Happy New Year's Eve, everyone! I want to use this space today to talk about my reading goals for 2020. Maybe you've seen my 2019 reading wrap-up, or maybe you haven't scrolled down yet. Either way, two things to know: I read a lot in 2019. I want to read more in 2020.
I haven't decided on a number yet for my GoodReads challenge, but I know how I want to fill it. I want to fill it with books that will make me happy. As we saw way back in 2018, I'm a mood reader and terrible at filling assigned reading challenges, so I'm going to set simple challenges for myself. They are twofold:
What are your reading goals for 2020? Let me know below, and I'll give you a shoutout next week!
It's been quite a year for reading in 2019! I finally reached my goal of 150 books after a long slump in November-December. I almost didn't finish, but a couple unexpected library holds pushed me over, and I couldn't be happier. This is my fourth year of successfully completing my GoodReads challenge, and I look forward to the fifth.
Here's some data that GoodReads collected and showed me:
The most popular book I read was The Great Gatsby, and the least popular was Loukas and the Game of Chance (which I reviewed here).
My average rating is 4.2 (wow! I'm generous! Or maybe I just know how to pick books I'll like)
In January 2019, the first book I reviewed on GoodReads was Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen. The first book I reviewed here is History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera. My last review of the year, from last Monday, is Reverie by Ryan La Sala.
In 2019 I read 150 books, and 50 of them earned five stars. I guess I had ridiculously good luck this year, and I hope it carries through to 2020! Here's the complete list. These are just books I've read in 2019, not only ones published in the past year, and they're in reverse chronological order to match the blog feed. All my reviews will be linked, and I'll also do a short gallery of my favorite covers at the bottom! I strongly recommend all of these books, and I hope you'll choose a couple for your 2020 backlist TBR!
After Twenty-Bi-Teen, which brought an amazing group of queer YA books into the world, I’m ready to look ahead to 2020 and see what’s on deck! So, I present to you 2020’s hottest LGBTQ+ YA! This is only a smattering of the year’s selection, so for a fuller list I suggest you check out https://lgbtqreads.com/, where you can find exhaustive lists, release spotlights, and author interviews solely focusing on LGBTQ books, both YA and otherwise. This list is comprised of books I’m 100% planning on reading—my personal curation for you. Enjoy!
Hiiiii all! I'm on a bit of a winter vacation, and I'm holed up on the couch with a gallon of ice cream and a really good book! Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen is heartfelt, funny, and a great book overall. Look out for my blog tour post next month!
I'm also currently reading The Secret History by Donna Tartt, which is the one library book I've allowed myself to borrow this month, in an effort to read the books I already own. It's good so far, and giving me all the dark academia feels I'm craving after finishing Ninth House.
Happy Tuesday, everyone!
Thank you to Netgalley and Sourcebooks Fire for sharing a copy in exchange for my honest review.
All Kane Montgomery knows for certain is that the police found him half-dead in the river. He can’t remember how he got there, what happened after, and why his life seems so different now. And it’s not just Kane who’s different, the world feels off, reality itself seems different.
As Kane pieces together clues, three almost-strangers claim to be his friends and the only people who can truly tell him what’s going on. But as he and the others are dragged into unimaginable worlds that materialize out of nowhere—the gym warps into a subterranean temple, a historical home nearby blooms into a Victorian romance rife with scandal and sorcery—Kane realizes that nothing in his life is an accident. And when a sinister force threatens to alter reality for good, they will have to do everything they can to stop it before it unravels everything they know.
This wildly imaginative debut explores what happens when the secret worlds that people hide within themselves come to light.
Reverie is a beautifully inventive fantasy novel that brings together pain and joy within the magic of dreams. I’ve always been on the magical realism bandwagon, and Reverie does not disappoint in this regard. The mix of Kane’s real world versus the world of Reveries plays out in multiple conflicts throughout the novel, and the reader tugs at the fabric of reality right along with the gang. It’s not exactly breaking the fourth wall, but has a similar effect where readers question the limits of the separation between the material world and the magical world within the novel. I loved this aspect.
The characters did not disappoint either! Kane, our main character, is deeply sympathetic. His separation from his classmates due to years of their avoidance (homophobia, an unfortunately classic feature of American schoolchildren), and the wall he placed around himself, comes across clearly to readers and makes it ever more joyful as we watch him bond with friends and tackle new adventures.
Sophia, Kane’s younger sister, is sardonic and brave, and the whole Montgomery clan just owns my heart now. I don’t want to tell you too much about the Others, for fear of spoiling the novel, but Ursula, Elliot, and Adeline are great allies for Kane as he explores a changing world and fights against a powerful evil. Great banter, great powers, great motives. A fantastic squad!
