Best Books I Read In: December (And You Should Too!)

Ah, yes, your favorite feature on YABooksGirl is back! Here are my favorite reads of December–and if you haven’t read them yet, I highly Recommend you do!

This is so hard because I read a lot of good stuff in December! I totally made up for a slow November and read a collection of 2015 debuts, 2016 ARCS, and some books pubbed before this year that I’d meaning to get to for awhile. Without further ado….!

sherlock fangirling

an ember in the ashes cover.

You must remember my Friday Reads post (it had Chewie!) back at the end of November that I was reading this. I didn’t finish it until right around finals in December because I had so many term papers to write. I reallyreally enjoyed this. I was sucked in pretty much right from the beginning and really loved both Laia and Elias’ character arcs. I also shipped them so hard, but loved how the romance did not take over the plot. This is a great fantasy with an ancient Roman feel to the world. So many fantasies advertise brutal worlds, but I actually believed this one.

Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

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twenty boy summer cover.

I CRIED. I sobbed big fat ugly tears reading this book in one night. It was not pleasant on my emotions. I’d heard about this book years ago when it came out, but I wasn’t fond of the blurb. I am here to tell you now this is not a book where a girl kisses twenty boys in one summer. That pitch is so deceiving because it is not what happens AT ALL. This book is such a beautiful exploration of grief and friendship and brings California to life through the eyes of a dead boy and the girl mourning him. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

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carry on cover.

Hello, happiness. This book is not Harry Potter fanfiction, but you can see what inspired it, including every Chosen One story ever. Fantastic characters, great voice, and spot on satire made this a favorite!

Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

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And now for three books that you have to put on your radar that are coming out in 2016:

sue excitement

the girl who fell.

I won’t say much about this because I’ll be posting a full review as part of The Girl Who Fell blog tour in January, but prepare yourselves for a story about an abusive relationship and a girl who has to find a way to fight back and reclaim her life and herself. Coming March 2016.

Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

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the crown's game cover.

If you loved The Night Circus, this book is for you. And if you haven’t read The Night Circus, what the hell are you waiting for (it came out in 2011!!)? A beautiful, richly drawn fantasy set in Imperial Russia, a bromance to end all bromances, and MAGIC! May 2016.

Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

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blackhearts.

I won’t say anything at all because my review (and a crack!playlist) will be going up on Monday but ohmygodiamdead. This book was perfect. Perfect. February 2016!

Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are the best books YOU read in December? Have you read any of these?

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Waiting on Wednesday: MY LADY JANE by Jodi Meadows, Cynthia Hand, and Brodi Ashton

Welcome to the last Waiting on Wednesday of 2015!

Waiting on Wednesday Theme: YA Historical

never-gonna-be-president-now
 I need more ‘historical’ gifs

my lady jane coverTitle: My Lady Jane
Authors: Jodi Meadows, Cynthia Hand, and Brodi Ashton
Pub Date: June 7, 2016 from HarperTeen
Amazon: Pre-order!
B&N: Pre-order!
Goodreads: Add it to your shelves!

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The comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey. In My Lady Jane, coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created a one-of-a-kind fantasy in the tradition of The Princess Bride, featuring a reluctant king, an even more reluctant queen, a noble steed, and only a passing resemblance to actual history—because sometimes history needs a little help.

At sixteen, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger and caught up in a conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But those trifling problems aren’t for Jane to worry about. Jane gets to be Queen of England.

Like that could go wrong.

I love history! I’m a total history nerd, which is why I’m currently studying it in college and love me a good YA historical. I just read Blackhearts (swoony review to come soon!) and it reminded me of my love for a good historical. I read two this year–Under and Painted Sky and This Monstrous Thing–and I’m always eager for another good one. (How many times can I use good in one paragraph?)

Which is why I’m so excited about My Lady Jane. I took a class called The World of Queen Elizabeth three semesters ago. It was fascinating. I’m excited to return to the Tudor era and explore the story of Jane Grey, who I assume most people don’t know about. Plus, pitch anything with The Princess Bride in it and I will perk up. That book and movie are sacred to me.

hahahaha falls down dead princess bride

And, I mean, that cover! There’s so much sass and voice in it, which I didn’t know was possible. if the book is anything like that cover suggests, I’m so ready.

