Highlights: March 2018

In like a lion, out like a lamb! That’s what they say about March. Up here in Minnesota it’s still a bit hard to know if it’s going to be brisk and temperate, or cold and snowy. But with each day we move closer to Spring, so we have that going for us! And since it’s a new month, that means we have some new books we’re looking forward to!

Serena’s Picks

36194120Book: “Burn Bright” by Patricia Briggs

Publication Date: March 6, 2018

Why I’m Interested: While I haven’t quite loved the “Alpha & Omega” offshoot as much as the original “Mercy Thompson” series, I still never turn down an opportunity to read a new Briggs novel! I don’t really ready a lot of urban fantasy, having had a pretty hit/miss history with the genre. However, Briggs’ world of paranormal beings and snappy heroines always seems to hit the spot. Anna herself can be a bit too perfect at times, but let’s be real, I’m here for Charles, her hunky werewolf husband! It looks as if this book will take place during the events of the last Mercy Thompson book which found Mercy and Co. running around Europe. Which means….what shenanigans were being gotten into back home? We shall find out!

35297394Book: “The Wicked Deep” by Shea Ernshaw

Publication Date: March 6, 2018

Why I’m Interested: The book description lists one for fans of “Practical Magic” and “Hocus Pocus.” So…yeah, I’m there. From the description, it also sounds quite a lot like it’s drawn inspirations from sirens, with three witches who were drowned many centuries ago, returning to lure boys to their deaths in the sea each summer. Of course, we have our heroine, a local girl. And our hero, a poor unsuspecting boy who wanders into the wrong town during the wrong part of the year. This book could either be fantastic or trope-ridden. I have hopes for the former, but whenever there are descriptions of “weak-willed” girls being temptresses, I’m also a bit hesitant about what exactly we’re getting at.

33918881Book: “The Heart Forger” by Rin Chupeco

Publication Date: March 20, 2018

Why I’m Interested: Really, Kate and I are both interested! We both read and enjoyed “The Bone Witch,” and I’m so excited to get to this book! The first one didn’t exactly end on a cliff hanger, but there is still a significant jump in time between the main narrative of Tea’s life as an Asha, and her older self’s reflections and actions. What happened between these periods of time?!? I have to know! The author has also found the magical equation where I both dread and look forward to events to come, knowing the outcomes, at least to some extent. The world-building and magical system are intricate and intriguing, and Tea pretty much has a pet dragon, so that’s pretty awesome.

Kate’s Picks

35533431Book: “The Broken Girls” by Simone St. James

Publication Date: March 20, 2018

Why I’m Interested: I am a huge fan of Gothic fiction, and I am always excited to see new tellings of this genre that have been updated for a more modern time. “The Broken Girls” has narratives that take place in and around an old school in the middle of the Eastern U.S. countryside. This is the place that parents would send their daughters that they didn’t want to deal with, and since they’re seen as ‘broken’ no one really cared when one went missing. But when a body is found in a well on the property, a modern day reporter (still haunted by her older sister’s murder years earlier) becomes invested in the outcome. It sounds haunting and timely given the way abuse and harassment towards women has been in the news.

35857495Book: “Bring Me Back” by B.A. Paris

Publication Date: March 8, 2018

Why I’m Interested: While “The Breakdown” was a bit of a slog at first, it completely changed the game in the last fourth, and blew me away. Then and there I knew that I was going to assuredly read anything else that B.A. Paris came out with next. This one involves a husband who leaves his wife in the car while he goes to get gas on a French vacation, and when he comes back she’s gone, never to be seen again. A few years later, he and his new wife (who is his former sister in law) find an object that may be connected to the woman they both loved. This just sounds creepy and paranoia inducing, and I am definitely expecting it be totally knocked off my feet by this in the end. At least I’m hoping to be.

