I Have No Self Control Book Haul (First Book Haul on Blog!)

I can’t remember the last time I bought so many books….

To clarify: I did not buy all these books on one trip. Two of these books are from Amazon (A Crown of Wishes and Eliza and Her Monsters), the rest are from an independent bookstore three blocks away from the library I worked at for the last four months. Bad news is, that job was temporary and the project I was hired for is over. Good news is, I have more books on my TBR pile I am excited to read and will keep the time I have off entertaining until the next opportunity arises.

But, before anyone says anything, I already know that getting a job was the biggest mistake I ever made.

 

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

simon

I read The Upside of Unrequited this month and really enjoyed it. It was cute and fluffy, and I have also heard great things about Becky Albertalli’s first book, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. That’s why I bought it.

The book is about a boy named Simon, who is gay but has not come out to the people in his life. He is exchanging emails with a boy that calls himself Blue, but then the class clown discovers these emails and threatens to expose his secret. Plus, this one is being made into a movie.

 

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

betweenshadesofgray

I’ve had my eye on Between Shades of Gray for years, even before I read Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys. It is about a fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl who is rounded up with her family by the Soviet secret police and sent to a prison camp in Siberia. The first time I read the synopsis of this book, I knew I had never learned anything about this in school. It is another untold story from World War II, much like the Wilhelm-Gustloff in Salt to the Sea.

 

Windwitch by Susan Dennard

windwitch

I read the first book in this series, Truthwitch, in June and became enthralled with the story as well as the characters. I knew I had to pick up the sequel, Windwitch, because it mainly focuses on a character I adored from the previous book and it has gotten really great reviews.

 

A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

acrownofwishes

Like Truthwitch, I read the predecessor of A Crown of Wishes, The Star-Touched Queen, and enjoyed it so much I had to pick up the companion. While I think you can read A Crown of Wishes without having read The Star-Touched Queen, I am glad I read the latter first. Knowing who the characters will be in the second novel has given me context of what I can expect from this book. Besides, I loved the world of these stories and the influence of Indian mythology.

 

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

eliza

Eliza and Her Monsters is a young adult contemporary novel about a shy teenaged girl with anxiety who is an outcast at her high school. But online, she is the anonymous artist behind a popular web comic series. Then, Wallace, her web comic’s biggest fan and most popular fan fiction writer, transfers to her school and he has no idea who Eliza really is when they strike up a friendship. She wants to keep it that way, until her identity as the web comic artist is unintentionally revealed.

I saw Eliza and Her Monsters EVERYWHERE on BookTube and other bookish Internet places when it first came out. Everyone was reading and loving it. At the time I bought it, I had not read Made You Up, Francesca Zappia’s debut novel that I owned. Now that I have, I can honestly say my expectations for Eliza and Her Monsters are quite high.

 

Beautiful Broken Girls by Kim Savage

beautifulbrokengirls

I first saw Beautiful Broken Girls on a YouTube video, but when I saw the cover in person, it drew me in. It has a haunting feel to it and it matches with the synopsis. Reminiscent of Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, teenager Ben is left clues by his friend Mira after she and her sister commit suicide. It leads him to unravel some shocking secrets about the girls, as well as forces him to face a traumatic event from his own past. While the reviews of Beautiful Broken Girls are not the highest on Goodreads, I am still interested in reading it.

 

How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake

howtomakeawish

After reading several books with main characters of the LGBTQ community, I wanted to read more books within the genre. How to Make a Wish is right up my alley: a bisexual girl that has a turbulent relationship with her mother falls in love with another girl who helps her realize her home situation is worse than she lets herself believe. While I am interested in learning more about bisexuality, I am drawn to books with kids dealing with mentally ill parents. I think I might really like How to Make a Wish once I get around to reading it.

 

Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer

spindlefire

Spindle Fire is another book I am really excited to read. It is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty featuring two sisters; one of them the Sleeping Beauty trapped in a horrifying dreamland with fairies and her half-sister is searching for a way to break the curse. Given how popular young adult retellings are, I’m surprised I have not heard much about Spindle Fire.

 

You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner

universe

You’re Welcome, Universe is a young adult contemporary novel featuring a deaf graffiti artist who gets kicked out of her school for the deaf and forced to attend mainstream high school. As she adjusts to life at a school where she is the only deaf person, Julia finds herself in a heated battle with another mysterious graffiti artist that is sabotaging her work—except it is not a romance!

