TTT: New-To-Me Authors

January seems to hold a lot of book-reflection from the previous year, but I’m not complaining!

Surprisingly, I actually read quite a number of authors who were new to me in 2018. Some were debut authors, but others were those who gained much traction in previous years. And then there are those who have been on the field for a while already and I can’t believe I haven’t read them yet!

In any case, trying to list down all the authors I read that were new to me this year was more difficult than I thought, and I ended up with a top twelve I couldn’t do without!

Top Twelve New-to-Me Authors

Tomi Adeyemi || Becky Albertalli || Roshani Chokshi || Angie Thomas

Catherynne M. Valente || Jenny Han || Nicola Yoon || Marie Lu

Emily St. John Mandel || Karen McManus || Kevin Kwan || Katherine McGee

Who were your new reads of 2018?

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Food and Fandom: Snow Vatrushka

Ah boy, I haven’t been in a food and fandom kick since my birthday, and we really need to fix that! Thankfully, I found the right kind of inspiration.

Without fail, I’ve managed to do at least one dish from each of Katherine Arden’s Winternight Trilogy, and for good reason! (See my food and fandom posts on pirozhki and medovik.)

The Winter of the Witch is the third book of Katherine Arden’s trilogy and follows Vasya’s adventures in old Rus. In the third book, things go to a head, as both the supernatural and the human worlds gear up for a war. It’s also where the gods of winter and summer come to a head, and boy oh boy, do I love it when we get a literal–and figurative–kiss of frost.

Hem hem. Enough about Vasya and Morozko. Let’s talk about Russian food.

The smell of the feast hit her first: of sweat and honey-wine and fat meat roasted in a great pit of coals at the center of a long hall. The room was packed with people, richly dressed; their ornaments gleamed copper and gold in the smoke-haze. The heat went up, making the air dance, to a hole in the center of the roof. A single star gleamed in the blackness, swallowed by the rising smoke. Servants bore in baskets of fresh bread, dusted with snow.

When I read that (and salivated a bit), I thought: “Confectioner’s sugar is kind of like dusting something with snow, so a bread dusted with confectioner’s sugar?” But I didn’t want to just make bread, and then randomly sprinkle sugar-dust on it. That’s kind of the simple interpretation of “bread dusted with snow.”

Once again, I scoured the interwebs for the perfect Russian recipe. Now, the last two recipes I’d done that were inspired by Russian folklore and Arden’s books were from Natasha’s Kitchen, so shoutout to her because she actually does have an iteration of the bread I wanted to try to make. That being said, I am not a cherry fan and I wanted to work with the ingredients I had on-hand, plus a sweet cheese for the filling.

Which is why I turned to Bake-Street for their take on vatrushka.

I love cheese bread. I’ve done a Romanian pasca before, and honestly I’ve been wanting to up my bread baking skills a bit more. This one definitely needed a bit more work, in my opinion, but I did decide that mascarpone is my new favorite cheese to bake with.

I’ve altered the ingredients below.

Vatrushka – Russian sweet bread

Dough Ingredients

  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp and a pinch dry yeast
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Cheese Filling Ingredients

  • 8 oz mascarpone cheese (room temp.)
  • 1 large egg (leave some egg white for brushing)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp bread flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt

I deviated a little bit in making the bread itself, but I found that I made silly mistakes when I did so (like forgetting to let the yeast activate in the warm milk PRIOR to putting everything into the bread flour mixture), so again, I point you toward the actual recipe so you can read up on how the bread and cheese fillings were made.

Verdict: The parents actually compared this to the pan de bonos (Colombian cheese bread) they loved, though I explained to them that this one was Russian-inspired and definitely didn’t use the same type of cheese (I used feta the last time I made pan de bono, though I might alter that recipe and actually use mascarpone…). I still need to work on the bread part of the baking, and I decided against sprinkling “snow” on the top because the cheese itself talked of snowy sweetness, but otherwise, the whole thing was really good with tea!

I’d recommend it, if you have the time to make bread, that is.

Mini Reviews: The Bone Witch, Scrappy Little Nobody

Alright, after this point, I’ll be completely caught up with my reviews of 2018! Not too shabby, considering the last two books were finished during winter break.

I actually ended up reading The Bone Witch in several different mediums: as an e-ARC, a paperback copy, and then the last leg was an audiobook. To be honest, I think the audiobook was the best path in this case, because the formatting drove me absolutely nuts on both the ARC and paperback copies. I wanted to really like it, but eh. At least I finally finished it? It only took two years…

The other audiobook I listened to was a pretty quick listen, but one that definitely ended the year well enough. I do love Anna Kendrick, though, so the bias is there, and this book definitely made me like her more. Not in that creepy stalker-y way, though, Anna! I’m totally harmless. 😀

Have you read either book? What did you think?