34728667Book: “Children of Blood and Bone” by Tomi Adeymi

Publication Date: March 6, 2018

Why I’m Interested: Not only does this sound like it’s going to be some mythology based fantasy with dark themes, it’s also a diverse title in a genre that has a serious need of more diversity!! I do admit that this could have the potential for teetering a bit too towards high fantasy for me, but I am totally willing to give it a go because it sounds action packed and unique in a lot of ways. And plus it sounds like there’s some business about reaping souls, and oh goodness gracious is that right up my alley. I also saw an excellent video of Adeymi unwrapping her first copy of this book, and her pure unadulturated joy made me all the more excited to read this book.

Not Just Books: February 2018

While we do love us some books, believe it not, we do have a life outside of reading. So to highlight our other pop culture interests, on the last Monday of each month, we each will highlight three other “happenings” from the last month. Big events on favorite TV shows, new movies we’ve watched, old movies we’ve “discovered,” etc. Pretty much whatever we found of particular interest outside of the book world during the last month. Share your own favorite things in the comments!

Serena’s Picks

mv5bmwrmyjvjm2ytndawmi00zgzmltgzmjqtyjy4mtnjmtljnjhjxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymjexmjk0odk-_v1_sy1000_cr007081000_al_TV Show: “Broadchurch”

So clearly I’m on a bit of a kick with the whole British murder mystery TV shows. I highlighted “Wallander” last month, and now I’ve moved straight on to “Broadchurch” which I’m loving even more. The season long mystery is excellent with a bunch of red herrings and various suspects (for someone who kind of prides myself on being able to call the killer early in shows, I didn’t manage to get this one until a few episodes from the end. A definite plus!). But beyond this, there’s no getting away from the fact that the show lives and dies on the power of the two leads: David Tennant and Olivia Colman. These two are known powerhouses, so it’s not a surprise that they are excellent here. The combination of them together though? Just magic. Their characters have excellent chemistry. If there was a criticism I had for “Wallander” it was that its lead character was too broody/ansty without an appropriate foil. “Broadchurch” does better at striking this balance, relying on Tennant to provide the broodiness (but even he brings a bit more comedy than Branaugh’s Wallander had) and Colman to bounce off him with exasperation and humor. Supposedly there are two more seasons, but I’m not sure how they can recreate the magic that this one was, so we’ll see!

The+Boy+Who+Hasn't+LivedPodcast: “The Boy Who Hasn’t Lived”

This is a new podcast that I’ve discovered and have systematically binged. It features one host, dedicated and rightly obsessed Harry Potter fan, Arlie doing a first-time read through with his friend CJ who has never been exposed to the series before. My love of Harry Potter definitely expands to the point of loving watching other people experience it for the first time. I mean, really, if I could have any series to read for the first time ever, it would be this one, so it’s great fun hearing about someone else’s first time experience. Both hosts are hilarious and bring the perfect amount of geeky knowledge (Arlie) and new found wonder (CJ) to the experience of reading this series. If I had the time, I’d be doing a re-read with them, but, alas, I hear my next Animorphs book calling.

11669536Comic Collection: “The Complete Calvin and Hobbes”

Ok, yes, this one is kind of cheat-y because it’s more reading, but…but…they aren’t books! So it’s ok?? I’ve always loved Calvin and Hobbes and have a bunch of the smaller paperback collections, but also splurged on this lovely hardback full collection a few years ago. This last month I’ve been pretty stressed by some things that I don’t have much control over, and these comics have been a great resource for my tired mind. I mean, when reading an actual novel seems like too much work, you know it’s bad! But this collection provided the perfect amount of humor and whimsy that I needed, and all in a format that didn’t have a requirement for “finishing the book.” Some of the references are also hilariously dated, and really, that just makes it all the better!

Kate’s Picks

assassination-of-gianni-versace-teaser-and-key-art-1-600x600TV Show: “American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace”

I remember riding home from school when the news broke over the radio that Gianni Versace had been shot and killed outside of his mansion in Miami. I remember when it was announced that Andrew Cunanan, a serial killer who started his spree in Minnesota, was the culprit. It was the first time I was following a serial killer in real time, and I was freaked out and horrified. So when Ryan Murphy announced that the second season of his anthology series would focus on Cunanan and Versace, I was very excited to watch it and get a new look at it all. Not only does this show have great performances (Darren Criss as Cunanan! Penelope Cruz as Donatella Versace!), it is also a fascinating examination of obsession with fame and celebrity, and gay culture in the 90s and how the lingering stigma was not only unfair, it was downright deadly for some. I love this show, and it’s SO well done even my true-crime disinterested mother is watching it with me.

