May Reads 2017 Part One

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Like April, this has been a good reading month so far–thanks again to some cheating with graphic novels–so I decided to split up my monthly recaps into two to keep them to a decent size. That said, I am traveling next week which may mean I don’t finish many more books. But here’s what I’ve read in the first half of May.

I started off this month by finishing up the remaining Saga volumes that have been released, which consisted of Saga Vol 4, Vol 5, Vol 6, and Vol 7 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. Yes, it’s easy to feel like a productive reader if you throw in a few graphic novels! I definitely enjoyed these, despite them being outside my usual reading habits. These volumes continue the story of Hazel, a young girl whose parents come from planets on the opposite sides of a war, and who are constantly on the run. There were definitely some sad moments in these volumes, especially at the end of Volume 7, but lots of adventure as well. Saga Vol 7 is supposed to be self-contained and so not too much happens to actually move the plot forward, but the worst part is now I am all caught up and have to wait for new volumes to actually release. So I may just wait and comes back to these in a few years…how do people handle these waits?

I have at least a handful of books I partially read a few years ago before my time spent reading seriously waned and I have then never finished. Last month I picked up Insurgent by Veronica Roth, and this month it was Arclight by Josin L. McQuein that I reread from the beginning. I had actually read about 40% of this book originally, and I remembered loving it, so I was really excited when I was able to borrow it from the library again. I actually listened to it on audiobook and the reader was great, I highly recommend it.

Arclight is a young adult science fiction novel about a girl, Marina, who can’t remember her past, but was rescued from the Dark. Marina lives in the Arclight now, which is bordered by bright lights to keep the Fade, who live in the Dark out. But the Fade are coming to get her back. I really loved basically everything about this book, the world-building was great and there was a subtle but effective horror element to it, there’s some really eerie moments. McQuein’s writing is awesome, and she manages both the creepy and emotional with equal skill. I’ve definitely got a library hold on the sequel, Meridian, as well, and I can’t wait to read it next.

I really love mysteries, so the foreboding plot and cover of Grit by Gillian French definitely caught my interest. Grit is the story of Darcy, 17 years old with the title of “town slut”. The story takes place a year after her ex-best friend goes missing, as Darcy works the summer picking blueberries and competing in the local pageant, after an anonymous nomination.

Even though I thought Grit would be a mystery, it’s actually a contemporary novel with a slow moving storyline about life, and reputations, in a small town. I was really hoping there would be more focus on the missing girl, but actually not that much happened plot-wise in the entire book, despite there being quite a few storylines. There’s a brooding quietness to French’s writing, which is dark and sensitive, and definitely my favourite part of the book. Still, I wished for a little more action, as well as fewer storylines or at least more resolution to the ones explored. That said, if you are looking for a quiet, emotional coming-of-age story, Grit may be worth checking out.

This month in “adorable picture books I couldn’t help reading” is one I actually think is suitable for all ages…possibly even mine. How to Make Friends with a Ghost by Rebecca Green is a short illustrated “how to” guide with instructions on how to meet and be friends with a ghost.

Not only are the illustrations gorgeous, but I love the quirky humour of the book as well. Although it’s definitely a bit odd, Green’s book is just so cute. It ends with a sweet section on growing old. How to Make Friends with a Ghost releases in September and I think it would make the perfect Fall read, especially in time for Halloween.

Isla and the Happily Ever After is the third and final book in this adorable French boarding school universe which began with Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door, which I read years ago but somehow never managed to pick this one up. In the finale, Isla–smart, but uncertain about her future–finally has a chance with Josh, the introspective artist she’s been in love with for years. But how long can that happily ever after last?

Before picking up Isla I think I had forgotten how adorable and easy to devour Perkins’ writing is. I really loved it. The only problem was I didn’t really connect with Isla like I remember connecting with Anna. I know she doesn’t really know who she is, but in this case that makes for a kind of nothing main character, especially when all that seems to define her is how much she loves Josh. The other issue is that the story seems a little too perfect to real, a little too much insta-love without any basis or reason behind it. But despite these issues, I still loved reading Perkins’ novel. Because the story is cute and the writing is so easy to read and the setting is wonderful and it’s just a light, fun book. It was also fun to see a few cameos from characters from the previous books.

Honestly, if you are looking for a fun young adult romance novel that’s really just charming and wonderful, I definitely recommend checking out Perkins’ writing, starting with Anna and the French Kiss. She actually has a new book, There’s Someone Inside Your House, which is a horror novel and is coming out in September and I can’t wait tor read something else by her soon.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer, a young adult science fiction Cinderella retelling with cyborgs and androids, got a lot of hype when it was first released, and I thought it sounded really cool. I didn’t pick it up at the time, but after a recent rave review of the audiobook by Suzi (she does monthly book recaps too!), I decided it was finally time. I absolutely fell in love with this novel–which also has an excellent narrator, if you decide to listen to the audio.

I definitely predicted all the twists of Cinder from the beginning, but I can’t say it made me love it any less. The writing is just so good that even if I could guess what was coming, I still loved the world building and characters. Not only is Cinder herself both tough and relatable, but all the side characters (especially Iko, the android) are really awesome too.

In addition to the main books in this series, of which there are 4, there are a lot of mini novellas that compliment it. I also read two of those, Glitches, which takes place before Cinder and is about when Cinder first came to live with her new family, and The Little Android, which takes place in the same universe but is about new characters (although Cinder does make a cameo) and is a Little Mermaid retelling with an android. After loving Cinder so much I did enjoy both of these little stories as well, but I am most excited to pick up Scarlet next because the ending of Cinder is pretty intense!

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I had a really good reading month so far, but my favourite book so far was definitely Cinder, while the only one I’d probably skip would be Grit (but honestly, it only gets that title because so many of the books I read this month I loved).

I’ve got a bunch of halfway finished books to read in the rest of the month, including a few hard copies that have been dragging on forever so I’ll probably take them traveling with me. What have you been reading lately? Have you read any of these books?

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