It’s the last “What I Read…” post of the year, ya’ll! Compared to the last few months, I was able to get a lot more reading done, so I’m pretty happy about that! I’m a little bummed that I didn’t get to reaching 100 books, and then I even had to change my challenge from 70 to 65, but hey! At least I’m reading something! I really want to try and reach 100 books in 2022, but I’ll have to see what happens since I will be taking on two jobs along with school, writing, blogging, etc. God gave me the gift of time management, so hopefully I can use that to always find time to read (even if it means sacrificing sleep, you know?) Anyway, this intro is getting quite long, and I have more than a few books to discuss, so let’s get to it!
The Gentle Rebel by Gilbert Morris
Genre: Historical Fiction
Synopsis: The story of Nathan Winslow in The Gentle Rebel brings the saga of the Winslow family into the American Revolution. At first opposed to the idea of revolution, Nathan eventually becomes a Patriot. But his faith and courage are tested when he falls in love with beautiful Abigail Howland, a proud and spoiled Tory.
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My best friend (Christian Girl Writes!) sent me this book for my birthday, and I was really excited about it since I had been wanting to get into the series, plus I was trying to get back into Historical Fiction now that Julie Berry’s Lovely War awakening my love for the genre. As a kid, Historical Fiction was all that I read pretty much, but eventually I got burnt out from it and switched to Science Fiction and Fantasy. However, even though Fantasy is still my favorite genre, this book really helped me get more into Historical Fiction!
First off, I really loved the themes in this book, and the fact that it was a Christian novel. It’s hard to find books like that, so that’s one of the reasons I really wanted to start reading this series. While it did take me awhile to get into it and to like the characters, I did end up really loving it! It was also a quick read, which is another thing I look for in books when I need to reach a goal.
As you can tell from the synopsis, this book takes place during the American Revolution, so I was pretty happy to read that since that was what we had recently gone over in my history class. It’s one of my favorite time periods, too!
But, of course, there are some things about this book I didn’t like. There were instances I got bored with it, but that pretty much happens with every book I read, especially Historical Fiction. My biggest peeve was the head-hopping, which, even though it was done well, I still don’t like to see in books. If you don’t know what head-hopping it, it’s basically when it jumps around with different characters’ perspectives without chapter breaks/changing to a different chapter, and it happens without warning. I have to say it was done well, but like I said, it still throws me off and brings me out of the reading flow.
Even with that said, I still really enjoyed this book! If you’re looking for a clean story with depth and characters who go through good character development, then give this one a try!
Rebel by Marie Lu
Genre: Science Fiction
Synopsis: Eden Wing has been living in his brother’s shadow for years. Even though he’s a top student at his academy in Ross City, Antarctica, and a brilliant inventor, most people know him only as Daniel Wing’s little brother.
A decade ago, Daniel was known as Day, the boy from the streets who led a revolution that saved the Republic of America. But Day is no longer the same young man who was once a national hero. These days he’d rather hide out from the world and leave his past behind. All that matters to him now is keeping Eden safe―even if that also means giving up June, the great love of Daniel’s life.
As the two brothers struggle to accept who they’ve each become since their time in the Republic, a new danger creeps into the distance that’s grown between them. Eden soon finds himself drawn so far into Ross City’s dark side, even his legendary brother can’t save him. At least not on his own . . .
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I was really feeling the book hangover after Marie Lu’s Champion, since her Legend series is what got me out of a bad reading slump. I could not put her books down, and I ended up finishing the first two within a week (I would have finished the third right with it if my library carried it…).
Anyway, after the tragic but hopeful ending of the third book, I thought the series was over, even though it didn’t offer much clarity for the characters I loved so much. But then I got on Goodreads and discovered there was a fourth, Rebel. As you can imagine, I was more than pleased! I got it as soon as I could!
Honestly, though, I have mixed feelings on it. It wasn’t as thrilling as the first three were, and the book excluded June’s perspective, so it felt a little weird. I did like Eden’s perspective, even though he could be a brat sometimes, haha! I was really happy to see Daniel in much better health and with his memories returning, and I feel like the end of the book brought him and June the justice and clarity I was missing from Champion. In fact, the ending was all I could have asked for!
I have given this book a very generous rating despite the fact that it tended to drag on the story a bit, and sometimes it felt like there was no point to the plot. In fact, I think it had a lot of untouched potential that could have made it even better. But still, the nostalgia of Daniel and June getting back together really made this book for me, so I was willing to overlook that a bit.
