Sunday, December 31, 2017

My 2017 Year in Books!

Well, friends, here we are again, standing at the precipice of a new year! While 2017 has been rough in a lot of ways - but also great, in some pretty notable ways as well! - there are a few things I can say for absolute certain. 

One: making macarons is not as hard as you think it is, especially if you are gifted with the patience to sit through approximately 800 YouTube tutorials first. 

Two: Learning to sew is super fun, and I am so excited for the amount of throw pillows I am about to add to my couches and bed in 2018. 

Three: I read some really, really great books in the past 364 days. (And plenty of just-okay ones, as well!) 

Obviously, there were a few significant changes to my reading habits in the past year. For starters, I deliberately set my Goodreads goal a little lower for 2017, with the expressed purpose of allowing me to choose lengthier books and those from different sections of the library (like classics I hadn't touched since college!).

And sure enough, the books I read were longer! This lead to higher page counts on both ends of the spectrum, in terms of my shortest and longest books, and average page length increased slightly, too. Somewhat surprisingly, I ended up scoring things lower on average, as well. So, not only did I pay more attention to what I was reading, but I really weighed how much I liked what I was reading, too.

In total, I read 60 books, three of which were graphic novels, a far cry from last year's "Year of Comic Books."

Let's not forget the other bookish things I've done this year, like taking part in NaNoWriMo for the third time Writing 50,263 words in a grand total of 19 writing days, it was one of the most healthy-but-intense bouts of self-motivated work I've ever taken part in, probably only falling behind my Capstone project for UW in terms of dedication!

I also made yet another big Bookish Resolution, just like I did back in 2015. I adopted the old rule again, with a few twists: no buying books, with only minor allowances on Indie Bookstore Day and my Bloggoversary this past July. In 2017, the seventh year I've had this blog, I only purchased a total of seven books!

It was surprisingly easier than I thought it would be. Maybe it's because last time I embarked upon this project, I was still living up in Seattle, and didn't have access to a local library like the kind I do now that I live at home. Granted, I did rely a lot on that library, and I had the tendency to fall in love with books that I didn't get the chance to keep afterwards, but it did all work out.

What didn't necessarily work out was the intention behind why I set that resolution in the first place. What I had been hoping for, was that I would finally prompt myself to clean up my bookshelves and soar through all of the books I'd bought in the past year, but what happened instead, was that I was still just as selective from their ranks as I was before. While I did manage to explore some titles I had already been looking forward to, I have three unfinished reads for every one I did complete... and honestly, there are still quite a few I'm not sure I'm planning on reading any time soon.

So, that's where I'm leaving off 2017, much in the same way I left 2016: I'm just a tired girl, with shelves full of books, including plenty that I'm glad I read this year, and more that I'm looking forward to reading in the new year, too.

(I think I'll include a list of my new resolutions - both bookish and otherwise - in the early days of 2018!)

Happy New Year, everyone!

What did your 2017 Year in Books look like? What was your favorite read of the year? Let me know, in the comments below!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Hope Santa Brings Me This Year

"Top Ten Tuesday" is a blogging linkup brought to you by The Broke and the Bookish!

Now the holiday countdown has truly started up in earnest: in just a week from yesterday, Christmas morning will arrive, hopefully with a triumphant armful of presents to go along with it. Whether you've been naughty or nice this year, chances are, you're hoping to find a particular book or two underneath that tree of yours... and you're definitely not alone!

Whether you're looking to ring in the new year cuddled up with a thick fantasy, slim contemporary, poetry anthology, or anything in between, everyone's got a special title they're excited to snuggle with for the rest of Winter Break.

Here are the Top Ten books I hope Santa brings me this year!

books I asked Santa for already 

When it comes to which titles I specifically begged the Big Guy to shimmy down the chimney with this holiday, these are the books that made my Christmas list. 


Manhattan Beach, Jennifer Egan
Favorite author? Check. New release? Check. Period piece with timelines in the Great Depression and WWII? Super check. If this book checked any more boxes for me, it wouldn't just have a place of prominence on my Christmas list... I'd make it the star on top of the tree! 

A Natural History of Dragons (The Memoirs of Lady Trent #1), Marie Brennan
A recommendation from a friend, with a gorgeous cover, and a heavy double-dose of fantasy and the Victorian Age? And dragons? How could anyone say no? 

The Romanovs: 1613-1918, Simon Sebag Montefiore
If this title looks familiar to you, it's because I also listed it in my shoutout to Santa last year! This gorgeous cover has been catching my eye for over a year, and its contents wouldn't just fill out my love of European dynasties, but the aesthetic focus of my bookshelves. 

