Top 5 Wednesday – January 16th, 2019

topfivewednesday

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 most disappointing reads of 2018. My reading year overall ended up being fairly average. There were a few novels that stood out and became new favorites as well as some that I really just didn’t enjoy. However, I would say most of them ended up being around 3 to 3.5 stars. That being said, there were still some books that landed at those rating or right below them that were still disappointing, as I had expected to enjoy them more than I did. So here are the top five books that fell a bit flat for me.

5. The Elizas by Sara Shepard

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This was definitely the least disappointing on this list and I did quite enjoy the story as a whole. However, there were parts of it that brought my rating down lower than I thought it would be. The number one thing that caused this was that it was a lot less complex and dark than I usually like my thrillers to be. I believe this was due mainly to the fact that it was a young adult novel and not the adult thrillers that I tend to read the most. There were parts of the narrative that also felt very repetitive and choppy, so it was harder to connect with the writing and really get into the story. The tension would build only to suddenly stop without triggering any satisfyingly major event. And I really disliked the romance. In the end, I did give this novel 3.5 stars, but I had expected to like it a lot more than I did.

If you want to check out my full review of The Elizas, click here!

4. Doctor Who: Royal Blood by Una McCormack

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I am a huge fan of Doctor Who and I always enjoy reading the book series as well. These novels are not the best literature, but they’re typically tons of fun. When I review these books, I do tend to evaluate them in a much different way than other books due to the style of the series. The premise of this one sounded particularly interesting and I was really eager to pick it up. However, there were so many issues with it that I just couldn’t ignore. It was a surprisingly challenging read because of the massive amount of typos and grammatical errors in the actual text itself. The plot was confusing and lacking the mystery it promised, and it really didn’t live up to its potential. The writing was also not the best, lacking detail and a good narrator. I ended up rating this one 2.5 stars.

If you want to check out my full review of Doctor Who: Royal Blood, click here!

3. The Toy Thief by D.W. Gillespie

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I read this back in October but I haven’t yet written my full review. This is another premise that had so much potential, but it unfortunately did not live up to. It sounded like it would be a really creepy and intriguing story and I am a huge horror fan, so I was excited for this. But it wasn’t what I was expecting and was definitely not for me. The author’s descriptions—particularly of the main monster in the story—were so vague and I was completely unable to picture much of anything. There were some interesting aspects of the plot, but mainly it was quite uneventful and severely lacking in creepiness. And I absolutely hated the narrator. I know that she wasn’t supposed to be particularly likable, but she was not unlikable in a good way either. The writing as a whole was just really crude and disgusting a lot of the time—that’s something I cannot stand. I ended up giving this novel 2 stars.

2. The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One by Amanda Lovelace

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This was another book that I did not rate particularly poorly. However, it was still one of the more disappointing reads. At the beginning of the year, I fell completely in love with her first collection of poetry in this series and I was highly anticipating this follow-up. Though I did enjoy it, I felt it was really not on par with her previous work. She focused on many issues that are very topical and frequently addressed in poetry these days. But there was just not as much of a personally emotional connection to it. The first collection was truly a story of her life and this one didn’t quite feel the same. I ended up rating this 3 stars.

If you want to check out my full review of The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One, click here!

1. All Rights Reserved by Gregory Scott Katsoulis

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And now we come to, by far, the most disappointing read of my reading year. I have been wanting to read this book since it came out and I finally got around to it. I had such high hopes for it as the plot sounded incredibly intriguing and unique—I may have hyped it up a bit too much in my mind. The story was quite repetitive and slow, and it felt a bit too similar to many other dystopian novels that I’ve read. I could not stand the main character and the story is told in first person so there was no escaping her. She made so many selfish and poor choices without caring about the consequences to her loved ones and others. So many people suffered because of her and she never seemed to even understand the rebellion she started and what she was fighting for. I ended up rating this one 2 stars. I’ll have a full review coming out in the near future.

So, what was your reading year like? What ended up being some of the most disappointing reads? Some of the best reads? Let me know in the comments!

