My Year in Books- 2015

If you look to the right of my blog, you’ll see my GoodReads widget! I always have the books I’m currently reading right over there! And in 2015, I did a reading challenge with GoodReads- I challenged myself to read 75 books (I realize now I was a bit too ambitious). I ended up reading 27. This year, I’ve set my goal for 30! Wish me luck!

I wanted to look back at the books I read in 2015 and give you guys a brief (very brief) review, and let you know if I recommend the book or not. 1 star means do not recommend, 5 stars means highly recommend. Enjoy!

My True Love Gave To Me– YA short stories. GIVE. ME. MORE. OF. THESE. NOW. I looked for another book like this to read this December, and couldn’t find one 😦 This book is everything you could ever need to read leading up to Christmas. ★★★★★

The Diviners– YA. Too long. Too much build-up. Love triangles are dumb. ★★

Let It Snow– YA short stories. Kind of like My True Love Gave To Me, but just not as good. And only 3 stories instead of 12. ★★★

The Scorch Trials– YA. This series isn’t one of my favorite AU’s, but I still enjoyed the series and I’ll probably end up reading all the prequels this year. If you love this series, then you’ll obviously love this book. For me, though, it only gets three stars. ★★★

The Death Cure– See above. ★★★

Persepolis/Persepolis 2– Graphic Novel. Super educational, while still being funny and entertaining. I don’t really do graphic novels, but this one (these two, I guess. You can buy them separately or as one book. I read them separately) was actually pretty good. ★★★

Good Omens BBC Radio 4– Radio drama. Listen to this. Now. Just go. ★★★★★

The Book of Merlyn– Fantasy. If you’ve read The Once and Future King and loved it like I do, then you need to read this. It’s a lot of The Sword and the Stone rehashed, but with some extra bits that you don’t get in the final TH White book. I loved having this extra book to read. ★★★

Landline– Fiction. I didn’t feel connected to this story. The main character’s husband was a jerk and not worth fighting for. ★★

All the Bright Places– YA. This one was great! A real tear-jerker, and just a great book. I loved it. One of the better YA books I read in 2015. ★★★★

I’ll Give You the Sun– YA. Favorite book of 2015. Hands down. ★★★★★

The Girl on the Train– Fiction/Mystery. It was a very obvious, no-brainer mystery. But it was still a nice read. And I’m not gonna lie- kind of excited for the movie. ★★★

Promposal– YA. Cute and fluffy, just how I like it. Can’t remember a thing about the book, but I remember I enjoyed reading it. Think I breezed through this one in a day. A good rainy weekend book. ★★★

The Ruby Circle– YA. Go read this whole series. Start with Vampire Academy. Then read Bloodlines. Ruby Circle is the last one in the spin-off, and I inhaled every single book in both series. ★★★★★

Gracefully Grayson– YA. Honestly, I can’t remember much about this story. But I gave it 4 stars on GoodReads. And I do remember liking it. So I’ll give it 3 stars for you guys. ★★★

Goodnight, Tweetheart– Fiction. Not a great story. I usually love stories that incorporate tweets or social media, but this one was a miss. ★

Girl Online– YA. Cute and fluffy. Not a masterpiece, but it was cute, which is what I was going for. ★★★

Girl Online On Tour– YA. See above. ★★★

Jurassic Park– Fiction. This book was great! That’s really all I have to say about it. ★★★★

Four– YA. This was a nice addition to the Divergent series. But I was still too sad from the last book to properly enjoy it (I read this one 4 months after finishing the last book, btw). ★★★

Life of Pi– Fiction. This is a great book!!!! Go read it! Now! ★★★★

I Was Here– YA. I still don’t really know how I feel about this one. It was… ok, I guess. I don’t know… I obviously wasn’t blown away by it, but I didn’t hate it either… I’m gonna say three stars, but it’s really more like 2 3/4 stars. ★★★

Two Boys Kissing– YA. THIS IS AN IMPORTANT BOOK. READ IT. ★★★★★

Sir Gawaine and the Green Knight– Poem/Fantasy. I love this. I love adventures and classic literature and Arthurian legend and if you love any of those things and haven’t read this poem yet, go do so immediately. ★★★★

Maybe Someday– Fiction. I hate love triangles. This book is a love triangle. I’m still giving it four stars. It’s that well-written. ★★★★

Hit– YA. Don’t waste your time. ★

Oh my gosh, you guys! Now I just want to go home and read some more! I’m so excited to discover and read some more great books this year and to complete my 2016 Reading Challenge! What were your favorite books of 2015? Comment down below so I can check them out for myself!

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Why Draco Malfoy Is a Hero

Draco Malfoy is often viewed as one of the villains in the Harry Potter series- he’s called a bully, a bad guy, a Death Eater… But I see things differently. I entirely believe that Draco Malfoy is a hero in the series.

Let’s look at the facts. At the start of the books, he’s 11. I know a lot of people already have a counter-argument ready: “But Harry was 11 at the start and he joined the right side!” Here’s the thing, though- who you are at the start of a book isn’t what matters. Who you are in the end and the choices you make along the way and how you grow… that’s what matters. I don’t know anyone who is the same person now as they were at age 11. So yeah, at 11 years old, Draco was a spoiled brat who bullied and picked on his peers and believed everything his parents told him, no questions asked. But is that really surprising behavior from an 11 year old? Can we truly judge a character based on who he was in the beginning, when the point of a series like this is the journey and growth of the characters? Can we judge Neville on who he was at the start? Or Ron? Or Hermione? All of these characters grew and changed and matured, so it’s wrong to leave Draco boxed in as the same person at 18 that he was at 11, because that just isn’t the case.

Let’s move on to when he’s older, when he’s given the task to kill Dumbledore and join the Death Eaters. Ron once made the point that Harry didn’t have to worry about his family- his family couldn’t be used against him, because his parents are dead. When reading that scene, your first reaction is probably anger and betrayal at Ron for being so tactless. But there is truth to his words. Harry didn’t have to face the difficulties of his parents and family being used against him. Draco, on the other hand, was faced with that very difficult decision. Voldemort said he could kill Dumbledore and join the Death Eaters, or he could watch his parents die. He, himself, could die. Can you honestly tell me that would be an easy choice? Can you honestly tell me that there’s necessarily a right choice? What matters is that Draco didn’t follow through. He didn’t murder. He couldn’t murder, and that speaks so much for his character and the choices he ultimately made.

So then Draco became a Death Eater. He was living with the constant presence of Voldemort in his house. The most terrifying man alive was always there, watching him, torturing people, killing people. And yet. When Harry is captured, Draco does not give up his identity. When Harry makes his escape, Draco lets him get away with his wand. I know many people will be ready to argue that Harry fought Draco for his wand, or that maybe Draco truly didn’t recognize Harry. But I don’t believe that’s the case. Draco grew up with Harry. He knew him like the back of his hand. A swollen face wouldn’t change that. Draco is also an exceptionally skilled wizard. There is no way he could have been disarmed if he didn’t want to be. These were choices Draco made that helped Harry win the war in the end. He wanted Harry to win. But he couldn’t find a way out or another way to help. He didn’t want to help, honestly. Not directly. Not like a Gryffindor would, running straight into the action. He didn’t want to fight in the war, because he’s a Slytherin. Self-preservation is one of his strongest instincts. He did what he had to do to stay alive. And, in the end, that meant quietly helping Harry.

Draco began to think for himself as he grew older. He realized that perhaps his parents weren’t always right. He learned that his parents made some poor decisions and got them in dangerous situations. He grew and matured- he went on a hero’s quest. Harry and Draco are more similar than you think. They were both shaped by the war, forced to make difficult decisions, forced to learn and grow. Harry approached it like a Gryffindor- face on, disregarding all danger. Draco approached it like a Slytherin- carefully and thoughtfully and secretly, doing everything in his power to keep his family safe. And he succeeded. He lived, and so did his family, and so did Harry- and if that’s not a hero, then I don’t know what is.

And in the end, it was love that saved Harry. It was Narcissa’s love for Draco that caused her to lie to Voldemort and allow Harry the chance to gain the upper hand. Draco played a direct, crucial role in Harry’s survival and ending Voldemort once and for all.

Draco could easily be defined as an anti-hero, or a redemptive tale. He spent much of his time later in the novels making up for his past actions and choices, and it was his redemptive actions that directly helped Harry win the war. Draco Malfoy is not the 11 year old bully he started off as. He is a young man who had to make some difficult choices, fought his way to safety, did everything he could to protect his loved ones, and recognized and atoned for his mistakes. Draco Malfoy is my hero.

Book Recommendations

I have more book recommendations for you guys! These are just a few books I’ve read recently that really moved me, in one way or another. None of these are light reads, so if you’re looking for a nice, summer beach read, maybe look elsewhere. These are all moving and emotional and have a lot to say. And I loved all of them for different reasons, but also the same reason… in that, I learned a lot by reading these. I hope they have the same affect on you!

I Was Here by Gayle Forman
This book is everything. Gayle Forman does it again! I mean, just wow. I’ll admit- I wasn’t completely taken with the book from the beginning. But as the story progressed and the plot thickened, I found myself getting really invested in the characters and the outcome. The story has some drama, mystery, and romance elements to it, without one genre overpowering the other. It was a great balance. The characters were very multidimensional- I liked them and disliked them at the same time, as is the case for many real-life relationships. No character is going to be perfect or completely flawed- there are elements of good and bad in every person, and this book highlighted that beautifully. It also is a great educational read on suicide and depression, as well as the effect that suicide has on others (namely, loved ones that are left behind). It was heartbreaking and inspiring all in one. It didn’t hurt as much as If I Stay, for which I was grateful, because that book just about broke me. But it still touched me. I give it 4 stars.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel
This whole book is mesmerizing and sparks a lot of self-reflection and is educational and a great argument pro-zoos, without sounding preachy or like a textbook. The visuals the author is able to create are clear as day, and it really just captured my imagination and allowed me to run with this story. My only problem with the book is the ending. The story as a whole more than made up for the ending, but I didn’t like that the author leaves the story up for interpretation in the end. The ending of the story is both clear and not at the same time, and that was frustrating to me (read it and you’ll understand what I’m talking about). I understand why Martel chose to take that course, but it still aggravated me. But, then again, good writing is meant to evoke emotions from you. Whether it be anger, happiness, sadness, laughter… and this book gave me all of those emotions. The entire book was beautifully, yet simply, written, making the story go quickly and still completely suck you in. I highly recommend this book! I give it 4 1/2 stars!

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
I am ashamed to say that this is the first Levithan book I’ve actually read. I’ve read a few of his shorter stories that are part of collections of short stories. But this is the first stand-alone novel I’ve read by him. And I absolutely loved it. I read the whole thing in 24 hours. Granted, it’s a short novel, and an easy read, but I was so consumed by the characters and eager to see how their stories played out that I couldn’t put the book down. And I can not stress enough how important this book is. Straight, gay, parent, child, whoever- read this book. It is SO important. This is the kind of book that could literally save lives. I was moved to tears, and inspired, and so, so happy after reading this. I give it 5 solid, gold stars!

Book Recommendations

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a huge book nerd. I’m pretty much always reading. It’s a great escape from the world and it’s a wonderful way to relax after a long day or ease yourself to sleep at night or kill time on the subway on the way to and from work. I feel like I can live 100 different lives and learn more than school could ever teach me just from reading. Books are fun, educational, informational, thrilling, heart-breaking… the list goes on and on. I always say that if you don’t like to read, you just haven’t found the right book yet.

There are so many amazing books out there and I’d love to share with you guys some of my favorites that I’ve read recently. If you haven’t read these, definitely check them out. And if you have read them, comment below with your thoughts on them! I love discussing books with fellow bibliophiles!

  1. Gracefully Grayson: Wonderful representation of a transgender teen. Especially relevant following Bruce Jenner’s interview, if you had questions or wondered what he might have gone through (everyone’s story is different, of course. But this book has great insight). It’s informative, honest, raw, and just so, so important. I read this book for book club, and we’ll be discussing it in a few weeks. I can’t wait to hear what everyone else thinks about it.
  2. The Girl on the Train: A lot of people told me that if I liked Gone Girl (which, btw, I didn’t just like. I LOVED), then I would like this. I’m afraid I have to tell all of those people that they’re wrong. This book was not nearly as twisted or mysterious as Gone Girl and it shouldn’t be compared to it. It can’t really compete. But it was good. I’ll definitely give it that. If you enjoy mysteries and have a soft spot for unreliable narrators or plot twists, give this book a read.
  3. I’ll Give You the Sun: Favorite book of 2015. Hands down. I’m already calling it. The voice of this book alone is just… I don’t have words. The language and writing and voice and narration was so quirky and beautiful. This book is on it’s own level above all other YA books. It was different from anything I’ve ever read before.
  4. All the Bright Places: This book was such an honest and beautiful depiction of a terrible disease. It addresses a tough issue- mental illness is an actual illness. It just is, and acting like it’s a taboo issue or pretending it will just go away doesn’t help anything. Such an educational and important book!
  5. Jurassic Park: Confession time- I haven’t even finished this book. (I know, right? It’s 2015 and I still haven’t read it! I’m ashamed). But my god, this book is amazing. I’ve already seen the movie, obviously. I know what happens. But the book still manages to be suspenseful, frightening, and intense. I’m hooked.
  6. Pride and Prejudice: Favorite book of all time. I read it every year.
  7. The Once and Future King: Tied as my other favorite book of all time. Most meaningful book I’ve ever read.