 

History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

history

Adam Silvera is an author I have been meaning to read for a while. Of the two books he has out so far, History is All You Left Me is the one I was most interested in. A teenaged boy, Griffin, loses his first love Theo in a drowning accident and the only person that can help him through his grief is Theo’s current boyfriend, Jackson. The book is all about Griffin’s relationship with Theo, past and present, as well as covers him dealing with his OCD. Also, I’ve heard History is All You Left Me is supposed to be a major tearjerker.

 

Mansfield Park & Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

I enjoy Jane Austen’s novels and, up until now, I read/owned four of her published books. When I saw these beautiful Signet Classic editions of Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park for cheap, I had to buy them. These are two of her least popular novels, but I’m still excited to read them. Particularly Northanger Abbey, which a college professor told me, is satire of the classic Gothic novel from the Victorian era.

 

Mad Miss Mimic by Sarah Henstra

missmimic

I saw this book on Hailey in Bookland’s YouTube channel, but she only mentioned it was set in Victorian London. I saw this at the bookstore and read the summary, immediately liking it as much as I did the cover and title. Mad Miss Mimic follows Leo, a beautiful young heiress with a speech disorder that gives her a dreadful stutter as well as the ability to mimic any voice she hears, who gets wrapped up in the mystery behind a deadly opium poisoning the streets of London in 1872.

I love historical mysteries. I want to read this book right now. But, of course, there are others I need to read first.

 

Dumplin’ & Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy

Julie Murphy is an author I have wanted to get into for a while. Mainly, Dumplin’, which is about a plus-size girl who enters a beauty pageant to prove a point. As a plus-size girl myself, this book speaks to me on a certain level.

As for Ramona Blue, part of what drew me to it in the first place was the controversy surrounding it when its release was announced. The main character, Ramona, identifies as a lesbian, but she develops feelings for her childhood friend Freddie. This angered people as the summary implied that “the right guy can make a lesbian straight.” However, the author herself identifies as bisexual and the idea behind Ramona Blue is that sexuality is fluid. Of course, there is more to it than that, which is why I want to read it.

 

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

viceandvirtue

Another book I saw everywhere after it came out, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is a young adult historical fiction novel about scoundrel Monty, bisexual young English lord who does not want his title and has a crush on his best friend, Percy. When their year abroad takes an unexpected turn, Monty finds himself in a middle of a manhunt that takes him all across Europe. I’ve heard this book is hilarious, plus I love the cover’s color scheme.

 

The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana

thelibraryoffates

I did not pay much attention to The Library of Fates when its release was announced. Then, I saw it advertised as a book fans of The Star-Touched Queen and The Wrath & the Dawn would enjoy. I read the synopsis, and I totally agree with that statement.

The Library of Fates follows a young princess who promises herself as a bride to the brutal emperor to spare her kingdom. Only her sacrifice is not enough and she goes on the run with an oracle the emperor enslaved. The girls set out to find the Library of All Things to change their pasts, but the princess begins to wonder if the future holds more for her than she thought.

 

Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

wordsindeepblue

The cover is what drew me to this book, although the insides don’t look too bad, either. Rachel had a crush on Henry and wrote him a love letter before she moved away, slipping it inside his favorite book at his parents’ bookstore. But he never responded. Years later, after her brother tragically drowns, she returns to that same bookstore and forced to work alongside Henry. The story centers on books and bookstores, which is the kind of plotline I love.

 

Hunted by Megan Spooner

hunted

Another Beauty and the Beast retelling—I’m game! Yeva is the daughter of a hunter that gains fortune, then loses it, and moves the family back to the woods. A born hunter, Yeva is happy to return and hears the call of the Beast like her father had. When her father loses his mind, disappearing into the woods, she goes looking for him. So is the Beast, but he has met his match in Yeva.

The plot of the story, as well as the fact that Yeva is a hunter from high society, reminds me a lot of A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. That is probably why I finally gave in to buying it.

 

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

andthentherewerenone

I already own another of Agatha Christie’s books, The Monogram Murders, except I haven’t read it yet. And Then There Were None is said to be her best novel ever, as well as one of the best mysteries ever written. Ten strangers are lured to an island and are trapped there during a storm while they are killed off one by one. It sounds terrifying.

