HOLIDAY READING RECS: Holiday Books I’ve Read

Although I am a firm believer that the Christmas spirit can be found anytime of year, I especially love bringing some holiday cheer to my TBR in December. I love reading holiday or Christmas-inspired books during this season to fully embrace the holidays, a cup of hot chocolate and a cozy blanket included. I have two holiday books on my TBR for this year, Cynthia Hand’s The Afterlife of Holly Chase and Josie Silver’s One Day in December—which also means give me all of your holiday book recommendations in the comments!

Since I’m always on the hunt for a holiday book, I will be discussing all of the holiday-inspired books that I’ve read over the past few years, along with a few favorite books of mine that feature holiday scenes for your own holiday TBR hunting purposes. 

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Let It Snow by Lauren Myracle, Maureen Johnson & John Green- Let It Snow is hot on everyone’s holiday book radar this year, thanks to its recent Netflix adaptation. Let It Snow is always the first holiday book that comes to my mind, being that it was one of my first ever YA books back in elementary school. I’ve read it at least two times, and I have some more reread motivation thanks to Netflix.

 My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins- Another YA holiday book classic, My True Love Gave to Me is made up of twelve holiday short stories from twelve YA authors. Each story is so cute and has its own little quirks. Last Christmas, I went back and reread a few of my favorite stories. I would love for Jenny Han’s story, “Polaris is Where You’ll Find Be,” to be turned into a full book, and Rainbow Rowell’s “Midnights” is now also featured in her two story collection, Almost Midnight. 

Christmas at the Cupcake Café by Jenny Colgan- Although technically the sequel to Jenny Colgan’s Meet Me at the Cupcake Café, Christmas at the Cupcake Café can be read as a standalone. I have much love for the first book, so this Christmas fangirl was more than excited to reunite with this world following a woman’s adventure opening a cupcake bakery. As expected, there was so many Christmas-y desserts, and Jenny Colgan included recipes to some of them! This book is also partially set in New York City, allowing readers to get a taste of the city winter wonderland.

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Prince in Disguise by Stephanie Kate Strohm- Considering that I consider myself to be a holiday book conssieur, I was pleasantly surprised last year when I picked up Stephanie Kate Strohm’s Prince in Disguise last December, only to find it out that it takes place during Christmas! If you love books about weddings, royalty, or Christmas (or like me, all three put together), look no further than Prince in Disguise. The book follows Dylan, who is whisked away to Scotland for the holidays to serve as maid of honor in her reality TV star sister’s wedding to a Scottish laird-to-be.

My New Crush Gave to Me by Shani Petroff- If there’s one book that deserves ALL the stars for its festive spirit, it’s Shani Petroff’s My New Crush Gave to Me! The book follows Charlie’s mission to find the perfect Secret Santa gifts for her crush. Charlie spends the season experining new and old Christmas traditions, as well as celebrating Hanukah with her best friend.

10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston-  This 2019 holiday-inspired release has deservedly been on the top of everyone’s holiday TBRs as well. 10 Blind Dates is another book that deserves all the stars for its holiday mood, as Sophie spends Christmas with her entire extended family while also, as the title suggests, being set-up on ten holiday-inspired dates.

Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak- Seven Days of Us follows one very dysfunctional family’s Christmas, having to stay inside quarantined. Although I loved its family focus, I wish there had been a touch more of the holiday spirit.

Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Graynor & Heather Webb- Last Christmas in Paris is the perfect blend for holiday and historical fiction fans. The book takes place during World War I and is told over a series of letters and other exchanges between a couple separated by war.

 What Light by Jay Asher- I admit that I don’t remember much about Jay Asher’s What Light, but why wouldn’t I enjoy a book that takes place on a Christmas tree farm??

Books with Christmas Scenes

Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling- If you’re not the biggest fan of holiday books but still want some festivity in your reading life, the season makes for one of the best times of the year to read or reread Harry Potter. Each book involves chapter(s) set during Christmas.

