book review

I Read and Reviewed My Co-Blogger’s Favorite Books

On the day of my birthday – back in November – I was surprised to see that Sabrina decided to dedicate a whole post to discussing the books she read because of me. I was so touched by that, because one of the best compliments you can pay to me as a reader / blogger is that you appreciate the recommendations I give you. 🥰 Immediately, I wanted to repay the favor and do something similar for Sabrina’s birthday, but alas, I didn’t have the time. Her birthday is less than two weeks after mine, and I needed more time to make something similar – but still different and creative – happen.

Ultimately, I came to the decision that she will probably enjoy this post even if she gets it months after her birthday, so here we are today. Like I said, I didn’t want to copy her post – also, regrettably, she is much better at reading the books I recommend to her than I am – so my post is rather different. I have selected five books Sabrina loves – all of these she rated five or four stars – and have read them for this post. I thought that this post would be more meaningful if I got out of my comfort zone for it, so with the exception of one of my picks, I probably wouldn’t have read these if not for this post / Sabrina loving them… which is nerve-wrecking, as I don’t want to dislike Sabrina’s favorites.

I did this in top secret, so I didn’t mark any of these as currently reading or read on Goodreads and I won’t do so until after this post goes live. I’m proud of myself for (1) religiously following this small to-read list during the first half of January and (2) not spoiling what I’m doing by telling it to Sabrina. We tend to message each other nearly every day, and I can’t tell you how many times I caught myself right before I was about to tell her about how much I’m enjoying her favorites. 💀 I’m bloody terrible at keeping secrets that I’m excited to share.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

5 stars

⭐️ Found in Ten Reasons Why I Love My Favorite Books.

🌙 Expectations Before Reading: I’m probably the most scared of this one out of the five novels I selected for this post. Strange the Dreamer is one of Sabrina’s all-time favorite novels, so I feel like there’s a pressure for me to at least not hate it. 😅 On top of that, while I enjoyed the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor, I wasn’t particularly eager to try other books by her.

🌕 Thoughts After Reading: Ahh, I loved this so damn much! I can’t believe I waited so long to pick it up and that I needed this push to finally get to it, because it’s one of the best young adult fantasy novels I’ve read in recent years. I think the strength of this book lies in its characters, especially Sarai and Lazlo, who feel very realistic and complex. I was rooting for these two all through, and even though their romance was rather insta-lovey, I loved it and them nonetheless. The only negative I can think of is that unless I was actively reading the book, I didn’t feel a strong desire to jump back into it and continue, but ultimately that could have been just my mood, so this is still a five star read. I’m not sure I’ll have the chance to read the sequel before this post goes up, but rest assured, it’s on my immediate tbr.

Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

4 stars

⭐️ Found in The Best Adult Books We Read in 2020.

🌙 Expectations Before Reading: I’ve only heard about Friday Black through Sabrina, and it sounds wonderful. That said, I’m fairly certain I’d be too intimidated by it were it not for this post, as I’m usually reluctant to pick up anthologies, so I’m glad for this push.

🌕 Thoughts After Reading: As expected, I loved Friday Black and I can’t wait to push it at as many of you as possible, as I think it’s an exceptionally fantastic short story collection. It’s basically Black Mirror in book form, if Black Mirror wasn’t centered around technological inventions, rather around topics like racism and capitalism. It’s so difficult to talk about short story collections, because I cannot go into any of the stories lest I share too much and ruin them for you, but I can say that this collection was a splendid reading experience. If you want to read something thought-provoking and unique, Friday Black is for you.

Soulless by Gail Carriger

DNF

⭐️ Found in Books For Every Kind of Paranormal Being and Recommending Movies to my Favourite Book Characters.

🌙 Expectations Before Reading: I actually have this marked as “read” on goodreads, but that is a complete lie. 😂 When I was about thirteen I picked up Soulless and put it down immediately after starting it… then proceeded to mark it as read and even rate it. Even though I remember literally nothing from those first few pages, that first try left a bad taste in my mouth, so I never went back to this novel again.

