Friday, July 1, 2016

Abbreviations #26: June Minis

Another month, another set of short and sweet reviews for your perusal! I love doing these posts because I always wind up including books from such a wide variety of genres.. and I keep my thoughts on them brief enough for a quick skim. Here's to hoping you find something new in this post to check out for your personal summer reading!


Starflight book cover
Starflight by Melissa Landers
Series: Starflights #1
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: February 2, 2016
Source: Hardcover borrowed from the library

For those of you are in search of a new science fiction YA read, look no further than Starflight! It is about Solara, an orphan determined to secure passage to the Outer Realms so that she can start her new life there. She offers up her services as an indentured servant, and eventually finds herself at the beck and call of a cocky former classmate named Doran. What starts out as a simple way to earn her passage and get to her final destination quickly morphs into one heck of a space adventure… including a run-in with pirates, a few heists here and there and some mysterious new friends on board a smuggler ship. If this already sounds like a fun read, let me tell you – it is! I absolutely adored this story. I was consistently eager to find out what would happen next to Solara, Doran and their friends. I laughed and I swore; I sighed and I applauded. I just found myself thoroughly entertained – by the plot twists, by the sarcasm and jokes, by the brewing hate-to-love romance. It’s seriously so good, and I finished it with a silly smile on my face. It’s definitely a new addition to my favorite sci-fi YA reads, and I’m absolutely dying to read the next one!

Giant Days, Vol. 1 book cover
Giant Days, Vol. 1 by John Allison, Lissa Treiman, Whitney Cogar
Publisher: BOOM!Box
Publication Date: November 24, 2015
Source: Trade paperback borrowed from the library

This particular graphic novel series came highly recommended by my friend Cee (who is the queen of graphic novel/comics recs, and yes, I will always say that). All I knew about Giant Days going into it was that it was about three college friends. It turns out that this is about three very different individuals who are thrown together because they live in the same dormitory and all the shenanigans they find themselves involved in – romantic or friendly or academic or otherwise. It is tremendously hilarious, particularly because the situations and characters are highly exaggerated. I also found it to be smart, fun and filled with enough sass to have me snorting and giggling as I devoured it on one of my commutes. I really enjoyed getting to know the three main characters – Susan, Esther, Daisy – as well, particularly because each girl was dealing with a different sort of life situation as the story progresses. It reads so quickly, and I immediately picked up and devoured the second volume too! I cannot wait to read more of this series, and would highly recommend it. (Note: There are some pretty adult elements in this story.)

Robin War book cover
Robin War by Tom King & company
Publisher: DC Comics
Publication Date: April 13, 2016
Source: Hardcover borrowed from the library

I feel like it is imperative to mention that I happen to be pretty obsessed with the Bat Family. They are my favorite group of people in the DC Comics universe, and I cannot get enough of their stories. That being said, it will really be no surprise to hear that I thoroughly enjoyed Robin War. The story is woven through several different comic series, but it is all tied together by the presence of a group of aspiring Robins, who find themselves provoked into action and subsequently tried for the consequences of those actions. This brings the four Robins – Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Tim Drake and Damian Wayne – together to deal with the situation. And I just loved seeing these boys together, being a family in their own way. It was fun to see the sassy remarks, the camaraderie and grudging respect, and also, just their general badassery. I also thought it was very compelling to see how the plot unraveled with every section (and I liked the Gotham Academy bit, because I’m really enjoying that series). That ending, though it was what I thought it would be, still made me gasp out loud too! I’m really glad they compiled this entire story arc into a book; it made it much easier for me, a comics newbie, to read it and not feel lost. I’m definitely hoping we get more!

Of Fire and Stars book cover
Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: November 22, 2016
Source: ARC downloaded from Edelweiss

Let’s take a moment to appreciate the lovely color and illustration job on this cover. *pauses* Okay, moment over! It’s now time to talk about Of Fire and Stars, which is a fantasy novel that I picked up because (a) girls saving kingdoms, (b) magic and (c) a princess falling in love with a princess. Basically, this is the story of two girls – Dennaleia (a betrothed princess determined to be a great queen and to keep her Affinity for fire a secret) and Amaranthine (an unconventional princess with the unusual ability to handle horses extremely well). These two meet when Denna arrives in Mare’s kingdom to marry Mare’s brother, and come to know each other better via Denna’s riding lessons. Things escalate quickly with power plays, court intrigue and an assassination – and these two are left to figure out what’s going on and what the hell they’re going to do about it. It sounds like such a great premise. Granted, the author wrote a solid (if predictable) story. However, it wasn’t something that wound up being as great for me as I’d hoped. I couldn’t truly get invested in any part of the book, especially the plot and the characters which is always important for me. Even the romance (which I definitely found cute) wasn’t enough to hold my attention in the end! It basically was a pretty run of the mill fantasy, and that’s honestly why I didn’t love it as much as I’d hoped to.

Diplomatic Immunity book cover
Diplomatic Immunity by Brodi Ashton
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: September 6, 2016
Source: ARC downloaded from Edelweiss (Thanks!)

