Top 10 Books I Read in 2017

2017 Top 10 (1)

 

It’s already MAY, but I had such a hard time choosing between the 56 books I managed to read last year. I am SO PROUD of that number. I worked hard for it. I figured that now is as good a time as any to share them with you because maybe you’ll want to pick them up over the summer. People read then, right?

In an effort to shorten the judging process that got me to this point, I decided to only nominate books that I read for the first time, and to exclude all re-reads from this contest. In no particular order, here are the top 10 books I read in 2017.

 

 

 

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Source: Goodreads

 

1 – Grace, Not Perfection – Emily Ley
This book changed my life. I read it while I was nannying for my baby cousin, so even the more maternal bits really hit home. Whether you are young and virtually single like me, or raising a bunch of munchkins, or just living your best life, this book will help you make it even better. I can’t wait to pick up Emily’s second book, A Simplified Life, this year.

 

 

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2 – The Diviners – Libba Bray
1920s New York City + strange magical abilities + teens sleuthing to stop a supernatural serial killer? SIGN ME UP. This is one of those books that you pick up at the library because of the cool cover and then run away with it once you finish reading the blurb because it’s so cool. And even at a whopping 500+ pages it just flies by because the writing is just that good. I’m saving my reviews of this series for October. Look out for it then!

 

 

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Source: Goodreads

 

3 – A Novel Bookstore – Laurence Cossé
Let me just say… WOW. This birth-of-a-bookstore/mystery novel about the fictional The Good Novel bookstore in Paris and its founders blew me away. A tiny bit slow in some places, but the intertwining narratives of the founders, reviewers, and their loved ones was wonderfully written and lovingly translated from the original French.

 

 

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Source: Goodreads

 

4 – A Gathering of Shadows – V. E. Schwab
This whole series is wonderful. I’ve never read anything like the Shades of Magic trilogy, and I am so SO excited that Schwab will be blessing us with a spinoff sequel trilogy, as well as a prequel comic book. Of the trilogy, the second novel was my favorite, and the cover art especially drew me in. The character development is just expert level here, and I can’t wait to get my hands on more of Schwab’s work.

 

 

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Source: Goodreads

 

5 – Uprooted – Naomi Novik
This book. THIS. BOOK. I haven’t read a story like this since I picked up the actual Grimm’s Fairytales. The plot is phenomenal, the characters aren’t perfect, or entirely lovable or hateable, and the forest. is. alive.

Uprooted gets a lot of hate for the romance aspect of it, but I think it was handled really well and people need to get used to the idea that semi-immortal beings need love too. You don’t hear people complaining about Bella and Edward being together because Edward is like 900 years older than her, do you? So don’t come at me about Agnieszka’s romance. It’s as healthy a love as she is going to get in these crazy times.

 

 

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Source: Goodreads

 

6 – Elantris – Brandon Sanderson
An arranged marriage alliance + a religious war + a mysterious plague that only effects the god-like people of Elantris? Trust me when I say the roughly 600 pages are worth it. I haven’t read worldbuilding like this since Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time saga — which makes sense if you think about it because Jordan chose Sanderson to finish his work when he was passing.

 

 

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7 – M Train – Patti Smith
I’ve never read a memoir written by a musician before, and let me tell you, this was delightful. Patti Smith is not just a musician, poet, and author, but also a mother, wife, icon, and member of a former mysterious society. This memoir is written mostly stream-of-consciousness style, but that only adds to the magic of the words. From writing in coffee shops (like I am now), to traveling the globe, to singing in cafeterias at midnight, M Train is sure to inspire you to write more of your own work and see the everyday magic around you.

 

 

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8 – Disenchanted: The Trials of Cinderella – Megan Morrison
It’s no secret that I adored the first Tyme novel by Morrison, Grounded: The Adventures of Rapunzel,  but Disenchanted did me one better if that’s possible. “Cinderella” comes from a family of fashion. Her new stepmother is a trial, but she probably means well. The private school she goes to is full of rich and royal brats, most of whom will grow up to work in the family business: that is, fashion. The entire Blue Kingdom runs on fashion. But not everyone loves it. Ella knows which families use sweatshop labor, and sets out to bring. them. down. Even if it means ruining her chances with the cute but cursed prince in the process. I can’t wait for the third installment (involving the Frog Prince!), due out in the next year.

