Wednesday, April 1, 2015

March Wrap Up

I don't feel like I can truly move on to a new month without talking about everything that I read in the last one, so here we are again. March seriously felt like the longest month of my life- I was so busy but at the same time everything just kept dragging on.

I'm glad March is over, and though I did not have the most stellar reading month, especially towards the end, I did read a few great ones and managed 8 books. I also posted 3 reviews on here and 2 others on goodreads, about books that I felt warranted some comment, just not an entire review. For those, the goodreads review will be copy/pasted here.

1. A Darker Shade of Magic – V.E. Schwab ☆☆☆☆☆
Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.
Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London - but no one speaks of that now.
Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her 'proper adventure'.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — trickier than they hoped.

This book was pure magic. I have a full review HERE, where I basically just gush for about a thousand words over how much I love this book, but if you want the short version, here it is. This story is full of magic and danger, cross dressing pirates and rakish princes and boys with black eyes. Evil and alternate dimensions and trickery and alliances and somehow, friendship and love. It is a wonderfully twisted ride, one that will leave you absolutely breathless for more.

2. Red Queen – Victoria Aveyard ☆☆☆☆
The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.

To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.

Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of
those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.

But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will

I'm pitching this book to everyone I know as a Hunger Games meets Game of Thrones vibe, and if that isn't enough to sell you, I have a full review HERE explaining why this is worth a read. Though some of it is definitely exposition, starting up in a new world, it is interesting, and there are definite undertones of social commentary in the way this world is described. Another reason to read this book is that it will keep you on your toes. Nothing is as it seems, and just like the characters living at the treacherous royal court, you can't trust anyone, and no one acts without an agenda. It's a daring novel, to be sure, and dark, but also a hell of a lot of fun. 
3. Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story – David Levithan ☆☆☆½
It’s Tiny Cooper’s turn in the spotlight in this companion novel to New York Times bestseller Will Grayson, Will Grayson.

Jazz hands at the ready! Tiny Cooper (“the world’s largest person who is also really, really gay”) stole readers’ hearts when he was introduced to the world in the New York Times bestselling book Will Grayson, Will Grayson, co-authored by John Green and David Levithan. Now Tiny finally gets to tell his story—from his fabulous birth and childhood to his quest for true love and his infamous parade of ex-boyfriends—the way he always intended: as a musical! Filled with honesty, humor, and “big, lively, belty” musical numbers, the novel is told through the full script of the musical first introduced in Will Grayson, Will Grayson.

If you haven't read Will Grayson, Will Grayson, then you will be confused by this book. However, if you have, this is a fun, short companion that you will fly through, as it is a novelized musical.

(review from goodreads)
I absolutely loved Tiny Cooper when I read Will Grayson, Will Grayson, so I was so excited for this novelization of Tiny's musical to come out.
I wasn't disappointed. I read this book in about 2 hours – because it is a play, the reading goes very quickly – but I was laughing *out loud* pretty much the entire time. Tiny is larger than life and hilarious, and this play shows the events from Will Grayson, Will Grayson from his POV, which was interesting. It is also a musical, and a super fun one at that.
I didn't really have any complaints about this book, other than that I wish it were longer! It is definitely a companion novel and not a standalone, which is why it is four stars instead of five. For what it is though– a companion to a standalone novel– it was superb. Lots of fun, lots of laughs. Well done, Tiny Cooper and David Levithan. 

4. Zodiac – Romina Russell ☆☆☆☆
At the dawn of time, there were 13 Houses in the Zodiac Galaxy. Now only 12 remain….
Rhoma Grace is a 16-year-old student from House Cancer with an unusual way of reading the stars. While her classmates use measurements to make accurate astrological predictions, Rho can’t solve for ‘x’ to save her life—so instead, she looks up at the night sky and makes up stories.
When a violent blast strikes the moons of Cancer, sending its ocean planet off-kilter and killing thousands of citizens—including its beloved Guardian—Rho is more surprised than anyone when she is named the House’s new leader. But, a true Cancerian who loves her home fiercely and will protect her people no matter what, Rho accepts.
Then, when more Houses fall victim to freak weather catastrophes, Rho starts seeing a pattern in the stars. She suspects Ophiuchus—the exiled 13th Guardian of Zodiac legend—has returned to exact his revenge across the Galaxy. Now Rho—along with Hysan Dax, a young envoy from House Libra, and Mathias, her guide and a member of her Royal Guard—must travel through the Zodiac to warn the other Guardians.
But who will believe anything this young novice says? Whom can Rho trust in a universe defined by differences? And how can she convince twelve worlds to unite as one Zodiac?

(review from goodreads)
Ok wow. This book was so interesting, it took me a long long time to get through because I felt like I had to really chew on everything that was going on.
The world in Zodiac is amazingly developed. The twelve signs of the zodiac exist each in their own constellation, each with defining traits and traditions all their own. I loved reading about the different houses and getting to know different characters from different backgrounds. The diversity in the characters in this book was amazing.
The main character, Rho, is a Cancer, a nurturer, concerned with family and protecting her loved ones. The way that Cancer is described throughout the book made me appreciate my own home, which I think was kind of the point.
There was a lot going on in this book, what with a threat from a lost thirteenth house, the many many disasters and deaths (of really likable characters), the love triangle, and the overarching internal conflict as Rho struggles to find her footing in her world, which has been thrown completely off balance. In another story, the fact that there was so much going on would've felt forced and choppy, but honestly, I got so lost in the world, the fact that there were multileveled conflicts going on just made it more real.
That being said, this book definitely takes some work to read. You must be willing to learn a lot of new terms, and for the first couple chapters you will most likely be a little bit lost. However, when you get the hang of it, the world will feel almost real. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who is willing to put a little bit of work in to come to a truly great ending.

5. Nighbird – Alice Hoffman ☆☆☆☆
An enchanting novel from bestselling author Alice Hoffman: a charmed New England village, a family secret, and a friendship destined to defeat a witch.
"Some things could only be found in Sidwell it seemed: pink apples, black owls, and my brother, James."
Twelve-year-old Twig's town in the Berkshires is said to hide a winged beast, the Monster of Sidwell, and the rumors draw as many tourists as the town's famed pink apple orchards. Twig lives in the orchard with her mysterious brother James and her reclusive mother, a baker of irresistible apple pies. Because of a family secret, an ancient curse,Twig has had to isolate herself from other kids. Then a family with two girls, Julia and Agate, moves into the cottage next door. They are descendants of the witch who put the spell on Twig's family. But Julia turns out to be Twig's first true friend, and her ally in trying to undo the curse and smooth the path to true love for Agate and James.

This was a melancholy and strange little book, and I say that in the best way. It is written for middle grade and perhaps even a bit younger, but it definitely appeals to a wider audience that just its intended one. It is quite short, so you will fly through it, but there is a lot packed into the small amount of pages. I think its best not to know too much about this book before going into it, because it will make the manner in which this story is told more effective in getting the mood across.

6. Mosquitoland – David Arnold ☆☆☆☆☆
"I am a collection of oddities, a circus of neurons and electrons: my heart is the ringmaster, my soul is the trapeze artist, and the world is my audience. It sounds strange because it is, and it is, because I am strange."
After the sudden collapse of her family, Mim Malone is dragged from her home in northern Ohio to the "wastelands" of Mississippi, where she lives in a medicated milieu with her dad and new stepmom. Before the dust has a chance to settle, she learns her mother is sick back in Cleveland.
So she ditches her new life and hops aboard a northbound Greyhound bus to her real home and her real mother, meeting a quirky cast of fellow travelers along the way. But when her thousand-mile journey takes a few turns she could never see coming, Mim must confront her own demons, redefining her notions of love, loyalty, and what it means to be sane.
Told in an unforgettable, kaleidoscopic voice, "Mosquitoland" is a modern American odyssey, as hilarious as it is heartbreaking.

For sure, one of my top two books of the month, if not of the year. Actually, for sure it is in my top five books of the year so far. I have a whole review HERE that speaks extensively of my love for this book, and if I do say so myself, that review is rather eloquent, so you should go read it now. This book made me laugh, it made me tear up, it made me think, above all else. This is a great book if you're going on a road trip or vacation, or if you have a free day to just dive into. I cannot stress enough the magnificence of this novel. READ IT. 
7. Beastkeeper – Cat Hellisen ☆☆
Sarah has always been on the move. Her mother hates the cold, so every few months her parents pack their bags and drag her off after the sun. She’s grown up lonely and longing for magic. She doesn’t know that it’s magic her parents are running from. When Sarah’s mother walks out on their family, all the strange old magic they have tried to hide from comes rising into their mundane world. Her father begins to change into something wild and beastly, but before his transformation is complete, he takes Sarah to her grandparents—people she has never met, didn’t even know were still alive.
Deep in the forest, in a crumbling ruin of a castle, Sarah begins to untangle the layers of curses affecting her family bloodlines, until she discovers that the curse has carried over to her, too. The day she falls in love for the first time, Sarah will transform into a beast . . . unless she can figure out a way to break the curse forever.

This book was just ehh for me. It was very short and it has a  beautiful cover, which is why I was attracted to it in the first place, but that is about where my attraction stopped. It was short, so it felt like the pacing was a bit rushed, there wasn't really any explanation for most of the things that happened to Sarah, and honestly, I was just bored. 2 stars is all I can honestly give this one, guys!

8. Grim – edited by Christine Johnson ☆☆☆

Since this is an anthology, there isn't really a synopsis. This is a collection of fairytales, both well known and very obscure, that are told with a dark or creepy twist. For the most part, these stories were very average to me. There were only a couple that I would ever consider coming back to, and then, for those couple that I liked, there were an equal amount of ones that I couldn't wait to be finished with. So, I'd say this is a mix of good, mediocre and just not great. 3 star average across all short stories. 

My two favorites for this month were by far A Darker Shade of Magic and Mosquitoland, though I can't quite pick between the two.
What did you read this month? What were some of your favorites? 


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