The April Book Releases That I’m Most Excited About

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The world is scary and complicated right now, but at least we still have books, right?

April has quite a few new releases that I’m really looking forward to. And for some reason, almost all of them are coming out on April 7th!

Like many people, I’m not financially secure enough to run out and purchase any of these, so they’ll be on hold at my local library for whenever they eventually open up again. Don’t forget about free reading resources too! If you have a library card, you have access to books (including some new releases!) through Hoopla and Libby, which are wonderful resources.

I was fortunate enough to receive a few of these books in the mail from publishers, and they are all on my April TBR! These include Chosen Ones, The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying VampiresThe Glass Magician, The Unsuitable, The Eighth Life, and Auras.

Amazon and Goodreads links are provided for all books listed below. Descriptions are courtesy of the publisher and Goodreads.

What books are you most excited about in April? Let us know in the comments!

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  • Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth – “Five twenty-something heroes famous for saving the world when they were teenagers must face even greater demons — and reconsider what it means to be a hero… by destiny or by choice” (read more).
  • The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix – “Fried Green Tomatoes and Steel Magnolias meet Dracula in this Southern-flavored supernatural thriller set in the ’90s about a women’s book club that must protect its suburban community…” (read more).
  • Ruthless Gods (Something Dark & Holy #2) by Emily A Duncan – “As their group is continually torn apart, the girl, the prince, and the monster find their fates irrevocably intertwined. They’re pieces on a board, being orchestrated by someone… or something” (read more).
  • Sword in the Stars (Once & Future #2) by Amy Rose Capetta & Cori McCarthy – “In this epic sequel to Once & Future, to save the future, Ari and her Rainbow knights pull off a heist… thousands of years in the past” (read more).
  • The Glass Magician by Caroline Stevermer – “What if you could turn into the animal of your heart anytime you want? With such power, you’d enter the cream of New York society, guaranteed a rich life among the Vanderbilts and Astors” (read more).
  • Afterlife by Julia Alvarez – “Set in this political moment of tribalism and distrust, it asks: What do we owe those in crisis in our families, including – maybe especially – members of our human family?” (read more).
  • Conjure Women by Afia Atakora – “…a sweeping story that brings the world of the South before and after the Civil War vividly to life. Spanning eras and generations, it tells of the lives of three unforgettable women” (read more).
  • Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker – “The heartrending story of a midcentury American family with twelve children, six of them diagnosed with schizophrenia, that became science’s great hope in the quest to understand the disease” (read more).
  • The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate – “A story of three young women on a journey in search of family amidst the destruction of the post-Civil War South, and a modern-day teacher who rediscovers their story and its connection to her own students’ lives” (read more).
  • The Lucky Ones by Liz Lawson – “Eleven months after the school shooting that killed her twin brother, May still doesn’t know why she was the only one to walk out of the band room that day… Zach lost his old life when his mother decided to defend the shooter. … Zach ends up at band practice… the same night May goes. … [They] both might figure out that surviving could be an option after all” (read more).
  • Little Universes by Heather Demetrios – “When a tsunami strikes the island where their parents are vacationing, it soon becomes clear that their mom and dad are never coming home. Forced to move to Boston… each girl struggles with secrets their parents’ death has brought to light” (read more).
  • Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know by Samira Ahmed – “Told in alternating narratives that bridge centuries… Samira Ahmed traces the lives of two young women fighting to write their own stories and escape the pressure of familial burdens and cultural expectations in worlds too long defined by men” (read more).
  • Starling Days by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan – “Mina, a classicist, searches for solutions to her failing mental health using mythological women. But she finds a beam of light in a living woman” (read more).

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  • The Lightness of Hands by Jeff Garvin – “…when the gigs dry up, their insurance lapses, leaving Dad’s heart condition unchecked and forcing Ellie to battle her bipolar II disorder without medication. … With the help of her online-only best friend and an unusual guy she pairs up with along the way, Ellie makes a plan to stage [her father’s] comeback” (read more).
  • The Unsuitable by Molly Pohlig – “Iseult Wince is a Victorian woman perilously close to spinsterhood whose distinctly unpleasant father is trying to marry her off. She is awkward, plain, and most pertinently, believes that her mother, who died in childbirth, lives in the scar on her neck” (read more).
  • The Eighth Life by Nino Haratischvili – “At the start of the twentieth century, on the edge of the Russian Empire, a family prospers. It owes its success to a delicious chocolate recipe, passed down the generations with great solemnity and caution. A caution which is justified: this is a recipe for ecstasy that carries a very bitter aftertaste” (read more).
  • Auras: The Anatomy of the Aura (A Start Here Guide for Beginners) by Eliza Swann – “…a modern illustrated guide to the ancient practice of aura reading” (read more).
  • Not That Kind of Guy by Andie J Christopher – “Matt Kido is dumbstruck by Bridget – total love at first sight – but there’s one problem. She’s totally off-limits while she’s his boss. … An impulsive decision takes them to Las Vegas where, as the saying goes, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Unless you put a ring on it” (read more).

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  • A Breath Too Late by Rocky Callen – “Seventeen-year-old Ellie had no hope left. Yet the day after she dies by suicide, she finds herself in the midst of an out-of-body experience. She is a spectator, swaying between past and present, retracing the events that unfolded prior to her death” (read more).
  • Don’t Call the Wolf by Aleksandra Ross – “When the Golden Dragon descended on the forest of Kamiena, a horde of monsters followed in its wake. Ren, the forest’s young queen, is slowly losing her battle against them. Until she rescues Lukasz – the last survivor of a heroic regiment of dragon slayers – and they strike a deal” (read more).
  • Incendiary (Hollow Crown #1) by Zoraida Cordova – “Renata Convida was only a child when she was kidnapped by the King’s Justice… As a Robari, the rarest and most feared of the magical Moria, Renata’s ability to steal memories from royal enemies enabled the King’s Wrath, a siege that resulted in the deaths of thousands of her own people” (read more).