 

 

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9 – In Other Lands – Sarah Rees Brennan
If you’ve been reading fantasy your entire life and wondering why tropes are what they are — the guy gets the girl, everyone loves the hero, the maidens need rescuing, etc. etc… LOOK NO FURTHER. Brennan turns every single trope on its head and it’s flawless. Not only does everyone hate Elliot, he doesn’t even get the girl, or get to save the world, or have a touching reunion with his parents. Nope. Elliot gets shipped off to a school in a war zone in a magical land because his teacher doesn’t like him, and spends most of his time in the library wishing he could meet mermaids despite everyone telling him how dangerous they are. Elliot is not a hero, and he certainly doesn’t like the would-be hero, Luke Sunborn, with the beautiful golden locks. Nope. Not one bit.

 

 

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10 – Lois Lane: Fallout – Gwenda Bond
I didn’t even know I needed a series about Lois before Clark until I saw Bond’s book on the shelf, and now I need her to be consulted with on anything and everything to do with Superman and Lois Lane that is ever created in the future. I have always loved Lois, but never before have I gotten the chance to really get to know her. Now that the military brat has settled in one place for the first time, attending a Metropolis high school and interning at The Daily Planet, she has a bit of free time on her hands, and a lot of bad guys to take down. Now if only she could convince her online crush SmallvilleGuy to meet in person.

 

 

Honorable Mentions:
Elise Kova’s The Alchemists of Loom
Helen Simonson’s Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand
Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451

Cover Reveal (& Other Goodies!): The Dragons on Nova – Elise Kova

COVER REVEAL

 

Today is the day!! Today, Elise Kova and Rockstar Book Tours are revealing the cover for The Dragons of Nova, which releases July 11, 2017! I am beyond excited to get to be a part of their Cover Reveal Blitz Team, which means this blog, along with many others, get to bring you the cover in all of its glory, along with a synopsis and an EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT from the book, AND a giveaway of an ARC (Advanced Readers’ Copy), signed by Elise!

Scroll on down to see everything! IT. IS. SO. GOOD.

 

 

 

 

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Title: THE DRAGONS OF NOVA (Loom Saga #2)

Author: Elise Kova

Pub. Date: July 11, 2017

Publisher: Keymaster Press

Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook

Pages: 488

Find it: Amazon | B&N | TBD | Goodreads

 

Can we just talk about this gorgeous cover?! It features Cvareh, as we met in the first book, The Alchemists of Loom, standing on top of what can only be a Dragon glider! And the immediate background of Nova with the boco birds flying past, not to mention the scaling in the far background and the House Xin symbol in the O of Nova, oh my goodness, this is all just too cool!

If you haven’t read The Alchemists of Loom yet, it’s ON SALE through May 7th as an eBook for 99¢! You can access the sale here. There’s also going to be a read-along of The Alchemists of Loom starting May 8th and running through the end of the month, so now is the perfect opportunity for you to catch up on the series before The Dragons of Nova releases in July! Find the Facebook group for the read-along here.

If I haven’t yet managed to convince you to start this series, check out my review of the first book here!

 

Now let’s get into the synopsis and the excerpt!

 

Cvareh returns home to his sky world of Nova with the genius crafter Arianna as his temperamental guest. The mercurial inventor possesses all the Xin family needs to turn the tides of a centuries-old power struggle, but the secrets she harbors must be earned with trust — hard to come by for Ari, especially when it comes to Dragons. On Nova, Ari finds herself closer to exacting vengeance against the traitor who killed everything — and everyone – she once loved. But before Ari can complete her campaign of revenge, the Crimson Court exposes her shadowed past and reveals something even more dangerous sparking between her and Cvareh.

While Nova is embroiled in blood sport and political games, the rebels on Loom prepare for an all-out assault on their Dragon oppressors. Florence unexpectedly finds herself at the forefront of change, as her unique blend of skills — and quick-shooting accuracy — makes her a force to be reckoned with. For the future of her world, she vows vengeance against the Dragons.