The pitch makes it clear this is totally a re-imagining, which I appreciate. I’m so excited to read whatever ride these three amazing authors have come up with for us. History is so amazing because it’s kind of like a fantasy, transporting us to a world that feels totally foreign, but is actually our own!

Are you excited for MY LADY JANE? Do you enjoy historicals? What’s your favorite?

Series Review: THE FIREBIRD SERIES by Claudia Gray

Check out what I thought abouT A Thousand Pieces of You and Ten Thousand Skies Above You by Claudia Gray!

a thousand pieces of you cover ten thousand skies above you cover

Every Day meets Cloud Atlas in this heart-racing, space- and time-bending, epic new trilogy from New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray.

Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their radical scientific achievements. Their most astonishing invention: the Firebird, which allows users to jump into parallel universes, some vastly altered from our own. But when Marguerite’s father is murdered, the killer—her parent’s handsome and enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite can’t let the man who destroyed her family go free, and she races after Paul through different universes, where their lives entangle in increasingly familiar ways. With each encounter she begins to question Paul’s guilt—and her own heart. Soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is more sinister than she ever could have imagined.

A Thousand Pieces of You explores a reality where we witness the countless other lives we might lead in an amazingly intricate multiverse, and ask whether, amid infinite possibilities, one love can endure.

A Thousand Pieces of You
Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

Last Christmas, one book on my wishlist was the beautiful and highly anticipated A Thousand Pieces of You. I’d read Claudia’s Evernight series and her standalone novel Fateful and was really looking forward to this book. The premise blew me away and OH MAN, that cover should have been illegal. Also, I was totally hooked on Orphan Black, so I was excited to see a lot of nature vs nurture at play in all the alternate dimensions and alternate Marguerites.

I was convinced this book could not fail.

And then it did.

I can’t even explain to you how sad I was. The pacing totally died for me once Marguerite ended up stuck in Russia as a princess with no explanation of how that happened. But even before the book fell apart there, I was letdown with all the alternate worlds. Marguerite was basically the same person in all of them. Nothing really felt alternate. But then we got to Russia and the plot diverged into a sappy love story, which I was not expecting at all. This super cheesy ‘Every me loves every version of you’ developed and overtook the entire story.

I know I’m in the minority based on the glowing Goodreads reviews (and even my Reading Twin liked it more than me). Basically, on every level, book one did not work for me. But I was curious about book two and with a pretty cover like that, I couldn’t resist. And I’m so glad I did!

Ten Thousand Skies Above You
Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

This book was a massive improvement on book one. Like, it undid all of the cheesiness of book one and subverted a lot of tropes and also dug deeper into why the alternate versions of the characters stayed pretty similar to the main character versions. There were even consequences of decisions made in the long slog through Russia of book one–which is amazing because I didn’t expect to ever see that world again. But there are consequences! I really love when books actually address consequences or the fallout of breaking world building rules, and it’s sadly rare in books (or at least in books I’ve read).

I also felt like the alternate worlds were better drawn this time. They came alive in a way they didn’t in book one, for me. I’m still massively annoyed at the heteronormativity of this series, and hopefully that will change in book three, but as far as world building goes, this book was an improvement.

I pretty much tore through this book. The voice exploded from the pages. Maybe I just don’t remember one well enough cause I was so disappointed by it, but I felt like I really got Marguerite in this one. Pacing never really died for me like it did before and I read this in like a day or two compared to the week it took to read book one. I didn’t have that same feeling of dread of having to push myself through a book. I was totally on board and so hooked by this book.

There were a few scenes I thought could have been cut or shortened, but on the whole, I really enjoyed this book. I was a little dismayed with the ending though. There’s no real payoff for the stakes in this book and I needed a little more to be satisfied as a reader. The overarching plot also got a little unwieldy, but I’m still hanging on!

I’ll definitely be reading book three. I’m so happy book two was a much better reading experience: deeper world building, actual consequences from book one reverberated throughout, and the cheesiness of book one was deconstructed here. 

