Mary's Minute: Book Recommendations

This subject started when I saw one bookish friend ask another bookish friend when she was going to read a book I LOVE, and I was actually reallllly concerned for friend #2's answer. Why? Because I have previously had the thought that friend #2 will not like that book. So I subtweeted the discussion because I have Feelings about book recommendations. I figured it would be a tweet. Then I realized I needed two tweets and then a third, and then I was like, well, this is going to end up a very long Twitter thread so I might as well turn this into a blog post.

I recommend books to a lot of people. I've always been the person who told my friends what to read (to be perfectly hipster about this, I read HP before anyone I know except my mom so I was the person telling everyone else to read it). Books that I share here on the blog are my recommendations to you, my readers (which is one reason I don't do negative reviews). I recommend books through my social media. And now I work in a library where it's literally my job to help people find books. Buuuut sometimes I don't always share my absolute favorites. For example, I don't talk about HP much because 1. it's something special to me; 2. it's super popular and my recommendation is no longer needed; 3. it's also kiiiind of a mess right now with all its problem areas, and I just don't want to deal with it; and 4. I'm kind of Harry Potter-ed out. But sometimes a book only falls into category #1, and that's enough. I'm sure authors don't want to hear this, but if I love a book and it's incredibly special to me, I sometimes won't push it on people a lot because I'm worried they'll hate it and that would hurt ME.

For me, recommending a book can go something like "OMG I LOVE SONG OF THE CURRENT YOU GUYS NEED TO READ IT ASAP" and then I make five people buy it on Prime Day. This is pretty standard to my fellow book pushers. But sometimes I know a book might be less accessible to every reader, and I want to make sure I recommend that book to specific readers that I think will really connect with it. Or sometimes it's a mix: I might shout about a certain book on my blog and on social media to give it as much exposure as I can but when giving specific recs to specific people, I don't share it.

As I stated on Twitter, reccing a book I LOVE feels like I'm holding my heart in my hands, and I'm offering it to a person. What if they DON'T like it? How could they not, but what if? That book feels like it's ME, and they hate it oh gosh they hate me now we can't be friends ever again *anxiety train reaches maximum velocity* This is actually why I'm super careful about which books I read from those books that others recommend. It's why there's like 5 people in the world whose recommendations are gold and turn a book into a MUST READ, but books from other people just go into the general TBR. I don't want to hurt someone who recommends something THEY love and then I don't. It might just be a case of they love this book and they don't know me well enough to know it's not for me. (Related: Check out my Mary's Minute on Book Buzzwords that includes a list of buzzwords that make me push a book to the top of my TBR or to the bottom)

The anxiety is totally mine to deal with, but people who take a rec and read it: be thoughtful about how you treat that book. Pay attention to how the book pusher pushes it. Consider your relationship. Are they a close friend? Have they talked about it being personally meaningful? If you love it, let them know! If you don't, maybe stay quiet. If they ask your opinion, be gentle with them. When I started at the library, one of the first things my boss taught me was that we don't trash another's treasure. You always have the right to not like a book (even if it breaks someone's heart). You don't have the right to be mean to them about it and insult their taste.

Likewise, fellow book pushers, try not to take it personally if someone doesn't LOVE a book you LOVE and told them to read. It's not personal TO YOU if someone doesn't LOVE or even like that book. Take a breath, and just be grateful you connected to that book so powerfully. Also, if someone doesn't take your recommendation or waits to read it, try to be patient and understanding. Don't put more pressure on them to love it! Reading is an inherently personal hobby, and every book is going to mean different things to someone else.

Story time: A couple years ago, my good friend Maura (of The Whimsical Mama) traded our beloved vampire series. I read Blue Bloods, the start of her MdlC addiction, and she read Vampire Academy, the start of my Richelle Mead obsession. Possibly because we read them so long after the vampire craze and possibly just because of style/story preference, we both did not care for one another's book and opted to leave each series unfinished. Part of me is sad she'll never read about Rose, Dimitri, Lissa, Adrian, and Sydney's, but part of me is relieved because I was so worried she wouldn't like it. She didn't, and you know what? The world kept spinning.

Do you have any books so precious you save them when you're recommending to others? Share your recommendation success stories and favorite book recs in the comments!

Book Blitz: The Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco

Author: Rin Chupeco
Release Date: March 20, 2018
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: young adult fantasy
Status: book 2 of the Bone Witch trilogy

Summary: In The Bone Witch, Tea mastered resurrection―now she's after revenge...

No one knows death like Tea. A bone witch who can resurrect the dead, she has the power to take life...and return it. And she is done with her self-imposed exile. Her heart is set on vengeance, and she now possesses all she needs to command the mighty daeva. With the help of these terrifying beasts, she can finally enact revenge against the royals who wronged her―and took the life of her one true love.

But there are those who plot against her, those who would use Tea's dark power for their own nefarious ends. Because you can't kill someone who can never die...

War is brewing among the kingdoms, and when dark magic is at play, no one is safe.

