July 2015 Bookshelf
It’s that time – here are the books I read in July. All 15 of them. Which is probably a new record for me, though I was a bit heavy on the graphic novels/trades this month…
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- Hollow City – Ransom Riggs4/5 WWII London meets the peculiar children. And we discover even more peculiars. I feel like I read this so long ago that I don’t remember much other than enjoying it and the intense scenes between bombings and fighting hollows and wights. There was a twist that I could only see an inkling of in foreshadowing, but in a way that was exciting rather than it coming from left field. And I am definitely excited for Library of Souls.
- The Sword Volume 1: Fire – The Luna Brothers4/5 My comic shop owner loaned me this book, we tend to have similar tastes (or at least I’m the only one who likes and will talk about Alex + Ada with her.) I liked the pacing of this book, everything had a place and happened for a reason. Magic! Government conspiracies! Vengeance! Frankly, the art left something to be desired but I was rooting for Dara to avenge her family’s deaths instantly. I felt like there could definitely be the start to something with the mythologies they had going on in this volume.
- Beautiful Creatures – Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl4/5 Full disclosure, I watched the Beautiful Creatures movie ages ago with my college roomie (and best friend) the day after our friend’s wedding. We ate cookies and it was fun. But, as two solidly smart young women while we found the movie enjoyable for a fun lazy watch, we both were lost in some parts – plot points had definitely been omitted. The book however features mythologies that are much better explained. I’ll be honest, I have a thing for witches so I’m totally biased. But I think this series is pretty enjoyable (at least so far) and this first book starts off with a pretty strong basis for the world the characters inhabit. Is Lena a bit of a manic pixie dream girl? And is Ethan a sucker for her? Totally. But guys, it’s magic that’s bringing them together. Like with all of my favorite YA novels, I like the characters and even the ones that you aren’t meant to like are interesting.
- Beautiful Darkness – Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl4/5 Second in the Caster Chronicles series I felt that this book was a great follow up. Teen angst! Magic! Tunnels! Demons! And finding out what the end of the movie was trying to get across with Lena’s self-claiming. Which was much cooler in book form. I enjoy the magic of the Caster Chronicles world – it has the magic that can’t really be explained (Lena’s) and something much more earth bound (Amma’s.) Which somehow makes it more believable that yes, there may just be Casters in this world and they may have tunnels beneath us and maybe they can pluck the moon from the sky.
- To all the Boys I’ve Loved Before – Jenny Han3/5 This was my first foray with Jenny Han. I came to find out later this month that she loves love triangles. Like a lot. A lot of love triangle love. Lara, the protagonist, is kind of awful. She tries not to be selfish but just winds up sort of bratty and her prudishness mixed with her homebody personality makes me feel like she’s got this holier than thou ‘tude that she feels elevates her above her sister Margot, both her love interests, Josh and Peter and Peter’s ex, Genevieve. For the record, I’m team Peter. But I am kind of grossed out that Lara thinks her fleeting crushes are love and anyone else’s relationships and feelings are invalid. And while Lara and Josh both annoy me, I kind of really like all of the other characters, including mean girl Genevieve (though I think she could’ve done better than starting a “the boned in the hot tub” rumor. Step up your game, girl.)
- The Sword Volume 2: Water – The Luna Brothers3/5 Volume 1 of this series was such a good start, and I was warned that it went quickly downhill so that may have influenced my opinion on this second volume. I wanted to like it as much as I liked the first volume but I couldn’t. The pacing was just off and this story wasn’t as exciting. Plus I’m not sure of the weird Lannister-esque relationship with a necessary plot point.
- Itsy Bitsy – John Ajvide Lindqvist3/5 This story was really only okay, but it was free for Kindle. I like Lindqvist a lot, he sets scenes well. This story just misses the mark for me some. A lot of his other stories I’ve read have been fraught with tension, a bit of a slow burn. And I feel like he attempted that with this book but it was too short and it just sort of pop!fizzled out. But since I hate spiders (and have been hospitalized for a spider bite) I definitely found myself squirming thinking about the things on me.
- The Summer I Turned Pretty – Jenny Han3/5 I checked this out from the library and used it to show scale of another book in a picture for a friend and made a joke about there being an ugly white boy on the cover. Realistically though, for all of Belly’s (what an unfortunate nickname) drooling over Susannah’s boys and fan castings of Abercrombie models, this is probably more what they would actually look like if they were real. I like it because it was an easy breezey summer read, it only took me a few hours. The characters don’t do a whole lot for me, but I can get behind summer love triangles for some reason – and at least in this series the characters have known each other for-ev-er. But I really want to know, why hasn’t Belly ever seen Conrad and Jeremiah outside of summer of their mom’s really are best friends (and really not THAT far apart?) And how could Belly not figure out Susannah’s cancer was back when I figured it out instantly?
