The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

GoodReads Summary:
Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.
As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.
With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.
The Bride Test (The Kiss Quotient, #2)Review:
After a long week of my husband being away at a wedding and taking care of my daughter without him, I was due for some much-needed self-care. So, I picked up The Bride Test and settled into a glorious bubble bath.
While I didn’t love this book as much as I loved The Kiss Quotient, I still really enjoyed it. I liked that Khai, while super-hot, wasn’t your usual male love interest. Nothing about this book was the usual. Khai was annoying at times. I just wanted to shake him. But I think that also made me like him even more.
I felt the same about Esme. At times, mostly in the beginning, I just wanted to shake her. But by the end of the book, I adored her. I really enjoyed how she made a plan to stay in the States that didn’t have to do with Khai. She was going to earn her way and not depend on a man to get the things she wanted. I just loved it. I loved how smart she was and her enthusiasm to just enjoy her time in America.
I really loved the way these two eventually came together. I loved that this wasn’t your typical romance. It still followed the same formula for the most part but the characters and the story was unique and I really enjoyed it. I think any romance lover would enjoy this fun story with a diverse cast of characters.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s 2019 Middle Grade Favorites

Hi, lovelies! As I said last week, I have lots of lists prepared for you this month. Today’s list is going to be my middle-grade favorites. I’ve been trying to expand the genres and age groups that I read and I successfully did that by reading a bunch of middle grade books this year. So, these are my favorite middle-grade books that I read in 2019.

1. Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi

2. The Battle of the Labirynth by Rick Riordan

3. Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez

4. Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia

5. The Strangers by Margaret Peterson Haddix

I read probably ten middle grade books in 2019 and absolutely loved the five books that I listed aboce. Have you read any middle-grade this year that you adored? Leave a comment and let me know!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Amanda’s 2019 Reading Statistics (Year End Wrap Up)

Hi, lovelies! I have to say thank you to my wonderful husband for this post because I could not for the life of me figure out how to make all these graphs and charts in excel and he helped me (and actually made quite a few of them.) So, I love the yearly stats posts because it’s so much fun to see what people read and how they read it. I’ve made quite a few charts and graphs, but I will be talking about each one below the graphic.

Monthly 2020

Let’s start with my monthly breakdown. Here I’ve laid out how many books I  read each month. I think it’s interesting to see the differences in each month. I can tell you that I read so many books in August because of the Magical Readathon that happens each August. December surprised me because I didn’t think I’d read so much. But I was trying to finish a  few series before the end of the year. What was your best/worst reading month of 2019?

Ratings 2020

Next, let’s talk star ratings. Before GoodReads, I didn’t care about rating books, but now that I actually use it to track what I’ve read and what I want to read I thought it would be interesting to track how many books I liked or didn’t. I would say I had a great reading year because more than half of the books I read were either four or five stars. I had an overall average of 4.03 which I think is great! Which star rating did you give out the most?

Format 2020.png

Last year, I  saw this chart on a few other yearly wrap up posts and I had only recently gotten into listening to audiobooks. So, I was already excited to see what mine would look like for 2019. I’m not surprised at all to see that I read mostly eBooks. That’s actually a reading goal of mine for 2020 is to try to read more physical books. Physical books are my preferred format. I’m hoping to only read eBooks at night before bed, instead of whenever time allows. Which format did you read the most of this year?

Library : Owned 2020.png

Another interesting statistic I  was excited to see was the comparison of how many books I was reading from the library and how many I was reading that was from my physical collection. I mostly read books I owned, but I did borrow a few from the library, from friends, and used my Kindle Unlimited subscription. In 2020, I’d like to keep this close to the same because I have around 200 unread physical books that I already own and I want to focus on getting those read. Did you read books from the library or books you own?

ARC : FC 2020.png

Toward the end of 2018, I signed up for NetGalley. I try really hard not to go wild requesting ARCs and only request ones by authors I already know of or books I’ve heard about already. I think this chart shows that I was pretty successful in that goal. I know the numbers aren’t shown, but the grey slice is only around 30 books. I’m really happy about that and plan to keep it right around the same in 2020. Did you read any ARCs in 2019?

Pub Year 2020.png

I thought it would be really interesting to see the difference in the publication years of all the books I read in 2019. This is a good way to see how many new releases I read compared to backlist books. It’s clear in this graph that I read mostly newer releases. This is interesting to me and makes it clear that in 2020 I should aim to focus on the backlist books that I already own, rather than getting caught up with all the new releases that I’m looking forward too. Did you read more new releases or backlist books?

