Kate Reads 2017: Apr-June Favorites

So, I’ve always been a fairly fast reader. One of the most popular things teachers would say about me in school was that I needed to “slow down.” Part of this was because I needed to be the one to finish tests and worksheets first, but also because I could devour the written word like that dude who ate 72 at the Coney Island hot dog eating contest.

The count for the last three months: 113.
That’s 226 for the 2017 as a whole. And yes, you read that right.

Oh. I became a freelancing contributor for Book Riot! I love to talk about the books I read, but I’ve found that not many share my tastes in lit… And the BR community has welcomed my dark and twisty preferences. Thanks, Rioters. I have also fully embraced NetGalley and Edelweiss. I just approved for some YA sequels I’ve been highly anticipating.

Let’s be Litsy friends! I’m @katekrug.

Also, I discovered Etsy and now my room is so much prettier and…bookier?

These lovely quote prints are by Brittney @reverieandink.

Here are my favorite books I read the last three months! These are my 4-4.5 star reads and link to Goodreads. 🙂

april-june faves [in no particular order]

Shades of Magic series, V.E. Schwab
Kell is an Antari—a magician that allows him to travel between parallel universes. The Shades of Magic series takes place in three different Londons, known as Red London, White London, and Gray London. Obviously, there’s also a Big Bad to defeat, looming threat of a hostile takeover, and a kick-ass heroine.

First, the covers are GORGE. I stupidly invested in a paperback of the first book and then had to get international versions of the final two books so they would all be softcovers, and now they don’t match. 🙁 #firstworldprobs (I may have to invest in a hardcover set, too…) Second, if the first book doesn’t completely pull you in—KEEP READING. I enjoyed A Darker Shade of Magic, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue the series…I’m SO happy I pushed through. A Gathering of Shadows is so good and A Conjuring of Light actually got a rare 5-stars in my book.

READ. THESE. BOOKS.

It Happens All The TimeAmy Hatvany
Amber and Tyler have been best friends since childhood, although Tyler has always hoped their relationship would become something more. A night of partying and booze leads to Tyler making a grave choice that impacts their relationship forever. The book is told from different points view, chronicling their life before, during, and how they cope after the assault.

Consent is an issue that is so important to be knowledgeable about. And I think it’s even important to get inside the head of the attacker as well as the victim. The book opens with this quote: “Violators cannot live with the truth; survivors cannot live without out it,” by Chrystine Oksana. And it sums up the plot perfectly.

Up in the Treehouse, K.K. Allen
Chloe and twin brothers, Gavin and Devon, are neighbors. They have a mutual treehouse in which they spend most of their free time. As they grow older, the three friends begin to see each other in a different light…(you get where I’m going with this, right?). In a surprise move, Chloe begins seeing bad-boy Devon, over the boy-next-door (literally), Gavin–with whom she always had a stronger connection. Then, there’s a tragedy (of course), and it tears the friends apart. And then after college Chloe comes back to town.

I’m such a sucker for friends-to-lovers romances, especially childhood friendships, and this book had me sobbing into my stuffed animal at 3:00 a.m. I actually read Under the Bleachers before this, and wasn’t completely sold on K.K. Allen, but this was so good I can’t explain. Cheesy, but not too cheesy. Not horribly graphic (if you’re picking what I’m throwing down). And I guarantee you will cry. You’re welcome.

Things I Should Have Known, Claire LaZebnik
After seeing how lonely her sister is, Chloe makes it her mission to find the perfect guy for Ivy. Ivy also happens to be on the autism spectrum. And her choice turns out to be the brother of the school jerk and know-it-all.

I got an ARC of this and was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved it. There’s positive!neurodiversity representation, sexual identity exploration, and really likable and relatable characters. The story is so sweet and made me want to try to be a better sister.

Final Girls, Riley Sagar
Quincy, Lisa, and Sam are “Final Girls.” Meaning, they are the sole survivors of separate, horrific massacres. The story is generally told from Quincy’s perspective as she tries to move on from That Night. Circumstances bring Quincy and Sam into each other’s lives for the first time and twisty things ensue.

