Top Ten Tuesday | Ten 2018 Publications that I Meant to Read in 2018 but Didn’t Get To

TopTenTuesday
Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018!


Hey, loves! This is the best and worst topic! Best because never ending TBRs are real and amazing! Worst because so many books and so little time! I did make a post about the twelve back-list books that I hope to get to in 2019, but here are ten books that were all published in 2018 that I desperately wanted to read last year, but hopefully, maybe, say a prayer for me, that I will this year!


An Absolutely Remarkable Thing (An Absolutely Remarkable Thing #1) by Hank Green


Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou


Pride by Ibi Zoboi


The Map of Salt and Stars by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar


Empire of Sand (The Books of Ambha #1) by Tasha Suri


Becoming by Michelle Obama


A Room Away From the Wolves by Nova Ren Suma


Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor #2) by Jessica Townsend


The Monster Baru Cormorant (The Masquerade #2) by Seth Dickinson


A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti



Okay, loves! Those are the ten! Are any on this list that you absolutely adore? Any that you think I will absolutely adore? Let me know! And I hope you are all having the most magical Tuesday and that you are reading something five star worthy!

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The Hod King (The Books of Babel, #3) by Josiah Bancroft

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ARC provided by Orbit in exchange for an honest review.

1.) Senlin Ascends ★★★★★
2.) Arm of the Sphinx ★★★★

“The world is full of wolves and lambs, but precious few shepherds.”

I can’t believe that Josiah Bancroft did it again, but he truly did it again. This is such a wonderful installment in a world that I never want to leave. This entire series is such a unique treat that is truly unlike any other fantasy out there. Every paragraph is so smart, every chapter so perfectly crafted, and each book makes me more and more invested. I am at such a loss for words because of this book’s pure magnificence, but I’m going to try to write this review anyway.

The basic, starting premise of this tale is that a man named Senlin, who is from a small fishing village, recently has gotten married to a woman named Marya. And on their honeymoon, he takes her to this mysterious tower that he is obsessed with, and each level inside this tower is completely unique and an entire world all on its own. Senlin comes equipped with a guidebook and feels confident that he and his new bride will be able to have a safe visit, that is, until his new bride goes missing before they even are able to set foot inside the mysterious tower together. And not to get too spoilery, but we are three books in, and he still hasn’t retrieved Marya, but we have gotten to travel alongside him discovering the individual beauty and horror of each unique level.

Yet, this book is set entirely in Pelphia. And this book is all about the Hods that are forced to live as servants for the rest of the tower. Even though each level of this tower is completely different and unique, the Hods are always present, traveling through the inhumane passages, that are completely unforgiving, but they are forced to walk though nonetheless. But the true mystery of the tower, that this book focuses on, is who is The Hod King and what they and their followers are up to.

“It’s possible, I think, to be so many things at once, that you’re practically nothing at all. If you crush a mountain and spread it across a continent, it doesn’t make little mountains; it just vanishes into dust.”

And this book did surprise me with switching perspectives a few times, but this book starts out with Senlin being sent on a very important mission by the Sphinx, which also happens to be in the same Ringdom that he believes Marya is currently living in. Senlin is truly at a crossroads in this book, and he needs to make a choice to listen to his heart and do what he feels is right, or to listen to his mind and trust in the friends he has made during his time in the tower.

This third installment shines a spotlight on abuse, abusers, and the cycle of abuse those abusers will use to keep their victims stuck in the cycle. This book shows that abusers can be charming, they can be charismatic, they can be leaders and pillars in their community, and abusers can fool you and others into thinking that they are not abusers. But none of these things will ever negate the fact that an abuser is an abuser, and this is a constant theme in The Hod King that I really appreciated. And I truly think that it was so well done, and it really meant a lot to me.

“If someone has absolute control over you, it’s easy to believe they have absolute power over everything and everyone. They can’t be defied or challenged or disobeyed, and every opportunity for escape just feels like a cruel test.”

