Category Archives: Reading Recaps

June Reading Wrap-Up

June is over and it was a fun reading month! Lots of fantasy and beach reads for me this month, and even though I didn’t get any 5-star reads, I did find several that I loved and plan to re-read in the future. BookCon at the beginning of the month (and I do still plan on posting a rundown of how much I loved BookCon, I swear, I’m working on it) and a weeklong beach vacation with friends did cut into my reading time a bit, but I ended up with a very respectable number of books read.

Total books read: 8

#readmyowndamnbooks: 6

Audiobooks: 1

ebooks: 1

We Are Never Meeting In Real Life by Samantha IrbyThe Kiss Quotient (The Kiss Quotient, #1)Trail of Lightning by Rebecca RoanhorseBetween the Sea and StarsMEMAce of Shades by Amanda FoodyThe Dying Game by Γ…sa AvdicThe Female Persuasion

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang (4 stars) – Believe the hype about this one! It’s a sweet, sexy, well-written romance that even I, as someone who almost never reads contemporary romance, really enjoyed. Looking forward to more from this author.

Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse (4 stars) – I’m so excited to have found a great new urban fantasy series to follow! In the world of Trail of Lightning, a series of rapid catastrophic climate-change-related events have fractured what was once the United States and buried much of it underwater on an accelerated timeline. In the aftermath, the Navajo nation of Dinetah has formed in what was once the Southwestern United States, and Navajo legends and magical powers are manifesting among its people. Our main character Maggie possesses gifts that help her to slay the monsters that threaten her people, but also have her questioning whether she herself may be monstrous as well. An especially strange new monster has Maggie set on a new path, where, in between fighting monsters and dealing with beings out of Navajo legends, she grows closer with an attractive young medicine man while being haunted by her history with her former love, the legendary Monsterslayer.

Urban fantasy can be very hit-or-miss for me, but I really enjoyed this book. With its post-apocalyptic setting and mythology-laden world-building, I think it would be great for readers of Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series. I loved that Rebecca Roanhorse took the very real threat of climate change as inspiration for the book’s setting and used that as a jumping-off point to introduce Navajo mythology into the world. It was so interesting getting to learn more about Navajo myths and legends.

Maggie is a prickly, somewhat isolated main character at the beginning of the book, but we see a lot of growth even during this relatively short novel. I found it very easy to root for her, and I loved the concept of the clan powers, which played a large role in the book. The book’s secondary characters were also great; I especially loved Kai, her mysterious medicine-man love interest, and of course his grandfather Tah as well, but also thought Coyote was a great character.

I think the world that Rebecca Roanhorse created has the potential for so many more stories, and I’m very excited to see where she takes Maggie next. Definitely recommend.

*I received a free signed copy of Trail of Lightning at an autographing session at BookCon.

The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer (4 stars) – The Female Persuasion is the second Meg Wolitzer book that I’ve read, after The Interestings, and I did definitely prefer this one. The Female Persuasion follows four viewpoint characters but centers on Greer, a young woman who becomes interested in feminism during her freshman year at a liberal arts college when she meets famous second-wave feminist Faith Frank. The book follows Greer, her boyfriend Cory, and best friend Zee as they navigate college and their lives and careers after college, and eventually Greer reunites with Faith to work for her new company, and we get a lot of Faith’s story as well. I did a mixture of physical reading and audio listening for this one, and I recommend both versions as the audio is very well done.

Overall I enjoyed this book and thought it was a very good read, but not an amazing one. I wasn’t sure at first that I liked all of the main characters, but by about halfway through the book I was really interested in all of them and their stories. I ended up wishing we got more time with Zee, a young activist, and Faith, because those two were probably focused on the least in terms of narration. Some plots twists were really shocking and others more predictable; the book meandered more than I’d have liked it to and I felt that it could have been much tighter in terms of structure. The main reason I picked this book up was because feminism plays a prominent role in the story, however, and I would have liked an even deeper focus on feminist movements and goals.

Mem by Bethany C. Morrow (4 stars) – I enjoyed this concise, thoughtful, well-written historical science fiction novel that asks what it means to be human. Recommend if you enjoy literary scifi. Mem takes place in 1920s Montreal, which is a really interesting setting for a science fiction book, and focuses on the idea of a new technology where the wealthy can pay to have memories they no longer want extracted and placed into living clones, or “mems,” who can only think about and reenact those memories. Except for our main character, Elsie, who is her own complete person but doesn’t know why.