Rainbow Rowell: Landline, Carry On, Fangirl, and Eleanor & Park It’s probably no coincidence that my favorite author happens to have so many books that feature scenes during the holidays. Whether you’re looking to read the entire book or just reread the holiday scenes, I’ve broken down where and how each book interweaves Christmas

  • Landline– Set during Christmas time
  • Carry On– Christmas-y chapters, about half way through the book
  • Fangirl – Chapter 20
  • Eleanor and Park– Chapters 32-33

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 What holiday books have you read? Any of the above? Share in the comments!

Favorite Bookstagrams 2019

It’s time to wrap on my favorite bookstagram(aka book Instagram) and blog photos of 2019!

My book and blog photographing ways really changed in 2019, mostly in thanks to receiving a Canon Rebel T6 for Christmas last year. As someone who used her iPhone to take all of her photos in 2017 and 2018, I think cell phones definitely provide great quality, but I have to admit that I do prefer my camera. It frees up so much storage on my phone and the quality is better. I wrote a post back in February on how I bookstagram, where I give advice for using both a phone and camera to take photos.

I definitely put more effort into my bookstagrams this year, but I have not dedicated too much to actually taking photos. I obviously love the end result, but taking photos for both the blog and Instagram are super time consuming– I’m lucky if I get 6 different photos done in an hour. I really want to dedicate at least two hours a week while I’m home for winter break stocking up on photos.

January 

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February

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March

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April

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May 

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ROMANCE  & CONTEMPORARY LOVE: Fall Mini Reviews

Monthly mini reviews are hit or miss for me, depending on the amount of books I read and if I have enough thoughts & feels to dedicate entire reviews for them. I read the following three books- a new adult romance from my favorite NA author, an adult romance from a much loved writing duo, and a debut contemporary- in October and November 2019.

The Chase (Briar U #1) by Elle Kennedy 

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Ever since I read the last book in the Off-Campus series back in May, I have been highly looking forward to starting Elle Kennedy’s spin-off series, Briar U. The series follows new and old characters involved in new relationships in the (hot) hockey playing world that is the fictional Briar University. The Chase follows Summer, the sister of Dean (the male lead in The Score), as she transfers to Briar U after being kicked out of her Ivy league school after a freaky sorority party accident. When she’s not welcome into Briar U’s chapter, Summer finds herself living with three of the Briar U hockey players, including the tattoo-covered, quiet, artistic and video-game designer Colin, otherwise known as Fitz.

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I was so excited when I found out The Chase’s male lead was Fitz because he was one of my favorite secondary characters in Off-Campus. Summer and Fitz definitely have a slow burn romance, as the two spend the majority of the book not being together. I wish their relationship had progressed sooner, in that nothing really happens in the book until their relationship really begins to bloom. However, I loved getting to follow the characters and their everyday. Much of Summer’s everyday follows her life as a fashion major, dealing with a creepy professor, and the struggles that come with her learning disability. Elle Kennedy incorporates a lot of mature themes with #MeToo vibes. Set in his senior year, Fitz finds himself competing for a full time position at a big video game company.

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READING & CHRISTMAS MOVIE-WATCHING: November 2019 Wrap Up

November has been what feels like both the longest and shortest month of my year. This month was even more filled with school assignments- four research papers due the first week in December- and related things. I fortunately had some really fun experiences with my friends and family this month. I plan on doing a If We Were Having Coffee: The Fall Semester edition in December, filling you on some in real-life happenings of mine over these past few months- and some very exciting things planned for the new year!

Returning to bookish and fangirl things, I’ve so far read 5 books this month while still completing Schitt’s Creek. Given how crazy school life was in November, I’m both content with the amount of books that I read and wish that I had read more. With my winter break approaching, I’m really excited to have more time to unwind and dedicate to reading and blogging next month.

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All-American Muslim Girlby Nadine Jolie Courtney | 4.5-/5 Stars

All-American Muslim Girlwas my surprise favorite and a new contemporary favorite for me this month. It took me some time to settle in, but I absolutely adored the character development and emphasis on family and faith.