I also think this book discusses how the tower is very much like our own world, where men view women as resources and investments. Whether that means getting and keeping a woman’s name in the spotlight, to ensuring one will carry your child, to just forcing women in molds that cater to men’s wants and desires. I think Josiah mirrors a lot of relevant themes in our world, but this theme was expertly done and really stood out to me. Especially with how we live in a world that is always expecting and asking more and more of women.

I want this review to be spoiler free, and I don’t want to make this review about the author whatsoever, but I just also wanted to add a little caveat that I think that Josiah becoming a father recently may have subconsciously (or consciously) worked its way into his writing. And, friends, I’m soft, and weak, and I truly think that this element is why The Hod King ended up being my favorite of the series so far. I am not a parent yet, but I think most people can understand that being a parent raises the stakes higher for every aspect of your life. We get to see this very much so in this book, and I completely adored it. I also loved the constant discussion on what it means to raise a child, and what makes a caregiver a parent. Found family is always at the heart of these novels, but it shined so beautifully though in this third installment.

I also loved the theme on how societies do not want to take care or even acknowledge impoverished and underprivileged areas. The rich would rather ignore and exploit the poor than to make a conscious effort to help improve their living conditions that would in turn improve the entire society. In 2014, city officials switched Flint’s water supply to cut costs and poisoned an entire city. When I read Senlin Ascends two years ago, Flint was still without clean water. And in 2019, Flint is still without clean water, when powerful men in this world could easily fix an entire city’s plumbing without even noticing they donated the money. I don’t want to get too preachy, but Josiah is a really smart and really talented author, and the messages he wove throughout this book were not missed on me. And this entire story really shows that empathy could improve every world.

What else can I even say? Edith has my heart, Violet is such a badass, I want Iren and Ann to be my moms, because I would already die for that sapphic f/f side relationship, glimpses of Bryon, Goll, and Tarrou made my entire 2019 and we are only in the first month, and getting to learn a little bit about Marya felt like Christmas after being on this journey alongside Senlin for so long.

“I will find her. I will offer my help if she needs it, my heart if she wants it, my head, even if she would see it on a stake!”

Overall, I don’t think I’d fare as well at Tom has in this magical tower that has somehow taken root in my heart, but I’d love to be able to go nonetheless. I truly think that Josiah Bancroft’s storytelling is on a completely different plane of existence than any other SFF writer currently. I truly know that is a very bold sentence to write as a reviewer, but I truly mean it with my entire heart. These characters who I think are some of the best ever crafted, these themes that meant the world to me, these perfectly constructed sentences with a lyrical prose that leaves me highlighting quote after quote, these different adventures that are all completely enthralling, this hidden world that is unlike anything in literature, I am just left in complete and utter awe, friends. Just, please pick up Senlin Ascends if you haven’t already, and come gush with me forever about how astounding this series really is. This final book is truly going to slay me.

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Content and trigger warnings for slavery, abuse, torture, talk of human trafficking, murder, death, loss of a loved one, violence, captivity, abduction, and war themes.

 

A Study in Scarlet (Sherlock Holmes #1) by Arthur Conan Doyle

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“There is a mystery about this which stimulates the imagination; where there is no imagination there is no horror”

I’m going to keep this short and (somewhat) sweet, because this is a very short little introduction that started it all. Everyone’s favorite original detective is Sherlock Holmes, and I’ve been wanting to see how it all began for a long while now! But I can honestly say that I was not prepared for the last half of this tiny book. Yet, I am still happy that I can finally say I’ve read the source material.

PART ONE:
We get to learn a little background information on Watson, and we get to see how he and Sherlock met and developed the most unusual of friendships. I really loved this and I feel like the story benefits so heavily from being told in Watson’s perspective. And I loved seeing the Baker Street apartment and I loved the mysteries, too.

PART TWO:
What the fuck even was this last half? Utah? Mormons and polygamy? Questionable child care? Gross words describing Native people? What the hell did I stumble into? But I guess we needed to know the murderer from part one’s back story? I am so damn confused, but yikes.