 

Little Monsters by Kara Thomas

littlemonsters

Young adult thrillers are my guilty pleasure. Particularly ones set in small towns where the main character can’t trust anyone. Little Monsters is exactly that. Kacey moves in with her father and is welcomed into a loving new family after years of living with her unstable mother. She makes new friends, Bailey and Jade, who invite her to do everything with them until they don’t. Then, Bailey disappears after the party of the year and all eyes are on Kacey. So, she goes to look for answers and realizes not everyone is who they appear to be.

 

Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

rosetainted

Norah is a seventeen-year-old girl who suffers from agoraphobia and OCD. She never leaves her house as a result. Then, she meets Luke while struggling to bring in the groceries off her porch with a stick and the two become friends. But when they grow closer than she ever thought possible, Norah has a decision to make: let Luke go or finally see herself beyond her disabilities.

While I am not a fan of “the boy changing the girl’s perspective” plot device, I do see the potential. I am interested in reading more mental health books and the cover is absolutely beautiful.

 

Lastly, there is a lot of Jojo Moyes, my favorite women’s fiction author, in this haul. I have read two of her books, Me Before You and The Girl You Left Behind. I enjoyed both of those books, yet I did not read any of her works this year, or last year. Now that I own all the books she has published in the USA, I plan on changing that in 2018.

Of her books, I bought:

 

 

The Horse Dancer

A recently divorced lawyer takes a fourteen-year-old girl with a horse under her wing. But as her grandfather is sick in the hospital, the girl is hiding a secret.

 

One Plus One

A single mother and her math-whiz daughter get stranded on the side of the road on their way to a competition when their car breaks down. A tech millionaire whose life is falling apart comes to their rescue, leading to a road trip that changes their lives for the better.

 

The Ship of Brides

Set right after World War II has ended, 650 war brides board the HMS Victoria from Sydney, Australia to England to fulfill the promises to the men they married. One of those women is Frances Mackenzie, whose past comes back to haunt her midst her journey to her new home.

 

Silver Bay

A heartbroken single mom moves with her little girl to a seaside town to help her aunt run the family’s hotel. After vowing to never fall in love again, she meets a kindhearted Englishman that threatens to break that vow, as well as the bay and hotel she values.

 

Sheltering Rain

A woman is emotionally estranged from her teenaged daughter and physically estranged from her mother. When the teenaged girl goes to visit her grandmother in Ireland, the grandmother is forced to face secrets of her past that will hopefully repair the relationships between mother and daughter, as well as granddaughter and grandmother.

 

Windfallen

A designer and newly minted single mom moves into a crumbling estate she is hired to restore, left behind by another young woman with broken dreams years before. The estate they both have come to love intertwine their lives.

 

julybookhaul2

 

Whew! OK…I’m done.

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July 2017 Wrap Up

 

I think it is safe to say July is one of my favorite reading months of 2017. I read five books and I enjoyed every single one of them. At the same time, like I have several months throughout the year, I felt like I could have read more. But now that my temporary library job I was working at for the past four months is over, I will have more time on my hands to read until the next opportunity comes along.

            In July, I read:

 

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

3.75 stars

intothewater

Into the Water is an adult mystery/thriller novel set in an English town famous for a river that runs through it called the Drowning Pool. A photographer known for her fascination with the river is found dead in it, leaving behind a fifteen-year-old daughter her estranged sister must return to the town she fled from to take care of.

While the plot was quite good and the characters fleshed-out, my major qualm with Into the Water as a whole was the person who ultimately killed the photographer. The twist made no sense to me, which made me take off half a star. For my full thoughts, go check out my review. https://jillianthebookishbutterflyblog.wordpress.com/2017/07/09/review-of-into-the-water-by-paula-hawkins-spoiler-free/

 

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

3.5 stars

The Upside of Unrequited

The best way to describe The Upside of Unrequited is cuteness overload! Molly is seventeen years old and has had 26 crushes but no boyfriend. When her twin sister Cassie falls head over heels for a girl that comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick, it seems like the perfect situation for her to get her boyfriend. That is, until Molly meets her co-worker, super nerdy and super sweet Reid.

