Hello, friends! Sorry I haven’t been doing too much this month–between rehearsals and finals and being sick, I haven’t really had much of a chance to write reviews. That said, being backstage during a show gave me some time to catch up on my reading, so I do have some excellent books and novellas to wrap up today.
1) Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moscowitz
Brief Summary: Etta auditions for musical theater school and deals with categories she fits into and doesn’t fit into.
My Thoughts: When I read the end of this book, I was crying. I don’t know if I can articulate how much I loved it. Etta’s voice was amazing and honest, and her growth throughout the book was very genuine. Having a black, bisexual protagonist who struggles with her weight is so important and I know this book will reach out to a lot of people. I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of romance focus; there was a little bit of kissing, but it wasn’t nearly as important as the friendship and character growth. That one speech Etta made at her audition in the end…I don’t even have the words to describe how it made me feel. I’ve been doing theatre for years and Etta got to the heart of why I love it so much. The book dealt with so many difficult subjects without ever feeling like a lecture and everything was handled very well.
2) Please Remain Calm by Courtney Summers
Brief Summary: A continuation of This is Not a Test. Zombies. Feelings. I AM NOT EVEN A LITTLE CALM.
My Thoughts: I didn’t love this quite as much as This is Not a Test, but as always, Courtney Summers’ writing was beautiful and broke my heart into a thousand tiny pieces. Courtney Summers really does not mess around when it comes to making things dark. I would have liked to hear more from Sloane, but at the same time, I loved getting to know Rhys a little better. Also, that ending was unsatisfying in the best way possible.
3) Half Lies by Sally Green
Brief Summary: Some background on Gabriel’s sister before Half Bad.
My Thoughts: I feel like this novella could have been longer and more fleshed out; it’s kind of hard to care about the main character’s forbidden romance when the love interest has no personality to speak of. The end of the book also falls into a trope I am really, really sick of seeing in my media. Still, I liked Michele, and her relationship with Gabriel made me feel things.
4) Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Brief Summary: Dystopialand where love is considered a disease.
My Thoughts: Other than Lauren Oliver’s writing, which is lovely, there was almost nothing about this book distinguishing it from your average dystopia. The characters and the main romance felt so typical that I mostly wasn’t very invested. One thing I did appreciate was Lauren Oliver’s focus on Hana and Lena’s friendship; I hope that continues throughout the series. Despite its flaws, the book did keep my interest enough that I might read the next one.
5) Silent Alarm by Jennifer Banash
Brief Summary: Alys deals with the fallout of a school shooting in which her brother was the shooter.
My Thoughts: The author treats this messy and complicated situation with the respect it deserves. Alys’s love for her brother, her confusion and anger and grief at what he did, her world falling apart as she watches–everything came through clearly and painfully. I love the writing–the long sentences and italicized memories that Alys doesn’t want to admit to herself. One thing I appreciated: we never really learn why Alys’s brother did what he did. We get bits and pieces, but in the end, that’s not what the story is about. Even in the end, Alys is just beginning to recover, but there’s hope.
6) The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
Brief Summary: A twelve-year-old girl visits Fairyland and has adventures.
My Thoughts: Catherynne Valente’s writing is every bit as beautiful as I expected, but I didn’t love the story quite as much as I wanted to; something about its whimsical quality stopped me from feeling fully connected to the events. Still, it was a fun book that brought back childhood memories, the ending is amazing, and I will probably continue with the series.
7) Emma by Jane Austen
Brief Summary: Emma Woodhouse tries to find matches for her friends, with very interesting results.
My Thoughts: I think this is my favorite Jane Austen book of the three I’ve read so far. Emma is an excellent flawed heroine, and Jane Austen’s writing is as amazing as always.
8) The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas
Brief Summary: Celaena Sardothien’s life before the events of Throne of Glass.
My Thoughts: This book reminded me exactly how emotional I am about Celaena. The ending gave me so many chills. (“I am Celaena Sardothien, and I will not be afraid.”) Also, don’t talk to me about Sam Cortland. Ever.
9) Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee
Brief Summary: Two teenage girls disguise themselves as boys and travel the Oregon trail with a group of cowboys.
My Thoughts: This is one I’d been looking forward to for a while, and it did not disappoint. Things I loved: the very strong friendship that develops between Sammy and Andy, the resourcefulness of the two main characters, the handling of racism, and the sense of fun and adventure that flowed through this book despite occasional bittersweet moments.
10) The Lost Herondale by Cassandra Clare and Robin Wasserman
Brief Summary: More of Simon’s adventures at the Shadowhunter Academy.
My Thoughts: This was okay, I guess? Not as much fun as the first one, and to be honest I don’t remember 90% of what happened, and what I do remember is mostly rehashing themes that were already discussed multiple times in the books. Still, it was enjoyable enough, and I appreciated the resident Mean Girl being humanized. Also, Catarina Loss appreciation everything.