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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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A Torch Against the Night
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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

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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

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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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The Worst 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. 

Let’s start with the ten worst books I’ve read, so we can end on a positive note!


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10. Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

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Weirdly enough, I really enjoyed Rupi Kaur’s second poetry collection, The Sun and Her Flowers, but Milk and Honey left me feeling bored and as though Kaur was trying much too hard to be edgy and provocative. At the time that I posted the review, I gave it 3.5 stars, which, looking back, is much too generous. I’ll never change my ratings in my posted reviews, but I did recently change my Goodreads rating of it down to 2 stars. I disliked the formatting of the collection and it definitely didn’t live up to the crazy amount of hype surrounding it.


9. The Municipalists by Seth Fried

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I chose this book as one of my Book of the Month Club selections, and, although I absolutely love the cover art, the book ended up being a 2.5-star read. It was the kind of book that made zero impact on me, to the point where I couldn’t remember the name of the main character while reading it. I didn’t DNF it because I kept hoping it would get better, but by the end of it, I was having to force myself to push through. The Municipalists is a humorous science fiction novel but the humor felt very forced much of the time. I also found myself annoyed by OWEN, a holographic AI who is the main character’s sidekick. There are much better funny science fiction books out there, so this is one best skipped.


8. The Protector by Elin Peer

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I knew going into Elin Peer’s The Protector that this is a book that is out of my comfort zone as it’s a smutty romance novel, but I wanted to try something new. This book was available through Kindle Unlimited and was rated pretty highly, plus it had a post-apocalyptic setting, so I figured it would be a decent introduction to the genre. Turned out, however, it wasn’t the book for me. The world of The Protector is incredibly sexist and misogynistic, and I couldn’t ignore those aspects while reading it. The world-building was weak and didn’t make a whole lot of sense. Many of the main characters act like children and none of them are believable.

psst – if you’d like to try Kindle Unlimited (there are great books on there, just not this one), sign up through this link to get your first month free!


7. Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer

Echo North

Going into this book, I had high expectations. I like fairy tale retellings, especially when they’re based on Norweigan stories. The book is one of the most disappointing I’ve read, however. I found the story to be incredibly problematic. Our main character, Echo, constantly forgives and then falls in love with a manipulative, possessive, abusive love interest, and that was just something I couldn’t support. The novel is also the most trope-y book I’ve ever read.


6. Infected by Scott Sigler

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Infected is one of the very few books I’ve rated 1 star. I got it for free through Amazon Kindle Deals way back in the day, and just got around to reading it this year. I hated everything about this book, and I honestly don’t know where to start. It’s gross (lots of body horror) and ridiculous (aliens manifesting through blue triangle rashes), and I didn’t like any of the characters.


5. The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand

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I was inspired to read this book after hearing Emma from the Booktube channel Emmmabooks rave about it. It’s one of her favorite books, and hearing her reviews made it sound really interesting. I think retellings are fun, and this is a modern retelling of  Charles Dicken’s A Christmas CarolI did not think that this book was fun. In fact, I actually DNF’ed this book. All of the characters were either annoying or bland and the plot seemed ridiculous to me. I also struggled a lot with Cynthia Hand’s writing style.


4. Invincible Living by Guru Jagat

Invincible Living - Guru Jagat

Invincible Living is another book that I DNF’ed. In the review, I go into really deep detail about all the reasons that I disliked this book, but to sum it up quickly: it’s a lot of fluffy words and recommendations that have zero scientific studies to back them up. This book is about as woo-woo as you can get, and some of the things Guru Jagat wrote were so ridiculous that I had to keep reminding myself that she was being serious.


3. Elevation by Stephen King

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Let me preface this by saying that Stephen King is one of my favorite authors. I literally grew up reading my parents’ editions of his older books, like The ShiningCarrieand The Tommyknockers. Elevation, however, is the worst Stephen King book I’ve read so far. First of all, I keep seeing this book classified as a horror novel, which it most definitely is not. It even won the Goodreads Horror Award for 2018. Next, this story is very shallow, and the only reason I actually finished it is that it’s less than 200 pages. All of the characters were over-played stereotypes. I rated this book a well-deserved 1-star.


2. People of the Sun by Jason Parent

People of the Sun by Jason Parent

People of the Sun was one of the very first NetGalley books I received, and as such, was very excited to review. I read a lot of science fiction and fantasy, and as a result, it’s not hard for me to suspend my disbelief for a book. This book, however, asks for the reader to suspend too much disbelief. The book is about aliens that live in the center of the sun and come to earth to obtain resources for their dying race. The aliens act and think like humans, which is boring when you go into the story looking forward to a narrative told from the point of view of the aliens. Also, there are sentences like this: “Then it melted and slid down the formation like a pickle smeared in ketchup thrown against a window.”


1. The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

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It might shock a few people to see that Matthew Quick’s popular book (which inspired the equally popular film) is my least favorite book in a year of blogging. I really disliked the mental health representation in this novel, and I was also misled into thinking it was a novel that featured bipolar representation, which it most certainly does not. Our two main characters, Pat and Tiffany, talk and act like children, which is offensive to people suffering from mental illnesses such as depression, which both are said to have. Quick’s writing was simplistic and sloppy, and he also spoils the endings of several classic novels in the book. There was nothing I enjoyed in this book, and it is the worst book I’ve read in my first year of blogging.



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




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Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag!

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We’re officially halfway through 2019, which I’m still having trouble believing! This book tag has been making its rounds throughout the book community, and I love reminiscing about all the books I’ve read so far, so of course, I was going to participate!

