Favorite Books of the Year (So Far!) | Top 10 Tuesday

Top 10 tuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s topic is the top 10 books I’ve read so far this year!


10. Tiger lily by jodi lynn anderson

tigerlilyI read Tiger Lily during Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-thon in April and I loved it way more than expected. It was haunting and beautiful. I still think about it.

Review

9. The Sky is everywhere by jandy nelson

theskyiseverywhereI was cautiously optimistic about this one. I heard wonderful things about Jandy’s books, but I’ve been burned before. I was not disappointed. It handled a difficult topic with grace, and turned a very hated trope in YA into something with more substance then I’ve seen in a while. I will now read anything Jandy Nelson writes.

Review

8. none of the above by i.w.gregorio

noneoftheaboveThis is a recent read for me, and I was blown away. The main character is intersex, which is a topic that I have never read about before. This book handles the topic with grace while also being very informative about a topic that is frequently brushed under the rug.

Review coming in July.

7. The wicked + the divine: vol. 1 The faust act

TheWickedAndDivine_vol1-1The Wicked + The Divine has become my favorite graphic novel series, right next to Saga. I find the art stunning, and the story line has me intrigued. I cannot wait until the next volume’s release next month.

Review

6. the girl of fire and thorns trilogy by rae carson

thebitterkingdomI marathoned this entire series in May, but if I had to choose a favorite of the trilogy, it would be The Bitter Kingdom. It was such a fantastic and satisfying conclusion to a very strong trilogy.

Review

5. we were liars by e. lockhart

we were liarsI steered clear of this book for the last year due to the hype. Even then, I wasn’t in any hurry to read it and decided to grab it on audiobook. It blew me away. I loved the narration, and I was so pulled into the story that I didn’t even look for the famous twist that so many people referenced in their reviews.

Review

4. gathering darkness by morgan rhodes

Gathering DarknessThe third book in one of my favorite fantasy series, of course it was a favorite. This was the first book I read this year and I could not have been more pleased to start the year on a high note.

Review

Series Review (so far!)

3. The winner’s crime by marie rutkoski

11265077I’m still in pain from this sequel to The Winner’s Curse. I need the last book immediately. I needed it yesterday.

Review

2. the final empire by brandon sanderson

final-empireAnother book I put off for fear of the hype and I again, was not disappointed. I still think about this book almost daily, and I have not yet been able to put my thoughts into a coherent review. I cannot wait to get to the last two books in the series.

1. the grisha trilogy by leigh bardugo

siegeandstormThis should come as no surprise to anyone, as The Grisha Trilogy has pretty much defined my reading year thus far. This was the first series that I marathon read this year, and it has stuck with me. The Grisha Trilogy is now the bar that I hold every other YA fantasy series up against. If I had to pick a favorite book from the series, it would be Siege and Storm, but all of them hold a special place in my heart.

Review

What have been your favorite reads from this year so far?

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All About Covers, Ratings, and Six of Crows | Sunday Survey

Sunday SurveySunday Survey is a weekly feature where I wrap up and shout out some of my favorite posts from other bloggers, booktubers, instagrammers, etc. from the previous week.

  • Elizabeth from Books and Pieces discussed the different elements of book covers in all of their glory. My personal favorite is the soft touch paperback, by the way.
  • Mercedes from Mercy’s Bookish Musings talked about how her rating style has changed over time, which I think is true for so many of us.
  • Kim from The Midnight Garden wrote a very timely piece on the trend of loving to hate on what everyone else is loving (tongue twister right?) She specifically focused on the recent social media backlash against Game of Thrones and anyone who supports it, but this also applies to so many other things (i.e. 50 Shades of Grey, Twilight, John Green and his books, etc. etc.)
  • Jen from YA Romantics asked if you are an Early Review Avoider. I am. She is not.
  • Six of Crows ARCs went out this week, and instagram posts abounded. I got a copy at BEA but I’m still hella jealous of that packaging and that playing card.

Let me know what some of your favorites were from this week!

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Anything Could Happen by Will Walton | Review

23399267Stats:

Title: Anything Could Happen
Author: Will Walton
Publisher: Push
Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary
Page Count: 288
My Rating: 2 stars
Where to Purchase: Amazon, The Book Depository, Barnes and Noble

*I received an ARC copy of this book when I was at Book Expo America 2015.

Summary (From goodreads):

When you’re in love with the wrong person for the right reasons, anything could happen.

Tretch lives in a very small town where everybody’s in everybody else’s business. Which makes it hard for him to be in love with his straight best friend. For his part, Matt is completely oblivious to the way Tretch feels – and Tretch can’t tell whether that makes it better or worse.

The problem with living a lie is that the lie can slowly become your life. For Tretch, the problem isn’t just with Matt. His family has no idea who he really is and what he’s really thinking. The girl at the local bookstore has no clue how off-base her crush on him is. And the guy at school who’s a thorn in Tretch’s side doesn’t realize how close to the truth he’s hitting.

Tretch has spent a lot of time dancing alone in his room, but now he’s got to step outside his comfort zone and into the wider world. Because like love, a true self can rarely be contained.

ANYTHING COULD HAPPEN is a poignant, hard-hitting exploration of love and friendship, a provocative debut that shows that sometimes we have to let things fall apart before we can make them whole again.

My thoughts

I had high hopes for this book. I love reading LGBTQ+ fiction, and was immediately drawn in when I saw there was a gay MC. Pair that with his being in love with his straight best friend, and I was hopeful for a lot of the themes that could be explored. I ended up feeling a little disappointed and found the story a little jumbled.

Firstly, there was a lot going on in this story and I found the plot lacking in focus. There are so many elements thrown into this story that aren’t developed enough for my liking, possibly because of how short the book was. Tretch’s love of dancing is pointed to on numerous occasions, but it’s something we only really get to see as readers during one scene. Family dynamics are explored, but the story really only scratched the surface on those issues and I found myself having a hard time caring.

Which brings me to my second point, in that I could not attach to the characters. Tretch felt like a blank slate. I couldn’t get a sense of his personality, or the personalities of those around him including friends and family. Everyone felt very flat. Because we didn’t see any depth, a lot of the problems they are facing throughout the book didn’t pull at my heartstrings, because I didn’t have any connection to the characters or their back stories.

Lastly, I felt that most of the issues were resolved too quickly and easily. For example, Tretch ‘comes out’ a few times in the story (I won’t say to who or the circumstances surrounding it) and all of the reactions were the exact same. I enjoyed that the characters didn’t make a big deal out of his orientation, but at the same time, I expected some differences in the reactions. Instead, his coming out was very much glossed over and everyone moved on in less than a paragraph. While I know that does happen in real life, I also felt it was unrealistic for a story in which it was never hinted that the people around him knew about his orientation before he told them. Also, there are some friendships made far too quickly in this book. Tretch goes from feeling ambivalent or even negatively about various side characters to suddenly being friends over the course of a scene. I just found a lot of the situations in this story to be too easily resolved.

Additionally, and this may not be a problem for every reader, but this story also included one of my pet peeves in contemporary fiction: too many references to modern pop culture. Artists like Taylor Swift and Ellie Goulding are referenced numerous times (the title of the book actually comes from an Ellie Goulding song). While I’m okay with that a little bit, as that is the nature of contemporary fiction, that device has to be used sparingly and I felt it was overdone in this book.

Overall, this was a quick and easy read. The characters, while simple and bland, were overall good people and some of my favorite themes like family dynamics and self-discovery were explored. Ultimately though, I felt this book did fail in it’s execution and I was expecting more from it.

Samantha Signature

Frozen Tides by Morgan Rhodes | Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday bannerWaiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine in which we discuss our most anticipated upcoming releases.

frozentides_coverStats:

Title: Frozen Tides (Book 4 in the Falling Kingdoms series)
Author: Morgan Rhodes
Publisher: Razorbill
Genre: Young Adult- Fantasy
Release Date: December 15, 2015

synopsis (From goodreads)

THIS IS BOOK 4 IN THE SERIES SO SYNOPSIS MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR THE PREVIOUS BOOKS!

Rebels, royals, and monsters wage war over the Mytican throne in the shocking fourth book of the Falling Kingdoms series, from New York Times bestselling author Morgan Rhodes.

CLEO: Reeling after a bloody showdown in Limeros ending with Amara’s abduction of the water crystal, and a vacancy in the Mytican throne, Princess Cleo must cast aside her feelings and look toward her kingdom with the eyes of a Queen.

MAGNUS: With the kingdom in chaos, Princess Lucia still missing and quite possibly in danger, and a shocking realization about Cleo, the steely prince is once again torn between love and duty, leaving him wondering whether he’s strong enough to rule his people.

LUCIA: The young sorcercess has had her vengeance after the cruel death of her first and only love. Heartbroken and unable to trust anyone, she allies with the awoken Fire god, who also seeks revenge.

JONAS: After escaping death by the skin of his teeth, the defeated rebel—along with a mysterious stranger–leader reunites with Princess Cleo, only to find himself a mere pawn in a dangerous hunt for the elusive Kindred.

KING GAIUS: Abandoned by Melenia and betrayed by his own children, Gaius flees Mytica and sails to Kraeshia, where he attempts to ally with the famously brutal emperor across the Silver Sea.

My thoughts

Falling Kingdoms is one of my favorite fantasy series of all time, so of course I am anticipating this release. The cover for this book has been my phone background since it was revealed. I cannot wait to get back to these characters, and the recent release of the spinoff series (A Book of Spirits and Thieves) has me chomping on the bit even more.

Samantha Signature

ARCs & Dinosaurs | Sunday Survery

Sunday SurveySunday Survey is a weekly feature where I wrap up and shout out some of my favorite posts from other bloggers, booktubers, instagrammers, etc. from the previous week.

  • Anya of On Starships & Dragonwings discussed how she only requests ARCs she really wants, in order to narrow down her for review pile (something I also agree with!)
  • Kat of Cuddlebuggery discussed how to get, and keep getting ARCs, from the perspective of a dinosaur. Jurassic Park gifs galore!


The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson | Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday bannerWaiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine in which we discuss our most anticipated upcoming releases.

21569527Stats:

Title: The Heart of Betrayal (Book 2 in the Remnant Chronicles
Author: Mary E. Pearson
Publisher: Henry Holt & CO
Genre: Young Adult- Fantasy
Release Date: July 7, 2015

synopsis (From goodreads)

THIS IS BOOK 2 IN THE SERIES, SO SYNOPSIS MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR BOOK 1!

Held captive in the barbarian kingdom of Venda, Lia and Rafe have little chance of escape. Desperate to save her life, Lia’s erstwhile assassin, Kaden, has told the Vendan Komizar that she has the gift, and the Komizar’s interest in Lia is greater than anyone could have foreseen.

Meanwhile, nothing is straightforward: there’s Rafe, who lied to Lia, but has sacrificed his freedom to protect her; Kaden, who meant to assassinate her but has now saved her life; and the Vendans, whom Lia always believed to be barbarians. Now that she lives amongst them, however, she realizes that may be far from the truth. Wrestling with her upbringing, her gift, and her sense of self, Lia must make powerful choices that will affect her country… and her own destiny.

my thoughts

I absolutely adored The Kiss of Deception when I read it last year and it made my favorites of 2014. I have had this book pre-ordered since I finished the first book, and the struggle has been real. I cannot wait to have this in my hands finally.

Samantha Signature

Returns, Pirates, and Readathons | Sunday Survey

Sunday Survey

Sunday Survey is a weekly feature where I wrap up and shout out some of my favorite posts from other bloggers, booktubers, instagrammers, etc. from the previous week.

  • Emily Jean made her triumphant (and seductive) return to booktube.
  • Lauren talked about her recent discussion with an author at BEA, their publishers demand for a love triangle in a book that originally wasn’t going to have one, and what that implies for the future of love triangle plots (hint hint.. they probably aren’t going anywhere despite our protests).
  • Bekah discussed her favorite books of 2015 (so far). I always get new recommendations from her and this was no exception.
  • The girls of Carpe Librum announced the Rainbow Readathon (June 15-22)! I sadly will not be able to participate (grad school… ugh) but it is such a fun idea! #rainbowthon
  • Amy spotlighted Blackhearts in her Waiting on Wednesday post for this week. This is the first I’ve heard of this book BUT HOLY CRAP I’M SO EXCITED!

Please let me know about any posts you enjoyed this week!

Samantha Signature