15 Books I’d Like to Re-read

15 Books I'd Love to Reread

I love rereading books that I previously enjoyed. It’s not something that I do often because there are so many new books coming out every week, and it’s hard to prioritize rereading a book when I’ve got ten brand new ones that I want to get to.

There are certain books that I make sure to reread frequently: I read J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road every single year; I’ll reread my favorite self-help books (Jen Sincero’s You Are a Badass and Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck) whenever I need a pick-me-up; anytime a new book is released in a series that I love, I’ll reread the entire thing prior to the release date of the newest book.

There are several books, however, that I’d love to reread, but that I haven’t made time for yet. I’d like to try to reread these all in 2020. It wasn’t until I put the list together that I noticed that there are definitely a few themes! Here are the fifteen books that I’d love to reread!

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15. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

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Goodreads | Amazon

My mother had a complete set of these books and I read them a few times while I was growing up. It’s been nearly fifteen years since I last read them, however, so I’m curious to see if I’d love them as much as I used to now that I’m in my thirties. As a child, I saw the books only as fun fantasy adventure novels with interesting characters; now that I’m older, I’m worried that the Christian undertones that I’ve learned about over the years will either distract me from the story or even ruin the story for me. I’d still like to give it a shot one day if only to feel some nostalgia.


14. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

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Goodreads | Amazon

You’re about to see a lot of nature-oriented books on this list. I thoroughly enjoyed Cheryl Strayed’s account of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, a 2,650-mile trail from Mexico to Canada. I love the idea of long-distance backpacking trips, but this is a bit much for me in real life. However, I love reading about other people having these types of hardcore adventures, so this easily became a favorite of mine. I’ll probably reread this next time I’m in the mountains.

13. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver

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Goodreads | Amazon

An ex-boyfriend recommended this book to me years and years ago, and it’s really stuck with me (one of two books on this list recommended by him, by the way). I’ve always dreamed of having my own homestead, where I could grow and raise my own food, live off of sustainable energy, and create a self-sufficient life. The older that I get, the stronger that desire becomes, to the point where I’m trying to plan out buying a house on a decent amount of land in the North Carolina mountains within the next several years. I’ve been wanting to reread this for years, but I’ve been putting it off because I know it’ll make me crave that sort of life even more, and I’m not financially able to jump right into it. Once I get closer to my goals, however, you better believe that I’ll be rereading this!


12. Blindness by José Saramago

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Goodreads | Amazon

I had never heard of this book before grabbing it second-hand at a thrift store. I briefly read through the synopsis and liked the cover, so I took it home. This dystopian, science fiction novel blindsided (hehe) me; I loved it so much, and it was absolutely horrifying. The story is about an epidemic of blindness that affects everyone. Can you imagine how hard the world would become if everyone lost sight? José Saramago will walk you through how rough it will become while enchanting you with his writing style. I desperately want to relive this book, so hopefully, I’ll be able to get to it very soon.


11. A Little Princess and The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

A Little Princess: Goodreads | Amazon
The Secret Garden: Goodreads | Amazon

Obviously, this is technically two books, but I’m combining them since they’re both written by Frances Hodgson Burnett and because I read them at the same point in my life – early childhood. These two books have been my favorites since I was very young, and they’re actually the earliest books I can remember reading (aside from some Shel Silverstein and Dr. Seuss perhaps). I’ve watched the film adaptations of both, I own fancy copies of both, and I will read both to my future children. I’ve been planning on rereading these for a while, but there’s a tiny part of me who is afraid I won’t feel the same way about them. We’ll see soon enough.


10. Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut

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Goodreads | Amazon

While Slaughterhouse Five might be Vonnegut’s most famous book, Breakfast of Champions has always been my personal favorite. It’s a novel that’s hard to explain, but the story follows author Kilgore Trout as he discovers that a midwestern car dealer believes his stories to be true. If you’ve never read Vonnegut, I’d recommend it – it’s a truly unique experience.


9. The Dharma Bums and On the Road by Jack Kerouac

The Dharma Bums: Goodreads | Amazon
On the Road: Goodreads | Amazon

As of now, these are the only two Jack Kerouac novels I’ve read (despite owning many more), and when I first read them back in the early 2010s, they left a huge impression on me. I’d love to reread both of them, but particularly On the Road. One of the editions that I have of this novel is the original scroll, which is formatted in the way that Kerouac originally wrote the novel. It’s one long, continuous narrative with no paragraphs or chapters. It definitely won’t be easy to read, but I want to experience the story as Kerouac wrote it originally.


8. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

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Goodreads | Amazon

Many of you who have been reading this blog for a while already know that I’m obsessed with post-apocalyptic fiction, and this is one of the best that I’ve ever read (third only to The Road and The Stand). I feel like it’s a little on-the-nose to read right now due to the book being about a deadly worldwide plague, so I’m going to wait until this plague dies out a bit. It’s a unique post-apocalyptic book in that it’s told from the point of view of a group of Shakespearian actors in Canada.


7. The Stand by Stephen King

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Goodreads | Amazon

Speaking of The Stand, this is another novel that I would love to reread. I’ve almost done so multiple times, but the novel’s 1,153 pages have held me back a bit. I don’t hate reading big books, and in fact, a lot of my favorite books are long, but I haven’t been ready for the time commitment anytime recently. It’s also another book that deals with a deadly plague, so I’d like to do my hypochondriac self a favor and wait until COVID-19 calms down a bit before sitting down with it again.


6. The Outlaws of the Marsh by Shi Nai’an & Luo Guanzhong

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Goodreads | Amazon

I read volume one of this classic Chinese novel in 2019 and really enjoyed it. I held back on reading volumes two and three however because each volume is massive, written in a non-Western style that I wasn’t familiar with, and was extremely confusing when it came to the 100+ characters. Having enjoyed the story, however, I am determined to reread volume one and give two and three a shot.


5. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

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Goodreads | Amazon

I was that kid in high school who spent a lot of their lunch breaks browsing the library. I remember in tenth grade randomly checking out this book. I don’t remember what prompted me to, but I’ve always been thankful that something pushed me to read it. It’s been one of my favorite books since 2003, and it’s about time that I reread it. A Fine Balance is a historical fiction novel set in India which follows several people with extremely tragic stories. It’s not the happiest novel to read, but a powerful and moving one. It’s realness and honesty are the elements of the story that have always drawn me in.


4. A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold

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Goodreads | Amazon

A Sand County Almanac was recommended to me by the same ex-boyfriend who introduced both Animal, Vegetable, Mineral, and The Road to me. Aldo Leopold writes in such a way that you really feel as though you’re sitting next to him observing the landscape and wildlife. It’s a beautiful, non-fiction book that I’d recommend to everyone who gets homesick for the great outdoors. I’m planning a vacation to the North Carolina mountains once this plague is over, and this is one of the books that I’ll be packing with me to finally reread.


3. Haroun and the Sea of Stories and The Ground Beneath Her Feet by Salman Rushdie

 Haroun and the Sea of Stories: Goodreads | Amazon
The Ground Beneath Her Feet: Goodreads | Amazon

The first Salman Rushdie book that I ever read was The Ground Beneath Her Feet at the request of my brother, and I was instantly (and pleasantly) surprised by Rushdie’s poetic and moving writing style. There are plenty of authors who have unique styles, but I’ve never read any as beautiful as Rushdie’s. Haroun and the Sea of Stories isn’t one of his most-famous novels, but it’s always been my favorite. I would love to reread both, and read his other novels that I haven’t had the pleasure to pick up yet.


2. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia

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Goodreads | Amazon

I buddy-read this book with my friend Tawni, and I fell in love with it quickly. I grew up on North Carolina’s coast, where the story takes place, and the familiarity with the setting drew me in just as much as the heartbreaking story did.  I haven’t written a review of this novel yet because I wanted time to process it a bit more, but it’s been so long that I want to reread it before finally writing about it.


1. Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore

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Goodreads | Amazon

I read this book for the first time last year, and I have a feeling it’s going to join The Hobbit and The Road in being books that I reread annually. It’s one of the most amazing stories that I’ve ever read. It’s not a novel that I can sum up quickly, so read my full review to learn why this book left such an impression on me.



What books would you love to reread? Let me know in the comments!




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The Best Books I Read in 2019

Read Yourself Happy

2019 was a great reading year for me.

A couple of these books have become all-time favorites of mine, and I’m looking forward to reading them over and over again.

It was hard to narrow this list down to ten books, so here are my top 15 books of 2019.



15. $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America by Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer

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Goodreads | Amazon | My Review

I’m fascinated (and infuriated) by class distinctions in America. Having grown up poor as well as having lived most of my adult life struggling to get by, it’s a topic that’s dear to me. It’s also a problem that I think we, as a nation, need to focus on much more.

This non-fiction book examines several families in America who are scraping by on so little money that it’s hard to believe that they’re surviving. I learned a lot from this book, such as the fact that there are areas in rural America without library access, and how hard it is for people living in this type of poverty to take advantage and get by on shrinking government assistance.

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in class division in America, or anyone that wants to understand poverty better. It’s definitely not a happy read, but it’s important.


14. The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker

The Simple Wild

Goodreads | Amazon | My Review

The Simple Wild is the novel that taught me that I don’t hate romance books.

I was inspired to pick it up due to its being set in rural Alaska but ended up falling in love with the characters. It’s a hate-to-love romance, which is done often in the romance genre, but it’s done so well in this book. I was in tears by the end of the novel, but I know it’s one that I will read and re-read many times. Also, the sequel to this book, Wild at Heart, was released just last month. I’m looking forward to reading that as well.


13. With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

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Goodreads | Amazon | My Review

Young adult contemporary is a genre that I usually avoid. For the most part, I find the stories and characters much too young for me to identify with or even care about. I’m not sure what actually prompted me to pick up With the Fire On High (maybe it was the gorgeous cover?), but I’m certainly happy I did.

Elizabeth Acevedo made the characters come to life on the page, and her descriptions of Emoni’s recipes made my mouth water. The story is magical, and it was refreshing to read about a teenage character with a strong sense of responsibility, especially where it concerns her daughter. There is also an incredibly healthy romantic relationship in this novel that I thought was beautiful.

Even if you’re like me and rarely pick up YA contemporary, give With the Fire on High a shot.


12. Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno

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Goodreads | Amazon | My Review

The only reason that I picked this book up was in order to participate in Chelsea Palmer’s Facebook Book Club. I clearly need to step outside of my comfort zone more often, because Summer of Salt is a beautiful, tragic, and powerful magical realism novel.

Following twin sisters nearing their 18th birthday, the story deals with difficult and heavy topics while the magical qualities balance it nicely. The setting was beautiful as well, being set on an island popular for its bird watching.

It was a very short read, but so heavy on the atmospheric beauty and story.


11. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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Goodreads | Amazon | My Review

As I’m putting this list together, I’m starting to realize that maybe I don’t hate young adult contemporary.

The Hate U Give is a book that’s been talked about non-stop since its release at the beginning of 2017, and with very good reason – it deals with a topic that’s been heavily debated in America for years: gun violence. Not just gun violence, but specifically police killing black, unarmed citizens.

Angie Thomas did a fantastic job of handling this very heavy and tragic topic. You feel the pain of the main character, Starr, and the community at large, as Khalil, an unarmed black teenager, gets shot.

I’m not going to get into the politics of gun violence, police brutality, and racism on a book blog, but if these are topics that are important to you, give The Hate U Give a read.