Let’s get right to it!



WHAT IS THE BEST BOOK THAT YOU’VE READ SO FAR IN 2019?

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The Way of Kings (Book One of the Stormlight Archive) by Brandon Sanderson

This first question was super easy to answer. The Way of Kings was the first Brandon Sanderson book I read, and these 1000 pages instantly pushed him into my list of top ten favorite authors. His world-building blew me away completely.

Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_5_stars
Review | Amazon | Goodreads


WHAT IS THE BEST SEQUEL YOU’VE READ SO FAR IN 2019?

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Words of Radiance (Book Two of the Stormlight Archive) by Brandon Sanderson

Big surprise, right? If it’s even possible, I think I may have enjoyed Words of Radiance even more than The Way of Kings. 

Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_5_stars
Review | Amazon | Goodreads


IS THERE A NEW RELEASE THAT YOU HAVEN’T READ YET BUT ARE REALLY EXCITED FOR?

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The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

My favorite aspect of the entire fantasy genre is dragons. How could they not be? They hoard gold and breath fire and fly and are just generally totally badass. I purchased The Priory of the Orange tree as soon as it came out on February 26, and I still haven’t read it. Part of the reason is due to its size, as it’s over 800 pages.

Amazon | Goodreads


WHAT IS YOUR MOST ANTICIPATED RELEASE FOR THE SECOND HALF OF 2019?

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The Testaments (The Handmaid’s Tale #2) by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid’s Tale is one of my favorite dystopian novels, and Margaret Atwood is a wonderful writer. The sequel to her ground-breaking first book comes out in September of this year, and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy. I’ve already pre-ordered it.

Amazon | Goodreads


WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT SO FAR?

Echo North

Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer

I wanted to like this book so bad. It’s a retelling of a Norse myth, it has a gorgeous cover, and it was fairly highly rated. I was so disappointed in this book, however. For the full details, click on my review below, but to quickly sum it up, this book basically glorifies Stockholm syndrome and the main character, Echo, forgives someone who lies to her repeatedly and at least once violently attacks her. Honestly, I feel like my two-star rating may have been generous, but I don’t like redoing old ratings unless I reread a book, and I definitely won’t be rereading Echo North.

Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_2_stars
Review | Amazon | Goodreads


WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST SURPRISE SO FAR?

The Simple Wild

The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker

This is the book that made me realize that I don’t hate romance novels. I always thought I did, even though I never gave them a chance. This book turned everything around for me, and now I actively seek out romance novels. I can’t wait to read more of K.A. Tucker’s books.

Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_4_and_a_half_stars
Review | Amazon | Goodreads


WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE NEW TO YOU DEBUT AUTHOR?

The Night Circus

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I read this book after seeing Hannah at A Clockwork Reader talk about this book over and over again. When I read this book back in February, I was so impressed with Erin Morgenstern’s beautiful and atmospheric writing. I can’t wait to read her upcoming novel, The Starless Sea. 

Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_4_and_a_half_stars
Review | Amazon | Goodreads


WHO IS YOUR NEWEST FAVOURITE CHARACTER FROM THIS YEAR?

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Shallan Davar, The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson

Out of the many, many great characters in The Stormlight Archive, Shallan is definitely my favorite. She is determined and fierce, and I love how much she grew in the first two novels of this series. I can’t wait to see how she continues to evolve in the third book, Oathbringer. 


WHAT IS A BOOK THAT MADE YOU CRY?

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As much as I hate to admit it, not a single novel has made me cry this year, which is a pity. I love a good cry after a heartbreaking book. If you have any recommendations for cry-worthy books, let me know in the comments.


WHAT IS A BOOK THAT MADE YOU HAPPY?

With the Fire on High

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

I just finished Elizabeth Acevedo’s With the Fire on High earlier this week, and this book made me smile so many times! A full review will be coming to you guys this week, but gosh-darn I loved this book so much.

Amazon | Goodreads


WHAT IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL BOOK YOU’VE READ SO FAR THIS YEAR?

The Light Between Worlds

The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth

Out of all the books I’ve read so far this year, this is hands-down my favorite cover.

Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars
Review | Amazon | Goodreads




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Becca: Friday Favorites

Last week, we talked to Tori. This week, we’re revisiting Becca. This post was originally published on October 5, 2018.



Friday Favorites; Read Yourself Happy; Reading Blog; Book Blog; books

Tell us a bit about yourself!

I’ve always been a book nerd so it was no surprise that I became an English teacher. When most people find out that I’m an English teacher, they picture me reading Ulysses or some other equally confounding tomb. Suckers! I love comic books, classic books, and a cereal box if it’s within reach. My dog, Nala, loves when I read out loud to her. Her favorite book is Things Fall Apart, but I don’t have the heart to tell her she’s on her own there. This picture is of Nala waiting for me to read some lit theory to her.

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Nala

If you could spend a night hanging out with three authors, living or dead, who would you choose?

I’d like to hang out with Oscar Wilde, drinking champagne (obviously), Zadie Smith, and James Baldwin. All 3 of them speak to me so much and I can’t help but go back to their work time and again.


Which classic or popular book do you hate?

The Crucible - Arthur Miller

I don’t really like The Crucible. It’s boring. I don’t like teaching it or even showing the movie anymore. We get it, Daniel Day Lewis — you only have your name. But news flash: you create your identity, not those wiggos. I also never read any of the Harry Potter books until my mother-in-law made me read the first one when I was about to graduate from college. I guess it’s good for 11-year-olds, but not so much if you’re 22.


How do you keep track of books you’ve finished and books you want to read?

I use Goodreads to keep track of books that I want (and basically to generate my wish lists for my birthday and holidays). I like that it suggests other books to read once I’ve finished one.


What are your five favorite books, and why?

