Twilight by Stephenie Meyer – This book rekindled my love for reading. I’ll always be thankful for that. ALWAYS. And it introduced me into the Young Adult genre overall. AND TO BLOGGERS! So many thanks, Stephenie Meyer.
Dark Lover by J.R. Ward – I liked Paranormal YA books, so I picked this up because I was HEAVILY into Paranormal, and man, I never knew I’d enjoy a smexy book as much as I did. I was hooked! I made Paranormal Romance and Adult Urban Fantasy books my bitches. Thank you, JR Ward!
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon – I remember seeing the simple blue cover on Amazon and thinking, “Sure, why not!” I don’t even think I knew what it was about, lol. Oh, my GAH! I loved it so much. Thank you for taking me on this grand adventure, Diana Gabaldon.
The Truth about Forever by Sarah Dessen – I already loved YA, but nothing would prepare me for how much in love I’d fall with Contemporary YA, all thanks to this book. And Wes. hehe I wasn’t prepared for how much my heart would feel. THIS is why people really read YA. So, thank you, Sarah Dessen.
Chasing Perfect by Susan Mallery – Contemporary YA would eventually lead me to one of my true loves: Contemporary ROMANCE. This book was romantic and sweet and fun and I ATE IT UP. Thanks for that, Susan Mallery.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling – Harry Potter, the series of my heart. The funniest thing is when I first saw Sorcerer’s Stone in 7th grade, I thought it looked goofy. But I gave it a chance and it honestly changed my life. I got every book after that on release day and fell deep into the Potter fandom. I’m so thankful for every amazing character, the feelings of comfort the books gave me when I reread them, and the friends I’ve made because of them. JK Rowling’s quote sums it up perfectly: “The stories we love best live in us forever. Whether you come back by the big screen or by page, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine – This was my favorite book in the world before I read Harry Potter. I grew up loving Disney movies (still do) and Ever After and fairy tales in any incarnation. Ella was such a wonderful character- strong, brave, believable- and Char’s letters still make me swoon. It’s such a great book and holds up really well. I reread it this year and fell even more in love; books like that will always make me thankful.
Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill – I’m SO thankful for MTB because this book got me into YA contemporary! I had always stayed away before, thinking it was all trauma and drama, but then I read Christina’s review and it sounded so cute, like a romantic comedy I would love to watch! I also couldn’t resist that London cover. Needless to say I read it in a day and found out how much I loved fluffy, bantery, feelsy YA. And I’ve never looked back :)
Redwall by Brian Jacques – I read a ton of Nancy Drew books as a young kid but this was the first series that I really binge read, without knowing what binge reading was! I read the first 13 books back to back, racing to get the next one as soon as I was finished. I’m thankful for Redwall because it showed me that I could read and enjoy really long books (300-400 pages as a 7th grader is a lot!). They also showed me how much I could enjoy fantasy novels with rich detail, world building, and characters. Plus the series gave me an entire summer of enjoyment!
The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton – I’m so thankful I finally gave in and picked up this book because The Forgotten Garden introduced me to my favorite author and my favorite historical subgenre, the dual timeline novel. I fell in love with Kate Morton’s prose and storytelling abilities, the way she weaves mystery, love, and tragedy so beautifully. I’ve read all her published novels and immediately went in search of read-a-likes. I can’t resist a pitch with old houses, secrets, and a troubled past that somehow ties in with the modern day heroine. I’m ALSO thankful for Kate Morton books because it’s how I met Lindsey on twitter in 2012, who has become one of my best friends :)
James Mycroft has just left for London to investigate a car accident similar to the one that killed his parents seven years ago...without saying goodbye to Rachel Watts, his 'partner in crime'.
Rachel is furious and worried about his strange behaviour - not that Mycroft's ever exactly normal, but London is the scene of so many of his nightmares. So Rachel jumps on a plane to follow him...and lands straight in a whole storm of trouble.
The theft of a copy of Shakespeare's First Folio, the possible murder of a rare books conservator, and the deaths of Mycroft's parents...Can Watts help Mycroft make sense of the three events - or will she lose him forever?
Sparks fly when Watts and Mycroft reunite in this second sophisticated thriller about the teen sleuthing duo.
I am so thrilled to be part of the official North America blog tour for Every Word (Every #2) by Ellie Marney!! You guys, this series is AMAZING. I read a lot of mysteries as a kid but not many as an adult, so I was unsure if I would like Every Breath when it first crossed my radar last fall. Needless to say, I fell in love with Marney’s characters and the breakneck speed and tension with which she tells their story. It’s really intense but it’s also a lot of fun. It makes you sweat, it makes your heart pound, and it makes you anxious to piece together the puzzle. The Sherlock parallels are subtle and really clever. Plus WATTSCROFT IS THE SHIP OF SHIPS!! Rachel and Mycroft are fantastic, real, flawed, interesting characters individually and even better together. I also love how uniquely Australian this series is, the details are everything.
Every Word was every bit as enthralling as its predecessor, as evidenced by the fact that I read it in a DAY. No second book syndrome here! I gave it 5 stars and it was everything I hoped for times a thousand: MORE chemistry, MORE intensity, plus a London setting! I’ll say no more due to spoilers, but if you enjoyed Every Breath, Every Word will leave you breathless and clamoring for the finale. I decided to make a collage to capture the spirit of the book; I hope it entices you to run to your nearest bookstore and fall in love with Rachel and Mycroft immediately! I found lots of great visuals for the characters so I made a bonus Wattscroft collage as well.
Have you read this excellent Sherlock retelling? Are you planning to? Let me know in the comments!
In all of Tyme, from the Redlands to the Grey, no one is as lucky as Rapunzel. She lives in a magic tower that obeys her every wish; she reads wonderful books starring herself as the heroine; her hair is the longest, most glorious thing in the world. And she knows this because Witch tells her so---her beloved Witch, who protects her from evil princes, the dangerous ground under the tower, even unhappy thoughts. Rapunzel can't imagine any other life.