10. The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas

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Goodreads | Amazon | My Review

I love time travel stories, but so few books get it right. It’s usually sloppy, full of plotholes, or is just bad. Kate Mascarenhas wrote time travel right in The Psychology of Time Travel, though.

This novel has really stuck with me, despite having read it nearly a year ago. The story follows four female scientists building the first time machine, and one of them has a mental breakdown during the process. Due to the sensitive nature of the project, that team member is removed from the team, and the public at large never learn the real story.

Non-linear stories can be difficult for authors to pull off, but I was amazed at how well this author kept the story flowing. My mind was blown when I discovered that this was Mascarenhas’ debut novel! All of the characters have very unique and distinct personalities, practically the entire cast is made up of female characters, and there’s great LGBTQ+ representation.

My favorite part of this novel, however, was how the topic of time travel and the death of loved ones were dealt with. I imagine there are very few people in the world that don’t wish that they could go back in time and see a loved one who’s passed. I know I would. This is one of the main themes of the novel, it’s fascinating.


9. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

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Goodreads | Amazon | My Review

Shirley Jackson is a name that’s been on my radar for some time, but I never actually got around to reading one of her books. Which is a shame, because her writing style and gothic fiction are right up my alley.

At less than 200 pages, this short novel offers a very rewarding experience for the reader. I tend to have a dark and morbid sense of humor, and We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a dark, morbid, and quirky novel. It was love at first paragraph:

“My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I disklike watching myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cup mushroom. Everyone else in my family is dead.”

Woven into the story are themes of agoraphobia, mental illness, and isolation. The novel left a big impact on me, and I’ve been thinking about this book a great deal since reading it.


8. The Shadow and Bone Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

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Goodreads | Amazon | My Review

Leigh Bardugo’s continuation of this series, the Six of Crows duology, ended up on my favorite books of 2018 list, so I wasn’t surprised at how much I loved the original trilogy (even though I read the two series backward!).

The world that Bardugo has created for her GrishaVerse books is enchanting. I love that it’s based loosely on Russian culture since that’s not something I’ve read a lot of in fantasy. The characters (especially Nikolai), the story, the landscape… it’s all wonderful. While far from perfect, the Grisha world has easily become one of my all-time fantasy worlds.


7. Sadie by Courtney Summers

Sadie - Courtney Summers

Goodreads | Amazon | My Review

Sadie is a dark young adult mystery/thriller novel about a girl searching for the murderer of her younger sister. It’s a very dark novel and one that you won’t be able to put down.

I listened to this novel as an audiobook, which was an amazing experience. It’s done with a full cast and, since parts of this novel are told in podcast format, works even better than the physical format (at least in my opinion).

One of the reasons I was so drawn to this novel and its main character, Sadie, is because Sadie has a severe stutter. I’ve written before on this blog about having a speech impediment, and although it’s not the same type as Sadie’s, I was excited about seeing a character with a speech impediment written into a book and not being made the comic relief.


6. The Last by Hanna James

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Goodreads | Amazon | My Review

This post-apocalyptic mystery novel blew my mind when I read it in May 2019. Many of you might already know that my favorite genre of fiction is post-apocalyptic, so I had a feeling that I’d enjoy this book set in a rural Swiss hotel. However, I wasn’t expecting the genre to mesh so perfectly with a murder mystery.

The review I wrote of The Last is still, to this day, the one that I’m most proud of on this blog. It would take far too much space here to explain the many reasons that I loved this book, so read the review for all of it. I also had the pleasure of doing an interview with the author.


5. The Last Wish (The Witcher #0.5) by Andrzej Sapkowski

The Last Wish Andrej Sapkowski

Goodreads | Amazon | Review Coming Soon

The very last book that I read in 2019 definitely ended up being among my all-time favorites. A friend introduced me to The Witcher 3 game years ago, and I was so obsessed with it that I bought a Playstation just to play it (well, that and Fallout 4). Ever since finishing the game, I’ve wanted to start the book series, and with the release of the Netflix series, there was no better time to start.

My only complaint is that I wished that I would have read it sooner. I loved this collection of short stories, and am eagerly looking forward to reading the rest of the series. Season One of the Netflix show follows many of the stories in The Last Wish, so it was fun to read while watching the show.


4. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

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Goodreads | Amazon | My Review

The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern’s debut novel, is magical. While the writing might not be for everyone, if you tend to enjoy slow-moving, atmospheric, whimsical stories, then I strongly urge you to read this novel.

While the characters and plot were both well-done, it really was the atmosphere of the story that drew me in. The circus is done in shades of black, gray, and white, and some of the tents inside the circus are truly things of wonder, such as my personal favorite, the Ice Garden. I’m planning on re-reading this novel in 2020, and I feel that I’ll enjoy it, even more, the second time around.


3. Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore

Reincarnation Blues Michael Poore

Goodreads | Amazon | My Review

My older brother, who is also an avid reader, recommended this book to me. I trust his judgment, so I went into it with high expectations. What I wasn’t expecting, however, was this wild ride of a story.

I’ve never read a story like Reincarnation Blues. It was a wholly unique experience, with slight vibes of Salman Rushdie’s magical realism and dark humor. It follows a character named Milo, who is coming close to his ten-thousandth reincarnation. He only has a few more tries to reach perfection, and while trying to reach that goal, he also tries to help his girlfriend, Death (yes, that Death) lead the life she wants.

Here’s part of what I wrote in my original review:

There’s so much dark humor, along with wisdom about making the most of our own lives. Filled with plenty of joys and tragedies, this book will make you feel so many different emotions as you turn each page, making the experience of reading this novel quite powerful.

I don’t use the term masterpiece often, but Michael Poore’s Reincarnation Blues is a masterpiece. It’s one of the best books I’ve read this year and has easily forced its way into my top ten favorite books of all time. It’s been ages since I’ve read something as unique and imaginative as this, and I recommend that everyone read it.