Pages 2020.png

Next, we have page numbers. I love seeing the visuals of the books I read last year. This shows me that I read mostly shorter books with a few longer ones mixed in there too. These results were not unexpected as I read a fair bit of contemporary and romance books in 2019.

Series : Standalone 2020.png

I also kept track of whether each  book I read was a part of a series or a standalone (and then a few short story collections that didn’t really fit either). This chart was a bit surprising to me because I could have sworn that I read way more standalones than I did series. Though, I am happy about this because I’m trying to finish all of the series that I’m in the middle of. That’s another goal of mine for 2020, to finish all the completely published series that I am still in the middle of.

Genre 2020.png

The genre comparison is the one I was the most excited to see. After making my stats post for 2018, I made a goal in 2019 to attempt to read more genres. I didn’t want to only read contemporary and fantasy. I think I did better compared to last year but will continue to try to purposefully read more varying genres. What genre did you read the most in 2019?

Age Range 2020.png

While making the genre chart, I wanted to see the difference in age ranges. I knew I’d read mostly YA but I wanted to see what the numbers looked like visually. I’m pretty happy with these results. I’m planning to make a point to read more books outside of YA and I think my other goals (reading backlist books and the books I already own) will align with this as well. Did you read mostly books for one age range?

So! These are all of the visuals I made for my 2019 reading statistics. I had a ton of fun making this post, even though it was honestly a huge pain in the butt to get all the graphics into this post. I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I did.

Did you make a  2019 wrap up like this one? How was 2019 for you and your reading goals? Leave a comment and let me know!

Keep on readinng lovelies, Amanda.

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WWW Wednesday

Hey, bookworms! It’s that day of the week again where we participate in the wonderful bookish post that was formerly hosted by Should be Reading and was recently taken over by Taking on a World of Words. To play along just answer three questions to give an update about what you’re currently reading, going to read next and have read recently. Feel free to leave your answers in the comments or link your post!

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What are you currently reading?

Amanda- I’m currently reading A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi, The Vanished Birds by Simon Jimenez, and still reading with my daughter before bed Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling.

Antonia- I’m currently reading The Golden Conpass by Philip Pullman.

What did you recently finish reading?

Amanda- I most recently finished reading The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi (and loved it!)

Antonia- I most recently finished The Rise of Magicks by Nora Roberts.

What do you think you will read next?

Amanda- Next, I’m going to continue trying to get through my eARCs, but I’m not sure what I’ll pick up physically. I’m trying to stay away from TBRs and just pick up whatever speaks to me from my shelves.

Antonia- Next I think I’ll read Starsight by Brandon Sanderson.

Thanks for reading about what we’re reading. Leave a comment or leave us a link to your post to let us know what your answers are this week!

Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday – Anticipated Releases

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each week we talk about our top ten with a different topic provided by Jana. This week’s topic is top ten – Most anticipated releases for the first half of 2020

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21 January
The Hand on the Wall by Maureen Johnson

3 March
Wicked As You Wish by Rin Chupeco

28 January
House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas

3 March
Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare

7 April
The Serpents Curse by Lisa Maxwell

7 April
Aru Shah and the Tree of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

30 April
The Girl and the Stars by Mark Lawrence

5 May
Lobizona by Romina Garber

14 May
Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

19 May
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

These are just some of the new releases I’m anticipating in the first half of 2020. You can find the full list here. What books have you excited for their release? Let me know in the comments!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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Jane Anonymous by Laurie Faria Stolarz

GoodReads Summary:
Then, “Jane” was just your typical 17-year-old in a typical New England suburb getting ready to start her senior year. She had a part-time job she enjoyed, an awesome best friend, overbearing but loving parents, and a crush on a boy who was taking her to see her favorite band. She never would’ve imagined that in her town where nothing ever happens, a series of small coincidences would lead to a devastating turn of events that would forever change her life.
Now, it’s been three months since “Jane” escaped captivity and returned home. Three months of being that girl who was kidnapped, the girl who was held by a “monster.” Three months of writing down everything she remembered from those seven months locked up in that stark white room. But, what if everything you thought you knew―everything you thought you experienced―turned out to be a lie?
Jane AnonymousReview:
Thanks so much to NetGalley for providing me with an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Jane Anonymous had me hooked from the moment I read the synopsis. Then I read the prologue and I literally couldn’t put this book down until I finished it. I devoured it in one sitting.
I was crying within the first ten percent of this book, which might not say much because I cry at the drop of a hat since having a baby, but still. I was sucked into this story, chewed up, and spit out in the final pages. I really liked the way this story was told. Jane Anonymous is telling us her story. She is writing everything down as a way to work through what she experienced. I thought this was brilliant because we feel what she’s feeling. We get invested in everything the way she does, and our whole world is rocked when we learn certain bits of information. I really liked the ‘anonymous’ aspect of the story. It takes place in ‘Suburb City/Town, New England State’ which is not a real place, but I thought it was a really interesting way to keep the story focused completely on Jane and her experiences. As someone who grew up in New England, I liked that the small town northern setting was there even if no actual places were named.
Jane is experiencing some serious PTSD. We follow her as she tells us her story in alternating chapters of now and then. I thought this was done well to add more suspense to an already excellent story. Then there’s the mystery of how she got from then to now.
This story was absolutely incredible. It had characters I alternated between loving and hating. There was the best friend that I loved at first and then hated and then loved again by the end of the book. Then her parents, I wanted to hate them at times, but also imagining how I would feel if something like this happened to my daughter, I couldn’t fathom how I would react. I think they were doing their best, and eventually, I ended up liking them.
Overall, I’m obsessed with this book. It may just be a new favorite. The writing was paced just right to keep me on the edge of my seat the whole time. I loved Jane and having her tell this story was an excellent choice. I will be shouting about this book from the rooftops for the next forever.

Quotes:

“I wonder if it matches the one inside my chest, where there used to be a heart.”

“We’ve all carried our regret around like anchors, struggling not to drown.”
“Shards of mirrored glass that reflected just what I’d become: a distorted version of the person I used to be.”

“We’re all broken in some way; it’s part of that being-human thing I was talking about before. The key is to learn how to carry your broken pieces as you move forward day by day.”

“It’s funny the way memory works, especially long-term memory, when the thing being remembered hits us, the brain pops like electricity. We think it’s so random—that timing of sorts. But there’s nothing random about it. Our brains are smarter than we are, equipped to recall things at key times, when we’re able to make the most sense of the information.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

GoodReads Summary:
Thou shalt kill.
A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.
Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.
Scythe (Arc of a Scythe, #1)Review:
I don’t know why I read books that aren’t dystopian. I almost always end up with new favorite books when I read new things from the dystopian genre. Though with Scythe, I was actually rereading and falling in love all over again. I don’t know why or how I forgot how much I really loved this series. I’m rereading in preparation for the final book, which was just released on November the Fifth. I’m also lucky enough to be able to go one of his tour events with a friend of mine.
I loved the world that Schusterman has built. It’s so well explained, and never with any information dumps. We slowly learn more about how things are and why they are this way. It’s such an elaborate and well thought out world. I also really liked that there was still a resemblance to the world we know today. It made it mildly terrifying to think of this story as a possible future.
Now, our main characters, Citra and Rowan. I liked them both as individuals but I didn’t really care about their romantic relationship because it seemed like an afterthought. There was so much focus on their Scythe training and both trying to be the best apprentices they could be. There’s one event that happens about a third of the way into the story that infuriated me. If you’ve read this, you know exactly what I’m talking about. But we get some resolution to that particular issue and I was very happy about that.
My favorite thing about this book is the way that Schusterman makes you think. His books all have elements of this. Scythe really makes you think about mortality and the things we may lose if/when we attain immortality. The characters talk about how there really are no new things created now that the Thunderhead knows all. They look at art from the Age of Mortality and the emotions that clearly shine through and how nothing like that has been created since beating death. Then there’s the Scythedom. It really makes the reader think about what it means to be in control of whether others live or die. What it means to literally be the hand of death and what kind of person should or should not be that hand. It was just a really thought-provoking story.
Overall, I absolutely love this book. I cannot wait to reread Thunderhead (which I’ll be doing as soon as I schedule this review). I love this story and I am dying to know how it ends.

Quotes:

“But remember that good intentions pave many roads. Not all of them lead to hell.”

“Isn’t it good to know that we are all safe from the threat of the inferno? Except, of course, when we’re not.”

“You see, there are some who seek celebrity to change the world, and others who seek it to ensnare the world.”

“Martyrs testify far more effectively than the living.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.