First Impression Friday- The Ocean at the End of the Lane + The Sword of Summer

Hey ya’ll! I am coming at ya with a “weekly” meme thanks to my friend Joe over @ Storeys of Stories! I really liked this idea because it is less commitment on my part (I don’t have to do it EVERY week, only when I start a new book) and gets me talking about books I have just started (or want to start very soon).

Straight from the horse’s mouth (if you will):

First Impression Friday will be a meme where you talk about a book that you JUST STARTED! Maybe you’re only a chapter or two in, maybe a little farther.  Based on this sampling of your current read, give a few impressions and predict what you’ll think by the end.  Did you think you’d love it and ended up hating it? Or did you think you’d hate it and wound up loving it? Or were you exactly right? I think what will really make this meme a lot of fun, is linking back to it from your review to say, “Look at how wrong I was!” OR “See? I knew it all along!”

This week I started:

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

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Goodreads

This is my library’s August Book Discussion Book. While I am unable to attend the actual discussions, a dear friend of mine runs them and I like to try to stay up to date with what they are reading. These Book Discussion selections push me out of my comfort zone, and get me to read things that I may not have picked up on my own.

I honestly don’t know much about this book at this point, other than the fact that it is super short. I also know that the author is fairly well liked, though I have not read anything else by him before. It sounds like it is about a man who returns to his hometown after quite awhile, and ends up facing things that he didn’t even realize were haunting him.

I literally have no idea what to expect from this at all. I haven’t even technically opened it yet, though I have been carrying it around, so you know the intent is there. Just to be safe? I am predicting a 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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Funny thing is, I have another First Impression to give today as well!

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My fiance just came back from working 8 month away from home, plus we just got back from vacation a couple weeks ago, so naturally we had A LOT of laundry to do/put away. I ended up spending a couple hours washing, folding and putting away said laundry yesterday, and while I was doing that, I thought it was a good opportunity for me to try out my very first audiobook! At first I was really stumped about what to start. I didn’t want to start a book that I was really looking forward to reading (just in case audio didn’t work out for me) so first I tried selecting a book I have already read (and loved). Unfortunately, everything I tried on my library’s e-catalog was unavailable. Eventually I just started scrolling through the “best seller’s” list for audio, and came across this.

The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #1)

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Goodreads

After reading Percy Jackson a few years ago, I have been dying to pick up all of Rick Riordan’s other books, but for some reason, still haven’t. It isn’t about access because I work at two libraries that have tons of copies of these books. I just always felt like other books were more pressing. However, this seemed like a great opportunity for me to finally get around to including these other series into my reading.

I listened for a little over an hour, and got to chapter 7 (I believe). I had some trouble staying focused (I day dream a lot), but I am willing to attribute some of that to the narrator, who I don’t particularly enjoy thus far. The other problem is that I don’t necessarily have large amounts of time to dedicate to listening to books. My commute from either job is only about 20 minutes long, and household chores are typically done sporadically, not in large chunks of time. But I am willing to try to stick to this and see how it goes. The only unfortunate thing is that my library loan runs out after 21 days. I am not sure if I will try to check it out again if it gets returned before I finish it. If anything, I may be tempted to check out the physical book at that point, and finish that way.

At this time, I am predicting a 3 out of 5 stars for this book. I feel like Magnus Chase, while given a much more mature back story than Percy, is still fairly immature personality-wise, and that is not really clicking with me. It just doesn’t feel like it goes together which takes me out of the story.

 

There you have it! Thanks for joining me on ANOTHER First Impression Friday!

**Fun Fact-  my brother does a DJ Khalid impression at work with our coworker, and it is strictly just that one line “Anotha One”

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Pre-Order Book Haul

Hey guys! So as you are probably gathering by now, I clearly have no chill when it comes to purchasing books. I can’t even put myself on a book buying ban because, well, they just don’t work for me. Naturally though, that means I am coming to you today with yet another Book Haul!

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This one is a bit unique though in that I am going to catch you up on all my pre-orders that are still standing at the moment! Some of these don’t even come out until 2019, but I wanted to let you guys know what I am clearly anticipating to the max! I do plan on posting a “most anticipated books of 2019” later this year, and at least half that list are on pre-order (as it stands now)- so keep your eyes peeled for that.

Without further ado, let’t get into the pre-orders, shall we?

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This two-part YA novel contains the novelization of the classic movie we all love, and a continuation, 25 years later. SO MUCH NOSTALGIA! At first glance I was mildly annoyed that they turned this into a novel, however, it is in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the movie release (back in 1993). It has fairly mixed reviews on Goodreads, from what I can see, but I honestly don’t care. I will look forward to picking this up every Halloween, like I enjoy watching the movie each year.

Release Date: July 10, 2018

Image result for houdini maniscalco The highly anticipated third installment in the Stalking Jack the Ripper series! Just look at that cover… Honestly, the title and cover were what made me want to have it, regardless of the fact that I have not picked up either of the first two books. NOW, I own the first two, and HOPE to pick them up somewhat soon. An ocean cruiser complete with carnival entertainment is plague with mysterious disappearances and murder, with no where to escape but the ocean itself! This appears to be another twisty book in the successful series. It also looks like there is supposed to be another book in the series, to be released in 2019, so we’ll have to keep our eyes peeled for that one.

Release Date: September 18, 2018

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In the conclusion to the bestselling first book, Warcross, Emika must resolve the pressing problems from where we left off. I don’t want to spoil Warcross for anyone but let’s just say the cliffhanger at the end was a little rude. I have been looking forward to this book since putting down Warcross. When I found out that they had ARCs of it at Book Expo I was determined to get my hands on one. Unfortunately, I was only able to get a sampler, which obviously is not enough. As a result, I immediately pre-ordered my copy of Wildcard to ensure that I would read it ASAP.

Release Date: September 18, 2018

Image result for on the come up thomas cover Screaming. I AM SCREAMING, I want this book so badly. The Hate U Give is one of my all-time favorite books ever. NATURALLY, I needed to own Angie Thomas’s newest book. While it may not be a continuation of Starr’s story, it does take place in the same neighborhood. On The Come Up is about a teenage, female rapper who is struggling to get by. Hitting on more issues society is afraid to talk about, Thomas also pays tribute to the art that inspires her every day. I love how the covers of her books are basically opposite of each other, and that the only image aside from the title is a black female in a powerful pose. I really cannot wait for this one to come out.

Release Date: February 5, 2019

Image result for children of vengeance and virtue I kid you not, the moment I closed Children of Blood and Bone, I hopped on my phone and went to the publisher’s website to pre-order this book. THE COVER HASN’T EVEN BEEN REVEALED YET and I just, I NEED it. I am OBSESSED with Tomi Adeyemi. I am subscribed to her newsletter, I follow her on virtually all social media platforms and I recommend her book to just about everyone! Children of Blood and Bone was so powerful and compelling and I just feel like everyone should read it. I cannot reveal much about this book without spoiling CoBB so I am just going to say GO! READ! You have time… this doesn’t come out until forever.

Release Date: March 5, 2019

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And that’s all she wrote (so far this year)! Are you anticipating any of these books? Do you have different books on pre-order? Let’s chat :]

Book of the Month- July 2018

I think I suffered some FOMO from skipping June’s box last month, because I added two books that I probably didn’t need for the month of July. I really REALLY need to work on reading the BOTM books I currently still have unread before I can add any more, or at least think to unhaul them at some point.

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The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

Two Truths and a Lie. The girls played it all the time in their tiny cabin at Camp Nightingale. Vivian, Natalie, Allison, and first-time camper Emma Davis, the youngest of the group. The games ended when Emma sleepily watched the others sneak out of the cabin in the dead of night. The last she–or anyone–saw of them was Vivian closing the cabin door behind her, hushing Emma with a finger pressed to her lips.

Now a rising star in the New York art scene, Emma turns her past into paintings–massive canvases filled with dark leaves and gnarled branches that cover ghostly shapes in white dresses. The paintings catch the attention of Francesca Harris-White, the socialite and wealthy owner of Camp Nightingale. When Francesca implores her to return to the newly reopened camp as a painting instructor, Emma sees an opportunity to try to find out what really happened to her friends.

Yet it’s immediately clear that all is not right at Camp Nightingale. Already haunted by memories from fifteen years ago, Emma discovers a security camera pointed directly at her cabin, mounting mistrust from Francesca and, most disturbing of all, cryptic clues Vivian left behind about the camp’s twisted origins. As she digs deeper, Emma finds herself sorting through lies from the past while facing threats from both man and nature in the present.

And the closer she gets to the truth about Camp Nightingale, the more she realizes it may come at a deadly price.

(via Goodreads)

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I know I know, I didn’t like Final Girls, what business do I have trying this one out? It just sounded SO interesting, and truthfully, I didn’t even realize it was by the same author until I had already shipped my BOTM box. Why not give her another shot? Worst case scenario, I know for certain that I don’t like her books! Plus, who doesn’t like a haunting camp story in the middle of summer?

Ghosted by Rosie Walsh

Seven perfect days. Then he disappeared. A love story with a secret at its heart.

When Sarah meets Eddie, they connect instantly and fall in love. To Sarah, it seems as though her life has finally begun. And it’s mutual: It’s as though Eddie has been waiting for her, too. Sarah has never been so certain of anything. So when Eddie leaves for a long-booked vacation and promises to call from the airport, she has no cause to doubt him. But he doesn’t call.

Sarah’s friends tell her to forget about him, but she can’t. She knows something’s happened–there must be an explanation.

Minutes, days, weeks go by as Sarah becomes increasingly worried. But then she discovers she’s right. There is a reason for Eddie’s disappearance, and it’s the one thing they didn’t share with each other: the truth.

(via Goodreads)

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I’m going to be honest with you guys on this one. A major reason why I added this book to my box was because it was blurbed by Liane Moriarty. Truthfully though, I have no business reading this type of book. Unfortunately, I can be a very jealous person, and if I let my mind wander too much, all these crazy situations manifest in my head and get me into trouble. But this just sounds so modern and intriguing and if my girl Moriarty blurbed it, I gotta try it! Plus, the cover is just so pretty.

 

If I am being quite honest, I didn’t need these books right now. What I really need to do is start working on my condensing and un-hauling and yet more and more books seem to find their way into my life…

 

A Very Large Expanse of Sea- Tahereh Mafi (ARC)

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(Tahereh Mafi, 2018)

Expected Publication date: October 16, 2018

 

It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped.

Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments—even the physical violence—she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons break-dancing with her brother.

But then she meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her—they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds—and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down.

(via Goodreads)

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What I Liked

  • Unfamiliar Author
    • Much like Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera (What If It’s Us), I was unfamiliar with this already super popular author. In fact, I didn’t even know about this book until after seeing it raved about by my favorite booktubers. Luckily for me, my library system also had reps at Book Expo and got a number of ARCs (this being one of them). What they did was create their own little library for librarians to check out ARCs in exchange for reviews. That is how I ended up with it in my hands. This is supposedly Mafi’s first attempt at contemporary (after being super famous for her fantasy series, Shatter Me). It is always nice (for me) to go into these sorts of things cold. I enjoy reading popular authors for the first time, long after they have been famous for other things.
  • Own Voice
    • I told you, I am on a super Own Voice kick lately! This story is about a young Muslim girl growing up in a time after 9/11 and all the blind hatred and ignorance that surround someone who looks like Shirin in a time of fear. While the story is fictional, Mafi explains in an Author’s Note at the very beginning that a lot of this book is based off of things that happened to her. I honestly have no idea how I am constantly surprised by how much hatred and ignorance are in the world we live in, but these stories (own voice) couldn’t be more important. That is probably why I enjoy reading them so much, to be honest.
  • Characters
    • Mafi does a really great job creating vibrant, realistic characters that really pull you through the story. I don’t think there was a character I didn’t like in this book at some point or another. Ocean is obviously my favorite though with his determination and kindness toward Shirin. I loved how he helped pull her out of her shell, and show her that not all people are horrible. He was the beacon of hope throughout this story and I think Mafi did a great job with his character.
  • Short
    • This was a fast read for me! I was able to get into it pretty quickly, and ended up finishing it a little faster than I anticipated. It was only about 310 pages, and the chapters were only a few pages each, but I liked that. The characters really pull you through the story so when it ends you almost don’t even realize that you had started at all.  The chapters being so short really encouraged me to read whenever I had a few minutes too. I am one of those people who hate leaving off in the middle of a chapter, so when I feel confident that I can finish one in a short sitting (between shifts, etc.) I end up reading the book a lot faster than others.

What I Disliked

  • Cover
    • Is it really terrible to say that I really dislike the final cover? It actually was just released shortly after I got my hands on the ARC so I don’t have a copy with the final cover on it. Instead, my book looks like this:
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    • No this is not a beautiful cover either, but I got really attached to the blue to be honest. I don’t know. I kind of understand why it was designed the way it was, but it is definitely not my favorite at all.

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Final Thoughts

I guess I liked this book more than I originally thought! I featured it in one of my First Impression Fridays, and predicted a 4 or 5 out of 5 stars, so I was basically right on the money ultimately ending up with a 4 out of 5 star rating. I really did like this book, but I don’t know that I would pick up any of her other current books. The Shatter Me series just never sounded appealing to me, but if she cranks out any more contemporaries, I would be more than happy to try them out.

Own Voice stories are so important, I don’t know how many more times I am going to say it. I honestly LOVE reading about other people’s experiences, whether awful or not, and I really enjoyed how Mafi laid this story out. I have read now three (?) books about Muslim characters and truthfully have loved all three. I could totally get behind more of these types of characters in YA contemporary fiction though (two of the three books I’ve read were actually Middle Grade! You can see reviews for The Night Diary and Playing Atari with Saddam Hussein in a Mini Review).

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What do you guys think? Does this sound like something you’d like to read? Have you read the Shatter Me series? Let’s chat!

 

on deck book On Deck:

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

YA-ICON

First Impression Friday- Starry Eyes

Hey ya’ll! I am coming at ya with a brand new “weekly” meme thanks to my friend Joe over @ Storeys of Stories! I really liked this idea because it is less commitment on my part (I don’t have to do it EVERY week, only when I start a new book).

Straight from the horse’s mouth (if you will):

First Impression Friday will be a meme where you talk about a book that you JUST STARTED! Maybe you’re only a chapter or two in, maybe a little farther.  Based on this sampling of your current read, give a few impressions and predict what you’ll think by the end.  Did you think you’d love it and ended up hating it? Or did you think you’d hate it and wound up loving it? Or were you exactly right? I think what will really make this meme a lot of fun, is linking back to it from your review to say, “Look at how wrong I was!” OR “See? I knew it all along!”

This week I started:

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

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Goodreads

Uh, can we just admire this gorgeous cover for a moment? It feels so sumemr-y and I just love looking at it. I just feel like this is the PERFECT summer read right now.

From what I gathered by the description, its a Romeo/Juliet-esque story where two teenagers from family enemies get stuck in the wilderness alone together when a camping trip goes wrong. They are forced to hash out their differences and deep rooted feelings, and more than likely come out on good terms. What intrigues me the most is the question at the end about whether their new friendship can stand up to reality (once they exit the woods), which leads me to believe that their is more to this story than just the conflict at the camping trip.

I have heard nothing but high praises for Jenn Bennett since re-joining the bookish world, and have been looking forward to picking this up since I got it a few months ago (you can see it featured in this Mini Book Haul). I have not read Alex, Approximately, which is supposedly contemporary gold, but I imagine that if I come out of this one really happy I will probably buy it in preparation for another new book by her, Serious Moonlight, due out sometime in the Spring of 2019. I am going in skeptical though! Currently, I have only finished the first chapter so I do not feel like I have a good enough vibe on the book just yet, but I predict either a 3.5 or 4 out of five star rating for this one. We shall see what happens!

If you would like to participate in this meme, please make sure to link back to Joe, since he is the creator :]

What If It’s Us- Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera (ARC)

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(Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera, 2018)

Expected Publication Date: October 16, 2018

 

Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?

But what if it is?

(via Goodreads)

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What I Liked

  • Unfamiliar
    • I really liked that I am unfamiliar with either author (I know who they are and what they wrote, but have not read anything by either one of them). It was kind of nice to remove that guessing game of “who is writing who” and just enjoy the story for what it was.
  • Dylan
    • I really loved Dylan’s character. I think he was perfectly hilarious, and I loved his relationship with Ben. That he was the funny man, and Ben was like the cranky old man. They are so supportive of each other, and love each other so much that you really feel that radiating outside the book.
  • Ben
    • I really liked Ben’s character too. I felt that he really was well written, and complex. He had a lot of triggers, but what teenager doesn’t? I felt like he handled his situations a little more realistically, and honestly was just so sweet that I couldn’t get enough.
  • Tension
    • The first third of the book was so intense after their initial meeting, that I had to know if they would meet again or not! It was another perfect tie-in to the title (What If) and had me guessing all the way to the conclusion.
  • Harry Potter
    • There are so many pop culture references in this book that it is in danger of dating itself further down the line, but right now, it was just a little sprinkle of joy each time they were mentioned. They talked a lot about Instagram, Craigslist and SIMs, but also Harry Potter! And we all know how I feel about Harry Potter (if you don’t….I honestly don’t know how to help you). I personally love the pop culture references in books, but I totally understand the risk authors take when including them in their stories.
  • Title Tie-in at the End
    • SPOILERS: I kind of liked that the story had a “What If” ending, which obviously goes perfectly with the title of the book (and subsections). Typically I don’t like when things are unresolved, but in this case, I thought it was fitting and borderline satisfying.

What I Disliked

  • Arthur
    • Arthur really got on my nerves a lot in this book. I thought that he was a bit too much at certain points, and that he was a bit irrational even, in others. I also saw a lot of myself in Arthur, a lot of what I don’t like about myself, so I think that aided in my dislike for his parts of the story.
  • Texting
    • I complain about this a lot I think, but when a book features a text conversation between characters, especially if it is more than a quarter of the page in length, it would be so much easier to make the them look like text messages! Change the colors, go from bold to italic, something to show a difference between characters. It gets SO difficult figuring out who said what that I spend more time on figuring that out, than actually paying attention to the conversation. It is just a slight pet peeve of mine.

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Final Thoughts

I featured this book in a First Impression Friday, where I predicted either 4 or 5 out of 5 stars rating. I ended up giving this book a 4.5 out of 5 stars, which is basically (in my book) right on the money. I really liked this book and was super excited that I was able to get my hands on it at Book Expo! It was one of the few books I KNEW were being “dropped” but I was already on line for something else. Luckily, my coworker was wandering and was able to swipe one for me! This is my 2nd ARC review (1st physical one) and it is so thrilling! I have decided to stick to physical ARCs for the time being; I just cannot get comfortable with my Kindle.

The story was so cute, and the tension at the beginning of the book was enough to encourage me to pick it up at any moment I could. While one character annoyed me, the other intrigued me enough to continue with their story, and see it out to the end. I am very much looking forward to picking up books by both authors later down the line. Their writing style flowed very well together, to the point where I wasn’t guessing who wrote what, I just enjoyed the story.

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YIKES! Guys, I haven’t done a book feature since MAY! How bizarre. Hopefully I will be better about reviewing my books now that I have a few back under my belt. We shall see!

What do you think of this book? Is it on your TBR? Have you read either of these authors before? Let’s chat!

on deck book On Deck:

A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

YA-ICON

Monthly Challenge Update- June 2018

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So I think that I am really starting to find a layout I like for these monthly posts. It is still under construction, but I am hoping by next year I will have something I am really happy with. Also- I HATE this title but since all the other months this year have the same title, I feel like I am stuck with it for now.

As far as reading goes, YIKES! A measly 4 books this month…I am embarrassed. For the last few I have been consistently completing 5-6 books in the very least. I am not sure what happened this month, though Children of Blood and Bone did take a while to get through. However, on a lighter note, I really enjoyed my books this month! You will also notice though, that I am slowing down significantly on my book reviews. I don’t know what it is, but lately I have just been feeling so lazy when it comes to them that I just haven’t been posting! I am still reading, but not writing as much. I don’t know how long that will last, but I just wanted to give you a heads up. You may be seeing more update posts vs. book reviews.

 

General Updates

Books Read this Month: 4

Reviews: 0

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No BOTM choice for me this month.

 

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Highlights

Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu

I really enjoyed Leigh Bardugo’s Wonder Woman, the first in the DC Icons series so I was really anxious to get to the second one (Batman by Marie Lu). Someone convinced me that with Avengers and just finishing Wonder Woman, that I would be “super hero-ed out” and should take a break between books. I don’t know if that helped but I really enjoyed this book once I finally did get to it. We look at a major event in teenage Bruce Wayne’s life that is NOT an origin story. Marie Lu does a great job of throwing in little familiar details without making a big deal out of them. Instead, this story felt fresh and new and that was the most enjoyable part.

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Wow. Let me just say, THE HYPE IS REAL. Everyone needs to read this book. I don’t even like fantasy all that much and I loved this book. So many subtle nods at real life events, so much to digest. AND, it is only book one in a trilogy! I loved it so much that I actually immediately pre-ordered the second book-Children of Virtue and Vengence– (due to come out in March of 2019). I won’t talk too much about it here, but keep your eyes peeled for a collaboration with Nina from The Cozy Pages. We did our first ever buddy read with CBB, and plan to have our posts out sometime in July.

  • I honestly wanted to talk about all the books I read this month but then this section wouldn’t be a “highlights” section, it would just be a book blurb section…

 

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Challenge Check In

Beat the Back List

Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu

 

POPSUGAR

 

Book Riot Read Harder

 

 

As you can see, challenge prompts are all but a ghost town. Right on schedule! I don’t have much else to say about this section, just that I don’t expect it to be any more full next month either.

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July TBR

 

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Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

  • POPSUGAR: A book based on a real person
  • Beat the Backlist

Pride by Ibi Zoboi (ARC)

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi (ARC)

The Similars by Rebecca Hanover (ARC)

 

Three cheers for ARCs! ARC ARC HOORAY! Thanks to Book Expo (which I am already dreaming about next year’s), I have a handful of beautiful, wonderful ARCs on my hands! I really want to try to focus on those this month (I think) and just have fun! Since I started What If It’s Us at the end of June, I have a pretty good feeling that in the very least I will finish it in July (UPDATE: I was able to squeeze it in at the end of June! I really loved it and couldn’t put it down). That will only be the second ARC I’ve ever read (and the first physical one)! All the exciting things. I want to read at least four books this month, so we’ll see where the chips fall. You’re right though, Stalking Jack the Ripper is NOT an ARC. However, I have an ARC of Escaping Houdini, which is the third book in this series, so in order to get to that one, I have to read the first (and second) book.

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How was everyone’s month? What did you read? Let’s chat!