December Recap

Saturday, December 31, 2016
Dani:

Books Read: 10

Notable Favorites:
When A Scot Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare (Castles Ever After #3)
Saga Vol. 6 by Brian K. Vaughn

Reviews Posted:
the princess saves herself in this one by Amanda Lovelace

Fun Stuff:
End of the Year Survey!
Black Friday Book Haul + Book Outlet FAQ
Christmas Tree Book Tag
Fall Bookish Bingo Wrap Up


Jessie:


Books Read: 29


Notable Favorites:
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
Hold Back the Stars by Katie Khan
Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
Dark Tide by Jennifer Donnelly (Waterfire Saga #3)
Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Reviews Posted:
Book Tour Review: The Semper Sonnet by Seth Margolis
Two Minute Review: The Secret of a Heart Note by Stacey Lee
Blog Tour Review: Bad Boy by Elliot Wake
Two Minute Review: A Drop of Ink by Megan Chance
Two Minute Review: Heartstone by Elle Katharine White
Backlist Series Review: Dreamdark by Laini Taylor (Dreamdark #1-#2)
Two Minute Review: By Your Side by Kasie West
Breath of Fire by Amanda Bouchet (The Kingmaker Chronicles #2)


Fun Stuff:
The Office Book Tag
Top 10 New-To-Me Authors in 2016
Top 10 Books For the First Half of 2017
Book Blast: Marlene by C.W. Gortner
Winter Book Haul
Best of 2016: YA Fiction  
Best of 2016: Adult Fiction
Best of 2016: Fantasy


Instagram of the month:




See you in 2017!




2016 End of Year Survey

Friday, December 30, 2016
Thanks to the hard work and sheer creativity of Jamie from The Perpetual Page Turner!

This is our third year at APR doing The Perpetual Page Turner's annual survey and every year it inspires joy and terror. I have to narrow down the hundreds of books I read into coherent year end list form? I have to choose a favorite? Why not just gut me now, eh? But at the same time, I get to revisit all these amazing books, some of which it feels like much longer than 11 months since I read. So let's dive right into the first category:

Note: The survey is for books you read throughout the year, no matter when they were published, and is not limited to just books that came out in 2016!!

Number Of Books You Read in 2016:

Jessie: 325
Danielle: 140


Number of Re-Reads:

Jessie: 26
Danielle: 6


Genre You Read The Most From:

Jessie: 
fantasy: 110
I always read the most from my favorite genre, and 2016 was no exception. And it also does not include paranormal fantasy or urban fantasy. 

Danielle: I read 32 graphic novels. This was the year I totally got back into comics. I'd followed a few of the big two's series on and off since middle school, but guys, did you know indie comics are fucking phenomenal???

If you don't want to count graphics as their own category: fantasy with 35 books, followed by UF with 24. I also overwhelmingly read adult this year. 64% of my total books classified as adult fiction. Only 27% was YA.



1. Best Book You Read In 2016?

(If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2016 release vs. backlist)

Jessie:
Adult Fantasy: THE LAST MORTAL BOND by Brian Staveley (The Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne #3). I have a hard time picking a BEST BOOK of the year but if I HAD TO, this would be (and has been) the book to beat since April.

Adult, Non Fantasy Category: One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid. No one writes adult contemporary like TJR (that's what I would call her if/when we were best friends.)

YA Fantasy: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo (Six of Crows #2). This book had such high hopes.... and Bardugo exceeded them. It was fun, it was harsh, it was unpredictable, and it hurt. I hate to say goodbye to the Dregs, but damn did they ever get a sendoff.

YA, Non Fantasy Category: This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills. This is such a ship book-- friendship, relationship -- and it made me feel all the things.

Dani: I rated 40 books 5 stars, so good job me.
Fantasy: Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson. I'm still me, babes.

Urban Fantasy: Two of my absolutely favorite series are in this category and try as I might, I have not been able to choose between them. Written in Red by Anne Bishop / The Wicked + The Divine: The Faust Act by Kieron Gillen.

Historical Fiction: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Science Fiction: Saga by Brian K. Vaughn. All of it. All six volumes.

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t? 

Jessie: Man I had a couple highly anticipated reads that did not pan out. Of Fire and Stars was definitely one -- so much awesome f/f fantasy potential -- so staid and blah in execution. I had been eager to read Spare and Found Parts for mooonths... and then it was weird and half-conceived and uuurgh.

Danielle: The Heiress and The Husband Hunt by Lynsay Sands. Goddamn it, I loved the first book in this series and the sequels lost all the joie de vivre. Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo. How can I love one of her series so much and hate this one even more???

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  

Jessie: Spontaneous by Aaron Starmer surprised me by being really fucking terrible and also offering NO EXPLANATION ABOUT ANYTHING. What was EVEN THE POINT of that book?

Danielle: Bands of Mourning/Mistborn: Secret History by Brandon Sanderson. Will I ever be over Brandon twists? No, no I will not. (If you've read them, you know why you can't separate the twist between the two.)

