Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2018

can't wait books 2018

What books can you not wait to read in 2018?  I have lots of course but here are 10 that I really Really can’t wait to read next year.

  1. War Storm by Victoria Aveyard. (May 15, 2018) The final book in her Red Queen Series.  Will Mare and the Scarlet Guard be able take down the Silvers.  Will Maven get overthrown?  Will Cal stop being a dumbass?
  2. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. (March 6, 2018) This sounds so amazing! I can’t wait to read it.  Zelie comes from a long line of maji but the new crown prince wants to banish magic from the kingdom.  Zelie has one chance to save magic and her people.
  3. Restore Me by Tahereh Mafi (March 6, 2018) It’s been 4 years since the end of the Shatter Me trilogy ended or so we thought.  Restore Me is going to pick up at the end of Ignite Me. Juliette is the Supreme Commander and Warner is on her side but now that she has the world at her finger tips, what’s next?
  4. Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir. (May 22, 2018) It’s been two years since A Torch Against the Night came out and I’ve been eagerly waiting this one. Laia, Elias and Helene are all in perilously situation.  I MUST KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT!
  5. Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson. (January 16, 2018) I’ll admit I was hoping it would be the next book in the Shades of London series but I’m just so glad that Maureen has a book coming out.  I do love a good mystery and good ghost story too.
  6. The Cruel Prince by Holly Black. (January 2, 2018) So happy that Holly is back with a new series about fairies because no one does fairies like Holly Black.
  7. A Case for Jamie by Brittany Cavallaro. (March 6, 2018) The final book in the Charlotte Holmes trilogy can’t come soon enough.  In true Holmes form, Charlotte has really sabotage herself and Watson can’t forgive her.  They try to move on with their lives but someone wants them back together and well I want them back together too.
  8. Dread Nation by Justine Ireland. (April 3, 2018) The American Civil War is interrupted when the Dead of the battlefields come back to life. Jane is in combat school to learn how to take down the dead and with this comes opportunity but Jane wants more. Soon she is wrapped up in a conspiracies and plots that the dead are the least of her worries.
  9. Untitled Sequel to Renegades by Marissa Meyer. (November 6, 2018) Renegades was such a great book and can’t wait to read what’s next.  Nova has successfully infiltrated the Renegades and her old friends are no longer around to blow her cover.  Will she betray her new friends or cement herself as a villain.
  10. The Fates Divide by Veronica Roth. (April 10, 2018) Carve the Mark may have been problematic but it was still good.  I’m curious how things will turn out for Cyra and Akos. Will they be able to escape their destinies or are they running right into them?
  11. The Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor. (No set date) I’m not sure this is coming out in 2018 but I really hope so.  Strange the Dreamer was so beautiful I can’t wait to find out what happens next, especially after what happened at the end.
  12. Throne of Glass #7 by Sarah J. Maas. (September 4, 2018) The final book in the Throne of Glass series and it’s been quite a ride for Aelin and friends.  Who knows how it will all end.  Well I guess Sarah J. Maas does but for everyone else it’s anyone’s guess.
  13. Untitled (WarCross #2) by Marie Lu. (No set date) Another one I’m not sure if it’s coming out in 2018 but I’m pretty sure. I was riveted by the first book and I’m looking forward to meeting the “hacker” and all the potential he is inevitably going to cause.
  14. Heart of Venom by Sherrilyn Kenyon. (2018) It also doesn’t have a set date besides 2018.  It’s either the first in the Shadows of Fire series or #9 in the Chronicles of Nick series.  However you want to look at it, it’s a switch in tone and focus for Kenyon’s Dark-Hunters.  With a duel narrators of the Cyprian Malachai (Nick’s Son) and the Ambrose Malachai (Nick Himself) we find out if Nick truly does embrace his destiny or if the sacrifices he made at the end of Intensity was enough to forge his own path.
  15. Immortal Reign by Morgan Rhodes. (February 6, 2018) The final book in the closest YA book to Game of Thrones with it’s epic scope, world building and body count was originally scheduled to come out this month but was pushed back.  I’m sure the extra two months will be worth the wait.
  16. Aru Shah and the End of Times by Roshani Chokshi. (April 3, 2018) The first book to be published under Rick Riordan’s new imprint highlighting stories from authors and characters from around the world.  Aru Shah takes on Hindu legends to save her mother and classmates.
  17. Untitled by Maureen Johnson. (No set date) The Shadow Cabinet, the last book released in the Shades of London series had me on the edge of my feet and it’s been so long since it came out.  I’m not sure that the next book is coming out in 2018 but Maureen has mentioned on twitter that she has two books coming out in 2018 so it’s a safe bet. *crosses fingers*
  18. Untitled by Kendare Blake. (September 4, 2018)  I didn’t know that the Three Dark Crowns was originally planned to be a duology. I’m glad that Kendare Blake and her publisher decided to extend it because there are so many things about this world and these character left to be explored.
  19. Untitled by Traci Chee (2018) The final book in the Sea of Ink and Gold Series.  Sefia and Archer continue to fight what is written and defeat their destiny while also staying ahead of their enemies.
  20. The Smoke Thieves by Sally Green (May 1, 2018) I’m interested in this one since this in the first book that Sally Green has published since she ended her Half Bad trilogy two years ago.  Half Lost left me broken and in tears. I’m not sure if I’m ready for that again but I can’t wait to see what Sally does next.
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My Top 10 Books of 2017

