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Sunday, December 17, 2017

Best Book of 2017!

Throughout the year, I have been awarding books with my Best Book Award if they receive a five-star rating from me. In order to receive a five-star rating, it needs to be an incredible book that leaves me with nothing bad to say. I have read many outstanding books this year, but a few have stuck in my head and really made a lasting impression. It was hard to pick my favorite book of the year, but here is the winner and a few that almost made the cut. Please comment with your favorite book of 2017! 

Best Book of 2017

All The Missing Girls | Megan Miranda

There is nothing more dangerous, nothing more powerful, nothing more necessary and essential for survival than the lies we tell ourselves.”

Genre: Mystery Thriller.
Number of Pages: 384.
Perspective: First.
Location: Cooley Ridge, North Carolina.

This book follows Nic, a woman who returns to her hometown to help her aging dad with dementia. Going back opens old wounds and mysteries, especially once a second girl goes missing, ten years after the first mysterious disappearance. Everyone has their secrets, but which ones are hiding murder(s)? For a complete summary, you can go here.

Wow! Probably my favorite thriller of the year! I even gave it my Best Book Award! The format was unique (it took place primarily over fifteen days and was told in reverse chronological order). Now I want to read it all over again to catch all the clues I missed! It was a little frustrating at first, and it does take some brainpower to piece everything together -- but doesn't that add to the excitement of solving the mystery?! I think so!

At first, I was afraid that this book would be another unreliable narrator cliche, but it wasn’t quite like that. I do have to say I loved this book a lot more than Miranda’s other book The Perfect Stranger. I enjoyed that one, but this one definitely lived up to the hype more. I have seen people poking at some of the holes, but really, most thrillers have some red herrings to make you think you have guessed the ending. I’m choosing to not to overthink it at this point, and I’ll just enjoy it for the unique story it was! If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it here. After you have read it, leave a comment and let me know what you think!

“People were like Russian nesting dolls - versions stacked inside the latest edition. But they all still lived inside, unchanged, just out of sight”

Other Nominees: 

The Hate U Give | Angie Thomas

Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.”

Genre: Young Adult.
Number of Pages: 464.
Perspective: First.

This book is about Starr, a sixteen-year-old that lives in a poor neighborhood, but attends a fancy suburban private school. One night, her childhood best friend gets shot by a cop while she’s in the car. She is forced to decide if she wants to stand up and be the voice of a movement. For a complete summary, you can go here.

I cannot think of one negative thing to say about this book. I even gave it my Best Book Award! It is very relevant to a lot of racial issues going on in America right now. It is not an anti-white or anti-police book. Instead, it focuses on the challenges of growing up in a poor, predominantly black neighborhood. It does discuss shootings and police brutality, but, again, it is not a book bashing the police. 

I think it is rare to find a book that can clearly explain to a young adult what racism looks and feels like without being wrapped up in metaphors. I think this would be a great book to read in high schools or for parents to buddy-read with their teen. Also, for being such a complex and heavy topic, there were lighter moments that helped to make the book not feel too dense. It was also a touching story about family, friendship, and love.

I had never heard of this book until it was picked for my book club. The title made me think it would be a cheesy millennial textspeak book, but I was so wrong. The title actually comes from Tupac and the term THUG LIFE. I won’t give it away, but it ties into the story nicely. It was also great to read a book with a black main character that was also written by a black author.

I think this book can be very eye-opening to a lot of people. I recommend it to everyone thirteen and above. If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it here. After you have read it, leave a comment and let me know what you think! 
“At an early age I learned that people make mistakes, and you have to decide if their mistakes are bigger than your love for them.”

Without Merit | Colleen Hoover

Not every mistake deserves a consequence. Sometimes the only thing it deserves is forgiveness.”

 Young Adult.
Number of Pages: 384.
Perspective: First.
Location: Texas.

This book follows the dysfunctional Voss family told from 17-year-old Merit’s perspective. She is holding on to a lot of secrets for members of her family, but she may not be seeing the full picture. For a complete summary, you can go here.

First of all, any book that I can read in one day (and practically one sitting) has to be pretty good. The way Hoover writes just flows so well. All of her books suck you in and are quick reads because you just want to devour the book. They usually have some twists, but you never feel like you have to think too hard or slow down to piece everything together. I even gave it my Best Book Award (I am on a roll with good books this week!).

My favorite part about this book is that it discusses perception and that we make a lot of assumptions about people. I also like how it makes us aware that no one is perfect. Some reviewers complained that most of the main characters are unlikeable, but I actually appreciated that they were flawed. It made them feel more real. I also like how it addressed a lot of hot topic issues, such as mental health. My only complaint is that it kind of made light of and easily brushed over some controversial topics. 

