“This is it, you guys,” I say as we approach.”First line in Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde
Hi, guys and welcome to my final wrap up of 2019. December turned out to be the best month of the year in terms of the number of books I read. I hit a total of 7 books which is kind of awesome for someone like me who has an average of 5 books per month. It was a super stressful month so I have no idea how I found the time to read that much. However, I think it helped that I participated in the Winter Magical Readathon which was so much fun but also probably pushed me to read some more.
My ratings for the month was a little bit all over the place although there were nothing truly horrible. Nonetheless, here you have the 7 mini-reviews of the books I read in December.
Ninth House (Book 1 in Alex Stern)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Published: October 8th 2019
My rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Buzzwords: secret societies, ghosts, creepy magic
Synopsis: Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?
Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive.
It’s difficult for me tell you exactly what was wrong with this book, because I don’t believe it’s a bad book. It’s just filled to the brim with tropes I hate. Ghosts? Check. Murder mystery? Check. Annoying MC who is somehow better at police work than the actual detectives? Check. And so many others that are too spoilery to talk about so I’ll spare you.
A general problem I had throughout the entire book was that I didn’t care about the characters. I especially had trouble connecting with Alex, our MC, and just found her more and more annoying. As the book is very character focused that was kind of a big problem. We get quite a few flashbacks to her teenage years which put these breaks in the current story. I loved when Bardugo did that in Six of Crows, but in Ninth House they mostly felt boring.
The most interesting character for me was Darlington but he was barely there. He was what kept me reading because I was always hoping he would pop up.
As I said, this isn’t a bad book by any means but it was just so wrong for me. If you find the synopsis interesting, I still think you should give it a go.
The Toll (Book 3 in Arc of a Scythe)
Author: Neal Shusterman
Published: November 5th 2019
Genre: YA Science Fiction
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars!
Buzzwords: Dystopia, AI, exploration of morality and humanity
Go to Goodreads to read the synopsis of the first book in the series, Scythe.
I refuse to acknowledge that this series is over. It is too good the end! Nonetheless, The Toll was a perfect and satisfying conclusion to a trilogy that kept being relevant even though it takes place in the far future. This book continued the trend of the first two books and made me question humanity’s nature even more.
This last book is quite a long one but I’m not complaining. Even though it was a bit slow at times, the book needed to be this long. There aren’t a scene or a character that aren’t there for a reason and every little thing they do matters. Shusterman is especially good at making you understand every character and he doesn’t need many pages to do it. That was really important as we’re introduced to quite a few new characters in this one. It might seem counterproductive to do so in the final book but that is so not the case. Because Shusterman introduces them so effectively, it honestly seems like they’ve been a part of the story the whole time.
I also just briefly have to mention the plot because that is also amazing. Shusterman takes his time to develop it by going back and forth between characters, places and also years. He keeps you guessing all the way through, and it all in all made The Toll such a spectacular read.
The Fever King (Book 1 in Feverwake)
Author: Victoria Lee
Published: March 1st 2019
Genre: YA Science Fiction Fantasy
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Buzzwords: Cool magic system, LGBTQ+, undocumented immigrants in the future
Synopsis: In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia.
The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks—refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son—cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful—and the way forward becomes less clear.
Caught between his purpose and his heart, Noam must decide who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in pursuit of the greater good.
This book has such an interesting world and magic system. It’s set in the future but certain people have magical abilities that are heavily tied to a person’s knowledge of physics, biology ect. I love a magic system that encourages learning.
This book also has some compelling characters and serious themes that are very relevant to our world today. If you want to know more about my thoughts on The Fever King, I have a full review for you to check out.
The Bands of Mourning (Book 6 in Mistborn)
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Published: January 26th 2016
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Buzzwords: Gun fights, a developing fantasy world, complicated magic
Go to Goodreads to read the synopsis of the first book in the series, The Final Empire.
I must admit that this is a series that I really, really want to love… but it just keeps letting me down. It’s not even that there’s something inherently wrong with it. I just think that it could be so much more than what it actually is. Does that make sense? Probably not.
I think the characters and the plot are too simplistic and predictable. The simple characters mean that I’m not very attached to them and the simple plot means that I’m never really excited or fearful about what’s going to happen. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s a bad book. It was just alright. I’m also still going to read the next book in the series when it’s published because I want to see how the world evolves.
