Thursday, September 13, 2018

Books I've Read This Year

How's everybody's Thursday treating them so far? This year, I've gotten behind on a few of my goals, one of them obviously being blogging XP The other main goal is the reading goal I set for myself at the beginning of this year. I created a GoodReads Reading Challenge for myself, hoping to finish 20 books. So far I've only read 9 books, but I'm hoping I'll be able to pick up the pace in the final third of the year and reach my overall reading goal 😊📚 I didn't get a chance to write reviews for each of these books, so I thought I'd write just a little blurb about each of the books - and/or my experiences reading them - that I've finished so far. Hopefully keeping track in this way will help to further motivate me to read the other 11 books before the end of the year.
90 Days of Different by Eric Walters: The idea of a character who has a set personality and set routine that can be found wanting, and challenging themselves and pushing themselves out of their comfort zone - sometimes of their own volition, sometimes with the help of a friend - is always a story premise that I will be drawn to. While the actual meat of the story was a bit lacking, and the middle felt like it was simply going through the motions of approaching its conclusion, I will say that the characters and dialogue writing itself was actually pretty hilarious. Eric Walters had be cracking up from the very first page, and that gargantuan sense of humour, as well as a genuine investment in the protagonist's journey, is what kept me reading until the very end.
Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia: If I have one regret, it would be waiting as long as I did to pick up and properly start reading this novel. There are so many themes and moments in this story that I relate to - the internal and external struggles of Eliza of course, but this story also had its ways of genuinely surprising me, and it was even a shock to me when I realised just how much I had fallen in love with this story. The representations and expressions of suicide and suicidal thoughts struck a chord with me, as someone who has also struggled with similar notions, but I feel like anyone with any degree of mental health struggles will forge a deep connection with one or multiple aspects of this story and/or its characters.
Girl Online: Going Solo by Zoe Sugg: Many of you may know that I idolise Zoe Sugg, aka Zoella, and everything that she's accomplished at such a young age, especially as somebody who suffers from anxiety on a regular basis. I actually picked up this book last year, and was as eager to read it as I'd been with the first two books in the trilogy, but I actually only reached the point where Penny and her family began their journey to Ireland (not a spoiler, promise, it's probably mentioned on the jacket cover) when I stopped reading and didn't pick it up again until this year. The second time around, I was determined to start this book again from the very beginning, to refresh myself on the story and the new characters, and I'm certainly glad that I did. I was able to fully finish the book this time with zero problems, and it felt like a fitting conclusion to the Girl Online series that Zoella has crafted.
The Handsome Girl & Her Beautiful Boy by B.T. Gottfred: Since discovering his second novel, The Nerdy & The Dirty, I have absolutely fallen in love with the writing of B.T. Gottfred. After listening to the audio book for that title, I went into detail and wrote a glowing review on GoodReads. The author actually saw & commented on my review, saying it was one of the best he'd seen, so that was kind of awesome 💓 When I saw that he had another book due for publication, I wanted to buy it the moment it went on sale. Unfortunately, money is tight right now, so what I did was use one of the Audible credits I had been hoarding once the book was available on the app and downloaded the YA goodness onto my phone. This book contained the same moving reading (aka listening) experiencing that I went through with The Nerdy & The Dirty - and the main reason I haven't yet reviewed it yet on GoodReads (aside from giving it a much-deserved 5 star rating) is that I feel like I need to meet the challenge set by my last review XD Of course now it's been several months, so I'll need to re-listen to the audio book in order to create a valid and timely review.
The Problem With Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout: I bought this book almost a year ago now and after hunting through my disaster of a bedroom I managed to find where I'd tucked it away, since I hadn't gotten around to reading it before this year. It actually has a pretty awesome premise - the protagonist Mallory grew up as an orphan in a pretty toxic environment, where she learned that they best way to be safe is to stay silent. And in the present day, living with a loving and supportive adoptive family and having been home schooled for the past few years, she still struggles with scars from the past and with being quiet and avoiding speaking her mind at every opportunity. When she finally enters a public high school for the first time, who should she meet but Ryder, who grew up with her in foster care and had always been her best friend and protector. Their relationship is equal parts hopeful and beautiful - the only complaint I may have is how quickly some of the physical aspects of their relationship come into being, what with everything Mallory has been through, but that might just be me nitpicking 😝