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Top 5 Wednesday – November 7th, 2018

topfivewednesday

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 largest books on your TBR, in honor of the upcoming #TomeToppleReadathon (which I might just have to participate in!). I have built up quite a plethora of tomes on my TBR over the last few years—specifically, a lot of massive fantasy and science fiction novels. Essentially, I always feel ambitious and optimistic in the moment I add them…then freak out about the length later.

However, the feeling of accomplishment that comes from completing them is so wonderful, so I’ve really been wanting to pick up some larger books lately. I recently—with the help of my blogger and buddy reading bestie Heather from The Sassy Book Geek—completed one of my goals when we buddy read The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson! *

*(Side note: I’ve been a terrible reading buddy the last few months due to many very difficult and unexpected life changes, but Heather has been the sweetest, most supportive, and incredibly patient reading buddy on the planet and I love her to bits! ❤ I promise we will have some posts coming on The Final Empire very soon!)

Anyway, let’s take a look at some of the tomes I still have left on my TBR!

5. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (1,006 pages)

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Sophisticated, witty, and ingeniously convincing, Susanna Clarke’s magisterial novel weaves magic into a flawlessly detailed vision of historical England. She has created a world so thoroughly enchanting that eight hundred pages leave readers longing for more.
English magicians were once the wonder of the known world, with fairy servants at their beck and call; they could command winds, mountains, and woods. But by the early 1800s they have long since lost the ability to perform magic. They can only write long, dull papers about it, while fairy servants are nothing but a fading memory.
But at Hurtfew Abbey in Yorkshire, the rich, reclusive Mr Norrell has assembled a wonderful library of lost and forgotten books from England’s magical past and regained some of the powers of England’s magicians. He goes to London and raises a beautiful young woman from the dead. Soon he is lending his help to the government in the war against Napoleon Bonaparte, creating ghostly fleets of rain-ships to confuse and alarm the French.
All goes well until a rival magician appears. Jonathan Strange is handsome, charming, and talkative-the very opposite of Mr Norrell. Strange thinks nothing of enduring the rigors of campaigning with Wellington’s army and doing magic on battlefields. Astonished to find another practicing magician, Mr Norrell accepts Strange as a pupil. But it soon becomes clear that their ideas of what English magic ought to be are very different. For Mr Norrell, their power is something to be cautiously controlled, while Jonathan Strange will always be attracted to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic. He becomes fascinated by the ancient, shadowy figure of the Raven King, a child taken by fairies who became king of both England and Faerie, and the most legendary magician of all. Eventually Strange’s heedless pursuit of long-forgotten magic threatens to destroy not only his partnership with Norrell, but everything that he holds dear.

4. Under the Dome by Stephen King (1,092 pages)

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King’s return to supernatural horror is uncomfortably bulky, formidably complex and irresistibly compelling. When the smalltown of Chester’s Mill, Maine, is surrounded by an invisible force field, the people inside must exert themselves to survive. The situation deteriorates rapidly due to the dome’s ecological effects and the machinations of Big Jim Rennie, an obscenely sanctimonious local politician and drug lord who likes the idea of having an isolated populace to dominate. Opposing him are footloose Iraq veteran Dale “Barbie” Barbara, newspaper editor Julia Shumway, a gaggle of teen skateboarders and others who want to solve the riddle of the dome. King handles the huge cast of characters masterfully but ruthlessly, forcing them to live (or not) with the consequences of hasty decisions. Readers will recognize themes and images from King’s earlier fiction, and while this novel doesn’t have the moral weight of, say, The Stand, nevertheless, it’s a nonstop thrill ride as well as a disturbing, moving meditation on our capacity for good and evil.

3. It by Stephen King (1,156 pages)

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To the children, the town was their whole world. To the adults, knowing better, Derry, Maine was just their home town: familiar, well-ordered, a good place to live. It was the children who saw – and felt – what made Derry so horribly different. In the storm drains, in the sewers, It lurked, taking on the shape of every nightmare, each person’s deepest dread. Sometimes It reached up, seizing, tearing, killing…
The adults, knowing better, knew nothing. Time passed and the children grew up, moved away. The horror of It was deep-buried, wrapped in forgetfulness. Until the grown-up children were called back, once more to confront It as It stirred and coiled in the sullen depths of their memories, reaching up again to make their past nightmares a terrible present reality.
Frightening, epic, and brilliant, Stephen King’s It is one of the greatest works of a true storytelling master.

2. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (1,276 pages)

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In 1815 Edmond Dantès, a young and successful merchant sailor who has just recently been granted the succession of his erstwhile captain Leclère, returns to Marseille to marry his Catalan fiancée Mercédès. Thrown in prison for a crime he has not committed, Edmond Dantès is confined to the grim fortress of If. There he learns of a great hoard of treasure hidden on the Isle of Monte Cristo and he becomes determined not only to escape, but also to unearth the treasure and use it to plot the destruction of the three men responsible for his incarceration.

1. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo (1,463 pages)

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Introducing one of the most famous characters in literature, Jean Valjean—the noble peasant imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread—Les Misérablesranks among the greatest novels of all time. In it, Victor Hugo takes readers deep into the Parisian underworld, immerses them in a battle between good and evil, and carries them to the barricades during the uprising of 1832 with a breathtaking realism that is unsurpassed in modern prose. Within his dramatic story are themes that capture the intellect and the emotions: crime and punishment, the relentless persecution of Valjean by Inspector Javert, the desperation of the prostitute Fantine, the amorality of the rogue Thénardier, and the universal desire to escape the prisons of our own minds. Les Misérablesgave Victor Hugo a canvas upon which he portrayed his criticism of the French political and judicial systems, but the portrait that resulted is larger than life, epic in scope—an extravagant spectacle that dazzles the senses even as it touches the heart.

Wow so, not gonna lie, that’s a bit intimidating to look at. But this is also reminding me of how much I want to dive into these novels and I’m feeling a bit more motivated about working on them! How about you guys? What tomes do you guys have on your TBR? Which ones are you most looking forward to reading? Let me know in the comments!

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Top 5 Wednesday – September 27th, 2017

topfivewednesday

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’ve picked up because you’ve heard of them in the online book community. Though I stayed somewhat on top of popular releases before blogging, my knowledge (and my purchasing of books!) has increased a great deal since joining the book blogging community. I have found so many incredible novels through various sources like Booktube and my fellow book blogging friends, so this was a tough list to narrow down. However, I think I’ve finally picked out the books that have impacted me the most since joining this wonderful community! 🙂

5. Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

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This is one of my most recent discoveries due to the book blogging community, and this trilogy has quickly risen to the top of my favorites list. I can’t recall specifically where I saw this novel for the first time, but I read numerous reviews from many of the blogs I follow and was immediately convinced to pick it up. This book, as well as its sequel, are beautifully written, somewhat dark modern fairytales and I absolutely adore them!

Click here to check out my full review!

4. Cinder by Marissa Meyer

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I discovered this book—and the rest of the series—through Booktube. I am a complete sucker for unique retellings, and this promised to be one. Every channel I watched had incredibly positive reviews of the whole Lunar Chronicles series, though it was Catriona from Little Book Owl who first brought Cinder to my attention. I’m still in the process of finishing up the series, but it is already high on my favorites list.

Click here to check out my full review!

3. Alice by Christina Henry

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This novel was recommended to me by my good friend and fellow blogger, Heather, from The Sassy Book Geek. We have an extremely similar taste in books, and both particularly love dark retellings such as this one. I have never once been disappointed by any of her recommendations, and I have her to thank for bringing this amazing novel and its author into my life.

Click here to check out Heather’s full review!

2. Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

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I’m fairly certain that I first discovered this novel through the blogging community, but I also saw it everywhere in the Booktube community as well. Again, all the reviewers I found constantly raved about this book and, being a fan of World War II historical fiction as well as science fiction, I knew I had to give it a read. I read this in a buddy read with my good friend and fellow blogger, Anna from My Bookish Dream, and it was fantastic!

Click here to check out my full review and click here to check out Anna’s full review!