My top 5 favorite books (that will likely change in a month) are:
  • White Teeth by Zadie Smith — I can’t really articulate what all I like about this book (the writing! the characters! the plot! the underlying commentary on post-colonialism!), but it’s always had a special place in my heart.
  • A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles — This is just such a wonderful story told in a delightful voice. I was reading a few books about Russia at the time…BONUS: Towles is apparently a distant relative of my husband!
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald — I re-read this every semester when I teach it and notice new things EVERY TIME!
  • The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama — Books don’t usually make me cry like I did when I read this, but maybe it’s the fact that I recently finished it and am nostalgic/sad/disgusting with our current world.
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry — This is the first book I remember reading that stressed the importance of thinking for yourself and not buying into what other people want from you.

Finally, leave us with your favorite bookish quote.

I cannot remember the books I've read nay more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me. - Ralph Waldo Emerson




If you would like to participate in Friday Favorites, please contact me.

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Puff Puff Pass: 10 Books About Marijuana for 420

10 Books about Weed for 420

Now that recreational marijuana is legal in nine states, weed is becoming more mainstream. April 20th, or 420 as enthusiasts refer to it, is a day that celebrates weed culture. What began with some teenagers meeting at 4:20 PM behind their high school has become embraced by a number of people who enjoy getting a little buzzed.

Here are ten books that celebrate the history and culture of marijuana.


The Official High Times Cannabis Cookbook: More than 50  Irresistible Recipes That Will Get You High

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The Cannabis Spa at Home: How to Make Marijuana-Infused Lotions, Massage Oils, Ointments, Bath Salts, Spa Nosh, and More by Sandra Hinchliffe51pDwGXS8+L._SX490_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg


The Little Black Book of Marijuana: The Essential Guide to the World of Cannabis by Steve Elliott

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A Woman’s Guide to Cannabis: Using Marijuana to Feel Better, Look Better, Sleep Better – and Get High Like a Lady by Nikki Furrer51l2tUWvqQL._SX381_BO1,204,203,200_ (1).jpg


Ganja Yoga: A Practical Guide to Conscious Relaxation, Soothing Pain Relief, and Enlightened Self-Discovery by Dee Dussault and Georgia Bardi

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The ABCs of CBD: The Essential Guide for Parents (and Regular Folks Too): Why Pot is NOT What We Were Taught by Shira Adler41lvnuVvNrL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg


The Pot Book: A Complete Guide to Cannabis by Julie Holland, M.D.

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The Cannabis Manifesto: A New Paradigm for Wellness by Steve DeAngelo

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Breaking the Grass Ceiling: Women, Weed and Business by Ashley Picillo

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Cannabis Revealed: How the World’s Most Misunderstood Plant is Healing Everything from Chronic Pain to Epilepsy by Bonnie Goldstein, M.D.51e4eJijppL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg



Know of any other books about 420 and marijuana that I left out? Let me know in the comments.


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When Love of Literature Becomes Book Buying Obsession

Editorial

I’ve written about my issues with anxiety and depression on this blog before, but I want to talk about a specific problem that arose out of my depression that I wasn’t aware of until recently. I’m a bit ashamed of it, but I’m proud of myself for being aware of the issue so that I can be more cognizant of it.

I was compulsively buying books whenever I’d feel anxious or sad in order to get a brief flash of pleasure.

Looking back on the last couple of years, I’ve realized that I’ve been doing this for a long time. I’ve always been surrounded by stacks of (mostly unread) books and it’s nearly impossible for me to pass up any book that is on sale. There are days when I’m feeling really down and hopeless, but also restless, and on days like that it’s not uncommon for me to go to a thrift store just to buy discounted books.

Amazon Kindle deals have been absolutely dangerous for me over the years. I have over 500 ebooks on my Kindle, almost all of which I bought because they were discounted down to $1-3. I’ve read perhaps 5% of them, which is shameful. I still want to buy Kindle books occasionally because they are a wonderful deal, but for the past couple of weeks, every time I’m about to hit “Buy Now,” I ask myself if I need to pay money to read this or if I can’t just pick it up from the library. Every time I’ve asked myself this question, I’ve opted for the library. It’s not a fix, but it’s progress.

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I found a way to justify any purchase.

Even when I really shouldn’t have been spending money, I would talk myself into buying a book because I had a 15% off coupon or because I had to read that exact book right now. This is one of the hardest things for me. Hell, I literally found myself doing this today while browsing YA fantasy hardcovers on Amazon. It got especially bad in the first few months of starting this blog when I felt justified in buying all the books because I was now a book blogger.

The last decade has had a lot of lows and just a few high points in terms of my mental health. I’m finally getting the help I need thanks to the fact that I have health insurance for the first time in ten years. Over the years I fell back on several forms of unhealthy self-medication, such as smoking copious amounts of marijuana and drinking to the point of blacking out several times a month. Thankfully, those dangerous coping mechanisms are years behind me. These days, I have two things I resort to when I’m feeling down: books and food.

I have a long way to go before I would say that I no longer use purchasing books as a relief for depression, but I feel like just being aware of it has made me think more about my habits the last couple of weeks. I’ve purchased books in March, but not at the rate that I had done in January or February (in February I’m pretty sure I bought around 40 books). I’m embracing the library more (which I should have been doing all along!) and trying to focus on reading the books I already have.

I love books and reading. Reading is healthy and is a great coping mechanism to escape from things that are causing you stress. I want to embrace that aspect of reading over the blind purchasing of books I don’t need in order to get that brief ten-second boost in my brain.


Has anyone else ever had this problem? Let’s talk about it in the comments. I’d love some advice on how to deal with this.

