Best Books · favorites · Uncategorized

Best of 2016!

2016 wasn’t an amazing reading year but no matter what kind of reading year it is, a few will always emerge as my favorites. Eve @ Eve Messenger’s Otherworldly Endeavors kindly tagged me in a “Best of 2016” tag and I’m going to try and incorporate it into my favorites!

So here are some of the best that will not be mentioned in my favorites.

Books so Fun They Felt Like Reading Parties

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The main character reminds me of the bitch from Cats Don’t Dance both physically and personality wise. This graphic novel also reminds me a lot of Wreck it Ralph but for adults.

 

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omg she was so evil..
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Excerpt (my picture)
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There’s a princess, dragons, a prince, political scheming and old-school fantasy characters. Young Carolyn would have been ecstatic. Present Carolyn was still pretty ecstatic

 

 

Best Female Protagonist

Is it weird to say that my favorite is Wonder Woman? I found and fell in love with her this year. She stands for everything I have come to love in my changing life: wonder and courage but also the utmost compassion.

Best Book Boyfriend

Gilbert from Anne of Green Gables. I just think he is funny but also very honorable and loyal. I love him.

Best Cover

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Look how gorgeous this Puffin edition is?? I borrowed it from library just so I can take pictures of it. Oh and read it.
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How exquisite.

Favorite Audiobook

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I kind of love her voice and her sarcasm “voice” is so similar to mine.

The #1 Book No One Else Seems to Like But Me

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Plenty of people like this book I know but just as many people don’t like it. 

I’m also adding categories:

Best Play

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An unexpected look at the different ways people deal with grief. 

Best Graphic Novels

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I’ve read so many WW comics this year and I don’t understand why this character is so hard to write about. But thankfully this one did not disappoint.
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I like the idea of your future self meeting your younger self which is exactly what I got in this sequel. Also a ton of action and a stellar ending.

Now on to my favorites of 2016!! I’ve only included 8 this year and there was never any doubt that they would end up on this list. Banners will all link to my review =)

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Best Small Press Standalone

Author: Silvia Moreno Garcia

I find it funny how glad I am to leave my high school days behind but somehow want to read about characters that are finding themselves in high school settings. Maybe it’s the accuracy and grace with which Garcia portrays teens with a not-so-great home life navigating high school. But I think more than anything, I love coming-of-age stories that illustrate friendship in all its frustrations but ultimately its glories. A stand out story that features magical realism and the weaving of folklore and music.

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Author: Shaun David Hutchinson

I just loved my coming-of-age this year. Like Signal to Noise, it’s not a straight up contemporary but includes hints of science fiction that blend together so nicely with its more realistic aspects. This book is standout among its type because it gives layers to all of its characters, the bully is not just the bully because there needs to be a bully in a YA contemporary and the brother doesn’t exist just to be an asshole, even if you don’t like them, you can sometimes glimpse an understanding of them. It is pessimistic but inspiring all at once and so genuinely written, it will be hard not to love.

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Best Plot Twist

Author: Marisha Pessl

Night Film was so deliciously creepy and eerie. I loved the mystery, the suspense and that plot twist at the end was so mind boggling. And to top it all off, it gives such a unique reading experience with its addition of articles and blogs and photos interspersed throughout.

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Best Worldbuilding

Best Setting

Author: Becky Chambers

Whenever I think about this book, I think about how wondrous this world really is (as cheesy as that sounds). It’s also one of those books where you just sit in awe at how they could create a world like this, a world so teeming with possibility and comfort you kind fo wish it was real. Becky Chambers just turns your expectations of gender, orientation, culture, and identity upside down in the most unexpected and wonderful ways possible. It sort of harkens back to what Star Trek use to be, a low-stakes (for the most part) heartwarming scifi opera.

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Author: Jung Yun

As Shelter progressed, it grew a lot more intense that I expected. There’s that sense of claustrophobia and ominous foreboding. The main character is also deeply flawed as main characters go but what it does best is explore the intersection of family fidelity and individualism that a lot of Asian cultures face and explores the extent of human endurance.

