Top Reads of Summer 2018

I read 29 books throughout the months of June, July, and August. It’s so hard to narrow it down to my favourites, but here’s a few of the books I loved this summer:

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
I am obsessed with this book. It may end up being my top read of 2018. It’s set in Alaska in the 1970’s and focuses on 13 year old Leni and her parents. Her dad was a POW in Vietnam and still struggles with PTSD, taking out his frustrations on Leni’s mother. The setting was the highlight of this book for me, followed closely by the writing. As someone who loves the mountains and the outdoors, I was totally sucked in my Kristin Hannah’s depictions of Alaska and the unforgiving nature of the great white north.

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend
This is the follow up series to Harry Potter that I’ve been waiting for. A middle grade fantasy series about young Morrigan Crow, a “cursed” child who has been rejected by her family. To avoid her fate, she signs a contract with the mysterious Jupiter North and is whisked away to Nevermoor, where she competes in the trials to become a member of the prestigious Wunder Society. This is a clever and beautiful book about belonging and I can’t wait to see where Townsend takes this series.

Women Talking by Miriam Toews
One of my more recent reads, Women Talking is a sobering book about the injustices women face and the struggle of when to walk away and say enough is enough. This is a fictional recounting of true events that took place in a mennonite community in Bolivia. The women in this book are undervalued, despite the great contributions they make in running their community. Even though they’ve been violated by the men in their community, it’s still hard for them to walk away. They understand the community will fall apart in their absence, but they also understand that walking away will be more effective than trying to stay and fight and that only in their absence might things change.

Not That Bad by Various Authors, edited by Roxane Gay
This is a book of essays edited by Roxane Gay about rape culture and how women have been conditioned to stay silent, believing their experiences are not that bad. It features a wonderfully diverse series of authors and re-iterates that no matter what has happened to you in the past and how worse you think someone else’s experience was, your experiences are valid and they matter.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
This was an interesting novel about the American justice system and how it disproportionately targets and prosecutes black people. It had some great social commentary on what it means to be black in America, but I really liked the relationship dynamics between the 3 central characters and how it incorporated family into the story. Roy and Celestial had only been married for a year when Roy is incarcerated. Believing that Roy will be in prison for 20 years, she moves on to another relationship with her childhood friend, Andre. But when Roy is released early, Celestial must make a difficult choice about her relationships.

Sadie by Courtney Summers
This is the new YA book that everyone is talking about and it was extremely compelling. Sadie’s younger sister is murdered and in her anguish, Sadie disappears without a trace as she heads off in search of her sister’s murderer. What’s so interesting about this book is that it’s partly told in the format of a podcast about missing girls. It reminded me of Serial and features a journalist interviewing Sadie’s friends and family, trying to learn more about her disappearance and her sister’s murder. It’s a fast paced, but introspective read and I totally flew through it.

August Summary

Okay, August was the best! Well, for books anyways. The wildfires in BC are totally out of control and the air quality was atrocious, so I didn’t do quite as much outdoor stuff, which is one of the reasons it was a great month for books! But also, my August monthly challenge just totally re-vitalized me and got me out of my reading slump!

I was getting a bit hung up with my monthly challenges and the pressure to read specific books, so in August I just set myself the challenge to read pretty much whatever I wanted by trying to read as many of my existing books as possible. I have a lot of un-read books, so it left me with lots of selection to choose from and I finally read some books that I’ve been meaning to get to for a while. Here’s my summary:

Books read: 11
Pages read: 4,208
Main genres: Young Adult
Favourite book: Nevermoor and Women Talking!

I started off the month with Leah on the Offbeat, Becky Albertalli’s newest book. I’ve heard really great things about this one and I’ve been meaning to get to it for a while, but unfortunately I didn’t love it. I’m really hit or miss with Albertalli’s books and I’m finding myself counter to popular opinion on her books. I liked but didn’t love Simon vs. the Homosapiens Agenda (but I LOVED the movie) and I really liked The Upside of Unrequited, which I would say is her least popular book. But I didn’t like this one either. Leah kind of rubbed with the wrong way and while I still loved all the diversity in this book, I found parts of it problematic.

