December 2017 Recap

Sunday, December 31, 2017

So, hey, 2017 is over. I am glad to see it go and hopeful for what 2018may bring us. I didn't do much on the blog (surprise) but Dani has been killing it.

End of Year Survey
Review: Immortal Souls edited by Joamette Gil
Two Minute Review: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Review: My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix
Two Minute Review dump
Review: Fierce Reads' Kisses and Curses edited by Lauren Burniac
Two Minute Reviews Boogaloo 

Danielle and Jessie's 2017 Year End Survey!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Welcome back my loves to the year end survey! This is our fifth year participating with Jamie and Perpetual Page Turner and for some real laughs at terrible predictions and choices that haven't aged well, here are the links to our previous lists.


This is one of my favorite things we do as a blog and as a bookish community and I always look forward to it, so without further ado: 
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 2017!!

Number Of Books You Read:

Dani: 148

Jessie: 455 - an all-time record

Number of Re-Reads:

Jessie: 73!

Dani: 12 (who am I?)

Genre You Read The Most From:

Dani: Fantasy - 24%

Jessie: Fantasy at 31.1%

1. Best Book You Read In 2017?

(If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2017 release vs. backlist)

Adult Fantasy: Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson. This one took a bit more time to mature but it was an excellent third addition to the Stormlight Archive. The interconnected plot crescendos into the expected Sanderson epicness and more revelations and plot twists thicken the ever-complicated plot.
Adult, Non-Fantasy: Taylor Jenkins Reid wins this for the second year in a row. This time it's for The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, proving that no matter what she chooses to write, it ends up being amazing.

YA Fantasy: In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan. Weird and hilarious and clever and subverts so many  tropes in delightful ways.
YA, Non-Fantasy: Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia. I really loved this one.

I read 28 new five star books and reread seven. So uh, fuck me.

Contemp: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Thriller/Horror: The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
Comic/Graphic Novel: Injustice, Gods Among Us: Year One by Tom Taylor
Poetry/Verse: Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
Romance: A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole
Fantasy: Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust/ Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

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

Dani: Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger. So many of my friends, including my rec'ing ball Dahlia liked this one and I thought it was kind of a mess. The main character hated every other woman in the book and that's such a bad look.

Jessie: Romancing the Throne by Nadine Jolie Courtney. This had the potential to be a fun read, reminiscent of The Royal We. Instead it is an aggressively average contemp set in England with characters who somehow talk like Californians (calling the Crown Prince "dude"?). The plot is formulaic, the characters stick to their expected roles and easily predicted outcomes. Disaappointed.

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

Jessie: Speak Easy, Speak Love by McKelle George is a retelling of Much Ado About Nothing set in a Long Island Prohibition-era speakeasy. It felt like a real representation of society and was shippy and banter-y and so much fun. 

Dani: The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma. Oh my god did I go into this book with the expectation that it wasn't a "me" read and left with an obsession. 

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

Jessie: Mira Grant's Rolling in the Deep and Into the Drowning Deep. These books about carnivorous mermaids are now my favorite Mira Grants of them all. (Yes, that's including all/any of the Newsflesh series.) The 120+ page novella that launched this series was impressive but the full-length sequel is even better. It's inclusive and reflective of life in so many ways; the disparate group of characters the narrative is centered around are awesome and awful and various mixtures of both.

Into the Drowning Deep has the usual great prose and premise and execution I've come to expect from this multitalented author. She can be counted on to be creatively and horribly plausible when it comes to building and expanding her stories. It's true again here, as it was in Newsflesh and in the Parasitology books. There is so much attention to detail in how Grant approaches the idea of modern mermaids -- there's a lot of thought built into this monster story.

5. Best series you started in 2017? Best Sequel of 2017? Best Series Ender of 2017?


Started: The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty
Sequel: Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray (Diviners #3)
Ender: The Fallen Kingdom by Elizabeth May (The Falconer #3)

Dani: Series Started - Motor Crush by Breden Fletcher
          Sequel - Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire (Wayward Children #2)
          Ender - I...did not finish a single series in 2017 

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2017?

Dani: Alyssa Cole. She's been on my radar for a few years but it wasn't until the back to back punch of Hamilton's Battalion and A Princess in Theory that I found the usurper to my romance throne.

Jessie: C. Robert Cargill. His book Sea of Rust was a fascinating, fresh new scifi read for me. It left me desperate for a sequel just to see how else he could imagine the robocalypse.

