Top Ten Tuesday: New to Me Authors I Read in 2018

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018.

Hello! So 2018 was the year I read the most books ever, and I discovered so many wonderful authors! Below are some of my new favorites:


Madeline Miller

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Brandon Sanderson

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Katie O’Neill

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Holly Black

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Seanan McGuire

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K.A. Tucker

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Taylor Jenkins Reid

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Laini Taylor

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Anna-Marie McLemore

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Alice Oseman

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I wish I discovered these authors A LOT sooner! Do you have any new favorite authors? Let me know!

xx,

Amy

The Mortal Instruments: The Graphic Novel, Vol. 1 by Cassandra Clare & Cassandra Jean

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Title: The Mortal Instruments: The Graphic Novel, Vol. 1

Author: Cassandra Clare & Cassandra Jean

Pages: 208

Genre: Graphic novel, YA, fantasy

My Rating: ★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

The first installment of Cassandra Clare’s bestselling urban fantasy series, The Mortal Instruments, is adapted into a graphic novel series!

Hanging out with her best friend, Simon, is just about the most exciting thing in Clary’s life…that is, until she realizes there are people only she can see. But when her mother disappears and a monster attacks her, Clary has to embrace a world that she never even knew existed–a world full of vampires, werewolves, demons, and those who fight for the humans, Shadowhunters…

Okay, I’m going to be real for a second: I originally rated the novel version of this book 2 stars. Well, maybe it was more like 2.5 stars. But, nevertheless, I just did not love it and when people saw my rating I was… met with some rather unhappy responses.

Here’s my opinion on The Mortal Instrument series: they’re fun and consumable, and they have stood up well over the years. They have good world building, action, and romance. But what grips me the most is the very complex history and connections between all the characters/families. I think Cassandra Clare does such an amazing job in building the Shadowhunter/Downworlder worlds and each book gets stronger and stronger. Are they literary masterpieces? I mean, that’s not my decision to make. And I’m not going to drag anyone who likes these books because you are allowed to enjoy what you want. This series has overall been really fun for me to read and I will continue to read however many more books Cassandra Clare publishes.

Now with that being said, I did not love book 1 in this series because it read like bad Harry Potter fanfic. However this graphic novel was a wonderful new way for me to dive back into this world. I really recommend this if you’re wanting a refresher or cliffnotes version of what happened in book 1 (but keep in mind this graphic novel is only a portion of the novel.) And, dare I say it? But I found Jace so much more likeable in the graphic novel version!

However, I don’t love the art. At times some panels looked really poorly drawn and it was confusing during some action sequences. And there were a few times where I thought Clary and Izzy looked oddly drawn. However, I really love the cover art and wished we could’ve gotten the entire graphic novel in full color.

Overall I really enjoyed diving back into this world. There were a lot of things I forgot (like, hello, Hodge. I forgot about you) and it was fun to be able to visualize it all. I thought Jace’s falcon story was depicted very well and all the pertinent information wasn’t glossed over. I really think if you’re a huge fan of this series then you may enjoy these graphic novels, too!

fourstars

xx,

Amy

Aquicorn Cove by Katie O’Neill

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Title: Aquicorn Cove

Author: Katie O’Neill

Pages: 96

Genre: Children’s, middle grade, graphic novel, fantasy

My Rating: ★★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

When Lana and her father return to their seaside hometown to help clear the debris of a storm, the last thing she expects is to discover a colony of Aquicorns—magical seahorse-like residents of the coral reef. As she explores the damaged town and the fabled undersea palace, Lana learns that while she cannot always count on adults to be the guardians she needs, she herself is capable of finding the strength to protect both the ocean, and her own happiness.

Earlier in 2018 I had the pleasure of reading Katie O’Neill’s The Tea Dragon Society. I adored the illustrations and important messages so much, and Aquicorn Cove was just as amazing.

This illustrated story is about a girl named Lana. She and her father go back to their seaside village to help clean up after a storm. They meet with Lana’s aunt, Mae, who is highly respected in sustaining the community with fish. Lana also finds an injured aquicorn (they’re seahorse-like creatures) and she helps care for it while also learning from Mae the history behind the mystical sea colony.

