Bekka's 2019 Bookish Goals

So. 2018 was a clusterfuck for me. Probably one of the worst years of my life, and from what I've seen, that's true for so many people. I had a decent enough reading year, but my personal life imploded. My health was shit, I had a terrible pregnancy, and my marriage ended. That all means that in 2019 bookish stuff will have to be moved to the backburner. Not only do I now have two children (a two-year-old and a newborn, if you're keeping track) but I'm now suddenly a single mom who will be entering the workforce after ten years away, and I'll also be going back to school in the fall. I'm going to have way less free time that I've been used to and my bookish/blogging/reading life is going to reflect that.

Quality > Quantity

Most years, I set myself an ambitious number goal on Goodreads. It may not be high to some, but it's high for me. Sometimes it's 100 and other years it's 75 (or 150) but it's usually pretty high and always something I actually have to work for. This year, while my Goodreads goal is 50, my biggest reading goal is to aim for quality vs quantity. I want to get to books that I've been putting off because they may be on the longer side. I want to pick up books I think will be 4 or 5 stars. Basically, I want to look back on 2019 at the end of December and feel good about the books I read. Some years I see my list of titles read and it's depressing that I chose to waste my time on books I wouldn't love all in the name of hitting an arbitrary number goal. Not this year.

Reading My Own Books

My new life means I'll be on a whole new budget. I used to have the disposable income needed to keep up with my book buying habits but that's gonna change in the new year. I'll still be getting some new releases here and there, particularly titles that are important to me, like sequels or authors I'm friends with. But in 2019 I'm going to really be focusing on reading books I already own. I've tried this in years past but I was terrible at holding myself to it. This year, I won't have too much of a choice (though I can always go to ARCs or reading library books lol.) 

There's nothing quite like packing and moving to make you really think about all the crap you own. I've been inventorying my house in anticipation of moving and oh my god, do I own a lot of books. Like way too many. And the number of unread titles is downright embarrassing. I own hundreds of books I haven't read yet and I need to fix that. Also, if I'm being honest, I am mildly inspired by all of this KonMari talk recently, which brings me to my next goal.

Reevaluate My Personal Library

So, speaking of owning a crapload of books, I want to seriously take a look at my collection this year. I won't be going full Marie Kondo; I do plan on owning well over 30 books. But at the same time, I know I have a ton on my shelves that I'm not super excited about anymore. When I move, I'll actually be moving to a bigger place and I won't have to share that space with anyone but my children, so I'll have more room for my book collection. But I want that collection to reflect my current state, not the reader who went a little crazy in 2013 and thought she had to have everything that everyone else has. 

So going into 2019, I'm no longer buying books just for the hype. I have to be actively interested in it independently of what others have to say. And since my book budget is smaller now, I'm only going to be buying books I'm EXCITED about. No more of this on-the-fence nonsense; no more buying books I think I maaaaybe will like; no more buying the same thing because my friends have it and ooh, shiny. 

Subscription Box Madness

So I had a serious bookish subscription box problem. And I do mean problem. I just can't say no to them. With their exclusive covers and author signatures, they're so, so tempting. The problem is, I never prioritize the books that come in these boxes. So now I have a massive, major backlog of subscription box books. My goal before I move is to read the first 10-15 pages of each of these books. If I like what I read, I'll keep it, and if I don't, then it has to go. No sense in packing up books just for me to discard them at the new house. I'm going to list out the titles just so I can keep track myself.

  1. The Language of Thorns
  2. Wonder Woman: Warbringer
  3. The Gilded Wolves
  4. Circle of Shadows
  5. Amber & Dusk
  6. Fire & Heist
  7. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns
  8. Everless
  9. Hunted
  10. Dance of Thieves
  11. Heart of Thorns
  12. Last Star Burning
  13. Starflight
  14. Heart of Iron
  15. The Assassin's Guide to Love and Treason
  16. The Rattled Bones
  17. Words on Bathroom Walls
  18.  By Your Side
  19. Windfall
  20. Defy the Stars
  21. Song of the Current
  22. The Hearts We Sold
  23. Undead Girl Gang
  24. The Bird and the Blade

Yearly TBR

I love making a yearly TBR. I never, ever complete them, but it's still fun to put together. Every new year I get all inspired to really tackle things I've been putting off, and even though everything is a shitshow right now, it's really no different. The only difference is the list will be smaller. Usually, it's 12, but this year it will only be 6. Well technically it's more than that since some of these are series but that's fine.