The Dying Game by Asa Avdic (4 stars) – It’s really hard to classify The Dying Game into a single genre; if I tried, I’d have to say that it’s sort of a futuristic dystopian spy mystery/thriller without being fully any one of those things. In the world of The Dying Game, the Soviet Union never fell, and Sweden is one of the countries that’s been annexed. Our protagonist is working for the government when she’s asked to go on an unusual assignment: to travel to an isolated island with a group of potential applicants for a position with a mysterious organization, and to fake her own death and then judge the applicants on their responses to a crisis situation. Except that things don’t go as planned, and as conditions deteriorate on the island, we learn more about our protagonist’s mysterious past. It’s fast-paced and addicting to read, and it had a great amount of weirdness for someone like me who isn’t always interested in traditional thrillers.

We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby (3.5 stars) – A funny yet moving personal essay collection that I really enjoyed. I highly recommend the audiobook, which is read by Irby herself.

Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody (3.5 stars) – I really enjoyed this book! Enne Salta travels to the nefarious City of Sin searching for her missing mother and has to struggle to keep herself alive in an environment unfamiliar to someone raised to be a lady. Along the way she meets Levi Glaisyer, a young street lord who she convinces to help her in her search, and also learns a lot about her and her mother’s mysterious pasts.

This book is getting a lot of comparison to Six of Crows, but they are definitely not the same book; their main similarity is that they both are set in cities in fantasy worlds and deal with street gangs. The similarities really end there (and Enne and Levi would definitely not come out well in a fight against the Six of Crows gang) but I still really liked this one. Great worldbuilding, likable characters, and a really cool magic system where everyone inherits abilities from each parent, and unique powers run through family lines that are used to secure power for their wielders.

Between the Sea and Stars by Chantal Gadoury (3 stars) – I received an eARC of Between the Sea and Stars from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. You can see my full review here.

Advertisements

May Reading Wrap-Up

May is over and it ended quite awhile ago! I’m very late with this wrap-up, but I have good reasons (sort of…).

So May was a pretty crazy month in general for me; one of my good friends got married in Arizona, so another friend and I flew there and then took a road trip to the Grand Canyon and then Sedona before going to her wedding. It was a lot of fun, and between packing, traveling, and a crazy month at work, May really flew by. And then I spent the first few days of June at BookCon (I’ll have a post up about my experience soon! Spoiler alert: it was fantastic πŸ™‚ ) and then another crazy week at work leading up to a trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina for a week at the beach with friends. But now I’m finally trying to get caught up with bookish things, so here’s what I read in May:

Total books read: 9

#readmyowndamnbooks: 6

Audiobooks: 2

ebooks: 1

A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. MaasIn Other Lands by Sarah Rees BrennanJane, Unlimited by Kristin CashoreImpostor Syndrome (The Arcadia Project, #3)The Thousandth Floor (The Thousandth Floor, #1)The Color MasterWicked (A Wicked Trilogy, #1)The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday HorrorFuryborn by Claire Legrand

Reviews:

In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan (5 stars) – This month, I read one of my new favorite books of the year, and also of ever. In Other Lands fits right into that niche genre of books that satirize and also pay homage to traditional portal fantasy stories, like Lev Grossman’s Magicians series, or Rainbow Rowell’s Carry On, or Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children series. If you liked any of those, you’ll also probably love this book. We follow Elliott, a young bisexual British boy, who’s given the opportunity to enter the fantasy realm of his dreams–except nothing there is as he expects it to be, and he finds himself constantly challenging society’s expectations and norms. Elliott is extremely intelligent but very difficult in social situations, and he’s constantly butting heads with everyone around him except for his crush, Serene-Heart-In-the-Chaos-of-Battle, a beautiful elf maiden who is also, like all female elves, a deadly warrior. The two of them form an at-first tension-filled friend group with Luke Sunborn, a seemingly perfect stereotypical male fantasy hero, with the three of them gradually becoming closer and learning more about accepting each other’s faults as they progress in their training to join the Border Guard, which acts as a military force policing both the fantasy realm and its border with the human ones.