top 10 books

According to GoodReads.com I read 20,948 pages from 57 books. So you can imagine how hard it was to narrow down to only 10 for the best books I’ve read this year.  There were so many good ones!  I think I ultimately went with these 10 was because while I may have liked some of the other books more or given other’s better reviews or more stars, these 10 books stuck with me longer after finishing reading them.  I would like to think that our Diverse Lives, Diverse Stacks: Diverse Narrators reading challenge is working for me because half of the books were written by Women of Color and they contain protagonists from very diverse backgrounds.  That’s exciting to me but enough of this, let’s get on to the list.

  1. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas– This book was as heartbreaking as it was realistic.  Starr is caught between two worlds but doesn’t really how different they are or how truly different she acts to accommodate both parts of her life until her friend is killed by a police officer during a routine traffic stop and she is the only witness.  This really should be a must read in all schools for generations to come and I’m excited that it will also be a movie coming out next year.
  2. Pyromantic by Lish McBride– It’s funny, it’s sarcastic, it’s action packed but mostly it is just plain fun.  I really hope that Lish returns to these characters because there is just so much weirdness she can do with them.
  3. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor-This is such a lush story with great imagery and original concept.  There really isn’t another novel out there right now.  The ending was such a surprise that I have no idea what to expect in the sequel.
  4. The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon-Just like The Hate U Give, this is another heartbreaking but all too realistic look at today’s youth.  To strangers, meet and share a life changing day as Natasha fights to stop her family from being deported and Daniel fights the expectations of being a child of immigrants.
  5. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin-How do you describe this book?  It  has so much going on and it’s not certain how they all interweave but you know they must somehow.  It’s truly a powerful book it’s no wonder it’s won so many awards.
  6. Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray-The third book in The Diviners series takes place in the 1920’s but with it’s themes of race, gender equality and science it’s more relevant than you would think.  Evie, Sam, Memphis, Jericho, Theta, Ling Henry and Isiah have to overcome the coming darkness but also the social limits society places on those in the minority.
  7. All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater-People come from far and wide to seek miracles from the Saints of Bicho Raro but even saints themselves need miracles and sometimes those miracles can’t be achieved on their own, sometimes they need a little help from others. That’s the lesson from this one, it’s great to self sufficient but don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
  8. The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan-A great ending to a great trilogy and the power of how diversity makes us stronger.
  9. Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake-It’s dark and mysterious but also cool to read of world where women rule and men play supportive roles.  That women are just as complicated and conflicted and are able to be both and still show strength and vulnerability.  Here we get three young women who all of those things and more.
  10. WarCross by Marie Lu-This was fun and exciting thrill of a book.  Full of mystery and kind of a spy novel in a way.  Emika a down on her luck, hacker/bounty hunter gets a chance to play in the biggest game ever in hopes of finding another hacker trying to sabotage the game.  It’s full of twists and turns that will keep you guessing.