Before the rebellion can rise, though, the Guilds must fall.

*****Exclusive Excerpt!*****

“They’re coming from the front!” Nora screamed over the crescendo of the engine gaining speed. On cue, the train lurched as an endwig was splattered to a bloody mess on the point of the engine’s pilot.

“Bloody cogs,” Florence cursed. The Vicar Alchemist had sent her to protect the mission as the Revolver, but one of her wasn’t going to be enough. “I’m going to the engine.”

“What are we going to do?” The usually self-sure Nora had the face of a cornered hare.

“You’re going to fight.” Florence passed her a weapon.

“I’ve never shot a gun before.”

“Now is a great time to learn.”

“I’m an Alchemist!”

Seriously, Florence was a breath away from shooting the woman herself. “You’re dead if you don’t adapt! There’s three more bombs exactly like the ones you just used, right there. Just fend them off until the train gets up to speed. But don’t use any other disks.”

Florence had no more time to waste as the train lurched again. They just had to survive until the train reached full speed. For all the endwig were, they certainly couldn’t keep up with a locomotive.

She hoped.

The wind whipped her hair around her face as she stuck her head from the train car. Florence reached out for the ladder to the right of the door, scaling up before another endwig could emerge. She swung up just in time as an explosion nearly blew her foot clean off.

“By the five guilds, you two only had three bombs!” she screamed over the wind, not knowing if they could hear. “Ration them a bit!”

Standing, Florence looked in horror at the tracks ahead. Dozens of endwig lined the path, running eagerly to meet the train. She loaded six canisters at once.

Jumping to the tender, Florence lost her footing atop the moving train car. A nail snapped clean off as she sought a grip that would prevent her from being thrown to certain death. If she fell now, she would never get back on the vessel. She’d be torn limb from limb.

Gritting her teeth, Florence rose to her knees, shooting two endwig in the process. She wedged herself between two grooves on the top of the tender. Blood pooled around her shins as she dug them into the metal for a grip where there was none, but she was stable enough to take aim, and that meant she could open fire.

Five shots down, and Florence reloaded her gun. Endwig came relentlessly like a never-ending nightmare. But the train didn’t gain any more speed. She repeated the process, waiting for the vessel to be like her bullets, whizzing through the night at deadly speeds.

“Anders, now would be a great time to open her up!” she screamed.

There was no reply.

“Anders, Rotus, we need speed, get us out of here faster!”

Five long claws curled around the door of the engine in answer. Florence watched in horror as the white silhouette of an endwig, dotted in the black blood of a Chimera, pulled itself from the engine room. Florence swallowed hard.

They were without Rivet and Raven, stumbling through the darkness, enemies at all sides. She raised her gun slowly, looking fearlessly at the face of death itself. Her revolver was steady over the rocking of the train.

“You think I’m not used to this?” Her mouth curled into a mad grin. “I’ve been fighting my way out of the darkness my whole life. And you’re not going to stop me now.”

Gunshots echoed through the forest.

*****

About Elise:

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Elise Kova has always had a profound love of fantastical worlds. Somehow, she managed to focus on the real world long enough to graduate with a Master’s in Business Administration before crawling back under her favorite writing blanket to conceptualize her next magic system. She currently lives in St. Petersburg, Florida, and when she is not writing can be found playing video games, watching anime, or talking with readers on social media. She is the USA Today bestselling author of the Air Awakens Series as well as the Loom Saga (Keymaster, 2017).

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Tumblr | Goodreads

 

And last but definitely not least, the ARC giveaway! Click through to the Rafflecopter page to enter your details and be entered to win!

Giveaway Details:

One (1) Winner will receive a signed advanced readers’ copy of THE DRAGONS OF NOVA.

Enter to win through Rafflecopter using your Facebook account or email address HERE!

 

 

 

Thank you all so much for coming by today and checking out the cover reveal! I don’t know how I’m going to wait until July to read The Dragons of Nova. I may just have to re-read The Alchemists of Loom a few more times before then!

