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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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.

Wanderers by Chuck Wendig

GoodReads Summary:
A decadent rock star. A deeply religious radio host. A disgraced scientist. And a teenage girl who may be the world’s last hope.
Shana wakes up one morning to discover her little sister in the grip of a strange malady. She appears to be sleepwalking. She cannot talk and cannot be woken up. And she is heading with inexorable determination to a destination that only she knows. But Shana and her sister are not alone. Soon they are joined by a flock of sleepwalkers from across America, on the same mysterious journey. And like Shana, there are other “shepherds” who follow the flock to protect their friends and family on the long dark road ahead.
For on their journey, they will discover an America convulsed with terror and violence, where this apocalyptic epidemic proves less dangerous than the fear of it. As the rest of society collapses all around them–and an ultraviolent militia threatens to exterminate them–the fate of the sleepwalkers depends on unraveling the mystery behind the epidemic. The terrifying secret will either tear the nation apart–or bring the survivors together to remake a shattered world.
WanderersReview:
Where to even start with this review? So much happens in this book with so many different characters, because of that I’m not going to talk about specific characters too much.
I think this book was incredible. There were so many little things introduced in the beginning that managed to connect in the end. The mystery and suspense of the purpose of the Sleepwalkers was so well done. For a while, I wasn’t sure if it would be a scientific explanation or a magical one. This was interesting for me because I was reading another book of the same genre, at the same time that I was listening to the audiobook for this one. That book was more magical while this one was more science-based. I liked that there was a science behind what was happening.
I also really liked the combination of all the different characters. One was just an ordinary girl following her sleepwalker sister. There were really interesting plotlines for these two with their mom and dad. I loved Benji the CDC doctor. His insatiable desire to help and figure out what was going on was really compelling. But the most interesting character to me personally was Pastor Matthew. His story was the most complicated. He finds himself in over his head with a group of white supremacists. He tries to get out but instead becomes a prisoner and a tool to further their agenda. I thought this was the most interesting because I really hated Matthew for a large portion of this book, but by the end of it, I just felt bad for him and then I was proud of him for managing to do the right thing.
This book was full of political conversations. Military versus scientific intervention for the sleepwalkers. The presidential race between a woman and a man that is a huge bigot. What it means for the world to end and the things people will do when faced with that being the reality.
I don’t want to say I loved or enjoyed this book because it was wild and horrifying. But I did. I was engrossed in the story each time I started listening. I was dying to know what was going to happen, the secrets the characters were keeping from one another, and how things were going to play out. It was an incredible book full of hard topics and discussions. If you’re someone that likes dystopian books, this is one you might want to pick up.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s 19 Favorites of 2019

Hellllo, lovelies! It is officially 2020 meaning that this is the start of all of the ‘best of 2019’ bookish lists. Yes folks, I will be participating in that as well. I’m going to have this overall list of favorites be 19 for 2019, but I also have a few other lists up my sleeve. These books are in no particular order becasue I don’t want to have to  choose the order.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

Starsight by Brandon Sanderson

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi

The Art of Losing by Lizzy Mason

Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez

Hope and Other Punchlines by Julie Buxbaum

How She Died, How I Lived by Mary Crockett

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee by Jeff Zentner

Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro

King of Fools by Amanda Foody

All Our Broken Pieces by L.D. Crichton

This Heart of Mine by C.C. Hunter

The Disasters by M.K. England

The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman

The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake

The Toll by Neal Shusterman

Heroine by Mindy McGinnis

These are nineteen of my favorite books of 2019. I’ve linked all  their reviews for you’re reading pleasure, also to share why I loved these books. Link me your favorites lists so I can see what books you loved last year!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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