2017 End-Of-Year Book Survey

Way back in 2015, I did Perpetual Page Turner’s end-of-year book survey.  I could have sworn I also did it last year, but I guess I didn’t!  Here are this year’s answers.  I’d love to know your thoughts as well.  Feel free to shoot me a message!

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Number of books you read: 140!
Number of re-reads: 1
Genre you read the most from: romance

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1. Best book you read in 2017?  Hands down, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.
2. Book you were excited about and thought you were going to love more but didn’t? The Fortunate Ones by R.S. Grey.
3. Most surprising (in a good or bad way) book you read? Maybe Kissing Max Holden by Katy Upperman?  I thought it was going to be a cutesy book about a romance between neighbors but it really just ends up being about a guy cheating on his girlfriend.
4. Book you pushed the most people to read? I don’t think I’ve really pushed a lot of books this year, but I do incessantly recommend anything by Krista & Becca Ritchie.
5. Best series you started in 2017? I mostly read standalones this year, but I could definitely go with Krista & Becca Ritchie’s new Like Us series.
6. Best sequel of 2017? Again with the Ritchies… Infini for sure.
7. Best series ender of 2017? Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab.
8. Favorite new author you discovered in 2017? R.S. Grey.
9. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read? Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur.
10. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year? I don’t read a lot of books that fit that description, but I did have a hard time putting S.D. Grimm’s Summoner down, so we’ll go with that.
11. Book you read in 2017 that you’re most likely to re-read next year? I don’t do re-reads unless required.
12. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2017? A Million Junes by Emily Henry.
13. Most memorable character of 2017? Farrow Keene from the Like Us series.
14. Most beautifully written book read in 2017? I know it’s a really polarizing book, but I loved E. Lockhart’s writing in We Were Liars.
15. Most thought-provoking or life-changing book of 2017? Hmm, what a question. Maybe We Should All Be Feminists?
16. Book you can’t believe you waited until 2017 to finally read? I read a lot of 2017 and 2018 releases and not a lot of older books, but I could probably go with either Brown Girl Dreaming or Everything, Everything.
17. Favorite passage or quote from a book you read in 2017? This is not a deep or thought-provoking passage, but I loved this line in My Lady Jane since it was such a funny Monty Python reference:
“Who are you calling beef-witted?” she laughed at him. “Your mother was a hamster, and your father stank of elderberries!”
18. Shortest and longest books of 2017? According to Goodreads, my shorted was To Cast a Cliche by Aubrey Wynne (15 pages) and my longest was Second Chance Seal by BB Hamel (712 pages).  There’s no way that book was 712 pages, though, so I’m going with A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab (624 pages).
19. Book that shocked you the most (plot twist, character death, etc)? All the Bright Places.  See below.
20. OTP OF THE YEAR – I will go down with this ship: Luka Kotova and Baylee Wright in Infini. Give me all of the pining from afar.
21. Favorite non-romantic relationship of the year? The Hale/Meadows/Cobalt siblings in the Like Us series!
22. Favorite book you read in 2017 from an author you’ve read previously? I’m so sorry but I have to do Infini again.
23. Best book you read in 2017 that you chose solely based on a recommendation from someone else or peer pressure? The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice & Virtue by Mackenzi Lee.
24. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2017? Davis Price from Arm Candy or Julian Lefray from The Allure of Julian Lefray.
25. Best 2017 debut? The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. It’s the best book I’ve read in years.
26. Best worldbuilding or most vivid setting you read this year? Maybe 27 Hours by Tristina Wright?  I didn’t read a lot of books this year that really needed a lot of worldbuilding.
27. Book that put a smile on your face or was the most fun to read? My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows.
28. Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2017? So I actually very rarely cry while reading, but a ton of books just decimated my heart this year.  The Fortunate Ones by R.S. Grey, A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab, and All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven immediately come to mind.
29. Hidden gem of the year? I’ll call this hidden because I haven’t brought it up a lot – Operation Prom Date by Cindi Madsen.
30. Book that crushed your soul? Ugh, definitely A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab. I’m still not over Holland and it’s been months!
31. Most unique book you read in 2017? Probably The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry. It’s not often that you find a YA novel set in Inquisition-era France that focuses on a young woman who hears the voice of God.
32. Book that made you the most mad? All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven.  I think the author had good intentions, but the book was really irresponsible. I wrote a really detailed review if you’re interested.