Cover Thoughts
heart eyes motherfucker

Favorite Quotes
“I would love you in any shape, in any world, with any past.” <– I know I said it was cheesy, but I like the sentiment! 🙂
misses straw parks

Favorite Character
Marguerite of book two was so amazing, but I also love Theo! Real Theo, not *spoiler spoiler*parks and rec ann and leslie silly compliments

The Christmas Song Book Tag–Week of Book Tags #5

MERRY CHRISTMAS, BOOKWORMS! We made it!! Today we celebrate with the Christmas Song Book Tag.

This tag was seen on Fandoms On The Run and features, hopefully, some of your favorite Christmas songs!

The Christmas Song Book Tag

everybody sing galavant

You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch: Name a villainous character you couldn’t help but love.
Oliver from This Monstrous Thing. Look at him on that cover all dark and suave. IT’S NOT HIS FAULT, OKAY!
this monstrous thing cover

All I Want for Christmas is You: Which book to you most hope to see under your Christmas tree?
The Star-Touched Queen,  Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here, The Raven King, The Winner’s Kiss, Kill the Boyband, A Torch Against The Night, Rose & Dagger… oh, you mean those are 2016 books and we don’t have a time machine?
i'm fine friends

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer: Name a character that overcomes major obstacles and learns to believe in themselves.
*Gets blow horn out* LAIA. PRECIOUS, PRECIOUS LAIA.
an ember in the ashes cover

Santa Claus is Coming to Town:
a) Which character do you think would be on the top of the naughty list?
b) Which character do you think would be at the top of the nice list?
Soooo…. on the naughty list: perhaps Kaz ‘Dirtyhands’ Brekker who did a lot of threatening and heisty things in Six of Crows…
And on the nice list: Precious Cress and Winter from The Lunar Chronicles! These cinnamon roles are too pure. ❤
six of crowswinter cover

Frosty the Snowman: Which book just melts your heart?
Sophie Kinsella writes the best humor and her foray into YA was a smashing success. This book was hilarious and feelsey and so adorable.
Finding Audrey Cover Jpeg

Feliz Navidad: Choose a book that takes place in a country other than your own.
Besides all the fantasy I read this year, a bulk of Conspiracy takes place in France and Turkey!
conspiracyofus

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year: Which holiday themed book do you use to spread the Christmas joy?
Hmmm… this is tough. Anna and the French Kiss always gives me warm fuzzies and there’s a Christmas moment. I don’t know. It’s not festive themed, but it is a book that makes me happy and Christmas makes me happy, so…
anna and the french kiss cover

Sleigh Ride: Which fictional character would you choose to spend the holidays with (doesn’t have to be a love interest!)
You said it doesn’t have to be, but I’m going with Levi anyway because he is precious and would have warm drinks and let me read to him all day. So, yes, Levi! And he’s a total fanboy so I think he’d be down with going to see Star Wars with me.
fangirl cover

Baby it’s Cold Outside: Which book that you didn’t like would you sacrifice to a fire to warm yourself up in the cold? This is a little mean so I’m altering it to: What book would you like to cuddle up in front of the fireplace and binge?
I bought this book in September and still haven’t read it yet! AH, I WANT TO SO BAD. 
these broken stars cover

Do You Hear What I Hear: Which book do you think everyone should read?
princessbride kissing book

THE PRINCESS BRIDE IS THE BEST BOOK EVER. *mic drop*
the princess bride

Tagging, once again, everyone that wants to do this!!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, guys! Thanks so much for reading and liking and commenting and retweeting! All your support and enthusiasm has meant so much! I hope you get all the books you want for Christmas (and all the reading time you desire!).

attack hug cats

‘Tis the Season Book Tag–Week of Book Tags #4

IT IS CHRISTMAS EVE!!! Aptly, today is the ‘Tis the Season Book Tag created by BookTuber Richard Denney. Let day 4 commence!

ONE. DAY. UNTIL. CHRISTMAS. Tis the season, indeed!

