Top 5 Tuesday: FGHIJ

Well, it’s a Top 5 Tuesday on a Wednesday because I forgot to launch it yesterday (stupid, I know). But anyway! These are my top books for the next 5 letters, as outlined in Bionic BookWorm’s post (click here to check that out and join in!) The letters are definitely getting more difficult and the titles a little more obscure but I’m mostly happy with the books here.

Onwards, my bookish beloveds!

F:

Firelight by Sophie Jordan

I may not have read the Inheritance Cycle that everyone in my grade six class was raving about but I too had a dragon phase, one that began with Jordan’s Firelight trilogy. In the first, shape-shifting draki Jacinda is taken away to a human school where she must hide her powers and unwittingly falls deep into insta-love with a dragon hunter. It’s a classic fantastical case of forbidden love, but the world and story behind the draki is well-woven and intriguing. While I will admit that it follows a plethora of the classic YA tropes, the concept itself feels unique and it’s quick, easy, and interesting enough that I still enjoy it.

G:

Goddess by Josephine Angelini

Goddess is the finale of the Starcrossed trilgy, which is an absolute FAVOURITE. I love the Greek mythology behind it, the twist on the Trojan War, the reincarnation of Iliad characters, the hate-love AND forbidden love story, the major players and the endearing side characters–all of it! I will admit that the first book, Starcrossed, is definitely, favourite of the three but the series was too good not to include it and I already have my S book in mind. In terms of Goddess itself, while there were a few different things I would have hoped for (I say this through tears at the memory), I was overall mostly satisfied with how the ending turned out. So seriously, if you like romance and classical mythology, PLEASE get these books!

H:

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Heartless was one of those surprising cases where the book actually met the hype surrounding it. A twisted take on the Alice in Wonderland story and world, Heartless tells the story of how the sweet pastry-loving Cath turned into the cold and callous Queen of Hearts. This was an easy choice for my top H book, and not because I lacked books starting with H (though I’ll admit, I kind of do…). Meyer did an incredible job with recreating a Wonderland as fanciful and whimsical and curious as Carrol’s original, and the story of Cath and Jest, though tragic, retains enough romance and meaning to rise above a simple tale of tragedy. Click here for my full review!

I:

Immortal Beloved by Cate Tiernan

Tiernan’s Immortal Beloved trilogy doesn’t get talked about enough; in fact, I hardly hear it talked about at all, which is a shame because I loved the books so much! Nastasya’s been practicing some dark immortal magic for too long and checks herself into a sort of immortal rehab farm to learn to walk the light side where she has a run-in with an on-the-mend villain from her past. Tiernan’s conception of immortality is rooted largely in Wicca-style witchcraft, being based more in crystals and cleansing than the sorcery powers that a lot of books have, making it interesting in how it’s different. Plus, all the characters are seriously well-developed and, frankly, kind of awesome, especially über sarcastic Nastasya and her surprisingly sweet love interest Reyn.

J:

Jinx by Meg Cabot

Okay, I’ll be honest, this is the only decent book I have on my shelf that starts with a J. Jinx is another witchy novel with Wicca-esque elements, but this one is grounded more in a traditional view of witchcraft, with potions and hexes and moon phases galore. It’s a rather simple, easy read with enough substance to keep it interesting and a good mix of the fantastical in real life to make the witchy magic feel believable and appropriate in the contemporary world. I love Meg Cabot for when I want a light read with a little dose of something extra, so Jinx is perfect for J.

Top 5 Tuesday: ABCDE

Hello again, my book-obsessed beloveds! Today I thought I’d jump in on Bionic Book Worm’s Top 5 Tuesdays, especially since the theme for July is so fun: best books by letter. The alphabet-matching is significantly more difficult than I had expected it would be, with some letters being impossible to choose a single top book and others being impossible to find a book I enjoyed enough to count it as a top. All indecision aside, here’s my list of top reads from letters A-E.

