Saturday, May 31, 2014

Hedgie's Must Reads: May 2014

Spring is behind us and summer is here! Yay! Summer equals beautiful days and reading outside with lemonade and apples! Not that Hedgie really cares to read outside; he doesn't like the sun, and he only has an interest in covering himself in dirt. Silly man. ;-) May was a pretty good reading month for us. I made May the month where I caught up on sequels that have been sitting on my shelf for a while. It. . . .sort of happened. But I also started a lot of new series. So, here's what we read!
May Reading Wrap-Up

The Falconer by Elizabeth May (3/5)
The first book in a planned trilogy. In 1844 Edinburgh, Aileana is expected to attend balls, teas, and outings while trying to attract the attention of a possible husband. But at night, she discards her society persona and goes hunting. For faeries. Because a faery killed her mother, and she wants revenge. I didn't expect this book to be as good as it was. Aileana wasn't totally annoying, the love triangle was not very strong, and I liked both of the men for who they were. Kiaran shouldn't have been a love interest, but he was an interesting character. Added onto that were some seriously awesome steampunk gadgets and downright scary fae. Girl-read, seventeen-and-up, fans of steampunk and faery fiction.

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau (3/5)
Book #1 in a trilogy. Many years in the future, the world has been scorched dry by a devastating war that had no winners. Humankind is trying to carve out a living in this new and hostile terrain, and in order to secure their survival, intelligent and talented teens are selected every year to undergo The Testing - to train them as future leaders of the United Commonwealth. Cia is one of these teens, along with three others from her colony. But The Testing is not what everyone thought it was, and Cia will have to rely on herself to get through it alive. It has echoes of The Hunger Games, and the character and world building were underdeveloped. But it was a fun, fast read with some interesting twists. Girl-and-guy read, sixteen-and-up, fans of dystopian.

The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill by Megan Frazer Blakemore (3/5)
In sleepy Maple Hill, not much happens to Hazel Kaplansky - a girl who thrives off of detective novels like Nancy Drew and Sherlock Holmes. But this is McCarthy-era America, and when rumors of Russian spies begin to swirl around Maple Hill, Hazel takes it on herself to find a suspect. And suspicious Paul Jones - the grave digger - is the perfect culprit! This was a Middle Grade book that was mostly saved because of Hazel's very outgoing and says-what-she-thinks personality. She makes a lot of mistakes, but she was a riot. If it weren't for her, this would have been rather dull. It's meant for Middle Graders, but this will appeal more to adults.

Mouseheart by Lisa Fiedler (3/5)
Hopper is just an ordinary pet shop mouse, until the day he and his two siblings narrowly escape being turned into feeders for a kid's boa constrictor. Hopper is separated from his little brother and sister, and suddenly finds himself in an underground utopia for rats and rodents. Everything seems perfect, and with the prince rat's help, Hopper has a chance to start again. But Hopper can't ignore all of the cats that seem to live peacefully with the rats, and he simply can't shake his uneasy feeling. This was a surprisingly more realistic dystopian novel than a lot of YA I've read, and it has some shockingly creepy moments. I liked this first book in a planned series, but I wish I could have liked Hopper more. Girl-and-boy read, ten-and-up, fans of animal fiction like Redwall and the Warriors series.

May Best Reads

A Path Begins by J. A. White (4/5)
Book #1 in The Thickety series. Kara's mother was killed as a witch when Kara was just five years old. Now, years later, the villagers treat Kara and her brother Taff like nothing more than scum. Kara is terrified of developing her mother's gifts, and when she is drawn into the cursed woods surrounding the village - often called the Thickety - she finds a book of immense power that might have been her mother's. And that's just the beginning. This was a downright creepy Middle Grade read, full of magic and nightmarish creatures and tons of blood (we're talking torture scenes). As a young adult, I liked it. As a kid, it would have given me nightmares. Girl-and-guy read, thirteen-and-up, fans of dark fantasy.

The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen (4/5)
Book #3 in The Ascendance Trilogy. War has come to Carthya, and the odds are not in their favor. When Jaron learns that the king of Avenia has taken Imogen hostage, he knows it's probably a trap. But he can't leave her to that fate, and suddenly he finds himself so knee-deep in trouble that even his quick wit and blind luck may not be enough to save himself, the people he loves, and his country. Jaron/Sage is so massively humbled in this final installment that I was actually upset by it. Every hero should be tried and tested and even sometimes brought to the brink. I loved this book, but I also hated to see Jaron so broken. Girl-and-guy read, fourteen-and-up, great for fans of medieval settings, adventure, and fantasy (without the magic).