‘Tis the Season Book Tag

parks and rec happy

Do you have a favorite winter read?
Not particularly… I don’t reread books often and if I do, it’s usually specific scenes. But I’ve reread Harry Potter and those have some pretty important Christmas scenes!
harry potter covers

Find a book with blue on the cover.
Ask and ye shall receive! (Christmas in the desert, anyone?)
rebel of the sands cover

Find a book you’d use as the star on a Christmas Tree!
Precious, precious book about stars! *cradles it close to me*
“A philosopher once asked, ‘Are we human because we gaze at the stars, or do we gaze at them because we are human?’ Pointless, really…’Do the stars gaze back?’ Now, that’s a question.”

stardust cover

Pick one fictional place that would be perfect for a winter vacation.
Hmm… this really depends if you wanna go somewhere warm to escape the cold or someplace snowy for skiing or something. Or if you want to go a magical circus!
the night circus cover

Pick one fictional character you’d take with you on your winter vacation.
I’m taking Inej and Nina with me for a magical vacation. We shall have a wonderful time, eat cake, become best friends and my life will be complete.
six of crows

Name one book on your wishlist this year.
I asked for Red Queen, The Anatomy of Curiosity, The Wrath and the Dawn, and An Ember in the Ashes and then ordered them for myself 😉
christmas books ember red queen wrath anatomy

Favorite holiday drink, treat & movie?
1. Hot chocolate!
2. Anything with cinnamon
3. Love Actually, Elf, the animated Grinch, Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas, and The Sound of Music (which is for some reason always on TV this time of year)
love actually dancing

Tagging all you pretty people!

The Book-ademy Awards Book Tag–Week of Book Tags #3

I was tagged by the creator of this tag, Don’t Shush Me, so let’s continue Book TAg Week right now!

academy-award

We’re giving out awards today! Without further ado…

The Book-ademy Awards Book Tag

doctor who air guitar

Most Kick Butt Heroine
Make way for LILA BARD! My pirate queen adventurer warrior with a glass eye.
A Darker Shade final for Irene

Most Swoon-Worthy Male Character
*dreamy sigh* Ezra and his hearts and flowers and talk of bonding, which may or may not be of the chemical variety.
illuminae cover

Most Swoon-Worthy Female Character (I’m adding this to avoid heteronormativity!)
My girl crush is definitely on Inej and Nina from Six of Crows.
six of crows

Best Star-Crossed Lovers
*weeps*
wrath and dawn cover

Best Surprise
Hmmm… the twisty-est book this year was….
illuminae cover

Best Fairy Tale Retelling
The myth of Persephone is reimagined here, with tropes from all fairy tales weaved into the narrative. I love this book so much!
bone gap

Best “Didn’t Expect to Like It, But Loved It” Book
I know–what is wrong with me?? I was skeptic when this book was announced, partly cause Cath’s fanfic was the least important part of Fangirl to me, and also cause I didn’t want another Fifty Shades mess where this book felt like published fanfic. BUT I AM HAPPY TO SAY I WAS WRONG. This book was everything. 
carry on cover

Best Sidekick or Bestie
Sebastian, Christian’s little brother! He was so precious and perfect!
the-summer-of-chasing-mermaids-9781481401272_hr

Best Debut Author Book
So hard!! So many debuts were ah-mazing. I’m so excited to have so many new faces in the YA community.
under a painted sky

Best Seasoned Author Book (adding this!)
Courtney Summers does it again! She gets darker, grittier, and more painful with each book. This book should be mandatory reading for the whole world.
all the rage cover

Best “little known” Book
Maybe I’m totally wrong here, but I don’t see enough gushing for The Conspiracy of Us!! This book is so awesome! A love triangle that totally works, awesome world building, and fast pacing.  I can’t wait for book 2, Map of Fates!
conspiracyofus

Best Cover (adding this!)
There were a lot of great covers this year (Red Queen, Made You Up, Ten Thousand Skies Above You, etc), but there’s one for a book I was waiting on since the moment it sold, one that when I saw it filled me with joy, and was totally perfect.
first and then cover

Best Series
Hmm… best series that ended, best new series… WHO CAN DECIDE? So I’m gonna split this category 🙂
Best Series That Ended This Year
Everything is Lunar Chronicles and everything hurts.
the lunar chronicles covers1
Except does it count with Stars Above coming out in February? …
Best Series That Started This Year
I need more!!! 
an ember in the ashes cover

Best Book
This was my favorite book of the year, no competition. 
six of crows

I am tagging my friend Erin and anyone who wants to do this!