            I really enjoyed this book, especially the diversity elements of it. Molly is overweight and has an anxiety disorder, and Reid is chubby too. Cassie identifies as lesbian and the twins are sperm donor babies born to two moms. One of their moms is black and the other is Jewish and bisexual. Cassie’s love interest Mina is Korean and pansexual. The list goes on. For my full thoughts on The Upside of Unrequited, go check out my review. https://jillianthebookishbutterflyblog.wordpress.com/2017/07/16/review-of-the-upside-of-unrequited-by-becky-albertalli-spoiler-free/

 

Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller

4 stars

pirateking

Daughter of the Pirate King is a fantasy historical young adult novel following Alossa, a kick-ass lady pirate who allows herself to be captured by an enemy ship to search for an ancient treasure map. This book was as fun as I had anticipated. Alossa is one of my favorite new heroines—she’s smart, sassy, determined, and a little on the morally gray side. Her slow-burning romance with sweet, sexy Riden, the first-mate on the ship, is swoon-worthy. The writing style flowed well and depicted life on the sea. 

            However, the world-building was choppy; the fantasy elements weren’t built on very much. Towards the middle, the plot focused more on the romance rather than the search for the map, which was annoying. The pacing was off, it went from fast to slow and the ending was almost rushed. Daughter of the Pirate King could have done with at least fifty more pages because of that. Lastly, my biggest issue with the book was the lack of the lady pirates from Alossa’s crew. Thankfully, though, there is a sequel due to be published next year.

 

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

5 stars

ladymidnight

I am happy to say I finally read Lady Midnight and I absolutely agree that it is the best beginning novel Cassandra Clare has written in her Shadowhunter Chronicles. It was great to jump into the Shadowhunter world without too much info-dumping, because we are dealing with characters that grew up in this world rather than ones who have just been introduced.

            The plot was complex and well thought-out, taking an unexpected twist. You could feel the love and loyalty Emma, Cristina, and the Blackthorn family felt for each other; I got attached to almost everyone. Cassandra Clare’s writing style has matured as well, compared to her previous books. Although, I can’t say if I love The Dark Artifices trilogy more than the Infernal Devices trilogy yet.

In ranking of my favorite Shadowhunter leading ladies, I like Emma Carstairs more than Clary Fray but not as much as Tessa Gray. As for the Shadowhunter boys, Jace Herondale grew on me; I like Will Herondale, and adore Jem Carstairs. But Julian Blackthorn, a gentle artist who loves his family, made me weak in the knees.  

At this point in time, I have not read Lord of Shadows (NO SPOILERS PLEASE!). But it got rave reviews when it released in May, so I will read it before 2017 is over. 

 

Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

4.75 stars

madeyouup

After finishing Lady Midnight, I felt the warning signs of a reading slump. I needed a contemporary to escape it after such hardcore fantasy. Made You Up is a young adult novel about seventeen-year-old Alex, who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and struggles to separate fantasy from reality. When she starts her senior year at a new high school, she meets a boy she thought she had made up when she was a child. Not only that, she discovers something at her new school that makes her wonder if she is not the sole “crazy” person—and she might have a right to be paranoid.

            Made You Up is over 400 pages long, but I flew through it in three days. The writing was good and flowed well. The plot seemed a little far-fetched at times, but I ultimately enjoyed it. Alex is a great protagonist: witty and determined to prove to her parents she can function in the real world even with her mental illness. Her schizophrenia also blurred reality for the reader, adding to the mystery. The romance did not feel forced and Alex does have a male best friend, but there is no love triangle. And there were twists that I did not see coming.

 

What was your favorite book that you read in July?

Review of The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli (Spoiler Free)

I saw The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli literally everywhere on BookTube shortly after its release in an Owlcrate box. Compared to the amount of fantasy I read, I don’t read a lot of contemporary novels. But when I saw this book at Target, I picked it up on a whim, knowing all the love already surrounding it.

The Upside of Unrequited centers on seventeen-year-old Molly, who has had twenty-six crushes but never experienced her first kiss nor had a boyfriend. Then, her twin sister Cassie falls head over heels for a girl named Mina, who comes with a cute hipster sidekick named Will. Falling in love with her sister’s girlfriend’s best friend—it seems like the perfect situation for her first boyfriend. That is, until super nerdy but super sweet co-worker Reid comes into the picture.

