Top Ten Books I’ve Read So Far This Year

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Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Check out their blog here!

Today’s TTT topic is: Top Ten Books I’ve Read So Far This Year. I’ve had an incredible string of FANTASTIC reads, so I’ll try to keep it to just ten. No promises though! I’ve listed them in order, starting from January up until now.

1. Avalon by Mindee Arnett. This was the beginning of my two month romance with deep-space sci-fi. I CRAVED anything space ship related for weeks after finishing this book. The friendships are my absolute favorite; Jeth is one of my favorite characters I’ve read in a while.

2. Me Since You by Laura Wiess. I’m honestly not sure I can talk about this book any more than I already have. Seriously, you all need to read it. It changed my life ❤

3. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer. Cress is a close runner up for this slot, but Scarlet still has my heart. I loved both MCs: Scarlet and Wolf. And their relationship is SO perfect!

4. Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi. Another one that really, I’ve talked way too much about. But the character development in this conclusion was just flawless, and honestly I need a reread. If only for Kenji! But Juliette is great incentive as well, as is Warner 😉

5. Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson. This is one that made my heart hurt so much, but also filled it with happiness. I adored the road trip setting, the romance was perfect, and the friendship was even better!

6. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. Another that completely, utterly changed my life. I felt like the book was speaking directly to me!

7. Allegiant by Veronica Roth. Okay, I know I put it off for like five months after I bought it. And I know I wailed for days about my feels and creys. But I’m so glad I pushed through it, because Allegiant was one of the best series enders I’ve read, right up there with Ignite Me.

8. The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas. The entire series is my favorite, but TAB really sold me on the whole thing, and novellas actually. I never thought I’d be so hooked on novellas before this book! And to have them all in print, in my hand – it was beautiful.

9. Open Road Summer by Emery Lord. Matt. Finch. That is all. Plus, road trips.

10. The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider. Still a bit miffed that the title was changed from Severed Heads, Broken Hearts, but whatever. I still love this book with all my heart ❤

11. Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson. Two Matson books on this list! That should tell you something about how awesome this lady’s writing is. Really, there’s no way for me to express how much I love this book.

12. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. I feel like this whole post is just me gushing way too much but ALL THE FEELS from this book! It’s so lighthearted and it makes me so happy ^_^

13. My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick. This is proof that you should always listen to book pushers: I almost didn’t read it, but I’m BEYOND glad that I did! Another that made my heart so happy ❤

So, I only did 13. Not too horrible! I can restrain myself after all. Also, a fun note: you can tell how my reading mood has changed over the last five months. Darker, more sci-fi and fantasy books, gradually moving towards light and summery contemporaries.

That’s my list for this week – link me yours below!

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Top Ten Books About Friendship

TTT BannerTop Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Check out their amazing blog here!

Today’s TTT topic is: Ten Books About Friendship. This topic made me go “d’awww!!!” I’m in a best-friendy mood lately, what with Open Road Summer and Since You’ve Been Gone having been released in the last month! These also coincide with some books I think would be perfect for spring (summer here in Cali since we get Winter or Summer and no inbetween) and beach reads.

Oh and just a warning: I’m writing this after what was arguably the longest and most exhausting two weeks of my year so far. So you’re probably about to see the equivalent of a drugged Kayla. I have no idea if what I’m about to write will even make sense, but JOIN THE RIDE AND BRING SOME POPCORN.

1. Open Road Summer by Emery Lord. You really thought you’d escape this one, didn’t ya? NEVER. This book makes my heart sing with happiness, and not just because Matt Finch exists within those pages. The friendship between Reagan and Lilah was heartwarming, and it felt like what a true friendship should be; antagonistic and goofy and undyingly loyal.

2. The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu. I haven’t posted my review yet (check back next week!), but this book really touched me. It wasn’t as dark as I expected, but it dealt with a lot of hard issues. I loved Kurt and Alice’s relationship – it showcased the beauty of someone looking past rumors and searching for the truth in a person. 

3. Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson. Also haven’t posted my review (tomorrow!), but I enjoyed it almost as much as Amy & Roger. This wasn’t a fluffy friendship – it was hard work. I loved how Matson emphasized the part of friendship where you really just have to kick each other in the rear a few times and give some tough love.

4. The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider. Another one of those “get your ass out of your black hole of pity and keep moving” kind of friendships. Basically, a “stop being an idiot and come hang out with me you nitwit”. It gave me the warm and fuzzies, and I laughed out loud many times!

5. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. Wooo I slipped some fantasy onto this list! Best friends aren’t just for contemporary! Celaena and Nehemiah’s relationship is fantastic for this sole reason: they’re both fantastically powerful and intelligent and manipulative and you-take-down-that-patriarchy sort of characters, yet at the same time they gorge themselves on chocolate cake while exchanging gossip.

6. Avalon by Mindee Arnett. Aaaaand here’s some sci-fi too. It’s purported to be too close to Firefly, but do you see me caring one second? It’s got the whole band of misfits turned into a family trope – one of my favorites. Jeth is so protective and loyal to his newfound family that his sacrifices gave me ALL THE FEELS.

7. Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi. I mean, how can you pass up the awesome sauce that is Kenji Kishimoto?? He’s the best friend Juliette could ever ask for, and his snarky, goofy-yet-serious humor is the most light-hearted way I’ve ever seen someone give a “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” talk.

That’s my list for this week – link me yours below!

Top Ten Books in the Sci-fi Genre

TTT BannerTop Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Check out their amazing blog here!

Today’s TTT topic is: Top Ten All Time Favorite Books in X Genre. I’ve chosen science fiction, since the last time I did this one I think I chose fantasy. Most of you probably remember that I was on a gigantic sci-fi kick for the first two months of 2014 – here are some of my favorites!

1. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. This was the first sci-fi book I ever read, and it’s still one of my favorites. It was the book that inspired me to be a writer – I wanted to inspire others just as Bradbury had changed me!

2. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. Another book that changed my way of thinking and opened up so many possibilities as far as how I considered problems. 

3. Control by Lydia Kang. While this one had some faults (which I’ll talk about when I review it next week), the basic ideas that Kang started as far as the genetically-linked abilities really has some potential and I’m very excited to see how they develop in the second book.

4. Altered by Jennifer Rush. For sure an underrated series – and Andi agrees with me! There’s some romance, some action, and a whole lot of mysterious genetic tricks going on.

5. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer. While Cinder was a great start to the series, Scarlet is really what sold me on the whole thing. I loved the fiery nature of Scarlet, and with the Lunar tech involved, I couldn’t put it down. 

6. Avalon by Mindee Arnett. Well I know that half of you don’t like the similarities to Firefly, but I freaking LOVED it. The characters, the adventures, the space – PERFECT!

7. The Program by Suzanne Young. This one has a bit more contemporary in it, but the basic ideas are sci-fi based. It’s an interesting take on depression and mental illness as well – I highly recommend it!

8. Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi. This is like fantasy and sci-fi blended, and while I haven’t read the second or third books, this one had some technology that kind of reminds me of that new book coming out this month called Elusion. I’d have liked to see more of the tech, but the fantasy bits were great as well. 

9. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. Okay, I know it isn’t pure science fiction, but there’s enough of it in there I think. To be honest I just really wanted to include this book because I’m watching the movie right now and it’s just fdjakslfjas;fed *flails*

10. The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau. More dystopian than sci-fi, but it has some sci-fi roots as far as the technology and such. It’s race-based, but the beginning and the school parts are really interesting, despite the fact that the characters are just sitting at desks.

That’s my list for this week – link me yours below!

Review: Avalon by Mindee Arnett

Title: Avalon
Author: Mindee Arnett
Pages: 432
Genre: YA, science fiction
Series? Yes, Avalon #1
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: January 21, 2014

Synopsis from Goodreads: A ragtag group of teenage mercenaries who crew the spaceship Avalon stumble upon a conspiracy that could threaten the entire galaxy in this fascinating and fast-paced sci-fi adventure from author Mindee Arnett.

