August 2017 Book Haul

I know: you would think, after all the books I bought in July, I would have cooled it. I had planned to, because there wouldn’t be any books I wanted until September when Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas and Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco came out. Plus, I was in between jobs. I should not have spent money.

But then I was having a really bad day. I went to Target with my brother to get my mind off things….

Well, you can guess what happened next.

 

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier

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I had seen the advertisements for the movie starring Sam Claflin, but had no idea it was based off a book written by the same author who wrote Rebecca. I remember when I saw the trailer, the movie screamed incest to me, so I had no interest. Then, when I found the book of My Cousin Rachel in Target, I read the synopsis and changed my mind.

My Cousin Rachel follows Philip Ashley, a wealthy Englishman, who takes in his cousin’s widow. As he falls under this beautiful woman’s spell, he begins to suspect if Rachel murdered his cousin or she is really a victim of men’s schemes. But he will have to find that out before it’s too late.

 

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

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I have read only one Sarah Dessen book and that was Keeping the Moon in high school. I can’t remember if I liked it or not, just that I got it out of my school’s library. For a long time, I was not really into lighthearted contemporary books, so she was not on my radar. Then, as my reading tastes changed, I started to look into her books again. Saint Anything was the one I was most interested in reading.

The story follows Sydney, whose older brother is in prison after a fatal hit-and-run accident. While her parents are more focused on the alleged golden boy, she is left to her own devices. This leads her to a local pizza restaurant run by a loving but slightly chaotic family that welcomes her with open arms. As her friendship with the twins Layla and Max blossoms, Sydney decides it is time to focus on what is most important: herself.

 

Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

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I have seen Love and Gelato almost everywhere on BookTube since it released last year and people seem to like it. The story centers on Lina, who travels to Tuscany to meet her estranged father at her mother’s dying wish. At first reluctant, she discovers her mother’s journal that leads her on a road trip of self-discovery throughout the enchanting city.

The cover is cute and the plot sounds like something I could enjoy. Plus, I’ve never been to Tuscany.

 

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

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I had seen Liane Moriarty’s books floating around, but the covers somehow came off as Lifetime movie material. Then, I saw Heather from the YouTube channel Bookables and Katie from Chapterstackss rave about Big Little Lies. It follows three women whose children are in the same elite kindergarden school, and a tragedy that happens, binding the women together. Big Little Lies did well as an HBO miniseries adaption, so I figured it was worth a shot.

 

Lucky in Love by Kasie West

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Kasie West is as fluffy of a contemporary young adult author as you can get, but I really enjoyed P.S. I Like You, the first book I ever read by her. Lucky in Love is her most recent release. Levelheaded Maddie wins the lottery and her life is turned upside down, first for the better, then for the worst. She doesn’t know whom she can trust, except for her cute coworker Seth, who has no idea she won a million dollars and Maddie wants to keep it that way. Also, can we take a moment to appreciate the adorableness of this cover?

 

Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

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While I have read books with characters that self-harm, it has not been the main focus of the story. Girl in Pieces is about Charlotte, who deals with her overwhelming grief by cutting and her journey of getting back to herself. That is all I need to know about this book, and all I really want to know. I want to go into Girl in Pieces with an open mind.

 

Most of these books were impulse buys and there were other books in Target that I wanted, but I settled on these six. I will let you know if I regret any of them or not when I actually read them.

Review of The Suffering Tree by Elle Cosimano (Spoiler Free)

I found The Suffering Tree by Elle Cosimano when browsing my local library recently. The cover is what drew me in: an intricate design of a tree with a house, boats, and a man hidden among the roots against a dark aquamarine backdrop. That and, of course, the synopsis is what made me want to pick up a book I had heard nothing about.

The Suffering Tree follows Tori, whose family moves from Washington, D.C. to small-town Chaptico, Maryland to claim an unexpected inheritance. Adjusting to their new life was hard enough with Tori trying to hide her self-harm from her new friends and dealing with the whispers of the townsfolk, particularly the Slaughters, the family that believes Tori’s new house rightfully belongs to them. It gets way more complicated for Tori when Nathanial Bishop rises from his grave under the tree in her backyard, bringing a lot of centuries-old secrets up with him.

