January 2017 Wrap-Up

January was my best month of reading in a long time. I read a total of 15 books, 10 print and 5 audio. My favorites in print were Scythe and The Woman in Cabin 10. For audio, Shadowshaper and the first two books of the Firebird series were really great. I had really high hopes for both Blankets and Kevin Kramer Starts on Monday, but both were underwhelming.



Sand – 4 crowns

Bad Feminist – 4 crowns

Kevin Kramer Starts on Monday – 3 crowns

Eleven Hours – 4 crowns

Blankets – 3 crowns

The Thousand Dollar Tan Line – 5 crowns

Shadowshaper – 4 crowns

Mr. Kiss and Tell – 5 crowns

What She Knew – 5 crowns

Scythe – 5 crowns

The Diabolic – 4 crowns

The Woman in Cabin 10 – 5 crowns

A Thousand Pieces of You (Firebird Book 1)- 4 crowns

Ten Thousand Skies Above You (Firebird Book 2) – 5 crowns

The Hypnotists Love Story – 5 crowns


I’m currently reading The Nix by Nathan Hill and listening to The Raven Boys on audio, and absolutely LOVING them both!! What is everyone reading?


Sand – Hugh Howey

41ck5inzmjl-_sx311_bo1204203200_Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Publication Date: January 4, 2014

From the Jacket:

We live across the thousand dunes with grit in our teeth and sand in our homes. No one will come for us. No one will save us. This is our life, diving for remnants of the old world so that we may build what the wind destroys. No one is looking down on us. Those constellations in the night sky? Those are the backs of gods we see.

A fun fact about me: I am DEATHLY afraid of not being able to breath normally. I have trouble snorkeling and my single attempt at snuba diving ended in a full on panic attack under the water. My heart starts to race when I even imagine myself scuba diving. I am also incredibly claustrophobic and the thought of being confined in small or deep spaces makes me dizzy, to the point where I can barely handle an elevator ride.

It’s truly a wonder I found someone to marry me.

Fast forward to a week ago when I sat down and eagerly began reading Sand, only to discover that the story centers around sand divers. What are sand divers you ask? Sand divers are exactly the same as scuba divers except that, you guessed it, they dive in the sand instead of the water. I probably should have gleaned this fact from the jacket, but really I just saw another book with Howey’s name on it,  geeked out and added it to my TBR without a second thought.

Howey is a master world builder, and Sand is no exception. It’s a gritty, bleak, dystopian nightmare set in a future Colorado, that I read with a shortness of breath and a pounding heart. There were times when sheer anxiety begged me to put it down, but the characters sucked me in almost immediately, just like in Wool and I found myself unable to comply.

I am not going to say much more because I find it best to go into one of Howey’s creations with as little information as possible. My only complaint is the number of unanswered questions regarding the world building I was left with after finishing. I want to know how the world got to the state it was in, and if it was the whole planet, or just the parts where the characters live. He posted on his blog back in 2015 that he was working on a sequel, but I have not seen any information since then. Just like with Wool, I was satisfied with the conclusion of the story, though I would love to continue to read about these characters. More than anything, I think a prequel would be awesome. Keeping my fingers crossed for more to come.

I recommend this one 100 percent and will continue to read everything he puts out. This is a perfect read for being stuck inside on a rainy or snowy day. You won’t be able to put it down once you start, so prepare snacks and get comfortable.

Rating: Screen Shot 2018-01-04 at 12.24.27 AM

Favorite Characters: Vic, Palmer, Graham

Memorable Quotes:

And so it went, sand piling up to the heavens and homes sinking toward hell.

Love was earned and hard-fought and cherished. It was Marco’s face and his rough palm on her cheek. It wasn’t something a family got for being a family.

She would survive, she realized. But it would be a different her. It would be someone else who did the surviving, who would drag memories of a former self along, a tiny echo of a woman somewhere deep in her skull, a small voice of who she used to be.

There were things that could not be contemplated, he realized. There were potential truths too costly to bear. It wasn’t until after the body was scarred by a brush with danger that it learned fear. Conner thought of all the untouched places on his soul yet to teach him something. All the unblemished parts of him waiting for that razor of truth.

Of Fire and Stars – Audrey Coulthurst


Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Publication Date: November 22nd, 2016

From the Jacket:

Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile kingdoms. But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a land where magic is forbidden.

Now Denna has to learn the ways of her new kingdom while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses before her coronation—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess , sister of her betrothed.

When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two work together, they discover there is more to one another than they thought—and soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.

But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other.

You guys! A fairy tale where the princess falls for the PRINCESS? I am so here for this. Also, can we take a quick moment to admire the beauty of this cover art? Absolutely stunning.

I remember the day I saw the write up for this on Edelweiss. I read the synopsis twice to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating, then I teared up a little, jumped up and down, and ran to tell my wife about it.

Immediately following that emotional outburst, I wrote to the publisher to plead my case about why I wanted a review copy. I reread that at least five times, held my breath, pressed send, and waited. I was thrilled when the acceptance email came back and could not wait to start reading.

Overall I really enjoyed this book. Not only because of the wonderful feelings that come with positive representation in mainstream media, but also because it was a genuinely good story. I read a lot of mixed reviews wherein readers were over the moon with the love story but bored by the rest of the content. I actually felt the opposite.

Of Fire and Stars tells the story of Princess Dennaleia, who, for political reasons, is betrothed to the prince of Mynaria. She accepts this fate without complaint. Her main concerns being keeping her dangerous and rare affinity for magic hidden, and being as useful as possible in a new place where (shocker) men make the political decisions and the women are expected to remain quiet. Quickly after her arrival in Mynaria, we meet Princess Amaranthine, who detests the royal life and wishes to spend all of her time and energy with her horses.

The two begin a friendship when Mare must teach Denna to ride horses before her coronation. Throughout these lessons, we learn a whole lot about horses, about the conflicts between the different kingdoms, and the beliefs and opinions about the use of magic (which is ultimately the underlying cause of this conflict). It was in these details that many readers were bored to tears. I enjoyed these parts and thought the plot was well written, if not at times, overly reliant on stereotypical tropes regarding independent, free thinking women.

I found the parts describing the growing relationship between Denna and Mare to be lacking. Perhaps my expectations were too high, or maybe it is because in order to read stories about lesbian characters, I often turn to fan fiction where the representation is broad and prolific. The growing relationship between them felt contrived at times, which made their chemistry hard to believe. I did appreciate the fact that their love was not considered taboo or even deviant. There are other gay characters in the book, and love is consistently displayed as a relationship between any two people, rather than two people of the opposite sex. The conflict comes because Denna is already betrothed, and a relationship with Mare threatens the alliance promised by their marriage.

There are genuinely sweet times between them and I was pulling for them to end up together. I just wasn’t as invested as I normally am when I read a good love story, and that in itself was disappointing. I think the book is great despite that, recognizing that I had high expectations, and even higher hopes due to the subject matter. There is love, intrigue, action and mystery in a quick moving plot that kept my interest and made me want to shirk all other responsibilities until I got to the conclusion. Overall, this is definitely one I would recommend, especially if you enjoy YA fantasy and appreciate lady love.

Rating: Screen Shot 2018-01-04 at 12.24.27 AM

Favorite Characters: Mare, Nils, Denna

Memorable Quotes:

For the first time in my life, I finally felt free – because some things are more important than a crown.
Saving a kingdom.
Knowing your heart.
Or riding into the sunset with a girl on a red horse.

I received this ARC from Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review.