As has been a long-standing end-of-the-year tradition in the blogosphere, at the end of the year we share our favorites. Around these parts, the favorites are usually confined to books, quotes, characters and such things as we can easily devour - and encourage others to devour in turn. (Books are delicious, my friends.)

But that's really only a part of it. Because books and characters are made all the more delicious by the people we choose to smother with them - and have them smother us back in turn. 

Call it a uniquely bookish kink.

Blogging is not blogging if done alone. In a vacuum, blogging is nothing more than diary-keeping. We tried it. It's a low-risk, low-reward situation, and exactly as mundane as it sounds. But in a community, aaaaah. In a community, blogging is made into a fine art of mutual bookish smotherdom, and this year we're choosing to honor it. So we're sharing the blogs and the bloggers who make it all worthwhile for us - and who have contributed to making 2016 at least a bit brighter than the gloom it's determined to be remembered by.

In no particular order - enjoy!

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that a reader stuck in 2016 must be in want of a book.

True story.

The world at large doesn't agree on much, but when it comes to the past year, a great many of us can agree that it came a little bit short of ideal. But we are bookworms, bookdragons and book fiends alike - so our escapist comfort zone has been well established. (Cue montage of readers deflecting World Suck with books instead of shields.)

As a byproduct of said World Suck, we were personally forced to hiatus until we could find books great enough to properly shield us from it all. And now that we have, we're back and sharing the 10 that served as the most effective shields - ones which gobbled us up and away from the real life altogether.

As has been a well-established tradition, these are in no particular order. There's no comparing greatness with greatness.

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Hello fellow book friends!

We're sorry that we've been MIA for the last month or so, but this really annoying thing called life got in the way. Not sure how aware you are but we're both students at university so that has sucked our life up and we're slowly getting our reading life back. Also work, family and other things have come up but we're still alive - barely! Just a bit disheveled. 

As time goes on, we'll be updating as much as we can and hope you can forgive us for being so tardy with updating the blog. We'll get there! Barely had time to read lately but that's changing. Some book reviews are to be expected in the next few days. (I also blame my constant reading slump for my lack of activity and reading....dammit, RS! Monsieur Reading Slump has had his claws in me for a while now but I've shaken him off. Git.)

Definitely missed blogging and book chatting with you guys and I see more fangirling in our future. Hoping you're well, that you've been reading some amazing stories and receive a ton of books this holiday season! Recommendations are always welcome too, so feel free to drop a message below!

Happy Holidays!

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Once upon a time, before we were the dazzling, sociable, and all-around communicative blog that we are today, we were... not. You remember the time - when you blogged for yourself and flailed in an ocean all by yourself and somewhere, you heard, there's a Titanic's worth of floating people, as well (too soon?), but you sure couldn't find them.

These were dark times, friends. But the one silver lining to interacting with absolutely no one and having no one to interact with you is - you can post whatever you please and the pressure is off. It's not as much a blog then as it is a diary.

So, naturally, we filled the blog up with anything and everything that came to our brilliant little heads at the time. News article about a rumor of a rumor of a rumor of a potential rumor of an adaptation that's surely never ever happening? Post it! A series of pictures of, like, every book on our shelves? WHAT A REVOLUTIONARY IDEA! 

Book hauls for the sake of book hauls? Aaaaaaall the time.

And while most of the aforementioned brilliance failed to withstand the public scrutiny once we discovered this community with standards, book hauls shall forever remain. Why?

Because book-feast-for-the-eyes. That's why. And so here we are today.

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Ah, the TBR pile. The never ending abyss of books that you can't stop chucking books into despite the perils that come with diving in to retrieve them. It's both our eternal fear (chances are any day it topples and crushes us to death, as bookworms worldwide have agreed), and our greatest challenge.

Apart from its murderous tendencies, if there's one feature of the TBR pile that has been deemed universal, it's the notion that THESE ONES I'LL DEFINITELY READ. The ones added long ago are traded in for newer ones, sure. But these newer ones - oh, they're top of the list. Right after we add... these still-newer ones.