Read this book.


2. A Hero Born (Legends of the Condor Heroes #1) by Jin Yong

A Hero Born Jin Yong

Goodreads | Amazon | My Review

In late 2018, not long after Read Yourself Happy got started, I was researching Chinese fantasy novels and came across the Legends of the Condor Heroes series. The author, Jin Yong, is one of the most famous writers in China, and this series is widely regarded as a solid piece of China’s cultural heritage. At that point, I definitely wanted to read it, but I could not find an English translation still in print. It was disappointing as hell, but I kept it on my TBR list in hopes of one day finding a translation

A couple of months after this, St. Martin’s Press announced a new reprint of the English editions! It was worth the wait! A Hero Born is incredible – I literally could not put this book down. I read it in just a couple of days and cannot wait to read the sequel, which the publisher very kindly sent to me for review (psst.. review coming soon!).

A Hero Born is an epic Chinese martial arts fantasy series that was originally published in a newspaper as a serialized story, and then published as a novel later on. The tale follows two sworn brothers who pledge that their children will also become sworn siblings.

After a tragic event, the children are separated and brought up in very different settings. The people who raised them are trying to do so in order to prepare them for a duel that they will perform against one another when they turn 18, even though the children don’t know this.

The fight scenes were so well-written and intense that it was easy to visualize every step taken by the warriors. The book has so much to offer, from love, war, betrayal, and friendship to amazing scenery, fight scenes, and dialogue. It’s a series that you can easily lose yourself in.


1. The Stormlight Archive Series by Brandon Sanderson

The Way of Kings Sanderson

Goodreads | Amazon | My Review

I don’t even know where to start with how incredible this series is. Brandon Sanderson deserves his title as the master of world-building.

Thus far, I’ve only read the first two books in the series, The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance, and I’m planning on doing a re-read of those during the summer, along with the third book, Oathbringerin preparation for the newest part of the series, Rhythm of War

I rarely say that books are perfect, but these first two books are about as perfect as you’re going to get without getting into Tolkien territory (a position I will gladly defend as The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are my favorite books of all time).

Without writing another full review here, suffice it to say that the characters, landscape, world, and everything else in these books are incredibly well-done. My favorite character is definitely Kaladin, a former warrior and surgeon’s apprentice who finds himself a slave, and as such suffers from depression. Mental health was dealt with so well in this novel.

Another aspect of this world that hooked me was the highstorms, massive storms featuring giant rocks being tossed about in the wind, torrential rain, and weather so bad that people caught outside during them usually wind up dead.

If you call yourself a fantasy fan, and you haven’t started The Stormlight Archive series, stop procrastinating and do it. Yes, the books are long as shit (1,000+ pages), but so worth it.



What were your favorite books of 2019? Let me know in the comments!




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The Best Books I’ve Read in One Year of Book Blogging

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As I mentioned in a previous post, today is the one year anniversary of Read Yourself Happy.  As part of the celebrations, I wanted to share the top ten best and worst books I’ve read and discovered in the first year of my book blogging journey. 

Here are the ten best books I’ve read in my first year of book blogging!

Note: For this list, I’m only including books that I’ve read for the first time since becoming a book blogger. I won’t be including my favorites that I’ve re-read in the past year, such as Cormac McCarthy’s The Road or Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea.


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10. Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno

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Picking the 10th best book I’ve read in the past year was really difficult because there were so many great books that I didn’t want to leave off this list. However, after a lot of consideration, I really wanted to include Summer of Salt. This is not a book that I would have ever picked up if not for Chelsea Palmer‘s Facebook Book Club. Similar to The Night CircusSummer of Salt is another very atmospheric magical realism novel, which seems to be a genre that I’m starting to really love. While the story was a bit predictable at times, I loved the book and the setting a great deal.


9. Becoming by Michelle Obama

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The only non-fiction book on this list, Michelle Obama’s memoir, Becoming, was everything. When Barack Obama was in the White House, I often felt that Michelle outshone him, and I loved learning about her life, background, and motivations. This is easily the best memoir that I’ve ever read.


8. With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

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First of all, I just want to say that this is one of the most aesthetically pleasing books I’ve seen this year. Second, this book is so freaking good. I don’t usually like young adult contemporaries because I feel that, now that I’m in my early thirties, I’ve outgrown them, but this one can be enjoyed by people of any age. Elizabeth Acevedo’s voice really shines through in this story, and our main character, Emoni, is the kind of strong female character that young adult literature needs.


7. The Last by Hanna Jameson

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If you’re a frequent reader of this blog, you’ll know that my favorite genre is anything post-apocalyptic. Hanna Jameson took my favorite genre, added a mystery/thriller element to it, and create a wholly unique book. The story is set at a remote hotel in Switzerland after a nuclear war has essentially wiped out the world’s governments. My review for this novel is the one I’m the proudest of on this blog because I had so much to say about this amazing book. I also had the opportunity to interview Hanna Jameson!


6. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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The Hate U Give blew everyone away when it was released back in 2017, and for good reason: it’s an incredibly well-written and socially relevant novel about the Black Lives Matter movement. Thomas’ writing is so good that you develop deep empathy for all of the characters involved in the story, and this is definitely the kind of story that needs to be told. If you enjoy audiobooks, the one for The Hate U Give is pretty much perfect.


5. The Montague Siblings Series by Mackenzi Lee

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue
The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy

These books are so adorable, adventurous, and fun. Both of these novels are easily five-star reads, and I love Mackenzi Lee’s characters. The best thing about these books? The relationship between Monty and Percy. Their friendship-turned-romance is so perfect and they’re one of the first couples that come to mind when asked who my favorite fictional couples are. Felicity, the main character of the second book, is such a badass feminist character. If you haven’t read these books, I definitely recommend doing so!