Right away we learn that Lana lost her mother, and this book does a beautiful job at addressing grief and depression. Lana, through flashbacks, talks about how lost and sad she felt, and how she needed help to get through some days. I really appreciated how these feelings were brought up not just for Lana, but for Mae as well. Lana’s mom was Mae’s sister, and it was interesting to not only see the grief from Lana’s perspective but from Mae as well.

“Everything has a use. Sometimes beautiful things are made through necessity.”

However the focal point of this book is about environmental sustainability and conservation. It addresses important topics such as climate change, pollution, and over-fishing; that we cannot take more than we can give. And how even if we are just one person or a small community, there are still things we can do to help preserve our future.

I’m truly amazed how much good was condensed into this short graphic novel and all the powerful messages it contains. There’s a beautiful f/f romance, diverse characters, and a wonderful sense of community coming together during dire times (natural disaster clean up). I really feel like this book is so essential for younger generations and I am already looking forward to Katie O’Neill’s next book!

fivestars

xx,

Amy

The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker

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Title: The Simple Wild

Author: K.A. Tucker

Pages: 388

Genre: Contemporary romance, new adult

My Rating: ★★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

Calla Fletcher wasn’t even two when her mother took her and fled the Alaskan wild, unable to handle the isolation of the extreme, rural lifestyle, leaving behind Calla’s father, Wren Fletcher, in the process. Calla never looked back, and at twenty-six, a busy life in Toronto is all she knows. But when Calla learns that Wren’s days may be numbered, she knows that it’s time to make the long trip back to the remote frontier town where she was born.

She braves the roaming wildlife, the odd daylight hours, the exorbitant prices, and even the occasional—dear God—outhouse, all for the chance to connect with her father: a man who, despite his many faults, she can’t help but care for. While she struggles to adjust to this rugged environment, Jonah—the unkempt, obnoxious, and proud Alaskan pilot who helps keep her father’s charter plane company operational—can’t imagine calling anywhere else home. And he’s clearly waiting with one hand on the throttle to fly this city girl back to where she belongs, convinced that she’s too pampered to handle the wild.

Jonah is probably right, but Calla is determined to prove him wrong. Soon, she finds herself forming an unexpected bond with the burly pilot. As his undercurrent of disapproval dwindles, it’s replaced by friendship—or perhaps something deeper? But Calla is not in Alaska to stay and Jonah will never leave. It would be foolish of her to kindle a romance, to take the same path her parents tried—and failed at—years ago. It’s a simple truth that turns out to be not so simple after all.

I just finished reading this book and knew I had to immediately write my review while all my feels are still fresh. Y’all, I don’t read a lot of romance, but I have been so lucky that the romance books I read in 2018 were stellar. The Simple Wild is no exception, and I’m so happy I got to end 2018 with this piece of joy.

This book pretty much had everything I ever wanted: atmospheric wilderness, enemies-to-lovers, found family, small town feels, hot pilots, and AIRPLANES. Like… you don’t understand. I used to fly planes. Having an entire book centered around aviation made my heart so damn happy.

In a nutshell, we follow Calla, a 26 year old woman from Toronto. She and her father never had a relationship after her mother left her father in Alaska. However, one night Calla receives a phone call asking her to come visit because her father is ill. When she arrives she is greeted by a rather moody bush pilot, Jonah — and their strange and kind of wacky relationship blooms from there.

I really loved how K.A. Tucker painted the romance; it wasn’t an insta-love situation, yet the male and female love interests weren’t horrible to each other, either (which is what I dread sometimes going into an enemies-to-lovers plot). I’ve read some romances where the man is just way over the top mean, but he really wasn’t at all! And this book has more witty banter and silly pranks which I thought were so fun. The romance is definitely a slow burn, but it all played out organically and realistically. (And let’s just say there’s a cabin scene and you KNOW that shit makes me weak.)

I also loved how Calla is into fashion blogging and instagramming, because it felt like I was reading about myself. Trying to capture that perfect instagrammable photo, thinking of the perfect captions, and perhaps over packing a little too much for a trip. Yeah, that’s relatable af to me.

And, of course, you can’t have an aviation-centered book without me picking it apart! Sorry! But I can honestly say K.A. Tucker did such an amazing job researching everything from aircraft mechanics, avionics, terminology, and aircraft types. It was fun for me to come across a plane and be like, “Oh! I’ve flown one of those before!” I was living for all of the flying scenes, and they’re abundant but so different from each other. Bangor, AK is a fictional town but it’s based off of Bethel, AK (according to the Acknowledgements) so I creeped the Bethel airport. Sure enough, it’s quite similar to how the Bangor airport is described in the book, and it surprised me they have a control tower, too! (tbh I thought Bangor was much smaller than the real town it’s based off of, but hey, it’s a fictional book so I won’t drag it.)