2018 End of Year Book Survey

I’ve definitely got some time now to reflect on my reading for the year, and it was a pretty good year! To be honest, there were a lot of great books I read, and some not-so-great, but honestly, I’ve started getting good at dropping books I really didn’t care for. Honestly, most of those were audiobooks, which really were easy to drop. I’ve thrown in my usual set of stats for the year, but this post also doubles up as the End of Year Book Survey hosted by Jamie at Perpetual Page Turner.


2018 READING STATS

Number Of Books You Read: 72
Number of Re-Reads: 6
Genre You Read The Most From: Fantasy (but not actually by much, surprisingly!)

BEST IN BOOKS

1. Best Book You Read In 2018?

Stand-Alone:


The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Series:

The Winternight Trilogy by Katherine Arden

Mid-Series:

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

Graphic Novel:

Rat Queens, Vol. 2 by Kurtis J. Wiebe

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

And definitely a good kind of surprise, considering what I thought about the first book.

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

And believe me, I’ve told almost every one of my student readers to pick this book up to read at least once, if not twice.

5. Best series you started in 2018? Best Sequel of 2018? Best Series Ender of 2018?

Best series you started in 2018?

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Best Sequel of 2018?

A Court of Mist and Fury by Tomi Adeyemi

Best Series Ender of 2018?

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2018?

TOMI ADEYEMI

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

When it took me two days and change to read a 600-page book during a school week, you know that was definitely indication that it was hard for me to put down.

9. Book You Read In 2018 That You Would Be MOST Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

Monstress Vol. 3 by Marjorie Liu, Sana Takeda

I always feel like I need to re-read the entire series every time a new volume comes out. So many characters to keep track of! Not that I mind, since the artwork is gorgeous.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2018?

The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden, Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi, The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

It’s the year of the silhouette and badass female covers! I really do love the creativity that goes into fantasy covers these days.

11. Most memorable character of 2018?

RHYSAND, HIGH LORD OF THE NIGHT COURT

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

And it is not just because of his wingspan, I promise you!

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2018?

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

Almost everything in this book was background-wallpaper type of quotation. So many lyrical metaphors!

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2018?

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Actually, this was a toss-up of The Hate U Give and Children of Blood and Bone, but both dealt with similar themes, and I figure I’ll favor a non-fantasy for this category for once, haha.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2018 to finally read?

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

This has been on my TBR since 2016. I just…HOW.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2018?

But for all my plotting and maneuvering, it’s obvious the girl isn’t here. Though there’s no shortage of glaring diviners, her silver gaze is not among them.

I release the throwing knife as something I can’t place deflates in my chest. It sinks like disappointment.

It breathes like relief.

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Inan’s self-reflections in the book were some of my favorite bits, especially because you clearly see the internal conflict play out in his mind. There really were a ton of quotes to choose from, and some were more obvious than others. But this one really resonated with me.

16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2018?

Shortest:

Interstellar Cinderella by Deborah Underwood (36 pages)

Longest:

The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker (806 pages)

17. Book That Shocked You The Most (Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)

Warcross by Marie Lu

Okay, I don’t actually think I was super-shocked about the character plot twist, mostly I was just emotionally crushed because the SHIP, MAN. THE SHIP. *breathes deeply*

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)
(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)

RHYSAND and FEYRE ARCHERON (A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas)

Honestly. With ACOMAF showing up several times on this survey, who didn’t see this coming?

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

SASHA and VASYA (The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden)

Vasya was always closest to her older brother, Sasha, even when their religious beliefs completely differ from each other. Their relationship gets complicated in the last two books of the trilogy, but there’s no doubt about the sibling love these two have. It’s great.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2018 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Honestly, I had reservations as to how this trilogy would end, especially since I didn’t care for the OTP, but it came off really well, and I ended up tearing just a little bit. And honestly, that OTP isn’t so bad…I still preferred one ship, but we know that wasn’t going to work out. Ever.

21. Best Book You Read In 2018 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure/Bookstagram, Etc.:

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

I saw this in a couple of blog and Facebook posts, and pretty much decided it was something I’d have to listen to via audiobook, if not actually read on hard copy. No regrets there.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2018?

I’ve named my voice-activated light Rhysand, so….

But to be fair, I’ve practically crushed on every TDH bloke I’ve read of the entire year, and there were many of them (Morozko, Hideo, Amar, Inan, the Darkling, juuuuuust to name a few XD). All the same, I almost fight off a snicker whenever I say, “Hey Google, turn Rhysand on.” Because WHY NOT?!

