Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Books Of 2018




Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is my favorite books of 2018. This was a hard list to make. I read over 100 books last year, and most of them were good! That’s why I had to pick 10 favorites and 10 honorable mentions. I tried to put them in order, but the order is pretty arbitrary. All 20 of these books are excellent.






The Best Books Of 2018








10. Refugee by Alan Gratz


Middlegrade historical / contemporary fiction


Josef is a Jewish boy in 1930s Nazi Germany. With the threat of concentration camps looming, he and his family board a ship bound for the other side of the world . . .

Isabel is a Cuban girl in 1994. With riots and unrest plaguing her country, she and her family set out on a raft, hoping to find safety and freedom in America . . .

Mahmoud is a Syrian boy in 2015. With his homeland torn apart by violence and destruction, he and his family begin a long trek toward Europe . . .

All three young people will go on harrowing journeys in search of refuge. All will face unimaginable dangers–from drownings to bombings to betrayals. But for each of them, there is always the hope of tomorrow. And although Josef, Isabel, and Mahmoud are separated by continents and decades, surprising connections will tie their stories together in the end.


Why I love it: The story is realistic but not bleak. Anyone can become a refugee. It’s not just something that happens to people far away or in the past. I also love the way the three characters’ stories come together in the end.












9. A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin (A Song Of Ice And Fire #2)


Adult high fantasy


A comet the color of blood and flame cuts across the sky. And from the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding shores of Winterfell, chaos reigns. Six factions struggle for control of a divided land and the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms, preparing to stake their claims through tempest, turmoil, and war. It is a tale in which brother plots against brother and the dead rise to walk at night. Here a princess masquerades as an orphan boy; a knight of the mind prepares a poison for a treacherous sorceress; and wild men descend from the Mountains of the Moon to ravage the countryside. Against a backdrop of incest and fratricide, alchemy and murder, victory may go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel . . . and the coldest hearts. For when kings clash, the whole land trembles.


Why I love it: I’m obsessed with the TV show and need the books to get me through the show’s (way too long) hiatus. I like the complex world and seeing all of my favorite characters from the show.












8. A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin (A Song Of Ice And Fire #3)


Adult high fantasy


Of the five contenders for power, one is dead, another in disfavor, and still the wars rage, alliances are made and broken. Joffrey sits on the Iron Throne, the uneasy ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. His most bitter rival, Lord Stannis, stands defeated and disgraced, victim of the sorceress who holds him in her evil thrall. Young Robb still rules the North from the fortress of Riverrun. Meanwhile, making her way across a blood-drenched continent is the exiled queen, Daenerys, mistress of the only three dragons left in the world. And as opposing forces maneuver for the final showdown, an army of barbaric wildlings arrives from the outermost limits of civilization, accompanied by a horde of mystical Others—a supernatural army of the living dead whose animated corpses are unstoppable. As the future of the land hangs in the balance, no one will rest until the Seven Kingdoms have exploded in a veritable storm of swords.


Why I love it: Craziness and death. And all the same reasons I love A Clash of Kings. Also, this is the longest book I’ve ever finished. *Pats self on back.*












7. Scythe by Neal Shusterman (Arc of A Scythe #1)


Young adult science fiction / dystopia


A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.


Why I love it: Neal Shusterman is the master of the YA dystopia. The world in Scythe probably won’t ever happen in real life, but it’s still believable because the author has thought of everything. A world without death is complicated and fascinating.













6. The Butcher’s Hook by Janet Ellis


Adult literary / historical fiction


London, summer 1763. At nineteen, Anne Jaccob is awakened to the possibility of joy when she meets Fub, the butcher's apprentice, and begins to imagine a life of passion with him. 

The only daughter of well-to-do parents, Anne lives a sheltered life. Her home is a miserable place. Though her family want for nothing, her father is uncaring, her mother is ailing, and the baby brother who taught her to love is dead. Unfortunately her parents have already chosen a more suitable husband for her than Fub. But Anne is a determined young woman, with an idiosyncratic moral compass. In the matter of pursuing her own happiness, she shows no fear or hesitation. Even if it means getting a little blood on her hands.


Why I love it: It’s a combination of my three favorite genres: literary historical horror. The main character rebels against her prescribed role in society by brutally murdering a bunch of people. We need more books about female mass murderers. Girl power! I guess.













