Amanda Reads - March 2017
Since I revamped my blog this month, I thought I’d do a little survey on Twitter to ask how y’all would like these books rated—should I use my rainbow system from #diverseladybookproject, or should I continue with my wacky number of dogs petted system. Well. The people have spoken. And the dogs have been petted.
A reminder of how the rating system works:
- 0 dogs petted: DNF. I couldn't get through the book. It's not a good day.
- 1 dog petted: It was an okay day. I mean, I got to pet a dog. But it could have been better.
- 2 dogs petted: A solid effort. May recommend.
- 3 dogs petted: A really good day, tbh. Would recommend willingly to friends and family.
- 4 or more dogs petted: Best day. Will be recommending to all the people. Pet all the dogs.
March was both a good and a bad month for books. I DNFed two books this month. YES, TWO. It’s a first, both for me and for my time on this blog. Would you believe that I haven’t DNFed a book since I started writing about what I’ve been reading on this blog? That’s almost a year’s worth of books! And these are my first DNFs. I’ll explain why on both accounts, don’t worry.
Well. Let’s get started. You might be here a while.
Everything Belongs to Us by Yoojin Grace Wuertz
After being up late into the night finishing The Last of August at the end of February, I was in a major book hangover. MAJOR BOOK HANGOVER. I was sort of trying to read this book, and I thought I couldn’t get into it because of said book hangover. But then I had the privilege of meeting Brittany Cavallaro and realized, nah. I just wasn’t into this book.
The premise sounds awesome. Two young women tell the stories of their lives in South Korea in the late 1970s. I wanted to like it. And really, maybe I will like it at some other point in my life, when I have more time to devote to a sprawling story that is more character-based than action-based. I haven’t ruled out that possibility. But here’s the thing—I was 15% in, and I still hadn’t met the second young woman that this book was supposedly about. In fact, the first chapter was from the point of view of a guy who seemingly has nothing to do with the story? I was confused and frustrated and bored. So I scrapped it. But like I said, I’m not ruling out trying again when I’m in a different mindset.
Rating: 0 dogs petted—DNF at 15%.
Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
I got back into fairly regular running and hiking with the dogs after a goofy start to the year and brought Lauren Oliver along with me. (She’s a runner, so I think she’d approve.) This is the second book in the Delirium trilogy, and I was terrified that it was going to suffer from middle book syndrome. And it did, in some regards—Alex was gone, the setting was completely different, and it was sort of like a whole other story, unrelated to the first book. But the threads tied back to Delirium, and I enjoyed the new characters and plot. I won’t say I liked this book better than Delirium, because it was so different. But I did enjoy listening to it a lot. I’m not going to say any more about the plot so that I don’t spoil the first book, but yeah, it was good. I’d recommend that people complete the trilogy.
Rating: 3 dogs petted.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
OH MY GOD.
You’ve already heard me talk about this book some, and it’s worth all the hype. Here’s the premise: Starr Carter lives two lives. She’s the daughter of a former gangbanger and lives in the rough part of town, but she also attends a wealthy, mostly-white private high school. She has a white boyfriend, but is terrified of bringing him home to meet her father. You get the idea. One night, she’s at a spring break party in her neighborhood when shots are fired, so she leaves with her childhood best friend Khalil. On the way home, they’re pulled over for no apparent reason. Khalil is frisked. When he’s checking to make sure Starr is okay, he’s shot by the white police officer, even though he is unarmed and is not resisting. Starr is the only witness, and it’s her word against the white cop’s. Her worlds are colliding, and she has to learn how to live in both of them while being true to herself.
I think I’ve stated that this book was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, and it shows on every single page. It bleeds relevancy and politics and everything that we’re not supposed to talk about in books for young adults. But young adults are the ones who are going to change the world. Remember that.
I’m never going to shut up about this book. And Angie Thomas, the author, is lovely and wonderful and deserves all of the praise that she’s received.
Rating: 4+ dogs petted. If you want to read this book and either can’t afford it or don’t want to buy it, I’ll buy it for you. I’m serious. Everyone needs to read this book. I’m all over social media. Find me and I’ll make it happen.
The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco
This was my other DNF this month. I’m wondering if the pattern has more to do with when I’m reading these books than the content of the books themselves, but that’s a contemplation for another time. This is another one that I really wanted to like. Tea is a necromancer, so she has to leave home with the brother she brought back from the dead to train and hone her skills. Also there’s a war brewing, but I didn’t get that far. I found it to be slow and boring. The concept is completely awesome, but I think it just wasn’t for me. Or maybe it wasn’t for me at that time. In any case, I DNFed. Although I promised some Twitter people (hi, Twitter people!) that I’d give it another try down the road, and I will.
Rating: 0 dogs petted—DNF at 20%.
Requiem by Lauren Oliver
As with Pandemonium, I’m not going to say a lot about the plot to this one here. It’s the third book in the Delirium trilogy and the best of the bunch, in my opinion. Lena picks the story up right where Pandemonium left off (that ending, omg), and surprise! We get Hana’s perspective too! That was one of my favorite things about this book—Hana has been cured, so her perspective is different and interesting. Sarah Drew does a fantastic job, once again, of helping me get inside the character’s heads to feel what they’re feeling (because I listened on audio while I was running and hiking and driving in the car). And Alex was back. I repeat. We got more Alex. Hallelujah, because he’s the best and even though I hate myself a little for it, he and Lena are one of my OTPs. Fight me.
Rating: 3 dogs petted, only because the dystopian genre is a little old now and I’m not sure who I’d recommend this one to.