If I had bought this book instead of checking it out of the library, I think I would have been disappointed I spent money on it. The reviews on Goodreads are OK, but I had a few problems with this book.

My biggest issue with this book is the portrayal of self-harm and its connection to the fantasy element in this story. I did not like how the cutting was part of the main plot rather than a subplot. Forewarning going into this book: there are several scenes where Tori cuts herself when she is upset, whether it be with razors, nails, or tree branches. How Nathaniel comes out of the tree is Tori deliberately cutting herself on the branch of the tree he was under. And I’m not calling that a spoiler because it happens in the first chapter. Plus, I want people to know that going into this book, if they struggle with self-harm.

To me, there are plenty of other ways the author could have come up with for Tori to summon Nathaniel accidentally. I personally can’t speak for the representation of self-harm in this book, but that bothered me.

The synopsis of The Suffering Tree promises a romance between Tori and Nathaniel. However, in reading their interactions, the romantic relationship felt forced to me. In my opinion, these two could have become friends and the story would have worked out just as well.

Speaking of characters, the ones in The Suffering Tree were flat with little to almost no development. As protagonists, though, I did like Tori and Nathaniel at times. While I do appreciate the strong family presence and understand how Tori’s cutting is connected to grief, her problem was not fully dealt with.

Which leads me into the plot twist. When the real killer was revealed, it made no sense to me. I had seen no evidence throughout the book how this character could have been involved. Worse still, the ending was rushed and almost too convenient, leaving me even more confused.

The book was readable and the chapters short, which I like. However, there was an inconsistency within the style. Nathaniel’s POV is told in first-person, while Tori’s goes back and forth between first and third person. Though I did like Nathaniel’s voice, I think The Suffering Tree would have done better is Tori’s POV was in first-person and Nathaniel’s in third-person. It might have made the writing feel less choppy. But that is only my opinion.

Overall, I give The Suffering Tree by Elle Cosimano 2 stars. I did not love this book, although I did not completely hate it, either. It had its qualities, but there were some issues I felt that needed to be dealt with more.

Mystery Novels on My TBR Pile

After fantasy, mystery is my favorite genre. Two of my favorite novels of last year were mystery. I tend to go through my mystery novels faster than fantasy, contemporary, or historical fiction because those are ones that save me from reading slumps. Mystery novels, both adult and young adult, are fun and exciting and sometimes terrifying. But even with the amount I read, I still have quite a few on my TBR.

Here are my favorite mystery novels currently on my to be read pile:

 

And When She Was Good by Laura Lippman

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A friend of mine gave me this book for my birthday two years ago. The story follows Heloise Lewis who, by day, is a young widow with a son and a good-hearted lobbyist. By night, she’s a high-price call girl. After ten years, the brilliant facade she has created for herself is falling apart with the alleged suicide of a madam and her violent ex’s release from prison. But can she really start all over again with a new identity?

 

Every Fifteen Minutes by Lisa Scottoline

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Every Fifteen Minutes is one of those impulse buys from Target. Eric, a caring psychiatrist and single dad, becomes the prey of a sociopathic patient. When he makes a professional decision, his life is suddenly on the line. The plot sounds a lot like a Lifetime movie, one of my guilty pleasures.

 

Little Monsters by Kara Thomas

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Little Monsters is the most recent purchase on this list and one I am really, really excited for. Unfortunately, I have a long list of books I want to read before 2017 is over, so this one will have to wait for now. Anyway, this book follows Kacey, a new girl in a small town, who finds herself the center of unwanted attention after one of her new friends goes missing following a party. As she looks for answers, she realizes she can’t trust anyone in her new home.

 

Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls by Lynn Weingarten

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Another young adult thriller, Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls follows June, the only person in town who does not believe her best friend Delia committed suicide. Remembering an incident that happened a year ago that got out of hand, June suspects this has something to do with Delia’s death. But there is more to the truth than she ever anticipated.