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

Jessie: Astrophysics for People in a Hurry and Death by Blackhole, both by Neil DeGrasse Tyson. I definitely don't read a lot about astrophysics but this cover, title, and author made me curious enough to try.


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

Dani: Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds. I can't read 320 pages in a day, much less a sitting but it turns out, that's no longer true.

Jessie: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Couldn't stop from page one until the end of the acknowledgments. It's also the book I've lent out the most this year, which is awesome. I make sure I get it back soon each time, though.

9. Book You Read In 2017 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

Jessie: An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard. I hope its because there's a sequel out soon and I need to refresh my memory of these awesome characters and their magic dueling system.

Dani: Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. I don't know what it is about this series, but I never get tired of rereading it.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2017?


What do I have to do to get this indie comic anthology tattooed directly onto my eyeballs?

Jessie: Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel. The second of the Themis Files series may have slightly disappointed with its contents but the cover definitely didn't.

11. Most memorable character of 2017?

Jessie: The Violinist of Venice's titular character of Vivaldi. I've always been drawn to historical fiction and I played the violin for years -- but Palombo really captured the feeling of Venice and the Red Priest and what makes music so integral to some people's lives. I've been listening to Four Seasons since March with no plans to stop.

Dani: Dimple Shah of When Dimple Met Rishi fame. I fell so head over heels for this girl.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2017?

Dani: Long Way Down. I could have finished it in half the time if I'd stopped highlighting stanzas to read to my partner.

Jessie: Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi. Her descriptive, lyrical style lends so well to Alice's story. Gorgeous. Though it was a reread to prepare for the sequel Whichwood, Mafi can't quite top the original story set in her magical lands.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2017?

Jessie: As always: no answer for life-changing books? I don't really think any book changed my life this year. I read a lot more nonfiction this year (15, which was more than my goal of one per month) and most of them were fascinating and thought-provoking. Mary Beard's SPQR is a must for anyone who enjoys learning about ancient Rome. Game of Queen is about powerful female rulers in Europe during the 16th century.

Dani: Bitch Planet. This series makes me so angry, so passionate, so...feminist in this current climate. It's no coincidence that Kam finds a note "nolite te bastardes carborundorum" because this book gives me the same rush The Handmaid's Tale did, only so much more.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2017 to finally read?

Dani: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. I thought Percy Jackson was just an HP ripoff, but guess who has egg on her face?

Jessie: Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky. Granted it was publishe donly a few years ago but it's such a unique book. Definitely stands out.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2017?

Jessie:  Two from Into the Drowning Deep:

"There were appetites to be sated, no matter how cold the water became, no matter how strange the sea turned. As long as there were bellies, they would need to be fed. As long as there was life in the sea there would be teeth."

"This was not where she belonged. This had never been where she belonged. Humanity had chosen the land over the sea millennia ago, and sometimes -- when she was letting her mind wander, when she was romanticizing what she did and how she did it -- she thought the sea still held a grudge. Breakups were never easy, and while humanity was hot and fast and had had plenty of time to get over it, the oceans were deep and slow, and for them the change had happened only yesterday, The seas did not forgive and they did not welcome their wayward children back."

 Dani: Mine is also by Seanan McGuire (who writes as Mira Grant for her horror work), though mine is from Down Among the Sticks and Bones. 

The moon worries. We may not know how we know that, but we know it all the same: that the moon watches, and the moon worries, and the moon will always love us, no matter what.

16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2017?

Dani: Shortest: Six Months, Three Days at 33 pages
Longest: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (752 pages)

Jessie: Shortest was The Ghost Line by Andrew Neil Grey and J.S. Herbison at 115 pages
Longest: Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson at 1243 pages.

17. Book That Shocked You The Most

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

Jessie: The Dragon's Legacy by Deborah A. Wolfe went down some veeery unexpected paths. I was surprised and impressed. And in desperate need of The Forbidden City sooner than ASAP.

Dani: Let's see, I was shocked Injustice was good and that The Epic Crush of Genie Lo was not and that A Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue is a fantasy and not historical fiction. But I think the biggest shock of the year was the time Fred Flintstone committed genocide.


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

Dani: I'm shipping Rose and Dimitri from Vampire Academy like whoa.

Jessie: The Tiger's Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera. "Moon chases sun, so would I chase you." I also loved the various ships in the alternate American historical fiction River of Time. Hippos and inclusive casts and capers!