91zyrtg1vl-_ri_TV Show: “RuPaul’s Drag Race: All-Stars 3”

That’s right, gang, not only are we getting a new season of drag queen shenanigans, it’s once again the Quarter Quell The All Stars Season! Former contenders come back to try and get the crown they missed out on the first time round, and the stakes are upped as the challenges are made more challenging and pressing. Some of my favorites (Chi Chi Devayne, Trixie Mattel, BenDelaCreme) from past seasons are here this time, making it VERY difficult to pick whom I want to win. But it’s always excellent seeing these ladies come back to perform, throw shade, and crack wise all while looking absolutely devastatingly fabulous. I also like that they kind of shake elimination procedure up during All Stars, as the queens lip sync for the weekly win, AND the opportunity to eliminate a fellow contestant. CUTTHROAT! DRAMATIC! ENTERTAINING! RuPaul’s back on our screens and I’m pleased as can be.

mv5bmtg1mty2mjyznv5bml5banbnxkftztgwmtc4ntmwndi-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_Movie: “Black Panther”

So perhaps you’re thinking ‘another Marvel movie? I thought Kate was a DC girl!!!’ And yeah, okay, so maybe this is ‘uncharacteristic’ of my usual allegiances. But guys, “Black Panther” is pretty badass. For one, the cast is fabulous, from Chadwick Boseman to Lupita N’yongo to Angela Basset to FOREST FRIGGIN WHITAKER (who is NOT wasted in his role, unlike in “Rogue One”). For another, this movie brings some excellent social commentary to a universe that could easily coast on superhero bust ups. Not only do we get the return of T’Challa, one of the more compelling parts of “Captain America: Civil War”, we also get a SLEW of kickass ladies who get shit done. I had a very fun time while watching this movie, and it brings MUCH NEEDED representation to a traditionally super white universe. All hail T’Challa, to be totally certain.

Highlights: February 2018

What? It’s only February? How is winter not over yet?! But I guess we have Valentine’s Day to look forward to! And the most important love of both of our lives: books (jk, husbands…it’s our cats.) Here are the books we’d most love to get our hands on this month!

Serena’s Picks

17312156Book: “Tempest and Slaughter” by Tamora Pierce

Publication Date: February 6, 2018

Why I’m Interested: Um, because I absolutely adore Tamora Pierce?? This book has been torturing readers for five years now, showing up on Goodreads and then having the publication date get pushed back year by year. But it’s finally here guys! For those familiar with Pierce’s world of Tortall, this book is a prequel to her “Immortals” series and follows the early life of Numair, the romantic hero of those stories. Which is super exciting. But also super worrying. What will these books be like, taking place before he’s even met Daine? From what we got in those books, Numair was a bit of a ladies man before meeting her, and I’m just not sure I’m up for reading about his romantic entanglements when I am all “Numair/Daine forever!” But, what am I talking about, it’s not like that concern is going to stop me!

35098412Book: “The Queen’s Rising”

Publication Date: February 6, 2018

Why I’m Interested: This book has a plot synopsis that sounds fairly familiar to those who read a lot of YA fantasy: young woman dreams of only one thing, but is perhaps too average to accomplish said thing. Suddenly gets caught up in political shenanigans and realizes her role is something more than she had imagined. But I like those stories, so I’m always up for another! Plus, this one seems to have an interesting system set up with five “passions” that people can be skilled in that will earn them patronage once they come of age. So I will be curious to see how that will play out in the story of a brewing war.

