June 2015 Wrap-Up

Polina

1-5) The Princess Diaries (1-5) by Meg Cabot
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Brief Summary: Mia must deal with the fact that she is the princess of Genovia, as well as your garden-variety high school drama.
My Thoughts: I’m rereading these books so that I can get to the new book that Meg Cabot released this year! So far, they’re ridiculously fun. I’m listening to the audiobooks, and I’ve just been flying through them all months. Mia’s voice is so funny and overly dramatic and human and so persistently her. I have to say that books 4-5 aren’t as good at books 1-3. The plots of both books revolve around problems that could be resolved in two seconds if Mia just TALKED to the people involved, and after a while Mia’s constant complaining about her life and over-exaggerating everything that happens gets a little tiresome. I can’t get too mad at her, though; if I’d kept diaries in high school, they would be exactly like hers, probably worse. Also, (1) Michael Moscovitz is literally the perfect man, and (2) I’m appreciating the Buffy references a lot on this reread.
Rating: 4/5 for books 1-3, 3/5 for books 4-5

6) A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
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Brief Summary: Beauty and the Beast…with fairies!
My Thoughts: I’ll be honest; I didn’t love this book as much as most people did. Feyre was an all right protagonist, but I never really clicked with her, and there were points where I found her decisions frustrating. I never clicked with the romance either; I cared more about Feyre’s friendship with Lucien than her relationship with either love interest. There was also a certain victim-blame-y scene that left a bad taste in my mouth. What did I love? I loved the history of the world; the backstory of all the fae in the book was fascinating. I loved Feyre’s relationship with her sisters, and, as I’ve already mentioned, with Lucien. The last 100 pages of the book were exciting, and the story left off in a place that made me want to continue with the series. I feel like this mini-review is giving the impression that I liked the book less than I did, but I did like it. I just wasn’t as in love as I expected to be.
Rating: 3.75/5

7Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
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Brief Summary: A teenage girl who is obsessed with wolves. A werewolf who transforms when the whether is cold. It’s romance time!
My Thoughts: The best thing I can say about this book is that it reminded me that authors can grow. Because, wow, the same person who wrote The Raven Cycle and The Scorpio Races had at some point in the past written this book. For the most part, I was extremely bored. Shiver focuses mostly on the romance between Sam and Grace, and while there are cute moments, the relationship is boring and insta-love-filled and after a certain point I was sick of them. The writing was good (though not TSR/TRC good) and I liked some of the secondary characters enough that I’m considering reading the sequels, but other than that I didn’t really care. Sorry, Maggie Stiefvater. You’re still my one of my favorites.
Rating: 2/5

8) All the Rage by Courtney Summers
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Brief Summary: I’ll just quote Courtney Summers here: “All the Rage is a novel that examines rape culture and it is by no means a comfortable read and it is not supposed to be.” (trigger warning for rape, obviously)
My Thoughts: Courtney Summers is such an amazing writer. Nearly every page had a sentence or two that sent a shiver down my spine. I love how human her characters are, both in the good ways and the bad ways. I love that she takes the subject of rape and rape culture and is just…brutally, painfully honest with it. I love the recurring motif of make-up as armor. I…don’t love, exactly, but appreciate how much this book made me hate people; so many people who just dismissed Romy and accused her of creating problems for herself and were terrible in a way that real people are terrible. I love how this book does not pull punches; it’s as raw and powerful as it needs to be.
Rating: 4.5/5

