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 Star-Touched Queen’

I picked up The Star-Touched Queen on a whim – I had just finished a few contemporary stories and needed something magical to read. I checked Overdrive (an app & website that is part of your local library!) for a new audiobook and saw this was available so I figured, why not give it a try!

Title: The Star-Touched Queen
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Series: Standalone – but with a companion novel, A Crown of Wishes
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

I liked this book a lot, but I’m also left very confused by it. I couldn’t tell you what exactly I liked about it or very specific details or tell you how things happened because… I’m not sure?

Now that might sound weird but it’s the only way I can think to describe it. This book was beautiful, but I was confused 90% of the time. I want to attribute that to me listening to this via audiobook rather then reading the print book. I listened to audiobooks all the time and rarely have an issue understanding or following the audio but for this story, I just couldn’t follow along. Don’t get me wrong – the narration was absolutely beautiful. I loved the narrator – she had the perfect voice. I loved being able to hear the names of people/places/things that I otherwise would’ve had a hard time pronouncing. (Maya and Amar, got it. But Gauri? I was a little lost without the audio.) The narrator switches between no accent when reading text but uses an Indian accent when the characters are speaking. I enjoyed that and it was a natural flow, nothing felt forced or overdone.

Back to the writing – it was beautifully descriptive and flowing but sometimes I became lost in all the words. I’m not sure how the characters got from Point A to Point B most of the time. I just accepted it and went along, but I was left feeling confused. I liked the beginning more then the ending – I think by the end, I just wanted to know how it ended and be done with it.

This story did remind me of Renee Ahdieh’s Wrath & The Dawn series so if you were a fan of that or looking for something similar, I would recommend this! I just would not recommend this as an audiobook. After reading other Goodreads reviews, it seems this story is really a hit or miss – you loved it and gave it 5 stars, or were like me and were left confused. It was an enjoyable read and maybe you will like it more then I did!


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: ‘The Love Interest’

This is the first of 7 reads that I won from a giveaway on Twitter that I decided to review this week!
Title: The Love Interest

Author: Cale Dietrich

Series: Standalone

Rating: 2.5/5 stars

This book is about a secret organization that produces Love Interests for those that need spying on. That’s the easiest way to put it. Caden and Dyl are love interests created for a girl named Juliet: both are sent out into the world to win her heart and whoever wins gets to keep her, whoever loses has to die. It sounds super harsh but that is the way of the world in this book and boy, does it get interesting.

I expected a lot more from this book. I wanted to like it but I found myself saying ‘wtf?’ After the first 100 pages. It didn’t seem charming and it didn’t seem like something I would want to continue reading, but I had to know the ending at that point. The one redeeming quality about this was the LGBT romance. I literally called it within the first 100 pages so it wasn’t really a joy or a surprise when it turned out that way. But I think the way it happened was sort of cute and I did like that they ended up together. I won’t say who, that’s for you to read and find out, if you want! I also found Juliet to be less than stereotypical in the way she was portrayed as a ‘nerd’. She was pretty and funny and had a personality that seemed to figuratively light up a room. I don’t get why the organization wanted to spy on her, per say: she is incredibly intelligent and nex generation with her tech, but I didn’t think it was enough to attain a love interest. The reason is given but it just didn’t work for me and in general this book didn’t work for me.

Which brings me to my main problem: I felt nothing from this book. It’s sad to say that, but I really didn’t. I didn’t feel anything for the characters and the plot didn’t really have much advancement except for the fact that the two interests were trying to win Juliet. Speaking of that: I know it must have been a play on girls having to be perfect for men to make two men perfect for girls, but it just felt… Not genuine. The whole book seemed like a game of back and forth and cat and mouse and it was predictable because of that. Caden was the only one with a real personality in the book and that was probably because we hear the story from his point of view and it was expanded on by writing his thoughts and desires. The story felt kind of sci-fi in ways and I thought of the Maze Runner more than a few times. The organization in the book (LIC, I forgot to mention) seemed a lot like WICKED, but not in the same manner.

I don’t know if I could recommend this book but if you want an LGBT read, it could be worth a shot!

Happy reading! ~ Taylor

ARC Review: ‘Starfish’

*Thank you to Netgalley and Simon & Schuster (Simon Pulse) for allowing me to read and review this book before release*


Title: Starfish


Series: Standalone

Rating: 4/5 stars


Starfish is a beautiful story about a girl named Kiko, who struggles with social anxiety and a self-centered mother. The diverse representation in this book is lovely and shows the grittiness of Kiko’s relationships. Her passion is for art and she follows this passion by going to California with her best friend Jamie, where she is able to explore herself and her artwork more deeply. This book focuses on issues of sexual abuse (trigger warning here!), mental health and how important it is to look after yourself aka self-care.