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Jessie: The siblings from Robin Benway's fabulous Far From the Tree. The found family feels are just so much and uuugh I loved it. I cared so much about each of those kids and about them as a unit -- it was so well done.

Dani:When I think of unwavering friend support, I think of The Lumberjanes. What I wouldn't have gave to spend my summer with them.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2017 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

Dani: 15% of my five star reads were by Seanan Mcguire who's quietly become my favorite author. In addition to the Wayward Children series, I also loved two Toby Dayes: Late Eclipses and One Salt Sea and her Newsflesh short story compilation, Rise. 

Jessie: The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo. Darkly beautiful compilation of fairytales from within Bardugo's invented Grisha fantasy world. Three stories included in the anthology were new to me (Ayama and the Thorn Word, The Soldier Prince and the last, When Water Sang Fire, is the particular standout), and three were familiar stories happily reread (Too Clever Fox, The Witch of Duva, and Little Knife all used to be available on; all of them are also gorgeously illustrated.

Readalike to Laini Taylor's Lips Touch: Three Times.

21. Best Book You Read In 2017 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

Jessie: The only answer is the book I wouldn't have known I needed were it not for twitter and my friends: In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan. It is thanks to Christina and Meg and Gillian and Morgan that I bought and read this and I AM SO HAPPY I DID PLEASE GIVE ME A SEQUEL I NEED MORE ELLIOT AND LUKE AND SERENE.

Dani: Again, it's The Walls Around Us. Bekka talked me into it, it was available at the library and I was like, it's so not going to work but I'll try it for her...oh wait, I love this.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2017?

Dani: Rysand

Jessie: I don't seem to recall too many new additions to the list this year, outside of the reread givens (Akiva, Adolin, Gwenna, Kiaran, etc.) Serene from the just listed In Other Lands, Pyrre from Skullsworn, and the extremely polite, capable, handsome Parrish from Hidden Sea Tales series.

23. Best 2017 debut you read?

Jessie: Is there another answer besides the book that truly conquered 2017 from the moment it was released? THUG by Angie Thomas.


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


(Down Among the Sticks and Bones)

Jessie: Brian Stavely's Skullsworn. this prequel/standalone concentrates narrowly on the seething city of Dombâng, a city long-conquered and always primed for rebellion.

The world Brian Stavely has created has always felt very real and very big with parts unknown, with lots of room for further exploration. His gift for creating new worlds and cultures is readily apparent in all aspects -- even cursing has its own rhyme and reason, relevant to how the various cultures within it view hell/damning (aka in-world curses like "'Shael-spawned", etc.) One reason for reading  is that he creates fantasies that don't feel like pseudoEurope mid 1200s; they don't feel like a tired retread of something already done.

 Skullsworn and particularly Dombâng, its environs, its history and culture, and the plot centered around the city are wildly different. Staveley is an ambitious author but he's also inventive and rigorous enough that his reach doesn't exceed his grasp.

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

Jessie: Both Geekerella by Ash Poston and The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee were incredibly fun reads. I had a great time with Poston's modern nerdy Cinderella and Genie Lo is action-packed and memorable.

Dani: Slouch Witch by Helen Harper. This book is hilarious. Ivy just wants to go home to her talking cat and instead she's stuck investigating a series of missing artifacts with Winter, a hotshot witch with a stick up his butt, after a case of mistaken identity. God am I Ivy. Just let me go home to my apartment and my pizza.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2017?

Dani: This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers
Old Man's War by John Scalzi
Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
Rise by Mira Grant
Morning in the Burned House by Margaret Atwood
Beyond: The Queer Sci-Fi Fantasy Comic Anthology ed Sfe R. Monster

Jessie: "Nearly", lol. I've become so weak in my old age.

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu (when the anonymity ends)
Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson (the entire last... 100 pages?)
Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum (yes, even tho I was warned - I still was not prepared)
Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray (this book hurt me, please go read it)
The Fallen Kingdom by Elizabeth May (such a bittersweet but perfect finale for this series)
Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios (the ACT day killed me)
Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia (whooo boy Zappia continues the hit parade)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix/Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling (every time, forever)
The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord (Lords best yet - a great balance of sad and hopeful, humor and pain)

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

Jessie:  Since I'm still in a world without a sixth Kate Morton novel, the genuine closest I've found was Nicola Cornick's House of Shadows. Several stories tied together and centered on a central location with hidden connections between. I enjoyed it very much and bought another book of hers as soon as I finished.

