2018 Book Wrap Up

Happy New Year, friends!

 

For today’s blog post, I wanted to share my ratings and brief reviews for all the books I read in 2018!  After this post, we’ll get back to the normal book review blog posts.  🙂

 

WARNING: Yeah, guys, this is long.

 

Without further ado…

 

The Rithmatist – Brandon Sanderson

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 5/5 Swords

I’ve heard many wonderful things about Brandon Sanderson, but I had never picked up one of his books until my now-husband, then-fiance practically begged me to read this book.  The synopsis is childish, but if you can get past that and just read…  Holy stinking moly.  The world building is phenomenally done – chalk creatures that can come to life and either protect you or eat you, based on what you draw – and the characters are great.  Once I picked this book up, I couldn’t put it down.  I highly recommend reading it, but fair warning – the sequel to this book is still up in the air since Sanderson has so many other projects he’s working on.  This book ends in a terrible, terrible cliffhanger.

 

Let Me Be A Woman – Elisabeth Elliot

Genre: Nonfiction/Christian

Rating: 4/5 Crosses

I was gifted this book by some sweet family members, but I’ll admit – I was reluctant to read it at first.  I’m always concerned about reading Christian Nonfiction because nine times out of ten, the author is just preaching at you.  However, when I was really struggling with my relationships, my faith, my sanity, and my identity of who I wanted to be and who God is calling me to be and why right up before my wedding, I decided to give this book a try.  This book is a masterpiece.  Written in the format of letters to her daughter, Elliot explores how God calls women to be and offers bits of wisdom for married women.  The tone is informal, and never once do you get the idea that she’s preaching at you.  While I definitely didn’t agree with all of the thoughts in this book, there is a lot more highlighted than I would have thought when I first started this book.  An excellent read for any woman – single, dating, engaged, married – that needs a boost and a reminder of how much God loves you.

 

Atlantia – Ally Condie

Genre: Dystopian

Rating: 5/5 Corrupt Governments

I FINALLY GOT AROUND TO READING THIS!!!  I literally got this book from the library three times, didn’t finish it either of those times, and finally just decided to buy it so I would make myself read it instead of focusing on other library books.  IT WAS SO GOOD!  Ally Condie is best known for her Matched trilogy (the first book I’ve read, the others I have yet to finish), and I was especially excited to hear this story.  A set of sisters living in the underwater city of Atlantia forced to make the decision of who goes to work on the polluted, ruined land, and who gets to stay safely and live comfortably in the undersea city below – but the choice that gets made isn’t the choice that should have been, and there’s something off about the whole thing.  The story setting is great in this one, but the characters were some of my favorites.  The sisters in this book are very realistic, and even when both of them fall in love, it’s not shown as a “well now I’m replacing you with him” type of thing, which is very characteristic of YA novels.

 

Appointment With Death – Agatha Christie

Genre: Mystery

Rating: 5/5 Magnifying Glasses

This was the first Agatha Christie book I read, gifted to me by a fabulous friend that was sick and tired of hearing me say, “Ah, I’ll read one of Christie’s books eventually.”  😉  And guys, IT DID NOT DISAPPOINT!  Very well done.  The characters were great and you definitely couldn’t guess who committed the crime until after all the facts were revealed at the end.  This book definitely made me a fan of Agatha Christie!

 

Four – Veronica Roth

Genre: Dystopian

Rating: 5/5 Corrupt Governments

For me, Four was like Divergent. I devoured it as fast as I possibly could, and when I had finished it, I ached for more. I loved any stories that took place in the Dauntless territory, and I wish there had been more of the Dauntless shown in the original trilogy.  Truth be told, that’s actually why I haven’t finished the Divergent series yet.  In my opinion, there was so much more Roth could have done with the factions, especially the Dauntless, and instead, I feel like her series plummeted when she went away from that idea.

 

The Ice Palace – F. Scott Fitzgerald

Genre: Classic

Rating: 4/5 Pipes

A short story by Fitzgerald that details a Southern woman falling in love with a Northern man and spending some time up North with him to see how she likes it.  The main character is witty and charming, and the Southern vibe of the story made me laugh and reminisce of North Carolina.  Cute and quick read if you’re interested!

 

The Outsiders – S.E. Hinton

Genre: Contemporary

Rating: 5/5 Converse

HOW DO I SUM UP MY ALL TIME FAVORITE BOOK???  Honestly there will probably be a future blog post on this later, so I promise I’ll try to make it brief.  The Outsiders is S.E. Hinton’s most renowned book.  Set in Tulsa, OK, it follows the lives of Ponyboy, his brothers, and the gang they call family, and all the things that can change in an instant.  It reminds you to live life and to look at the sunsets and to be a good person in a world full of haters.  This sounds like a really cheesy mini review, but I swear it is one of the best books I have ever read.

 

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – J.K. Rowling

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4/5 Swords

I recently did a blog post on books 1-4 of the Harry Potter series, so I won’t take up too much space here detailing all that I said.  I will explain that I never really liked Chamber of Secrets.  I think it is phenomenally done, just because we get that first experience of going to Hogwarts and seeing what the wizarding school is like.  However, this just wasn’t my favorite book in the series.  Still a 4 star rating though, just because of the flawless world building and characterization.  😉

 

Quidditch Through the Ages – J.K. Rowling

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 5/5 Swords

Can we all agree that Quidditch is THE BEST part of Harry Potter???  It was my absolute favorite thing in the entire series, which is honestly ironic since it’s a wizarding sport and I don’t care all too much for normal sports.  This book was a really quick read, but I loved how it expanded on my favorite part of the series by discussing its history, some of the famous Quidditch moves mentioned in the book, etc.

 

The Secret Lives of Introverts – Jenn Granneman

Genre: Nonfiction/Psychology

Rating: 5/5 Brains

If there was ever a book written that was a “Savanna Roberts Handbook,” this is that book.  A psychological read that takes you through an introverts head – why they think certain things, why they behave in certain ways, what tendencies they may have that people consider are weird that are actually normal because our brains are wired that way, validation for all the times you felt nobody understood you…  Wow, it’s just a great read.

 

The Offshore Pirate – F. Scott Fizgerald

Genre: Classic

Rating: 5/5 Pipes

Another short story by Fitzgerald, this one telling the tale of a spoiled girl on a yacht that gets taken over by pirates.  The spoiled girl is engaged to a man that everyone tells her not to marry, but as she spends time with the pirates’ captain, she finds herself falling in love with him instead.  The twist ending will definitely surprise you!  Quick, witty, and quaint read.

 

Tex – S.E. Hinton

Genre: Contemporary

Rating: 5/5 Converse

Agh, another S.E. Hinton novel to sum up.  It physically hurts to type little summaries instead of flailing about her books.  Tex is about a boy living with his older brother and a father that is hardly ever around.  His solace is horses and, on occasion, causing fights or playing pranks at school.  It’s definitely a coming of age story that deals heavily in forgiveness.  Please, please go read it so we can flail about it together.  Tex is so pure.

 

Sad Cypress – Agatha Christie

Genre: Mystery

Rating: 4/5 Magnifying Glasses

Another really well done Agatha Christie novel.  I wrote a blog post on this, so I won’t go into a lot of details, but the reason it lost a star for me is because the final whodunit part was revealed in a formal court case, so there was no huge shock at the end.  Still a fantastic story, though!  Highly recommend.

 

Nerve – Jenne Ryan

Genre: Contemporary

Rating: 3/5 Converse

I did a blog post on this a few months ago, so once again, I won’t relay all of my thoughts.  Did I read this book in one sitting?  Yes.  Was it absolutely horrible?  Yes, again.  Ryan’s concept for the book was really intriguing, and that’s why it kept me so engaged.  However, there was so much vulgarity and unrealistic sensuality in the book that it just made everything really disgusting.  She literally only added in the sensuality because she wanted to and knew it would draw in more readers – it neither advanced the story nor added anything extra to the plot.  Very disappointed in this book.  That being said, the movie is nothing like the book and is actually quite excellent!  Definitely give the movie a try.

 

Divergent Thinking

Genre: Nonfiction/Psychology

Rating: 5/5 Brains

A grouping of essays that discuss the psychology behind and in the different factions, characters, and scenarios of the Divergent trilogy.  I love psychology, so this book was right up my alley.  All of the essays were thought provoking and explained easily enough to understand.  If you’re interested in knowing just how much psychology Veronica Roth put into her renowned book series, you should check out this book!  I also did a blog post on it that highlighted a few of my favorite essays.

 

Star Girl – Jerry Spinelli

Genre: Contemporary

Rating: 4/5 Converse

An absolutely beautiful coming of age tale that deals with peer pressure, conformity, and the courage to be yourself.  Also, Star Girl was homeschooled, which was really really neat since most homeschoolers in books get a bad rep.  I wrote a blog post on this not too long ago that would definitely be worth checking out.  It details more on what the book is about, as well as the lessons it teaches.

 

Night of Cake & Puppets – Laini Taylor

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4/5 Swords

Soooo awkward truth: I hadn’t known this was a novella when I picked it up.  I had heard many wonderful things about Laini Taylor, so I figured this has to be a prequel or a novella just set in the world of one of her book series…  I didn’t know it actually involved characters and important events from one of the series, oops.  BUT, that being said, this was a phenomenal little read, and it definitely turned me on to Laini Taylor’s other books!  She has a whimsical and sassy writing style that immediately draws you in, and her characters are bliss.  Moral of this story: read Laini Taylor, guys.

 

The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

Genre: Dystopian

Rating: 4/5 Corrupt Governments

I was debating between giving this book 3 or 4 stars. The Hunger Games is a wildly renowned and loved trilogy, but in my humble opinion, I think the books are a bit too hyped. That being said, I decided it deserved a 4 star rating.  I will admit, the books are clever. Suzanne Collins has masterfully created a world in which you can easily lose yourself in. Her attention to detail, setting, clothing, backstory, and technology is remarkable. She doesn’t forget to weave in the weather, new holidays, or the 5 Senses. However, for me, it was a very slow read. While the attention to detail is enchanting and the story setting fresh, Katniss Everdeen is hard to care about. That makes the book feel more drawn out to me since it’s so hard to get invested in a book or series where you don’t like the main character.  In all honesty, I’m just reading for Peeta. 😉

 

First & Then – Emma Mills

Genre: Contemporary

Rating: 4/5 Converse

Outside of all of the language, this was a really cute read!  The story follows the senior year of high school for the main character as she struggles to figure out what college she wants to go to, deals with conflicting feelings over her best friend and the quarterback that nobody likes, and she has to figure out how to navigate life now that her family has adopted her socially awkward, timid cousin in order to give him a better life.  There are parts in here that made me laugh because I connected so much to the main character.  This book definitely takes you on an emotional roller coaster that ends in a lot of laughs, a lot of tears, and a lot of hope for the future.

 

It’s Not About the Coffee – Howard Behar

Genre: Nonfiction

Rating: 5/5 Stars

I’m not sure how many of you will actually be interested in this book, so I’ll keep it brief.  This book is more of a marketing book that discusses the lessons and values we can take from Starbucks.  Behar lists ideas, victories, failures, and the beliefs of the renowned coffee company that has captured many a coffee snob.  😉  It’s a really great read, with my personal favorite topic being one what they call your “Core/One-Hat Values.”  My husband and I actually took that method and applied it to his search for a new job a few months ago.  Another big thing in this book that I loved was the question, “If there were no criticism or praise in the world, how would you respond to things?”

 

Traitor to the Throne – Alwyn Hamilton

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 5/5 Swords

OH MY GOODNESS, ANOTHER ONE OF MY FAVORITE NOVELS EVER.  This is Book #2 in Hamilton’s Rebel of the Sands trilogy.  First, you need to go read Rebel of the Sands and flail with me about how great it is.  Then, you need to read Traitor to the Throne and come back and flail with me over how FREAKING AWESOME this book is too!  I was a little reluctant to read this one – not only is it the second book in the series (most second books aren’t great), but the two main characters are also split up and not together for over half of the book (normally that’s hard to do well because the story seems to be missing something when the two characters aren’t together).  But this book didn’t suffer at all – in fact, my mind was completely blown at the very end!  GO READ.  NOW.  YES, NOW.

 

Wild Blue Wonder – Carlie Sorosiak

Genre: Contemporary

Rating: 5/5 Converse

Okay, so I’ll be honest – this was a book that sounded amazing, but upon picking it up, I wasn’t sure whether I was going to like it or not.  BOY WAS I WRONG!  If there was a breakout book for 2018, this would probably be it.  (NOT A SPOILER HERE!) Set in Maine, this little novel takes you through the lives of a very broken family still reeling after the death of their best friend during one of their summer camp sessions.  This book is incredibly raw, showing not only the stages of grief but the healing that can be found through close friends and family when you simply let them in.  I never cry when I read books, but I’ll admit that I teared up with this one.

 

A Gown of Spanish Lace – Janette Oke

Genre: Christian Fiction

Rating: 4/5 Crosses

Another book that I wrote a review on not too long ago!  This story follows the path of a young woman that gets kidnapped by an outlaw, who hopes having a beautiful woman around camp will convince his son to finally kill in cold blood instead of shying away from it.  What follows instead is the son turning against his gang and his father to get the young woman back to her family, and the romance that blossoms over time.  I really enjoyed this book because it deals with trusting God, even in the hardest of circumstances, and my husband and I had to do that a lot in 2018.

 

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – J.K. Rowling

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4/5 Swords

This book is also apart of my recent Harry Potter review.  Another one of the Harry Potter books that isn’t my favorite – and honestly, this is probably my least favorite book in the entire series.  However, it does have its perks.  And its perks are named Remeus Lupin.  😉

 

Born to Blog – Mark Schaefer

Genre: Nonfiction

Rating: 5/5 Stars

I don’t know how many of my followers will actually be interested in this book either, but it was a great book about blogging.  It discusses a few different styles of blogging and has a quiz you can take to determine your personal style(s).  Very informative, and for any of you that may be looking to grow a blog, this is definitely an easy yet important read.

 

And Then There Were None – Agatha Christie

Genre: Mystery

Rating: 5/5 Magnifying Glasses

BEST AGATHA CHRISTIE BOOK EVER.  Not only is she the Queen of Mystery(TM) and the shocking whodunit moments, but she also paved the way for the people-keep-dying-at-the-dinner-party plot line.  This was a super creepy read, so I would probably recommend reading it during the daytime.  It’s also a fast read – once you pick it up, there’s no way you can put it back down.

 

The Cruel Prince – Holly Black

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 5/5 Swords

So I said Wild Blue Wonder had to be my breakout novel for 2018, but I may have lied.  Maybe this book and Wild Blue Wonder are tied.  HELLO, HOLLY BLACK.  I read her Spiderwick Chronicles for middle school to do a books and movie comparison, but I had had no idea that she wrote other, YA things!  The Cruel Prince is very Six of Crows/Leigh Bardugo-esque (clearly meaning that it is phenomenally done – dark, enchanting, with characters that make you swoon), and now would be the time to read it because the sequel, The Wicked King, comes out in a couple weeks!!!

 

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – J.K. Rowling

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 5/5 Swords

HELLO THERE, MY FAVORITE HARRY POTTER BOOK.  What’s not to like about this one?  The Quidditch World Cup is the best thing ever, and I loved the character growth in this novel.  Also, another great thing about this book, in my opinion, is that Rowling finally mixes it up and gives us the Triwizard Tournament instead of just detailing yet another year at Hogwarts.  Very well done.

 

The Selection – Kiera Cass

Genre: Dystopian

Rating: 3.75/5

I actually plan on reviewing this book later, so I won’t mention too much about it here.  Don’t let my rating fool you – if you’re looking for a good read, you should definitely pick this book up!  The reason the rating is so low for me is because of: 1) this is not a normal book that I like.  Yes, it’s Dystopian, but it is a very cheery/less intense Dystopian, and there’s actually nothing super deep about this book, which is very different from my usual reads, and 2) You can definitely tell the author is still a newer writer, at least in the first quarter of the book.  The dialogue is cheesy and actually pretty cringe-y.  BUT if you can get through that first 1/4 of the book, you won’t be disappointed by the rest!  Very lighthearted, but the book has definitely grown on me.

 

**Adding my rating scale down here, for those of you that may not know it or may be confused by how many 4 star ratings I have.  🙂

1 star – Don’t Even Bother Reading This

2 star – This Was Really Meh

3 star – This Was Okay, But Not My Favorite

4 star – Wow, This Book Is Good

5 star – If You Haven’t Read This, What Are You Doing With Your Life

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