Then a thief named Jack climbs into her room to steal one of her enchanted roses. He's the first person Rapunzel's ever met who isn't completely charmed by her (well, the first person she's met at all, really), and he is infuriating-- especially when he hints that Witch isn't telling her the whole truth. Driven by anger at Jack and her own nameless fears, Rapunzel descends to the ground for the first time, and finds a world filled with more peril than Witch promised ... and more beauty, wonder, and adventure than she could have dreamed.
If you love fairy tales, adventure, whimsy, emotionally complex characters, and imaginative world building, you have to read Grounded: The Adventures of Rapunzel!
You must know by now that I absolutely adore fairy tale retellings. That alone drew me to Grounded, along with the adorable, vibrant cover. But when I read that Megan Morrison had been developing the land of Tyme for over 10 years, co-founded a Harry Potter fanfic site back in 2003, and had a fantastic blurb from Leaky Cauldron founder Melissa Anelli my curiosity was at an all time high. If Melissa believed that Grounded was as imaginative and charming and all-encompassing as Harry Potter, it had to be… right? I am so happy to say that it IS!
I don’t think I’ve ever read another book that I would more readily give to fans of Harry Potter. It’s not even anything like the wizarding world. It’s the intangibles, the whimsically detailed world building and sense of history, the fascinating characters, the dichotomy of good and evil and the realization that there is a very large gray area in between that gives credence to the comparison. Grounded is also incredibly well written, funny, and exciting. It’s an exhilarating MG fantasy and a pure delight to read. I was swept away on this magical, emotional journey that I hadn’t expected!
Morrison’s Rapunzel reminded me of a mix of Rapunzel from Disney’s Tangled and Cress from The Lunar Chronicles, but with more attitude. She has only known her perfect, magical life in the tower and everything that Witch has ever told her. When a thief named Jack appears at her tower claiming that her life is a lie, Rapunzel is furious but it sets off a chain reaction that kick starts her adventure. It’s actually frustrating to read at first since you know that Jack is right, but you really earn Rapunzel’s story this way.
Watching Rapunzel change and experience the world is fascinating. She is suspicious and naive but Jack reluctantly teaches her on their quest and Rapunzel learns how to be a friend to others, and how to trust her own instincts as well as other people. She wrestles with weighty ideas such as morality and love and grief, all in age appropriate but thoughtful ways. And she and Jack are a liiiittle too young to ship (there isn’t romance in the book to speak of) but their gradual friendship is heartwarming and of course I hope it blossoms in the future! They both have courage and charisma to spare.
Grounded is a funny book with charming locales and characters. It’s also quirky- Rapunzel has a pet frog and is a great jacks player. She is often blunt to the point of being rude, but incredibly full of life and love. There are princes and towers and fairies and secrets and lost loves. There is a lot of action and traversing the country. The Ubiquitous store seems right out of Diagon Alley. And as with every good book, there is more to Witch’s story that meets the eye.
The world feels BIG but you never feel lost in it as a reader. I wanted to explore it all, learn more about the Hundred Year Day, the different realms, the magic and history of Tyme. It’s going to be a companion series so we’ll get to meet new main characters and hear their stories while old friends pop in and out. I’m so excited by that concept!
It’s a joyful book but it’s dark at times and doesn’t shy away from the notion of death, much like Harry Potter. It’s smart, descriptive, and full of fairy tale magic. I can’t recommend Grounded: The Adventures of Rapunzel highly enough, it’s one of my favorite books of the year! I bought a finished copy immediately after returning my library book :)
She’s about to make a deal with the college bad boy...
Hannah Wells has finally found someone who turns her on. But while she might be confident in every other area of her life, she’s carting around a full set of baggage when it comes to sex and seduction. If she wants to get her crush’s attention, she’ll have to step out of her comfort zone and make him take notice…even if it means tutoring the annoying, childish, cocky captain of the hockey team in exchange for a pretend date.
...and it’s going to be oh so good.
All Garrett Graham has ever wanted is to play professional hockey after graduation, but his plummeting GPA is threatening everything he’s worked so hard for. If helping a sarcastic brunette make another guy jealous will help him secure his position on the team, he’s all for it. But when one unexpected kiss leads to the wildest sex of both their lives, it doesn’t take long for Garrett to realize that pretend isn’t going to cut it. Now he just has to convince Hannah that the man she wants looks a lot like him.
I’ve only recently gotten into New Adult books and The Deal was recommended to me by quite a few people. Good news because I super loved this book! It was hot and funny and had just the right amount of reality and drama; it felt real, like I could picture being at college with these people. Plus sports!!! It was a really fun book with all the tropes that I love: fake dating, slow burn romance and best of all, hate to love by way of a tentative friendship AKA my kryptonite! Parts of the book were more serious than I anticipated but it didn’t feel exploitive or drama for the sake of drama, which was good. Also ONE DIRECTION REFERENCES. So here for that haha :)
Besides TOTALLY loving Garrett (oh my god) and Hannah, I love that they communicated like adults. It didn’t take half a book to resolve an argument, it took a few pages. So refreshing. They had the most amazing chemistry and I loved how they bantered with each other. And hot damn was this book super sexual sexy. Oh my godddd. Like, my face was burning while I was reading but I loved it haha. I also loved Garrett’s friends, I’m so glad there will be companion books! I also read The Mistake and loved that too ;)
Since the death of her brother, William, Elizabeth I has ruled England. She’s made the necessary alliances, married Philip of Spain, and produced a successor: her only daughter, Anne Isabella, Princess of Wales. Elizabeth knows that her beloved Anabel will be a political pawn across Europe unless she can convince Philip to grant her a divorce, freeing him to remarry and give Spain its own heir. But the enemies of England have even greater plans for the princess, a plot that will put Anabel’s very life and the security of the nation in peril. Only those closest to Elizabeth—her longtime confidante Minuette, her advisor and friend Dominic, and the couple’s grown children—can be trusted to carry forth a most delicate and dangerous mission. Yet, all of the queen’s maneuverings may ultimately prove her undoing.
I won a finished copy of this book from the author’s website, though I would have purchased it in any case. This did not affect my review in any way.
