Your Next Favorite Book: Top 7 Reads of 2017

It has been ages since I’ve done a book review post and to be honest I think this is the post I’ve missed writing the most.  Reading is my favorite hobby and I love sharing the books I’ve read with any and every one who will listen.  Thus the reason I love the book club I’m part of with some of my the ladies who work in my school district and the reason I love taking part in the Show Us Your Books link up with Jana and Steph.

I’ve read one book so far in 2018, but I’ve set my overall years goal for 60.  Last year’s goal was 75 and unfortunately I only got to 50.  Let’s hope I can reach this years goal and maybe surpass it little.  Since I’ve only read one book so far this year, I thought it would be fun to share my top seven favorite reads the year.

Last year I read 29,090 pages in 50 books.  I will confess that about twelve of the books I read last year were re-reads.  Seven of those being the Harry Potter series.  But since I was planning to get a tattoo inspired by the series I wanted to re-read them all from start to finish.  But I’m still counting those twelve since I did read them all cover to cover.

So here are my top sic favorite books from 2017, in no particular order!

Goodreads synopsis: Long before she was the terror of Wonderland—the infamous Queen of Hearts—she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.

Long before she was the terror of Wonderland, she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love. Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.

Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.
My thoughts: I’ve never been a huge fan of Alice in Wonderland, unless you count this old Disney channel show I used to watch called Adventures in Wonderland, it was very 90s-tastic!  But I was definitely excited to read this book, because I loved Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles.  Ya’ll, this book was so good.  I absolutely loved hearing the story of what made the Queen of Hearts the evil Queen of Hearts we all know from the original story.   I wish this wasn’t a stand alone novel because now I would love to read a re-telling of the whole Alice in Wonderland story from Meyer’s point of view.  

Our next book for my book club is Meyer’s newest book Renegades and I’m really looking forward to reading that next month! 

Goodread Synopsis:  Looming war threatens all Feyre holds dear in the third volume of the #1 New York Times bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses series.

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s manoeuvrings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit – and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords – and hunt for allies in unexpected places. 

In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.
My thoughts: Of course I couldn’t have a favorite reads post without mentioning a Sarah J. Maas book.  In fact two of her books are in my top seven this year.  This was the third book in the Court of Thorns and Roses series and it did not disappoint.  This is the last time in this series that Feyre is going to be the main protagonist.  Which is sad for me because I really love her character.  I loved following her character development form the first novel to this one.  Sarah J. Maas can do no wrong in my book.  I really wish she would come to Houston during one of her future book tours because I would be first in line to get her autograph.  

Tower of Dawn

Goodreads synopsis: Chaol Westfall has always defined himself by his unwavering loyalty, his strength, and his position as the Captain of the Guard. But all of that has changed since the glass castle shattered, since his men were slaughtered, since the King of Adarlan spared him from a killing blow, but left his body broken.

His only shot at recovery lies with the legendary healers of the Torre Cesme in Antica—the stronghold of the southern continent’s mighty empire. And with war looming over Dorian and Aelin back home, their survival might lie with Chaol and Nesryn convincing its rulers to ally with them.

But what they discover in Antica will change them both—and be more vital to saving Erilea than they could have imagined.
My thoughts:  This is the 6th book in the Throne of Glass series and I’ll be honest, I was not expecting to love this book as much as I did.  Apparently this book was supposed to just be a novella to the series.  But according to SJM, she kept writing and writing and writing and suddenly she had a full fledge book on her hands and honestly I cannot imagine this as a novella.  There was so much story development in this book that it would not have done the series justice had it been a short novella.  Additionally this is the book that made me appreciate Chaol.  He was not my favorite character throughout the other novels, perhaps because he wasn’t ever given center stage as he in this novel (obviously since it’s all about him), but after this book, I am 100% team Chaol.  Plus the other characters that are introduced are some of my favorites.  

Goodreads synopsis: This novel of awesome beauty and power is a moving saga about people, relationships, and the boundaries of love. Through Jean M. Auel’s magnificent storytelling we are taken back to the dawn of modern humans, and with a girl named Ayla we are swept up in the harsh and beautiful Ice Age world they shared with the ones who called themselves the Clan of the Cave Bear

A natural disaster leaves the young girl wandering alone in an unfamiliar and dangerous land until she is found by a woman of the Clan, people very different from her own kind. To them, blond, blue-eyed Ayla looks peculiar and ugly–she is one of the Others, those who have moved into their ancient homeland; but Iza cannot leave the girl to die and takes her with them. Iza and Creb, the old Mog-ur, grow to love her, and as Ayla learns the ways of the Clan and Iza’s way of healing, most come to accept her. But the brutal and proud youth who is destined to become their next leader sees her differences as a threat to his authority. He develops a deep and abiding hatred for the strange girl of the Others who lives in their midst, and is determined to get his revenge.

