I was tagged by the Orangutan Librarian a while back to do the Perfect Book Tag, and as I’m struggling right now with drafting my own book (blerghhhh), what better way to procrastinate than by dreaming of the perfect book I’d like to write, rather than actually writing the damn thing? 😉
The Perfect Genre
pick a book that perfectly represents its genre
I’m going to go ahead and pick horror, because I think it’s a genre that gets passed over a lot of times, and there are so many hidden gems in the genre–like one of my absolute favorite reads last year, Here There Are Monsters by Amelinda Bérubé!
The Perfect Setting
pick a book that takes place in a perfect place
This one’s easy–the Downside trilogy by S.L. Grey, especially the mall setting in the The Mall, has some of my favorite world-building of all time. Just whimsical horror perfection.
The Perfect Main Character
pick the perfect main character
Gotta be Sookie Stackhouse from the Southern Vampires series–she’s just so smart, down-to-earth, and an overall badass.
The Perfect Best Friend
loyal and supportive, pick a character that you think is the best friend ever
Ooh, this is a hard one. I’m getting the sense that many of my favorite books involve loner main characters? XD I’m going to go with Eliza Tricklebank’s BFFs in The Princess Plan, Caro and Hollis. I adored their friendship, and their close dynamic makes me really excited for the forthcoming books in this series.
The Perfect Love Interest
pick a character you think would be an amazing romantic partner
Has to be King Zachary from the Green Rider series. I’ve wanted him and Karrigan to officially get together for like six years.
The Perfect Villain
pick a character with the most sinister mind
I will forever hate-love Professor Umbridge–she’s my ultimate villain.
The Perfect Family
pick a perfect bookish family
I’m going with all the sisters from Wildwood Dancing. I am such a sucker for sister stories, and I love MCs with big, boisterous families.
The Perfect Animal or Pet
pick a pet or fantastic animal that you need to see on a book
Has to be a dog, and let’s make it the fantastical, magical Disreputable Dog from Lirael.
The Perfect Plot Twist
pick a book with the best plot twist
Not going to give anything away, obviously, but the plot twist in Lock Every Door just floored me.
The Perfect Trope
pick that trope you would add to your own book without thinking
Slooooooow buuuuuuuurn~~~~~~~ See above: Zachary and Karrigan lol.
The Perfect Cover
pick that cover that you would easily put on your own book
If this were truly fantasy land and I could have any cover I want, I’d get a custom illustration by Leo and Diane Dillon. I’ve been a mega-fan of their artwork ever since I was a little kid and read Wise Child by Monica Furlong.
The Perfect Ending
pick a book that has the perfect ending
I’m going with another one of my great loves, Sunshine by Robin McKinley. The ending is desperate, it’s All The Things Go Boom, and the denouement blends the reality of picking up the pieces with an ambiguous ending that promises more. (The best and most achingly difficult part of Sunshine, I’ve always thought, is that there is no sequel.)
All right, so who’s going to write this book then? I’ll be the first one in line to read it. XD
Also, I tag everyone in this post! This is such a fun, unique tag, and I’d like to read everybody’s answers. 🙂
Happy New Year! 😀 I waited to put out this post until today, just because I had the sense that I was going to be sneaking in one more book on the last day of the year. My instincts were right; I ended 2019 with the very sexy number of 69 total books read, along with more than thirty short stories for my Short Tuesday series.
2019 was officially the year that I became a whale reader, which I define as finishing 52 or more books a year (at least a book/week). A lot changed for me in 2019 that got me reading more. Can you believe that prior to 2019 I scarcely ever read ebooks? That changed this past year; I started reading on my phone, which really helped me get in more books. I also started reading ARCs, which gave me the necessary pressure to finish books, even if I didn’t really feel like it. I also discovered tons of new authors that I love, and, perhaps most crucially, I stopped watching as much YouTube, which opened up A LOT more reading time.
I haven’t quite kept up my reading pace these last few months of the year, but that’s because:
I’m drafting my Beauty and the Beast and Aliens book;
I was in the throes of NaNo throughout November;
and the holiday season always requires a lot of attention.
My Goodreads goal for 2019 was 45; this year I’m going to set it at 52. Here’s exactly what I read in 2019, but keep scrolling for all my statistics, my picks for all sort of different categories (sexiest book, funniest book, etc.), and my top three reads of the year!
This year my reading habits shifted dramatically in terms of audience, to my surprise. My 2018 reading habits were dominated by YA, but this year most of what I read was adult, in large part due to bingeing Sookie Stackhouse novels and diving deeper into romance. In 2020 I want to maintain a good mix of YA, New Adult, and adult books in my reading.
