Top 10 of 2017 ~ Taylor’s Picks

Hey all!

Time for my 2017 in books: I read 54, 726 pages spread across 140 books. I was so strong with my reading during the summer, almost reading a book per day, so that’s why it’s so high! The end of the year got super busy because of graduate school but I still managed to get back in the swing of things to finish off the year.

Without further ado, here are my top 10! It was so hard to choose just 10 books I loved. (Disclaimer: I tried to keep to books that were published in 2017 that I read in 2017 for this! They are also in order of when I read them, not by my favorites.)

Continue reading Top 10 of 2017 ~ Taylor’s Picks


ARC Review: ‘Between the Blade and the Heart’

I was attracted to this book because of the Norse mythology!

Title: Between the Blade and the Heart

Author: Amanda Hocking

Series: Valkyrie

Rating: 3/5 stars

Continue reading ARC Review: ‘Between the Blade and the Heart’

Review: ‘The Night Circus’

Ahhh this cover is so gorgeous! I actually picked this up due to Goodreads and so many friends on there were reading it and loving it.


Title: The Night Circus

Author: Erin Morgenstern

Series: Standalone

Rating: 2/5 stars


This book follows the story of Celia and Marco, as well as the rest of the performers at the Night Circus. The Night Circus appears in a different city every few nights and is open from dusk till dawn, closing at that exact time. There are those who try and follow the circus but Celia and Marco became involved for a different reason: they are bound together and to the ‘game’, something that one of them must win in order to end it. But, love has a different idea for the both of them and not everything goes as their ‘masters’ planned.


I thought the concept of the circus was interesting. It kind of reminded me of Caraval and Daughter of the Burning City in the carnival aspect of it. I also liked that the author separated parts of the book by describing an area that you could walk into during the circus, what you would see, and what you would think. She used ‘you’ and it really put you into the circus at the point and I enjoyed that. I wanted to feel like I was at the circus and what I was experiencing while there. That was a unique aspect aspect and it propelled you into the world a little bit more. I am one for magic and I thought that Celia’s illusions were very cool. One thing she was able to do included changing the fabric of her clothes itself and making new outfits right on the spot. Of course, some would say that’s a party trick, and while it kind of is, she was much more powerful than that. Celia was a likable character and she was extremely intelligent. That quality came out in the story in a variety of ways, including solving the big question that formulated as the plot in the book. Her partnership with Marco was also inspiring and the two of them truly risked it all to be together.


Here is another example of me not liking a book that was super hyped and rec’d for me. And that’s completely okay, it was just disappointing. First, I wish there was more about the actual circus. I understand that there was a side plot that was the bigger picture, but other than those little blurbs I mentioned earlier, I didn’t really get to see what was happening in the circus. I wanted to hear about the characters doing their different acts–the main characters’ acts weren’t touched on in those blurbs. The two twins in the book also had a side plot that was interesting and I wanted to hear more about their part of the circus as well. I also wasn’t attached to these characters at all. I was trying my best to breeze through the book because I just wanted to finish. It was short, so that was possible, but I didn’t feel anything like I normally do when reading. The ending definitely surprised me and I think it was executed well but it should have evoked emotion and it… didn’t. So it missed the mark on an emotional connection for me.


Since it is below 3 stars for me, I’m not sure I could actually recommend this book. But, I will say it is for fans of the books I mentioned above and for those who are fans of the Crown’s Game. the Game is pretty similar and I think that also threw me off.

Happy reading! ~ Taylor


Review: ‘Once and For All’

I am a huge Dessen fan and I will literally read anything she writes.


Title: Once and For All

Author: Sarah Dessen

Series: Standalone

Rating: 3/5 stars


This story follows Louna, whose mom is a wedding planner. Louna works for her mom in the business and is great at planning, as well as executing everything to the T. She meets Ambrose at one of the weddings and is surprised when her mom hires him to work with them for the summer, at the request of the bride’s mother. The story gets interesting when the two make a bet about living the other’s love life situation and both are challenged to date in a way they never have.


Sarah Dessen’s stories are cute. They’re romantic a lot of the time but they usually tackle the bigger picture rather than the small one. I think this did just that and showed how Louna’s love life was severely affected by the death of her boyfriend and how she failed to recover after that. Louna is a relatable character and honestly I think I’d love to work in the wedding planning business after reading this. I love to plan and organize, which Louna also does very well. She is a relatable character and I could see the two of us being great friends. Then we come to Ambrose. What kind of name is Ambrose anyway?! is what you’re thinking, right? It’s as unique as he is, I guarantee. I kind of hated him int he beginning because he acted like this pretentious asshole who only cares about himself and is also a major playboy. I know that kind of character is often attractive in novels but I am so immune at this point. Anyway, Ambrose definitely had a huge development throughout the book and that was one of my favorite parts. He has to change his attitude for the bet but I really think that he learns from this change and realizes that it is more than just about him. Louna teaches him this I feel like and also the job teaches him to be more responsible and care about others and their well-being too. The big picture in this story, for me, was to not let go of the past–remember it and realize how it affects you–but look forward to the future.


This wasn’t my favorite Dessen novel. I didn’t feel as attached as I did in other ones to the characters. Louna was fantastic but the supporting characters lacked luster. Her best friend in the book didn’t really hit me as someone that I would love to be friends with and she seemed like a side plot. I also didn’t feel much from the love story. I felt like they were great friends, and work partners, but the love story didn’t really hit me until the end and by then I wasn’t ready to have one thrown at me. It felt kind of rushed since it was admitted so far towards the end and I really love how Dessen’s love stories are so this made me sad!