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

Jessie: Ever since I read the first Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne book (The Emperor's Blades) way way back in February, I was determined to make people understand the awesome this trilogy contains. It's a fantasy series based on Tang-era China that features many varieties of badass women and also NINJAS FLYING STEALTH MISSIONS ON GIANT BIRDS.

I also got people interested in a so-bad-it's-good YA series about a mermaid war. You're welcome.

Danielle: I pushed The Wicked + The Divine so hard, but I think you're all afraid to love yourselves? That's my only explanation why JESSIE HASN'T READ IT YET IT'S SUCH A JESSIE BOOK OH MY GOD WOMAN.

A bunch of people reread Code Name Verity because I cried really hard.

 5. Best series you started in 2016? Best Sequel of 2016? Best Series Ender of 2016?

Jessie:
Series Starter: Bright Smoke, Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge (Untitled #1). I AM THE ANTIBLACKSHEEP. I loved this book and I can't wait for the sequel.
Sequel: Saint's Blood by Sebastien de Castell (Greatcoats #3). Penultimate novel in the series and Castell has really hit his stride.
Series Ender: The Last Mortal Bond by Brian Staveley (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne #3)

Danielle:
Series Starter: Written in Red (The Others #1)
Sequel: Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass #4) I know, I know. Basic bitch, but I lap this series up like cream.
Series Ender: Blackout by Mira Grant (Newsflesh #3)

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2016?

Danielle: So, so many. Anne Bishop, obviously. Brian K. Vaughan and Kieron Gillen. But also Rebekah Weatherspoon and her Sugar Baby romances. Elizabeth Wein, though I'm not sure I'm up to the emotional trauma of reading the next in the series. Elizabeth May and The Falconer! (I'm about halfway through the second book as I type this.) If I don't get the next Stephanie Oaks, I will literally die.

Jessie: I had never read anything by Claudia Gray before this year. However, I finally read A Thousand Pieces of You and loooved it. It reminded me a bit of Dissonance/Resonance and was such a clever and fun idea. The  sequels (Ten Thousand Skies Above You and A Million Worlds With You) only solidified my newfound love.


7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

Jessie: I tend to run very far away from published poetry or even from verse novels, but I found Nikita Gill on instagram.... and I had to have her books. I loved Your Soul is a River, though I must admit that Your Body is an Ocean,is not quiiiite as good.

Danielle: I am not a thriller reader, but Caleb Roehrig's debut Last Seen Leaving is amazing. Mystery that kept me turning the page, LGBT rep with a great ship, and really realistic teenagers. Super loved it.

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

Danielle: Illuminae. I couldn't put it down twice.

Jessie: Besides Gemina, Hold Back the Stars was one, as was A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab -- but that one is more just unputdownable than purely action-packed.


 9. Book You Read In 2016 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

Jessie: I plan to reread both of Elizabeth May's Falconer books before the last one, The Fallen Kingdom, comes out in May. I loved The Falconer back in 2014 and again in August when I reread that and read The Vanishing Throne. More Kiaaaraaan! And Aithinne!

Danielle: Even though I hated it and ultimately DNFd it, I could see myself giving Siege and Storm another chance after I finish Crooked Kingdom. I just want to like it so much and everyone keeps telling me book 3 is better.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2016?

Jessie:

I have a few but Furthermore is a definite favorite:



Danielle: (If I had actually finished Furthermore, like a reasonable person, I would AGREE.)


Caged and Enraged sums up this hell year, right? 

Plus I just go gaga for this film poster parody style

11. Most memorable character of 2016?

Jessie: For me it was definitely Gwenna from The Last Mortal Bond. Prickly, angry, prone to solving problems with explosions.... she's my favorite kind of character. Forever hoping for a series just centered on her.

Danielle: I think it's Minnow Bly from The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly. Seventeen-year old murderess and jailed cult member? Hard to let that one go.

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2016?

Jessie: The Star-Touched Queen definitely is the answer for this. Also Laini Taylor's Dreamdark books -- skews a tad young but full of her same lovely writing.

Danielle: The Song of Achilles. There is a ship. I'm on it. We're crying.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2016?

Danielle: The Rose Society was pretty thought provoking, but I don't think I'd cal it life changing. I guess Code Name Verity is the closest.

Jessie: Umm.... no answer? I don't really think any book changed my life this year.

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2016 to finally read? 

Jessie: Real Live Boyfriends by E. Lockhart. I really enjoy the Ruby books so I can't believe I waited this long to finish her quartet of books.

Danielle: Saga, Queen of Shadows (why am I always behind in this series???), Illuminae, Warbreaker. Oh, all Nora Roberts! I wrote a post on that.

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2016? 