1. Vicious by V.E. Schwab

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I first discovered Vicious—as well as Victoria Schwab in general—through Booktube and continued to see it pop up all over the blogging community. Every review I saw or read raved about how amazing this novel and Schawb’s writing were, so I knew I had to give it a try. I ended up reading it for the first time with my friend and fellow blogger, Heather from The Sassy Book Geek, and absolutely adored it!

Click here to check out my full review and click here to check out Heather’s full review!

What books have you guys discovered since joining the online book community and where did you discover them? Let me know in the comments!

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Top 5 Wednesday – May 17th, 2017

topfivewednesday

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 books that remind you of summer and are your quintessential summer reads. I’ve decided to go back a few years and pick out my top five favorite reads that I randomly picked up from the library during the summer and fell in love with. The library always reminds me of summertime, and it is the perfect time to not only do a ton of reading, but also to go out of your comfort zone and choose some books you might not normally have picked up. So here are my reads that I loved and thought were perfect for reading in the summer! 🙂

Love and Other Unknown Variables by Shannon Lee Alexander

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Charlie Hanson has a clear vision of his future. A senior at Brighton School of Mathematics and Science, he knows he’ll graduate, go to MIT, and inevitably discover solutions to the universe’s greatest unanswered questions. He’s that smart. But Charlie’s future blurs the moment he reaches out to touch the tattoo on a beautiful girl’s neck.
The future has never seemed very kind to Charlotte Finch, so she’s counting on the present. She’s not impressed by the strange boy at the donut shop—until she learns he’s a student at Brighton where her sister has just taken a job as the English teacher. With her encouragement, Charlie orchestrates the most effective prank campaign in Brighton history. But, in doing so, he puts his own future in jeopardy.
By the time he learns she’s ill—and that the pranks were a way to distract Ms. Finch from Charlotte’s illness—Charlotte’s gravitational pull is too great to overcome. Soon he must choose between the familiar formulas he’s always relied on or the girl he’s falling for (at far more than 32 feet per second squared).

Precious by Sandra Novack

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The summer of 1978, ten-year-old Vicki Anderson rides her bike to the local park and goes missing. Her tight-knit blue-collar Pennsylvania neighborhood, where children roam the streets at night playing lightning tag, aboveground pools sparkle in backyards, and flowers scent the air, will never be the same.
Down the street from Vicki’s house, another family is in crisis. Troubled by her past, headstrong Natalia Kisch has abandoned her husband and two daughters for another man. Frank Kisch, grappling with his anger, is left to raise their girls alone, oblivious to his daughters’ struggles with both disappearances: Eva, seventeen, plunges into an affair with her married high school teacher, and nine-year-old Sissy escapes to a world of imagination and storytelling that becomes so magical it pierces the reality of the everyday.
When Natalia unexpectedly returns, the struggles and tensions that have built over the summer erupt into a series of events that change the Kisches irrevocably—forcing them to piece together their complicated pasts and commitments to each other.
In this haunting, atmospheric debut, Sandra Novack examines loss, loyalty, and a family in crisis. Lyrical and elegiac, Precious illuminates our attempts to make sense of the volatility that surrounds and consumes us, and explores our ability, even during the most trying times, to remember and hold on to those we love most.

Wherever Grace is Needed by Elizabeth Bass

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In this thoroughly heartwarming novel, Elizabeth Bass-author of Miss You Most of All-creates an unforgettable story of friendship, compassion, and the extraordinary love that lies at the heart of every ordinary family.
When Grace Oliver leaves Portland for Austin, Texas, to help her father, Lou, recuperate from a car accident, she expects to stay just a few weeks. Since her mother’s divorce thirty years ago, Grace has hovered on the periphery of the Oliver family. But now she sees a chance to get closer to her half-brothers and the home she’s never forgotten.
But the Olivers are facing a crisis. Tests reveal that Lou, a retired college professor whose sharp tongue and tenderness Grace adores, is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Grace delays her departure to care for him, and is soon entwined in the complicated lives of her siblings-all squabbling over Lou’s future-and of the family next door.
Ray West and his three children are reeling from a recent tragedy, particularly sixteen-year-old Jordan, whose grief is heightened by guilt and anger. Amid the turmoil, Grace not only gives solace and support, but learns to receive it. And though she came to Austin to reconnect with her past, she is drawn by degrees into surprising new connections.
With wit, wisdom, and unfailing insight, Elizabeth Bass tells a story of loving and letting go, of heartache and hope, and of the joy that comes in finding a place we can truly call home.