My thoughts: For years my mom has been recommending this book to me and for years I ignored her.  But I finally decided to read it and boy am I glad I did!  I have never been super interested in the age before the dawn of modern humans, as the synopsis mentions.  Nor have I ever been interested in the time of the cave man/woman.  But it really is fascinating the way humans lived before there were modern inventions.  This is actually the first book in a series of four or five books.  I gobbled up the first two super fast but just couldn’t get into the story past those two books.  I think reading about the Clan was what held my attention for so long and once they started to fade from being the center of the story, I lost interest in what happen to Ayla.  This first novel is amazing though and I now I know why my mom tried to get me to read to so many times.  

Goodreads synopsis: Bella Greenwood isn’t a fairytale girl. If pushed, she’d probably tell you that her perfect wedding would involve a handful of close friends and family. But as she’s never met anyone she’d like to marry, it is a moot point. Until, in a midnight garden, Bella is helped out of an embarrassing situation by a tall, dark, handsome man with laughing eyes. Suddenly her life changes for ever, because the man is the world’s most eligible bachelor—Prince Richard, heir to the throne. Richard sweeps her off her feet, and before she knows, it they’re engaged—which is when Bella’s problems really begin. Suddenly she is public property, and as if it isn’t enough to have her every move watched—while also learning to curtsy and negotiating the etiquette of how to address her future mother-in-law—she soon finds herself embroiled in bridesmaid politics, a royal hen night, and a wedding dress controversy that causes a national scandal.

My thoughts:  This was a fun, lighthearted read.  It was the perfect book to pick up after the announcement of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s engagement.   It was reminiscent of The Royal We and I loved every minute of it.   This is one of those books here you don’t have to think while reading, you just have to enjoy.  And sometimes those are the best kinds of books!  So when you’re looking for something light, romantic, and you’re a little royal obsessed, this should be your next read! 

Goodreads synopsis: The world knows Madame Tussaud as a wax artist extraordinaire… but who was this woman who became one of the most famous sculptresses of all time? In these pages, her tumultuous and amazing story comes to life as only Michelle Moran can tell it. The year is 1788, and a revolution is about to begin.

Smart and ambitious, Marie Tussaud has learned the secrets of wax sculpting by working alongside her uncle in their celebrated wax museum, the Salon de Cire. From her popular model of the American ambassador, Thomas Jefferson, to her tableau of the royal family at dinner, Marie’s museum provides Parisians with the very latest news on fashion, gossip, and even politics. Her customers hail from every walk of life, yet her greatest dream is to attract the attention of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI; their stamp of approval on her work could catapult her and her museum to the fame and riches she desires. After months of anticipation, Marie learns that the royal family is willing to come and see their likenesses. When they finally arrive, the king’s sister is so impressed that she requests Marie’s presence at Versailles as a royal tutor in wax sculpting. It is a request Marie knows she cannot refuse – even if it means time away from her beloved Salon and her increasingly dear friend, Henri Charles.

As Marie gets to know her pupil, Princesse Élisabeth, she also becomes acquainted with the king and queen, who introduce her to the glamorous life at court. From lavish parties with more delicacies than she’s ever seen to rooms filled with candles lit only once before being discarded, Marie steps into a world entirely different from her home on the Boulevard du Temple, where people are selling their teeth in order to put food on the table.

Meanwhile, many resent the vast separation between rich and poor. In salons and cafés across Paris, people like Camille Desmoulins, Jean-Paul Marat, and Maximilien Robespierre are lashing out against the monarchy. Soon, there’s whispered talk of revolution… Will Marie be able to hold on to both the love of her life and her friendship with the royal family as France approaches civil war? And more important, will she be able to fulfill the demands of powerful revolutionaries who ask that she make the death masks of beheaded aristocrats, some of whom she knows?

Spanning five years, from the budding revolution to the Reign of Terror, Madame Tussaud brings us into the world of an incredible heroine whose talent for wax modeling saved her life and preserved the faces of a vanished kingdom

My thoughts:  If you’re looking for a book that covers the French Revolution, then this is the book you want.  Not only does it give a fun telling of Madame Tussaud’s story but it gives a fantastic telling of the French Revolution.  Michelle Moran has been recommend to me countless times and with good reason.  She’s a great storyteller.  She has several historical fiction novels out there, all centering around strong women.  I cannot wait to pick up another of her books in 2018.

