Wednesday, December 28, 2016

2016 Bookish End of Year Wrap Up

Hosted by Jamie @ The Perpetual Page Turner

Number Of New Novels Read: 82
Number of Re-Reads: 19
Genre You Read The Most From: Unquestionably fantasy - I read very little science fiction, a handful of contemporary novels.  Possibly my next highest genre was romance.  You can see how my year went.


1. Best Book You Read In 2016?

This is a little harder than usual this year.  I read books that I really enjoyed, but I didn't have many stand outs.  I think I'm going to go with The Bone Knife by Intisar Khanani since it's pretty representative of my reading year - I read ALL of her books this year.

2. Book You Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Definitely Spy Glass. It's the third book in Maria V. Snyder's Glass trilogy (which is a follow up to her Poison Study trilogy).  I had gotten really into this world and binge read all the books up until this one.  Spy Glass ranks with the handful of other books that have truly enraged me, and I still have not forgiven this book it's trespasses because it ruined all the great things I'd felt about all the other books and I am still not sure if I'll ever be able to pick up the next trilogy.

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  

My Lady Jane - I don't know what I was expecting, but it definitely wasn't what I got. This book was so freaking fun and hilarious!!

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2016?

No question, it's Intisar Khanani.  It's not often that I binge read an author's entire catalogue because I love their works so much!

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda - It's everything I'm always wanting.  It's a book featuring a minority without it being ABOUT being said minority (in this case, a gay main character).

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

Poison Study series - As much as we had an explosive break up, there's no denying this series managed to get me to binge read like crazy for a reason.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2016?


11. Most memorable character of 2016?

Manchee from The Knife of Never Letting Go.  For more reasons than the obvious - he was the perfect depiction of a dog: easily distracted, fiercely loyal, and so, so innocent.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2016?

The Knife of Never Letting Go.  Add to this any question about what the most soul crushing/made you cry/shocking - the answer to all of those is this book.

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2016 to finally read? 

Ready Player One - I just thought it was something else entirely!  Some sort of heavy, very serious science-fiction novel.  Note to any of non-blogging friends who try to recommend me books:  

1.  Never try to make the selling point of a book that it is NOT YA.  

2. I'm sorry, but this is YA.
3. Don't feel so ashamed for enjoying a YA novel that you repeat over and over #1 to try and cover it up.  

15. Favourite Quote from a Book You Read in 2016?

"Being good-looking and interesting and having the heavy-lidded gaze of a romantic tapir does not excuse writing a foolish book." - The Perious Life of Jade Yeo

16.Shortest & Longest Books You Read In 2016?

Ten, Nine, Eight          Winter (The Lunar Chronicles, #4)
10 pages; 882 pages

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

John Thornton and Margaret Hale from North and South

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2016 From An Author You’ve Read Previously


21. Best Book You Read In 2016 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

Strange Library - Let's just say I've struggled with Murakami's works in the past and was pretty ready to give up.  Nafiza recommended Strange Library so I decided I would give him ONE MORE CHANCE, and I'm so glad I did because I really loved the writing of this one!

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2016?

Ravi from The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo.  This maaaaay or may not have been directly impacted by picturing this everytime he appeared on the page.

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

Poison StudyMaria V. Snyder has managed to create a world where there are two countries - one based on a capitalist democracy, the other on communism, and I'm so used to finding the former glorified and the latter vilified that I was pleasantly surprised to see that she managed to make an argument for both systems.  Both systems in this book have big drawbacks - in the communist country, rules are strictly enforced without mercy and lives are micromanaged, but everyone has job security and a purpose, and they are rewarded based solely on their abilities - not gender or age.  In the democracy, there are beggars and homeless and the council is very slow to act on anything, often taking months even in situations that are perilously time sensitive, but the people have the freedom of choice.  It was really interesting seeing that dichotomy, and I think being fairly accurate in what the benefits and drawbacks are of each system, and it's something I've never really seen in a fantasy novel before.