The 2019 Man Booker International Longlist

The longlist for the 2019 Man Booker International Prize was released today, and there are some great titles to add to your TBR. Before we get into those books though, I want to point out a few cool things about this year’s list.

First, only two of these novels are from large conglomerate publishing houses; the rest are from independent publishers. I love supporting small publishers and their authors, so I was thrilled to see them represented in the longlist.

Second, over half of the list is made up of female authors – eight in total. It really seems as though women writers are getting equal footing in world literature, so it made me happy to see that they make up the bulk of this list.

Now, let’s get right into the books!

2019 Man Booker International Prize Longlist

Have you read any of these books, or are they on your TBR already? If so, tell me about them in the comments!

New Releases for January 22, 2019

It’s Tuesday, which means new book release day! There are so many coming out today, of which the titles below are just a small percentage. As always, the synopses are courtesy of the publisher.

What books are you most excited about this week? Let me know in the comments!


Kingdom of Copper (The Daevabad Trilogy #2) by S. A. Chakraborty

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Fantasy | Historical Fiction
Goodreads | Amazon

Return to Daevabad in the spellbinding sequel to THE CITY OF BRASS.

Nahri’s life changed forever the moment she accidentally summoned Dara, a formidable, mysterious djinn, during one of her schemes. Whisked from her home in Cairo, she was thrust into the dazzling royal court of Daevabadand quickly discovered she would need all her grifter instincts to survive there.

Now, with Daevabad entrenched in the dark aftermath of the battle that saw Dara slain at Prince Ali’s hand, Nahri must forge a new path for herself, without the protection of the guardian who stole her heart or the counsel of the prince she considered a friend. But even as she embraces her heritage and the power it holds, she knows she’s been trapped in a gilded cage, watched by a king who rules from the throne that once belonged to her family and one misstep will doom her tribe.

Meanwhile, Ali has been exiled for daring to defy his father. Hunted by assassins, adrift on the unforgiving copper sands of his ancestral land, he is forced to rely on the frightening abilities the maridthe unpredictable water spirits have gifted him. But in doing so, he threatens to unearth a terrible secret his family has long kept buried.

And as a new century approaches and the djinn gather within Daevabad’s towering brass walls for celebrations, a threat brews unseen in the desolate north. It’s a force that would bring a storm of fire straight to the city’s gates . . . and one that seeks the aid of a warrior trapped between worlds, torn between a violent duty he can never escape and a peace he fears he will never deserve.


The Vanishing Stair (Truly Devious #2) by Maureen Johnson

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Mystery | Young Adult | Thriller
Goodreads | Amazon

All Stevie Bell wanted was to find the key to the Ellingham mystery, but instead she found her classmate dead. And while she solved that murder, the crimes of the past are still waiting in the dark. Just as Stevie feels she’s on the cusp of putting it together, her parents pull her out of Ellingham academy.

For her own safety they say. She must move past this obsession with crime. Now that Stevie’s away from the school of topiaries and secret tunnels, and her strange and endearing friends, she begins to feel disconnected from the rest of the world. At least she won’t have to see David anymore. David, who she kissed. David, who lied to her about his identity—son of despised politician Edward King. Then King himself arrives at her house to offer a deal: He will bring Stevie back to Ellingham immediately. In return, she must play nice with David. King is in the midst of a campaign and can’t afford his son stirring up trouble. If Stevie’s at school, David will stay put.

The tantalizing riddles behind the Ellingham murders are still waiting to be unraveled, and Stevie knows she’s so close. But the path to the truth has more twists and turns than she can imagine—and moving forward involves hurting someone she cares for. In New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson’s second novel of the Truly Devious series, nothing is free, and someone will pay for the truth with their life.


The Cold is in Her Bones by Peternelle Van Arsdale

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Fantasy | Young Adult | Retellings
Goodreads | Amazon

Milla knows two things to be true: Demons are real, and fear will keep her safe.

Milla’s whole world is her family’s farm. She is never allowed to travel to the village and her only friend is her beloved older brother, Niklas. When a bright-eyed girl named Iris comes to stay, Milla hopes her loneliness might finally be coming to an end. But Iris has a secret she’s forbidden to share: The village is cursed by a demon who possesses girls at random, and the townspeople live in terror of who it will come for next.

Now, it seems, the demon has come for Iris. When Iris is captured and imprisoned with other possessed girls, Milla leaves home to rescue her and break the curse forever. Her only company on the journey is a terrible new secret of her own: Milla is changing, too, and may soon be a demon herself.


Crucible (Sigma Force #14) by James Rollins

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Thriller | Adventure
Goodreads | Amazon

Arriving home on Christmas Eve, Commander Gray Pierce discovers his house ransacked, his pregnant lover missing, and his best friend’s wife, Kat, unconscious on the kitchen floor. With no shred of evidence to follow, his one hope to find the woman he loves and his unborn child is Kat, the only witness to what happened. But the injured woman is in a semi-comatose state and cannot speak—until a brilliant neurologist offers a radical approach to “unlock” her mind long enough to ask a few questions. What Pierce learns from Kat sets Sigma Force on a frantic quest for answers that are connected to mysteries reaching back to the Spanish Inquisition and to one of the most reviled and blood-soaked books in human history—a Medieval text known as the Malleus Maleficarum, the Hammer of Witches. What they uncover hidden deep in the past will reveal a frightening truth in the present and a future on the brink of annihilation, and force them to confront the ultimate question: What does it mean to have a soul?


The Current by Tim Johnston

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Mystery | Thriller
Goodreads | Amazon

Tim Johnston, whose 2015 national bestseller Descent was called “astonishing” by the Washington Post and “unforgettable” by the Miami Herald, returns with another tour de force about the indelible impact of a crime on the lives of innocent people.

