Thursday, December 7, 2017

Finishing All My 2017 ARCs! (Recap)

So, I am happy to say that I have finished reading all the ARCs I requested for 2017, which is actually a SUPER good feeling. And I’m also proud of that fact because 1) I don’t think I did the same last year, and 2) I really cut down this year in requesting because I knew I did not enjoy having a huge pile of required books to read. Honestly, it was such a good idea on my part because this year wasn’t exactly the best year in regards to the ARCs I had. And I’m not sure if it is because I am worn down and tolerate nothing, or because there truly wasn’t anything good.

I guess I wanted to use this post to recap all the review copies I have read for this year? Let’s take a look at my list:

(Yes I didn’t read four of them, oh well. It happens). But still, 24 read!

Favorite Reads


I think I can safely say Starfish (which isn't on this list even, because I didn't request it) for sure, followed by Goodbye Days, Gentleman’s Guide, and lastly Far From the Tree.

I’m just eternally grateful for Holly and Shannon for getting me a copy of Starfish, which features a biracial character dealing with social anxiety. It was such a refreshing read, with a character I could completely connect to. AND IT WAS AMAZING. Literally cannot shout about it enough.

Goodbye Days made me tear up, but not as much as the author’s debut, The Serpent King. Lastly, I loved both Gentleman’s guide and Far From the Tree, but both of them were quite long and took awhile to get into.

Reads I Could Have Done Without


Hahahah. I would say The Secret History of Us, Wait for Me, Almost Autumn, and then the last book I reviewed, Three Sides of a Heart.

The first three were just unbearably boring. I really liked Jessi Kirby’s previous books, but The Secret History of Us was missing A LOT, even though I was glad it was so short. Wait for Me was a bit meh, and I didn’t care for it too much. Same with Almost Autumn, which I’m bummed about because it was literally the first physical ARC I ever received in the mail (I KNOW right?). Lastly, and maybe because this is still very fresh in my mind, Three Sides of a Heart just didn’t wow me at all. Like I don’t even mind love triangles, but I was confused for more than half of the short stories in that anthology.

The DNFs


This year, I set my Goodreads Challenge to 1 book, AND IT WAS A LIFE CHANGER. No longer did I feel pressured to read and finish all the books. And so I definitely had a higher rate of DNFs this year than my previous years of blogging. So with that, I would definitely say The Sandcastle Empire, Wicked Like A Wildfire, The Bone Witch, and then Spindle Fire.

The Sandcastle Empire just really rubbed me the wrong way, with its setting of all poor people being evil and all. And then I’m a bit bummed about both Wicked Like A Wildfire and The Bone Witch, both books I just was not in the mood for, yet was anticipating. Lastly, Spindle Fire was just not my thing, and it was just so boring, that I HAD to stop.

The Enjoyables


Lastly, I want to end on books I very much enjoyed, but just didn’t make my favorites list. There’s Eliza and Her Monsters, Dare Mighty Things, Among the Red Stars, and then Wild Beauty.

I actually loved Eliza and Her Monsters, but I skipped the whole middle of the book! Because I just could not wait until I got to the reveal. So whoops. And there was also Dare Mighty Things, which I again, loved, until I got to the END. Among the Red Stars I thoroughly enjoyed, as it was another WWII book, but this time about Night Witches. But I have nothing to say other than that. Finally, I loved Wild Beauty, but definitely took time to get into!

That’s all I have to say about this year! How do you feel about this year’s releases overall? Are you looking forward to 2018?

Friday, December 1, 2017

Review: Three Sides of a Heart

Three Sides of a Heart: Stories About Love Triangles Edited by Natalie C. Parker
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: December 19th, 2017
Source: Edelweiss
Date Read: 11/19/17 to 11/23/17
448 pages

You may think you know the love triangle, but you've never seen love triangles like these.

These top YA authors tackle the much-debated trope of the love triangle, and the result is sixteen fresh, diverse, and romantic stories you don’t want to miss.

This collection, edited by Natalie C. Parker, contains stories written by Renee Ahdieh, Rae Carson, Brandy Colbert, Katie Cotugno, Lamar Giles, Tessa Gratton, Bethany Hagan, Justina Ireland, Alaya Dawn Johnson, EK Johnston, Julie Murphy, Garth Nix, Natalie C. Parker, Veronica Roth, Sabaa Tahir, and Brenna Yovanoff.

A teen girl who offers kissing lessons. Zombies in the Civil War South. The girl next door, the boy who loves her, and the girl who loves them both. Vampires at a boarding school. Three teens fighting monsters in an abandoned video rental store. Literally the last three people on the planet.

What do all these stories have in common?

The love triangle.
I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from ARC may or may not be in the published edition.

Seeing as this is an anthology (and the first one I’ve read in a while), I’m going to be reviewing these stories one by one, and rating them individually!

