My Lady Jane (Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows) | Goodreads | 4 stars
Over-the-top expectations can make a perfectly respectable 4 star rating feel a bit like a let-down.
I’m a fan of Cynthia Hand’s Unearthly trilogy, as well as her contemporary standalone that came out last year, and felt so-so about Brodi Ashton’s trilogy (which I only read two of the three out of), but hearing that they would get together with another famous YA author (whom I’ve never read) to write a story about Jane Grey that had a fantasy element and was apparently comparable to The Princess Bride? Um, yeah, I was excited. And I did enjoy this book, as you can clearly see based on the rating, but I never loved it – it was fun, especially the knowing narration, but I never really loved the main characters. Jane, for instance, occasionally got on my nerves with her love of books – I know, *le gasp*, but it seemed a little over the top, not quite genuine. Of course, that could just be because my own love of books is a quieter beast, but whatever. Because I had trouble really relating with her, I also had trouble really caring about the romance – it was kind of cute, but there was needless drama thanks to Jane’s lack of knowledge (not her fault, but I got so sick of hearing her talk about G’s philandering ways). This book also seemed to be slow – a lot of traveling and trying to figure things out without actually getting things done.
This all makes it sound like I didn’t like this book, but I did. I liked the combination of history and fantasy, getting a look at better-known historical people such as Good Queen Bess from the side rather than in the spotlight, but this book never reached “love” territory for me. That being said, I really hope that these three work together again in the future and manage to write something that I really can love.
The Square Root of Summer (Harriet Reuter Hapgood) | Goodreads | 3 stars
I was really excited about this debut that involved wormholes and time travel, but it didn’t quite work for me.
That’s not to say that I hated it or anything like that. The beginning left me really confused, though, and I think that made it a little difficult for me to ever really get into the story. There was some interesting math, more it was more the hypothetical science and math stuff that I need dumbed-down a bit to truly understand, and it just wasn’t clear enough for me to really figure out what was going on. I also had trouble really caring about the main character and her personal drama, especially her angst over an ex as well as her childhood best friend coming back into her life and confusing her. It wasn’t bad per say, but it just didn’t quite work for me.
I still don’t quite know how to classify this book – magical realism? science fiction? contemporary with a dash of fantasy? – and I think that’s a big reason why I wasn’t the biggest fan: I don’t need clear-cut boundaries when it comes to genre, but I like having some idea of what to expect, and I think that set this book up for a bit of an uphill climb when it came to me.
Once Upon a Kiss (Robin Palmer) | Goodreads | 3.5 stars
This was a book I picked up because it looked fun and fluffy, and it was just that – a cute little story that reminds me of 13 Going on 30, but not much else.
Unlike the aforementioned movie, when the protagonist goes from 1986 to 2016, she’s not suddenly an adult with an adult life – instead, all of her friends, classmates, and family get transferred to 2016 like they’ve always been there. She’s the same age, has the same parents and little brother, and goes to the same school, but there’s one major difference: she’s now the most popular girl in her senior year class. The protagonist (whose name escapes me right now – oops) can be a bit dumb at times, but it was also kind of sweet how naive she could be when she was determined to break through cliques and divided groups and bring equality to her high school. It didn’t quite happen, because that’s not how the world works, but for all the fantasy and silly teenage drama in this book, that made everything feel more grounded and sweet.
I read this book quickly, which is how this book should be – a fun and quick read to make you smile a bit in between more serious and emotional books.
Forest of Ruin (Kelley Armstrong) | Goodreads | 3.5 stars
I was a Kelley Armstrong fan as soon as I got my hands on The Summoning (which I bought as a Christmas gift for my sister but quickly commandeered for myself – oops?). Reading her newest YA fare and her adult backlist, I haven’t reached the high level of love that I have for her first two YA trilogies, but all of her books can still been quite enjoyable and readable, including this finale to her third YA series.
I remembered one cliffhanger from the second book, but as soon as I opened this book, it became clear that I had forgotten some other major events. Luckily, there was enough backstory to remind me what happened without feeling like I was reading a chapter-long recap or something. I continue to care more about Moria, one of the protagonists and twins at the heart of this story, but some interesting things happened to Ashyn to keep me mostly engaged in her chapters. This is a high fantasy story, so I was so freaking excited to see some great exploration of teenage female sexuality as well as some talk of consent – you barely get that in some contemporary books, let alone high fantasy, where all manner of rape and sexual assault can too often be the norm in an attempt to make the protagonists seem like enlightened feminists or something. Not to spoil anything, though, I will admit that I was a bit disappointed with one of the final relationships – I liked the couple, but I liked another couple more. I’m happy that it ended kind of ambiguously, so that that relationship could happen, but there isn’t enough fandom for these books – I need some good fanfic for this couple who I won’t name!
This book wasn’t perfect, but it was a fun and relatively quick fantasy, despite all the DEATH (seriously, SO MUCH DEATH), and I rarely get that out of fantasy books.
A Study in Charlotte (Brittany Cavallaro) | Goodreads | 3.5 stars
This is hard to review because I read it over roughly four months or so thanks to me reading it too slowly and having to wait from the end of March to the freaking beginning of July for my hold to come back in!
I feel like the beginning was a bit slow, but at this point I really don’t remember. I think the beginning was a little awkward and I had trouble getting into it, which was partially to do with the fact that I felt like I had to read really quickly so I could finish the book before it was originally due, and obviously that didn’t happen. When I got back into the book this month, I had forgotten a lot of the smaller details, but I felt like I was able to jump back in fairly easily. I was about halfway through, so a lot had already happened, but things worked out for the most part. The end all rushed together because I finally got really into the story – I hurried through the last 100 pages or so and immediately decided that I needed to give the second book a shot.
I have to admit that I was a little disappointed that we finally got a female Sherlock Holmes and yet this book was from the POV of Watson, aka the male sidekick, but hey, female lead and male sidekick is a nice step forward in my book. I’d definitely advise that you read all of this book at once (um, duh), but this still worked out fairly well split in half over a few months, so that seems like a good sign?