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

My Lady Jane

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo - This is one I would never have found on my own.  Yash recommended it for one of our reviews and I'm so, so glad she did!  This was definitely one of my favourite reads of the year and I've been recommending it ever since.


2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2016? 

I have veered away from reviews in the last couple years - they started to take the joy out of reading for me. I did finally write a post about my favourite book of last year though!  Or you can head to my super-ragey reaction to Spy Glass, which was very cathartic after the awfulness of the book.

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

Downside to having such a big reading/writing drought the past six months is that I have little to no discussion posts.  I think I had a grand total of one this year?  Be aware though, spoilers for The Knife of Never Letting Go are in said post.

And that's it for my 2016 book wrap up!  I won't be on the internet for the rest of the year, but I'll see you guys in the new year and look forward to reading all your year end posts!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Top Eleven Books of 2016

Hosted by The Broke and Bookish

Attack of the Ninja Frogs (Dragonbreath #2) - Ursula Vernon

Attack of the Ninja Frogs (Dragonbreath, #2)

Hamster Princess was a BIG hit with me last year, so it's no surprise I immediately picked up her other middle grade books, and the Dragonbreath series does not disappoint.  They are so freaking hilarious and wonderfully creative.  Attack of the Ninja Frogs is clearly superior to the rest though.  NINJA FROGS GUYS.

The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking, #1)

Totally called that this was going to be on my end of year list in June (of course, I ended up pretty much not reading after July, so most of these were on that list too.  But still I was right!)  I think I'm finally over my emotional trauma enough to pick up the next book.


The Bone Knife - Intisar Khanani

The Bone Knife

So you've probably seen me mention Intisar Khanani on the blog a few times - but trust me, it's not nearly as many as she deserves. Of all her works (and I read them ALL this year, but I'm limiting myself to one per author) this is my favourite. Which was honestly a surprise since I don't tend to like short stories much, but this one is perfect and I love it.  But if you like fairy tale retellings, I really recommend Thorn and if you like diverse fantasy I really recommend her Sunbolt series, but also any of her books because they are ALL diverse fantasy.

Gabi, a Girl in Pieces - Isabel Quintero

Gabi, a Girl in Pieces

This book is so real and so funny and so heart-breaking.  It's everything - and you guys know that contemporary is not really my scene.  I highly, highly recommend this one - and do yourselves a favour and get a physical copy if you like art.  This book features art in between each chapter (or something like that anyway) but it doesn't translate super well on kindle I found.

The Dark Days Club (Lady Helen #1) - Alison Goodman

The Dark Days Club (Lady Helen, #1)

This is so different from what I've read from her before - both in style and subject.  But also, paranormal fantasy set in the Victorian era??? THIS IS MY KRYPTONITE.

The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo

This romance was so refreshing - while it may have technically followed tropes, it did so in completely unexpected ways with some really interesting characters.  This is definitely a book I'll reread and I'm picking up her other novel ASAP!

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

This book is SO. CUTE.  And also I shipped Simon with Blue before I knew he was Blue so I felt very proud of myself because usually I pick the wrong dude.  But this was cute and FEELS and parent relationships and friend relationships <3 p="">

Ready Player One - Ernest Cline

Ready Player One

This book was just pure fun - I mean I didn't grow up in the 80's, but I totally get 80's nostalgia and having a book basically obsessed with the 80's and video games was so freaking fun!  Plus Wil Wheaton was the perfect choice as narrator.

The Strange Library - Haruki Murakami

The Strange Library

The impossible has happened! I found a Murakami book I actually liked! I even really liked it! It's cheeky and surreal and basically the few things I had liked about his previous writing without all the things I hadn't liked. It showed he actually had a sense of humour which helped greatly too. I think his writing style is really well suited to shorter works, so I'll likely read his shorter works from here on out.

