Top 5 “Please, No More!” Books

Yes, I know it’s Top 10 Tuesday, but time and  life restrict me from spending as much time blogging as I’d like.  So, it is what it is.  And I bring you Top 5 Tuesday.  At least for this week.

Any reader worth her salt is aware that publishing works on a pendulum.  A particular “type” of book breaks all known conventions and the author sells a half-dozen million copies and buys a house in the Hamptons AND a house on Mackinac Island.  And then EVERY WRITER EVERYWHERE has to write the same book, only their lead character is named Mary Sue, rather than Katniss.  And publishers herald these new books as “Harry Potter meets The Hunger Games meets The Berenstain Bears” to try to get readers to part with their cash. We’ve all seen it; we’ve all been suckered bought into it.

Well, I say NO MORE!

Here are 5 types of books I refuse to read any more of.

  1. THE DYSTOPIAN

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The dystopian has literally been done to death.  Though I will acknowledge that The Hunger Games did all the heavy lifting to pave the way for this (sub)genre to flourish, I have never been even a casual fan of dystopian novels.  Why, you ask? That’s an excellent question.  Let me tell you.  For one thing, they’re all exactly the same similar. I mean, ok.  We get it – government sucks, the ruling class are all jerks, it’s hard to choose between two cute boys, and murdery girls are super-cool.  How many ways can you think of to write that?  Apparently, loads of ways.  Unfortunately.

2.  THE VAMPIRE

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So, there are some really, really good vampire books out there.  One of my personal favorites is Stephen King’s ‘Salem’s Lot.  It’s subtle and terrifying in its simplicity.  The problem with there being a (very, very) few good ones means they are outnumbered 347893728187:1 by the terrible ones.  I’m not sure how all the authors missed the memo, but vampire ≠ gorgeous, angsty, teenage drama kings.  Also, just fyi, vampires don’t fall in love with spectacularly stupid girls, they suck their blood and leave them for dead.  Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

3. MEAN GIRLS

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Yes, we know – high school is terrible, teenage boys are tiny demons, and teenage girls are literally hell spawn.  Writers, take note: stop recycling this narrative.  Rather than vilifying high school girls and perpetuating “clique culture”, start focusing on healthy relationships.  Give YA readers examples of EDIFYING female relationships.  (Shout out to Leigh Bardugo @LBardugo for masterfully demonstrating this in her new Wonder Woman: Warbringer.)  Show girls that they don’t need to be intimidated by one another, and that other girls aren’t their competition; rather, they’re their support team.  No, not everyone is going to be nice; not everyone is going to get along.  But this different mindset would go a long way toward changing the trajectory of high school relationships.

4. LOVE TRIANGLES

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So. Many. Love triangles.  If I pick up another YA book with a love triangle, my eyes are going to bleed.  Seriously, it’s hard enough to find one “perfect” dude, but the odds of finding two within the same vicinity of each other?  No shot.  And have you ever noticed, it’s always a girl choosing between two guys, and never the other way around?  I mean, is there ever a legit question about who she’s going to end up with, anyway?  Of course Bella was going to choose Edward; Simon didn’t have a prayer with Clary once Jace stepped into the picture; and anyone who thought Mare was going to pick Maven when she could have Cal is out of their mind. Though I don’t object to the idea of a ❤ triangle, I have yet to find one that’s well done and actually leaves me wondering who our heroine will choose.

5. SPECIAL SNOWFLAKE

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You know the one.  (Cue movie trailer voice guy.) “In a special land where everyone is special and has special powers of speciality, SHE is born ordinary. With brown hair and brown eyes and nothing particularly attractive about her, she has no specialness.  UnTIL, ONE DAY, she discovers she is a Super Special Secret Princess and her destiny is to, in the most special way possible, SAVE THE WORLD!” Ugh.  Give me a break.  So over it.

Ha.  Top 10 5 Tuesday turned into a bit of a personal rant.  It happens.  But, as you loyal and brilliant readers know, this is just a drop in the bucket that dips into the magical wishing well full of books I ❤ and adore.

What types of books are you completely over?

Princess of All Awesomeness

“Hey, Britney,” you say, “you know it’s August, right?  And you haven’t done a Monday review in three weeks?”

Yes.  I know it’s August, and Review Monday has been suspiciously absent.  I also know that this (see: blogs are ridiculously late) is what happens when things don’t go as planned, and you’re forced to scramble to make sure everything gets done.  It’s super annoying when life and responsibilities get in the way of reading and writing.  It’s a good thing I had a head start on my sister for the Great Reading Contest of 2017, because if I hadn’t, I think she would have caught me up this past month.

That said, I have gotten some reading in (though not as much as I’d like), and one of the books I read was part of the #ARCAugust challenge.  I had been anticipating reading Wonder Woman: Warbringer for months.  There were two reasons for this: 1) I ❤ Wonder Woman, and 2) one of my favorite authors, Leigh Bardugo, wrote the book.  I was interested to read a book wholly devoted to Wonder Woman, and I wanted to see how Bardugo represented her.  When you’re anticipating a book that much, and have such high expectations for it, there’s always the danger that it doesn’t stack up.

Wonder Woman: Warbringer definitely stacked up.  Here is the cover, and a partial blurb as found on Goodreads:

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She will become one of the world’s greatest heroes: WONDER WOMAN. But first she is Diana, Princess of the Amazons. And her fight is just beginning. . . . 

Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mere mortal. Even worse, Alia Keralis is no ordinary girl and with this single brave act, Diana may have doomed the world. 

 

 

With a book like this, it’s hard to know what to focus on for a review.  I mean, I could fangirl all day long about Leigh Bardugo, but that doesn’t tell anyone about the book.  I could fangirl all day long about Wonder Woman, but that still doesn’t tell anyone about the book.  So I’ll try to focus on the things people care about: plot, setting, and characters.

PLOT: What originally seemed to be a pretty straightforward plot became surprisingly twisty in a way I definitely wasn’t expecting.  (I should have known Bardugo wouldn’t ever write anything straightforward.)  Though a “super hero book”, the danger doesn’t seem outlandish, and has possible real-world repercussions.  I liked that there was a lot of history woven into the story, of both mythical and realistic nature, and that the history affected the present.  Overall, the story itself was a great one – enjoyable, and complex enough to be interesting from the first page until the last.

SETTING: This was done SO well!  I liked the glimpses I got to see of Themyscira (yes, I had to Google the spelling.  Don’t look at me like that – unless you just watched the film, I’m pretty sure you had to Google the pronunciation), and of the Amazon civilization.  Also, magical, disappearing horses.  The island is done well enough that you truly feel the impact when Diana enters the “regular” world, and how difficult it is for her to process the vast difference between her home and the rest of the world.  And speaking of the rest of the world…  I loved that Bardugo put Diana on the subway in NYC.  What better way to introduce her to New Yorkers?

CHARACTERS: Bardugo did great work with this cast.  For one thing, it is diverse without being “token”.  The diversity of the characters deepens that sense of historicity I mentioned earlier, and lends the story a deep richness.  There are several characters in this story – Diana Prince (for she isn’t Wonder Woman yet) is just one of them.  So, though this book has Diana in it, it’s not just about her.  Each character – Alia, Nim, Jason, Theo – is important to the story, and each is well-developed and interesting.  And one of the most important things Bardugo does with these characters is establish strong (and I mean epic STRONG) relationships – between siblings, between friends, and between females – all something I wish we saw more of.  Basically, all the ❤ for these characters, their sass, their support for one another, and their bravery.

Snaps to Leigh Bardugo for taking a strong female character and making her more powerful, smarter, and more relevant than just being the “hot one with the rope”.  This Diana Prince is the Wonder Woman I want my daughter to grow up reading about.

Now, bring on Marie Lu’s Batman: Nightwalker!

*A huge thanks to Random House for providing me with an ARC of this book, in exchange for an honest review.

Top 10 Tuesday tomorrow, friends!

Peace out!

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Top 10 Tuesday: Top 10 Coolest Book Characters

***Due to the fact that Skynet possessed my computer yesterday, Top Ten Tuesday is taking place on Wacky-Woo Wednesday***

If you’re at all like me, you judge books based on how interesting the setting is, how original the plot is, and how likable (or unlikeable) the characters are.  Some writers are extremely gifted in one or two of these areas; the BEST writers are gifted in all three.  It takes all three of these elements to make a story, and if one of the elements is weak, then more times than not, the story is weak, too.

I like character-driven stories.  I can deal with a setting I don’t particularly like, or a plot that seems a little simplistic, if the characters are memorable and capture my interest.  They have to make me care.  I have to be invested in the characters – in their lives, or in their deaths, in their successes, or in their failures.  I like flawed characters because they seem more real to me, and I like strong characters because they are inspiring.

And they get double points when they’re awesome.  Like these TOP 10 COOLEST BOOK CHARACTERS.

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JAMES BOND

Say what you want about the British secret agent and his philandering ways, but when it comes to coolness factor, this dude has it times ten.  He’s always in trouble with someone, be it SPECTRE, Blofeld, Goldfinger, or M, and he’s always got a plan to get out of it.  Even if that means blowing up an entire city and walking away from the explosion without looking back at it…

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HOLLY GOLIGHTLY

This freewheeling lady-about-town does what she wants, when she wants, and with whomever she wants, and doesn’t care what anyone has to say about it.  She is unapologetic about her motives and her material desires, and doesn’t try to hide the truth behind anything she does.  She sleeps half the day, socializes half the night, and can climb out of bed and look stunning in 16.5 seconds.

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HARRY DRESDEN

As Chicago’s only wizard for hire, Dresden kind of has the market on cool – at least in the Windy City.  Dresden is a complete misfit, and has quite possibly the worst luck of anyone, EVER.  But that doesn’t stop him from wielding magic like a boss, and taking down some of the worst criminals out there – human and non.  He bucks every system imaginable – the law, the magicians’ Council – and somehow always manages to come out on top – even when he’s dead for a while.

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MR. FOX

Tricksy, clever Hobbitses foxes are all sorts of awesome.  Especially this one.  He’s like a furry Danny Ocean, complete with a criminal crew.  He wants to provide for his family, and is willing to risk everything to make sure they have what they need.  And then, just as importantly, he makes sure those around him have what they need, too.  He recognizes that the critter community is stronger if they work together, rather than separately.  A valuable lesson.

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AMELIA PEABODY

Peabody puts all other book characters to shame.  She’s a proper lady, but can sip sherry, run an archaeological site, raise kids, keep her husband out of trouble, and knock someone out with her parasol, all before morning tea time.  She is forward-thinking and clever, brave, and a wonderful problem-solver.   She has the spirit of an adventurer at a time when it wasn’t strictly fashionable for women to go gallivanting around the globe – but gallivant she does, and fearlessly.

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SHERLOCK HOLMES

The brilliant, borderline mad Holmes is complex, interesting, and slightly frightening.  He is willing to go to unbelievable lengths to find the solution to his cases, even if it means putting himself (and, by association, Dr. Watson) in grave danger.  His skill at reasoning sets him apart from other detective characters, and the fact that he is so unabashedly confident in his position as the world’s best consulting detective is an outpouring of his arrogance – something he sees as less of a character flaw, and more of a fact.

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LUCY PEVENSIE

It takes undaunted courage to be the youngest in a family, and go on an adventure without your older siblings.  It takes even more courage to believe something they don’t, and to stand up for that belief.  Add to that running for your life, opposing a witch, going on a sea voyage, ruling as queen, and fighting a battle, and you are just scratching the surface of things Lucy does.  She may not always have complete confidence in herself, but she follows her heart and does what she believes is right, and, in the end, is a heroine.

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ROLAND DESCHAIN

The last Gunslinger.  He’s a haunting figure, and plays out the journey of the choice between good and evil.  His decisions are rarely easy; often they are brutal.  But he makes them anyway, often at great cost to himself.  Obviously mentally scarred, he deals with loss the way he sees best – practically and coolly – but this means he doesn’t “deal”, and at times, his demons come back to haunt him.  Heroic by nature, he is still flawed, and that gives him layers of complication.

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ANNE SHIRLEY

They say a picture is worth a thousand words…  Anne is bold.  She is confident.  She is brilliant.  And she doesn’t allow her status as an orphan to ever make her feel like she is less than worthy.  She knows what she wants, and she works ceaselessly to accomplish her goals.  She dares to dream, and is willing to work to make her dreams come true, too.  Brave, Anne is always up for a challenge (or a dare), up for travel, and up for a new experience, all of which provide her with fodder for her boundless imagination.

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ELIZABETH BENNET

A free-thinking lady who wishes to marry for love, rather than money and security, Lizzie is an anomaly.  She possesses a vitality and zest for life that allow her to see the absurdity in the social conventions of her time.  She is slightly impertinent in her opinions, and does not strictly abide by “acceptable” social ideas.  She does not see the “upper” class as being better than her – she knows her worth, and is unwilling to settle for anything less than she knows she deserves.   Also, she has a wicked-snarky-sassy sense of humor.

So there you have it!  Though there are countless other shady-cool characters in literature, these are some of my favorites.  Who are some of yours?  Let me know, and we can chat!

Thursday we’ll talk about something truly terrifying – a writer’s current work-in-progress…  DUH- DUh-Duh…

 

 

Technology is (Sometimes) the Devil

So, for all of you out there thinking “this Inkblot Ideas chick is totally forgetful and unreliable – she keeps saying she’s gonna post blog updates, and it’s Tuesday night, and still nada”: fair point.  However, it’s not for lack of trying.

I’ve been swamped this week (yes, yes, I know it’s only Tuesday) at work, trying to finish up some big projects in anticipation of Fall (with a capital F, because I ❤ Fall so much), and it’s been sucking my time.  So, last night and tonight I have been attempting to write from home.  My Mac is not cooperating.  It performed a demon update, and now is running at turtle speed.  And I CAN’T TAKE IT! I want to stab my pen through the screen.  You hear that, Apple?  Your tech be junk.

It has taken me twenty agonizing minutes just to write this much.  So I’m just letting y’all know that I’m not dead in a ditch somewhere, but by tomorrow, my Mac may be.  Either that, or CNN is going to report that John Connor has been kidnapped.  Because I’m inclined to believe that Skynet has taken over my computer.  It makes about as much sense as anything, at this point.

First the Ripper, Now Dracula

Call me crazy, but I love books based on old, murdery mysteries.  I don’t like to read about bloodbaths, but give me a good, old-fashioned mystery based on history, and I’m all in. A lot of this has to do with my interest in history; more than I’d like to admit, this has to do with my dark sense of curiosity.

Kerri Maniscalco is an author after my own heart.  She has chosen to tackle some of the most iconic historic mysteries possible, and has given them new life (haha) and a new spin.  I am a firm fan.

I read Stalking Jack the Ripper (the first book in this series) shortly after it was released, and was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the story-telling from debut author Kerri Maniscalco. Having done very little research on either the book or the author before reading, I was excited when I got to the end of the book, and it was clear there was going to be a sequel. History buff that I am, I was as ecstatic as only a nerd can be to discover the next installment of the Wadsworth/Cresswell adventures would take them to Romania and settle them within the Dracula mythology. I had high expectations for Hunting Prince Dracula. I was not disappointed.

If anything, from the first book to this, Maniscalco’s writing has gotten better (as is natural), and her story-telling voice has grown stronger. Where there were a few times in Ripper I felt the leaps in logic were a little long-strided, I didn’t feel that way at all with Dracula. The plot is very thoroughly laid out and described, and doesn’t miss any steps. Though the mystery reveal is well-hidden until the end of the book, the reader isn’t kept in the dark at all when it comes to necessary clues and information. As far as the story itself, I found it to be very satisfying.  (And darned if she didn’t get me again with the twist!)

One of the things I really like about these books is the relationship between Audrey Rose Wadsworth (though I still cringe at that name – I mean it’s really, really terrible) and Thomas Cresswell. There is a mutual admiration and respect between the two of them that isn’t based on attraction, and that’s a rare find in YA fiction these days. Yes, it’s evident that the two of them have feelings for one another, but that is not the basis for their relationship. Cresswell appreciates Wadsworth for who she is; he isn’t intimidated by her intellect, he allows her to take risks, and doesn’t feel threatened by her independence. And Wadsworth understands Cresswell’s want to protect her and doesn’t deride him for it (though she does throw in a perfectly understandable eye-roll every now and then).

Something else unique about these books is the profession Wadsworth and Cresswell are working their way into. Maniscalco has chosen something out of the ordinary – forensics – for her characters to study, which is something that sets them apart from others of their social cohort. It’s not strictly “ladylike” for a high-born girl like Audrey Rose to be elbows-deep in someone’s gizzard, but does that stop her?  Definitely not.  And good thing, because their knowledge of all things dead also gives Wadsworth and Cresswell a slight advantage when it comes to investigating the crimes that take place in the book. Their unconventional training gives them an unconventional perspective on things, and their partnership gives them strength.

I really liked how this book isn’t an over-the-top “vampire book”. Rather, it acknowledges the history of the setting, and allows that history to color the mystery, but doesn’t for a second try to convince readers that Dracula is behind the murders. I believe that would have brought into question the credibility of the characters. The characters solve a real mystery, instead of chasing ghosts and goblins. And, also, readers (mostly) aren’t stupid, so better not to waste time trying to convince them of the existence of vampires.

Overall, this is a fun book, compulsively readable and clever. I am definitely looking forward to the next installment of the Adventures of Wadsworth and Cresswell – in America! (And I’m having a dickens of a time trying to figure out who the big bad will be this time.  It would be too much of a time gap for them to be after H H Holmes, and too late for Billy the Kid…)

Little, Brown and Company/Jimmy Patterson Books provided me with an advanced reader’s copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Tomorrow, on Top 10 Tuesday, tune in for a list of the Top 10 Fictional Librarians!  Because, well, who’s cooler than librarians?

Lord of Shadowhunters

I like to consider myself a loyal reader.  If I really like an author, I’m more likely than not going to buy every book they ever wrote/write ever.  There are currently about ten authors I feel this way about, and Cassandra Clare is one of them.  It’s a pleasure to be able to grow with an author.  I was able to do it with J.K. Rowling and the Harry Potter series; I’ve been able to do it with Cassandra Clare and her Shadowhunters series.  I picked up City of Bones when it was the sole Shadowhunter volume, and so have been a fan from the very beginning.  Clare’s writing skills have grown and developed, something that always makes me appreciate the fact that writers are always working to improve their craft.  And Clare’s ability to tell a story is admirable.

That said, I just finished Lord of Shadows, the second installment of The Dark Artifices mini-series within the Shadowhunter Chronicles.  (Yes, the number of books, and the order in which they go can be confusing.  For a quick reference guide, check out Fantastic Fiction here.)  So far, The Dark Artifices is by far my favorite of the books. There is a depth to them that isn’t present in earlier books, and I hope to see this continue into future installments.

Here’s a quick plot rundown:  Following the events of Lady Midnight, things in the Los Angeles Institute have not calmed down.  Emma and Julian are at odds, each struggling with their feelings for the other; Mark is still straddling his desire for two worlds; the younger Blackthorns are searching for their place in the Shadowhunter world, and Christina is discovering she has her own brand of quiet, yet powerful strength.  The faerie courts are also in turmoil. The Unseelie King is tired of the Cold Peace, and set events in motion to destroy the Shadowhunters forever; the Seelie Queen is scheming to overthrow the King.  Caught between  trying to save their family or protect their way of life, the heroes must find a way to come together to defend everything they hold dear against attacks from outside the Shadowhunter ranks – and from within.

This plot (and all the subplots which somehow, with the help of voodoo magic, all fit together seamlessly) is on-point.  Clare does a magnificent job of making her reader feel the immediacy of the danger the characters face.  There were times where I felt physical agony over the sheer apparent hopelessness of the situation, where I actually worried about what was going to happen, and how they were “going to get out of this mess”.  To me, that is the mark of a great writer; I feel what the characters feel, I fear for their safety, I care what happens to them, I am along on their journey.  This is a beast of a book, coming in at more than 700 pages.  And I read every word.  Every. Word.  Because Clare is the type of author who chooses her words carefully, and if she’s including something, it’s because it’s important.  It may not be important now, but three books from now, it may be the reason someone dies.  Or lives.

The characters in this series absolutely own my heart. This book boasts a huge cast of characters, and none of them are made of paper.  They all serve a purpose. It’s impossible to talk about each one of them, because there are so many, but I particularly ❤ Emma Carstairs, Julian Blackthorn, Tiberius Blackthorn, and Kit Herondale.  Using these four characters, Clare shows two different types of relationships.  Emma and Julian are the protectors. The decisions they make are made to save the ones they love.  They endure emotional agony and physical pain because they continually place themselves in the line of fire.  Their love for one another is fierce and potentially destructive, so they must choose to (figuratively) rip out their bloody, beating hearts, or destroy one of the most fundamental Shadowhunter relationships – the parabatai bond.  Emma wants to take option A; Julian wants to take option B.  I fear this may actually end in tragedy.  Emma is absolutely brutal and stabby, and Julian is terrifying with his scheming.  My prediction: he is going to break the world.  Tiberius and Kit are the hope.  Ty is a classically-trained Shadowhunter, while Kit comes into the Shadowhunter world as an outsider, someone who hasn’t been indoctrinated with the Shadowhunter dogma.  He has a completely different perspective on things.  Whereas the Blackthorns have always thought of Tiberius as different (and have completely accepted him as such), Kit recognizes he is autistic.  He doesn’t shy away from Ty; rather, he draws closer to him, takes it upon himself to translate the world for Ty in a way he can understand.  (Aside: the Sherlock Holmes/John Watson parallel Clare creates here is a brilliant one.)  Kit’s love for Ty is born of his desire to shield him from how ugly the world can be to people who are different; Ty’s love for Kit is as pure as friendship can be – a recognition of who the other person is, and accepting them for exactly that, and nothing more.  And I’m not sure which type of #ship this is going to turn out to be, but I’m ready to enlist as crew.

Now, a few very unprofessional, random thoughts about this book that may or may not contain spoilers, so read at your own risk:

  • Ash is the son of Sebastian Morgenstern and the Seelie Queen.  He has to be.  There’s no other explanation for his physical appearance or for his inclusion.  And it’s my prediction that he’s the “weapon” Jace and Clary are looking for.
  • I don’t care if you are the author, you DO NOT TOUCH Magnus Bane.  This “sickness” better disappear, and Magnus better come back as snarky, narcissistic, and glitter bomb as ever.
  • More Jessamine.
  • More London/Cornwall Institutes and Infernal Devices tie-ins.
  • Less Zara – like, I hope she dies a horrible, murdery, painful death by a thousand cuts from Cortana.
  • My heart that loves Tiberius breaks for him.
  • Annabel the Terrifying will save her family.
  • Julian is going full Dark Side, and I am SO in ❤ with his moral slide (scheming, lying, bargaining, selling his soul to the devil Seelie Queen).  Also, he’s possibly a high-functioning sociopath.
  • Kit Herondale is absolutely life.
  • I am so angry at the Clave for not standing up against the Cohort, I almost hope the Unseelie King destroys the power structure of the Nephilim, just so the “old regime” burns.  (As long as all my loves survive intact and not undead, that is.)
  • Um, Clary might die?  (Mad props to Clare if she goes through with that one.)
  • Mental illness, PTSD, autism, LGBTQ, body image, appearance, xenophobia – all issues discussed in this series, and I am so grateful there are authors like Clare who are this brave.  I very much appreciate how Clare populates her plot with social issues relevant to the Shadowhunter world, but that also parallel contemporary issues happening in our world.  She does this without overtly beating the reader over the head with the “moral of the story”, but deftly and creatively raises awareness of these issues.

I usually don’t get so emotionally invested in books (I can’t remember caring about characters this much since Harry Potter), but this one got me.  Good on you, Cassandra Clare.  Well done.

TOMORROW IS TOP 10 TUESDAY!  Come on back for a discussion of my Top 10 Reading Confessions!

Mini-Review Monday

Yee-haw!  It’s a roundup!

I’ve been VERY busy the last two weeks, what with the end of the fiscal year at the library, ALA, kids, life, etc. and all, but  I’ve carried my trusty Kindle with me everywhere, so I’ve still gotten a lot of reading in (even if I have fallen asleep with it in my hand several nights in a row now…).  So rather than trying to write a full review for everything I read this month, you’re getting a quick and nasty (but in a good way, full of love) intro to what I read this month.