But I digress. I just simply loved the dynamics between these characters so much. There’s the found family between Jonah, Wren (Calla’s father), Agnes, and Mabel… and just everyone in town and nearby villages who all know and love each other. The sense of community is real in this book. And I loved how Calla and Wren were able to reconnect their father-daughter relationship. The message in this book really resonated with me; how we can’t expect others to change, but it is okay to still love and support the choices they make.

I will say that one thing that bugged me was how much Jonah made Calla feel bad for enjoying things like beauty and fashion, It’s so common for men to believe women put on makeup to please men or for other shallow reasons, when really I personally put on makeup for myself. I like makeup, and I like the way it looks. I’ve grown used to going make-up-free as I’ve gotten older, but I still love buying it and using it. I’m not saying Jonah is in any way a “toxic masculinity” character, but his constant griping about women and makeup got to be annoying. But I can’t let Calla off the hook, either. She refers to Jonah as a “yeti” a lot because of his long hair and beard, and that got pretty old, too.

There’s also the constant reminder that Jonah is the “best damn pilot” out there and it’s like, okay, I get it — let’s stop with the overused shtick from 1980’s action films, please. Being a good pilot is one thing but he does make some unsafe decisions so… [insert KermitSippingTea.jpg]

But seriously, I loved this book so much, and I did not expect it to punch me so hard in the feels. I was worried I was going to be angry with the way Wren’s illness was handled, or how the aviation was going to be portrayed, or that the love interest was going to be horrible — but none of that happened. I wholeheartedly recommend this book especially if you’re an enemies-to-lovers fan. I will definitely be reading more books by K.A. Tucker soon!

Trigger warnings for cancer, talks of cancer treatments, parental separation.

fivestars

xx,

Amy

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Releases for the First Half of 2019

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018.

Hello, everyone! There are SO MANY books coming out in the first half of 2019 that I can’t even keep them straight! So these are the ones I could think of from the top of my head (I know I’m leaving out so many others, I’m sorry!) I might be off by a month or two, but hey, I’m THAT excited for them!


ONE: The Wicked King by Holly Black

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TWO: Middlegame by Seanan McGuire

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THREE: Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

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FOUR: The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang

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FIVE: King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

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SIX: The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

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SEVEN: Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

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EIGHT: 99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne

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NINE: The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

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TEN: Kingsbane by Claire Legrand

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That’s it for now! I know these are super hyped titles but I just can’t help it. Several are debuts or sequels that I’m just so excited to read!

I hope you’re having a great day so far and happy reading!

xx,

Amy

My 2019 Bookish Goals

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Hi, everyone! I know goals are a popular topic of discussion so I wanted to share some of mine with you. I started reviewing books in December 2017 and it was such a huge learning experience for me. I loved getting to work with publishers, participating in blog tours, and overall getting to know so many wonderful people in the book community. I am so inspired by every single one of you and I believe you all have helped shape my goals for 2019.

So here’s my list. I don’t know if I’ll accomplish them all but I’m going to try!


ONE: Request Fewer ARCs

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This is the biggest one I wanted to get out of the way first and explain why. You’re probably thinking, “But Amy, you just said you love reviewing and working with publishers.” This is still true. However, in the early stages of my reviewing days I went a little too “click-happy” on NetGalley and requested so many titles that I eventually got too overwhelmed. I make ARCs a priority and review everything I request. But then other backlist titles on my TBR took a hit, and I don’t want to neglect it this year. I also want to buddy read more with my friends. I know I am very privileged to live in the US where ARCs are easier to come by, and I am truly thankful and fortunate for these opportunities. I’ll still review ARCs and participate in blog tours, but I just won’t be requesting as many this year!


