5 Star Reads of 2017

This year, I was blown away by the second and third books in multiple trilogies. In the past, it had felt like no other book in a series could top the first book – and the third book? Might as well just pretend it never existed (I’m looking at you, Allegiant). But authors Sarah J. Maas, Victoria Aveyard, and Leigh Bardugo have made me hopeful that trilogies and series are alive and well. Sarah J. Maas tops my list as the author of five of my most favorite books of the year. Stand alone books didn’t disappoint either. Exit, Pursued by a Bear is a must-read for anyone looking for a politically and emotionally savvy #metoo read. I’ve been anxiously awaiting for another book from my Graceling-universe-author Kristin Cashore, and while Jane, Unlimited was worlds away from Graceling, I was still hooked on every page. I’m looking forward to whatever else she decides to write. Another interesting thing about this list? Women authors dominate, with the only male writer being Scott Westerfeld for Afterworlds. Way to go, ladies!

Without further ado, here are my five star reads of 2017, in no particular order:   

  1. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
  2. A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2) by Sarah J. Maas
  3. A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3) by Sarah J. Maas
  4. Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) by Sarah J. Maas
  5. King’s Cage (Red Queen #3) by Victoria Aveyard
  6. Ruin and Rising (The Grisha Trilogy #3) by Leigh Bardugo
  7. Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston
  8. Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore

But I read so many GREAT books this year, and eight books just doesn’t do my reading list justice. So here are a few four star books that were an absolute pleasure to read.

Honorable Mentions:

  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  • Something New: Tales from a Makeshift Bride by Lucy Knisley
  • Shadow and Bone (The Grisha Trilogy #1) by Leigh Bardugo
  • Siege and Storm (The Grisha Trilogy #2) by Leigh Bardugo
  • The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn #1) by Renee Ahdieh
  • The Rose and the Dagger (The Wrath and the Dawn #2) by Renee Ahdieh
  • Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld
  • A Million Suns (Across the Universe #2) by Beth Revis
  • Shades of Earth (Across the Universe #3) by Beth Revis
  • Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
  • Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas
  • When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
  • A Thousand Pieces of You (Firebird #1) by Claudia Gray

What were your favorite reads of the year?

Find my top books of 2016 here and 2015 here.

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Goodbye November, Hello Hanson and More Books than I can Handle

Goodbye November

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog this month. I’m pretty awful at blogging throughout the rest of the year, but I thoroughly enjoy creating pieces for NaBloPoMo and reading other people’s blogs during the month, too. I hope you found a post or two that you connected with.

Hello Hanson

Now that NaBloPoMo is coming to a close, I’m thinking about preparing for Christmas, my sister’s baby shower, and taking a much-needed weekend getaway. A friend and I will be seeing Hanson’s “Finally It’s Christmas” show, and I can’t wait! Yes, I’m talking about those guys who sang “MmmBop” twenty years ago. Hanson’s “Snowed In” album is my favorite Christmas CD, and I was thrilled that they were releasing new Christmas music. I couldn’t believe my luck when it worked out that a friend and I could plan a trip to see Hanson perform live this month. We’ve already been to three (or four?) of their concerts since college, and each time we leave, we say we’d go see them again!

More Books than I can Handle

Whoa, I am drowning in books over here! I read approximately 98% of my books on my Kindle and 99.5% of those books are from my library, via the OverDrive app. Seriously, it’s the best. I always have ten books on hold on the app, as you can’t get all of the books right away, just like a library. Anyway, I’ve had the same books on hold for months, and then of course, while in the middle of reading one book, four more books came in at once. That means I’ve got 14 days to read 4.5 books! Wish me luck.

Enjoy the holiday season everyone!

Right on the Button

Shop Small Saturday was a success for me! I was surprised by how many great little shops there were in my hometown. I picked up the cutest pair of gloves for myself, super-soft leggings, two pairs of boots, a Christmas gift for my mom, and some sweet hot pepper relish to serve future guests. On top of that, I also bought quite a few items including the cute bookish magnet and three mini buttons pictured above at Book World, a Wisconsin bookstore chain that is currently going out of business.

The first Book World opened in 1976 in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, and is now the fourth largest bookstore chain in the U.S. with 45 stores across seven states. Sadly, due to the “recent national shift in the retail marketplace towards e-commerce” and the “loss of vital mall anchor stores,” all of the Book World locations will be closing up shop in 2018.

While it’s sad to see these small businesses go, I can understand why they can’t stay in business. I mean, I’m a book person, yet I didn’t spend much money on books in the past year, and what I did spend on books, I mainly purchased online. On Saturday, however, it was great to see so many people out and about, enjoying their local shops. Have you shopped small at all this holiday season?

It’s no Wonder this book is on the big screen

In 2014, I posted about three books that had great messages. One of these books was Wonder by R.J. Palacio. Wonder is about a ten-year-old boy named Auggie Pullman who is about to attend public school for the first time. While this would be challenging for anyone, Auggie has an even more difficult time because he was born with a facial deformity. The book follows Auggie’s side of the story as well as his classmates, his older sister, and other people around him, showing the effects of the strange looks and bullying he encounters. Everyone learns something from Auggie. While the book is written for elementary students (grades 3-6), teens and adults will enjoy it just as much as a younger audience. This winter, the book’s popularity and it’s message to “choose kind” have catapulted Auggie and his story to the big screen.

I’m bringing all this up because I recently came across another great article called “The Power of Wonder.” In the article, Julia Roberts (who plays Auggie’s mom in the film), author R.J. Palacio, and director Stephen Chbosky (who also wrote a little book you might have heard of called The Perks of Being a Wallflower), discuss Wonder, how it impacted their lives, and the messages that stood out to them the most. I enjoyed hearing Julia talk about how she read the book to her three kids – complete with voices – and the awkward situation that lead to R.J. writing the book. If you have read Wonder, I highly recommend this short but sweet article, which can be found in the December issue of Good Housekeeping magazine or online here. If you haven’t read Wonder yet, be sure to pick this one up. I think it will become one of those great classics that we share with our kids like The Giver, Number the Stars, and Matilda.    

Anyone else out there want to share some love for Wonder?

Thankful for Smart Authors

If you need some reading material this Thanksgiving weekend, check out this article from Elle magazine between two smart authors: Margaret Atwood and Louise Erdrich. It’s no surprise that I’m an Atwood fan – just click here to find out why – so I was pleased to come across this interview while flipping through a magazine in the living room yesterday. Atwood has received a fresh new fan-base thanks to the popularity of The Handmaid’s Tale – both a novel and a Hulu show. The Handmaid’s Tale is a frightening version of the future where women have been stripped of their rights and only certain women are able to birth and raise children. Meanwhile, author Louise Erdrich has written about another version of the future in her latest book, Future Home of the Living God. According to the Elle article, it’s “a wonderful, creepy, dystopian novel – in which women become prized, and quickly enslaved, for their ability to produce healthy babies.” While I’m not very familiar with Erdrich’s work, I have enjoyed Atwood’s books, and I think I’ll be putting Future Home of the Living God on my TBR list.

What are you reading this Thanksgiving weekend?