Poesy is easily one of 2019’s best YA villains. She is so incredibly powerful, and La Sala’s choice to represent this power through drag is well-executed. “it was useless to expect a drag queen to do anything other than exactly what she wanted,” so Kane would “just have to let her perform her way, or no way at all...” reads one line. Poesy’s power is immense, and threatening to Kane and readers because she also appears unstoppable. I was fascinated every time she appeared on-page.
This cast of characters make up for a few of Reverie’s faults, in my opinion. One of the problems with incorporating imagination and dreams in a story is that it’s hard to set limits. Reverie struggled with this—I didn’t understand the magic system, because each reverie (think a dream come to life) differed based on the dreamer. Weaponizing this for Kane and Poesy became difficult because I could always question whether or not the written solution was realistic in the world. If all things are possible, there are infinite chances for plot holes. Beautiful descriptions of each new setting distracted from the essence of the world, and I found myself wondering about the substantive properties of each rather than immersing myself in the prose.
Overall, Reverie is a wonderfully written novel and an important addition to the too-small canon of queer YA fantasy. 4/5 stars.
Friend! Here are some book recs to brighten your holidays. Let me know which ones you read!
The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys
A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
The Defiant (sequel to The Valiant) by Lesley Livingston
Reviews to Come:
The Grace Year by Kim Liggett
Ruthless Gods (sequel to Wicked Saints) by Emily A. Duncan
House of Salt and Sorrow by Erin A. Craig
Thank you to Netgalley and Sourcebooks Fire for sharing a copy in exchange for my honest review. I'm so sorry I'm late sharing my thoughts!
Lena and Campbell aren't friends.
Lena has her killer style, her awesome boyfriend, and a plan. She knows she's going to make it big. Campbell, on the other hand, is just trying to keep her head down and get through the year at her new school.
When both girls attend the Friday-night football game, what neither expects is for everything to descend into sudden mass chaos. Chaos born from violence and hate. Chaos that unexpectedly throws them together.
They aren't friends. They hardly understand the other's point of view. But none of that matters when the city is up in flames, and they only have each other to rely on if they're going to survive the night.
I’m Not Dying With You Tonight is a snappy, action packed novel that explores the lives of two girls, Lena and Campbell, who are thrown together during a riot. I liked the plot—it moved quickly, and the tension between the girls as well as surrounding them drove key elements of the story.
In the novel, Campbell and Lena have to work together to survive riots that happen in their city, which is difficult in the face of violence, looting, and mistrust. I enjoyed how the pacing suited the story: readers are thrown into moments with the lead characters, and watch on the edges of our seats as they make decisions about how to get home when different routes keep closing to them. However, this constant motion did leave a lot of room for underdevelopment in other areas.
While the plot was fully fleshed out, the characters are less so. Various moments during the novel could have been extended more to give insight into Campbell and Lena’s backgrounds and personalities, besides the few key traits chosen to be repeated. Lena: loves her boyfriend, protective cousin, likes fashion. Campbell: former runner, new to town, lives with her dad. Other than that? Not much to say. They had distinct voices because of the writing style, but I wish readers could get a deeper feel for their characters.
Another problem I had is that the setting seemed vague. The story is very much set in the moment, which is great for readers to understand the action, but I would have liked to dive into town history and dynamics as well. There seemed to be tension between different parts of the town. Exploring the region from the perspective of Campbell, who just moved in, as well as Lena, who had lived there longer would have been an interesting contrast.
Overall, an important book touching on racial conflicts, police brutality, and the story of two girls overcoming fear and prejudices to work together in a disaster, but has a few key flaws that diminished my reading experience. 3/5 stars.
Aaaaaahhh! Crazy week! There's so much going on, and I'm hoping it'll all calm down in time for the holidays. It's been a strange week for reading, as well. I'm currently reading one book, When it Happens by Susane Colasanti (one of the worst reading experiences of 2019, and surprisingly, I don't want to talk about it), and am starting another: Murder on the Orient Express (I want more mysteries! I'll need to subsist on classics until One of Us is Next comes out in January!)
I also just found out that I'm going to BookCon! I couldn't be happier to get to experience the convention for the first time next year, and I do plan to tell all when I return. I still need to get my ticket, but I'm already subscribed to the newsletter and am making the best plans for my glorious weekend in NYC.
Hi friend! Some book recommendations for you.
I've reviewed some of these books:
Lovely War by Julie Berry
Descendant of the Crane by Joan He
Furyborn by Claire Legrand
...and some more reviews are coming soon:
Reverie by Ryan La Sala
The Silvered Serpents, sequel to The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi (RTC 9/21/20)
Hey, I'm Shreya! I love to read, write, travel, and drink coffee.