The last couple months I’ve been doing really well as far as reading goes and kind of expected my pace to slow down, which is why I didn’t post a bi-weekly wrap-up this month. Buuuut, I apparently didn’t really realize how many books I was reading because it did turn out to be a semi-significant number: 15! I tried to take a step back from the graphic novels this month, but I still read 5. So, basically, I didn’t anticipate anything really well. Anyway, let’s get started shall we?
1. The Orphan Queen, Jodi Meadows
Full review here. Basically, I loved this book. Jodi Meadows is seriously talented and I recommend her to fans of Sarah J Maas (let’s face it, who isn’t?) or who just want something unique. What I love about her style is that it appears to be cliche, but it actually takes typical plot devices and twists them into something just…better. 4.5 stars.
2. The Wicked Will Rise, Danielle Paige
Full review here. I gave this book a high rating mostly because of the potential it had. What kept it from being as good as the first book was the fact that it felt very much like a filler novel. Almost like a novella and the ideas weren’t as fleshed out as they could have been. Which is a shame, because it could have been truly epic. As it was, though, it left me wanting more in both good and bad ways. Will I be reading the next one? Of course! Amy is still bad ass and I love the twisted world of Oz. 4 stars.
3. The Glass Arrow, Kristen Simmons
Full review here. So this is a YA novel loosely based on The Handmaid’s Tale. Having never read that one, though, I can’t say how accurate that is. If they are at all similar, though, I’m going to have to add it to the top of my TBR because this book was stellar. I liked that Aya was a strong character but that the scope of the book was minimal. She was made more realistic by the fact that she didn’t set out to change the world, but rather to change hers. That’s the way things work. One person does not change the entirety of a culture, but they can set some things in motion by being examples to others. I also really enjoyed that this was a stand-alone because it was well-rounded and though I did feel a little sad at its ending, it made sense. 4.75 stars.
4. A Court of Thorns and Roses, Sarah J Maas
Full incoherent review here. Now that I’ve had a couple weeks to gather my thoughts on this book I have some difficult things to admit. Was it as good as Throne of Glass? No, it wasn’t. Did I love the Feyre as much as Celaena? I did not. BUT, it was still amazing. Because that’s just the way Maas rolls. While Tamlin and Feyre fell a little flat for me, I feel that Feyre will become more developed in the next book and if the next one heads in the direction I feel it will, Tamlin will become less relevant anyway. This book was super fast-paced — so much so that it could have been a stand alone aside from a few loose ends left by the end of the book. And you know what? I liked that. It had it’s own story and it was a nice introduction into the Fey world before things get crazy in the next books. 5 stars.
5. Hausfrau, Jill Alexander Essbaum
I initially added this book to my Goodreads TBR based purely on the cover. No shame. It’s still one of the most gorgeous covers I’ve seen. And the book was splendid as well. I thought it would be one of those books that took me a week to finally get through, but (as per usual) I was wrong. I flew through this book and had trouble putting it down. It wasn’t action-packed and wasn’t super exciting, but it was thought-provoking and intuitive. Read this for the writing, because it is abundantly apparent that Essbaum is an experienced poet. And the final line was like a punch in the face in the best way possible. Trigger warnings for abuse and depression, though. So if those things sit the wrong way with you, I really don’t recommend it. I found it’s depiction of depression to be insightful. I have multiple friends who battle depression to varying degrees and this book helped me see how they might feel. 4 stars.
6. Boxers, Gene Luen Yang
I’ve seen this all over the place and people generally seem to love it. I was kind of “eh” about it though. I enjoyed the fact that I wasn’t rooting for any particular side and that it showed you that both sides in a war do awful things. However, I wasn’t super attached to any of the characters and, to be honest, didn’t enjoy the art that much. 3 stars.
7. The Enchanted, Rene Denfeld
This book went in a direction that I didn’t expect. I figured it would be magic realism maybe? Maybe it was a little bit. Whatever. All I know is that I was surprised by the route the plot went and I loved this book. This, like Hausfrau, has a really unique and poetic style. And again, like Essbaum’s novel, it gave us an insight into mental disorders. The main character inspired so much sympathy in me and yet left me conflicted due to the horror of his crimes. Read this book for it’s writing. It’s short and I read it in one go. Just bite the bullet and do it. 4.5 stars.
