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Thursday, September 29

Recently Read | July/August 2016

Thursday, September 29

The month of September has been an absolute blur, which is why I'm posting this way later than I would have liked. C'est la vie!

What did I read during the months of July and August?

Top Read

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Simon Snow is the worst chosen one who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here—it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story—but far, far more monsters.

If you've never read Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl, I must implore you to stop reading this post right this instant and get thee to a bookstore. Fangirl is one of my favorite books, and the book in which Simon Snow and Tyrannus "Baz" Basilton Grimm-Pitch—the main characters of Carry On—are "born."

In Fangirl, the main character is a fan of a book series loosely (or not so loosely) based on Harry Potter. She writes fanfiction for the series, and is excited about the release of the final book. Carry On is that final book. (Not the fanfiction. I know it's a bit confusing.)

 Rowell has been quoted as saying that she couldn't get Simon out of her head after writing Fangirl, and I am very glad she couldn't. But mostly because I got to read about Baz, who's actually the most interesting character in the novel. He's kind of a Draco Malfoy-type, but much less of a creep.

I know some people dislike Carry On or couldn't get into it because it's so familiar to Harry Potter and other "chosen one" stories (i.e., a "rip-off"), but I'm a fan of it for exactly those reasons. Rowell breathes new life into the trope, and her writing, in general, is fabulous. Plus, the totally swoony relationship in Carry On would make me overlook a myriad of faults.

Honorable mentions

Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle #1) by Jay Kristoff

In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she’ll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But a killer is loose within the Church’s halls, the bloody secrets of Mia’s past return to haunt her, and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves.

Will she even survive to initiation, let alone have her revenge?

Nevernight is a gorgeous and violent start to a new series. The main character, Mia, saw her family murdered at a young age, and has since spent her life working toward vengeance. I love books in which the main characters are somewhat anti-heroes, and Mia is definitely that.

This book definitely isn't for the squeamish or faint of heart, however. It features lots of blood and violent acts and cursing—the hashtag for this book is #stabstabstab, if that gives you any indication of what's in store.

The Beauty of Darkness (The Remnant Chronicles #3) by Mary E. Pearson

Lia has survived Venda—but so has a great evil bent on the destruction of Morrighan. And only Lia can stop it.

With war on the horizon, Lia has no choice but to assume her role as First Daughter, as soldier—as leader. While she struggles to reach Morrighan and warn them, she finds herself at cross-purposes with Rafe and suspicious of Kaden, who has hunted her down.

In this conclusion to the Remnant Chronicles trilogy, traitors must be rooted out, sacrifices must be made, and impossible odds must be overcome as the future of every kingdom hangs in the balance.

The Beauty of Darkness is the final book in Mary E. Pearson's The Remnant Chronicles, all three books of which are fantastic. I think my favorite of the series is the first book, thanks to the way it's written—you're unsure of who two characters are, and if they're good or bad, until the very end—but The Beauty of Darkness is still a great read, and a fitting conclusion to the trilogy.

The series, which on the surface seems like a pretty standard "girl doesn't think she's anything special but is actually super powerful" medieval fantasy fare, has an unexpected twist in that it's set in America's distant future, post some sort of apocalyptic event. (Highlight to reveal spoiler.) I love that twist, and applaud Pearson for weaving in hints throughout all three novels.

Ghostly Echoes (Jackaby #3) by William Ritter

Jenny Cavanaugh, the ghostly lady of 926 Augur Lane, has enlisted the investigative services of her fellow residents to solve a decade-old murder—her own. Abigail Rook and her eccentric employer, Detective R. F. Jackaby, dive into the cold case, starting with a search for Jenny’s fiancé, who went missing the night she died. But when a new, gruesome murder closely mirrors the events of ten years prior, Abigail and Jackaby realize that Jenny’s case isn’t so cold after all, and her killer may be far more dangerous than they suspected.

Fantasy and folklore mix with mad science as Abigail’s race to unravel the mystery leads her across the cold cobblestones of nineteenth-century New England, down to the mythical underworld, and deep into her colleagues’ grim histories to battle the most deadly foe she has ever faced.

Will Ritter's Jackaby series is another fantastic one. The books chronicle the adventures of R.F. Jackaby, a Sherlock-ish detective who's tuned in to the paranormal, his assistant/apprentice Abigail, a pretty "normal" girl who is the common sense side of the team, and their friends/associates/various villainous characters. Ghostly Echoes is the third book in the series—I think there will be four all told—and it's the best yet.

The series skews a bit toward the younger side of YA, and the mysteries aren't the most complex, but sometimes you just need to read something that's more innocent and just plain fun.

Other reads


Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli | Girl in the Shadows (Cirque Americain #2) by Gwenda Bond | Tales of the Peculiar (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children #0.5) by Ransom Riggs | Flamecaster (Shattered Realms #1) by Cinda Williams Chima


Signs of You by Emily France | Lightless (Lightless #1) by C.A. Higgins | The Monster on the Road is Me by J.P. Romney | Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Harry Potter #8) by J.K. Rowling | This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1) by Victoria Schwab | Last Night, a Superhero Saved My Life by various authors


Whatever.: or how junior year became totally f$@ked by S.J. Goslee | The Gilded Cage by Lucinda Gray | Supernova (Lightless #2) by C.A. Higgins | Way Down Dark (The Australia Trilogy #1) by James Smythe | Nice Girls Endure by Chris Struyk-Bonn

If you've read any of these titles, I'd love to hear what you thought! And, have you read anything lately that you'd recommend?

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