Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Best of 2015

Guys, how is 2015 almost over? I feel like it was just New Years Eve 2014! 

2015 has been a really mixed year for me. I had some amazing experiences (including a bunch of bookish ones!) and some really rough times. I'm looking forward to a fresh start in 2016 and, hopefully, a more positive year!

As for books, well, I didn't read a lot this year. In fact, I'm pretty sure this is the least I've read in YEARS. But, I did read some incredible books. So many I was having a lot of difficulty narrowing it down! There were so many I wanted to talk about! I decided to add two categories to this list, as well as an overall best of. So, here's what 2015 looked like to me!

I read so many incredible debuts this year! I'm so excited to see what these authors have in store for us in the future.
*These books are in no particular order!
1) Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
- I know this one will be on a LOT of lists this year, and for good reason. It was a heartfelt, hilarious, and touching novel that I can't wait to read over and over again.

2) Last Year's Mistake by Gina Ciocca
- This one really took me by surprise! I became invested in the characters so quickly, I just didn't want to let them go!

3) The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi
- This book felt like jumping right back to my last year of high school. It was so poignant and wonderful. I will treasure this book for years to come.

4) Like It Never Happened by Emily Adrian
- I. Loved. This. Book. Plain and simple. It was such an unexpected gut-punch in the very best way (more on it later in this post!)

5) The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle
- Reading this book was like diving into old Irish folklore. Enchanting and engrossing, a book that should not be missed.

6) Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
- I JUST read this book last week and it was wonderful. I'll talk more about it in my review next week but read this book, if you haven't already.

Backlist Reads
- I didn't read as many backlist titles as I would've liked, but the ones I did read were AWESOME. Here are five of them!
*Also in no particular order

1) The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth
- A slow burn read with an ending that blew me away. Definitely a book to bump up on your TBR.

2) Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
- I have been meaning to read this book for YEARS and I'm so happy I did this year. Cried so hard I couldn't see the book and I think my heart is still broken over it.

3) Through the Ever Night & Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi
- Another one I meant to read forever and ended up marathoning in a weekend. Aria and Perry = OTP FOR LIFE.

4) Bright Before Sunrise by Tiffany Schmidt
- I sat down one summer afternoon and fell in love with this book. It was so sweet and beautiful. Tiffany Schmidt is a gem.

5) Yes Please by Amy Poehler
- I've recently gotten into reading smart ladies non-fiction, and Amy Poehler's memoir was hilarious and empowering.

Best 15 of 2015
- Honest, this list was so hard to put in any sort of order. I was just staring at the books like BUT I LOVE YOU ALL. So, take a lot of the numbers with a grain of salt. Because these 15 books are all incredible in their own ways.

15) The Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead
- Although I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book as a whole, it made my heart so so happy. Particularly all the Romitri and Sydrian scenes.

14) Bright Before Sunrise by Tiffany Schmidt
- My first Tiffany Schmidt book (why did it take me so long?!) was stellar. I don't think this book gets nearly as much love as it deserves because it deserves A LOT. It was sweet and fun and a little heartbreaking. I don't normally like books that take place in a single night, but I loved everything about this book.
13) The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West
- Kasie West just keeps writing better and better contemporary books. I sat down one summer day and refused to get up until I was done. I laughed out loud more times than I can count and had the most giddy smile on my face. I loved this book so hard. I can't wait to read it again next year.
12) All Fall Down & See How They Run by Ally Carter
- Had to put both books on here because I can't pick between the two of them. Embassy Row is Ally Carter at her finest. I love Grace with my whole heart and I love these books just as much. They are thrilling and interesting and funny and brave. If you're not on the Ally Carter train yet, what are you waiting for?
11) Rules for Stealing Stars by Corey Ann Haydu
- My first Corey Ann Haydu book (I KNOW) and it broke me into tiny little pieces. This book was enchanting and magical but also so powerful. Corey tackles such a difficult subject with grace and hope. Her words are beautiful and her characters settled right into my heart. Pick this one up, guys. It's pure magic.

10) Through the Ever Night & Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi
- I haven't fallen in love with a series this hard in a long time. I am so sad it's over, because I miss Perry and Aria so much.

9) Like It Never Happened by Emily Adrian
- This book was more than I could have hoped for. I thought it would be a light, fun book but it was so much more than that. I don't want to give too much away, so just go ahead and read this book. You won't regret it.

8) The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
- Nova Ren Suma is, quite simply, one of the best writers out there. Her prose is gorgeous, her stories are enchanting, and her characters are twisted and realistic. Honestly, it's hard to describe her books simply because they are just so incredible. The Walls Around Us tore apart my VERY high expectations and stunned me. I felt so immersed in the world she had created, I couldn't find my way out. Please, read this book. Then go out and buy all of Nova's other books. 