I had heard about this book online and I was excited when I was approved! Kiko’s character is extremely ‘real’ and I felt for her throughout the entire book. One of my favorite elements of this book are the author’s portrayal of mental health as well as the progress Kiko makes throughout the book, as evidenced by what she draws/paints. Addressing the first part, Kiko struggles with social anxiety and speaking up for herself, and what she really thinks, in order to save others from harm. She doesn’t ever want to hurt anyone’s feelings, even those of her truly horrible mother. The author utilizes her inner thoughts by writing what Kiko wants to say and what she actually says. To me, this shows the reality of mental illness in that many try to hide it and pretend that they are okay, instead of speaking what they truly think. This doesn’t just speak to her anxiety, though: it speaks to her personality and how she was brought up to be a quiet, complacent girl. At the end of each chapter, there is a sentence or two in italics that describes what Kiko creates artistically after that chapter. I found this to be interesting because it showed her character development through another medium rather than simply words and I was able to visually picture these creations. Kiko was a fantastic character and I truly could feel my heart breaking at points for her. I related a lot to the thoughts she had about herself and her self-confidence level, which brought the character close-to-home for me. I think Jamie, her best friend in the story, complemented her so well. He was the exact opposite of what she had been taught her entire life and he truly liked her for who she was, much to the surprise of Kiko. This book does not focus on romance, though, and I liked that about it because there were much larger issues that were being tackled in this story.


I really couldn’t stand Kiko’s mother. That’s not knocking this book at all: I have known people in my own life who acted just like her and thought that this element was important to include. It related completely to Kiko’s character arc and taught a strong moral lesson as well. Kiko’s mentor at art school mentions something about her mother being a ‘starfish’, which means that she is someone who always needs to be the center of attention, with the starfish’s legs pointing to the middle of that center. This helped me to understand the title of the book and also relate it to my recent experiences. It hurt a little to think about that because, like Kiko, it was hard for me to admit that someone I was close to didn’t care about me and only about themselves. I think this metaphor is something that is honestly going to stick with me for a long time and the dynamic between Kiko and her mother was heartbreaking. I think, though, it is worth pointing out that the rawness of this book is what appealed to me once I finished it and it quickly became one of my favorites.


I would recommend this book to those who struggle with social anxiety because it has a very realistic depiction and shows what can be said by family/friend support, and also what shouldn’t be said. This book shows what happens when you say the wrong thing but also when you say the right thing.

Happy reading! ~ Taylor

ARC Review: ‘Girls Made of Snow and Glass’

Hey everyone! So, I decided to make a Netgalley and this is the first book that I was approved for! I was so excited because I had been seeing a lot of reviews of this book recently and I so wanted to read & review for myself.


*Thank you to Netgalley and Flatiron Books for allowing me to read and review this book before release*


Title: Girls Made of Snow and Glass

Author: Melissa Bashardoust

Series: Standalone

Pub date: September 5, 2017

Rating: 4.5/5 stars


This book follows the story of Lynet and Mina, two girls who are completely different and yet connected in a special way. It is a loose retelling of Snow White and the Huntsman, with Lynet being Snow White and Mina being the ‘evil queen’. I put evil queen in quotation marks because Mina has a strong character development throughout the story that changed my opinion of her greatly: but more on that later! I want to note that the cover is also absolutely gorgeous and I love the simplicity of it.


The story itself was rich, gripping and told in a very fairytale-like fashion. I felt like I was reading a new fairytale as I read this book and I found myself entranced by the language. It had a light feel to it and even when there was peril, I always felt a sense of hope. Lynet and Mina were two truly beautiful characters. The story is told from both points of view, some from the present and some from the past. This narrator style gave me the opportunity to see the development of each character from her own point of view, as well as delve deeper into the lives of each girl. Mina was my favorite character in this book. I felt like I was able to see why she became so bitter because of the background elements of her life as well as how her personality affected the character. My emotional connection was mainly to Mina and it was quite strong, which is hard for a book to do, for me. The magical elements in this book were so unique and I think that it is one of the things that sets the book apart from other Snow White retellings that I have read. There is life, there is death, and there is a certain air of impossibility around the magical storyline and it was something that certainly interested me from the start. The book started off right away with the plot and that is one of the things I appreciated about it: some books drag on in the beginning, but this one jumped right in and made me want to keep reading. I felt the magic through the pages and like I was in Whitespring, watching these events happen for myself because of the descriptive narrative.


There is not much I didn’t like about this book, as evidenced by my rating. I feel like the character arcs—mostly for Mina—were so well-done that I was mostly focusing on her and Lynet rather than the other characters. I did love the inclusion of Nadia, who was the court surgeon and ended up adding an LGBT element to the story. That is something I wish I had been included more during the book. I am such a proponent of LGBT themes and characters in order to foster representation and I found myself wanting more! Also, this book was marketed as feminist and I completely agree with that statement. I felt empowered for both Lynet and Mina, through their actions and their interactions with each other. Mina, especially, exhibited this when she was dealing with conflict and I admire her for that. All in all, this book was an absolute joy to read and I felt extremely satisfied after finishing this story.


I would recommend this book to those who are fans of fairytale retellings, but aren’t afraid for some extra twists to be thrown in. This is not your typical fairytale retelling and it becomes its own version of a fairytale through its narrative, characters, and wonderfully powerful morals.

Happy reading! ~ Taylor
*I do not own the rights to the cover art depicted in this post – all copyright goes to rightful designers, creators and/or owners*