2016 Wrap-Up || The Book Weirdo

2016-in-books

The books I’ve mentioned in this blog are arranged in a chronological order. It has been a great year of reading for me and I hope I beat my goal of a hundred books this year. I’m kind of nervous and excited because one week has already passed and I’m still not done with the first book I picked up for the year! ūüėõ ¬†I started this blog as a place to take down my notes and thoughts on books because I tend to forget¬†all the books I’ve read–I’m sure book lovers out there share this sentiment. Anyway, this was 2016 for my blog!

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1. Find Your Brave: Courage to Stand Strong When the Waves Crash In

Click here for my review.

Author: Holly Wagner

Rate: 4 of 5

Synopsis (via GoodReads):

Navigate Life’s Storms and Discover a Courage Like No Other

Have you ever found yourself in over your head, wondering how you would possibly get through with your faith and sanity intact?

It can happen any time. Life seems good and then‚ÄĒBOOM!‚ÄĒout of nowhere comes a storm that threatens to drown your hopes. Your storm might be a job loss, loneliness, a crumbling relationship, financial ruin, a serious illness, or the death of a loved one. Whatever it is, as the winds howl and the waves rage, you have a choice: will you cower in fear or will you rise to the challenge?

Cancer survivor Holly Wagner has endured her share of storms. In Find Your Brave she examines the dramatic shipwreck faced by the apostle Paul in Acts 27. There she uncovers profound truths that will guide you safely through life’s most difficult moments.

Through solid biblical teaching and relatable personal stories, Holly offers an uplifting, friendly voice in the midst of the gale-force winds and overpowering critical voices. She shows you how to anchor your trust in the God who remains faithful in every storm and in whose strength you can Find Your Brave .

#RefuseToSink

‚ÄúSo take courage! For I believe God. It will be just as He said.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄďActs 27:25 (NLT)

The apostle Paul, held as a prisoner on a ship bound for Rome, encounters a fierce tempest on the Adriatic Sea. Chaos and calamity surround him as the crew frantically attempts to lighten the ship, undergird the vessel, and keep her afloat. Paul stands in their midst and makes a simple, yet course-altering statement: ‚ÄúBe of good cheer!‚ÄĚ
 
In the middle of your storms,
are you able to declare the same?

In Find Your Brave GodChicks founder Holly Wagner combines insight found in Acts 27 with lessons learned from her very personal battles with cancer, betrayal, and turmoil to create the essential storm survival guide. Her words will encourage and empower you with practical tools to navigate life’s greatest storms, steady your heart against fear, and inspire you to rescue others as you make your way safely ashore.

Get a copy: Book Depository (Hardcover, Paperback, CD-Audio)

299087542. The Zombie Room

Click here for my review.

Author: R.D. Ronald

Rate: 2 of 5

Synopsis (via GoodReads):

An unlikely bond is forged between three men from very different backgrounds when they serve time together in prison. A series of wrong turns and disastrous life choices has led to their incarceration. Following their release, Mangle, Decker and Tazeem stick together as they return to a life of crime, embarking on a lucrative scam. But when they stumble upon a sophisticated sex-trafficking operation, they soon realise that they are in mortal danger. The disappearance of a family member and the murder of a dear friend lead the three to delve deeper into a world of violence and deception. In their quest for retribution and justice, they put their lives on the line. Their paths cross with that of Tatiana, who has left her home country for a better life in the West – or so she thinks. She soon realises she is in the hands of ruthless, violent people, who run an operation supplying girls to meet the most deviant desires of rich and powerful men. Will she survive the horrors of The Zombie Room? Are Mangle, Decker and Tazeem brave enough to follow her there, in an attempt to set her free?

Get a copy: Book Depository (Hardback)

258610963. Jacky Ha-Ha

Click here for my review.

Author: James Patterson

Rate: 4 of 5

Synopsis (via GoodReads):

In his new middle grade novel that debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, James Patterson introduces his hilarious new heroine, Jacky Ha-Ha, a class clown who makes people laugh with her so they can’t laugh at her.

With her irresistible urge to tell a joke in every situation–even when she really, really shouldn’t–twelve-year-old Jacky Ha-Ha loves to make people laugh. And cracking wise helps distract her from thinking about not-so-funny things in her life, like her mom serving in a dangerous, faraway war, and a dad who’s hardly ever home.

But no matter how much fun Jacky has, she can’t seem to escape her worries. So one starlit night, she makes a promise to keep her family together…even if she has to give up the one thing that makes her happy. But can she stop being Jacky Ha-Ha, if that’s who she really is?

Get a copy: Book Depository (Hardcover, Paperback, CD-Audio)

286868824. Juana and Lucas

Click here for my review.

Author: Juana Medina

Rate: 2 of 5

Synopsis (via GoodReads):

Fans of Judy Moody and Clarice Bean will love Juana, the spunky young Colombian girl who stars in this playful, abundantly illustrated new series.

