overwhelmed by it at any point in time. While Blackstock does focus in on Christianity, the main message that she is sending is about having faith, both in ourselves and possibly in a power that is greater than any of us.

Casey is gradually building her own faith, her own view of God, of heaven, of prayer, and it is ever-changing as her journey continues. Her faith is woven into her struggle in a beautiful and poignant way, coming into her life when she needs it most. And Blackstock writes this all in a very accessible way, not one that would turn of the reader.

Casey’s journey into her own faith is something that most people go through and continue to go through for their entire lives. Faith and religion is something that is somewhat indefinable because we each experience it in a different way. It is constantly evolving, and it’s sole purpose is to provide us with what we need the most at any given time throughout our lives. This is the message that resonates in each detail of the experiences these characters go through in this novel—something that is unique to each one and fills them with the strength they need to carry on through the best and worst times.

The only real complaint I have with this novel is that I found some of the events to be a bit of a stretch when it came to believability. Like the previous book, Casey demonstrates her amazing intellect and self-preservation as she navigates the world under the radar of those searching for her. However, this time around, there were some moments that seemed just a little too perfect—a little too unlikely. Extreme situations that seemingly had no possible way to end well always managed to turn in her favor. And while I definitely enjoyed seeing her conquer each obstacle, some had a slight “deus ex machina” feel to them.

Even though I ended up not enjoying this book quite as much as the previous one, this was still an incredibly action-packed read that had me on the edge of my seat, wondering what would happen next. I flew through this book, cheering Casey and Dylan on, deeply feeling each moment of triumph and injustice. Blackstock knows how to grab a reader’s attention and not let go until the heart-pounding finale. I am really looking forward to reading more of this story and finding out the fates of these characters I have come to love.

4.0 TARDISes

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Update + Writing

Hey Everyone!

It’s been a while since I’ve done a general update post, so I figured it was about time! Also I’m sorry in advance if this ends up being rambley and all over the place!

First of all…I officially hit 300 followers the other day!! 😀

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A year ago when I first started this blog, I never imagined it growing into what it has! And that is all thanks to you amazing and wonderful people! I am completely shocked, and I feel so honored to have such an incredible community of book lovers coming by and reading my bookish ramblings. I absolutely adore chatting with all of you and meeting people from all over the world through our common interests. That is the coolest thing ever! 

Thank you all so much for following my little blog, and for all of your love and support. I know that my posting has been quite spotty and inconsistent in recent months, and you guys still stand by me even while I go through this tough time in my life. That means more to me than I could ever express. Each and every single one of you are awesome! ❤

Second, I wanted to give you guys a bit of a general life/blog update!

Though I have been getting back on track with posting/commenting/replying, I know I have really been inconsistent lately, and I apologize. I’ve let some life stress and sadness get to me, and that has caused me to go through the biggest reading and blogging slump I’ve ever been through.

Not only have I been behind on reviewing, but I have been terrible at replying to your comments in a timely manner. I promise, I always read (and appreciate!) every comment you guys leave, even if it takes me forever to respond! I’ve also been awful at leaving comments on your posts, but rest assured, I am always checking out your blogs and keeping up with your posts every day. ❤

Some of my goals going forward:

  • I will be catching up on reading/reviewing, and eventually trying to get to a point where I’m posting at least one to two reviews each week.
  • I would like to be getting at least three to four posts up per week.
  • I’ll be much quicker about replying to all of your comments!!
  • I’ll be better at keeping up with all of YOUR posts and much more consistent with commenting on them as well.

Thank you all again for sticking with me through this, and I promise, things will be improving around here! 🙂

And lastly, I’ve made some new changes and additions to the site!

As you’ve probably noticed, I’ve gone and added some new graphics to the blog. Finally, I’ve created a header (took me long enough!), and some general new designs for my pages. I’m hoping to do a bit more with the site in terms of the design, but it’s not my strongest area so it may take some time!