All the Crooked Saints, Maggie Stiefvater 
Another new release from another favorite author, but this time, the focus is YA contemporary fantasy. As this would be my first foray into the further works of Stiefvater, beyond the Raven Cycle and her exceptional Twitter, I'm incredibly excited to get my hands on a copy. 

maybe someone else is listening, too... 

Gee, if only someone besides Ol' Saint Nick was reading this blog right now. If only I had a dedicated parent with a penchant for blog-reading, who might be open to a little suggestion or two... 


The Power, Naomi Alderman
One of the most hyped books from a year where Merriam Webster's "Word of 2017" was "feminism," this contemporary science fiction exploration as to what would happen if teenage girls were suddenly gifted with superhuman power, and what that ensuing effects on that world would look like, definitely has my attention. 

Sisters First: Stories from Our Wild and Wonderful Life, Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush
If the Office of the President of the United States is the closest thing Americans have to a monarchy, then First Daughters almost become our princesses. This account by the Bush twins, on what their childhood in Washington D.C. was like, is sure to entertain, as well as give greater background to life in the White House. 

Things are What You Make of Them: Life Advice for Creatives, Adam J. Kurtz 
I've been a longtime fan of Kurtz' artwork on various corners of the Internet, but it was really only recently that I learned he also published books! This recent publication is not only uplifting and inspirational, but covered in color and his signature handwriting style, and I wouldn't dream of starting the new year without it. 

Every Heart a Doorway (Wayward Children #1), Seanan McGuire
No one goes to Narnia, Hogwarts, Wonderland, or the like, and comes back the same person. This 2016 release follows when the children who embark on these wondrous adventures are forced to re-acclimate to the real world, and the lengths they're willing to go through to get back. 

does Mr. Claus know how to pre-order?

Unfortunately, not all the titles I'm making grabby hands at are available right now... in fact, some of them are going to require a little more patience. But if Mrs. Claus has an Amazon account... 


The Financial Diet: A Total Beginner's Guide to Getting Good with Money, Chelsea Fagan and Lauren Ver Hage
Due for publication on January 2nd, this chic compendium of a multitude of adulting challenges comes courtesy of one of my favorite twenty-something bloggers, Chelsea Fagan, and the ladies of the Financial Diet blog! 

The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1), Holly Black
Also a January 2nd release in the new year, one of my favorite YA fantasy authors releases what is sure to be yet another hit. I've been clamoring for new material since I fell in love with The Darkest Part of the Forest, and I'm hoping that this title will fill the void. 

What's in your Top Ten? Let me know, in the comments below!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Last Minute Gift Guide: For the Whole Family!

It's a little too late to be posting a Gift Guide for the 2017 holiday season, but then again, it's a little late to be buying presents, too... but if you're as much of a slacker as some of the other people in my family, it's never to late to be buying presents (even Christmas Eve is up for grabs!). I mean, anything's game when Amazon Prime has free two-day shipping, am I right?

So, I thought I'd take inspiration from some of my family's procrastinator habits, and give you a few last-minute gift guides, perfect for some last-minute gift purchasing. I can't buy them for you, but I'm sure Siri can find a route between you and this Secret Santa party that hits up Barnes and Noble along the way.


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He owns every Jimmy Buffet album ever released, plus a couple of the "Greatest Hits" ones, too. His wardrobe is chock-full of khaki pants, and he's got at least one pretentious-sounding liquor in his cabinet that he swears he loves, but only sips on special occasions. He's a self-described tech dork, but gets thrown off by his kids' obsessions with the newest app. There's no one you'd trust to make an inappropriate joke, or a better Bailey's-splashed cup of coffee, than this guy.


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She swears she doesn't want anything this year, but you know that's not true. In fact, the only reason you've been putting off buying presents for the culinary queen in your life for so long, is because you've finally accepted that it's impossible to package a trip to France in something that will fit beneath a Christmas tree. You can't just pick up any regular cookbook, because she's either sure to already have it, or hate it on sight, and there's no bouncing back from getting her a spiralizer or novelty-niche veggie peeler for Christmas, not this year.


2018 Tapestry Classic covered spiral binding

She may be graduating from the Business School this coming June, but she's double majoring in home-grown Ambition and sorority-bred Sass. Boasting an impressive pageant-dress collection and a slew of networking business cards, she drops names just as frequently as she pushes your buttons. Still, she's your sister, and that warrants at least one killer Christmas present that's just as special as she is. 


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She believes that denim jackets are secondary in importance to the patches with which you adorn them. She's a  newly-minted vegan who's always ready to convert a fresh food disciple. When she's not busy serving as the Treasurer of Feminist Club, she makes posters of Marsha P Johnson in her printmaking class. She deserves a present that makes just as much of a statement, as her hair does. 