  1. The Remnant Chronicles
  2. The Copper Promise
  3. The Song of the Lioness Quartet
  4. The Winternight Trilogy
  5. Uprooted
  6. Crooked Kingdom

So there you have it! 2019 will be a challenge, but one I'm ready to meet head on. I know my reading will take a hit, but as long as I stick to these goals, particularly the first one, I'm sure it will still be a great reading year. What are the main goals you're working toward in 2019? Drop them in the comments!

Bekka's End of the Year Survey

2018 End of the Year Bookish Survey

Hi everyone! Another year has drawn to a close (okay, two weeks ago it did) and that means it's time for another round of the Bookish Survey Jamie puts out every year. I seriously can't believe it's been 9 years already. This is one of my favorite end of the year/beginning of the year posts, so let's get right into it.


Number Of Books You Read: 72
Number of Re-Reads: 12
Genre You Read The Most From: Fantasy

Best in Books

1. Best book you read in 2018?
I looked over all the titles I read this year and two stood out as new all-time favorites, books that stuck with me, books I know I'll reread. Both of these books have characters I cannot stop thinking about and absolutely beautiful, lyrical writing that makes me want to be a better writer.

2. Book you thought you'd love more?

Us by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy was such a disappointment. I really, really loved the first book and shipped the couple so much. But this sequel lacked all of the charm from Him. Instead, this was filled with angst and drama and a lack of communication between the main couple. If I spend a whole book waiting for the couple to get together, I do not want to read about them breaking up in the sequel.

Nova Ren Suma has long been one of my ultimate favorite authors but A Room Away from the Wolves let me down big time. It just didn't feel the same as her others. Honestly, I can barely even remember this one at all when I just read it in September.

3. Most surprising book you read this year?

I finally read Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce this year and I was so pleasantly surprised by it. I'm not a huge fan of middle grade books, but this is a modern classic for a reason, and the rest of the series will definitely be a priority in 2019.

4. Book you pushed the most people to read?

I've been pushing the Illuminae Files on my dad and brother since Illuminae first came out. They're finally on board the hype train and they're huge fans.

5. Best series started in 2018? Best sequel? Best series finale?

Series starter: Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Sequel: Legendary by Stephanie Garber
Series finale: Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

6. Favorite new-to-you author?
Kim Wilkins wrote Daughters of the Storm which I adored. It's the start of a new high fantasy series lead entirely by women. I loved how different each of the sisters were and how they found their strength through different means. I also loved the politics and the incorporation of lore and mythology. I have the sequel on my Kindle and I can't wait to read it.

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone?

I read a good amount of poetry collections last year, most of which I kind of disliked. A lot. But There is Beauty in the Bleeding by Christina Hart stood out to me. Maybe it's because I could relate to the material or maybe it really was better written than the others I read. Either way, it was definitely out of my comfort zone.

8. Most action-packed, thrilling book of the year?

I read the entire Illuminae Files series this year and hands down, Gemina is the book that fits this questions perfectly. I could not stop reading that book from the very beginning. I devoured it. There was so much happening from aliens to assassins to multiverses, I had to know what was going to happen next.

9. Book you're most likely to reread?
If you want something to make you feel warm and happy and bring a smile to your face, this book is it. I absolutely know I'll want that feeling again, and since this is a graphic novel, rereading won't be a huge commitment.

10. Favorite cover?

11. Most memorable character?
Verity from Code Name Verity will go down as one of my favorite fictional ladies of all time. I've honestly never read about a character quite like her before. Outrageously charming, hilarious, and so fucking smart. I want to BE her, except for, well, you know.

12. Most beautifully written book?

I know I keep bringing up Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore but I can't help it. Everything about this book was wonderful and her writing especially is gorgeous.

13. Most thought-provoking book of 2018?
It's always thought-provoking to read about lived experiences of those who are very different from you. I obviously will never know what it's like to be racially profiled or to experience racial violence. Just aside from being thought-provoking, I loved the characters, cried with them, and really enjoyed the writing.

14. Book you can't believe you waited this long to read?

Code Name Verity. I know I can't shut up about this book but it really is that good. My friends peer pressured me into finally reading it this year even though I think it came out in 2011-2012.