I also do want to mention that I don’t mind love triangles, but uh…my opinion might change after finishing this entire anthology? Haha. Like there are definitely well written love triangles out there, but most of them flop.

Riddles in Mathematics by Katie Cotugno
3/5 – I liked this one, but contemporary isn’t really my thing. BUT Rowena is awesome, and she’s a lesbian, and the love triangle here is her, her childhood friend Taylor, and then her brother Steven. Though it was a bit predictable, I still appreciated the story as a whole. Plus the family dynamics were well done within a short time frame.

Dread South by Justina Ireland
2/5 – I just did not like this, as the pacing throughout was pretty rushed. Though I really liked Juliet, I wasn’t a fan of Louisa. Also like, just out of the blue, after watching Juliet kill a bunch of zombies, she wants to suddenly learn self-defense? Like where did this motivation come from? I get that this is a short story and so there isn’t much space to develop these things, but this urge definitely, randomly came out of nowhere.

Omega Ship by Rae Carson
2/5 – What is…going on. This is just a really gross concept so far, and reminds me of the movie Passengers way too much. CAN THIS END WITH BOTH OF THE GUYS DYING. Seriously this story is so vain.

“If we’re going to save humanity, I need to get pregnant right away and have as many babies as possible while I’m young and healthy and strong.”

Okay. This just ended out of nowhere. No conclusion whatsoever.

La Revancha del Tango by Renee Ahdieh
5/5 – WHY IS THE MAIN CHARACTER WEARING A DUKE SWEATSHIRT! The only thing I hate about this story is that Maya is going to Duke. But love that they refer to UNC as Carolina. I expected nothing less from Renee Ahdieh. Also I did not see where that story was going, and I loved it.

Cass, An, and Dra by Natalie C. Parker
4/5 – Surprisingly liked this one a lot! Cass is able to look into two different versions of the future, anytime there is a choice involved. And in an unchosen future, she meets Dra (who is genderfluid!). Yet she is in a relationship with An. This was written really well, flowed nicely, and definitely a favorite from this anthology.

Lessons for Beginners by Julie Murphy
4/5 – Things are finally looking up! Loved Ruby’s whole kissing business. And the fact that it led to her reconnecting with Annie. Kind of wish this was longer than a short story, but what an you do.

Triangle Solo by Garth Nix
3/5 – Okay, funny in that there is a twist, and this story focuses on avoiding playing the “triangle” part as part of being percussionists. And both Connor and Anwar both play percussion, but the new music teacher assigned a piece which includes a triangle solo. And so ok, now they need to decide who is going to play it. Then out of nowhere, this random girl shows up after so and so years, and Connor is excited and all he wants to do is look at her. Wait, apparently this is sci-fi? Is Anwar not human? What. Oh, wait everyone is on Mars.

Vim and Vigor by Veronica Roth
3/5 – Liked this one too! But it very much reminded me of the earlier short story, Cass, An, and Dra. Edie is struggling with a decision she needs to make, for prom, and so she asks her friend Kate about using her father’s super hi-tech decision-making equipment. This allows her to look into what could happen depending on the two decisions she is making.

Work in Progress by E.K. Johnston
2/5 – I have…no idea what just happened in this story. Uh, so this is in second person, and takes place on a spacecraft? But then later shifts to a medieval, fantasy world? No idea.

Hurdles by Brandy Colbert
3/5 – This was…good. I mean, to me running away with someone isn’t just something I can decide in two days. And it’s definitely not something I decide based on who I like. LIKE YOU ARE STILL IN HIGH SCHOOL???? I get that life is hard and there’s a lot of pressure, but…BUT.

The Historian, the Garrison, and the Cantankerous Cat Woman by Lamar Giles
3/5 – This was more about demon and monster hunting, though the writing was definitely not my style. It was easier to understand what was happening in the “Then” timeline, but not so much the “Now”. I think this would have been a much better story if it was developed more, and NOT a short story.

Waiting by Sabaa Tahir
3/5 – I enjoyed this story, which features Ani, an Indian-American MC and her relationship with Sam and Felix, both of whom are Mexican-Americans (I think Sam is?) But anyways, Sam recently got himself in jail, and Ani is kind of there just waiting for him. Because she loves him and all. Felix likes Ani too, but he’s definitely understanding of the situation. Kind of surprised with who she ended up with, BUT guess that kind of shows that you don’t owe anyone anything.

Vega by Brenna Yovanoff
2/5 – I…don’t know what happened here. All I know is that it takes place in New Vegas, has a bunch of partying, drinking, smoking, and…I know nothing besides that. Wanting an escape?

A Hundred Thousand Threads: Alaya by Dawn Johnson
2/5 – Right. I have no idea what happened here either. Something about someone being a spy, or making up a persona to infiltrate a political party? I have a feeling I’m getting this wrong, but I don’t know. Eternally confused.

