Summer '17 Reading List

Sunday, July 09, 2017

The other day I was perusing my blog, reading old posts, admiring my new found photography skills and just overall searching for inspiration in terms of what direction I'd like to take my site. And in that moment it had dawned on me. I am happiest and most proud of my site when I post content that I thoroughly enjoy, which is why today I am bringing back the book reviews.

About a year and a half ago I stopped posting book reviews here on the blog for two main reasons. One, I simply wasn't reading as much. There was a point in my life were I would go months at a time without picking up a book, and if you know me, you'd know that is seldom the case. And two, I felt that my book reviews often got over looked, at least according to my Google Analytics, and that the audience I had accumulated no longer cared for such posts. But like I said, I am happiest when I post content that I like and that I find enjoyable so from here on out the book reviews are back. So grab a snack this post will be a long one; I have much to share.


B O O K S   I ' V E   C O M P L E T E D 

BIG LITTLE LIES (NOT PICTURED) - LIANE MORIARTY - ★★★★☆

I am very much a book first, movie/ TV show after type of person so when I heard HBO would be bringing this novel to life I had to move it to the top of my reading list. Sadly when the show initially aired I forgot to set my DVR to tape it and I unfortunately missed out on watching it. Does anyone have an HBO account I could borrow for a few days? Yes? No?

"Sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal... A murder…a tragic accident…or just parents behaving badly? What’s indisputable is that someone is dead. But who did what?"

This book was really good, it is about three women and their respected families, all of which are going through their own issues. Each of these women share a connection in a recent murder and each one knows more than their telling. The thing I liked the most about this book, is its playful mystery aspect. At the end of the day it is a murder mystery book but the way it was written was more fun than suspenseful.

THE HATE U GIVE - ANGIE THOMAS - ★★★★★

This is one book I think everyone should read at one point of your life. This book received quite a bit of buzz following its release earlier this year, and rightfully so. 

The Hate U Give follows sixteen year-old Starr, an African American teen who attends an upscale private school in a predominantly White neighbourhood. [Yes, the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air parallel is evident, so much so that it is even the main character's favourite show!] Starr, who still resides in a very dangerous neighbourhood becomes the sole witness in the murder of her best friend Khalil, an unarmed boy who was murdered in cold blood by a police officer.

What I loved so much about this book is how authentic and genuine the story was, especially since it was being told through I child's eyes. Which I found important to note as I often wonder what goes through the younger generation's mind in regards to "Black Lives Matter" and other socio-issues as they play out in the media. 

THE VALIANT - LESLEY LIVINGSTON - ★★★☆☆

The Valiant is the first book in it's self titled series and follows seventeen year-old Fallon, a warrior princess who spent her entire her life training to become a member of her father's royal war band; just like her late sister Sorcha. Fallon's world is shifted in a new direction when she is captured by slave-traders and sold to women's gladiator academy. A training facility where she will spend the rest of her days training and fighting to entertain the citizens of Rome. But just when Fallon thinks she has the academy figured out she comes face to face with it's head master, her late sister Sorcha.

I found this book to be pretty decent. At first I wasn't at all into it and was just reading for the sake of finishing, then about half way through I stared to actually enjoy it. Then it all went left once I made it to the end, which I found to be very anti-climatic and abrupt, but that most likely has to do with the fact that it is set up to be a series and not an individual novel. I just wish I knew that before so I could have prepared myself better.





INTO THE WATER - PAULA HAWKINS - ★★★★☆

Another novel that has received quite a bit of hype this year. Into the Water is another thriller from Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl On The Train. And much like her previous novel, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and found it to be quite captivating

In fear of giving too much away and spoiling the story I have included the full synopsis, which I think summarizes things perfectly without giving anything away.

"When a single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.

Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother's sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she'd never return."
 

One thing that I didn't like and found irritating throughout, is how the story is told through multiple point of views with multiple characters. Multiple as in more than four characters. I usually like when a book is told through different perspectives, but not when it becomes overwhelming which is sadly the case for this book and is why I knocked it down a star.

RED QUEEN SERIES (BOOK TWO SHOWN ABOVE) - VICTORIA AVEYARD - ★★★★★

By far the best book series I've read all year. It is right up there with The Hunger Games and that is a serious statement coming from me as THG holds a special place in my heart. Red Queen is a soon to be saga, with the fourth book set to be released sometime next year, about a society divided by blood. The red blooded citizens are viewed as commoners, servants and bottom feeders, while the silver blooded rule the land and hold gold-like powers that rule it so.  That is until Mare Barrow, a red born servant in the royal palace, unleashes her hided silver ability in front of the world. Soon she is placed under the watchful eye of the Queen as she seeks to uncover how a lowly "Red" could come to be in possession of a silver-born ability.

 This series is exceptional. It is Hunger Games, meets X-Men, meets Game of Thrones. Now I've never watched Game of Thrones but I know enough to know that is it cut throat, which is enough for me to compare it to this book series. Mare Barrow is bad ass, even with all the hardships she faces throughout the series she still remains resilient and ready to fight for what she believes in.