 When the Stars Lead to You by Ronni Davis | 3/5

When the Stars Lead to Youwas unfortunately my most disappointing read of the month. While I appreciated that it handled some heavy issues, I wasn’t a fan of its execution.


The Toll
(Arc of a Scythe #3)by Neal Shusterman | 5/5

I am here to admit that I definitely neglected those four school research projects for a few hours at a time this month to dive into the 625 page beast that was Neal Shusterman’s The Toll. And it was worth it!

Renegades by Marissa Meyer | 5/5 

I officially cannot believe that it took me over two years to pick up Marissa Meyer’s Renegades because I loved it so much!

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren | 4/5 

I finally read The Unhoneymooners! This was such a fun and flirty read and would make for the perfect one-sitting read over your holiday break.

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My Favorite Music in 2019

Wrap-up season is officially upon us! While I’ll be getting into the TV/film and bookish goodness very soon, today I’ll be focusing on my favorite albums of the year. I don’t talk about music too much on the blog, but I would love to incorporate it more. Music primarily gets discussed here on Fangirl Fury in music-inspired book reviews, music-inspired book tags, and in the life happenings sections of some of my monthly wrap ups. I am by no means a music connoisseur—I have no idea how to talk about music using music terminology/lingo – but like many, I absolutely love listening to it. In the future, I’d like to include occasional blog posts about what songs and artists I’m currently listening to.

My 2019 favorites are split in three categories: albums that came out in 2019, music that I discovered in 2019, and music I especially revisited in 2019. I’ve also tried to keep my favorite songs to a 5 song minimum.

2019 Releases

taylor-swift-lover-album-art-1560458980-640x640-1560529343Lover // Taylor Swift- While I enjoyed the single releases leading up to Lover, I was a bit nervous how the album would come together because “Me!,” “Lover,” “You Need to Calm Down,” and “The Archer” all sounded so different. However, this album completely delivered! As long as I don’t have anything too crazy going on in life by then, I am determined to go to Lover Fest. It of course has its own sounds, but if I had to describe it in T-Swift terms, Lover combines the sound of 1989 and Reputation but its messages and song lyric quality is very similar to Red.

Favorite Songs: “Lover,” “Soon You’ll Get Better,” “I Forgot That You Existed,” “I Think He Knows,” and “Cornelia Street”

Sing to Me Instead // Ben Platt- After devouring The Politician in September and October, I went on a Ben Platt kick and found myself head over heels in love with Sing to Me Instead. I love the music video so much for “Grow As We Go,” and “Run Away” is actually incorporated into The Politician– River and Payton play it together on the piano.

Favorite Songs: “Grow As We Go,” “Run Away,” “Better,” “Honest Man,” and “Share Your Address”

Music from The Politician // Ben Platt and Co. – Spoiler for my favorite 2019 TV and movies wrap-up, but The Politician is one of the many shows that stole my heart this year. One of the many reasons why is the show’s incorporation of music- while it wasn’t necessary to the plot, the covers were just so well done.

Songs/Covers: “River,” “Unworthy of Your Love,” “Vienna”

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READING MY MOST ANTICIPATED 2019 SERIES FINALE: The Toll Review

Ever since I devoured Neal Shusterman’s Scythe and Thunderhead back in February 2018, I had been waiting to eat up the final book in the Arc of a Scythe trilogy, The Toll. Since the book came out in early November, aka finals prep and paper writing season in this English and Communications major’s world, I thought I would wait until Thanksgiving break to read it. That being said, I only waited one week after its release to pick it up and definitely avoided a research paper or four while reading this 625 page beast.