Overall, this was a wild ride, but I am happy that I went on it. I’m not sure if I will be continuing on with anything else from Arthur Conan Doyle, but I can’t wait to jump into a reimagining, A Study in Charlotte, and see all of the parallels! Especially since this original material left me feeling very underwhelmed.

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I read this for #CatchUpOnClassics!

 

High Voltage (Fever, #10) by Karen Marie Moning

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1.) Darkfever ★★★★
*.) The Alpha Alternative: JZB Sex Scene
2.) Bloodfever ★★★
3.) Faefever ★★★
4.) Dreamfever ★★★
5.) Shadowfever ★★★★★
*.) Fever Moon: The Fear Dorcha ★★★★★
6.) Iced ★★★★
7.) Burned
8.) Feverborn
9.) Feversong ★★★★

“The gods and Fae are going to war again…”

High Voltage was the last book I completed in 2018! And, Lord, did it really end the year off on a low note! I had so much faith after Feversong! But it just seems like KMM cannot write a book that stars Dani without it feeling… skeezy.

I was so uncomfortable over so many parts of the Jacob and Renesmee storyline that was going on in this installment. Like, I actually thought I was happy shipping Dani and Ryoden together after everything in Feversong, but I finished this book and felt like I needed to take a shower.

Darkfever is such a special book to me, and it always will be, because it was the first “sexy-time” Fae book I ever read, and high school Melanie became addicted to these characters and world so damn quickly! But, it’s been ten years and I need to learn to let go, because this was a damn train wreck and it wasn’t even a train wreck that was enjoyable to see happen. I actually felt like I had to be on the train, because I am literally in pain, friends.

Basically, in this tenth installment (of a series that should have only been five books long), Mac is still missing after the events of Feversong. Dani is patrolling the streets of Dublin, protecting the city she loves, while also still battling the trauma that she experienced as a child. She also has her trusty new sidekick, Shazam, while she is trying to figure out why parts of her body are turning black after she stabbed a Hunter so long ago.

But pretty much nothing happens in this book. It is so ungodly *wink* boring, that I had to bribe myself to pick it up all through the month of December. Inner angsty monologue, after inner antsy monologue. Dani and Ryoden’s actions were childish and ignorant throughout the entirety of this story. It actually made me anti-ship them, which I guess is a feat in itself.

And once we get to the end of the book and get actual answers about what is happening to Dani? Like, I want whatever KMM is sipping because this story is truly out of this world, and not in a good way. I just can’t. I truly can’t, friends. This Fae series, with my favorite romance of all-time, has turned into something so damn convoluted that I am at a loss of words just trying to review it.

Overall, I’m going to take a hard pass on whatever the fuck comes next, because I love myself. I’m just going to live in my little imaginary Barrons Books & Baubles with Mac and Barrons and pretend I never read High Voltage!

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Content and trigger warnings for child abuse, captivity, loss of a loved one, grief depictions, talk of suicide, fatphobic comments, attempted rape, sexual assault, a nasty comment about bipolarism, and some weird age gap romance themes that I don’t want to think about.

99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne

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ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

“Maybe he’s 1 percent mine. That has to be enough.”

Sally Thorne’s long awaited and most anticipated sophomore release, 99 Percent Mine was truly a wild ride for me. I’ll be honest, it took me a while to warm up to this story and especially to this main character, but I ended up enjoying this one for the most part. But, sadly, it is no The Hating Game, or at least it wasn’t for me.

This story stars Darcy Barrett who is a wedding photographer who is currently working at a bar, while also living in a house that her grandmother left to her and her twin brother, Jamie, after she passed away. Darcy has never been known to stay in one place for long, but she can no longer find her passport, so she is sort of stuck in the town she has grown up in. Plus, the house that was left to Darcy and Jamie desperately needs to be completely remodeled.