Danielle:
'Aithinne speaks from behind us. “I admit to being somewhat unclear on the function of human tears,” she says. “So we’re sad about this? Should I menace someone?”' 
- The Vanishing Throne by Elizabeth May

“Since when have you carried one of these?” Wax asked, taking it from her.
“Since about six months ago. I put one into my purse in case you might need it.” She raised her other hand, displaying two more. “I carry the other two because I’m neurotic.”
He grinned, taking all three. He downed the first one, then nearly choked. “What the hell is in this?”
“Other than steel?” Steris asked. “Cod-liver oil.” He looked at her, gaping. “Whiskey is bad for you, Lord Waxillium. A wife must look out for her husband’s health.” 
- The Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson

THIS IS A REALLY BIG SPOILER FOR BLACKOUT, DO NOT HIGHLIGHT IT UNLESS YOU ARE YSA OR MEG OR JESS

Miss me? —From Images May Disturb You, the blog of Georgia Mason, August 2, 2041. Shared internally only.

Yes. —From Adaptive Immunities, the blog of Shaun Mason, August 2, 2041. Shared internally only.
- Blackout by Mira Grant

Jessie:

"Shall I sing to you of Troy?
Shining Troy, windy Troy, many-towered Troy. The city of gold, gatekeeper of the east, haven of the god-born and the lucky." -- A Song of War by various

"Show me
the most damaged parts of your soul,
and I will show you
how it still shines like gold.

You are a dangerous collection of all my favorite things.

An old soul,
a heart of gold,
and hands that make my body
sing."

"Some people are born with
tornadoes in their lives,
but constellations in their eyes.
Other people are born with stars at their feet,
but their souls are lost at sea."

"We have calcium in our bones,
iron in our veins,
carbon in our souls,
and nitrogen in our brains.
93 percent stardust,
with souls made of flames.
we are all just stars
that have people names."
 
-Nikita Gill, Your Soul is a River

16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2016?

Jessie:
Shortest: Please Remain Calm by Courtney Summers (96 pages)
Longest: Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson (1,087 pages)

Danielle:
Shortest: Apocalypse Scenario #683: The Box by Mira Grant (21 pages)
Longest: Also Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson (1,087 pages)

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

(Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)

Danielle: The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 2: Fandemonium went somewhere I definitely did not see coming. Code Name Verity. *weeping* As I Descended was a constant mind fuck.

Jessie: I don't wanna run the risk of spoilers so let's say that Sabaa Tahir's A Torch Against the Night def had a few moments that were NOT expected. Hold Back the Stars by Katie Khan is another that packs a punch or two.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

Jessie: JOSH AND LUCY 5EVAAAAA (aka the couple from The Hating Game... aka the Shippy Book of 2016.) And, also, always, forever: Inej and Kaz from Crooked Kingdom.

Danielle: Wax and Steris. Fuckign fight me.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year?

Danielle: Six of Crows? Did I name the whole crew last year? Because them.

Jessie: Loveloveloved the strong friendship between Iseult and Safiya in Truthwitch. All my Dregs loves from Crooked Kingdom <333 forever precious. I also loved the strong sister bond shown in Caraval between Dontella and Scarlett.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2016 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

Jessie: The Rivals of Versailles by Sally Christie. This was the second in her Mistresses of Versailles trilogy, and it was soo good. Historical fiction at its best.

Danielle: Hello, do you have a moment to talk about our lord and savior, Brandon Sanderson?

21. Best Book You Read In 2016 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

Danielle: Code Name Verity. I NEVER do WWII books. But then Jess appeared like the angel of broken feelings and suddenly I'm crying into my phone.

Jessie: I am so so glad that the twitterverse flailed and made me aware of how awesome The Long Way to A Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers was. Holy shit is that some good scifi. (So's the sequel, A Closed and Common Orbit.)

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2016?

Jessie: JOSHUA TEMPLEMAN from The Hating Game. Jest from Heartless. Max Fox from Hold Back the Stars.

Danielle: Blake from Smut. Specifically after the library scene. Kady from Illuminae. KIARAN FROM THE FALCONER

23. Best 2016 debut you read?

Jessie: The Hating Game by Sally Thorne. That book took so many of my favorite tropes and made them fresh. It made me really invest in these two dorks and omg feeeeelings.

Danielle: Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig.

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

Danielle: The Wrong Side of Magic was SO CUTE about this. An homage to The Phantom Tollbooth but in a totally new world that really speaks to bookworms.

Jessie: Tahereh Mafi's Furthermore just BURST from the pages for me. Her writing is just so visual and so bright.

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Jessie: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, and Brodi Ashton is silly, funny, and.... punny. Wanderlost was so cute and fun and shippy -- it's impossible not to smile while reading it.

Danielle: This answer has not changed in 11 months. The Countess by Lynsay Sands. Where are my Tessa girls and why aren't they reading this?

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2016?


