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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The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding: A Review

The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding (The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding #1)The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding by Alexandra Bracken

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thought this would be the best book to delve into around Halloween, but because of my current energy levels, I read it throughout the month of November.

The basic story is about a boy named Prosper Redding. He comes from a very successful family in a small town. But he doesn’t quite share the successful gene. Come to find out, he has a demon (or malefactor) hiding inside of him, ready to break free on his upcoming 13th birthday. All of their success stems from a contract that their ancestor made with this malefactor around the Salem Witch Trials. And the ancestor tricked the malefactor, causing him to become trapped until now.

This is all revealed during a ritual and the family begins to attack Prosper. He escapes and finds refuge with his estranged Uncle Barnabas and his daughter, Nell. Nell is a witch, and they plan to use a spell to take care of the malefactor once and for all, but the demon grows stronger every day.

There are a lot of moving parts to this story. I think the author did well keeping the balance, though it did get a little chaotic at times. There is a major cliffhanger at the end of the book for an obvious sequel, if not series. And I liked the overall themes of power and how it can corrupt as well as being a good, authentic friend.

There were a few action-packed scenes of escape, plus the whole “my family is trying to kill me” kind of violence at the beginning. It’s meant to be a little spooky and scary. I liked the malefactor’s reaction to the modern world during Halloween. It was a cute scene.

I don’t know when the next book will come out. I might get it from the library. This is definitely geared towards middle school age kids. It’s pretty clean despite the spooky and creepy. Nothing too scary. I would definitely recommend it to that age group.

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 personally.  I wouldn’t recommend something I haven’t tried myself.  Thanks!

The Ready-Made Thief: A Review

61etazk6pclThe Ready-Made Thief by Augustus Rose by Augustus Rose

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!

Rising Strong: A Review

Rising StrongRising Strong by Brené Brown

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have never read Brene Brown, and this might not be the first book to read of her collection (I’m probably going to read the others next year). However, I got this from the library but now I’m actually going to purchase the book, reread, write notes and underline wisdom.

This book kicked my butt. It made me squirm in my seat because I felt like some of the parts of me that I’ve been ignoring for whatever reason were brought into the light.
Rising Strong is about those moments when you fall or fail or your heart falls into your stomach or you get angry or anxious and lash out or react in ways that don’t help you to grow.

In the book, Brown challenges the reader in those moments to stop and get curious in those facedown moments. She takes you through a practice – the reckoning, the rumble, and the revolution. She focuses most on the rumble because it’s the hardest and longest (can last years) of the three. The rumble is when you start to realize the stories you are telling yourself and honestly dividing what is actually true and what lies or half-truths you have used to plugged up the holes and gaps in the story of what is going on. And you take what is real and you use it to grow and mature as a human into a whole person.
And it’s not a perfect practice. Some of the examples and stories in her book don’t come back in neat little packages but left in the work in progress phase.

This book has definitely inspired me to get more of her books. In the back of the book are brief synopses of her other books, but I feel like I need to actually read them. I recommend this to anyone who is going through any kind of heartbreak or struggle, which I guess, really, is everyone.

This would be a great Christmas gift idea.  I am linking it below, but 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.

http://amzn.to/2hnagTN

Best Of Me Book Review

This month I read “Best of Me” by Nicholas Sparks.  I don’t really read a lot of Sparks.  The stories tend to follow the same formula, however Sparks said that this book was a little different.  I got this book for Christmas, so I thought why not find out if it’s different or not.

Continue reading “Best Of Me Book Review”