9) The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker
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Brief Summary: A witch hunter gets arrested for witchcraft, is rescued by a group of witches, gets involved in their plans, and, of course, falls in love.
My Thoughts: This book was one of my most anticipated releases for the summer, and I was really disappointed. I was expecting something complex and action-packed and orginal, with lots of twists and painful internal conflict, but this just felt like a typical fantasy book. Most of the main characters, including Love Interests #1 and#2, came across as very two-dimensional. Elizabeth was slightly better; while I was frustrated with her seemingly blind loyalty in the beginning, I have to admit that the reasons behind it were written in a believable way, as was her eventual growth. However, I wish we’d gotten to see more of her being awesome earlier in the book. The first two thirds dragged a lot. The book did pick up towards the end, mostly due to (a) Fifer, a tough, confident witch who doesn’t like Elizabeth at first but eventually grudgingly befriends her, (b) Schuyler, her snarky undead boyfriend, and (c) the fact that things are actually happening.
Rating: 2.5/5

10) Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone
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Brief Summary: Popular girl with OCD finds a place for herself in a secret poetry group.
My Thoughts: I really enjoyed this one! The characters all felt human, Sam’s mental illness was handled very well, and her growth was moving and believable. It also made me nostalgic for my own poetry club back in high school.
Rating: 4/5
Read the full review here!

11-12) The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson/The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson
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Brief Summary: Brandon Sanderson takes everything you thought would happen and turns it into an amazing plot twist that punches you in the face.
My Thoughts: I’m so glad I finally read the Mistborn trilogy! The few problems I had (some repetitive dialogue, the whole only-one-well-developed-female-character-per-series things) were by far outweighed by the fantastic character development, the unique world and magic system, and Brandon Sanderson’s previously mentioned ability to punch me in the face with plot twists. I can tell this is the beginning of a beautiful new obsession. Also, Vin is for sure one of my favorite characters that I’ve met this year.
Rating: 5/5

13) Oscar Wilde by Richard Ellman
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Brief Summary: A biography of Oscar Wilde. (That’s right, I read nonfiction sometimes!)
My Thoughts: This took me two months to read. It was very long and dense, but interesting. It gave me an extremely detailed picture of Oscar Wilde–both his work and public image, and the more human side of him. If you’ve read The Picture of Dorian Gray or any of Wilde’s plays and are interested in knowing more about him, I highly suggest picking this up.
no rating because I feel a little strange rating nonfiction

14) Memory by Margaret Mahy
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Brief Summary: Ninteen-year-old Jonny is looking for some answers about his sister’s death and ends up in the house of an old woman with Alzheimer’s.
My Thoughts: I didn’t love this one as much as I loved The Changeover. The writing is amazing, and the book deals with some really strong themes, but there was barely any plot and none of the characters grabbed me. An objectively good book, but not really for me.
Rating: 3/5

15) Trickster’s Choice by Tamora Pierce
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Brief Summary: After an encounter with a god, Aly gets involved with the politics of the Copper Isles and uses her spying skills to protect two girls in line for the throne.
My Thoughts: Not my favorite of Tamora Pierce’s books. Aly is a fun character to follow, but her characterization is a bit too simple to carry the book for me, and often things go too easily for her. But I did like the politics, and the worldbuilding, and Sarai and Dove. And hey, it’s Tamora Pierce; just being in that world again is great for me.
Rating: 3/5

16) The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
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Brief Summary: 1001 Nights, with magic, hate-to-love relationships, and beautiful writing.
My Thoughts: I feel like I’m going to like this book a lot better once I reread it in book form. This time, I listened to the audiobook, and the narration wasn’t terrible, but it still didn’t really work for me. I could tell the book was objectively amazing, but some part of it never clicked. I also wasn’t very interested in the chapters that focused on Tariq; every time he showed up, I just wanted to go back to Shazi and Khalid. But the writing was some of the strongest I had seen in a long time, and the relationship development made me very emotional. I can’t wait to read the second book.
Rating: 4.5/5

17) Legend: the Graphic Novel by Marie Lu
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Brief Summary: June, the Republic’s top prodigy, is assigned to hunt down Day, the most wanted criminal. Now with art!
My Thoughts: I’m not sure how much I would have enjoyed this if I hadn’t read the book first, since the cutting of some scenes made the story feel very rushed. But I have read the book, so I was mostly happy to visit the world again, and the art was quite good.