 

The Magician’s Lie by Greer Macallister

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The Magician’s Lie is a historical fiction mystery about an illusionist called Amazing Arden who, after a performance goes horribly wrong, is arrested. The book takes place over the course of one night as Arden is interrogated by a young officer determined to make her reveal her secrets. When I first discovered The Magician’s Lie on Goodreads, I was so intrigued by it I almost bought the ridiculously beautiful but expensive hardcover right there. Then, Target came to my rescue with the cheaper, albeit not as pretty, paperback. I’ve owned this book for two years, and I still have not read it. Shocking.

 

The Diviners by Libba Bray

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The Diviners is another historical fiction mystery, this one with a more paranormal twist. Set in 1926 New York City, Evie lives with her eccentric uncle Will, who runs an occult museum, and hides her own supernatural ability. But when a girl is murdered in a ritualistic way, she uses her power to catch a killer. The only reason I can think of that I have not read The Diviners yet is because the size intimidates me. Otherwise, I should have devoured it by now.

 

The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd

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The Madman’s Daughter is supposed to be a retelling of The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells, I think, which is a story I have not read. It follows Juliet Moreau, the daughter of the mad scientist, who journeys with two companions to the island he is hiding to find out if the rumors about her father are true. Once she arrives, though, Juliet discovers she has inherited her father’s strange fascination with science, as well as possibly his madness. I can’t remember how long exactly I have owned The Madman’s Daughter, just that I still want to read it and it is about time I do.

 

Do you have a favorite mystery novel?

Top 10 Popular Book Series I Have Not Read Yet (But Really Want To)

When it comes to popular books, more often than not, I’m late to join the bandwagon. Primarily because there are so many books I want to read that it is hard to prioritize them all. Also, adulting problems 101, choosing which books I want to spend money on and hope they don’t make me feel like I wasted a paycheck. Thankfully, there is my well-stocked and well-connected local library!

The majority of the series on this list are old and I don’t already own the first book in the series. Most likely, I will be checking most of these out of the library within the next year, due to the fact that I am not as hard-core into reading them as I was when I was first introduced to BookTube a few years ago, but I still want to read them nonetheless. Just not enough to spend money on them.

 

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

Likely one of the most beloved series on this list, The Raven Cycle is the one I am most looking forward to reading. The books always got so much hype when they came out. I think the reason why I didn’t pick them up right away was because the premise didn’t appeal to me at the time the first book, The Raven Boys, came out: a girl from a family of psychics but lacking psychic powers herself teams up with a group of mysterious boys to find a missing Welsh king.

Now, I’m more open to the concept and I’ve heard the books get better as the story goes on. Plus, I think the hardcovers of The Raven Cycle, particularly Blue Lily, Lily Blue, are quite beautiful.

 

Shatter Me trilogy by Tahereh Mafi

One of the staples in dystopian young adult literature, Shatter Me has been described as a guilty pleasure read for some. The plot is not that great, but the romance is steamy and the writing is beautiful. I think after I read The Hunger Games trilogy and the Divergent trilogy, I had had my full of dystopian literature, which is probably why it has taken me so long to finally want to read the Shatter Me trilogy.

 

Anna and the French Kiss trilogy by Stephanie Perkins

Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door, and Isla and the Happily Ever After are probably three of the most well-known titles in the young adult contemporary genre. I know why it has taken me so long to read these. When they were first published, I read strictly fantasy or mystery novels, hardly any contemporary. If I did happen to read contemporary, it involved nothing fluffy or cute. But my reading tastes have changed since then.

 

The Selection series by Kiera Cass

Another young adult dystopian, this one involving princesses vying for the throne and the prince’s heart in a competition reminiscent of The Bachelor. Similar to the situation regarding Shatter Me, The Selection received mixed reviews with the publication of each book, particularly surrounding the dislike of the main character. Also, I had lost interest in dystopians for a while once I discovered high fantasy. Yet, despite it all, I’m still interested in the plot itself as well as reading about the famous Prince Maxon.

 

Falling Kingdoms series by Morgan Rhodes

A series on this list I am seriously considering biting the bullet and buying, Falling Kingdoms is a multiple-perspective high fantasy young adult series that is classified as Games of Thrones for teens. After reading Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series and Truthwitch by Susan Dennard, I love the high fantasy genre. From what I’ve heard about Falling Kingdoms, it sounds like a lot of action-packed fun.

