Happy New Year! In my first post of the new year, I am going to share my favorite books I read in 2018 and the books I am looking forward to reading in 2019. I did something similar at the beginning of 2018, and if you look back at that post you’ll recall that I said I would try to read 40 books in a year.
Before I talk numbers, let’s get one thing straight— I didn’t completely bomb the challenge. I read quite a lot last year, and it was definitely more than I read in 2017, but I can’t say it was exactly 40 books. It started off well— I kept track of the books I’d read through Goodreads for about five-ish months before things got hectic and I forgot all about my goal. I kept on reading though, even if I wasn’t counting. And honestly, the books I read at that point in time were some of the best I’ve read all year.
That brings me to my top 5 books of 2018:
Carry On and Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli, How to Disappear by Sharon Huss Roat and What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum
Hopefully this years book’s will be just as good as the ones I’ve listed, but those books were literally amazing so they’re gonna be hard to beat.
Here’s what I plan on reading in 2019:
As for my reading goal this year, I want to read at least 20 books, which is around the amount that I actually ended up reading last year. In last year’s post I also said I wanted to work on some of my own stories and possibly complete them. As you may have guessed by now, I did no such thing. This year I just want to find more time to write and develop the plots and characters for my stories.
I also have a lot of fun posts planned for this blog in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for those as well as updates on my reading goal and new book reviews/rants!
So last week I started reading the Hunger Games series. For the second time. When I told my mom this, she was like "Why? Don't you already know what's going to happen?" Of course I do, but I don't remember all of the details. This is one of the key reasons why I like re-reading books. Back in middle school, when I first read the series, I was totally obsessed with it. It was all I ever talked about; I even begged my mom for a limited edition Katniss Everdeen collectible Barbie doll ( it was $50. I could've done so many other things with $50). Anyway, since I finished the series I took interest in other things and my obsession faded. Sure, there are so many other new things I could be reading, but I was dying to know why I loved it so much , because I'd forgotten. I remember some key parts of the books, (most are spoilers so I won't elaborate), but I re-read them to feel the relief of remembering what happened. For the nostalgia, if that makes any sense. Feeling all of the strong emotions I felt the first time I read it feels reassuring. Some may call it a waste of time, but it's just bringing back good memories. That is exactly why I plan on re-reading at least 3 more of my favorite series from a few years ago- The Selection Series, Beautiful Creatures, and the Divergent trilogy. I know it sounds stupid but I'm genuinely so excited to read those books again. And if you haven't read the Hunger Games trilogy yet, what are you doing? They are classics. Go read them, go read them right now, you'll love them. I'm probably gonna read them again five years from now because they're just that good.
For the last few weeks I've been reading Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. It is book one in a traditional African literature trilogy. It was originally published in 1959. I had to read this book for World Lit, but I ended up enjoying it and taking a lot away from it.
The book centers around Okonkwo, a wealthy, admirable, Ibo man living in late 1800s Nigeria in a village known as Umuofia. Okonkwo's father, Unoka, was a weak and lazy man, who never paid off his debts and was an embarrassment to his family. Because of the shame caused by his father, Okonkwo's biggest fear is weakness, so he feels the need to hide all emotions except anger, and is a powerful masculine leader in his clan. Okonkwo has three wives and ten children, and his distant disposition and short temper often result in him punishing them with harsh beatings for their minor transgressions. Okonkwo's oldest son, Nwoye, is 12 when the book begins, and he is already showing signs of being lazy and unmotivated, like his grandfather. Okonkwo is very unhappy with him. Okonkwo's favorite child is his daughter Ezinma, who is obedient and energetic, qualities that make Okonkwo wish she were a boy. When someone is murdered in Umuofia, a settlement with the neighboring tribe wins Okonkwo a young boy, Ikemefuna, from the village at fault as a sacrifice. Under Okonkwo's care, Ikemefuna flourishes and becomes the son Okonkwo wishes he had. Later on in the book, missionaries from Great Britain arrive in Umuofia and begin converting the Ibo people to Christianity. They build churches and trading posts, and even go as far as to set up their own government, complete with a judicial system to settle legal disputes. This not only sparks a conflict between the white men and the people of Umuofia, it also drives a wedge between those who have converted and those who continue to follow the traditional Ibo customs.
