Top 5 Tuesday – Top 5 Standalone Books

Hello everyone! Today’s post is another Top 5 Tuesday! The prompt for today is the top 5 standalone books. I think this is probably heavily influenced by the recency effect since historically most of the books I read are part of a series, but I gave it my best shot. Check out my list below, which has my top 5 standalone books, in no particular order! Top 5 Tuesday was created by Shanah @ Bionic Book Worm, and is now being hosted at Meeghan Reads!

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Mid-Month NetGalley Check-In – August 2021

I’ve made some progress on my ARCs since the last NetGalley check-in. Check out where I was a month ago in my last check-in post. My feedback ratio is back up to 71%, and I read the two ARCs I planned to complete in the last month. I’ve completed 15 ARC reviews out of the total 21 for which I have been approved. I now have five unread books available to read on my shelf since I was approved for one ARC and read two ARCs in the last month.

The books below are those currently needing to be read on my shelf. I plan to read and review the books in bold before the next check-in on September 15.

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Mid-Month NetGalley Check-In – July 2021

I have held fairly steady in my progress on my ARCs since the last NetGalley check-in. Check out where I was a month ago in my last check-in post. My feedback ratio has dropped a bit to 65% compared to last month’s 71%. I’ve completed 13 ARC reviews out of the total 20 for which I have been approved. I now have six unread books available to read on my shelf since I was approved for three ARCs and read one ARC in the last month. I’m pretty happy to have mostly maintained my ratio and prevented myself from requesting all the books. πŸ™‚ I’m also incredibly excited about all three ARCs I got this month because they are all highly anticipated reads I didn’t expect to get.

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Mid-Month NetGalley Check-In

Given my struggle keeping up with my NetGalley ARCs, I have decided to do a check-in at the middle of each month to keep myself somewhat accountable. My feedback ratio has been atrocious. Although, I think it is at least partly due to me just starting out. It doesn’t take many approved books without reviews to send my rating plummeting through the floor.

Right now my feedback ratio sits at 38% with 6 feedback sent for 16 approved books. However, I don’t think that is completely accurate because there are 7 books, not 6, with feedback in my shelf. Has that happened to anyone else? It is really frustrating because I was excited to have my percentage above 40%, and then the seventh book disappeared from my ratio calculation. I’m still proud to have improved it from the 20% ratio I had just a few weeks ago, though. So, progress…right?

I’m going to do my best to stop requesting new books until I’ve made a little more progress on reading the books currently on my shelf. But there are so many books that sound interesting.

The books below are those currently needing to be read on my shelf. I plan to read and review the books in bold before the next check-in on June 15.

Child of Light by Terry Brooks | Publication Date: October 12, 2021
Flash Fire by TJ Klune | Publication Date: July 13, 2021
If This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales & Cale Dietrich | Publication Date: December 7, 2021
Into the Lightning Gate by Roberth Roth | Publication Date: June 7, 2021
The All-Consuming World by Cassandra Khaw | Publication Date: September 7, 2021
The Sightless City by Noah Lemelson | Publication Date: July 20, 2021
Traitors of the Black Crown by Cate Pearce | Publication Date: September 22, 2021
Not My Ruckus by Chad Musick | Publication Date: February 16, 2021

How do you stay on top of your NetGalley ARCs? Are you successful at staying above the coveted 80% ratio threshold? Let me know in the comments!

Book Review – The Extraordinaries

Author: TJ Klune

Publication Date: July 14, 2020

Length: 405 pages

Read Date(s): April 26, 2021 – April 28, 2021

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Goodreads Synopsis

Some people are extraordinary. Some are just extra. TJ Klune’s YA debut, The Extraordinaries, is a queer coming-of-age story about a fanboy with ADHD and the heroes he loves.

Nick Bell? Not extraordinary. But being the most popular fanfiction writer in the Extraordinaries fandom is a superpower, right?

After a chance encounter with Shadow Star, Nova City’s mightiest hero (and Nick’s biggest crush), Nick sets out to make himself extraordinary. And he’ll do it with or without the reluctant help of Seth Gray, Nick’s best friend (and maybe the love of his life).

Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl meets Marissa Meyer’s Renegades in TJ Klune’s YA debut.

My Review

I love almost everything about this book. I picked it up because I enjoyed one of TJ Klune’s other books, The House in the Cerulean Sea. It is nothing like that book (other than having great queer rep), but it turned out to be everything I never knew I needed. A wide range of fantastic queer characters? Check. Cool superheroes? Check. A beautiful coming of age story? Check. Hilarious teen angst with a side of romance? Check and check. The story just has so much going for it.

My favorite thing about this book is its humor. I laughed throughout the entire story because of the author’s wit and the book’s hilarious dialogue. I was hooked on the tone and writing style from the very first chapter. I loved all the pop culture and comic book references sprinkled throughout the text. The entire book felt like I was inside the head of a queer, teenage boy with severe ADHD. So, kudos to the author for making the book not only funny but also real.

The book wasn’t all fun and games, though. It tackled a few very serious topics, including grief, living with a mental illness, and learning to accept yourself the way you are, among others. Overall, I think it handled each of these topics with care while using humor to make them feel less heavy. I particularly enjoyed following the main character’s struggle with wanting to change himself, and the antics he engages in while attempting to make the changes are quite ludicrous and fun to read.

The characters in this book really shined. Nick was an absolute disaster of a human in all the best ways. He was loud, tangential, and self-absorbed while also being loving, hilarious, and much more than meets the eye. His friends were great too and added a lot of fun diversity to the book. Gibby and Jazz provided excellent snark to counter Nick’s ridiculousness. Additionally, I was particularly excited to meet Seth, who rounds out this crew with excellent bi male representation. I enjoyed the complexity of Nick’s father and his relationship with Nick, and their sex talks were one of the most hilarious parts of the book.

Despite loving this book, there was one thing I did not like. The book devoted a great deal of time to police because Nick’s father was a police officer. Overall, I think the book did a fantastic job of portraying what it is like to love someone who is an officer. Nick clearly idolizes his father, but I think the book could have done a little more to take a balanced approach to the police, especially since the book attempts to tackle the topic of police brutality. I don’t think the author did a terrible job with it, but there was one joke, in particular, about police brutality that really shouldn’t have been there. The author did a good job of humanizing the police, but I would have liked to see more of a critique of the system, as well.

Overall, I loved this book and recommend it to fans of superheroes, teen angst, and queer romance. I hope the author does more to critique the police with the next book while keeping all of the elements I loved about this story. I can’t wait to read the next book. Therefore, I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars.

Book Review – The House in the Cerulean Sea

Summary

Linus Baker is an overworked case worker at the Department in Charge of Magical Youth. He is also kind of a square who always does everything by the book and lives for his routines. His quiet life gets upturned when he is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management and given a classified assignment. He must spend a month at an orphanage that holds some of the most dangerous magical children in the world to determine if the man running the place is fit to do so. During his time there, Linus struggles to maintain his objectivity while determining what is best for the children and attempting to uncover this orphanage’s secrets.

What I Liked

Everything. Seriously though, I loved everything about this book: the characters, the plot, the pacing, the LGBT+ representation, and, most of all, the message. This book took me through a wide range of emotions as the story unfolded. I was amused, angry, heartbroken, and ecstatically happy all within a span of several hundred pages. I teared up from both sadness and happiness multiple times while reading this book. Although, I won’t admit to crying…much.

The characters in this book were adorable and well-written. There was a great deal of depth to all of them, including the children, and getting to see their distinct personalities and backstories was a treat. Following Linus’s journey was particularly enjoyable. He started out as a stick in the mud who kept himself closed off from everyone, and the plot of the story helped him to expand his world and slowly let the children into his heart. It was a joy to read from start to finish.

This book conveyed several heartwarming messages through the plot of its story. It illustrated the healing that can come from acceptance while highlighting the damage caused by experiences of discrimination. The story of Linus also showed how stepping outside of your box and taking a risk can pay off and help you find exactly what you didn’t know you needed. His growth reminded me that the main thing usually standing in the way of my happiness and success is myself because of the limits I place due to what I think others expect of me. Finally, this story beautifully illustrated how powerful and important a ‘found family’ can be.

The romance in this book was well done. It developed subtly over the course of the book and does not take over the story. It was a believable build-up, which I appreciated.

What I Didn’t Like

Nothing. I enjoyed everything about the book. My only complaint was that there isn’t more of it. I will say, however, that the plot was predictable, but in a way that was cozy and enjoyable.

Final Thoughts

This a great book with a heartwarming story. The characters are fantastic and provide the vehicles for excellent story telling and important life lessons. I cannot recommend this book enough. Therefore, I rate it 5 out of 5 stars.