18) The Diviners by Libba Bray
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Brief Summary: What Sondra said.
My Thoughts: I finally revisited this book to prepare myself for Lair of Dreams, and I loved it just as much as I did the first time. The combination of 1920s and creepiness makes for an amazing atmosphere, and the many different characters whose paths intertwine are all excellent. A must-read if you’re a fan of that era, or of being creeped out, or just of really solid characterization and large ensemble casts. I love all three, so obviously, I loved this book.
Rating: 5/5

19) Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge
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Brief Summary: Female anti-heroes and dark fairy-tale retellings are MY FAVORITE.
My Thoughts: Rosamund Hodge is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. Her books feature complex characters, unique and fascinating worlds, and beautiful writing. This book is no exception. All the characters have their secrets and complicated motivations that make their interactions interesting, and the world is magical and terrifying (though I would have liked more explanations of certain elements). I especially loved Rachelle, our heroine with a dark past and a huge capacity for determination and survival. I don’t even know where to start with freaking out about this book, so I’ll just leave it at that until I write my full review.
Rating: 5/5

 

Sondra

1) Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
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Brief Summary: Every single amazing deep space thing that could possibly happen thrown into one novel that’s written like a file just got dropped on your desk.
My Thoughts: ALOWEIRHALWEIRYHASDLKAHWELISDJFLKHDSF My love for this book knows no bounds. None. It’s been a month since I read this book and I can’t stop thinking about it or talking about it, or telling random people on twitter “NO REALLY READ IT.” so like…if you haven’t preordered this book just yet? Do it now. Please. I beg you. Do it.
Rating: 6/5

2) Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
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Brief Summary: Nimona is a shape changer with dreams to be a super villain in a world that’s both high fantasy and high tech.
My Thoughts: This was apparently posted online first, and while I missed out on it then, reading it now was wonderful. I can only imagine there was quite a bit of a fandom when it was originally posted, it seems like that sort of book. I’d read manga before but not a true graphic novel. It was really adorable and cute. Though I kinda wish there had been more at the end.
Rating: 4/5
Read the full review here!

3) Rebound by Noelle August
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Brief Summary: Two more minor characters in Boomerang become the main focus of this one. Also lots of cuteness.
My Thoughts: Dear lord I’m bad at these summaries. Anyway, Rebound picked up after Boomerang but with two different characters, I really actually liked this one better than the first one? Like It was adorable and wonderful. I read it in one day, but it was also a very emotionally crazy day for myself…So while I remember what happened and big plot points, and I remember loving it, I can’t really remember a lot of actual details, which means there’s probably a reread in my future.
Rating: 4.5/5

4) Princess in Black by Shannon Hale
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Brief Summary: Princess Magnolia lives a double life, both as the princess, and the Princess in Black, the one who fights monsters. But everyone knows Princesses don’t wear black, don’t they?
My Thoughts: I’d been following Shannon Hale online for a while, and I’d seen her post about this kids book, and so when I saw it at the library I couldn’t resist it. Oh my god the cuteness. Like I enjoyed this kids book a lot, I then made my mother and sister read it and they both totally loved it. I’m already planning to get this book for my parents Goddaughter this Christmas. All around an A+ kids book with a GREAT message for girls!
Rating: 4/5

5) The Diviners by Libba Bray
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Brief Summary: The 1920s come to life on the pages, but when murders break out and the murderer isn’t quite as corporeal as some would think…well then it comes to rest on some teens with amazing powers to try and get this one solved.
My Thoughts: So my summary kinda sounds like a Scooby-Doo episode but this book is so far from that. It’s dark, and deep, and really spine chilling. It is without a doubt in my all time favorites. Yes, it’s a monster book to read through, yes it’s got so much plot that you have to keep up. But it never really feels like a monster of a book to keep up with. It feels just like a story should. But, ah, you might not want to read this one with the lights off.
Rating: 5/5
Read the full review here! 

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