And one night when Darcy is coming home from work at the bar, she realizes that the contractor on the remodeling job is none other that her and Jamie’s best friend, Tom. Who also is the one guy who has been able to get under Darcy’s skin and into her heart, except when she had the opportunity to finally have him, she completely blew it, and now he is engaged to someone else.

Sounds like a pretty good read, right? I actually adored the set up and the actual unique setting of this story. Okay, now that we have the basic premise out of the way, I want to talk a little bit more about Darcy and why she was the main reason I didn’t enjoy this story for the first fifty perfect. For one, Darcy is written to be so edgy and quirky and constantly let’s you know it. I lost count of how many times she or other characters remarked on her short hair and nipple piercing. (Side note, who gets one nipple pierced in 2019? Like, come on.) But basically, this was all super annoying and felt so forced to me.

Next, Darcy is living with a very serious chronic heart condition, which she completely ignores throughout most of the book. This ended up being very triggering for me. I don’t want to make this review about me and my family, but if you’ve seen a few other reviews I have talked about my dad’s heart condition before, and how much it has impacted me, my family, and my anxiety’s life. So, reading about a character that just didn’t give a shit was really bothering to me. Especially since she relies on her twin brother to literally save her life. Trust me, I completely understand depression and not caring to better yourself or take care of your health, but she just chose to rely on her brother and make really poor choices, no matter her mental state. And friends, I promise you, no dick is ever worth your health or your life. I swear to every higher power.

“I’m the client. I’m his best friend’s sister. I’m Mr. and Mrs. Barrett’s weak-hearted daughter. I’m the liability he swore to take care of.”

Okay, let’s talk some more about Tom. I loved Tom, completely. But sometimes Darcy’s over aggression and scary behavior towards him was too much for me. And all the ugly jealously and nasty things she would say about his fiancé? Like, come on, let’s not. Also, Darcy does some very grey-area cheating attempts in this book that made me kind of uncomfortable!

And the last thing that bothered me was the not so great sibling relationship. Plus, Jamie just read so insufferable! You all know my brother is my best friend in this entire world and I just don’t really enjoy seeing not great sibling bonds in stories, even though the story constantly tries to make you feel like they at least had a good relationship for most their lives. Especially since Darcy and Jamie’s dynamic was so weird and I felt like I was missing so much. I really think this book would have benefited from way more actual flashbacks for Darcy, Jamie, and Tom’s childhood. Like, I think it would have improved this book so much.

Oh my gosh, I sound so negative, but I promise I did end up enjoying this read. The sex scenes were 11/10, I won’t lie. And the angst and the payoff felt so damn satisfying. Also, Sally Thorne just knows how to write amazing banter in general. From making me swoon, to making me cry, to making me laugh out loud, this author really can weave words together so damn well. Oh, and I loved Darcy’s best friend, Truly, so much! Like, give me her book please! But only her, you feel me?

Overall, this was a fun read even if it took me a little bit to warm up to Darcy and all the situations she had going on. Plus, I think this was a really fun and unique play on the friends to lovers trope. The writing is great, the pace is fast and fantastic, the banter will make you giggle, and the romance will have you fanning yourself! I for sure think that if you enjoyed The Hating Game that there is a good chance you will enjoy this one, too, even though it really is completely different. But I’m mostly excited to see what Sally Thorne does next!

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Content and trigger warnings for talk of loss of a loved one, alcoholism, a very serious chronic heart condition (and threat of failure) throughout the entire book, assault (unwanted grabbing of her wrist in a threatening manner in a empty parking lot), and a few questionable comments/jokes made about people’s cultures (like going to bury nametags in the Japanese forest, Aokigahara).

Blog Tour Review | The Gilded Wolves (The Gilded Wolves, #1) by Roshani Chokshi

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ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

“Sometimes the only way to take down what had destroyed you was to disguise yourself as part of it.”

Most of you know that Roshani Chokshi is one of my favorite authors. I loved both The Star-Touched Queen & A Crown of Wishes with my whole heart and soul! So, I knew when she was writing a brand-new series, about a found family completing heists and solving puzzles, that I wouldn’t be able to resist once I got my hands on an ARC. And friends, this was such a treat to read.

