Stacks on stacks: Books I hope to read in January

In lieu of a traditional to-be-read pile for the month, I have my stack of “hopefuls”. My hopefuls are books that I want to get to in January, but if I add or subtract from it, there is no harm done.

There are a couple books missing from this stack. One of them being my January pick from Book of the Month Club. My pick this month was Red Clocks by Leni ZumasRed Clocks is a dystopian novel that some have compared to a modern day The Handmaid’s Taleso there was no question it would be my pick. The other book missing is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. Confession time… I have never read the Harry Potter series so this will be my first read through. I’m joining a group of people reading the series throughout the year and will be discussing my thoughts with them. I’m very excited!

Moving onto the stack above, I’ve already finished one of these books (We are Okay by Nina LaCour) and will be posting a review soon because it was absolutely beautiful. I have picked up The Alienist by Caleb Carr as my next read for a couple of reasons. One, my mom and I were at Barnes & Noble recently and she pointed this series out to tell me how much she loved it. I take her recommendations so seriously because my mom is where I got my love of reading from. Two, the show on TNT premieres at the end of this month so I definitely need to finish the book before I start watching the show!

After I finish The Alienist, I have no idea where I will go next in my stack. There’s Promise Me, Dad by Joe Biden which has caught my eye again and again. It seems like a heart-wrenching memoir that I have to be ready for, but something important to read.

I also am dying to read Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff for quite some time. It is in a completely different format from other books with documents and conversations scattered throughout. I’ve also seen nothing by high ratings on this book (and I’ve pre-ordered the other books in the series), so it is a must read this month.

Another book I am hoping to get through this month is The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. The entire Raven Cycle series has come highly recommended to me and I want to get started on it and immerse myself in a fantasy world again. I’m thinking this one will be next after The Alienist, but who knows where my hopeful pile will take me!

The final book that I’d love to get to by the end of the month is The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. This series caught my eye a while ago and when I received all of my Christmas gift cards, I bought the whole thing. I really enjoyed Patrick Ness’ Release and think I will love this series. The only scary this is that The Knife of Never Letting Go is a big book and will take me a little longer to read. But! I need to stick with my resolution of reading larger books in 2018.

Wish me luck on this pile and tell me in the comments what you’re looking forward to reading this month!

PS. If you’re interested in joining Book of the Month Club, click this link for my referral code! You’ll get your first month for only $10 and a free tote bag. Book of the Month Club is one of my favorite monthly subscription services. It has been a great way for me to discover books I wouldn’t have read otherwise. You can skip any month (without losing credits) if the selections aren’t for you. Seriously, check it out!

2018: The year of the big books

2017 was the year of reading.

I set myself a goal at the beginning of the year to read 50 books. Once I hit that goal I decided to stretch my goal to 100 books. Just this past week, I met that goal. It was a pretty exciting moment to realize that over the past 11 months, I’ve read 100 books. That’s an average of 9 books a month!

I’ve started to think about what I want to accomplish in 2018 and have decided that 2018 will be the year of the big books. These are books that ended at the bottom of my to-be-read pile because they intimidated me. I found myself so focused on the number of books I wanted to read, that I set aside really good books because of how big they were.

Some of these books include the ones pictured above. I plan on starting the year with Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King. This is Stephen King’s newest novel that he partnered with his son to write. This book takes place in the future where women are enveloped in a cocoon when they fall asleep and are transported to another place. If they are awoken, they become violent and feral creatures. Men are left to their own devices and are becoming increasingly primal. There is only one woman who is immune to the sleeping blessing/curse, Evie. It is unclear if Evie should be studied or destroyed. I am hoping this book will be a good introduction to the world of Stephen King (though I’ve been recommended The Shining by many people).

Another book that will be an early 2018 read is The Name of the Wind by Patrick RothfussThe Name of the Wind is the first book in The Kingkiller Chronicle and has been endorsed by the amazing Lin-Manuel Miranda. I’ve heard nothing but good things about this series and I need to get through it before the show adaptation is released on Showtime!

Hame by Annalena McAfeeTheft by Finding by David SedarisDracula by Bram Stoker, and World of Tomorrow by Brendan Mathews are other giant books that I know I want to read in 2018.

I may not hit 100 books again next year because of how much longer it takes to read giant books and that’s okay. I’ve been neglecting the stories in all of these pages and want to get to them more than I want to read a lot of books!

Do you guys have any giant book recommendations? What is your reading goal for 2018?

The home stretch: My stack of December TBRs

Happy December everyone! I’ve pulled together a list of books that I’d love to get to before year’s end. That being said, I probably won’t get to them. That’s why I’m calling them my December Hopefuls!

Some of the books in the hopeful list will definitely make the cut. One of them being The Blinds by Adam Sternbergh. I’m reading this book with some lovely friends next week (shout-out to Lauren, my soulmate, and Stephanie!). This book is about a small town that is populated by criminals who have had their memories altered. It is after a murder and suicide are committed in town that the residents revolt. The sheriff must protect the town’s secrets as well as his own.