I’d suggest this to other fans of Dessen, because her writing style is very much the same and it’s enjoyable. I’d also suggest to those who want a quick read because it was so much shorter than I imagined!

Happy reading! ~ Taylor


Review: ‘They Both Die At The End’

The title ‘They Both Die At The End’ leaves little room for imagination and you already know how this story is going to end. I first remember hearing about this book at an event at Barnes & Noble featuring Nicola Yoon, Adam Silvera, and Kara Thomas. I believe it was to promote “The Sun Is Also A Star” by Nicola Yoon and Adam mentioned his upcoming book and once I heard the title, I was instantly sold on it. It sounded fascinating! And it did not disappoint.

Title: They Both Die At The End
Author: Adam Silvera
Series: n/a – standalone
Rating: 4/5 stars

This is actually my first Adam Silvera book (shame on me, I know), but it will not be my last. TBDATE follows two boys, Mateo and Rufus, who both get the call from Death-Cast telling them that they will die in the next 24 hours. They both use an app called “Last Friends” and end up finding each other and deciding to spend their last day together.

This is told over the course of less then 24 hours, with Mateo and Rufus fitting an entire lifetime of living into that span of time. The narrative goes back and forth between the two boys with timestamps when the narration changes. Scattered throughout are short narratives from other people’s lives who unintentionally intertwine in some small or large way with Mateo and Rufus’. At first I found these random people to be quite…well, random. But as the story progresses, you see how everything and everyone can affect someone else, in the smallest or largest way and you may never even know it. I liked this concept of fate/destiny/chance/call it whatever you want. I like the idea of the domino effect. One event causes another and so forth and so on.

The idea that one small thing you do or someone else does affecting you really made me think. The concept of death is prevalent in this book and it made me wonder, what if Death-Cast was real? What if we were given 24 hours advance notice of when we were going to die? This book really made me stop and think about life and death and about living life to the fullest.

TBDATE is a LGBT representation book. Rufus says in his “Last Friends” profile that he is bisexual and is stated as having an ex-girlfriend. Mateo’s sexuality isn’t said until the end when its revealed he never really “came out” to anyone, but he is gay. Mateo has his first (and last L L L) kiss with Rufus before they both, you know, die at the end.

I listened to this as an audiobook and I highly recommend this audio! I felt an even closer connection with both Mateo and Rufus by hearing their voices. It made me feel like I was also a “last friend” with them, going along and experiencing all they could in one day. Mateo and Rufus each have a different voice actor with a third female voice narrating the other people scattered throughout. I think hearing the emotions in the voices added an extra layer to this story and I would recommend giving the audio a try!

I’m not a very emotional person so while this book was sad, I personally found it bittersweet more then anything else. These two young boys had their whole lives ahead of them and life was cut short. Despite knowing how this book was going to end, my stomach still dropped at the very last line. It shook me up. I knew it was coming but I didn’t see it coming like that. Adam really knows how to punch you in the gut when you’re down. Well done!



Review: ‘Carry On’

I went into Carry On with my expectations set very low. I am pleasantly surprised to say, this was a 4/5 star read for me! “You were the sun, and I was crashing into you.”

Title: Carry On
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Rating: 4/5 stars

I have previously read two other Rainbow Rowell books (Fangirl and Landline), neither of which I really enjoyed. I didn’t plan to read another Rainbow Rowell book – nothing against her, her writing just wasn’t for me! But on a whim (and because of the pretty new paperback cover design) I picked up Carry On. And I quickly became obsessed! I needed to know where Baz is! What would happen to Simon? Who is Lucy? So many questions!

I really enjoyed that this book was split between many different points of views – sometimes just a few sentences of each character within a chapter. It was a different way of reading then I was used to and I greatly enjoyed it!

I listened to Carry On via the audio and it was fantastic. I’m picky when it comes to British accents (and my ability to understand them, as I tend to listen to audio on 2x speed) but this audiobook was great and I highly recommend listening to it if that’s your fancy.

The spells magicians cast in this book were hilariously wonderful! Some were nursery rhymes or songs we learn as children. Some were phrases we say in every day life. And some sounded like they came straight out of a TV commercial such as my favorite: “Have a break, have a Kit-Kat.” These spells were genius – taking simple words and turning them into magic.

Incase you weren’t aware, there is LGBT representation in this book. Yes. It’s Simon and Baz. But how do they end up going from enemies to friends (?) to more then friends (!?). That is the great question. Even after hearing about this book from others, I was curious to see how it all happened! It did not disappoint.

“You were the sun, and I was crashing into you.”

This quote is both very ‘gag-too-cute’ yet also swoon worthy. I thought it was cheesy until I read it in context and then, cue the awww-ing.

While Carry On has similarities to the Harry Potter world, the similarities ends at it being about magic and there being a ‘Chosen One’. That’s it. Baz isn’t Draco or Ron. Baz is Baz. Penny isn’t Hermione, she is Penny. This is a fantasy book about magic so if you like that, this book is for you. And while yes, this is the story that Cath in Fangirl writes fanfiction about, this isn’t fanfiction. This is its own story. Confused? Don’t be. Just read the book and enjoy it for what it is – a great fantasy novel.

At the end of the day, this isn’t just a love story. It’s an adventure about magic and magicians and mages and dragons and funny spells.