It’s down to my last three!! Let’s go…

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Best Sequel

Author: Libba Bray

Libba Bray’s writing is so, so underrated. It takes a couple of years between her books but you know that each second of her writing time is dedicated to details of making 1920’s New York seem as real as possible. I also really respect the diversity of her characters and that she doesn’t blame the historical period for not including people from other walks of life.

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Favorite Series

Author: Marie Rutkoski

This is the third book in The Winner’s Trilogy and while I loved her writing in the previous two books, this third book just showcases how exquisite her writing is. It just hits all the sentimentality and the dramatic that I love in writing. The plot was even more intense than ever and it was almost the perfect conclusion I wanted from this series. Kestrel will always remain one of my favorite female characters of all time. I will be rereading this series for many years to come.

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Most Devastating Read

Author: Bryan Stevenson

I always save my favorite book for something that worms its way into my heart and opens it in unexpected ways. Last year, it was A Little Life and this year, it’s no less emotional in Just Mercy. This book talks about those who have always been sidelined and talks about them with such compassion. This book broke my heart and really forced me to think about the laws that I have always  stood by and turned them upside down.

Those are my favorite books of 2016! I’m accompanied with that same sense of sadness and hope that follows me at the end of every year. Let me know what you think of my choices. I want to thank you all for reading my blog this year. I have so many plans for this blog for next year and I hope you’ll be there with me. I hope you’re having a wonderful New Year’s Eve and I will see you next year in 2017 😉

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Tags · Uncategorized

Fall Activities Book Tag

It’s finally feeling like fall here in SoCal, probably because it’s been raining..but I decided to do the fall book tag to get into the fall spirit. I was tagged by Ashley @Dreamingthroughliterature so thank you! Definitely check out her blog; I always get awesome graphic novel recommendations from her.

Apple Picking: A book on yImage result for the stories of ibisour TBR that looks so delicious you can’t wait to take a bite out of it.

I recently bought The Stories of Ibis by Hiroshi Yamamoto which is a Japanese scifi book that takes place way in the future where androids have taken over humanity and our main character is a storyteller that spreads stories about how humanity came to this end. It sounds soo freaking good and I’ve seriously been slacking on scifi this year so this book sounds perfect right now.

Corn MazeImage result for a torch against the night: A book that’s so much fun to get lost in.

I recently read and finished A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir. I had my problems with it (surprise, surprise) but I think Tahir did a good job with maintaining the suspense and the action-packed plot. She’s definitely not afraid to cut a few fingers or break a few..bones. I was definitely there for the plot and that made it really easy to get into.

Haunted HImage result for night filmouses: A book that scared you silly.

I’ve decided that straight up horror books are just not for me although horror movies are (it’s weird). So I wouldn’t say Night Film by Marisha Pessl scared me persay but it did give me the chills and it was really suspenseful and darkly atmospheric which kept me on the edge of my seat.

 

Pumpkin Patchsteam: The latest book you picked up (purchased).

The Steampunk Bible by Jeff Vandermeer is a gorgeous coffee table book that I borrowed from my library detailing the history of Steampunk and steampunk literature. It’s a great reference guide for writers. Lately I’ve been really wanting to read how-to guides for writing or reference books (what a nerd) because it just makes me a better, analytical reader. So now you can read more of my book reviews where I pretend to know what I’m talking about. Hoorah!

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Excerpt

And speaking of pumpkin patches, I went to one. I’m doing a Fall activities tag so I thought it fitting that I include a picture of me actually doing a fall activity :3

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I might be smiling but I was internally dying from the heat..

Scenic DrivImage result for kitchen banana yoshimotoes: A book that is lyrically beautiful.

I actually refuse to say any prose is more gorgeous and ephemeral than The Night Circus’s but I feel like I always include that book in the previous tags I’ve done so I’m gonna go with Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto. It’s more of a quiet beautiful like a the sky after it rains type of beautiful.

 

Pumpkin Carving: A book you didn’t like and wouldn’t mind carving up.Image result for wolf by wolf ryan graudin

I’m gonna cheat and say Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin even though I’ve only read like 30 pages of it and have since DNF’ed it. I’ve noticed this trend in YA writing and it’s when the author writes something really dramatic in one line and then inserts one line under that to emphasize how dramatic the previous sentence was. It annoys me to no end mostly because I feel like it’s grabbing a pan and banging me over the head with how oh so dramatic it is when it’s..not.

