Hello readers! Welcome to the first monthly wrap-up of 2019! I’ve read 22 books this month, 8 of which were historical romance, so I will talk about those more in depth in my romance wrap-up.
I started off the month reading The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson. This is a young adult fantasy about a princess who is meant to marry the prince of another kingdom in order to secure an alliance. Unlike many of the princesses we see in books, Lia isn’t snobby or spoiled, and all she wants is to live her own life and make her own choices. Just before her wedding, she runs away with her best friend and maid and they journey to a distant town within the kingdom. I love that Lia stands up for her friends, has no qualms about doing the same work as servants, and when she is confronted with the consequences of her actions, she takes responsibility and decides to set things right. This was a great read, and I totally did not see the plot twist coming, so I had to stop reading for a few minutes to sort through all of the clues that I could see in hindsight.
Next up, I read Renegades by Marissa Meyer. This was the second book by Marissa Meyer that I’ve ever read and it was so good that I immediately put all her other titles on hold at the library. Renegades takes place in a version of our world in which there are people with superpowers. For a long time, people with powers, called prodigies, were oppressed and made to hide their powers from fear of being experimented on or executed. Then the Anarchists, a villain gang, rose up and dismantled (aka murdered) the government. Though prodigies were no longer forced to hide their powers, chaos reigned, crime rocketed, and people lived in terror. Until the Renegades banded together to defeat the villains. But in a time of relative peace and prosperity, not everyone is satisfied that the Renegades remain in charge with no checks to their power. The story follows Nova, one of the few remaining Anarchists, who decides to go under cover in the Renegades organization to learn their weaknesses and figure out how to best dismantle them. We also follow Adrian, the son of two of the original Renegades, who likes Nova almost the instant they meet. I had a really fun time reading this book and I can tell that it’s the kind of thing I will want to re-read again and again.
After that, I tried my first Christina Lauren book, because pretty much everyone who likes contemporary romance likes Christina Lauren. I read Roomies which follows a pretty predictable green-card-marriage-trope plot line. But hey, I’m not looking for a romance to surprise me, I’m looking for a swoon-worthy pairing, some good character arcs, and maybe a few laugh-out-loud moments. This book did a pretty good job of that. I enjoyed the relationship between the main character and her uncles, and I especially appreciated the absence of any toxic masculinity, but the green card marriage is one of my least favorite romance tropes, so I gave it four stars instead of five.
Then the Biannual Bibliothon happened and I already did a wrap-up for that. I read a total of five books. My favorite was definitely An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard. It was so unlike most of the books I’ve read. It was just the right amount of dark and creepy, but also hopeful. I absolutely loved the female friendships in this book. I recognize that this book has some flaws, mostly in pacing towards the end, but I enjoyed it so much that I can’t help but give it five stars.
After the bibliothon, I felt like I needed something a little easier, so I read The 101 Dalmatians by Dodie Smith. This was a cute children’s classic. It’s basically the same as the movie, from what I can remember, but the descriptions in the book add so much to it. I love the twilight barking, and was recently telling one of my friends that I think of this story every time I hear dogs barking at dusk.
Then, I read another Marissa Meyer book. I really wanted to read the sequel to Renegades right away, but I had to wait for it to be available from the library, so when Cinder became available, I jumped at the chance. Cinder, as you either already know, or can probably guess, is a retelling of Cinderella. Cinder is a cyborg in a future version of our world. She is a skilled mechanic, but as with all Cinderella stories, she is mistreated by her step-mother and step-sister. In this version, she is actually friends with her second step-sister, but that doesn’t really make her life any easier. I was very skeptical of a sci-fi version of Cinderella when I first heard about this book several years ago, but I am so disappointed that I put off reading this for so long. This is such a great retelling with so many twists and turns and a real edge-of-your-seat cliffhanger. I wanted to pick up the sequel as soon as I finished, but alas, I had to wait for someone to return a copy.
So in the meantime, I listened to The Spies That Bind by Ally Carter, which is currently available for free for all Audible members. This is a prequel to the Gallagher Girls series, which I was obsessed with 11 years ago. I have kind of wanted to re-read the series, but have been scared that I wouldn’t like it anymore, but this prequel set me straight. Cammie, the narrator, has such a distinct voice and Ally Carter has a way of writing things so that they are both serious and hilarious. I was having lots of emotions in front of strangers on public transportation. I enjoyed this story just as much as I enjoyed the first GG books when I was 14, so I think a series re-read is in order.
After posting about all of my unread ebooks, I was feeling ashamed of myself, so I picked up one of the books on that list: Hunted by Meagan Spooner. Now, we all know I love a retelling, and I also love Meagan Spooner, so I don’t know why I kept putting this one off. It was so good. It reminded me a lot of East by Edith Pattou and The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden, but it also was its own distinct story. It was magical and wonderful and just might be my new favorite Beauty and the Beast retelling.
After Hunted, Scarlet, the sequel to Cinder was available, so I read that. I don’t want to talk about this book too much because I would risk spoiling Cinder, but I will say that this book was also amazing and I am waiting impatiently for the third book.
Then Archenemies, the sequel to Renegades was finally available, so obviously that was my next read. Like all of the other Marissa Meyer books I read this month, this book was a really great time and I can’t believe I have to wait so long for the next book to come out. I just need Nova and Adrian to be okay.
And last but not least, I read Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie. I was excited to read this story, because I know so many people who say that this is one of their favorite books even as an adult. I’m sorry to say that for me this book was just… okay. I enjoyed some parts of it, but I flinched every time a certain racial slur was used, and the fact that there were no real consequences to anything anyone did just bugged me. Like, “yep, I, a small child, just killed a grown man and it had taken no emotional toll on me, can we have an imaginary tea party now?” I can see why people love it, but this one just wasn’t for me.
As I mentioned earlier, I also read 8 romances this month, so check back later if you want to see my wrap-up for those. Until then, happy reading!
Monthly Goals Check-in
In order to keep track of how I’m doing with some of my reading goals, I am going to start including a little check-in at the bottom of my wrap-ups. I’m also adding a goal to read at least two books I already own each month.
Read at least one classic: The 101 Dalmatians and Peter Pan
Read at least one adult novel: An Unkindness of Magicians and Roomies
Read at least two already owned books: Hunted, Renegades, Cinder, Roomies