Your TBR got away from you, but there were a couple of books you wish you could have added to your read list before the end of the year. For me a lot of these were due to not having access to my regular library due to COVID, but I’ll find some way to get to them in the next year!
1) Miss Meteor
I know people are going to make comparisons to Dumplin for this but I think it’s going to have it own different charm. This is another book that I’ve been waiting to come out since I heard about it on Twitter as well. It’s also a collaboration between two previously successful YA authors.
Two girls are looking to break the mold for the Miss Meteor beauty pageant, after all no one who looks like Lita Perez or Chicky Quintanilla has won in it’s entire history.
But that’s not the only reason Lita wants to enter the contest and her ex-best friend Chicky want to help her. The road to becoming Miss Meteor isn’t about being perfect it’s about being genuine and sharing who you are with the world-and being comfortable with parts of yourself no one else understands.
But to pull off this unlikely underdog story, Lita and Chicky are going to have to forget the past and prove that girls like them are more than enough, they are everything.
Cleo Porter and the Body Electric is especially timely considering the COVID-19 pandemic. In the book, humanity was almost wiped out by a pandemic. The solution, everyone lives in sealed units with no windows or doors, their food is dropped off by drones. They never get visitors. But they are safe. Safe from everything.
The trade off? They’re alone. So when they get a package clearly meant for someone else, a package that contains a substance critical for the strangers survival.
Cleo has a dilemma on her hands. As a surgeon in training she knows the clock is ticking on this woman’s survival. But people don’t leave their unit. Not ever
There is a cute sub-genre of middle grade fiction that I like to call cute food fiction. Think of Summer of 1000 Pies, Midsummer Mayhem, books where food is the focus and the plot happens around it. I always find them to be especially cute, and I think this one will fall onto the list.
Sixth graders Sara and Elizabeth couldn’t be more different. Sara is Pakistani American and used to her small Islamic school, only this year she’s attending a newer bigger school. Elizabeth has her own problems, who is white and Jewish, has her own problems, like her mom struggling with depression.
The girls meet in an after school South Asian cooking class Elizabeth picked up the class because her mother stopped cooking. Sara is only there because she has to be, after all her mom is the teacher, but Sara hates to cook.
The two girls slowly become friends and come up with a plan to make an amazing cross cultural dish together, that will win them a spot on a local food show. The question is, they make good cooking partners, but can they be true friends?
I’ve been waiting for this book to come out since the beginning of the year. For one thing it looks cute as heck, and for two the young witch reminds me of myself.
Eva Evergreen is determined to earn the rank of novice witch before her thirteenth birthday. If she doesn’t she’ll lose her magic forever. For most witches and wizards it’s a simple enough test. It has three steps.
One: Help your town, do good all around. Two: Live there for one moon, don’t leave too soon. Three: Fly home by broomstick, the easiest of tricks.
Eva has a problem though, she’s not exactly as magical as she would like and when her magic does work, it’s not always in the way she plans. She summons heads of cabbage instead of flowers, and gets sunburn instead of calling down rain. The worst of it, when she uses too much magic she falls asleep.
When she lands in the tranquil coastal town of Auteri, she’s not what the residents are expecting. But she’s determined to prove herself. So she sets up a magical repair shop to aid the citizens of the town, she may only be semi-magical but her fixes help the townspeople in ways they could have never imagined.
The only problem is Eva’s bit of magic might not be enough when the biggest magical storm in history threatens the town she’s grown to love. She must use all her magic, bravery and cleverness, if she wants to have any chance at saving Auteri or becoming a witch.
The plot focuses on twelve year old Alma who recently moved to the town of Four Points, since being there she’s been having panic attacks that haven’t stopped. Even though she’s told her parents they have, feeling homesick and friendless, every day she feels less and less like herself.
But things change when she finds a telescope in the town’s junk shop and Alma watches a star that looks like a child fall from the sky an into her backyard. Knowing what it’s like to be lost and afraid, she knows it’s up to her to save the star. But she’ll have to enlist some new friends from the Astronomy Club.
As Alma finds a way home for the star she sets out on a quest that will take a some science, magic and her whole heart.
I admire Cait because she shows you can be both a Spoonie an an author. She is an Autistic/disabled author, plus-sign plus the Editor of @SpoonieAuthNet, host of #SpoonieAuthChat, co-editor of the award-nominated @NWUAnthology
You can also find her at caitgordon.com
2) The Quiet Pond
CW ran one of my favorite challenges this year, Pondathon. I love the style of their blog and really admire them as a blogger. You can find The Quiet Pond here and on Twitter at @thequietpond.
3) Middle Grade Carousel
Another Middle Grade book resource they basically put out bingo style cards that you can follow along with with your books and have a fun challenge. They also put up cool new middle grade books and other resources. You can find them. At Middle Grade Carousel or on Twitter at @kindeladies.