Goodreads synopsis: In 1558, the ancient stones of Kingsbridge Cathedral look down on a city torn apart by religious conflict. As power in England shifts precariously between Catholics and Protestants, royalty and commoners clash, testing friendship, loyalty, and love. 

Ned Willard wants nothing more than to marry Margery Fitzgerald. But when the lovers find themselves on opposing sides of the religious conflict dividing the country, Ned goes to work for Princess Elizabeth. When she becomes queen, all Europe turns against England. The shrewd, determined young monarch sets up the country’s first secret service to give her early warning of assassination plots, rebellions, and invasion plans. Over a turbulent half-century, the love between Ned and Margery seems doomed as extremism sparks violence from Edinburgh to Geneva. Elizabeth clings to her throne and her principles, protected by a small, dedicated group of resourceful spies and courageous secret agents.

The real enemies, then as now, are not the rival religions. The true battle pitches those who believe in tolerance and compromise against the tyrants who would impose their ideas on everyone else—no matter what the cost.

My thoughts:  This was one of my last reads of the year and I’m so glad.  If you’ve never heard of Ken Follett then you have been missing out on a fantastic author.  I’ve read quite a bit of his books and I’ve yet to be disappointed by a single one.  This is the third novel in his Kingsbridge series.  The first of the series was Pillars of the Earth and the second was World Without End.  This book continues the story of the fiction English city of Kingsbridge and takes place during the Reformation.  I’ve only ever really studied the English Reformation so reading its effects on France, Spain, and The Netherlands was fascinating.  Ken Follett does a phenomenal job of mixing fiction with real historical events.  He truly is one of my all time favorite authors.  So do yourself a favor and the next time you’re in the mood for a historical fiction novel, then read one of his.  PS.  His Century Trilogy is amazing as well!   


2017 wasn’t my favorite reading year.  I feel like over all I read more books that were so so than books that were really great.  Save for the seven I just mentioned anyway.  Here’s to hoping 2018 brings more than seven that I love!

SO excited to be linking up with Jana and Steph once again!! Yay for Show Us Your Books! 🙂

Dusting Off the Blog: 2017- A 9-Month Review

The last time I hit the publish button on a blog post was April 27, 2017.   That’s nine months.  I’m honestly not even sure why I took a nine month hiatus.  All I know is that every time I sat down to write, nothing would come out.  Even now I’ve literally been sitting at my computer  for over an hour and this is as much as I’ve written.  But I know I want to power through and I know I want get back into the swing of things with my blog in 2018.  Because I have honestly really missed this little space of mine.  I especially miss interacting with other bloggers!  Not only have I not blogged myself but I’ve stopped regularly reading blogs as well.  So I’m hoping this is the first step to getting back at it!

Since this is my first post in a long while, I think it’s best to give a quick life update.  So here’s a quick look back on what I was up to from May-December of 2017.

May was spent finishing up my 4th year of teaching.  It was a tough school year and I was really frustrated with teaching at that point and was 100% ready to say hello to summer. The one highlight of that month was surprising my Florida besties!  Two of them have little girls who’s birthday’s are within a month of each other and they were having a joint 1st birthday for the girls.  They didn’t know I was coming and it made for the best surprise ever!

Hello summer vacation!  I did a ton of traveling during the summer and it all started with taking 8 students on a trip to the east coast with all the other junior highs in my district.  We went to Washington DC, Colonial Williamsburg, Gettysburg, and Philadelphia.  We had the best time ever and the history nerd in me was excited AF.

After the school trip, I headed back out to Florida for a fulfilled week with some of my best girls!  This trip started with a day trip to St. Augustine, where I saw the venue for one of my best friends wedding.  The wedding is actually happening at the end of this month and the venue is gorgeous.

Instead of going to Disney World, I convinced them to go to Universal Studios because I have been desperate to see the new Diagon Alley, that is part of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  And y’all, it was AH-MAZING!! I seriously cannot even begin to describe how happy I was to be there.  I could have spent the entire day just in the Harry Potter section of the park but we did venture to other areas.

Then is was time for the whole reason for the trip!  A girls cruise to Mexico!  We had the BEST time EVER.  I was so happy the entire time we were on the boat.  It was so nice getting to spend time with some of my very best friends.  I met these wonderful girls back in 2009 while working at Disney, we were all roommates, and I am so grateful we have managed to stay friends.  I can’t wait to see where our next trip takes us!