Stephen King rec’d this on Twitter and I was PUMPED when I got approved on NetGalley to read this. Final Girls has everything I want in a book: psychological thriller, unreliable narrator, dark and sinister subject, and a WTF-type ending. If you’re a Book of the Month subscriber—this is an excellent pick for July.

The Clay Girl, Heather Tucker
After the suicide of her father, Ari Appleton goes to live with her aunts, finally finding a refuge in her tumultuous life. The respite is short-lived, however, and she is sent back to live with her troubled mother and five sisters. For the next decade, Ari doesn’t catch a break—losing practically everyone she cares about, save for her partner in crime, an imaginary seahorse named Jasper. (I’m already crying again.)

As previously mentioned, my stuffed bear, Marshmallow, is my constant reading partner. She collects my tears, laughs, and the occasional, “what the fuck?”. For me, reading this was like watching an adult- and super-depressing version of Toy Story 3. No matter how old Ari got, it warmed my heart that Jasper never left her and she never stopped confiding in him.

The Upside of UnrequitedBecky Albertalli
Throughout her seventeen years on Earth, Molly has known nothing but unrequited love—always in the shadow of her twin sister, Cassie (even though they’re not even interested in the same gender). Then, Cassie gets her first official girlfriend, becoming a lovesick mess, and Molly fears she’s losing her best friend. Molly laments in her loneliness until she decides that she’s going to start putting herself out there—she’s going to get her first kiss and her first boyfriend.

When I opened my first ever OwlCrate and this was the book, I was very happy. The cast of characters is SO inclusive it’s nuts: POC (including multiracial characters), body diversity, and LGBT representation all over the spectrum. I very much enjoyed this book and the related goodies I also got in my box. I even shed a few tears…but that’s no surprise.

The Sisters Chase, Sarah Healy
When Hannah Chase and her much younger sister, Hannah aka “Bunny”, are left mother-less after a tragic car accident, they take to the road to find a better life. Hannah and Bunny embark on a road trip spanning years, always leaving once a place gets “too real.” Though it all, Hannah’s goal remains the same: to create a safe haven for Bunny.

This was one of my BOTM picks for June, and my favorite of the three. You’ll probably be able to guess (at least part) of the “twist” before it’s revealed, but it doesn’t take away from the reveal and what it means to Hannah, Bunny, and others.

A Court of Thorns and Roses series, Sarah J. Maas
When Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, little does she know it was actually a faerie in disguise. As punishment for her actions, High Lord of the fae Spring Court, Tamlin, comes to collect her as his prisoner. Think Beauty and the Beast. And that’s just book 1. Add in a love triangle, more faerie lore, brief emotional abuse, and some steamy scenes I thought were way too much for a “YA” book, and you’ve got the ACOTAR series.

Unlike most fans, I only had to wait a few days before the third installment came out—meaning I devoured this trilogy in a week. I often don’t like the “bad boy” in a love triangle, but Rhys def grows on you. If the next books aren’t about Cassian and Nesta…I don’t know, but I need to hear more of their story. I’m excited for more stories from this world, but I’m satisfied with the ending these main characters got.

Check these gems out too: Girls Made of Snow and Glass, Melissa Bashardoust, More Than Forever, Jay McLean; Roanoke Girls, Amy Engel; everything Renee Ahdieh has written; Eliza and her Monsters, Francesca Zappia; Bad Romance, Heather Demetrios; Paper Butterflies, Lisa Heathfield; and A Quiet Kind of Thunder, Sara Barnard.

What’s next on my list: I’m only a few chapters in on two ARCs, Warcross by Marie Lu and Wicked Like a Wildfire by Lana Popovic, and they’re both excellent so far. I also have started the new Dark Artifices series by Cassandra Clare and Sarah J. Maas’ other fantasy series. The second books in both of those series are en route from B&N.