11) Vicious by V. E. Schwab
Brief Summary: Victor and Eli conduct a series of experiments regarding superpowers, and something goes terribly wrong. Years later, Victor wants revenge.
My Thoughts: As twisted and fascinating of a ride as I expected. Once I started reading this book, I couldn’t stop. The author does an amazing job creating incredibly messed up characters and building up the tension. I will definitely be reading more of her books in the future.
12) Talon by Julie Kagawa
Brief Summary: Dragons live in disguise in the human world. The Order of St. George hunts dragons. Time for some forbidden love!
My Thoughts: I actually DNF’d this one. Even though I found the idea of the world interesting and a couple of scenes made me feel things, the characters did not grab my interest at all, and I mostly just rolled my eyes at the love triangle that took up most of the story.
13) The Turn of the Story by Sarah Rees Brennan
Brief Summary: Elliot Schafer goes to a magic school in a different world, where he makes many sarcastic comments, is not pleased with the general violence of things, and undergoes an amazing character growth arc that makes me feel things.
My Thoughts: Another reread, and I loved this even more than I did the first time! Reading it all at once instead of spread out over a few months really gave me an appreciation for how much the three main characters grew, and how amazing their friendship was. Sarah Rees Brennan is amazing (I wonder how many times I’ve said this on here). This is the kind of story that alternates between being absolutely hilarious and subverting various fantasy tropes and then turning around and punching you in the gut. In other news, I deeply relate to Elliot even though my personality is nearly the exact opposite of his. After reading this, you’ll also want to read Wings in the Morning, found in the Monstrous Affections anthology.
14) Life Before Legend by Marie Lu
Brief Summary: Two short stories about the lives of June and Day when they were younger.
My Thoughts: This didn’t really tell me anything new and I don’t remember much about the actual events of the stories two weeks later, but I did love seeing more of June’s relationship with Metias in the second story; I always felt like what happened to him in the first book didn’t hit me hard enough since I barely knew him then, so this was good to see. Not required reading for Legend fans, but there’s nothing wrong with it, either.
15) Half Wild by Sally Green
Brief Summary: Nathan meets some allies who want to fight against the council of white witches. Also, love triangle drama and father-son bonding time.
My Thoughts: This had the same weaknesses and strengths as the first book: the slow pace and somewhat underdeveloped secondary characters for weaknesses, and the personal immediate writing style, intense emotions, and surprises for strength. In particular, I loved: watching Nathan’s relationship with Gabriel develop (keep telling yourself he’s just your best friend, Nathan. keep telling yourself that.), getting to know Marcus better (he felt like an actual character here, and there were times when I teared up over him), the audiobook narration, and the powerful ending that made me want the final book right away.
Whew I just had finals and I was basically swamped, aka I did not read nearly as much as dear Polina up there. But I did have some great titles this month and I’m super excited to share them with you!
1) The Unbound by Victoria Schwab
Brief Summary: Mackenzie can’t stop having dreams about the boy she was forced to kill, and now she’s not sure where reality and dreams collide.
My Thoughts: Holy smokes this book was unbelievable! Talk about twists and turns that I never in a thousand years would have seen coming! I love this series so much and I love Victoria Schwab so so much
2) Leave The Window Open by Victoria Schwab
Brief Summary: Short story that takes place after the events of The Unbound.
My Thoughts: The important thing about this is just simply Wesley’s real name. Lets be totally honest here. Also it was cute and adorable and I grinned forever and ever. And I need a third book.
3) The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey
Brief Summary: Two worlds at war for so long they hardly remember what their fighting for. But when Echo gets news of information of a legendary item to end the war she knows she has to set off after it.
My Thoughts: Ugh okay so my summary sucked, big time, but I really loved this book! Like yes it’s related to some series that I can totally see the similarities, but this book reminded me of my favorite books from my teen years and for that reason alone it’s become a very quick favorite
Read the Full Review Here!
4) Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Brief Summary: Simon is trying to figure out who he is in life, and trying to figure out how to convince the boy he’s falling in love with to meet him in person.
My Thoughts: Oh my god this book was the cutest thing I’ve read in a very very long time. I was left smiling at the end of the book like you wouldn’t even believe. I just loved it. And you need it.
5) Ten Thousand Skies Above You by Claudia Gray
Brief Summary: Second book in the Firebird series with more about Marguerite and the gang.
My Thoughts: Um, well I’m not so sure how much I can say since this one doesn’t come out till…y’know, November. So I’m just gonna leave it as omg it was so good I can’t wait for you guys to read it~
6) I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest
Brief Summary: May is convinced that her best friend is still alive, and she can prove it. The information she needs to find her is all within the pages of the online coming Princess X.
My Thoughts: This book I read during finals, and it was the perfect balance of cute and lighthearted. All of it wrapped up with a great mystery that kept me highly intrigued.