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1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2017? I’ve been following the same handful of book blogs for years, but I did recently start following girlxoxo, which has been a lot of fun.
2. Favorite review you wrote in 2017? I’ve written 140 book reviews this year (possibly more, because I was a little delayed at reviewing book from the end of 2016) so this is a really hard question! I think my spoiler-filled, semi-ranty, essay-length review of A Conjuring of Light is probably my favorite. I got so emotional about that book. The thought of Holland still breaks my heart.  Here we go again…
3. Best discussion or non-review post that you had on your blog? According to my blog stats, it’s my top ten anticipated releases for the second half of 2017.
4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes)? I don’t do a lot of events because of social anxiety, but I’m trying! I joined Krista & Becca Ritchie’s Fizzle Force and try to participate in the events there.  I would love to go to a signing but I feel like I’d probably just clam up and forget how to speak.
5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2017? Alright, there are two. First was getting an ARC of Renegades by Marissa Meyer, which was totally unexpected and totally awesome. Second was that publishes and authors started reaching out and offering me ARCs this year, which was also totally unexpected and totally awesome.
6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year? Definitely moving! It took up so much time and so much effort! I don’t think I read anything for at least a month.
7. Most popular post this year on your blog? My review of Renegades by Marissa Meyer!
8. Post you wish got a little more love? Probably Top Ten Tuesdays in general. I love doing these lists and I usually end up putting a lot of time and effort into them.  Sometimes they’re hits and sometimes they get literally zero attention.
9. Best bookish discovery (sites, stores, etc)? Probably booko, which compares prices between major retailers, and bookoutlet, which has huge discounts on popular titles.
10. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year? Yes! I completed my goal of reading 125 books, the 2017 Debut Author Challenge, and both Modern Mrs. Darcy reading challenges. I keep track of my challenges here if you’re interested.

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1. One book you didn’t get to in 2017 that will be your #1 priority in 2018? Probably Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen, which I got in 2016 and planned to read in 2017. Hopefully, 2018 will be its year.
2. Book you’re most anticipating for 2018 (non-debut)? That’s a really hard question because I’m anticipating so many books, but probably My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows.
3. 2018 debut you’re most anticipating? So far, You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon.
4. Series ending/sequel you’re most anticipating in 2018? The Lady’s Guide to Piracy & Petticoats by Mackenzi Lee.
5. One thing you hope to accomplish or do in your reading/blogging life in 2018? There are a few things I can say here.  First, I obviously want to meet my reading goals and finish my reading challenges.  Second, I want to maintain relationships with the publishers and publicists who have been so great about providing me with ARCs!  (I’d also like to hopefully build relationships with more publishers.)  Finally, I hope to be a bit more active in the bookish world outside of my blog.  I’ve had this blog for almost five years now and I think it’s well beyond the time that I should be getting out there and spreading the word.
6. A 2018 release you’ve already read and recommend to everyone? Unfortunately, I haven’t loved any of the 2018 releases I’ve read so far.  At least not enough to recommend to everyone. But there are a ton of them I’m looking forward to!

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ARC review: Pretty Dead Girls by Monica Murphy

Goodreads ⭐ Amazon ⭐

A secret’s not a secret if you tell someone, and guess what? No one knows what I’m doing.

Nothing bad ever happens in the picturesque seaside town of Cape Bonita. That is, at least, until one pretty, popular girl after another is found dead. Murdered.  Penelope Malone is friends with all of the murdered girls and, therefore, a prime suspect.  But Penelope has her own theories.  Maybe it’s her friend who’s been outspoken about how much she hated those girls. Maybe it’s the quiet, brooding bad boy with the dark past.  Who can Penelope trust?

This book was so different than Saving It, the last Monica Murphy book that I read!  I have a complicated relationship with thrillers but I did enjoy this one. I don’t really want to get into the details of the plot because I’ll probably accidentally give something away.  I did figure out (more or less) who the killer was by the 50% mark, but I was still interested in reading to find out how it would fit into the story and how everything would be resolved.

I want to talk about the characters for a minute, though.  Penelope and her friends belong to an elite group called the Larks, made up of the five smartest, prettiest, wealthiest girls in the junior and senior classes.  The girls are mean.  Imagine Regina George crossed with A from Pretty Little Liars on their worst, moodiest, hangriest day.  That’s a starting point for how cruel these girls can be.  They know that they’re the best of the best, and if they don’t want to acknowledge anybody else’s presence, they just won’t.  If they don’t want to talk to somebody, they just keep walking. They judge everybody, within and outside their circle. Nobody is safe from their comments or their wrath and they think nothing of it.

