Before I even start writing this post, I can sense that it’s going to be ridiculously long so I’m going to have to wield my wit and bad sense of humour to get you to keep reading, so bear with me for bad jokes and awful puns. I’ve read some super amazing books this month, and I can’t wait to share them all with you!
I really hope you enjoy this ridiculously sized wrap up.
Book 1: Blood Heir by Amelie Wen Zhao
I ummed and ah-ed a lot about starting this one. On the one hand, I wanted to support an Asian author and anything that’s pitched similar to Anastasia has me instantly and blindly charging ahead but on the other, this book really hurt some people. Initiallly, Amelie withdrew her novel before it released, but still the damage was done. And then she decided to publish it anyway, sans changes. Of course, this could have been a huge marketing ploy or it could have genuinely caused pain – but I couldn’t decide which side I stood on. So I figured I’d read it for myself to find out…. And I really really loved it. The writing was soft and slightly wavering in confidence, but the world building was incredibly and the characters were perfection. It read exactly how a debut novel is expected to, but it was so much more than that too. The storyline, whilst dealing with sensitive issues, was JUST THAT. Sensitive. This book was delicate but strong, like a spiders silk web.
Book 2: Save The Date by Morgan Matson
I actually wasn’t expecting to be in the mood for this book until summer, but I was really craving a delightful contemporary, and I had very few of those left on my physical TBR (I tend to read softer books as soon I get them, whilst leaving heftier fantasies on my shelves for years, unread). This book turned out to be exactly what I was in the mood for and I loved being swept away by the craziness of wedding planning, brewing romance and of course the rich imagery that Morgan Matson always manages to wield. This was the 3rd book by her I read, and my 2nd favourite – a perfectly suitable easy read that has you laughing, grinning like a fool and turning page after page like a whirlwind.
Books 3, 4 & 5: The Jewel, The White Rose and The Black Key by Amy Ewing
Now this is an ex-popular dystopian that’s very similar in structure and storyline to a few of my favourites: The Selection combined with Shatter Me. Whilst it first seems like a light hearted trilogy about pretty dresses and fascinating magic, there is actually something a lot darker at play. Young women are being forced to be surrogates for the rich royals who are unable to carry their own children, and they are being tortured whilst they do so. This trilogy gets super dark, super quickly and it takes you on a rollercoaster of emotion that somehow makes you feel sympathetic for everyone whilst also hating the majority of the cast: and you still end up loving every moment. I really recommend it to people looking for shorter reads when they are craving something similar to the vibes the good old “dystopian” days where The Hunger Games and Divergent were reigning supreme.
Book 6: The Nameless Queen by Rebecca McLaughlin
I am humbled, I am flawed. I can not understand how a debut author can publish such a masterpiece when everything I’ve ever attempted to write has been a steaming pile of horse sh*t. Rebecca McLaughlin has completely blown away my (high) expectations and raised herself on a pedestal which will probably see her book in my Top 20 of this year. And I can say that confidently, even though we’re barely 1/12th of the way through 2020. The Nameless Queen has a caste system that needs to be broken. It has the rich, it has the workers, and it has the nameless. People who don’t even deserve a chance at a better life, they don’t deserve papers and they definitely don’t deserve names. But that doesn’t stop them from trying to claim their own. This book features a kick-ass plot line, a strong female lead and manipulative politics which she refuses to let get her down. She protects her own and her own protect her. I have so much love for the whole cast of main characters and I must have more of them AT ALL COSTS. If you love strong found family relationships and hate backstabbing, this is the book for you. Because they fight for a better world… together. There is no bitterness, no jealousy between them that one gains more than the other and I can’t describe how much this book NEEDS to be read… by everyone. Pretty please?