🌕 Thoughts After Reading: Ah, I’m so disappointed this didn’t work for me, and I’m not looking forward to Sabrina seeing my thoughts. 🙈 After giving up on it, I contemplated not including Soulless in my post at all, but I felt like that defeated the purpose of the post, so here we go. I should start by saying that no matter how many pages I had read back in the day, I made the right call then… and I made the same call now, when I was about 20% into the book. Sabrina is fantastic at DNF-ing books, so I took a page out of her book because, due to the characters and the writing being extremely hard for me to like, I could not for the life of me get into this book.

The Other People by C.J. Tudor

4 stars

⭐️ Found while going through Sabrina’s Goodreads shelves and she also mentions it in this post.

🌙 Expectations Before Reading: The Other People is the only book on this list that I’m fairly certain I’d pick up on my own too… and one that I didn’t find on any sort of post or favorite list of Sabrina’s. 😅 I found it while looking at her goodreads shelf and thought it’d qualify as she rated it four stars.

🌕 Thoughts After Reading: And I was right! I really loved this thriller and I’m looking forward to reading more by the author – I already own one of his books, so I’m hoping I can get to it soon. But back to the book at hand! The Other People was able to keep me captivated nearly all through, as the mystery of what happened to the protagonist’s daughter was complex and layered. I was able to guess some of the plot twists, but there were always more shocking revelations to come, so I cannot be mad about the twists I figured out.

I have two small reasons for not giving this novel five stars. The first is that I felt like some of the story’s elements – I can’t be any more specific without spoilers – were a bit too far-fetched and thus felt out of place. The other reason is that, while I was fully invested and eagerly turning the pages up until I was 70% into the book, I found my enthusiasm and curiosity die down a bit after that. Thankfully, the ending picked up the pace and became intriguing again, but this was a bit disappointing after such a strong first half. 

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

5 stars

⭐️ Found on: Sabrina’s ‘favorites’ shelf on Goodreads and Women’s History Book Tag.

🌙 Expectations Before Reading: To be fair, I’ve always wanted to try Nina LaCour’s novels, but as far as I understand they tend to be slower, more melancholic novels, which makes me wary because that is not my type of book at all. In any case, Sabrina really loved this one and even recommended it to me ages ago, so I’m really hopeful I’ll love it.

🌕 Thoughts After Reading: We Are Okay is officially the biggest surprise of this post! I expected to enjoy it, but I never expected it to be a solid five star read. In any case, I’m really pleased about this, so let’s talk about why I loved this short contemporary YA novel. I think the biggest thing to mention is that We Are Okay is a very character-driven novel; while it does have some semblance of a plot, the focus remains on Marin and on how she’s been handling the death of her grandfather and all that she learnt about him after he died. I can’t exactly pinpoint what aspects of LaCour’s writing made this possible, but I found myself constantly visualizing the settings in the story, which is not always the case for me. My favorite setting was the shop / pottery, but everything was so easy to imagine, perhaps because I felt completely engrossed in the novel from the get-go.

Another fantastic thing is that it wasn’t just Marin, the protagonist, whose characterization was fantastic, but everyone else’s too, including those characters’ that barely appeared on page. We might not have been given a lot of information about Hannah, for instance, but she felt so vivid and real, nonetheless. Having such great characters means that the relationships in We Are Okay were also fantastically crafted – in fact, some of the interactions between the characters (one in particular) pushed me close to tears. All considered, We Are Okay is a new favorite contemporary novel and I can’t wait to read more by Nina LaCour.

Overall Thoughts

I’m really happy with how this experiment / post turned out, and I hope Sabrina will enjoy reading it, too. I loved reading her favorite novels, and I’m glad that only one of them turned out to be disappointing, while everything else was enjoyable and memorable. We Are Okay was my favorite read, closely followed by Strange the Dreamer, which was followed by Friday Black. The Other People was an entertaining thriller, but the other three were much more memorable and unique, so this can only take the fourth place, and is of course followed by Soulless. While it makes me sad that I wasn’t into Soulless, I’m happy I gave it another chance, because this was a title I’d periodically remember and try to guess if I’d like it more as a adult. At least that question has been answered, lol.