Although I will be an absolute paper writing machine during the last week of classes, I have no regret reading The Toll over 6 days- I honestly would’ve finished it sooner if it hadn’t been for school- because it was such a satisfying series finale!517PsnK17hL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_

My review format is going to be different for The Toll. For the sake of spoilers, I will not be providing a summary of the book, and I will be splitting my thoughts into non-spoilers and spoilers sections. The first book, Scythe, follows teenagers Citra and Rowan who live in a world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery, no natural death. Scythes are the only individuals who can end life and must do so to control the size of the population. When Citra and Rowan are chosen as apprentices to the same scythe, neither wants the role, but they soon find themselves entangled in the politics and inner workings of the scythedom.

 

My Rating: 5/5

My Non-Spoiler Thoughts:

 I had such a great reading experience with The Toll. Even at its 625 pages, I ate it up so quickly. I really enjoyed being transported back into the world, finding that I had to read at least fifty pages per sitting. There are so many different narratives and perspectives in The Toll. While I admit that I preferred some over others, I still enjoyed them all and couldn’t get over the connections to one another. All 3 books in the series are definitely the type that call for having a notebook on hand to note plot happenings or details and see how they play out later. I’m 50-50 for my predictions coming out correctly for the series.

The main reason why I had been screaming for The Toll for almost two years was Thunderhead’s cliffhanger ending. Much of the theorizing and predicting about The Toll has to do with when the story would actually start, and when and even if we would be reunited with our original two main characters. There are even more characters and narratives involved in The Toll, which I ended up really enjoyed because it expanded the world even more.  I wasn’t expecting too much more of that with the finale, but there’s so much exploration with the Tonists and the founding scythes. I really liked the exploration of the former, especially since this followed Faraday and Munira. Along with being reunited with the first two book’s casts, we are also introduced to a variety of new characters within each plot thread. That being said, there was a lot less Citra/Anastasia and Rowan than I expected.

I admit that I have a love-hate relationship with how much the Thunderhead has to do with the main plot of the novel. Call me dark, but I really liked exploring the scythedom element more so than the Thunderhead and technology. Like my Thunderhead feels, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the Thunderhead’s iterations or exceprts before some chapters. I definitely preferred excepts from the scythe journals and statements and interpretations about the Toll and the Tonists. I really wish the Thunderhead actually hadn’t been so involved in the main plot at all. I know some readers will argue that of course the Thunderhead helps the main characters against the scythedom out a lot.

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Highest Rated Goodreads Books I’ve Read

Let’s be honest, I’ve had the highest rated Goodreads book inspired-posts on my blogging-to write list from the start of Fangirl Fury. Flash forward July 2019, where I finally talked about the highest Goodreads books on my TBR (update: I’ve since only read 1 book on this list).

That being said, we are going to fulfill the second half of my Goodreads-blogging quest today by talking about some of the best rated books on my Goodreads ‘read’ shelf. Spoiler alert, but since I realized that the first ten books on my ‘read’ shelf were mostly composed of Sarah J. Mass and Harry Potter, I’ve decided to just mention the highest rated A Court of Thorns and RosesThrone of Glass, and HP books. As someone who mostly reads contemporary, I find it so interesting that the following books are mostly fantasy and other genres that are not contemporary.

How do I organize my Goodreads shelves by rating?

There are two ways to organize your Want to Read shelf by rating. You can first view your shelf by list and then click on avg. rating, or you can just select select avg. rating at the bottom of the screen. To organize from highest to lowest, make sure the triangle next to avg. rating is pointing down (click on the triangle to do so) or select the desc. bubble at the bottom.

 

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2) by Sarah J. Maas

Avg Rating: 4.67

I am a firm believer that Chapter 55 alone is what makes this book the highest rated on my read shelf.

Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) by Leigh Bardugo

Avg Rating: 4.61

I tend to love series sequels more than the first book, so it’s not really too much of a surprise that Crooked Kingdom is my favorite in the Six of Crows duology—Wylan’s chapters in this CK sealed the deal for me.

 

Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass #7)

Avg Rating: 4.61

Kingdom of Ash isn’t my absolute favorite book in the Throne of Glass series—hello Queen of Shadows (which happens to be the second highest rated ToG book with an average rating of 4.56)- but nonetheless, I have much love for this book. This epic finale deserves all the stars.

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