Young Adult books I read in July 2018 – Reading Wrap up

Young Adult wrap up Time! This was a pretty middle of the road YA reading month for me, with about 6 books under my belt. For the most part I was in a fantasy kind of mood, but there’s bits and pieces of historical and general fiction in this lot.

  • Wolf-Speaker by Tamora Pierce
    • Rating: 4/5
    • Thoughts: I enjoyed this a lot more than the first book in this series!!! Pierce does a lot better job in this book making Daine a compelling main character. She actually has external struggles that she can’t just solve using her super special magical powers! She is shown to have actual flaws that are addressed in the narrative! The story is pretty damn radical as well – fun fantasy with an ecological twist. The hybrid wolf and horse girl in me absolutely loves all the sidekicks in this too. (Also! Tkaa! If you haven’t read the book you won’t know who that is but just know I LOVE HIM). I still find Daine the least compelling out of all the Tortall heroines though, and while Pierce is good at writing YA fantasy that flips off the genre’s tropes, it still falls into some pretty damn cheesy traps. Still loads of fun and a quick, fast paced read.
    • Not much to say about this that doesn’t go into spoiler territory. All in all, this is a solid YA fantasy! I still am not Daine’s biggest fan after this book, but i’m at least. A Fan of hers. Which is a lot more than I could say originally.

