Sunday, April 10, 2016

March 2016 Wrap-Up

Well dear readers, you can take the girl out of college, but you can't remove the college procrastination mentality out of the girl. I've been putting this post off, partly because of work exhaustion and partly because I read so many books in March. This month, work was kind of crazy and I used every bit of spare time there escaping into the worlds of books just to maintain my sanity. So basically this means you should grab yourself a drink, a snack, and get ready for one long wrap-up post.
  • Remembrance by Meg Cabot

This book was middle school Penny's dream and in all honesty, it didn't let me down. For those that don't know, Remembrance is the newest and last book in Meg Cabot's Mediator series, which follows Suze, a woman who can see ghosts and basically helps them with their unfinished business. This book deals with Suze's engagement to her boyfriend/ex-ghost, Jesse, her new position at her old school, and the return of an old enemy. Then throw in the powerful ghost of a child and you have yourself an action packed story. Remembrance has all of the elements from the ya series that I love, but it's written for a more adult audience. I liked returning to old characters and I kind of wish there were more books to the series.

  • Gigi, Julie de Carneilhan, and Chance Acquaintances: Three Short Novels by Colette

Now on to the classic book of the month or shall I say novellas of the month. Ever since I watched the movie, Gigi, starring Leslie Caron, I wanted to read the source material. I think this must be a problem of all book lovers who also like to watch movies. As expected, I really enjoyed Gigi and it felt like the plot of the movie faithfully reflected the story. The other two novellas just fell flat for me and they dealt with essentially the same story. Each center around women whose lives are unbalanced by their husbands. In the end, the two stories were just kind of boring.

  • Born of Deception (Born of Illusion #2) by Teri Brown

Born of Deception is the second book in a series that stars Anna Van Housen, a magician with actual powers. After the events of the previous book, Anna has a headlining spot in a vaudeville tour and moves to London. There she can be near her romantic interest, Cole, and investigate a society of people who have powers like herself. Of course all of that is ruined by murders.

All in all, I thought this story was an ok follow-up to the first book. Anna's conflict with her mother is nonexistent in this book, so course the gap is filled with the classic ya cliche: a love triangle. It took up way too much of the story and bogged everything down. It made what could have been a decent book, just average.

  • A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2) by V.E. Schwab

Victoria Schwab is slowly becoming one of my favorite authors and A Gathering of Shadows might just push my decision over the edge. This book is the second in a series that takes place in a world with multiple London's, most of which are cut off from magic. Kell is one of the few Antaris aka magicians that can travel between the different versions of London. In the second book, Kell has to deal with the repercussions of a decision he made to save his brother/the prince. Not to mention he runs into Delilah Bard during a magical tournament know as the Essen Tasch.

All I have to say is that this series improved just like I hoped it would when I read the first book. In my review of the first book, my one criticism was that it was heavy on the world building and lacked a good deal of character development. Let's just say that the second book remedied that. Here Kell and Lila's characters are really developed and they have some great interactions with each other. Combine that with the already well established world and you have the perfect recipe for a great book. All I can say is that I'm disappointed that I have to wait for the next book in the series.  

  • The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

The Wrath and the Dawn is a retelling of One Thousand and One Nights with the usual ya romance twist. I'm going to be honest here and say that this book wins the guilty pleasure read of the year award and the year isn't even half over yet. I mean the logical part of me should hate this book.

The story centers on the king, Khalid, who marries women and has them executed on their wedding night. Everything changes when one of those women is Shahrzad's best friend.  Shahrzad decides to seek revenge and volunteers herself to be the king's next bride. Our protagonist gains extra special snowflake points because she tells a story to the king and withholds the ending to convince him to let her live another night. Of course the story develops into a romance and touches on the reason why the king murdered all of those women. It's gushy, it's sappy, and you should not be supporting a romance between an essentially helpless woman and a powerful man with a reputation for murder. I hate the premise and yet I read the book all the way through and I might just read the sequel. I'm hoping the second book will really develop Shahrzad's character. Until then...
  • The Moth and the Flame (The Wrath and the Dawn #0.25) by Renee Ahdieh

Once I finished The Wrath and the Dawn, I decided to read this novella/prequel, which expands upon the romance between the handmaiden, Despina, and the captain of the guard, Jalal, both of which are secondary characters in the first book. This really didn't add much to the first book. My advice is if you liked the first book, you will enjoy this. If you thought the first book was ok, you could easily skip this novella.

  • In Real Life by Jessica Love

About halfway through the month, I felt the slump starting to set in...the dreaded reading slump. The only way to combat that state of mind is reading the fluffiest ya contemporary romance and that's exactly what In Real Life happens to be. This book isn't original, in fact, it's so riddled with cliches I'm convinced I could have written this book in one finals week, caffeine fueled night.

The story is basic: Hannah and Nick have been online friends for a long time, until Hannah decides that maybe Nick could be something more. She takes a road trip with her sister and best friend to surprise Nick, but GASP has he kept one whopping secret from her. Wanna guess what that secret is? I bet you already know if you're at all familiar with romantic cliches. In Real Life: All Fluff, No Complexity.

