Top Five Wednesday: End of 2018 TBR

“Oh the weather outside is frightful” andddddd so is my TBR because I have so many books left. All Christmas-themed jokes aside, I am pretty happy with my 2018 TBR and reading progress (I hit 100 books!), but there are definitely a few books that I’d love to get to before the end of the year. For today’s Top Five Wednesday, I’ll be discussing the top five books I want to read before 2019.

Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak– I wanted to read Seven Days of Us in 2017, but there was such a long hold list at my library. Even by January I couldn’t manage to borrow a copy! Seven Days of Us follows one not-so close family’s week together during the holiday season. Give me this & ALL of the Christmas reads please!

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan-I still haven’t seen the film adaptation of Crazy Rich Asians and I really want to read the book before doing so. Crazy Rich Asians is one of my mom’s favorite series and one I can see myself binge-reading soon.

IMG_6632.jpg

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith– I received I Capture the Castle for Christmas (featuring Jenny Han’s foreword!) last year for Christmas and it’s about time I read it! While I’m not the biggest classics fan- being forced to read them for school has affected my perception of them-, but I’ve been trying to read more classics on my own. I Capture the Castle seems to be a beloved classic among many of my favorite authors (see Jenny Han), and I think this will be another cozy read perfect for Christmas time.

IMG_6633.jpg

Reign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen- Thanks to The Wicked King and Kingdom of Ash, I’ve been craving fantasy over the past few weeks. Reign the Earth has earned a ton of love from some of my favorite book bloggers, especially those who are Avatar fans, and I’m excited to dive into this one before its sequel, Imprsion the Sky, comes out in January.

IMG_6628.jpg

Christmas at the Cupcake Café by Jenny ColganMeet Me at the Cupcake Café was one of my favorite reads of 2017.  It has such a heartfelt and humorous cast and of course, an emphasis on baking! I’m highly looking forward to reading its holiday-inspired sequel, Christmas at the Cupcake Cafe . Since some of Jenny’s books aren’t available in the US, I was more than happy to buy the UK edition from Book Depository.

IMG_6630.jpg

Top 5 Wednesday is a collaborative group of book bloggers from various platforms who love sharing lists on Wednesdays. The T5W group can be found here on Goodreads.

What books do you need to read before 2019? Share in the comments!

Favorite Fantasy: The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden Review

Since The Girl in the Tower is the second book in Katherine Arden’s Winternight trilogy, I will not be posting a summary of The Girl in the Tower. The first book, The Bear and the Nightingale, follows Vasilisa’s upbringing in the snowy, Russian wilderness, where she spends winter nights with her siblings listening to fairy tales. But magic Vasilisa discovers doesn’t just have a home in her nurse’s stories. I have a non-spoiler mini review for The Bear and the Nightingale.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

IMG_6470

My Thoughts:

The Girl in the Tower is one of the few books I knew my bookish soul needed before the end of the year. Autumn and winter inspires me to pick up more fantasy, and with The Winter of the Witch coming out soon (January 8, 2019), it was time to pick up this sequel.I am beyond excited to say that I absolutely loved The Girl in the Tower– maybe even more than the first book—and it’s easily one of the best books that I’ve read in 2018.

I never knew I needed Russian-inspired fantasy before reading The Bear and the Nightingale, and this element again came into play in this second installment. It was actually easier to get acquainted with the Russian terminology and mythical creatures & features this time around. Speaking of more mythical characters, I loved being reunited with Morozko and Solovey. For someone who isn’t the biggest horse rider,  I need a Solovey in my life. I really enjoyed Morozko’s role in this installment and I liked the direction of his relationship with Vasya— even with all the heartbreaking moments.

I really enjoyed the third person perspective in The Girl in the Tower because we get to spend a lot of time with Vasya’s siblings who we don’t see as much in the first book, Sasha and Olga. Sasha was one of my favorite characters in The Bear and the Nightingale, and he continued to be in this installment. I liked seeing his love for his family and his role in politics. I also loved Olga, especially loving her and her daughter’s own connection to the title of the book. I’m really excited to see how Marya comes into play in The Winter of the Witch. 

I think all of Vasya’s family and Morozko could be characterized by their strength, but I was completely blown away by Vasya. I know kickbutt female characters has become more and more of a common theme in fantasy, but Vasya was such an amazing heroine. Her story in this installment reminded me of Mulan for obvious reasons, but I loved how she proved that being a woman couldn’t stop her from being intelligent and strong. It  frustrated me to pieces when Vasya and women overall in this world were limited in what they could do because of their gender, but I understand that it has a lot to do with the historical context.

I completely loved the ending of The Girl in the Tower. Obviously, I am HERE for The Winter of the Witch, but I liked how we didn’t book end cliffhanger and not too many questions unanswered.

Overall, I loved The Girl in the Tower for its characters, unique magic system and setting, and its fast-paced story highlighting the strength of women. The Winter of the Witch is currently my most anticipated release of 2019!

Have you read The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower? Share in the comments!

25 Fangirl Facts About Me

Across many book blogs, one of my favorite posts to read is 25 Bookish Facts About Me. I actually did two parts myself, Part 1 in June 2017 and Part 2 in July 2018. While reading is an integral aspect of my lifestyle, as you also probably know, I can get quite fangirlish about frankly anything. Today I’m going to be sharing 25 fangirl facts about me that aren’t necessarily book related.

IMG_6597.jpg

  1. I’ve only seen two movies twice in the theater, which were Catching Fire and Mockingjay-Part 1.
  2. I’d love to one day attend YALLFest, a YA book festival in Charleston, South Carolina.
  3. My all-time favorite episodes of Parks and Recreation include “Leslie and Ron”, “Moving Up”, “Flu Season 2”, “The Comeback Kid”, “Bus Tour”, “Ann and Chris”, and “London Parts 1 & 2”. So basically all of them.
  4. Right after Parks and Recreation, my all-time favorite TV show is Full House. I’d watch it in the morning on Nickelodeon before school, and I collected each season on DVD as they came out. After watching them so much, some of the DVDs definitely need to be replaced.
  5. My favorite season of Full House is Season 6. How could you not love Disney, prom, DJ and Steve, and a flight to New Zealand?
  6. I live in fear that Parks & Rec will be taken off Netflix and Amazon Prime.
  7. I’ve never gone to a movie by myself
  8. I’ll be forever grateful to my dad for being a real trooper and taking me to see The Prince Diaries 2 in theaters
  9. I dressed up as “You Belong With Me” Taylor Swift for Halloween in 2017tswiftj.jpg
  10. My favorite Disney princess is Ariel. The Little Mermaid was one of my favorite movies growing up.
  11. I still haven’t seen the new Annie. I feel like I’m cheating on the original, another one of my favorite childhood movies.
  12. Speaking of Annie, I’ve been to the location they used for Daddy Warbuck’s house and the outdoor space for the final scene in the film.
  13. I want to go to California for many reasons, but I’d love to go to San Francisco for the Full House house and street and the Redwood Forest to recreate Ben and Leslie’s scene.
  14. Before I discovered Booktube, I mostly just watched some of the main British Youtubers, Jenna Marbles and Nerdy Nummies
  15. I still follow some of the British Youtubers, but I really only stay up-to-date with Zoella and MoreZoella
  16. I’d also love to go to the Pacific Northwest to go to Funko Headquarters in Everett, Washington
  17. As a kid and early teen, I think I was more of a Nickelodeon fan than Disney Channel. My favorite nick shows included Drake & Josh, Zoey 101 and iCarly. I’ll still watch them on Teen Nick!
  18. I drove to four different stores to find Rolling Stone’s Ultimate Taylor Swift Guide. I really wanted for their ranking of her songs
  19. My first concert was Avril Lavigne and Gavin DeGraw
  20. If I could see the same band in concert again, it’d have to be Paramore
  21. My favorite TV shows of 2018 include Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Friday Night Lights and Dynasty
  22. As of November 2018, I’ve seen 7 Broadway shows: Mary Poppins, Fiddler on the Roof, Hamilton, Waitress, Dear Evan Hansen, Carousel, and The Band’s Visit 
  23. The book that I own the most copies of is Rainbow Rowell’s Carry On
  24. I am a firm believer that adult coloring books are amazing
  25. I love reality TV shows about weddings and big families. TLC anyone?

Royal Review: Rule by Ellen Goodlett

Summary: King Andros of the Reaches is dying, his heir has been murdered, and rebellion brews in the east. The nation is only left with one option…or rather three options in the form of three girls with three deadly secrets. And there’s only one crown to spare.