Also, I have done something I have been debating for quite some time which is add a section for my personal, creative writing to this blog. I haven’t had a place to share my creative writing for quite some time, so I figured, why not put some on here! I’ll be updating it more in the future, but for now I have a short story, some excerpts from full stories, and a few poems to start off. So, just in case anyone’s interested… 🙂

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And here’s an example of what you’ll find there:

Paradise

Prologue

Many faces passed up and down Westminster Road each day, all respectively bearing a distinct expression. Every person possessed a detailed and utterly singular mask, crafted by every moment experienced within his or her lifetime and continuously changing as the seconds ticked by. Some were fresh and eager, others timeworn and wise, but all were important. No two were—nor ever could be—the same.

The road was rich in history, full of marvel and intrigue. It had seen change, felt every footstep, heard every sound made and word uttered. It had been the sole witness to the drama of human life that unceasingly played out. A million stories flooded the streets, tumbled from the eaves of houses and the signs of shops, and danced on the wind among discussions and shouts.

However, life would not pause to observe, time would not stop to catch its breath, and the faces bled together into a mass of chaos and bustling traffic. These stories remained untold, trampled into the dusty ground of the old town where they were never bothered again. Secrets melted into the spaces between cobblestones and the cracks in walls. The days hurried on, the nights slept peacefully, and nothing in particular was noticed. This was the first mistake.

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I know a number of you guys are writers as well, so I’m also really hoping that some of you will share your writing with me! I would absolutely love to read some of your work! Always feel free to send me links to your writing, either in the comments here or in the writing section of my blog!

Anyway, that’s all for now! Hope you are all doing well, and I’ll talk to you in my next post! 😀 ❤

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March 2016 TBR

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Happy March, everyone!

My second favorite season of the year is on its way, and I am really starting to look forward to the warmer weather! I’m still catching up on a few reads, so this month’s TBR is mainly going to consist of review copies that I need to work on. Also, I am hoping to begin getting reviews out a bit more frequently this month. I like writing a good variety of posts, and I feel like I want to be getting reviews out slightly more often than I have been. I tend to be too much of a perfectionist when it comes to my reviews (and I write way too much to begin with!), so that’s definitely been slowing me down quite a lot. My goal is to start trying to get out about two each week, so we’ll see how that ends up going! 🙂

March TBR

1. Devil and the Bluebird by Jennifer Mason-Black

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The synopsis for this novel has me extremely intrigued. It promises to have a mix of both fantasy and realism, which is a style that I always love. On top of that, there is going to be a musical element to it—that completely sells me on this! It seems like it will be an emotional read but an incredibly unique one, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what it’s all about.

2. Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick

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I am so incredibly excited about reading this novel! In fact, I’ve already started it because I just couldn’t wait any longer, so this should be my first completed read for the month. I’ve not actually read a novel by Matthew Quick yet, though I have had a few on my TBR for a long time now. I can’t wait to finally give his work a go!

3. These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas

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This is the one novel on this list that isn’t an ARC copy, but it is one of my most anticipated releases of the year. Since it isn’t a review copy, it’s not a top priority on my TBR, but I am still really hoping I’ll be able to get to it this month. I’m too excited to wait much longer!

4. The Haters by Jesse Andrews

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As well as not having read any of Matthew Quick’s novels yet, I’ve also not yet read Jesse Andrew’s other novel—Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl—yet, though I have been meaning to for a while. I’ve heard a lot of mixed opinions about his work, specifically the humor that he uses in his stories, so I’m really interested to see where my opinion falls.

5. The Doll-Master and Other Tales of Terror by Joyce Carol Oates

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This is one final ARC that I need to review soon. I don’t intend to read the entire book this month, but I would like to get started reading some of these stories over the course of the next few weeks. I prefer reading collections of short stories in small bursts anyway—I think it’s more fun to spread them out as you read other novels, rather than rush through them all in one go!

Read in February

I’m still in the process of dealing with these migraines I’ve been getting, so my reading and reviewing pace is not quite up to snuff just yet. I definitely hope to pick up my normal speed again soon, as I begin to feel better. However, while this was a rather slow reading month for me, it was overall enjoyable, so I’m feeling good about it!

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1. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer – It’s taken me forever, but I’ve finally started to continue on with this series and it’s so nice to dive back into this world. Full review coming soon!