4. The Ember in the Ashes Series by Sabaa Tahir

An Ember in the Ashes
A Torch Against the Night
A Reaper at the Gates

This is a series that I had never heard of before joining the book community, but I’m so glad that I was inspired to read them. I love the way Sabaa Tahir writes, especially when it comes to character development. All of her characters are very unique and have their own distinct personalities, which led to me having very strong feelings about all of them. I also really enjoyed the relationship between Laia and Elias. Another aspect I enjoyed was the desert setting, which isn’t something that I’ve read a lot of in fantasy. I’m really looking forward to reading the fourth book in this series.


3. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

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I was first introduced to this magical realism novel through the first Booktube channel I ever discovered, A Clockwork Reader. I love whimsy in fiction, and this book is one of the most whimsical I’ve ever read. Morgenstern’s writing is beautiful and atmospheric. The atmosphere of the novel is what drew me so into the story, and is the best quality of the novel overall. I don’t want to say too much about the plot because this is the kind of book you need to go into knowing nothing to really appreciate how it unfolds.


2. The Six of Crows Duology by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows
Crooked Kingdom

While I could also easily include Leigh Bardugo’s GrishaVerse trilogy here, she knocked it out of the park with the Six of Crows duology. I adore the Russian-inspired world Bardugo has created, and the rag-tag group of characters in these two books are delightful. I flew through these fantasy novels because I absolutely had to know what happened next. While the plot of these books is amazing, it’s really the diversity of and the relationship between the characters that make this duology incredible.


1. The Stormlight Archive Series by Brandon Sanderson

The Way of Kings
Words of Radiance

Out of all the series I’ve started and books I’ve read in the past year, Brandon Sanderson’s first two books in his Stormlight Archive series have been the best. I haven’t read book three yet (although I now own a copy), but based on the first two books alone, this is going to be one of my favorite series ever. There was nothing that I disliked about these two books, which is a very rare thing for me to say. The world-building is unlike anything I’ve read since J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, and Sanderson’s characters are so well-written that they feel like real people. These two books led to Sanderson becoming one of my favorite authors, and I am eagerly looking forward to his other novels.



Have you read any of these books? What did you think about them? Let me know in the comments!




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Trouble No Man by Brian Hart – A Review

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Note: This review was originally published in December 2018, but I wanted to repost it in honor it being released today. It was one of my favorite books from 2018, and now that it’s finally out, I definitely recommend picking it up. 

Trouble No Man by Brian Hart

Fiction | Post-Apocalyptic
Goodreads
Published by Harper Perennial
Release date: January 29, 2019
Author Links: Unknown (If you know of the author’s website or social media, please let me know. I was unable to find anything.)

Preorder: Amazon

I received a free ARC of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I never accept monetary compensation in exchange for a positive review. Read more here.

Synopsis

Trouble No Man takes place in the near future when northern California has run out of water and is being controlled by militias. Roy Bingham is the main character, and the story follows him throughout his life, jumping back and forth from his younger days as a pro-skateboarder all the way up until he has become a family man living on a farm. The novel is about family and survival.

Review

I’m not sure where I originally heard of this upcoming novel, but as soon as I read the synopsis I contacted Harper Perennial to request a review copy. I had never heard of the author, Brian Hart, but he was being compared to Cormac McCarthy, one of my favorite writers; the plot was also post-apocalyptic, which is my favorite genre. I knew immediately that I wanted to read this, and am very grateful to the publisher for sending me a copy.

The aspect of this book that I enjoyed the most was the muddled timeline. Each chapter is set during a different decade of Roy Bingham’s life. As the story progresses, you start to piece things together. I found myself flying through the pages because I wanted to find out what happened next in his life. The layout and progression of the chapters were perfectly done.

I’ve mentioned several times on this blog that I enjoy books about characters that are unlikeable, and this is certainly one of those novels. Although Roy starts to grow on you toward the end of the book, for the majority of the story I found him immensely unlikable and selfish. His personality is such a large part of the story, however, and is important to his growth, so his off-putting personality is actually very enjoyable, and it’s nice to see how much he evolves over the course of his entire life. People always change as they get older, and it was refreshing to watch that happen to his character.

There are thousands of post-apocalyptic novels in the world right now and, while I would read just about any of them, the ones I enjoy the most are the ones that feel as though they could actually happen. This book isn’t scary, but it is certainly unsettling due to how realistic the scenarios are. It is not hard to imagine that in a world without water militias would take control of localities and violence would explode.

Rating

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Trouble No Man is one of the best books I’ve read in 2018. I’m going to be recommending this book to everyone when it is released in January 2019.

Other Books by Brian Hart

 

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo – A Review

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Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Young Adult | Fantasy
Published by Orion Children’s Books
Released September 27, 2016
Goodreads
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | Thriftbooks
Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Tumblr
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_5_stars

Crooked Kingdom is the second book in the Six of Crows duology. As such, I won’t be able to say too much about the plot of this book, due to spoilers. However, this novel is somehow even better than Six of Crows, and it absolutely crushed my heart.

If you’ve read Six of Crows, you’ll already know all of the characters in this book. The whole gang is back, and they’re still trying to get their due rewards from Wylan’s father. We follow them on new adventures and watch as deeper bonds continue to form between the members of the group.

Just like in the first book, I love Leigh Bardugo’s writing style and world building. This story takes place in the Grisha Verse universe established in her trilogy that was released before these ones. However, it isn’t necessary to have read those books in order to understand what is happening in the Six of Crows duology. I will definitely be reading that previous trilogy now (I’m actually picking the first book up at the library on Friday!), but I didn’t feel as though I had missed out on anything.

