The Best Books I Read in 2017

This year was full of many duds when it came to new releases or even old releases that I finally got around to, but there were a few stand-outs that really caught my attention and became new favorites of mine, the first of which was Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham.

CpH4ANsVUAE5OwOGilmore Girls is one of my favorite TV shows, and Lorelai is one of my favorite characters. She’s sassy, spunky, quirky, and hilarious, and I hoped that reading Graham’s memoir would make me love the actor who played her. (PS – it did.)

This reading experience was so much fun; Graham’s voice was so clear through her writing, and I can only imagine how wonderful this audiobook must have been. I loved reading about her life and some behind the scenes tidbits from Gilmore Girls, Parenthood, and A Year in the Life. This was my first 5 star read of 2017 and really just made my heart so happy.

29772863Next up was a graphic novel by none other than Marissa Meyer, a personal favorite of mine and a staple in the YA book community. That book would be Wires and Nerve, which is a sort of spin-off of the Lunar Chronicles following the adventures of Iko the android. Seeing as Iko was never a favorite character of mine, I was surprised by how much fun I had reading this and how much I now anticipate book two! This was my second experience reading a graphic novel and it has also given me a thirst for more. (PS – if anyone has any recommendations for other good graphic novels, comment below because seriously, I need more.)

DocumentAnother surprise was Caraval by Stephanie Garber. You can read my full review for this book here, but basically this book was incredible. It had everything I ever wanted and checked all of my boxes and was absolutely amazing. There was magic and mystery and action and romance and twists and family drama, and truly I cannot recommend this book enough. I want to buy copies for everyone I know and force them to read this except I don’t have that kind of money, so all I can say is: do whatever you can to get your hands on a copy of Caraval.

9781250050748Another book that I loved was This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales. For some reason, this received a 4 star rating according to my Goodreads, but that may change upon further inspection because really, this book was so incredibly moving. Not only did I relate to the main character, I felt that it was a beautiful story of redemption and growth and moving past the pain of your past. I wrote a full review for this book here, so feel free to check out my complete thoughts on it and then hopefully pick up the book for yourself.

34538054The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones is another book that snuck up on me and became a quick favorite. The story was very unique and sucked me in fairly easily, but ended up really tugging on my heart-strings as well. I didn’t expect this to be such an emotional read, although I should have based on other people’s reactions. This was such a special book with such a heart-wrenching ending, but I can see myself rereading this for sure. Definitely check this pick out, and also my original review for it.

29385546Marie Lu’s most recent release definitely made it on the list; Warcross exceeded my expectations. I didn’t want to get too caught up in the hype lest it let me down, but this book is well-deserving of the praise. It was cool and modern, with interesting characters, a steamy love interest, and an awesome concept. This book made me want to get sucked into video game culture and participate in this world of virtual reality and technology. Check out my full review for Warcross here.

81uGB-QT1hLGeekerella by Ashley Poston was not a surprise favorite for me. I went into this book 100% certain that I was going to love it, and I was not disappointed in the slightest. This fairytale retelling of a fangirl Cinderella was adorable, funny, fresh, and such good fun. I wrote a review for Geekerella here, but you can just take my word for it: this retelling is so worth it. You may think that this story has been wrung dry, but I think there are still so many new and special ways to tell this classic tale.

Xpress-YA-Bardugo-TheLanguageofThornsThe last favorite of 2017 was The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo. Sometimes I have issues with short story collections because typically, there are a few in the batch that aren’t as good as the others. This was not the case with this compilation. Every single story included in The Language of Thorns was exceptional, and I was so pleased with the entire reading experience. The illustrations on every page were stunning, and the stories were all beautiful and unique. Check out my review for this book here, and then buy it for yourself because you know you want to.

This was such an incredible batch of books and I’m so excited for the new stories I’ll be introduced to in the coming year! What are some of your most anticipated 2018 releases?

Noteworthy Standalones

A struggle that I often find as a reader is standalones vs series. While I enjoy a good series, I hate having to wait for sequels to come out and ultimately, they’re a pain in my butt. I have to make sure they’re all the same editions and they’re either all paperback or all hardcover. I have to worry about covers matching and what they’re going to look like next to each other on my shelves. They’re way too much trouble. And sometimes, I want to read one book that I know is going to wrap up, and that’ll be the end of it. No cliffhangers, no need to wait for the rest of the books to be released; it’s all right there under one cover. It’s beautiful.

9780143567592One of the more popular, and one of my favorites, is by none other than John Green. The Fault in Our Stars has received mixed reviews, but I ultimately really enjoyed this book. John Green is always so quotable, and TFIOS is no exception. It’s a story about a girl who is fighting cancer and a boy who beat it, but also so much more than that. Green doesn’t always focus on the cancer-ness of our characters, but also doesn’t ignore it. It’s a theme, yes, but the love between them is central. The dialogue and characters are spot-on, and the book is has humor, heartbreak, and poignancy all rolled into one.

Siren_BookCoverA pleasant surprise for me was The Siren by Kiera Cass. After reading The Selection, I was so disappointed by the way women were represented in her stories. I hated that I hated every female character in her books, but I read The Siren because regardless, I still eat up her stories.

I absolutely loved it. I thought it was a beautiful, original, interesting story, and the relationships between the female characters was so heartwarming. For once, I didn’t want to choke all the characters in a Cass book! This was such an interesting, lovely read that I’m actually looking forward to picking up again soon.