So these are my favorite books of 2017.  What are yours?

Series We Said Goodbye To in 2017

goodbye 2017

It was a great year for books and some of my favorite series ended this year.  I’m looking back at some of the series I loved that gave us their last chapters in 2017.

  1. Prisoner’s of Peace Duology by Erin Bow -This was an unexpected ending as I didn’t know it was even in the works before I bought it.  The Swan Riders, the follow up to the Scorpio Rules was quite a ride. Greta forged her own path to save her people but not everyone was ready to let her go.
  2. Firebug Duology by Lish McBrideLish McBride has left it open for a return to this series but for now Pyromantic is the last book of the Duology.  I do hope we get more adventures with Ava, Lock and Ezra because these books have been nothing but delightful
  3.  To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before Series by Jenny Han – I thought this series was over before and while I enjoyed it I’m not sure if Forever and Always, Lara Jean was truly necessary because I felt Lara Jean ended up in the same place she was before.  I will make allowance that her decided to go to school out of state was a big growth for her.
  4. Reawakened Trilogy by Colleen Houck – This one I’m glad ended because I’m not sure I would kept up with it for another book.  I just never really connected with the characters I did with her last series, The Tiger’s Saga.  I am very happy that she will be going to back to her Tiger’s in 2018.
  5. Chronicles of Nick Series by Sherrilyn Kenyon – Technically, Nick Gautier’s story will continue in a new series but the narrative that is Chronicles of Nick is at an end.  I can’t tell you how much I love Nick and I’m not ready to let him go.
  6. Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard Trilogy by Rick Riordan – This was a groundbreaking series in a lot of ways.  Positive representation of Muslims, Queer, Trans and those with disabilities is so important and to have all of them represented in the main cast of characters is amazing.  Thank you Rick!

Top Eight for 2016!

Well, Ladles and Jelly Spoons, today is the 31st of December, 2016. That last day of this year is finally here and I am finally getting around to my faves of this year. (Beth, of course, has been on the ball all year and has already gotten this done.)

I set my goal for reading this year intentionally low at 35 and then changed it to 30 when it appeared I wasn’t going to make it that far. Then, I only made that because I drove to my parents house for Christmas and they live 13 hours away from my house. Just. Under.The.Wire. But, I’m thrilled to pieces that I did. So, without further ado, I give you my top eight.

 

  1. The Martian by Andy Weir 
    Y’all, I know I was behind the times with this one, but it is so good. You owe it to yourself to listen to this on audio. The book was so good and R.C. Bray really brought it to life.
  2. Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes  
    This book made Shonda Rhimes my hero. She is so inspirtational.

 

  1. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
    Will Patton does a knock-out job of reading this book. And, you may have noticed, but Beth and I both have a big ole crush on Maggie Stiefvater’s writing.
  2. Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
    This is maybe the most interesting vampire novel I have probably ever read. Plus, the presentation of race and gender going back in forth between modern times and the antebellum South was amazing.
  3. The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
    I’m still working on how to use everything I learned from this book. Alexander lays out a persuasive argument and backs it up with well-presented research.
  4. Bitch Planet by Kelly sue DeConnick
    In this dystopian future, the world is full of interesting and awesome women who are treated like garbage and shipped off to a prison planet. God, I hope this isn’t prescient.
  5. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Achidie
    Achidie has her finger on the pulse of race relations in America and the story she spins is full of humor, tenderness and amazing characters. I loved this book so much.
  6. Emperor of Sound by Timbaland from childhood to sought after producer, this memoir tells the tale of Timbaland. I really enjoyed this walk through ’90s and -’00s music.
  7. The Hogfather by Terry Pratchett
    510pwujvb4l-_ac_us300_fmwebp_ql65_ The Hogfather, the Santa figure in Discworld, has gone missing on his most important night of the year. It is up to Death, his assistant and his granddaughter to save the day. This book is funny, clever and such a good read (or, listen, as the case may have been.)
  8. Call my by my Other Name by Valerie Wetlaufer
     call_me_by_my_other_name_front

This is a story told in poems. The story, based on two historical figures, is about two nineteenth century women living as husband and wife told by a modern narrator. Wetlaufer spins an amazing story of love and heartache. She does a great job not putting twenty-first century categories on these historical characters. I loved the distinct voices of these poems. This is such a good book.