I will say that if you are a stickler for structured plots, then you may have issues with this book. Personally, as long as I’m enjoying what I’m reading and I love the characters, I could care less about having drawn-out battle scenes or whatever, so it didn’t bother me at all, but I could see some readers taking issue with the fact that the story meanders without following a traditional conflict/resolution fantasy plot struture.

This book is a beautiful story about growing up and learning to challenge traditionally held beliefs, which may not be the right ones, and learning to understand and accept yourself for who you are. It’s about friendship and how people can complement each other while still being from very different backgrounds. It’s about learning your strengths and using them to make the world a better place. It made me laugh out loud continuously and also cry multiple times. It’s one that I can see myself re-reading and enjoying just as much each time. It’s honestly wonderful, and I really hope that more people read it.

Furyborn by Claire Legrand (4.25 stars) – Furyborn is a well-written, well-plotted, absorbing, feminist YA fantasy. There’s a great amount of action and worldbuilding, and also some romance, which I’m always a fan of in my YA. Since it’s the first book in a planned trilogy, I’m extremely excited to see where things are headed, and I’ll absolutely be planning on picking up the next book. I won an ARC of Furyborn in a giveaway on Litsy, and you can see my full review of Furyborn here.

The Color Master by Aimee Bender (4 stars) – I really enjoyed this short story collection and will definitely be picking up more books from Aimee Bender. These short stories run from more realistic to magical realism to fairytale-esque, and I liked the variety. My three favorites were “Tiger Mending,” which is about the relationship between two sisters but also about the literal stitching together of fraying tigers; “The Color Master,” which is a partial fairytale retelling of “Donkeyskin;” and “The Devourings,” which is about a woman who marries an ogre and what happens after he mistakenly eats their children.

Impostor Syndrome by Mishell Baker (3.5 stars) – This was the third and final book of Baker’s Arcadia Project series, so I can’t tell you much about the plot, but this series revolves around Millie, a double amputee with Borderline Personality Disorder who survived a suicide attempt and now works for an organization that attempts to regulate the secret interactions between the human and fae worlds. It’s a great UF series that has a lot of discussion about mental illness, and I’m sad that it’s ending, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed each book and hope that Mishell Baker writes more things in the future.

A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas (3.5 stars) – this short novel is intended to bridge the gap between A Court of Wings and Ruin and the upcoming trilogy that focuses on side characters from the A Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy. It was enjoyable to read, but there wasn’t a whole lot happening in terms of plot. I still love this series and am very excited for the new books.

The Merry Spinster by Mallory Ortberg (2.75 stars) – Unfortunately, this was a disappointment for me. I love Ortberg’s old site The Toast, and I thought that Texts From Jane Eyre was delightful and hilarious, but these stories mostly fell flat for me. They weren’t as funny or as creepy as I wanted them to be. I love fairy tale retellings, especially dark ones, and I wanted to love this, but it ended up being only OK. I do feel like I have a decent amount of fairy tale knowledge, but Ortberg’s knowledge of fairy tales and classic literature is super impressive, so I’m sure that there are some references that I missed; it’s possible that may have taken away some of my enjoyment.

The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee (2.75 stars) – This book is literally a futuristic version of Gossip Girl, and I checked out the audiobook from my library after hearing a review on the Young Adulting podcast (which sadly was forced to change its name to Bad on Paper). It was a fun audiobook listen overall, but it did drag in parts, and I wasn’t the biggest fan of most of the characters. There is a sequel out, and apparently it’s going to become a trilogy, but I don’t think I’m into it enough to continue.

Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore (2.5 stars) – This was an example of a YA book with a really great premise that (for me) failed in its execution. Jane, Unlimited is about a teenager who accepts an invitation to visit a sort-of friend’s family’s island mansion on the advice of her recently deceased aunt, who had made her promise that if she were ever asked there, she would say yes. While there, she finds a number of strange rich people and suspicious circumstances, and eventually the story branches off into five different choose-your-own-adventure-ish endings, all in different genres (except you really have to read all five or you’ve only read a bit of the book, so it’s not really Choose Your Own Adventure, unfortunately).