When two young women leave their college campus in the dead of winter for a 700-mile drive north to Minnesota, they suddenly find themselves fighting for their lives in the icy waters of the Black Root River, just miles from home. One girl’s survival, and the other’s death—murder, actually—stun the citizens of a small Minnesota town, thawing memories of another young woman who lost her life in the same river ten years earlier, and whose killer may yet live among them. One father is forced to relive his agony while another’s greatest desire—to bring a killer to justice—is revitalized . . . and the girl who survived the icy plunge cannot escape the sense that she is connected to that earlier unsolved case by more than a river. Soon enough she’s caught up in an investigation of her own that will unearth long-hidden secrets, and stoke the violence that has long simmered just below the surface of the town. Souls frozen in time, ghosts and demons, the accused and the guilty, all stir to life in this cold northern place where memories, like treachery, run just beneath the ice, and where a young woman can come home but still not be safe.

Brilliantly plotted, unrelentingly suspenseful, and beautifully realized, The Current is a gripping page-turner about how the past holds the key to the future as well as an unbreakable grip on the present.


Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive by Stephanie Land

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Nonfiction | Memoir
Goodreads | Amazon

Evicted meets Nickel and Dimed in Stephanie Land’s memoir about working as a maid, a beautiful and gritty exploration of poverty in America. Includes a foreword by Barbara Ehrenreich.

“My daughter learned to walk in a homeless shelter.”

While the gap between upper middle-class Americans and the working poor widens, grueling low-wage domestic and service work–primarily done by women–fuels the economic success of the wealthy. Stephanie Land worked for years as a maid, pulling long hours while struggling as a single mom to keep a roof over her daughter’s head. In Maid, she reveals the dark truth of what it takes to survive and thrive in today’s inequitable society.

While she worked hard to scratch her way out of poverty as a single parent, scrubbing the toilets of the wealthy, navigating domestic labor jobs, higher education, assisted housing, and a tangled web of government assistance, Stephanie wrote. She wrote the true stories that weren’t being told. The stories of overworked and underpaid Americans.

Written in honest, heart-rending prose and with great insight, Maid explores the underbelly of upper-middle class America and the reality of what it’s like to be in service to them. “I’d become a nameless ghost,” Stephanie writes. With this book, she gives voice to the “servant” worker, those who fight daily to scramble and scrape by for their own lives and the lives of their children.


The Snow Leopard Project: And Other Adventures in Warzone Conservation by Alex Dehgan

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Nonfiction | Environmental
Goodreads | Amazon

The remarkable story of the heroic effort to save and preserve Afghanistan’s wildlife-and a culture that derives immense pride and a sense of national identity from its natural landscape.

Postwar Afghanistan is fragile, volatile, and perilous. It is also a place of extraordinary beauty. Evolutionary biologist Alex Dehgan arrived in the country in 2006 to build the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Afghanistan Program, and preserve and protect Afghanistan’s unique and extraordinary environment, which had been decimated after decades of war.

Conservation, it turned out, provided a common bond between Alex’s team and the people of Afghanistan. His international team worked unarmed in some of the most dangerous places in the country-places so remote that winding roads would abruptly disappear, and travel was on foot, yak, or mule. In The Snow Leopard Project, Dehgan takes readers along with him on his adventure as his team helps create the country’s first national park, completes the some of the first extensive wildlife surveys in thirty years, and works to stop the poaching of the country’s iconic endangered animals, including the elusive snow leopard. In doing so, they help restore a part of Afghan identity that is ineffably tied to the land itself.


Miraculum by Steph Post

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Fantasy
Goodreads | Amazon

The year is 1922. The carnival is Pontilliar’s Spectactular Star Light Miraculum, set up on the Texas-Louisiana border. One blazing summer night, a mysterious stranger steps out onto the midway, lights a cigarette and forever changes the world around him. Tattooed snake charmer Ruby has traveled with her father’s carnival for most of her life and, jaded though she is, can’t help but be drawn to the tall man in the immaculate black suit who has joined the carnival as a geek, a man who bites the heads off live chickens. Mercurial and charismatic, Daniel charms everyone he encounters but his manipulation of Ruby becomes complicated when it no longer becomes clear who is holding all the cards. For all of Daniel’s secrets, Ruby has a few of her own. When one tragedy after another strikes the carnival, and it becomes clear that Daniel is somehow at the center of calamity, Ruby takes it upon herself to discover the mystery of the shadowy man pulling all the strings. Joined by Hayden, a roughneck-turned-mural-painter who has recently reentered her life, Ruby enters into a dangerous, eye-opening game with Daniel in which nothing and no one is as it seems and yet everything is at stake.


99 Nights in Logar by Jamil Jan Kochai

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Contemporary Fiction | Magical Realism
Goodreads | Amazon

A coming-of-age story about one boy’s journey across contemporary Afghanistan to find and bring home the family dog, blending the grit and immediacy of voice-driven fiction like We Need New Names with the mythmaking of One Thousand and One Nights.

Twelve-year-old Marwand’s memories from his previous visit to Afghanistan six years ago center on his contentious relationship with Budabash, the terrifying but beloved dog who guards his extended family’s compound in Logar. Eager to find an ally in this place that’s meant to be “home,” Marwand approaches Budabash the way he would any dog on his American suburban block—and the results are disastrous: Marwand loses a finger and Budabash escapes.

The resulting search for the family dog is an expertly told adventure, a ninety-nine-night quest that sends Marwand and his cousins across the landscape of Logar. Moving between celebrations and tragedies, deeply humorous and surprisingly tender, 99 Nights in Logar is a vibrant exploration of the power of stories—the ones we tell each other, and the ones we find ourselves in.


Golden State by Ben Winters

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Science Fiction | Dystopia | Mystery
Goodreads | Amazon

A shocking vision of our future that is one part Minority Report and one part Chinatown.