Rating: 4.75/5 Stars
The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Synopsis: Avery Grambs has a plan for a better future: survive high school, win a scholarship, and get out. But her fortunes change in an instant when billionaire Tobias Hawthorne dies and leaves Avery virtually his entire fortune. The catch? Avery has no idea why–or even who Tobias Hawthorne is. To receive her inheritance, Avery must move into sprawling, secret passage-filled Hawthorne House, where every room bears the old man’s touch–and his love of puzzles, riddles, and codes.
Unfortunately for Avery, Hawthorne House is also occupied by the family that Tobias Hawthorne just dispossessed. This includes the four Hawthorne grandsons: dangerous, magnetic, brilliant boys who grew up with every expectation that one day, they would inherit billions. Heir apparent Grayson Hawthorne is convinced that Avery must be a con-woman, and he’s determined to take her down. His brother, Jameson, views her as their grandfather’s last hurrah: a twisted riddle, a puzzle to be solved. Caught in a world of wealth and privilege, with danger around every turn, Avery will have to play the game herself just to survive.
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Finally, we come to one of the books that my sisters picked out for me! I know that when I said my sisters would be choosing what I read this month, it pretty much meant that I could only read what they chose. But by the time December came, I was already halfway through The Gentle Rebel, and I couldn’t exactly just, you know, LEAVE Rebel sitting there without jumping right into it. Plus, there are three other books that I read even though they weren’t on the list for tradition’s sake, and two of them were because they were quick reads that would help me reach my reading goal. Anyway, with that explained, let’s get back to the review…
Like Rebel, I have mixed feelings about The Inheritance Games. It had been hyped up so much that I couldn’t help but have high standards for it. When I started reading it, I though it was going to go in a certain direction, so when it didn’t, I was a little confused and maybe the slightest bit bummed out. But I got over it quickly, because what I got was about as good.
The plot is excellent, and it really puts you on the edge of your seat with the mystery! I have a thing for the bizarre, unnatural, and Alice-In-Wonderland type strangeness, and I definitely got all of that. The characters were just plain weird, which actually made me like them more. Really, I don’t think I’ve ever read a book like this before. I am now a big fan of Barnes’ style, so I want to read more of her books (particularly the next two Inheritance Games books for obvious reasons.
So like, if I liked it so much, why do I have mixed feelings? Well, by the time I got to the end, the main mystery was just kinda…lame? I had been expecting something huge that would blow my mind like the rest of the book had done, but I was incredibly underwhelmed by what really happened at the end. Not to mention that what the book ends with was also very unsurprising and a little annoying.
But I’m giving it the benefit of a doubt, because even the characters were like “…that’s it?”, and usually when the characters are thinking that too, there’s probably something bigger coming from them. Not to mention that this series now has a third book on the way. Whatever happens in the next ones, I really don’t want to be disappointed, because I REALLY want to like this series!
Rating: 4.75/5 Stars
What Happened to Tad by Mary Emily Ropes
Synopsis: Tad is determined to run off secretly with the child. His mind is set, and the dangers ahead are no deterrent to his obstinate will and unchecked pride. Tad’s troubles mount as cruel Foxy, the drunken old sea master, relentlessly pursues him. What will it take for Tad to learn that getting his own way does not always mean happiness or prosperity?
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Sometimes when I need a quick read, I turn to the Lamplighter books. I can sometimes have a hard time with these since some of them are quite boring to me, but I did like this one! Usually with Lamplighter books I don’t feel connections with characters the way I would other books, but this one I actually did really enjoy the characters and I was really wanting things to turn out well for the protagonist.
It’s a pretty short story that goes by quickly, but it did a pretty good job of keeping me reading since it was interesting. I don’t recall getting bored with it, which is pretty rare for a Lamplighter to do for me. I can’t really think of any complaints I have for this one. It’s not a book I would typically enjoy (even though I did like it), so it didn’t catch my attention as much as, say, a Marie Lu book would. Of course that’s not the book’s fault, it’s just a matter of personal taste.
I mostly read these books as a kid, but there’s still a few I have that I’ve never read before (this being one of them). Funny enough, I find I like them better now than I did when I was little, because it was a STRUGGLE to read these as a kid since I would get so bored by them. Now I can read them pretty quick and actually like them, so that’s nice! Some of them I still don’t like, but this was a good one!
Rating: 4.25/5 Stars
The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
Synopsis: Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.
Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.
The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?
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Ugh, help me! I wanted to like this book SO BAD! The hype was real for this book, and everyone seemed to love it, but I was pretty disappointed when I read it. Going into this book with high expectations really hurt this book for me. It’s funny since every time I went to pick this book up this year, I would put it down for something else. Now I realize maybe I just should have given up on it, because I was so close to DNFing (Did Not Finish) it the whole time I was reading it. Literally the whole reason I stayed was because it went by very fast and I really wanted to reach at least 65 books if I couldn’t do more.
So what was the problem? Well, first of all, the characters were kind of annoying. I felt no connection to them, and I honestly had barely any emotions towards them whenever something good/bad/etc. happened to them. Yeah, the story is sad, but like, I didn’t feel like the characters really came to life, so I couldn’t feel sad for them. I really didn’t care whether the two main characters got together or not.
Not to mention that I really didn’t like the insta-love. I like romance, but insta-love is something I really can’t stand unless the book/show/etc. can give me reasons to love it. The Sun Is Also a Star did not give me a reason to care about this relationship. The two protagonists had nothing in common at all, and half of the book was the male lead trying hard to get the female lead to fall in love with him, and he was following her around like a sad puppy dog. This book takes place during the course of a day, and they were literally getting cozy with each other within a few hours of meeting. Yeah, that really made me not like this book even more.
HOWEVER, there were a few things I did actually like about this book. I liked Yoon’s choice of simultaneously using a first person point-of-view and the point-of-view of the universe. It was interesting to read, and I liked seeing how one tiny action caused a domino effect through the lives of the rest of the characters. However, if I didn’t have a reading goal, I don’t know if that would have been enough to keep me reading. Maybe.
I’m not saying don’t read this book. There are plenty of people who LOVE this book, so maybe you will too. Just don’t go into it with extra high expectations like I did?
Rating: 3/5 Stars
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Genre: Short Story
Synopsis: ‘If I had my way, every idiot who goes around with Merry Christmas on his lips, would be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. Merry Christmas? Bah humbug!’
To bitter, miserly Ebenezer Scrooge, Christmas is just another day. But all that changes when the ghost of his long-dead business partner appears, warning Scrooge to change his ways before it’s too late.
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Every year at Christmas, I read this masterpiece by Charles Dickens. I’ve seen multiple movie versions of the story hundreds of times, but the book is, of course, my favorite. Dickens has a style that, to me, feels like a cross between Shakespeare and Edgar Allan Poe, and that really shines through in A Christmas Carol, and it’s one of the reasons I love it so much.
If you have not read this book yet, I highly encourage it, even though Christmas might be over now. It’s a great read, and one that you won’t soon forget!
Rating: 5/5 Stars
They Went Left by Monica Hesse
Genre: Historical Fiction
Synopsis: Germany, 1945. The soldiers who liberated the Gross-Rosen concentration camp said the war was over, but nothing feels over to eighteen-year-old Zofia Lederman. Her body has barely begun to heal; her mind feels broken. And her life is completely shattered: Three years ago, she and her younger brother, Abek, were the only members of their family to be sent to the right, away from the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Everyone else–her parents, her grandmother, radiant Aunt Maja–they went left.
Zofia’s last words to her brother were a promise: Abek to Zofia, A to Z. When I find you again, we will fill our alphabet. Now her journey to fulfill that vow takes her through Poland and Germany, and into a displaced persons camp where everyone she meets is trying to piece together a future from a painful past: Miriam, desperately searching for the twin she was separated from after they survived medical experimentation. Breine, a former heiress, who now longs only for a simple wedding with her new fiancé. And Josef, who guards his past behind a wall of secrets, and is beautiful and strange and magnetic all at once.
But the deeper Zofia digs, the more impossible her search seems. How can she find one boy in a sea of the missing? In the rubble of a broken continent, Zofia must delve into a mystery whose answers could break her–or help her rebuild her world.
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I went into this book knowing that it was going to be an emotional one, but BOY was I unprepared for what actually happened. So obviously from the synopsis you can tell that this book is going to be a little heavier with the subject matter. When I started reading it, I quickly fell in love with the book, but as I was nearing the end of the book, I was kind of like, “Ok…now what?” Everything seemed to be resolving quite well.
