Hedgie's Must Reads: July 2014
Hello, hello! Wow, July was a terrific reading month! I had a mix of good and bad books, but mostly good, and setting that aside - I just read a lot! It was mostly a quiet month, so I was able to sit down and pound through lots of books. The weather was too hot to even really go outside, unless you're going swimming, so as soon as I got home from work, I grabbed Hedgie and we hung out by the air vent in my library and read. Plus, with my new ottoman, it's ten times more comfy reading in my reading chair, so I can go for longer stints of reading. Anyway, here are the books!
July Reading Wrap-Up
Pirates! by Celia Rees (3/5)
For Nancy, the life of piracy is a way to escape marriage to the frightening and creepy Brazilian plantation owner Bartholome. For Minerva, Nancy's house slave and only friend, it's an escape from the unwanted attentions of the cruel overseer. But Bartholome isn't willing to give Nancy up so easily, and over the high seas and across the world, he hunts them both. This was a fun re-read, because the first time I read it, I didn't like it. But I actually enjoyed it a lot this time through! It's well-written, has good characters, and an interesting plot. Girl-read, sixteen-and-up, fans of historical fantasy and pirates!
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (3/5)
Book #1 in The Mortal Instruments series. Clary is living a typical teenage life in New York - up until she witnesses a murder at the Pandemonium Club. A murder that no one else can see. Suddenly, she's thrust into the world of the Shadowhunters - people sworn to hunt down and kill the demons that haunt the world. And when Clary's mom disappears and she's attacked by the demon in her apartment, it becomes clear that Clary is far more involved in the Shadowhunter world that she ever knew. Yep, I read it. Yep, I liked it. I wouldn't call it literature or even good fiction - or original. But it's entertaining, the characters are likable, and the world well thought out. Girl-read, seventeen-and-up, fans of paranormal and urban fantasy.
July Best Reads
Independent Study by Joelle Charbonneau (4/5)
Book #2 in The Testing trilogy. Cia has passed the Testing and is now at the university, starting her future career for the United Commonwealth of America. But she's haunted by memories from The Testing, and it soon becomes clear that even though she passed, the Testing isn't truly over. I enjoyed The Testing, but I really liked Independent Study. There was more world and character development, Cia proved herself to be a tremendously strong protagonist, and she wasn't a reluctant rebel leader. She stepped up and did what needed to be done. And there's no annoying love triangles! Girl-and-guy read, sixteen-and-up, fans of dystopian and post-apocalyptic!
The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson (4/5)
Book #1 in the Bitter Kingdom Trilogy. Elisa is the chosen one; she was born with the Godstone in her navel. But being the youngest out of two princesses - and inept at everything - Elisa doesn't feel like the Chosen One. When she's forced to marry the king of a neighboring kingdom, her destiny feels closer at hand. Until Elisa begins to learn the fates of past Godstone bearers. This has been on my list for forever, and I finally got to read it for one of my book clubs! I really enjoyed it. Elisa is a protagonist who matures and grows as the story progresses, the world is intriguing, the Author isn't afraid to push boundaries with her story, and there wasn't a single character that I didn't have strong emotion for. Girl-read, sixteen-and-up, fans of fantasy!
Sea Monster! by Jordan Quinn (5/5)
Book #3 in The Kingdom of Wrenly series. Prince Lucas and his best friend Clara set out to pursue rumors of a sea monster terrorizing the coast of Wrenly! Is the sea monster as terrifying as everyone says it is? Or does the sea monster want something else? This is a delightful addition to this beginning reader's fantasy series, as we explore more of the Kingdom of Wrenly and meet new - and old - characters along the way. Full of beautiful black-and-white illustrations and bursting with adventure, this is my new favorite out of the series. Girl-and-boy read, four-to-six (would be my guess; I'm bad with judging age range).
Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo (5/5)
Book #3 in The Grisha trilogy. The Darkling is on the throne of Ravka and Alina has been forced to take refuge from the Apparat and his zealots while she recovers from her last battle with the Darkling. But the Apparat isn't to be trusted, and Alina must find the firebird - the third and final amplifier - before it's too late. This was just amazing! A terrific conclusion to a terrific trilogy. I loved everyone in this one, including Mal, and I felt so awful for the Darkling. The Author pulled twist after twist, and just totally wrenched my heart out. Girl-and-guy read, seventeen-and-up, fans of fantasy and Russian culture.
Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman (4/5)
Dad and the kids have been for the weekend to fend for themselves - without Mum! Everything is fine, until Dad forgets to buy milk and the kids wake up to dry cereal. Dad has to go out and get milk - but it turns into more of an adventure than any of them expected! This is a hilarious, nonsensical kids' book that is a super fast read and just fun. It's also my second Neil Gaiman book (sad, I know). Coupled with amusing black-and-white illustrations, it's guaranteed to make you laugh. Girl-and-boy read, beginning reader, anyone who likes Neil Gaiman!
Diamonds & Deceit by Leila Rasheed (4/5)
Book #2 in the At Somerton trilogy. It's Rose's first London Season, and she's got to make an impression in order to wipe out her past as the illegitimate daughter of the Somerton housekeeper. Meanwhile, Ada is preparing for her wedding to Lord Fintan. But her heart still belongs to Ravi. There is, sadly, too much drama in this book to sum it all up in a few sentences. You thought Cinders & Sapphires was dramatic - oh no. This one far surpasses it. And I loved it. Why? Because there are likable, sympathetic characters; they're not all bad or stupid. Girl-read, seventeen-and-up, fans of Downton Abbey and historical fiction!
July Worst Reads
The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson (2/5)
Maggie and her parents have just moved from Chicago to remote Door County. Maggie doesn't like it there, but she won't complain. Her parents have enough to worry about. Then tragedy strikes: girls start turning up dead in neighboring counties, presumably having killed themselves. Around that time, Maggie befriends outgoing Pauline and her childhood friend Liam. And things get tricky. This book is not nearly as exciting or interesting as it sounds. It had potential, but totally came crashing down at the end. It's too bad, too, because it had good characters, a creepy premise, but absolutely no delivery. Girl-read, sixteen-and-up.
Jackie by John Tammela (1/5)
This is an autobiography about the author, written in the style of a novel. It tells the story of John "Jackie" Tammela's early childhood in 1930's-1940's Niagara Falls, Canada. And it isn't about much else. I love autobiographies, but something interesting has got to have happened in your life. Or your writing style has got to be entertaining. That is not the case for Jackie at all. It was dull, it wasn't well written, and it was just. . . .bleh. For a Middle Grade audience, it had some shockingly inappropriate moments, and I can't see it holding the attention of even an adult.
High Stakes by Brandy Schillace (2/5)
Book #1 in The Jacob Maresbeth Chronicles. Jacob isn't a vampire. Sure, he has to live on a diet of blood, and he's most active at night. But he doesn't suck other people's blood, he isn't allergic to the light, and no - he doesn't sparkle. Even so, his parents don't want people knowing his true condition, so they've made up some bogus blood disease. Which causes problems when Jake and his sister Lizzy go and spend summer vacation at their Aunt Syl's house. Aunt Syl, who loves to play nursemaid and won't stop asking questions about Jake's condition. This is a very funny book, with great characters, but it whips through everything way too fast and isn't as fully realized as it could have been. Girl-and-guy read, sixteen-and-up, fans of comedy and paranormal.
Conversion by Katherine Howe (2/5)
It's the final year at St. Joan's private high school, and the pressure is on to get good grades, submit college applications, and fight for the position of valedictorian. Colleen is on top of it all. But then girls start having weird fits and tics, and no one can figure out what's wrong. Only Colleen knows; she's reading The Crucible for extra credit, and she also knows that their town is built on what used to be Salem Village. This had a lot going for it, but it kind of petered out and flopped at the end. It didn't deliver what it promised, and it was just too slow at critical moments. I was mostly disappointed. Girl-read, seventeen-and-up, fans of supernatural.
Best and Worst Reads of the Month