I swear, less than half way through the first book I was hooked. I was a goner. I became obsessed. I actually read the third book twice because I wasn't ready to let go. Now that is some serious commitment my friends. 

I'm telling you, if you read one book from this reading list let it be this one. Better yet read all three, that way you'll be ready for the final one come next year.

CARVE THE MARK - VERONICA ROTH - ★★☆☆☆
 
Carve the Mark is the next big series by Divergent author Veronica Roth. But unlike Divergent, Carve the Mark is a more sci-fi tale, set in a fictional universe ruled by a mystical current that shapes the lives of each planet's inhabitants, and bestows current gifts in the form of powers and abilities to the chosen or favoured individuals. The story follows two teens. Akos, the son of a mystical oracle,  is captured, along side of his brother, by soldiers from the feuding planet Shotet. It it there that Akos meets Cyra, the younger sister to Shotet's acting tyrant leader. Cyra’s currentgift causes her a great amount of pain while simultaneously providing her with a great amount of power. A power that her brother exploits by using her to torture his enemies. Once they learn that Akos's current ability is to disturb other abilities, he is soon assigned to provide Cyra with round the clock relief. Over time the pair grows close and Akos makes it his mission to free both Crya and his brother from the ruthless Shotet leader.

This book was far more sci-fi than I am used to and I'll admit there were parts were I was completely lost. Along with that I found the overall story hard to place and as a visual reader I like to be able to imagine the setting as a read. I also found the plot of the story a bit confusing. Oracles, current gifts, fate chosen, what? 

All in all, I give this book 2 and half stars and that is without going in about the controversial issue, that has plague this novel since it's release. Which I assure you was not lost on me, however I was not offended by it in any means. I just choose to associate it as a poor creative choice. Feel free to read up on the issue on your own accord.



The following are a list of books that I have not yet read but currently plan to sometime this summer. As I complete each one I will update my ratings so that they reflect my thoughts on each book.

U P   N E X T

THE CROWN'S GAME  - EVELYN SKY - ☆☆☆☆☆

After I had finished reading Red Queen I was looking for another book that was similar and was recommended this one. The Crown's Game is the first book in it's self titled series about two teenagers who must compete for the right to become Russia’s Imperial Enchanter—or die in the process. I have high hopes for his book as it can so heavily recommend.

WHEN IT'S REAL - ERIN WATT - ☆☆☆☆☆

While wandering around the books store I picked up this book as it sounded like the perfect chick-lit for the summer. Seventeen-year-old Vaughn Bennett doesn't know what to expect when she agrees to become pop star, Oakley Ford's fake girlfriend. Posing as his girlfriend, Vaughn seeks to overhaul Oakley's image from troublemaker to serious artist. In return for enough money to put both of her brothers through college. She just has to endure outlandish Hollywood parties, fool the paparazzi and out-stand Oakley's groupies. I'm not sure what to expect from this one. I fear it may be a bit on the childish side but I remain optimistic.

THE PARTY - ROBYN HARDING - ☆☆☆☆☆

I was looking for something similar to Big Little Lies; you know murder mystery, grown ups acting reckless, something like that. And I think I found just the thing. The Party is a domestic drama about a sweet sixteen birthday party that goes horribly awry.

"Jeff and Kim Sanders plan on throwing a party for their daughter, Hannah—a sweet girl with good grades and nice friends. Rather than an extravagant, indulgent affair, they invite four girls over for pizza, cake, movies, and a sleepover. What could possibly go wrong?

But things do go wrong, horrifically so. After a tragic accident occurs, Jeff and Kim’s flawless life in a wealthy San Francisco suburb suddenly begins to come apart. In the ugly aftermath, friends become enemies, dark secrets are revealed in the Sanders’ marriage, and the truth about their perfect daughter, Hannah, is exposed."

Again I am not sure what to expect but the synopsis alone sounds juicy and scandalous.

SWEET BITTER - STEPHANIE DANLER - ☆☆☆☆☆

 I recently picked up with book after briefly seeing it a few times on Instagram. I couldn't tell you on whose page because I honestly can't remember, but from what I do remember I was intrigued by the cover. Sweet Bitter is a coming of age story about Tess and twenty-two-year-old who moved to NYC to work in a famous upscale restaurant. There she learns how to navigate the chaotic, enchanting, punishing life she has chosen.

I am currently in the middle of reading this book and although I prefer to save my full review for when I finish it, I must say I don't understand the hype that has surrounded this novel. I mean the overall writing is good but the dialogue is a bit out there. I highly doubt that anyone in real life talks the way the dialogue in this book is written. In addition to that, the story line and plot is ridiculously watered downed and character development is essentially nonexistent. But I'll wait till I complete it before I go all in about it.


And that completes my Summer '17 Reading List. As you can see I have some ways to go. Let me know how your summer reading is coming and if you have read any of the books mentioned above. Oh and if you happen to have any recommendations feel free to send 'em my way.

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