And also unfortunately, none of the five possible plot lines were very good. Neither were any of the characters, who all acted sort of nonsensically and were seemingly without actual personalities. No one was guilty of this more than Jane, the main character, whose entire personality could be summed up by the word UMBRELLAS. You see, Jane is a teenager who makes artsy umbrellas, and they are SO AMAZING that wealthy art dealers want to buy them for thousands of dollars, and everyone sees them as evidence of Jane being basically the coolest chick alive. I wish I was kidding. I guess if you are a huge fan of umbrellas, you would enjoy this book more than I did.

As I said before, Jane’s story branches off into different genres, which sounded like something I could really get into, since I basically love all genres. But all of the stories seemed like they were half-explored; the fantasy one in particular just seemed very lazy and not well thought-out. The horror one was fairly creepy, which I did like, but most of the others just felt far too silly for what they were supposed to be doing. I know that a lot of people loved this book, and I did finish it (I DNF a lot of YA if I’m not feeling it) but it definitely wasn’t for me.

 

Has anyone read any of these? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

April Reading Wrap-Up

April is over and I read a bunch of great things!

I unexpectedly had a really stellar reading month in April: I read an unheard-of three 5-star books (what!), re-read a YA favorite, found a new YA series to follow, and found a new author that I need to now read all the things from (Kirsty Logan). I also participated in Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon, which was wonderful as usual. I’m really hoping that I can keep the momentum going in May, because there are SO MANY BOOKS that I want to read RIGHT NOW.

Stats:

Number of books read: 10

#readmyowndamnbooks: 7

Audiobooks: 1

House of LeavesBreath of Fire (Kingmaker Chronicles, #2)The Cruel Prince by Holly BlackOn Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth CenturyThe GracekeepersA Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2)The Unseen WorldI Crawl Through ItObsidio (The Illuminae Files, #3)Penance

Here’s what I read, ranked from most awesome to least:

The Unseen World by Liz Moore (5 stars) – This book had a lot of build-up, but the last 150 pages were very much worth it. I absolutely loved the direction that things ended up going (yes, I have to be that vague). The Unseen World is about Ada, a young teen in the 1980’s, whose brilliant computer scientist father begins to lose his memory. At the same time, Ada begins to discover that she doesn’t know her father as well as she always thought she had, and she has to confront these feelings while attempting to uncover her father’s secrets. It’s about growing up, and learning to shift your perspective when your worldview is suddenly altered, and about AI. Highly recommend.

I Crawl Through It by A.S. King (5 stars) – I was so surprised by how much I loved this book; I basically never give 5 stars to YA, but in this case it was so earned. I Crawl Through It is an incredibly relevant novel about a group of teens dealing with extremely difficult issues, but it’s so much more than that. It’s surrealist and uses magical realism elements to highly the absurd contradiction of teens being forced to function normally and take endless multiple-choice tests in a world where nothing is being done to protect them against school shootings and bomb threats. It’s about the ridiculous fact that people don’t pay attention to real issues happening right before our faces. It’s about how we have so much horror happening that it becomes our new normal, and how we can shock ourselves into challenging our sense of what normal is. It’s a book that’s difficult and strange but also makes perfect sense, and I think everyone should read it.

On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder (5 stars) – A very short and informative essay that’s essentially an instruction manual for resisting tyranny based on what historians have learned from the 20th century. A very important read in today’s political climate.

The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan (4.25 stars) – This was a really lovely novel set after the earth has become almost entirely covered by water, and prejudices between those that live on land and on the ocean divide the remaining population. It’s told in multiple perspectives, but our main characters are a “bear-girl” who performs a routine with a bear in a floating circus and a “gracekeeper” who is responsible for laying the dead to rest at sea. Their lives come into contact briefly at first and then they work to find their way back to each other. I really enjoyed the world-building and Logan’s writing; I’ll definitely be looking to pick up more from her.

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas (4.25 stars) (re-read) – This series remains the most enjoyable ongoing YA (ish) fantasy series I’m reading.

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black (4 stars) – A YA “it” book that lives up to the hype! I very much enjoyed this dark faerie story full of cruelty and revenge. Looking forward to the next book.

Penance by Kanae Minato (4 stars) – This mystery/thriller set in Japan is full of twists and told in multiple perspectives; I really enjoyed Minato’s previous book Confessions, and I definitely enjoyed Penance just as much.

Breath of Fire by Amanda Bouchet (2.5 stars) – Unfortunately I don’t think I can continue with this series; I still really like the worldbuilding, Greek mythology elements, and main character, but the terrible love interest and sexist behavior of literally every male character is just too frustrating, so I think I’m out.