If you enjoyed this post, give it a like to let me know, and feel free to share it on Facebook and other social media platforms to spread the word!

 

 

Until Next Time,

Amanda

The Grand Relaunch – Announcements!

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Welcome to the new site!

If you’ve been here before, welcome back!  If you’re new, hello! Nice to meet you! I think you’re going to like it here.

If you’re a returning reader, you may have noticed the name change: I think it fits the image and purpose of the blog much better than the old one. There are a bunch of new things headed your way, and I can’t wait to share them!

 

First off, I wanted to let you in on a surprise – the book I reviewed last week, The Alchemists of Loom,  is on sale right now as an eBook for 99¢! (get it here) The sale runs through May 7th, and it’s all in preparation for a read along being hosted by the author starting May 8th and running through the end of the month. You can find the schedule of events for the read along, as well as a GIVEAWAY of The Alchemists of Loom in hardback(!!!), in the dedicated facebook group.

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Now is the perfect time to jump into the world of Loom, because later this week myself and the rest of the Tower Guard (A.K.A. the Elise Kova street team and fan club) will be bringing you the cover reveal of the next book in the Loom series: The Dragons of Nova!

If you happen to devour The Alchemists of Loom as fast as I did and you need more of Kova’s work to hold you over until The Dragon’s of Nova releases in July, her Air Awakens series eBook box set is on a Kindle Countdown Sale this week as well, meaning the sooner you purchase, the cheaper it is! This is in preparation for the publication of the last installment in the Golden Guard TrilogyFarmer’s War, on May 2nd! (TOMORROW!!!) (pre-order here) The Golden Guard Trilogy is a prequel series to Air Awakens.

And if you are into Goodreads giveaways, they’re doing The Alchemists of Loom AND The Dragons of Nova right now! These are in addition to the hardcover giveaway of The Alchemists of Loom associated with the read along.

Elise Kova, as you would know if you read my Life Log from a couple months ago, is just the sweetest, and I’m very happy to be able to help her out by spreading the word about her work! Please check out her stuff. You won’t be disappointed!

 

In other news, what else can you expect to hit the blog in the next month?

  • Weekly book reviews
  • A film review (or two!)
  • An update on grad school and my future plans!

Also, the monthly goal check-ins should resume this month!

If you haven’t had a chance yet, feel free to click around the new site and check it out. I think I got all of the links updated, but if something isn’t working please let me know so I can try to fix it as soon as possible. Enjoy!

 

Until next time,

Amanda

 

Life Log February 25th, 2017 – Meeting Elise Kova

Today is one of those days that I hope I remember forever, and it all started by sleeping in for the first time in a month.

The original plan was to get up at 6:30 and do some early morning writing at one of my two favorites Starbucks locations in the city, but when my alarm went off I decided to sleep in instead. I got up around 11:30 and ate some lunch before heading out into the city to explore, as I have most weekends since I moved here in October. I’m always discovering new things.

My first stop was Coolidge Corner, where I wanted to scope out Brookline Booksmith before I attend the V.E. Schwab signing there on Monday (Update: It was CROWDED, but awesome, and Victoria is pretty great). It’s always good to know where you’re going, folks. After I found it and browsed for a bit, I decided to follow Beacon Street back towards  Boston Common and see what else was in the area. In as little as 10 minutes I was overwhelmed with my love for this city. Everything, even the deserted parts of the streets and the little half-hidden parks and personal gardens make me smile. I felt like standing the middle of the road, twirling, crying, and screaming about how much Boston means to me, but I didn’t because there was traffic and quite a few people around. I did smile and skip through the drizzle that started soon after though, and that was almost as fun.

When the rain started to get harder and the wind began blowing it into my eyes I ducked into the nearest Starbucks, which happened to be at Kenmore Square near Boston University, and settled in to wait out the downpour. Can I just say that the baristas there are super sweet? I was sitting at the counter, working on a map for The Everest Chronicles and sipping my hot cocoa (Starbucks Cocoa is the best), and listening to them chat. One of them was new, and while she had a handle on everything, she was one of those employees that knows exactly the right questions to ask those who’ve worked there longer, like “it’s this syrup, 4 squirts, right?” not “how do I make that again?” She was just fantastic, and her eyeliner was on point. The guy sitting next to me apparently also works there, but he wasn’t on duty and was instead actively studying for midterms. Still, their convos were hysterical to listen to, and they even included me in them occasionally, which was kind of them. Everyone there was just nice, and it made the time fly until the rain stopped.