 

Legend trilogy by Marie Lu

In case you haven’t figured it out by now, there are a lot of old-time dystopians on this list. Legend is one of the ones I have wanted to read for years and I haven’t heard anything about it since the publication of its last book, Champion. This one also sounds like it was a real dystopian with a corrupted government and social system like The Hunger Games had. Although, when I will get around to reading the Legend trilogy, I’m not sure.

 

The Young Elites trilogy by Marie Lu

After Falling Kingdoms, The Young Elites is another young adult series I think I might buy. It is a historical fiction high fantasy novel set in an alternative medieval period featuring an anti-heroine main character. The story has been marketed as a villain’s origin story. I really hope it does not disappoint once I read it.

 

Delirium trilogy by Lauren Oliver

When Delirium first came out, I remember the premise intrigued me: a dystopian society where love is viewed as a disease and, at the age of 16, everyone gets a surgery to make them not feel love. Now, I find it a little silly. And yet, it is on this list because it is another staple in young adult dystopian literature, as well as the fact that I am still curious about how Lauren Oliver made that kind of story work for three books.

 

The Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

I know very little about the Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo and I want to keep it that way. When the books were first published, they weren’t talked about a lot, at least not with the YouTubers I watched at the time, which is probably why I had such a lack of interest. But thanks to the Six of Crows duology, people are picking up the Grisha trilogy and I am seeing more reviews on it that make me want to try the series out for myself.

 

Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows is likely one of the most beloved and popular series on this entire list—if not the most beloved and popular. I’ve seen the covers in stores; they are gorgeous and I want to buy them. But I have not picked up this duology for two reasons. First, sometimes hyped books and characters fall flat for me, so I hesitate. Second, I like to do things in chronological order, so I plan on reading the Grisha trilogy before reading Six of Crows. And who knows when that will be?

 

What popular book series have you not read yet? Which one of these should I read first?

Review of The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner (Spoiler Free)

The Serpent King follows Dill Early, the son of a disgraced preacher who dealt with snakes, and his two best friends, Lydia and Travis, as they enter their senior year of high school. While Lydia is counting the days until graduation and Travis is caught up in the world of the fantasy novels he enjoys, Dill believes he is trapped in their dead-end town in the Bible Belt of Tennessee. But then tragedy strikes and he must take a whole new look at his life.

The writing of this book was beautiful. Jeff Zentner has the potential of getting better with the more books he publishes. Having grown up in the blue state of Massachusetts in a family that only acknowledges we are Catholic at funerals or weddings, the discussions about religion as well as the picture of rural Tennessee were fascinating to me. The author showed the ignorance of the town and how certain people took their unjustified anger out on those who didn’t deserve it. Going to church and living simply is the ideal of these people, but only because they are afraid of anything unfamiliar.

In terms of plot, virtually nothing happened until the beginning of the third act. The Serpent King is a strictly character-driven story, which I suppose works for the content, but know that going into this book if that is something you don’t enjoy. As for the characters themselves, Lydia annoyed me, I felt sympathy for Dill, and Travis is my little fanboy cinnamon roll. Of the three, though, I think Lydia had the better character development.

When the book starts off, Lydia is sassy, confident, and ambitious, but she’s haughty and self-absorbed. She writes a successful fashion blog, but acts as though she does not have any friends in her town, despite being so close to Dill and Travis. She has two loving parents and a good home life, unlike the boys, and does not seem to fully grasp how privileged she is until it is too late. For the first half of the book, Lydia thinks she knows what is best for Dill, ignoring his protests that he has responsibilities to take care of his disabled mother now that his father is in prison. By the end of the book, though, she has matured a lot in that respect.

Dill is a good kid. He does want to escape the town and the prejudice he faces there thanks to his father. He also wants to do the right thing by his mother and help pay off their debts, even though she treats him so poorly. Dill makes the best of his situation and chooses to live simply. As Lydia’s father tells her, that is not a bad way to live. I don’t think so either.

While Dill has good character development overall, my main issue with his storyline is the idealization of college from Lydia. Yes, college graduates do make more money in the long run, but as a Magna Cum Laude graduate with two national honor societies under my belt, I can tell you that does not happen right away. Since I graduated in 2016, I have had to work retail and temporary jobs. And this is not solely related to my BA in English, either. Lots of my friends who had degrees that were supposed to promise jobs after graduation were in the same boat.