71LkLmxqgjLThe next book is a popular Rainbow Rowell read: Eleanor & Park. It took me a long time to pick this up because I was skeptical, but I was so glad when I finally did. This was such a good, simple story about two very complex individuals who fall in love. They both have their struggles but they end up bonding over the things that make each other hurt, and I think that’s beautiful. At times, this was a really difficult book to read, and the ending tears my heart out, but I believe that in the end, the story is very rewarding.

1428026872053That’s not the only Rainbow Rowell selection I’m including here today. Next up is Fangirl, one of the cutest books you’ll ever read in your life. This is much more light-hearted compared to Eleanor & Park and has just a very sweet story. You’ll fall in love with every single character, and anyone who’s ever written or read fanfiction should easily relate to Cath, our MC.

16143347Next up is We Were Liars by E Lockhart, which is a mystery with a crazy plot twist at the end. I really loved reading this because while I love to try and predict the ending to these kinds of books, I love to be surprised. This book definitely surprised me, practically blew me away. It’s definitely worth the read, whether you liked the ending or not, and I’d definitely recommend this.

9781250050748One of my more recent reads was This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales, which I loved. I was surprised by this book as well, but was so happy to have finally read it. This book deals with suicide and thoughts of it in such a great way that I appreciated. I wrote an actual review of this which you can check out here, but ultimately, this book was incredible and heartbreaking and I would definitely recommend it.

The_Book_ThiefThe last standalone I’ll be mentioning today is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. This is such an important, wonderful, interesting book that I think everyone should read. It’s so cleverly and brilliantly written and completely enjoyable. The narration was spectacular, and basically I can’t think of enough glowing adjectives to describe this book. Definitely a noteworthy standalone.

That’s all for today, folks. Obviously, there are many other wonderful standalones, but that’s for another time and post. I hope that by reading this, you’ve found a new book to add to your TBR list or at least find that you have a few things in common with me. Mahalo!

BOOK REVIEW: Leila Sales “This Song Will Save Your Life”

22014863_1813506502012766_621267476_nTitle: This Song Will Save Your Life

Author: Leila Sales

Genre: Contemporary/Fiction

My Rating: 4/5 stars

 

I’ve owned the book This Song Will Save Your Life for several years, initially attracted by it’s eye-catching cover and intriguing title. It’s sat on my bookshelves for several years, waiting to be discovered, realized, and felt. I’ve heard this book calling out to me on several occasions since being bought, begging to be read. Finally, for some unknown reason,  I had the urge to pick this up a few days ago, and I am so thankful that I did.

This book was such a journey, and so heartfelt. I understood it’s main character, saw myself in her, and knew her. The story follows this main character, Elise, who’s a social outcast and does everything she can to change it. She spends an entire summer researching all the things that “cool” people do, wear, and know. She reads up on the lives of celebrities that she doesn’t care about, TV shows she doesn’t watch, and to her dismay, popular music that she hates. Then when it’s time to put this newfound knowledge to use, Elise realizes that none of it would ever make her cool. The trendy clothes that she spent a fortune on, the person she’s pretending to be… they always see through it. She can change how she appears all she wants, but she can’t change who she is. She can’t change the ill-timed questions or comments, born from a social cluelessness that she’s struggled with her whole life. Nor can she change the years of loser persona that she has perfected and her peers have come to know her as.

Somehow, Elise happens across an underground nightclub, where music rules the night and the people have no idea who she is during the day. No longer is she Elise, the loser. She’s Elise, aspiring DJ.

Elise’s story hit me so deep. While I was fortunate to be homeschooled and a part of a relatively accepting group of fellow homeschoolers, I was definitely never cool. When I was enrolled in private school for a short time, I was teased, and I absolutely know why. I was actually one of the most annoying kids ever. I liked to raise my hand in the middle of class because I had a comment or story relating to what the teacher was talking about. I picked my nose in public. I wore oversized hoodies and I never, ever, brushed my hair. I was the last of all the girls in my grade to get a training bra. I said things out loud that I probably shouldn’t have. I was a social nightmare.

When I left school and started interacting with new people, I was so excited to start over and try to be a cooler person. However, I learned the same thing that Elise did: it’s not cool to try.

This book also deals with having suicidal thoughts and cutting, and while I’ve never harmed myself in that way, I’ve had thoughts of killing myself before. However, this story stresses the fact that sometimes, people aren’t driven to kill themselves because something significant and horrible happened to them. Sometimes, it can be because a group of girls forced you to clean up their mess after lunch. It’s not about cleaning up the mess, though; it’s about that and every moment leading up to it. For Elise, it had been every torturous thing that happened to her, every mean thing anyone had ever called her, all the time she had spent trying to be cooler, trying to be better, and all her work being good for nothing. For me, it was every boy I had ever cared for rejecting me. It was finally being in a relationship, and not being happy. It was being treated like crap by the only boy who had ever liked me and wondering if this was how I was going to feel for the rest of my life.

Elise found her happiness, though, and so did I. Her story is inspiring and beautiful, and it touched me in a way that few stories have. I didn’t expect to love this book so much, but now that it’s a part of my life, I’m so happy to be able to share it. Elise’s story mirrors many of our stories, and it deals with some of the same pains and heartbreaks that we have faced.

This is my favorite book I have ever read that deals with suicide. It’s an encouragement to all those who struggle with suicidal thoughts, and an anthem to all those who have overcome them.

Please read this book.

 

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