Of the various star systems that make up the Confederation, most lie thousands of light-years from First Earth-and out here, no one is free. The agencies that govern the Confederation are as corrupt as the crime bosses who patrol it, and power is held by anyone with enough greed and ruthlessness to claim it. That power is derived from one thing: metatech, the devices that allow people to travel great distances faster than the speed of light.

Jeth Seagrave and his crew of teenage mercenaries have survived in this world by stealing unsecured metatech, and they’re damn good at it. Jeth doesn’t care about the politics or the law; all he cares about is earning enough money to buy back his parents’ ship, Avalon, from his crime-boss employer and getting himself and his sister, Lizzie, the heck out of Dodge. But when Jeth finds himself in possession of information that both the crime bosses and the government are willing to kill for, he is going to have to ask himself how far he’ll go to get the freedom he’s wanted for so long.

Avalon is the perfect fit for teens new to sci-fi as well as seasoned sci-fi readers looking for more books in the YA space-and a great match for fans of Joss Whedon’s cult hit show Firefly.

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Dwarf Version

Avalon is one of my favorite sci-fi books, though I don’t think everyone will be able to say that. The comparisons to Firefly are more than warranted, and there are some tropes that can irritate readers. However, I found that all of the elements worked together really well, and while the plot was slow at certain points, overall Avalon was a well-developed, engaging book.

Supernova Version

And here we have the culprit of my now-two-month-long science fiction obsession: Avalon. When I saw it billed as “for fans of Firefly,” I knew I had found a winner. It had everything I was looking for: space, futuristic technology, crime bosses and heart-of-gold robbers, a wee bit of romance, and a bunch of orphans making a family for themselves. So while Avalon has all the plot devices and character tropes that I can’t get enough of, others may find it annoying and cliché – it all depends on what you’re looking for.

Let’s get the cliche out of the way: the answer is yes, Avalon does have MANY similarities to Firefly. A goodreads user sums it up in their review here, albeit a bit harshly. There’s the loyal, stoic captain (Jeth) who will do anything for his crew, the kid sister (Lizzie) who’s a whizz with tech, a goofy pilot (Flynn), the badass woman sidekick (Celeste), and the muscle (Shady). But just as I fell in love with Firefly for that perfect combination of characters, I fell in love with Avalon for these teens. Of course there are some differences, but really that mixture is just flawless, and I’ll read it over and over again in whichever book I find it.

The plot had some slow parts, but I didn’t find them to be too irritating. It gave room for the characters and their relationships to develop, and Arnett did that very well! I was on my seat half the time, trying to figure out where the plot was going and how all the ends would tie up. And I really enjoyed how the metatech was included: it wasn’t too much jargon, and I think even a sci-fi newbie would be able to grasp it fairly easily.

Ultimately, what I fell in love with was the characters. I couldn’t help but root for all of them, especially Jeth as he tried to protect his crew and earn back the rights to his parents’ ship. And I have to give a big thumbs up to Arnett regarding Jeth’s relationship with Hammer, the crime boss. Most YA novels I’ve read just show their MCs get a bit roughed up, a punch here or a bullet to the shoulder there, but Jeth is really thrown to the dogs in some parts. Arnett didn’t shy away from illustrating the torture that Hammer inflicts on Jeth after a mission goes wrong – it made everything a lot more solid, and I could really feel for Jeth after that.

So here’s my final word on this book: I loved it. Absolutely adored everything about it! And I can’t wait for book 2 to come out (no release date yet – AHHH!!!). But, I think this is one of those books that not everyone will love, which is obvious since there’s a lot of mixed reviews on goodreads. As long as you know that there are some tropes, a few cliches, and the plot can slow a bit at times, then you’ll be good. Avalon had everything that I really enjoy in a science fiction book, and I can’t wait to read it again!

My Final Rating:

Five Stars