July 2015 Books + Highlight

Hello! It’s been a while, almost a year, but I am back to this dusty blog. Granted I’ve been logging my books for my personal use on a word template, but I figure might as well head back to the inter webs.

Thus moving forward, in July I read 14 books. Those include Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood, Gotham Academy: volume 1: welcome to gotham academy by Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher, and Karl Kerschl, Ms. Marvel: Crushed by Wilson, Miyazawa, and Bondoc, Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes, Lumberjanes by Stevenson, Ellis, Watters, and Allen, Chi’s Sweet Home vol. 1- 3 & 8-10 by Konami Kanata, Kiki’s Delivery Service by Eiko Kadono, translattion by Lynne E. Riggs, Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, and Rook by Sharon Cameron.

I’ve been diving in the comic and manga world again so a majority of my reads were that. I have to say that all of them were fabulous and I am eagerly awaiting the trade books for the next issues. My book highlight for the month would be Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes.

Genre: Thriller/Murder Mystery/Fiction Price: $26.99/ISBN: 978-0-316-21682-1/ Page Count: 436/Series: No

broken monstersBroken Monsters switches POV between the main characters as well as some side perspectives. The book follows Detective Gabriella Versado and her teenage daughter Layla. They have a strained relationship that is explored through the story, but it is not the main act. That would be the strange serial murders where the killer is fusing victims’ bodies to animal parts.

What I love about this book is the mixture of madness (serial killer), desperation, fantasy, and mystery. The characters are intriguing because they aren’t one thing. The relationships between them and how all of the characters’ paths come together in an explosion is fascinating. This is the second book I’ve read by Beukes and I really can’t wait to read more by her.

June Books+Highlight

In June I read 13 books! They are as followed, Ink by Amanda Sun, Shadow by Amanda Sun, Rain by Amanda Sun, Champion by Marie Lu, The Wizard’s Promise by Cassandra Rose Clarke, The Wallflower by Tomoko Hayakawa volume 19, A Creature of Moonlight by Rebecca Hahn, Legacy of Tril: Soulbound by Heather Brewer, The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, The Unbound by Victoria Schwab, The Lost by Sarah Beth Durst, Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead, and Silver Phoneix by Cindy Pon.

I really, really loved The Lost by Sarah Beth Durst and may do a blog post dedicated to her series, but The Paper God series by Amanda Sun has a special place in my bookworm heart and I feel that it doesn’t get enough love…so that’s my highlight for June.

Paper Gods series by Amanda Sun

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The Paper Gods series is set in Japan, Shadow is a novella prequel to the first two books in the series. Shadow was available to read for free online, however I do not know if that promotion is still going, here is the link to Amanda Sun’s website for Shadow: LINK. Ink is the first book and Rain takes place almost immediately after the end of Ink. I recommend reading Shadow first because it provides context for some of the actions that happen in Ink.

The series follows Katie Green, an American teenager who moves to Japan to live with her Aunt after her mother passes away. Katie has a hard time transitioning to life in Japan since her grief over the death of her mother is still very present and raw.

She starts to make friends and then encounters Tomo, a dangerous young man who has some scary secrets about himself. The two are drawn together through a connection they can’t explain or deny. As Tomo’s hidden talents start to manifest in uncontrollable ways, they try to work and find a solution.

Part of the charm of the story is the setting. I really enjoyed reading a story that was set somewhere besides America or the UK. It was a refreshing change of scenery and Amanda Sun shows that she has done her research through her story and world building. I also enjoyed the inclusion of Japanese words and the glossary in the back.

I have to say I have read Ink two times already and the second time I read it I liked it even more, which is something that I can’t always say about books.

Strange Chemistry

You may have heard that Angry Robot is discontinuing their YA imprint Strange Chemistry, here is the press release: LINK

Now I could list the reasons why this makes me sad, upset, disappointed but I want to focus on one really good thing that came from the Strange Chemistry publications and that is author Cassandra Rose Clarke.

TWP_medium pirates_wish_big TheAssassin'sCurse-big

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve read her 3 YA books, all are set in in the same magical universe where pirates and witches are the norm.