The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom - Christopher Healy

The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom (The League of Princes, #1)

Ahhh this is everything I love about fairy tale retellings - the amazing, awesome things you can do to overthrow tropes (particularly involving gender).  I'm also pretty excited because I have some ideas about the romance but I don't want to give spoilers and also I'm never wrong and therefore must never have any proof of possibly being wrong.

But I'm not wrong.

My Lady Jane - Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

My Lady Jane

Guys, this book is HILARIOUS. I literally laughed out loud on the flight so many times and I don't even care that I looked crazy, it was totally worth it.  I'm not even kidding - I had like legit laughing fits.  Definitely add this on your list to get to - even if you don't usually like things by these authors (I didn't), even if you've been burned by paranormal fantasy in this era (I have, so many times) trust me you're going to want to make an exception for this one.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Top Ten Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Leaving Me Under the Tree

Hosted by The Broke and Bookish

Sabriel (Abhorsen,  #1)  Hawksong (The Kiesha'ra, #1)  Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale (Modern Faerie Tales, #1) 

These are all books that I reread so frequently that I NEED them on ebook.  I get hit with these crazy cravings for a specific book, so I need access these books 24/7.  (Add to the list anything written by Tamora Pierce or Robin McKinley. Luckily I have a few of theirs on ebook already!)  I already have hard copies of the Abhorsen series, but I'm at the mercy of library availability for the others.  And what do I do if I'm traveling and need to read one of these?  I MIGHT DIE.  

The Blue Castle  

 Speaking of my library - I find it super weird that neither my Chicago library nor the Baltimore library has a copy of this! I mean...I guess maybe there's not a huge demand for Montgomery's books anymore other than the Anne of Green Gables one?  So it looks like I'm at the mercy of buying a copy for myself.  And since I've seen so many other bloggers praise it so highly, I definitely need to get my hands on a copy!

Parasite (Parasitology, #1)

Oooooor basically any book at all by Mira Grant/Seanan McGuire. (Other than the Newsflesh trilogy which I already own and super recommend).  I MUST READ ALL THE THINGS.  But particularly the Mira Grant books because she really does her research on the science and it's super interesting.  

The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #1)

This has been recommended to me only, I don't know...a million times? And I DO really want to read it, but it's never available to check out!  But now that it's being made into tv series? I need to get to this sooner rather than later!

Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth 

A friend sent me some of Warsan Shire's poetry a few years back, and I have been dying to get my hands on a copy of her book since then.  Once again, no library copy, but seeing as she's gotten a just a teensy bit of coverage from a small album Beyonce created this year - it's called Lemonday, you may have heard of it? - I'm hoping that will be fixed since I imagine she's rather higher in demand now.

Much Ado About Magic (Enchanted, Inc., #5)

This series is so much freaking fun!  Sadly my library only has the first few books (is this starting to sound familiar to you?), but I absolutely intend to finish the series.  And it turns out she has a steampunk series too - if it's anything near as fun as this series is, it's next on my list!

The Raven King (The Raven Cycle, #4)

Ok, this one I need for two reason.  Technically, I would need two copies - one to read from, and one hard cover that I could cut up the dust jacket to hang up on my wall. (Really I need this from all the books because have you seen these covers??? Totally wall art worthy).  Also, this is a series ending I've been looking forward to SO MUCH.

Bright Smoke, Cold Fire (Untitled, #1)

Cruel Beauty is one of my favourite books I've read in the past few years, and you know I'm a sucker for retellings so this is a book I'm highly anticipating!  I feel like I missed so much this year by not having kept up with 2016 books I'd wanted to read, so I feel like this year I'm going to have to try and make a priority to read newer books.

And that's it for me! What are you hoping to see to help celebrate the holidays?