Dani: I haven't seen much in the comic community, but I LOVED Motor Crush. It has some of the best art of the year and the sci-fi setting is beautifully realized. Plus it's hella gay, kids.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

Dani: Long Way Down. I'm broken.

Also the time I had to read KFC's romance novel.

Jessie: Jay Kristoff's Godsgrave probably came the closest to doing so. How dare. HOW DARE. I mean I know Kristoff is the same kind of author as GRRM --- no one and nothing is safe but... damn. ON MULTIPLE LEVELS.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2017?

Jessie: I still don't think that there's any other answer besides Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky. It is weird and definitely unique. So unique I'd say it conquered this premise and we don't ever need to explore it further. He won it.

Dani: Long. Way. Down. 

Are you even listening to me at this point?

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

Dani: Fuck you Hallmark and fuck your stupid cash grab attempt to break into the romance market. Love You Like Christmas is terrible and you should feel terrible.

Jessie: I was not too impressed with Godblind. It had a decent synopsis and a lot big name blurbs but it was a waste of time and paper in my opinion. It was generally overhyped with a generic world ( there's literally a place called "Cattle Lands") and a transparent, often convenient plot. There are too many POVs, mostly indistinguishable that muddy the progress. Pass.

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2017?

Jessie: I think I pretty much kept the same readership as I had in 2016. I read a fair number of blogs but there are a core few I trust to check before a purchase.

Dani: Same. I did watch a few more booktubers, but unfortunately the blogosphere seems to be dying a bit.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2017?

Dani: I'm really, truly proud of my review of The Flintstones. It's one of the most intelligent, in-depth looks I've ever taken at a book and yes, I think there's some humor in the combination of that and the bizarre book itself.

Jessie: I was a fan of my review for The Guns Above by Robyn Bennis. It's a steampunk novel set during a Napoleonic Wars-type era with a female airship captains. It's funny and full of battles and political intrigue. I think more people should read it and then wait impatiently for the sequel with me.

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

Jessie: For once I have a year in which I posted discussions! I liked all of them, actually but I had a lot of fun on the one where I reminisce about hazily-remembered favorite books from childhood that I now want to recollect and reread.

Dani: I loved the TTT: Books for my Coblogger. And in looking it over, we both read one of them!

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

Jessie: Ummm... I can't say I did too much this year. No BEA or ALA, but that should be different for the survey I will complete in 2018!

Dani: Same. It was a hard year. We did a secret santa with a small group of bloggers?

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2017?

Jessie: It's been a quiet year on here for me, with some unintended slumps but hey, I'm still around, still get to blog with the best coblogger that exists, we have sparkle deer, etc. I am just happy to still be around and active in this hobby I love. It will be 7 years in January so I think that's pretty good.

 Dani: I think it might have been seeing our dear friend Gillian's success in PitchWars. While I don't have pub dreams of my own, I was so excited to champion her and I can't wait to see where she goes from here.

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

Dani: My husband almost died.

That's...really hard to type but I would not have made it though the last three months without the girls above and Jessie most of all. Unfortunately it's really fucked up our blogging schedule, something I'm still trying to repair, and I can see in the views that we've lost reader faith. I hope we can make that up to you in the new year.

Jessie: hahah I feel like I could c/p the above answer here pretty much. But no apologies -- I blogged when I could and didn't guilt myself too much when I couldn't.

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

Dani's Most Viewed: Winter Review Wrap-Up

Most Comments: The time a washed up MG author forgot to look at which blogger wrote the post.

Jessie's Most Viewed: Ageless Discussions: Genre Phases

Most Comments: Top Ten Books to Reread in 2017

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

Jessie: I loved when Dani and I did a Top Ten Tuesday about the books we would recommend one another. It was a fun thing to do as cobloggers and see what the other thinks would be a hit.


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

Dani: We got a new local indie that's super cute!

Jessie: I am a creature of habit and thus I do not have any new discoveries to list. I still frequent the same sites and outlets and blogs. #oldperson

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

Dani: I didn't. My goal was 150 and as of 9 pm on 12/31, I am tapping out at 148. I read 18 books this month and SIX in the last 36 hours, but I'm spent and also if I don't finish typing this, I might be killed.

Also I did not publish something on the blog every week. PastDani, you were so funny.