The Virgin’s Daughter made me giddy for a multitude of reasons (in no particular order):
-It’s a sequel trilogy to the Boleyn King trilogy, so there are many favorite recurring characters that were such fun to catch up with. Definitely older, sometimes sneakier, sometimes wiser ;) For this reason (and despite the spoilers in the synopsis), I really recommend reading The Boleyn King– it’s EXCELLENT and you’ll get so much more out of Laura Andersen’s Tudor England.
-It’s alternate history that feels like real history. I was enmeshed in the Tudor court, the English countryside, the French manor homes. It feels familiar as a history buff for those reasons but because it’s an alternate timeline, you don’t know how events will actually transpire or turn out! Elizabeth never had a daughter in real life, so how am I to know if Anabel will become Queen one day or who she will marry? I don’t! It adds a delicious layer of tension and excitement to the story. Plus there are really good ships! ;)
-The spies and mystery: the rotating POVs gave the impression of an unreliable narrator, which was great- loyalty, betrayal, treachery,and murder abound. You don’t know who to trust or who is telling the truth. In the end the reader got to know the truth before the characters, or some of the truth anyway, and it made me so nervous and tense!!! I wanted everyone to uncover the secrets already!
-THE CHARACTERS! Both real (Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scots) and imagined (Julien LeClerc, Princess Anabel). They are vivid, they are passionate, and they are vibrant. I absolutely loved Lucette Courtenay and her puzzle solving mind. I swooned over Julien, and I loved seeing how much of Anabel’s personality reflected her fiery mother, who in turn is as fully fleshed out as you could wish. Elizabeth is fierce, demanding, and powerful, but has softer moments as well. It humanizes her.
If you’re a history fan with Tudor fatigue, I highly recommend this book! Laura Andersen’s writing feels both familiar to fans of historical fiction and original in its subject matter and characterization. It’s a great twist on English history. The Virgin’s Daughter is compulsively readable, action-packed, descriptive, twisty, and romantic. I can’t wait for the next book.
And in case you love audiobooks, check out this clip from THE VIRGIN’S DAUGHTER:
This is kind of a no brainer; I would absolutely love to meet my favorite author and have tea with her. Besides the chance to pick her brain about Harry Potter, she seems like she has a wicked sense of humor! I almost got to meet her in 8th grade at a book signing but I couldn’t skip school. Greatest regret of my life.
The ability to know release dates of future books
Even if they’re 1, 5, 10 years off, the chance to know the actual release date of a book would be so exciting! There’s nothing I love more than planning and having something to look forward to, so if I have to circle July 28, 2023 on my calendar for A Dream of Spring, I’ll do it! But really, I need The Winds of Winter and new books from Ken Follet, Jasper Fforde, Kristen Cashore, Margaret George, and Madeline Miller. Chop chop!
Build my ultimate library
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve dreamed of living in a house with a round turret room. Lots of windows but room for bookcases and a fireplace and twinkle lights, with cozy built in window seating that you can open up for storage. Blankets, fuzzy socks, more books. It’s like my ultimate dream. I always pictured it small but I’d love a giant round room too. More room for books, an armchair, and maybe a small section for a fridge with snacks and tea.
The ability to read at lightning speed but retain the material
Every bookworm’s dream right? So much to read, so little time. Sometimes it’s nice to linger over a book but I’d really like to read super fast but still feel all the feels and thrills of a book.
Another book from Emily Bronte
Wuthering Heights is a favorite of mine; I read it in high school and have read it at least 6 times since. Even though the characters are unlikeable, I get swept up in the passion and the violent loveliness of the writing and the Yorkshire Moors. I’ve always wondered what other masterpieces Emily could have written if she didn’t die so young.
Rewrite Little Women so Jo and Laurie end up together
The book makes you feel better about Amy and Laurie than the movie does, but I’ll never be over it. I adore Jo March and Theodore Laurence as individuals, and Laurie and Jo were so good together. Ughhhhh OTP.
The ability to touch a book and sense whether I will love it/like it/hate it.
I’d save myself a lot of trouble this way! And I’d only want a sense, not necessarily WHY I’d love/like/hate it. I still want to discover the book for myself but know I’m not wasting my time.
A historical fantasy series about the Hogwarts Founders from JKR
I would absolutely die for this, can you even imagine?!?! And clearly I’m requesting this when she and I have lunch together. I love the Mauraders as much as the next Potterhead, but the Founders would be fascinating. Their dynamic, how Hogwarts came to be, not to mention HISTORICAL WIZARDING WORLD!!!
A bookish credit card
This is kind of ridiculous and sadly adult all at the same time. I’d like a credit card with a huge limit just for books and bookish materials. However, it is always paid off so all it does is build me great credit and get me books! A girl can dream, right?
An Ella Enchanted movie JUST LIKE THE BOOK.
You hear me, Book Genie? Just. Like. The. Book. With perfect casting of course and a beautiful blend of Cinderella 2015 and Ever After for costume and cinematography. Ella Enchanted is one of my least favorite movie adaptations ever, which is a tragedy for one of my favorite books. I want to see everything I love come to life onscreen so I can watch it twice a week on dvd.
What would you ask the bookish genie for? Do we have any similar wishes?
Living on her family’s idyllic lakeside estate in Cornwall, England, Alice Edevane is a bright, inquisitive, innocent, and precociously talented sixteen-year-old who loves to write stories. But the mysteries she pens are no match for the one her family is about to endure…
One midsummer’s eve, after a beautiful party drawing hundreds of guests to the estate has ended, the Edevanes discover that their youngest child, eleven-month-old Theo, has vanished without a trace. What follows is a tragedy that tears the family apart in ways they never imagined.
Decades later, Alice is living in London, having enjoyed a long successful career as an author. Theo’s case has never been solved, though Alice still harbors a suspicion as to the culprit. Miles away, Sadie Sparrow, a young detective in the London police force, is staying at her grandfather’s house in Cornwall. While out walking one day, she stumbles upon the old estate—now crumbling and covered with vines, clearly abandoned long ago. Her curiosity is sparked, setting off a series of events that will bring her and Alice together and reveal shocking truths about a past long gone...yet more present than ever.