Juana loves many things ‚ÄĒ drawing, eating Brussels sprouts, living in Bogot√°, Colombia, and especially her dog, Lucas, the best amigo ever. She does not love wearing her itchy school uniform, solving math problems, or going to dance class. And she especially does not love learning the English. Why is it so important to learn a language that makes so little sense? But when Juana‚Äôs abuelos tell her about a special trip they are planning‚ÄĒone that Juana will need to speak English to go on‚ÄĒJuana begins to wonder whether learning the English might be a good use of her time after all. Hilarious, energetic, and utterly relatable, Juana will win over los corazones ‚ÄĒ the hearts ‚ÄĒ of readers everywhere in her first adventure, presented by namesake Juana Medina.

Get a copy: Book Depository (Hardcover, CD-Audio)

243968765. The Thing About Jellyfish

Click here for review.

Author: Ali Benjamin

Rate: 3 of 5

Synopsis (via GoodReads):

This stunning debut novel about grief and wonder was an instant New York Times bestseller and captured widespread critical acclaim, including selection as a 2015 National Book Award finalist!

After her best friend dies in a drowning accident, Suzy is convinced that the true cause of the tragedy must have been a rare jellyfish sting-things don’t just happen for no reason. Retreating into a silent world of imagination, she crafts a plan to prove her theory–even if it means traveling the globe, alone. Suzy’s achingly heartfelt journey explores life, death, the astonishing wonder of the universe…and the potential for love and hope right next door.

Get a copy: Book Depository (Hardcover, Paperback, CD-Audio)

772036. The Kite Runner

Click here for my review.

Author: Khaled Hosseini

Rate: 5 of 5

Synopsis (via GoodReads):

Khaled Hosseini’s #1 New York Times Bestselling Debut

‚ÄúIt may be unfair, but what happens in a few days, sometimes even a single day, can change the course of a whole lifetime.”

Amir is the son of a wealthy Kabul merchant, a member of the ruling caste of Pashtuns. Hassan, his servant and constant companion, is a Hazara, a despised and impoverished caste. Their uncommon bond is torn by Amir’s choice to abandon his friend amidst the increasing ethnic, religious, and political tensions of the dying years of the Afghan monarchy, wrenching them far apart. But so strong is the bond between the two boys that Amir journeys back to a distant world, to try to right past wrongs against the only true friend he ever had.

The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father‚Äôs servant, The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption; and an exploration of the power of fathers over sons‚ÄĒtheir love, their sacrifices, their lies.

A sweeping story of family, love, and friendship told against the devastating backdrop of the history of Afghanistan over the last thirty years, The Kite Runner is an unusual and powerful novel that has become a beloved, one-of-a-kind classic.

Get a copy: Book Depository (Hardcover, Paperback, CD-Audio)

104447. Ballet Shoes (Shoes, no. 1)

Click here for my review.

Author: Noel Streatfeild

Rate: 3 of 5

Synopsis (via GoodReads):

Pauline, Petrova and Posy are orphans determined to help out their new family by joining the Children’s Academy of Dancing and Stage Training. But when they vow to make a name for themselves, they have no idea it’s going to be such hard work! They launch themselves into the world of show business, complete with working papers, the glare of the spotlight, and practice, practice, practice! Pauline is destined for the movies. Posy is a born dancer. But practical Petrova finds she’d rather pilot a plane than perform a pirouette. Each girl must find the courage to follow her dream.

Get a copy: Book Depository (Hardcover, Paperback)

232818918. Lost in the Sun

Click here for my review.

Author: Lisa Graff

Rate: 3 of 5

Synopsis (via GoodReads):

Everyone says that middle school is awful, but Trent knows nothing could be worse than the year he had in fifth grade, when a freak accident on Cedar Lake left one kid dead, and Trent with a brain full of terrible thoughts he can’t get rid of. Trent‚Äôs pretty positive the entire disaster was his fault, so for him middle school feels like a fresh start, a chance to prove to everyone that he’s not the horrible screw-up they seem to think he is.
If only Trent could make that fresh start happen.
It isn‚Äôt until Trent gets caught up in the whirlwind that is Fallon Little‚ÄĒthe girl with the mysterious scar across her face‚ÄĒthat things begin to change. Because fresh starts aren‚Äôt always easy. Even in baseball, when a fly ball gets lost in the sun, you have to remember to shift your position to find it.

Get a copy: Book Depository (Hardcover, Paperback, CD-Audio)

261926469. Sweetbitter

Click here for my review.

Author: Stephanie Danler

Rate: 2 of 5

Synopsis (via GoodReads):

A lush, raw, thrilling novel of the senses about a year in the life of a uniquely beguiling young woman, set in the wild, alluring world of a famous downtown New York restaurant.

“Let’s say I was born when I came over the George Washington Bridge…”

This is how we meet unforgettable Tess, the twenty-two-year-old at the heart of this stunning first novel. Shot from a mundane, provincial past, she’s come to New York to look for a life she can’t define, except as a burning drive to become someone, to belong somewhere. After she stumbles into a coveted job at a renowned Union Square restaurant, we spend the year with her as she learns the chaotic, punishing, privileged life of a “backwaiter,” on duty and¬†off. Her appetites‚ÄĒfor food, wine, knowledge, and every kind of experience‚ÄĒare awakened. And she’s pulled into the magnetic thrall of two other servers‚ÄĒa handsome bartender she falls hard for, and an older woman she latches onto with an orphan’s ardor.