The Day Before by Lisa Schroeder

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One moment can change everything.
Amber’s life is spinning out of control. All she wants is to turn up the volume on her iPod until all of the demands of family and friends fade away. So she sneaks off to the beach to spend a day by herself.
Then Amber meets Cade. Their attraction is instant, and Amber can tell he’s also looking for an escape. Together they decide to share a perfect day: no pasts, no fears, no regrets.
The more time that Amber spends with Cade, the more she’s drawn to him.  And the more she’s troubled by his darkness. Because Cade’s not just living in the now—he’s living each moment like it’s his last.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

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A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart. 
Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

Honorable Mention:

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

What books remind you of summer or have been your favorite summertime reads? Let me know in the comments!

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Top 5 Wednesday – May 3rd, 2017

topfivewednesday

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 your top five favorite science fiction and fantasy cover art. This topic is pretty similar to my Top 10 Tuesday topic yesterday, but for this list, I did not reuse any of the covers from the other. So this will be a rather short and sweet post today. Here are some of my favorite SFF covers! 🙂

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

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The Evaporation of Sofi Snow by Mary Weber

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Spellslinger by Sebastian de Castell

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Tyrant’s Throne by Sebastian de Castell

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A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab

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Which SFF books have some of your favorite cover designs? Let me know in the comments!

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Top 5 Wednesday – April 5th, 2017

topfivewednesday

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 science fiction and/or fantasy books you want to read ASAP! As always, this sort of topic is fantastic for me and my embarrassingly large TBR pile. Science fiction and fantasy are my absolute favorite genres, and there are so many books that I am completely ashamed about still having on my “to read” list. So, join me on my mini book guilt trip as I pick out the top five SFF books I am the most eager to read! 🙂

5. The Martian by Andy Weir

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I got this for my dad fairly soon after it came out—back before it got super popular, and before the movie (…yes, I am just hipster like that…). Originally, it wasn’t something I was really looking at to read myself, but after all the amazing things I’ve heard about it, I definitely want to give it a go!

4. The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova

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This is actually the least embarrassing book on my list since I only discovered it a couple of weeks ago. But I am so excited to read this book! I’ll admit, part of this excitement comes from the fact that one of the main characters is named Ari…but everything else about this book sounds so awesome as well! Anyone who knows me knows I love some good steampunk in my life!

3. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

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It seems like everyone but me has read this book by now! And I can’t even count the number of times it’s been recommended to me. This is another one that I got for my dad, this time with the intention of doing a buddy read. However, he has read it and I have once again failed to pick up a book I am dying to read!

2. The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

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Yep…still on my list. Still sitting next to my bed, calling to me. I know I’m going to love this book. I want to read this so badly—there’s no good excuse as to why I haven’t yet. This is just another example of how freaked out I can get by big fantasy books sometimes. But mark my words—I will pick this up before 2017 is over!

1. A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

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And finally, the most embarrassing TBR book in my pile. Yes, even after talking about wanting to read it for almost two years, I still have yet to start the series! Not only do I just want to get going on these books in general, but my parents got me the lovely and beautiful illustrated edition for Christmas (it is insanely gorgeous!). I’m really hoping this will be the year that I finally stop talking and start reading! 😛

What are some science fiction and fantasy novels that you are most eager to read? Do we have any in common? Let me know in the comments!

 

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Top 5 Wednesday – March 29th, 2017

topfivewednesday

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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Top 5 Wednesday – July 20th, 2016

topfivewednesday

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 most recent additions to your reading wishlist. I’ve decided to tack on a little extra element and also list the top five recent additions to my physical TBR that I am most excited to read.