The world was not just moving. It was alive.
And it was ready to fight.

Hiking: A book that was a highly enjoyable romp.Image result for cleopatra in space

Romp reminds me of adventure so I’m going to go with Cleopatra in space by Mike Maihack. It’s about a girl named Cleopatra (what did you expect?) who finds a tablet that transports her to the far future and there she goes to school in space and has a mission to defeat an evil ruler. It’s so much middle grade fun and it made me smile like an idiot. It’s not just an adventurous romp though. It has a lot of heart and the fluid artwork that helps you appreciate the world.

Drinking Apple Cider: A sweet book to curl up under the covers with.

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I’m gonna go with Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan because it’s just so cute and it’s about two teens falling in love during the holiday season. I was reminded of this because the sequel is actually coming out (after like what 500 years? I didn’t even though there was going to be a sequel) and it’s called The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily. I’m so excited. I definitely need more rom-coms to read that are set during Christmas…

Jumping inImage result for the queen of attolia a Leaf Pile: A book that reminds you of your childhood.

I’m currently working my way through The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner which is a YA fantasy written in the 90’s or is it early 2000’s? It reminds me of the days I went to the library and looked on the shelves for cool-looking fantasy covers and read a lot of traditional fantasy books with sword fighting and old-fashioned political intrigue like Tamora Pierce’s books.

Scary Movie Night: Your favorite spooky read.Image result for harrow countyImage result for the bloody chamber angela carter

I’ve mentioned Psycho and Nailbiter before but again I don’t think I’m into horror books anymore so I’m choosing The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter. It’s vividly dark and follows the Gothic tradition of atmosphere. These stories are also subversive and more gory retellings of fairytales so it was pretty creepy and definitely good for October. I do have a horror graphic novel on my TBR that would have fit this category that I really want to get to called Harrow County which is described as a “southern Gothic fairytale” about a witch. Sounds awesome.

Image result for crooked kingdomBonus! Costume Party: A book with an eclectic cast of characters.

I haven’t read about a more lovable cast of characters than the ones in Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo for a while. I adore these delinquents and thieves and gang members as though they were my own friends. If you haven’t checked out this duology, do it; it’s one of the better YA fantasies. I just found out yesterday that Bardugo is writing a new book called Ninth House which features a New Adult protagonist who gets involved with the occult. Uhmmm, sign me up pleaseee.

I hope you enjoyed this tag. I know I haven’t done one in forever but this one was so fun to do. Let me know what your answers would be or if you’ve read any of these books. Feel free to do this tag if you so wish. I’m, once again, too lazy to tag anyone. I’m not finished with the fall/Halloween spirit yet because my next post will be some mini reviews on Halloween/horror movies I’ve been watching lately so stay tuned for that =)

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book review · Uncategorized

Book Review: Night Film by Marisha Pessl

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Author: Marisha Pessl

Genre: Mystery, Literary, Thriller

Pages: 640

Synopsis: Goodreads

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*The following transcript is of an exclusive interview with Scott McGrath.

*It is an interview made up by Carolyn and is not real.

Hello everyone, today I am here with my assistant interviewer, Bob and of course the infamous reporter himself Scott McGrath. That’s right, THE reporter, the reporter that figured out the murder (suicide?) of Ashley Cordova, daughter of the very famous, but very elusive horror film director, Stanislas Cordova. His impressive investigative reporting is chronicled in Pessl’s Night Film. I’m here with him today to discuss the case in detail like never seen before.

Interviewer 1: So, let’s start off this interview with why you wanted to pursue this case when Cordova had already shot down your reporting career previously after you slandered him on TV for having allegedly done horrific things to children. That’s a big statement.

McGrath: Well, obviously, the book starts out a few years after that incident and I just couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t right with Ashley’s death. Call me reckless but there must have been a reason why she supposedly commited suicide and why is her father, this horror film director hiding out in his mansion? Why is he so elusive? The last known interview he had done was way back in 1977 and as a reporter of some of the biggest mysteries, I just couldn’t let it go.

Bob: That’s very interesting [taps his pen on the paper], so how did you escape from that mental institution? Can you teach me how to do that, you know, for future reference?

McGrath: The most I’ll say is just read the book. That’s all the info I’m offering.

Interviewer 1: ANYWAYS, let’s talk about the book in general. How did you feel Pessl portrayed your investigation? Accurate?

McGrath: I think she did an amazing job for the most part. She was very attentive to the eerie atmosphere that pervaded this investigation and I think she really kept you guessing until the very end. I’m glad that she didn’t sacrifice delving into my own personality and the people that helped me with this case just for the sake of the plot. And in that sense, I think the book reminds me a lot of Stephen King’s books with a splash of Gillian Flynn.

Bob: So did you really kiss-

Interviewer 1 [glares at Bob]: Did you think you would ever end up working with the supernatural of all things. I know your investigation took a very cult-ish route complete with exorcisms and the like.

McGrath: Well, I was definitely scared of bringing my daughter into this but I think it allowed me to expand my thinking, that there could be other explanations. My thinking is very grounded in reality.

Me: Does this investigation cause you to believe in other types of reality?

McGrath: I think it opens me up the possibility. But you know maybe the supernatural is just a way of masking reality.

Bob: So you’re saying you didn’t really do the investigation so you masked reality?

McGrath: ..I never said that.

Interviewer 1: Please excuse Bob, he’s new to this. [Proceeds to subtly stomp on Bob’s foot] I gotta say I love the blog articles and interesting factoids in the book. It really lets me see into the investigation.

McGrath: Right and I think it just added a level of mystery and creepiness to the story

Interviewer 1: I have personally read the book and I am still very intrigued by that ending. I know you wanted to leave it ambiguous on purpose but can you shed more light on it. Perhaps, a hint or two?

Bob: Yeah I read it too and I didn’t really like it. You’re just talking to people and they just spill their guts out. If Cordova is so elusive, how come so many people are willing to spill the beans about him??

McGrath: Well for the first time, you bring up a good point Bob, and honestly I don’t know. [To interviewer 1] And I think  everyone’s been asking me that and I’m still not going to tell. All I gotta say for readers is that nothing is as it seems and to keep an open mind.

Interviewer 1: Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview with us. It’s much appreciated.

Bob: Wait, I have one more question!! I wanted to ask if he could get me a tour of the weird mansion he broke into??? And what about the blood he found on the–???

Interviewer 1: CUT THE INTERVIEW NOW [murmurs] I’m going to fire Bob.

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Uncategorized · wrap up

March 2016 Wrap Up

Happy Sunday all! I’m finally here with my March wrap up. At this rate, my April wrap up will be up in June or something. Time moves so fast; I get to the end of the month and then I realize I haven’t done a wrap up yet..But anyways, here are all the books I read in March.

So the first thing I read this month was..

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4/5

Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo Mini review here along with other nonfiction books

Calamity by Brandon Sanderson-I think it’s actually forbidden to give a Brandon Sanderson book anything less than a 3 stars. It’s like a rule of the BS Fight Club..if he had

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2/5

one. But this book was soooo weak. David’s humor that was endearing before just turned too campy and awkward in this one. I did not give one shit about the secondary characters who are all just caricatures and not in an I-can-excuse-it type way either. It tries way too hard to subvert espionage comedy tropes and ends up succumbing to this tropes. And lastly, why does everything in a Brandon Sanderson book have to have an otherworldly explanation, like some fiery ball in the sky created the world?? The ending was so bad; it’s like Sanderson wanted to add an interesting plot twist but it ends up falling flat because it was out of no where and actually pulls back the whole message of the series. Ugh. So disappointed.