- The Perfect Scent: A Year Inside the Perfume Industry in Paris and New York – Chandler Burr
5/5 This book is about the creation of Hermes’ Jardin sur le Nil by Jean-Claude Ellena and Lovely by Sarah Jessica Parker. I thought this book was endlessly fascinating. I love perfumes and I never knew just how much went into creating them. This was definitely an insider-look at an industry that I don’t know all too much about. Ellena is something of a mad scientist, with his ability to scheme up how to re-create the smell of green mangos just in his head. And the fact that SJP (or Sarah Jessica as she is apparently called by, like, everyone) had just a hand in creating Lovely made me genuinely like her when I was very neutral about her before. This book is filled with insight, science and industry and it was nice to see what is behind the curtain. I’ve yet to smell Lovely, but I did go to Sephora and spray some Jardin sur le Nil on my arm a few days after finishing the book. And yes, it was exactly how Ellena had envisioned.
- It’s Not Summer Without You – Jenny Han3/5 I plan on finishing what I started with this trilogy. And it might be a struggle. Yes, I rated it 3/5 stars. It went fast. It had some (unintentionally?) hilarious bits. It serves as a casual reminder of how big everything seemed in high school. And makes me have a lot of questions: Why is a college freshman sort of dating a 16 year old? When is prom held where Belly lives? Hasn’t Susannah been dead for two months during the July 4th holiday, if so did she die like RIGHT after prom? I think I like Han’s style more than her actual stories.
- The New Avengers, Volume 1 – Brian Michael Bendis (w.), Stuart Immonen (i.)4/5 Full disclosure: this is my first Avengers as Avengers vs. single Avengers doing Avenger (or not) things. Highlights for me included Hawkeye just hanging around the New Avengers to hang out with his wife and then dipping for the battle and Spidey being like “Nope. I didn’t really mean to sign up for this.” And I was pretty surprised at how much I liked the art, it added to the story and provided easy to follow action.
- Not My Bag – Sina Grace4/5 I snagged this out of a bin that my comic shop had intended to take to a con. Full disclosure, I really like Sina’s Self Obsessed he’s weird and has a lot of feelings. Not my Bag focuses on Sina working at a high end department store and the weird power struggle that occurs in the workforce. Plus ya’know his insecurity in relationships. I feel like a lot of folks on GoodReads were disappointed as this was listed as being a bit more gothic than it turned out to be. Personally, I just like being a bit voyeuristic into how people view the world around them and how their actions impact it.
- Beasts of Burden: Animal Rites – Evan Dorkin (w.), Jill Thompson (i.)4/5 I borrowed this book after some peer pressure to read it. I’d initially flipped to a page with a suicidal kitty and was put off of the story until it was thrust into my hands. I was pretty pleased with the selection. Orphan, being a cat (and me being much more of a cat person than dog person) was my favorite. This book has a handful of stories the starts with one about a ghost dog and a wise dog. Eventually the pack of pooches (sorry) and Oprhan (the cat) get elevated to wise dogs in training themselves, where they have to deal with the other weird and supernatural animal goings on in town. The stories could more or less stand alone, and
- Long Walk to Valhalla – Adam Smith (w.), Matthew Fox (i.)5/5 Matthew Fox is currently doing the art on UFOlogy, a comic series that piqued my interested because of…well the art. It’s something that I plan to eventually buy in trade. As soon as Long Walk to Valhalla was up for pre-order I had my shop order a copy. And it was so good. I’d consider it a southern gothic with Norse mythology at the roots. Rory meets Sylvia, a Valkyrie who tells him that he’s going to die that day. The story is about their journey and why he is worthy of Valhalla. It was surprisingly heavy with abuse and themes of guilt. And Fox’s art style is just something I dig a lot and I feel like it was exceptionally well suited to this story.
- Blood Promise – Richelle Mead4/5 Vampire Academy was totally a movie I would’ve RedBoxe-d with my college roomie, had we not already graduated by the time it came out. After watching the movie (really not all that bad for what it is) I started the book series. I really like the world Richelle Mead has built and finding out more about the mythology behind it. But the main reason I’ve kept reading is that I really like the characters. They’re not “special snowflakes” (though Rose is like, mega-pretty for a dhampir or whatever) and for what it’s worth, they’re realistic, especially for the genre. This book focuses on Rose trying to hunt down strigoi-ified Dmitri to give him a stake right through the heart. She discovers more of her own world in Sydney, an alchemist and meets her father, a moroi mobster. All the while she keeps checking in on her BFF and bond-mate, Lissa who is having some sort of nervous breakdown that results in her getting white girl wasted and dancing on tables on the regular. The pacing, like in the previous books, makes it hard to put down. Which is the primary reason that I’ve bought Kindle versions of the series. But really, the story is gratifying and fun – the series easily one of my favorite out of the YA genre.