Top 5 Wishlist Additions

1. The Muse by Jesse Burton

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From the internationally bestselling author of The Miniaturist comes a captivating and brilliantly realized story of two young women—a Caribbean immigrant in 1960s London, and a bohemian woman in 1930s Spain—and the powerful mystery that ties them together.

England, 1967. Odelle Bastien is a Caribbean émigré trying to make her way in London. When she starts working at the prestigious Skelton Art Gallery, she discovers a painting rumored to be the work of Isaac Robles, a young artist of immense talent and vision whose mysterious death has confounded the art world for decades. The excitement over the painting is matched by the intrigue around the conflicting stories of its discovery. Drawn into a complex web of secrets and deceptions, Odelle does not know what to believe or who she can trust, including her mesmerizing colleague, Marjorie Quick.

Spain, 1937. Olive Schloss, the daughter of a Viennese Jewish art dealer and English heiress, follows her parents to Arazuelo, a poor, restless village on the southern coast. She grows close to Teresa, a young housekeeper, and her half-brother Isaac Robles, an idealistic and ambitious painter newly returned from the Barcelona salons. A dilettante buoyed by the revolutionary fervor that will soon erupt into civil war, Isaac dreams of being a painter as famous as his countryman, Picasso.

Raised in poverty, these illegitimate children of the local landowner revel in exploiting this wealthy Anglo-Austrian family. Insinuating themselves into the Schloss’s lives, Teresa and Isaac help Olive conceal her artistic talents with devastating consequences that will echo into the decades to come.

Rendered in exquisite detail, The Muse is a passionate and enthralling tale of desire, ambition, and the ways in which the tides of history inevitably shape and define our lives.

 

2. The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury

(I blame Heather for this one!)

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She is the most powerful Jinni of all. He is a boy from the streets. Their love will shake the world…

When Aladdin discovers Zahra’s jinni lamp, Zahra is thrust back into a world she hasn’t seen in hundreds of years—a world where magic is forbidden and Zahra’s very existence is illegal. She must disguise herself to stay alive, using ancient shape-shifting magic, until her new master has selected his three wishes. 

But when the King of the Jinn offers Zahra a chance to be free of her lamp forever, she seizes the opportunity—only to discover she is falling in love with Aladdin. When saving herself means betraying him, Zahra must decide once and for all: is winning her freedom worth losing her heart?

As time unravels and her enemies close in, Zahra finds herself suspended between danger and desire in this dazzling retelling of Aladdin from acclaimed author Jessica Khoury.

 

3. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte

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‘She looked so like herself that I knew not how to bear it’

In this sensational, hard-hitting and passionate tale of marital cruelty, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall sees a mysterious tenant, Helen Graham, unmasked not as a ‘wicked woman’ as the local gossips would have it, but as the estranged wife of a brutal alcoholic bully, desperate to protect her son.

Using her own experiences with her brother Branwell to depict the cruelty and debauchery from which Helen flees, Anne Bronte wrote her masterpiece to reflect the fragile position of women in society and her belief in universal redemption, but scandalized readers of the time.

 

4. The Palace Job by Patrick Weekes

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The most powerful man in the republic framed her, threw her in prison, and stole a priceless elven manuscript from her family.

With the help of a crack team that includes an illusionist, a unicorn, a death priestess, a talking warhammer, and a lad with a prophetic birthmark, Loch must find a way into the floating fortress of Heaven’s Spire–and get past the magic-hunting golems and infernal sorcerers standing between her and the vault that holds her family’s treasure.

It’d be tricky enough without the military coup and unfolding of an ancient evil prophecy–but now the determined and honourable Justicar Pyvic has been assigned to take her in.

But hey, every plan has a few hitches.

 

5. It’s All Fun and Games by Dave Barrett

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When Allison’s best friend, TJ, convinces her to come along for an epic game of LARP (live-action role-playing), she reluctantly agrees despite her reservations about the geeky pastime. TJ’s weekends are filled with powerful wizardry, mystical creatures, and intense battles with his LARP group. Each adventure is full of surprises, but the goal is always the same: to defeat the monsters and find the treasure.

