Best Books of Apr-May-Jun 2017

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At the end of March, I wrote a blog post about the top books I had read in the first three-month period of the year. This is owing to the fact that when I do a yearly round-up, a lot of the books I read, I have enjoyed but because I only do a top ten, they miss out on the list. So I’ve decided to do a three-month roundup, to make sure those books I really enjoyed get their honourable mention that might narrowly miss out on my yearly list. So here are the books I’ve chosen from April, May, and June.

1.

The End of Oz by Danielle Paige

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My name is Amy Gumm. When a tornado swept me away to the magical land of Oz, I was given a mission: Dorothy must die. But just when we thought it was safe to start rebuilding the damaged land of Oz, we were betrayed. Now I’m following the Road of Yellow Brick as it helps me escape toward the mysterious land of Ev, where the Nome King rules a bleak and angry world. I thought my job was over, but it’s only just beginning. – from Goodreads.com

I can’t believe this series is over! I originally picked up Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige in 2015, right at the beginning of when I started book blogging. I really liked it, and there were minimal retellings of the Oz books at the time, and so ended up waiting with bated breath for The Wicked Will Rise to be released in 2016. Now, we’ve had the last ever book in the series and I’m still struggling to accept the fact that there will be no more books!

2.

Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery

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When aging brother and sister Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert decide to adopt an orphan boy to help with chores around their farm, Green Gables on Prince Edward Island, neither is prepared for the feisty and imaginative redheaded girl who is mistakenly brought to them instead. Nor are they prepared for the way in which she will change their lives. Through a series of hilarious misadventures, Anne’s uncompromising spirit makes her a striking presence in the close-knit village, bringing new friendships, first crushes, and, for her foster parents, a love and openness unimaginable before her arrival. – from Goodreads.com

Anne of Green Gables has been on my radar for a while, but my urge to read it increased when I watched the Netflix series Anne with an E, which is based on the novels by L. M. Montgomery. I found Rachel McAdam’s narration to be simply charming and I loved reliving the story of Anne and the Cuthberts. I can’t wait for season 2!

3.

The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C Hines

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Cinderella – whose real name is Danielle Whiteshore (Nee Danielle de Glas) – marries Prince Armand. But not long after the “happily ever after,” Danielle is attacked by her stepsister Charlotte, who suddenly has all sorts of magic to call upon. And though Talia – otherwise known as Sleeping Beauty – comes to the rescue (she’s a martial arts master, and all those fairy blessings make her almost unbeatable), Charlotte gets away. That’s when Danielle discovers a number of disturbing facts: Armand has been kidnapped and taken to the realm of the Fairies; Danielle is pregnant with his child; and the Queen has her very own Secret Service that consists of Talia and Snow (White, of course). Snow is an expert at mirror magic and heavy-duty flirting. Can three princesses track down Armand and extract both the prince and themselves from the clutches of some of fantasyland’s most nefarious villains? – from Goodreads.com

This was another book that I picked up really early on in my book blogging journey and I’ve ONLY just gotten around to reading it! As you know, I love retellings, and so the Princess novels, of which there are four, encompass quite a few fairy tale characters, such as Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and many more. It was such a fun read and I’m really looking forward to moving onto The Mermaid’s Madness, where the Little Mermaid will make an appearance!

4.

One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus

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On Thursday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention. Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule. Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess. Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing. Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher. And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app. Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon’s dead. And according to investi­gators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Thursday, he died. But on Friday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they just the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose? Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them. – from Goodreads.com

Thanks to Netgalley I was able to secure an advanced reader copy of this book to read on my e-reader. It was really fast paced, really fun and I was quite surprised at the ending! It’s definitely going to be up there with the top mysteries of the YA genre when it gets released.

5.

Quidditch Through the Ages by Kennilworthy Whisp

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If you have ever asked yourself where the Golden Snitch came from, how the Bludgers came into existence or why the Wigtown Wanderers have pictures of meat cleavers on their robes, you need Quidditch Through the Ages. This edition is a copy of the volume in Hogwarts School Library, where it is consulted by young Quidditch fans on an almost daily basis. – from Goodreads.com

I don’t ever remember reading this companion novel when I was younger, so I decided that during @readbyzoe’s #averypottersummer read-a-thon, I would FINALLY pick it up. I absolutely love Rowling’s companion novels. It’s such an eye-opener into the wizarding world and goes to show just how much depth J.K. has gone into over the years writing the Potter books. I loved it and it’s a must read for any Potter fan!

So these are the best books of April, May, and June! I can’t believe we’re half way through the year now. So it probably won’t be long before I’m rounding up another three months at the end of September. Have you got any books you read and loved in the last three months? Or maybe you read a few of these as well? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

Top 10 Books to Read in 2017

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So with an incredibly successful reading year for 2016, I intend on having 2017 be just as fruitful when it comes to books. I’ve made quite a dent in my TBR pile, but not enough that I’ve lifted my book buying ban! Onwards and upwards I say, and here are the top ten books I want to get around to reading in 2017.

These books are in no particular order.

The End of Oz by Danielle Paige

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At the end of Yellow Brick War, Amy had finally defeated Dorothy. Just when she and the rest of the surviving members of the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked thought it was safe to start rebuilding the damaged land of Oz, they realized they’ve been betrayed—by one of their own. And Dorothy might not have been so easily defeated after all. – from Goodreads.com

This is the last book in the Dorothy Must Die series and I can’t wait to see how it ends! These books are so much fun and I’m sure it will carry on to the fourth and final instalment.

Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler

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‘You can’t get around Kate Battista as easily as all that’ Kate Battista is feeling stuck. How did she end up running house and home for her eccentric scientist father and uppity, pretty younger sister Bunny? Plus, she’s always in trouble at work – her pre-school charges adore her, but the adults don’t always appreciate her unusual opinions and forthright manner. – from Goodreads.com

After reading Eligible this year, I’m branching out in the intervention genre and not just reading fairy tale retellings. This one is a reworking of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew and will probably be similar to one of my favourite films 10 Things I Hate About You.

The Last of August by Brittany Cavallaro

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Jamie Watson and Charlotte Holmes are looking for a winter break reprieve in Sussex after a fall semester that almost got them killed. But nothing about their time off is proving simple, including Holmes and Watson’s growing feelings for each other. When Charlotte’s beloved uncle Leander goes missing from the Holmes estate—after being oddly private about his latest assignment in a German art forgery ring—the game is afoot once again, and Charlotte throws herself into a search for answers. – from Goodreads.com

I read A Study in Charlotte not too long ago and really, really enjoyed it! I absolutely love all things Sherlock Holmes and all things mystery, so this really was a hole in one for me. In 2017, the next book in the series is coming out and I can’t wait to read it!

My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier

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Che Taylor has four items on his list: 1. He wants to spar, not just train in the boxing gym. 2. He wants a girlfriend. 3. He wants to go home. 4. He wants to keep Rosa under control. Che’s little sister Rosa is smart, talented, pretty, and so good at deception that Che’s convinced she must be a psychopath. She hasn’t hurt anyone yet, but he’s certain it’s just a matter of time. And when their parents move them to New York City, Che longs to return to Sydney and his three best friends. But his first duty is to his sister Rosa, who is playing increasingly complex and disturbing games. Can he protect Rosa from the world – and the world from Rosa? – from Goodreads.com

This is a book that has had a lot of buzz this year, but it’s only out in the USA and Australia, which means getting hold of a copy can be quite expensive if you’re on a minimal budget like I am. I’m hoping a UK publisher is going to pick it up and start distributing because the need to read this book is becoming unbearable!

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

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Every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions. But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown. – from Goodreads.com

The Three Dark Crowns Series is new from Kendare Blake and is an epic fantasy tale reminiscent of a Game of Thrones. This is a book I haven’t had a chance to pick up yet but it sounds so incredibly exciting, and will hopefully quench my thirst for a really good fantasy!

Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth

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On a planet where violence and vengeance rule, in a galaxy where some are favored by fate, everyone develops a currentgift, a unique power meant to shape the future. While most benefit from their currentgifts, Akos and Cyra do not — their gifts make them vulnerable to others’ control. Can they reclaim their gifts, their fates, and their lives, and reset the balance of power in this world? – from Goodreads.com

This was my most anticipated read of 2017, but as the reviews came back it seemed there was some problematic content that needed to be addressed. I would still like to read this book to see what the problematic content is, to educate myself on why it is problematic and how we can erase these harmful descriptions and properly represent anyone and everyone.

Wires and Nerve by Marissa Meyer

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In her first graphic novel, #1 New York Times and USA Today bestseller Marissa Meyer follows Iko, the beloved android from the Lunar Chronicles, on a dangerous and romantic new adventure — with a little help from Cinder and the Lunar team. – from Goodreads.com

Anything that directly, or indirectly, involves the Lunar Chronicles I AM THERE. Winter was my most favourite read of 2016, and so the fact that we have something else to look forward to in the Lunar Chronicles universe makes me very, very happy!

The Heiresses by Allison Rushby

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When three teenage girls, Thalia, Erato and Clio, are summoned to the excitement of fast-paced London–a frivolous, heady city full of bright young things–by Hestia, an aunt they never knew they had, they are shocked to learn they are triplets and the rightful heiresses to their deceased mother’s fortune. All they need to do is find a way to claim the fortune from their greedy half-brother, Charles. But with the odds stacked against them, coming together as sisters may be harder than they think. – from Goodreads.com

This is another book I’ve been pining after for years! The synopsis of this book sounds so exciting, and opposite to Three Dark Crowns when the triplets are coming together not tearing each other apart! In fact, it will be interesting to see the dynamics between the two.

Katherine of Aragon, the True Queen by Alison Weir

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In all the romancing, has anyone regarded the evidence that Anne Boleyn did not love Henry VIII? Or that Prince Arthur, Katherine of Aragon’s first husband, who is said to have loved her in fact cared so little for her that he willed his personal effects to his sister? Or that Henry VIII, an over-protected child and teenager, was prudish when it came to sex? That Jane Seymour, usually portrayed as Henry’s one true love, had the makings of a matriarch? There is much to reveal … – from Goodreads.com

I am completely fascinated by the Tudor period, especially Henry VIII’s six wives. You might think this subject has been done to death, thanks to Philippa Gregory, Antonia Fraser, Margaret George and many more, but I personally really love each individual interpretation, and this collection looks as though it’s going to be a different spin.

Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult

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The discovery of a dead infant in an Amish barn shakes Lancaster County to its core. But the police investigation leads to a more shocking disclosure: circumstantial evidence suggests that eighteen-year-old Katie Fisher, an unmarried Amish woman believed to be the newborn’s mother, took the child’s life. When Ellie Hathaway, a disillusioned big-city attorney, comes to Paradise, Pennsylvania, to defend Katie, two cultures collide — and for the first time in her high-profile career, Ellie faces a system of justice very different from her own. Delving deep inside the world of those who live “plain,” Ellie must find a way to reach Katie on her terms. And as she unravels a tangled murder case, Ellie also looks deep within — to confront her own fears and desires when a man from her past reenters her life. – from Goodreads.com

I am also fascinated by the Amish and their way of life, so when I realised Jodi Picoult had written a book that delves into the world of the Amish, I knew I had to read it. I haven’t had a chance to pick it up yet, but hopefully I’ll get around to it this year.

So this completes my list of books I hope to read in 2017. Are there any books here you’re looking forward to reading? Or have I missed off one of your most anticipated? Let me know in the comments!

Why I Love Second Books.

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second books

I know the title may stir some confusion but sit down, grab a cuppa, and let me explain. Usually when I buy and read a series, whether that be in bulk or waiting until a release date, I always, always enjoy the second in a series book the most. It wasn’t something I was completely aware of before, but after musing over my favourite sagas, it’s a pattern I’ve seen emerging.

Second books, particularly ones that encompass world building, I find are the strongest, as when we sit down to read it, we already have a prior knowledge of the world from the first book. I always find there’s a lot more character development, as we read more backstory or see them grow as they take on new challenges. If the book is part of a trilogy or a quartet, we are usually left on a cliffhanger, which is not only exciting, but means that for the next year we wait for baited breath for the next book.

So here are a few examples of second books I’ve read and LOVED.

The first thing I think of when I remember reading these books is pace. Quite a few of these books accelerate in pace, almost in a game of cat and mouse, which allows the reader to get swept up in the adventure. For example in Insurgent, Tris and Four are running all over Chicago, and we see areas of the dystopian world that we hadn’t seen in Divergent. My favourites were the Amity compound, the Factionless and Candor Headquarters. The phrase bigger and better comes to mind. Veronica Roth could use plot devices in Insurgent that she couldn’t use in Divergent, otherwise it would look messy and confusing.

Another great example is Catching Fire. We see Katniss move into the Victor’s Village with her family and see a whole array of new characters as Katniss and Peeta are catapulted back into the games. Firm favourites of mine are Finnick and Johanna, who go on to become strong alliances for Katniss in Mockingjay. We get to explore so much more of Panem through the Victor’s tour, as Katniss and Peeta travel through the districts to the Capitol. It’s Catching Fire that sets the wheels in motion for Mockingjay. It turns The Hunger Games into a Revolution, just as Insurgent does for the Divergent Series. You couldn’t just hop from book one to book three. Book two sets important groundwork for the big crescendo.

So these are my reasons why I love second books! Do you have a similar stand point? Let me know in the comments whether you agree, or if you prefer books one or three! Hey, there’s a rhyme in there somewhere…