The Assassin’s Curse has two main characters, Ananna and Naji. Ananna is the daughter of a powerful pirate family and has just been arranged marriage, she skips town and leaves her family behind. Feeling dishonored the family she was engaged to sends Naji, a deadly assassin. By a weird chance the two end up bound together, a curse that they set out to destroy. It’s a magical and fun adventure. The Pirate’s Wish concludes their story.

Wizard’s Promise focuses on Hanna who is the daughter of a former lady pirate and a fisherman. All Hanna wants is to become a proper witch but she is apprenticed to a “grumpy fisherman”. Okay so I will admit that I actually enjoyed this more than the first two books, but that’s because I thought the grumpy old fisherman would have more interaction between Hanna and while he does play an important part in this journey (he is the one that sets the boat off course) it didn’t end up being what I thought it would be (whooaa long sentence). This is book 1 in a new series, that I don’t know when will be complete, but I truly think that Hanna still has so much more to say and do. I would talk more about what I really liked and why I think there has to be more to the story…but then there would be spoilers.

Essentially I am sad to hear about Strange Chemistry but I will be following Cassandra Rose Clarke to whatever platform she uses to publish her work and I encourage all of you to check out her works currently published!

 

May Books + Highlight

Time for MAY BOOKS! haha I am catching up! June books will be published on the blog at the beginning of July. In May I read 7 books, The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron, A Spark Unseen by Sharon Cameron, The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart by Leanna Renee Hieber, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski, Delia’s Shadow by Jaime Lee Moyer, Prodigy by Marie Lu, and Hidden: A child’s story of the Holocaust by Loic Dauvillier, Marc Lizano, and Greg Salsedo. I am going to talk about The Winner’s Curse and what I liked about it and what I didn’t like.

Genre: YA Dystopia/Historical Fiction/Fantasy/Price: $17.99/ISBN: 978-0374384678/ Page Count: 368/Series: Yes, book one in Winner’s Trilogy.

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Winner’s Curse has two main characters, Kestrel and Arin. Kestrel is the daughter of a powerful General and Arin is the slave she buys at market. Kestrel is part of the conquering society and Arin was one of the nation they conquered and thus enslaved. Kestrel has doesn’t like slavery, but she makes no moves to put an end to it. Really her only acts of rebellion are continuing her music lessons and avoiding marrying/joining the military. Kestrel quickly falls for Arin’s quick wit and humor. Arin…well he has plans that are alluded to and come to fruition later.

I was initially captured by the cover and wanted to read it because it was so gorgeous, but this book took me 3 months to read. It was really difficult and a lot of times I had to put it down. What bothered me was the consent issues in the book. Kestrel owns Arin and while she never truly initiates a romantic relationship with him, their romance really bothered me. Could he truly consent to this love when he is owned by her? It was a question that continued to plague me. I would have rathered them to have a friendship and her fighting for the rebellion, freedom for the enslaved people. Instead I was deeply disappointed.

However that is not to say that the book was bad. I believe that the author was true to the character. Kestrel wants to make her own life and decisions but due to her militant upbringing it is hard for her to act on those desires. Thus the actions fit the character perfectly. With further development I think Kestrel would be able to become an individual who recognizes the flaws in her government and makes the actions to change them.

 

 

February Books + Spotlight

I totally flaked and missed talking about February books! Skipped right to March. Probably because in February I only 2 books! I read Frozen by Melissa De la Cruz  & Michael Johnston and First Born by Lorie Ann Grover (this one was an ARC provided to me at the ALA midwinter conference).

So let’s talk about Frozen (not to be confused with the Disney animated movie).

Genre: YA dystopia/fantasy/Price: $17.99/ISBN: 978-0399257544/ Page Count: 336/Series: Yes, book one in Heart of Dread series.

frozendelacruz

The premise is that the world collapsed due to freak weather and now we are in a semi ice age.  There are two main characters Nat and Wes. And you guessed it, they have a complicated romantic tension. Romance is a huge hitter in the series. The journey for the story and how the two are thrown together is this, Nat is looking to get out of Vegas and Wes happens to be a smuggler/criminal and the only one cocky enough to try and get her to “The Blue” (a mystical land of promise).