Zofi has spent her entire life drifting through the Reaches, but just when her freedom matters most, she’s dragged to the nation’s capital, Kolonya. Ren grew up in Kolonya and in the palace, serving as a ladies’ maid at court. She dreamed of being a high lady herself one day, but the timing seems off after her own misdeed. Akelyah has been raised by an abusive family in the Eastern Reach, home of the rebellion. She’d doing anything to escape her family, but why at the invitation of a king who has every reason to despise her?

IMG_6426

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

My Thoughts

Ellen Goodlett’s Rule immediately caught my attention when I saw it compared to Pretty Little Liars and Three Dark Crowns. You can sign me up for ANY PLL-related books, and I needed to pick up Three Dark Crowns yesterday. While I’m only able to speak to its PLL relation, I can definitely see the tie-ins. Half-sisters Zofi, Akelyah, and Ren each have a deadly secret of their own that someone in Kolonya’s palace simply won’t let them forget.

My favorite perspective was Zofi because I was really intrigued by her background. I liked exploring her relationship with Vidal and she was the most cunning of the three sisters. I definitely got some Lila Bard (Shades of Magic) vibes from her.  I also enjoyed Ren’s perspective, since I think she had the most potential to be the next Queen, considering her inside knowledge on the palace. As much as I did like Danton as a character, I didn’t understand how Ren could trust him. While I didn’t mind Akeylah’s POV, I wish she opened up more to her sisters. While I appreciate the diversity rep, I wasn’t a super fan of her relationship with Rozalind. You know, her father’s wife.

Another aspect that I didn’t like was the repetitiveness.This is an element that bothers me in most multi-POV books, but the girls would often each repeat the same phrases or the same action would occur in their perspective chapter. I know this was probably used to show the girls’ similarities, like how they all have their own secret, but once is enough for this reader.

I think what makes Rule standout is its world-building and unique magic. I do think we could have used a bit more on the history of Kolonya and the Reaches dynamics in the beginning, but the world-building definitely becomes more fleshed out as the story continues. I especially liked the magic scenes with Zofi because her fight scenes and her own inside info were really exciting.

Overall, I enjoyed Rule for its unique world and all female POVs. However, I think the plot could have been more fast-paced and less repetitive. I plan on picking up the next book in the duology, Rise, when it comes out in September 2019. I’m interested to see who takes the crown once and for all.

This review is based is based on an advance reading copy. By no means did this affect my thoughts or opinions.

Have you read Rule? Share in the comments!  

Scarecrows, Sawkill, & School Mysteries: My Spooky October Reads

Halloween season always calls for mini Kit-Kats, pumpkin-spice candles, and of course, a scary read or two. Today, I’m going to be discussing my thoughts on the seasonal reads, whether thriller or downright spooky,  I picked up last month.

IMG_6544

IMG_E6496.jpg

One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus– Yes fellow readers, I finally decided to read one of the most hyped books in the YA community, One of Us Lying. One of my best friends and a summer co-worker non-stop recommended that I pick this one up. Fall always makes me crave books with mystery vibes, especially after devouring Courtney Summers’ Sadie. With her second book, it was time to read Karen M. McManus’s Breakfast Club-inspired read about four teens who becomes suspects of a high-profile classmate’s murder.

I can now see what the hype is about because I flew through One of Us is Lying. I actually didn’t mind getting four different perspectives and it was fun exploring their backstories. Addy was definitely my favorite because I think she had one of the most complicated backlines. Did I think One of Us is Lying was the most original book in the world? No. I admit that I did predict the ending (but maybe not the accomplice) and I wish it went in a little bit of direction (trying to avoid spoilers). Did I enjoy it though? Yes!

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

IMG_6512

Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand– A queer YA horror story, Sawkill Girls has the perfect creepy, Halloween vibes. Zoey, Marion and Val all have some connection to the mysterious disappearances of girls on Sawkill, and now it’s time to either fight back or fight each other.  Considering the amount of hype Claire Legrand’s Furyborn received this year, I looked forward to this release.

Sawkill Girls has many feminist messages. While I liked the book’s overall story and ending, I just though the execution wasn’t there. There are a lot of reveals throughout its lengthy story, but none of them seemed to really come into play by the end. I couldn’t connect with any of the characters, even though Zoey was my favorite, mostly for her baking-loving boyfriend. While I think the book’s length could have been shortened, I appreciate Sawkill Girls was left as a standalone instead of being split into two unnecessary installments.