2. Camp Midnight by Steven T. Seagle and Jason Katzenstein – I was in the mood for a new graphic novel this month. This one was an ARC that had been on my reading list for a little while, so I decided to give it a go—and I absolutely loved it! This was a quick, fun, and satisfying read with some wonderful artwork to boot. Click here to read my full review.

3. The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath by Ishbelle Bee – This was a novel that I had heard very little about, and picked up randomly a few months back. As I expected, it was an extremely unique, fantastical, and intriguing story. I will definitely be posting a more in depth review very soon! I’m looking forward to discussing this one.

4. Doctor Who: Deep Time by Trevor Baxendale – If you haven’t yet been able to tell, I love reading Doctor Who novels! This was another ARC that I had on my reading list for the month. There will be a full review of this coming very soon.

5. The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle – I (finally) began reading this at the end of the month, so it is technically rolling over onto my March TBR. As I said earlier, I like to take my time with short story collections, and that’s exactly what I’ll be doing with this one. But, whenever I do complete it, you can be certain that there will be a full (probably very fangirly) review! 😀

February Book Haul

Okay, so I may have gone mildly overboard with my book buying this month…But in my defense, I haven’t been buying all that many books lately. Also a few of these are ARCs as well…

Nope, still can’t justify this. I went overboard…but I’m a happy little book nerd. 😀 ❤

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  1. Stars Above by Marissa Meyer
  1. The Haters by Jesse Andrews (ARC)
  1. Devil and the Bluebird by Jennifer Mason-Black (ARC)
  1. These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas
  1. The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson

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  1. A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
  1. Soulless by Gail Carriger
  1. A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
  1. Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick (ARC)
  1. The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

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  1. A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
  1. Wolf By Wolf by Ryan Graudin
  1. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

All right, no more book buying for me for a little while… 😛

What books do you have on your TBR for March? Are you looking forward to any new releases this month? Do any of you guys need to join me in my book buying ban? Let me know in the comments! 😀

-Ariana

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February 2016 TBR

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Happy February, everyone! First off, I want to apologize for my absence these last few weeks. This past month was a bit rough for me and, because of that, I did not post nearly as much on here as I usually do. I’ve been suffering from migraines for a while now, but the amount I have been getting has dramatically increased recently to the point where I’ve been having them every other day. This made it very hard to sit in front of a computer screen for any amount of time to write posts and reply to comments.

I’m so sorry I’ve been away as much as I have. I’ve missed posting frequently and I’ve missed talking to all of you every day on here and on your posts! Thank you all for being patient with me. I’m hoping to get them under control soon, and I definitely plan to be back blogging and chatting with you guys in full force this month! 😀 ❤

February TBR

I still have some books off last month’s TBR that I want to get to this month, but here are a few more that I am adding to the pile.

1. More Than This by Patrick Ness

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It has been far too long since I have read a Patrick Ness book. I read A Monster Calls over a year ago and completely fell in love with his writing to the point where I went out and bought most of his other novels. However, I have not yet had a chance to read any of them yet. I plan to start the Chaos Walking trilogy later this year, so I figured I would tide myself over with this one. It has an incredibly mysterious and intriguing premise, and I’m not at all sure what to expect from this story. I can’t wait to dive in!

2. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

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The Raven Cycle is one of the series that I have been wanting to start for a while now, and with the final book coming out soon, I figured this would be a great time to begin. I have heard fantastic things about this series and it has been recommended to me quite a lot, so I’m really looking forward to checking it out.

3. A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

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I’ve gone a month without reading a V.E. Schwab novel and I am already dying to read another one. This has been at the top of my TBR for a while, so I’m hoping I can finally get to it this month. Plus, I have A Gathering of Shadows on pre-order and I’d like to finish this before that is released so I can continue on when it gets here (though I’m then going to have to deal with waiting for the final book!).

4. The Reluctant Sacrifice by Kerr-Ann Dempster

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I’ve been making really good progress catching up on reviews and this is a review copy that I have had for a while, so I need to get to it soon. I’m really excited to check it out and see what I think of it. This will be one of my top priorities for the month, and most likely one of my first reads.