So y’all know: Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme where Shanah @ Bionic Book Worm explores different topics. If you are interested in participating she would love to have you! Just ping back your post to a specific post of hers so she can add you to the participants list!

A:

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

If you’ve read my earlier posts, this one definitely doesn’t come as a surprise! Maas’ ACOTAR series quickly became a favourite of mine, with this sequel spearheading it. A Court of Mist and Fury just did such a great job at developing Feyre’s character from the ‘weak’ human trapped in the Fae lands to the independent warrior she becomes. The novel tackles the effects and manifestations of depression and PTSD, takes a good look at a toxic relationship, and demonstrates the value of a relationship–platonic and romantic–based on equality and mutual acknowledgement of worth. Not to mention the complex fantasy plot and steamy romance to wrap everything together! Click here for my full review.

B:

(The) Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler

I was torn between this book and C.C. Hunter’s Born at Midnight for the longest time, but eventually I settled on The Book of Broken Hearts because it has stuck with me the most. A fluffy, cute contemporary romance at first glance, Ockler’s novel also deals with the complexities of family, the difficulty with conflicting loyalties, and finding confidence in one’s own decisions. Emilio is a sweetheart trying to bounce back from a difficult past while Jude is too wrapped up in her sisters’ pasts to let herself see the good in him. The book is sweet and wholesome and genuine and romantic in the best kinds of ways.

C:

Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally Carter

Apparently many of my top books start with Cs! After debating with Colleen Gleason’s patchwork of The Clockwork Scarab (review here), Cassandra Clare’s City of Glass–an all-time favourite–Kevin Kwan’s perfectly ridiculous Crazy Rich Asians, and the pleasant surprise of Lisa McMann’s Crash (review here), I settled on the second of Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girl series. These teen spy action-romance books are in major part the novels that turned me into a reader. Callie in this one is a sophomore in her all-girls spy school thrown for a loop when a bunch of teenage spy guys enrol in her academy. This second book is not only my favourite of the series (and therefore one of my absolute favourites ever) but also the one that introduces Zach Goode, a major early fictional crush (I love sarcastic “bad-boy” sweethearts) and begins the conflict that carries the rest of the series.

D:

Devoured by Amanda Marrone

So on the opposite end of the too-good C books, turns out D books don’t tend to be my favourites. More specifically, the D books I’ve read often happen to suffer second-book-syndrome and lose the excitement of the rest of the series, such as with Dreamless by Josephine Angelini (Starcrossed trilogy) and Darkness Falls by Cate Tiernan (Immortal Beloved trilogy)–both series are absolute favourites but neither D book is. Devoured stood out to me for this because the concept is rather unique. Though the GR blurb waxes on about a love triangle, the real excitement here is a fairytale-based murder mystery with some ghosts thrown in–and yes, of course, that dash of romance. I originally borrowed it from my public library but liked it so much I went out and bought a copy myself! Definitely recommend if you’re feeling for something mysterious and different but easy to read.

E:

Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik

This fluffy romantic retelling of Pride and Prejudice is an all-time feel-good fave. LaZebnik specializes in modern Jane Austen and Epic Fail most certainly did not disappoint! Elise is a perfectly sarcastic and protective Elizabeth, sure of herself and her contentment without Derek, who is withdrawn and irritating enough for you to resent like Darcy but not so much to be irredeemable or unforgivable. The Bingley and Jane are positively heartwarming-ly adorable and the Wickham is charming enough to delude until you learn why he’s trash. It’s also still a great read if you haven’t read Pride and Prejudice–I read this before I read Austen’s original and loved it just the same! One caution is that this is not for those iffy on the romance genre since this one here is pure love story, but if you also have a sweet tooth specially for saccharine romances then definitely give it a shot!