All of that begins to change with Penelope when her friends start dying off.  Penelope realizes that she doesn’t really want to act that way, although she still pulls her snooty card on more than one occasion.  She’s not a particularly likable heroine, which is definitely something that I had to adjust to, but I appreciated that she seemed to be trying.

Penelope’s love interest is also one of her prime suspects, the elusive Cass Vincenti.  Nobody knows much of anything about Cass, aside from his juicy backstory, but once her friends start dying, he’s eager to talk to Penelope.  She finds herself inexplicably attracted to him while also constantly telling herself that she shouldn’t be. I feel a bit creepy for thinking that I’d probably also fall for Cass, given that I’m probably at least ten years older than him.  What can I say? I have a thing for misunderstood lone wolves.

Overall, I enjoyed the story but found a lot of Penelope’s actions to be more irritating than anything else.  I think that the killer is fairly obvious, but if you’re okay with just going along for the ride, it’s an entertaining story.

Final rating: 3.5, rounded up to ★★★★☆

I received a free advance copy of Pretty Dead Girls from the publisher (via Netgalley) in exchange for an honest review.

Book review: The Vegetarian by Han Kang

Goodreads ⭐ Amazon ⭐

If you’ve been keeping up with my blog, you might have noticed that I initially started reading Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood for “a book in translation,” one of my last reading challenge prompts for 2017.  I’m sure that the book is wonderful and I know that a lot of people have enjoyed it, but it wasn’t the right book for me at this current point in my life, so I set it aside and moved on to a different book in translation, Han Kang’s The Vegetarian.

The Vegetarian is one of those polarizing books.  It has an average of 3.58 stars on Goodreads, with almost as many 3-, 2-, and 1-star ratings as 4- and 5-star rating.  Read some reviews, and you’ll notice that almost everybody falls into one of three categories.  They either a) absolutely loved it and thought it was brilliant, b) absolutely hated it and thought it was repulsive, or c) had literally no idea what was going on and rated it somewhere in the middle.  To be honest, I fall into Category C.

In this book, Yeong-hye has always behaved just as society expects.  She’s a picture-perfect wife, keeping a perfect house, cooking classic Korean dishes, and even earning a little money of her own.  One night, Yeong-hye has a dream.  There’s so much death in the world, so much blood on her hands, that she can no longer bring herself to eat meat.  In some countries, this wouldn’t be a problem.  In South Korea, where Yeong-hye lives, her refusal to eat meat is seen as a problem to be solved at best and a mental disorder at worst.

The Vegetarian made me uncomfortable.  I mean, it’s supposed to.  It’s not some cheerful little book that you read to de-stress after a long day.  It’s filled with troubling imagery and scenes in which people show the worst parts of their personalities.  This is the 130th book I’ve read in 2017 and it’s the first to give me a legitimate nightmare.  I am, to be perfectly honest, very happy that the book is only 188 pages.  I just wanted it to be done.

I’ll come right out and say that I did not understand the deeper meaning of most of the book.  I know that it’s an allegory, but that did little to clear things up for me.  The ending?  Went right over my head.  This is a well-written book that, to me, seems more suited to discussion in a college literature class than to pleasure reading.  I’m not surprised that it’s been nominated for several awards or that it won the International Man Booker Prize.

I wish that I’d enjoyed this book more.

Final rating: ★★★☆☆

#mmdreading: a book in translation

Book review: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice & Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

Goodreads ⭐ Amazon ⭐

In 18th century England, Henry “Monty” Montague, his best friend Percy, and his sister Felicity embark on their Grand Tour of the Continent, hoping to hit such destinations as France and Spain before depositing Felicity at finishing school and Percy at law school.  While Monty assumes that his Tour will be filled with drinks, parties, and romantic escapades, his dreams are dashed when his strict father hires a man to watch over the trio and make sure no shenanigans are had.  Despite the preparations, everything that could possibly go wrong does, and the trio finds themselves faced with everything from highwaymen to sinking islands.  Meanwhile, Monty is dealing with his ever-present feelings for Percy and the knowledge that a public relationship with another boy would mean the end of his inheritance and everything he’s ever known.

I’ve been eagerly anticipating this book since the very first early reviews started rolling in, but the reviews since then have been pretty mixed.  I’m calling this my “book you don’t want to admit you’re dying to read” because of the overall silly tone of it and the mixed reviews.

To start off, I want to say that I understand the criticisms of this book.  Even as I was reading, I thought to myself, “I bet this is a section a lot of people took issue with.”  Monty is not perfect.  He’s privileged, he’s flippant, and he feeds into bisexual stereotypes.  He runs around at all hours of the day and night with boys and girls and, initially, it seems like he’s never really faced any consequences for his actions.