Before She Was Bloody by Tessa Gratton
2.5/5 – This overall was pretty interesting, as in there’s murder, blood, cruelness all in the name of the gods and goddesses, but it wasn’t long enough to be super fleshed out. Hence, again, my confusion. I definitely would have enjoyed this more if it was a full-length novel.

Unus, Duo, Tres by Bethany Hagen
4/5 – Another favorite, although it was sad in the end. And it had vampires, and was one of the only stories that had both a m/m and m/f love triangle (yay)! (Okay to be fair, I think one more also had both, but I had no clue what was going on, ANYWAYS). This was also more bittersweet than I thought it would be.

Final Thoughts: There is a delicate balance between complexity and length one needs to keep in mind when writing a short story. I think it’s fair to say that some of these do that, while others don’t. This is easier done with contemporary, which those I definitely enjoyed in this anthology. Another thing that I would like to emphasize, is that some of the more complex stories just throw you in into this new world, and expect you to know everything about it. I get that these are short stories, but it was really confusing for me since I don’t share the same knowledge as that author. Which is again, why I was confused for almost half of these stories.

To conclude this very long review, this wasn’t my favorite anthology. Sure, some of the stories were very unique, but they mainly left me confused rather than content.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Books For Cat Lovers

Hello there. I am dedicating this post to my cat, Primrose, because she’s such a precious baby. Plus, she wanted to take over my computer (opening tabs are her specialty), probably to talk about how much she loved the book The Great Catsby. Anyways, since cats are so awesome, today I’ll be showcasing nine books that feature cats in them!

So Mr. Kindly may not really be a cat, but any shadow-y figure taking the form of a cat gets a spot in my heart.

I LOVE MOGGET. I mean can I say that enough times? He's kind of the reason why I kept reading the Abhorsen series? Plus he is feature in all the books: Sabriel, Lirael, and Abhorsen.

I actually have never read The Princess Diaries, but have seen it enough time to know that Fat Louie is a cutie.

LYING CAT, WHO KNOWS WHETHER YOU'RE LYING OR NOT. Lying Cat is also one of my favorite parts of this comic. Also if you haven't read Saga, what are you doing with your life?

Shannon told me about this book, since I was asking about cats and such. Apparently the cat's name is Fleayoncé Knowles.

I'm honestly blanking on the name here. Grim? Ah wait it's Grimalkin I think. But I remember reading about this fairy cat, and AGAIN, one of the main reasons why I continued with The Iron Fey series. Had to suffer through the love triangle for THIS CAT. The things I DO.

I was reminded by Shannon that The Hunger Games indeed has a cat in it. This is funny seeing as Primrose's name is from The Hunger Games (I am 99% sure, I think). Funny thing is that I no longer associate Primrose with Katniss' sister. NOPE she is just my lump of a cat!

Cannot forget about Crookshanks! Who I think first appeared in the third book!

Alice in Wonderland
Lastly, there's also the Chesire Cat! I need to get to this book at some point because I have only watched the Disney movie. Yet I know Alice in Wonderland is everywhere in the book community! Plus there's a bunch of book merchandise for it.

Nine books for nine lives!
Can you think of any more that have cats in them?

Monday, November 20, 2017

The Excitement of New Books

Have you ever been in the middle of a book, and just, didn’t feel the motivation to pick it back up. Or maybe you’re skimming through the end, because you can’t wait to start the hundreds of new, shiny books you have on your shelf? WELL THIS IS THE POST FOR YOU. Because I 100% understand, and also, I have these feelings as well. Which is why I’ll be listing 10 reasons why I’m more excited for a new book instead of the one I’m currently reading.

1. Holds so many possibilities as to what it could be
The one I’m currently reading? Well, I already know what it’s about. And 9 times out of 10 the book does not match my expectations based on the synopsis I read. Like there are times where I thought the book would take a certain path with a character or a plot, but it…doesn’t? And that leaves me bummed. BUT WITH A NEW BOOK. Anything can happen.

2. A new shiny
The biggest reason, and that it’s a new book I can start. It’s a new world, new characters, ones I can love. And it all starts from the beginning. To be honest, this is why I never can finish series, but I can easily start new ones.

3. The book you’re currently reading…sucks?
Or more specifically, is just meh. And rather than DNFing, you just skim the end because you’re already so far into it. Putting it down just doesn’t seem worth it, because you spent so much time on this book.

4. New book to add to Goodreads
For anyone participating in the GR challenge, it’s a new book to add to your currently reading shelf. And finishing the old one adds to the books read total. Which leads to the next point…

Getting to a new book means that you’ve finished the other one (or perhaps reading more than one book at a time). Either way, it’s progress towards completing your never-ending TBR.

6. It’s a completely different genre
Sometimes you get so sick of the genre of the book you’re currently reading, that you just want to start something new NOT in that genre. Because it would just be so much more refreshing if you picked up that sci-fi, time travel book instead of continuing that boring, same old same old fantasy chosen one trope.

7. A book you’ve been anticipating since FOREVER
And yeah, maybe the book you’re reading is an ARC, or something you don’t necessarily want to read, but know you kind of have to because you requested it 10 months back. Yet that highly anticipated book is just ON YOUR SHELF, sitting there unread.

8. All those 2018 books
All the books that are going to come out in a year or so have grabbed your attention. More so than the book on your end table, the one you’re supposed to be reading. Distractions happen.

9. The book you’re reading has gotten…old
And the book can be extremely good, but it’s just like…WHY am I still reading this? It feels like it’s been MONTHS (when really, it’s only been a couple of days)

10. You’ve heard SO MANY good things about said new book
And it seems like everyone and their mom has read it, except you. So obviously you have to fix that. And if that means speeding through the current read, then so be it.

Do you get tired of your current reads? How often do you rush through the end in order to start a new book?

Thursday, November 16, 2017

No Review Required: The Hype Monster Strikes!

OK SO THE TITLE OF THIS POST IS SLIGHTLY MISLEADING, as only one of the books discussed here was killed by the hype. But nevertheless, I hope you enjoy both of these not-required mini reviews!

Gonna be honest, I knew this wasn’t going to live up to my expectations at all, mainly because I just kept hearing about how great this book was over and over again. But again, I had the book, why not read it. Maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised. And to be fair, I was (a bit).

“Every person has the power to change their fate if they are brave enough to fight for what they desire more than anything.”

For one, it wasn’t predictable whatsoever. I mean, I kept thinking to myself “oh I totally know how this is going to end”. But I, alongside the main character Scarlet, was tricked too. So, there’s that. On the flip side, okay??? I guess that can happen?? I mean I knew going in this wouldn’t be a gruesome, creepy circus book. Especially when the tone at times was off a bit (Spoiler, highlight to read: Like I knew people who were dead were NOT staying dead. I could tell that this was not going to be that kind of book).

Now the real question is, do I want to read the sequel. Yes??? I think? I mean, I usually don’t rate these mini reviews, but I would say this is a 3.5 stars from me. If the second book is as quick as a read as this one, then I’ll probably be borrowing it from the library. But I’m still debating haha.

To conclude, if you have time or have a copy, pick this up. It is an enjoyable read, I just didn’t find it as mind-blowing or good as everyone who’s said so.

THIS BOOK. Okay, so I put this review second because I know everyone is gonna be more interested in what I have to say about Caraval over this. Which I know, sad, but no one really knows The Witcher video game? WELL newsflash, it’s a great game, AND Netflix is making it into a series! And so, this is the book series that inspired the video game, and in turn the TV series.

“To be neutral does not mean to be indifferent or insensitive. You don't have to kill your feelings. It's enough to kill hatred within yourself.”

Well what can I say, it 100% exceeded my expectations. And mostly because I KNOW many of the characters, and I just loved spending more time with them. And one of the reasons why I started with this book (book 3), is because this is where the main plot kind of starts. I think the first two books focus more on the main character himself, WHICH I will get to at some point.

But anyways, yes, this was great. Though I do have to say that there wasn’t much action, and it was more of setting the scene for the rest of the books. But I’m just glad I got to read about young Ciri, because she was definitely a favorite in the game.

If you’re not a video game fan, this book might not interest you as much. BUT it is still a really good fantasy series, and so I highly suggest you give it a chance!

Have you read or heard of these? What were your thoughts on Caraval if you have read it? How do you feel about the "hype monster", and what do you do to combat it?

Sunday, November 12, 2017

An Innocent Life #21: Take Over The World With Me (With Paperclips)

Academic work may be taking over my life. Along with my cat, who right now is demanding that I pet her. She's so needy, all the time.

A post shared by Valerie (@innocentreads) on


- Playing Assassin's Creed Origins all day every day.

- Checking out campers and trailers at the vintage fair.

- Dealing with Prim constantly sitting on my lap. I literally cannot type right now.


- There's cat hair in my mouth.

- And lastly, Shannon introduced me to the weirdest, most addicting game ever. Where you make paperclips. And then...take over the world? Please give it a shot. Fair warning it has taken over my life.  

Happy Almost Thanksgiving. Kind of.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Shiny, Pretty Covers

I think the last time I did a post about covers was for a Top Ten Tuesday, maybe more than a year ago? But anyways, today I’m literally just going to go into my 2018 releases list on Goodreads, look to see what has a cover or not, and pick my favorite ones. BECAUSE I LOVE SHINY THINGS. Also note I probably won’t be linking up to any of these books because I’m a lazy bum. Sorry NOT SORRY.


Do you have a favorite 2018 or 2017 cover? Have you heard of any of these?