 

This has been a fun year of reading. I started a bunch of books in 2016 that I haven’t yet finished, so look for all of those reviews (Between the World and Me by Coates, Whipping Girl by Serano, Princess Diarist by Fisher, The Federalist Papers) in 2017!

 

Books that Rocked My Face off, Part two

Kate has already posted her list. We have some of the same books in common but unlike my sister, I don’t have any qualms about reading only fiction and mostly teen fiction.  There are a few non-fiction novels I do want to read.  I’m quite interested in the Secret History of Wonder Woman. I’ll get to it eventually.  Anyway, this is about what I read this year so let’s get on with it.  I omitted a few books from contention because I read them as ARCs and they have not been released yet.  That will have to be a post for another day.

1.Blue Lily Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater.

I love her. I might have mentioned that before but I really do love Maggie’s writing style.  Blue Lily Lily Blue is the third book of her The Raven Cycle.  The search for the Welsh King, Glendower, is back with more earnest as Blue’s Mom, Maura has gone missing. Blue, Gansey, Ronan, Adam and Noah all have grown up so much in the last three books and yet, if we know anything about Maggie, they have so much to learn before the series ends in the next book.

2.The Heroes of Olympus: The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

I’m going to miss Percy, Annabeth, Nico, Leo, Hazel, Frank and Reina.  I’ll even miss Jason and Piper too.  They both did grow on me.  I thought it was a fitting ending for a great series. As a team, the Heroes came together, defeated the Giants and brought the Greeks and Romans together.  They all got a happy ending and there was a little bit of opening for some to return in Rick’s next series.

3. Landline by Rainbow Rowell

This was such a satisfying book. Georgie McCool is a TV screenwriter on a crappy show but she and her writing partner finally have a chance to get their own show going.  The problem is they have to write six episodes over Christmas, meaning Georgie has to stay in LA, while her family goes to Omaha.  Georgie’s marriage is already on thin ice; can it survive this?  While spending the night in her old room at her Mom’s house, she plugs in her old landline phone and magically calls her husband Neal in the past.  It soulds fantastical but it is based in the real world.  Rainbow has such a way of creating characters that you can’t help but fall in love with and want to be friends with.

4. The Young Elites by Marie Lu

In a revision of history, after the blood fever in the middle ages, the children who survived are left with scars.  Some were left with mysterious powers. They call themselves the Young Elite. Adelina is one of them. The blood fever left her disfigured with a scar over her left eye.  She has been shunned and abused by her father and when her powers surfaced, she’s a danger to herself and everyone else.  Marie creates a world with so much atmosphere that it was easy to get lost in it. Adelina, is filled with anger about how she is treated; you feel that it’s valid.  There are so many other layers of intrigue and one shocking ending, that the next book can not come too soon.

5. Cress by Marissa Meyer

I really do love the Lunar Chronicles.  A retelling of fairy tales with an alien twist.  I think they are really clever and the characters are so likable.  Cress is a take on Rapunzel.  She is a lunar and is hidden away in a satelite so she can spy on Earth for Queen Levana.  She is rescued from her prison but of course things don’t go as planned. She and Throne crash land in the desert.  Cinder seeks the doctors help for wolf, who is injured and Scarlet is captured by the Lunars.  Oh, and they only have a few days to stop Prince Kai from marrying Queen Levana.  I’m kind of mad that I have to wait until October or November for Winter, the final book but I’m sure it will be worth the wait.

6. Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

In the final book of the Grisha Trilogy, the Darkling has taken over Ravka and only Alina, the Sun Summoner can stop him.  I feel in the past, I have been too hard on Alina, especially how she treated Mal in the last book.  It really started to get me to think how far more critical we are on female characters then we are of male.  Alina, is a  young girl who discovers she has a frightening power that can save them or destroy them.  It is a lot to take in.  She needed someone to understand and for a while, the Darkling was really the only one who could or so she thought.  It is a fitting ending to a dark series.  I felt like all the stories were wrapped up right and they all found some kind of peace.

7. Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan

Part Gothic Novel, part Nancy Drew.  Not your usual combination but it worked for the whole trilogy.  It was funny, scary and heartbreaking without missing a beat.  It was also one of the rare YA novels that not all of the main characters get a happy ending. I sometimes feel that authors feel they have to keep them alive or they will upset their readers but lets be honest.  That’s not realistic.  How many near death experiences can one character live through?  Kami is smart, resourceful and brave and really someone I would love to be friends with.  I’m going to miss this series but I am happy with how it ended.

8. Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor

Yet another conclusion to a fantastic Trilogy.  Excluding the last half of the first book, this series grabbed me and never let me go.  It was heartwarming and heartbreaking.  The sacrifices that had to be made were real gut punchers but necessary. In the end Karou and Akiva achieved what they set out to do and a surprising relationship for Liraz was perfect.

9. Firebug by Lish McBride

Firebug doesn’t have the clever names as Lish’s other books but has the sense of humor and urgency.  Set in the same world as Hold Me Closer, Necromancer and Necromancing the Stone (see what I mean about those titles) but in Maine and not Seattle.  Ava is a firebug, a rare gift. She is forced to work for the Coterie, a magical mafia.  When she refuses to kill a family friend, she and her team, Locke, a dryad, and Ezra, a werefox, go on the run.  It really is funny.  Lish has such a great sense of humor that comes out in such surprising ways.  I can’t wait for the next one.

10. Raging Starr by Moira Young

Apparently 2014 was the year to end trilogies.  This is the last book in the Dust Lands series.  A dystopian series that goes beyond what the Hunger Games did.  Miss Young has no problems killing off characters or being seduced.  Saba has found her brother and reunited with Jack and is now ready to take down DeMalo.  The problem is that Saba does not disagree entirely with what DeMalo is trying to do.  Maybe not with how he is going about it and it puts her in direct conflict with both Jack and her brother, Lugh.  I really had no idea where this series was going to take me and it was quite a ride.

Books I loved so much, that I read the whole series:

A Song of Ice and Fire aka A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

Ok so I technically haven’t finished all the books that are out.  I just started A Dance of Dragons.  Also, I did take a 8-month hiatus to watch the series and then read other things but I do love this series.  It’s so rich and challenging.  So many characters and places and plots.  How does he keep them all straight?

Obsidian, Onyx, Opal, Origin and Opposition. The Lux Series by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Daemon is a jerk and I love him for it.  He is also loyal and will do anything for his family and the ones he loves.  So the jerk with a heart of gold.  Obsidian got me hooked and well, I immediately bought the other books.  Were they the best books I’ve read this year.  No but damn, they were entertaining.

Legend, Prodigy and Champions by Marie Lu

I’ve been wanting to read these for a while and finally gave in and I’m glad. June and Day are perfectly matched heroes,  The ending was bittersweet but it did leave us with some hope.

Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door and Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Sometimes you just need a couple of good romances.  It’s really not a series but three companion novels that happen to have overlapping characters.  Anna is a new girl in an American high school in Paris, who falls for the charming St. Clair. Lola is a girl who knows exactly what she wants, except when it comes to Cricket, who lives next door and Isla has been in love with Josh, all for years of school but was to shy to do anything about it until a chance meeting over the summer. Isla is my favorite with Anna close second. Lola is ok but I just didn’t relate to her as much as the other two.  If you are looking for a sweet story with a lot of heart, you couldn’t do much better then these three.