Kaz and Inej are still my favorite characters, and I love both of them even more after this second book. They’re both so deeply scared and watching as they struggle to overcome their terrible pasts is a heartwarming thing to see.

Leigh Bardugo has a way of writing perfectly flawed characters that you love no matter what they’ve done. Every single character in this duology is fully fleshed out and believable. Their pasts are extensive, and since the story is told from multiple points-of-view, you come to understand their motivations and thinking processes, which I adore. It makes you feel as though you’re right there with them, and with their backgrounds, you feel sorry for them for everything that has happened to get them to where they are today.

It was obvious early on in Crooked Kingdom that I would be rating this book five stars. Everything about it was perfect and I definitely feel that it deserves all of the hype it garnered around its release. If you haven’t read this duology yet, it’s never too late! Start reading!

The Best Books I Read in 2018

2018 was a great year for reading and one in which I read things I normally would not have, thanks to wanting more variety for this blog. There were so many great books that I read, and these are the best.

For this list, I’m only including books that I read for the first time in 2018, not favorites that I reread, such as Cormac McCarthy’s The Road or Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book


White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi

White is for Witching - Helen Oyeyemi

Read My Review
Goodreads

This novel was the first I reviewed on Read Yourself Happy, and I still find myself thinking about it regularly. I loved the unusual narration style, especially since the house narrated a few chapters. I’m looking forward to reading many more books by Helen Oyeyemi this year.

Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | Thriftbooks


Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Read my review of Six of Crows
My review of Crooked Kingdom will be posted later this week
Goodreads

These two novels blew my mind. I’d been hearing about all the hype for ages, and I was incredibly late on this bandwagon, but these books were incredible and I flew through them in order to learn what would happen next. I wanted so much more from this world, and I’ve already reserved Bardugo’s Grishaverse trilogy at my local library.

Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | Thriftbooks


An Ember in the Ashes, A Torch Against the Night, and A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir

 

Read my review of An Ember in the Ashes
Read my review of A Torch Against the Night
Read my review of A Reaper at the Gates

Goodreads

The An Ember in the Ashes series is probably my favorite series I’ve read this year, and I’m not quite sure how I’m going to make it until the fourth book comes out. My co-workers and boyfriend probably got sick of me talking about these books while I was reading them. Elias and Laia are wonderfully fleshed-out characters and I enjoyed the world of these novels.

Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | Thriftbooks


City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

Read my review of City of Ghosts

Goodreads

This was the first Victoria Schwab book I ever read, although it certainly won’t be the last. The book gave me strong vibes of Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, which is one of my all-time favorites. I enjoyed the characters and Schwab’s writing style, and I’m excited that the sequel is going to be released next year, and that there’s going to be a television show based on the novel.

Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million


The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue and The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee

 

Read my review of The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue
Read my review of The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy

Goodreads

I first heard of The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue through my favorite booktuber, Hannah at A Clockwork Reader. I tend to have a very similar reading style to her, and I will be forever grateful that I picked these books up at her recommendation. Both of these novels were well-written with loveable characters and great representation.

Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | Thriftbooks


Trouble No Man by Brian Hart

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Read my review here
Goodreads

This novel comes out on January 29, 2019, and I’m incredibly appreciative to Harper Perennial for sending me a review copy. I rated it five stars, and it’s a great, tragic story. Set in a future where the West Coast has run out of water, the novel follows Roy Bingham through several decades of his life and is told in a non-linear format.

Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman – A Review

“It’s like the people who believe they’ll be happy if they go and live somewhere else, but who learn it doesn’t work that way. Wherever you go, you take yourself with you.”

The Book

The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Middle-Grade | Magical Realism | Supernatural | Fantasy
Published by HarperCollins
Released September 30, 2008
Goodreads
Author Links: Website | Twitter | Tumblr | Facebook

Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | Thrift Books

Synopsis

An infant accidentally escapes the murder of his entire family and finds shelter in a nearby graveyard. The ghosts in the graveyard adopt the child and name him Nobody Owens, or Bod for short.

Bod is raised by the ghosts, along with his guardian, Silas, who’s not quite dead and not quite living. Bod is given the freedom of the graveyard and learns many tricks, including how to fade into the background and visit dreams.

Bod is kept from leaving the graveyard because dangers lurk outside of the gates. Namely, Jack, the man who murdered Bod’s original family, is still out to get him.

Growing up in a graveyard certainly isn’t boring though. Bod has a ton of adventures with both the living and dead. Ultimately, he must confront the man who is responsible for his family’s demise.

Review

I’ve mentioned several times on this blog that Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors and that The Graveyard Book is one of my favorite books of all time. I have no idea how many times I’ve read this book, but it’s a pretty high number. I’ve also listened to the audiobook, narrated by Neil Gaiman, a couple of times.

There are so many reasons I adore this novel as much as I do. First, it’s a fun adventure story that deals with complicated subjects, such as murder. One of the best things about The Graveyard Book is that Gaiman writes in a concise, casual way, which is striking against the backdrop of violence. The best place to see this is in the opening chapter when Jack is murdering the family.

Bod is a very well-written character who learns to live despite being surrounded by the dead. He wants to see the world and meet people. Growing up in a graveyard only makes him want to live more, and I love that about Bod. He’s also an immensely likable character.

So many of the side characters in the book are just as enjoyable as Bod; we’ve got Silas, Bod’s mysterious guardian; Liza, who was drowned for witchcraft; Miss Lupescu, Bod’s teacher that has more to her than meets the eye; and a trio of nasty ghouls: the Duke of Westminster, the Honorable Archibald Fitzhugh, and the Bishop of Bath and Wells.

Another reason I enjoy this book so much is that I’ve always been the sort of person who hangs around in graveyards. In fact, when I lived in Asheville, NC, much of my free time was spent at Riverside Cemetary, where I would go to get away from people, read, meditate, have picnics. Graveyards are very peaceful places, and I loved reading a book set in one that wasn’t your standard horror story.