I want to give a big caveat that I’m the one doing the categorizing here, so some books that I define as speculative for example (The Warehouse) others might place in the sci-fi category.
What do I take from this graph? First of all, I read very widely this year, though almost everything here falls under the umbrella category of “genre fiction.” Urban fantasy was a dominating force, but really those were just Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackouse novels. (More on those down below.) Romance was a huge surprise for me this year–I found some authors that I just adore (Eloisa James, Julia London), and I discovered exactly how binge-worthy the genre can be. Fantasy continues to be less and less of a presence in my reading, which is so interesting to me as I used to primarily read fantasy. As we head into 2020, I hope to keep my genre selections wide, while still reading what I love.
Crazy that I didn’t give any books a one-star review this year, though, to be fair, I DNF’d a few here and there. I continue to get better and better at judging what kind of book is going to agree with me, so I don’t see anything wrong with the distribution here. Let’s turn the whole graph green for 2020!
ARCs vs. Books Purchased/Borrowed
This was the first year I used NetGalley, and I dove in whole hog to the ARC game, signing up for books left and right. Reading ARCs come with their fair share of headaches, but my reading selection was very broad this year, mainly due to how many ARCs I read. In 2020, I want to continue reading a lot of ARCs, since reading widely is an ongoing goal of mine.
Indies vs. Hybrid vs. Traditionally Published
Here I’m defining indie as an entirely self-published book, hybrid as a book that’s been put out by a publisher that produces books with an indie mindset and grants authors a higher royalty rate, and trad pub as books that have been put into production by a publisher with a more traditional business model. Sometimes it can be hard to tell where books fall, especially as indie authors get more and more professional, but I believe the numbers up top are accurate.
The indie community as it stands right now is essentially a return to pulp fiction, with an extreme emphasis on quantity of output, since rapid release is a proven technique for making money. It’s not unusual to see an indie author who’s putting out 4+ books/year. Needless to say, the quality of a lot of indie books can be shoddy, so that’s why one of my reading goals for 2020 is to discover more indie authors who are putting out a quality product. I found a few this year, and I just want to keep broadening my horizons. 🙂
Top Three Favorite Short Stories
This year I started my Short Tuesday series, where I review a short story every Tuesday and provide a link so that everyone can read it. The vast majority of what I read are horror or SFF, since I mainly stick to either Tor.com or Nightmare Magazine. Out of the thirty-odd stories I read in 2019, these three are my top picks!
I wax lyrical about Thorne’s book The Queen’s Wing down below, so I won’t go into too much detail here. Suffice it to say that I adored the two books by Thorne that I read this year, and I’ll be the first in line for future books. I’m also curious to check out the other books she has out under her other pen names, R.F. Long and Ruth Frances Long. Isn’t it great when a new-to-you author has a back list? 😀
Three-Star Read That Left the Deepest Impression
Esaping Exodus had its flaws–scattershot character development, overbearing social justice themes, a too-much-of-everything plot–but boy, was it memorable. Scenes such as climbing through a giant space-beast’s sphincter just to have a private conversation tend to stick in your mind. It’s going to take a long time for the riotous journey that was Escaping Exodus to fade from memory, and I’m curious to read future books by this author.
I won’t lie–I expected The Shape of Water to be garbage. Guillermo del Toro for me is a drawback, not a plus, and I suspect it was the concurrent (and awful) movie tie-in that kept this book from being a five-star read. Lo and behold, the book was great, and now I’m waiting with bated breath for Kraus’s YA alien horror release next year. He’s a really talented author, and I’m super curious to see how he tackles a YA book, since this book was decidedly adult fiction.
I read not one, but two YA books this year that claimed to have aliens in them but actually didn’t. Just look at that cover–When the Sky Fell on Splendor makes promises to its readers that it simply does not keep. I was hoping for a Stranger Things-esque story with an alien flair, and instead got a navel-gazing mess of characters that I didn’t really care about. This book was unfortunately a huge disappointment.
I loved Milman’s first book, Scream All Night, and Swipe Right for Murder was even better, and funnier. Milman is an auto-buy for me at this point, and he truly understands how to take his readers on a trippy, hilarious ride. If you’re in need of a laugh, then give this contemporary YA thriller with a cyberpunk feel a try.
I… did not know that a romance book had the ability to make me feel the way When Beauty Tamed the Beast made me feel. Not to go into the gory details, but this book had my nerves physically on fire when I was reading it. I think that’s all that needs saying, hahaha.
Best Plot Twist
I’m putting up two books for this category. I tore through Sager’s Lock Every Door and did not see the plot twist coming at all–but God, was it great. You know how some plot twists are deus ex machina-esque and just make you groan? That was not this in the slightest. As for Definitely Dead, the sixth Sookie Stackhouse novel, I was so floored by the revelation involving Vampire Bill in this book that I couldn’t help but share all the deets with my husband–that’s how shocking it was to me. (He was also very surprised, lol.)
