My Top 17 Reads Of 2017 (2017 Wrap-Up)

It’s quite unbelievable to me that 2017 is almost over. Not that I’ll be sad to say goodbye to this year, but seriously, where did the time go? Regardless, despite the bad that occurred this year, in terms of the books I read, it was a pretty good year for me. In total, I read 79 books this year (so far!) so it was pretty hard for me to narrow that down to 17 books but I’ve done my best. So in no particular order, here are my 17 favorite reads from this year.

1. Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas

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Truthfully, I didn’t want to read this book. I won’t go into much detail since I don’t want to spoil it for anyone but it basically follows Chaol Westfall and takes place at the same time that Empire of Storms does. When I first heard about this book all I thought was I didn’t want it and instead I’d would’ve liked the final Throne of Glass book. However, after everyone kept saying how amazing it was I finally got the audiobook and I think I finished it in two days. It was SO good. I truly couldn’t stop listening. It tied so many things in the series together and made me even more excited for the last book. Plus, it’s by far the most diverse book Sarah J. Maas has written, which is a shame but at least she’s growing.

2. They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

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This year I discovered Adam Silvera and I’m now obsessed. They Both Die at the End broke my heart in the best way and despite the title I was still not prepared for the ending. The story follows Mateo and Rufus who are told they are going to die by the end of the day. Thanks to the Last Friend app they end up meeting and find themselves making the most of their last day on Earth. The story alternates between the POVs of Mateo and Rufus, and also gives insight into some other characters. All together it gave me The Sun is Also a Star vibes, but is still felt totally different and SO good. It will make you cry but also laugh and smile.

3. History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

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Another Silvera book? Oh yes and I’m not the least bit sorry. This is the first book I read by Silvera and I honestly didn’t know what to expect going into it. Full disclosure, I only picked this up because I was trying to get an internship at the place that published this book. While I didn’t get the job I did fall in love with this book, which tells the story of Griffin, who’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, died. Surprisingly, it’s Theo’s new boyfriend, Jackson, that Griffin finds himself connecting with after Theo’s death. As the story jumps between the present and Griffin’s “history” with Theo secrets are revealed that led to a twist I definitely didn’t see coming.

4. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

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I love Constance Wu so when I heard she was starring in the movie adaptation of Crazy Rich Asians I knew that a) I’d be seeing the movie the day it came out and b) I needed to read the book. Since the movie’s not out yet I started with reading the book and I couldn’t put it down. It was so funny and even though I’m not Asian it was still felt very relatable. The book hooked me from the very beginning. It expertly looks at race and class, while also just being hilarious. I literally closed the book so I could laugh out loud multiple times while reading. I can’t wait to read the next two books in this series.

5. Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

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If you love ’90s rom coms or remember watching them with your mom like I do, then this is the book for you. Loosely based on You’ve Got Mail, this story follows Bailey “Mink” Rydell who talks to “Alex” online for months. When she moves to his area, Bailey doesn’t tell him for fear he’ll disappoint her. Instead, she ends up working with the infuriating Porter, and soon finds herself trying to decide between her online relationship with Alex and the chance at a real one with Porter. Besides the romance, this story also deals with a number of other issues, most notably gun violence. I really loved this book and could see myself reading it again.

6. When It’s Real by Erin Watt

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I’m a sucker for a “forced to be together but end up actually falling for each other” story and this one was fantastic. The story follows Vaughn Bennett who agrees to pretend to be the girlfriend of teen pop star Oakley Ford in order to get money to help her family. Told in alternating POVs of Vaughn and Oakley this was a super cute love story, interspersed with texts and tweets that made it incredibly funny as well. I couldn’t put this book down and immediately picked it back up again when I finished it.

7. Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

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I’m still not over the ending to this book. Just thinking about it right now makes me feel some type of way. Cassandra Clare broke me with this book but I loved every minute of it. I’m now impatiently waiting for the next, and last, book in the trilogy. Here’s to hoping the wait doesn’t kill me since it doesn’t come until December 2018.

8. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

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Honestly, I don’t know why it took me so long to finally read this book. It was so good! I felt for Simon, who was being blackmailed about his sexuality, but I also loved him and his relationship with Blue, the mysterious boy he was emailing. This book was funny, heartwarming, and had so many great quotes. If you haven’t read this you definitely should before the movie, Love, Simon, comes out in March.