These two and their enigmatic connection to each other will prove to be Tess’s hardest lesson of all. Sweetbitter¬†is a story of discovery, enchantment, and the power of what remains after disillusionment.

Get a copy: Book Depository (Hardcover, Paperback)

40201310. Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging (Confessions of Georgia Nicolson, no. 1)

Click here for my review.

Author: Louise Rennison

Rate: 3 of 5

Synopsis (via GoodReads):

There are six things very wrong with my life:

1. I have one of those under-the-skin spots that will never come to a head but lurk in a red way for the next two years.

2. It is on my nose

3. I have a three-year-old sister who may have peed somewhere in my room.

4. In fourteen days the summer hols will be over and then it will be back to Stalag 14 and Oberfuhrer Frau Simpson and her bunch of sadistic teachers.

5. I am very ugly and need to go into an ugly home.

6. I went to a party dressed as a stuffed olive.
In this wildly funny journal of a year in the life of Georgia Nicolson, British author Louise Rennison has perfectly captured the soaring joys and bottomless angst of being a teenager. In the spirit of Bridget Jones’s Diary, this fresh, irreverent, and simply hilarious book will leave you laughing out loud. As Georgia would say, it’s “Fabbity fab fab!”

Get a copy: Book Depository (HardcoverHardcover, Paperback)

2301596211. The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak

Click here for my review.

Author: Brian Katcher

Rate: 1.5 of 5

Synopsis (via GoodReads):

The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak is Stonewall Book Award-winning author Brian Katcher’s hilarious he said/she said romance about two teens recovering from heartbreak and discovering themselves on an out-of-this-world accidental first date.

It all begins when Ana Watson’s little brother, Clayton, secretly ditches the quiz bowl semifinals to go to the Washingcon sci-fi convention on what should have been a normal, r√©sum√©-building school trip.

If slacker Zak Duquette hadn’t talked up the geek fan fest so much, maybe Clayton wouldn’t have broken nearly every school rule or jeopardized Ana‚Äôs last shot at freedom from her uptight parents.

Now, teaming up with Duquette is the only way for Ana to chase down Clayton in the sea of orcs, zombies, bikini-clad princesses, Trekkies, and Smurfs. After all, one does not simply walk into Washingcon.

But in spite of Zak’s devil-may-care attitude, he has his own reasons for being as lost as Ana-and Ana may have more in common with him than she thinks. Ana and Zak certainly don‚Äôt expect the long crazy night, which begins as a nerdfighter manhunt, to transform into so much more‚Ķ

Get a copy: Book Depository (Hardcover, Paperback)

2360455912.¬†My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry

Click here for my review.

Author: Fredrik Backman

Rate: 4 of 5

Synopsis (via GoodReads):

From the author of the internationally bestselling A Man Called Ove, a novel about a young girl whose grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters, sending her on a journey that brings to life the world of her grandmother’s fairy tales.

Elsa is seven years old and different. Her grandmother is seventy-seven years old and crazy, standing-on-the-balcony-firing-paintball-guns-at-men-who-want-to-talk-about-Jesus-crazy. She is also Elsa’s best, and only, friend. At night Elsa takes refuge in her grandmother’s stories, in the Land of Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal.

When Elsa’s grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has wronged, Elsa’s greatest adventure begins. Her grandmother’s letters lead her to an apartment building full of drunks, monsters, attack dogs, and totally ordinary old crones, but also to the truth about fairytales and kingdoms and a grandmother like no other.

Get a copy: Book Depository (Hardcover, Paperback, CD-Audio)

2813506713. In Twenty Years

Click here for my review.

Author: Allison Winn Scotch

Rate: 4.5 of 5

Synopsis (via GoodReads):

Twenty years ago, six Penn students shared a house, naively certain that their friendships would endure‚ÄĒuntil the death of their ringleader and dear friend Bea splintered the group for good. Now, mostly estranged from one another, the remaining five reluctantly gather at that same house on the eve of what would have been Bea‚Äôs fortieth birthday.

But along with the return of the friends come old grudges, unrequited feelings, and buried secrets. Catherine, the CEO of a domestic empire, and Owen, a stay-at-home dad, were picture-perfect college sweethearts‚ÄĒbut now teeter on the brink of disaster. Lindy, a well-known musician, is pushing middle age in an industry that‚Äôs all about youth and slowly self-destructing as she grapples with her own identity. Behind his smile, handsome plastic surgeon Colin harbors the heartbreaking truth about his own history with Bea. And Annie carefully curates her life on Instagram and Facebook, keeping up appearances so she doesn‚Äôt have to face the truth about her own empty reality.

Reunited in the place where so many dreams began, and bolstered by the hope of healing, each of them is forced to confront the past.

Get a copy: Book Depository (Paperback, CD-Audio)

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14. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Harry Potter, no. 8)

Click here for my review.

Author: J.K. Rowling

Rate: 2 of 5

Synopsis (via GoodReads):

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

Get a copy: Book Depository (Hardcover)

240252315.¬†Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.