Danielle: Haha, nearly. Cute.
The Secret Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes
Strong Signal by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
Lady Thief by A.C Gaughen
Blackout by Mira Grant
The Pirate Princess by Jeremy Whitley (happy tears!)
Last Will and Testament by Dahlia Adler (rude Dahlia, btw)
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Jessie: Oh man, "nearly"? I wept at:
Hold Back the Stars by Katie Khan
Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin (Wolf by Wolf #2)
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo (Six of Crows #2)
This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills
One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

Jessie: anything by Amalia Carosella or Phyllis T. Smith! I read Carosella's last Helen of Troy book this year and it was fab. Phyllis T. Smith tackles the Roman empire and emperors in Daughters of the Palatine Hill.

Danielle: I really loved The Wrong Side of Magic and it's a shame for the third(?) year in a row I'm rec'ing an underloved MG. LET ME SHOW YOU ALL GREAT MGS!

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

Danielle: The bold ones on the cry list. You monsters.

Jessie: Hold Back the Stars by Katie Khan did a marvelous job of ripping my emotions into tiny, tiny shreds. You should go preorder it and then share my pain in late January.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2016?

Jessie: Last year it was obviously Illuminae and Kaufman & Kristoff have done it again. It's gotta be Gemina, obviously. I don't think I will ever tire of the creative and inventive ways these two can find to tell a story.

Danielle: Gotta agree on this one. I read Illuminae and listened to the audiobook and they are both amazing, unique experiences, completely different from each other.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

Danielle: the princess saves herself in this one. Yeah, let's publish poetry ostensibly about saving ones self but it's actually about how a boyfriend cures mental illness. Super helpful in the current political climate. Not harmful at all.

Jessie: Probably How to Hang a Witch? There was so much potential for a Salem story (from a descendant!) and instead we got manufactured, generic, YA tropes.





1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2016?

Danielle: I have to be honest, even though it makes me an awful friend, I wasn't following Laura or Lindsey before we were all added to the same BEA group. SORRY LADIES!

Jessie: I was pretty terrible at making connections in 2016. I don't think I added any new blogs to my readership. I met some really awesome people on twitter and in Chicago, but I've kinda failed at blog visiting. A goal for the new year!

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2016?

Jessie: Danielle introduced series reviews to APR a while back, and since then those tend to be my favorites. I get to cover more and challenge myself to be as spoiler-free/clever as possible. Just check out the tag here.

Danielle: I'm torn between the time I called a book "the Persistence of Memory of romance novels - a batshit masterpiece." and "Cool motive, still murder slut-shaming." (B99 4 lyfe)

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

Danielle: I was really proud of my Lessons From a First Time Nora Roberts Reader, though it has review-y elements.

Jessie: Oof, I don't really write discussion posts. I am going to work on that for 2017! (I know I said this last year....)

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

Jessie: BEA 16! All of it, from running at people in the airport to waiting in forever-lines to drinking wine and singing Disney songs to being mocked by authors -- it was fantastic and I had the best time.



A photo posted by Jessie Hall Wallace (@jypsyhowl) on


Danielle: Same. I literally could not be happier to have been to BEA and to have met everyone in person and hugged them and gotten to see Jess wine drunk IRL.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2016?

Jessie: See above but add in meeting Laini Taylor, and then getting drinks with Leigh Bardugo and discussing the awesomeness of our shared name. Also, we had the most-ever posts for APR in 2016!

Danielle: Same. Same same same. I love you guys most of all.

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

Danielle: My work life balance is still pretty far out of whack and I think that showed a lot in my post numbers. Jess picked up a lot of my slack, and I love her for that, but I think I need to start scheduling blog time like I schedule work or date nights.

Jessie: I tend to fall off blogging when personal shit gets rough. But I think, like most people I know, all of November was a struggle for me. Finding motivation while handling... a national shock and grief... was hard. Luckily, we had posts scheduled so we didn't get too offtrack.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

Jessie: Well people certainly liked my review for Rachel Caine's Paper and Fire (The Great Library #2). Not only is it my most viewed review of 2016, it's the fifth most popular post on APR.

Danielle: This one's a little weird for me, because I don't feel like it's a great review, but 915 people read it, sooooooooo Been Here All Along by Sandy Hall it is.


8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

Danielle: I'll admit, I was hoping for more discussion on the Nora post.

Jessie: Maybe the My 5-Year Plan post I had up in November? I DID MATH FOR THAT POST, PEOPLE. VOLUNTARY MATH. FOR YOU.

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

Jessie: Ahhh I plead the fifth! I have no idea, lol. I'm so bad; my memory is a sieve.

Danielle: Hoopla has literally changed my life. Part of the Overdrive family, 8 rentals a month, and so many beautiful graphic novels that my library doesn't stock. I want to weep.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

Danielle: I did and I did NOT.
I wanted to read 120 books, which was in line with last year and I ended up reading 140. Success tastes very sweet.