  • The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

The Walls Around Us is one of those books that just sort of flew under my radar until one of my favorite booktubers mentioned it in a recent video. I'm glad that I decided to check it out. Suma's book is one of those rare genre bending stories. It's a young adult story with a little bit of mystery, horror, and the paranormal.

The narrative is told from the perspective of two girls, one in the past and one in the present. Violet is a ballerina dancer about ready to start her life at a prestigious performing arts college and is giving her last performance before getting ready to leave. The second girl, Amber,  lives in the Aurora Hills juvenile detention center and shares the day to day lives of the girls that live there. Both girls are connected to each other by Orianna, Violet's friend and Amber's roommate. The story just sort of unfolds as you read it all with its many genre elements. This has to be one of the better stand-alone novels I've read this year.

  • Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell

When I found out that Rainbow Rowell wrote a novella for World Book Day, I knew I had to read it immediately. I still wanted to read it even after I learned it had to do with Star Wars and I'm about as far from a Star Wars fan as you can possibly imagine. The best part about this book is that you don't have to be a fan to get some enjoyment out of the reading experience.

The story is basically about Elena, who decides to join the line in front of her local theater to see the new Star Wars movie. The story follows her and the other people in the line. Of course there is the hint of a burgeoning romance between her and one of the guys in the line. The whole story is humorous, sweet, and leaves you wishing this were the start of a full length novel.

  • Every Day by David Levithan

I'm going to be a little honest and say that I was kind of hesitant to read this book despite its interesting premise. When I read Will Grayson, Will Grayson, which Levithan wrote with John Green I didn't really like the bits written by Levithan. I wasn't a huge fan of his writing style. I took a chance with this book and I'm not quite sure if it payed off.

The summary of this story is simple: A, our protagonist, wakes up in the body of a different person each day. Everything changes when he occupies the body of Rhiannon's boyfriend and falls in love with her. When I say "falls in love," what I mean is insta-love. He spends one day with her and then spends the rest of the book creepily stalking her and misuses the bodies and lives he overtakes to do so. I felt like this premise could have gone somewhere awesome, but sadly gets bogged down by the childishness of the romance.
  • A Million Suns (Across the Universe #2) by Beth Revis

Sometime this past month, I was scrolling through my Goodreads profile and found this book on my TBR list. I remember reading the first book, Across the Universe, in high school. This book was released just as the big boom in ya sci-fi dystopian started. At that time, I read it, enjoyed it, and then promptly forgot about the series in college. Well, I decided to pick it up again and I'm not sure that was the best decision.

A Million Suns is the second book in the series set in a futuristic world where a group of people from Earth were sent on the ship, Godspeed, to find another Earth-like planet and colonize it. Our two main characters are Amy, an Earth girl who was cryogenically frozen with her family, but unfrozen before the ship reached the new planet, and Elder, the ship's current leader.

What sucks about this book is that is has a really fantastic premise that is completely spoiled by the main characters. I mean the world deals with the dynamics of forming a self sustaining society on a spaceship and all the difficulties and manipulations that occur as a result. The only problem is the main characters, Amy and Elder, are so flat and so boring. Their romance clogs the story and diverts attention away from what could have been a cool sci-fi series.
  • Shades of Earth (Across the Universe #3) by Beth Revis

I decided to finish the series out of morbid curiosity. I wanted to see how Beth Revis would expand upon the world she already created. I have to say that again it seemed like a great story ruined by the two main characters.

In Shades of Earth, members from the ship, Godspeed, decide to finally leave the safety of the ship in order to discover all the new Earth-like planet has to offer. They unfreeze everyone chosen from Earth and embark on discovering the new planet. Conflicts between the ship born and Earth born arise, which are only complicated by the fact that people are starting to mysteriously disappear and show up again murdered. A story about the possible caveats of a technologically advanced society and the influence of powerful corporations is diluted with the immature ya romance. I say Amy and Elder should have been the first two characters to go.   
  • Free Four: Tobias Tells the Divergent Knife-Throwing Scene (Divergent #1.5) by Veronica Roth

Again near the end of the month I decided to let morbid curiosity get the better of me. When I was grocery shopping, I saw the extra book Veronica Roth released, Four, which is a collection of the novellas attached to the Divergent series, most of which narrated by Four. I decided to read one of those novellas just to see if I would at all be interested in reading the whole book. Turns out, I wasn't. This novella, as you can tell from the title, tells the knife throwing scene from Four's perspective. For being the romantic interest in a trilogy, Four has a pretty bland narration. You don't learn anything new that you didn't already know when you read the scene in Divergent. 

Whoa was that quite the wrap-up or what?! I do have to say that all of that reading was worth it. I wish I could keep up this pace. I mean at that rate, I wouldn't even have a TBR. A reader can dream, right? Well I hope this long list influenced your next reading choice. Now I should probably get back to reading or April will look pitiful in comparison to March.