Image result for add to goodreads button

Praise for The Heart Forger:
“A dark, engaging fantasy series.”–School Library Journal

“In this spectacular follow-up to the rich The Bone Witch, Tea’s quest draws the reader further in, setting them on a more dangerous yet intriguing adventure.”— Foreword Reviews, STARRED review

“Rin’s beautifully crafted world from The Bone Witch (2017) expands in this sequel, which joins dark asha Tea on her crusade of revenge...Dark and entrancing with a third volume to come.” –Booklist, STARRED review

Available from:

Start with The Bone Witch, book 1 of the series:
Release Date: March 7, 2017
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: young adult fantasy
Status: book 1 of the Bone Witch trilogy

Summary: The beast raged; it punctured the air with its spite. But the girl was fiercer.

Tea is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy makes her a bone witch, who are feared and ostracized in the kingdom. For theirs is a powerful, elemental magic that can reach beyond the boundaries of the living—and of the human.

Great power comes at a price, forcing Tea to leave her homeland to train under the guidance of an older, wiser bone witch. There, Tea puts all of her energy into becoming an asha, learning to control her elemental magic and those beasts who will submit by no other force. And Tea must be strong—stronger than she even believes possible. Because war is brewing in the eight kingdoms, war that will threaten the sovereignty of her homeland…and threaten the very survival of those she loves.

Image result for add to goodreads button

Purchase Links:

About the Author:
Despite uncanny resemblances to Japanese revenants, Rin Chupeco has always maintained her sense of humor. Raised in Manila, Philippines, she keeps four pets: a dog, two birds, and a husband. She's been a technical writer and travel blogger, but now makes things up for a living. Connect with Rin at

Author Links:

2 winners will receive a finished copy of The Heart  Forger. Open to the US & Canada. Ends March 31.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Mary's Minute: When to say goodbye

Way back in 2008, I was addicted to vampire novels. I finally succumbed to pressure to read Twilight so I burned through Twilight, New Moon, and Eclipse and then sought out other books like it so I could stay in my little vampire bubble, only branching out to The Host because at least it was a Stephenie Meyer book. My addiction found me combing through the YA section at Borders (RIP!) for readalikes, which led me to Vampire Academy, EvernightVampire Kisses, Bloodline by Kate Cary, and House of Night (weirdly, I never got to Blue Bloods or the Morganville Vampires in this vampmania). I was totally obsessed and eagerly anticipated each new installment. I realized Vampire Academy was going to have SIX books, which was amazing. Evernight got a spinoff. Vampire Kisses and I broke up quite quickly because I hated Raven and only barely managed to hate read through book 3. House of Night, it turned out, was going to have TWELVE books PLUS novellas for other characters PLUS graphic novels, and I was so happy! House of Night for years and years and years!

I had quickly burned through books 1-4 and waited forever, it seemed, for Hunted. But I realized I was kind of getting tired of Zoey Redbird and her friends. I started noticing some frustrating things pertaining to both character development and plot. I kind of.... stopped liking them? I kind of realized... they weren't great? I kind of... started resenting these books I'd invested a ton of time and emotional energy researching and theorizing about? I'm not one to DNF, and I don't like to leave series unread (but I'm actually really good at not finishing series, oops), but I found myself not caring each time a new HoN night book released. "I'll catch up when the next one comes out," I'd tell myself. "I'll like it this time." But I never caught back up. Even now, all twelve books are out. All four novellas. All the graphic novels. And I have no desire to pick up another book in that series or attempt to finish it.

Sort of related to the vampires, I also fell in love with The Mortal Instruments around this time (because I was hooked on paranormal, as we all were), and I remember how excited I was when I discovered TID, when TMI was extended (WILL IT BE ABOUT SIMON??? we all wondered. WILL WE STILL GET CLARY AND JACE???), when Cassie kept posting tidbits and extra scenes on her many websites, when Magnus got to be front and center. But... I put down City of Heavenly Fire in September 2014 and haven't picked it back up. I stopped reading The Bane Chronicles because I didn't want to pay for serialized novellas when I could buy the book, yet I still haven't read the entire bindup yet. I haven't read The Shadowhunter Codex or Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy, and I can't pick up Lady Midnight or Lord of Shadows or The Eldest Curses until I get back to CoHF, but now I feel daunted by the prospect of getting back into it. It's a hugely intimidating world, and there are soooo many books in it! And what if I never like it as much as I did five years ago?

Fast forward to 2016-2018. There are two authors who perennially publish 1-2 books per year. I've loved them both a long time. One of them has two books in a genre that she's not as well known for that I've never read, but I always read the books in the genre in which she's touted as a queen. Like, when people talk about this genre, her name is almost always listed as a recommendation and for a book to be compared to her work is a glowing compliment. The other writes in a similar genre, and she is also constantly recommended as a go-to for readers looking in this particular genre. But I've discovered that each book they release, I enjoy them less. The first author, I started reading a new release last year, put it down to prioritize something else, and haven't picked it back up. Nor have I picked up the other two books published recently(ish). The second author, I've dutifully read everything except the last book in her most well-known series (because I'm terrified I'll hate it when I actually was one of the first people to beg for that book to be written).