Another book making the cut is Snow Falling by Jane Gloriana Villanueva (ghostwritten Caridad Piñeiro). Does that name sound familiar? If you watch the CW’s Jane the Virgin it should! The channel made her book a reality to coincide with her publish date in the show.  It’s her retelling of her love story with Michael (who is my favorite fictional husband ever) and I plan on reading it after my buddy read of The Blinds. 

Another book I’m planning to get for sure this month is The Oracle Year by Charles Soule. I was graciously sent an advance copy of this book by Harper Perennial in exchange for an honest review. This book is about Will Dando who is a normal man until one day he wakes up with 108 predictions about the future in his mind. This book seems like it’s going to be a wild ride and a lot of fun.

The final book that I’m definitely planning on picking up this month is Nimona by Noelle StevensonNimona is a graphic novel that follows the adventures of Nimona who is a young shapeshifter and sidekick to supervillain Lord Blackheart. The two of them have a mission to show the people that the Institution of Law Enforcement aren’t as heroic as everyone believes them to be. I haven’t read a lot of graphic novels, but this one seems like a lot of fun and super interesting.

The rest of the books in this stack are just hopefuls. Books I want to read, but I’m not sure if something else will push them out of place (like my December Book of the Month picks). Here’s a quick list of them with links to their descriptions and authors:

‘Cause females are strong as hell

Let me tell you about my favorite female character this year.

Audrey Rose Wadsworth.

Audrey Rose is the protagonist in the Stalking Jack the Ripper series (made up of Stalking Jack the Ripper and Hunting Prince Dracula) by Kerri Maniscalco. Audrey Rose is a 19th century badass who refuses to listen to what is expected of her and pursues her own passion: forensic science. Audrey Rose spends her time avoiding the responsibilities of being a high-society woman and apprentices under her uncle. It is in her uncle’s lab, whese books begin to follow Audrey Rose’s story of uncovering gruesome murders (of Jack the Ripper and Prince Dracula, respectively) and how she uses forensic science to discover the true identity of the murderers. Unfortunately, because Audrey Rose is a high-society woman, there are people in her life that do not approve of her interests and while she is trying to stop these terrible murders, there are people in her life trying to stop her.

Here’s why I love Audrey Rose so much: She is a headstrong, intelligent woman who is determined to break the mold society has set for her and make a life for herself. I really think that Maniscalco did an amazing job writing such a strong female character with all of the intricacies of humanity woven throughout. Audrey Rose is not just a Mary Jane or a cold-hearted, stereotypical “strong” girl.

While Audrey Rose is my favorite character in this series, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention her infuriating and handsome companion, Thomas Cresswell. Thomas is also an apprentice of her uncle’s who has made it his personal mission to help Audrey Rose solve the murders and to get her to fall in love with him. The really great thing about Thomas, though, is that when Audrey Rose tells him to stop and respect her space… he does! Not only is he intelligent and handsome, but he is respectful and truly seems to believe in Audrey Rose and what she is capable of.

Moving on to the books themselves, Maniscalco is incredible at mystery and horror writing. You would not have guessed this was a YA novel based on her writing and her creation of the plot and characters. I was blown away by her work in both books. She keeps the books light and fun where it needs to be and cranks up the intensity when it’s the right time. She also does a great job of infusing humor and romance in the story as well without taking away from the plot or Audrey Rose’s independence.

I vote that these books are a must read for pretty much everyone. These books have strong characters (male and female), humor, romance, mystery… everything that makes for a really entertaining read. Both of these books I could not put down and had such a strong desire to read one right after the other. I honestly cannot recommend these any more than I am. They are just that good!

Whenever the sequel comes out, you can bet I’ll be grabbing it as soon as possible. Read these books, you won’t regret it!

You have the sun, I have the moon.

Many of you probably know about Andy Weir from his novel The Martian. The Martian was a novel about astronaut, Mark Watney, after he gets trapped on Mars due to a dust storm forces his team to evacuate. The Martian is full of humor and science. Weir does an amazing job painting an interesting sci-fi world.

In his most recent novel, Artemis, Weir creates another amazing sci-fi world that rivals the world created in The Martian. Artemis focuses on Jazz Basahra, a smuggler who has spent most of her life on the moon. While delivering to her best client, Jazz is presented with the crime of a lifetime. One that will pay off her debts and then some. However, Jazz find herself dropped right in the middle of a fight for control of the city she’s known most of her life. Jazz is now in more danger than she’s ever been and must got deeper if she has even a chance to survive.

Artemis was a lot of fun. Weir’s story flourishes with his touch of humor and adventure. However, Artemis is different from The Martian in that it focuses on Jazz’s relationships with the other characters and how they work together to solve the problems within the city. The Martian was focused only on Mark and how he had to rely on himself. I think this change between stories really showed Weir’s versatility in how he writes his characters together.

I was very impressed with Artemis. It was full of fun, humor, and adventure. I loved the way Weir created the city of Artemis (he even included maps, which is always cool!). He also did a great job at creating interesting characters who were very human (even though they lived on the moon).

Artemis gets a solid four out of five stars from me. Weir is the best at sci-fi novels laced with humor and the intricacies of humanity. I’ve enjoyed both of his novels quite a bit. If you’re looking for fun, Artemis is for you!

‘Cause I have got a crush, my baby, on you

I’ve got a crush on you, sweetie pie
All the day and night-time give me sigh
I never had the least notion that
I could fall with so much emotion…
I’ve Got a Crush on You, George Gershwin

Even though I’ve been in a happy relationship for over three years, I still find myself crushing on fictional characters.

Especially ones from fantasy novels.

Thanks to An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson one of my current crushes crush is Rook, the autumn prince. Now, I’ve had a ton of crushes on fictional characters over the years. From the most notable (and embarrassing), Edward Cullen, to my favorite Disney character, Flynn Rider, I am well-versed in having a crush on a fictional character.

While reading An Enchantment of Ravens, I found myself swooning over Rook just like our protagonist, Isobel, was. He was a handsome, brooding, conflicted man (or Fair Folk, if you want to get technical) who falls head over heels for Isobel. What more could you ask for? I am a sucker for books where the main characters are destined to be together and spend the book finding each other. Sometimes, I will even imagine myself in the protagonist’s shoes and daydream about a faerie prince falling in love with me and giving up everything for me, but that’s neither here nor there. Although, I’d love to hear who your current fictional crush is!

An Enchantment of Ravens follows the story of Isobel, a portrait artist, who paints the Fair Folk. The Fair Folk rule the land around humans, but desire their Craft. Fair Folk cannot create without destroying themselves in the process which is why they crave human craft with ferocity. Isobel is successful at such a young age because of how skilled she is at her craft, but it is when Isobel receives her first royal client, Rook, that things start to fall apart for her. Isobel paints Rook’s portrait with sorrow laced through his expression.

Human emotion is seen as a weakness to the Fair Folk and this weakness could get Rook killed. Furious, Rook kidnaps Isobel to take her to the autumn court to stand trial for her crimes, but their plans go awry and they must learn to lean on each other to survive. It is during this time when Rook and Isobel fall in love with each other and end up in even more danger and Isobel must make the most difficult choice of her life.

I gave this book a four of five stars because this story didn’t try to be more than a love story with fairy tale elements. The pacing was a little strange in parts, but overall this book was lovely. It satisfied by desire for a sweet romance and strong writing.

If you loved Sarah Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses then you should definitely pick up this book!

Books, books, and more books.

So I’m sure it comes as no surprise to hear that I have some pretty awful book buying habits. If I looked at my bank account and sorted by how much money I spent on books this year, it would be appalling… which is precisely why I don’t do that!

However, buying books is one thing that makes me incredibly happy. Holding a brand new book that holds an amazing story brings me an amount of joy that I don’t experience on a day to day basis. So, that is why I have some pretty terrible habits.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has this bad habit (raise your hand if you’re terrible about buying books!) and I try to cut back, but sometimes when I go on independent bookstore adventures I can’t help myself.

Last night my awesome, favorite friend, Alisa, took me to Schuler’s Books in East Lansing before we saw Trevor Noah give a lecture at Michigan State University. I was in absolute awe at how amazing this store was! It’s huge and full of new and used books galore. It has a really cute café with places to sit while you peruse their huge selection of books.

I love supporting independent bookstores. My absolute favorite is Literati in Ann Arbor. It’s a very cozy store which great recommendations and adorable old typewriter in the basement. They also have a really cute café next door to the shop. Literati also hosts a ton of live events with author signings and readings. It’s, honestly, the perfect place. If you ever find yourself in Ann Arbor, Michigan, you definitely need to visit Literati!

Some other independent bookstores everyone bibliophile should visit in their lifetime are Strand and Powell’s. Both of these stores are HUGE and are such a good place to visit if you ever find yourself in New York or Portland.

And, finally, let me tell you about the books I got! I went in with one book I had to buy and left with four… that’s the power of an amazing independent bookstore.

The first book (the one I had to buy), was Heather, the Totality by Matthew Weiner. Matthew Weiner is the creator of Mad Men and that is one of my favorite shows so when I found out he wrote a book, I had to get my hands on it! This book is pretty short (only 144 pages) so I’m expecting it to be a very quick read and am excited to get into it.

The second book I found in Schuler’s used books section. It was a hardcover copy of Friend Request by Laura Marshall. I had been going back and forth on this book for quite some time since I’m usually hesitant about thrillers, but finding the hardcover of this for more than half off definitely helped me make up my mind!

Second to last book was a signed copy of There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins. I’ve been seeing some pretty great reviews of this one on bookstagram so when I saw Schuler’s had a signed copy, I had to grab it! I love signed books and have been dying to read this one.

The final book I grabbed was Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. I am so excited about this book because I’ve heard nothing but good reviews on it and the format of this book is so fun. I love books that include diagrams and pictures and documents in them to enhance the story. I think this one will make an appearance on my December TBR list!

What do you guys think about my haul? Read any of them? Got an recommendations of independent bookstores I should check out? Let me know in the comments!