Night Film by Marisha Pessl-On the other end of the

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3.75/5

spectrum, I really liked Night Film. I’m not a murder mystery fan at all but this one was an exception. This book is known for its pictures of articles, blog entries and case files interspersed throughout which I think is brilliant considering this is a murder mystery. Pessl does an amazing job of building up the mystery surrounding the victim, Ashley Cordova and her mysterious, reclusive father, and she kept the dark and eerie atmosphere all the way throughout the book. Full review coming soon

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Excerpt from Night Film

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler-I want Anne Tyler to write my family saga because

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3.5/5

she is so talented at writing family dynamics and interactions. With only one subtle conversation (a page and a half) between the husband (Red) and wife (Abby), I could already tell about their relationship to one another, their beliefs and values, their quirks and irritations all the while reminding me of my aunt, my mom, my dad, and my uncle all wrapped into one humorous conversation. How do you that???! She follows 3 generations of the Whitshanks including Red’s parents, Red and Abby’s teenage years and the present where their children must deal with their parents growing old and things like that. And unlike a lot of literary family sagas I’ve read, this one was so humorous and charming and not very dense.  I feel like she could have explored more with this family but whatever..

The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury- I may read a variety of

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4/5

books but YA fantasy with a touch of romance will always have a special place in my heart although  I admit there’s been kind of a drought with YA fantasy I want to read lately. I’ll leave my Goodreads rant about this book:

Here’s the deal:

I’m not gonna lie; this book was predictable af. In terms of the romance and plot at least and I honestly think this book is first and foremost, a romance.

Characters: Our heroine, Zahra, is omigosh, a blushing heroine and of course, of course, our hero has been with all the girls before he met our heroine and of course, she is the only one for him.

It’s one of those books where the main characters are infiltrating a castle and there’s angst, angst, angst, oh wait I got this one little piece of information that’s important to the plot, angst, oh, um let’s have the main bad guy almost sexually assault the heroine and then have the hero swoop in and save her (cause you know, you HAVE to have that scene), angst, angst, another piece of information!, angst, a dance scene!, angst, Oh wait, there’s not enough pages left, let’s solve the problem in the most convenient manner possible, confessions of undying love, climax, happily ever after, end of book.

This book is marketed as a forbidden romance but to be honest, I don’t really see the forbidden part of it? Like the only reason I can think of is that it’s because Zahra is a jinn and Aladdin is a human..I never, once, thought that was ever an issue because it’s kind of obvious Zahra is not going to be a jinn by the end of the book so she can be with Aladdin and that kind of makes all their angst kind of irrelevant.
But, I mean, whatever, this book was so engaging and fun and the worldbuilding was really impressive for a standalone fantasy. The writing is very lush and magical. Hence, the four stars. Such a captivating read.

Graphic Novels

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3/5

Fables Vol. 1 by Bill Willingham– I read this volume after playing the game inspired from it. I enjoyed both and I have a full review of both here. It’s for those who want a little grit and less magic to their fairy tale retellings.

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4/5

Captain Marvel Vol. 1 by Kelly Sue Deconnick– Omigosh Girl Crush Alert. Captain Marvel is one awesome, funny superhero with a cat and her story in this volume was so epic and more space opera-y than I expected which is a bonus. I love the artwork as well. It just keeps you on your toes with its depiction of movement and fast action.

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3/5

Gotham Academy Vol. 1 by  Becky Cloonan, Brendan Fletcher-Gotham Academy is shooo cute..It’s about a bunch of kids who attend Gotham Academy and it’s very Harry Potteresque what with the magic school and the episodic plot. The plot is kind of random most of the time and the it’s confusing for half of it because the author withholds way too much information about Olive’s past (or maybe I wasn’t paying attention?). The artwork for the characters is very reminiscient of manga art so if you like that type of art, this one’s for you.

Short Story

Midnight Hour by Mary Robinette Kowal- A king is only lucid at night and insane for the rest of the time. And his wife, the queen, is nameless. There is also a curse. How are these connected? Read the story here to find out. Solid writing and a very interesting premise.

Let me know if you’ve enjoyed any of these books or if you have any of these on your TBR! =) Also, I’m really in a suspense thriller mood so if you’ve read any good ones, I would love any suggestions! ALSO, should I read Lady Midnight??? I think I’m kind of over Cassandra Clare’s books but I mean I have read all her books?? I was kinda meh about the first Shadowhunter series. But I enjoyed The Infernal Devices (although they’re not really favorites of mine) especially Clockwork Prince.

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