30129657Book: “Honor Among Thieves”

Publication Date: February 13, 2018

Why I’m Interested: I’m always on the look out for a good YA sci-fi story. They’re sadly underepresented it seems. So I was thrilled when I stumbled upon this new release by Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre. I’ve read a few books by Rachel Caine in the past and enjoyed her writing. Plus, the plot description of this one is right up my alley. Zara is a criminal on the run. That is until she gets caught up in a group that recruits people to explore space with sentient alien ships. And when Zara meets her ship, Nadim, she realizes that much more is going on. I love that this story seems to be focused on the pairing of Zara and a sentient ship! How fun is that!

Kate’s Picks

35068432Book: “I’ll Be Gone In The Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer” by Michelle McNamara

Publication Date: February 27, 2018

Why I’m Interested: As you’ve all probably figured out, one of my weaknesses is true crime, and while I don’t read as much of it anymore I still enjoy a good book about it. Michelle McNamara was a crime writer who did extensive research on the unsolved murders perpetrated by The Golden State Killer, but sadly she passed away unexpectedly at age 45 in 2016. Now the book she was working on has been finished, and word is that it’s well researched, atmospheric, and potentially could bring up new leads in the Golden State Killer case. Her death was a tragedy, but her words will always live on.

35235624Book: “The French Girl” by Lexie Elliott

Publication Date: February 20, 2018

Why I’m Interested: When a group of college students spend a week at an idyllic countryside farmhouse and a sexy interloper shows up, you KNOW something terrible is going to happen. And that means that I am one hundred percent interested in it. Switching between the past and the present, “The French Girl” sounds like it’s going to be a paranoid and tense thriller in which the puzzle pieces are presented slowly but surely between two times. Also, it’s going to involve a body that’s found in a well, and desperate people trying to cover up their culpability. Yes please. I have high hopes that this will be a page turner.

345069121Book: “The Prince and the Dressmaker” by Jen Wang

Publishing Info: February 13, 2018

Why I’m Interested: Just in time for Valentine’s Day, this new graphic novel looks like a sweet and lovely story about friendship and identity. When Frances is hired by Prince Sebastian to be a personal dressmaker, she is surprised to find out that Sebastian wants her to make dresses. For by night, Prince Sebastian turns into Lady Crystallia, a fashion icon like no other who longs to be the toast of Paris. Representation is so important in books, and I’m excited to see that “The Prince and the Dressmaker” has a main character who appears to be gender non-binary.

What books are you looking forward to that are coming out in February 2018?

Rah Rah for RA!: Spooky Reads for Kids!

Occasionally we here at Library Ladies get an email asking for some Reader’s Advisory. Sometimes it’s a general ‘what should I read next?’, and sometimes it’s a specific genre or theme that the reader is asking for. We do our best to match the reader to some books that they may like based on the question they give us. 

Dear Library Ladies,

As a person who is occasionally asked for reading recommendations for kids/teens, I could use some advice. I’m not well versed in the scary/horror story genre, so I would like some suggestions for books for kids, middle grade, and teens. Since I can’t always interpret the scary-tolerance level of the people that ask, a range, or even a general guideline for people new to this genre, would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!


“Person who definitely did not fast forward through the Oogie Boogie Man song as a kid”

Hi, Person!

Good on you trying to expand your literary repertoire! It’s always good to have a nice bag of tricks when it comes to all genres. Given that horror can run a huge gamut, we’ll give you some titles that could be for those who need tamer works, and those who want to be super scared.

Picture Books:

7552359Book: “Zen Ghosts” by John J Muth

While this picture book does talk about ghosts and spooky folklore to an extent, the imagery and the themes are so gentle and muted that it probably won’t be too scary for any reader. Muth’s books in this series star a panda who gives zen teachings to children, and even in this Halloween themed book he addresses the spirit of the season as well as more thoughtful and introspective things.

363973Book: “The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything” by Linda Williams

This is another Halloween themed story, but it can work year round as well. This brave little old lady is normally not afraid of anything, but then something follows her home. It’s a story that shows that even brave people can be scared sometimes, and that sometimes confronting your fears can be hard, but rewarding.