A lush, atmospheric tale of intertwined destinies, this latest novel from a masterful storyteller is an enthralling, thoroughly satisfying read.
This was one of my MOST anticipated books of the year! My Morton ladies and I couldn’t stop flailing about it on twitter and via text, and The Lake House more than lived up to the wait.
Kate Morton is an auto-buy author for me. Her style is so consistently excellent that it’s more a matter of ranking her books from most favorite to still excellent, rather than least favorite. I love that you know what you’re getting when you read a Kate Morton book on one hand (a suspenseful dual timeline mystery, intricate plotting, lush historical setting, lots of secrets and twists, tragic relationships) but that they feel unique and surprising at the same time. She has an exquisite way with words, of capturing feelings and emotions and of doling out the right helping of intrigue at the right time, and her books stay with you long after you’ve read them.
The Lake House was not my favorite Morton book- for whatever reason I didn’t connect as much with Sadie and her story, which is why it’s not a perfect 5 for me. Sadie felt distant and reserved. But I adored the past storyline, both on its own and how it tied in with the present. And Alice was really interesting; all her authorial writing advice felt very meta! There were actually a few narrators, which was also different from other Morton books. I thought I had the characters pegged and then they would go and surprise me. I particularly fell in love with Eleanor and the many facets of her personality. I also enjoyed the lushness of the English countryside life between the wars. I felt like I was there in the manicured gardens and the charming Lake House, overhearing adult conversations in the stifling boathouse with my heart racing the entire time! It was just as easy to imagine the layers of dust and time in the crumbling house once Sadie stumbled upon it.
The mystery of the 1930’s storyline, both how it tied in to the parallel story and how it actually unfolded was heartbreaking and fabulous. Very compelling and hard to pin down. Just when you think the twist is going one way, she U turns and heads the other direction!
It never feels trite or manipulative either; the intricacies of her plotting and reveals are second to none. The end did feel a bit more saccharine than some of her other books but it was satisfying in its own way. You’ll definitely want to get swept away by The Lake House this fall!
Let’s call September The Month Where Morgan Discovered NA Again. I read 5 NA sports romances in a week! Maybe it’s the feeling of fall and football in the air, but whatever it is, I loved it. They were all fast, engaging, sexy, humorous, and thoughtful reads; I listed them below along with two other challenge-less books.
The Lake House by Kate Morton- 4.5 stars. Kate Morton is the queen of the dual timeline novel. The intricacies of her plotting and reveals are second to none and I loved the 1930s story.
The Trouble With Destiny by Lauren Morrill- 3 stars. This was a very cute story but I didn’t connect with the characters or get many butterflies over the romance. Wish I loved it as much as Meant to Be.
Whatever Life Throws At You– 3 stars. I loved Jason and I love baseball books, but I had some issues with the MC; I also feel like this felt more YA than NA, which is fine except it wasn’t what I was looking for.
All Broke Down by Cora Carmack- 4.5 stars. Super, deliciously sexy and fun. Wish we got a little more closure on Silas and Dylan’s respective issues but oh man this book was great!
All Played Out by Cora Carmack- 4 stars. I think it’s so cool and the mark of good writing that Cora Carmack makes me fall in love with characters I wasn’t even sure that I liked! But as usual, Matteo Torres had hidden depths and sweetness to him, and I really liked Nell. My favorite cover of the series too.
The Deal by Elle Kennedy- 5 stars. I loved this book!! It was hot and funny and had just the right amount of reality and drama. And besides TOTALLY loving Graham (oh my god) and Hannah, I love that they communicated like adults. Plus One Direction references!
The Mistake by Elle Kennedy- 4 stars. Logan is so CUTE and has so much depth- I love how three dimensional Elle Kennedy makes her leads and their friends. My favorite part has to be Grace’s epilogue though!
Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas- 5 stars. SO much action with characters that surprised me at every turn, and a whole lot of FEELS. There was a bit of deux ex machina at play and I wasn’t wholly satisfied with Chaol’s character arc but overall I raced through this and it’s my favorite of the series. I particularly loved Aedion and Manon.
Walk On Earth A Stranger by Rae Carson- 3.5 stars. I’m not sure what I expected but it wasn’t for the journey itself to take so long. That being said, the descriptions are crisp and evocative. And I liked most of the characters, including Leah, and enjoyed the last 100 pages. But there was next to no fantasy and I couldn’t shake my dislike of westerns for more than half the book.
I loved the ARCs so much that I bought finished copies of both books!
Ash & Bramble by Sarah Prineas– 4 stars. Apparently, I am the ever-elusive positive black sheep! If you can get through the first couple chapters, and you love dark fairy tale retellings with intriguing characters and interesting plots, give Ash & Bramble a try. I ended up loving this subversive, dark, twisty fairy tale. I thought Pin was courageous and resourceful; I liked all of the characters, actually. It’s definitely a book with a Concept that takes awhile to grasp. Once you do, it clicks into place and the story races forward with more action that I expected. And I loved the Cinderella nods and the allusions to other fairy tales.
Hook’s Revenge: The Pirate Code by Heidi Schultz- 5 stars. The continuing adventures of Captain Hook’s daughter, Jocelyn Hook. The narrator and characters continue to be delightful, as does the fantastically descriptive language. Such a fun twist on Neverland and Peter Pan. It was an extremely charming, wonderful, heartfelt sequel.
Have you read any of these books? Are they on your TBR? Let me know!
Devon Tennyson wouldn't change a thing. She's happy watching Friday night games from the bleachers, silently crushing on best friend Cas, and blissfully ignoring the future after high school. But the universe has other plans. It delivers Devon's cousin Foster, an unrepentant social outlier with a surprising talent for football, and the obnoxiously superior and maddeningly attractive star running back, Ezra, right where she doesn't want them first into her P.E. class and then into every other aspect of her life.
Pride and Prejudice meets Friday Night Lights in this contemporary novel about falling in love with the unexpected boy, with a new brother, and with yourself.
