Books: December Wrap-Up

Okay, I have dwindled my thumbs enough - time to sit down and be done with it. Here is what I read in December - not as much as in November by any account, but still enough. I was pretty busy in December and I couldn't devote a lot of time to reading, so I ended up reading a lot of ebooks, which were generally shorter.

All of the ebooks I read in December are MM romance - I posted almost all of the reviews on GoodReads, and won't repost them here.

The two paperbacks that I read are very different. Adam Silvera's novel was terrific, but Illuminae left me confused about why everyone is so obsessed with it. See my reviews linked below.

I got lucky with graphic novels that month - all of them were terrific reads.


  1. More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera (my full review is here) - 5 stars
  2. Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1) by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman (my full review is here) - 3 stars

Graphic Novel/Picture Book:

  1. The Pied Piper of Hamelin (Russell Brand’s Trickster Tales, #1) by Russel Brand - 5 stars
  2. The Less than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal Volume 2: Wanderlust Kings by E.K. Weaver - 5 stars
  3. The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal Volume 3: Ten Days of Perfect Tunes by E.K. Weaver - 5 stars
  4. Baba Yaga's Assistant by Marika McCoola - 5 stars


  1. Alien Christmas (The Traveler #1) by Max Walker - 3 stars
  2. Spring Mates (Pack Mates #1.5) by Lynn Tyler - 3 stars
  3. Seven Thousand Minutes: A #Not Safe For Work story (Tagged Book 0) by Ingela Bohm - 3 stars
  4. Marked (Northern Shifters #1) by Joely Skye (**) - 3.5 stars
  5. Called to Mate (Pack Mates #1) by Lynn Tyler - 3 stars
  6. Bleeding Heart (Mi Corazón Sangrante #1) by Melissa Graves - 3 stars
  7. Most Wonderful by  Hollis Shiloh - 3 stars
  8. Feral (Northern Shifters, #2) by Joely Skye (**) - 3.25 stars
  9. The Mark of an Alpha (Pack Discipline #1) by Kim Dare (**) - 3.75 stars
  10. The Strength of a Gamma (Pack Discipline #2) by Kim Dare (**) - 3.5 stars
  11. The Duty of a Beta (Pack Discipline #3) by Kim Dare (**) - 3 stars
  12. Without Reservations (With or Without #1) by J.L. Langley (**) - 4 stars
  13. With Caution (With or Without, #2) by J.L. Langley (**) - 4 stars
  14. Building Bonds (Kiss of Leather, #1) by Morticia Knight - 4 stars

(** - these books were re-reads)

Total: 2 books, 4 graphic novels, 14 ebooks (some of those were novellas, but it is hard to tell number of pages with ebooks)

I plan to make a wrap up video too. Will be posted shortly.

Books: November Wrap-Up & Reviews

I had an amazing reading month in November. I didn't have a set TBR list for November. I got a lot of books from the library and simply tried my best to read them all. And I read  A LOT of books. Mostly due to the fact that I was sick for the majority of the month, even taking a couple of days off work, that allowed me to read more. (Although reading while being sick really sucks, let me tell ya.)

I split my list of read books into sections. The reviews will be at the bottom. This is going to be one hell of a post.


  1. Alex Gino "George"
  2. Kelley York "Made of Stars"
  3. Melissa Landers "Invaded"
  4. Alex London "Proxy"
  5. Alex London "Guardian"
  6. I.W. Gregorio "None of the Above"
  7. Nicola Yoon "Everything, Everything"
  8. Rainbow Rowell "Fangirl"


  1. R.G. Alexander "Curious"
  2. Bonnie Dee "The Tutor"
  3. Laura Harner "Continental Divide (Separate Ways, #1)"
  4. E.M. Lindsey "Time and Tide"

Graphic novels:

  1. East of West, Vol. 1: The Promise by Jonathan Hickman
  2. East of West, Vol. 2: We Are All One by Jonathan Hickman
  3. East of West, Vol. 3: There Is No Us by Jonathan Hickman
  4. Friends With Boys by Faith Erin Hicks
  5. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
  6. Lumberjanes, Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy (Lumberjanes, #1-4) by Noelle Stevenson
  7. Blue is the Warmest Colour by Julie Maroh
  8. The less than epic adventures of TJ and Amal vol. 1 Poor boys and pilgrims by E.K. Weaver
  9. Emily Carroll "Through the Woods"

Books re-read:

  1. Marie Sexton "Promises"
  2. Marie Sexton "Strawberries for Dessert"
  3. Sue Brown "Nothing Ever Happens"

So, if my math skills do not deceive me, in the month of November I read 24 books. Holy moly! That's definitely way more than I expected! Granted, a huge part of those were short ebooks and graphic novels, but still! I don't think I will ever be able to beat that.

Okay, onto reviews then. All of these are posted on my GoodReads page, so I am only going to post reviews of books and graphic novels and will skip ebooks and books I've read before.


"George" by Alex Gino

Personal rating: 4 stars

I read this book in one go. It has less than 200 pages with huge font and it a middle grade novel.

I liked it. I think it is great that the author touches upon a topic of gender identity in a middle grade novel. Reading it, I couldn't help by sympathize with George. I think that her voice was very prominent and well defined.

I am happy that such books exist nowadays.

"Made of Stars" by Kelley York

Personal rating: 5 stars

You know there are some books that you finish reading and then next day you still keep thinking about it? For me it was "Made of Stars". (Where has this book been before?? Why haven't I read it sooner??)

This is a contemporary/suspense YA novel, that tells the story of three friends (a boy and his half sister and their friend, whom they see once a year during summer). One summer they all meet again, and things change. And their feelings change too.

Hunter and Ashlin start noticing the lies Chance is telling them and things he is NOT telling them. They start questioning things he says and does.

And then a murder happens.

It is not exactly a murder mystery, but the book has a very strong suspense undercurrent. I don't want to say anything or I might spoil the ending, but let's just say that I spent the last 20% of the book dreading what was about to happen while knowing that it would probably happen. Basically, I was just sitting here and yelling "NO!" a lot.

I couldn't put it down.

The ending was like a sucker punch. Have you read Allegiant by Veronica Roth? Remember THAT? Well, THAT thing in Allegiant gave me the same feeling as this book. Remember, how at some point in Allegiant (just by the way the POV is switched) you could totally tell that THIS was going to happen? Same thing here.

I spent some time trying to think of what might happen next, if there is hope, if there is any way that it could not have ended in so much heartbreak.

But no, there was no other way.

I both heartbroken and in awe with what the author did to my poor heart. It was painful and amazing.

I want more. I am definitely putting Kelley York on my list of favourite authors.

"Invaded" by Melissa Landers

Personal rating: 3.75 stars


I read Alienated in September and was quite excited to get ahold of Invaded quite easily (I landed a copy from the library and it was a new copy which is a rarity at times).

I can't say I enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed Alienated. For one thing, I really liked Cara's blog, which was barely there in Invaded, as well as her sense of humour (overall the novel felt more serious in tone than Alienated). The romance between her and Aelyx still ran true but Melissa used pretty much the same trick as in Alienated: creating a rift between them, only to bring them back together followed by a dramatic event. It felt rather boring to read the same plot twist in the second novel.

I did like the intrigue that was happening in both worlds, as well as depiction of L'eihr and its traditions, but I felt as if the first part of the book dragged a bit.

There was one character whom I really liked and who died, which really annoyed me, because it could have been avoided (seeing as other major characters are always saved by deus ex machina). This death affected another character, who has already been through a lot. I feel as if this was done for the sake of drama and it felt a bit cheap to me.

I feel like there might be a third novel. Invaded does not end with an obvious cliffhanger than Alienated had, but still there are some things that were left unresolved. The problem is that I am not sure how Melissa can create the third novel without making it even more boring. Will I be reading it? Perhaps, but it won't be high on my list.