Chaotic Good by Whitney Gardner: This is a book that I had on my wish list for a while but was hesitant to buy - things are tight financially right now, plus it's still a fairly new book and therefore is only available in hardcover. But when I had an upcoming solo trip to Toronto, I knew I was going to need something to keep me entertained through both of the 90-120 minute bus rides there and back, so I took the plunge and picked this up at my local book store. And boy am I happy that I did! I didn't finish reading this that day on the bus - pretty sure I didn't even do much reading on the way home because I was pretty worn out - but I'm fairly certain I finished reading it by the next day. I was quickly wrapped up in the story, and I relate with the main character in so many ways. I'd recommend this to any fellow geeks out there, even if you don't share in the protagonist's interests in cosplay, sewing, and playing Dungeons & Dragons.
Reread: Geekerella by Ashley Poston: I can say with no hesitation that this is one of my favourite books of all time - it may even be very close to reaching the top spot in my heart. I first read this book in its physical form not to long after it came out, and after I heard a few iggles raving about it, and eventually I found myself getting the audiobook, which I have listened to at least twice since then, this year being the most recent, and which I will probably listen to a hundred more times before the end of my life. Recently there has been a lot of bad stuff going on at home and with my family. When I decided that I needed a distraction, I decided it would be a good time to start re-listening to this precious audiobook that makes me appreciate all the nerdy things - and people - in my life more than I previously had done before.
The Queen: A Selection Novella by Kiera Cass: As much as I love the Selection series by Kiera Cass, I never actually got around to reading every single novella that was written to correspond with the characters in the series. I was probably the most hesitant to read this one about how Maxon's parents fell in love during his father's Selection, mainly because there were so many things I disliked about the character of Maxon's dad, and I didn't see how I could be invested in the love story involving such an angry and violent man. But the character of Maxon's mother, Amberly, helped me be drawn in to their relationship solely by the pure and unwavering affection and love that she has for Clarkson, despite his many shortcomings. One thing that surprised me with the audiobook version, which probably shouldn't have been all that surprisingly, was Amberly's accent. This novella reminded me that she comes from a fictional equivalent of Nicaragua (least I'm pretty sure that's where she's from, I could be mistaken - it's hard trying to quote facts from an audio book versus a physical book because you don't have pages you can flip through to locate any specific facts), which explains the Hispanic lilt to her voice, and of course that of the narrator.
Reread: The Heir by Kiera Cass: Of course when I first found out, once the Selection "trilogy" had been completed, that there were going to be not one but two new novels published continuing the story, I was beyond excited, and of course I was sure to pick up both these novels as soon as I was physically able to get to a book store. Recently I discovered that I could borrow audio books for free on my phone from a number of apps through my local library, and it gave me a great opportunity to finally listen to some of the books in this beloved series. While there was, and still is, a wait list for the original three novels (how that makes sense when we're talking digital copies of audio books through an app, I don't completely understand), The Heir was quickly available, so I jumped at the chance to re-experience the world of Edelyn Shrieve, future queen of Illea. This was my first time re-reading this particular title (as you may know, I've re-read the first three books multiple times), and I really enjoyed the experience, getting to see (or hear about, rather) and imagine Edelyn's personal journey as a character and a person, changing as she experiences her own Selection as well as a number of harsh realities about her family, her country, and of course herself.

And that concludes the wrap-up of all of the books I've managed to read so far this year! There are still 11 I need to finish before December 31st, and I do have a number of books on my TBR list, but if you have any recommendations for me, feel free to tell me about them in the comments below, or if you would like to share anything about your own reading journey so far this year. That's all for now, and until my next big read, I'll keep you guys posted!

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