5. This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee


Young adult science fiction / alternate history


In 1818 Geneva, men built with clockwork parts live hidden away from society, cared for only by illegal mechanics called Shadow Boys. Two years ago, Shadow Boy Alasdair Finch’s life shattered to bits.

His brother, Oliver—dead.

His sweetheart, Mary—gone. 

His chance to break free of Geneva—lost. 

Heart-broken and desperate, Alasdair does the unthinkable: He brings Oliver back from the dead. 

But putting back together a broken life is more difficult than mending bones and adding clockwork pieces. Oliver returns more monster than man, and Alasdair’s horror further damages the already troubled relationship. 

Then comes the publication of Frankenstein and the city intensifies its search for Shadow Boys, aiming to discover the real life doctor and his monster. Alasdair finds refuge with his idol, the brilliant Dr. Geisler, who may offer him a way to escape the dangerous present and his guilt-ridden past, but at a horrible price only Oliver can pay.


Why I love it: The story is a mixture of the real and the outlandish. Mary Shelley—a real person—is a character in this book’s strange steampunk world.












4. Vengeful by V.E. Schwab (Villains #2)


Adult science fiction / dystopia


Eli Ever and Victor Vale were only medical students when their mutual discovery that near-death experiences can, under the right conditions, manifest extraordinary abilities.

They were best friends, and rivals, and then enemies. They were dead, then alive, and then—Eli killed Victor, once and for all.

Or so he thought—but Sydney Clarke felt otherwise, and used her own superpower to tip the scales. Now, a trio hides in the shadows, while another takes advantages of post-death life to take over the city of Merit.

If there can be life after death—will there be calm after vengeance, or will chaos rule?



Why I Love It: Victor and Eli are two of my favorite fictional characters. They’re unapologetically evil. This series is clever, and violent, and nobody stays dead for very long.












3. The Gentleman’s Guide To Vice And Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (Montague Siblings #1)


Young adult historical / science fiction


Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores
.


Why I Love It: Mackenzi Lee became one of my favorite authors in 2018. Gentleman’s Guide is sweet and hilarious, but it’s not completely frivolous. This book really needs to become a movie. There’s action, mystery, drama, and characters with huge personalities.












2. The Smell Of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock


Young adult historical fiction


Ruth has a secret that she can’t hide forever. Dora wonders if she can ever truly escape where she comes from, even when good luck suddenly comes her way. Alyce is trying to reconcile her desire to dance with the life she’s always known on her family’s fishing boat. Hank and his brothers decide it’s safer to run away than to stay home—until one of them ends up in terrible danger.


Why I love it: The setting. There’s a quote on the cover that says “This book is Alaska.” I agree with that. If you like books set in rural places, this is a must-read.












1. Salt To The Sea by Ruta Sepetys


Young adult historical fiction


World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, many with something to hide. Among them are Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in each other tested with each step closer to safety.

Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people—adults and children alike—aboard must fight for the same thing: survival.



Why I Love It: A quick way to get me interested in a book is to say that it’s “based on a true story.” I love when fiction can teach me about history. This is a fast-paced historical survival novel about a real-life event. It’s so harrowing that I still haven’t stopped thinking about it. It has stuck in my brain longer than any other book I read in 2018.






Honorable Mentions










What is the best book you read in 2018?







63 comments:

  1. I LOVED A Storm of Swords especially the mad second part leading to the weddings! I just finished reading A Dance With Dragons and I really enjoyed it! Now I'm DESPERATE to get my direwolf paws on The Winds of Winter!!!

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  2. Oh boy! Rub it in, will you? And you are rubbing it in with...SALT!

    I put Salt to the Sea on my list to read for 2018...and I didn't get to it.

    Next year?

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  3. Great list! Salt to the Sea was great. The Smell of Other Peoples Houses is one I would like to get to in 2019.

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  4. The Song of Ice and Fire series is just fantastic. And I added Salt to the Sea to my TBR because of you!

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  5. AWESOME list!! I have a few of these on my TBR. I can't wait to dive in!

    My Top 10 Books of 2018

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  6. You've got some interesting sounding books here Aj, and I haven't read any of them!

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  7. I've been wanting to read Salt to the Sea for a long time. Hope you read some great books in 2019 too!