Not long after their quest begins, the friends discover that something has gone wrong. The fantasy world they’ve built has transformed, and the battle they’re in the midst of is no longer make-believe.

Now they must fight for survival against brigands, kobolds, and other deadly mythical creatures that come to life. Fortunately, the group’s once-fictional magical powers have also become real – including Allison’s newly acquired gifts as a healer. They’ll need everything in their arsenal if they hope to make it home alive.

Top 5 Physical TBR Additions

I’ve just gotten back from traveling and my birthday was on Monday, so let’s just say, there have been a few new additions to my book collection! I’ll be doing a full travel and birthday book haul post in a few days, but for now, here are some of the books that I have recently acquired that I am most looking forward to reading.

 1. And I Darken by Kiersten White

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Any novel with a strong, kickass-sounding female lead immediately catches my attention! This story sounds dark, intense, and action-packed, exactly the type of story I love. I’m really hoping I’ll be diving into a gripping and unique fantasy, something I’ve been very in the mood for lately. I’ve also heard some very good things about Kiersten White’s writing, so I’m excited to experience it for the first time.

2. Dubliners by James Joyce

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I know a few people who really didn’t enjoy this novel and think I’m crazy for wanting to read it! But we read a few excerpts from it in school a while back, and I loved all of them. I’ve been wanting to read the rest for a long time, and this will also contribute to my mission to read more classics this year. The other exciting fact about my copy of this is that I picked it up while I was in Dublin earlier this month!

 3. In Sunlight or In Shadow compiled by Lawrence Block

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When I saw this on Netgalley, I completely freaked out! This is a collection of short stories written by a group of well-known authors where each story is inspired by a painting by Edward Hopper. Not only am I a massive fan of short story collections, Edward Hopper is one of my favorite painters of all time. For an art/writing assignment, I myself wrote a short story about his painting, Nighthawks. To top off my excitement about this book, I was approved for an ARC on Netgalley! I can’t wait to start this!

4. Beowulf translation by J.R.R. Tolkien

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This is another novel that we read an excerpt from in school ages ago, but never actually read the full book. And again, I really enjoyed the part that we read, so I’ve been wanting to pick up a copy of it so I could finally finish it off. I recently heard about this edition that was translated by Tolkien, so I immediately knew this was the translation I needed to read! I’m so looking forward to it!

5. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

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This is a novel I’ve been debating picking up for a while, so when I saw it on sale on Kindle, I decided, why not give it a try. I’ve heard tons of incredible things about this novel, however, reports of a potential love square sort of put me off for a bit. But it sounds like my type of story and I was excited about it when it was released last year, so I figured I should finally give it a go.

What are some books that you guys have recently added to your reading wishlist? Are there any new bookish purchases you’ve made lately that you are particularly excited about? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

-Ariana

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Top 5 Wednesday – April 20th, 2016

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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 the top five books that you’re intimidated by. Though I am an avid reader that will gladly read (almost) anything you hand to me, I get intimidated by books fairly easily. This never prevents me from picking up the books and giving them a go, it just makes me put them off for ages. Most times, my fear is caused by the length of the novel. I’m a relatively slow reader who loves fantasy and sci-fi, which can by a problematic combination, at least for me! Hype surrounding novels can also make me nervous, and since I take forever to get around to popular series, this is a major issue for me as well. And of course, let’s not forget about the potential of massive quantities of feels…

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Okay, let’s get into that list! 😀

5. Under the Dome by Stephen King

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Two words: Page. Count. 1000+ pages definitely freaks me out, even if it is a book by an author I love. Also, the copy I have to read is my dad’s hardcover edition, which (probably due to the troubles I have lifting it up!) is psyching me out even more. I’m very interested in both this novel and the television series, having heard fantastic things about both. I may have to get a copy on Kindle—that might help…

4. The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

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I find the entire Mistborn series pretty daunting, but actually less so than the other series I have on this list. This intimidation comes purely from page count. Based on what I know about these novels, I have a feeling that I will not have a difficult time actually getting into the story and the writing. I am determined to get through at least this first book before the end of the year. Now if I can just find the time…

3. The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

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Once again, I must address my shame at never having read any Tolkien books or seen any of The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit films. I intend to finally fix the film part this year, as well begin reading the LOTR trilogy, but I definitely feel intimidated. I’m certain that I will love it—I can’t imagine not adoring these stories! But I still feel pressure since these are such well-loved classics. To be honest, I’m also pretty nervous about trying to remember everyone’s names as well!