Kate Reads 2017: Jan-Mar Favorites

You can believe me or not, but I’ve read a total of 88 books so far in 2017. Mostly physical copies—but I’m learning to embrace using my iPad as an eReader and not just my personal television. I haven’t really branched out in terms of what I’m reading—I’m a creature of habit and I know what I like. My faves include psychological thrillers, books that tackle controversial topics (such as abuse and mental illness), and friends-to-lovers relationships (because I’m still bitter over not getting my Dawson and Joey ending). I also won’t say to “no” to a good teen dystopia novel. 

I’ve read a lot of really good books so far and I wanted to share. I rarely give out five star ratings…those are basically reserved for my most favorites and the Harry Potter series. These are what I consider 4-4.5 stars aka ❤. And they all link to Goodreads 🙂

Some of my stacks because I’m too cool for shelves…and too afraid of IKEA

JAN-MAR 2017 FAVES [in no particular order]

The Light series, Aleatha Romig
Sara Adams wakes up in a hospital, blind and can’t remember her past. She comes to learn she’s a member of a religious and oppressive cult known as The Light.

It’s SO. GOOD. I didn’t like The Handmaid’s Tale (runs and hides) but I LOVED this series. The first book ends on a major cliffhanger and I don’t think I’ve hit “BUY” on a sequel so fast. Although Romig has said this is the end of this story, I’d be thrilled with a third installment (the second book also ends arguable ambiguous).

Behind Her Eyes, Sarah Pinborough
Louise meets David at a bar and later comes to learn he’s her new boss. Her married boss. She ends up befriending Adele, his wife and learns the secrets behind their seemingly perfect relationship.

This was my February selection from Book of the Month and it’s my favorite pick from them so far. The bookmark that came with it said, “You think you know the ending, but you don’t. I promise.” And I now promise you, it’s a doozy. I figured out the first twist and was so proud of myself and then the immediate turnaround knocked me on my ass. I stayed up until 3 on a work night to finish this baby and I have no regrets.

ForbiddenTabitha Suzuma
Growing up in a dysfunctional family with an alcoholic mother, Lochan and Maya Whiteley have been forced to grow up quickly and be stand-in parents for their three younger siblings. Lochan and Maya’s relationship is more than just brother and sister and they continue to fight their feelings because they know it’s “wrong.”

This book broke my heart. Plain and simple. I read it in one night and was reduced to a weeping pile of salt water. For a topic that is so taboo, Lochan and Maya’s relaysh is so respectfully, well done. “Forbidden” won’t be and isn’t for everyone. But if you have the stomach for extremely touchy subjects and enjoy a good cry, this is your answer.

UnravelCalia Read
After a whirlwind romance with Max—a man no one seems to think is real—Naomi Carradine ends up at Fairfax mental hospital. Wanting out, she tells her story to her psychiatrist, desperate for someone to believe she isn’t “crazy.” Also woven in are her relationships with neighbor boy, Lochlan, and her best friend, Lana.

This book is a wonderful mix of all of my previously listed favorite book genres and it was so freaking good. There are so many little things mentioned throughout that make complete sense once the twist is revealed and I definitely did not see it coming. And once you look back you can see how intricately crafted Read made Naomi’s story. Plus, bonus love triangle with two guys who both  AREN’T assholes! Win!

Swear on This LifeRenee Carlino
When Emiline picks up “All the Roads Between” from new author J. Colby, the story sounds familiar. Eerily familiar. As she continues reading, Em realizes that J. Colby is her childhood best friend, Jase, and he’s written a national bestseller about her dark and dysfunctional upbringing, one she has been desperately trying to leave behind.

This was an impulse buy with my Christmas iTunes gift card and I was incredibly pleasantly surprised. I’ve read two more from Carlino this year, both of which were also good, but Swear on This Life gave me major feels. Childhood friends? Second-chance romance? Lots and lots of angst? Sign me up. This was another one that  I read in one night and ended up bawling into my stuffed bear. I need an actual physical copy in my life at some point too.