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  8. Congrats on reading over 100 books! You've got so many awesome ones on your list- super happy to see both A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords! Both Mackenzi Lee books and Vengeful are on my TBR for 2019. Happy New Year! :D

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  9. Ah Salt To The Sea is great, I also really enjoyed Scythe. Gentleman's Guide is on my TBR for this year as is Vengeful if I can get around to it!
    My TTT: https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2019/01/01/top-ten-tuesday-192/

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  10. Oooh Scythe and The Butcher's Hook sound quite interesting. *takes notes*

    Happy 2019!!

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  11. Great list, I need to read George Martin. I don't know why I haven't read him yet.

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  12. Great year! I need to reattempt Game of Thrones now that I've seen the show and can keep the characters straight. It was a struggle!

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  13. I LOVE a storm of swords. Maybe by the time you finish the books, we will get the last one?? Maybe!

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  14. Gentleman's Guide was so much fun. I was worried Monty's cockiness and severe lack of humility would be grating but instead he was hilarious and totally endearing. :)

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  15. I think Shusterman and Schwab are my two favorite authors from this year. They create such amazing and complex worlds and, like you said, think of everything! They are inspiring.

    Salt to the Sea and Refugee were both eye-opening for me in so many ways.

    P.S. I LOVE the layout of your blog. It is beautiful. :)

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  16. Great list!

    Seeing The Smell of Other People's Houses number 2 on this list of yours definitely bumps it up on my to read wishlist - I know my library stocks it, so I'll definitely have to get on to that one soon... Especially as I love rural settings, a lot!

    The Road to Jonestown would definitely sneak on to my honourable mentions if I were including those - I just squeezed in reading it at the very end of the year, and despite the size of it, read it fairly quickly. Jeff Guinn wrote it such an accessible way; it read like fiction at times, which definitely helped me to fly through it. That & sheer interest of course.

    Wishing you nothing but a wonderful new year, AJ, and many a good book too!

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  17. Omg, YES, Gentleman's Guide would make such an incredible movie!! Or even a tv series?? I'm reading Vengeful atm and ahhhhh it's so good although I think Vicious is still my favourite!

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  18. You have so many of the books from my tbr on this list. I am even more excited to read some of these now.

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  19. Wonderful list. I really need to grab The Butcher's Hook. I may use it for my Sidetracked Sunday feature one month where I go back and read an older book I always meant to get to. I have Scythe and have heard such good things. I loved This Monstrous Thing when I read it several years ago and I'm glad to see Revival on your list too. It doesn't seem to get much love.

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  20. Well done you for reading anything in A Song of Ice and Fire! They're crazy long and I don't like all I hear about the wait for the final book!

    The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue is definitely on my 2019 reading list!

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  21. THE GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE was my only five star review from 2017, I thought that the book was unique and so interesting. I want to go back and read her first book too.

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  22. Oh lots of books I haven't heard about. Adding to my list. Wishing you a happy New Year and lots of great reading in 2019!

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  23. A Song of Ice and Fire is a such a great book series. I've been waiting for the next book for so many years. Vengeful was also one of my favourite reads of 2018.

    Happy New Year!
    Tânia @MyLovelySecret

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  24. What a great list of books! The only one I've read...so far...is Salt to the Sea which I loved. Here's hoping 2019 is full of equally awesome reads. Happy New Year!

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  25. Yay for A Storm of Swords! That book is so crazy lol. And I never did read Tale of despereaux, although I wanted to.

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  26. I've been wanting to read The Smell of Other Peoples Houses, so am glad to see it on your list. Happy New Year!

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  27. I love the entire ASOIAF series! Although I found A Feast for Crows a bit of a hard slog to get through. I received Scythe for Christmas so I'm excited to pick it up sometime in the near future (hopefully)! Happy reading in 2019!

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  28. I didn't read any of your bests, but The Smell of Other People's Houses is high on my list.

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  29. I've not read any of these, but the one about Jim Jones is on my TBR and I must get to it THIS YEAR. Happy New Year!

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  30. I must be living under a rock, I haven't read any of the books you have listed. I have Scythe, hopefully I can get to it this coming year. Happy New Year AJ!

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  31. Refugee sounds good. The Song of Ice and Fire (books 1-5) made my top books of 2017. Happy New Year!

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  32. So many great reads! I need to catch up on ASOIAF!

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  33. This is such a great list. I loved Salt to the Sea, The Gentleman's Guide, Vengeful and of course the ASOIAF books. I'm also glad to see Scythe made your list. I picked up a copy of that at the last book fair I went to and hope to read it this year.