  • The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
    • Rating: 3.75/5
    • Thoughts: Let me start off by saying that this is an incredibly flawed book. I think the story pacing is super wacky. I think that there a lot of interesting side characters that we aren’t given enough time with. I think some of the characters do some pretty reprehensible things that the author expects us to forgive which I’m not about that life at all. It also tries to explain away some of the choices the characters make in pretty side-eye ways. The main characters you DO spend time with to be honest are not interesting enough to carry the book on their own and there are some story choices that are just very????? Why would a human person do that. And ooooh boy there is a love triangle in this that is so just… unnecessary lol. To the point where I was like “cool okay i guess i’m just gonna ignore that” (which worked pretty well, meaning it is defo not a good love triangle)
    • All that being said, I absolutely adored this book almost solely on the world and story alone. This is SUCH an interesting world and concept.  I love the time travel and world rules, I love all the places that the characters go, I love how twisty and wild it gets. World building is my absolute JAM and this book is a damn CHAMPION at it. This is just absolutely classic fun time travel YA. It’s just. Solid fun. To be honest this book hits just a lot of my favorite things, so I totally understand why a lot of other people were really meh on it. But I still think you should absolutely pick this up if you’re wanting a really fun fantasy time travel book.
    • Though again, this proooobably could have been a standalone? Mate why does every author have to elongate a good story with unnecessary books.
    • Also I’ve seen people complain about how the world is confusing and honestly I can’t relate at all. I don’t think this is that complicated at all??? But maybe that’s because I read a ton of adult fantasy/scifi which is way more complicated than this.
  • Pearls of Lutra by Brian Jacques
    • Rating: 3.25/5
    • Thoughts: I read the first Redwall book and the Castaways of the Flying Dutchman series when I was in middle school and I really loved them as a kid, and my significant other read the majority of the Redwall books as a kid. So earlier this year, we picked up some of his favorite Redwall books for cheap and decided to read them together. And… these are solid kid books. I love Jacques descriptions and he’s got a real ear for the dramatics, which is really really great for the kind of children adventure stories that Redwall is. But this book is just. It goes on waaaaay too long. It should have been at least 50 to a 100 pages shorter than it turned out. Jacques goes out into the weeds at some points, and has to be dragged back into the plot by some really conveniently placed elements.
    • The characters are pretty lovable though. I didn’t realize how attached I’d gotten to the main cast until there was a real (and I mean REAL Jacques does not fuck around) threat that some of them might die and I was in a state of absolute panic. They’re what kept me on the edge of my seat even after the millionth tangent Jacques went on.
    • There are also some really unfortunate race problems in Redwall that I definitely didn’t catch as a kid. Definitely something to think about and discuss if you are going to recommend this series to a younger audience. I will say I think Pearls of Lutra tries to challenge some of these ideas a little bit, but it’s really not a ton.
    • All in all, while this is a solid kids book, it still has a fair amount of flaws, and not the strongest book to start with in the Redwall Series.
  • Silver on the Road by Laura Anne Gilman
    • Rating: 3.5/5
    • Thoughts: While I enjoyed this a lot more than some of the other westerns I’ve picked up recently, alas my journey continues to find a western as good as vengeance road continues onward. Though I gotta say,  Silver on the Road is a solid attempt. The atmosphere in this book is amazing – the world Gilman creates just leaps off the page, surrounding you with the quiet emptiness of the frontier. The world building is also excellent, since this takes place in an alternate – supernatural west. I found myself really enjoying trying to figure out how the world worked and all the politics between each of the powers. It’s genuinely scary at moments as well – this book does a way better job being menacing and unsettling than Wake of Vultures does. This is just an very well written book with tons of style.
    • That all being said…. the characters and story in this just fall super flat. I read this earlier this month and I don’t really remember any of the other characters names other than the main character. And while the style of writing compelled me to keep going, this book goes at a SNAILS pace from scene to scene. I can’t really recommend this unless you like supernatural westerns and you don’t mind pacing that goes down suuupppperrr slow. But if that doesn’t bother you, go ahead and pick it up. To be honest, I’m still really curious to see where the rest of this series goes.
  • Spirit Hunters by Ellen Oh
    • Rating: 4/5
    • Thoughts: I’d first heard about this on OwlCrate’s youtube channel as a book that one of the hosts didn’t like haha. They had said “this book is way too scary for a middle grade book” and I took that as “oh so it’d be perfect for me!” and well. Yeah this was extremely my jam. Love ghosts, love diverse main characters, love being kinda freaked out. This was just a win win win.Granted, I think the thing that makes this special is probably the diversity in the book, as well as the characters. From a story perspective while it is pretty entertaining and dramatic, I can’t say it wasn’t pretty telegraphed throughout the novel what was going to happen next – like enough that for sure if I was  in the target age range for. I’d have caught up on.
    • Totally see what the hosts over at owlcrate were saying about this book being too scary for middle grade. Like stuff happens in this book that is genuinely unsettling. If I had read this home alone instead of like. On a plane thousands of feet in the air I’d probably have had to stop reading it once it got dark. Fortunately for me, I got time to read this on my much delayed flight back home. I recommend this if you’re looking for a quick spooky read. And maybe don’t give this to anyone under the age of like. 12.
  • The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
    • Rating: 2.75/5
    • Thoughts: Oooooohhhh boooooy we’re back in unpopular opinion land. What is it with popular books and me feeling incredibly meh about the whole thing? I do like a lot of things that this book does. Yoon writes teenage characters pretty damn well. Actually just all in all Yoon is a fantastic writer. Absolutely loved her prose. Also really loved the parts of the book that were kind of ‘to the side’, the parts that weren’t from the perspectives of the main characters. I think those passages were probably the most powerful in the entire novel. And all in all I think the book has a really solid message.
    • Buuuuuuut god this was such a slog to get through. I just did not care a WHIT for the relationship between the main characters. And unfortunately that is the foundation for pretty much all of this book. It got to the point where it started to affect my opinion on the main characters as well. And I just…. I don’t think the conceit of this book works super well. I think by starting the book and these characters relationship off as inherently romantic, it lost a lot of its potency. I know it’s possible to do a romance-in-a-day kind of thing and have me go all out for it. Hell, They Both Die at The End, which I read earlier this year follows a lot of this books formula and I absolutely ADORED that. This book just. It’s cheesy as hell, which would be fine if there weren’t like a TON of really serious issues and problems these characters faced at the same time! I felt like because the book was SO committed to this romance, there wasn’t nearly enough time put towards the serious issues the characters were going through.
    • I don’t think this is a bad book. In fact, I totally get why people love this. It’s still well written, it’s still pretty compelling. But I do think I am absolutely not the audience for this.

Now that I’ve scared everyone else off after that…. unpopular opinion, it’s time for one last monthly wrap up. Stay tuned!


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