It's a vicious cycle, basically.

So this week we're linking up with The Broke And The Bookish's Top 10 feature and sharing the 10 books we've added recently that we are convinced will get read - despite hundreds upon hundreds already there that claim otherwise. Unrealistic optimism is just our thing.

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A surefire sign November has come around: a not so subtle wave of NaNoWriMo spam across the board: NaNoWriMo on social media, NaNoWriMo in videos, and NaNoWriMo right here on the blog.

We'd apologize, except NaNoWriMo has a long-established tradition of eating our souls. Blogging about it, as it turns out, seems to be the only cure.

So this week I'm teaming up with Cait and Sky's Beautiful People Books feature (a week late, and let's just blame that on November, too, while at it) - for the first time ever, mind you - and introducing and discussing my writing project for the month, in all its murderous glory. The story is titled The Ever End, it's Paranormal (in the NA range, but nothing whatsoever to do with the NA genre tropes, let us hope), and it features ice cream and ritualistic sacrifices. (#thatescalatedquickly) So without further ado...

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In the words of one wiser and cooler than myself - "It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die."

(Yes, it's Maggie Stiefvater. No one is surprised.)

Apart from a deadly race atop demonic horses in The Scorpio Races, November 1st also marks another deadly race against time by way of computers and notebooks known as NaNoWriMo. It's about equally as terrifying, and the death toll is neck-in-neck. In The Scorpio Races, they ride horses who eat them and they die. During NaNoWriMo, we write novels who eat us and we die.

So this week for our Top 10 feature, Lexie has compiled ten hurdles that always come our way while writing. It isn't THE ten hurdles, or even the ten most common hurdles. There is no such thing. The hurdles are endless. (She said, while dramatic music swelled in the background.) But in anticipation of a month of writing dangerously (and all that makes it dangerous), these are the ten we can expect to come our way first.

May the odds be ever in our favor.

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When Gia Montgomery's boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she'd been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend—two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley.

The problem is that days after prom, it's not the real Bradley she's thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn't even know. But tracking him down doesn't mean they're done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfr
iend's graduation party—three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.

Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship.

mild spoilers but it's not going to ruin the whole book for you

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Fan art is amazing - and don't let anybody tell you otherwise (and boy, will they ever try)! We can rhapsodize about our favorite things all day long (and boy, do we ever try!), but eventually we run out of ways of expressing the depth of our emotion when it comes to a series.

Along came fan art. Presumably, people are fans of something other than books, and therefore create fan art for things utterly unrelated to books - but this is a bookish blog, and a bookish community, and here all the fan art discussion is of the bookish variety. Also, not to be self-aggrandizing, but bookish fandoms lend themselves best to all forms of artistic expression, precisely because they take place entirely inside our heads. A character can look however we want them to look - and the same holds true for a place or a bizzarre scene.

Bizarre scenes might be the best. It's still up for debate. But bookish fan art is our favorite. There is no debate to be had here.

When I published my last piece and emerged from my blanket fort (wherein I hide upon publication of any piece - it's hard to declare something complete when you're an indecisive pumpkin), I got quite a lot of fan-art-specific questions, which all boiled down to the same thing. And in the interest of covering all my bases - behold! An exhaustive and exhausting fan art post to answer any and all queries, questions, musings, zen koans and limericks I've gotten on the subject.

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Whichever side of the writing process you're on, this much you're sure of: 
  • naming characters is a delight akin to naming children
  • naming characters is a pain akin to delivering children.
And as with most things trope-ish, it is (almost) inevitable that another famed author has already claimed your superduper unique name as their own in that one fantastically popular series you've been avoiding for ages (which you'll only discover once the book is out in print). Likewise, as with most things trope-ish, whichever name you do end up settling on - you're likely following a trend. And isn't that ever so annoying?