I read a lot of contemporary novels in the summertime. Majority of them are cute contemporary romances; Diplomatic Immunity is not entirely one of those stories. This is not, however, to its detriment. I wound up really liking the fact that it has a totally different vibe, one that immediately called to mind a few comp titles (Nancy Drew, Scandal, and Gossip Girl). It was a quick, compelling read that revolves around Piper, an aspiring reporter who is determined to win a scholarship that will help her go for her dream degree and university. The article she intends to write is about all the things teens with diplomatic immunity can get away with, and while it starts off well, she soon realizes that maybe she wants more than just a good story. It was a bit hard to get on with Piper at first, but eventually, I came to admire her tenacity to chase after her dreams paired with her actual social awkwardness (which I could totally relate to). The story itself is actually light, though there are some heavy details that characterize Piper’s experiences with the DI crowd. While I can’t say I was particularly invested in the outcome, I thought it was entertaining to read! (And it doesn’t hurt that there’s a cute boy named Raf in it, who I would like to encounter in real life, thanks.)

Orange: The Complete Collection book covers
by Ichigo Takano
Publisher: Seven Seas
Publication Dates: January 26, 2016; May 31, 2016
Source: Paperbacks bought from Amazon

When it comes to manga recommendations, Kristin of Super Space Chick is the gal I turn to most often. She and I have very similar tastes when it comes to manga (and anime too). So, when she told me that I had to read Orange, I immediately went onto Amazon and purchased the entire series. (And it’s only two books, so it wasn’t too big a shopping spree!) I read both collections back to back a few days after they had arrived, and they were awesome. The story is about a high school girl named Naho, who receives a letter from herself ten years in the future that tells her that she has to save her classmate Kakeru. That is the starting point for what turns out to be a wonderful contemporary adventure that highlights the ups and downs of friendship and romance, as well as revealing that there is more to this mysterious request from the future than meets the eye. I really enjoyed this manga collection! I fell in love with the characters, who were such bright, vividly portrayed personalities. Because I was so enamored with their group, I was immediately invested in their relationships with one another. It was wonderful to read about so many of the experiences they shared, and I got emotional at certain moments! If there is something I would consider a reservation, I would mention that occasionally the narration could be jarring (whether in terms of time jumps or POV switches), but even that didn’t put me off too much either. All in all, this was a manga collection I absolutely flew through and fell in love with and would happily recommend to other readers.

The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls book cover
The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire Legrand
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: August 27, 2013
Source: Paperback borrowed from the library

I honestly am kicking myself in the arse for waiting until now to read my first ever Claire Legrand novel! The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls is, all at once, creepy and fun and utterly enjoyable. Even though I'm not normally one to gravitate towards books that will creep me out (and trust me, this one definitely freaked me out), I'm so glad I put aside my reservations to give it a shot. The novel centers around Victoria, a good girl determined to follow all the rules and be the best and be perfect. When her best friend Lawrence - a musical prodigy who is the complete opposite in bearing from her - goes missing, Victoria soon finds herself mired in a mystery centered all around the spooky old house on her street - The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls. I really, really loved this story, friends! The setting was so perfectly atmospheric, and I felt the entire little town (and particularly the House) come to life so fully that I found myself startled when I had to pause in my reading and be in the real world again. The story had a steady pace, and an excellent tone; I couldn't stop reading it once I picked it up. But above all else, I absolutely adored the characters - the secondary ones, in the form of those living at the Cavendish House, and most especially main character Victoria, who was smart, stubborn and spunky. It was, without a doubt, one of the most creative and clever middle grade stories I've read, and I look forward to exploring more of Claire's work.

We Own the Night book cover
We Own the Night by Ashley Poston
Series: Radio Hearts #2
Previous Book in Series: The Sound of Us
Publisher: Bloomsbury Spark
Publication Date: December 19, 2013
Source: ARC downloaded from NetGalley (Thanks!)

The sight of this (very lovely and colorful) cover makes me so giddy with joy, because it beautifully represents the heart of this novel. We Own the Night is centered around Ingrid North, a teen who is dying to get out of her small hometown to chase after her dreams. Her plans are derailed by so many factors - her grandmother's bout with Alzheimer's and her majorly romantic feelings for her best friend Micah being chief among them. But for one hour every Saturday, she escapes everything by becoming someone else - radio host Niteowl, who dispenses advice and throws out witty commentary with the best of them. Little does she know that learning to bring Niteowl off air and into her real life may just change everything... I have to say that my summary is inadequate. There's truly no way to capture just how delightful this story is! While I do have reservations (over minor details in character development and the initial pacing), I wound up really just enjoying this book. It was very much a teen romantic comedy, with sparkling characters, funny moments, memorable one liners and out of this world moments of destiny. It felt like watching a film unfold, and I thought it was wonderful! It's definitely just the type of novel I like to read during the summer, a fast-paced, fun and romantic contemporary read that will leave you smiling by the time you reach the end.

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