The arguments Dill used with Lydia about not going to college were, in my opinion, logical. Another thing that was not introduced was the possibility of Dill waiting a year or two before going to school. That’s something else I know people to have done. I’m rambling, but I did not like the implication of this book that you must go to college to be happy or, if you wanted to go to college, you had to do it right after finishing high school.

As for Travis, he was the exception. Of the three main characters, he was the most well-rounded, despite his awful home life. I think a lot of people can relate to his love of a fandom. If I had to pick a favorite, it would be him.

Overall, I gave The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner 3.75 stars. If you like young adult contemporary novels with a bit of an edge to them or one with interesting discussions about religion, I highly recommend this one.

August 2017 TBR

It’s been a hot minute since I did a monthly TBR. I posted one for the first time this year in May. Some of these books were actually on that particular TBR. The pressure to read was on and I had just started a new job that wore me out mentally.

I set a goal of eight books to read in August, books I know I want to read. A little ambitious, considering the last few months I did not read more than six. But since the job I had was temporary, I have more time on my hands until the next opportunity comes along.

In August, I hope to read:

 

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

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At the time I am writing this, I am on page 92 of The Serpent King and liking it so far. It is a young adult contemporary novel set in the Bible Belt of Tennessee. Dill, the son of a disgraced preacher whose religion is based on handling snakes, and his two best friends, Lydia and Travis, are entering their senior year of high school. While Lydia is dreaming about the possibilities presented to her from her successful fashion blog, and Travis is lost in his fantasy world of the books he loves, Dill fears graduation and what it means for his future, particularly his feelings for Lydia.

Where I am in The Serpent King, I can say for certain I don’t like Lydia. While I admire her confidence, sass, and ambition, she is a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, or some variation of one. She thinks she knows what is best for Dill and that she knows what he really wants. Dill is a good kid; just trying to find his way after everything his dad put him through. Travis is a good kid, too, and I think most people can identify with his love for a fandom.

These are only my preliminary thoughts on The Serpent King. They could change by the end of the book.

 

The Angel’s Game & The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

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The Angel’s Game and The Prisoner of Heaven are the companion and sequel novels, respectively, to The Shadow of the Wind, my all-time favorite book of 2016. They are historical mystery novels set in Barcelona, Spain and centered around a mysterious bookstore called the Cemetery of Forgotten Books.

The Angel’s Game takes place about twenty years prior to the events of The Shadow of the Wind. David Martin is a struggling pulp fiction author living in an old mansion in Barcelona when a publisher offers him the book deal of a lifetime. But as he unravels the mystery behind his home and its connection to his book, he finds himself inside his own story.

The Prisoner of Heaven is a direct sequel to The Shadow of the Wind, and features the same main characters from the novel. A stranger visits Daniel Sempere’s family’s bookshop and threatens to reveal a terrible secret if Daniel and his best friend Fermin do not do as he asks.

The Shadow of the Wind was a beautiful novel. Carlos Ruiz Zafon is a celebrated storyteller, so I already have high expectations before reading these novels.

 

Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

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Set in feudal Japan, Flame in the Mist follows Mariko, the cunning daughter of a respected samurai, who is betrothed to the son of the emperor’s favorite consort. On the way to her wedding, the Black Clan, who have been hired to assassinate Mariko, attacks her convoy. She survives, disguises herself as a boy, and infiltrates the ranks of the Black Clan to find out who wants her dead. But in doing so, Mariko learns the truth behind everything she’s ever been taught and begins to question her role in what is happening.

Two things that let me know I will love this book. 1) I enjoy Renee Ahdieh’s writing and I loved her The Wrath & the Dawn duology. 2) The story of Flame in the Mist screams Mulan. That is all I need.

 

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

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When I was in junior high, I was obsessed with the Tudor dynasty in England. Lady Jane Grey, otherwise known as the Nine Day Queen, is related to the Tudors: her grandmother, Princess Mary, was King Henry VIII’s younger sister. At sixteen, she was an unwitting political pawn by her father and others who sought control over the throne after the death of King Henry’s only son, Edward, and made queen. Her reign was exactly nine days and she was later convicted of high treason by Queen Mary I, and then beheaded.