Certainly, sometimes he doesn’t.  Monty truly is privileged in many ways.  His family’s wealth and position mean that he can be as rude as he likes to the nobility with nothing more than a slap on the wrist.  He can be caught hooking up with a woman and not be punished.  He has never gone hungry, never been without a comfortable bed, never wanted for anything.  He has never considered the degree of his privilege.  I can absolutely see how Monty might be a frustrating character.  The thing is, it’s completely realistic.  Have you ever tried to tell someone like Monty that they’re privileged?  Yeah, good luck with that.

The thing that makes Monty a good character is that he learns from his mistakes and grows as a person.  At the beginning of the book, he can’t even comprehend other people’s struggles.  He’s never considered that his biracial best friend couldn’t get away with half of what Monty takes for granted.  He realizes that his sister, like many other females, might not be content to sit around waiting on her future husband.  He also realizes that he’s had it rather easy for much of his life and that things could most certainly be worse.

That said, I didn’t really expect this book to tackle quite so many issues!  The writing style is so lighthearted that sometimes I didn’t even notice that the author threw in a lesson until I took the time to think about it.  Through Monty’s eyes, we see racism, homophobia, ableism, anxiety, alcohol abuse, child abuse, and sexism.  When I first started this book, I wondered where Monty had found such liberal, accepting parents in the 1700s.  When we learn that Monty’s parents are actually anything but accepting and his father is actually an awful human being, I just wanted to adopt this fictional kid who lived 300 years ago.  Or at least just give him a hug.

Another big criticism of this book that I’ve seen, aside from the whole privilege piece, is Monty’s treatment of Percy.  I will agree that he does not behave in an ideal manner toward his friend.  However, I completely understand where he’s coming from.  He’s been released into the wild, so to speak, away from his abusive father and the confines of his home country.  Yes, he’s sassy and promiscuous and fancies himself an adult, but he’s just eighteen years old.  He’s the age of a high school senior and in love with his same-sex best friend.  He both desperately wants Percy to know on the off chance that something could happen, but he also absolutely doesn’t want him to know for fear of the repercussions.  How does he handle his feelings?  He jokes around.  He makes light of everything.  When asked if he likes Percy like that, he basically says, “Yes, no, maybe, I’m not sure what you want me to say.”  I get it.  I’m straight and living in the 21st century and this stuff is hard for me.  Imagine being bisexual in the 18th century!

So, all in all, the book isn’t without its faults, but it is a whole lot of fun.  It’s well-written with loveable characters and I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed it so much.  At the end of 2018, Mackenzi Lee is releasing The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy, and I cannot wait.

Final rating: ★★★★☆

#mmdreading: a book you don’t want to admit you’re dying to read

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten new releases I’m looking forward to in 2018

Happy Top Ten Tuesday! Today’s theme is top ten new releases I’m looking forward to in 2018, which I had a lot of fun coming up with.  I’ve noticed pink and teal seem to be the trend in these book covers, and I’m totally cool with that.

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Summer Skin 🔹 The Brightsiders 🔹 The Way You Make Me Feel

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My Plain Jane 🔹 Stay Sweet 🔹 You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone

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Royals 🔹 Starry Eyes 🔹 Emergency Contact

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On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

Which 2018 releases are you looking forward to?

Book tag: 12 Days of Xmas!

Merry Christmas to everyone who celebrates! I hope that you’re somewhere happy with people that you love. In honor of Christmas, I’m doing this 12 days of Christmas book tag that I found while stumbling around on the internet. I’m focusing primarily on books that I’ve read in 2017, but some other books are bound to sneak in. Feel free to participate and either tag me or shoot me a message with the link!

🌳 ON THE FIRST DAY OF CHRISTMAS, MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: A PARTRIDGE IN A PEAR TREE. The partridge stood alone in the pear tree. What is your favorite standalone?
I think I’d have to go with Anything You Can Do by R.S. Grey!

🕊️ ON THE SECOND DAY OF CHRISTMAS, MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: TWO TURTLE DOVES. Love is in the air! Who is your OTP?
OTP of the year is a hard question, but I think I’ve got to go with Maximoff Hale & Farrow Keene from the Like Us series.

🐔 ON THE THIRD DAY OF CHRISTMAS, MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: THREE FRENCH HENS. In the spirit of threes, what is the best trilogy you have read?
Have I read any trilogies this year? I don’t think so… oh wait, I did!  Jessica Lemmon’s Real Love trilogy is three loosely-connected love stories. Arm Candy was my favorite.