9. King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard

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I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t like this series in the beginning. Red Queen seemed way too predictable to me and I wasn’t a fan. But Victoria Aveyard sucked me in with Glass Sword and King’s Cage was even better. Told in different perspectives, King’s Cage raised the stakes, setting the perfect stage for the series’ conclusion next year.

10. Big Little Lies by Lianne Moriarty

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This is another read that it took me too long to finally get to, but I’m so glad I finally read it. This book was filled with so many twists that came together perfectly in the end. I loved how this was really a book about women coming together and supporting each other, but wasn’t preachy about it at all. In fact, it was hilarious and I couldn’t put it down.

11. Warcross by Marie Lu

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I know next to nothing about video games but I love Marie Lu so I decided to give this book a chance anyway and boy did it not disappoint. Although the virtual reality game, Warcross, is obviously a big part of the story, because it’s made up Lu had to explain it for the world building and so it was easy to figure out and get immersed in it. Plus, the story was about more than just Warcross itself, it was about the protagonist, Emika, who I loved. While the twists weren’t all that surprising, I still loved this book and can’t wait for the sequel.

12. The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

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Holly Black is another author I just discovered this year, and honestly, why am I so late to this party? The Cruel Prince was filled with amazing twists and just enough romance to make me swoon. I loved the main character, Jude, who’s a human raised amongst faeries, and I liked that these faeries were ruthless, as the fey should be.

13. Forever, or a Long, Long Time by Caela Carter

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I don’t typical read middle grade novels, but I had to for school this year and while I definitely didn’t love all the books I had to read, I fell in love with Forever, or a Long, Long Time. This heartbreaking, but equally heartwarming, story follows Flora and her young brother, Julian, two foster kids who believe they were never born. Although they’ve finally found a forever home, Flora and Julian continue to struggle with the things that have happened to them in the past. I absolutely loved how this story was written in Flora’s perspective, because her view of the world and her surroundings was so interesting. I sympathized with her throughout the novel and felt for her when she messed up, but celebrated all her triumphs. This is a must read.

14. Invictus by Ryan Graudin

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I loved the Wolf by Wolf duology so I was very excited to read another book by Ryan Graudin and Invictus did not disappoint. Filled with time traveling adventure, romance, and a bit of a plot twist, Invictus kept me hooked the whole way through. I’ve been telling people its like Six of Crows but with time travel. In other words, I highly recommend it.

15. Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

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Even though I’ve never really had an interest in Wonder Woman (I still haven’t seen the movie), I love Leigh Bardugo so I decided to give this book a chance, and I’m glad I did. Bardugo did a great job of setting up the world so that even for me, who really knew next to nothing about Wonder Woman going into this book, everything still made sense. I loved this version of Wonder Woman, aka Diana, and the adventure she went on when she arrived on Earth. I also loved that this story was able to surprise me. Overall, this book has made me excited to read the next books in this DC Icons series.

16. The Sexy One by Lauren Blakely

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If I’m going to read erotica it’s going to be a Lauren Blakely novel. The woman has only disappointed me once and in her defense it was one of her earlier novels; her writing has only gotten better over time. It was hard for me to just choose one of my favorites by her this year but I’m going with The Sexy One because I love a forbidden romance and Simon and Abby’s relationship was so freaking cute. I’m pretty sure I read through this book in a day.

17. By Your Side by Kasie West

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Kasie West has become one of my favorite YA contemporary romance authors and she also gives me serious writer goals. She comes out with two books a year. TWO! But anyway, By Your Side is definitely one of my favorites by her, mainly because it begins with the main character, Autumn, being trapped in the library with a cute, bad boy. So basically, my dream. However, what I loved most about this book was how West handled Autumn’s mental health and how that played into the story.

What were some of your favorite reads this year? Let me know in the comments below!

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Too Late by Colleen Hoover

Book Review: Too Late

Too Late by Colleen Hoover

Synopsis from Wattpad:

Sloan will go through hell and back for those she loves. And she does, every single day. After finding herself stuck in a relationship with the dangerous and morally corrupt Asa Jackson, Sloan will do whatever it takes to get by until she’s able to get out. Nothing will get in her way. Nothing except Carter.

Sloan is the best thing to ever happen to Asa. And if you ask Asa, he’d say he’s the best thing that’s ever happened to Sloan. And he has no plans of letting her go; even if she doesn’t approve of his sinister lifestyle. But despite Sloan’s disapproval, Asa knows what it takes to keep what he wants, and he’ll do it. He knows what he needs to do to remain on top, and he does it. Nothing will get in his way. Nothing except Carter.