"Proxy" and "Guardian" by Alex London


Personal rating: 3.75

I couldn't wait to pick up this book. I heard great things about it. I can't say that I was disappointed but I wish my expectations hadn't been set so high. It is a great dystopian YA novel, with a unique world, but at times it felt as if it lacked depth, and some of the characters' actions didn't make much sense. There was a lot of talk about feelings and decisions, but I think that the author described things instead of *showing* them.

I did like the characters and I love the fact that this book had a main gay character, who was essentially "the chosen one".

Some events in this book didn't make much sense, but the ending had a good twist. And it made me a bit sad too. You will know why. (I would have preferred a different punch line at the end, as it felt a bit weak, but over all it was ok.)


Personal rating: 4 stars

I think that this book is stronger than "Proxy". It is better written and it has more plot twists. I did enjoy both the relationships (a budding romance) between the characters and the main intrigue. I also liked how it was shown how "the chosen one", ex-proxy, was dealing with his fame.

The resolution of the moral peril in which the characters found themselves felt a bit too "deus ex machina", but I did like the ending. One might say, it is too open, or even a cliffhanger, but I enjoyed it.

Can't say this book is going to be high on my "re-read list" but it was enjoyable. I would love to read more dystopian YA with main queer characters.

"None of the Above" by I.W. Gregorio

Personal rating: 3.75 stars

I enjoyed the book because it is rather different from all other YA which is readily available on the market. It is the first book with an intersex character that I have ever read. I liked the book. I didn't love it though. I feel that it was more educational than anything else, as the plot was rather predictable (discovering herself, friends turning enemies, bullying at school, therapy) and some twists made me feel rather sad.

I liked Kristin. I liked that she is an athlete, she is a runner. I liked how her struggle to come to terms with her diagnosis was described. What I didn't like was how predictable everything else was (her boyfriend, her friends' reaction, etc).

I still recommend this book. It has to be read at least for the educational purposes. I feel that it was a bit overhyped for me in terms of the plot though.

"Everything, Everything" by Nicola Yoon

personal rating: 4.5 stars

This book deserves all the love and hype surrounding it! It is a very cute story about a girl who is allergic to everything. One day, a new family moves into a nearby house and she befriends their son.

I liked everything about this book. The way it is written. The fact that it is interrupted by illustrations and notes written by Madeline. The fact that this book has some similarities to "The Fault In Our Stars" but only it is way better and lighter and happier. (And also, HAWAII!)

The characters are unique and have very distinctive voices. I loved both Madeline and Olly. I loved the setting of the book. I loved all the descriptions.

I also loved the twist and the way the story resolved itself, even though I did suspect something like this would happen. (It also quite unexpectedly resonated with my own experience, which was a bit surprising.)

Can't say more but this book gave me rather happy, warm and fuzzy feeling. Even though it mostly about illness. Nicola Yoon has achieved something that John Green failed to do for me.

Read it. You will love it.

"Fangirl" by Rainbow Rowell

Personal rating: 5 stars

I thought this book was overhyped on booktube. I thought I wouldn't like it. I thought it was something like "shopaholic" novels.

I was so wrong!

This book is fantastic. It is well written, it has amazing characters and a very sweet romance. I loved Cath. She is very relatable. Levi is a sweetheart (I was rooting for him the whole book!). Wren is something. Reagan is something else altogether.

And Cath's father, Art, is adorable. (I have a soft spot for him. Because I don't know how you can NOT. It is probably the first time ever I feel so strongly about a secondary character.)

I don't even know how to express how much I loved this book (which can be confirmed by the fact that I ordered my own copy online while being only 50 pages into the library copy). It is everything my life is and is not, but potentially can be. This book made me feel less embarrassed about being "a fangirl". It also gave me a strong urge to write.

This book was so good, and so well written, that I want to read it again.

Also I need "Carry On" like RIGHT NOW.