Sunday, December 11, 2016

A Day in the Life #47

Whew it's been a crazy couple weeks!  We had our first 6th grade concerts last week and the kids sounded so good - I was really proud of them!  (...even though like 15 of them left their music which meant I was running around like a chicken with her head cut off making extra copies instead working with the kids to make sure they were in the right head space before performing).  But jeeeeezzzzus I was exhausted.  By the time you've walked to the gym and back, you've walked a half mile - and no I am not exaggerating.  That's literally the distance.  So just imagine working a full day, that full day being with middle school children, and then running enough chairs, stands, percussion equipment, and risers for 80 middle school children on stage and god knows how many parents in the audience, corralling hundreds of middle school students, running two concerts, and THEN after ALL OF THAT....moving all of the equipment back.

So...let's just say that exhausted doesn't even begin to cover it, and I've only just started to recover from all of it because I slept later than I've slept in months today.  Aaaaand I am doing this all over again for the 7th graders this Wednesday, and the 8th graders after that...and then I'm done!  Which is very bittersweet, but I'll definitely be ready for the break because if I'm this tired now? It's got nothing on how I'll be feeling by the end of the 8th grade concert. 

And of course I'm FREAKING OUT about my 7th graders except for one group, and to be freaking out about 3/4 groups is NOT A GOOD FEELING.  But I'm hoping they'll pull together like my 6th graders did. (Or that Sue's band will cover up my band kids if needed)

On the other side of things...I had to put Lily down two weeks ago.  I don't much feel like talking about it, but I can say that it was time and I think because of that I'm not feeling quite as bad as I thought I would be.  I can also say that if you've ever had to put a cat down, consider doing it at home.  The cost for me was pretty on par with I would have paid at the vet and it was just a way, way better decision for her.  And if you live in the Maryland area, I would recommend Peaceful Passage a million times over.  I am still missing her like crazy - I keep thinking it's her out of the corner of my eye or that she'll be on the bed waiting for me, and between Sejoon being gone and her being gone it's kind of messing with my sleep. But I still have Tristan and he is the cuddliest cat in existence, so he's been making up for it in the meantime.


Emma talks about Newt Scamander, Toxic Masculinity, & The Power of Hufflepuff House.
Emily dissects the literary glamour of madness.
There's a Lunar Chronicles character quiz. (I'm Cress, btw)
Chelsea thinks it's more important than ever to criticize the things we love.
Even more bookish links over on In Tori Lex!


Lin Manuel Miranda is producing adaptations of Patrick Rothfuss's Kingkiller Chronicle!!!!!
Neil Shusterman uses stained glass to recharge his writing.
Ursula K. Le Guin on the election, Lao Tzu, and a cup of water.
Authors on being a writer in the time of Trump.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Top Ten New To Me Authors of 2016

 Christopher Healy     The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom (The League of Princes, #1)

The Hero's Guide to Saving the Kingdom was the last dinner reading book I read with the kids when I was nannying, and it was a HUGE hit all around! Fairy tale retellings are always a favourite of mine (no surprises there) but this has so many of my favourite things about retellings, especially on the trope bending front.  It's funny and self deprecating and just all around fun!  I'm definitely going to be finishing this series soon.

Ready Player One is probably the MOST FUN BOOK EVER (that I have read this year).  I've been avoiding this book because for some reason I thought it was really serious/not YA.  (And I'm sorry, it's YA. If eighteen were a cut off age for YA, then a good portion of YA books wouldn't be YA.  And I know audiences are changing what with NA being a thing, but it seems like the audience divisions haven't really solidified as of yet.  Anywayyyyy getting off my soapbox. I'm just saying, if my non-blogger friends had tried recommending it to me like one of you guys instead of starting with "It's not a YA book" I probably would have read it sooner)

Becky Albertalli (Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda)

 Becky Albertalli     Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

*squees* Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda was the cutest freaking book ever.  And I actually got to meet Becky Albertalli which was really cool. (Btw, the audiobook - which is how I listened to it - is her favourite version of the book!)