As some of you know I’ve recently taken a swan dive into Colleen Hoover’s books. Recently she uploaded a story to Wattpad, a website that offers free books, and thankfully by the time I caught wind of it she was almost done writing it because I don’t think I could’ve waited while she posted chapter by chapter.

Too Late is a bit different than Queen CoHo’s other novels. For one thing it’s told in three alternating POVs instead of her usual two. Additionally, this story is way more explicit and comes with a “Mature Audiences Only” warning. As soon as the novel begins you can see why it’s explicit. There’s sex and a lot of violence, and CoHo just goes full steam ahead with this story.

Right from the beginning I was pulled into the drama that is Sloan’s life. Her boyfriend, Asa, is a hot mess in every sense. He’s abusive,  crazy, and a drug dealer. Carter on the other hand, is everything you would expect from a CoHo love interest. He’s protective, caring, and kind of funny. If you’ve read Confess I’d say Too Late is kind of similar but with the volume turned all the way up.

Sloan’s situation is much more dire than Auburn’s in Confess, and what’s cool about Too Late is we do get Asa’s POV, which is enlightening but not enough for me to feel sympathetic towards him. He’s still a total and complete jerk but at least as the novel goes on we kind of understand why. Asa’s actions are still inexcusable but at least they’re explanatory. Honestly, I’m not sure which character I dislike more: Asa or Trey from Confess.

As with most of CoHo’s novels, the love story completely pulled me in. Sloan and Carter have instant chemistry and their conversations and playful manner with each other made me swoon.

Too Late was the perfect combination of suspense, drama, and romance that made me hooked. I think I read this book in about a day and I’m so glad it was my first Wattpad book. Obviously, CoHo is a bestselling author so I know not every Wattpad story will be like this, but at least this has opened me up to giving Wattpad books a chance.

Definitely give Too Late a read if you want to try out some of CoHo’s writing before reading her published work. It’s totally free (Edit: This book is no longer on Wattpad. You can now purchase it on Amazon) and although it’s not exactly like her published works I think it’ll be enough to help you decide if CoHo’s writing is for you. Although, really you should just read her books. They’re amazing!

Borrow or Buy: Since this is a Wattpad book this question actually doesn’t apply. But if you could buy Too Late I would highly recommend doing so. (Edit: Definitely a borrow.)

Stars:

4 stars

Favorite Line:

“My mouth finds hers again and I kiss her the way she deserves to be kissed. With conviction. With respect. With feeling.”

Other Reviews
Book Jems
The Crazy World of a Book Lover
Heart via Pages

8 Books That’ll Have You Reaching For A Tissue Box

I recently finished reading a total tear jerker and even though it made me cry I loved it anyway. Honestly, sometimes it’s great to have a great cry over a book. So here’s some of my favorite tear jerkers. Don’t see yours on the list? Let me know what book has made you cry in the comments below.


1. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

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When Louisa Clark accepts a job helping Will, a quadriplegic, she’s not really sure what to expect. Will is sulky, moody, and a bit difficult to deal with but Louisa pushes forward anyway, determined to make him happy. But what Louisa soon realizes is by giving Will a happier life she may end up breaking her own heart in the process.

2. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

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John Green is a master story teller and holds back no punches in this story of two teens with cancer who discover their own little infinity. Despite their illnesses Hazel and Augustus are determined to love each other no matter the cost.

3. The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

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This trilogy about the girl on fire who starts a revolution is now a worldwide phenomenon and with good reason. From the moment Katniss Everdeen volunteers for the Hunger Games her life is changed as are the lives of those closest to her, and no one is save from the fallout of Katniss’ revolution.

4. The Pact by Jodi Picoult

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Chris and Emily were two teens in love who otherwise seemed happy, until Chris shoots Emily to death as part of their shared suicide pact. Told in multiple point of views Jodi Picoult shows us everything isn’t always black and white and lots can be revealed in those shades of gray.

5. If I Stay by Gayle Forman

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Mia’s whole world is changed one day when her family gets into a terrible car accident. Stuck in a coma but aware of everything that’s happening around her Mia is forced to choose to let go or fight for her life and stay.

6. Rumble by Ellen Hopkins

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After being mercilessly bullied because of his sexuality, Matthew’s younger brother, Luke, committed suicide. Matthew is then left questioning how to forgive all those he holds responsible for Luke’s death, including himself.

7. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

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After calling the cops and having the end-of-the-summer party busted up, Melinda is an outcast in her high school and the more alone she feels the less she speaks. Her only source of comfort is her art class. Through working on an art project Melinda is finally able to face what really happened at that party and learns how to speak.

8. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

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Two weeks after his crush and classmate, Hannah Baker, committed suicide Clay Jensen comes home to find a package with his name on it. Inside are thirteen cassette tapes from Hannah explaining her reasons for ending her life—and Clay is one of them.

 

15 Bookstagram Accounts You Need To Follow

Hey guys! I know today is Monday and this is obviously not a Man Crush Monday post. However, I’m currently trying out a different posting schedule so just bear with me. Thanks!


For those of you that don’t already know I recently joined the #bookstagram community and I’m loving it. If you’re not following me on Instagram yet please do! It’s so fun and I love posting pics of my books. Besides myself there are SO many amazing bookstagram accounts you should be following. Here’s just a few of my faves.

1. Celine (@celinereads)

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2. Saskiareads (@saskiareads)

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3. The High Ladies (@thecourtofbooksandreaders)

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4. Bookcrastinators in Wonderland (@bookcrastinators)

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5. Seth (@seth.the.reader)

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6. Leanne (@leanne_bibliomaniac)

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7. Ryza Lorraine (@stylereads_)

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8. Ashlynn (@bookishqueen)

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9. Carlos (@abookishdreamer)

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10. Linnie (@beyondtheblurb)

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11. Emily (@book.happy)

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12. Fiderly (@readsleepfangirl)

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13. Kath (@kath_reads)

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14. Tenn (@ten_art_books)

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15. Kay (@thebookannex)

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And here’s a bonus pic from yours truly.

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Do you have a bookstagram account? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to follow you! 🙂

12 Books To Read During Black History Month

Despite Stacey Dash’s nonsensical statements, Black History Month (BHM) is in fact still happening this year and what better way to celebrate than with some reading. Check out this list of books, both fiction and nonfiction, to help you feel empowered, make you laugh, and get motivated to change the world.

1. How to Be Black by Baratunde Thurston

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Source: Harper

Start your BHM right by learning “how to be Black”. Thurston’s book of satirical essays that discuss how to be the best Black person you can be will keep you laughing and shaking your head at it’s realness.

2. Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

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Source: Simon & Schuster

Queen of Shondland, Shonda Rhimes has found success in a medium that has never been that open to women of color. Learn about how for one year Rhimes said yes to every opportunity that came her way and how it changed her life.

3. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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Source: Anchor

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah centers around a young Nigerian couple who are separated but come back togethers 15 years later and rediscover their love for each other and their homeland.

4. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

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Source: Spiegel & Grau

Written as a letter to his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates dives into what it means to be Black in America, both in the present and in America’s history. Looking at his life experiences, Coates takes a hard look at race in America and what could be improved for the future.

5. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

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Source: Random House

Filled with heart wrenching moments that will make you both angry and sad, Maya Angelou tells the story of her life with honesty and understanding. However, this book isn’t a sad story about what happened to her but instead an uplifting story about how she was set free.

6. The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X

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Source: Ballantine Books

From his childhood to his time in jail to his full dive into Islam, Malcolm X fully opens up about his ideals and how the American Dream doesn’t really include Black people. Whether you think his ideas are too extreme or not, they’ll definitely make you think.

7. Monster by Walter Dean Myers

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Source: HarperCollins

Written as a screenplay, this novel follows Steve Harmon, a teenage boy in juvenile detention awaiting trial. Winner of multiple awards, this shocking story demonstrates how one decision can completely alter someone’s life.

8. The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae

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Source: Atria

In this collection of hilarious essays, Issae Rae, creator of the YouTube hit, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, discusses her experiences as a creator of a YouTube show, dealing with people’s unwanted commentary, and rocking her natural hair.

9. Waiting to Exhale by Terry McMillan

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Source: Signet

Before it became an amazing film, Waiting to Exhale was a bestselling novel. Centered around four black women, each of whom are going through their own relationship trials, this book tells the story of the undeniable bonds that friends share.

10. Beloved by Toni Morrison

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Source: Vintage

This classic novel tells the story of Sethe, a woman who escaped slavery 18 years ago but is still running from the ghosts she thought she left behind there. Filled with suspense, this isn’t just a story about slavery but a story about a mother who’s still being haunted.

11. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

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Source: Mariner Books

A tale about two sisters that are separated for years, The Color Purple is a classic that has since been turned into a movie and musical. Thought provoking, heart breaking, and inspiring this story is worth a read, and even a second if you’ve read it before.

