What Did I Read In 2017? The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly (Ft. Charts! Best Books! Worst Books!)

Was my reading year the BEST it could’ve been? Definitely not.

(Okay, that’s a bit of an understatement, but seriously.)

Despite that, I still thought it’d be fun to observe my reading year and such! At first, I was going to make my Best & Worst of 2017 lists separately, like I did last year, but I realized I had a LOT of books I loved, and not too many books I hated, so I decided to combine them into one huge post, along with some charts and graphs analyzing my year!

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Mikaela & The Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Reading Year ( Ft. The 2017 End Of Year Book Survey)

What better way to ring in the brand spanking new year than complaining about how terrible 2017 was in terms of books?

(I mean, pretty much everything was terrible in 2017, but especially this.)

Today, I’m linking up with Jamie @ The Perpetual Page-Turner’s Annual End of the Year Book Survey to talk about the (measly) amount of books I read this year! Because I’m a cheating cheater who cheats a lot, I cut a bunch of questions I didn’t really care for, but the end result is pretty freaking great, I think (totally not biased at all).

(Also, this post is already 2,000+ words, so you should be thanking me, to be honest).

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17 Things That Make Me Want to Pick Up Your Book

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I definitely have my fair share of bookish weaknesses.

I think we all do, of course. We all have our preferences that make us want to pick up a book, and I thought it’d be fun to share my own! I guess you could say this was inspired by that old Top Ten Tuesday topic, but it’s not really a tie-in? So enough confusing you, let’s get into it!

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i don't believe you

1. An unreliable narrator. Any mention of reading about a main character that I can’t trust makes me super excited. I just really enjoy wondering if they’re telling the truth or if they’re lying or if I can trust them. Some people are tired of this trope, but I just can’t get enough.

surprise

2. Promises of “twists and turns.” Okay, this is totally cheesy, but when a thriller or horror novel promises me that it’ll be a twisty ride, I can’t help myself! Onto the TBR it goes.

flashback

3. The story’s told using flashbacks. Some people totally hate flashbacks, but when I’m told that a book is going to be told in the present and the past, I NEED THE BOOK. I love that type of story-telling everywhere – in my books, in my shows, in my movies. So, just enjoy it in all formats.

favorites

4. It’s like “insert favorite book here” or “insert favorite author here.” Obviously, these are usually marketing ploys, but I can I resist myself when I’m told that the book is a combination of Sarah J. Maas and Leigh Bardugo? Or if it’s like The Hunger Games? No, no I can’t.

character portrait

5. It’s a character portrait. I don’t know why, but I really love it when a book observes a certain character and what happened over their life to make them the way that they are. I’ve seen this done a lot in literary fiction, and it always interests me. I don’t even know why.

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6. It takes place in a small town. Did you say that the book takes place in a small town filled with secrets? Because if you did, I AM THERE. I feel like I’ve just read so many of these types of books and fallen in love with them all, and now they’ve become my favorite thing.

anti-hero

7. The characters are anti-heroes. I LOVE ANTI-HEROES. Are they good? Are they bad? Are they really villains? Is it weird if I love them? Anti-heroes are just so endlessly interesting that I’ll be sold on your book if I know that there’s a gang of them.

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8. It’s about missing people coming back. This has been a recent trend in thrillers, and I’ve absolutely fallen in love with it. It’s one of the few tropes that you can do so much with that it never really gets old. And I just really like the idea of having to awkwardly adjust back to your normal life after being away from your family for so long.

dark fantasy

9. It’s a dark fantasy novel. I’m already deep in love with fantasy, but if it’s a dark fantasy, COUNT ME IN. Bring in the anti-heroes and the villains and everything to do with them.

magic

10. It has a magic system. I absolutely love magic in my books, whether it’s a fantasy novel or just some good old magical realism. I emphatically blame Harry Potter for giving me this obsession.