This is hands down my favourite romance read of the year (and I've read quite a few this year). It's swoony and refreshingly surprising as far as characters go and there were nontraditional relationships (in comparison to usual) and Zen Cho has officially become an extremely high priority for me.  I will be reading Sorcerer to the Crown asap.  

Elizabeth Gaskell (North and South)

Elizabeth Gaskell     Nord et Sud

Unpopular opinion: I actually think I might like the miniseries more than the book.  But that has little to do with the book and much to do with Richard Armitage and the soundtrack.  That being said, I do really love her writing, and so much of her social commentary on class is relevant today. Like...way more than I am comfortable with, actually.  She's often compared to Dickens, and it makes sense why - but unlike Dickens, she knows when to wrap a story up.  (In Dickens' defense, a lot of his stuff was serialized, and you only have to look at oh I don't know...any comic book/American tv show to know how that can screw with things)

Patrick Ness (The Knife of Never Letting Go)

Patrick Ness     The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking, #1)

 To say that I am still not ok after reading this book would be a large understatement.  This book hurts. And I thought the concept was so interesting that I will definitely finish this series, and I know that the rest of the series is not as upsetting as this book was....but the FEELS guys!  They're too overwhelming, and finishing this series has been put on hold until I can get it together. 

Intisar Khanani (Thorn)

Intisar Khanani     Thorn

Intisar Khanani is probably my favourite new author of the year.  Ok, not probably - definitely.  I actually heard her on a bunch of panels at Chessiecon last year before I'd read anything of hers (although I'd known of Thorn before - my library just hadn't had a copy for me to read) and she had so many thought provoking and insightful things to say, that it prompted me to pick up Thorn.  (That and La La repeatedly recommended it haha!) Cue three months later and I loved her writing so much that I actually bought all of her books AND pre-ordered her last book that just came out a couple months ago.  If you want diverse fantasy - both in setting and in race - paired with beautiful writing, she is my number one recommendation.  I will forever be a huge advocate of hers (especially since she's an indie author so word of mouth is basically how she makes her living), so definitely go read something of hers!  While I loved all her writing, The Bone Knife is actually my favourite piece of hers - it's a novella that she's actually working on developing into a series right now!

Jenny Holliday (Sleeping With Her Enemy)

Jenny Holiday     Sleeping with Her Enemy (49th Floor, #2)

Some of you know that my boyfriend is Korean. And as a white girl with an Asian's just not something I see reflected in society/media. Like...ever.  So having a romance novel with an Asian (well, half but I'll take it) male lead??? SIGN ME UP PLEASE! Plus this was hate to love and all my favourite romance things, so I was basically cheering on the inside the whole way through this novel haha!

Alaya Dawn Johnson (Love is the Drug)
Alaya Dawn Johnson     Love Is the Drug

This book has it all - it's heart racing with all of the government conspiracy stuff going down, there's coming of age stuff, there's complicated family relationship stuff, there's a solid romance, there's race and class through the lens of a rich private school kid -  I'd read another of her books in a heartbeat.  (And considering I've been recommended Summer Prince like a million times, it's shameful that my first book of hers I picked up on a whim and only later realized who the author was!)

Isabel Quintero (Gabi, a Girl in Pieces) 

Isabel Quintero     Gabi, a Girl in Pieces

This book is just so...real. There's so much honesty to it - and it's a truth that is so different from my experiences (what with not having grown up Latina or poor) but still resonates in so many ways.  And there are some experiences that are just....if you're a girl, you've been there.  I don't usually read contemporary works, but I'm glad I made an exception with this (although I wish I'd had a physical copy of the book since I think the art would have been easier to see).

Over all, this has been a good new author year for me.  I'm also pretty pleased that 4/10 authors are PoC, and that 6/10 book feature PoC as main characters! (7/10 depending on how you read the descriptions in Hero's Guide - I can't remember if they were ever explicit, but a couple of the characters definitely felt like they could be read as non-white).   A much more diverse list than last years was for me!  What about you guys? These authors new to you or long time favs?