My Rating: 2.5/ 5 Stars

IMG_6595.JPG

Small Spaces by Katherine Arden- I’ve been on an Katherine Arden high this year between her Winternight trilogy (give me The Winter of the Witch now, PLEASE),  and her first middle grade, Small Spaces. After suffering a tragic loss, eleven-year old Ollie only finds solace in books. And one of those books just happens to be one that she stole from a crazed women at the river, threatening Ollie to throw it in the river where it belongs. Ollie is captivated by the diary of a girl named Beth, whose family disappears thanks to the “smiling man.” Suddenly, the diary becomes very real when Ollie’s school trip to a local farm goes wrong and her digital watch tells her one thing: RUN.

Like The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower,  I adored Small Spaces for its atmospheric story. If you ever feel the need to transport to autumnal Vermont, run to Small Spaces immediately! Katherine Arden provides so many details about Halloween decorations, leaves, and best of all, all the amazing treats made by Ollie’s dad. Can he pack my lunch everyday? I’m also more than ready to move into Ollie’s colorful house, the Egg. Regarding the story itself, Small Spaces is the perfect Halloween read, as Ollie and her classmates combat the evil spirits that have taken over their school field trip. Let’s just say I may never look at scarecrows the same way.

Small Spaces is the first book in Katherine Arden’s first MG quartet, and each book is going to feature Vermont in a different season!

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

IMG_6553

The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas– Kara Thomas is another YA thriller author who was highly recommend to me. The Cheerleaders takes place in town five years after the mysterious deaths of five cheerleaders. One of those girls unfortunately happened to be Monica’s sister, and Monica realizes what happened five years ago still isn’t over. I actually found that The Cheerleaders‘ writing style was similar to One of Us is Lying, but I think Kara Thomas’s story grabbed me more, especially as Monica and Ginny started to fit more pieces together. I admit that I didn’t predict who the murderer was in the beginning, but I did question their role in the book. Although there are a few gruesome moments, I would describe this book more as a mystery than a scary read.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars newfireborder

What spooky reads have you read this fall? Share in the comments!

FRIENDSHIP & LOVE: Odd One Out Review

Summary: Courtney “Coop” Cooper finds himself single once again. And still in love with his best friend, Jupiter Sanchez, who keeps ignoring him to text some girl. Rae Evelyn Chin, the “new girl”, feels right where she belongs with Jupiter and Courtney, with a crush for both of them. Jupiter Charity-Sanchez discovers that the only thing worse than losing the girl you love is losing her to your boy. It’s time for Jup to do something right?

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

IMG_6462 2

My Thoughts:

Nic Stone’s latest release, Odd One Out, follows the perspectives of three teens and best friends, Courtney, Jupiter and Rae. Much like Nic Stone’s Dear Martin, the book features multiple diverse characters.

Like most YA characters, Courtney, Rae, and Jupiter are trying to figure out life. However, what I think makes Odd One Out a standout when it comes to diverse YA stories is its exploration of sexuality, especially in regards to Rae and Jupiter. Jupiter and Rae explore who they are, discovering that labels maybe don’t have all the answers. Aside from sexuality, some of the characters, specifically Rae and Courtney, work through their past and relationships with loss and grief.

If I had to choose, my favorite perspective would be Courtney because he was just so sweet and a really great friend. Plus how many guys do you know who love playing basketball and cheerleading? I found his perspective and story to be the most heart-breaking and heart-warming, I also liked seeing his character development from Rae and Jupiter’s perspectives. I lovveeeed Courtney’s best friends, Golly and Britian, who have some great jokes and maybe or maybe not see some things our three MCs aren’t.

IMG_6497 2

One of the very few things I wasn’t so in love with when it comes to Odd One Out relates to some of the decisions our characters make. While most of them had good intentions, I wasn’t a huge fan of the initial reasoning behind Jupiter’s “move”. It seemed really selfish to me, but looking back, it did help get one of the relationships moving.

Overall, readers will fly through Odd One Out for it’s fantastic characters and unput-downable story. Readers looking for books that explore sexuality will absolutely love this one. I’m looking forward to Nic Stone’s recently announced MG in 2019.

Is Odd One Out on your TBR? Have you read Dear Martin? Share in the comments!