2 days till Christmas!

Halsey Book Tag: Week of Book Tags #2

Welcome to day 2 of The Week of Book Tags! We’re another day closer to Christmas, so get festive with Halsey. Or… just have feels.

Today’s tag was created by Lady Knight Reads and I’m so happy it exists because I love me some Halsey.

The Halsey Book Tag

teen wolf stiles derek

Castle: your favorite queen
How dare you make me choose between my queens!!! This is SO HARD and CRUEL.
But… Inej. Just… everything is Inej. Inej is life.
six of crows

Hold Me Down: a series you just can’t seem to quit no matter how hard you try
I DIDN’T ASK FOR THIS. I DON’T WANT IT. IT WON’T LEAVE ME ALONE. I NEED TO SEE HOW IT ENDS.
red queen cover

New Americana: the fictional friend group you’d want to be your fight the apocalypse squad
This speaks for it self. Caw, caw motherf*cker.
six of crows

Drive: a couple that needs to communicate (better)
Simon/Blue. I mean, the whole book is based on the fact that neither of them know who the other is 😉
simon vs the homo sapiens agenda cover

Hurricane: favorite standalone
Beautiful precious book *pets* It is everything to me.
fangirl cover

Roman Holiday: cutest contemporary couple
ELYSE AND CHRISTAIN AHHHH! I. Ship. It.
the-summer-of-chasing-mermaids-9781481401272_hr

Ghost: most tragic break-up
You know… what usually happens when your slave bf starts a rebellion aimed at your people. And then when your gf doesn’t tell you she’s a spy for your side and breaks your heart to save your life, but also poisoned the water supply.
winner's trilogy

Colors: one of your favs who hurts you a lot because they make TERRIBLE decisions
I tried really hard to avoid using the same books multiple times, but there’s no one quite like Kaz ‘Dirtyhands’ Brekker.
six of crows

Strange Love: chatacter a lot of people don’t get but you absolutely love
I didn’t realize people didn’t like Jude until recently. JUDE IS FLAWED AND WONDERFUL AND NEVER SAY BAD THINGS ABOUT HER TO ME.
i'll give you the sun cover

Coming Down: best sexytimes scene
Gahhh, I hate reusing books but:
the-summer-of-chasing-mermaids-9781481401272_hr

Haunting: a book or character you’re still thinking about
Nimona!! I love this book and these characters and that end was so wonderfully bittersweet, but I want more. Especially because *spoilerspoiler*
nimona cover

Gasoline: favorite (self-)  destructive character
This is a Ronan Lynch song forever and always. *cries*
The Raven Cycle covers

Control: best villain
Courtney Summers beautifully and painfully explored rape culture in her latest novel. I didn’t want to go with a traditional villain for this one since I don’t really get excited about characters like that. Rape culture, though, is this horrifying force that affects everyone and hasn’t been defeated yet.
all the rage cover

Young God: characters that secretly worship each other
You know… when you love someone so much you try to kill them repeatedly cause they’re just too perfect… that would be Vika and Nikolai…
the crown's game cover

Walk The Line: best retelling/reworking
I’m so sad this series is over!! 😦
the lunar chronicles covers1

Is There Somewhere: OTP with obstacles
*giggle snort* Understatement of the YEAR.
wrath and dawn cover

Empty Gold: an otp that became a notp
I shipped Katniss/Gale while I read the books, but after that end in Mockingjay I was like “nope.” Thankfully, the movies did Katniss/Peeta amazingly.
mockingjay cover

Trouble: toxic relationship you ship even though you know better
*DRAMONIE FLAG FLIES* Look, it could have worked, okay. It’s perfect in fanfiction. *cuddles fic close to me*
harry potter covers

 

I’m tagging everyone that loves HALSEY and books! 🙂