Two words to best describe The Upside of Unrequited: CUTENESS OVERLOAD! There were so many moments I could not stop smiling. While the writing was not the best, it was not the worst either. In fact, it came off sometimes as almost juvenile. But then again, the teenagers in this book are not the same as those in a John Green book. Molly and the other characters talk like real teenagers.

There are also some quotes in here about sex, love, and diversity that I appreciated. One quote in particular that Molly says about sluts being normal I shared on Snapchat and two friends asked for the title of the book I was reading.

As far as protagonists go, Molly is someone I relate to—someone a lot of girls, I think, can relate to. She is overweight and has an anxiety disorder she takes medication for, but neither is the main focus of the story. Her body type is severely underrepresented in books, as well as media in general. She has her insecurities, but she is working towards overcoming those insecurities about her body. Also, her anxiety plays a role in certain situations, but she deals with that, too. She also uses the Internet like a modern teenager in 2017, which I have to appreciate Becky Albertalli for adding in.

Regarding the romance, despite what the summary might imply, The Upside of Unrequited does not contain a love triangle. Molly is attracted to Will and they flirt, but their relationship is not the same as Molly and Reid’s. It was sweet and natural, and built on communication. Reid is chubby, wears glasses, proudly nerdy, has a sense of humor, and is super sweet. He’s not broody or sarcastic or a prick, like so many young adult love interests authors seem to favor these days.

Also unlike other young adult novels, either contemporary or otherwise, there is a strong family presence. Molly is close to her cousin Abby, who is also her confidant. Molly and Cassie’s family are close, always there when the girls need them.

My favorite aspect of The Upside of Unrequited is the diversity element. As mentioned previously, Molly and Reid are chubby, and Molly has an anxiety disorder. Molly and Cassie are also fraternal twins that are sperm donor babies born to two moms. One of their moms, Nadine, is black, while the other, Patty, is Jewish and bisexual. Cassie identifies as lesbian. Mina, Cassie’s girlfriend, is Korean and pansexual. In this day in age, there is likely a seventeen-year-old with a family similar to this. Becky Albertalli is reflecting the change in times and how people are more accepting of this kind of family unit. And we are not all straight white people.

I do have some problems with this book, but they are minor in hindsight. As I stated before, the writing did not blow me away. But it is a novel about teenagers told in a teenager’s perspective; I should not expect flowery writing. I can’t say much for the character development, but it was all right. The story mainly focused on relationships, which is fine.

In terms of plot, not much was happening. Nothing was too dramatic or serious. The girls did get in trouble at one point, but it was quickly brushed over. The ending was sweet and adorable, but I could have cut off twenty pages and still got something out of it.

Overall, I give The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli 3.5 stars. I got a little bored towards the middle, but it was too cute of a story and I loved the diversity in this book.

Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 Villains

I’ve seen Bionic Bookworm’s Top 5 Tuesday posts for a while now. I’m glad to say I finally have the time to write my own submission and it is one I am most eager to write for: my top five favorite villains.

 

Queen Helewise from The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Sailsbury

The best way I can describe Queen Helewise is she’s the Queen of Hearts on crack. She takes “off with their heads” to the next level. She manipulates people into believing a teenaged girl is a goddess incarnate and she convinces that same teenaged girl she has live poison in her skin, so she can’t touch anyone except for members of the royal family. She makes Cersai Lanister from Game of Thrones look virginal by comparison (if you have read The Sin Eater’s Daughter, you might know what I am referring to).

To put it simply, Queen Helewise is absolutely nuts.

thesineatersdaughter

 

Amarantha from A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

When I think of Amarantha, I think “crazy bitch.” She knew how to mess people up and she did it simply because she wanted to. I love to hate her—I just hate what she did to Feyre, Rhys, Lucien, and, yes, Tamlin. Because, let’s face it, she ruined as many lives as she could. And that riddle, man, that riddle….

At her core, though, Amarantha was a demented, pissed off little girl. Can we really blame Tamlin for turning her down? The woman clearly could not take rejection.

ACOTAR

 

Samjeeza from the Unearthly trilogy by Cynthia Hand

While the first book is the only book in the entire trilogy he caused major problems in, Samjeeza is still a lurking, threatening presence throughout the Unearthly trilogy by Cynthia Hand. He’s kind of like Sebastian Morgenstern from The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare in that he is obsessed with one particular woman and can’t seem to let her go—and will ruin anyone that gets in his way back to her.