I emerged back into the sunshine and crossed the street to a Barnes & Noble I had spotted just before I’d reached Starbucks. As I walked through the door I noticed one of those events signs they always have up. The book pictured on the poster was The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova, and it said she would be there at 3 pm on February 25th. I looked at my phone, and wouldn’t you know it, it was 3:15, on the 25th.

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If you’ve never heard of The Alchemists of Loom, fear not. I hadn’t heard of it either until last month, but three authors/BookTubers I follow on social media: Sasha Alsberg from A Book Utopia, Lindsay Cummings, and Regan from Peruse Project on YouTube, have since been raving about it. Lindsay blurbed it, and Sasha and Regan are reading it for their virtual book club this month. It’s been very high on my radar, and therefore I got very excited when I saw the poster. I walked back to the sci-fi/fantasy section and bought the book, and then asked the cashier where the event was. He cheerfully told me it was upstairs, and off I went.

I walked in to find a group of about 10 people sitting in chairs, listening to Elise explain the publishing process. She talked about editing, querying, and the writing process in general. When I asked her, she said that she started writing in 6th grade, when the teacher assigned the class a 5-page story, due at the end of the year. Everyone groaned because in 6th grade five pages sounds like a life sentence, but Elise immediately decided to write a chapter book. Her teacher tried to dissuade her, but Elise was determined. The book ended up being novella length, and while she says it was truly terrible, she did suggest that she might share a few pages with her newsletter subscribers one day.

One mom asked if Kova had any advice for young writers, especially those in high school. I found out later that her daughter and a friend were sitting across the aisle from me, 9th graders. “Write a lot, and often,” Elise said. “Read. And get on Twitter. There are a ton of authors on Twitter to engage with and ask questions of.”

After everyone’s questions were answered, Kova signed her books and chatted with all of the attendees. When it was my turn, I admitted that I hadn’t read the book yet, but I’d heard so much about it from Sasha and Lindsay (and Regan!) that I couldn’t wait to read it. I also told her that I loved what she had to share about publishing, and how I was applying to a graduate publishing program and writing my own stuff. She was extremely nice, and warm, and simply lovely to talk to. She signed my copy of The Alchemists of Loom, personalizing it with ‘To Amanda, You’re perfect! ~Elise Kova’, which made me smile and do an inner little cheer because she’s really just so nice and the fact that she thought I was nice was very cool!

As I left the BU Barnes & Noble, it was still beautifully sunny outside and the cool breeze left by the rainstorm made the city feel like paradise. I continued my exploration for another hour or so before heading home, where I’m currently writing to you from while I eat my Kraft Mac & Cheese. I’ve only now realized that I forgot to grab any of the swag from the Kova event, and also that I didn’t ask to take a picture with her, but since it was my first time at a book/author event, I guess it’s okay that I didn’t do any of that. I was too excited to remember. Maybe next time!

I’m about to dive into the first episode of Stranger Things, and then I’m going to read some more of the book I’ve been carrying around with me all day, A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab. I’m hoping to be knee deep in the final installment, A Conjuring of Light, by the time I meet her at the book tour event on Monday. As soon as I’m done with that book, however, you can bet that I’ll be devouring The Alchemists of Loom. Stay tuned to Highlights and Hot Chocolate in the coming months for a review. I just have to find somewhere in my posting schedule to fit it in!

I wish you all a good evening, a good book, and a comfy place to read. ❤

I hope you’ve enjoyed this new type of post on my blog, a sort of written version of a vlog (because I don’t have a decent camera or editing software to actually make one of those). I don’t know yet if I’ll keep doing them, so let me know what you think in the comments. While you’re down there writing things, what was your first book/author event? I’m interested to hear everyone’s experiences!

Until next time,

Amanda