Thursday, June 29, 2017

The year's just about half over and I've read or listened to a total of 136 books so far, with another one almost done. That's 14 books ahead of schedule, and yet it still doesn't feel like I'm reading as much as I did last year. But there have just been some days where I literally could not bring myself to pick up a book or turn on an audiobook, which, up until this point, was pretty much unheard of for me.

I don't think I'm in a slump, but I just don't feel like I've read anything mega-super-amazing-fantastic recently...despite there being a few five-star reads below. Maybe it's because my last few reads have been really mellow -- and contemporary -- and so I'm just feeling blah. I have been doing some re-reading that had me pretty excited, but that's over and now I'm just looking for the unexpected, I think. Here's hoping that puts an end to whatever this is, anyway.

And without further ado, here's what I've been reading lately...

(More on why I've gone to this format here in lieu of traditional reviews for each.)

Y O U N G   A D U L T

When It's RealZenn DiagramMade You Up

When It's Real - I wasn't expecting a whole lot from this book going into it, especially considering the ranty reviews I've read of The Royals series. But I didn't hate it. It was super corny at times and pretty unrealistic most of the time, but it was sweet. I'm always here for the fake romance trope, though I've definitely seen it done better. If you're wondering if this book made me want to pick up the duo's others, the answer is a resounding no. Because if I only sorta liked this one, there's no way I'm going to enjoy the others. But I didn't hate it. 🌟🌟🌟

Zenn Diagram - This story was so clever and sweet and genuine, and I can't believe past me would ever have passed up something so adorkable because it was contemporary and touchy-feely. I want to smack that past version of me. Because this book isn't just contemporary; it contains a bit of magical realism, too, and a whole lot of nerdy math convos and science-y stuff. And while I don't believe Eva's condition as it is described is a real thing, there are other very real types of touch-emotion synaesthesia. And I find all forms of synaesthesia absolutely fascinating. I loved the family dynamic, the swoony romance, and even the sense of fate that came with the story. It actually reminded me a bit of The Love That Split the World, which I also adored. The only thing that bothered me was that the ending felt a little abrupt, but maybe that's just me because I wasn't ready to leave these characters behind. And I was still left with a few unanswered questions, even with that touching epilogue. 12/10 would read again. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Made You Up - First off, I love an unreliable narrator, especially when even they don't know if they can trust their own judgment. And I totally sympathized with Alex, even more so when the severity of her condition came to light. And when her parents started looking for other treatment options, including those that would make a normal existence impossible, I railed against them in my head. But this story is about more than just Alex's paranoia and schizophrenia. There's a bit of a mystery to solve. First love to contend with. And an awesome friend group and hijinks to carry out. All in all, Made You Up was sad and serious and fun and triumphant and I can't wait to pick up the author's sophomore novel. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

What to Say NextA Million JunesFlame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist, #1)

What to Say Next - I loved Tell Me Three Things and knew that I'd read anything else by Julie Buxbaum because of it. This book felt decidedly more tragic than her debut YA novel, but it was no less captivating. And there was still an air of mystery to it that kept me glued to the pages. I also appreciated the handling of autism and bullying; both aspects felt genuine and were interwoven delicately with the other character's grief. And while there was also a sweet romance, this is the type of book I'll pass on and tell others about because it was such a comfort to read. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

A Million Junes - Magical realism is quickly becoming my go-to sub-genre. It lends itself to the here and now while also being a bit mired in fantasy elements. Add to that the star-crossed lovers aspect and I am sold. The O'Donnells and the Angerts have generations-long feud that rivals that of the Hatfields and McCoys and A Million Junes is basically the unraveling of that tale, of how the feud started and how it will end. There is banter. There are flashbacks. And there is magic. And it all culminates into a gloriously unique story, full of the beautiful writing I discovered in Emily Henry's debut novel last year. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Flame in the Mist - Okay, I'm a little pissed at myself for not checking Goodreads before downloading this audio because I had it in my head that this was a stand-alone and GAH I WAS NOT READY FOR IT TO END AND IT DID AND NOW I NEED MORE AND I HAVE TO WAIT FOREVER AND A DAY. So, yeah, it was good. Better even than I was expecting, which is saying a lot because I loved Ahdieh's previous duology. I've seen everyone trussing this up as a Mulan retelling, but it is so much more than that. And it's not that at all. I adored this book because it was all about female empowerment, familial responsibilities, secrets and lies and betrayals. It was about finding your place in the world and holding tight to it. And I can't wait to read more! 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

The Female of the SpeciesRoar (Stormheart, #1)All the Truth That's in Me

The Female of the Species - JFC. Holy shit! That was fucking brutal. I know from experience not to expect a HEA or even any semblance of happiness when it comes to Mindy McGinnis' novels, but I think this book was a whole new level of fucked up. But it was also thought-provoking and shined a very bright light at rape culture and how we react to it and how we should react to it. I want to take this book and shove it in everyone's faces. It took so long to bring myself to read it -- even after reading the first four chapters in an excerpt and really connecting to it -- and I feel guilty about that now. Because this isn't just a story. Any one of the three points of view could potentially be yours or that of someone you know. And I don't know which perspective would be the worst because it's all awful, regardless of the victim. I applaud McGinnis' ability to portray so much -- the emotion, the violence, the indecency -- in one single novel, but I'm almost afraid to read what she writes next. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Roar - I've really enjoyed most of Cora Carmack's new adult novels, but I have to say I was a bit hesitant to pick up Roar. The summary reminded me a bit of Storm Siren, and this being the author's first fantasy novel, I wasn't expecting much. But from the very beginning, I was captivated. The world-building was intriguing. The cast of characters and their development was fantastic. And while the story did lose a bit of steam around the halfway point, with the constant traveling and breaks for training, I'm still very excited to see where it goes. I'm not 100% sold on the romance because I shipped Roar with someone else, so I'd happily take a love triangle in the sequel. :P I believe this is a planned trilogy, but I'd happily read more as Roar learns about herself and her place in the Stormheart world. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

All the Truth That's in Me - A friend was spot-on when she mentioned in her review how very unfitting this cover is for the story within. I mean, if I hadn't been on Goodreads that particular day and seen her review in my feed, I might never have picked it up because it looks straight-up contemporary; an issues book, if you will. But it's about a girl from a Puritan village who goes missing and who is deemed less than upon her return...and all the other truths that come out in due course. It's a page-turner with super-short chapters and flashbacks, and I absolutely could not stop listening. The narrator was superb, especially considering the limitations on the main character's speech. Super glad I gave this one a try, despite that incongruous cover. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Ramona BlueOnce and for AllDear Reader

Ramona Blue - I knew I was going to love this book despite (or in spite of?) the controversy when the summary was first revealed. I mean, it's Julie Murphy. Her stories are genuine and heartfelt and though every character is different and going through something different, you can always find some way to identify with them because they're realistic and imperfect, just like us. Ramona Blue is no different. I'm not a 6 ft. tall swimmer with blue hair, but I grew up poor in a small town where being different would get you ostracized quicker than admitting you cheered for someone other than the Cowboys. And Ramona has had to deal with all of that, plus Hurricane Katrina. So, I felt for her. I still think Dumplin' is my favorite character of hers so far, but I feel a kind of kinship with them all, even the side characters. And that's the beauty of a Julie Murphy novel... 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Once and for All - This was by no means my favorite Dessen novel, but it was a very typical Dessen novel: heartfelt and full of loss but also hopeful and full of new beginnings. There were really two love stories rolled into one, and if I could have read each one separately, I might have fared better. I loved the flashbacks and I loved both Ethan and Ambrose, though for different reasons. But I just couldn't help but feel that Louna was not being honest with herself or those around her and it was frustrating to read, especially since the story progressed sooo slowly. It was also kind of a downer. I don't remember Dessen's earlier novels being quite so depressing. 🌟🌟🌟

Dear Reader - Well, that was a wandering, convoluted, ambitious tale...and I think I liked it? Be forewarned, that Gilmore Girls nod in the summary is not all that appropo, except maybe for the fast-talking and that might only be because I listened to the audio on double speed. ;) But on the whole, I found the narrative transformative, at least for the main character. I'm not sure that I'm all that changed for having read this story, but I did enjoy the literary scavenger hunt aspect of it. It also made me want to go back and re-read Wuthering Heights, which I remember enjoying as a teenager, so there's that. The prose in Dear Reader is lovely but it also left me feeling empty when the story was said and done, which is how I remember feeling after finishing Wuthering Heights. And yet I can't help but appreciate the parallel stories of two lonely young women, searching for their own stories in the pages of a book. 🌟🌟🌟

R E - R E A D S

Catching JordanEvery Breath (Every, #1)Every Word (Every, #2)The Winter King (Weathermages of Mystral, #1)

Catching Jordan - It's summer and I miss football. 🌟🌟🌟

Every Breath & Every Word - I have been saying I'll finish this series for years. Since I pre-ordered the Aussie version of the final book. And I am finally doing it. I even created a shelf on Goodreads called "so I can finish the series" because this phenomenon is not restricted to this series. :P I loved it every bit as much upon my re-read and now I'm wondering why I've been putting this off... 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

The Winter King - I was granted an early copy of The Sea King and I wanted a refresher. Plus, sometimes you just really need a good adult fantasy to get you through the week. ;0) 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Enclave (Razorland, #1)Outpost (Razorland, #2)Horde (Razorland, #3)

Razorland series - Prepping for Vanguard, and I seriously cannot believe I forgot how much I love this series. I love zombie stories, but I've kind of strayed from them until recently. But now that I'm hooked on iZombie and there's a new book releasing in the Razorland world, I'm a full-fledged zombie lover again. Such a great re-read and. So. Many. Feels. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟


The Lady Travelers Guide to Scoundrels & Other Gentlemen (The Lady Travelers Guide, #1)

The Lady Travelers Guide to Scoundrels and Other Gentlemen - Slow to start but pretty par for the course once it got going. Maybe slightly floofier than the standard historical romance fare -- at least what I've read of it -- but also less sexy-times. It was cute, though, and an enjoyable way to pass this dreary Monday. 🌟🌟🌟

Have you read any of these? What did you think? Find any new titles to check out? ;0)

Until next time! Happy reading!


  1. I love this mini review-like format! There are so many great titles in this list. I need more people to read Zenn Diagram because I loved it so so so much.

    Thanks for sharing!!

    1. Zenn Diagram was ADORABLE. I need more books like that in my life.

  2. Wow, you've read so many books! I really want to read Flame in the Mist - it sounds INCREDIBLE! I have Once and For All on my bookshelf, I love Sarah Dessen's books so I hope I love this one too! I've never heard of A Million Junes but it sounds utterly incredible. Magical realism used to be my worst genre but after reading Bone Gap by Laura Ruby I've fallen completely in love with the genre!

    1. I have BONE GAP on my shelf but I haven't read it yet. Prolly should make that a priority. :) And FLAME IN THE MIST was amazing. Even better than I was hoping.

  3. I downloaded Zenn Diagram as a "read now" title, and I was so happy I did. I am glad you liked it too. AMJ was so beautiful. I adore Henry's writing, and will eagerly await her next opus. I found Berry though a First to Read title (The Passion of Dolssa). She made me love historical fiction so much, I checked out All the Truth That's in Me, and she dazzled me again. I cannot explain how badly I would love to have Buxbaum's new book like yesterday, but I am glad to see so much love for it.

    1. OH! How did I not realize Berry wrote DOLSSA? I tried to read that one but didn't get very far before setting it aside. Must attempt again after I had such a great reading experience with ALL THE TRUTH THAT'S IN ME. Buxbaum's books are a great pick me up. I could totally re-read TELL ME THREE THINGS right now. :)

  4. Great mini reviews! I loved Flame in the Mist too. I need the next book in my hands asap! lol I have a lot of these on my TBR/Wishlist, but some of them I hadn't heard of so I will have to check them out soon. Great list!

    1. Same! I can't believe I thought it was a stand-alone and now I have to wait ages for the next book. But it'll be worth it.

  5. Gosh, you have read SO MUCH already :D Ahhh. So jealous of you. <3 And yess for reading so so many awesome books :D It's been ages since I read All the Truth That's in Me, but oh, I loved it too. So much. Thrilled that you did as well :) Hope you'll read lots more awesome books this next half. <3


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