So to make it still more annoying, this week we're linking up with The Broke And The Bookish's Top 10 feature and listing our 10 favorite and least favorite memorable naming strategies in YA.

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In light of author Tommy Wallach's rather unfortunate approach to the topic of suicide in YA literature (and broader), in the past couple of weeks the community has turned to discussing the resilience of the YA readership base, and the (in)correct way to approach a controversial subject in a book aimed at teens as well as adults.

As far as the act itself, Victoria Schwab addressed it better than I ever could in a guest-post over on YA Book Central, and more still on her Twitter page. Many others have likewise chimed in with incredibly intelligent insights. The consensus stands thus: YA readers are flexible, inflexible, resilient, fragile, tough, and delicate. As all large communities, we are our very own bell curve. And as such, trigger warnings apply. And never is it appropriate to joke about teen suicide to a crowd of teens one neither knows nor sees, nor has an insight into their state of mind.

Quite apart from our resilience, however, another topic bears mentioning - and it's one that we all thought so commonplace that it didn't need a mention. But now, having found ourselves knee-deep in censorship debates and mental health mockery, it apparently doesn't seem so?

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There is darkness sweeping across the stars. 

Most know Androma Racella as the Bloody Baroness: a powerful mercenary whose reign of terror stretches across the Mirabel Galaxy. To those aboard her fearsome glass starship the Maurader, she’s just Andi, their captain and protector. 

When a routine mission goes awry, the all-girl crew’s resilience is tested as they find themselves in a most unfamiliar place: at the mercy of a sadistic bounty hunter connected to Andi’s past and a harrowing betrayal. 

Meanwhile, on the far side of the galaxy, a ruthless ruler waits in the shadows of the planet Xen Ptera, biding her time to exact revenge for the destruction of her people. The final pieces of her deadly plan are about to fall into place, unleashing a plot that will tear Mirabel in two. 

Andi and her crew embark on a dangerous, soul-testing journey that could restore order to their ship—or just as easily start a war that will devour worlds. As the Marauder hurtles towards the unknown, and Mirabel hangs in the balance, the only thing certain is that in a galaxy run on lies and illusion, no one can be trusted. 

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Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand we're back from our hiatus!

Last year I went to a book signing in London to meet Sarah J Maas on her A Court of Thorns and Roses book tour here in the UK. My post about it is here. I was lucky enough to go again this year for her Empire of Storms tour and I have returned to tell you all about it. I have a lot to say about it and a few comparisons because this year was a lot stricter and had many different rules. As in, last year was miles better.

I took more pictures this year so enjoy the goodness! Due to nerves of being near Queen Maas, my pictures aren't the best because *shaking* and also because I'm a terrible photographer. No matter how many times I tell people that I love photography, I'm still not good at it. And the lighting was shit, as is my phone camera.

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Welcome back to school, y'all! Statistically speaking, chances are overwhelming that you don't really want to be there, or anywhere near it. If you are the Hermione sort of outlier and this does not apply to you - then you're lucky and kudos to your friends and teachers/professors.

If, however, you're more of a Ron and could do without homework, competition and the overwhelming pressures of schooldom - there's good news. If you grab the right sort of book - you don't have to put up with any of it. (Though it should be said that we, of course, don't condone reading in class. Uhm. Officially. We absolutely never, ever, 100%, cross-our-hearts did anything of the sort. Whoever told you otherwise is lying.)

In fact, to underscore the whole adage of fictional life beating real life 9 out of 10 times, school in fiction (especially of the YA variety) tends to be a lot more interesting than the schools we are used to. 

So this week we're linking up with The Broke & The Bookish's Top 10 Tuesday prompts and sharing our favorite back-to-school reads... which happen to take place in schools far superior to most real ones.

Don't call it masochism - call it escapism.

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Signed, sealed, delivered…

While spacing out in chemistry class, Lily scribbles some of her favorite song lyrics onto her desk. The next day, she finds that someone has continued the lyrics on the desk and added a message to her. Intrigue!

Soon, Lily and her anonymous pen pal are exchanging full-on letters—sharing secrets, recommending bands, and opening up to each other. Lily realizes she’s kind of falling for this letter writer. Only, who is he? As Lily attempts to unravel the mystery and juggle school, friends, crushes, and her crazy family, she discovers that matters of the heart can’t always be spelled out…

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Bestselling author Meg Collett retells the ancient Filipino legend of the aswang in this sexy, bone-chilling new series.

I’ve always known I was a monster, and I don’t mean some teenage vampire shit either.

My mother abandoned me when I was ten years old because I have a freakish mutant disease that makes me incapable of feeling pain. I bounced from one foster family to another because too many people like to test my medical condition in a game of “Try To Make Ollie Scream.” At sixteen, I killed a man for taking that game too far.

Two years later, I’m still on the run in Kodiak, Alaska. Here, I’m the most dangerous person around, until I come face to face with a creature that should only exist in folklore. The monster is an aswang, and I, with my medical anomaly, am uniquely qualified to hunt the beast that haunts the night. At least, that’s what the two scarred, mostly crazy ’swang hunters tell me when they kidnap me and take me to Fear University, a school where young students learn to hunt and kill aswangs.

I arrive at the university a prisoner, but I stay because I finally find my freedom.

For once in my life, I belong. I’m needed. I make a home for myself inside the university masquerading as an old Alaskan prison. Something close to happiness warms my icy heart when I’m with my scarred, still mostly crazy tutor, Luke Aultstriver. For a murdering runaway like me, Fear University is a haven where I can put my skills to good use hunting monsters in the night.

But when certain truths come to light and even more lies are exposed, I fear that I, Ollie Andrews, am the worst kind of monster of all. And, maybe, they should be hunting me.

Warning: This book is recommended for mature readers due to sexual content, violence, and language.

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book ● sta ● gram
a virtual dwelling of many an amateur photographer and professional bookish fanboy/girl

As both amateur photographers and professional bookish fangirls, the bookish section of Instagram is our home-away-from-home. Like most social media platforms these days, Instagram has spawned ridiculous communities and impromptu communities and glorious communities in turn.

The most glorious of the lot (in our not-at-all biased opinion) - bookstagram - is where a love of books meets a love of bizarre angles and a quest to overcome crappy lighting. We don't judge books by their cover at all - we just invest all our money into the prettiest ones, then spend hours on end composing them into perfect shots.

As for ourselves, we are quiet pumpkins on bookstagram - mostly because it's exhausting running a blog and all its social media platforms while juggling real life and Uni and jobs. There aren't enough hours in a day to interact with the lovely peoples in all the lovely places and let them know just how very much we appreciate them and look up to them and pray for a Freaky Friday moment with them for a little while. So this week, we are sharing our 10 favorite bookstagrammers - and reasons we stalk their profiles regularly.

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For sixteen-year-old Charlotte Reynolds, aka Charlie, being raised by a single dad and three older brothers has its perks. She can outrun, outscore, and outwit every boy she knows—including her longtime neighbor and honorary fourth brother, Braden. But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn't know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at chichi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world of makeup, lacy skirts, and BeDazzlers. Even stranger, she's spending time with a boy who has never seen her tear it up in a pickup game.

To cope with the stress of faking her way through this new reality, Charlie seeks late-night refuge in her backyard, talking out her problems with Braden by the fence that separates them. But their Fence Chats can't solve Charlie's biggest problem: she's falling for Braden. Hard. She knows what it means to go for the win, but if spilling her secret means losing him for good, the stakes just got too high.

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For fans of The Hunger Games

A high-stakes online game of dares turns deadly

When Vee is picked to be a player in NERVE, an anonymous game of dares broadcast live online, she discovers that the gameknows her. They tempt her with prizes taken from her ThisIsMe page and team her up with the perfect boy, sizzling-hot Ian. At first it's exhilarating--Vee and Ian's fans cheer them on to riskier dares with higher stakes. But the game takes a twisted turn when they're directed to a secret location with five other players for the Grand Prize round. Suddenly they're playing all or nothing, with their lives on the line. Just how far will Vee go before she loses NERVE?

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Today on a book blog: a bookish blog post about the delights of book blogging.

We're not meta, you're meta.

This is, of course, hardly the first time we're rhapsodizing about blogging, extolling its virtues, and attempting to justify why in the name of Athena one would choose to: 
(1) read amply *gasp*
(2) review and analyze such amply read books *gasp*
(3) spend 495349 hours in a day immersing oneself in the bookish community
(4) basically market the publishing industry for free, what's wrong with you, you could be doing something meaningful with your life like stress, anxiety, procrastination, and a general sort of disquiet about where your life is going.

Great news, naysayers - stress, anxiety and procrastination can be found in even greater quantities around these parts. (Nothing like reading about 16 year-olds saving the world to bring forth an existential crisis.) Just imagine the benefits, then, that outweigh that sort of cost.

Or, rather, don't imagine a thing. Stick around and find out firsthand.

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Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

No spoilers ahead.

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Late? Always. While the entire bookish blogosphere tackled this topic (or similar) last week, here at The Honest Bookclub, we come to the party at midnight.

Because we're cool (and terribly, terribly disorganized) like that.

But this is also in part due to our decision to share two sorts of bookish inspirations in the imminent future: one, which pertains to all the things that books have inspired us to do, and the other - shared below - of all the things that books have made us research on pain of death or ignorance.

After all, one of the factors that sets the good novels apart from the great novels is how immersed in their world we become - and how much said world inspires us to investigate further. 

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The rest of the literary blogosphere does it about a month ago - we do it now. Welcome to our top 10 underrated book picks!

(It's not that we're contrary - it's that we're awesome. And chronically late to most parties. Don't tell the hosts.)

This week, we are picking titles that blew us away twice: first, with their stunning content, and then again, when we realized no one else in the history of ever read it, and we have absolutely no one to share in our appreciation. It's a tough job, being a bookish hipster. But someone has bear the heavy burden and spread the word far and wide. 

This: this list. Statistically, these books are far from New York Times bestselling lists. But in terms of content and quality, we found they measured up to the bestselling-est of the lot. Sometimes we need to join overcrowded literary bandwagons. But other times, we need the joy of discovery of a diamond in the rough - and the pleasure of throwing them at our friends. Consider this list just such a throw.

Tag. You're it.

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Emelina Flores has nothing. Her home in Ruina has been ravaged by war. She lacks the powers of her fellow Ruined. Worst of all, she witnessed her parents’ brutal murders and watched helplessly as her sister, Olivia, was kidnapped.

But because Em has nothing, she has nothing to lose. Driven by a blind desire for revenge, Em sets off on a dangerous journey to the enemy kingdom of Lera. Somewhere within Lera’s borders, Em hopes to find Olivia. But in order to find her, Em must infiltrate the royal family.

In a brilliant, elaborate plan of deception and murder, Em marries Prince Casimir, next in line to take Lera’s throne. If anyone in Lera discovers Em is not Casimir’s true betrothed, Em will be executed on the spot. But it’s the only way to salvage Em’s kingdom and what is left of her family.

Em is determined to succeed, but the closer she gets to the prince, the more she questions her mission. Em’s rage-filled heart begins to soften. But with her life—and her family—on the line, love could be Em’s deadliest mistake.

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What’s the one thing you DON’T do at a wedding?

When Edie is caught in a compromising position at her colleagues’ wedding, all the blame falls on her – turns out that personal popularity in the office is not that different from your schooldays. Shamed online and ostracised by everyone she knows, her boss suggests an extended sabbatical – ghostwriting an autobiography for hot new acting talent, Elliot Owen. Easy, right?

Wrong. Banished back to her home town of Nottingham, Edie is not only dealing with a man who probably hasn’t heard the word ‘no’ in a decade, but also suffering an excruciating regression to her teenage years as she moves back in with her widowed father and judgey, layabout sister.

When the world is asking who you are, it’s hard not to question yourself. Who’s that girl? Edie is ready to find out.

mild spoilers ahead

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There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwaba young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

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Reading is the best

There's more to picking up a good book and getting lost in the story than it may seem. Over the years, reading has changed me as a person. I wasn't as big of a reader when I was younger compared to now - as a kid, I wasn't highly encouraged to read, so I never read much until I was in my teens. And in my teens, I tended to pick up the wrong kind of books, which made me lose interest in reading quite quickly. Now I'm able to pick out the right kind of book, and the difference this has made in my life is astonishing. Along with travelling, reading has changed who I am, and today I wanted to share why I think reading books has brought about my new attitude towards life, other people, and even myself.

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Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers studies the rich like her own personal science experiment, and after years of observation she’s pretty sure they’re only good for one thing—spending money on useless stuff, like the porcelain dolls in her mother’s shop.

So when Xander Spence walks into the store to pick up a doll for his grandmother, it only takes one glance for Caymen to figure out he’s oozing rich. Despite his charming ways and that he’s one of the first people who actually gets her, she’s smart enough to know his interest won’t last. Because if there’s one thing she’s learned from her mother’s warnings, it’s that the rich have a short attention span. But Xander keeps coming around, despite her best efforts to scare him off. And much to her dismay, she's beginning to enjoy his company.

She knows her mom can’t find out—she wouldn’t approve. She’d much rather Caymen hang out with the local rocker who hasn’t been raised by money. But just when Xander’s attention and loyalty are about to convince Caymen that being rich isn’t a character flaw, she finds out that money is a much bigger part of their relationship than she’d ever realized. And that Xander’s not the only one she should’ve been worried about.

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Squads: those sorts of relationships and bonds in fiction that make our real life drab and lonely by comparison, and leave us desolate and nursing a giant bookish hangover.

(Thanks a lot, squads.)

A few weeks back, we picked our favorite bookish tropes - one of which were just such squads. And the response, as you might be able to tell, has mostly been !%!)^!& YEEEES SQUAAAAAADS. Everyone is either writing about them, reading them, daydreaming about them, or some multi-headed, many-limbed combination thereof. (If the latter, congratulations, and please teach us your magic.)

Because we're only human, we are currently stuck reminiscing about them and unfavorably comparing our lives to them. The usual. So to follow up, this week we have picked our 10 favorite bookish squads, and sent ourselves further down the rabbit hole of why-is-this-not-my-life... and now we're taking you along for the ride. Prepare for a hangover.

You're welcome.

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Badass though reading might make us, it's time to face facts: most of the time, it doesn't leave too much room for rulebreaking. Sure, we carry twice the recommended amount of books at once and we rant about characters left and right, but ultimately - the author's word is law.

Except when it isn't.

Which is where non-canon comes in. Most of the time, here at The Honest Bookclub, we err on the side of canon. Whatever the author's choices, we side with them and approve of them.

Except when we don't.

These are the foremost of those times. Don't hate us.

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Happy first-day-of-an-impending-literal-meltdown-otherwise-known-as-summer, lovelies!

Australia & co... think of us when we disintegrate.

As has become a routine here on the first day of each season, we are sharing our most anticipated bookish releases of said season. (And yes, summer does, in fact, include a large part of September. Don't take September away from us. Summer is a slow-enough season in publishing as it is - take September away and we don't even have enough for one sensible post.)

