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Bookish Sweet 16: My Favorite 2016 YA Releases

2016 is quickly coming to an end and while I’m sure many of us are happy to see this year go there were some good things about this year, including some really great reads. For the next few weeks of the year I’ll be doing “Bookish Sweet 16” posts that are lists of 16 of my favorite bookish things. Since YA is what I read the most I’m starting with my favorite YA books that were released this year. Check out my list below and let me know if I missed any of your favorites.


1. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

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This probably shocks no one but A Court of Mist of Fury was definitely my favorite new release this year. I absolutely loved this book and recommend this series to everyone. Also, it just won the Goodreads Choice Award for YA Fantasy/Sci-Fi so you know it’s good.

2. The Midnight Star by Marie Lu

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The Midnight Star was the perfect ending to an amazing trilogy. Marie Lu brought Adelina’s story to an epic conclusion that had me in tears but in the best way. If you haven’t read The Young Elites trilogy please do so immediately. It’s amazing!

3. The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

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The Sun is Also a Star is a thought provoking romance that covers racism, immigration, suicide, and so much more. I absolutely loved this book and the way it was written. I don’t read a lot of contemporaries but this is one I highly recommend.

4. Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

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Before this year I didn’t even know who Sarah J. Maas was. Now I’ve read almost every single one of her books and I regret nothing. Empire of Storms left me a crying mess because of the end but the book as a whole was an amazing ride. There were twists, a lot of action, tons of romance, and Aelin was the perfect sass queen as always.

5. Kids of Appetite by David Arnold

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I still haven’t read Mosquitoland but I heard enough good reviews of it to be excited to read David Arnold’s newest novel and it did not disappoint. This novel had a diverse group of characters that included two Congolese refugees, Vic, who suffers from a rare neurological condition called Moebius syndrome, and many others. It’s funny and insightful and a must read.

6. Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

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Bardugo outdid herself with this novel. I was worried that I’d feel like two books wouldn’t be enough to truly wrap up this duology but it was perfect. I’d still like to see more of my Dregs but I was happy with how this novel ended. Filled with Kaz’s crazy schemes, a touch of romance, and a lot of hilarity I couldn’t put this book down and you won’t either.

7. Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

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I’m always amazing by how Cassandra Clare continues to expand her Shadowhunters world and Lady Midnight did not let me down. I loved the characters in this book and want to be a part of the Blackthorns family. This novel was filled with mystery, adventure, and a healthy dose of drama.

8. A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

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When I heard A Study in Charlotte was about the descendants of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson I had to pick it up and I’m glad I did. Centered around a mystery (obviously) this book was the perfect mix of funny and serious moments as well as a bit of romance, which I always love.

9. Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

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Honestly, I didn’t like Red Queen but I try not to quit series so I picked up Glass Sword anyway and that turned out to be a good decision. While I found Red Queen to be predictable, Glass Sword surprised me and kept me on the edge of my seat. I can’t wait to read the next book and see what happens next for Mare.

10. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

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Although I found the ending of The Raven King to be anticlimactic, overall I loved this book. Blue and her Raven Boys made me laugh, sigh with happiness, and cheer when they were successful. I especially liked the character development I saw in all of the characters and I’m excited to read Maggie Stiefvater’s new trilogy about Ronan.

11. The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

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The Unexpected Everything is the first book I’ve read by Morgan Matson and I now get the hype for her books. This was a perfect contemporary romance and I couldn’t help but fall for Clark. I thought this book was cute and funny and I highly recommend it.

12. Interference by Kay Honeyman

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I’m a sucker for an Emma retelling so when I got an ARC of Interference, which blends Emma with Friday Night Lights I had to read it. The novel is a cute and quick read about a girl named Kate who has to leave her home in D.C. after an unfortunate scandal that affects her father’s campaign and move to Texas.

13. Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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I’m not a big fan of sci-fi but when it came to Illuminae and Gemina I couldn’t put these books down. Written as if it’s a collection of documents in a file, these are insanely creative and fun books to read. Definitely give this series a try if you haven’t already. They’re worth a read.

14. Dreamology by Lucy Keating

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Dreamology is definitely one of the most underrated reads of 2016. The novel follows the story of Alice, who for as long as she can remember, has shared her dreams with a boy named Max that she loves. Therefore she’s ecstatic when she actually meets Max in real life only to become devastated when it turns out he doesn’t know her at all…or does he?

15. Stars Above by Marissa Meyer

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I loved The Lunar Chronicles so I was excited to read more about my favorite characters. Although all the short stories were great, what truly made this book awesome was the final short story that takes place after Winter. I won’t spoil it but I will say it gave me all the feels.

16. Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin

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I’m still heartbroken over the end of Blood for Blood but I absolutely loved this novel. It was a roller coaster of emotions, which should be expected since it takes place in an alternate reality where the Nazis won World War II. If you’re into history and/or sci-fi you should definitely give this duology a read.

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Book Review: The Thousandth Floor 

Synopsis:

A hundred years in the future, New York is a city of innovation and dreams. But people never change: everyone here wants something…and everyone has something to lose.

Leda Cole’s flawless exterior belies a secret addiction—to a drug she never should have tried and a boy she never should have touched.

Eris Dodd-Radson’s beautiful, carefree life falls to pieces when a heartbreaking betrayal tears her family apart.

Rylin Myers’s job on one of the highest floors sweeps her into a world—and a romance—she never imagined…but will her new life cost Rylin her old one?

Watt Bakradi is a tech genius with a secret: he knows everything about everyone. But when he’s hired to spy by an upper-floor girl, he finds himself caught up in a complicated web of lies.

And living above everyone else on the thousandth floor is Avery Fuller, the girl genetically designed to be perfect. The girl who seems to have it all—yet is tormented by the one thing she can never have.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Book Depository

Review

I buddy read this book with my friend Jess and although we both weren’t into it in the beginning the last 100 pages sucked us in and now we both need to read the sequel.

When I first began reading I felt like this novel had way too many POVs and I still felt that way until I got to the end and realized why all those POVs were essential. To me Watt was the most unnecessary POV and I liked him the least out of all the characters we followed. Eris was my favorite, I liked Rylin but hated all her bad decisions, Avery annoyed me because of how she handled her problems, and I went from feeling sympathetic towards Leda to hating her. There was a lot going on in this novel but like I said the way Katharine McGee was able to bring everything together in the end saved this novel for me.

This book definitely gave me Gossip Girl vibes. Jess and I kept comparing these characters to the characters of Gossip Girl and began referring to Watt as Lonely Boy because he’s honestly exactly like the TV show version of Dan. Spoilers if you haven’t seen the show but Dan was Gossip Girl and in The Thousandth Floor Watt’s hacker name is Nadia. There’s a lot of other reasons why they’re similar but I don’t want to go into too much detail and spoil it but they’re very alike. Trust me. However, once again, what differentiated this book for me, besides the fact that it takes place in the future, was the surprising end.

One of my big issues with the novel, however, was trying to wrap my head around this world McGee created. When I first thought about the tower I thought of it like the Empire State Building but as I kept reading I realized it wasn’t like that at all. Apparently the Tower covers most of Manhattan and there’s buildings within the tower as well as streets and parks. So for a while I thought that meant all of New York City was the tower but then Eris and her friend, Mariel, went to a party outside of the Tower so I had to wrap my head around that. It was just a bit confusing for me and I struggled to understand the setting.

As I’ve said the plot is what really made this book awesome for me. It did start slow and I was annoyed with each character at least once in this book because they either did something stupid or I could foresee what they were planning backfiring on them. Despite that, McGee did write some good romances and like I said the last 100 pages really made the book worthwhile for me. I definitely plan on buying this one and reading the next book. I need to know what happens next!

Stars:

3 stars

Favorite Line:

“I believe in happiness. I’m just not sure love will actually get you there.”

Other Reviews

Cuddlebuggery

Reading with Jenna

All About Romance

Fantastic Beasts Review

From Page to Screen: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

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[Source: Warner Bros.]

I haven’t read the Fantastic Beasts book (neither the handbook version or the screenplay) so this will be a straight forward review, solely based on the film. Going into this movie I was very excited because it’s been a while since I’ve seen a Harry Potter movie in theaters and it was nice to get to do that again.

I saw Fantastic Beasts opening weekend when the film was of course sold out and everyone there were pretty hardcore Harry Potter fans. I’ve always loved going to see these kinds of movies on premiere weekends for this very reason. The atmosphere is just amazing and you don’t get that vibe if you see it in the afternoon on a random Tuesday.

So going into Fantastic Beasts I was very excited and the movie did not disappoint. The cast was absolutely phenomenal. Eddie Redmayne was the perfect Newt. He was cute and kind of awkward and just amazing. Dan Fogler, who played Jacob Kowalski, brought great comedy to the film. Ezra Miller as Credence was just creepy enough that I was weirded out but sympathetic enough that I was still on his side. Collin Farrell, however, made the perfect villain as Graves.

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[Source: Warner Bros.]

I absolutely loved Alison Sudol as Queenie. She was my favorite character hands down. Her sister, Tina (Katherine Waterston), however, was a bit annoying. I don’t blame Waterston for this though. I think Tina’s personality just irritated me and honestly I’m not exactly sure why. Towards the end she was okay though.

The plot itself was awesome and though I suspected that plot twist at the end I was still a little surprised by it. The action and magical scenes of the film were great as well. I was in awe of Newt’s suitcase and now want to live inside of it. I could’ve done without the bits of romance though. Queenie and Jacob were kind of cute but Newt and Tina’s little flirtation aired closer to the side of cringeworthy instead of awkwardly cute.

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[Source: Warner Bros.]

Overall though I really did like this movie and will probably end up buying the screenplay because honestly the cover just looks so incredibly gorgeous. Definitely go see the movie if you haven’t already. It’s totally worth at least one watch.

Did you see Fantastic Beasts? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments below!

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‘Nevernight,’ ‘The Assassin’s Blade,’ and More Books On My December TBR

I haven’t made a TBR post since June and that’s so sad. I’m happy to start doing this again and hopefully I’ll be able to stick to my TBR this month but I do have grad school applications to work on so we’ll see. However, most of these are library books so I actually do need to read these soon. Here’s my reading plan for December.


1. The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

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I’ve never read a Patrick Ness book so I figure it’s time I give his writing a try. So far I’m liking it but I’m only 15 pages in. I plan to finish this book by the end of this month.

2. Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

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I absolutely loved the Illuminae series by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman so when I heard Kristoff was writing an adult novel I was excited. I’m participating in a readalong for this novel in the month of December, which you can get more info about here.

3. Burned by Ellen Hopkins

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I actually read this novel a few years ago but I need to reread it so I can finally read the sequel. I remember how Burned ended but not all the details. I do know enough to remember this book will break my heart (again) but I’m ready.

4. Smoke by Ellen Hopkins

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This is literally the only book by Ellen Hopkins I’ve never read and it’s killing me so I must read it. I’m hoping for a happy ending but having read almost all of Hopkins novels I know not to get my hopes up.

5. The Wrath & the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

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After my friend read this duology and told me how much she loved it I requested a copy from the library…and still haven’t read it. I believe I’ve renewed this book at least once already so I need to read it before it’s due again.

6. Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

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This is another reread for me but it’s honestly the perfect book for the holidays. However, I’m really rereading it because I want to read the sequel and I haven’t read Dash & Lily in years so I need a refresher before I see what they’re up to these days.

7. The Twelve Days of Dash & Lily by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

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I’m excited to read this book since I loved Dash & Lily so much. Also, I just love Christmas books in general so this will be a fun read.

8. The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas

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This is the second time I’ve checked out this book from the library so I absolutely have to finish it this time. I’ve read the first two novellas so I’m hoping this will be the month I finish the rest. Wish me luck!

What are you planning to read this month? Let me know in the comments below!

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Book Review: All the Bright Places

Synopsis:

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death. Every day he thinks of ways he might kill himself, but every day he also searches for—and manages to find—something to keep him here, and alive, and awake.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her small Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school—six stories above the ground— it’s unclear who saves whom. Soon it’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink. . . .

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Book Depository

Review

All the Bright Places has been sitting on my shelves for at least a year and although I heard great things about it I just never seemed in the right mood to read it. However, after reading a lot of fantasy this year I found myself in a contemporary mood and ended up giving this book a try. Unfortunately it did not live up to the hype.

This novel is told in the altering first person perspectives of Violet and Finch who met on the ledge of the bell tower at school. While Finch was known for being weird, Violet was a popular girl. Therefore it was easy for them to weave this story that Violet talked Finch down from the tower even though the truth was it was actually the other way around. After this shared experience Violet and Finch naturally end up romantically involved.

For Finch his focus was on staying “awake” as he calls it. Finch goes through these periods of being “asleep” where he loses track of time and can’t really do anything. I took this to mean he falls into a deep depression. Differently Violet is just focused on counting down the days until graduation so she can leave town and move one from her sister’s death. Both Violet and Finch have their issues but Finch’s obviously stems from a mental illness that his family doesn’t seem all that concerned about. Differently, Violet’s parents are very concerned about her and they have a right to be since she refused to get in a car because her sister died in a car accident.

I wanted to like the message of this novel but it was hard for me to acknowledge that when I disliked the characters so much. I found both Violet and Finch irritating and though I wanted to feel sympathetic towards them it was difficult for me to find sympathy. I just didn’t really love anything about this book. The plot was just fine, the romance wasn’t all that exciting, and though I get the message I was annoyed with how this book ended. In summary I don’t get the hype at all so this is definitely a borrow for me.

Stars:

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Favorite Line:

“You are all the colors in one, at full brightness.”

Other Reviews

Katie’s Book Blog

A Book is a Girl’s Best Friend

Ashana Lian’s Fantasy Lab

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‘Empire of Storms,’ ‘The Sun is Also a Star,’ and Other Books I Read This Month (November Wrap-Up)

I haven’t done a wrap-up post in a while so I figured it was time. November was filled with some let downs but I also read some really great books. Here’s my wrap-up.


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Number of Books I Read This Month: 7

Top Three Books I Read This Month

1. Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

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In book five of the Throne of Glass series things heat up for Aelin and Co. Taking back her throne as Queen of Terrasen isn’t as simple as Aelin had hoped but as per usual she’s got a plan up her sleeve. The question is will she be able to save herself along with her kingdom?

2. The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

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Nicola Yoon is a queen of writing great contemporary YA romances with diverse characters and she brought her A game with The Sun is Also a Star. Told in various point of views, Yoon tells the story of two teens who fall in love and how one’s actions can affect all those around them.

3. The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West

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I’ve never read a Kasie West book before but I can see now why people love her. The Fill-In Boyfriend was a cute YA romance about a girl named, Gia, who’s all about keeping up appearances. When her boyfriend, Bradley, breaks-up with her right before prom she enlists a stranger to fill in but surprises herself when she discovers she actually likes him.

Other Books I Read This Month

  1. All the Bright Places
  2. The Thousandth Floor
  3. Decidedly Off Limits
  4. Smut

Books I Received This Month

Although I was supposed to be on a book buying ban, I ended up purchasing Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon because I needed to purchase a book in order to get my books signed. It was totally worth breaking my ban for though.

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Book Review: Empire of Storms

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Synopsis:

The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those who don’t.

With her heart sworn to the warrior-prince by her side, and her fealty pledged to the people she is determined to save, Aelin will delve into the depths of her power to protect those she loves. But as monsters emerge from the horrors of the past, and dark forces become poised to claim her world, the only chance for salvation will lie in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.

In this breathtaking fifth installment of the New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series, Aelin will have to choose what — and who — to sacrifice if she’s to keep the world of Erilea from breaking apart.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Book Depository

Review

*Warning: This review will contain some spoilers. If you don’t want to be spoiled please don’t read.*

I borrowed Empire of Storms from the library because I’m on a book buying ban and honestly I’m having a hard time returning it. I don’t want to give it back. I want to keep it forever. I want to reread it immediately. I need it on my shelves. It was so good!

Empire of Storms picks up a little after where Queen of Shadows ended. Aelin is finally headed back to Terrasen to reclaim her throne but things don’t go as planned. Lord Darrow, who’s one of the biggest jerks in this novel, basically tells Aelin she can’t be queen and if she tries to take her throne back they (the Lords of Terrasen) will see it as an act of war. So rude. Although Aelin is pissed, and rightfully so, she doesn’t fight and instead gets to work on putting her many plans in motion.

This novel followed a lot of characters so there were a lot of different plot lines going on. The Valg king, Erawan, attacked Rifthold and Rowan had to go rescue Dorian and then they ended up going to Skull’s Bay to pay the Pirate Lord a visit. Manon, who’s such a softie, was dealing with her terrible grandmother and the other witches and ended up making a choice that led to a big revelation, altering her fate. My favorite lady, Elide, was freed from Morath but had to try to find Aelin/Caelena who she didn’t know was the same person. On her way to Terrasen she was hunted by Lorcan, who was still looking for the Wyrdkeys. They ended up partnering up and thus a new ship was born.

Of course all these different storylines ended up coming together and it led to a huge revelation about Aelin’s fate and a devastating ending. Empire of Storms was filled with a lot of action as Aelin & Co. had to fight not only Erawan’s forces but also Maeve’s, the Queen of the Fae. This novel also contained a lot of romance. Basically everyone hooked up with someone in this novel. Seriously, there was a lot of kisses and sex and declarations of love, which also caused for some hilarity since the Fae can tell when someone had sex or desires someone. Speaking of hilarity, Aelin still had the same level of sass we’ve come to know and love but there were also some new characters that were great additions to the sass in this book. Particularly, Fenrys, who’s one of the Fae in Rowan’s “cadre.” He was fantastic.

Overall, I am in love with this book. I already started rereading it even though I know I have to return it soon. I still love Queen of Shadows because it had a much happier ending but Empire of Storms is a great novel. It’s well written, the characters are great, and the twists were perfect. There were twists that dated all the way back to the second book. That’s crazy!

Definitely read this book if you haven’t already. You’ll love it!

Stars:

5 stars

Favorite Line:

“Even when this world is a forgotten whisper of dust between the stars, I will love you.”

Other Reviews

Read at Midnight

Fables Library

Across the Words