For the most part, this book kept me interested. It had some boring parts, but it was easy to understand, and funny, at times. It was interesting to learn about the customs of the Ibo people, and how tragic it was when the outsiders tore their tight-knit community apart. The way women were described in the book and the way the men treated them was very shocking though. They were, of course, treated as objects; the more wives you had, the more wealthy and respected you were. Aside from that, I think that this is one of those books that everyone should read. It's a classic and it has so many lessons within in about strength, humility, and loyalty.
This week I read Secret Vampire by L.J Smith. She’s the author of the Vampire Diaries, so I thought I’ve give it a try. It’s the first book in the Night World Series, which is all about a supernatural community of werewolves and vampires and witches and whatever else.
I got it because it was only $1.85 at 2nd and Charles, and it’s pretty short.
The teen targeted premise from the 90s is quite simple.
Poppy North, your typical teenage girl who thinks she’s special because she listens to electro pop from Europe instead of mainstream music, has just begun summer vacation. Despite the odd abdominal pains she’s been experiencing for the past few months, she’s optimistic about hanging out with James, her mysterious and brooding James-Dean-esque best friend, who she has been secretly crushing on lately(surprise!). Phil, Poppy’s overprotective and straight-laced twin brother, is suspicious of James’ intentions with Poppy, due to the way he goes through numerous girlfriends a year. Unfortunately but predictably, Poppy’s plans for summer fun come to a screeching halt when she passes out in the kitchen one morning. Her mother insists she go to the doctor for a check up, and Poppy reluctantly complies. After an appointment with the friendly neighborhood doctor and various tests at the hospital, Poppy overhears the Doctor telling her parents that she has pancreatic cancer. And she basically has a 1% chance of survival. So much for summer fun right?(Side note: because her parents won’t tell her anything, she asks James to do some research about pancreatic cancer for her. So James "dials up The Net" -yes, with a capital ‘N’- to find some information. Sorry but I thought that was hilarious.) When James visits Poppy in the hospital, he tells her he can save her life, because he is a Vampire (surprise! I definitely didn’t see that one coming, not even from the title!) He says that by exchanging blood with him, she will gain immortality and supernatural abilities, but she will have to leave her family behind because she has to “die” and wake up later. Suddenly, Poppy is faced with the most important decision of her very short life. Become a vampire and live with James, the boy of her dreams, in the Night World forever, or die from pancreatic cancer immediately? I wonder what she’ll choose...
Okay, this book is really funny, just because it’s so dramatic and serious. I honestly loved it, because there was never a dull moment. It's kind of outdated, but that makes it amusing. Like when the author was trying to make James seem cool because he had a "cellular telephone". L. J. Smith's writing is unique and vivid; she's just great with words, even though it might seem a little extra sometimes. If you like books about vampires or whatever else, and you need a good laugh, then I would definitely recommend this series.
'This week I read A Short History of The Girl Next Door by Jared Reck. It wasn't on my 'to read' list, but I just saw it at the library one day and got it because it looked interesting and it's kind of short.
Freshman Matt Wainwright wants two things this year: To make the Varsity basketball team, and to muster up enough courage to tell his life long best friend, Tabby, how he really feels about her. For his entire life, His neighbor Tabby has been his best friend. She never misses an opportunity to give him advice, encourage him, and try to make him a better person. But the inseparable nature of their friendship is threatened by Liam Branson, a popular senior and star athlete who has set his sights on Tabby. Soon, Tabby is spending more time with Branson and his friends and less time with Matt. If it were anyone else, Matt wouldn't be as concerned as he is, but he finds himself becoming jealous of Branson because of the crush he's had on Tabby since the seventh grade (surprise!). His feelings for Tabby begin to affect his performance on the court-playing with Tabby's boyfriend and having her cheer for him in the stands is tough. Matt and Tabby begin drifting apart, until Matt realizes that he just needs to be there for Tabby, no matter who she's with. Unfortunately, Matt's realization is too late.
That's as far as I can go without spoiling the entire book. Although I will say that the spoiler that I chose not to reveal was such a cop out on the author's part. It was like he developed this beautiful coming of age story and didn't know how to end it, so he just did this *thing* to get some tears out of readers and throw the whole book off course. I'm surprised that I didn't cry at this stupid plot twist (because it's not that hard for books to make me cry), but I guess it was kinda predictable- it made me mad more than anything.
Other than that *thing* this book was actually pretty enjoyable, despite the common and sort of predictable plot. It teaches you useful things about friendship, love, loss, and grief. It really reminded me that anyone's life can change in an instant, so we shouldn't take the experiences we have or the people we love for granted.