Jessie: I originally wanted to read 280 books. I then set it at 300, and then 350. I finally ended my year at 455 books. I can say I hit this all-time high because of a friendly but tenacious race with Christina from A Reader of Fictions. Our competitive natures kept us both reaching for the next book and to stay in the race. Cheers, Christina!

I wanted to read more nonfiction as well. I wanted to read at least one a month and I exceeded it by reading 15. I think in 2018, I am going to attempt to read two nonfiction books a month.

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2017 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2018?

Dani: So many. I'm a disaster. I still haven't read Nevernight and Empire of Storms. I didn't read Strange the Dreamer or Oathbreaker. I OWN ALL OF THESE? WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?

Jessie: Oh man there's a lot, just speaking of ARCs: Furyborn, To Kill a Kingdom, Let's Talk About Love, Tess of the Road, Shadowsong,

Non ARCS: The Girl in the Tower, The Valiant, Library of Fates, etc. There are literally dozens I could and should list here.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2018 (non-debut)?

Jessie: Oh man there are a lot I am eager for. Honor Among Thieves, Smoke and Iron, Space Opera, Rejected Princesses 2 and more I know I am forgetting because my TBR is expansive and I am merely human.

Dani: OBSIDIO!!!!!

Also, From Twinkle, with Love, The Heart Forger, Toil and Trouble, White Rabbit, the last Throne of Glass

3. 2018 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

Jessie: I am so bad at tracking this... The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory! It sounds so cute and fun, I love the cover and gives me some serious The Hating Game-type vibes. And, of course, Tomi Adeyemi's Children of Blood and Bone.

Dani: DEFINITELY Children of Blood and Bone. American Panda by Gloria Chao. Gunslinger Girl (one of the best covers, omg), Sea Witch, Love, Hate, & Other Filters, Tyler Johnson Was Here. Next year looks good.

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2018?

Dani: Beneath the Sugar Sky and whatever gifts Brandon gives me. Surely he must have three or four Mistborns about done.

Jessie: As always I will continue to hope and wish and cross my fingers that this next year will finally be the year that the Winds of Winter comes home from the war. 2018, let it be so. Let it be the year -- seven years later -- that we get a new ASOIAF book.

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2018?

Jessie: get back into the swing of things and maybe post a review or two and some TTTs and WoWs. To still have fun with this hobby :)

Dani: This, but also ALA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

6. A 2018 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone (if applicable):

Dani: A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole! Oh my god you guys are going to love Ledi. A kickass girl in STEM and a secret princess yesssssssss

Jessie: Blood and Sand by C.V. Wyk! FEMALE SPARTAACUS.

2017: Best of Fantasy

Friday, December 29, 2017
YA Edition:

1. In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan

The Borderlands aren’t like anywhere else. Don’t try to smuggle a phone or any other piece of technology over the wall that marks the Border—unless you enjoy a fireworks display in your backpack. (Ballpoint pens are okay.) There are elves, harpies, and—best of all as far as Elliot is concerned—mermaids.

Elliot? Who’s Elliot? Elliot is thirteen years old. He’s smart and just a tiny bit obnoxious. Sometimes more than a tiny bit. When his class goes on a field trip and he can see a wall that no one else can see, he is given the chance to go to school in the Borderlands.

It turns out that on the other side of the wall, classes involve a lot more weaponry and fitness training and fewer mermaids than he expected. On the other hand, there’s Serene-Heart-in-the-Chaos-of-Battle, an elven warrior who is more beautiful than anyone Elliot has ever seen, and then there’s her human friend Luke: sunny, blond, and annoyingly likeable. There are lots of interesting books. There’s even the chance Elliot might be able to change the world.

2. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
3. The Fallen Kingdom by Elizabeth May (The Falconer #3)
4. Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser (Song of the Current #1)
5. Whichwood by Tahereh Mafi (Furthermore #2)
6. Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine (The Great Library #3)
7. A Daughter of No Nation by A.M. Dellamonica (Hidden Sea Tales #2)
8. Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust
9. Barefoot on the Wind by Zoe Marriott (The Moonlit Lands #2)
10. Hunted by Megan Spooner

Adult Edition:

1. Skullsworn by Brian Staveley

 Brian Staveley’s new standalone returns to the critically acclaimed Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne universe, following a priestess attempting to join the ranks of the God of Death.

Pyrre Lakatur doesn’t like the word skullsworn. It fails to capture the faith and grace, the peace and beauty of her devotion to the God of Death. She is not, to her mind, an assassin, not a murderer--she is a priestess. At least, she will be a priestess if she manages to pass her final trial.

The problem isn’t the killing. Pyrre has been killing and training to kill, studying with some of the most deadly men and women in the world, since she was eight. The problem, strangely, is love. To pass her Trial, Pyrre has ten days to kill the ten people enumerated in an ancient song, including "the one you love / who will not come again."

Pyrre is not sure she’s ever been in love. If she were a member of a different religious order, a less devoted, disciplined order, she might cheat. The Priests of Ananshael, however, don’t look kindly on cheaters. If Pyrre fails to find someone to love, or fails to kill that someone, they will give her to the god.

Pyrre’s not afraid to die, but she hates to quit, hates to fail, and so, with a month before her trial begins, she returns to the city of her birth, the place where she long ago offered an abusive father to the god and abandoned a battered brother—in the hope of finding love... and ending it on the edge of her sword.

2. Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson (The Way of Kings #3)
3. Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff (Nevernight Chronicle #2)
4. City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty (Daevabad #1)
5. The Tiger's Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera (Their Bright Ascendancy #1)
6. An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard
7. The Tethered Mage by Melissa Caruso (Swords and Fire #1)
8. Tyrant's Throne by Sebastien de Castell (Greatcoats #4)
9. The Dragon's Legacy by Deborah A. Wolfe (The Dragon's Legacy #1)
10. An Echo of Things to Come by James Islington (Licanius #2)

Best YA Novels of 2017

Thursday, December 28, 2017

1. Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray (The Diviners #3)

New York City.
Lights are bright.
Jazz is king.
Parties are wild.
And the dead are coming...

After battling a supernatural sleeping sickness that early claimed two of their own, the Diviners have had enough of lies. They're more determined than ever to uncover the mystery behind their extraordinary powers, even as they face off against an all-new terror. Out on Ward's Island, far from the city's bustle, sits a mental hospital haunted by the lost souls of people long forgotten--ghosts who have unusual and dangerous ties to the man in the stovepipe hat, also known as the King of Crows.

With terrible accounts of murder and possession flooding in from all over, and New York City on the verge of panic, the Diviners must band together and brave the sinister ghosts invading the asylum, a fight that will bring them fact-to-face with the King of Crows. But as the explosive secrets of the past come to light, loyalties and friendships will be tested, love will hang in the balance, and the Diviners will question all that they've ever known. All the while, malevolent forces gather from every corner in a battle for the very soul of a nation--a fight that could claim the Diviners themselves.

2. In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan
3. Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley
4. Speak Easy, Speak Love by McKelle George
5. Now I Rise by Kiersten White (And I Darken #2)
6. Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
7. Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
8. The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic by Leigh Bardugo
9. The Edge of the Abyss by Emily Skrutskie (The Abyss Surrounds Us #2)
10. Geekerella by Ashley Poston

Best Adult Books of 2017

Wednesday, December 27, 2017
The Top Ten Adult Books I Read in 2017:

1. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds through the decades—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

2. Into the Drowning Deep by Seanan McGuire
3. The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence by Alyssa Palombo
4. Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill
5. The Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman (Lady Helen #2)
6. House of Shadows by Nicola Cornick
7. For the Winner by Emily Hauser
8. The Violinist of Venice by Alyssa Palombo
9. Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel (Themis Files #1)
10. New Pompeii by Daniel Godfrey (Empire of Time #1)

Two Minute Backlist Review: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Monday, December 18, 2017
Title: Vampire Academy
Author: Richelle Mead
Genre: supernatural
Series: Vampire Academy #1
Pages: 335
Published: 2007
Source: purchased
Rating: 3/5

Lissa Dragomir is a Moroi princess: a mortal vampire with a rare gift for harnessing the earth's magic. She must be protected at all times from Strigoi; the fiercest vampires - the ones who never die. The powerful blend of human and vampire blood that flows through Rose Hathaway, Lissa's best friend, makes her a dhampir. Rose is dedicated to a dangerous life of protecting Lissa from the Strigoi, who are hell-bent on making Lissa one of them.

After two years of freedom, Rose and Lissa are caught and dragged back to St. Vladimir's Academy, a school for vampire royalty and their guardians-to-be, hidden in the deep forests of Montana. But inside the iron gates, life is even more fraught with danger . . . and the Strigoi are always close by.

Rose and Lissa must navigate their dangerous world, confront the temptations of forbidden love, and never once let their guard down, lest the evil undead make Lissa one of them forever . . .

This book is terrible and I was living for it. I was really into Mead's adult series, The Age of X, but since I was apparently the only one into it and the third book has been shelved indefinitely, I thought I'd give her most famous work a try. This is a pretty fun take on the vampire craze of the early Thousands. Rose is basically Blade, a half human, half vampire trained from the cradle to kill (evil) vampires. She attends St. Vladimir's Academy, a typical catty boarding school stereotype except it's full of (good) vampire royals and the dhampir guards training to protect them.

Lissa, Rose's best friend and future liege, has a secret that's created a bond between the girls that hasn't been seen since the bible. The vast majority of the book is them navigating high school cliches and "forbidden love" (which in this case means Lissa's in love with someone from a lower social status and Rose is in love with her twenty-four year old fighting instructor). There's a kidnapping and one pretty badass fight between Rose and a bad vamp, but for the most part it's a relatively standard YA that happens to feature vampires.

This review is of the 10 year anniversary edition which also featured four short stories: The Turn and the Flame, which looks at Christian's back story (it was fine), From the Journal of Vasilisa Dragomir, Lissa's journal from the times immediately prior to this book (also just fine), The Meeting, an utterly pointless retelling of the first chapter from Dimitri's point of view, AND Hello My Name is Rose Hathaway, a five star short story that is so much fun. The dhampir have a scavenger hunt on Halloween that sees Rose and stick-in-the-mud Dimitri flirting like SO MUCH. I was on the fence about the ship until this one.

Review: Immortal Souls ed Joamette Gil

Title: Immortal Souls
Editor: Joamette Gil
Genre: graphic novel, paranormal
Series: N/A
Pages: 120
Published: November 30, 2017
Source: Purchased
Rating: 3/5
A comics anthology about queer witches for teens and adults ages 14-and-up. The book is over 110 pages long, black and white, and contains 10 original stories by women and non-binary creators of color. In this special installment of the POWER & MAGIC SERIES, queer witches of color delve into the darker sides of magic: astral planes, necromancy, visions of death, and communion with the spirits of our world... and the beyond.

This book is the immediate follow-up to POWER & MAGIC: The Queer Witch Comics Anthology, an award-winning collection of fantasy stories exalting the witch as an archetype of feminine power. With IMMORTAL SOULS, we are cementing a series tradition: stories told by women and non-binary creators of color, all starring queer witches of color.

Magical Girl Crisis by Patadag - ***

Very cute little story about a witch fighting against her natural necromancy powers because she’d rather be a cute, lolita magical girl. Unfortunately at six pages, way too short for any real development. We don’t even get a good shot of her final, gothic lolita outfit.

Heirloom by ClaraEm - *

The art is not for me. The characters are very simplistic and there are a lot of perspective choices that I don’t think work, especially in the initial argument and the ghost section. I found the plot flat and straightforward, without any resolution.

Mahk Jchi by Sunny Ochumuk - ****

Very, very pretty art.

At her first meet up of other native women, our main character initially wants to be known as Catherine, but as the day goes, Waanutam discovers parts of her heritage, including her cousin’s dancing which summons beautiful spirits. Rather than end with a romance, which is where I assumed we were going, she embraces her cousin and asks to learn to dance too. A sweet, short look at a culture I never see in graphic novels, I liked this a lot.

Mu by Yeon Kyung Cha - ***

One of my favorite plots, a female shaman who can speak to the dead sets out to seduce and kill men who abused and killed the girls she speaks to. Unfortunately, I felt almost like this was issue two of a book I hadn’t read the first part of. Mu clearly had some link to Ji-Hye and Ji-Hoon but I never understood what it was or why the ghost (Ji-Hye?) stayed.

Art wise, this one starts out super detailed and beautiful, but by the last few pages we’re mostly looking at gray boxes in place of background details. I’m not sure if this was an intentional stylistic choice or not, but it makes the story feel rushed and unfinished.

Admonitions by Amber Huff - ***

The differences in art in the real and spirit realms set this story apart. It’s also the first one that’s felt like it really lived up to the “darker side of magic” theme of the anthology. Again though, I wish this was longer. There’s backstory I’m missing, world building that’s not fully coming through in fourteen pages.