All of other reviews you can read on my GoodReads page, as I don't want to make this post longer than necessary. I do want to point out that Nimona, Lumberjanes, Adventures of TJ and Amal, and Through the Woods are my favourite graphic novels of the month, while Blue is the Warmest Colour is the least favourite.

Let me know what you think!


July Wrap Up // July 31, 2015


Here is the list of the books that I read in July*:

  • Veronica Roth "Insurgent", "Allegiant", "Four" (my review)
  • Malinda Lo "Asha" (my review)
  • Charles Bukowski "Portions from a Wine-Stained Notebook: Uncollected Stories and Essays, 19-44-1990" (it was a library book and sadly I returned it before I took this photo, but it was in my July TBR photo)
  • Jamie Meadows "Against the Odds" (ebook, finished in July)

*I don't know why I added James' book to the pile - I finished it in late June... Oops.

My target was to read 5 books in July, which I did, although I didn't get to reading Margaret Atwood's books and swapped them for the rest of the Divergent series.

Overall, I am quite happy with myself! I am back on track and I am reading writing reviews! Yay!

August TBR to follow.

The Scorpio Races, Maggie Stiefvater, and other things

Let me start with the story about how I learned about Maggie Stiefvater.

It was November 16, 2014, the last day of the international book fair INSPIRE! (which was the first and the last time this fair happened to my disappoint). For some reason I had ben completely ignorant about the fact that an international book fair was happing in Toronto, so I missed the first days. I doubt I would have been able to go there on the first day, so I was only left with the last day which fell, as I recall correctly, on Sunday.

It was November of last year, it was cold, and I was not feeling well (both physically and emotionally). I went to the book fair in the hopes of it cheering me up, but instead it turned me into a ball of nerves as sellers (even though it was the last day) were still smiling and approaching visitors and I had to again and again say that I was just browsing. (I hate doing that but it was what I was doing as I had no idea about what to expect from the fair.)

I hoped to see some international sellers but most of the languages/countries that I would have been interested in (like Germany) were represented by a handful (basically one or two) stalls. There was Goethe Institut which is a great establishment for learning the language and not what I was looking for. I was looking for an equivalent of Hugendubel or something like that. A vendor that would be selling books in German on spot. Perhaps, I was not very attentive. Perhaps (and most probably it the real reason), I was not in the right mood (state of mind).

I felt exposed, tired, achy.

I realized that I missed the panel of Margaret Atwood (it is my dream to see her in person) and some others. I didn't know what I was looking for (were I to go today I would know exactly what to look for). I wanted to go to one of the panels but I knew nobody on the list.

Wandering from the food court area I was passing by the main stage and there was a woman there, talking fast and in different voices making the audience erupt in laughter. I stopped, gingerly sat at the far back and for another half an hour I was utterly mesmerized.

That woman on stage, which looked more like a teenager to my short-sighted eyes, with dishivelled hair and some wristbands (that once again from where I sat looked as if she was wearing watches on both hands), spoke about her success, how she learned that her book became a number one bestseller (which she was on the plane and being glared at for using a cellphone by a flight attendant). She was funny and quirky and I looked up her name in the brochure that I had. Maggie Stiefvater. The name that I could barely spell let pronounce (although every time when I think about her name I pronounce it with a German accent in my head). I was captivated.

I wrote down her name, waited till the end of the panel and slinked away. I googled her name, put her books on hold in the library and I discovered that she was on Twitter.

Fast forward to 7 months later.

After months of following Maggie on twitter, I learned that she is incredibly funny, talks about herself in third person, calls her husband LOVER and her kids Thing #1 and Thing #2, bakes, loves cars, drives cars, has goats, and did I mention she is funny?

The wit and sarcasm and joy with which she writes on twitter about mundane things made me very hopeful that her books would be as good. But I couldn't bring myself to read them, just because I couldn't bring myself to read anything. I was in that weird dark spell that I have no intention of talking about here, but let's just say I was just waiting for the right moment.