2. A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

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All right, so I’m intimidated by this entire series, but I’ll just stick with the first one for now since I haven’t even gotten through that yet! I’ve already started watching the television show (which I know is a bad book nerd move!), and I absolutely love it, so I’m sure that I will enjoy these books. They are definitely worth the time and effort…but that page quantity though. Since I’ll be traveling a bit this summer, I figured that might be a good time to get started. I am going to feel so accomplished when I finally finish this series (or at least what’s been released)!

1. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

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This is right up my alley in terms of subject matter, but holy page count, Batman! My main concern is that this novel might be hard to get into, which is more likely to discourage me with a book this size. Nevertheless, if everything I have heard about this book is true, it is certainly worth the read!

What are some books that have intimidated you guys? Do we have any in common? Are there any books that you were nervous to pick up but ended up loving? Let me know down in the comments!

-Ariana

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Top 5 Wednesday – February 24th, 2016

topfivewednesday

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 the top five worst love interests (male or female). I don’t read many romance heavy stories, so I was unable to think up five love interests that I didn’t like. Instead, I’ve decided to go with last week’s Top 5 Wednesday topic since I was unable to do it on the day. Last week’s topic was the top five suggested books (books recommended to you) that you loved.

It goes without saying, if there are any books on this list that you haven’t read yet, I recommend them to you! 😀

5. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

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I actually bought this one as a Christmas gift for my mom. She ended up loving it and immediately told me I needed to read it too. This story was everything I had hoped for—lovely, heartwarming, and with spectacular writing to boot. It was a wonderful read, and an absolutely perfect book for book lovers. I promise, I will have a review up for this one day!

4. Alice by Christina Henry

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If there is one thing I like more than a retelling, it’s a dark retelling. This one was recommended to me by my friend Heather from The Sassy Book Geek. It was disturbing and twisted and creepy and fantastic—overall a fascinating and extremely creative reimagining of a classic and well-loved tale.

Full review coming very soon!

3. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

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I’ve been a massive Neil Gaiman fan for a long time, so this was already on my radar. However, I read it when I did because my best friend had just finished it and kept going on about how good it was. Actually, I was over at her house and she handed me the book and told me to start reading right then and there; that’s definitely the sort of recommendation you know you can trust! Obviously, I ended up absolutely adoring this novel—in fact, I think this may be my favorite Neil Gaiman novel that I’ve read so far.

2. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

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This one will come as no surprise to anyone since I rave about it (and Gillian Flynn) way too much! On top of the entire world talking about this book, it was specifically recommended to me by both my best friend and my dad. My best friend and I have extremely similar reading tastes, so I always trust her recommendations—and she loves Gillian Flynn. A few months before I picked it up, my dad also read and loved this, so when I was out visiting my best friend at school, I began reading it. It rapidly became one of my favorite novels of all time, and made Gillian Flynn one of my favorite authors.

Click here to read my full review!

1. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

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Though I had known about these novels for ages, this is another recommendation that I have to credit my mom for. If you’ve been around my blog for a while, you probably already know that this is one of my favorite novels of all time (and that it’s another one I talk about way too much!). I attempted reading my first Sherlock Holmes novel—The Hound of the Baskervilles—when I was far too young to really enjoy it, and thus, I assumed that I did not like Sherlock Holmes…oh boy was I wrong! I had to read The Speckled Band in class a few years later and enjoyed that, but it wasn’t until my mom gave this to me as a gift one holiday that the obsession truly began! ❤

Click here to read my full review!

What are some recommendations that you’ve received and ended up loving? Do you have any favorites you would like to recommend? Let me know in the comments!

-Ariana

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