Book 7: The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White
This was one of those books that I only read because of the hype, even as I repeated “I’m not going to like it, I’m not going to like it” over and over in my head. Which sounds awful and prejudice, but I’ve tried Kiersten’s books before and I just don’t get on with them. Its not so much that I’ve thought they’re bad, her writing style just doesn’t seem to click with me. But THIS book? THIS MASTERPIECE? It clicked with me perfectly, sliding right into the little empty hole in my heart and fulfilling me and guaranteeing almost-perfection. Although I do think there is a little bit of queer baiting, but I’ll hold off on talking too much about that before I see how the next book goes. Because it might not be bait. But I love the flower knight Lancelot with all my heart and I really did enjoy how sweet Arthur was, and I’m just all together curious about Merlin. Even Guinevere beat my expectations, although nothing will ever beat the BBC’s adaptation of this legend so my expectations for Gwen were actually quite high. She was a lot stronger and a lot less reliant on Arthur than I was anticipating, and I can’t wait to see where this series goes.
Book 8: Get A Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert
You know when a book absolutely wrecks your emotions and breaks through every wall you’ve ever built to protect yourself and has you completely sobbing and absolutely in awe? Get A Life, Chloe Brown was possibly one of the greatest books I’ve ever read. It’s an adult romance with plenty of adorable moments, heavy arguments and an enemies-to-lovers plot line. But it was also so much more. It dealt with emotional abuse, manipulation and the difficulty of healing from that. It dealt with prejudice, disabilities, chronic pain and a main character who would push through all that to climb a tree and save a kitten. Yep, Chloe Brown is a strong yet soft, independent but surrounded by adoring family female lead who almost knows what she wants and will go out of her way to get it. This isn’t an adult romance with absentee parents or a bad background (on her side, at least) and it’s so full of all types of love that I know, with every beat of my heart, that this book is going to stick with me for the ages.
Books 9-13: The Wayward Children Series by Seanan McGuire
A newly made bookish friend from one of my various book-orientated Facebook group sent me ‘Every Heart A Doorway’ through one of those gift exchange threads and I have been hooked to these books ever since. Like, literally. Put a needle in my arm and use them for a blood transfusion or drugs or something because I am addicted. I’m always a supporter of genuine asexual representation in books, and not only did Seanan write Nancy perfectly, but also wrote everyone perfectly in this entire series. I’m amazed at how much can be said in such short books but they are whimsical, epic and truly take you on a wild adventure through your own portal ‘Door’. My only regret is that I’ve reached adulthood and haven’t yet found my magical entrance to another world. Maybe that’s what my move to Australia will provide though?
Book 14: I Want To Eat Your Pancreas by Yoru Simono
I got a few weird looks whilst reading this one, but nether the less I pushed past the public shame and read it… yep, on the bus. It’s a super quick fly-through manga but it has the ability to completely shatter your heart. It’s about a boy who finds out the most popular student in his school has pancreatic cancer… and he’s the only know who knows. As a result, she orbits around his sudden pull as she’s desperate to finally have someone to talk to about everything she’s going through, without scaring her friends or letting her teachers know. It’s an adorable slow-burn friendship that collides an excitable extrovert with the most introverted introvert possibly ever.
Book 15: Every Other Weekend by Abigail Johnson
This was another quick read, even though it was actually a chunky sized book. Every so often, between chapters, we’d have a few pages of text messages which were obviously a whole lot of image and emojis and not a lot of words, allowing this one to maintain a flow and keep it going. I have mixed feelings about it, overall. On the one hand, the writing was actually fairly captivating and well crafted. The characters were interesting and complex and a little moody, although you do find yourself getting annoyed at the constant arguing and guilt-tripping that one of the main characters forces his parents through after a separation. Like, he takes it to the extreme and it gets tiring after a while. Not a lot happens in the first three quarters of the book. It’s all about a budding romance and discovering themselves and lots and lots of parent arguing. It sets up their difficult home lives and troublesome situations perfectly, for the last section of the book was… groundbreaking. And really difficult to deal with. One of the main characters ends up getting groomed and it makes your skin burn and your heart break and the emotional turmoil of these last chapters really carried the entire book for me.
Book 16: Gravemaidens by Kelly Coon
Sacrificing yourself to die alongside a royal is an honour. Pledging to serve him in the afterlife is pledging your remaining days to worship, a wonderful lifestyle of feasts and dresses and jewels. Only, for Kammani, she definitely doesn’t consider being killed an honour. And she definitely doesn’t consider her sister being chosen as a Gravemaidens an honour, not when it would leave her all alone. So Kammani does the only thing she can do – infiltrate the palace and come up with a way to save the dying king. She is, after all, the second greatest healer in the lands. But also the daughter of the man responsible for allowing the King’s heir to die. Full of political intrigue, murder mystery and sisterhood, I really loved the whirlwind of this book and how the imagery could be simultaneously gorgeous and vibrant and moody and dark. SO. TALENTED.
Book 17: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
What can I say other than… heavy sigh. This was a reread for me and I was hoping to enjoy it as much as I did last time but it fell so flat for me and I really struggled to finish it. In fact, I only reread it to continue onto the second newly released book in the series, but I was so bored by the end that I had to pick something else up or risk forcing myself into a slump. It’s not so much that nothing happens but that it just feels so… relaxed? For a high stakes, high tension book I was never really on the edge of my seat and I think the overconfidence in the writing was actually a weakness. I didn’t care about the characters, the narrative never focused on the things I found interesting (like the Maji camp, magic systems or Gods) and just didn’t include much of the beautiful, rich world that Tomi created. Like, it was all there just out reach and it made me so miserable that I couldn’t go off and explore on my own and leave the unlikeable main character to her own devices. All I can say is… I tried. I failed. It won’t happen again.
Book 18: The Way You Make Me Feel by Maureen Goo
Do you have any of those books that you aren’t really sure when they appeared in your collection but somehow you’ve had it for at least a year and never read it? That was this one for me. I don’t remember getting it or hauling it but I’m glad it somehow mysteriously made its way into my hands because it was exactly what I needed after my conflict with my previous read. It was soft and funny and I loved the friendship that blossomed throughout and the journey our main character goes through and how she grows as a person over the course of the summer the book covers. It’s a super sweet story about a girl forced to work for her dad’s food truck and she ends up really enjoying herself and somehow cooking up a boyfriend for herself along the way. I wasn’t PLANNING on picking this one up but I’m really glad I did. I’ve automatically gone ahead and added Maureen’s other books onto my Wishlist.
Book 19: The Storm Crow by Kalyn Josephson
Why have I put this one off for so long?! Whilst it’s not technically been out for an overly long time, I got it as an ARC in a Fairyloot box around a year ago now and planned to read it straight away. Only.. I never did. And somehow it passed me by and suddenly it was release day and I still hadn’t read it and then suddenly we are several months down the line and I hadn’t even tried to pick it up. AND THEN I DID. AND IT WAS GLORIOUS. AND IT. IS. EVERYTHING! If you like giant Phoenix-like crows with glorious magic abilities and a murderous tyrant that needs to be brought down to size then this is the book for you! The writing is as smooth as silk and just as delicious as my favourite dairy free chocolate. My only regret is that I now have to wait for the sequel…
And, of course, last but NOT AT ALL least… (as in, it was my favourite of the month)…
Book 20: The Stars We Steal by Alexa Donne
Drama. Intrigue. Mystery. The stars of the world collide in this masterpiece of a book, creating an astronomical explosion of excellence. I have a thousand words to say and no way to sum it up other than this: combine Gossip Girl with Anastasia with SPACE. That’s all I’m going to give away for now, but keep your eye out for my upcoming full review where every sentence is a compliment and every word is pretty much just ASKLAJSHDHD and lots of gushing.
I HOPE YOU HAVE FUN READING IT! (Both the review AND the book, because you won’t be able to resist c;)