January Wrap Up

My first (late) reading wrap up of 2018!  And I’m super happy that I’ve kicked the year off on a good start because all except one of the books I read in the month of January I gave pretty high ratings.

Nothing To Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick:  This book gave glimpses into people’s lives in North Korea and it was heart-breaking and very important.  I gave it 5/5 stars.

The Vegetarian by Han Kang: I’ve been interested in this book since I first heard about it and it was definitely strange and dark, but kept me gripped the whole time.  Full review can be found here.  I gave it 4/5 stars.

Chemistry by Weike Wang: I loved this book so much and my full review can be found here.  I gave it 5/5 stars.

Want by Cindy Pon: This was my biggest reading disappointment last month.  I wanted it to be so much more, but sadly, it didn’t live up to my excitement.  My full review can be found here.  I gave it 2/5 stars.

Tokyo Ghoul Vol 1 by Sui Ishida: I have heard great things about this series and the first volume definitely didn’t disappoint.  I gave it 4/5 stars.

Death Note Vol 1 and 2 by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata: I loved this so much.  It is creepy and dark and everything I hoped it would be.  I gave it 5/5 stars.

Those are the six books I read in the month of January.  Hopefully February is another month for reading really, really good books.

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2018 TBR

For my last post for 2017, I am going to make a list of books I’m most excited to get to in 2018 to go with my post of 2018 releases I’m excited about.  This list will certainly change throughout the year as I learn about new and exciting books, but for now, these are some books I really would like to get to this year in no particular order:

Death Note Vol 1: Boredom by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata

Light Yagami is an ace student with great prospects – and he’s bored out of his mind. But all that changes when he finds the Death Note, a notebook dropped by a rogue Shinigami, a death god. Any human whose name is written in the notebook dies, and now Light has vowed to use the power of the Death Note to rid the world of evil. But when criminals begin dropping dead, the authorities send the legendary detective L to track down the killer. With L hot on his heels, will Light lose sight of his noble goal… or his life?

The Vegetarian by Han Kang

Before the nightmare, Yeong-hye and her husband lived an ordinary life. But when splintering, blood-soaked images start haunting her thoughts, Yeong-hye decides to purge her mind and renounce eating meat. In a country where societal mores are strictly obeyed, Yeong-hye’s decision to embrace a more “plant-like” existence is a shocking act of subversion. And as her passive rebellion manifests in ever more extreme and frightening forms, scandal, abuse, and estrangement begin to send Yeong-hye spiraling deep into the spaces of her fantasy. In a complete metamorphosis of both mind and body, her now dangerous endeavor will take Yeong-hye—impossibly, ecstatically, tragically—far from her once-known self altogether.

Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin

Aviva Grossman, an ambitious Congressional intern in Florida makes the life-changing mistake of having an affair with her boss‑‑who is beloved, admired, successful, and very married‑‑and blogging about it. When the affair comes to light, the Congressman doesn’t take the fall, but Aviva does, and her life is over before it hardly begins. She becomes a late‑night talk show punchline; she is slut‑shamed, labeled as fat and ugly, and considered a blight on politics in general.

How does one go on after this? In Aviva’s case, she sees no way out but to change her name and move to a remote town in Maine. She tries to start over as a wedding planner, to be smarter about her life, and to raise her daughter to be strong and confident. But when, at the urging of others, she decides to run for public office herself, that long‑ago mistake trails her via the Internet like a scarlet A. For in our age, Google guarantees that the past is never, ever, truly past, that everything you’ve done will live on for everyone to know about for all eternity. And it’s only a matter of time until Aviva/Jane’s daughter, Ruby, finds out who her mother was, and is, and must decide whether she can still respect her.

Thérèse Raquin by Émile Zola

Set in the claustrophobic atmosphere of a dingy haberdasher’s shop in the passage du Pont-Neuf in Paris, this powerful novel tells how the heroine and her lover, Laurent, kill her husband, Camille, but are subsequently haunted by visions of the dead man and prevented from enjoying the fruits of their crime.

Deceit And Other Possibilities by Vanessa Hua

From a Hong Kong movie idol fleeing a sex scandal, to an obedient daughter turned Stanford imposter, to a Chinatown elder summoned to his village, to a Korean-American pastor with a secret agenda, the characters in these ten stories vividly illustrate the conflict between self and society, tradition and change. In “What We Have is What We Need,” winner of The Atlantic student fiction prize, a boy from Mexico reunites with his parents in San Francisco. When he suspects his mother has found love elsewhere, he fights to keep his family together.

With insight and wit, she writes about what wounds us and what we must survive. Her searing stories explore the clash of cultures and the complex, always shifting allegiances that we carry in ourselves, our family, and our community.

Quiet by Susan Cain

Passionately argued, impressively researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet shows how dramatically we undervalue introverts, and how much we lose in doing so. Taking the reader on a journey from Dale Carnegie’s birthplace to Harvard Business School, from a Tony Robbins seminar to an evangelical megachurch, Susan Cain charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal in the twentieth century and explores its far-reaching effects. She talks to Asian-American students who feel alienated from the brash, backslapping atmosphere of American schools. She questions the dominant values of American business culture, where forced collaboration can stand in the way of innovation, and where the leadership potential of introverts is often overlooked. And she draws on cutting-edge research in psychology and neuroscience to reveal the surprising differences between extroverts and introverts.

Sorry To Disrupt The Peace by Patty Yumi Cottrell

Helen Moran is thirty-two years old, single, childless, college-educated, and partially employed as a guardian of troubled young people in New York. She’s accepting a delivery from IKEA in her shared studio apartment when her uncle calls to break the news: Helen’s adoptive brother is dead.

According to the internet, there are six possible reasons why her brother might have killed himself. But Helen knows better: she knows that six reasons is only shorthand for the abyss. Helen also knows that she alone is qualified to launch a serious investigation into his death, so she purchases a one-way ticket to Milwaukee. There, as she searches her childhood home and attempts to uncover why someone would choose to die, she will face her estranged family, her brother’s few friends, and the overzealous grief counselor, Chad Lambo; she may also discover what it truly means to be alive.

The Power by Naomi Alderman

In The Power the world is a recognisable place: there’s a rich Nigerian kid who lounges around the family pool; a foster girl whose religious parents hide their true nature; a local American politician; a tough London girl from a tricky family. But something vital has changed, causing their lives to converge with devastating effect. Teenage girls now have immense physical power – they can cause agonising pain and even death. And, with this small twist of nature, the world changes utterly.

Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Lost and alone in a forbidden forest, Otto meets three mysterious sisters and suddenly finds himself entwined in a puzzling quest involving a prophecy, a promise, and a harmonica.
 
Decades later, Friedrich in Germany, Mike in Pennsylvania, and Ivy in California each, in turn, become interwoven when the very same harmonica lands in their lives. All the children face daunting challenges: rescuing a father, protecting a brother, holding a family together. And ultimately, pulled by the invisible thread of destiny, their solo stories converge in an orchestral crescendo.

Want by Cindy Pon

Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. The rich wear special suits that protect them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without suffer illness and early deaths. Frustrated by his city’s corruption and still grieving the loss of his mother, who died as a result of it, Zhou is determined to change things, no matter the cost.

With the help of his friends, Zhou infiltrates the lives of the wealthy in hopes of destroying the international Jin Corporation from within. Jin Corp not only manufactures the special suits the rich rely on, but they may also be manufacturing the pollution that makes them necessary.

Yet the deeper Zhou delves into this new world of excess and wealth, the more muddled his plans become. And against his better judgment, Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp’s CEO. Can Zhou save his city without compromising who he is or destroying his own heart?

The Beginning Of The World In The Middle Of The Night by Jen Campbell

Spirits in jam jars, mini-apocalypses, animal hearts and side shows.
A girl runs a coffin hotel on a remote island.
A boy is worried his sister has two souls.
A couple are rewriting the history of the world.
And mermaids are on display at the local aquarium.

The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night is a collection of twelve haunting stories; modern fairy tales brimming with magic, outsiders and lost souls.

Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan

Ren Ishida is nearly finished with graduate school when he receives news of his sister Keiko’s sudden death. She was viciously stabbed one rainy night on her way home, and there are no leads. Ren heads to Akakawa to conclude his sister’s affairs, still failing to understand why she chose to abandon the family and Tokyo for this desolate town years ago.

But Ren soon finds himself picking up where Keiko left off, accepting both her teaching position at a local cram school and the bizarre arrangement of free lodging at a wealthy politician’s mansion in exchange for reading to the man’s catatonic wife.

As he comes to know the figures in Akakawa, from the enigmatic politician to his fellow teachers and a rebellious, alluring student named Rio, Ren delves into his shared childhood with Keiko and what followed, trying to piece together what happened the night of her death. Haunted in his dreams by a young girl who is desperately trying to tell him something, Ren struggles to find solace in tOne morning, Deming Guo’s mother, an undocumented Chinese immigrant named Polly, goes to her job at the nail salon and never comes home. No one can find any trace of her.

With his mother gone, eleven-year-old Deming is left with no one to care for him. He is eventually adopted by two white college professors who move him from the Bronx to a small town upstate. They rename him Daniel Wilkinson in their efforts to make him over into their version of an “all-American boy.” But far away from all he’s ever known, Daniel struggles to reconcile his new life with his mother’s disappearance and the memories of the family and community he left behind.

Set in New York and China, The Leavers is a vivid and moving examination of borders and belonging. It’s the story of how one boy comes into his own when everything he’s loved has been taken away–and how a mother learns to live with the mistakes of her past.he void his sister has left behind.

The Leavers by Lisa Ko

One morning, Deming Guo’s mother, an undocumented Chinese immigrant named Polly, goes to her job at the nail salon and never comes home. No one can find any trace of her.

With his mother gone, eleven-year-old Deming is left with no one to care for him. He is eventually adopted by two white college professors who move him from the Bronx to a small town upstate. They rename him Daniel Wilkinson in their efforts to make him over into their version of an “all-American boy.” But far away from all he’s ever known, Daniel struggles to reconcile his new life with his mother’s disappearance and the memories of the family and community he left behind.

Set in New York and China, The Leavers is a vivid and moving examination of borders and belonging. It’s the story of how one boy comes into his own when everything he’s loved has been taken away–and how a mother learns to live with the mistakes of her past.

2018 Reading Goals

2017 has been a really great reading year, but I realized that I read a lot of similar books this year and sort of got into a few reading trends.  I want to make a more diverse reading list for my 2018, so here are some goals I came up with for next year:

1-Read more nonfiction books.

I realized that this past year, some of my favorite books have been nonfiction even though it’s a genre I have rarely reached for in the past.  Next year, I definitely plan on reading more.

2-Read more Own Voices books.

More realistic, thoughtful, lived experiences from diverse authors and less stereotypes in 2018 please.

3-Pay less attention to book trends and more attention to what actually sounds good.

I feel like this past year I payed way too much attention to books (particularly YA) that were trending at the moment and less attention to what actually sounded good.  Sometimes, these two things absolutely go hand and hand, but a lot of times for me, they don’t.  I want to read more of what I actually want to read in 2018 if that makes sense.

4-Read more of what I have/buy less/utilize the library more.

This one is hard because I really do find joy in perusing book stores and while buying a book here and there or buying a favorite to own is totally okay, I personally want to stop excessively buying books and reading through what I already own.  And going to the library is always a great way to read new books without committing to buying them.  (By no way am I saying book hauls are inherently bad.  This is just a personal goal of mine from my own habits I’ve noticed.)

5-Read at my own pace.

I tend to be really hard on myself when I get into a reading slump (like now) and read much slower than when I’m really into it, so in 2018 I want to focus on the quality of what I read and not how fast I can get through books.

6-Embrace big books.

Too often this past year, I set aside books over 500 pages because of the size and because I wanted to get through as many books as possible.  Next year, since I’ll be focusing on quality>quantity, I want to embrace those huge books I’ve put off until now.

These are my big 6 reading goals for next year.  Even though I’m a mood reader and my tastes are constantly changing, I think it’s good to set some general goals to keep it interesting and not fall into more reading slumps than usual.   Do we have any goals in common?  What are some of your 2018 reading goals?

2017 Reading Wrap Up

Another reading year has come and gone and I am super excited that 2017 has been my best year for reading yet!

I met my Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 120 books with a total of 42,857 pages read over the past year.

I started this book blog and joined NetGalley this year, which I see as two cool bookish things that happened this past year too!

I thought to celebrate, I would do a reading wrap-up of some of my favorite and least favorite books I’ve read this year.

 

Favorite Books Of 2017 (In No Particular Order)

 

 

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

Recommend If:  You like comedic memoirs, are interested in mental health, or have a wacky (and wonderful) sense of humor.  I highly recommend the audiobook narrated by the author.

Aristotle And Dante Discover The Secrets Of The Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Recommend If:  You like character-driven, slower paced books with a lot of heart. 

Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham

Recommend If:  You are a Gilmore Girls/Lauren Graham fan and like comedic memoirs.  I highly recommend the audiobook narrated by the author.

In Order To Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey To Freedom by Yeonmi Park

Recommend For:  Everyone.  This is a really important look into North Korea from the eyes of a defector.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Recommend If:  You are in the mood for a small book that packs a big emotional punch.  Be ready to have a box of tissues handy.  I highly recommend the illustrated version.  It’s really lovely.

The Passion Of Dolssa by Julie Berry

Recommend If:  You love YA, but find yourself reading the same plot over and over again.  Trust me, this book isn’t like any YA book you’ve read in the best way possible.

The Unseen World by Liz Moore

Recommend If:  You like historical fiction (specifically the 1970s/1980s), literary fiction, or appreciate both well-rounded characters and a great plot.

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

Recommend If:  You are in the mood for something light-hearted, very British, and whimsical.  If a very, VERY loose retelling of history involving a light touch of fantasy sounds good to you with plenty of humor, you’ll love this.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Recommend For:  Pretty much everyone.  I personally loved Angie Thomas’ writing, but that aside, the story is wildly relevant.

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

Recommend If:  You like historical fiction that focuses on three women’s lives in an as they are affected by a part of WWII that is not as well known.

The Secret Place by Tana French

Recommend If:  You have read all of French’s books up until this point.  You can *technically* read them out of order, but I think it flows better if you read them in order since they kind of build off one another.

Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone Illustrated Edition by J.K. Rowling and Jim Kay

Recommend If:  You are equally obsessed with Harry Potter and are always craving more.  

The Girl With Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee

Recommend For:  Everyone.  Another very different, but very important look at North Korea from a defector.

 

Least Favorite Books Of 2017 (In No Particular Order)

 

The Woman In Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

True Crime Addict by James Renner

After The Crash by Michel Bussi

The End Of Wasp Season by Denise Mina

Unbreakable by Kami Garcia

Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner

 

I hope you’ve had an equally successful reading year and here’s to more great books in 2018!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November Wrap Up

November wasn’t the best ever reading/blogging/bookish month for me.  Partly because this time is busy and partly because after discovering BTS, I’ve been on a music binge.

I mean, look at them.

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LOOK AT THEM.

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(And if you’re late to BTS like me, their music is wonderful and I highly recommend.  You should go watch them immediately.)

Anyway, let’s get to the seven books I read during the month of November.

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan: I can’t believe I never read this book when I was younger, but I decided to finally give it a go!  I think I would have enjoyed it more as an elementary or middle schooler, but I still appreciated the humor and Rick Riordan’s writing.  I gave it 3/5 stars.

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang: This graphic novel follows three different characters whose stories intertwine.  The art is incredible and the story packs a big punch.  I loved it and gave it 4.5/5 stars.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng: This book was the biggest disappointment for me this month.  I read it for my book club and was expecting it to be a new favorite.  While I liked the plot and moral questions it raised, something just didn’t connect with me and the audiobook particularly fell flat.  I gave it 2/5 stars.

The Fireman by Joe Hill: This book started out so strong (a mysterious disease that sets the infected on fire), but tried to be too many things and was just weird.  Also, I really was not a fan of the audiobook narrator.  I DNFed this one.

From Here To Eternity by Caitlin Doughty: I’ve never read a book quite like this one, which is definitely a good thing.  Doughty presents some really great ideas on death and for a topic so scary and heavy, she does a great job talking about it in a super non scary way.  I gave it 3.5/5 stars.

Wolf By Wolf  by Ryan Graudin: This may be another case of I really didn’t like the audiobook version and may have like the physical book better.  The idea was great (an alternate history story involving a shape-shifter on a mission to kill Hitler), but the questionable accents and pacing threw me off.  I gave it 2/5 stars.

Warcross by Marie Lu: This book surprised the socks off of me.  I really enjoyed it.  My full review can be found here and I gave it 4/5 stars.

Most Anticipated 2018 Releases Part 1

I was going through my ever growing TBR list and realized how many amazing sounding books are coming out in 2018.  So without further ado, here are the books I’m looking forward to reading the most in the first part of next year:

 

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black.  This is in the world of fae and follows a girl who is sent to the high court to live after her parents are murdered.  As she tries to fit in, she is involved in the politics and dangers of the high faeries.  I’ve heard a lot of good things about this book, so I’m excited to see what it’s about!  Set to release January 2, 2018.

The Chalk Man by C. J. Tudor.  A mystery about a group of friends who find a body as kids and 30 years later, start receiving messages alluding to what happened in their childhood.  They don’t believe it’s connected until one of the friends is murdered.  Bring on the suspense!  Set to release January 9, 2018.

Beneath The Sugar Sky (Wayward Children #3) by Seanan McGuire.  This is the third and possibly final?? book in the Wayward Children triology (?).  I have absolutely loved everything I’ve read by McGuire, so I am so stoked for this.  Set to release January 9, 2018.

Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke.  Jane Sinner is expelled from high school and signs up for a reality t.v. show called House of Orange (basically Big Brother).  I’m sold.  Set to release January 9, 2018.

Reign Of The Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh.  Necromancers, Zombieish creatures (Shades), and a dangerous world full of souls called the Deadlands.  It sounds awesome.  Set to release January 23, 2018.

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert.  This book follows Alice as she tries to find her missing mother after her grandmother, who wrote a book of fairytales, dies.  The only thing is, Alice isn’t so sure if the fairytales are make believe.  This book has been so hyped since readers were first getting advanced copies of it.  I can’t wait to read it myself!  Set to release January 30, 2018.

The Seven Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton.  Evelyn Hardcastle is murdered over and over again at a ball as the day repeats itself.  Only Aiden can solve her murder, but the problem is every day he wakes in the body of a different party guest.  This sounds so great and I am so ready.  Set to release February 8, 2018.

The Liar’s Girl by Catherine Ryan Howard.  This book is about a woman who falls in love with a serial killer.  As she’s finally moving on, her ex behind bars wants to make a confession to her as a new copycat killer is on the loose.  Set to release February 27, 2018.

I Stop Somewhere by T. E. Carter.  This book follows a freshman in high school, Ellie, after she is assaulted and tackles rape culture.  It sounds like a very powerful book and I can’t wait to read it.  Set to release February 27, 2017.

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney.  I’m just going to post the synopsis since it’s so short.  My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me:  1. I’m in a coma.  2. My husband doesn’t love me anymore.  3. Sometimes I lie.  Sounds like a book I don’t want to know too much about before diving right in.  Set to release March 13, 2018.

In Her Skin by Kim Savage.  This follows sixteen-year-old Jo as she slips into the life of a missing girl, taking on her identity.  After the welcome she receives after being “missing”, Jo realizes that everything isn’t as it seems.  This book is giving me The Likeness by Tana French vibes, so that’s kind of amazing.  Set to release March 27, 2018.

My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, and Brodi Ashton.  A (completely accurate or course) retelling of Jane Eyre.  These ladies know how to write a perfectly witty and totally *nonfictional* retelling.  Set to release June 26, 2018 aka on my birthday.  Happy birthday to me!

Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl.  This book has a heck of a synopsis that I’ll link here.  I’m super intrigued, especially since this is Pessl’s first book since the very interesting Night Film.  Set to release in June 2018.