Click here for my review.

Author: Judy Blume

Rate: 3 of 5

Synopsis (via GoodReads):

Margaret Simon, almost twelve, likes long hair, tuna fish, the smell of rain, and things that are pink. She‚Äôs just moved from New York City to Farbook, New Jersey, and is anxious to fit in with her new friends‚ÄĒNancy, Gretchen, and Janie. When they form a secret club to talk about private subjects like boys, bras, and getting their first periods, Margaret is happy to belong.

But none of them can believe Margaret doesn‚Äôt have religion, and that she isn‚Äôt going to the Y or the Jewish Community Center. What they don‚Äôt know is Margaret has her own very special relationship with God. She can talk to God about everything‚ÄĒfamily, friends, even Moose Freed, her secret crush.

Margaret is funny and real, and her thoughts and feelings are oh-so-relatable‚ÄĒyou‚Äôll feel like she‚Äôs talking right to you, sharing her secrets with a friend.

Get a copy: Book Depository (Hardcover, Paperback)

2904651316. The House on Schellberg Street

Click here for my review.

Author: Gill James

Rate: 3 of 5

Synopsis (via GoodReads):

WHERE IS HOME? Renate Edler loves to visit her grandmother in the house on Schellberg Street. She often meets up with her friend Hani Godde who lives nearby. This year, though, it is not to be. Renate finds out a terrible secret about her family. She has to leave behind her home and her friends and become somebody she never thought she could be.The house on Schellberg Street needs to stay strong. Will it and those who work in it be strong enough?Will Renate ever feel at home again? And what of those left behind?”

Get a copy: Book Depository (Paperback)

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17. Atomic Number Sixty (Sixty Minute Reads, no. 1)

Click here for my review.

Author: David Johnston

Rate: 4 of 5

Synopsis (via GoodReads):

Holly Holloway is locked in a dusty room, strapped to a ticking bomb.

What would you do, if you only had one hour left to live?

Get a copy: Book Depository (Paperback)

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18. The Memory Book

Click here for my review.

Author: Lara Avery

Rate: 5 of 5

Synopsis (via GoodReads):

They tell me that my memory will never be the same, that I’ll start forgetting things. At first just a little, and then a lot. So I’m writing to remember.

Sammie was always a girl with a plan: graduate at the top of her class and get out of her small town as soon as humanly possible. Nothing will stand in her way–not even a rare genetic disorder the doctors say will slowly start to steal her memories and then her health. What she needs is a new plan.

So the Memory Book is born: Sammie’s notes to her future self, a document of moments great and small. It’s where she’ll record every perfect detail of her first date with longtime crush, Stuart–a brilliant young writer who is home for the summer. And where she’ll admit how much she’s missed her childhood best friend, Cooper, and even take some of the blame for the fight that ended their friendship.

Through a mix of heartfelt journal entries, mementos, and guest posts from friends and family, readers will fall in love with Sammie, a brave and remarkable girl who learns to live and love life fully, even though it’s not the life she planned.

Get a copy: Book Depository (Hardcover, Paperback)

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19. One Less Problem Without You

Click here for my review.

Author: Beth Harbison

Rate: 3 of 5

Synopsis (via GoodReads):

Meet Prinny, Chelsea and Diana. Prinny is the owner of Cosmos, a shop that sells crystals, potions, candles, and hope. It’s also a place where no one turns down a little extra-special cocktail that can work as a romance potion or heal a broken heart. But Prinny is in love with her married lawyer and she’ll need nothing short of magic to forget about him.

Chelsea works as a living statue at tourist sites around Washington, DC. It’s a thankless job, but it helps pay the rent. That, and her part-time job at Cosmos. As her dream of becoming a successful actress starts to seem more remote and the possibility of being a permanently struggling one seems more realistic, Chelsea begins to wonder: at one point do you give up on your dreams? And will love ever be in the cards for her?

Diana Tiesman is married to Leif, a charismatic man who isn‚Äôt faithful. But no matter how many times he lets her down, Diana just can’t let him go. She knows the only way she can truly breakaway is if she leaves and goes where he will never think to follow. So she ends up at Cosmos with Leif‚Äôs stepsister, where she makes her homemade teas and tinctures as she figures out whether she’d rather be lonely alone than lonely in love.

In Beth Harbison’s One Less Problem Without You, three women suddenly find themselves together at their own very different crossroads. It will take hope, love, strength and a little bit of magic for them to find their way together.

Get a copy: Book Depository (Hardcover, Paperback, CD-Audio)

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20. Kima

Click here for my review.

Author: A.H. Amin

Rate: 3 of 5

Synopsis (via GoodReads):

Christmas Eve 1928 gave birth to a yearly phenomenon in South Africa. A herd of false killer whales were found beached upon the shore. It has also given birth to the story of two young children who meet an old woman named Kima. Kima somehow knows why this has happened, but that’s not all she knows. The children, Alex and Alice, realize that there is more to this woman that what meets the eye, and ear. She will reveal to them a tale, a mysterious story she claims was passed on to her by a mythical Black Seagull.
Derived from both historic tales and figures, Kima is a fictional character portrayed in a way that makes her become real.