4)Middle Grade Book Village
Not only do they keep a running list of the release dates of Middle Grade Books coming out, they also have a book club and a podcast as well as their own blog. They are a great resource and a lot of help for this blog, so I really appreciate and admire everything they do. You can find them here at Middle Grade Book Village or their book club on Twitter as @MGatheart
My favorite pair was Red and Talin from Skyhunter. Of course some of her fellow Strikers were great pairs too so they get an honorable mention. For those of you who haven’t read Skyhunter,
So I’ve never been able to get interested in any of Marie Lu’s other books. Nothing against her the plots just never spoke to me. Skyhunter made up for it.
The central character is Talin, who is a refugee from another nation, she’s also a Striker. A member of an elite force of fighters. They are the last defense for the only nation that has managed to stay free from the the Federation: Mara.
Talin might not be exactly welcome in Mara but she knows first hand to horrors of the Federation, they are a war machine with technology way beyond anything the other nations have, they leave nation after nation at their feet and are the architects of a terrifying army of mutant beast known only as Ghosts.
But when a mysterious prisoner is brought from the front to Mara’s capital, Talin senses there is more to him than he’s letting on. He may be a spy, but she thinks he’s something else and is willing to go toe to toe with her fellow Strikers about it.
But only one thing is clear the Federation is coming for a fight, and Talin is ready to fight to the death alongside her fellow Strikers. But will this new prisoner be the key in saving them all? Or destroying them?
So I’ve found that a lot of authors in general have a hard time writing male leads I actually give a damn about. I give a damn about what happens to the male lead here. She also does a great job with the men in Talin’s Striker group. Really Lu makes sure I care about everyone. And when it’s time to hate people, and believe me there is plenty to go around she make it so I hate who I’m supposed to, but I have complex emotions about everyone and that’s just really good writing.
I really like a lot of the characters in the book especially Talin’s mother. How the issue of PTSD is dealt with is masterful as well.
To give the book anything less than 5 stars would be a crime, sequel now please.
Now I waffled over this how could I pick one single book as my favorite, there were lots to love and lots I wanted to spend more time in. It literally almost a coin toss between the final two, but in the end Niki Smith’s The Dark and Deep Blue won out! I just loved the way the magic system was used, and except for during some parts of the book, I’d love to be there to try it for myself. For those who don’t know the story or haven’t heard of the title, here is my review.
Below are spoilers for the book
* * * * * * * * * *
Twins Hawke and Grayson are part of a noble house, their grandfather is about to name their cousin the new head of the house. When a political coup happens and another family member takes over, the two boys have to flee.
The hide where no one would expect them, in an order of women, called the Communion of the Blue an order of magical women. Within the Communion, they are Grayce and Hanna, but while Grayce seems to take to the order like a fish to water, Hanna has a hard time. Grayce has never been comfortable being seen as a boy, and being in the Communion of the Blue feels like coming home for her. She learns how to spin the magical blue wool that controls the different elements in their world and finally finds her place.
Meanwhile, Hawke is having a tough time settling in, he meets an old friend who recognizes him from when they were children. She notes he needs to shave if he wants to keep up his disguise and she informs him that the family member who is responsible for the coup is coming for a blessing from the Communion of the Blue. Before they are officially made head of the noble house.
The twins know that the family member is really after a magical tapestry which shows the real heir of each noble house. The Communion of the Blue has a copy of the tapestry burned during the coup. Through this tapestry, they learned their cousin may be alive and hatch a rescue to take back their house and their family. Grayce though is reluctant to go back.
Their friend from childhood points out that Hawke hasn’t realized the change in Grayce, how she’s finally happy with who she is, the way she never was back when she was thought of as a boy.
Hawke apologizes to Grayce, and Grayce despite her reluctance goes with Hawke to help him find their cousin and help him take back his place as heir. But things are more complicated as they seem, and the Communion of the Blue may be involved.
When it comes down to proving who is the rightful heir before their relative is crowned, Grayce’s new skills she learned in the Communion of the Blue will prove to be the key to saving everything.
Literally so SWEET. The Communion of the Blue is where Grayce flourishes and the way it was described made me want to join. A sisterhood of magical women dying and spinning yarn that can cause magic in the world. Sign me up! But I think my favorite thing is the fact that Sister Marta the leader of the order is accepting of Grayce even after she is outed as being born male. The magical tapestry even changes to reflect who Grayce truly is, its so wonderful.
Five Favorite Things:
Sister Marta provides a great representation of a woman of color in power. In fact, the sisters of the Communion of the Blue are very diverse and Grayce and Hawke’s friend from childhood is also a person of color. Grayce’s whole character. She’s so genuine. The information about what the Communion of the Blue does, I love a well explained magical system. The magical tapestry acknowledging Grayce’s gender. The fact that Grayce gets to be the hero at one point.
It’s that time of the year where we wrap up the year, do our last challenges, push for our goals. It that spirit I’m doing the same challenge I made up last year. I’d going off the song the 12 Day of Christmas, and though there are some arguments about when the 12 Days of Christmas are, my challenge will run from December 12th through December 24th. I’m being a bit more generous since I read a lot of backlog, these can be either books you read in 2020 or books that came out in 2020.