All the Ugly and Wonderful ThingsBryn Greenwood
Wavy is only eight when a motorcycle accident brings thug and ex-convict Kellen into her life. She’s the daughter of a meth dealer, and is raising her younger brother, Donal, by herself. Kellen, 13 years her senior, becomes the only form of stability and comfort in her life. The book spans 15 years and the evolving relationship between Kellen and Wavy.

I’m not going to lie. This book made me extremely uncomfortable. And it generally takes something major to upset me like this. This book is twisted. It’s disturbing. It’s absolutely heartbreaking. It took me a little longer to read “All the Ugly and Wonderful Things” because I had to keep putting it down and collecting my thoughts. It is truly SO good, but it’s a thinker. It’ll stick with you long after you close. Wavy and Kellen are not your conventional romantic leads. Kellen is not a rich, handsome hunk with defined abs and a secret sex fetish. Wavy isn’t your naive ingenue who blindly dives into relationships. They’re both heavily broken individuals who find solace in each other. I HIGHLY recommend this book. It was so good.

The Hating Game, Sally Thorne
Coworkers Lucy and Joshua are sworn enemies and have no qualms about expressing their hatred towards each other. It makes for quite an office environment. They then both become applicants for the same job promotion and their rivalry comes to a head. But do they actually hate each other? Or is it just another game?

“The Hating Game” is the first relatively adult novel I’ve ever read (I refuse to count the horrendously written Fifty Shades books) and I loved it. If I can’t have a friends-to-lovers storyline, I will gladly take an enemies-to-lovers one.

It Ends With UsColleen Hoover
After witnessing the abusive relationship between parents, Lily resolves to never end up like her mother. She’s so happy when she meets neurosurgeon Ryle: Lily gets her fairytale relationship and marriage and it’s all too good to be true. That’s when things go south. Also in her orbit is the return of ex-boyfriend, Atlas, who is all too aware of her mother’s history.

Don’t you love when a book reaches down and strangles your soul? Because that’s exactly what “It Ends With Us” did to me. Another read-in-a-day, bawled-my-eyes-out novel.

The Royals seriesErin Watt
After the death of her mother, Ella Harper is making ends meet by working odd jobs and as a stripper. Her life changes when her father’s best friend shows up with news that he’s her legal guardian. Callum Royal and his family of five boys, are rich, spoiled, and used to having the world handed to them. While Callum takes a quick liking to her, it isn’t surprising that the sons are suspicious and hostile.

The series starts as a relatively similar Cinderella-retelling, with Ella plucked out of poverty and dropped into a world of posh prep schools and even more privileged people. Ella is a great heroine, who is not a damsel in distress. And each of the Royal sons is equally damaged and swoon-worthy (two in particular, but you learn that quickly).

History Is All You Left MeAdam Silvera
Even after a tough break-up and a cross-country move, Griffin is still convinced that he and now ex-boyfriend, Theo, will eventually find their way back to each other. That’s when he learns that Theo has died in a tragic accident…and he was also in a serious relationship with a new boy, Jackson. Deeply heartbroken, Theo realizes that the only other person who knows what he’s going through is Jackson and forms a tentative friendship.

I had heard a lot of hype about Silvera’s “More Happy Than Not,” and I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. So, I was super happy that I loved “History Is All You Left Me.” It’s equal parts funny and sad, has positive and accurate OCD portrayal, and will stick with you after reading.

 

Really loved these tooUnder Rose-Tainted Skies, Louise Gornall; We Are the Ants, Shaun David Hutchinson; The Futures, Anna Pitoniak; Lucas, Jay McLean; My Heart and Other Black Holes, Jasmine Warga; Blurred Lines, Lauren Layne; Caraval, Stephanie Garber; Boy Toy, Barry Lygal; The Thousandth Floor, Katharine McGee; and Paperweight, Meg Haston

Yup, that’s my TBR pile…

What’s next on my list: I’m currently making my way through “Idaho,” by Emily Ruskovich. I typically have difficulty connecting to characters that are much older than me, but I’m really enjoying this so far.