An Unexpected Specter by Francis Quintero - ***********

Cutest thing I’ve ever seen. I need a six season animated series and a movie.

The Woman who Waits by Lira Kraunik and Kyka ****

Really beautiful and haunting with an unexpected twist ending.

Hungry by Joamette Gil - ***1/2

Last line is a real gut punch. Not crazy about this art, it reminds me of like 2002 webcomics.

Requium by Ayanni C Hanna and Melani Tingdahl - ***

Another I wish was a hair longer. A pair of nurses in an unnamed war torn country tend to survivors, until soldiers show up and start shooting. This one does not have a happy end which I don’t knock it for, but I don’t know. The lack of acceptance and abrupt end hurt.

Bon Voyage My Chains
by Sonia Liao - ****

Absolutely the best drawn comic in the book. CW reads: non binary person faces mortal peril. That’s one way to describe an enby character’s father trying to stab them, sure. Probably needs a stronger warning. The length on this one is right, it’s got good world building, a cute romance, and even a last minute beta romance that made me laugh.

Review: My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

Friday, December 15, 2017
Title: My Best Friend's Exorcism
Author: Grady Hendrix
Genre: horror
Series: N/A
Pages: 336
Published: May 17, 2016
Source: borrowed library
Rating: 2/5
Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since fifth grade, when they bonded over a shared love of E.T., roller-skating parties, and scratch-and-sniff stickers. But when they arrive at high school, things change. Gretchen begins to act . . . different. And as the strange coincidences and bizarre behavior start to pile up, Abby realizes there’s only one possible explanation: Gretchen, her favorite person in the world, has a demon living inside her. And Abby is not about to let anyone or anything come between her and her best friend. With help from some unlikely allies, Abby embarks on a quest to save Gretchen. But is their friendship powerful enough to beat the devil? 

In the words of the immortal Ron Swanson, never half-ass two things. Whole ass one thing. My Best Friend's Exorcism wants to be a satire of the 80s satanic panic, while also being a horror title and a coming of age story. The notes aren't cohesive, it's synth pop out of key.

One of the things that made the first season of American Horror Story so effective was it's dual take on horror. It was both about a haunted house and an exploration of what scares the kind of suburban white people the show starred. It was about the fear of gay people and teenage abortions and having a disabled child. These are the same notes MBFE is trying to hit, telling dual stories of a teenage girl possessed by Andras while also confronting fears from urban legends: tapeworms in diet pills, needles in Halloween candy, and your kids licking LSD laced stickers. Ryan Murphy's show was a masterwork and shot him into the tv stratosphere. Grady's book...

Do you know the story of the ET landfill?

At one point, Abby's priest tells her that possession stories are just parables to explain how people change, mostly children growing up (or rape victims pulling in on themselves). So that's another story the book tries to tell. The book actually starts years before the possession, with Abby's ET themed skate party and the story of how she and Gretchen bonded when every other child goes to Margaret's house to ride horses. As the story continues on and Gretchen starts to change, there's a question if it actually is demon possession or just puberty. She breaks out, she changes her clothes, she hangs out with other friends. Of course she also vomits up owl feathers, soooo, it's not a big question.

The horror elements are few and far between. The demon contents himself with petty high school things: getting the quarterback drunk, forging love notes. He ruins lives, yes, but there's nothing paranormal about it. The newspaper clippings talk about dead fish and hoards of owls taking off with house pets, but nothing supernatural actually happens on page between the flock of dead birds right after the possession and the swarm of bugs during the exorcism. The tapeworm scene is shocking and gross and probably the only scene I would classify as "horror".

I feel like there are a lot of plot holes in the story itself. The actual demonic possession isn't well explained and I'm left confused if it actually happened the night in the woods or before. Gretchen has a boyfriend from camp but it's revealed that [highlight for spoiler] his phone number is actually a direct line to Gretchen's...soul? consciousness? post Andras taking over her body. Abby looks the boyfriend's actual number up and calls him in her investigation of the possession and he reveals that he's never spoken to Gretchen. So who was Gretchen calling before the possession? There's also something weird about a phone line in the woods near the site of the supposed satanic rituals. It's mentioned several times and I guess it's related to the spoiler I've mentioned, but I never understood how or why.

In all, this didn't work for me. It wasn't funny enough to be parody, smart enough to be satire, or scary enough to be horror. The best part is the spotify playlist of 80s jams.

CW: Eating disorder (including counting food), on page pet murder

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