7) The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows
- Jodi Meadows strikes again! I don't know how to properly express my love of this book. It was just SO GOOD. Wil was a stand out character, and Black Knife stole my heart. I need The Mirror King to be in my hands this very second because I simply need MORE. 

6) Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
-  I had heard spectacular praise for this one before I read this book, and it truly deserves every word of it. It was witty and smart, two things I love in a book. It made me re-evaulate how I see the world, and that's a pretty powerful thing to do. I cannot wait for more incredible books from Becky Albertalli!

5) Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella
- There's a lot of reason to love this book. It could be because of Sophie Kinsella's signature humor, or Audrey's lovable family. But, for me, what made this book and stand out was its honest portray of anxiety. It was beautifully realistic account of what it's like to suffer from anxiety. As someone who does suffer from severe anxiety, reading a book like this hit so close to home. So, thank you Sophie Kinsella. Please write more YA for us! (But like, don't stop writing about Becky and Luke cause I also need more about them always).
4) A History of Glitter and Blood by Hannah Moskowitz
- Another book that is so hard to put into words. I think this book will be tough for some, but it is so worth the read. It's unlike anything I've ever read before. It took me so long to find the right words to describe this book, and I'm failing again. Just read this book. And if you need more convincing from me, read my review of this book.

3) Saga, Vol. 1-5 by Brian K. Vaughn & Fiona Staples
 - Saga blew my ever lovin' mind. I went into it excepting a good read and came out with my heart in pieces and a love so fierce for these characters. I was reading one volume then going to work the next day and getting the next one. As weird and odd as the world of these novels are, it's really a story about two people who love each other fiercely and the beautiful family they created. I need the next volume as soon as humanly possible, please and thank you.

2) The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
- This was one of my most anticipated books of the year, and it was better than I could have wished for. It made me laugh out loud and cry pretty dang hard. I just want to hug this book because it means so much to me. Patrick Ness, you are a rock star.

1) All the Rage by Courtney Summers
- I don't know what I can say about this book that hasn't already been said. I spent an entire month here on the blog just talking about it, and I would do it all over again. Because Courtney's books are stunning. And All the Rage is so desperately needed. If I'll I've accomplished on my blog this year is to get one more person to read this book, I'll be happy with that. I hope you all read it. I know I will again and again.

And, there you have it! My top reads for the year! What were yours?

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight) 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday (19): Ten Debut Authors Who Have Me Looking Forward to Their Sophomore Novel

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish in which bloggers post their "Top Ten" of whatever that week's theme is! This week's theme:


I have not read nearly as many debut authors this year as I would have liked because UGH LIFE. But, here are ten debut authors I did manage to read and whose books I loved!

1) Lauren Gibaldi
- The Night We Said Yes was a massive hit of nostalgia for me. It was poignant and sweet and wonderful and ugh, I just want to go back and read it all over again. I cannot wait for more books from Lauren Gibaldi! (And I don't have to wait too long because Autofocus (which sounds SO GOOD) is out next June!)
2) Gina Ciocco 

- I didn't except to love Last Year's Mistake as much as I did, but it blew me away. I couldn't stop reading, I was completely invested in the characters, and I just wanted MORE. Gina Ciocco is definitely an author I will keeping my eye on!
3) Becky Albertalli

If you haven't read Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda I give you permission to stop reading this post right now to go fix that. Absolutely one the best books I've read this year. I was worried it wouldn't live up to the hype but it was even better than I imagined. Becky Albertalli is an author to add to your auto-buy list. She is definitely on mine.
4) Moria Fowley-Doyle
- The Accident Season was so intriguing and spooky and Irish (which gives it a special place in my half-Irish heart). I can't wait to see what other books Moria Fowley-Doyle will come up with next.
5) Emily Adrian
- Like It Never Happened was a sleeper hit for me. I picked it up thinking it would be a fun, light read, and it ended up being a complete gut punch. Emily Adrian is a treasure and I need her next book as soon as humanly possible.
6) Amy Zhang
- Falling Into Place was my favourite book I read last year. It was so powerful and heartbreaking. It made me ugly cry like nobody's business but also feel so hopeful. I cannot wait to see what Amy Zhang has in store for her sophomore novel.

7) Evan Roskos

- Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets is one of my favourite books and I really wish more people would read it. It is just so so good. Although I haven't heard any news about another book for Evan Roskos, I'm hopeful there will be one coming out in the future.

8) Emily M. Danforth
- I just finished reading The Miseducation of Cameron Post for book club and I adored it. It was a long read but so worth it. (And, that ending YES PERFECT). I hope we'll get more books from Emily M. Danforth!
9) Adam Silvera
- Okay, so. I actually haven't read More Happy Than Not yet. BUT. I know it's amazing. I've only heard incredible things and Adam Silvera seems like a stellar human. And his next book History is All You Left Me sounds so dang good. So he's on the list.
10) Nicola Yoon

- Okay, so. I also haven't read Everything, Everything yet. BUT. This is another book I just feel I'm going to love SO, I put Nicola Yoon on the list as well.

So, what debut authors did you love this year? Any debuts I just need to check out?

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Waiting On Wednesday (78): Just Visiting by Dahlia Adler

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine in which bloggers talk about the books they are most eager for!

Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Release Date: November 17th 2015

Reagan Forrester wants out—out of her trailer park, out of reach of her freeloading mother, and out of the shadow of the relationship that made her the pariah of Charytan, Kansas.

Victoria Reyes wants in—in to a fashion design program, in to the arms of a cute guy who doesn't go to Charytan High, and in to a city where she won't stand out for being Mexican.

One thing the polar-opposite best friends do agree on is that wherever they go, they’re staying together. But when they set off on a series of college visits at the start of their senior year, they quickly see that the future doesn’t look quite like they expected. After two years of near-solitude following the betrayal of the ex-boyfriend who broke her heart, Reagan falls hard and fast for a Battlestar Galactica-loving, brilliant smile-sporting pre-med prospective... only to learn she's set herself up for heartbreak all over again. Meanwhile, Victoria runs full-speed toward all the things she thinks she wants… only to realize everything she’s looking for might be in the very place they've sworn to leave.

As both Reagan and Victoria struggle to learn who they are and what they want in the present, they discover just how much they don't know about each other's pasts. And when each learns what the other’s been hiding, they'll have to decide whether their friendship has a future. (Summary from Goodreads)

Road trips and friendships and coming-of-age! These are three of my favourite things to read about and Just Visiting seems to have them in spades. Dahlia Adler is a smart, lovely human and her books sound just as smart and lovely and I seriously can't wait to get a copy of Just Visiting. I mean, just look at that beautiful cover! I want it to be my life, basically.

If you don't have Just Visiting on your TBR (or any of Dahlia's other books) what are you waiting for! Run over to Goodreads!

What are you waiting on this week?

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight)

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Review: A History of Glitter and Blood by Hannah Moskowitz

Title: A History of Glitter and Blood
Author: Hannah Moskowitz
Publisher: Chronicle 
Release Date: August 18th, 2015
Source: ARC Received from Publisher in Exchange for an Honest Review (BEA)

My Rating: 4.5/5

Sixteen-year-old Beckan and her friends are the only fairies brave enough to stay in Ferrum when war breaks out. Now there is tension between the immortal fairies, the subterranean gnomes, and the mysterious tightropers who arrived to liberate the fairies. But when Beckan's clan is forced to venture into the gnome underworld to survive, they find themselves tentatively forming unlikely friendships and making sacrifices they couldn't have imagined. As danger mounts, Beckan finds herself caught between her loyalty to her friends, her desire for peace, and a love she never expected. This stunning, lyrical fantasy is a powerful exploration of what makes a family, what justifies a war, and what it means to truly love. (Summary from Goodreads)

I went into this book a bit apprehensively. The concept sounded imaginative, but I saw lots of people dnf-ing and got a little concerned. I try not to let others influence how I read, but I can't deny those dnfs made me nervous. I really didn't need to though because A History of Glitter and Blood completely enthralled me. From the start, I was engaged, in love, and enchanted. This book was unlike anything I've ever read before and, even months later, I'm still fascinated by it.

Although I personally loved this book, I can see where people might not. It's weird. The writing style is jumpy at points, the concept slightly disturbing and not easy to read. The beginning is tough to get into, the structure takes some mental adjusting, but it is so worth it. There was just so much going on in this book, in the very best way. I was trying to describe this book and all it's complexities and it's just so hard. Themes of racism, sexism, class structure, and more were expertly woven into the fabric of this story. It wasn't like being hit over the head with a Message, but rather being brought along, being completely immersed in it and suddenly realizing just what it all meant.

I really enjoyed how this book was structured. The story went back and forth in time, but the flashbacks just created a fuller picture of the characters and plot. There were pictures and excerpts which gave it a kind of history book feel, and made everything seem more real. I didn't feel like I was reading a novel, but rather an account of a very real war featuring very real characters.