I almost fell out of my chair when I first heard the pitch for First & Then: Friday Night Lights meets Pride & Prejudice, aka two of my very favorite things! I’m happy to say that the story lived up to every bit of its pitch, which was a relief and so very awesome.
The first chapter is a bit ho-hum, but once I got past that I flew through the book in a day. I felt like I was transported back to my high school, all the worries I had about college, my secret not-so-secret crush on my friend, the hierarchy of the student body and fitting in. Emma Mills really captures that slice of high school life in a familiar, endearing way. It felt hip but not dated and I enjoyed Devon’s voice a lot.
My favorite part of the book was of course the characters. I feel like the adults could have been fleshed out more; they were pretty standard and cardboard. And there were some emotional, traumatic situations so I would have appreciated a little more nuance from the adults. But otherwise, I loved every single character. Each teen has layers to their personality and lots going on under the surface. The book digs deeper than I would have expected.
Foster might seem annoying at first but he’s perceptive and blossoms as the story progresses. Jordan is the super popular, cute football player, but he’s actually really nice and a good friend. Marabelle is a quirky pregnant teen (that isn’t ridiculed, huzzah) and reminded me a lot of Luna Lovegood. And Ezra. Oh Ezra. The most Darcy-ish not-Mr. Darcy I’ve ever met. I loved watching him open up! Even the peripheral characters managed to capture a wide swath of the high school social scene and prove that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Plus all the football was really fun.
This brings me to my other favorite part of the book: picking out the Pride and Prejudice references! It’s a really cute book even if you haven’t read/seen anything Jane Austen but the experience is vastly improved if you have. Devon is constantly waxing poetic about Jane and her writing, her romantic sensibilities, and she even references Sense & Sensibility many times. Plus there are parties and dances of course!
Not all of the characters lined up perfectly, but Devon is clearly the prejudiced Elizabeth Bennett and Ezra is the proud Mr. Darcy, and they played their parts to a T. Devon is by no means a mean person, but she is sheltered and judgmental, and she goes on this amazing character arc that felt very satisfying and believable. I especially loved her complicated relationship with her cousin Foster (much improved on Mr. Collins!), and their joint friendship with Ezra.
My main complaint is that Devon complains about a lack of kissing in Jane’s books, which is ironic because I would love just a few pages more of First & Then! It’s a slow burn and while I didn’t get major swoons, I loved Ezra and Devon together. They have this chemistry and regard for one another that just felt… right. Meant to be. Which is how I feel about Mr. Darcy and Lizzie.
If you love football, Jane Austen, banter, evolving high school friendships, and a touch of romance, you’ll fall in love with First & Then like I did. It’s a perfect book for fall!
Black Widow: Forever Red by Margaret Stohl– 2.5 stars. The book started off strong and fizzled. At first the book made me feel like I was watching a Marvel movie, which had been just what I was looking for, but I wish there were more Natasha chapters. There was a lot of the other two leads and it got a little instalovey for my taste. In general, a lot of suspension of disbelief is necessary for the book but it has some good action sequences.
Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy – 5 stars. Willowdean’s voice was magnificent and I loved watching her growth in a myriad of ways- with her friends, her mom, guys, and most importantly, herself. Everyone has felt different for one reason or another and it’s this “otherness” that makes it so easy to relate to this book no matter who you are or what you look like. I also loved the Texas flair sprinkled throughout Dumplin’. It was a book that made me smile and made me think.
First and Then by Emma Mills – 4.5 stars. My full review will be up on the blog soon, gifs included! I can’t wait to share it :D I have never read a book that reflected its pitch so perfectly- Pride and Prejudice meets Friday Night Lights indeed! I loved this so much. The characters were wonderful and it was deep and fun and a real slice of high school life.
A Little In Love by Susan Fletcher – 4 stars. Heartbreaking, my god. Eponine’s life is so hard but she somehow manages to still find the beauty in small things and that’s a gift. I also haven’t cried over a book in a long time, so. A must for Les Miserables fans (this is a retelling/companion and I admittedly didn’t know the story well). It’s a fast read with beautiful writing and so much emotion.
Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce – 5 stars. I wasn’t sure if I’d like this new series as much as the Alanna series but after the first few pages I did!!! Daine is a very different character but equally wonderful and I love Numair’s flirty sarcasm. The animals reminded me a little of Redwall and I liked their interactions with Daine. But let’s be real, the best part? SEEING OLD BELOVED CHARACTERS EEEEEEEEEE. Every time one of them popped on the page (no spoilers from me) I fell more in love. It was great fun. And great action in the story too!
I also read a couple of non-challenge books as well:
Every Move by Ellie Marney – 5 stars. The third book in the Every trilogy doesn’t come out in the US until next year but I had to buy the Aussie versions because I love this story. It was a wonderful end to the trilogy! I love how visceral and REAL Ellie Marney’s writing is, but most of all I love her characters. I won’t spoil anything here but suffice to say it is an EXCELLENT last book. The tension, action, mystery, and terror are top notch and chilling, and the feels are out of control. I can’t wait for whatever Ellie Marney writes next.
Not Easily Conquered by dropdeaddream, WhatAreFears – First off, Captain America is my favorite Avenger and I’ve been a bit obsessed lately so Meg sent this to me. Normally I would not include a fan fic story in my roundup but this was 117,000 words and I READ IT IN 24 HOURS. THE EQUIVALENT OF 400 PAGES. My eyeballs hurt and it was so worth it. If I could count it on Goodreads and give it 5 stars, I would. Not Easily Conquered is one of the best pieces of straight up fiction I’ve EVER read; it was nuanced and gorgeously written alternate Marvel Cinematic Universe. I also loved all the historical research woven into the story.
I loved how the story moved through time and gave Cap this amazing, full, complicated life. The authors captured the essence of every MCU character so brilliantly. I would read 500 pages of Bucky Barnes’ letters. They are so unbelievably beautiful and brutal and elegant. I could FEEL the emotion in the story and it broke my heart and made me laugh and smile too. I’m telling you, if you are a fan of Marvel or good storytelling at all, don’t discount this just because it’s unofficial. I can’t wait to read it again someday.