Let’s chat!

Have you ever tried to read any of your friends’ favorite books? How did it go? Have you read any of these novels?

31 thoughts on “I Read and Reviewed My Co-Blogger’s Favorite Books

  1. This is such a great idea! I completely agree that the absolute best compliment someone can pay me is saying they read a book because of my recommendation, and got something from it, whether they liked it overall or not. That’s also what I love about your review of Soulless! Even though you didn’t really like it, you still gained some knowledge on when you feel it’s best to DNF (something I still struggle with so I’m going to take a page out of both of your books now :D). And side note, I hadn’t heard of Friday Black but now it’s most certainly on my list!

    Laura @BlueEyeBooks

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!! I really loved working on this post and it apparently made Sabrina CRY, haha, so she had a really good reaction to it too. 🥰 I agree with you – obviously, I might be disappointed if a friend doesn’t enjoy my favorite, but I’d still love to hear their thoughts. I feel you – DNF-ing books is so hard sometimes! I always just keep hoping they’ll get better, but sometimes I just have to accept that they won’t. Working on our 2020 wrap up really showed me that I should be better at DNF-ing – I’d have been totally fine had I not finished my two and even some of my three star reads. Not that there were A LOT of those, but still. Hope you’ll love Friday Black! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. ahh, you’re so sweet for doing this 🥺 and i’m so happy that you enjoyed almost all of the books you picked! i’ve attempted to do posts like this too, but as i am someone who dislikes and feels lukewarm about many books, i think that it’s better if i don’t lmao. i’m so happy you enjoyed strange the dreamer—the insta-love in that one kind of bothered me, but i could appreciate that it added to the fairy tale-like quality of the book. my favorite aspects of the duology are their worldbuilding and writing (laini taylor just has a gift with words). and i think that muse of nightmares is just as good if not better than strange the dreamer!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So glad you enjoyed the post! 🥰 Haha, that makes sense, but then again, I remember you doing at least one post where you read bloggers’ favorites and reacted to them like in a vlog and that was really fun to read. 😀 I haven’t though of the insta-love like that, but I agree, it definitely adds to the fairy tale-like quality. I’m now even more excited for Muse of Nightmares!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. awww this is such a sweet post, and i really loved reading it!! 😊 it always makes me so happy when someone tells me they picked up a book because of me, and especially when they love it 💕 i’m glad that you enjoyed a majority of these books, Veronika! i’ve been meaning to read We Are Okay for a while and i think this post is the push i needed hehe. i adore character-driven books so i really hope i love it! wonderful post :))

    Liked by 1 person

  4. ahh… this was so sweet to do and I bet Sabrina will love reading it SO much. I bet it was hard not saying anything whilst you were messaging so much, haha but you did it !! I love the way you set this post out as well.
    I’ve heard so much praise for Strange the Dreamer especially the writing so I would really like to pick it up one day. I’m glad it ended up being such a great read for you too.
    The same with We are Okay, it’s sooo great that you found a new favourite contemporary !! I love it when you can connect with the characters and feel the setting so well.
    Friday Black sounds like a really interesting book and I normally avoid anthologies too so I’m glad this worked out for you. I’ll have to look into it as well.
    Great post, I loved reading it !! 💕

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This was such a lovely idea and post, Veronika! I’m glad you enjoyed most of the books. It’s one of the best feelings as a blogger when someone chooses to read a book based on your review. I’ve heard great things about Strange The Dreamer and C.J. Tudor’s books too 🥰

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ohh this is such a sweet idea!! And I’m so glad that you enjoyed most of the books you read 😀 We Are Okay is one of my favorite contemporary novels as well, but it’s been so long since I read it, and reading your thoughts on it makes me want to pick it up again 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh, this is such a lovely post and a great idea 🥰🥺 I have yet to read Strange the Dreamer – the hype and the size + the lyrical writing intimidated me a bit – but I’m so happy to see that you liked it so much! I even have the e-book, so I might have to read this soon ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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