This book will make you smile and you will like Bod so much that you really want him to succeed in life. It’s well-written and just lovely. This book would be a great place to start if you’re new to Neil Gaiman.

Verdict

5_Star_Rating_System_5_stars

This story is perfect. I have zero complaints, and I know I’m going to continue to reread this book frequently.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

On this road there are no godspoke men. They are gone and I am left and they have taken with them the world. Query: How does the never to be differ from what never was?

The Book

The Road - Cormac McCarthy

The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Post-Apocalyptic | Adult Fiction
Published by Knopf
Released September 26, 2006
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_5_stars


Synopsis

This is Cormac McCarthy’s most recent book to be published. It is a post-apocalyptic tale told in a very minimalist style. By minimalistic I mean that there’s very little we actually know: McCarthy never tells us what happened to cause the mass extinction event, we don’t know the names of our two characters, we have no idea where exactly the story takes place, and we don’t know how long it’s been since the cataclysmic event happened.

What we do know is that a man and his son are trying to survive against the many, many odds that are stacked against them as they travel south in an effort to escape the brutal winters. They’re starving, sleeping on the ground, scavenging what bits and pieces they find along the way. Their world is described as gray and covered in ash. There are earthquakes and the sun is all but absent.

The Road won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, along with several other awards.


Review

The Road is my favorite book. I’ve read it every November since the first time I picked it up almost a decade ago. Despite reading it so many times, the last few pages still make me weep. This book is devasting.

The thing that a reader first picks up on is the writing style. McCarthy is not a fan of punctuation and proper grammar. You will not find any quotation marks in this book. He also leaves everything as vague as he possibly can. As I mentioned in the synopsis above, we don’t know much of anything. Throughout the book, the father is referred to as the man, and his son is the boy. They walk through towns but we are never told what town they’re in. I’ve heard a lot of people say that McCarthy’s style is off-putting, and while I do understand that, I actually really enjoy that aspect of this novel. The anonymity of the story makes me feel like it could happen to anyone. I also just love McCarthy’s overall writing style:

No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one’s heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes. So, he whispered to the sleeping boy. I have you. 

The vagueness of the setting also serves to bring the focus of the story to the relationship between father and son. They have nothing but each other. The father will do whatever it takes to keep his son alive, while the son wants to help others and is terrified of the world around him.

Then they set out along the blacktop in the gunmetal light, shuffling through the ash, each the other’s world entire.

The characters frequently mention god and “carrying the fire,” but even the religion is vague in the story. You can read what you want to in it.

The individual scenes in The Road are mostly devasting, terrifying, sickening, and worse. I don’t want to include spoilers, but there are a few scenes that will leave you shaken, such as one that takes place in a pantry beneath a kitchen. However, much less frequent, there are also a few happy scenes that will make your heart swell, such as when they share a scavenged Coca-Cola, which the boy has never tasted before. It’s a sweet scene that breaks up the terror of their lives.

Despite how many times I’ve read this book, I still weep while reading the final few pages. The ending is depressing, and it also makes me cry for a more personal reason.

*THE FOLLOWING CONTAINS SPOILERS*

The man, who spends the latter part of the book coughing violently, reminds me of the couple of years before my mother died. She would also have incredibly long and disturbing coughing fits. When it happens in the book, it brings those memories back to me, and that is definitely one of the reasons this book makes me cry every single time I read it.


Verdict

I recommend this book to literally everyone. I will continue to read it every November as I’ve been doing. It’s the perfect book to read once the leaves have mostly fallen off the trees and the landscape is starting to get a wintry, barren look.


Have you read The Road? What did you think?


 



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A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir – A Review

“Curse this world for what it does to the mothers, for what it does to the daughters. Curse it for making us strong through loss and pain, our hearts torn from our chests again and again. Curse it for forcing us to endure.” 

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The Book

A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir
Published by Razorbill, an imprint of Penguin Random House
Released June 2018
Author Links: Website | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr | Facebook | Pinterest
Affiliate Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | ThriftBooks

Read my reviews of the first two books in this series:

Synopsis

This is the third book in the An Ember in the Ashes series, following the stories of Laia, Elias, Helene, and more. The ruthless Keris Veturia is still up to something, and the Nightbringer is getting closer to his nefarious goals.

Review (SPOILER WARNING!!!!!)

The An Ember in the Ashes series has quickly become one of my favorites. I felt the widest range of emotions possible as I read this third book in the series, and I don’t know how I’m going to survive until the fourth book is out, which doesn’t even have a release date yet!

I’m including spoilers in this review because it’s impossible not to. If you haven’t finished A Reaper at the Gates yet, or (gasp!) you haven’t read An Ember in the Ashes and A Torch Against the Night, bookmark this page and come back to it once you’ve read them. This is the kind of book where you want to be surprised and shocked at the twists and turns that take place.

First of all, we have a new narrator in this book: the Nightbringer. It was fascinating seeing his side of the story, and I hope that his narratives are much more prevalent in the next book. I enjoy complex antagonists, and he’s definitely turning out to be that. In addition, it was interesting having a non-human narrator.

Since the first moment Laia and Elias met in the first book, I’ve wanted them to end up together, safe and living a sweet, quiet life. Of course, because this series is all the pain, we don’t get that. By the end of the book, Elias fully becomes the Soul Catcher, and the last encounter he and Laia have was too much for my fragile heart to take, and when she gave him back the wooden armband he made for her, my heart literally shattered into a million pieces.

The real star of this entire book is Helene, aka the Blood Shrike. I never disliked Helene as a character in the first two books, but neither did I love her; she was just sort of… there. In A Reaper at the Gates, however, she really comes into her own and shines. So much of the story is centered on the increasingly difficult choices she needs to make, and she’s torn between following Marcus’ orders to save her little sister and doing what’s best for the empire. We learn how much she cares for her people, and not just the Martials, but everyone. One of my favorite moments in the book is when she finally puts an end to Marcus – it was such a powerful scene and no one deserved to kill him as much as she did.