This could be considered straight dystopia if not for the sideways fantasy weaved into the storytelling. But by the end of the novel fantasy has become to main conflict and how the two authors transition to that is great.

What I appreciated about this book was that there are no love triangles (I really get burnt out by that in YA) and that it isn’t just one genre. I will be giving the rest of the series a read once it comes out, or rather when I can get my hands on them.

 

April Books+Highlight

I swear I will totally get on top of these monthly book updates, but until that day, here are my April books! I read 12 books in April! Doll Bones by Holly Black, Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige, The Unusual Suspects by Michael Buckley, Ebooks and the School Library Program: A Practical Guide for the School Librarian by Cathy Leverkus and Shannon Acedo (professional book yay), The Problem Child by Michael Buckley, Once Upon a Crime by Michael Buckley, Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas, Raven Flight by Juliet Mariller, Chocolat Volume 8, Wizard Undercover by K.E. Mills, Kitty and the Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaughn, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black.

I read a ton of really great books during April. My top 3 would have to Michael Buckley’s Sister’s Grimm Series, K.E. Mill’s Wizard Undercover (are you looking for a funny high fantasy book, because this is a perfect blend of humor, urban fantasy, mysteries, and high fantasy, read it), and Holly Black’s The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. Okay. So I totally want to do blog posts to properly highlight K.E. Mills and Michael Buckley’s series but Holly Black’s book is April’s highlight because it blew me away.

Genre: YA Vampires/Price: $19.00/ISBN: 978-0-316-21310-3/ Page Count: 419/Series: Not that I am aware of (but I so wish it was).

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The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is about a girl that ends up traveling to the city of vampires with her infected ex boyfriend and an insane vampire.

The premise of the book confused me every time that I read the dust jacket, but the main idea is that the world knows about vampires. And while some people see vampires as sexy romantic characters, the general population see it as a disease that must be quarantined into Coldtowns (vampires are cold, don’t you know).

Tana is in high school and was at a party. She wakes up in the morning hung over and pretty much wandering where everyone is (she passed out in the bathroom) only to find everyone dead. Vampires came into the party and ate everyone. Except when she goes into a bedroom she finds a chained up vampire and her ex boyfriend.

The crazy journey starts there. The three of them travel towards Coldtown (where vampires live and where the infected people-in transition can go-).

This book is Holly Black at her BEST. It totally engrossed me and I couldn’t put it down the whole time I was reading the book. The ending was perfect in that the story was resolved, but not really. You were left satisfied but it was open to interpretation, but not in the annoying way that other books have been (I’m looking at you Sunshine). 

I seriously can’t rave about this book enough. Everyone needs to go buy it, but not from amazon because it’s still a shit storm up there. Go to your local indie store! Or better yet, buy it from the store and then donate it to the public library. JUST READ IT (if you like complicated characters and relationships with vampires thrown in there as a big ass metaphor).

 

 

March Books+Highlight

In March I read a total of 8 booksBeautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire, Thirteenth Child by Patricia Wrede, Pawn by Aimee Carter, Ghost Train to New Orleans by Mur Lafferty, Resistance by Jenna Black, Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop, Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott, and Sisters Grimm: The Fairy Tale Detectives by Michael Buckley. On of my favorite reads of the month was Pawn by Aimee Carter (which will be reviewed, who could have guessed that).

Genre: YA Dystopia/Price: $17.99/ISBN: 978-0373210558/ Page Count: 352/Series: Yes, book one in her Blackcoat Rebellion

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Pawn is set in a world where your life is set by a test that ranks you in a number hierarchy. Kitty longs to get the average number, but instead is forced into the III after her results are given back. She is confronted with the choice of living as a III or changing her life by becoming another to join the ranks of IV.

Kitty has to become Lila and stop the revolution that Lila was starting with her charm and political rallies, but Kitty starts to wonder, should she stop this revolution to overthrow the ruling family, or should she risk everything to continue it?

I loved this book because it was smart and more about Kitty than her relationships. There was romance, but it wasn’t the main focus of the plot. There were twists that seemed to come from no where, but worked for the book overall. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys dystopia and a female protagonist who while confused, does her best to make things right.