760205Book: “There’s A Nightmare in My Closet” by Mercer Mayer

What child hasn’t been afraid of things hiding under their bed or in their closet? This story is about a boy who ultimately confronts that monster in his closet, and finds out that it may not be as scary as he thought. The empowerment of the main character is a nice touch to a story that teaches the readers that sometimes what we are afraid of can’t really hurt us. And Mercer Mayer is always a joy, with fun and sweet characters.

Middle Grade:

267972Book: “Wait Til Helen Comes” by Mary Downing Hahn

Mary Downing Hahn is one of the high queens of children’s horror, and “Wait Til Helen Comes” is probably her most well known. When Michael and Molly’s mother marries Heather’s father, the blended family goes through immediate growing pains. Not only is Heather a manipulative brat, but she is constantly talking about her new friend Helen… who happens to be a ghost with not so nice intentions. This book is both creepy, and also addresses some real life issues involving family and siblings.

22859559Book: “The Jumbies” by Tracey Baptiste

This book brings Caribbean folklore to the forefront as it sends thrills and chills down readers spines. Corinne and her father are non believers when it comes to
Jumbies, Haitian folk creatures that lure people into the woods to eat them. But when
Corinne’s father falls under the mysterious spell of a strange woman named Severine, she needs to enlist the help of her friends and a witch in hopes of getting her father back! With diverse characters and a mythology that may be new to readers, “The Jumbies” is a fun, spooky read!

125581Series: “Goosebumps” by R.L. Stine

Well, of course. R.L. Stine’s classic book series for kids may have started in the 1990s, but it remains a favorite of children who love to be scared. While the levels of horror and themes vary from book to book, there are so many different monsters and creepy crawlies that most horror fans will find a couple that resonate with them (Kate still thinks about “The Werewolf of Fever Swamp” on occasion). True, the stories can be repetitive at times, but the familiarity can be a plus for those who want to read more and more with an author they are comfortable with.

Young Adult:

18748653Book: “Daughters Unto Devils” by Amy Lukavics

Starting this section off with a book for hardcore horror fans. The cover alone is jarring and upsetting! When Amanda Verner and her pioneer family move from their home in the mountains to an abandoned house on the prairie, weird things start happening. Amanda, with secrets of her own, starts to wonder if the demon she thinks saw that past winter has followed her… With claustrophobic settings and an undercurrent of paranoia, this book will keep the reader up at night jumping at any sounds outside the window.

19364719Book: “Slasher Girls and Monster Boys” by April Genevieve Tulchoke

For people who want multiple scary stories that can be read in one sitting, “Slasher Girls and Monster Boys” may be the book for them! this collection of horror short stories takes various pop culture influences to make all new takes of terror. From multiple authors in the YA horror genre, this collection has something fun and scary for everyone! The scary factor also varies from story to story, some being tame and weird, others being deeply disturbing.

25263927Book: “The Girl from The Well” by Rin Chupeco

Fans of “The Ring” and “The Grudge” will be familiar with the premise. Okiku, a Japanese vengeance ghost, traveled the world hunting down child killers and rapists, giving them a death they truly, truly deserve. But one day she stumbles upon a boy named Tarquin, an American teenager with intricate and strange tattoos. They aren't just ordinary tattoos. There is something creepy and sweet about an onryō actually helping others instead of straight up murdering them…

So there you have it!! A list of horror for kids of all ages and all levels of freak out tolerance. If anyone else has any recommendations, leave them in the comments!



Highlights: January 2018

2018!!! Whaaaaat? [Insert witty comment that somehow accidentally ages oneself and reveals that 2018 might be a decade from a certain graduation year for one of us…and not the graduation you’d wish in this instance.] But never mind that! We will also NOT discuss the dumpster fire that was 2017. Instead, we choose to remember last year by all of the excellent books we read, and will look forward to 2018 as nothing more or less than another year during which we will read even more! So, without further ado, here are a few books we’re looking forward to this month!