I’ve completed my challenge goals already but I want to keep going! And I might use Andi’s nifty TBR list method going forward; I like the idea of having a list that allows for mood reading. What are your goals for September?
So I’m currently (technically finishing) reading Loving Dallas (Neon Dreams #2) by Caisey Quinn, which I started reading without realizing it was book TWO and I hadn’t even read book one yet. After reading the synopsis for book one though it looks like nothing was ruined, so we’re all good. I plan on starting Dumplin by Julie Murphy. It’s so funny, because having met Julie Murphy, I totally hear her “voice” while reading this. I kinda like that! There’s been nothing but great things said about this book, so I have high expectations that I’m sure will be met.
I finished The Lake House by Kate Morton last night and just started Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4) by Sarah J. Maas– so far so good! It’s a really exciting, emotional series and I can’t wait to see where the story is heading (no spoilers please!). Not sure it’s the best book to actually read in bed because it weighs a million pounds but I’m going to try to read as much as I can today on the couch. Plus it’s exciting to finally have one of my most anticipated books of the year!
The first book series I fell in love with! The Hidden Staircase was my first chapter book and I remember picking it out at Barnes and Noble with my dad when I was 7; it was his suggestion! I read Nancy Drew books throughout my childhood and must have read anywhere from 60-100 of them. I loved mysteries!
Clive Cussler- 16 books, the Dirk Pitt series
Clive Cussler was my high school obsession! I bought a box of 9 books on eBay and worked through those first. They are formulaic but written well and oh so much fun! The mixture of history with action and adventure plus the focus on oceanic exploration make Dirk Pitt seem like Indiana Jones mixed with James Bond and Jacques Cousteau. My favorites: Sahara, Inca Gold, Shock Wave, Atlantis Found.
Brian Jacques- 13 books, the Redwall Saga
Ohhh Redwall. Redwall was my middle school obsession :) My mom bought me the first book in the animal medieval fantasy series and I just loved them. I read 13 of them from the summer before 8th grade through the end of the year. The attention to detail for the Abbey’s history, as well as the multitude of interesting animal cultures, made them such enjoyable reads! Plus I liked how the books connected. Dastardly villains, climactic battles, ancient mysteries, and friendship made them very epic fantasies. I’d like to read the rest of the series someday.
Louise Rennison- 13 books, the Georgia Nicolson and Tallulah Casey series.
Oh my goodness, my friends and I were SO INTO the Georgia series! All the hilarious slang, the many laugh out loud moments (I’ve read the first book 4 times), and of course all the BOYS. Sooo many marvy boys; Dave the Laugh and Georgia are my OTP. I read 5 of them in high school and got the rest at the library years later. Still so funny! I love her Tallulah series as well (she’s Georgia’s cousin); they have their own wacky charm and yummy boys. Totally absurd, silly, British, lovely books. Ooer.
Daniel Silva- 12 books, the Gabriel Allon series
My favorite high school history teacher gave me my first Daniel Silva book; we had bonded over a shared love of Clive Cussler and he thought I’d like this series. Now my dad and I are both addicted! Gabriel Allon is an art restorer/Israeli spy with a haunted past and oh my goodness are these books tense! There is always an art history angle mixed in with a very 24-esque race against time against a variety of art dealers/terrorist groups/etc in exotic locales all over the globe. They can be read as standalones but the characters and their relationships carry over from book to book so it’s more rewarding to read them all. I’m excited for his newest adventure The English Girl!
Sophie Kinsella- 11 books, the Shopaholic series and various standalones.
My go-to author for adult contemporary romances! I like to call them romantic comedies because they are hilarious and zany and romantic, and if one of the books was a (good) movie, I’d watch it a million times! Becky Bloomwood from the Shopaholic series is like a British I Love Lucy. And I love the heroines of her standalones as well, especially I’ve Got Your Number and Twenties Girl. Kinsella has a style that I adore; I think I’ve only read one book of hers that I didn’t care for out of 12, which is a pretty fantastic ratio!
J.K. Rowling- 10 books, the Harry Potter series
These need no explanation. I read the first book at the end of 7th grade and waited (not-so-patiently) for each new book! I also counted Tales of Beedle the Bard, Quidditch Through the Ages, and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Such fun additions to the Harry Potter canon!
Lauren Willig- 9 books, the Pink Carnation series
I read the first book in this historical spy romance series when it first came out and rediscovered them about five years ago. I went on a pretty serious library binge, I couldn’t get enough! The last book in the series (#12) just came out this month, so I’m excited to catch up on the few that I’ve missed.
Gail Carriger- 8 books, the Parasol Protectorate and the Finishing School series.
Her steampunk books are so much fun; I binge read the Parasol Protectorate and am anxiously awaiting Manners & Mutiny, the conclusion to the Finishing School series. I need to start Prudence (her third series) as well!
Jasper Fforde- 7 books, the Thursday Next series
These books are pretty indescribable. I read them all a few summers ago and can’t wait for the next installment. Set in an alternate Britain with time travel and the ability to actually enter books, they are wholly original, genre-bending books with very likeable and interesting characters. Thursday Next is an engaging heroine, and a literary detective to boot. I love the mixture of fantasy, detective novels and parody. Plus there are a lot of jokes and allusions for fans of literature and reading. The books are fantastically absurd and hilarious.
Bedtime Stories will be a Sunday feature where we’ll briefly talk about the books we’re currently taking to bed/reading in bed. Simple as that! Hope you enjoy!
Currently I’m reading Playing with Trouble by Chanel Cleeton. I’ve had a bit of a reading slump lately but Playing with Trouble instantly grabbed my attention. I can already sense all the delicious tension between these two characters who are bound to totally fall in love. Hehe It’s why I love contemporary romance stories. I love settling into bed knowing a fun romantic book is waiting to be read.