July was spent on an epic road trip with my parents!  We started in Texas and made stops in Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan.  I loved getting to spend this time with my parents.  It had been a really long time since I had spent a whole month with them and so having them all to myself was great.  We made some amazing memories and had a blast!

At the end of July, my best friend Ashley and I did something we had been talking about doing for a long time!  WE GOT MATCHING TATTOOS!!!!! Of course they were Harry Potter tattoos!  🙂

Meant back to school time.  I began my 5 year in the teaching field!  Which honestly blows my mind.  I cannot believe it’s been 5 years since I left Disney and became a teacher.   This year we started about a week earlier than normal, which sucked, but on the flip side we get out of school earlier in May.  August was also when Hurricane Harvey hit Houston.  I ended up going to stay with my uncle and aunt for the week at my parents insistence.  Thankfully my apartment complex was unharmed, but lots of my students and fellow teachers were deeply affected by the hurricane.  It was definitely a weird start to the school year but I was very proud of the way the entire community came together to help each other.

Highlight of this month was heading back to Orlando to see two of the best humans I’ve ever known get married!  Jason and Mario are two parts of my Florida family and they tied the knot in a beautiful and emotional wedding ceremony.   The day after the wedding we all headed for more celebrating at EPCOT’s International Food and Wine Festival!

I also got to spend some quality time with my friend Katie that month.  We went to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party together and had afternoon tea at the Grand Floridian.  I totally had my Disney fix satisfied this trip!

These two were probably my most uneventful months.  I went to a book signing, had a sleep over with my college bestie and her sweet family, went to the Texas Renaissance festival and celebrated Thanksgiving with my family back in El Paso.  

Counted down the days until Christmas break.  Thankfully this school year has been about 50 times better than last school year.  And we even experienced a mini winter wonderland in Houston!  Yep that’s right, it snowed!!  I was 100% shocked that it snowed and actually stuck to the ground.  Our principal even had a “fire drill” first thing in the morning so the whole school could go out and play in it!!    

But I was still ready for Christmas Break.  I went home to El Paso and had a relaxing and very enjoyable Christmas. 

So in a nut shell, I really can’t complain about my 2017.  I had some great times and some low times just like anyone else.  I went back into my archives and found the goals I had written for myself for 2017 so to wrap up lets see how I did.

Read 75 books!  Yeah this didn’t happen.  I did read 50 books (which was my reading goal back in 2016) but just didn’t make it to 75.  

Cook at least 3-5 meals at home a week.  I want to say I was good about this for the most part. I think I was pretty consistent at 3 meals a week.  Doing Hello Fresh really helped a lot but I quit doing it when the summer months hit because I was out of town for most of it.  

Be healthier…again. Hmmmm…..well I didn’t work out nearly as much as I should have.  But there we are.  Now weight was lost but no significant amount of weight was gained either.  So that’s win at least! 

Pay off debt. YES!  So I didn’t pay off all my debt but I did manage to pay off one of my student loans!  Which I’m very excited about!!  

Put myself out there more.  Fail.  Total and utter failure.  Ugh, it’s actually really depressing and is something I may get into on the blog later this month. But, I’ll leave it at that for now. 

Keep traveling and book another Euro-trip for my 30th year!  I did travel a TON in 2017, but sadly no Eurotrip has been planned.  It’s been discussed on multiple occasions and I’ve settled on where I want to go, but nothing has been booked or anything.  Fingers crossed it happens this year! 

Redesign the blog.  Yep!  I got this new design back in….gosh I’m not even sure when it was.  But I thought that if I got a new design it would give me the kick in the ass I needed to get back in the swing of things and it didn’t happen.  But I’m happy to start the new year with a fresh, clean new look!

I’ve been a huge fan of setting goals for the past few years.  But I’m taking a different route this year.  No major goals will be set.  I’m just going to jump into the year and see what happens.  I may decide to set a monthly goals, but we’ll see!  I have set a new reading goal, but that’s because I love Goodreads and like participating in their yearly challenge.  

Well, I think that about wraps it up.  I’m really looking forward to 2018.  I turn the big 3-0 in March and I have some fun travel planned, as well as some major changes I want to make this year.  And as I mention at the beginning of this post, I fully plan to get back into the fun of blogging! 

To kick things off, I’m linking up with Kristen and Gretch for What’s New With You! 

What's New With You