Queens of Geek
Author: Jen Wilde
Published: March 17th 2017
Genre: YA Contemporary
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Buzzwords: fandom culture, social anxiety rep, romance
Synopsis: Charlie likes to stand out. She’s a vlogger and actress promoting her first movie at SupaCon, and this is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star Reese Ryan. When internet-famous cool-girl actress Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.
Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with her best guy friend Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about a fan contest for her favorite fandom, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.
Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde, chosen by readers like you for Macmillan’s young adult imprint Swoon Reads, is an empowering novel for anyone who has ever felt that fandom is family.
Prepare for some mixed feelings. Queens of Geek is a very, very fluffy contemporary and I think it was too much for me. Too many things in this book just seem way too perfect. Especially the conversations between the characters. We follow teenagers who apparently always know the correct thing to say. As in you couldn’t say it better. It’s very unrealistic, and that bothered me quite a bit because it’s a book that’s trying very hard to be real and relatable.
This perfectness also meant that I missed just a little bit of conflict. Any kind of problem was quickly quenched by those perfect conversations and that just got a little boring by the halfway mark.
However, I thoroughly enjoyed the social anxiety rep and how fandom culture can play a role in that regard. Those things were combined really well and I related to it so much. The social anxiety was also my main reason for picking this book up so I’m still really glad I read it. I just can’t quite look past my problems with the book mentioned above.
Authors: Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman
Published: October 1st 2018
Genre: Science Fiction/Dystopia
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Buzzwords: Disastrous near-future, human nature in a crisis, water shortage, standalone
Synopsis: Everyone’s going to remember where they were when the taps ran dry.
The drought—or the tap-out, as everyone calls it – has been going on for a while. Life has become an endless list of don’ts: don’t water the lawn, don’t take long showers, don’t panic. But now there is no water left at all.
Suddenly, Alyssa’s quiet suburban street spirals into a warzone of desperation and violence. When her parents go missing, she and her younger brother must team up with an unlikely group in search of water. Each of them will need to make impossible choices to survive.
This was just what I needed after finishing The Toll. It made me realize that I genuinely love Neal Shusterman’s writing style.
In Dry we follow a group of characters that are trying the survive in a world with no water. I really liked Shusterman’s character work in this one because he really makes you understand the characters and their decisions. Even those that are the tough decisions that this world inevitably provokes. If you want to know more about my thoughts, I have a full review for it.
Call Down the Hawk (Book 1 Dreamer Trilogy)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Published: November 5th 2019
Genre: YA Fantasy
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Buzzwords: The Raven Cycle sequel, beautiful writing, whimsical, Ronan (yes, that’s a buzzword)
Synopsis: The dreamers walk among us . . . and so do the dreamed. Those who dream cannot stop dreaming – they can only try to control it. Those who are dreamed cannot have their own lives – they will sleep forever if their dreamers die.
And then there are those who are drawn to the dreamers. To use them. To trap them. To kill them before their dreams destroy us all.
Ronan Lynch is a dreamer. He can pull both curiosities and catastrophes out of his dreams and into his compromised reality.
Jordan Hennessy is a thief. The closer she comes to the dream object she is after, the more inextricably she becomes tied to it.
Carmen Farooq-Lane is a hunter. Her brother was a dreamer . . . and a killer. She has seen what dreaming can do to a person. And she has seen the damage that dreamers can do. But that is nothing compared to the destruction that is about to be unleashed. . . .
I’ve been putting off writing this review as long as I can, hoping that my feelings about this book would change. They didn’t meaning that I’m slightly disappointed by this first book in the new Dreamer Trilogy. My expectations were also very high.
The entire book felt very introductory. I kept waiting for it to start but I had to wait until the last 30 pages or so. That gave me hope for the rest of the trilogy though.
Other reviewer’s main critique of the book seems to be: not enough Adam (will there ever be enough though?). I feel that one too but I was prepared for it and understand that this isn’t about Adam. However, I want to add that there wasn’t enough Ronan. I feel like some of the new characters took over and I just wanted a Ronan-centered story.
However, Ronan’s parts of the book are the reason I still gave this a high rating. It felt sooo good to read about him again because he is such a unique character. And the few times Adam appeared too… I think my heart was about to burst.
I still have high hopes for the series and can’t wait for the second book.
Those were the 7 books I read in December which was a tough month for me personally, but apparently that means I read more. It was also a month were I found a new favorite author, Neal Shusterman. The two books I read by him this month were amazing and I want more of his writing style.
How was your Decemeber? Were there any books that managed to sneak their way onto your favorite books of the year list? Let me know in the comments.