Lazlo Ratesic is 54, a 19-year veteran of the Speculative Service, from a family of law enforcement and in a strange alternate society that values law and truth above all else. This is how Laz must, by law, introduce himself, lest he fail to disclose his true purpose or nature, and by doing so, be guilty of a lie.

Laz is a resident of The Golden State, a nation resembling California, where like-minded Americans retreated after the erosion of truth and the spread of lies made public life, and governance, increasingly impossible. There, surrounded by the high walls of compulsory truth-telling, knowingly contradicting the truth–the Objectively So–is the greatest possible crime. Stopping those crimes, punishing them, is Laz’s job. In its service, he is one of the few individuals permitted to harbor untruths–to “speculate” on what might have happened in the commission of a crime.

But the Golden State is far less a paradise than its name might suggest. To monitor, verify, and enforce the Objectively So requires a veritable panopticon of surveillance, recording, and record-keeping. And when those in control of the truth twist it for nefarious means, the Speculators may be the only ones with the power to fight back.


Song of the Dead (Reign of the Fallen #2) by Sarah Glenn Marsh

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Fantasy | Young Adult
Goodreads | Amazon

The Dead must stay buried.

Karthia is nothing like it used to be. The kingdom’s borders are open for the first time in nearly three hundred years, and raising the dead has been outlawed. Odessa is determined to explore the world beyond Karthia’s waters, hoping to heal a heart broken in more ways than she can count. But with Meredy joining the ocean voyage, vanquishing her sorrow will be a difficult task.

Despite the daily reminder of the history they share, Odessa and Meredy are fascinated when their journey takes them to a land where the Dead rule the night and dragons roam the streets. Odessa can’t help being mesmerized by the new magic–and by the girl at her side. But just as she and Meredy are beginning to explore the new world, a terrifying development in Karthia summons them home at once.

Growing political unrest on top of threats from foreign invaders means Odessa and Meredy are thrust back into the lives they tried to leave behind while specters from their past haunt their tenuous relationship. Gathering a force big enough to ward off enemies seems impossible, until one of Queen Valoria’s mages creates a weapon that could make them invincible. As danger continues to mount inside the palace, Odessa fears that without the Dead, even the greatest invention won’t be enough to save their fates.

In this enthralling, heartrending sequel to Reign of the Fallen, Odessa faces the fight of her life as the boundaries between the Dead and the living are challenged in a way more gruesome than ever before.


All is Fair by Dee Garretson

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Historical Fiction | Young Adult
Goodreads | Amazon

When Lady Mina Tretheway receives a telegram at boarding school, she doesn’t want to read it. In 1918, with war raging, she dreads telegrams, knowing they never bring good news.

At first she doesn’t understand the cryptic message. Then she realizes it’s written in code, and the message leads her home to Hallington Manor. When Lord Andrew Graham appears with a dashing young American, Lucas Mueller, Mina learns that the two of them must work together on dangerous project for the war effort.

Thinking Mina is just a spoiled aristocrat, Lucas tries to complete the project alone, fearing her inexperience will give them away. But when the project goes very wrong, Mina and Lucas are thrown together to complete the mission before more soldiers disappear into the darkness of war.


The Gutter Prayer by Gareth Hanrahan

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Fantasy
Goodreads | Amazon

A group of three young thieves are pulled into a centuries old magical war between ancient beings, mages, and humanity in this wildly original debut epic fantasy.

The city has always been. The city must finally end.

When three thieves – an orphan, a ghoul, and a cursed man – are betrayed by the master of the thieves guild, their quest for revenge uncovers dark truths about their city and exposes a dangerous conspiracy, the seeds of which were sown long before they were born.Cari is a drifter whose past and future are darker than she can know.

Rat is a Ghoul, whose people haunt the city’s underworld.

Spar is a Stone Man, subject to a terrible disease that is slowly petrifying his flesh.

Chance has brought them together, but their friendship could be all that stands in the way of total Armageddon.


The Eulogist by Terry Gamble

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Historical Fiction
Goodreads| Amazon

From the author of The Water Dancers and Good Family, an exquisitely crafted novel, set in Ohio in the decades leading to the Civil War, that illuminates the immigrant experience, the injustice of slavery, and the debts human beings owe to one another, witnessed through the endeavors of one Irish-American family.

Cheated out of their family estate in Northern Ireland after the Napoleonic Wars, the Givens family arrives in America in 1819. But in coming to this new land, they have lost nearly everything. Making their way west they settle in Cincinnati, a burgeoning town on the banks of the mighty Ohio River whose rise, like the Givenses’ own, will be fashioned by the colliding forces of Jacksonian populism, religious evangelism, industrial capitalism, and the struggle for emancipation.

After losing their mother in childbirth and their father to a riverboat headed for New Orleans, James, Olivia, and Erasmus Givens must fend for themselves. Ambitious James eventually marries into a prosperous family, builds a successful business, and rises in Cincinnati society. Taken by the spirit and wanderlust, Erasmus becomes an itinerant preacher, finding passion and heartbreak as he seeks God. Independent-minded Olivia, seemingly destined for spinsterhood, enters into a surprising partnership and marriage with Silas Orpheus, a local doctor who spurns social mores.

When her husband suddenly dies from an infection, Olivia travels to his family home in Kentucky, where she meets his estranged brother and encounters the horrors of slavery firsthand. After abetting the escape of one slave, Olivia is forced to confront the status of a young woman named Tilly, another slave owned by Olivia’s brother-in-law. When her attempt to help Tilly ends in disaster, Olivia tracks down Erasmus, who has begun smuggling runaways across the river—the borderline between freedom and slavery.

As the years pass, this family of immigrants initially indifferent to slavery will actively work for its end—performing courageous, often dangerous, occasionally foolhardy acts of moral rectitude that will reverberate through their lives for generations to come.