15. Favorite quote of the year?
“Her heart was still a little heavy, but she'd decided carrying it around would only maker her stronger.”
Stephanie Garber, Legendary

“There are no bargains between lion and men. I will kill you and eat you raw.”
Madeline Miller, The Song of Achilles 

16. Shortest and longest books you read this year?
Shortest: Empty Hotel Rooms Meant for Us (46)
Longest: Kingdom of Ash (992)

17. Book that shocked you the most?

Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. Even if you think this book or genre isn't for you, you need to read it immediately JUST for the ending.

18. OTP of the year?


19. Fave non-romantic relationship?
I loved the relationships between the sisters in Daughters of the Storm, more specifically Bluebell's relationship with all of them. She's a fierce, physically strong character who is used to brute-forcing her way through conflicts, but when it comes to her sisters she's incredibly protective and is trying to learn more nuanced and diplomatic ways of doing things. I'm excited to see how their relationships continue to grow.

20. Favorite book from a previously read author?
So I read All the Rage by Courtney Summers when it came out in 2015, and since then I've been waiting for her to release something new. I was so hype about Sadie. I read it as an audio and I could not recommend it more. Best audio I've ever listened to.

I almost never like anthologies but Toil & Trouble was amazing. There are 15 authors here and I've read from plenty of them before this collection came out. And now there are plenty more authors whose work I want to check out since reading this book. I seriously can't tell you how awesome this collection is; it has the perfect Halloween witchy vibes.

21. Best book you read because it was recommended to you?

Code Name Verity in case it wasn't obvious.

22. New fictional crush?
Queenie is absolutely one of my all-time favorite characters now. She's just like the book says, "Gloriously daft, drop dead charming, full of bookish nonsense and foul language." I am in love with her.

Jacks from Legendary is also a new fave. He's dark and not very nice and I am obsessed. He definitely skirts the line to becoming a true billain and

23. Best debut?
Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian was just so much fun to read. It was full of tropey goodness you just crave sometimes, and at the same time it was creative and exciting and subversive. I honestly cannot wait for the rest of the series.

24. Most vivid setting?
So I really, really love this series, but Beneath the Sugar Sky wasn't my favorite honestly. That said, it really had a strong sense of setting, considering the world was made of candy, cakes and other confections.

25. Book that was the most fun to read?
Fun, but also agonizing in the best, shippiest way. If you haven't heard of Check Please, it's a hockey graphic novel about a college team, focusing around Bitty who is gay and a amateur baker. It's amazing and heartwarming and funny and adorable and I love it to pieces.

26. Book that made you cry this year?

To the surprise of absolutely nobody, the biggest tearjerkers of 2018 were Code Name Verity (Kiss me, Hardy!) and The Song of Achilles ("He waits for you.")

27. Hidden gem of the year?

I've heard no one talking about Daughters of the Storm which surprises me because 1) it's great, and 2) it centers around five powerful sisters!

28. Book that crushed your soul?
I reread the last three Harry Potter books this year. I hadn't read any of them for years, and I am pretty sure I only read 6 & 7 one time each. Half-Blood Prince was particularly soul-crushing. I had forgotten so much and it was a painful experience remembering.

29. Most unique book you read in 2018?

Sadie for sure. I've read plenty of murder mysteries but I've never read anything that was written in a podcast format. I absolutely loved listening to the audio for this reason.

30. Book that made you the most mad?

Kingdom of Ash. Nothing about it was good. I'm just so mad at what that series became. I loved it so much for so many years, it meant more to me than I can articulate, and then it turned to shit. I'm just glad it's over.

Looking Ahead

1. 2018 release you missed?
I really, really loved Shimmer and Burn when I read it prior to its release. I've been waiting for Splendor and Spark for a while but life kind of got in the way. I'm excited for when things calm down a bit and I can finally dive into this.

2. Non-debut you are most anticipating in 2019?
God The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon sounds absolutely amazing. Anything with queendoms, female heirs, and assassins will pique my interest immediately. Plus the cover is beautiful.

3. 2019 debut you're anticipating?
I've been following Nafiza for actual years and I was soooo excited when she announced this book. It could be about anything and I'd read it, but she describes it as being about "women being women in the most fantastic ways" and how can you resist that?

4. Series ending/sequel you're anticipating?
I am absolutely obsessed with this series, I can't even tell you. I love everything about it, especially Legendary. This is my most-anticipated release of 2019, period.

