Favorite Books of 2016

2:16 PM Ally M.G. 0 Comments

This year I was unable to complete my reading challenge. I read a total of 49/60 books. I feel a bit bummed out, because I read 61/40 books. Life sometimes gets in the way, and we just have to accept that.

Some of the books I had the pleasure of reading and truly enjoying include:


Warm Fuzzy Middle Grade Books

10:03 AM Ally M.G. 0 Comments

I am considered a super 100% legal adult, and I still read middle grade books. Even though I am expected to be moving from Young Adult to full fledge adult books I still find myself falling into the stories dedicated to middle grade readers. At first I felt a bit self-conscious, but now I have embraced it, because there amazing middle grade stories out there (better than some YA and adult books)

Take Harry Potter for example. The first half of the series is considered middle-grade and as Harry grows up (along side the reader) the books start containing more mature themes that the older audience will grasp quicker than a child.

Some of my favorite books are actually considered middle-grade books…what does that say about me? That I am a child..? You see, the reason I love middle grade stories is because most of the lead characters are selfless. Most of the time their goal is to help someone else out rather than accomplishing a personal goal. Sure you can argue “Percy Jackson went on an adventure to restore Zeus’ lighting bolt because he did not want to die!” And while I do agree with that statement, he also did it to save his mom. Then he realized he was not only saving his mom, but in part his dad, and saving his new friends.

It has to do with the concept of innocence and growth. As a child our worries were minuscule and we felt unbeatable, because the concept of death was still something that only happens in films. Middle grade stories are filled with characters who have a clean slates and do not carry so much baggage. You watch these characters obtain their baggage as you step into their world, and you see the beginning of their development.

Whenever we start a new book that is above the middle grade genre, you have to learn about the character’s baggage. You have to learn why a character behaves a certain way and makes decisions the way they do. While the mystery behind it may be exciting, the whole experience of it is different.

I am currently reading, The School of Good and Evil by Soman Chainani. It is the first middle grade I have read in a long while where the characters are below the age of sixteen. As I read the book it made me realize how clean the character’s slates are. Our two main characters’ current goals are so simple ( I know it will become more complex), but their starting goals are as easy as 2+2 = 4. Sophie want to go to magical school to learn how to become a princess, while Agatha (her best friend) does not want Sophie to be taken away because it means losing her only friend. 

How simple and clean is that. Of course, you will see that there is a lot more to the story as you read, but from the start you see how innocent their goals are. It takes me back to a time where my only goals were figuring out how to please my parents so they give me extra internet hours.

As a reader, I feel it is important to read children stories and remind ourselves that some things can be simple and clean. It is important because it reminds ourselves how to have fun on simple matters. It is important because it reminds ourselves to be a kid again. 

And as a parent, it reminds us that children are actually quite simple…until hormones kick in.

If you want to feel like a baggage free child that does not have a million and one things on their plate try checking out some of these middle grade stories.


Raven Song (Inoki's Games) by I.A.Ashcroft | Book Review

11:14 PM Ally M.G. 0 Comments

I was given this book for an honest review.

A century ago, the world burned. Even now, though rebuilt and defiant, civilization is still choking on the ashes.

Jackson, a smuggler, lives in the shadows, once a boy with no memory, no name, and no future. Ravens followed him, long-extinct birds only he could see, and nightmares flew in their wake. Once, Jackson thought himself to be one of the lucky few touched by magic, a candidate for the Order of Mages. He is a man now, and that dream has died. But, the ravens still follow. The nightmares still whisper in his ear.

Anna’s life was under the sun, her future bright, her scientific work promising. She knew nothing of The Bombings, the poisoned world, or the occult. One day, she went to work, and the next, she awoke in a box over a hundred years in the future, screaming, fighting to breathe, and looking up into the eyes of a smuggler. Anna fears she’s gone crazy, unable to fill the massive hole in her memories, and terrified of the strange abilities she now possesses.

The Coalition government has turned its watchful eyes towards them. The secret factions of the city move to collect them first. And, old gods stir in the darkness, shifting their pawns on the playing field. If Anna and Jackson wish to stay free, they must learn what they are and why they exist. Unfortunately, even if they do, it may be too late.

Raven Song is the first of a four book adult-oriented dystopian fantasy series, a story of intrigue, love, violence, and the old spirits in the shadows who wait for us to notice them again. Readers of Neil Gaiman, Holly Black, and Charlie Human will enjoy this dark magic-laced tale rooted on the bones of what our world could become.


A short way to describe this book is x-men with magic in a future dystopian world where nuclear bombs damaged America.

It has been 100 years since a massive bombing, and New York (and other major cities) now have a dome that protects them from radiation. In this world lives Jackson a businessman who isn't entirely normal. Jackson is trying to keep his father's business running while dealing with nightmares that plague his mind. Then on a job he runs into (finds) a girl by the name of Anna, who seems to have been displaced from her timeline. Together they find out about the mysteries of themselves, their government and the monster who lives underground.

Raven Song is a well-written book, with amazing characters who go through amazing character development from the first moment we meet them to the very last page. Raven Song is an urban fantasy dystopian book, filled with concepts you wouldn't think work well...but they do! It is so unusual.

The plot has you engaged and hooked from the beginning, keeping you guessing and full of questions. The whole time I read the book, questions where fluttering through my mind and I connected the dots as we slowly received more information about the world. Why it happened, how it happened, and who these characters are. This book was driven both by its characters and its plot which lets you know that the author knows how to flesh out characters and bring a world to life.

I am just so blown away how so many genres fit so nicely together. (A lot like This Savage Song by V.E Schwab), but this book had more magical magic unexplainable stuff.

Science. Magic. Broken world. Crazy lizard people.

Aschcroft starts the story nice and steady until it picks up and you are sucked in unto the world. He gives you small details that you think is unimportant and then later in the book it is like BAM MASSIVE PLOT DEVICE SUCKER.

You guys really need to read this book! And it is only 290 pages long! (Super short)

It is a super refreshing books for those who have fallen into a book slump, and it will end with you wanting to read more and itching for the next book.

Rating: 4.5/5