A criticism I had about the book was that for the first half, it can be a little disorienting. We’re constantly in different locations, with different characters, and there’s a lot going on. I’ve always been a fan of multiple narratives, but there were a few times while reading this that I felt it may be too much.

Like I’ve mentioned with the previous two books, Tahir’s writing style is quick-paced and exciting, making these relatively lengthy books easy to read. Everything flows beautifully leaves you wanting more.

Verdict

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This is definitely a five-star book, and I recommend this entire series for anyone looking for a great young adult fantasy series.

The Greek Gods Book Tag

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Time for another book tag! This one was created by Zuky at Book Bum, and I first saw it on Lori’s Bookshelf Reads. The images used are from Book Bum with Zuky’s permission.


zeus

ZEUS: KING OF THE GODS – YOUR FAVOURITE BOOK

Although I generally consider my favorite book to be Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, I wanted to say something different this time around since I did another book tag recently that featured The Road.

The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman
The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman

For this particular question, I’m going with Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book. I first read this book years ago after picking it up at a thrift store, and I immediately fell in love with it. It’s a middle-grade story about a boy named Nobody Owens, aka “Bod,” who is raised by ghosts in an ancient graveyard after his family is murdered.

I’ve long been the type of person to hang out in graveyards, my favorite being Riverside Cemetary in Asheville, NC (see photos above), and because of that I just adored the setting. It’s such a whimsical, wonderful adventure story.

 

hera

 HERA: QUEEN OF THE GODS – A BADASS FEMALE CHARACTER

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I just finished reading Sabaa Tahir’s A Reaper at the Gates and it’s fresh in my mind, so I’m going with Laia for this question. The reason I love Laia so much is that she’s so realistic and multi-dimensional. When we first meet her in An Ember in the Ashes she’s frightened and meek, afraid of breaking the rules of the Martial Empire. By the end of A Reaper at the Gates, however, she’s learned how to stick up for herself and fight for her people. I love her character so much, and I can’t wait to find out the rest of the story in the fourth book in this series.

 

janus1

JANUS: GOD OF BEGINNINGS – YOUR FAVOURITE DEBUT(S)

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi; great books to read; best books of 2018; read yourself happy; book review; book blog

Children of Blood and Bone is Tomi Adeyemi’s debut novel, and it completely blew my mind. I finished the book with my mouth hanging open in shock, and I immediately had no idea how I’m going to wait for the sequel. The quality of this young adult fantasy novel is so high. It’s one of the best books I had the pleasure of reading in 2018.

 

athena

ATHENA: GODDESS OF WISDOM – YOUR FAVOURITE NON-FICTION BOOK

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Probably due to the fact that I’ve always been obsessed with post-apocalyptic stories and settings, nuclear disasters such as the one that happened at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 1986 has always fascinated me. Svetlana Alexievich’s Voices from Chernobyl is a collection of first-person accounts of the disaster and the aftermath. It’s heartbreaking and horrifying.

 

aphrodite

APHRODITE: GODDESS OF LOVE – A BOOK YOU ADORE AND RECOMMEND EVERYONE READ (OTHER THAN YOUR FAVOURITE BOOK!)

I’m selecting two books for this question because I couldn’t choose between them. The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue and The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy are both written by the marvelous Makenzi Lee. The follow a pair of siblings, Monty and Felicity, on their respective adventures. Both novels are hilarious, heart-breaking, and exciting. I recommend these books to literally everyone who approaches me for book recommendations.

 

hades

HADES: GOD OF THE UNDERWORLD – AN EVIL BOOK YOU WISH DIDN’T EXIST

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I had trouble thinking of an answer for this question, so I’m going with a book series that I haven’t read but that I’ve been sick of hearing about: Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James. The fact that it started as Twilight fan fiction, the subject matter, everything I’ve heard about it – I’m never going to read it, and I have no desire to keep hearing about it.

 

poseidon

POSEIDON: GOD OF THE SEA & EARTHQUAKES – A BEAUTIFUL & GROUND-BREAKING BOOK

The Road - Cormac McCarthy
The Road – Cormac McCarthy

I always have to find a way to work Cormac McCarthy’s The Road into any book tag I do! Despite the novel being soul-shattering, it’s very darkly beautiful. The story follows a nameless father and son as they try to survive in the dangerous and brutal remains of our world. The love they have for one another is endless and perfect. I’ve read this book every November since I discovered it, and it always leaves my face streaked with tears.

 

apollo

APOLLO: GOD OF THE ARTS – A BEAUTIFUL BOOK COVER

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You can’t tell from the image above, but the physical copy of Melissa Albert’s The Hazel Wood is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever seen. The gold foil on the cover is perfect. I actually just picked this novel up from my local library, and I’m looking forward to reading it.

 

hypnos

HYPNOS: GOD OF SLEEP – A BOOK SO BORING YOU ALMOST FELL ASLEEP

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I admit that I haven’t read Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes since my freshman year of high school, which was well over a decade ago. While I will probably give it another try at some point, when I read it as a teenager I hated every second of it and thought it was incredibly boring. I’m not even positive that I actually finished reading it.

 

hermes

HERMES: MESSENGER OF THE GODS – A BOOK YOU SPED THROUGH

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I grew up in the Harry Potter era, and I remember how excited I was when J.K. Rowling’s final installment in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was released. Despite the novel being 759 pages, I read it in a single day while throwing off every other single thing I was supposed to do that day. Needless to say, it was a pretty wonderful day.


That’s it for this fun book tag! Have you read any of these books? What were your thoughts?