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski (2 stars) – Well, that was disappointing. I should start by saying that I love weird books; the weirder, the better. I also love when books utilize alternative formats and modes of storytelling, because it can be really creative and interesting when done well.
BUT. Books need to have more than that. To be successful, you still have to have good writing, memorable and well-developed characters, and an interesting plot. House of Leaves fails on all three of these accounts, unfortunately making its alternative formatting the most interesting thing about it.
This was actually a book that I’ve looked forward to reading for years and years, and I hate giving books bad ratings, and I wanted to love it, but I just didn’t, at all. The Johnny Truant sections in particular were so cliche and lazy that it almost made me unable to finish the book. At first I was really into the faux-academic format of House of Leaves, with all of the made-up quotations and footnotes (I also love academic writing) but after awhile you start to realize that you’re being told everything about the characters and shown nothing, and that it takes away any emotional impact the book might’ve had. A book needs to at least be good enough to justify the way that the story is told, and it wasn’t. The end result of this book just felt hollow and dull, even though with its premise the book should’ve been anything but that.
I know that this is a very well-known and much-loved book, but it didn’t work at all for me, even though I went into it really wanting to love it. Would not recommend.

 

What did you read in April? Have you read or do you want to read any of these? Let me know!

March Reading Wrap-Up

March is over! I’m pretty sure it lasted approximately 1,000 years but it was also over in like 2 seconds. Not sure how to explain that; I don’t have all the answers, guys.

Anyways, I read some books! Not nearly as many as I thought I would or wanted to, but hey, it happens. I actually kicked off the month really strongly by reading 3 books that were all quite good 4-star reads, and I was fooled into thinking that the rest of March would be stellar reading as well. It wasn’t! I started reading (but didn’t finish before the month was over) House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, and it sucked up a ton of my reading time and also (spoiler alert) I hated it, so it wasn’t even really worth it. While trudging through House of Leaves, I did read a few other books, but honestly, nothing really blew my mind this month and now I’m desperate for another 5-star read. Desperate!

And in non-reading-but-still bookish news, I got to see Colson Whitehead give a talk at a local college, and he was amazing and funny and I bought The Underground Railroad and he signed it. So that was pretty awesome. And! And! At a separate bookish talk at a different local college, I got to see my hero/idol Margaret Atwood give a talk, and she was just the coolest.

March stats:

Total books read: 7

#readmyowndamnbooks: 5

When did I obtain the physical books I read? February 2017 (The Exile), April 2017 (American War, Purple Hibiscus), July 2017 (Made for Love), January 2018 (An Unkindness of Magicians)

An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat HowardAmerican War by Omar El AkkadMade for Love by Alissa NuttingThe Exile (The Fae, #1)Bachelor Nation by Amy KaufmanA Promise of Fire (Kingmaker Chronicles, #1)Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

And here are some reviews!

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (4 stars) – This book was beautifully written, but very difficult to read due to the subject matter. It’s about a wealthy family in Nigeria whose extremely religious father severely abuses both his children and his wife while presenting himself as a good and charitable man to the community. When the children are able to go visit their aunt and cousins and get away from their father for a week, they are awakened to the fact that life shouldn’t be like this.

An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard (4 stars) – The Magicians meets Gossip Girl meets Game of Thrones. This book is about a tournament between prominent magical Houses in New York to gain the rule of the Unseen World, or the world of magic. Our heroine, Sydney, is a badass magician with a traumatic past out for revenge. I enjoyed the heck out of this book and would recommend as an enjoyable modern fantasy with great worldbuilding. I could definitely see this as a TV series and wish the book had actually been a series as well. I did have some issues with the writing style, which isn’t perfect, and the fact that climactic action sequences typically only lasted about a page was an odd choice. But overall, I really liked this book.

Made for Love by Alissa Nutting (4 stars) – this was very weird and quirky and full of incisive humor about human nature and behavior. Some people may hate it, and I didn’t love the ending, but overall I thought the writing was great and I very much enjoyed the read.

American War by Omar El Akkad (4 stars) – another difficult read, because this deals heavily with war and its many horrific incarnations and aftereffects. It’s hard to say I “enjoyed” this one, because it was so difficult to read in some parts, but I thought that the worldbuilding was really interesting and this future a very terrifying one.