That is, until the heartbreak hit. This book was pretty predictable (which wasn’t really a bad thing), but I saw the twist coming and I shut the book because I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to actually read what I thought was going to happen. So I make myself go on, but eventually what I thought was going to happen ended up happening, but I ended up skipping a page and a half because it was so horrible I didn’t want to read it. Am I saying that this took away my enjoyment of the book? Not at all! Just, if you read it, just know that this book tells what happened to the Jews during WWII in detail.
I had never read a Monica Hesse book before, but I wish I had sooner, because her writing style is gorgeous! As far as I know, she mainly writes Historical Fiction, so definitely check out some of them!
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Struck by Lightning by Charlotte Grace O’Brien
Synopsis: Her mother depends on her. Her siblings need her watchful care. But Katie is easily distracted and often wanders from her responsibilities. This time the lure of the fair is too irresistible, and she secretly sets off. Calamity follows, and Katie finds herself alone in a terrifying storm. But the worst storm is yet to come? What will it take for Katie to realize that her selfish choices hurt those she loves the most?
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This was a Lamplighter I read back when I was pretty little, so I decided to give it a reread! I can’t really remember if I liked it back then, but if I did, but tastes changed since I didn’t really like it this time around. The writing was lovely, and the characters were lovely too, but it was just annoying at times, and it really dragged.
There was a lot of stuff I felt could have been simply removed, and there was even more stuff I felt could have been expounded upon. For half of the book, the main character didn’t even appear once, and sometimes I would get confused as to what I was reading. I don’t know, maybe I’m just stupid, haha!
Like I say many times, Lamplighters are hard for me to like. Some of them I love dearly, but this is one that even though it has a wonderful message, it just wasn’t one I enjoyed.
Rating: 3.25/5 Stars
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Synopsis: Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone. . . .
A convict with a thirst for revenge
A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager
A runaway with a privileged past
A spy known as the Wraith
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes
Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.
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Having just finished this, I still am not really sure what to think about it. I had been hearing about this book SO MUCH, because it seems that everyone who read it loved it dearly. The hype was so intense that I was a little afraid I’d end up not liking it. Leigh Bardugo is a very well-loved author, but I had never read any of her books before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.
This is a very thick book, and I almost chose not to pick it up since I would only have a few days to finish it before 2021 was over. Paired with over 400 pages, the font was also quite small for my eyes, and I was sure the long chapters would make it hard for me to stay focused. BUT! I was pleasantly surprised when it was incredibly hard to put this book down! I fell in love with the characters, and the worldbuilding was amazing! It reminded me a lot of Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy, and I think that really helped me like Six of Crows.
When I was thinking about what I’d rate it, I couldn’t really find anything I didn’t like about it. Strangely, even though I like this book a lot, I don’t think I love it as most of Leigh Bardugo’s fans do. Maybe I’m just late to the party? I guess the only thing I could say was that some parts felt a little rushed, and I know that even though the stakes were sky high, it didn’t really feel that way at times. It kind of gave me the same feeling of when I read Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy; Kaz Brekker, the protagonist of Six of Crows, was like Grand Admiral Thrawn, and I always knew he’d find a way out of any predicament. Therefore, I was never that much afraid for any of the characters’ lives.
I had heard a lot of praise about the way Bardugo wrote the relationships between the characters. I have to agree that she is a very talented author, especially in writing dialogue, because the banter between the crew was impeccable! I was a little unimpressed by the romance, but of course, the romantic relationships were only just beginning. Just because I was a little unimpressed didn’t mean I didn’t like it at all!
Basically, I think the major hype killed it for me a little. I really did love this book, but, again, I don’t think I liked it as much as everyone else. But I’m rating it very high because I was very impressed with Bardugo’s writing style, and it has already been a major influence on my own style of writing (and it drove off the writer’s block that was coming over me!). This book ended with a pretty big cliffhanger, so excuse me while I go to the bookstore to get the sequel…
Rating: 5/5 Stars
I think I read more books this month then I’ve read in the last four months! I was happy that I could get to 65 books this year, even though my original goal was 100. Even if I only read 20 books a year, I still want to be reading something! Reading is one of my favorite hobbies, and it was really what got me into writing, so I always want to keep it a part of my life no matter how many books I get around to reading!
Now I want to know what you read this month! Let me know in the comments below! And as always, God bless y’all and have a wonderful rest of the holiday season!
Synopses taken from Goodreads and Amazon