Most Touching Book
I cried–‘nuf said. Hardly any book has ever made me cry, but Lovely War managed it. Yes, the Greek god framework of the book was a little janky, but the main love story in this book was incredibly moving. Whenever anyone who’s not a big genre fiction person has asked me for a book recommendation this year, I’ve used Lovely War as my go-to choice.
Top Three of 2019
(with some admitted cheating)
I know it’s lame, but I honestly could not make a decision for the number three spot between these books. Here There Are Monsters debuted to less-than-stellar reviews, which was heartbreaking to me because I adored it. The author’s lyrical language, the fraught relationship between the two sisters (gotta love a sister story), and the entirely unexpected ending–for me, Amelinda Bérubé is an author to watch. I get it, the main character and her sister weren’t that likable, but that was half the point of the book. I would change literally nothing about Here There Are Monsters, it was that strong of a book for me.
Under Rose-Tainted Skies caught me completely off-guard–I was looking for a book about an agoraphobic character, but I didn’t expect this book to be so moving and thought-provoking. This book is entirely character-driven, and I did not want to give these characters up at the end of the book; I was sorely tempted to head back to page one and do an immediate reread. If you’ve been looking for a palate-cleanser, give this book a try.
I happened upon a glowing review of this book and decided to take a chance on it, only to discover my favorite new-to-me author this year. The Queen’s Wing consumed me; it has that “science-fantasy” feel that I just adore, similar to theLunar Chronicles series, and the character development, setting, plot–literally everything here is perfect. I’m not sure if Thorne will be continuing this series with a third book (I see she’s working on another series on Goodreads) but I’m praying that she does. Anyone who loves young adult/new adult sci-fi or fantasy needs to place this at the top of their list. It is such a gem, and it’s flying under the bookish community’s radar.
I never did a formal review of the Sookie Stackhouse books, but Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampires series dominated my reading for the latter half of the year. I read the first book, Dead Until Dark, last year, but then binged all other twelve books in the series within a few month span at the end of 2019. There were a few days in there where I would finish one book, check the time to make sure Barnes and Noble was still open, then dash out of the house to buy the next in the series; that’s how much I loved these books, and I’ve been having a book hangover ever since I finished up the last one. Was every single one absolutely perfect? No, but the series is so long, has such a wide cast of characters, and is so entertaining that I can’t put anything else as my number one for 2019. I will forever adore these books, and now I’m left with the unfortunate task of having to find more books that will give me a spiritual successor feeling. Mehhhh…
2020 Bookish Goals
Like I mentioned up top, I’m striving to read at least 52 books in 2020, which should be pretty doable. I also want to read at least one non-fiction book, since not a one featured in my reading selection this past year! A third goal of mine is to discover more indie authors whose work I enjoy, since quality can be an issue with indie books. Finally, I want to finish more series; I got caught up on and/or finished six series this past year, but I still have a lot to go.
What about you–what are your reading goals for 2020? Looking back at 2019, were your reading habits satisfactory, or is there something you want to change for the new year? Comment down below, and have a great year, everybody! ❤
Thank you to NetGalley and Dutton for sending me a free advanced reader copy of this book for an honest review. Lock Every Door debuts July 2nd.
Lock Every Door by Riley Sager was a binge-it-in-two-days type of read. This is the book you should have in your tote to read on the beach—an addictive and thrilling read that kept my nose glued to the page right up until the end. It’s also a rare specimen of book that advertises itself as having potential paranormal elements and manages to keep you guessing on that front far into the book. There are tons of books where the main character thinks, hmm, this place might be haunted, but it’s obvious to readers that that’s not the case. Not so here. (And I’m not giving anything away! Are there ghosts afoot in the MC’s bizarro apartment building or is everything rooted in the real world? You’ll have to read and see!)
The premise of the book is that a woman down on her luck (laid off, cheating boyfriend, finances in a downward spiral) manages to snag a gig where she gets paid to live in a ritzy, vacant NYC apartment. But, of course, everything is not as it seems, and things get spooky real quick. I was getting serious Rosemary’s Baby vibes throughout, due to the creepy New York apartment high-rise coupled with the young female MC.
I do feel obligated to mention that I picked up on two reveals far before they came. However, the full nature of the overarching plot reveal took me very much by surprise, while at the same time being very satisfying—the surprise is just that, surprising, while still managing to preserve suspension of disbelief. I highly recommend Lock Every Door, and I’m looking forward to reading more books by the author.