12. Dear White People by Justin Simien

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Source: Atria

Answering questions such as, “Am I the token Black friend?” or “Was that a microaggression?” Dear White People is the ultimate guide to living in “post-racial” America.

 

POPSUGAR’s 2016 Reading Challenge

Last year I participated in POPSUGAR’s reading challenge and I didn’t do as well as I had hoped. This year, I’m going to try to stick to my challenge better and actually read ALL of the books. Here’s my list of books and you can click here to see POPSUGAR’s article about the challenge and get your own print out checklist.

Note: Some books I can’t put in yet because they’re contingent on things that haven’t happened yet so I’ll fill those in later.

  1. A book based on a fairy tale: Stars Above by Marissa Meyer
  2. A National Book Award winner: Between The World And Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  3. A YA bestseller: Prodigy by Marie Lu
  4. A book you haven’t read since high school: Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
  5. A book set in your home state: Mister O by Lauren Blakely
  6. A book translated to English: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
  7. A romance set in the future: The Crown by Kiera Cass
  8. A book set in Europe: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
  9. A book that’s under 150 pages: The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
  10. A New York Times bestseller: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
  11. A book that’s becoming a movie this year: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth-Grahame-Smith
  12. A book recommended by someone you just met: _______________________
  13. A self-improvement book: Think Like A Man, Act Like A Lady by Steve Harvey
  14. A book you can finish in a day: Fairest by Marissa Meyer
  15. A book written by a celebrity: Unbreak My Heart by Toni Braxton
  16. A political memoir: The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama
  17. A book at least 100 years older than you: Emma by Jane Austen
  18. A book that’s more than 600 pages: Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
  19. A book from Oprah’s book club: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
  20. A science-fiction novel: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
  21. A book recommended by a family member: Black Wall Street by Hannibal B. Johnson
  22. A graphic novel: Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel
  23. A book that is published in 2016: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
  24. A book with a protagonist that has your occupation: Afterworlds by Scott Westerfield
  25. A book that takes place during Summer: The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
  26. A book and it’s prequel: Throne of Glass and The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas
  27. A murder mystery: A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
  28. A book written by a comedian: Seriously…I’m Kidding by Ellen Degeneres
  29. A dystopian novel: Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard
  30. A book with a blue cover: Love Lies Beneath by Ellen Hopkins
  31. A book of poetry: Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
  32. The first book you see in a bookstore: ______________________
  33. A classic from the 20th century: The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
  34. A book from the library: Let It Snow by John Green, Lauren Myracle, and Maureen Johnson
  35. An autobiography: Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela
  36. A book about a road trip: How To Be Bad by Lauren Myracle
  37. A book about a culture you’re unfamiliar with: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  38. A satirical book: Animal Farm by George Orwell
  39. A book that takes place on an island: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
  40. A book that’s guaranteed to bring you joy: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Also, I wanted to wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Enjoy the day!

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Woman Crush Wednesday: Rue

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I’ve been feeling like my WCW’s have been lacking color. Therefore this Woman Crush Wednesday I’d like to shout out Rue, from The Hunger Games. Although I’m sure you can still find people who will debate whether or not she’s Black, the truth is she is indeed a POC and everyone just needs to accept that.

If you haven’t read/seen The Hunger Gamesset, I’d advise you do that first before reading this post. There will be spoilers!

Moving on, what makes Rue fantastic isn’t just that she’s a POC. She’s incredibly courageous for a young girl thrown into a battle to the death. Rather than just give up she learns how to hide in trees and protect herself. Additionally, she becomes a great ally to Katniss, helping Katniss get out of a very sticky situation by showing Katniss a nest of tracker jackers to use against the Careers.

Rue is also fiercely loyal. She stands by Katniss’ side to the very bitter end and does everything she can to help keep Katniss alive. I won’t go into how the POC’s in The Hunger Games were really just tools to help promote the survival of the main, white protagonists. That could be another blog post in it of itself.

What I will say is Rue was a cute, young girl, who may not have been fearless but definitely didn’t just cower in the background. When push came to shove Rue was willing to do what it took to strike the Careers back and make them suffer in the games. Rest in paradise, Rue.

But I feel as if I did know Rue, and she’ll always be with me. Everything beautiful brings her to mind. I see her in the yellow flowers that grow in the Meadow by my house. I see her in the Mockingjays that sing in the trees. But most of all, I see her in my sister, Prim. – Catching Fire