Serena’s Picks

26032825Book: “The Cruel Prince” by Holly Black

Publication Date: January 2, 2018

Why I’m Interested: Though I haven’t had a chance to review one of her books on this blog, I’m a huge fan of Holly Black. She writes just the sort of dark fantasy that I right up my alley. So, when I saw a new one coming out from her, I knew it would make it onto this list. When I read that the story was going to feature a group of orphaned sisters who had been stolen away as small children and raised in a cruel and capricious Faerie court, I knew I had to get my hands on it AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. It’s like Holly Black opened my own personal wish list for fantasy fiction and pulled out this book just for me!

27366528Book: “Beneath the Sugar Sky” by Seanan McGuire

Publication Date: January 9, 2018

Why I’m Interested: I’ve read and loved (to varying extents) the first two novellas in McGuire’s “Wayward Children” series, so it’s a no brainer that I would include her next book on this list. From the description, it looks like we’ll see a continuation of a plot point (Sumi’s death back in book one) that I definitely never expected. Somehow the story features Rini, Sumi’s daughter, who is on a mission to bring her mother back to life. So I’m guessing there’s some sort of “Back to the Future” stuff going on here? Other than that, the title implies that we’re going to spend some time in Sumi/Rini/s world of candyland, one of the worlds we’ve heard about but never visited so far.

33257757Book: “Iron Gold” by Pierce Brown

Publication Date: January 16, 2018

Why I’m Interested: A continuation of the “Red Rising” trilogy!!!…oh…you want more than that? Well, to be honest, that same excitement about the continuation of a much-loved trilogy is also tinged with extreme amounts of worry. I’m always concerned when authors revisit stories that they had originally ended a few years ago. Is there really a new story to be told? Or are they just dipping back in a known well and will somehow retroactively damage the quality of the originals? I’m pleased to see that the story will be set 10 years after the first trilogy and that it will feature more protagonists than just Darrow himself. These avenues will hopefully provide options for keeping this world and story fresh. I’m so excited! I’m so nervous!

Kate’s Picks

29749090Book: “Batman: Nightwalker” by Marie Lu

Publication Date: January 2, 2018

Why I’m Interested: I really enjoyed Leigh Bardugo’s take on Wonder Woman in “Wonder Woman: Warbringer”, which was the first in the “DC Icons” series. This series is a set of  books written by some of the hottest YA authors about some of the coolest DC characters. Up next is “Batman: Nightwalker” by Marie Lu, and I must say that I’m QUITE excited for this one. First of all, it’s about my main dude Batman, specifically Bruce Wayne when he’s a teenager and before he’s officially become Batman. I like Lu’s writing style (I read “WarCross” last year and found it very fun, and I think that she can bring a good amount of edge and excitement to Bruce.)

33918883Book: “Before I Let Go” by Marieke Nijkamp

Publication Date: January 2, 2018

Why I’m Interested: One of the stories that I didn’t really talk about in “Feral Youth” was written by Marieke Nijkamp. It was dark and brooding, and had a lot of hard themes and good characterization. When I saw that she had a new book coming out in January, “Before I Let Go”, I wanted to explore more than just a short story of hers. This book sounds like part small town conspiracy, part psychological chiller piece. When Corey’s best friend Kyra dies in their small Alaska town, she is heartbroken. And when it seems like the townspeople are hiding something, Corey has to delve into the dark secrets to find out what happened to her friend. My guess is this one will be tense and twisty.

35248505Book: “S.T.A.G.S.” by M.A. Bennett

Publication Date: January 30, 2018

Why I’m Interested: It’s another book with bitchy boarding school girls and danger at every turn!! You know I’m into it. “S.T.A.G.S.” already came out in England last year, but it’s finally making it’s Stateside debut and I’m itching to get my hands on it. When Greer gets a scholarship to the prestigious St. Aidan the Great School (or S.T.A.G.S.), she is shunned from the cliquey atmosphere. But she is soon invited to a weekend holiday by a group called the Medievals, the most popular kids in school. Little does she know that her invitation is merely to set her up as bait. “The Most Dangerous Game” meets “Pretty Little Liars”, “S.T.A.G.S.” is sure to be a soapy thrill ride.

What are you most excited to read this month? Let us know in the comments!


Serena’s Favorite Reads of 2017: Picks 5 Through 1

Another a year, another almost impossible task trying to each choose our Top 10 Reads of the year! And don’t forget to check out our “12 Days of Christmas” giveaway that may even features a few books from these very same lists! Today I’m going to countdown my favorites reads, five to 1. 

23909755Pick Number 5: “City of Blades” by Robert Jackson Bennett

“City of Blades” Review

This is the special snowflake of a pick because it’s the middle book of a trilogy. And that’s when you know you have something special. Without the crutches of introducing a new world or wrapping up a complete series, a middle story must stand on its own. “City of Blades” capitalizes in all of the strengths of world-building and creative magic systems given to us in the first book. But it expands on them with a deep look at the cost of war and what it means to be a solider. Add to that the fact that we have a middle aged veteran woman as the leading lady who turns into my favorite character in the entire series, and “City of Blades” is a must for this list.

32718027Pick Number 4: “City of Brass” by S. A. Chakraborty

“City of Brass” Review

“The City of Brass” has been compared to “The Golem and the Jinni,” and as someone who loved the latter, it’s quite something for me to now report that this book is even better! Especially for those looking for more magic, more action, and more complicated political and religious maneuverings ala “Game of Thrones.” I completely loved the lush descriptions of the cities (both real and magical) in the historical Middle East, as well as the brilliantly-drawn characters each exposing a new, and deeper, version of a history that is still playing out as the story progresses. I love books where I can’t decide who is right or really have any clue how this whole mess will be resolved.

31817749Pick Number 3: “The Broken Earth” trilogy by N. K. Jemisin

“The Fifth Season” Review
“The Obelisk Gate” Review
“The Stone Sky” Review

The first of what, as you will see, is a cheaty pattern of mine in these reviews: the entire series pick! But really, it’s just a way of saving you all from hearing me blather on about multiple books in a series/by an author over and over again as they fill up the entire list. But especially in this case, I feel justified. In many ways, this trilogy reads as one long book that has simply been cut into three parts. If you had the wrist strength, you could mash all the books together and read it that way and probably not notice a thing. The story takes places in a diverse world where power and privilege don’t necessarily go hand in hand, where one woman unwilling finds herself in a battle for the future, with allies who were enemies and an enemy who may too have been a victim in its own time. These books are winning all the awards and they are all deserved.

34050917Pick Number 2: “The Bear and the Nightingale” & “The Girl in the Tower” by Katherine Arden

“The Girl in the Tower” Review
“The Bear and the Nightingale” Review

It’s hard to believe that “The Bear and the Nightingale” technically came out in 2017, but it did, thus dooming me to a second (but not last) multiple-book-entry. But really, how can you ask me to choose? With both of these books, I absolutely adored the beautiful fairytale-like quality of the storytelling, the unique setting of Medieval Russia, and the haunting story of a young woman who doesn’t fit into the role the world wants of her. The first book was dark, quiet, and dangerous like a winter’s night. The second was moving, pushing, willing itself forward and through,like its young protagonist and her magical horse. They are both exquisite reads and I confident that the third book will make its way on next year’s list as well.

29939230Pick Number 1: “Shades of Magic” trilogy by V. E. Schwab

“A Darker Shade of Magic” Review
“A Gathering of Shadows” Review
A Conjuring of Light” Review

I don’t know why it took me so long to pick up the first book in this trilogy! And while I have tons of side-eye for my past self’s decision making process, I also was lucky enough to blow through the first two books in this trilogy mere weeks before the third, so that dreaded cliffhanger was barely a blip for me. This trilogy had everything I could ever ask for: action, magic, world-hopping, romance, an awesome hero and an even more awesome heroine. Lila Bard is everything. Just typing out this mini synopsis is making me hanker for a re-read; maybe this will be my late Christmas present to myself! Gift yourself as well and check these books out immediately!

