This summer I read or listened to a total of forty-one books! (Which does not include any comic books or manga I read, either.) That almost doubles the number of books I had read during the Spring wrap-up, which was forty-seven. Here’s what I thought of some of the books.
Trials of Apollo: The Burning Maze by Rick Riordan
While I don’t like Trials of Apollo nearly as much as the other Camp Half-blood stories, The Burning Maze has been the best so far in the series. Mainly because Uncle Rick does something completely unexpected and devastating. I give him major props for going through with it and not making everything have a magical happily ever after (though there is still time for that since there are two more books in the series). Plus, the cover of this book is such a vivid green I can’t help but love it.
Ember Quartet (Books 1-3) by Sabaa Tahir
In preparation for the release of A Reaper at the Gates, I decided to reread An Ember in the Ashes and A Torch Against the Night. After all, it’s been over two years since I read the second book and even longer since I read the first. And they did not disappoint me! Instead, they reminded me why I love this series so much and why YA fantasy lovers need to keep their eye on this series. A Reaper at the Gates was just as amazing, and it left me shell shocked and devastated and completely heartbroken, but it was so, so worth waiting for. I need book four ASAP.
The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
Because I want to write middle grade, I made a goal to read more middle grade books. I was told The Girl Who Drank the Moon was a good one, and while I can appreciate some aspects, it kind of left me disappointed and bored. The writing felt like it was trying too hard at times and it also felt like it didn’t fit in the middle grade category. But the magical aspects were wonderful, and I really wish Studio Ghibli was adapting this into a film.
A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
My mom told me to read this book… years ago. And I wish I would have. Because while the story is nice and sweet, I think I would have appreciated it more if I had been Sara Crewe’s age while reading. Most of it feels a bit too unrealistic, though I understand the point of the story.
The Archived and The Unbound by Victoria Schwab
I read The Archived years ago because Victoria Schwab was a well-known author. Since I never read the sequel, I decided to reread The Archived and then read The Unbound. And I am so glad I did. I think these books might be my favorite Schwab stories. I love the concept and the atmosphere of the books.
My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows
I have a love/hate relationship with this book. On one hand, I enjoyed my time reading the story. But on the other, I don’t understand the point of changing history for humor’s sake. Most of the jokes in this book weren’t that funny, and the book in general was just so long that a lot of it felt unnecessary. As a whole, it comes across as trying to hard and also trying to do too many things in one story. But it wasn’t terrible like My Plain Jane…
Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly
Again, I chose this book because it’s middle grade and it won an award. But boy, I was disappointed. There are definitely aspects of this I loved, like Kaori and her sister, but the book fell flat for me. For one, the characters were all caricatures. Two, nothing happens in the book. It takes place over only a couple days, the bulk of it during a single day. And last, it came across as trying too hard to be diverse instead of being an interesting story. While I would recommend it to the intended audience, I wouldn’t call this book praiseworthy or making any kind of notable contribution to children’s literature.
The Little Mermaid and Other Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen
This was a nice collection of short stories with beautiful illustrations by MinaLima. Some of the stories were familiar and others were a nice surprise. Even “The Little Mermaid” story was a bit different than I remember. And “The Snow Queen” reminded me of this old cartoon movie I watched once, so I went on a Google hunt for that.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
This book is complicated. I definitely understand the merits of it and why it’s popular and necessary in our world. Books that dive into the true side of diversity and hard topics are something teens need. But I had a few issues with the book. For one, it was long and at times boring because it was a lot of dialogue and thought process and not a lot of action. Also, parts of it came across as problematic and I think it could have done better with those issues. Still, I definitely understand how important this book is to readers.
The Darkest Legacy by Alexandra Bracken
After binge-reading The Darkest Minds series, I was a bit hesitant about The Darkest Legacy. The book is about Zu five years after the events of In the Afterlight. And I was afraid this story would be unnecessary, a ploy to make more money or sell more books, or that it would drag out another trilogy. But it didn’t do that. It was just as good and as vital to the series as the other books. And reading it also like getting kicked in the gut repeatedly. Alexandra Bracken just does not stop. If you love the other books in the series, read this one.
Garrison Girl by Rachel Aaron
Books based off movies or TV shows usually aren’t good. But Garrison Girl was a decent story set in the world of Attack on Titan. I was surprised actually by how much I liked the story and the characters. It follows a girl who wants to join the Garrison Regiment despite being high-born and rich. Parts of the story lean toward YA cliches, but I liked that we got more about the Garrison Regiment and that it crosses over with significant events in the Attack on Titan timeline. Fans of the show or manga series would probably enjoy this book.
The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine
In addition to middle grade books, I want to read more contemporaries. A friend of mind recommended this one to me, and while it was definitely cute, I wasn’t a huge fan of the characters’ choices or actions and the couple’s relationship came across as toxic at times. The family dynamics and the fact that this book has an actual, non-cliche antagonist made it more memorable than other YA, though.
The Dire King by William Ritter
Jackaby series is one of my favorite middle grade series at the moment, and the final installment, The Dire King, is no exception. While I may or may not both hug and slap the author if I ever have the chance to meet him, the ending of this series was absolutely brilliant and perfect. I would really like this to be made into a TV show starring Matt Smith, please.
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
It’s been a long time since I read this book and watched the Studio Ghibli film, so I bought myself a cheap paperback copy to reread. And oh boy, this book. I love this book. I forgot how delightful this book was. Sophie and Howl and Calcifer and Michael… just everything about this book is amazing. It easily moved into my top ten favorite books of all time. The moment I finished it, I wanted to reread it.
Fresh Ink edited by Lamar Giles
This is a short story collection from a variety of diverse authors writing diverse stories. I love the attention to detail many of these short stories provide, giving insight into the trials and triumphs many people groups deal with in today’s culture. If you’re looking for more diverse reads, this collection is for you. Then go and read everything else by these authors.
Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
While I definitely prefer The Infernal Devices to The Mortal Instruments, I’m still not a fan of Cassandra Clare’s books. The characters in this book made such stupid choices and they acted rather angsty and annoying. Plus, the ending felt cheap.
City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare
I am so glad I am done reading (well, listening) to these books. While this one was not nearly as bad as City of Lost Souls, it was bad. So many stupid decisions. So much unnecessary drama. Plus, the whole point of this book other than wrapping up this agonizing plot line that was dragged out for three extra books was to set up characters for the next series. Come on. I really would like Cassandra Clare to write something that doesn’t even the supernatural/paranormal.
Phasma by Delilah S. Dawson
I heard a lot of good things about this book when it came out last year, and while parts of it were super interesting, it wasn’t my favorite Star Wars book. I like the backstory on Captain Phasma, but it just served as reminder that her character is pointless and wasted potential in the movies. Plus, the framing of the book was weird and I could have done without. Star Wars audiobooks, though, are always a treat because the narrators are good and it includes music and fun sound effects!
Bob by Wendy Maas and Rebecca Stead
This book was so adorable, I can’t. I wish I would have read it instead of listened to it, though, because I heard the book includes illustrations. Now I need to find myself a copy so I can flip through. If you read this, prepare yourself for all the warm fuzzies and feels.
Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar
Fuzzy Mud is a weird little book that sorta reminds me of Stranger Things and sorta reminds me of something else. It was different than I expected, but it was a good story. I like the characters and that the bully changes in the end and is redeemed. This is a solid middle grade story that has all the elements of a chilling horror science-fiction and strong friendship goals.
What books did you read this summer? Tell me about your favorites in the comments!