So last week I read Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. I picked it up at 2nd & Charles a few weeks ago. I'd never read a Rainbow Rowell novel before, but I've heard pretty good things about them, and the cover drew me in (so much for not judging a book by its cover).
I'll try to make this as brief as possible:
The book follows Simon Snow, an 18 year old magician in his last year at a prestigious magic school called Watford. He is an orphan, so he spends his summers in care homes and goes to magic school every fall. Simon isn't just any old magician though, he is the most powerful magician in the world, the Chosen One. Despite his immense power, Simon is the worst magician ever. All of his spells go awry, and he is unable to control his magic. The Chosen One is a magician from a prophecy which states that he will save the magical world from its enemy. This enemy is a mysterious entity called The Insidious Humdrum, who looks exactly like Simon and is known to suck the magic out of certain places, creating dead spots where magic cannot be used. The number and size of the holes has grown dangerously high, and Simon aims to stop the Humdrum once and for all this year, but the principal of Watford- and Simon's magical mentor- The Mage, is more concerned with the fact that some of the more high status magicians want to overthrow him. Meanwhile, Simon returns to school, excited for his final year. He reunites with his best friend Penelope, and his girlfriend Agatha. Things with Agatha are a bit awkward though- because at the end of last semester, Simon saw her in the woods holding hands with his sworn enemy, Baz. Baz and Simon are room mates, but Simon swears Baz has been out to get him since day one- because, for the most part, he has- Baz has been pulling pranks and casting dangerous spells on Simon for the last eight years. Simon also swears that Baz is a vampire because of his pale skin, his late night trips to the woods to hunt, and his overall morbid and malicious personality. But Baz hasn't shown up to school yet, which makes Simon think he's plotting another attempt to bring him down. When Baz finally returns, refusing to say anything about where he's been, he and Simon agree on a truce to solve a mystery for Baz. That's all I can say, because if I told you more, then it would pretty much spoil everything.
This book was so worth the read. It's almost like a more exciting Harry Potter, because it has romance, mystery, and ghosts- and yeah, I guess Harry potter has some of those things, but this book lets you experience them through all of the characters. Each chapter is in a different character's point of view, so you know what multiple people are thinking about a situation. It had so much heart and it was so easy to relate to. Like Simon, not everyone is what people expect them to be. It shows that you can do things your own way, because the traditional way doesn't have to be the right way.
Although I loved it, I would have liked a little bit more closure in the ending. The way it ended was satisfying and so encouraging - but I needed more details.
Book Count : 4
Okay, so I know this book is like a decade old, but I'm pretty behind on reading mainstream books.
I'm pretty sure you all know the story: a quiet boy named Quentin Jacobsen has a massive crush on his childhood best friend and next door neighbor, the eccentric and fun-loving Margo Roth Spiegelman. For years, they barely spoke to each other- Quentin was friends with the band geeks and Margo was being sucked into the popular clique- until Margo climbs through his window and recruits him for a night of revenge pranks against her enemies. They bond and rekindle their friendship, and by the end of their wild expedition, Quentin thinks that he might even have a chance with her. He goes to school the next day thinking things will have changed- that Margo will actually hang out with him and acknowledge his presence- but she doesn't. In fact, Margo has disappeared altogether (which is not uncommon for her, seeing as she runs away from home like every five minutes). So Quentin plunges into an intensive investigation of a few very vague clues that she left for him, hell bent on finding this girl.
Sounds cute right? Wrong, You are so wrong.
Where do I even start? Margo.Is.So.Annoying. Like what is her deal? She is so self centered and attention seeking, I can't stand her. And it was so predictable too, because, Quentin viewed her as some mystical goddess with no flaws whatsoever, and in the end, he realized she was just some insane girl who is going to end up as one of those homeless people one day because she wants to sleep in abandoned buildings with rats and asbestos instead of her perfectly fine house in the suburbs with air conditioning, a warm bed, and parents who will happily feed and clothe her. That makes no sense whatsoever to me.You can tell John Green wrote her to be this character that readers will love, but she's not lovable, she's irritating & unrealistic, and Quentin can be too, at times.
Next, let's talk about how all John Green did was talk about a dumb book of poetry and force it down my throat. I could scream right now writing this. I might actually scream. In the book, Margo leaves Quentin a clue about her sick little game within a poem called "Song Of Myself" by Walt Whitman. And when I tell you that lines from that incredibly stupid and self righteous poem were on every page, I am not lying. It was like every five minutes, Quentin was like: "So I went back to reading "Song of Myself" today. All freaking day. What does it mean? I'm so confused because this stanza is 34% more pretentious than this other stanza. I miss Margo. Maybe she wants me to know that I should find her unicorn Bubbles in a Volcano somewhere nearby, and it will fly me to her hiding place." Seriously, it was like half the book John Green was quoting this nonsensical poem, and when he wasn't, he was making dumb metaphors (like comparing Margo to a floating balloon). Needless to say, I skipped those parts altogether.
So yeah. I'm just now realizing how much actually I hate it as I write this. It was good up until part two, when all that craziness started, but other than that, this book was absolute crap. I can't believe I thought it was gonna be good. Or that other people gave it good reviews.
I think I've finally learned my lesson. No more John Green.
So last week I read How to Disappear by Sharon Huss Roat. I was at my local library trying to find some of the books for my reading challenge when I saw it. (Side note: I pledged to read 40 books this year on Goodreads, so I'll update my status on that whenever I post.) I pulled it out and skimmed the front flap of the book jacket. It sounded pretty good to me, so I decided to check it out on a whim. I'll just come out and say it: Best.Book.Ever. I never thought a book could speak to me so much, it was like someone recognized my feelings and wrote about them. But before I get ahead of myself, let me explain the plot.
This book is written from the perspective of sixteen year-old Vicky Decker, an incredibly shy sophomore at Richardson High School. But Vicky's not just shy- she's like, vomit-in-the bathroom-before-every-class shy. She dreads group projects, the lunch room, and even getting up to sharpen her pencil in class- she just wants to disappear. Things only get worse when her lifelong best friend (and the person who speaks for her, basically), Jenna moved to Wisconsin right before their sophomore year, leaving Vicky to fend for herself. The only thing keeping Vicky sane is video chatting and texting with Jenna after school everyday. But when Jenna stops responding as quickly as she usually does, Vicky realizes that she's making new friends in Wisconsin; that she's forgotten about her. Meanwhile, in attempt to get her to socialize, the counselor gets her a position on the yearbook staff as a photo editor, due to her impressive photo shop skills; and a project in World History helps her cultivate relationship with an unusual classmate. Soon, Vicky is fed up with with Jenna ignoring her and assuming she leads a dull life, so she takes to Instagram and creates a new account, with the handle "vicurious" (a reference to how she lived vicariously through her braver friend). And with a purple wig and some eccentric clothing she got from the thrift store, she expertly disguises herself and photoshops herself into an exciting scene.
Happy New Year! This year, I want to read even more than I did in 2017. All last year, whenever I would go to Barnes and Noble I would take pictures of the books I wanted to read or buy later on because I usually didn't feel like I had time. So today I'm going to list those books(along with some from my goodreads list) with the hope that I'll be reviewing them soon.
So now that I've told you what I want to read, I'll share 5 of my favorite reads from 2017:
In addition to reading a lot more, I'm going to be writing more too, and hopefully finishing a few of the many works I've began and maybe even sharing them on this blog.
Happy Reading! :)
Last week, I read Dan vs. Nature by Don Calame. It's the third HRRB book I've read so far, and it's surprisingly good.
The book is basically about a kid named Dan who is a talented artist and enjoys making comics- all of which include, in some way, shape, or form, his long time crush, Erin. But he and his best friend Charlie (an orphaned germophobe/genius) are almost always to busy being bullied by the jocks and single-handedly working on the school's widely unpopular newspaper to talk to her. Meanwhile, things are finally looking up for Dan's Mom. After years and years of dating the worst guys possible, she's met Hank, a dentist, sports enthusiast, expert outdoors man, and Dan's soon-to-be stepdad. Of course, Dan isn't the happiest about the union, which will include moving to a new house in a new school district- with no Erin. Things spiral down even further, when for his birthday, Dan receives a camping trip. Alone. With Hank. The situation looks pretty bleak until Charlie agrees to go with them- and proposes a plan. He suggests that they sabotage the camping trip and drive Hank away so that by the time they get back, the marriage will be off. Lets just say things didn't go very smoothly....
There's more to it than that, but you get the idea. Overall, it was a great book. When I picked to it up, I kind of judged it as a boy book, but it was so funny and I ended up really enjoying it. And I know they always say "don't judge a book by it's cover", and even though I usually do, lets just say this time, they were right.