Etiquette and Espoinage, Curtsies and Conspiraces, and Waistcoasts and Weaponry.  The Finishing Series by Gail Carriger

Sophronia is a handful for her mother. Always getting into trouble so when she is accepted into a prestigious finishing school, she’s sent packing.  However, this is no ordinary finishing school.  Not only do they teach the finer points of being a lady, they also teach the best ways to hide weapons in your skirts and what is the best poison to use.  All for Queen and Country, of course.  This steampunk look at Victorian Englad is full of humor that I did literally laugh out loud.

Books that Rocked My Face off in 2014

This year I had intended to intersperse non-fiction with my fiction. It was one of my New Year’s resolutions. And, I started out strong. Seven of the first twelve books posted on my goodreads challenge for the year were non-fiction (and one of them was even relevant to my day job!) But, the end of the year saw a lot of binging my way through series many people have suggested many, many times. In 2014, I finished reading the available books in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. I read twelve (!) of the Stephanie Plum books. I read all five of Jennifer Armentrout’s Lux books (these I read on my phone). My goodreads goal was to finish forty books this year. I over shot that and read fifty-two. Realizing that, I thought this would be a hard list to make. A lot of good…well, reads, were devoured this year. But, upon looking at the list ten books immediately jumped out at me. Here they are:

1. Wild by Cheryl Strayed

This book was moving in all the right ways. I cried repeatedly while reading it. Strayed tells the story of how her life fell apart when her mother died and slowly fell back together while she planned and executed a trek along the Pacific Crest Trail. She survives not being appropriately prepared, a monster backpack, shoes that are too small, snow, and deserts. The solitude and physical hardship gives her a chance to deal with the real difficulty: having never gotten over the heartbreak of losing her mother and her best friend. I haven’t seen the movie yet but I cannot wait.

2. Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff

I enjoyed this book immensely because it turns out that Cleopatra is an interesting lady. Prior to reading this book, my first thoughts of Cleopatra ran towards the stereotypical. She was beautiful. She survived by attaching herself to powerful men. She was a Ptolemaic girl in an Egyptian world. So, I learned a lot about her reading this book. It would seem that she was an efficient Queen who had the respect and love of our people. It was a pleasure to find that this historical figure often portrayed as a temptress and a whore but who was instead a strong leader who got shit done.

3. A History of the World in Six Glasses

I listened to, rather than read, this book while on a road trip. The text is a social history of humanity traced through its most favored beverages. Detailing the making of beer, wine, coffee, tea, spirits and coca-cola (with an epilogue about water), the author tells the stories of rising and falling empires, changing economies and social movements that make up the history of the world (women weren’t allowed in the first coffee houses making ladies’ tea rooms a popular alternative! And, Twinings, yes the Twinings you find at the supermarket, had a hand in that!). The recording from audible was great with a good narrator. After I finished, I looked for some of the modern brewers that were suggested in the epilogue. (Who wouldn’t want to try beer made from an Ancient recipe? I’ve not yet gotten my hands on a bottle, but when I do I will let you know!)

4. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell tells an alternate history of England contemporary with Napoleonic France in which there is magic in the world. Mr. Norrell is England’s last practicing magician and Jonathan Strange is his student. Where Mr. Norrell is as uptight as you’d expect an English magician Jonathan Strange is into trying new things and pushing the boundaries of magic. This was a fun, if enormous novel, with often hilarious footnotes (“promiscuous celery”. I don’t remember what it means, but I do know I found it funny/important enough to comment on it on goodreads). The tale follows Norrell, Strange, Norrell’s wife, a servant named Stephen, a Fairy King, the wife of an Upperclass Englishman, and a Magic historian from Yorkshire who chronicles the life of Mr.Norrell. The ending was curious but good and I was so happy to have finally read this book that I’ve owned since it came out! (That being said: I listened to this one, too, which means I have an unread read book on my shelf.)

5. The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

Oh my god this book. Sigh, the Warden. And, Nic. And, Jackson. And, PAIGE OH MY GOD PAIGE! I cannot wait for the Mime Order to come out! I am so jealous of Beth who has already read it!

This was another book I listened to.