secrets

11. It contains an awful family with lots of secrets. For some reason, I just really love stories where some rich family is at the center of it, pretending to be perfect, and then some event upends their persona and spills all these secrets. It’s just so interesting to me. AND I’m nosy, so I always want to know what those secrets are.

game over

12. There are some sort of games going on. I don’t care how many times I read a summary that is clearly trying to cash in on The Hunger Games and its popularity, I just love the idea of people having to compete in some sort of games. It’s just so much fun and always manages to keep me on the edge of my seat!

class

13. The world is split into two (or more) different sections. I know this usually makes zero sense and people are tired of this type of story, but I’m always intrigued and I’ll always add it to my TBR. I don’t care how cliche it is, it’s just my favorite thing to read about.

cursed

14. There’s a curse. Who caused the curse? Why are they cursed? Are they actually even really cursed? What does the curse entail? Can they get rid of the curse, and if so, how? I don’t know, but I’m definitely going to find out!

creepy woods

15. There are creepy, creepy woods. Because I obviously need more reasons to be convinced to never go camping. But, seriously, this type of setting is one of my favorites in thriller and horror because there’s just so much mystery and uncertainty. Points if the book mainly takes place at night.

I've found my people

16. It promises to be a quirky, weird book. Because I’m weird and into really weird things, so if the book is also weird or has a weird sense of dark humor I enjoy, then that obviously means that that book is meant for me.

cult

17. It has something to do with cults. For a while now, I’ve been really interested in cults. How they start, how they grow, how people even manage to get involved with them in the first place when the leader is CLEARLY out of his damn mind. So I really like observing characters in that type of setting, whether it’s them just living in a cult or even realizing what’s wrong with it and escaping.

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16 TV Shows You Need to Be Watching (Like, Right Now)

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So, it’s no surprise to some of you, I’m sure, that I’m a huge fan of watching TV.

I love TV (even though I fail to watch it sometimes because I either have to choose between binging a show or reading a book. Hard choices), and I love talking about it, but most of the shows I love are either underrated, or they’re not really shows geared towards my audience (basically other sixteen year olds), so I can’t talk to anyone about them in real life. So, why not take a break from talking about books to talk about some of my favorite shows, and force you to watch them, too (I do love me some popular TV shows such as Breaking Bad, Orange Is the New Black, Daredevil, and a whole slew more, but everyone knows those already, so yeah).

Also, feel free to click the titles of the shows! It’ll lead you right to their IMDb page where you can see all the warnings and what the age range is. Most of these are TV-14 or TV-MA because that’s just how I roll.

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Spartacus

spartacus

Genre:

Action

The Lowdown:

Basically, the movie 300, except more violence, more slow-mo, and more sex. But, you know, if you remember the general revenge tale of Spartacus, then you’ll understand what it’s about.

Why You Need to Watch It: 

Okay, so, my favorite time period to read about is the Roman era. “Mikaela, why are you a fan of such a bloodthirsty, horrible period of time?” Because it was a bloodthirsty, horrible period of time, duh. Which is why I love this show so much. It’s violent and over-dramatic and it uses way too much slow-mo, but who cares because it’s so much fun? Also, the actor who played Spartacus was gorgeous (even though, unfortunately, the actor died before season two because of cancer, so there’s a replacement, and NO, he’s not as good). I haven’t yet watched season two yet, but I will. I swear. Soon.

Queer as Folk

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Genre:

Drama

The Lowdown:

Five gay guys and two lesbians who are all friends are juggling romance, love, and other struggles in the midst of gaining basic human rights in the early 2000s.

Why You Need To Watch It:

This is literally one of my favorite shows of ever. You might be like, “Mikaela, this show is from the early 2000s, therefore it’s irrelevant,” and that is wrong! So wrong! It will make you cry, it will make you laugh, and it will honestly give you all the feels. Not to mention that it’s probably one of the most entertaining dramas I’ve ever watched that deals with a lot of issues in such a brilliant way. And the character development is so on point (especially Brian’s). Also, Brian and Justin are my total OTP, and I will flail about them to anyone if they are willing to listen.