And those characters! Scrap stole my heart and pissed me off all at the same time. I adored watching Beckan transform throughout this novel and Josha coming into his own. Even Tier who I was not really a fan of at first really won me over. This book was gritty and raw and the characters didn't come out of this war unscathed. They were each impacted in their own way by what they went through. They didn't always know how to help each other, but they tried. There was this bond between them that was so incredible to read about. These characters honestly felt so real. They may have been fairies and gnomes and tightropers but they were realistic and moving and powerful. I really can't express how much I loved them.

I feel like there's so many different avenues to view this book from, so many positive aspects. I've heard lots of talk about the sex positive plot, its discussion of war, and so forth. But the thing I loved most about this book was the exploration of how history is written and how stories are told. The narrator (who I'm not going to reveal even though it is pretty obvious) struggles with how to write the story. There's commentary throughout the book as they grapple with how to tell what has happened to them. This idea of the perspective of history, how skewered it can be, isn't a new one. But it was fascinating. How was this story being told? How can we really tell what is the truth? Although the narrator tries, there's no way for them to completely detach themselves from this recounting of their story. History is full of emotion because it's about people; they just take that part out of textbooks. This book was like a diary, a scrapbook, a glimpse into the life of these beautiful people and the horrors of war they had to face.

Honestly, I could write an essay on this book. This review doesn't even touch on half the things I want to talk about. I can never cover everything enchanting and powerful about this book. I just urge you to give it a chance. It's an incredible, powerful read that I love with all my heart.

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight)

Find This Book: Amazon | Chapters/Indigo | Goodreads | Hannah Moskowitz's Website 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Where'd You Go September?: Monthly Wrap-Up!

Where in the world did September go?

Actually though, I feel like we just skipped over September it went by so fast. The blog was silent last month because I was So Dang Busy and was having Lots Of Trouble writing reviews. I didn't get much reading done either! But, I had an incredible September that I wouldn't trade for the world. Here's an update!

Top Three Things I Did (Outside of Reading!)

1. 101 Week!
- This was my third year being a guide (my first as an exec member) and it was incredible, exhausting, and memorable. I didn't get much of anything done that first week of September (and I'm still playing catch-up!) but it was totally worth it.

2. CityFolk Fest! Kodaline! Live Music!
- CityFolk Fest relaunched this year and featured an absolutely incredible line-up. My favourite bands almost NEVER play in Ottawa, so having two of them in one weekend was mind-boggling. I went (along with Jess from Read My Breath Away!) to three of the five days and got to see The Sheepdogs, The Avett Brothers, Of Monsters and Men, and Passenger. I was basically in musical heaven. And then the next week (not part of CityFolk) I got to see the incredible Kodaline live! It was quite the month for live music here in Ottawa.

3. Madly Launch Party!
- Another thing we don't have a lot of in Ottawa is bookish events. So when they do happen, it's always hugely exciting. This month, the lovely Amy Alward launched her new book Madly here in Ottawa! Amy is so sweet and wonderful and I had an awesome time at the launch party. I'll do a full recap (hopefully) this week!

Books, Books, Books!

1) A Curious Tale of the In-Between (Pram #1) by Lauren DeStefano (3 stars)
3) Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller (4.5 stars)

The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler
Madly (Potion #1) by Amy Alward

Received for Review
The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
Julia Vanishes by Catherine Egan
The Smell of Other People's Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock
The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter

Soundtrack of My September

I don't download a ton of new music last month, but I did listen to a couple of songs on repeat. 

"Vicious Love" - New Found Glory (feat. Hayley Williams)
Favourite Lyric: "Living in tension with you still feels better than anything I've ever known."
Why I Love It: Hayley Williams voice is, as always, incredible and the harmonies with New Found Glory are perfect. It's just an awesome, addicting song.

"Laundry Room" - The Avett Brothers
Favourite Lyric: "I am a breathing time machine, I'll take you all for a ride"
Why I Love It: Man, this song just gets me in the gut. I really do love everything about it.

"Victorious" - Panic! at the Disco
Favourite Lyric: "50 words for murder, and I'm every one of them."
Why I Love It: This song was only released at the end of September but I've listened to it approximately a thousand times since then. I'm obsessed.
Looking Forward to October
- October will probably be less life-busy but definitely more school-busy. It'll be midterm/assignment season soon which means I'll be hiding from the world and frantically flipping through textbooks. But! I hope I'll actually have time for more reading and catching up on blog stuff. I've already read two books (which is more than half of what I read last month!) so I have a good feeling!

What did you do last month? What are you most looking forward to in October?

Let me know in the comments!

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight)