March 2017 Wrap-Up

Six books for the month of March. This seems small but is sort of astounding to me, given that we had a brand new baby at the beginning of the month, and then said baby spent a week in the NICU. All but two of these books were audio book listens because of previously listed reasons. March was also the second month in a row full of Maggie Stiefvater books! No regrets, she is amazing.

 

Screen Shot 2017-06-25 at 3.58.58 PMI absolutely adored the Raven Cycle Series, which featured one of the best audio narrations I’ve ever listened to. Will Patton truly brought this series to life in a way that I’m certain I wouldn’t have been able to on my own. The Raven King is the final installment of the series and brought a perfect conclusion to these characters I’ve become so attached to. You should definitely check these out if you haven’t yet!

 

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Another highlight from this month was Jenny Lawson’s, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. This was my second of Lawson’s books, and if possible is even funnier than the first. I brought it with me to the hospital and legitimately laughed through my contractions. I cannot recommend her books highly enough.

 

 

 

The whole line up…

 

We Were Liars – 4 crowns

The Raven King – 5 crowns

Shiver – 4 crowns

Linger – 3 crowns

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened – 5 crowns

Forever – 3 crowns

 

February 2017 Wrap-Up

February was a pretty decent month for reading. It was crazy times around here while we prepared for the birth of our 5th and last baby, and had a few false alarms that sent us rushing to the doctor. The fact that I’m posting this wrap-up in June should give you a solid idea of what life has been like with 4 kids and a newborn.

There’s a 3-way tie for favorite reads of the month between The Nix, A Conjuring of Light, and Furiously Happy.

Screen Shot 2017-06-14 at 7.31.40 PM.pngThe Nix – 5 crowns

The Nix is an incredibly timely read and joined my list of top all time favorite books. This multigenerational family saga is full of sharp insight about politics and behavior in America. The more I think on it, the more I find to love about it. Definitely check it out!

 

 

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A Conjuring of Light – 5 crowns

Oh I was so excited to finally have a conclusion to the A Darker Shade of Magic series and Schwab did NOT disappoint. I loved every minute of it and even though I didn’t want it to end, the conclusion brought a fitting ending to these beloved characters.

 

 

 

 

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Furiously Happy – 5 crowns

This is without a single doubt the funniest book I’ve ever read. It brought me to tears, breathless from laughter on more than one occasion. I want to find Jenny Lawson and convince her to be my best friend forever.

 

 

 

The rest of the line up….

 

 

The Raven Boys – 5 crowns

The Smartest Kids in the World – 4 crowns

The Dream Thieves – 5 crowns

Blue Lily Lily Blue – 5 crowns

The Regional Office Is Under Attack – 3 crowns

 

Of Fire and Stars – Audrey Coulthurst

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Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Publication Date: November 22nd, 2016

From the Jacket:

Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile kingdoms. But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a land where magic is forbidden.

Now Denna has to learn the ways of her new kingdom while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses before her coronation—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess , sister of her betrothed.

When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two work together, they discover there is more to one another than they thought—and soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.

But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other.

You guys! A fairy tale where the princess falls for the PRINCESS? I am so here for this. Also, can we take a quick moment to admire the beauty of this cover art? Absolutely stunning.

I remember the day I saw the write up for this on Edelweiss. I read the synopsis twice to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating, then I teared up a little, jumped up and down, and ran to tell my wife about it.

Immediately following that emotional outburst, I wrote to the publisher to plead my case about why I wanted a review copy. I reread that at least five times, held my breath, pressed send, and waited. I was thrilled when the acceptance email came back and could not wait to start reading.

Overall I really enjoyed this book. Not only because of the wonderful feelings that come with positive representation in mainstream media, but also because it was a genuinely good story. I read a lot of mixed reviews wherein readers were over the moon with the love story but bored by the rest of the content. I actually felt the opposite.

Of Fire and Stars tells the story of Princess Dennaleia, who, for political reasons, is betrothed to the prince of Mynaria. She accepts this fate without complaint. Her main concerns being keeping her dangerous and rare affinity for magic hidden, and being as useful as possible in a new place where (shocker) men make the political decisions and the women are expected to remain quiet. Quickly after her arrival in Mynaria, we meet Princess Amaranthine, who detests the royal life and wishes to spend all of her time and energy with her horses.

The two begin a friendship when Mare must teach Denna to ride horses before her coronation. Throughout these lessons, we learn a whole lot about horses, about the conflicts between the different kingdoms, and the beliefs and opinions about the use of magic (which is ultimately the underlying cause of this conflict). It was in these details that many readers were bored to tears. I enjoyed these parts and thought the plot was well written, if not at times, overly reliant on stereotypical tropes regarding independent, free thinking women.

I found the parts describing the growing relationship between Denna and Mare to be lacking. Perhaps my expectations were too high, or maybe it is because in order to read stories about lesbian characters, I often turn to fan fiction where the representation is broad and prolific. The growing relationship between them felt contrived at times, which made their chemistry hard to believe. I did appreciate the fact that their love was not considered taboo or even deviant. There are other gay characters in the book, and love is consistently displayed as a relationship between any two people, rather than two people of the opposite sex. The conflict comes because Denna is already betrothed, and a relationship with Mare threatens the alliance promised by their marriage.

There are genuinely sweet times between them and I was pulling for them to end up together. I just wasn’t as invested as I normally am when I read a good love story, and that in itself was disappointing. I think the book is great despite that, recognizing that I had high expectations, and even higher hopes due to the subject matter. There is love, intrigue, action and mystery in a quick moving plot that kept my interest and made me want to shirk all other responsibilities until I got to the conclusion. Overall, this is definitely one I would recommend, especially if you enjoy YA fantasy and appreciate lady love.

Rating: Screen Shot 2016-03-12 at 11.10.19 PM

Favorite Characters: Mare, Nils, Denna

Memorable Quotes:

For the first time in my life, I finally felt free – because some things are more important than a crown.
Saving a kingdom.
Knowing your heart.
Or riding into the sunset with a girl on a red horse.

I received this ARC from Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review.