Mid-Year Freak Out

Hello again, my lovely bookworms! Super SUUUUPER long time no post. Very sorry about that – life got crazy and then work got really tough (three jobs at once is NOT good for you) then my last year of university got absolutely ridiculous and a lot of things fell by the wayside. I’m still working through this whole Time Management thing when it comes to hobbies…

Anyway, even though this is late, I figured the best way to jump back in would be little look at what I’ve been reading (and not reading) this year so far. Nothing could be more apt of a description than “Freak Out” because I am most definitely not where I want to be this year. Most of what I’ve been reading are thick history books for my research and some English classics for my other classes, so in the realm of fiction I am most certainly behind. Still, I’ve read some good novels the past few months, so let’s unpack those.

Best Book You’ve Read So Far

To be honest, I haven’t yet been totally wowed with a book this year, so this one is a bit of a cheat. For best book I’m choosing Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell, which is a book I’ve only recently started but am already hooked on. It’s fun, it’s fast-paced, and the writing is hilarious but in a surprisingly beautiful and entirely fitting way. I may only be a little bit into it–and I know these things can change with the flip of a page–but just the first few chapters have already instantly hooked me on Kellen’s character and his plight. Soooo, though it may not be the best book I’ve read per se, it’s the book that has gotten me most excited this year while reading.

Favourite Sequel This Year

This one goes to Wicked Sexy Liar by Christina Lauren, which was a contender for Best Book until I cracked open Spellslinger. The final book in Christina Lauren’s Wild Seasons series, Wicked Sexy Liar follows the arguably most intriguing couple, Luke and London, who are unique in that both of them are kind of ‘whatever’ on the whole concept of love and dating at the outset. I felt that these two had the easiest chemistry and most natural progression of the series’ four couples. Rather than dealing with one major WOAH moment issue in their relationship, as I feel most of these contemporary romances do, Luke and London struggle their way through and actually talk about their moments of struggle, which made it more real than the hot Vegas drunken wedding one-night-stands of the other books. Oh plus it’s swoon-worthy and definitely hot so, ya know, there’s also THAT.

New Release You Haven’t Read but Really Want to

Wow, this is tough. Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren and I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella (started but unfinished!) are strong contenders, but I’ll have to go with Nocturna by Maya Motayne. I’ve recently been moving a bit from YA into Adult Fantasy and general NA, which is part of the reason I think I haven’t picked this up yet but I’ve been dying to read it since the second I saw it on the Indigo New & Hot table. Not only does the premise of mobsters, magic, face-shifting, and thievery seem immensely cool, the setting of a Latinx-inspired fantasy world is new and exciting, something definitely not done enough. Also, I’m heading into my Masters degree this fall to study culture and literature in medieval Spain, so anything I encounter with that kind of inspiration is an auto-buy.

Most Anticipated Book for the Rest of the Year

My most anticipated read for the remainder of the year has to be Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo. Now, unlike most of the screaming GoodReads commenters excited to have another Bardugo book, I STILL have not read any of the Grisha books and have minimal expectations regarding the author aside from the fact that she’s apparently amazing. But you know what I KNOW seems amazing? THE PREMISE. Though mystery and murder aren’t typically my thing, occultism and secret societies most definitely are. Especially with ghosts. I’ll probably have to pass on sleeping, but seriously, give me the ghosts.

Biggest Disappointment

This one made me so upset! I downloaded Summer on the Italian Lakes by Lucy Coleman because an erotica author finding love with a historian on a writing retreat A) sounded adorably fun and B) combines literally all my major passions–history, romance, writing–into a single couple. HOWEVER. The relationship was neither what I was expecting nor particularly romantic. The progression didn’t feel entirely natural and went far too quickly, and the relationship consisted primarily of the hopeless romantic MC giving up on the romance she’s always wanted in favour of her beau’s mindset of practicality. I kept waiting for her to clue in and realize that GOOD RELATIONSHIPS DON’T FORCE THIS MUCH SACRIFICE but alas. Not really my style. Full review to come.