5. One thing you hope to accomplish in your reading/blogging life this year?

Just to keep at it. Being a brand new single mom to a tiny baby and a toddler, going back to work, and going back to school is going to take its toll on my free time. But I love blogging so much, so I hope I'm able to post somewhat consistently even if it's only one post a week or something.

6. A 2019 release you've already read and recommend?
I read Bloom a few months ago and I one hundred percent recommend it to everyone. It's adorable and the art is soothing and the story just makes you feel good. The characters are so realistic too. I just loved everything about this one.

Top Ten Tuesday: 2018 Releases We Missed

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl
This week we're discussing 2018 releases we missed

Bekka's Picks
 1. The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner. A running theme for this post is going to be "life got in the way." It's just that simple. I had been salivating over this since the cover reveal, I pre-ordered it, and then life got in the way. I do plan on reading this sometime soon, hopefully while it's still cold outside.
2. Bright We Burn by Kiersten White. This was on the top of my list for 2018 but I have a terrible time finishing series. Sometimes it's that I don't want them to end, and other times it's that I have so much hype built around it that I can't bring myself to burst my own bubble.
3. The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang. So I was a little put off by this because I heard there was no romance. Well guess who's a bitter bitch right now about all things romantic? That's right. So this is happening soon. 
4. Rule by Ellen Goodlett. I just love the kind of fantasy that has sword fights and princesses and kingdoms. It's my favorite. I honestly just totally forgot about this book but I can't wait to read it.
5. The Foreseeable Future by Emily Adrian. I've been reading less and less YA contemporary these days, but this is about a girl who decides not to go to college. That doesn't sound remarkable, but I think it's incredibly important to show the validity in the many different paths our lives can take. You don't have to go to college immediately after high school, or at all honestly, in order to be successful and happy.
6. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. This was The book of 2018. And that's pretty much why I didn't read it right away. I'm just so scared of overly hyped books. It took me so long to read Six of Crows, for instance. This is no different.

7. Contagion by Erin Bowman. I've been excited to read this for a while now, especially since my best friend loved it. I'm so intrigued by the concept. But of course, life got in the way...

8. The Spy in the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke. Just like every other sequel here, I'm just scared to read it! It has a lot to live up to with regards to the first book, which I loved to pieces.

9. Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson. This was at the very top of my most-anticipated reads, but I got caught up with ARCs and other books got pushed ahead of it and I just never ended up reading it. I hope to remedy this situation next Halloween.

10. The Caged Queen by Kristen Ciccarelli. So I listened to the first book on a whim and I really enjoyed it. My plan was to also get this one on audio. But my time for listening to audiobooks is pretty limited, so I haven't gotten to it yet. Of course.

What 2018 releases were you unable to get to last year?

Book Review: The Art of Losing by Lizzy Mason

Book Title & Author: The Art of Losing by Lizzy Mason
Published by: Soho Teen on February 19th, 2019
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
On one terrible night, 17-year-old Harley Langston’s life changes forever. At a party she discovers her younger sister, Audrey, hooking up with her boyfriend, Mike—and she abandons them both in a rage. When Mike drunkenly attempts to drive Audrey home, he crashes and Audrey ends up in a coma. Now Harley is left with guilt, grief, pain and the undeniable truth that her ex-boyfriend (who is relatively unscathed) has a drinking problem. So it’s a surprise that she finds herself reconnecting with Raf, a neighbor and childhood friend who’s recently out of rehab and still wrestling with his own demons. At first Harley doesn’t want to get too close to him. But as Audrey awakens and slowly recovers, Raf starts to show Harley a path forward that she never would have believed possible—one guided by honesty, forgiveness, and redemption.

I'll be honest. I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. The synopsis made the book sound like an Alexia book, but I had been burned recently by another book that sounded like an Alexia book. This book looked like it had a LOT of things to love about it, but I was still nervous. But I picked it up one August morning and it took me about 24 hours from start to finish.

Books about sisters are some of my favorite things and that's probably because I have a very strained relationship with my own half sisters. I crave reading books about sisters who actually grew up in the same house, had the same parents and knew each other better than anyone else knew them. And that's how I felt reading this book. Harley knew her sister, Audrey better than anyone else did. But I know she hadn't expected to find Audrey hooking up with her boyfriend one night.