My Lady Jane is a retelling of Lady Jane Grey’s story, but with a more comedic fantasy twist and the authors promised a happier ending. Sickly Edward arranges for his favorite cousin, Jane, to marry a strange boy named Gifford (“G”), who turns into a horse during the day, to secure the line of succession. But the three of them are soon drawn into a conspiracy to steal Edward’s throne and send all of them to the executioner’s block.

 

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

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I received this beautiful limited-edition exclusive cover of Heartless in my November 2016 Owlcrate box and I have been dying to read it. Not just because the book is stunning, but also because it is a retelling of the origin story of The Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.

Catherine is a duchess in Wonderland that has caught the eye of the King of Hearts. Instead of wanting to be queen, though, she wants to focus on baking and open a bakery with her best friend. On the night the king is expected to propose to her, she meets the mysterious Jest, and begins a secret courtship. But how does such a nice girl become the Queen of Hearts? I’m going to find out.

 

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

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Denna is a princess with the gift of fire betrothed to the prince of a kingdom where magic is banned. Hiding her magic will be hard enough, yet things get a little more complicated when she falls for her future husband’s sister. I have picked this book up a few times since May with every intention of reading it. The book has gotten good reviews and I want to read more books with LGBTQ main characters. The fact that it is set in a fantasy setting makes it even more exciting to read.

 

The Valiant by Lesley Livingston

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The Valiant is based on an untold story within Ancient Roman history: female gladiators. Fallon is a Celtic princess who witnesses her sister murdered and her kingdom taken over by the Romans. She is then sold to a school training female gladiators, suddenly finding herself at the mercy of Julius Caesar, the man she vowed to destroy. Like I said with virtually every book, I’m excited to read The Valiant. I think this will be a great book to end the summer with.

 

What is everyone else reading in August?

Top 5 Tuesday: Book Worlds I Want to Live In

Unfortunately, I missed the last two weeks of Top 5 Tuesday. But now is the time to catch up on blog posts. This week’s subject is a great topic to start with: book worlds I want to live in.

This list was a little easier than I thought. I prefer the urban fantasy worlds to the high fantasy. I did not mention Hogwarts on this list, because that one is a given. Who does not want to go to Hogwarts?

In no particular order, here are the top five book worlds I want to live in:

 

The Shadowhunter Chronicles by Cassandra Clare

The magic system within the Shadowhunter Chronicles—The Mortal Instruments, The Infernal Devices, and The Dark Artifices—is not complicated and can be built upon no matter how many books Cassandra Clare writes. The Shadowhunters are cool and badass fighting demons. Although, I admit, I would much rather be a warlock like Tess Gray dating a Nephiliam.

 

House of Night by PC Cast

Though I have not finished the House of Night series nor have any intention of doing so, I did enjoy the world the author created when I read the books. It combined Wiccan magic with vampires, in a school for vampires to learn more magic and receive cool marks from a Goddess of Night.

 

Unearthly trilogy by Cynthia Hand

I want to be an angel-blood like Clara, Christian, and Angela in the Unearthly trilogy. They can fly and have a variety of different abilities, such as telepathy, depending on if they are a White Wing or a Black Wing. They can live for 120 years. And still have all the modern technology I’m used to.

 

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

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Much like the House of Night books, Vampire Academy is where vampires learn magic. I would want to be a Moroi and practice magic, particularly fire magic like Christian Ozera, or spirit magic like Lissa Dragomir. St. Vladimir’s sounds like it might be a cool school to go to.

 

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

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The only high fantasy world on this list, I love the magic system Susan Dennard created in the Truthwitch books. Witches have magic based in elements, with more than one variation, like an Airwitch being a subdivision of a Windwitch. I also love the ideas behind Truthwitches and Threadwitches, Heart-Threads and Thread-families, how everyone has found families as well as biological families. Of all the worlds I mentioned on this list, the world of Truthwitch is one I would live in if I had a chance.

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

 

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Whew! OK…I’m done.

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

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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.