A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet (3 stars) – So, I really enjoyed the writing style, heroine, and Greek mythology-inspired worldbuilding of this book, but I was not a fan of the “alpha” male main character and the fact that he kidnaps the heroine and we’re all just supposed to get over it. I am going to continue with this series, but it definitely has its issues.

Bachelor Nation by Amy Kaufman (3 stars) – A very quick, entertaining analysis of the Bachelor/Bachelorette franchise written by a fan who never shies away from the problematic aspects of the show. Kaufman moves from the history of reality dating shows to an analysis of how contestants are treated and why they act the way we see them on-screen to the modern implications of reality TV fame for contestants. If you watch the show UNreal, there’s nothing too shocking, but I did enjoy it, as you probably will too if you’re looking for a lighthearted, fun read.

The Exile by C. T. Adams (3 stars) – Great premise and ideas, but I wished everything had been fleshed out a LOT more. We could have used more of an introduction to the characters and the world, and the third-person narration with multiple POVs only served to distance me from characters I really wanted to get to know better, and could have done so through a sole main character (Brianna)’s eyes. I really just don’t think that having multiple POVs added anything to the story at all and I’m not sure why that was done. I liked Adams’s version of Faerie quite a bit, however.

And here are the books I purchased in March:

February Reading Wrap-Up

February started off with a bang and 2 five-star reads, which was awesome and unexpected! Both of these were nonfiction reads, and I read them right at the same time, which was also very unusual for me; unfortunately, after that, I did have a bunch of mediocre, middling-type reads that were only OK, before I wrapped up the month with a few better reads.

Here are my stats:

Number of books read: 9

#readmyowndamnbooks: 6

Audiobooks: 2

Wicked Lovely by Melissa MarrWhat Happened by Hillary Rodham ClintonNasty Women by Samhita MukhopadhyayInk Exchange by Melissa MarrThe Dark and Other Love Stories by Deborah WillisThe Perfect Stranger by Megan MirandaChildren of the New World by Alexander WeinsteinMy Lady Jane by Cynthia HandA Cure for Suicide by Jesse Ball

Nasty Women: Feminism, Resistance, and Revolution in Trump’s America, edited by Samhita Mukhopadhyay and Kate Harding (5 stars) – YES. This is the type of nonfiction that makes me love nonfiction. This collection was powerful and full of diverse voices discussing the 2016 election, its aftermath, and how we can resist the coming issues.

What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton (5 stars) – This book does a very thorough job of exploring what happened during the 2016 election. It’s also a collection of Hillary’s meditations on various issues and topics and a discussion of her life and background. I found it extremely powerful and teared up at several points, particularly the ending. I wish so much that she could have been our president.

A Cure for Suicide by Jesse Ball (4 stars) – a weird, short, dialogue-heavy novel with sparse prose and a strange premise. A man, referred to only as the “claimant,” wakes up with no memories and must be re-taught even the most basic parts of life by a woman referred to as the “examiner.” I enjoyed the oddness and the slow reveals about what’s going on.

Children of the New World by Alexander Weinstein (3.5 stars) – I’m picky about short story collections and the prose in this one was nothing to write home about; I also felt like all of the main characters were basically the same middle-aged dude. However, the science fiction concepts were really interesting and the different tech advances and their impacts on humans very well thought-out. Creative, but I wasn’t blown away.

The Dark and Other Love Stories by Deborah Willis (3 stars) – So, unfortunately this one ended up being a bit of a disappointment for me. It’s not a bad book by any means, but I think that the title being “The Dark and Other Love Stories” makes you think that you’re getting, well, dark love stories. And I wouldn’t classify these stories as dark so much as sad. They left me feeling sad and kind of disappointed, for the most part. I wasn’t that impressed by the writing and I was hoping for deeper meanings that just weren’t there. To be fair, the short stories I read are mainly magical realism, whereas this collection is realistic fiction, so the style isn’t what I’m used to. I will say that I really loved the story “Girlfriend on Mars,” which for me was by far the strongest story of the bunch. Most of the others just didn’t nearly measure up.

The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda (3 stars) – Unfortunately, this one was a disappointment for me. I greatly preferred Megan Miranda’s other adult thriller, All the Missing Girls. I still enjoyed her writing style in this book, but the plot twists for me were just not very good; things weren’t explored and also didn’t make a ton of sense.