Banshee

banshee

Genre: 

Action

The Lowdown: 

Lucas, the main character, finally gets out of prison, and only a day after coming out, gets caught in a gun fight in a bar where the new sheriff is murdered. He decides to adopt the sheriff’s identity, taking charge of the police force and trying to hide his previous life while hunting down his old partner in crime, Carrie.

(Yes, it’s as awesome as it sounds.)

Why You Need to Watch It:

Probably the best action show ever. Like, seriously. It seems like no one knows about this series, which sucks, because I love it. Much like Spartacus, there’s a lot of senseless violence, but that’s the best part, you guys. Lucas is also another total hottie, and we have my girl Carrie, and Sugar, a bartender who gets involved, and Job, a badass drag queen. The entire squad is just total goals, you guys. It’s just such an intense and twisty series, and it also managed to make me almost cry in the end, which is shocking, because I was only here for the violence, not the emotions! Also, this is one of the few shows I’ve actually finished, so there’s that!

Black Mirror

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*you watching Black Mirror*

Genre:

Sci-fi/Dystopian

The Lowdown: 

Every episode presents the viewer with a different future dealing with different characters. The stories range all over the place, and manage to mess with your mind and expose things about our world that you’d never notice.

Why You Need To Watch It: 

I CANNOT GUSH ABOUT THIS SHOW ENOUGH. Charlie Brooker is a goddamn genius. Every single episode showcases a different sort of dystopian future that brings to light an issue in our world, and it’s all kinds of brilliant. Not to mention how this show creepily predicts some things that happen in real life to the point that it’s chilling (watch The Waldo Moment, and realize how scarily close it is to how the 2016 Presidential Election played out). It’s a show that really makes you think, and you must watch it. I honestly can’t recommend it enough. I highly recommend not binging the episodes, though, or your mind will melt and you’ll become extremely depressed.

Friday Night Lights

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Genre:

Drama

The Lowdown:

Football. Family. Drama. Basically, every football movie you’ve ever watched, except it’s actually good and not cheesy.

Why You Need to Watch It:

Okay, so, usually, I’m not a huge fan of “contemporary” sort of shows. I get bored of them easily. Plus, I hate football with my entire being. But, I ended up caving and checking this one out, and I literally almost cried watching the pilot. It’s just that powerful. I’m a huge fan of bromances, so that’s primarily the reason I love it so much, but I also love the relationships between the characters and the families, not to mention all the emotions it’ll give you. This is the only show that makes me care about football in any way, and that’s a feat.

Mr. Robot

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Genre:

Uh, sci-fi, I guess? Maybe drama? Who knows?

The Lowdown:

Um, so there’s hacking? And a snarky main character. Also, two-thirds of the time, you don’t even know what’s real or what’s not. And, there’s a secret society trying to overthrow a secret corporation. So, yeah.

Why You Need to Watch It: 

Believe the hype with this show! Not only is Rami Malek an amazing actor (and attractive), but this show is so clever. It’s about hacking, but also about a secret group of people fighting against society, and I think my favorite thing about this show is the fact that you don’t know what’s real or what’s not. Not to mention that Elliot is probably one of my favorite narrators ever with his dry humor and such.

Gravity Falls

gravity falls

Genre:

Paranormal

The Lowdown:

Twins Dipper and Mabel are sent to live with their Great Uncle Stan in Gravity Falls where they encounter strange creatures and even stranger people. It’s basically a kids version of Supernatural, if you want a short explanation.

Why You Need to Watch It: 

“Mikaela, why are you recommending me a cartoon?” This show is not simply a cartoon.  The humor is truly funny and clever and for all ages, Mabel and Dipper have such a wonderful relationship, and the show is just so fun and positive, not to mention how twisty the plot is. Just because it’s a kids’ show doesn’t mean it isn’t extremely clever and well-written and funny. And, no, I totally WAS NOT crying during the finale; what are you talking about?

(Ok, maybe I was.)

Hannibal

hannibal

Genre:

Thriller/Mystery

The Lowdown:

So, Hannibal is a psychiatrist to this guy who’s a total loner and considers himself a psychopath because he’s able to basically see into the mind of serial killers whenever he’s on the crime scene. And, yeah, Hannibal eats people.

Why You Need to Watch It: 

Unfortunately, this show was cancelled (damn you, NBC and Bryan Singer), but this show is just so damn good. I’ve only watched season one, but it’s basically perfection. It’s incredibly well-shot and aesthetically pleasing, not to mention violent and weird and just all around wonderful. This show is intense, so I wouldn’t recommend it for sensitive people, but, damn, this show is dark, so I think most people who love thrillers would love this. Also, Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelson are hot, end of story.

In the Flesh

in the flesh better

Genre:

Dystopian/Drama

The Lowdown:

In a dystopian future after a zombie apocalypse, scientists have come up with a cure to save the zombies and help them to assimilate back into society and their families. We follow Kieren, a teenage boy who’s trying to get back into the dynamics of his family and see his best friend again.

Why You Need to Watch It: 

You have probably never heard of this show in your entire life, BUT YOU SHOULD HAVE. It’s British, and, again, this one was also cancelled and ends on a cliffhanger, unfortunately, so I’d enter this one with trepidation, BUT YOU SHOULD WATCH IT.  It’s such a good show, and it actually heavily parallels the whole Donald Trump/Muslim ban situation in season two, even though this premiered way before then. And Lucas is adorable and precious; I love him. Not to mention that Lucas is gay as hell, and he has an ADORABLE relationship with this guy named Simon and it’s aljflajfajlfa. PLEASE WATCH IT.

in the flesh kiss

Political Animals

political animals

Genre:

Drama

The Lowdown:

We follow Elaine, a former First Lady who’s now Secretary of State dealing with the chaos of her family.

Why You Need to Watch It: 

Again, another cancelled show, except this one only lasted one season (boo). If you like more political-leaning shows, you’ll probably enjoy this one a lot.  It’s a really good drama, and it can even sometimes be funny at some points. Not to mention that I absolutely love how all the storylines come together, and how it can be really touching at times. Sebastian Stan is in this one, and he’s kissing boys, and if that doesn’t make you want to watch it, I don’t know what will.

Sense8

sense8 better

Genre:

Sci-fi

The Lowdown:

Eight people of different backgrounds, origins, gender, and race end up being interconnected in some weird way regarding their minds, and they try as hard as they can to figure out why.

Why You Need to Watch It:

Probably one of the most underrated Netflix shows out there! Not only is everyone on this show super attractive, but this is a very diverse show since everyone comes from a different background, which is really cool. Also, the ships give me all the feels, and the characters are so wonderfully three-dimensional. The show is truly captivating. Also, the sci-fi aspects of this show are brilliant.

AND NO, I HAVEN’T WATCHED SEASON 2 YET; DON’T GIVE ME THAT LOOK.

UnReal

unreal

Genre:

Drama

The Lowdown:

We follow our main character, Rachel, who is probably one of the most corrupt and twisty women you’ll ever see on television, who comes back on to the Bachelor-like show, Everlasting, after a public mental breakdown.

Why You Should Watch It: 

If you hate reality TV, you’ll love this show. One of the people who works on the show used to work on The Bachelor, not to mention that the show is extremely interesting regarding how the producers on the fictional show twist everything to make the contestants hate each other or push conflict to happen. It’s also actually really political in some places, and quite diverse. And, personally, I think it’s feminist?? Does it count?? I count it. It’s just such a highly entertaining show to watch.

American Crime

american crime

Genre: 

Drama

The Lowdown:

A gay boy admits that he’s been raped by one of the basketball players at a party, and it spirals into a whole load of heavy events that get out of control.

Why You Need to Watch It: 

 There are three seasons of this show (it’s the one on ABC, not O.J. Simpson), but my favorite season is definitely the second one. It explores the taboo of male rape and internalized homophobia and racism and school shootings (it seems like a lot, but the show is really good at exploring multiple topics well). It’s an extremely powerful season, and, in my opinion, the best one out of the three. I will say, it’s quite an open-ended show, so if you don’t like endings like that, I probably wouldn’t recommend it, but it’s a fantastic show. Also, the two characters who I’d consider the main characters remind me so heavily of Ronan and Adam from The Raven Boys, like I would 100% cast them in the TV show adaptation. You’ll get it if you watch it.

The Fall

the fall

Genre:

Thriller/Mystery

The Lowdown:

A male serial killer going around murdering girls is constantly being chased by a female detective trying to solve the mystery of the murders.

Why You Need to Watch It: 

This is also a British show, and it’s absolutely brilliant.  Jamie Dornan, despite how awful he is in the 50 Shades franchise, is fantastic in this show, and so is the wonderful Gillian Anderson as the female detective, Stella. This show is also intense and dark, and, again, one I’d highly recommend to those who like thrillers. Not to mention that this show is fiercely feminist, and that’s always wonderful.

Eyewitness

eyewitness main

Genre:

Thriller/Mystery

The Lowdown:

Two gay teens making out in a cabin in the woods get tangled up in a mystery when a murderer intrudes and murders three people. One of the teens’ foster mom is a police officer trying to solve the case, but the other teen doesn’t want to tell her because he doesn’t want to come out. It’s complicated.

Why You Need to Watch It: 

You might have heard of this show when it was on last year, but I’m going to talk about it again. First off, the show is so wonderfully diverse. I absolutely love Philkas, and it’s so nice to see a gay couple normalized in something else that’s not really contemporary. Also, their moments are adorable. Not to mention it’s a brilliant thriller that takes in a small town (WHICH IS MY WEAKNESS), and you get to follow the serial killer from his point of view, which makes the show ten times more tense than it already is. Like, seriously; this is such a taut and well-plotted thriller that has fantastic character development. And the acting is absolutely brilliant. And the cast is wonderful. JUST WATCH IT PLEASE (especially to those who don’t like or were disappointed in Riverdale like I was).

eyewitness philkas

The Replacement

The Replacement

No suitable gifs for this show. Boo.

Genre: 

Thriller/Mystery

The Lowdown:

Life is going well for our main character until she becomes pregnant and has to go on leave. She decides to assist a replacement to be a stand-in for her until she comes back, but it seems like her replacement is trying to do more than take over her job…

Why You Need to Watch It: 

Basically, if you’re a huge fan of those thrillers with psychotic girls or that trope where the main character is the only person who sees what’s going on, you will binge this quickly. Because it’s a British mini-series (British shows are brilliant at thrillers, basically), there’s only three episodes that are an hour long, so you’ll go through it quick. Most people had issues with the very ending of the series, but it wasn’t SO terrible that it ruined the entire reading experience, so I still totally recommend to those who are curious.

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And that’s it for all my favorite TV shows.

Just kidding, this isn’t all of them. Once I find the time to binge some more, I’ll probably write up a second part to this post because this was so much fun.

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In Which I Talk About The Books That Lied to Me

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I’m sure we’ve all experienced it.

We pick up a book. We’re excited to read said book, whether it’s a stand-alone, a first in a series, the sequel to a series you fell in love with while reading the first book, or the finale to one of your favorite series. You read it. You keep reading it. And then you realize mid-way through, or maybe near the end of the book, that you absolutely hate it.

(Or strongly dislike it.)

And, of course you feel betrayed. You feel lied to. But everyone told you how good the book was? But the first book was just so good…how could the series come to this? But isn’t the sequel supposed to be even better than the first book? But the concept sounded so good once I added it to my TBR on Goodreads; what happened between now and then? BUT THAT BOOK WAS SO FREAKING AWESOME; HOLY CRAP?

So, I thought it’d be fun to talk about those books; those books that make you excited, or make you really downtrodden because you could have been so much better! Let’s get started!

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Second Book Slump

Do you ever have those moments where you’re fresh off the reading the first book of a series? The first book was either a really great start to the series, and you need to start the sequel, like, now, or the first book was just meh to you, and the only reason you’re continuing on is because your friends are insisting the series gets better; THEY SWEAR. So you decide to read the sequel, and it starts out okay (like most bad books do).

And then you realize, right in the middle of reading it, “Why am I still reading this? I’m bored out of my mind.”

Independent Study, Rebel Springs, and The Winner’s Crime are all culprits of this. For the first two novels, I enjoyed the first books in the series – The Testing and Falling Kingdoms, respectively – but while reading was really let down. For Independent Study, it was too much of a copycat of The Testing for me to enjoy it; for Rebel Spring, the book was SO BORING (though Gathering Darkness totally made up for it).

For The Winner’s Crime, I wasn’t a huge fan of the first book, and went into the second book for another chance because everyone said it was SO GOOD. I didn’t like it the first time, and the second time around, I DNF-ed it. So, that was disappointing.

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WTF Finales

“I’ve been waiting for this book for so damn long! I can’t wait to read it!” you say as soon as you purchase the finale to one of your favorite series and curl up in your reading space to get ready to read it.

“What the actual hell did I just read?” you say once you close the book and realize how disappointed you are.

For me, those three books were The Last Star, The Retribution of Mara Dyer, and Ignite Me. Out of all three of these, The Last Star was probably my biggest disappointment. I loved The 5th Wave, and though The Infinite Sea wasn’t perfect, I still enjoyed it. But I remember being so upset after finishing The Last Star because so many things were left open, the romance was terrible, and it was just a completely unsatisfying ending.

For The Retribution of Mara Dyer and Ignite Me, I didn’t like the first couple books in the series too much, but I was actually good at binging series at that time, and I also wasn’t a huge DNF-er, so I went ahead and finished the series, because why not? Unfortunately, the finales just ended up finalizing that I hated both series, mainly because they were so disorganized and boring and just didn’t line up with the rest of the series in terms of plot and resolution.

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The Hype Machine

Ah, yes, the dreaded book hype. You read all the reviews praising the book on Goodreads, you see all these five stars, you see the book on everyone’s favorite list, the books have such a huge fandom, so you think, “Obviously, I’m going to enjoy this one as well!

False.

There are so many books with lots of hype that everyone loved except me, but I decided to just lessen it to four books: The Darkest Minds, The Winner’s Curse, The Wrath and the Dawn, and Under the Never Sky. Pretty much all of these books sold me with their interesting premises, gorgeous book covers, and all the amazing reviews.

And I didn’t like any of these books. I hated most of them in fact. Oops. Either too slow, just didn’t click with me, I didn’t like some of the characters, the world-building was awful, or I thought that the actual story didn’t reach the full premise it could have. The hype machine can do incredible things, but sometimes, it just completely misses the mark for me.

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Knocked My Socks Off

These are the books I didn’t think would surprise me or I thought would just be my ordinary reading experience, but totally and completely took my surprise in the best possible way. Whether with an awesome plot twist or fantastic character development or gorgeous writing – all paired with a stunning cover to boot – it just makes for an unforgettable reading experience that you wish you could have all over again.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Golden Son, and Crown of Midnight were definitely these types of reads for me. The first time I read Daughter of Smoke and Bone, I didn’t enjoy it too much, but the second time around, I fell in love with the prose. Golden Son and Crown of Midnight were sequels that were the exact opposite of second book slump and enhanced the series for me and launched it to my “Favorites” list.

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And those are some of the books that outright lied to me.

(Hopefully, I can avoid these types of books in the future, except the last category. Those can stay.)

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What are some books that you felt like lied to you? Have you experienced any of these categories? Do we share any of the same opinions?

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