Get a copy: Book Depository (Paperback)

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21. A Really Awesome Mess

Click here for my review.

Author: Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin

Rate: 3 of 5

Synopsis (via GoodReads):

A hint of Recovery Road, a sample of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, and a cut of Juno. A Really Awesome Mess is a laugh-out-loud, gut-wrenching/heart-warming story of two teenagers struggling to find love and themselves.

Two teenagers. Two very bumpy roads taken that lead to Heartland Academy.
Justin was just having fun, but when his dad walked in on him with a girl in a very compromising position, Justin’s summer took a quick turn for the worse. His parents’ divorce put Justin on rocky mental ground, and after a handful of Tylenol lands him in the hospital, he has really hit rock bottom.

Emmy never felt like part of her family. She was adopted from China. Her parents and sister tower over her and look like they came out of a Ralph Lauren catalog– and Emmy definitely doesn’t. After a scandalous photo of Emmy leads to vicious rumors around school, she threatens the boy who started it all on Facebook.

Justin and Emmy arrive at Heartland Academy, a reform school that will force them to deal with their issues, damaged souls with little patience for authority. But along the way they will find a ragtag group of teens who are just as broken, stubborn, and full of sarcasm as themselves. In the end, they might even call each other friends.
A funny, sad, and remarkable story, A Really Awesome Mess is a journey of friendship and self-discovery that teen readers will surely sign up for.

Get a copy: Book Depository (Hardcover, Paperback)

681606522. The Lost Guide to Life and Love

Click here for my review.

Author: Sharon Griffiths

Rate: 4 of 5

Synopsis (via GoodReads):

Follow food writer Tilly Flint as she discovers her roots, her sense of adventure and the secret to happiness in this timeless, inventive tale for fans of Eva Rice and Elizabeth Noble.Do the answers to Tilly Flint’s future lie in her past?In a nightclub full of the rich and famous, a glamorous model leaps from a window and escapes into the night. Food writer Tilly Flint – on a rare date with boyfriend Jake – is sole witness to her flight. Little does she know the chain of events set to unfold‚ĶThe following week, Tilly and Jake have the last of many arguments, leaving Tilly alone in the wild Pennines landscape where she’s on assignment. Terrified yet strangely exhilarated, she investigates the area – and finds more than a few surprises.Intrigued to learn that, as an only child, she has family in the area, Tilly starts to dig deeper, discovering her great grandmother’s past and the eerie parallels with her own life. As she explores the treacherous moors, she stumbles across mysterious pieces of cherry-red ribbon. What do they signify? And who is the strangely familiar face in the local pub?Then a chance encounter with celebrity Clayton Silver leads Tilly into a high-octane world that spells danger. Can the ribbons from the past be a lifeline in the present?

Get a copy: Book Depository (Paperback)

138970323. The Lady in the Van

Click here for my review.

Author: Alan Bennett

Rate: 4 of 5

Synopsis (via GoodReads):

Life imitates art in The Lady in the Van, the story of the itinerant Miss Shepherd, who lived in a van in Alan Bennett’s driveway from the early 1970s until her death in 1989. It is doubtful that Bennett could have made up the eccentric Miss Shepherd if he tried, but his poignant, funny but unsentimental account of their strange relationship is akin to his best fictional screen writing.

Bennett concedes that “One seldom was able to do her a good turn without some thoughts of strangulation”, but as the plastic bags build up, the years pass by and Miss Shepherd moves into Bennett’s driveway, a relationship is established which defines a certain moment in late 20th-century London life which has probably gone forever. The dissenting, liberal, middle-class world of Bennett and his peers comes into hilarious but also telling collision with the world of Miss Shepherd: “there was a gap between our social position and our social obligations. It was in this gap that Miss Shepherd (in her van) was able to live”.

Bennett recounts Miss Shepherd’s bizarre escapades in his inimitable style, from her letter to the Argentinean Embassy at the height of the Falklands War, to her attempts to stand for Parliament and wangle an electric wheelchair out of the Social Services. Beautifully observed, The Lady in the Van is as notable for Bennett’s attempts to uncover the enigmatic history of Miss Shepherd, as it is for its amusing account of her eccentric escapades. —Jerry Brotton

Get a copy: Book Depository (Hardcover, Paperback, CD-Audio)

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24. Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna, no. 1)

Click here for my review.

Author: Kendare Blake

Rate: 4 of 5

Synopsis (via GoodReads):

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

Yet she spares Cas’s life.

Get a copy: Book Depository (Hardcover, Paperback)

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25. Girl of Nightmares (Anna, no. 2)

Click here for my review.

Author: Kendare Blake

Rate: 4 of 5

Synopsis (via GoodReads):

It’s been months since the ghost of Anna Korlov opened a door to Hell in her basement and disappeared into it, but ghost-hunter Cas Lowood can’t move on.

His friends remind him that Anna sacrificed herself so that Cas could live‚ÄĒnot walk around half dead. He knows they’re right, but in Cas’s eyes, no living girl he meets can compare to the dead girl he fell in love with.