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr (3 stars) – this is the first book in a YA UF/PNR series that I found at a library book sale for $1 and thought I would give a try. (It also fits into Fae-bruary, a readathon to read fae-related books in the month of Feb, which I hadn’t planned on participating in, but was just a nice coincidence) And I enjoyed it, but I wouldn’t say it was amazing. The writing is pretty good, and I liked that the Fae in this world are very cruel, which is my preferred version of Fae, but the book definitely had a lot of issues. There are 5 books in this series and I do think that I will try to read them all based on this one, but I’m not necessarily expecting anything earth-shattering, and this isn’t a new favorite series or anything.

Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr (3 stars) – this was the second book in the Wicked Lovely series, and unfortunately it had a lot of the same issues of the first book. It also got a lot darker in tone, and I did enjoy it, but I opted not to continue with the series afterwards.

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows (3 stars) – Meh. I used to read a ton of historical fiction about the Tudor period, so it was interesting to see an alternate take on familiar historical figures, and I did like the twist about prejudice against animal shapeshifters replacing the religious conflicts of the era. Overall, however, this just kept getting too silly for me and it lacked any depth.

 

And here are the books I bought in Feb:

January Reading Wrap-Up

That’s a wrap on January! I definitely started off my 2018 reading with a bang: I participated in 2 readathons this month and had my first 5-star read of the year. It was an atypical reading month in that I read more YA and novellas than normal, but that can be attributed to the fact that I tend to pick those types of books up more during readathons. I also managed to pick up a book from my Top 10 2018 TBR, so that’s a good start as well.

Here are my stats:

Total books read: 10

#readmyowndamnbooks: 7

Audiobooks: 2

If We Were Villains by M.L. RioWitches of Lychford by Paul CornellThe Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnisWe Are Okay by Nina LaCourBeneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuireRhapsodic by Laura ThalassaNo Is Not Enough by Naomi KleinAn Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers SolomonEliza and Her Monsters by Francesca ZappiaThe Lost Child of Lychford by Paul Cornell

And here are my reviews, from most favorite to least:

If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio (5 stars) – I had no idea that I would love this book as much as I did; I really don’t think it’s getting enough attention. If We Were Villains is about a group of seven tightly-knit theater students at a prestigious arts school whose bonds with each other begin to fray during their senior year. This results in our main character, Oliver, going to prison for ten years; the book opens with his release from prison and decision to finally confess what really happened to the police officer who arrested him. The story is told mainly in flashbacks and chronicles the relationships between these characters, who are typecast as certain characters in all of the Shakespeare that they perform, but whose roles begin to bleed into their real selves. I absolutely loved the characters in this book; you get to know them and feel for them almost immediately. They quote and reference Shakespeare constantly, which I was very into, and I liked that two of the main plays they focus on are Macbeth and Julius Caesar, two of my favorites. The plot never stops moving, and it’s definitely a book that sucks you in and doesn’t let you go. It’s one that will stay with me for awhile and that I’d definitely want to re-read in the future. Highly recommend.

An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon (4 stars) – An Unkindness of Ghosts is set on a generational ship that has been fleeing a ruined Earth for centuries when the book opens, seeking an unknown refuge somewhere in space. During this time the ship has become a strictly stratified society based on racism and ruled by a tyrannical government called the Sovereignty. Our main character, Aster, is a brilliant healer living on one of the ship’s lower decks who, along with her friend Giselle, discovers hidden secrets about the ship among her deceased mother’s journals. Aster strives to figure out exactly what information her mother was trying to convey and what to do with that information alongside facing daily prejudice and abuse from a corrupt system and working with the ship’s Surgeon General, Theo, who she has complicated feelings for. I thought that this book’s premise was fantastic and the characters very realistic; Aster, Theo, and Giselle will stay with me for a long time. My only issues were that the plot and the writing both at times felt disjointed, and I felt that the ending was too abrupt. Overall, a thought-provoking, character-driven science fiction read that I’d recommend.

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia (4 stars) – I really enjoyed this one! Sometimes I feel like books get over-hyped and I have to wait until the hype dies down to really want to read them, which was what happened with this book. I’m glad that I ended up picking it up. It’s a really cute book with a great story-within-a-story; my main hope is that the author decides to publish a separate book or graphic novel of the webcomic in this book, because it sounds awesome.

Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire (4 stars) – I enjoyed the third book in the Wayward Children series just as much as the first two; definitely more than the second one. This series is just so enjoyable, and I loved that we focused on more of the children as a group. I’m very much hoping that the next book focuses on Kade, my favorite.

The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis (3.5 stars) – there were definitely a lot of things about this book that I enjoyed (Alex’s character, the premise, her friendship with Peekay) but I HATED the ending and was really not a fan of her love interest.

Witches of Lychford by Paul Cornell (3.5 stars) -I enjoyed this first novella in a series about modern English witches in a small town on the border between worlds. Things were definitely wrapped up too quickly and with not enough detail at the end, though.

The Lost Child of Lychford by Paul Cornell (3.5 stars) – The second novella in this series was just as strong, and I enjoy all three main characters.

No is Not Enough by Naomi Klein (3 stars) – I found this nonfiction book about resisting Trump’s agenda to be interesting, and I did learn a lot, but it was not as powerful as other similar works I’ve read. I listened to the audio version and did feel that things dragged a lot in the last few hours of the listen. Maybe it was just that I was tired of the book by then? Not sure.

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour (3 stars) – this was a prettily written YA contemporary that really never reached a deeper place with me, unfortunately. I did enjoy it and thought the audio version was well done, but I wasn’t blown away.

Rhapsodic by Laura Thalassa (2 stars) – Hm. I really wanted to like this book because it’s an indie, but unfortunately there were a lot of aspects that I found really problematic. I preferred the first half and did like both the main characters, though.

 

And these are the books I purchased in January, because I have no self-control when it comes to book buying:

My 2017 Reading Wrap-Up!

I’m finally getting around to posting this–my 2017 reading year in review! I had an amazing reading year in 2017; it might have been my best ever. Here are my stats:

Total books read: 105

Total pages read: 31,245

Longest book read in 2017: A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas (705 pages)

Shortest book read in 2017: The Bone Knife by Intisar Khanani (35 pages)

Most popular book read in 2017: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Least popular book read in 2017: Phantom Pains by Mishell Baker

Average Goodreads rating: 3.6 stars

Highest rated on Goodreads: Wildfire by Ilona Andrews

#readmyowndamnbooks: 70 (67%)

Live author/bookish events attended: BookCon, including a panel with Charlie Jane Anders, Annalee Newitz, John Scalzi, and Cory Doctorow; Toni Morrison; Roxane Gay; Kelly Link; Margaret Atwood; Dave Eggers

Female Author vs. Male Author

Format

Genre

Adult vs. YA

Colorful Book Covers Challenge – I tried to read 3 of every color and almost made it…

Red Cover
Magic Binds (Kate Daniels, #9) by Ilona Andrews Final Girls by Riley Sager The Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne M. Valente

Orange Cover
Giant Days, Vol. 2 (Giant Days, #2) by John Allison Poison Princess (The Arcana Chronicles, #1) by Kresley Cole Perfect Little World by Kevin Wilson

Yellow Cover
Giant Days, Vol. 1 (Giant Days, #1) by John Allison Alex + Ada, Vol. 2 by Jonathan Luna Girls Will Be Girls Dressing Up, Playing Parts and Daring to Act Differently by Emer O'Toole

Green Cover
Relish My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3) by Sarah J. Maas Heating & Cooling 52 Micro-Memoirs by Beth Ann Fennelly

Blue Cover
Men Explain Things To Me (Updated Edition) by Rebecca Solnit The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker Truthwitch (The Witchlands, #1) by Susan Dennard

Purple Cover
Wildfire (Hidden Legacy, #3) by Ilona Andrews Phantom Pains (The Arcadia Project, #2) by Mishell Baker Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Pink Cover
Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler Marlena by Julie Buntin Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman by Anne Helen Petersen

Black Cover
Sleeping Giants (Themis Files, #1) by Sylvain Neuvel Difficult Women by Roxane Gay All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

White Cover
Stiletto (The Checquy Files, #2) by Daniel O'Malley Hunger A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Gray Cover
Down Among the Sticks and Bones (Wayward Children, #2) by Seanan McGuire How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

Brown Cover
The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister's Husband, and He Hanged Himself Love Stories by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Colorful Cover
Big Magic Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker