Happy November everyone! I had a pretty great reading month despite work being nutso and my free time being eaten up by doing some fun things, and I can’t wait to share my thoughts about all these books with you!
Rule by Ellen Goodlett
This was a book that I had received an eARC of, but I had seen a lot of mixed reviews on Goodreads, and I let that deter me. I shouldn’t have! This book was the political fantasy of my dreams. This story was about 3 young women who, through a variety of circumstances, discover that they are bastard-born daughters of the king, who has recently lost his one and only male heir. The king is dying, and he has claimed all three young women in order to find the best one to rule. All three girls have dark secrets they are hiding, and they are convinced that someone is blackmailing them in different ways to drive them apart. I AM SO ANXIOUS FOR THE SEQUEL I CANNOT. Also, one of the girls is attracted to women (not sure of her sexuality because I’m not sure if she mentions being attracted to men/other genders or not, but it is CONFIRMED ON THE PAGE that she is attracted to women). Always a big plus for me in a fantasy, ESPECIALLY when it isn’t a big deal in the world. Five stars!
More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
I apparently had decided I was listening to all of Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera’s individual books in a row, maybe because I had preordered What If It’s Us? I don’t know guys. But I did! I really enjoyed this one, but not as much as They Both Die at the End. This one was similar to TBDATE in that it was 95% contemporary with a little dash of speculative/sci fi mixed in. Our main character, Aaron, lives in a future New York City where a company called the Leteo Institute offers a procedure where your memories can be repressed. When Aaron’s meets someone new, he ends up struggling with whether or not to get this procedure to make his life better. THIS BOOK WAS SO DEPRESSING. WOW. Still loved it. 4 stars.
The Caged Queen by Kristen Ciccarelli
This book was one of my most anticipated fall releases! Once Kate got me hooked on The Last Namsara, I knew I was going to be obsessed with the sequel. This book follows Roa, who is the new wife of Dax, the brother of our main character in The Last Namsara. Despite Roa being eye-rollingly oblivious the whole time, I loved this book. Dax is a cinnamon bun, five stars.
Space Boy Vol 1 by Stephen McCranie
This is an adorable graphic novel that I picked up on a whim when my local comic shop was having a sale! Our main character, Amy, is a synesthesia-having young girl who lives on a mining colony deep, deep in space. When her father loses his job, the family is sent back to Earth, which is a 30 year journey. They are placed in cryosleep, so when they arrive they are the exact same age as they were. Technology and, more importantly, Amy’s best friend, have all kept marching along. Amy has trouble adjusting until she meets some new friends. But what about the spooky boy who, unlike everyone else she knows, has no flavor?! I loved this book, and am actually picking up the next volume today because it just came out! 5 stars.
History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
This is probably my least favorite of Adam’s novels, but that doesn’t mean it was bad! Our main character is Griffin, who is a teen boy with OCD who has lost his first love. It takes place in alternating chapters of current-day and past days, which is one of my favorite ways for books to be written. It is a meandering book about Griffin dealing with his grief as well as navigating the existence of Jackson, who was dating Griffin’s first love Theo at the time of Theo’s death. As expected, this was a very depressing book. I didn’t really connect with Griffin, but I definitely think there are people who would adore this book. 3.5 stars.
Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor
BUCKLE IN KIDS. This book is the long-awaited (okay not that long, I’m just impatient) sequel to Laini’s Strange the Dreamer, which absolutely wrecked me when I read it earlier this year. Laini’s writing is some of the most ethereal, moving, and haunting stuff I’ve ever read in my entire life. I really super duper can’t talk about this book almost at all without spoiling Strange the Dreamer, but suffice to say that this conclusion was just as devastatingly hopeful (yeah, sounds weird, but trust me) as one would expect from Laini. Please please PLEASE read this duology as well as her Daughter of Smoke and Bone series. You will not regret it. An entire night’s sky of stars.
Linger and Forever by Maggie Stiefvater
These books were also audio reads this month, and I 100% downloaded them on a whim. I read the first book, Shiver, a while back, and I wasn’t entirely sold on it despite adoring Maggie Stiefvater. I’m really hit or miss on her books (LOVE Scorpio Races, did NOT understand All the Crooked Saints), but these last two in this series were definitely better than the first one. If you’re interested in some good old fashioned teen paranormal romance, this series will give you those mid-2000s vibes! 3.5 stars for both.
Strong Female Protagonist Vol 1 by Brennan Lee Mulligan
This is another graphic novel that I picked up on a whim when our local comic shop had a sale, and I picked well again! Our main character is Alison, AKA Mega Girl, who was a superhero in her city. She became a little bit jaded with the whole scene, and is instead focusing on going to college and making her way toward saving the world through changing it instead of just punching bad guys. I have the next volume in my hands now (thanks Book Outlet!) and I can’t wait to get to it. Bonus, this series is originally a web comic, so you can read it all online! 5 stars.
Vengeful by V.E. Schwab
Does a month go by where I don’t read SOMETHING by Queen Schwab? Probably not. This is a sequel that has been YEARS in the making, and I’m so happy that Victoria got to write it for herself. While Vicious was about Victor and Eli getting vengeance on one another, Vengeful is the angry girl novel of my dreams. In the dumpster fire that is 2018, this book fans the flames of my feminine rage in such justifying ways. Just do yourself a favor and go pick these babies up. I adore them. 5 stars.
For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig
I bought this book on its debut day in a fit of “I am stressed and sad, I need to be surrounded by books” during my lunch break at work. I had seen a decent amount of buzz for it in the previous months, and the cover really caught my eye and made me pick it up. And then the synopsis plus my Barnes and Noble member discount made me do it, guys. AND I AM SO GLAD. Holy wow was this book made for me. This book is set in a hybrid Asian and French inspired world (WHAT) that focuses on colonialism, mental illness (specifically OWN VOICES bipolar disorder), and tosses in musical and theatrical aspects that truly stole my heart and made it ache. Oh, and did I mention that the main character is a necromancer? Jetta is a young shadow player with the ability to see the souls of the dead and harness them to make her handmade puppets come to life (or death? I guess). This book gives me angsty Moulin Rouge vibes in some parts, Avatar blood-bending vibes in other parts, and otherwise feels like Heidi just opened me up, examined my heart and mind, and decided she could write a book just for it. OBVIOUSLY FIVE STARS.
The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
I was so optimistic about this book because a favorite youtuber hyped it AND our main character is fat. Chosen princess fantasy novel with a dark-skinned fat princess? Sounds great. But the fat rep was painful to read (and this comes from someone who is fairly confident in her body), and the religious themes were too Christianity-adjacent and not fantasy enough for my tastes. I’m really bummed, and I won’t be continuing the series. 2 stars.
Night of Cake and Puppets by Laini Taylor
“But Paige, haven’t you read this before? You’re garbage for Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and you actively want to be Zuzana.” Well, dear reader. I had not read this book until this month, but let me tell you how much I LOVED the audio version. Zuzana is a perfect rabid fairy, and reading the genesis of her love story with Mik was a truly beautiful and amazing experience. If you’ve read the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series but not this, you’re missing out. 5 stars.
Monstress Vol 1 by Marjorie Liu
This graphic novel is SO GORGEOUS. Holy shit. The art is astounding. Asian-steampunk-art-deco-chimaera-demon-psychics-with-a-talking-cat. I honestly can’t explain it too much. Just pick this one up. 4.5 stars.
Stalking Jack the Ripper by Keri Maniscalco
This was a fun one! I got this as a gift from my birthday for my birthday last year (oops), and I finally read it during Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon. I flew through it! Audrey Rose and Thomas are some of my new favorite characters, and I’m excited to read Hunting Prince Dracula and Escaping from Houdini. I’m a big fan of the campy-ish horror aspects we have going on in the first book, and I hope it carries over to the rest of the books.
Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women and Witchcraft edited by Tess Sharp
As you might gather from the title, this is an anthology of witchy and feminist stories written by a variety of female YA authors. I’m hoping to do a review with a breakdown of each individual story, but I definitely recommend giving this one a shot. If you’ve read it, please let me know your favorite stories! 4 stars.
The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw
I have been saving this beauty for the spooky months, and wow was it exactly what I wanted. This book is part magical realism, part light thriller, and all atmospheric. It takes place in the town of Sparrow, which is plagued for a few weeks each summer by the ghosts of three sisters who were drowned as witches. The girls each possess a different Sparrow girl and lead local boys to their deaths in the ocean. Our main character, Penny, lives on an island off the coast of Sparrow, and she can see which girls the sisters possess, which is not something anyone else can do. This is another one where it is better to go in with just a basic understanding of what is going on, because nothing will prepare you for what actually happens. It is heartbreaking and beautiful, and I highly recommend everyone give it a shot. 5 stars.
Grim Leaper by Kurtis J Wiebe
Something something graphic novel impulse buy? This is a story of Lou, who can’t really die. Instead, upon death, he ends up in the body of someone else. His deaths are always violent, and he usually doesn’t get to live in each body for very long between deaths. When he finds someone else stuck in this same cycle, he starts looking at things a little differently! This is a four-issue bind up of comics, and while it was pretty clever at times, I don’t think it was long enough to really do what it was trying to do. The art is cool though, so it’s still worth a read. 3 stars.
The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi
This is the first volume of the graphic novel series Amulet, and I believe there are at least 8 volumes out now. I kept eyeing it every time I went to my comic shop, and I finally decided to pick it up. It follows Emily and Navin, who are a brother and sister who move to an old family home in the middle of nowhere with their mother following a family tragedy. Emily and Navin discover something magical in their eccentric uncle’s study, and the story takes off from there! The art was beautiful, there are some Howl’s Moving Castle vibes as well as some talking robots, and I honestly can’t wait to read the next volumes. 4 stars.
Space Battle Lunchtime Vol 1: Lights, Camera, Snacktion by Natalie Riess
If you’ve met me or followed me on Twitter, you KNOW how I feel about food competition tv shows. This graphic novels series follows a Chopped-esque tv show…in space. The art is whimsical, there’s a character who is TOTALLY NOT Nebula from Guardians from the Galaxy, and I see a ship forming that I can’t wait to watch unfold. 5 stars.
Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand
So, when I heard about this book, I was definitely wary. I have a weird relationship with scary media, and there is a very fine line between what I am ok with and what freaks me out so far. This novel walked that line like a tight rope, and I came out enamored on the other side. I adore Claire Legrand’s books, and I am glad I gave this one a chance. The audio version was great and was probably what made me able to get all the way to the end. If you want an angry feminist horror story with queer characters and general badassery, this is for you. “Stardust cares not for the agony of demons,” is a random line toward the end of the book, and it squeezed my heart so much that I had to listen several times. Thank you Claire. 5 stars.
Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas
EPIC CONCLUSION. I AM STILL NOT OKAY. CAN’T REALLY TALK ABOUT IT. FEEL FREE TO DM ME ON TWITTER TO TALK ABOUT THIS BOOK. 500 RATTLED STARS.
The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron
This was the second book for one of my traveling book groups that I participate in on Twitter, and I honestly wasn’t expecting to enjoy it! This is definitely a dystopian novel, and my experience reminded me so much of my late high school and early college reading experiences during the height of dystopian YA. The inhabitants of the city in this book experience what they call The Forgetting once every 12 years. Everyone loses all of their memories beyond basic human functions and speech. To combat this, they all carry around books and chronicle their lives so that they may read them when they wake up as a blank slate. Obviously, though, something causes this, and our main character wants to discover what that is. I was satisfied with the sense of dread I felt, the romance, the world-building, the twists, and even the conclusion. I know there is a companion novel out there, and I think I’ll pick it up. 4 stars!
Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver
This is another traveling book, and is 100% not something I would pick up on my own. I have very mixed feelings about this book, mostly because I didn’t want to put it down (I read it in one sitting) but also disliked the characters and was annoyed by the “reveal” at the end. As with most thrillers, I can’t really say much, but the Goodreads synopsis does a pretty good job! 2.5 stars.
Roar by Cora Carmack
This was my last read of the month, and I barely squeaked by on the audiobook before the month was over. Our main character Aurora is a Stormling princess of Pavan, and she is supposed to be able to conquer powerful storms. “Supposed to” being the operative word. Her abilities never manifested, and her mother wants her to marry quickly so that the kingdom is stable before her secret is revealed. As in many stories of this nature, Aurora opts to run away and discover her powers herself instead. I LOVED the elemental magic in this. I LOVED the rag-tag found family. I LOVED the romance and the banter between Aurora and another character. I cannot wait for the sequel, which I believe will come out next year. 4.5 stars.
November Reading Plans:
Currently, I am in the middle of a few things. I am making my way (s l o w l y) through The Way of Kings. I’m about 10% of the way through the ebook version, and I plan to make my way through the Stormlight Archive turtle-style by chipping away at it a little bit every day. I am also currently about a third of the way through Damsel by Elana K. Arnold, halfway through the audio version of Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl, and halfway through the ebook of The Lost and Found by Katrina Leno. I’m a huge mood reader, so making a static monthly TBR isn’t usually something that is very successful for me, but a few that have been calling to me lately are: The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao, The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab, and Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner. I’m also HIGHLY anticipating receiving my copy of Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan, and I’m hoping to start it very soon after receiving it. Lastly, I’ve recently revisited a Top 5 Wednesday post where we talked about books we didn’t get to in 2017 that we want to get to in 2018, and I have only read two of them (Strange the Dreamer and Crooked Kingdom!) I really need to get to The Snow Child, Turtles All the Way Down, and The Fifth Season before the end of the year! Have you read any of these? If you have, let me know what you think I should read first!