🐦 ON THE FOURTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS, MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: FOUR CALLING BIRDS. Since series usually consist of four or more books, what is your favorite series?
For a full-blown series, you can’t go wrong with Krista & Becca Ritchie’s extensive Addicted series, which branches off into the Calloway Sisters series and then continues on with their children in the Like Us series.

💍 ON THE FIFTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS, MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: FIVE GOLDEN RINGS. One ring to rule them all! Who is your favorite villain/antagonist?
Best villain of the year would have to be the monsters in Victoria Schwab’s Our Dark Duet.

🥚 ON THE SIXTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS, MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: SIX GEESE A LAYING. Creation is a beautiful thing. What is your favorite world/world-building?
Schwab wins again with her Shades of Magic series.  Though A Conjuring of Light was my least favorite of the series, you cannot beat the worldbuilding.

🌊 ON THE SEVENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS, MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: SEVEN SWANS A SWIMMING. Who needs seven swans when all it takes is one good animal sidekick? Who’s your favorite animal sidekick?
I don’t think I’ve really read about any animal sidekicks this year, but Pantalaimon from Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series immediately comes to mind!

🐮 ON THE EIGHTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS, MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: EIGHT MAIDS A MILKING. Milk is so 18th century. Which book or series takes beverages/food to a whole new level?
It’s got to be Harry Potter. I mean, it’s been, what, 20 years since the first book came out?  At least?  And I was just in the liquor store a few days ago and saw some kind of generic “butterscotch wizard’s brew” on the shelf. Yeah, knockoff butterbeer. This series is still influencing food and beverages!

💃 ON THE NINTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: NINE LADIES DANCING. Dancing is just one skill of a lady! Who is your favorite kickass female lead?
Favorite female of the year would have to be Jane Grey from My Lady Jane. She can read, she can rule, she can survive marrying a horse… what can’t she do.

🏃 ON THE TENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: TEN LORDS A LEAPING. How about your favorite leading lad?
He’s not perfect, but he broke my heart and is still in my head ten months later… Luka Kotova from Infini.

🎹 ON THE ELEVENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: ELEVEN PIPERS PIPING. What is your favorite book or bookish thing with musical influence?
Roomies by Christina Lauren features not only a talented subway musician but also a huge musical production like Hamilton. Right up my alley.

🥁 ON THE TWELFTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: 12 DRUMMERS DRUMMING. Drumroll please…what is your favorite read of this year?
Hands down, the best book I read this year was The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.

Book tag: Christmas songs

Celebrate the Christmas season with That Artsy Reader Girl and her bookish friends!

Celebrate #ChristmasWithJana: InstagramTwitter Event Schedule

This book tag looked like so much fun that I just had to participate.  I’m a little late (the original date for this post was supposed to be 12/3, but life got in the way) but better late than never!  My choices are all books that I’ve read this year, but if you decide to do the book tag, feel free to use any books you’d like.

1. “All I Want for Christmas Is You”: Favorite bookish couple.
Julian Lefray and Josephine Keller from The Allure of Julian Lefray by R.S. Grey

2. “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”: Name a book where a character is away from home (school, vacation, etc.).
27 Hours by Tristina Wright

3. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”: Name your favorite “little” book (children’s book, short story, novella, etc.).
Dirty Sweet by Roxie Noir (novella, definitely not for children)

4. “Santa Claus is Coming to Town“: What book(s) do you hope Santa brings you this year?
I actually just did a Top Ten Tuesday post about this, but the biggest one is probably The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

5. “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”: Which book turned your nose red (made you cry)?
A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab and The Fortunate Ones by R.S. Grey

6. “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”: Your favorite book/kind of book to read during the holidays.
I can’t really say that I read different kinds of books during the holidays. Usually, it’s my catch-up time for whatever reading challenge prompts I didn’t get to earlier in the year.

7. “We Three Kings”: Your favorite trilogy.
I haven’t read any trilogies this year, so I’ll go with my old standby: Krista & Becca Ritchie’s Addicted series

8. “Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow”: A character you would love to be snowed in with.
Davis Price from Arm Candy by Jessica Lemmon – I don’t even know what it is about him, but he’s like the ideal guy for any situation

9. “Last Christmas”: A book that seriously let you down.
Boarded by Love by Toni Aleo – I have no idea what happened when I read this one because literally everybody loved it, but I thought it was horrible

10. “White Christmas”: An upcoming release you’re dreaming about.
I have an upcoming Top Ten Tuesday post about this topic too, but I’d say my #1 is My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

Head over to That Artsy Reader Girl if you want to participate in this book tag!