TWO: Start a BookTube Channel

I’m extra nervous about this one. Mainly because I remembered how it felt when I first started a Bookstagram account; building my content and aesthetic, networking, actively posting every day, interacting and engaging with everyone. It’s fun but sometimes it can feel like work. And I have so much damn respect for people who create content, especially on YouTube. I know it’s no easy task to come up with creative content week after week and editing, all while promoting your work, engaging with your followers, and trying to make new friends, too. So this is my long-winded way of saying that I really want to dive into the BookTube world! I’ve failed (twice) so far at starting my own channel. Over the past two years I’ve filmed some videos but never uploaded them. They were seriously so cringe. But now I think I’m ready and feel more confident about it. I just need to refresh my editing skills and work on not saying “umm” 5,000 times! LOL.


THREE: Read Big Books

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I have a few hefty sized fantasy novels on my shelf that I want to read this year, and I’m going to make it a goal to get to them! I consider anything over 500 pages a “big” book.


FOUR: Read More Adult Books

I still love YA with my whole heart, but I want to make it a priority to read more adult titles, specifically in the thriller and contemporary romance genres, and own-voices books. I obviously still love fantasy but I noticed that thrillers and romances help get me out of reading slumps so I am all for that! I think it’s important to acknowledge that our reading preferences and tastes can change over time, and that’s totally okay!


FIVE: Read More Backlist Titles

I know I briefly mentioned this above, but I want to read more books on my TBR, and they all happen to be backlist titles. I’ll still review them, too, because I am hoping to buddy read them and generate discussions. It’s another reason why Melanie and I created the Dragons and Tea Book Club. We wanted to bring attention to backlist titles, but more importantly, titles from own-voices and/or marginalized authors. (More on that next.)


SIX: Host a Book Club & Readathons

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January 1, 2019 kicked off our very first book club buddy read: The Wicker King by K. Ancrum! I am so excited to go on this book club journey with Melanie, and we hope you’ll be able to join us, too. My goal this year is to continue hosting the Dragons and Tea Book Club while helping to boost own-voices authors. (Psst! Our book club is a featured book club on Goodreads!)

Also I want to continue co-hosting two readathons we did last year: FridayFrightAThon and TistheSeasonAThon. I’m not sure of the exact dates yet, and there may be some changes after hearing your feedback, but I’ll definitely post announcements about it here.

On a similar note, I also want to participate in other readathons hosted by my lovely friends and fellow bloggers/booktubers!


SEVEN: Continue Bookstagram

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In my heart I’ll always prioritize Bookstagram first. I love sharing photos and book recommendations there. It is also where I’ve met some of my dearest friends. So my activity on Bookstagram will not change. It is my favorite platform.


EIGHT: Continue Reviewing on My Blog and Goodreads

Even if I start a BookTube channel, I still plan to share my reviews here and on Goodreads! I’m sure it will take me eons to even have a following on BookTube (and let’s face it, not very many people will probably care about my opinion hahaha) so I’m going to still stick to blogging!


That’s it for my 2019 goals so far! I’m sure things will change as the year goes on, but I am excited to see what will unfold for me. You may have noticed I haven’t mentioned a Goodreads Reading Challenge goal yet… and that’s because I haven’t decided what goal I want to set yet. It’ll probably be 75? But we’ll see!

I’m also really excited to continue building friendships with all of you, and I am so thankful for what this community has given me!

xx,

Amy

Dragons and Tea Book Club: February Book Announcement!

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Hi, friends! Melanie and I want to thank each and every one of you who joined our book club ever since we announced it in December. I’m amazed at all the discussions we generated on Goodreads and that we were so lucky to have K. Ancrum answer our questions! The Wicker King was such a unique, tragic, and beautiful book that will stick with me forever.

I know you’re all probably curious about our next buddy read book. So without further ado…


Our February book will be:

A GIRL LIKE HER by Talia Hibbert:

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The Dates & Breakdown:

February 4th — Ch. 1-7 (p. 1-68)

February 5th — Ch. 8-15 (p. 69-134)

February 6th — Ch. 16-22 (p. 135-201)

February 7th — Ch. 23-28 (p. 202-256)

February 8th — Ch. 29-end (p. 527-end)

Why we chose this book:

February is Black History Month and we thought it’d be the perfect way to boost this ownvoices, diverse contemporary romance (and Valentine’s Day is just around the corner)! Even if contemporary isn’t your jam, we hope you’ll give this a chance as we’ve heard nothing but amazing things about it. (Also the ebook is only $2.99 on Amazon US!)


Don’t forget to join our Goodreads Group!

And we will also follow discussions/your reading journey on Twitter and Instagram using the (hashtag) #DragonsAndTeaBookClub!