This is a historical fantasy set in alternate 1889 Paris, France, and in this alternate world, children will manifest magical powers by the age of thirteen. And there are two different kinds of magic; the magic of mind and the magic of matter. There is also a very powerful secret society, that goes by the name of the Order of Babel, and it used to be made up of four houses, but two houses took over ten years ago. And by doing so, they made a very big mistake claiming the heir of one of those fallen houses as dead.

“Turning into ghosts is not what the dead deserve.”

Séverin – Biracial (Algerian & French). For sure the leader of the group, who wants nothing more than to keep his crew safe and out of harm’s way. But he is on a mission to reclaim his true inheritance that was stolen from him with lies ten years ago, because he gets an offer than he couldn’t possibly refuse.

Laila – Indian (ownvoices), dancer, who is dealing with a lot of grief and a lot of anxiety over her past. She has the magical (matter) forging ability to touch any object and read it to know everything about it. And she desperately needs Séverin’s plan to work.

Tristan – White, and Séverin considers him his little brother, because they moved around a lot together in foster care. Also, Tristan loves his pet tarantula, Goliath, more than anything, but he’s still my favorite little gardener/botanist.

Zofia – On the Autism spectrum, Jewish, Polish, has anxiety, and a lot of her actions (in my opinion, as someone who has OCD) feels like she may also fall on the OCD spectrum. She finds comfort in numbers, needs to have things in their rightful place, and is willing to do any and everything for her little sister that she was forced to leave behind. Zofia also has magical forging abilities of the mind.

Hypnos – Black, queer (probably pan, maybe bi, and maybe even non-binary), heir of a French aristocrat but know he is also a descendant of slavery. His story line is a little rough at first, but you soon realize that he considers Séverin a brother to him, and honestly? Hypnos ended up being my second favorite character. Also, he made me giggle so much that my tummy hurt.

Enrique – Biracial (Filipino (ownvoices) & Spanish), queer (he is either bisexual or pansexual, but I’m not sure my heart can take reading about a half Filipino, pan character because it is all I’ve ever wanted in literature!) But, this character meant a lot to me. I am not sure I’ve ever read specifically about a biracial Filipino dealing with cultural erasure on both sides of their heritage before. I mean, this book is literally people trying to erase cultures from history, and Enrique is literally a historian, but seeing people make comments about his looks and biraciality just really hit home for me on a really personal level. I completely realize that there comes an immense privilege with being white passing but reading this book and feeling how real and hurtful it is when people disregard you and erase you because you don’t fit in their stereotypical mold of what a half Asian person should look like, but they also never let you forget that you’re not fully white. Yet, also not feeling like you truly fit in because of your lighter or more westernized features, even if they comment about it in a way that they believe is positive and a compliment. And Enrique also has to deal with people thinking that Asian people are interchangeable and thinking that their cruel and ignorant words are acceptable to say. I loved all the characters in this book, but Enrique just felt like the character I’ve been searching for for a very long while and he just really encompassed so many things that I hold inside myself every day. His character just meant a lot to me, and I will cherish him forever and always in my heart.

(Breathtaking art(s) by Nicole Deal!)

And this ragtag group of misfits come together and create something so beautiful that I hardly have words to describe it. This book heavily talks about colonization. And even though the heart of this novel is about a found family who unconditionally loves one another, the soul of this novel is about cultural erasure and how important it is to keep the traditions and history from your culture, no matter who tries to make you believe that theirs is superior. And this book really puts an emphasis of the terrible acts people will commit while saying that it’s for or because of a higher power.

“But the greatest thief of all was the Order of Babel, for they stole more than just objects . . . they stole histories”

But all these characters feel like a tier above the rest of what YA has to offer. They feel so real, their pain feels so raw, and you just want to protect them all at all costs. Roshani really is a master word weaver and I can’t help falling in love with every story she puts into the world. She is also the master of romance, and I was swooning extra hard for two people in this. (Also, the set up to book two will probably be the death of me!) As for the other romantic relationship, Roshani is either going to completely slay me with the love triangle or give me everything I’ve ever wanted with a polyamorous relationship. Lord, hear my prayers.