The challenges are:
A Partridge in a Pear Tree: Favorite Stand Alone Book
Two Turtledoves: Your favorite pair (doesn’t have to be a couple).
Three French Hens: your favorite trilogy/or friend group or three etc.
Four calling birds: Shoutout to 4 people you respect as bloggers/who are in your circle and want to thank
Five golden rings: 5 Books You Didn’t Get A Chance To Read
Six Geese-a-Laying: 6 books from 2020 with the best endings.
Seven-Swans a Swimming: 7 Books You Dove Right IntoReading
Eight Ladies Dancing: 8 Best Female/Non Binary Characters
Nine Lords a leaping:9 Best Male or Non Binary Characters
Ten-Ships-A-Sailing: 10 Books You didn’t Finish (If you finish all your books do your lowest rated)
Eleven-Pipers-Piping: 11 Best Side Characters that outshone the MC.
Twelve-Bells-a-Ringing-Your 12 Best Reads of 2020.
Please link your posts for this challenge back to this post so I can read and comment on them!
So for this one, I want you to talk about you! What did you do this year that you’re proud of?
I FINALLY hit 500 followers on bookstagram. It took a lot of work and is pretty remarkable seeing as I wasn’t present maybe three months of the year. I plan to be more dedicated next year and can’t wait to see where I can go with it.
I switched from a job where career advancement wasn’t possible and I couldn’t be out about my mental health and my LGBTQ+ status. To a job with the possibility of advancement, more hours, a nicer boss, better discounts and sister stores and just generally better overall. I also got my best friend a job at the same company so that’s good.
I’ve gone leaps and bounds from where I was at the beginning of the year. Part of the reason I was absent from bookstagram and blogging for part of the year is that my mental health wasn’t doing well, but I feel a lot stronger about my conditions, and I plan to advocate more on my blog and social media about my conditions in the new year.
I learned how to read tarot this year and it’s become one of my favorite things. It’s calming and fun.
This may be a little petty but I got a few new things this year I’ve been waiting a LONG time to get. I got an Apple Watch Series 3 which I love and it really helps with my health. And I got a Nintendo Switch which I’ve been waiting like 2 years since it came out for, I’ve been playing Pokemon Sword and Breath of the Wild and it is calming and amazing.
Finally one of the best things of the year is my new kitten Elsa, I lost my 16-year-old sweet baby in 2018 and I’d been grieving since and while no one can ever replace my dear sweet departed cat, Elsa has been making me laugh and makes my heart lighter. And she was born on the death date of my belated cat which I find to be a sign from my other cat.
What about you? What were some of the highlights of your year?
Here I’m going to highlight some of my favorite posts I made this year. Don’t worry you won’t have to suffer through 11 of them, I just want to highlight a few of my favorite points on the blog this year.
The Witch Boy Review
I have a special place in my heart for this book, and this was my first blog post and one of the best books I read this year.
Anticipated Middle-Grade Books July
First time I started looking ahead at the publishing calendar.
The first time I participated in a blog tag and made a record number of post that month, and felt like a member of the bookish community.
MG Less Popular Than YA: Why?
The first discussion post I made and the first time I worked with other bookstagrammers about a topic.
And finally, 12 Days of Christmas Tag the first time I created my own book tag.
Originally I was going to do this as books you didn’t finish, but I realized that list is WAY too long. So instead I’ll focus on 10 books I wish I’d had time to pick up in 2019.
1)Guest: A Changeling Tale
This creepy book was supposed to be on my Halloween list but I just didn’t get around to it. Planning to add it to my New Years TBR.
I’ve been meaning to read more books about mental health since one of my goals is to be a better advocate for my conditions in the new year. This lovely book however I didn’t get the chance to read, is on my TBR for next year. Maybe for mental health read a thon.
3)Power to the Princess: 15 Favorite Fairytales Retold with Girl Power
Even though this was published in 2018, I love princess retellings so much I did my masters thesis on them. So when I saw this, in relation to another book I was reviewing on NetGalley, I knew I wanted to read it, but my library doesn’t have it and my request for it hasn’t been fulfilled yet so I’m stuck until a lucky paycheck in 2020.
4)All Our Broken Pieces
Another mental health book I wanted to pick up, this one about OCD.
A lovely book that I started and that time got away from me on.
This time of the year everyone wants to feel cozy. I know I do, blankets and tea help, but so do favorite books. Some of my comfort reads include
Anything by Gail Carson Levine. I especially love Ella Enchanted but I also love Fairest and the Two Princesses of Bammare. Her books are solidly written and always feature girls and women who are smart and manage to find a creative solution to the problems at hand.
My next favorite author is Margaret Peterson Haddix, I can count on her for her mysteries, twists, and smart protagonists. I also love the range of her work, I love her Children of Exile trilogy, and her Shadow Children series, as well as some of her stand alones. She’s great at coming up with new ideas.
Finally my new favorite series is by Shannon Messenger. The Keeper of the Lost Cities Series has really drawn me in this year. I’ve read it probably 8 or 9 times this year and just can’t get enough of the characters and setting.