I've read these two authors for coming up on five years, and each book I like a little less, I become annoyed a little more. I resent the time I spend reading them when I KNOW there are books I'll enjoy more. But I'm having a really hard time saying goodbye. I add each new title on Goodreads. If I find an arc at a conference, I always excitedly add it to my haul, hoping THIS will be the book that brings me back into the fandom. And yet... I keep sliding. I recently decided the most recent book by author #2 will be my last, at least for a while, and although I haven't officially said I won't read other releases by author #1, I haven't picked up any of her books in months.

So I have two questions for you, readers: 1. Have you ever experienced this? 2. How do you know when it's time to say goodbye?

For me, when I stop associating the story or author with good feelings, when I start feeling angry or resentful, that's when I know it's time to move on. Also, I find it easier to not officially acknowledge the breakup. I prefer to "set things aside" rather than formally DNF and place things on hold with the option to give it a try later than cut the series off permanently, even if I don't have plans to go back (like with HoN). 

Blog Tour: Obsidio by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Today is my 30th birthday, and I couldn't be happier than to share a book I LOVE with all of you. Check out my review of the final installment of the masterfully told Illuminae Files and then scroll down to the giveaway!

Rating: 5 stars
Release Date: March 13, 2018
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Genre: young adult science fiction
Format/Source: finished copy, from the publisher
Status: Book 3 of the Illuminae Files series
Links: Illuminae review (5 stars)
Gemina gif review (5 stars)
Illuminae audio review (5 stars)
Illuminae pb blog tour (All the Illuminae merch!)

Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review as part of the blog tour, which was organized & hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. The full tour schedule can be found HERE. Please go give my fellow tour hosts some love!

Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book because I am moderating the Dallas stop of the Obsidio publicity tour (and after I received my copy, I was offered a spot on this tour). This does not affect the content of my review.

Image result for add to goodreads button

Kady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza—but who knows what they'll find seven months after the invasion?

Meanwhile, Kady's cousin, Asha, survived the initial BeiTech assault and has joined Kerenza's ragtag underground resistance. When Rhys—an old flame from Asha's past—reappears on Kerenza, the two find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict.

With time running out, a final battle will be waged on land and in space, heroes will fall, and hearts will be broken.

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Sightwitch by Susan Dennard

I was lucky to be able to attend the Dallas stop of Susan's Sightwitch tour so today I've got a recap of the Q&A session during the event and a giveaway for a signed copy!

Release Date: February 13, 2018
Publisher: Tor Teen
Genre: young adult fantasy
Status: Book 2.5 of the Witchlands series

Image result for add to goodreads button

From New York Times bestselling author Susan Dennard, Sightwitch is an illustrated novella set in the Witchlands and told through Ryber’s journal entries and sketches.

Before Safi and Iseult battled a Bloodwitch...

Before Merik returned from the dead…

Ryber Fortiza was a Sightwitch Sister at a secluded convent, waiting to be called by her goddess into the depths of the mountain. There she would receive the gift of foretelling. But when that call never comes, Ryber finds herself the only Sister without the Sight.

Years pass and Ryber’s misfit pain becomes a dull ache, until one day, Sisters who already possess the Sight are summoned into the mountain, never to return. Soon enough, Ryber is the only Sister left. Now, it is up to her to save her Sisters, though she does not have the Sight—and though she does not know what might await her inside the mountain.

On her journey underground, she encounters a young captain named Kullen Ikray, who has no memory of who he is or how he got there. Together, the two journey ever deeper in search of answers, their road filled with horrors, and what they find at the end of that road will alter the fate of the Witchlands forever.

Set a year before Truthwitch, Sightwitch is a companion novella that also serves as a set up to Bloodwitch, as well as an expansion of the Witchlands world.

Blog Tour: Pitch Dark by Courtney Alameda

Rating: 4 stars
Release Date: February 20, 2018
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Genre: young adult science fiction
Format/Source: ARC, from the publisher
Status: standalone

Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review as part of the blog tour, which was organized & hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. The full tour schedule can be found HERE. Please go give my fellow tour hosts some love!

Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review as part of the blog tour. This does not affect the content of my review.

Image result for add to goodreads button

Set against a future of marauding space scavengers and deadly aliens who kill with sound, here is a frightening, fast-paced YA adventure from the author of the acclaimed horror novel, Shutter.

Tuck has been in stasis on the USS John Muir, a ship that houses Earth’s most valued artifacts—its natural resources. Parks and mountains are preserved in space.

Laura belongs to a shipraiding family, who are funded by a group used to getting what they want. And they want what’s on the Muir.

Tuck and Laura didn’t bargain on working together, or battling mutant aliens who use sound to kill. But their plan is the only hope for their crews, their families, and themselves.

In space, nobody can hear you scream . . . but on the John Muir, the screams are the last thing you'll hear.

Waiting on Wednesday: Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases.

Dread Nation
by Justina Ireland
Coming April 3, 2018
Balzer & Bray

Image result for add to goodreads button

Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville—derailing the War Between the States and changing America forever. In this new nation, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Reeducation Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead. But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.

But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose. But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies. And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.

Why I Want It:

Why I think you should want it:
See above! Seriously, that summary is killer, if you'll excuse the pun.