5. The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath by Ishbelle Bee

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I found out about this book through Booktube and was immediately intrigued by it. It is pitched as a dark, adult fairytale and seems like it will be an extremely unique story, similar in style and atmosphere to Neil Gaiman’s novels. I believe this is a duology, and I already have the sequel, The Contrary Tale of the Butterfly Girl, so I might continue right on to that when I’ve finished if I enjoy it.

6. Doctor Who: Deep Time by Trevor Baxendale

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This is another review copy that I’ve received recently and need to get to, so it will be another priority for me this month. I’m always happy to read anything Doctor Who related, which I’m sure comes as no surprise to anyone!

Read in January

Despite my failure in the blogging department, this month was actually fairly productive reading-wise. I managed to read five books and get through a good chunk of a sixth one. I also ended up really enjoying all of these reads quite a lot; they were a great way to begin a new reading year. I’m already making good progress on the reading challenges I’ve given myself and finally catching up on some review copies I’ve needed to get to as well. After feeling a bit slumpy for the past few months, this was definitely a wonderful change, and hopefully it will stay this way.

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1. Doctor Who: Death Riders by Justin Richards – As I’ve already said, I love to read anything to do with Doctor Who, and this novel was a really fun read. This was one of the review copies I recently received from Netgalley. Click here to read my review!

2. Doctor Who: System Wipe by Oli Smith – This was my least favorite read of the month, but it was still a quick and entertaining story. This was another Netgalley review copy that I received. Click here to read my review!

3. The Book Thief by Markus Zuszak – I finally did it you guys! After all these years, I finally read The Book Thief—and loved it, of course! Review to come soon.

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4. Alice by Christina Henry – Again, I have to thank Heather for this fantastic recommendation. Review to come soon.

5. The Grownup by Gillian Flynn – I’ve been wanting to read more of Gillian Flynn’s work recently, and this was absolutely fantastic (as always!). It’s got me even more excited than I already was to continue on to her next full novel! Review to come soon.

6. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer – I’m not quite finished with this one yet, but I got through a little over half before the end of the month. This will be my first completed read of February, and there will be a review coming very soon after.

January Book Haul

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  1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens by Alan Dean Foster
  1. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Anticipated Releases of February

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  1. A Criminal Magic by Lee Kelly (Release Date: February 2nd, 2016)
  1. Stars Above by Marissa Meyer (Release Date: February 2nd, 2016)
  1. These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas (Release Date: February 9th, 2016)
  1. A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab (Release Date: February 23rd, 2016)

What books do you guys have on your TBRs for February? Which new releases are you looking forward to this month? Let me know in the comments!

-Ariana

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Top 5 Wednesday – December 30th, 2015

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Top 5 Wednesday was created by Lainey at Gingerreadslainey. Every week, book reviewers all over the world are given a bookish topic and respond with their top 5 books (or elements of books) that relate to that topic. Click here for the Goodreads group if you would like to learn more about Top 5 Wednesday and join in!

This week’s Top 5 Wednesday topic is your top 5 favorite books that you read this year. While I didn’t read nearly as many books as I had hoped that I would, this year was pretty fantastic in terms of quality of books read. It was difficult to narrow this list down to just five, but there were definitely a few novels that particularly stuck out this year. These have not only become some of my top favorite novels of all time, but all of these authors were new to me and are now on my favorite authors list as well!

5. Jackaby by William Ritter

jackabyThis was pitched as “Doctor Who meets Sherlock”, so of course I had to read this immediately—and thankfully, it did not disappoint!

Click here to check out my full review!

4. Cinder by Marissa Meyer

cinderThis was my first read of 2015 and an absolutely brilliant way to start off my reading for the year.

Click here to check out my full review!

3. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

gonegirlThis was my first Gillian Flynn book, and by far one of the most intriguing and captivating novels that I read all year.

Click here to check out my full review!

2. The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

thememoirsofsherlockholmesThis is my first time making my way through this series and I am kicking myself for having put these novels off for so long—they are fantastic!

Click here to check out my full review!

1. Vicious by V.E. Schwab

viciousThis was my most recent read and my last completed book of the year—and it was definitely my favorite of them all!

Review coming soon!

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