I know you’re all dying in anticipation for these reviews – I know I would be.  So, here goes:

dark duet

The second in a duology that started with This Savage Song, this was one of my most anticipated releases of the year.  I was not disappointed, though the ending left me with a broken heart.  In this world of darkness and shadows, the real question becomes: who are the real monsters?  Schwab is an amazing world-builder, and her characters are gritty and ruthless (even if they don’t want to be).  The (dark, dark) story follows Kate (a human) and August (a monster) as they negotiate the impossible world that pits them against one another as they try to save the broken souls of everyone around them.

starfall

This is also the second in a duology that started with Starflight, and I thought this was a fun follow-up.  I liked that it focused on different characters, rather than just continuing the story of the first installment; but the characters are the same, so familiar.  This has a little bit of a Firefly feel to it, with a ragtag group of misfits with prices on their heads flying around just trying to survive.  There’s adventure and danger and adorable flying rodents and princesses.  (There must always be princesses.)  Let me just say this: there are SPACE PIRATES.  Pirates.  In space.  That is all.

shadow bone

So, this book.  I have had this trilogy sitting in my TBR tower for a while now, and I finally decided to tackle it.  Oh, my heart.  This book was so unique, so different from other things I’ve read, I fell instantly in love with it.  For one thing, I ❤ the bad guy.  Like, completely.  He’s 100% dark and evil and murdery, but he’s an amazing character.  Snaps to Bardugo for making that happen.  I also like the heorine; she’s sassy, a little bit vulnerable, and makes mistakes.  I like it when the main characters make mistakes, and then actually learn from them. Also, the setting is amazing.

dark daysI did a full review of this book over on my other blog before I packed up shop and moved, and if you want, you can read that one here.  I can’t say enough good things about this series (a planned trilogy).  The authentic period setting is very well done, and provides the perfect backdrop to the plot.  The characters are fantastic; I especially love that there are several strong female characters who continually subvert the idea of a “proper lady” and show that their role in this world is just as important as their male counterparts.  The relationships are fun, and there is a refreshing lack of romance, with a focus on action.

strangeI went into this book with a little apprehension because I loved Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy to the godstars and back, and didn’t want to dislike something she had written.  I was anxious for nothing.  This book was as beautiful and melodious and magical as I could have hoped for.  Taylor has a gift for wordweaving and creating portraits with words; I envy this talent.  But I appreciate that I am the beneficiary of it.  This book was a fairy tale; a dark, bloody, beautiful fairy tale complete with monsters and heroes.  And even if I don’t love the cover (though I understand it’s symbolism), I am eagerly waiting part II.

pirate

OK.  Call me crazy, but I absolutely love Clive Cussler.  He’s this adorable, rosy-cheeked grandpa with awesome cars, and even awesomer stories.  I fell in love with Dirk Pitt when I was in high school, but I have a particular love for the Fargo adventures.  Sam and Remi are cool and clever, and are a great team.  I like that Remi retains her femininity, yet can still pull the trigger to ice a bad guy, and I like even more that Sam knows his wife is completely capable of taking care of herself, yet still wants to protect her.  The archaeological mysteries are right up my history-loving-heart’s alley, and I can’t get enough of them.

pursuit

Fox and O’Hare are one of my guilty pleasures.  No, Evanovich’s books aren’t strictly “literary gold”, but when I need to read something fun, or that makes me laugh, these books are a great choice.  This one particularly features sparkles and sparkles of stolen diamonds along with a missing vial of live smallpox virus (gasp!) – and only Nick Fox and Kate O’Hare (along with their merry band of mismatched misfits) can save the world!  A rollicking romp through Europe with sassy leads, a Snidely Whiplash-like bad guy, and lots of one-liners, I liked this installment in the series particularly.

 

So, there you have it – the June postmortem.  I enjoyed all the titles, and a couple of them spoke to my soul, and fed it cheesecake.

And tomorrow: doo-do-doo! Top 10 Tuesday!

I want to take a minute to plug my library’s blog – it’s a little tiny baby blog, and we’re just getting started, but here’s the link to it.  We’ll be talking about what life is like in a library (for all of you who have wondered about the secret library society, here’s your chance to peek under the cloak of invisibility…)

Peace out!