Ship of Smoke and Steel (The Wells of Sorcery Trilogy) by Django Wexler

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Young Adult | Fantasy
Goodreads | Amazon

Ship of Smoke and Steel is the launch of a cinematic, action-packed epic fantasy trilogy for fans of Leigh Bardugo and The Legend of Korra.

In the lower wards of Kahnzoka, the great port city of the Blessed Empire, eighteen-year-old ward boss Isoka comes to collect when there’s money owing. When her ability to access the Well of Combat is discovered by the Empire—an ability she should have declared and placed at His Imperial Majesty’s service—she’s sent on an impossible mission: steal Soliton, a legendary ghost ship—a ship from which no one has ever returned. If she fails, her sister’s life is forfeit.

“Truly epic, fierce, and exhilarating, Ship of Smoke and Steel will capture you and lock you away. With magical combat sequences fit for the big screen, the action is almost as breathtaking as the intrigue.” —Morgan Rhodes, New York Times bestselling author of the Falling Kingdoms series.


Circle of Shadows by Evelyn Skye

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Fantasy | Young Adult
Goodreads | Amazon

Sora can move as silently as a ghost and hurl throwing stars with lethal accuracy. Her gemina, Daemon, can win any physical fight blindfolded and with an arm tied behind his back. They are apprentice warriors of the Society of Taigas—marked by the gods to be trained in magic and the fighting arts to protect the kingdom of Kichona.

As their graduation approaches, Sora and Daemon look forward to proving themselves worthy of belonging to the elite group—but in a kingdom free of violence since the Blood Rift Rebellion many years ago, it’s been difficult to make their mark. So when Sora and Daemon encounter a strange camp of mysterious soldiers while on a standard scouting mission, they decide the only thing to do to help their kingdom is to infiltrate the group.Taking this risk will change Sora’s life forever—and lead her on a mission of deception that may fool everyone she’s ever loved.

Sunday Links: October 14, 2018

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Should You Read Multiple Books At Once?

Here is a list of books that I’m currently reading:

That's a lot of books!
Photo by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash

When I was still in school, it was even worse, because I was slogging through incredibly dry political science and history textbooks and required reading, while still reading for pleasure in what little bit of spare time I had.

I’ve always enjoyed reading multiple books at the same time, and there are several reasons why:

I like to read based on my mood

Sometimes I’m in the mood for something short and quick, and other times I have several hours and want to immerse myself in very detailed fantasy or sci-fi novels. Every day I try to read a few poems in whatever current poetry book or anthology I’ve got on my nightstand. When I want something more colorful I’ll reach for one of the comic books or graphic novels that my boyfriend and I have in our vast collection (we’re both serious collectors, so I think it’s safe to say we have well over a thousand issues between the two of us, not including what’s still in storage at his grandmother’s house and the weekly haul we pick up every Wednesday).

Especially when I’m reading a massive novel, such as those over 500 pages, sometimes it’s nice to take a little break occasionally and read something quick and easy. That’s why, right now, I’m reading both Children of Blood and Bone and City of Ghosts; the former is an incredible high fantasy novel, but at over 525 pages, it’s not exactly a quick read, while the latter is a short middle-grade ghost story that I could probably finish in a day.

It allows me to get through my TBR list a little faster

I have almost 900 books on my TBR list, and if I can knock out a few of those at a time, I’m alright with that. Back when I used to read just one book at a time, I’d have days where I just wasn’t in the mood for it (see above). When I’m reading multiple books, however, I’m usually reading something.

I never feel rushed to finish a book

When I’m reading just one book at a time, I have a tendency to try to rush through it, because there are stacks and stacks of other books I’m trying to read too. That’s just something I don’t worry about when I’m reading multiple books at the same time, though, since I can read all (or most) of them simultaneously.

Girl putting books on a shelf
Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

Tips and Hints for Reading Multiple Books

I’m aware that reading multiple books at once is not for everyone. If you’re the kind of person who prefers sticking to one book, then by all means, go for it! Your reading choices are your own!

However, for those of you who maybe want to try, here are a few tips that might help:

  1. Read books that are from different genres. This is the most important piece of advice I can give you. If you try reading two books that are very similar, you’re going to have a better chance of confusing them. This is especially true for science fiction and fantasy books, where you have to keep track of magical and technological systems, as well as many different characters with unusual names.
  2. Don’t get carried away – pick just a few at first. Even when I was much younger, I still read a few different books at a time. As long as I follow rule #1 (see above), my brain does a good job of keeping all the different stories and characters separate. Until you work up to that though, start with just two or three different books.
  3. Take notes. I always take notes and annotate when I read. I don’t want to know how many sticky notes and small notebooks I go through in a year. If I pick up a book after not having read it for several days and need some brief reminders to get me back into the story, I just flip through my notes.
  4. Read using different formats. This is a particularly great tip for people who enjoy audiobooks. I usually have one audiobook that I’m working through, for those moments when my eyes are too tired from reading, or I’m doing chores around the house and still want to hear a good story. Right now, I’m reading three physical books, listening to one audiobook, reading one book on my Kindle, and reading another on my laptop.
  5. Read different books in different places. For example, read your fun novel at home, your non-fiction book at work, an audiobook on public transit, etc. It’s easier to keep track of different stories if you’re used to hearing or reading them in a particular setting.

The most important thing to remember is to take your time, and it’s okay if you get confused. Trust me, even though I’ve been reading multiple books as long as I can remember, I have moments where I pick up a book after a few days of ignoring it and feel completely lost. I just take a deep breath and spend a few minutes remembering where I was at.

Do you read multiple books at one time? Why or why not?


Photo in header image is by Lacie Slezak on Unsplash

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