I’m currently reading an ARC of Black Widow: Forever Red by Margaret Stohl (out in October). It’s really enjoyable and exciting! I feel like I’m watching a Marvel movie when I read, which is just what I wanted. And I like picturing Scarlett Johansson as Natasha. Hoping to finish it very soon!
I’m reading Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. This book is jam-packed with video game, 80s, and pop culture references. It’s a dystopian, science-fiction novel about a desolate future where your only escape from the current wasteland of the world is via a virtual reality video game. Sometimes after a particularly stressful day at work, or even after an uneventful day, you need an escape from reality before going to bed. This book offers just that for me, complete with an awesome virtual reality video game world as a bonus! This is the reason I am currently taking Ready Player One by Ernest Cline to bed with me!
I’m reading All The Rage by Courtney Summers. I’ve read a few other Courtney Summer books and I’ve enjoyed them all. I just started this book, but it looks like it will be an emotional read and I can already sense that I’m going to need some tissues while reading. This seems like one of those books that will stick with you way after you’ve finished reading. This probably isn’t the perfect bedtime book for everyone, but I love a good emotional story that leaves you feeling a little exhausted when you’re done reading.
June snuck by pretty fast and now we’re already at the end of July! July was a slow reading month for me so this is a recap for both, included a couple non challenge books.
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agendaby Becky Albertalli- 5 stars. THIS BOOK WAS DELIGHTFUL. I loved it sooooo much, you guys! Oh my gosh, this is one of my tops of the year; I read it in a day. Simon is snarky, relatable, adorable, and nerdy. I loved how real the friendships and relationships felt, I loved Simon’s family, and I loved the emails between him and Blue. SHIPPPPP!
I loved watching them fall for each other while discovering who they were (literally and figuratively). So much of this book had universal themes of being a high school kid and discovering yourself, while managing to be cute and funny as hell. It was such a joy to read a diverse but fluffy book, I still like my swoons! Albertalli did a wonderful job of incorporating important themes without being heavy handed. It felt *real*. And the last 30 pages were awesome and magical.
Jesse’s Girl by Miranda Kenneally- 4 stars. I reviewed this as part of Bitsy Words! It was really cute and I loved the characters. Great summer book.
Inherit the Stars by Tessa Elwood- 2 stars. The idea was good but the execution was off. It was confusing, boring, and the characters were flat.
I also DNFed two review books that weren’t working for me:
In the Hand of the Goddess by Tamora Pierce– 4 stars. I really enjoyed the sequel to Alanna, especially since I knew what to expect of the writing style! The characters continue to ensnare your heart. At this point, I still love Jon best but I also love George. And Faithful! And Alanna is the best of the best. I love watching her grow. The ending was very exciting too.
The Woman Who Rides Like A Man by Tamora Pierce– 5 stars. I was worried about the change in setting but I shouldn’t have worried, I LOVED this book! I loved watching Alanna learn to teach, to continue to embrace her femininity, and of course her warrior prowess. She’s flipping gender roles left and right. Also SHIPS. CAPSIZING. NEW SHIPS BEING BUILT. Lots of ships. Lots of excitement and intrigue and magic.
Lioness Rampant by Tamora Pierce– 5 stars. Super wonderful. Such an exciting, perfect ending to the series. I loved the new characters (esp Liam!) and loved where all the characters ended up for the most part. There were deaths and I CRIED at one part towards the end. Ahh. And I feel like I was manipulated in the most masterful way over the course of the series, romance wise. Now that I have a feel for the writing style and fast pace, I’d love to go back and read all 4 books back to back. As it is, I read them over two months, which is pretty quick. So happy I finally read this series, I fell in love with Alanna :)
The Hidden Prince by Jodi Meadows– 3 stars. I won this novella from Jenna and Crystal at Bookiemoji, thanks again ladies! It was delightful being back with Tobiah and James. I’m excited for more action going forward, can’t wait for the next novella! :)
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard– 4 stars (also counts for #365DaysofYA)- So addictive!!! I loved the worldbuilding and the royal family. Great villains, great ships! I loved the different Silver abilities and how the arena reminded me simultaneously of Ancient Rome and the Hunger Games. I still don’t get why Cal felt drawn to Mare in the beginning but… *shrugs* it was a super enjoyable read even with some cliches. I can’t wait to see where the story is going!
Uprooted by Naomi Novik– 5 stars (also counts for #fairytaleRC)- CAN I JUST SHOUT AT YOU ABOUT THIS BOOK? YES? GREAT! *ahem* What a marvelous, special, magical book. It was everything I love about fairy tales and fantasy in one satisfying volume. The writing was gorgeous, descriptive, captivating. I shrieked loudly about the Dragon and Agnieszka because that is how you write a SHIP. SHIP SHIP SHIP. Gillian, Julie, and I are starting a band called Intolerable Lunatic btw. First single “I Hate You, Let’s Kiss” coming soon.
ANYWAY. I adored learning about the Wood, the history of the kingdom, the magic. It was entrancing. The book felt familiar and original all at once. It was frightening, sad, magical, and even romantic. I also loved Kasia and the role she played in the story, bigger than I expected. This would make the most fantastic movie, if I wasn’t scared of them messing it up somehow.
caption: a fanmade video of the opening credits for a (non-existent) Raven Boys tv show. Maggie approved too! It’s spectacular.
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater– 5 stars. My third time reading, you can read all of my reviews at the link. I have lots of thoughts!! I really really love it, the intricacies of the language and relationships and story threads. It always feels like a new book, a fresh book, every time I read it. And that’s a special thing. In general, knowing Stiefvater’s writing style right off the bat helps, and I loved seeing the fateful twisting of strands bringing Blue and her raven boys together. It was just so enjoyable. And there were a LOT of details and foreshadowing that I missed the first time around!