So there’s my complete list! What were your top five reads of 2017?

Kate’s Favorite Reads of 2017: Picks 5 Through 1

Another a year, another almost impossible task trying to each choose our Top 10 Reads of the year! And don’t forget to check out our “12 Days of Christmas” giveaway that may even features a few books from these very same lists! Today I’m going to countdown my favorites reads, five to one.

32075671Pick Number 5: “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas

Goodreads Page

Another book that I didn’t review on the blog, though I kind wish that I had, because “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas absolutely lives up to all the hype it has. Thomas tackles the all too common issue of systemic oppression and racism against black people in this country, specifically within police departments. It tells the story of Star, a black girl who was in the car when her childhood friend Khalil was shot to death by a police officer even though he was unarmed. As his death makes headlines, Star starts to feel the pressures of being a witness, the pressures of having to straddle her home life and her (predominantly white) private school life, and the pressures of loss and trauma. This book is necessary, incendiary, and a MUST READ.

28765598Pick Number 4: “The Last Days of Jack Sparks” by Jason Arnopp

“The Last Days of Jack Sparks” Review

It’s been a few months and this scary as hell demonic possession story is still sticking with me! The sheer creativity of this book made it one of the scariest books I read this year, along with one of the most complex and compelling main characters I’ve read in a horror novel. Jack Sparks is a son of a bitch, but I was fully invested in him and his well being after strange things start happening after he laughs during the exorcism of a teenage girl in Italy. This book ratchets up the ‘unreliable narrator’ device, and the hints and pieces fall into place to create a truly scary, and breathtaking, story.

29069374Pick Number 3: “My Favorite Thing Is Monsters” by Emil Ferris

“My Favorite Thing Is Monsters” Review

This powerful and gorgeous graphic novel left me with my jaw agape at the details, the characters, and the mystery. This coming of age story set in 1960s Chicago was a graphic novel that left a serious mark on me, exploring racism, budding sexuality, prejudice through the eyes of a strange and precocious child named Karen, who really loves and fancies herself as a monster. This book is the pages in her sketchbook and diary, with vibrant and flawless designs. This is just part one, and I cannot wait to see part two, as Karen is so excellent and so genuine, and her need to solve the mystery of her murdered neighbor lets her escape her own tumultuous life. This book is so good and is a prime example of how we have entered a new golden age for graphic novels.

17404078Pick Number Two: “The Disaster Artist” by Greg Sestero

“The Disaster Artist” Review

I will admit that I was kind of surprised that this wacky, strange, and hilarious memoir made it this high up on my list this year, but “The Disaster Artist” was the most fun I had reading a book in 2017. The odd and outlandish story of the making of “The Room” and it’s eccentric and sometimes deranged creator Tommy Wiseau had me laughing hysterically as I listened to it, and it shed a light on some of the more ridiculous things about the Hollywood dream and how far people will go to get it. Greg Sestero chronicles the oddball process of making this terrible movie, but also tells a bittersweet, and sometimes quite upsetting, tale of a friendship that is ride or die, for better or for worse.

32920226Pick Number One: “Sing, Unburied, Sing” by Jesmyn Ward

Review of “Sing, Unburied, Sing”

Jessmyn Ward has done it again with her newest book, “Sing, Unburied, Sing”, and I loved every bit of it. Part family saga, part ghost story, part road story, this book examines the effects of lingering racism and violence in a post Jim Crow American South. Jojo and Kayla have been raised by their grandparents, as their father Michael is in prison and their mother Leonie is an addict. But when Michael is released, Leonie is determined to reunite the family, taking her children on a road trip up to pick him out. Leonie is tormented with visions of her dead brother, but only when she’s high, though Jojo has seemingly inherited the full gift, as he starts seeing the ghost of a dead boy who was the victim of racial violence decades before. This book absolutely blew me away with it’s beauty, it’s power, and it’s dissection of Americana and it’s values.

So there’s my complete list! What were your top five reads of 2017?