23. Best 2018 debut you read?

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

The Steel Prince by V.E. Schwab

Honestly, an end-of-year reading list without including V.E. Schwab is almost unheard of for me now. She actually didn’t make my top ten list this year (whaaaaaat?! Quelle surprise!), but I couldn’t justify putting her in for a meager issue of The Steel Prince. Still, it was very fun to read from cover to cover.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2018?

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi, The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden, Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

The weird thing is I didn’t start crying over Adeyemi’s book until her acknowledgements page. Her words made me cry, not so much the story. As for Arden’s book, it was a tearful goodbye to a trilogy I adored. And for Bardugo? I mean…it was really hard not to get attached to characters, so…

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

This was one book I didn’t think much of until I actually started listening to it via audiobook. It was definitely a good listen, and I’d recommend it, definitely.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

The graphic novel was intense as is, I can only imagine the actual book. I don’t think I could read the actual book, actually, mostly because I already had a hard time getting through the graphic novel. It definitely was emotionally wrecking.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2018?

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

This book was…special. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it, either, and it was just a strange piece of science fiction.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

Ghost Slayer by Majanka Verstraete

Oh, this certainly meant I didn’t like it. The amount of times I yelled/ranted about this on Facebook to my friend…yeah.

BLOGGING/BOOKISH LIFE

1. New favorite book blog/Bookstagram/Youtube channel you discovered in 2018?

That Artsy Reader Girl. She took over hosting Top Ten Tuesdays after the closing of The Broke and the Bookish as a whole, and she’s pretty fabulous!

2. Favorite post you wrote in 2018?

It’s always fun writing recipe posts, though I don’t often take the time to do so. I put together the recipe for mango cake not so long ago, though, because honestly, that looks like something I’d look up and repeat over and over again.

3. Favorite bookish related photo you took in 2018?

Anytime several books are involved, but I do love taking pictures of my book swag.

4. Best bookish event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events,  etc.)?

Finally meeting and speaking to some of my favorite authors, including Brandon Sanderson, Sabaa Tahir, Marissa Meyer, and Katherine Arden.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2018?

Creating a feast out of a recipe in Tortall: A Spy’s Guide by Tamora Pierce. Food and fandom recipes are always fun to do, especially when I can eat the results!

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

It’s always been a balancing act between work, reading, and hobbies. I don’t think that’s going to change any time soon.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

The Bear and the Nightingale review got a hefty amount of hits the past few months. Probably because the third book is coming out in a couple days.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

For all the ranting and raving I did of Warcross, that could use a few hits, though I did deviate a lot when I wrote it.

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

I’ve been getting way into bookish candles lately. So shoutout to Briar Wick at Etsy for supplying me with lovely bookish-related candles.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

Goodreads challenge going strong! I’ll probably up my goal to 70 books for 2019, since that’s actually doable if I continue with my audiobook spree along with my hard copy spree.

LOOKING AHEAD

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2018 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2019?

Wildcard by Marie Lu

It’s sad that the one student I had reading Warcross got to Wildcard before I did. He wants me to have read this already, so I promised by the new year it’ll be my priority.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2019 (non-debut)?

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

Because Nikolai Lantsov is life. He’s not your general TDH, but even I make exceptions when your sense of humor reminds me of Carswell Thorne. Also, eeeeeeee!

3. 2019 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

I saw this being marketed during NYCC, and it looked really interesting, so I’m looking out for it.

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2019?

Children of Vengeance and Virtue by Tomi Adeyemi

THE COVER HASN’T BEEN REVEALED YET WHYYYYY.

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2019?

Keep on fighting the good fight. Whatever that means.

6. A 2019 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone (if applicable):

The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden

Seriously, you guys. If you like Russian folklore or stories by the fire. If you like slow-burn romance or badass girls. If you like TDHs, history, wars, demons, and midnights. READ THIS TRILOGY.

How did your bookish year go?

TTT: Top Ten Books 2018

For more information on Top Ten Tuesday, click here.

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Here’s to all the books we’ll read in 2019, but before we do, I want to take a look at some of the books I read in 2018.

So challenge-wise, I hit my Goodreads one again (and I’ll put up an actual stats set for the year in another blog post), but I tanked all the others. I think it’s just the whole “long-term commitment to specific things” that always gets me in the end. Go where the wind blows, I say! Read what I feel like reading! Chaos, bedlam, anarchy!

Okay, now I’m being melodramatic, but it certainly feels that way sometimes.

In any case, I was grateful for having so many good books read this year. In fact, it was really difficult trying to figure out what books to put on this list, but I eventually whittled things down, so there’s that!

Without further ado, in no particular order, and with links to my reviews…

Top Ten Books Read in 2018

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi || A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas || Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden || Warcross by Marie Lu || Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel || Rat Queens, Vol. 2 by Kurtis J. Wiebe

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas || Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli || One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus

What was your top ten of the year?