Now he’s seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he’s asleep and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong…these aren’t just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears.

Cas doesn’t know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn’t deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it’s time for him to return the favor.

Get a copy: Book Depository (Hardcover, Paperback)

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26. Bakit Baliktad Magbasa ng Libro ang mga Pilipino? (Mga Kuwentong Barbero ni Bob Ong)

Click here for my review.

Author: Bob Ong

Rate: 5 of 5

Synopsis (via GoodReads):

Ano ang lasa ng Toning Water? Bakit sa ilalim ng overpass tumatawid ang mga Pilipino? Na-dagitab ka na ba? Saan makakabili ng aritificial fresh flowers? Sino sila Ciriaco, Procopio, Espiridiona, Troadio at Maxima? Paano makipagkaibigan sa bangaw? Ano ang nagpapaalat sa itlog na maalat? Kay Jesus ba talaga napupunta ang mga lumipad na lobo? Ano ang alam ni Claire Danes na hindi mo alam? Talaga bang “best buy” ang mga Pinay? Pagod ka na bang maging Pilipino? At bakit ka nga pala baliktad mabgasa ng libro?

Ngayong N K K B S K N T L G, eto na ang sequel…dahil may El Filibusterismo ang Noli Me Tangere, may New Testament ang Old Testament, at may Toy Story 2 ang Toy Story.

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27. A Sudden Light

Click here for my review.

Author: Garth Stein

Rate: 5 of 5

Synopsis (via GoodReads):

When a boy tries to save his parents’ marriage, he uncovers a legacy of family secrets in a coming-of-age ghost story by the author of the internationally bestselling phenomenon, The Art of Racing in the Rain.

In the summer of 1990, fourteen-year-old Trevor Riddell gets his first glimpse of Riddell House. Built from the spoils of a massive timber fortune, the legendary family mansion is constructed of giant, whole trees, and is set on a huge estate overlooking Puget Sound. Trevor‚Äôs bankrupt parents have begun a trial separation, and his father, Jones Riddell, has brought Trevor to Riddell House with a goal: to join forces with his sister, Serena, dispatch Grandpa Samuel‚ÄĒwho is flickering in and out of dementia‚ÄĒto a graduated living facility, sell off the house and property for development into ‚Äútract housing for millionaires,‚ÄĚ divide up the profits, and live happily ever after.

But Trevor soon discovers there’s someone else living in Riddell House: a ghost with an agenda of his own. For while the land holds tremendous value, it is also burdened by the final wishes of the family patriarch, Elijah, who mandated it be allowed to return to untamed forestland as a penance for the millions of trees harvested over the decades by the Riddell Timber company. The ghost will not rest until Elijah’s wish is fulfilled, and Trevor’s willingness to face the past holds the key to his family’s future.

A Sudden Light is a rich, atmospheric work that is at once a multigenerational family saga, a historical novel, a ghost story, and the story of a contemporary family’s struggle to connect with each other. A tribute to the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest, it reflects Garth Stein’s outsized capacity for empathy and keen understanding of human motivation, and his rare ability to see the unseen: the universal threads that connect us all

Get a copy: Book Depository (Hardcover, Paperback, CD-Audio)

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28. Frankly, Frannie (Frankly, Frannie, no. 1)

Click here for my review.

Author: A.J. Stern

Rate: 3 of 5

Synopsis (via GoodReads):

She‚Äôs already got her resume, business cards, and mustard packets (which are so much more grown up than ketchup) ready. So why is it taking eleventeen hundred years? Frannie‚Äôs class is visiting the local radio station and the radio host is no where to be found. Should Frannie cover for him‚ÄĒafter all, this could be her big break! But what happens when listeners call in with questions, and Frannie doesn‚Äôt know the answers?

Get a copy: Book Depository (Hardcover, Paperback)

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27. How to Party With An Infant

Click here for my review.

Author: Kaui Hart Hemmings

Rate: 4 of 5

Synopsis (via GoodReads):

The new novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Descendants‚ÄĒa hilarious and charming story about a quirky single mom in San Francisco who tiptoes through the minefields of the ‚ÄúMommy Wars‚ÄĚ and manages to find friendship and love.

When Mele Bart told her boyfriend Bobby she was pregnant with his child, he stunned her with an announcement of his own: he was engaged to someone else.

Fast forward two years, Mele’s daughter is a toddler, and Bobby and his fiancée want Ellie to be the flower girl at their wedding. Mele, who also has agreed to attend the nuptials, knows she can’t continue obsessing about Bobby and his cheese making, Napa-residing, fiancée. She needs something to do. So she answers a questionnaire provided by the San Francisco Mommy Club in elaborate and shocking detail and decides to enter their cookbook writing contest. Even though she joined the group out of desperation, Mele has found her people: Annie, Barrett, Georgia, and Henry (a stay-at-home dad). As the wedding date approaches, Mele uses her friends’ stories to inspire recipes and find comfort, both.

How to Party with an Infant is a hilarious and poignant novel from Kaui Hart Hemmings, who has an uncanny ability to make disastrous romances and tragic circumstances not only relatable and funny, but unforgettable.

Get a copy: Book Depository (Hardcover, Paperback)

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30. Massacre of the Sixty (Sixty Minute Reads, no. 2)

Author: Dave Johnston

Rate: 4 of 5

Synopsis (via GoodReads):

The billionaire Mengistu is running a competition with a ten million dollar prize fund: 60 minutes, 60 players, no rules, a straight fight to the death. Massacre of the Sixty attracts only the depraved and psychotic..

Can Holly Holloway survive the carnage to discover more about the shadowy agency “The Hollow Falx”? It’s gonna be brutal, it’s gonna be violent, it’s what she’s trained for.

16096824131. A Court of Thorns and Roses (ACOTAR, no. 1)

Click here for my review.

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Rate: 5 of 5

Synopsis (via GoodReads):

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin‚ÄĒone of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin‚ÄĒand his world‚ÄĒforever.

Get a copy: Book Depository (Hardcover, Paperback)


So, yeah! That has been 2016 for this blog! If I had to choose what my favorite of all, I will definitely choose A Court of Thorns and Roses. I found myself a part of a new fandom! Hahhaha. I officially close 2016 and start with my TBR pile for 2017! (To which I am already two books behind omg) Happy reading!


Heading background image via StockSnap; Book cover images and Synopses via GoodReads

16 Things I Learned in 2016

I know, I know, this is late for 2016 but better late than never!

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I saw this idea from Kalyn Nicholson from YouTube and I thought, “Hey that seems like a good idea!” (and totally not because I’m the greatest sheep in the planet..:P I’m just kidding). Besides, it’s a nice evaluative technique that I can employ to just see if I¬†did¬†learn a thing or two in 2016. Much to my relief, I had plenty of things that I learned and I¬†was¬†able to fill up the sixteen slots. Haha! Mind you, I’m not trying to be high-minded and all that shit but I did want to summarize what I¬†really learned from the seemingly, phew, tedious year that is 2016.

1. Acting strong will only get you so far.

There’s nothing wrong with¬†acting¬†strong but pretending will only get you so far. You have to sit down and contemplate what you have to do to get out of this certain situation or difficulty that you are having, whether it be a reading rut, a writing block, etc. I’m not saying acting strong is bad, what I’m trying to point out is that you have to have that time when you have to recognize that “Hey, I have¬†this¬†problem and I cannot run away from it anymore by acting like I have everything under control so once and for all I’ll sit and down and pin down what this problem is and plan my way to finish this.” Recognizing that I had a¬†big¬†problem in 2016, especially in the first quarter of the year, made me handle my life a little bit better.

2. Sometimes, God has to break you.

For me, this happened to me because I was so¬†out there¬†feeling like I have everything under control. I was wrong. God had to break my heart all over again and in that process I realized how utterly human I was and that I had no ability but all is His. It was the only way for Him to make me get back down to earth. It was also the way to shake my world up because I had this plan, oh trust me I had an intricate one. But again, I failed to incorporate Him to that plan. I was wrong all along and He made me recognize that while I was¬†kneeling down gathering the pieces of my heart together. He had to break me to make me recognize that I’m nothing and He is everything. Everything. It made me¬†a lot stronger–both in the faith and as ¬†a person. It made me recognize how limited I am. And that He has the full control of my life.

3. Forgiving yourself is easier said than done.

I had a battle of depression in the first half of the year. It was crazy how when my mom and I were talking about a relative who had depression I just scoffed and said, “Are you sure she’s just not going crazy?” I hate myself now for saying that. I didn’t realize then what depression meant, or what it did to a person. Succumbing to this dark chapter of my life made me feel for my distant cousin and it had been really humbling. It didn’t really help that I was a person that has trouble on forgiving myself for all the mistakes I’ve done in the past. I often see these inspirational messages that says that we ought to be good to ourselves, too. But how am I supposed to do that when all my life I had been striving hard on everything? How am I supposed to do something that feels new to me, nevermind it being something that I actively don’t like the ring to? I like pushing myself further everytime. As of now, I’m still trying to learn giving myself a break when I need it. And trying not to beat myself too hard when I commit mistakes.

4. Failures seen in a bad light will haunt you.

Following the point I said in no. 3, I had trouble cutting myself some slack when committing mistakes. Failures I have had in the previous years followed me around, haunting me on random times of the day. Actively deciding and reconciling to myself that everything I have done was in the past took me a copious amount of time but it is easily one of the best things that have happened to me. Sometimes you just have to let it go and just move on. I love this comment I found in 9Gag¬†saying that we should not be looking back so often because that’s not the direction we’re going. And honestly, it’s not easy¬†just¬†letting it go especially when those failures you have had made you invest thousands of hours on them. But sometimes you just gotta shrug it off and go your way.

“…forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark of¬†the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

Phil. 3:13b-14, KJV

5. There are times when sleeping on your fears will stop being the solution.

I know it seems stupid of me to think that I can run from my problems by sleeping. It really seems silly now upon looking back, but I thought that by escaping the reality through dreams and all would magically help me land on my feet again after waking up. But more often than not, I get more anxious after.

6. An intellectual space will help you more than you will ever know.

I think I have underappreciated my little home office because it is literally where I do all things especially when I need the focus. It’s true what people say that doing work on your bed would not help you–I always ended up taking a nap after an insanely insignificant time working. Having an area where you can just focus and throw ideas around–somewhere bright is preferred–would be magical for the work you need to get done.

7. Having a creative outlet is very important.

Although I may not be the greatest soul to be blessed with creativity, I try really hard to get my creative juices to be flowing. I write some useless things no one will read in the future, I draw cringe-y doodles (drawing sundaes is a real delight y’know haha), I try to paint color¬†things, etc. No matter what it is, kicking back with a specific activity certainly helped my otherwise too grey a year to be a little more colorful.

8. Coffee makes me sleepier.

I don’t know, man. It’s just something I have observed. Now, I don’t drink coffee for late nights but rather drink more water.

9. Powering through is a hit-and-miss thing–never trust it.

I have found myself multiple times waiting until the last minute to write some portions of my thesis and I am not proud of it. The rush certainly makes me write a little better and makes me shed all the bullshit, but at the same time it makes me feel hurried that I often have really barely passable things. It’s a double-edged sword that seems to be inclined to wound me rather than my enemies.

10. Underestimating yourself will take you nowhere; Overestimating yourself will take you nowhere.

My self-esteem was not really stellar this year. However, there were times when I have kept my head too high that I¬†oversee most errors that I have had which consequently makes me get whooped in the ass. (Exhibit A: My thesis defense. :P) Underestimating myself led to me doubting myself while overestimating myself filled my head with unnecessary (and often false) hopes. Just trust yourself the right amount and you’ll be good to go.

11. There will be plenty of lonely nights.

Sometimes in a room full of people that I love, I can feel so utterly alone that it makes me wonder why. Some nights I lay in bed looking up and I¬†just¬†feel lonely. It’s an inevitable occurrence for myself that comes and goes…and no, it’s not just because I’m getting my period. I am mostly a solitary person but there are just those times¬†when you need someone–whether it be friends, family, etc.

It doesn’t really help that I don’t get to see my friends a whole lot of times because we live so far away from each other since almost all are friends I have met in uni. My bestfriend lives twelve hours away from me. Yah, you heard that right,¬†twelve hours. I cannot, too. Hahaha.

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12. Keep a notebook and try to write well.

Not neat, but¬†well. I have proved time and time again that keeping a notebook, however scrappy or simple-looking it is, gets me through tough times. It doesn’t matter if it’s a neat notebook or one that I just jot random notes, it was a nice comfort for me that I can write down my thoughts anytime, anywhere. In the process of writing down most thoughts I have through the day, I have noticed that I have made the active decision to write better. I compared notes I have had from the start of the year to the latest ones and I can tell you that I have somewhat improved.

13. You don’t always have to plan.

I have always been that person who actually likes the process of planning. I’m a Monica and I am unashamedly so.

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However, I have also considered the forces that are not of my own. No, I’m not talking about paranormal stuff but rather those that are not really out of my control. I cannot foresee things so I have recognized that I cannot plan a day ahead complete down to the minute. I live my life one step at a time and, yes, it is generally good to have a plan but not¬†always.¬†

14. Most of the time, you just have to shrug off people and their negativity.

Sometimes those people are your family or your friends or a person in social media. Whoever it is, you don’t deserve to take in all of their bullcrap attitude. You do you and you just gotta take the high road and shrug those people off along with their shitty footing in life. This is exactly how I learned to respect people along with their attitudes and opinion and shut my mouth when it is not really needed for me to speak. Most of the time it’s a struggle…it still is. But I’m happier when I decided that I’ll be shunning off these negativity in life–it felt like I was unloading a very heavy burden I had been carrying for no apparent reason.

15. Every suffering you have is building towards the greatest conclusion.

I may not have seen it in the forefront, but it certainly made my 2016 sweeter. Finishing my thesis may have been the greatest reward the Lord has blessed me with in the year. It never fails to make me smile regardless of the countless nights spent reading, crying, etc. Most of the time crying though. Hahahaha. My thesis is my baby that’s the fruit of my blood, sweat and tears. A lot of tears.

I learned that if I want my desired results to actually happen, I have to work for it and not just sit around.

“Success is not easy, and it is certainly not for the lazy.”

Samantha Berngard

16. Being kinder won’t hurt you.

I have a resting bitch face so in order to make friends I have to go out of my way to actually look like someone who is not going to snark on you on a whim. Being kinder–and I mean genuine kindness–won’t hurt you or anyone around you. Being a good person doesn’t hurt anyone. Being an asshole does.


At the end game, here I am in 2017 and I am hoping to learn more for the better. 2016 really has been a year of realizing stuff for me. Realizing that I am but a speck of dust in the world, that nobody really cares about your appearance, that your attitude and actions shine through more than anything else, that it’s better to be advanced rather than late, and many, many more. What a hell of a year! 2017 will be great not because it will be picture-perfect, but rather I know now that life is not perfect and that I cannot always plan everything. Life is meant to be lived one step at a time.


Gifs via Giphy