8. Stephen King’s N., Marc Guggenheim
I’m up for reading most anything written by Stephen King. I’m pretty vocal about my love for him. But this graphic novel fell flat for me. True, it was originally a short story and it was merely adapted into a graphic novel. It probably should have stayed a story. Part of King’s talent is to write simply but vividly enough to convey the proper amount of horror in a given situation. In graphic novel form, that chilling tone is lost. I wasn’t scared at all and found the GN a little hard to follow. 3 stars.
9. Ragnar’s Daughter, Aliza Rudman
I won this in a Goodreads giveaway quite a while ago and only just now got around to it. It wasn’t the best book I’ve ever read, I’ll be honest. It definitely felt like a first attempt at a novel by a young author. I thought the main character was a little volatile and that the world and romantic aspects were a little underdeveloped. But, I give props for potential. If Rudman went back and maybe fleshed things out a bit more or perhaps upped the formality of this book, it could be amazing. Even so, I’d be happy to read the sequel. It was a really fast read and I did like the characters, even if they seemed a bit immature at times. 3 stars.
10. Sappho: A New Translation, Sappho, trans. by Mary Barnard
It’s hard to give a star-based rating to a book of poetry, but I’ll try anyway. I really enjoyed this little book. A lot of her poetry has been lost and most of what’s left is just fragments, but they’re still lovely to read. I actually tabbed this book (something I rarely do), and was marking almost every other page for poems/snippets I loved. I do recommend this one to anyone trying to get into poetry! 4 stars.
11. Deadly Class, Rick Remender
Yet another graphic novel I’ve seen all over the place. And yet another I was disappointed by. Honestly, I kind of hated all of the characters. I assume that’s part of the point, but even that won’t sway my rating of this one. The art was really good, however, and it’s an interesting story! Beware of drug-use and sex and violence. If those aren’t your thing (though, really, what graphic novel doesn’t have those nowadays), then I don’t recommend it. 3 stars.
12. October Faction Vol. 1, Steve Niles
I got this as a galley from Netgalley, so one of my main issues may not be with the actual graphic novel. My biggest problem was the fact that the art was way too dark. I could hardly discern what was going on. So maybe it was just a problem with the galley I got? I’m not sure. What little I could see of the art was good, though. I did also take issue with the pacing and just overall exposition. It jumped around and was pretty hard to follow and not a lot was explained. Points for unique story, though! 3 stars.
13. Bodies, Si Spencer
Another galley from Netgalley. This was one of the few reads I’ve ever given 1 star. Seriously, guys, it was terrible. It’s a shame because it could have been really cool. The art was alright, but nothing special, but the main problem was the fact that it made no sense whatsoever. I could follow the plot for about three pages and then it would jump to something else and I’d have to start all over. It felt like it was supposed to have some grand message but if it did, it was completely and utterly lost on me. I feel bad for giving such a bad review, but it’s the truth. 1 star.
14. Beautiful Ruins, Jess Walter
I’ve seen this book around for years and I’ve always wanted to read it, but always kind of held back for whatever reason. I thought it would remind me a bit of Under the Tuscan Sun or even Eat Pray Love, and in some ways it did. But saying it was like those also kind of does it a disservice. Don’t get me wrong, I love both of the others, but Beautiful Ruins is it’s own thing. It covers generations and thousands of miles and follows so many characters and it’s just lovely. Having grown up watching movies from the 50s and 60s, I loved knowing all the movie stars mentioned and having some idea of the way things worked back then. And I liked that it was realistic in saying that happily endings don’t always happen — or at least they change. Dreams don’t always come true, but that doesn’t mean you can’t live a happy and fulfilled life. 4.5 stars.
15. Bell Weather, Dennis Mahoney
This was another ARC I won in a giveaway and decided to knock off my TBR. It’s being released July 7th, so be sure to keep an eye out for it! Because, yes, I recommend this book. It was one of those rare books where the world is perhaps not as well-developed as it should be and where the romantic interest just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, and it still managed to be a really good read! We’re given just enough information to know that this world is different from ours and it piques your interest so that you want to know more. That we’re denied that is kind of frustrating, but understandable. It’s not really a mark against the book, but more illustrative of how good it is. I knocked off a star because, like I said, the romantic bits didn’t make a whole lot of sense, and because I didn’t feel like the characters were appealing people. Which sounds bad, but isn’t actually that distracting. So make sure to pick this book up, guys! 4 stars
Well there you have it. I don’t expect anyone to get to the end of this, frankly, but I had fun writing it nonetheless! Hope you’re all having a good week! 🙂