Also, because I don’t think I mentioned this above, a good portion of this book is set at a hotel called L’Eden where the crew lives and develops new advancements to help them with their missions. I know I’ve already gushed pretty hard over this book, but I love books that are set in hotels and inns so much, and it was just such an unexpected treat. Then again, Roshani always writes the best settings and my heart fell completely in love with a poisonous greenhouse in this story, too.

Overall, I just really loved this one. I am sure many people will compare The gilded Wolves to a mix of Six of Crows & The Da Vinci Code upon release, and I think that’s valid, bu I think it has its own unique spin, too. The cast is diverse and lovable, the writing is lush and beautiful, the themes are important and heartfelt, and the story is captivating and unputdownable. If you like a story with secrets and mystery, filled artifacts and puzzle solving, with a little romance and funny banter, then I completely recommend picking up The Gilded Wolves upon release.

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Content and trigger warnings for colonialism, cultural erasure, and racism (always challenged and in a negative light), blood depiction, mention of past suicide, loss of a loved one, bullying in the past, abandonment, anxiety attacks, mention of a stillbirth, and depictions of grief.

Buddy read with Kristi, Mel, Amy, Caidyn, Lily, & Alex! ❤

Top Ten Tuesday | New-to-Me Authors I Read In 2018

TopTenTuesday
Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018!


Hey, friends! This is officially my first Top Ten Tuesday of 2019! Booktube (and learning how to film and edit) has really taken up a lot of my time! But I missed this weekly post so much that I feel so blessed to be able to start back up! Especially with this fun topic of all the first time authors I read from last year! Also, don’t forget that I did write up a post all about my favorite debuts of 2018, but hopefully I only have a few repeats!


Jessica Townsend

This lovely author made me re-fall in love with all things magical and middle grade in 2018! Nevermoor was honestly everything. Everything.


Claire Legrand

I read two things by Claire for the very first time last year, and I couldn’t believe what I had been missing all my life! I love her and I love her words so much!


Jasmine Guillory

I fell so hard in love with this Romance author last year! Both of her books are ownvoices and set in the same world! And I cannot wait to see what she does next!


Talia Hibbert

I can’t believe I didn’t read anything by this beautiful soul before 2018! But holy moly did she win me over hard last year! So hard, that The Dragons & Tea Book Club picked one of her books for our February 2019 pick! The actual blessings.


Katie O’Neill

I read two of my all time favorite graphic works from Katie in 2018, and I can’t wait to buy and read everything else she has and will create!


Tessa Gratton 

Tessa wrote my second favorite book of 2018, and I continued to read more from her all last year, and I just continue to be more wowed by her craft. She is so talented, and the way she strings words together is truly a gift from above.


Alyssa Cole

Alyssa is another Romance author that I couldn’t get enough from in 2018! A Princess in Theory was everything I’ve been looking for in the genre and she just keeps getting better. I cannot wait for her just released story set in this world, too!


Alice Oseman

Radio Silence was maybe my favorite book of 2018, and I knew I couldn’t compile this list without listing Alice, because I ended up reading all but one of her complete works last year, and I absolutely loved them all so much!


Emily X.R. Pan

I couldn’t not mention Emily, because The Astonishing Color of After was my favorite debut of 2018 and will always be a story I carry in my heart.


Cassandra Clare

You all really thought I wasn’t going to mention my actual 2018 queen in this post? Lord, help me! 2018 was truly the year of me reading 20+ things by this woman, and loving almost all of them! Truly, the greatest blessing of last year!



Okay, friends! That’s it! I hope you enjoyed, and I hope that I was able to surprise you with a few of these! I hope you are having a wonderful month filled with so many five star reads! I love you all!

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