Since You Asked… by Maureen Goo
The way this list is organized is a little confusing, but I started reading Since You Asked… right after I DNFed The Bone Witch. I wanted something light and contemporary, and I had picked this up at the North Texas Teen Book Festival, where Maureen Goo was promoting her upcoming release I Believe in a Thing Called Love. I chose this particular book after The Bone Witch because YA contemporary often helps me get out of reading slumps and I wanted a cute high school romance. That uh… that wasn’t what I got.
Since You Asked… is what I would consider a slice-of-life book. Nothing huge happens in the plot, really, and there isn’t a big arc that takes us to the end. It just sort of exists. It was fine—not knowing whether Holly would ever get with her friend David was part of what kept me reading. (Yeah, I shipped Holly and David HARD, and I don’t regret it.) I finished it in 24 hours and was left feeling a little let down, but I still enjoyed the read. And the cover! It’s got a great cover. I don’t know, I rated it 4 stars on Goodreads right after finishing it, but I think I’m going to downgrade it to 3. The lack of plot arc has been niggling at me. But it was cool to see an entire book told from the perspective of a Korean-American high school student. That aspect reminded me a lot of Lane from Gilmore Girls.
Was that review wishy-washy enough? Ha.
Rating: 2 dogs petted. I loved Goo’s writing style and am really excited for her upcoming release, so I’ll be reading her again!
Done Dirt Cheap by Sarah Nicole Lemon
THIS BOOK. I’m not sure how I’m going to write about this. I have no cans to even right now. I looked at my review on Goodreads and it’s mostly me repeating “THIS BOOK” in all caps with hearts at the end. Hahaha.
The synopsis is simple enough: Tourmaline Harris thinks she put her mother in prison by calling the cops when she was ODing, and now her mother’s former boyfriend and dealer are after her. This is on top of already living in the dark world of a motorcycle “club,” which her father is the president of. (Yes, there are lots of motorcycles in this book and I WAS THERE FOR IT.) At the same time, Virginia Campbell is given the assignment by her boss to weasel her way into the good graces of said motorcycle club, but won’t tell her why. Virginia’s life is equally dark—she was essentially sold to a drug dealer who moonlights as a lawyer by her mother when she couldn’t pay her legal fees. Said drug dealer (fittingly named Hazard) turned Virginia into a pageant queen and a lower-level drug dealer to pay off the debt. As Virginia attempts her mission, Tourmaline is in need of a friend. Oh, and they both have swoony love stories and I was a puddle on the floor at the end because of the feels.
Bonus points for kickass ladies (Tourmaline and Virginia, plus some), a wonderfully complicated female friendship, complex family dynamics, a POC love interest who actually VERBALLY DISCUSSES WITHIN THE STORY what it’s like to be black in the South and what that might mean for them, and a veteran who has seen stuff and is afraid to be vulnerable but finds his equal and OH MY GOD I’m puddling again.
THIS BOOK. <3 <3 <3
Rating: 4+ dogs petted. I love this book so much. Words are hard. Swoon.
Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles by J.M. Sullivan
Where do I even begin! I’ve been waiting and WAITING for the opportunity to read this book by my lovely friend J.M. ever since I first heard about it. Who can resist an Alice retelling with zombies? Okay, hi, I actually don’t think I would have picked this up at all if it weren’t for my friendship with J.M.—I’ve never been a fan of retellings, for some reason! And zombies freak me out! After I stressfully asked her if I would be scared reading this before bed and she laughed at me (LOL), I dove right in. And oh my gosh, y’all. It’s so good! I don’t feel like I need to dive into the plot too much, since you should all know the story of Alice in Wonderland, and it’s just that with a twist. There’s Alice. There’s adventure as she fights the zombies while trying to save her sister from becoming one. There’s a hint of love, there’s the characters you love (again, with a twist), and there’s a kickass teenage main character. What more could you possibly ask for in fantasy literature! Go read it go read it go read it!! (Alice releases on May 16, 2017—full review to come the week before the release!)
Rating: 4 dogs petted! This was so fun (and not scary, I promise)!
On The Fence by Kasie West
On March 31st, I decided that I should read this YA contemporary novel that was billed as a possible comp title to Something Beautiful because it had a friends-to-more plotline. I figured it would be my first book of Backlist April. I even billed it as such in last week’s Friday Reads! But guess what I did?
… I stayed up until 2 am finishing it in a single sitting. Oops?
Here’s the rundown:
Charlie just finished her sophomore year of high school and has the whole summer ahead of her. She’s looking forward to running, basketball camp, and lounging around, like a typical teenager. But on her first day of summer vacation, she gets a speeding ticket, which prompts her police officer dad to force her to get a job to cover the cost. Working part time leads to less time for running, which causes her to not be able to sleep some nights. So she starts spending some of the hours in the middle of the night chatting with her neighbor Braden through the fence that separates their yards about all the things she can’t seem to say to him during the day. Braden is practically her brother… right? OR IS HE MORE???
(Capital letters added for emphasis are my own doing, not the publisher’s. Ha.)
This was the cutest. I was on board with Charlie and Braden from the very first page, and I loved that he (obviously) saw more in her than she ever saw in herself. I don’t know why I waited so long to read a Kasie West book, because her writing reminded me a lot of Sarah Dessen (one of my faves). And, for those who want to know, On The Fence is a great comp title for the first half of Something Beautiful. If you’re into that sort of thing.
Rating: 3 dogs petted. Light. Fluffy. Cute boys and a girl’s journey to self-discovery. Just not, like, a deep book. You know?
Hi. I apparently spent most of March reading. I’m okay with it, tbh.
What have you been reading?