Biggest Surprise

I grabbed Listen to Me by Kristin Proby on sale from Kobo for my vacation, not really expecting anything beyond the standard lusty romance. The novel turned out to be a hidden gem! There was significantly more substance and less random sex than I was expecting, the MCs are real and flawed and had well-developed stories beyond just their relationship, and the plethora of supporting characters are involved enough for you to grow attached to their stories without it eclipsing the main plot. I’ll definitely be reading the rest of the series!

Favourite Debut or New-to-You Author

Since Spellslinger is my first of Sebastian de Castell’s novels and it already has me hooked, I think I’ll have to give this one to him. Plus, after a brief glance over his author website, I not only want to read his books, I want to BE him. Castell, if you ever read this, bards are indeed the best!

New Fictional Crush

Luke Sutter from Wicked Sexy Liar by Christina Lauren. Like I said, Luke and London have quite the different relationship from the others of the series. While I wouldn’t necessarily say my fondness for Luke hits quite Rhysand crush proportions, his charm and humour, relentless pursuit—in an endearing, not overly hunter way—and genuine attempts to work through his issues still had me swooning and rooting for him the whole way. Sex aside, Luke’s one hell of a catch.

New Favourite Character

The concept of Lingerie Wars by Janet Elizabeth Henderson on its own is a little unconventional: two lingerie shop owners–one, a local ex-lingerie supermodel, the other, a newcomer ex-military man–enter a fierce rivalry for the monopoly on knicker sales in a small Scottish town. It’s probably one of the quirkier takes on the competition hate-to-love trope that I’ve read, and with that came some of the quirkiest characters that I’ve read in a while. My favourite this year would have to be Betty, the 90-something resident troublemaker with a mean streak. Though a supporting character, she dives headlong into the lingerie shenanigans, resulting in some of the most ridiculous mishaps possible. The book itself is hilarious, but Betty’s craziness really bring all of it together.

Book that Made You Cry

On Dublin Street by Samantha Young. Not many books this year yet have made me particularly emotional, but reading about orphaned Joss dealing with the loss of her parents made my heart ache for the character. Though the tragedy struck far before the events of the book, Joss moves miles forward on the healing front over the course of the book, but seeing how deeply their absence still affects her and how much grief she still hadn’t dealt with is pretty saddening.

Book that Made You Happy

Definitely My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century by Rachel Harris! This book was such a light and cute read that I couldn’t help but leave it grinning. There were points when it felt rather young, and definitely parts when the history major in me wanted to scream WELL OBVIOUSLY at the MC, but the love story is so genuinely wholesome that despite some minor quips, I finished it on a high.

Favourite Book-to-Movie Adaptation You’ve Seen This Year

Haven’t seen any this year yet! However, I am excited to start the TV show for A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness when I finally finish the book. I’ve been waiting to see this supernatural side of Oxford for probably my whole life.

Favourite Blog Post You’ve Published This Year

Well… this one? And here I say “Sorry!!” again that this is my only post so far.

Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought or Received This Year

Prettiest book would be City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert. It’s not particularly stunning (though the physical copy is nicer than the photo suggests) but there’s something about the cover that feels silky and seductive and makes me want to climb inside and float around in the feathers.

Some Books You Need to Read by the End of the Year

Oh geez. Well, first I definitely want to finish Spellslinger and probably get started on de Castell’s swashbuckling Greatcoats series, starting with Traitor’s Blade. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness is a must so I can watch the show. I also figure it’s high time that I read the Grisha books so Smoke and Bone–and hopefully the rest of that trilogy plus the Six of Crows books–is next on the list. I’m also currently reading I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, and a friend lent me YOU by Caroline Kepnes and Verity by Colleen Hoover, so I want to get through those too. I could keep this list going endlessly but I’ll stop there for now!

Best of luck to all of you also meeting your reading goals for the next few months, and may those odds be ever in our favour!