Oddfellow's Orphanage by Emily Winfield Martin (5/5)
Welcome to Oddfellow's Orphanage! A fantastic and whimsical place run by Bluebeard's much, much kinder younger brother; a place filled with orphaned children - and animals! - of all shapes a sizes. Delia, a mute orphaned albino girl, is the newest addition to the collection of odd characters, and with her as our guide, Readers are introduced to daily life at Oddfellow's Orphanage. We meet Hugo the always-hungry hedgehog, Ollie the onion-headed optimist, a family of dancing bears, and many others. This is an extremely short book, illustrated with gorgeous black-and-white pictures, and full of whimsy. Girl-and-boy read, terrific for little kids and parents looking for a new children's classic.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (5/5)
Book #1 in The Grisha trilogy. Alina is an orphan and has had no one to rely on except her best friend Mal. When she and Mal are sent to the mysterious and haunting Fold, where monsters who eat human flesh live, a hidden power is suddenly awakened in Alina. She is whisked away to train as a Grisha, for the Darkling believes her to be the answer to their country's salvation. This is a wonderful book that I was at first unsure about. But the world is amazing, the characters are great, and the Author handles the romance very well. Girl-and-guy read, seventeen-and-up, great for fans of fantasy and Russian-inspired worlds!

May Worst Reads

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas (2/5)
Book #2 in the Throne of Glass series. By winning the deadly competition, Celaena Sardothien has become the king's Champion. She does his bidding, killing anyone he tells her to. But Celaena is far from loyal to the tyrant who sits of the throne, and when she sets out on a quest to find the "source" of the king's power, the game just gets deadlier. I still don't like this series, but Crown of Midnight did have some truly epic moments. . . .when it wasn't focusing on the romance. This series has so much potential! And I'm willing to ride it through to see if maybe it will be realizes in the end. Girl-read, eighteen-and-up, fans of girl assassins and fantasy.

Absent by Katie Williams (2/5)
Paige was a normal, unpopular high school student until the day she fell off the room at her high school and died. Now she haunts its campus with two other student ghosts. And then she learns of a nasty rumor the popular girl is spreading about her death: that Paige jumped on purpose. When Paige discovers that she can inhabit people's bodies whenever they think about her, and control their actions, she decides that she'll do whatever it takes to end these rumors. This was a very quick read, but also a little boring. There could have been a whole lot more to Paige's death and the other ghosts, but it just boiled down to another contemporary novel with a ghostly twist. Girl-read, seventeen-and-up, fans of contemporary supernatural.

After the Parch by Sheldon Greene (Special Awfulness Award)
In the future, California is controlled by a single corporation and the land is completely bereft of water (I think). Bran, an eighteen-year-old shepherd, must travel to Fresno to obtain a land permit for his small community before the corporation seizes it to reopen the mines on it. Along the way, Bran is joined by a floozy of a girl, a rebel musician, and a few others. This was the most pointless, boring, and sleezy book I've read in a long time. The Author was too busy talking about groins and women with well-rounded bottoms, thighs, and breasts that he forgot to develop his world at all. I can't put a recommended persons list, because I wouldn't recommend this to anyone.

May Best and Worst Book of the Month

And as a treat, I've also added my tentative June TBR!


  1. Oh. My gosh. You have a hedgie! And he/she's so cute! I had two hedgehogs briefly, they turned up in my garden and I had to move them on to a park - I live in a city and I have no idea how they even got there.

    You've read a few books I've been wanting to read, namely Shadow And Bone, The Falconer and The Testing. I'm not sure if I'd like The Falconer, though.

    New follower, hi!
    Under The Mountain

    1. Bilbo is a he. :) Check out the About page to learn more about why and how I got him. I kind of wish we had wild hedgehogs where I live; it would be so fun to find them in the garden. But then I think of all the poor creatures that get run over on the road the way it is, and I think maybe my heart would break if there were little dead hedgehogs. Hedgehogs can travel an amazing amount of distance when they decide to roam; it's more amazing that they survived the trip through the city! :)

      SHADOW AND BONE is amazing, and THE TESTING is a fun, short, weekend read. I would say give THE FALCONER a shot - it may surprise you like it did me. But I'm still not sure if the trilogy as a whole will remain good.


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