6. A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin

It was tough to pick a favorite of these books since I read all five available this year. I know from looking on goodreads that lots of people thought the story in books 4 and 5 suffered, but since I binge-read them they came as a really cathartic pay-off for having gotten through the first three books. But, there was a lot of catharsis in this book as well. I got way too attached to characters in the first book so by the time I got to this book I had learned my lesson. Looking back on it, my favorite thing about these books is the Small Folk. Hang in there, Small Folk, with your clever naming of weddings!

7. Four to Score by Janet Evanovich

All of your favorites are back. Stephanie’s crazy grandma, Stephanie herself. Ranger and Joe Morelli. Joe’s grandma. And, this book introduces us to Sally Sweet. I laughed my way through this book and then immediately started reading the next one. Stephanie Plum is ridiculous and for that I love her.

8. Origin by Jennifer Armentrout

All hell breaks lose because two teenagers fell in love. And, unlike classics like Romeo and Juliet, I’m pretty sure this is just meant to be fluffy, fun mayhem and not a satire. Which is good, because I tore through it like fluffy, fun mayhem.

9. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

This was on a list of books to read before the movie came out around this time last year. Well, I read it and then I looked for the movie and it was gone. Already out of the theater. Total Sadface. But, Rose Hathaway is such a badass and if they did a crap job bringing her to the silver screen then I’m glad I missed the movie. Also, I started reading this about the same time I started watching Sleepy Hollow, so Dmitri in my mind looks exactly like Ichabod Crane. I’m totally okay with this.

10. Zealot by Reza Aslan

I always have time to read books by fellow Iowa Alumni. This is another history/biography in the same vein of Cleopatra. Aslan keeps you interested with his writing style and puts the historical Jesus in a context that, frankly, just made me like him even more cool. (I realize that “him” at the end of the last sentence is ambiguous. I did that intentionally because the book made me like both Jesus and Aslan more.) Jesus would have been a man in an occupied Kingdom yearning to be free. It’s hard to not sympathize with that. And, then how this man who fought for freedom went from freedom fighter to global religious figure is also interesting to consider. I thought this was an interesting and thought provoking book and I’m happy I read it.

Books I started but never finished

1. The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs

Guh. I didn’t care about the characters. I found much of the set up and background for the yarn shop to be unrealistic (what kind of sweaters was she making on contract to pay her bills in New York City?!?!). Couldn’t even be bothered to get to the main drama, that’s how early I put this one down. As a knitter, I’m always incredibly disappointed when knitting is the only thing interesting in a novel. People with a hobby might be a built-in audience but if you can’t be bothered to develop interesting characters or intriguing story lines then don’t bother.

2. The Waves by Virginia Woolf

This is a beautiful stream-of-consciousness novella that follows a group of friends from the school yard through their lives and I expect I’ll one day get back to it. But, I started reading it while I was traveling for work and it was too much for the end of the day reading I was using it for. Instead, I ended up reading the Armentrout books on my phone, so I’m grateful for that.

3. The Bat by Jo Nesbo

Good, and I’ll probably try to finish it one day. But, Harry Hole isn’t Kurt Wallander. I kind of love Kurt Wallander.

4. Vegan before Six by Mark Bittman

This is where I’m at with health books: I’m kind of done with them. I like this concept, reducing the amount of animal products you eat by eating plant-based for most of the day. And, if you’re anything like me (who cooks like, three or four times a weeks and eats toast and oatmeal and leftovers for the rest of your meals) this basically means either all vegan all the time or that it’s not a workable solution. I was thinking in the New Year I might give it a try (as a more or less all-vegan-all-the-time solution with occasional meat sometimes). We’ll see.

5. The Fault in our Stars by John Green

I just don’t like John Green, what can I say? Not his writing, mind you, him. I just don’t like him. I enjoyed what I read of this novel but I’d put it down and end up thinking about the author and I’d just get mad at myself for putting money in his pocket. I know I’m probably the only one who doesn’t like him, but there you have it. I might try it again, but with the world full of good books written by authors I like, I probably won’t.