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  34. The only book I've read on this list so far is Vengeful, and I'm with you on that one, I loved it! I'll be adding the rest of these to my TBR for sure. I hope you had a wonderful new year's day!

    claire @ clairefy

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  35. I need to pick up V.E. Schwab soon. Great list here AJ!

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  36. You make Scythe sound very intriguing. That's one of the things that can make a unique world super intersting, when the author really thinks of all the ways the world would be affected. Glad to see This Monstrous Thing on your list! It didn't make my faves post, but I enjoyed that one too!

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  37. Awesome list!! I really need to read some of George Martin's books!

    Here’s my Top Ten Tuesday!

    Ronyell @ Rabbit Ears Book Blog

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  38. Scythe!! I loved the world (even though I haven't finished it yet).

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  39. There are more than a few on here I haven't heard of before, so I am off to check them out!

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  40. I loved Gentleman's Guide and I'm so happy to hear you liked Vengeful. I'm a bit nervous to read it because it's been so long but I loved the first book.

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

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  41. Great selection! I just read City of Ghosts and loved it. Thanks for stopping by our page and Happy New Year!

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  42. This is a great selection, I've heard of a lot of these, but unfortunately haven't read them. I'm so curious about Scythe though, I've heard so many praise about this book and the concept sounds so good, I really need to read it :)

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  43. Awesome list! This Monstrous Thing sounds like something I'd really like. Happy New Year! :)

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  44. You read OVER 100 books?! Omg... You're such an inspiration for my reading goals! I can't wait to read Scythe. I've seen that book everywhere, but I haven't had the chance to pick it up yet. Knowing that it is in your Top 10 makes me more excited to read the book.

    Elle Inked @ Keep on Reading

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  45. I read Out of the Easy by Ruta and loved it. I want to read Salt to the Sea. Nice list!

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  46. This Monstrous Thing is on my 2019 TBR! I cannot wait!! And I am about to start Vengeful tonight. Great list AJ! I hope you read all the 5 star books this year :D

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  47. Wow. You've read some amazing books in 2018! :-)

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  48. Salt to the Sea was a really good read. I'm glad you enjoyed it as much as I did. Wishing you a wonderful 2019!

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  49. So many good books on this list! I LOVED Salt to the Sea and Gentleman's Guide is one of my favorites! I still really need to read Thunderhead.

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  50. I've added the ones I haven't read yet to my wish list! Such great choices.

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  51. Great list! I really want to read Scythe and The Butcher's Hook, I've owned them for some time but hope to read them in 2019! Would like to read Vengeful as well!

    Happy 2019!

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  52. The Smell of Other People's Houses was my top book two years ago. 👍✨

    I am putting Fub, and This Monstrous Thing on my to-read shelf. 🙌🙌🙌

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  53. Salt To The Sea has been on my radar since I read Between Shades Of Gray - must try to get to it this year. The Butcher's Hook looks like my kind of book too :-)

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  54. The Smell of Other People's Houses and Vengeful were two that have been on my list for a while now, glad you liked them! Looks like you ended 2018 on a pretty high note :)

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  55. Scythe and Smelly Houses were both fabulous! I also see a lot of books on your list that I *need* to read, especially Gentleman's Guide and Salt to the Sea. I am definitely going to get to them soon. Or you know, not, but let's pretend! Hope 2019 delivers a lot more awesome books for you!

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  56. I need to read Vengful!! But Scythe was super good- the world and characters were just awesome!

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  57. A Storm of Swords was my favorite of ASOIAF. It just had everything I wanted with that series.

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  58. I love the sound of Salt to the Sea - this is a great list, AJ. Thank you for sharing.

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  59. Love seeing ASOIAF books up there! I forever adore that series and I neeeeeed that next book. Great list!

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  60. I need to dive back into Martin's books. I have only read the first one and really liked it. Salt to the Sea is high up on my wish list. I have a feeling I will love it too. So many great sounding books, AJ!

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  61. I picked 18 books for this year's best of the year post as I couldn't limit myself to only 10. Good to know refuge is realistic, but not bleak, it makes me curious how the three stories get connected. Looks like you read some great reads this year.

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  62. I've heard SO many things about V.E. Schwab, but never have read one of her many books. I've also seen great things about Ruta's books. Glad you enjoyed some great books this year, AJ! Hope 2019 is full of amazing reads for you - and thanks so much for visiting Finding Wonderland. :)

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  63. I really want to read Scythe by Neal Shusterman!! And also that VE Schwab series!

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