I signed up with Rock My TBR to read 20-30 books I owned for more than 12 months. I read 11. Wah wah.
I signed up to read 25 Backlist books with Bekka from Pretty Deadly Reviews and I stopped counting at 31 by April.
I was supposed to read 40 straight fantasy novels for Flights of Fantasy and I only got 35, so another wah wah.

Jessie: I met all the goals I had set for 2016. I usually change my GR goal through the year, but I just set it at 250 let myself exceed it. I read 330 books in 2016 so that was a definite checkmark.

I also challenged myself to read 75 fantasy novels for Flights of Fantasy. (And by this I don't mean paranormal or UF -- only epic/grimdark/high fantasy.) I read 110!
I took on Bekka from Pretty Deadly Reviews Backlist Books Challenge in 2016. I wanted to read at least 50 backlist novels over the course of the year -- and I ended up reading 80.
The last challenge I signed up for was Rock My TBR. With a goal of 100 and a final total of 110, I completed that challenge as well!





1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2016 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2017?

Danielle: Oh god, all of them? I feel like I'm so behind. Gemina, Nevernight, Empire of Storms, Staveley's whole series (I need to reread book 1 at this point).

Jessie: The Captive Prince books! I have the first two already. I missed the hype this summer so I plan to tackle both Captive Prince and Prince's Gambit in January. I am a little leery since I've heardf wildly varying things about this, but at least I will get the conversation after I read!

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2017 (non-debut)?

Jessie: STRANGE THE DREAMER! Oh yes new Laini Taylor book for 2017 is a present I will surely be needing. I have also had my eye on Shadow Run by AdriAnne Strickland and Michael Miller for moooonths. I love both Firefly and Dune (the latter more than the former, FIGHT ME) but this also reminds me of The Force Awakens? Gimme some space boyfriends, please!

Also: The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova. Kostova wrote one of my top 5 All-Time Favorite reads (The Historian) and this is only her third novel. SIGN ME THE FUCK UP.

Danielle: LAINI TAYLOR HAS A BOOK ALL ELSE IS INVALID

3. 2017 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

Jessie: Is there any answer besides Angie Thomas's The Hate U Give? We only have to wait until February! I have been very patient with my ARC, but it's due to be read here soon in 2017!

Danielle: I'm a quarter into my ARC of THUG and no, there is no other answer.

 4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2017?

Jessie: I will answer The Winds of Winter to this EVERY YEAR until George gives into my demands. PLEASE GEORGE LET IT BE 2017. For my shipper-heart. For my goddamn sanity.

Danielle: I hear what Jessie is saying and I don't disagree, but OATHBRINGER IS DONE, HOW CAN YOU SAY ANYTHING ELSE??????????????

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2017?

Danielle: I'm raising my goal to 150 this year. It's a stretch for me, but I feel pretty good about it. (Listen to me. First year I did this survey, my answer for the question was "read 52 books" My little baby's growing up and *sniffle* saving China) I'm also going to try to get at least one thing on this blog a week, even if it's just TTT or a two-minute review.

Jessie: Reading-wise: Read at least 300 books in 2017! More diversity in what I read and buy.
Blogging-wise: Get back into the comment groove! I used to be great at comment-bombing friends. I've fallen away from that into reading reviews + posts and responding on Twitter. I think everyone enjoys a comment on the post they worked so hard on more. So yeah, back to hitting the blogs I love with comments.

6. A 2017 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:

Jessie: I really loved the writing in Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones. The romance in that one was admittedly somewhat problematic but suuuch gorgeous writing. The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden was a lovely mix of historical fiction and Russian myths. Stephanie Garber's Caraval was also pretty good, if a taaaad overhyped. Allegedly (Tiffany D. Jackson) was utterly unputdownable. Hold Back the Stars by Katie Khan is clever and heart-wrenching and shippy.

Danielle: Going to have to go with The Hate U Give for this one too, even if I haven't finished it yet. (That and my other two 2017 releases have been disappointing. Do not be another hellyear 2017, do. not.)


&

2016: Best of Fantasy

Thursday, December 29, 2016
Fantasy is my favorite genre and also the genre from which I read the most books. It's always hard to pare down my 125+ fantasy reads into year-end favorites so not only does fantasy get its own list, but it also gets divided by age.


2016 Best Fantasy -- YA Edition:





1. Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo (Six of Crows #2)
2. Summers at Castle Auburn by Sharon Shinn
3. A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir (An Ember in the Ashes #2)
4. The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Choksi (The Star-Touched Queen #1)
5. The Immortal Heights by Sherry Thomas (The Elemental Trilogy #3)
6. Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi
7. The Beauty in Darkness by Mary E. Pearson (The Remnant Chronicles #3)
8. The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski (The Winner's Trilogy #3)
9. Bright Smoke, Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge (Untitled #1)
10. Heartless by Marissa Meyer


2016 Best Fantasy -- Adult Edition:




1. The Last Mortal Bond by Brian Staveley (The Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne #3)
2. The Spider's War by Daniel Abraham (The Dagger and the Coin #5)
3. Saint's Blood by Sebastien de Castell (Greatcoats #3)
4. A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (Shades of London #2)
5. The Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn #6)
6. Nevernight by Jay Kristoff (Nevernight #1)
7. The Silver Tide by Jen Williams (The Copper Cat #3)
8. In the Labyrinth of Drakes by Marie Brennan (The Memoirs of Lady Trent #4)
9. The Providence of Fire by Brian Staveley (The Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne #2)
10. Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn #5)





Best YA Books of 2016

Wednesday, December 28, 2016
*non-fantasy edition

Yesterday we broke down our favorite adult reads of 2016. Here are the YA contenders that made the cut for us:


1. This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills



Sloane isn't expecting to fall in with a group of friends when she moves from New York to Florida—especially not a group of friends so intense, so in love, so all-consuming. Yet that's exactly what happens.

Sloane becomes closest to Vera, a social-media star who lights up any room, and Gabe, Vera's twin brother and the most serious person Sloane's ever met. When a beloved painting by the twins' late mother goes missing, Sloane takes on the responsibility of tracking it down, a journey that takes her across state lines—and ever deeper into the twins' lives.

Filled with intense and important friendships, a wonderful warts-and-all family, shiveringly good romantic developments, and sharp, witty dialogue, this story is about finding the people you never knew you needed.


2. Gemina by Jay Kristoff & Amie Kaufman (Illuminae Files #2)

3. The Vanishing Throne by Elizabeth May (The Falconer #2)

4. These Vicious Masks by Kelly Zekas & Tarun Shanker (These Vicious Masks #1)

5. Resonance by Erica O'Rourke (Dissonance #2)

6. Behold the Bones by Natalie C. Parker (Beware the Wild #1)

7. The Firebird trilogy by Claudia Gray

(A Thousand Pieces of You, Ten Thousand Skies Above You, and A Million Worlds With You.)

8. Gena/Finn by Hannah Moskowitz & Kat Helgeson

9. The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

10. Timeless by Tara Sim






Best Adult Books of 2016

Tuesday, December 27, 2016
So it is the end of the year and Dani and I are going to start our Best Of lists for 2016. We've broken it down into 3 posts and a survey. What can we say? We are overachievers here at APR. So the first one is all about the adult books we've read in 2016.



1. One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

2. The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

3. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet & A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers

4. A Song of War by various

5. The Rivals of Versailles by Sally Christie (Mistresses of Versailles #2)

6. By Helen's Hand by Amalia Carosella (Helen of Sparta #2)

7. Daughters of Palatine Hill by Phyllis T. Smith

8. The Status of All Things by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke

9. Leave Me by Gayle Forman

10. The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell





Winter Book Haul

Monday, December 26, 2016
It's the end of the year and we alllll know what that means --- Book Outlet saaaaale! Book Outlet ran their 30% off site-wide sale and I went only a little wild. Considering I also ordered several books from the Book Depository, Amazon, and B&N for Black Friday/Cyber Monday -- I've had a very busy month, bookmail-wise.


From the Book Depository bc SEQUEL and NEW COVER:



Shadows on the Moon and Barefoot on the Wind by Zoe Marriott (The Moonlit Lands #1 and #2). Fairy tale retellings mixed with fantasy --- the first is Cinderella and the second is based on Beauty and the Beast.

I have read SotM many times but the release of a sequel and new editions = MUST HAVE.


Aaaand now:





Okay so in that stack:

The Jewel and her Lapidary by Fran Wilde - I have heard so much about her novels; I was super curious to try her writing.

Prince's Gambit by C.S. Pacat (Kings Rising #2) - okay I bought this entirely because of the hype beast. I know friends that flaiiiiil over this so when I saw book two for less than $3, I had to get it. Maybe now I will get going on starting Captive Prince!

The Strangled Queen by Maurice Druon (The Accursed Kings #2)
The Royal Succession by Maurice Druon (The Accursed Kings #4)
I have actually already read The Strangled Queen as an ARC in 2013. Finally my own copy! This is the series that inspired Game of Thrones + covers the Hundred Years' War so you know I am all about it

Maid of Wonder by Jennifer McGowan (Maids of Honor #3) - third in this YA historical fiction series about Elizabeth's maids of honor -- all with different and interesting talents.

Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando - dual novel about two girls entering college. I love this cover and Sara Zarr is one of my favorite contemporary authors.

The Mirk and Midnight Hour by Jane Nickerson (Strands #2) - a retelling of Tam Lin set against the Civil War.

Flame by Amy Kathleen Ryan (Sky Chasers #3) - So the first book of this seriers, Glow, was the first print ARC I received. The series has finally wrapped and I can't wait to see how Waverly and Co. fare.

Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey (Harper Hall #1)
Dragonsinger by Anne McCaffrey (Harper Hall #2)
Dragondrums by Anne McCaffrey (Harper Hall #3)
So as a fantasy fan, I have to admit I always feel like a bit of an impostor because... I've never read McCaffrey. I don't know why -- if you know me you know I LOVE DRAGONS so I am not sure what my deal is. Anyway: in 2017,the gap in my education will be closed!

A Daughter of No Nation by A.M. Dellamonica (Hidden Sea Tales #2) - pirates! Adventure! I haven't read the first book but I love these covers and the synopsis! Here's hoping that I love both of them!

The Shadow Queen by Sandra Gulland - 17th century France and the mistress of the Sun King! I am allll about that. Athenais de Montespan is a fascinating historical figure so this should be intriiiiiguing.

Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop (The Others #2) - another hype beast buy. I own the first but haven't read it. However, e v e r y o n e looooves this series. I wasn't the biggest fan of Bishops' Black Jewels series but here's hoping this works better for me.








Christmas Tree Book Tag

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Look, another tag we weren't tagged in. We are the tag rebels, the tag pirates, roaming the tag seas and plundering where we will. Argh mateys.

In other words, I saw Reading Away the Days post her new Christmas Tree tag on Twitter and I knew it would be an awesome Christmas Day post for all of you. Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it, happy second day of Hanukkah to our Jewish friends and followers, joyous Yule, happy Pancha Ganapati, and happy Sunday to those who don't celebrate at all. We love you.


Jess: I would very much like my very own Rhaegar Targaryen, please. 
I would not like Sorcha or Lonnrach (The Falconer & The Vanishing Throne by Elizabeth May) to ever be anywhere near me or mine.

Dani: I wish Georgia Mason from Feed was a real person and a real reporter and my real BFF. For the non-real side, I'm perfectly happy with The Darkling from The Grisha series staying precisely where he's at.

Dani: Calamity by Brandon Sanderson. Sooooo shiny in person.


Jess: 

Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi. I love it so.

Jess: 
 I take it that Edward is a tad too on the nose?

Dani: That probably rules out Derrick and the pixies in The Falconer, too, huh?

Dani: I'm sorry Laini, but you cannot drop a series' worth of world building into Dreams of Gods and Monsters and then END THE SERIES. NO. GO BACK.


Jess:
Summers at Castle Auburn by Sharon Shinn. It serves me right that I moan and complain about never finding fantasy standalones and then I DO find one and it's SO GOOD I WANT MORE damnit.




Jess: My best book of the year hasn't changed since April. I've maybe flailed about it at/to people a little? Maybe?

THE LAST MORTAL BOND BY BRIAN STAVELEEEEEY


Tang-inspired fantasy! Badass women of all kinds! NINJAS ON GIIIIANT MFING BIRDS.

Dani: Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman. I read it twice. In 12 months. And I kind of want to read it again while waiting for Gemina to get here...

Dani: Socks for Dobby. ;_;

Jess:  
THE PAINTING for Vera and Gabe and Sloane, really. (This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills).
::sobs::


Jess:
 I usually read Claire LeGrand's Winterspell right around Christmas, but I think I maaay curl up with The Hating Game by Sally Thorne again. Don't judge me. #lucyandjosh5eva

Dani: Well I bought Stephanie Perkin's ed. Christmas anthology My True Love Gave to Me literally for this purpose, but if we're being honest? It's Harry. It's always going to be Harry.

&



Review: the princess saves herself in this one by Amanda Lovelace

Friday, December 23, 2016
Title: the princess saves herself in this one
Author: Amanda Lovelace
Genre: Poetry
Series: N/A
Pages: 208
Published: April 23, 2016
Source: eARC via Netgalley for review
Rating: 1/5

"Ah, life- the thing that happens to us while we're off somewhere else blowing on dandelions & wishing ourselves into the pages of our favorite fairy tales."

A poetry collection divided into four different parts: the princess, the damsel, the queen, & you. the princess, the damsel, & the queen piece together the life of the author in three stages, while you serves as a note to the reader & all of humankind. Explores life & all of its love, loss, grief, healing, empowerment, & inspirations.

The Princess Saves Herself in this One has a snappy title and an interesting summary, which is causing it to make some real ripples in the poetry and YA communities.

Unfortunately, it's bad.

Lovelace's idea to divide her poems into chapters of "princess", "damsel", and "queen" doesn't work when all three sections are full of co-dependent tripe. Nothing separates the three, not style nor theme nor empowerment. The change of her mother from villain to victim between "princess" and "damsel" is particularly jarring, but the author had no thoughts about that juxtaposition? That would be an interesting poem to read. The largest problem with these sections is I don't see any saving herself in the writing, only reductive moral lessons at the end of endless love poems.

Most poems in the volume end with an italicized sentence summarizing the message of the work. The style and formatting doesn't add anything to the poems; frankly removing critical thinking from the reader destroys any chance for meaningful conversation about the poetry. Some of them, like the one about her sisters, (none of the poems are titled,) read like a parody of ee cummings with faux-meaningful orthography. Love poems in the shape of a heart belong in a 101 creative writing class, not a published volume.

The volume is accessible, which has probably lead to its surge in popularity, but it's sophomoric in theme and execution. The tigress poem is literally a reworded Facebook meme. Obviously it speaks to people, but poetry is not 48 pt Impact font.
Disagree.
The book's inherent sympathy is a curse that has kept the author from saying anything I haven't heard before and better.

(For the geeky, feminist poetry book you're actually searching for, may I recommend Brenna Twohy's Forgive Me My Salt, Christine Heppermann's Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty, or Nikita Gill's Your Soul is a River?)


Review: Breath of Fire by Amanda Bouchet

Thursday, December 22, 2016
Title: Breath of Fire
Author: Amanda Bouchet
Genre: fantasy, romance
Series: The Kingmaker Chronicles #2
Pages: 448
Published: expected January 3rd 2017
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Rating: 2/5




SHE'S DESTINED TO DESTROY THE WORLD...
"Cat" Catalia Fisa has been running from her destiny since she could crawl. But now, her newfound loved ones are caught between the shadow of Cat's tortured past and the threat of her world-shattering future. So what's a girl to do when she knows it's her fate to be the harbinger of doom? Everything in her power.

BUT NOT IF SHE CAN HELP IT
Griffin knows Cat is destined to change the world-for the better. As the realms are descending into all-out war, Cat and Griffin must embrace their fate together. Gods willing, they will emerge side-by-side in the heart of their future kingdom...or not at all.


Female-fronted fantasy series are somewhat hard to come by which is why I am sad to admit that after two books I don't think I will be continuing Amanda Bouchet's Kingmaker Chronicles trilogy. There things that these two books have done rather well (the creative world is one, and the great secondary characters are another) but there are more misses than hits for me with Cat and Griffin's plotlines. Like A Promise of Fire before it earlier this year, Breath of Fire is just as much a romance novel as it is a fantasy story. And also like with the first book, the relationship and power dynamics between the two love interests are major issues for me.

I think with the large, on-going issues with the core relationship at the heart of the trilogy.... I am done with this series. I personally am a fan of romance novels but the alpha male trope has never been a favorite for me, nor has it ever created a relationship I could invest in or care about. For two books running, Griffin has been a prime example of why this trope is problematic, at the very least. There are things to like about the character, but his proprietary, I-know-best attitude towards Cat and his anger issues (destroying their room over an OBVIOUS lie? For real?) makes him unpalatable for a love interest. I tried, for two books,  and waited for an arc or personal growth for him but it looks like it's going to keep more of the same until the end.

Though I won't be continuing with the third and last book of the series, Heart of Fire, there were several elements of this story that kept me engaged and entertained. Like I noted in my review for book one way back in September, the secondary characters Bouchet has created are lively, fun, and well-drawn. Griffin's warband remains the favorites, though there are more family members of both genders emerging as players in the game. Cat remains a decent protagonist, for all that her plotlines are often quite predictable. Her story is central to the plot of all three books, but it's not the most inventive for anyone who's read more than a few fantasy books.

A fantasy-romance that never quite found solid footing, the Kingmaker Chronicles has had good bones and ideas in its so-far two books. The execution was too full of troublesome and outdated tropes for me, but readers who enjoy alpha male love interests might have a better experience.




Two Minute Review: By Your Side by Kasie West

Wednesday, December 21, 2016
Title: By Your Side
Author: Kasie West
Genre: contemporary
Series: N/A
Pages: 352
Published: expected January 31 2017
Source: publishers via edelweiss
Rating: 3/5

In this irresistible story, Kasie West explores the timeless question of what to do when you fall for the person you least expect. Witty and romantic, this paperback original from a fan favorite is perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins and Morgan Matson.

When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her.

Only he doesn’t come. No one does.

Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side?

Kasie West has a knack for churning out fun and shippy contemporary YA reads, but even a veteran such as she is not foolproof. Her fifth young adult romance is her first to merit less than four-star reaction.  By Your Side is not what I would even call a bad book, but it also lacks the spark her other books have had in spades. It's generic and even at about three hundred fifty pages feels too extended; more premise than actual plot. I liked By Your Side enough for 3-stars out of five but definitely found this to be the weakest effort yet from an established writer.

The characters of Autumn and Dax are moderately well-drawn, if very stereotypical; but as usual, West's characters have personality and charm to spare. The main issue with By Your Side is the  plot anchoring the romance between the two opposites. It was too minimal and predictable from the moment the couple meets one another. Readers know exactly what will happen with these characters, but it's also a simple guess to predict how the story will progress to achieve that point. A little more inventiveness and substance would have gone a long way to help readers engage with the story.


(Also... can we get a nonhetero/interracial romance? All her books are so straight and white...)

I liked this book, but I doubt I will reread it in the future, or remember it a year from now. Not bad but not her best.

 
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