After that, I decided to participate in the 25infive readathon, which challenges people to read for 25 hours over the span of 5 days. I didn’t quite finish the challenge (I read 23 hours over 4 days), but I read 4.5 books, so I was super pleased with myself. I started with Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend and Radio Silence by Alice Oseman. I totally flew through both books and I am not slightly obsessed with Nevermoor. Nevermoor is totally Middle Grade fantasy at it’s best and I confirm that the comparison’s to Harry Potter are valid and that everyone should read this book because it is just so much fun! I also loved Radio Silence, which is about the struggles of senior year and the pressure to go to University, and I will definitely be reading more of Alice Oseman.

I followed up those with Ten by Gretchen McNeil and To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. I pretty much hated Ten and found it problematic and kind of offensive, but I thought To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before was really cute. I was only inspired to pick this one up because the new Netflix movie looked really cute (can now confirm – it is cute). Lara Jean seemed like the type of YA book that I gave up long ago, but I loved that this was more a story about sisters than it was about boys and I thought it was really cute. I also read the sequel this month though, P.S. I Still Love You, and unfortunately I thought it was no where near as strong as the first book and basically unnecessary.

While I did read P.S. I Still Love You in August, it wasn’t part of my 25infive reading challenge. The last book I tried to squeeze into the challenge was Uprooted (I got halfway through during the challenge). Uprooted was a challenge for me. It’s a well written, traditional fairytale type story, but I found it so slow moving that it was really hard for me to get into it.

I interspersed my reading of Uprooted with The Last Time I Lied, which was definitely the opposite in terms of pace. This was my first Riley Sager book and it wasn’t quite as scary as I was anticipating, but I really enjoyed it. It was a solid mystery thriller book about a girl name Emma whose 3 friends disappeared at summer camp when she was 13. She’s returned to the camp as an adult and 3 more girls disappear, forcing her into a race against time to figure out what really happened 15 years ago. I was convinced that I had the mystery figured out and I was thrilled to find out I got it totally wrong and didn’t see the twist coming at the end at all.

I had one book that I had to read in August, which was for my book club, was Circe by Madeline Miller, the new fantasy book that came out this year and has super good reviews. I had a bit of a love-hate relationship with this one, similar to Uprooted. I thought the story was really good, but it was a slow read for me and the reading experience overall wasn’t great, even though I did like the story.

I read Women Talking by Miriam Toews towards the end of this month and it was definitely one of the best books I read this year! It’s a fictional account of the true story of a community of Bolivian, Mennonite women who were attacked and raped in their sleep over the course of 4 years. After the crime is discovered, the women meet to discuss what to do about it and the whole book is basically a group of them talking about whether they should leave the community or stay and fight. The writing in this book is wonderful and the content is so thoughtful. I would recommend this book to absolutely anyone and everyone.

Finally, I finished the month with a re-read of The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J Maas, which is the prequel to the Throne of Glass series. I am a bit obsessed with this series and with the final book coming out in October, I’ve decided to re-read the whole series! The Assassin’s Blade was just as good as I remembered and I can’t wait to jump into the rest of the books in September!

Fall 2018 New Releases

Okay, the number of new releases that I can’t wait to read coming out this Fall is A LOT! There are so many new sequels coming out, I can’t wait to read them all!!

September 18th

Lethal White by Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling) – I have been waiting for this one for YEARS and it recently has a release date in September, which is pretty much the most exciting news ever! I need to know what Robin and Strike will get up to next!

Wildcard by Marie Lu – I read and loved Warcross last year, so I’m thrilled this series is getting a sequel so soon!

Check Please! #Hockey by Ngozi Ukazu – Okay, I admit I only recently discovered this one, it’s a graphic novel, coming of age story about (gay?) hockey players. It has wonderful reviews already and I am super intrigued to read it!

October 2nd

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee – If this is anything like The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, it will be a hoot! Can’t wait to read more about Felicity! (I don’t think the first book is required reading for this one)

Saga, Volume 9 by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples – I’m literally always ready for a new Saga installment.

October 9th

Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak – That’s right, the author of The Book Thief is finally publishing a new book!

October 23rd

Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J Maas – Sarah is finally publishing the final book in the Throne of Glass series. Empire of Storms ended on the most outrageous cliffhanger and then I got a whole book about Chaol forced on me that I didn’t need, so I can’t wait to finally read this last installment.

Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend – I only just read Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow a few weeks ago and I am totally obsessed with it! So glad I only have to wait until October for the sequel.

November 6th

Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix by Julie C Dao – The second (and I believe final) installment in the Forest of a Thousand Lanterns series. The first book was surprisingly dark and juicy and I’m really interested in this follow up retelling of snow white and the evil queen.

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan – I’m not sure why this new fantasy caught my eye over the million other new fantasy’s coming out, but I heard it has mature themes and a strong protagonist, so I really want to read it.

December 4th

All the Wandering Light by Heather Fawcett – I haven’t been seeing too much hype about this series, but I really liked the first book, Even the Darkest Stars, and I was really sad when the release date on this one got pushed back a few months, but this is set in the frigid, snowy mountains, so it’ll be the perfect atmospheric read for December!

 

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow

Rating: 
Author: Jessica Townsend
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade
Pub date: Oct. 2017 (read Aug. 2018)

I’ve been seeing Nevermoor pop up on Booktube and for some reason decided I didn’t have an interest in it. But I recently heard it labelled as the “next Harry Potter” and that there were a lot of comparisons that could be made between the two, so of course I finally had to pick up a copy. Best decision ever because this book was so much fun from start to finish!

Morrigan Crow is eleven years old and has the unfortunate bad luck of being born on Eventide. As a result, she’s considered a cursed child in the Wintersea Republic and is blamed for every bad thing that happens in her village. But her real bad luck is that cursed children always die on the eve of the next Eventide, which happens to be the day after Morrigan’s eleventh birthday.

Morrigan just wants to be remembered, but when the next Eventide is announced, it’s obvious her family is already preparing to move on and forget about her. However, before death can catch her, Morrigan is whisked away to Nevermoor, the free state, by the enigmatic Jupiter North, who selects Morrigan to be his first ever candidate for the Wundrous Society. But in order to be admitted to the Society, Morrigan must complete her trials and be selected by the judges.

What made this book fantastic was that it had so many layers. It’s been a long time since I read a book like this and it made me realize how much I miss clever fantasy stories with a strong mystery element. This has obvious parallels to Harry Potter with the 11 year old being whisked away to another world, the magical elements, her wise mentor figure, the foreboding unnamed villain, and the humourous moments woven throughout the story. But it’s the larger mystery of this story and the complex world building that made this such a good book and worthy of being compared to Harry Potter.

This was a 450 page book and I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of this world. It was a brilliant debut with just the right balance of world-building, character development, and whimsy. Townsend doesn’t give up all her secrets and I know there’s so many more surprises and quirks to be developed in this series. I don’t really know where the author plans to take the plot, but I get the feeling that it will have a lot more depth than what we’ve been introduced to in the first book.

I really wouldn’t change anything about this book. I have so many questions, yet I was still satisfied by the ending. I can’t wait to find out more about the Wundrous Society and what mischief Morrigan and Hawthorne will get up to in the next book. There were so many intriguing characters in this book and I can’t wait to learn more about Jupiter, Jack, Fen, Cadence, Noelle, and of course, the Wundersmith.

Book 2 can’t come soon enough! Everyone should read this!

25infive Readathon

I’ve been wanting to participate in a read-a-thon for ages, but I’m always out hiking on weekends and I never get the chance. But it’s calling for a rainy Saturday this weekend, so I decided to devote the day to reading!

Then I discovered that there actually is a read-a-thon called 25infive going on from Aug. 9-13, so I decided to participate! The goal of the read-a-thon is to read 25 hours over 5 days. I decided to start mine a day early, so I’ll run from Aug. 8-12 and so far I’ve managed to fit in 10 of my 25 hours and have completed 2 books.

I’ve already finished Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend (epic read, highly recommend) and Radio Silence by Alice Oseman (also fantastic). Right now I’m working on Ten by Gretchen McNeil and Uprooted by Naomi Novik, which I’m also hoping to finish over the weekend. I think there’s a chance I can maybe fit one more book in, or at least start it, any recommendations?