BOOKS, BROADWAY, AND BINGE-WATCHING: October Wrap-Up

Oh October, you were filled with coffee, homework, and thankfully some fangirlish things for this blogger. This month was definitely crazy for me, between school assignments and life happenings, but having time for blogging was definitely a must. As the semester wraps up, I think November is going to be another crazy month, but I can’t for my holiday breaks to work on more content. Just you wait for all of the holiday and end-of-year themed content. And for all of my Kingdom of Ash-themed screams.

I feel this way with almost every wrap-up, but I can’t believe I managed to read X books this month. In honor of Halloween, I glad I got to pick a few spookier reads, along with my usual contemporary fix.

whatireadnew

Dear Evan Hansen by Val Emmich | 3.5/5 Stars

Always Never Yours by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka |4.5/5

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus | 4/5 

Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand | 2.5/5

The Seven Torments of Amy & Craig by Don Zolidis | 4.5/5

Small Spaces by Katherine Arden | 5/5

whatiwatched

A Star is Born– Yes, the fact that Lady Gaga stars in A Star is Born definitely pulled me in, but man was this movie was so good! Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper were both amazing , and the movie’s soundtrack has definitely been a go-to this month. My favorite songs are “Always Remember Us This Way,” “Heal Me,” and “Look What I Found”. My sister and I cannot wait for it to come out on DVD (here’s to also hoping it will amazingly pop up on Prime or Netflix).

Friday Night Lights (S1 & S2) – TV is one of my favorite forms of stress relief during the semester, and while so many TV shows came back this fall (more on that below), it’s hard to keep up with every new episode in between school life. Enter a show that I can easily turn to on Amazon Prime and have absolutely become obsessed with, Friday Night Lights. This NBC drama about a high school football team in Texas is so freaking good, and you don’t have to be the biggest football fan to love it – even though I feel like it’s taught me a thing or two about the game.

Fall TV Returns- My favorite fall TV shows so far this season are CW’s Dynasty S2 and The Good Place S3. Since I don’t have cable at school, I don’t tune into them every single week, but it’s been fun to binge watch a few episodes at home or online. Dynasty is easily my favorite cheesy show, and I’ve been really impressed with The Good Place so far.

Regarding TV shows I still need to watch, I really want to start Netflix’s The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and I think I’ve given up actively watching Riverdale S3 (I’ll likely just binge watch the season at some point).

In TV and movie news, I AM BEYOND EXCITED FOR THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL S2 to come out on December 5, and the movie adaptation of Dumplin’ hits Netflix on December 7, just in time for my winter break.

 

whatiwrote

Reviews 

Dear Evan Hansen & Fandom Love: What If It’s Us Review

EMOTION-FILLED GRAPHIC NOVEL: Hey Kiddo Review

Review: A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

The Seven Torments of Amy & Craig Review & Giveaway

BROADWAY TO BOOK: Dear Evan Hansen Review

GIVE ME ALL THE LAZLO: Muse of Nightmares Review

Review: Dry by Neal & Jarrod Shusterman

Bookish Fun:

IT’S TIME FOR KINGDOM OF ASH: Throne of Glass Cast Book Recommendations

YA LIFE & MUSE OF NIGHTMARES: Morristown Book Festival

CHOCOLATE MILK & VILLAINS: WHY YOU NEED TO READ VENGEFUL

Thrills & Homework: Fall Reading Recommendations

KoA and Reading Plans: October TBR

lifehappenings

The Band’s Visit on Broadway- The Band’s Visit ruled the 2018 Tonys, so when my school offered a free trip go see the show, I jumped at the opportunity. The Band’s Visit is a little unique for Broadway, in that it’s an hour and a half show with no intermission. I really enjoyed seeing this show and definitely see how it swept at the Tonys. While its music is a little different from my usual genres, it’s original cast recording has been another go-to this month. My favorite songs are “Welcome to Nowhere,” “Omar Sharif,” and “Answer Me”.

YA Panels at Morristown Book Festival – One of my best bookish friends and I attended the Morristown Book Festival for their awesome YA lineup. We attended two panels, the first featuring Ibi Zoboi, Emily X.R. Pan, and Jennifer E. Smith, and the second featuring Laini Taylor for Muse of Nightmares. After her panel, we got our books signed by Laini. I’m so excited that my copies of Strange the Dreamer and MoN are now both signed. I have a full experience post about the festival (linked above).

newfireborder

What fangirl things did you do this month? What books did you read? Share in the comments!