See you then! ❤

🐉☕ Melanie: Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads
🐉☕ Amy: Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads

My 2018 Reading Year in Review

Hi, all! I thought it would be fun to share with you all the books I read in 2018. In total I read 110 books (not sure why it says 109, but that’s ok!). I read so many great books, and also some not so great ones. But I’m so happy I got to share my reading journey with you and I hope to continue to do it again this year!

All data and images are courtesy of Goodreads. If we aren’t friends yet I’d be honored if you added me! ❤


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I feel so privileged that a large portion of these books were ARCs, and that I got to buddy read a lot of them with some of my dearest friends. Thank you to everyone who has been a part of my bookish life over the past year. I love you all!

xx,

Amy

December 2018 Wrap Up

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Hello, friends! I know it’s already the first week of the new year but I still wanted to quickly mention these books I finished in December 2018!

In December I co-hosted TistheSeasonAThon and I completed all the challenges by finishing three books. They are included in my wrap up below. I had such a wonderful time interacting with everyone who participated. Seriously, seeing your daily vlogs, photo challenges, and twitter sprints made my heart so full! And thank you to everyone who tuned in to our live show on Heather’s (Bookables) YouTube channel! It was my first live show so I was a tad awkward, but I hope you’ll give it a watch if you have time! 🙂 I can’t wait to host this readathon again in 2019.

I also, sadly, DNF a book which was an anticipated release for me. I’m not happy with that decision, and I may revisit it again in the near future when I’m in a better head space for that genre. I feel like this is a “me” problem. I was getting burnt out toward the end of the year and just was not in a YA fantasy mood anymore, so I fell into slump-territory. Don’t you just hate that!?

Okay, enough of my rambling! I know I said I was going to make this quick but apparently I lied. LOL.


My December 2018 Wrap Up:

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One Day in December by Josie Silver | ★★★★

Snow in Love by Kasie West, Aimee Friedman, Melissa de la Cruz, Nic Stone | ★★★

City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments, #6) by Cassandra Clare | ★★★★

The Girl King by Mimi Yu | DNF @ Chapter 9/page 120

Mammoth by Jill Baguchinsky | ★★★★

Winter in Paradise (Paradise, #1) by Elin Hilderbrand | ★★★

Kingdom of Ash (Throne of Glass, #7) by Sarah J. Maas | ★★★

 

The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson | ★★★

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi | ★★★★

The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker | ★★★★★

Aquicorn Cove by Katie O’Neill | ★★★★★

The Mortal Instruments: The Graphic Novel, Vol. 1 by Cassandra Clare & Cassandra Jean | ★★★★

The Infernal Devices: Clockwork Angel Manga | ★★★★


That’s it! I’m not sure how much reading I’ll accomplish in January since I’ll be out of town a lot. However, if you’re on instagram and you want to follow me around at Disney World, I’ll be posting instastories as I go! You can find me @acourtofcrownsandquills.

xx,

Amy

My Top 5 Backlist Books Read in 2018

Hello, friends! Since I decided to only share my top ten favorite books that were published in 2018, I also wanted to share my favorite books that weren’t published in 2018. I chose five that I loved so much, and I highly recommend!


5. Scythe by Neal Shusterman (2016)

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This is the type of morbid dystopian (er, utopian?) that I’ve always wanted. I was immediately captivated by this complex/controversial system.


4. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor (2017)

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I wish I read this book the year it came out. The world, characters, magic system, the writing. OH THE WRITING. Such a beautiful masterpiece!


3. Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson (2009)

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This was the first Brandon Sanderson book I’ve ever read and I’m so glad I chose this one. I am in awe of how complex this world was and how I was able to find so much humor in it, too!


2. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid (2017)

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If I were to put this in my top 2018 list, this would be number two. This book hit me so hard and I cannot ever stop gushing about it.


1. The Wicked King by Holly Black (2019)

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Okay, I’m cheating. This is NOT a backlist title. It’s due to release on January 8, 2019. However, I HAD to include it because this book ties with The Cruel Prince for the number one spot. No book has quite devastated me like this one did.


I only kept it at five because it just felt right. 🙂 Out of all the books I read in 2018, I really wanted to give these books a boost because they really are so fantastic and mean so much to me!

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I hope you’re all having a happy new year so far! ❤

xx,

Amy