Favorite Books of 2018

Reading has slowed down significantly as the holiday season arrived.  Plus, I’ve been spending a good portion of my time in November putting together furniture.  Still, I thought it would be fun to look back over the books that received five stars.  I definitely saw some trends that I thought I would share with you.  All of the links will send you to my reviews of each book.

Favorite New Author:  This year, I started following Victoria “V.E” Schwab on social media.  I had heard of her books, and that people really loved them.  So, I started with The Archived series, which I checked out of the library.  I absolutely loved both The Archived and The Unbound.  Which led me to pre-order her new middle-grade book, City of Ghosts, which I again, of course, loved.

Favorite YA Books: In addition to the above books, I also really loved a few newer authors, as well as a couple of authors I was already familiar with their writing.  Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi introduced me to a new African mythology, and The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas was a poignant and beautiful contemporary novel about grief and racism.

I also thoroughly enjoyed Thunderhead (the second book in the Scythe series) by Neal Shusterman and Library of Souls (the third book in Mrs. Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children series) by Ransom Riggs.  I’ve read Unwind by Shusterman many years ago, which I liked.  I’ve also been reading Riggs’ series for a couple of years now and plan to read this next book (which I already own) Map of Days that continues the story of his Peculiar series.

Favorite Adult Books: All of the adult authors I enjoyed this year were new to me.  The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern was an impulse buy that I really enjoyed and probably prompted more impulse buying this year than I have in a long time.  How to Stop Time by Matt Haig made me tear up at the end.  It actually answers the question of how to stop time through this fictional, magical story.  And What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty was a surprise because it wasn’t the main story that made me love it so much, but the subplot of her sister and infertility that kept me turning the pages (and I think I cried at the end of this one, too).

Favorite Non-fiction/Memoir: Kathy Khang’s book Raise Your Voice is a perfect narrative of this moment in history.  It challenged the reader to face the excuses used to stay quiet when we need to speak up.  And on a completely different level, Anne Bogel’s book, I’d Rather Be Reading, was a perfect collection of essays for any reader to relate to.

All of these authors have inspired me in so many different ways and prompted me to see life from new perspectives.  I think they have all taken a part in shaping me this year, and I look forward to seeing what new favorites will come into my life next year!

What are some of your favorites? 

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City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab: A Review

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City of Ghosts
by Victoria Schwab

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is my third book written by Victoria Schwab that I’ve read (which I’m trying to slowly remedy) and I absolutely loved it. It made me want to visit Edinburgh, Scotland. It’s the first middle-grade novel that I have read in a long time, but since I have enjoyed everything she has written so far, I was happy to add this to my read list.
The story is about a girl, Cass, who had a near-death experience and now sees ghosts, namely her best friend Jacob who is a ghost. And her parents also happen to be writers of the paranormal (though they do not see ghosts). So, when they get an opportunity to travel to Scotland for a documentary, they do. And her adventure begins.
The plot moves along quite fast, and it is a very easy read (I read it in less than 24 hours which is big since I have a baby). And there are questions that aren’t answered in this book that I hope will be answered in later books. I’m looking forward to the next one.
There is no profanity in the book. And there are no sexually explicit scenes, in fact, there really isn’t any romance at all which I found refreshing and appropriate for the target audience. There is violence, namely ways that people die. Cass is able to enter the veil and see ghosts playing out their deaths over and over again on a loop. It’s not explicit, but it definitely was sad.
If you want a good mystery wrapped up in a beautifully descriptive city, with a little spooky thrown in, then I would highly recommend this book.

The Ready-Made Thief: A Review

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My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book reminded me a lot of the DaVinci Code series. It surrounded the works of an artist and the connection to the physical and metaphysical. But instead of religion being the metaphysical part, it was alchemy.
The story follows a teen runaway, Lee. She had made some poor choices, but just when she got her life back on track, she gets framed and thrown in juvie. From there, she is homeless and finds herself caught within the grasp of a secret society who is obsessed with the work of early 20th-century artist Marcel Duchamp. As she gets deeper involved, through no choice of her own, she realizes that she, too, will play an integral part in their obsession.
Overall, it was a good story. Slow at times, since there is a lot of physics and science, but towards the end, one of the men involved in secret society describes it in more of a metaphysical and artistic way.
There is some violence. And there is sexual content in the story, but not detailed graphic except for language. There is a brief attempted sexual assault, so I wouldn’t recommend the story for those that might be triggered by that. There is also one sex scene but it’s very brief and is used to continue the story. That’s because she gets pregnant (which you find out in the first chapter so it’s not a spoiler). Her coming to grips with the pregnancy plays throughout the entire story.
Overall, it’s a good story, though hard to follow at times. I still prefer Dan Brown’s DaVinci Code series to this book, but I think it’s in the same genre. This wouldn’t be a book I would own, though.

I also wanted to let you know that I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.  These are all things I have used or would purchase personally.  Thanks!

Go Shawty, It’s Your Birthday…

I don’t know why, but that’s the song that pops in my head every year around my birthday, just that part of the song too.

Well, I’m sorry for being MIA lately.  Last week was my birthday week (my birthday was during the week this year, so my husband decided to make it a birthday week celebration instead of just one or two days).  I stopped everything for that week to enjoy some down time.  No blogging, no working out, just sleeping in to 6 or 7 in the morning and doing pretty much whatever I wanted after work.  It was lovely.

There were other things that happened last week, too.  Like all of this:

Michael had it worked out so that I had something to open every day for my birthday week.  Not all the gifts were from him, but I still had something special to open each day.  The big picture is from him, and it was my big gift.  It is a Pandora bracelet with two charms – one is a dog (because I love my pups) and the other is a heart charm made in Murano glass (because we have an Italian background, and Murano is an island in Venice, Italy).  I absolutely love this gift, and so does my husband because this will be helpful for him for many gifts to come.  (My love language is Gifts, and he knows that.  It stresses him out every time because he doesn’t want to disappoint me in my language.  This is the perfect compromise.)

But gift giving wasn’t the only thing that happened:

On my actual birthday, I had breakfast in bed (my family tradition that he honors every year).  Then, I had a massage (not pictured, but it was amazing).  When I came home, he had the dining room table decked out, and our favorite take away pizza WITH a non-high fructose corn syrup soda!  Oh, and I didn’t turn 25, but he says that I am every year, so he thought he might as well make that official with candles in cupcakes this year.  I couldn’t argue.  🙂

Then, this past weekend, we wrapped up the festivities with a movie (Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter – review to come, I also read the book before seeing the movie – that review to come as well), lunch at my favorite Mexican place and shopping.  On Sunday, we had a small group celebration of June birthdays, but I was the only one there out of the four people who celebrate in June, so I got to blow out the candle.  That cake was amazing, too.

So, that was my week.  It was glorious, and my husband truly spoiled me.  Do you have any birthday traditions or favorite things your husband/significant other did for you?