And the moment came this June, a few days back (a week? 2 weeks?) when I realized that I not only desperately wanted but also needed to go and buy books. The books that I will read. The books that I have been stalling to read for awhile (for whatever unknown reasons). The books that have been out for some time and I still haven't read. The books that I knew nothing about, except that they are supposed to be good.

So I went to a book store, and dragged my friend there, and spent over an hour in YA section looking for books. Maggie Stiefvater was my number one choice. I didn't want to start with the series because that would require me to buy all of the books (and what if I didn't like her writing after all?), so I reconciled with myself and got The Scorpio Races (the book that I knew nothing about and was fascinated to see both a pretty horse on the cover and learn that it was about horses and magic) and Shiver (book #1 in the series which allowed me to have something else to read by Maggie if I did like her style after all). I also bought 3 other books, but I don't want to talk about them now.

I am  a book hoarder.  I suffer from the condition when I would buy books and then hoard them, meaning I would keep them on my book shelve and won't read them. Or give them to anyone to read. I am horrible like that.

With The Scorpio Races I decided to plunge in, in spite of having other books from the library (which I were not reading anyway).

I was captivated from the first page. Not only I loved the world, a small rocky island in the middle of nowhere and in an unidentified time, the magical realism of it, I also loved the way Maggie was weaving the words together which reminded myself of my own writing (and this is not me being boastful - it is me hoping that one day I might actually master the words in the way she does it).

Side note: before I read the book I in fact read a couple of posts that Maggie wrote on writing and publishing and the way she spoke about it, the struggle, getting better, working on your writing - it all gave me a huge hope. I read her thoughts on that even before I read her books, which sort of cemented my resolve to do it.

I often think of YA books as books for kids and I am often surprised when they contain blood, gore, death, fear, love, etc. Of course, they are milder than adult books but some moments are rather scary (I am looking at you Harry Potter) and seemingly unfit for kids. (That is me continuously forgetting that 16-19yo are not that much of kids, but I digress.)

Rain, mud, hunger, simple village life, horses, blood and danger spiced with a particular brand of teenaged desperation - this is what The Scorpio Races is about. It is dark enough, moody enough, brilliant enough. It has a very brave girl and a very mature (or desperate, you pick) boy. It has bullying and discrimination and hopes and dreams and the joy of being alive.

Mid book I finally was able to place what that little fictional town of Thisby reminded me of - Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising Sequence. I read those books as an adult and was mesmerized by the darkness (literal and figurative) in the books which were supposed to be for kids. The taste of salt on my lips, the wind lashing with rain across my face, the smell of the sea that overpowers everything else. That was what Susan Cooper's books were about for me, and this was the exact same feeling I got from The Scorpio Races.

I read the book during the week but then devoured the other 2/3 of it over the course of Friday night and Saturday. The raging wind and rain outside helped to set the mood.

Long before the ending I knew the way the races were going to end but I didn't know how the end would be executed (which having read what Maggie has to say on writing is the exact same way this book is written). I didn't know how the last paragraph/chapter would be done. I was hoping it would be good.

I was not disappointed.

The last few sentences are the perfect ending of the story, just the way it should be, with the right amount of bittersweet joy and heartbreak. This is how I would have written it if it were my book to write. As a reader, I couldn't have asked for a better ending.

The edition that I have came with extras: a couple of "deleted scenes", a Q&As with Maggie about the book and her speech that she delivered after receiving an award for this book (in which she mentioned Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising as one of her favourite childhood books , which thrilled me to no end knowing that I was right!), and the recipe for November cakes! (I really need to try that one day.)

I hope against all odds that this novel might get a sequel one day, although I honestly can't decide if there is anything I want to be added to the story of Puck and Sean and their horses, Dove and Corr.

I am looking forward to reading more of Maggie's books and, most importantly, I will keep writing and trying to get better. Because as Maggie said, it is not the matter of IF, it is the matter of WHEN.