2015 seems to have been a year of endings and standalones. And, we won't lie, those are the scariest years to have. 2015 essentially snatched our comfort blanket away and left us here in the land of Scary New Things to try. So far, however, it's done a spectacular job of alleviating our concerns. And summer, slow though it may be, is no different: LOOK AT ALL THESE SHINY NEW TOYS WE'LL HAVE TO KEEP US COMPANY AS WE MELT IN THE SCORCHING HEAT OF OH-SO-IT-WAS-GLOBAL-WARMING-AFTER-ALL!

It'll be a glorious way to go.

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Letting go of a beloved book is no meager task. So, more often than not, I advocate foregoing the experience altogether. (Cling to that book! Cling to it!)

In late spring of this year, we were bombarded with a slew of anticipated releases in the YA community: Cassandra Clare's Lady Midnight, Morgan Matson's The Unexpected Everything, Maggie Stiefvater's The Raven King, and Sarah J. Maas's A Court of Mist and Fury.

Casual readers would have been mildly excited, read each as they came out, and moved on.

But we are no casual readers in these bookish circles, so... the clinging continues.

A Court of Mist and Fury was, simply put, a book I never knew I needed until I got it. Which isn't to say it wasn't highly anticipated - both Natalie and I speculated about it (on the blog and off) incessantly, the whole year long. But whatever our expectations might have been, and however high - ACOMAF demolished them in record time. I've raved about the characters, the setting, the plot and the world in my review here on the blog already. But when it comes to its themes - its addressal of freedom and consent, of the many forms abuse can take, of a loss of identity, of trauma and recovery... I will never, ever get tired of that praise. And in that name - I chose to cling to it some more through endless re-reads, an avowal to obtain the book in every medium available, and - naturally - fan art.

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At times, our bookish Top 10 themes coincide with a particular event, or a particular season. We time it so we give as much prominence/deference/choose-your-ence to a prominent bookish holiday, theme or whatever is currently making the ripples in the literary community.

Other times, our bookish Top 10 themes are chosen like this: AREN'T BABY OWL GIFS THE CUTEST?

This, naturally, is the latter. This week for our top 10, we have chosen the 10 bookish pets, familiars and/or animal companions who have marked our beloved series, or whose unforgettable nature actually exceeded the rather forgettable plot of the book at large. 

Our love of these magnificent beasts has at times eclipsed our love for their owners/handlers/masters/less-intelligent-halves. Let's just leave it at that.

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Workaholic attorney Samantha Sweeting has just done the unthinkable. She’s made a mistake so huge, it’ll wreck any chance of a partnership. 

Going into utter meltdown, she walks out of her London office, gets on a train, and ends up in the middle of nowhere. Asking for directions at a big, beautiful house, she’s mistaken for an interviewee and finds herself being offered a job as housekeeper. Her employers have no idea they’ve hired a lawyer–and Samantha has no idea how to work the oven. She can’t sew on a button, bake a potato, or get the #@%# ironing board to open. How she takes a deep breath and begins to cope–and finds love–is a story as delicious as the bread she learns to bake. 

But will her old life ever catch up with her? And if it does…will she want it back?

Spoilers ahead!

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Seventeen-year-old Cassie is a natural at reading people. Piecing together the tiniest details, she can tell you who you are and what you want. But it’s not a skill that she’s ever taken seriously. That is, until the FBI come knocking: they’ve begun a classified program that uses exceptional teenagers to crack infamous cold cases, and they need Cassie.

What Cassie doesn’t realize is that there’s more at risk than a few unsolved homicides—especially when she’s sent to live with a group of teens whose gifts are as unusual as her own. Sarcastic, privileged Michael has a knack for reading emotions, which he uses to get inside Cassie’s head—and under her skin. Brooding Dean shares Cassie’s gift for profiling, but keeps her at arm’s length.

Soon, it becomes clear that no one in the Naturals program is what they seem. And when a new killer strikes, danger looms closer than Cassie could ever have imagined. Caught in a lethal game of cat and mouse with a killer, the Naturals are going to have to use all of their gifts just to survive.

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