Compared to some other villains in literature, Samjeeza is not that bad. In some ways, I pity him, because he’s an archangel cursed to live forever in misery. He’s just creepy, manipulative, and you can never really guess what his true motives are.

unearthly

 

The Commandant from the An Ember in the Ashes series by Sabaa Tahir

I don’t know if you would classify the Commandant as a villain, but after reading A Torch Against the Night, I would definitely call her one. She’s brutal and power-hungry. She will torture children to get what she wants—including her own son. She has tried to kill him on more than one occasion. Only why she wants her son dead—other than something to do with his father—I can’t say for sure. I am expecting that question to be answered in the third book of the series (whenever it comes out).

anemberintheashes

 

Valentine Morgenstern from The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare

I actually like Valentine more than I did Sebastian as a villain. Valentine was demented, but there was a reason he was so. He tortured an angel. He did a lot of terrible things and he honestly believed he was doing the right thing. When Jace refused to join him, though, Valentine did not take away his adoptive son’s choice to say no. That, I have to admit, is pretty impressive for a man who thought he was greater than Raziel.

cityofglass

 

Who are your favorite villains from books?

Review of Into the Water by Paula Hawkins (Spoiler Free)

I had completely forgotten Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train, had published another book until I happened upon it in Target when picking up A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas. After reading a month of fantasy, I needed a break from the genre and was in the mood for a mystery/thriller.

Into the Water is set in a small English town with a river that runs through it known as the Drowning Pool, where many women have died throughout the generations. At the start of the novel, a local photographer is doing research on the history of the Drowning Pool and is later found dead in the water, presumably of suicide as many other women before her have done. The woman’s younger sister, who fled the town years ago, returns to take care of her fifteen-year-old orphaned niece, but she’s not the only one with secrets in the town.

The plot itself was quite good. Paula Hawkins did a good job shadowing doubt on certain characters. She also made me hate two men in particular, both of whom were connected to women who died in the Drowning Pool. We also get more than one person’s perspective; we follow nine people in the town, including the photographer’s sister and daughter. You would think it might be confusing, only it wasn’t. Instead, it added something to the story because you got to see inside the heads of everyone involved.

However, my biggest qualm with the book is connected to the plot. It is the person who ultimately killed the photographer, which is not revealed until the literal final page of Into the Water. That threw me for a loop, because of all the characters in the book, this one, to me, did not have strong enough motive—or any motive really—to want this woman dead. Was it an accident? Maybe, but when I took a few days to think about it, I still could not remember any indication this person was the killer.

The writing was my favorite part of the novel. Paula Hawkins had a way of keeping the reader invested in the story. She created an atmosphere of a small English town with a dark history. She fleshed the characters out, making them real people with real flaws. Some achieved full development, while others were stuck in their ways. I even felt sympathy for some of those characters.

I wanted to give Into the Water by Paula Hawkins 4 stars, but I gave it 3.75 because of that major plot problem I mentioned previously. If anyone was going to adapt it into a film version like they did with The Girl on the Train, they are better off doing it as a Netflix miniseries. With so much going on with the individual characters, plus how it all ties together in the end, I think it would do well on that platform.

June 2017 Wrap Up

June was a really awesome reading month for me—one of the best I’ve had so far this year. I read books that have been on my TBR for a while and none of these books were lower than three stars. And I read six books, more than I have read these past two months.

In June, I read:

 

The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury

5 stars

theforbiddenwish

I have a full spoiler-free review of The Forbidden Wish posted earlier in the month. It is a young adult retelling of Aladdin told through the genie’s perspective, who is a girl named Zahra. After Aladdin releases her from her lamp, Zahra is offered a chance at freedom from the King of the Jinn. But after she falls in love with Aladdin, and he with her, her freedom comes with a greater cost than she is willing to pay.

I loved The Forbidden Wish just as I thought I would when I pre-ordered it last year. After the last couple of months, I feared a reading slump and this book pulled me right out of it. Later, I wondered if I gave it too high a rating, but then I realized I read The Forbidden Wish at a time I needed it, so I left it at five stars. If you want to know my full thoughts, read my review.

Link: https://jillianthebookishbutterflyblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/04/review-of-the-forbidden-wish-by-jessica-khoury-spoiler-free/

 

Saga, Vol. 7

5 stars

sagavol7

After the mediocre Volume 6 of the Saga graphic novels, I was hoping for a comeback in this series. The first half of this volume was all right, more world building and political intrigue between the two feuding planets, as well as marked the return of my favorite characters that were absent from Volume 6. The middle half dragged and I was not entirely sure what was going on with certain characters. But they went there with the ending and it broke me—except I couldn’t cry because I was on the train home from work when I finished it.

Until the ending happened, I was going to give Saga, Volume 7 I think a 4.5. If a book gets me to cry, though, then it is an automatic five stars.

 

The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

3.75 stars

thewomeninthecastle2

Another book I read and reviewed this month, The Women in the Castle is an adult historical fiction novel set in post-World War II Germany, following the widows of three resisters who attempted to assassinate Adolf Hitler in July of 1944. As the widows and their children come together as Germany attempts to rebuild itself after the war, their secrets continue to haunt them, even decades later.

I went into this book with too high of expectations and I was disappointed. The writing was beautiful and the characters were interesting, but the plot fell extremely flat and the pacing did not match the length of the book. I was expecting something like Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly, and that was my fault. If you want to know my full thoughts on The Women in the Castle, check out my review.

Link: https://jillianthebookishbutterflyblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/10/review-of-the-women-in-the-castle-by-jessica-shattuck-spoiler-free/

 

Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare, Maureen Johnson, Sarah Rees Brennan, and Robin Wasserman

4 stars

shadowhunteracademy

I haven’t been into short story anthologies since high school. After finishing The Mortal Instruments series, I desperately wanted to start her Dark Artifices trilogy. I adored Emma Carstairs and Julian Blackthorn in City of Heavenly Fire, and I was eager to get to their story. But per everyone’s suggestion, I picked up Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy, which is supposed to be a precursor to some of the events that take place in Lady Midnight, the first book in the Dark Artifices trilogy.

Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy was a pleasant surprise, though I can’t say I loved it like so many others did. I did enjoy reading from Simon’s perspective, because he is likely my favorite Mortal Instruments character now after reading the last two books in the series. I also loved how we got to see the Infernal Devices characters again, who are my absolute favorites in the whole Shadowhunter universe, as well as have an introduction to the characters in the upcoming Last Hours trilogy. However, I found certain stories to be boring and it was obvious which ones Cassandra didn’t write.

 

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

4.75 stars

truthwitch

Why it took me so long to read Truthwitch by Susan Dennard I have no idea. I know she is best friends with Sarah J. Maas, but she puts the latter to shame as a writer, in my opinion.

Truthwitch follows two best friends who are on the run after one of the girls, a Truthwitch, a rare witch, gets a target on her back. Safi and Iseult are two incredible leading ladies; strong, fierce, and loyal, the definition of “badass females.” They put their friendship first and they never give up on finding each other throughout the whole book. The magic system and world-building of the Witchlands was a little confusing to me, but overall I found it fascinating. The plot was a little lackluster in some places, though Truthwitch is still a solid foundational novel for what I expect to be an awesome, action-packed series. Plus, can we take a moment to swoon over Prince Merik?

 

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

3.75 stars

thestartouchedqueen

The Star-Touched Queen is a loose Hades and Persephone retelling with Indian mythology. Maya is a princess born with a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction. Content to living life as a scholar, she is surprised when her father arranges a political marriage for her. She marries Amar, the king of Akaran, and discovers a life she never imagined she could have. One that is filled with secrets, danger, and darkness.

The writing within this book was beautiful and Maya has earned herself a spot on my list of new favorite protagonists. She uses her brain rather than a sword to prove she is a badass. The world Roshani Chokshi created was unique; from what I visualized, I think The Star-Touched Queen would do well as a movie.

However, the plot was a little dry and the pacing was too slow for the book’s length, which led to a rushed ending. The romance was sweet, yet I felt disconnected from the characters, like the romance was already established prior to the beginning of the story except Maya just met Amar. The second half of the book felt like it was all over the place, too. But I still enjoyed The Star-Touched Queen very much.

 

What was your favorite book that you read in June?