This book was very different from any other Colleen Hoover book that I have read. It still had a romance storyline, but it was much more about the family than the romance. It is also more for the older teen rather than adults (but I definitely still have a lot of love for young adult books!). I highly recommend this book (as with most Colleen Hoover books, it is probably more geared towards women). If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it here. After you have read it, leave a comment and let me know what you think! 

“You don’t get to decide what your life means to anyone else.”

El Deafo | Cece Bell

And being different? That turned out to the best part of all. I found that with a little creativity, and a lot of dedication, any difference can be turned into something amazing. Our differences are our superpowers.”

Genre: Middle Grade Graphic Novel/Memoir.
Number of Pages: 233.
Perspective: First.
Location: Virginia.

This graphic novel follows the author throughout her time as a young girl in the 1970s and her experiences losing her hearing from meningitis at the age of four. She learns how to make friends and accept herself. For a complete summary, you can go here.

This was a beautiful story about someone who copes with becoming deaf. I took an American Sign Language course in college and we talked a lot about the deaf culture; it was interesting to learn about some of the daily challenges that someone who is deaf faces. This book explains those challenges in a way that children can understand and relate to. We have come a long way with accessibility since the 70s, but we all could use a reminder about acceptance and how to be accommodating to people with disabilities. [Note: not all deaf people consider being deaf a disability]. 

The comics were colorful and lovely. I think this book would be perfect for someone in middle school, even though the main character is in elementary school. There are some cultural things from the 70s, such as teachers smoking cigarettes at school, that may be shocking for some parents to see in a children’s comic book. But I think all children will find something in the story that they can relate to. 

I think both children and adults will love this story. I think it would be a great book for a parent and child to read together and discuss. I even gave this book my Best Book Award! If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it here. After you have read it, leave a comment and let me know what you think! 

“Oh, why do I even care what other people think?”

What is your favorite book of the year? Let me know in the comments!

See my favorite books from 2016!

Check out my favorite books from 2015!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

BookRoo Book Subscription Box Review

I was generously given a free sample of the monthly book subscription BookRoo! (In exchange for an honest review). 

It was so exciting to receive a box in the mail full of surprise books—who doesn’t love getting packages in the mail?! Each book came individually wrapped in beautiful wrapping paper. They were picked out by the Bookroo team to be some of the best books for the age range you select (but unique enough that you won’t already have them in your collections!) To learn more about how they choose books, go here. 

The Books:

I received two children’s hardcover picture books in this box:

This is an adorable story about a cat who is so fluffy that he floats away. His owner desperately tries to weigh him down by dressing him in ridiculous outfits. Since he's a cat, he really hates that. One day he sees a bird and floats away after it. This book is filled with simple, but cute images of the very expressive kitty. I think children will laugh aloud at this silly book. I read it to my dog and he sat and wagged his tail to this tale. 

This book flows to the same rhythm as the book Twas The Night Before Christmas (Although some pages didn't have as nice of a flow). It is a great book for teaching vocabulary since it is about a spelling bee. It would be a good chance for parents and teachers to discuss these words. The back of the book even has the full list of vocabulary words used in the story. The images are very colorful and I think children will laugh at the silly combinations that are based on the spelling bee words. I tried reading this one to my dog, but it was a little too long for him to sit and listen to. 


If you are interested in subscribing to this box, you can go here. You can order a single box or subscribe to receive one each month. They ship the first business day after the 15th of each month. Subscriptions renew the 15th of each month. 

They have two boxes. The one I reviewed was the Picture Book Box (2 books designed for ages 2-6). They also have a Board Book Box (3 books designed for ages 0-2). They are in beta for a Junior Box (ages 7-10). The prices are the same for the different boxes. It is $17.99 for a single month, $49.98 for three months, $97.97 for six months, and $191.88 for a year. Prices do not include shipping and handling. The subscriptions renew automatically, but you can cancel at any time. They ship to anywhere in the US and Canada. 

The coolest thing I discovered is that they offer a 50% discount for teachers and students!! More info on that here. 

I highly recommend this box! Have fun receiving your surprise books for your children each month!! 

I have a coupon code I can share for $10 off your subscription! It expires January 1, 2018. (Use code: TY8X34). 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

What Light | Jay Asher

“It's your heart. No one else gets a say in that."

Genre: Young Adult Romance.
Number of Pages: 251.
Perspective: First.
Location: Oregon/California.

Sierra’s family owns a Christmas tree farm in Oregon and then spend Christmas time in California selling the trees. She shuts herself off to love for the month long trips to California, but can’t help it when she meets a guy who buys Christmas trees for families in need. For a complete summary, you can go here.

Well, this is definitely not what I was expecting from the author of one of the most controversial books (and shows), Thirteen Reasons Why. It was definitely a lot lighter and more of a romance than a suspense. Maybe Asher thought he needed to tone it down a bit? I’m not sure, but it certainly was on the opposite end of the spectrum. 

It was a well written and enjoyable story. It was perfect for Christmas time. I actually haven’t read a Christmas themed book in a while, so it was a nice change of pace. I have also been into really dark books lately, so this was probably a lot better for my soul. Maybe I should pull out a few more lighter books from my shelves…

I don’t have anything bad to say about this book other than it was just a cute YA romance. It’s what you would expect from a cute YA romance: a little cheesy and love at first sight. It wasn’t anything extraordinary and it probably won’t stick in my mind forever, but I am glad I read it. [I also have mention how gorgeous and festive the cover is.] 

I recommend this book for reading around Christmas time when you are surrounded by family and don’t want to read any more dark books around the most joyous time of the year. [Hands up if you are still stuck reading Halloween creepy, scary, dark thrillers. *Raises Hand*] If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it here. After you have read it, leave a comment and let me know what you think! 

“I can fight it, but that's exhausting. I can feel hurt about it, but that's torture. Or I can decide it's their loss.”

 4/5 Stars

Check out my review of Jay Asher's bestselling book, Thirteen Reasons Why.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Everything I Never Told You | Celeste Ng

What made something precious? Losing it and finding it.”

Genre: Young Adult.
Number of Pages: 304.
Perspective: Third.
Location: Ohio.

This book follows a Chinese-American family in the 1970s after their middle child is found dead in a lake. For a complete summary, you can go here.

To be honest, I am doing this review many months after reading this book. I had to digest it a little bit before reviewing it, and then it just got put on the back burner. So I apologize that my review of this book won’t be as specific as most of my reviews. 

What I remember most about this book is the way it handled issues that minority and biracial people go through on a daily basis. It was very interesting to get a new perspective on Chinese-American families. 

I also remember feeling devastated reading this book. The whole book is sad and, in the end, the characters don’t get the finality that we get as readers. I remember feeling completely sympathetic to these characters. Take some deep breaths before diving into this one. 

This is marketed—and may initially seem—like a thriller. There are a lot of secrets, but it is not your typical action-packed mystery. It is a slow build up and slow reveal. It is character and backstory driven. But you start to think about how even the people closest to you try to keep their true selves hidden. 

It was very fascinating, just a bit slow. I highly recommend it if you are mentally prepared for a few cries. If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it here. After you have read it, leave a comment and let me know what you think! 

“Before that she hadn’t realized how fragile happiness was, how if you were careless, you could knock it over and shatter it.”

4/5 Stars

Monday, December 11, 2017

What Alice Forgot | Liane Moriarty

But maybe every life looked wonderful if all you saw was the photo albums.”

Genre: Chick Lit.
Number of Pages: 466.
Perspective: Third.
Location: Australia.

One day Alice faints during her workout and forgets the last ten years of her life. She has to reconcile what she envisioned for her 39-year-old self and what she has actually become. For a complete summary, you can go here.

I have loved all of Moriarty’s books so far, but this one was a little harder for me to get into. It was very different from her other books; it did have some mystery to it, but it was not a true mystery like her other books. It was nice to see a different format—this was one of her earlier books, so it makes sense that it diverges from her most successful books.  I liked it, but it was my least favorite of all of her books. However, like her other books, it does cover deep subjects, but always with a lighter and more humorous feel than most contemporary fiction.

The first half of the book was slow, but the second half did make up for it. I know this was written before unreliable narrators became a fad, but I still am over that being used as the main reason for mystery. I just want to scream at these books: why can’t someone just tell them the whole truth and not skirt around it for an entire book until they remember!?!

But Moriarty is one of the best at character building. You really feel like you know the main characters very well. Sometimes it can slow down the plot, like this book, but it still was very enjoyable and I would still recommend it. This book really makes you reflect and ask yourself if you ended up where were you hoping to at this point in your life. I will happily add this to my bookshelf next to Big Little Lies, The Husband’s Secret, and Truly Madly Guilty. If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it here. After you have read it, leave a comment and let me know what you think! 

“Early love is exciting and exhilarating. It's light and bubbly. Anyone can love like that.”

3/5 Stars