The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater– 5 stars. Again, nothing to add except how much I love this book. The Kavinsky parts aren’t my total favorite but they’re definitely fascinating and intense. I love *knowing* things so I can see how they work in the story i.e. the dreaming. It’s so cool. And I always forget a detail or two until I read it again. These books are built of such wonderful puzzle pieces and I like seeing them start to fit together. Things that stood out to me this time: The Gray Man. Understanding Cabeswater/Ronan’s dreaming more so I could follow along better, esp the end. Ronan, Ronan, Ronan. Always Ronan. GANSEY AND BLUE. I get sadder and sadder for Gansey the more I think about his fate. I can’t see how it can be escaped but I hope it can. Adam and Persephone and the ley line. Oh and the cave!
Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater– 5 stars. My second time reading. I already want to read it again because there is so much to ABSORB in this series. Malory continues to be a delight, as does Jesse Dittley. And I really liked Piper and Colin this time around, as far as their dynamic and interplay goes. My Pynch and Bluesy feels continue to ignite fiery feelings in my heart and I don’t know what I’m going to do when I read The Raven King next year. I love how much a simple touch means, whether it’s between Blue and Gansey, Blue and Ronan, or Ronan and Adam. So much weight. I still find scrying creepy and the end is just WTF. WTF. And SO MUCH TO PONDER. Can I just love everyone and everything? Okay cool.
Everyone at Hundred Oaks High knows that career mentoring day is a joke. So when Maya Henry said she wanted to be a rock star, she never imagined she’d get to shadow *the* Jesse Scott, Nashville’s teen idol.
But spending the day with Jesse is far from a dream come true. He’s as gorgeous as his music, but seeing all that he’s accomplished is just a reminder of everything Maya’s lost: her trust, her boyfriend, their band, and any chance to play the music she craves. Not to mention that Jesse’s pushy and opinionated. He made it on his own, and he thinks Maya’s playing back up to other people’s dreams. Does she have what it takes to follow her heart—and go solo?
Thank you Sourcebooks and Netgalley! This was adorable; I really liked Maya’s vibe, all the music, and her relationship with Jesse. It was great to see how they progressed over days/weeks/months and felt believable despite his celebrity status. I especially loved their Ferris Bueller day!! And her friend Dave. And SAM AND JORDAN!! It got a little cheesy in the second half but I read it in an afternoon so I obviously enjoyed it :) Her family was wonderful and it was a great summer read. “You know I wish that I had Jesse’s girl…”
Her home planet is filled with violence and corruption at the hands of King Matthias and his wife as they attempt to punish her captors. The king will stop at nothing to get his beloved daughter back—but that’s assuming she wants to return at all.
Essie has grown used to being cold. Temperatures on the planet Thanda are always sub-zero, and she fills her days with coding and repairs for the seven loyal drones that run the local mines.
When a mysterious young man named Dane crash-lands near her home, Essie agrees to help the pilot repair his ship. But soon she realizes that Dane’s arrival was far from accidental, and she’s pulled into the heart of a war she’s risked everything to avoid. With the galaxy’s future—and her own—in jeopardy, Essie must choose who to trust in a fiery fight for survival.
I really loved this, I’m so glad I gave it a chance!! I had a few issues but overall I thought it was wonderful. While I certainly understand the comparisons to the Lunar Chronicles, Stitching Snow is unique and stands on its own, while still being perfect for fans of that series. Essie is self-sufficient, badass, and brave (she cage fights!) and I loved the droids, especially Dimwit. I also loved learning about Essie’s past, and Essie’s relationship with Dane (total hate-to-love). They learn to work together and trust each other despite many obstacles. The setting and worldbuilding was extensive but not confusing, the villains were disturbing, and I loved all the Snow White allusions throughout the story. I’d definitely recommend it for fans of Cinder, fairy tale retellings, sci fi, awesome characters, and standalones! (Reading Challenges: FairytaleRC, 365 Days of YA)
"Never go into the deep parts of the forest, for there are many dangers there and they will ensnare your soul."
Serafina has never had a reason to disobey her pa and venture beyond the grounds of Biltmore Estate. There's plenty to explore in the shadowed corridors of her vast home, but she must take care to never be seen. None of the rich folk upstairs know that Serafina exists; she and her pa, the estate's maintenance man, have secretly lived in the basement for as long as Serafina can remember.
But when children at the estate start disappearing, only Serafina knows who the culprit is: a terrifying man in a black cloak who stalks Biltmore's corridors at night. Following her own harrowing escape, Serafina risks everything by joining forces with Braeden Vanderbilt, the young nephew of Biltmore's owners. Braeden and Serafina must uncover the Man in the Black Cloak's true identity before all of the children vanish one by one.
Serafina's hunt leads her into the very forest that she has been taught to fear. There she discovers a forgotten legacy of magic that is bound to her own identity. In order to save the children of Biltmore, Serafina must seek the answers that will unlock the puzzle of her past.
Thank you Disney-Hyperion and Netgalley! Serafina was a great surprise. I loved the writing and the atmosphere of the Biltmore Estate and surrounding grounds. For some reason I thought the book would be set in England but it was set in the South which added a lot of grit and character to the story, as well as Serafina herself. The Chief Rat Catcher! The book starts off on a unique and macabre note, it was fantastic. I loved that it was a historical fiction mystery mixed with the supernatural. It was engaging, well-written, scary, mysterious, and captivating. The word choice and vocab was interesting and one of the things I enjoyed most. I also loved the graveyard scene in the woods. “Rest in peace and don’t return.” So creepy!
Serafina’s friendship with Braeden was really wonderful; I liked getting to see her open up and work together while still keeping the essence of herself and her bravery. My only caveat was that the ending seemed abrupt, a little too tied in a bow. I thought there would be more of a giant struggle with the antagonist, or some consequences for Sera and her father. But it actually made it better for its intended MG audience. I would recommend this book without hesitation to people who enjoy historical fiction, mysteries creepy supernatural stories, friendship, brave and resourceful girls, and grand old-fashioned storytelling.
About Miranda Kenneally
Growing up in Tennessee, Miranda Kenneally dreamed of becoming an Atlanta Brave, a country singer (cliché!), or a UN interpreter. Instead she writes and works for the State Department in Washington, D.C., where George W. Bush once used her shoulder as an armrest. Miranda loves Twitter, Star Trek and her husband. Visit www.mirandakenneally.com