The only thing more vast than his high school band tee shirt collection, is his comprehensive knowledge of the Zelda video games. His favorite thing to do after a rigorous Knowledge Bowl meet is curl up with a good high fantasy. He's a part of not just one, but two, Dungeons and Dragons campaigns, and he knows his way around an ocarina in real life, too. My baby bro is more than worthy of a Christmas gift that's out of this world (or just a portal to another!).

What kind of relatives do you still have to shop for? What is your go-to last-minute gifting idea? Let me know, in the comments below!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books of 2017

As of right now, I've read 54 books in 2017, and am dead in the middle of my 55 (Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist). That's why, when it came time for this week's Top Ten Tuesday - choosing my favorite books of 2017 - I was left confused about which titles to select.  

It's hard for me to stamp my foot down and say, "Yes, these ten books were the best of the year," because who knows? Maybe the second half of my December will be absolutely full to bursting with some of the best books of 2017.

However, I will say, as of right now, these were some of the highlights of my reading year. 

{Personal Rules: It doesn't have to be a 2017 release, but it does have to be something I read for the first time in the past year. I had a lot of great rereads in the past twelve months - my first book of the year was Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, my annual summer tradition of Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer was especially needed this year, and re-exploring the first four of Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events felt incredibly gratifying, and made me enjoy the Netflix series that much more - but this list is only inclusive of those titles I'd never read before, despite almost all of them being backlist titles.}

1. Drive, Daniel H. Pink
My most recent installment on the list, I filled my November with nonfiction in order to prevent distraction during NaNo. What I found in this exploration of the study of motivation, was a descriptive and intriguing testament to the power of self-direction. 

2. Vicious, V. E. Schwab
I've been a fan of fantasy fave Schwab for a long time, but this super-hero noir novel was so in tune with her aesthetic, while still being a strong departure from her other genre series, that it made me that much more appreciative of her enormous talents.

I was sold on the prospect as soon as I heard "Scooby Doo, but darker." Your favorite teen sleuths fight a Lovecraftian hellbeast, as well as plenty of their own sort of inner demons, nearly destroying their sleepy and idyllic summer town in the process. Fun, fast, and frickin' insane, this was one of my two favorite vacation reads this year. 

12000020This was by far the most surprising favorite of the year. A random library pick-up while looking for something a little more seasonally appropriate for the month of October, this collection of YA horror shorts, based on classic works of fiction, was a standout, which is surprising, due to how well it flew under the radar back when it was first published. 

5. What Color is Your Parachute? 2016 Edition, Richard N. Bolles 
This was, in total, a book I should have read during my senior year of college, should I have been in the right mind to do so. It's a classic for a reason, and gives a great sense of direction and wealth of information while never talking down to the reader. 

30364187The second of those two vacay faves, this emotionally moving and subtle portrayal of two boys finding friendship and love over the course of two summers, was relatable, realistic, and earnestly nostalgic, without ever growing cloying or preachy. 

A collection of personal essays exploring the lives and reputations of famous females - from the internet countdowns that sprung up in anticipation of the Olsen Twins' 18th birthday, to Courtney Love's status as a cultural witch and designated bitch, to Anna Nicole Smith's class transgressions and televised downfall - and how they relate to not only each other, but how they shaped the authors' view of the world, and, of course, the culture of celebrity. 

Another personal essay collection, this one finds its grounding in the idea of how we understand and reflect the emotions of other people. The first essay - about Jamison's employment as an empathy test model for wannabe doctors, and how it forced her to reflect on her own medical history, including an abortion - is still one I find myself unconsciously mulling over. 

9. The Magicians, Lev Grossman
I originally went into this book hoping to finally get it off of my cramped TBR shelves, and to see what the television show was all about. I thought it would be an angsty, early-adult riff on the worlds of Narnia and Harry Potter. I left breathless, happy, and ready to grab the next installment. 

10. Adulting, Kelly Williams Brown
While the title itself has gotten a little tired by now, the contents of this book have absolutely not: a comprehensive breakdown of classic elements to what constitutes a modern adulthood, this tome contains lessons on everything from how to pick an apartment, what to decorate it with, easy recipes to learn and how to make the most of your finances. 

Of course, some honorable mentions are absolutely in order, as well: Sarah J Maas' A Court of Wings and Ruin, Helen Oyeyemi's Boy, Snow, Bird, and Lilly Singh's How to Be a Bawse were also all highlights of this year. 

(You can see my reviews of these, as well as all of the books I've read in the past year here, on my Goodreads Challenge profile.) 

What does your list look like? Let me know, in the comments below!