Top Ten Tuesday: Fantasy Standalones I Adored & Recommend [Part 2!]

TTT pretty design(30)

This week TTT turns 10, so the theme is to either re-do/update a TTT list you did before, or do a topic you missed in the past. To celebrate TTT’s birthday (or would it be anniversary?!?), I’ve decided to do a part 2 to the list of my Favorite Fantasy Standalones that I completed two years ago, because honestly, who isn’t forever looking for fantasy standalones? As much as I love the immense page time a series provides with their characters, sometimes (ok, most times) I’m lazy and don’t wanna commit to a full series. I know I’m not alone in struggling with series, which is why I wanted to recommend these great fantasy standalones!

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.


1. Ash by Malinda Lo

6472451

A lesbian retelling of Cinderella–do you really need to know more? After 8-9 years, I finally reread this book in May, and I adored it SO MUCH MORE than I remembered. Yes, it’s a bit simplistic (and aimed at younger YA readers), but I think it fits the fairytale vibe/voice. This was truly a beautiful tale.
(It also has a companion book, but I haven’t read it and I think they only relate in the sense that they’re in the same world.)

2. Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

48510870. sy475

I binged-read this entire eARC in a little over 24 hours and literally finished it only 2 days ago, but it most definitely deserves a place on this list! This book is incredible in that it starts out making you think it’s one type of story, then completely does a 180. It’s inspired by Persian mythology and Zoroastrianism, contains lots of fun demons & monsters, and even has a sapphic rommance! Plus, if you love your YA girls with a touch that can kill, this book is for you. [Releases July 7th!]

3. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

19351043. sx318 sy475

Technically a graphic novel, but regardless, it’s an incredible read! It’s plays with the concept of heroes, villains, and monsters and turns them on their heads. Plus, it’s by Noelle Stevenson aka the amazing creator that brought us She-Ra and the Princesses of Power (of which I still need to see the 5th season, shhh)!

4. The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvana Headley

36332136. sy475

This book was twisty, bizarre, and a bit creepy, but oh so intriguing. To be honest, I’m not sure I fully understand half of what went on, but it was such a unique take on Beowulf. Definitely gives ya food for thought.

5. What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah

31522415

Cheating a bit here since this is technically a collection of short stories, but I consumed this entire collection like candy and I can’t help but keep pushing it at people! Arimah’s tales are a mix of contemporary, fantasy, and sci-fi, all inspired by Nigerian culture and mythology. Unforgettable stories that will take up permanent residence in your mind.

6. Miles Morales: Spider-Man by Jason Reynolds

32793053

It’s by Jason Reynolds, need I say more? Just kidding ๐Ÿ˜‰ This book is not a Spider-Man origin story, but more so a Miles Morales origin story. Villains aren’t limited to crazy monsters, but appear in the forms of systemic racism, oppression, and discrimination. There are still superheroics, but this book doesn’t let you forget that Miles is also an Afro-Latinx teenage boy facing everyday problems.

7. A Million Junes by Emily Henry

30763950

Also cheating a bit with this one since it’s technically magical realism, but at the same time there is a lot of magic that occurs, so perhaps it really is contemporary fantasy?! This book is simultaneously quirky, hilarious, heartwarming, and romantic. I was definitely teary-eyed by the end. Who doesn’t love feuding families, a forbidden romance, and a fatal curse? (But I would also like to state that it’s so much more than those things.)

8. Empire of Shadows by Miriam Forster

18716722

Technically a prequel/companion to City of a Thousand Dolls, but it also functions as a standalone. Featuring a tiger shifter, loyal friends who would die to protect each other, and a romance, I adored this book as a teen!

9. I, Coriander by Sally Gardner

455933

Okay, it’s been a super long time since I technically read this, but I remember it having great fairytale vibes. An unwanted girl who gets locked in a chest, gets transported to a fairy world for a day, only to still be alive when her horrible family unlocks the chest years later. And something about a stuffed alligator coming to life? Idk, but I think I just convinced myself to reread this after I finish this post…

10. The Will and the Wilds by Charlie N. Holmberg

44646004. sy475

An NA romantic fantasy featuring demons and kisses that chip away at your soul! It was a super fun and quick read and you can read my full review here.


What fantasy standalones have you loved and would recommend? Did I convince ya to read any of the ones I mentioned? Do you prefer standalones or series?

If you participated in TTT this week, feel free to link up your post in the comments belowโ€“I would love to check them out!

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books I Read in 2019

TTT pretty design(24)

This week’s TTT topic is “Favorite Books I Read In 2019”. As of 9pm on December 30th when I’m drafting this post, I’ve read 73 books (tho I still have my current read to finish and I might even try to squeeze in a quick graphic novel before the new year).

This was sooooo hard. My top 10 outta 73 books?? It took me so long to come up with which book was my top read of the year. It was also so difficult to equally consider books I read at the beginning of the year with books I’ve read more recently. I feel like I could look at this list 2 hours later and the order would completely change. Oh well. ๐Ÿ˜†

Before I get to my list, I wanted to quick note that I arranged them in ascending order (or would it be descending order? eh, I don’t care). So I’ve started with my 10th favorite and ended with my overall top read of 2019!

Let’s get to it!
(omg, this is my last post of 2019 and my last post of the decade. Crazy!)

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.


10. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

2294528

After adoring the movie in high school, I finally read the book! Even though the ending was rushed and bizarre, this book was so fun, hilarious, and whimsical! I loved how Sophie was powerful in her own right and how Jones’ played with fairytale tropes across the book. Definitely plan to continue on to the companion books.

9. Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

22299763. sy475

Yes, it took me until 2019 to finish the Six of Crows Duology.ย  But ahhhhhh, how is it that Leigh Bardugo is such a masterful writer?? This book was incredible and now I still can’t believe that I haven’t read King of Scars.

8. Mothers of Sparta by Dawn Davies

34275229

Including a memoir on this list?? Who am I? But seriously, between my internship and the Memoir class, 2019 has really taught me to appreciate memoirs.
My favorite part about this memoir was Davies’ writing: she’s witty and snarky yet hard-hitting when she needs to be. Her voice was so distinct and I can’t wait to see what else she writes.

7. Final Draft by Riley Redgate

35960813

I did not expect to love this book as much as I did! I seriously wish I had had this book when I was a teen and in high school. Even though it’s a short book, it sheds light on so many important subjects. You can actually read my full gushing review here.

6. In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez

45013993. sy475

Omg, this book was such a beautiful, fictional character study of the Mirabal sisters. The novel follows them from their childhood until the murder of three of the sisters (Las Mariposas). All of the girls felt so real, and Alvarez’s writing was beautiful. Even though you go in knowing the ending, this book still brought tears to my eyes.

5. The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

42731691

I discovered Riley Sager’s books this year and now I will read everything he writes–and he’s inspired to seek out other thrillers! But seriously, from the first page to the last, I was completed addicted to this book; I could not put it down! I still think about the ending even months later.

4. The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black

26032912. sy475

I binge-read this entire book all in one night and HOLY CRAP I CANNOT BELIEVE THE TRILOGY IS OVER!! Even though the ending got a little soft and cheesy, I adored this final volume in this magical world with Jude and Cardan. Please Holly Black, never stop writing faerie books.

3. Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

41150487. sy475

I never said I wasn’t a #basic book blogger. Usually I don’t completely fall head over heels in love with romance books, but as y’all already know: THIS WAS SO GOOD! Upon returning to school, I threw the book at my housemates and they both also adored it. I will now consume everything Casey McQuiston writes and will forever pray for a sequel or a companion book.

2. Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas

33590260

I am SJM trash till the very end, so I couldn’t not put one of her book’s in my top three reads. But holy crap, this book tried to kill me with all the feels. The Throne of Glass series is one of my all-time-favorite series and I can’t believe it’s over! Needless to say, I have extremely high hopes for SJM’s next series: Crescent City.

1. The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

34076952

MY TOP READ OF THE YEAR. Can you believe I read this back in February? If you saw my top reads from the first half of 2019, you’ll notice that this book was also my top read there.

But yeah, I’m also complete trash for anything that’s whimsical and fairytale-esque, and this collection completely ASTOUNDED ME. (And its Leigh Bardugo, so it really shouldn’t have been a surprise). And the artwork was equally incredible! Ahhhhh, why couldn’t this collection have been longer??


Honorable Mentions / Runner-Ups:

Because this was such a hard list to compose, I wanted to highlight some other great reads from this year!


What are some of your favorite reads from 2019? Do we have any that overlap?

If you participated in TTT this week, feel free to link up your post in the comments belowโ€“I would love to check them out!

August Wrap-Up: I’m Back at College & ARC August was a Fail! (And This Post is Super Late, eek!)

monthly wrap up

This wrap-up is really late, whoops, like I don’t even remember August anymore. Like summer, what’s summer again? Sounds like a dream…

Lol, but it all seriousness, August was a crazy but decent end to my summer. I went on another mini family vacation, finally saw some old high school friends before returning to college, and was FINALLY REUNITED WITH MY ROOMMATE WHO I HADN’T SEEN IN 8 MONTHS!!!

Reading-wise though…I definitely fell short on all of my reading plans. I only managed 5 of the 10-11 books I wanted to read. I got the internship reading I needed to do done, but I totally failed on my fun reading plans and ARC August, whoops.


BOOKS READ:

1. You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know by Heather Sellers

Rating: 4.25 stars

Despite the heavy topics of familial abuse and a toxic childhood, Sellers maintains a captivating and friendly tone as she reflects on these times, her desire for a family, and her discovery that she suffers from face-blindness.

2. Final Girls by Riley Sager

Rating: 3.75 stars

Another enjoyable thriller from Riley Sager, though I have to say that I definitely preferred The Last Time I Lied to this one. The middle was a little slow for me and I’m still kinda concerned for Quincy’s mental state. I totally didn’t see the ending coming tho (I’m a baby reader when it comes to thrillers, so I’m still working on my guessing game!).

I loaned my friend my copy of this book, and I can’t wait till she reads it so we can discuss it! (Baker, if you’re reading this, I expect to get a text from you soon saying you’ve started this book!)

ย 3. Calling a Wolf a Wolf by Kaveh Akbar

Rating: 4 stars (?)

Again, poetry is something that I continue to struggle to read and understand, so I’m not sure I can rate this book properly. Akbar wrote so many beautiful and powerful lines, but I often wasn’t sure how to interpret the poems as a whole??

4. What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah

Rating: 4.5 stars

A completely addicting collection of sci-fi, realistic fiction, and fantasy short stories grounded in Nigerian culture and folklore. I finished this book in less than 2 days. These stories were hard-hitting and thought-provoking and honestly, I’m already to read them again!

5. Enchantress Undercover by A.C. Spahn

Rating: 1.5 stars

This book was hella rough and not at all the cheesy but fun paranormal romance I was hoping it would be. I really shouldn’t have requested in from Netgalley back in February…but hey, at least I finally read it! You can read my full somewhat rant review here!


ARC AUGUST Reflection:

I read…1 of my 4 ARCs and…it was not good at all…

I knew there was no way I was gonna read all 4 of these books, but my goal was to read at 2, ideally 3. So yeah, that was a total fail in August.

I also failed at the 20 Books of Summer challenge, but technically that ended in September, so we can talk about that next month. (I can only admit so much failure at once, guys)


SEPTEMBER TBR:

  • The Goldfinch– I technically started this book the other day, but I’m only like 15 pages in so it’s really still on my TBR.
  • The Vine Witch– I’m a part of a blog tour for these book in October, so I need to get cracking on this soon!
  • King of Scars– There’s no way this is gonna happen, but I can dream, right?

Lol, these are so unrealistic, especially since we’re already over halfway through the month and I’m only a few pages into one of these books.


RANDOM LIFE UPDATES:

  • On August 19th, I celebrated my 2 Year Blogiversary! I don’t know how I’ve been blogging for 2 years?? (Though I’ve only seriously been blogging for ~1.7 years, but still!)
  • I started my SENIOR year of college! WHAT THE HECK GUYS I HAVE TO START ADULTING AND SEARCHING FOR A JOB SOON!!
  • My younger sister started her freshman year of college (which, luckily, is not far from me)! I’m so proud of her but also nervous because I know this new environment is going to be a real struggle for her.
  • I had my last Shut Up & Write! event as an organizer for my hometown. Hopefully, I can start a chapter in at my college town, though I still have yet to find a good location.
    • And thus now that this has ended, I’ve written literally nothing since ๐Ÿ˜ฌ
  • I went on another small family vacation, this time with my mom’s side of the family! It was great seeing them, though I wish it had been longer and that there had been more of us there!
  • After 8 LONG months, I was finally reunited with my roommate! We both studied off-campus last semester, so we haven’t seen each other since December and wow, I missed her SO MUCH! I’m so excited to room with her for another year; she’s one of my best friends and aahhhhhhh, I don’t think only one more year is gonna be enough.
    • Also, after rooming together since sophomore year, we finally have pictures together! Seriously, I can’t believe it took this long!
  • Going out and being able to legally drink has been amazing. I turned 21 back in May, but wasn’t able to get together and go out with any friends until August, so I’m now just appreciating this fact. Drink responsibly my friends!
  • Did I do other things in August? Lol, probably, but I honestly can’t think of any more right now. ๐Ÿ˜ฌ

How was your August? Are you also back at school now? Have you read any of the books I mentioned above? How are you guys doing right now? Hanging in there?

August TBR: Lots of ARCs for ARC August!

update or TBR blog banner

A monthly TBR post? Who am I?

Usually I incorporate my monthly TBRs into my wrap-ups for the previously month, but in honor of ARC August (hosted by Read.Sleep.Repeat), I couldn’t resist writing a separate post!

There are 3 sections to my highly ambitious and totally unrealistic TBR: ARCs, Internship books, and simply other books I want to read before I return to school. (Wow, I didn’t realize it at first, but all these books resulted in a wide variety of genres on this list!)

Also, despite blogging for almost 2 years (my blogiversary is later this month!), I still SUCK at taking nice pictures of books, so don’t judge me too much on these pics! ๐Ÿ˜†


ARCs:

These 4 books are all the ARCs I currently possess. My plan for this month is to read at least 2, hopefully 3 of them. I definitely want to get the ones that have already been released read. So I probably won’t get around to Gravemaidens, but I wanted to include it on this list because the cover is sooo pretty. ๐Ÿ˜€


Internship Books:

IMG_7926

As my fall semester starts up at the end of this month (holy crap!), I kinda have to finish my summer internship books beforehand, don’t I? These are the 3 books I have left. I actually started reading You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know yesterday!


Other Books:

IMG_7931

The Storm Crow is one of my top 3 anticipated releases for this year, and since the other two disappointed me (Bloodleaf and Wicked Saints), I’m both nervous and excited to pick it up. The Power is a novel I got from a book exchange with my bookclub, so I definitely wanna read it before returning to school. After loving The Last Time I Lied, my grandpa’s wife sent me Sager’s first book, so I wanna read it before I see them on vacation (which I leave for…tomorrow, yikes). And I just love Charlie Bowater covers, so I had to buy Sorcery of Thorns, which actually arrived on my doorstep this morning. One of my Goodreads groups is also reading the book this month, so I can’t wait to read and discuss it with them!

~~~

Can I read 9-10 books in August while also returning to school at the end of the month? Probs not, but I’m definitely gonna try! And looking back…two of these books are poetry collections, so maybe I actually have more of a chance of accomplishing this TBR? Who knows–only time will tell.


Are you participating in ARC August? What books are you planning to read in August? Any overlap between us?

If you did an August TBR post, feel free to share your link in the comments below, I would love to check it out!