Books about cheating have become easier for me to read over the last few years, since I was cheated on. I don't think I could have read this book three years ago. It would have been too much for me and it would have felt like a sledgehammer hitting me over and over again. Now I am in a much better place in regards to the subject of cheating. I didn't mind reading about cheating in this book. Probably because I could not stand Harley's boyfriend.

What I wasn't expecting was so much talk about addiction & alcoholism. I knew it was going to be a theme in this book, but I wasn't prepared for how much of a theme. The subject of addiction is a tough one for me as my family has been battling this issue with my 17 year old brother for over 2 years. I was worried I wouldn't be able to handle it. I was worried it was going to be too much. But the way Mason wrote about addiction and rehab and all the other things that go along with those things, hit me in a way I didn't expect. She seemed to truly understand what it was like living in the body of an addict as well as loving someone who was an addict.

As much as I loved the dynamic between Audrey & Harley, it was Harley's romance with longtime neighbor, Raf, that really got me excited. Romance doesn't usually get me all giddy & excited, but Harley & Raf just made me happy and really, really hopeful. 

I was a little nervous about Harley jumping from budding alcoholic Mike to full fledged addict Raf, but the guys had different stances on their problems. Mike was so firmly in denial about his problems with alcohol that it made me want to punch him. But Raf knew he had a problem and he was actively working on himself and what he wanted for his future.

Final thoughts: Pick up this beautiful book next month when lands on shelves of your nearest bookstore.

Book Review: A Danger to Herself and Others by Alyssa Sheinmel

Book Title & Author: A Danger to Herself and Others by Alyssa Sheinmel
Published by: Sourcebooks Fire on February 5th, 2019
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Synopsis: Only when she’s locked away does the truth begin to escape… 

Four walls. One window. No way to escape. Hannah knows there's been a mistake. She didn't need to be institutionalized. What happened to her roommate at her summer program was an accident. As soon as the doctors and judge figure out that she isn't a danger to herself or others, she can go home to start her senior year. In the meantime, she is going to use her persuasive skills to get the staff on her side.

Then Lucy arrives. Lucy has her own baggage. And she may be the only person who can get Hannah to confront the dangerous games and secrets that landed her in confinement in the first place.

I was really curious about this book just based off the synopsis alone. I have a weird fascination with mental health institutions. I was definitely hopeful that I would enjoy this book, but considering I've DNFed a previous book by this author, I was also very apprehensive. That feeling did not last long as I was hooked almost immediately. Love that feeling! 

2019 is going to be an amazing year for YA. I'm writing this review in September and I've already read 3 2019 books and all of them have been awesome & have exceeded my expectations. Immediately upon picking up this book, my brain started to question things and I questioned things throughout the entire book. Was it really an accident? Was Hannah really as smart as she was portrayed? And what about her parents? Were they really as disinterested in her as they appeared to be? And the most important & broadest question: What the hell was going on?

Hannah struck me as very odd. Especially when it came to her talking about Agnes & Jonah. She seemed to have every excuses in the book about her betraying her friend for a boy. I struggled to feel anything but contempt for her. How could she rationalize what she and Jonah were doing to Agnes? See, told you there were questions all through this book. I love books that have me questioning everything at every little turn.

Hannah was labeled "A danger to herself and others" on the paperwork when she was admitted into the institution, which of course lead me to believe that they didn't believe the incident was an accident. Because of her label, Hannah was allowed no privileges. She was in solitary confinement and the only time she seemed to have people in her room was when the doctor, Lightfoot, Hannah called her, came into the room. The doctor was usually accompanied by a man named Stephen. Honestly, I kept expecting Hannah to explode and rage out on Stephen.

And then there was Lucy. She was fascinating for more than one reason. I found her as captivating as Hannah, but I didn't feel nearly the amount of contempt for her as I felt for Hannah. Lucy was there for her own reasons, reasons I suspected early on. She didn't seem afraid of Hannah, which struck me as odd. Maybe she didn't know the reason Hannah was there.

This book was so creepy and captivating. It actually reminded me a lot of Girl, Interrupted, which I loved. A book like this has to be character heavy, which this one was. I wanted just a bit more character development for all of them. I wanted more specifically for Hannah's parents, who seemed very child-centered at first, but then as certain things unfolded, I realized they were pretty distant parents.

Final thoughts: If you want a book where you'll be questioning everything, all the time, pick this book up next month.