I’m back baby! | July Wrap-Up & TBR Update

The reading! It’s happening! I’m finding glorious pockets throughout my day to read and it’s making my life so full right now!

monthly tbr

Also read/reading:

Books finished this month: 11
Books currently reading: 4

Overall TBR:

TBR at the beginning of the year = 383
TBR at the beginning of July = 472
Books added to TBR = 8
Books read/deleted from TBR = 11
Total on TBR now = 469

How did your reading go this month?
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Morally grey characters dressed in black | Vicious by V.E. Schwab

ViciousVictor has been thinking about the moment he would confront his former best friend Eli for a long time. For 10 long years while in prison to be exact. He wants to punish Eli but unfortunately for Victor, Eli is a little…unkillable. With Victor’s former cellmate Mitch and a runaway named Sydney by his side, Victor will put his plan into motion and finally find the justice he’s been seeking.

TL;DR – Schwab’s storytelling devices keep the plot moving quickly and the suspense high. While there are no good guys in this book, there are plenty of likable characters.

Purchase: Hardcover | Paperback | eBook

I loved this book so much–possibly more than her Shades of Magic series (which I also LOVED). I first encountered this author’s YA books (under the name Victoria Schwab) and was immediately hooked on her world-building. I had no idea what was to come when I made the leap to her adult works. Her skill in creating likeable “bad guys” is out of this world. Victor is not a good guy. He’s done bad and questionable things, but I still REALLY LIKE him. It’s the darnedest thing. All the characters, in fact, are incredibly well fleshed-out. They all have depth and I felt like the reader gets to know them on a deeper level than we do most characters in books. And don’t even get me started on the antagonists… (so evil, but also evil isn’t quite the right word?).

The world that Schwab has created for this story isn’t that different from the one we’re currently in except for the existence of EOs (ExtraOrdinaries). The entire concept of EOs isn’t necessarily revolutionary (think X-Men) but the way that they get created in her world seems entirely too plausible. What Eli and Victor do with that information also seems extremely realistic (without being too spoilery).

This story could have been told in a really linear, straightforward way, but that’s not how Schwab has decided to tell it. Chapters all start with a reference to an event: “6 hours before”, “10 years ago”, “The day before”. That kind of thing. This lets the reader know that we’re building up to some big event, but we don’t know exactly what it’s going to be until it’s almost upon us. This creates an almost unbelievable amount of tension as we’re left trying to figure out what we’re building up to. The way the different timelines and the story is woven together is just plain genius.

You guys. This book is GOOD. Highly, highly recommend if you’re looking for something a little sci-fi-y but not like, too sci-fi-y. I would also recommend if you’re just plain looking for a good book to read.

Overall Rating: 5
Language: Moderate
Violence: Heavy
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate
Sexual Content: Mild

How Ashley got her groove back | July TBR

I’m hoping I get my groove back this month at least. Towards the end of June, I felt my groove was on its way back, so we’ll see if that continues. It may get thrown off because we’ve got a family reunion to go to, but for now I think I’m getting into a rhythm and I hope that’s reflected by my reading.

Since I’m reading Jane Eyre through Serial Reader, it’ll probably still take me a month or two before I finish it. And I’m working through the Flavia de Luce mysteries on our morning walks, so those will be ongoing as well. Does anyone have any good, light series that they’d recommend as audiobooks? I’d prefer a series with lots of books that is different from the Flavia de Luce mysteries (and that won’t have a million holds on them *cough* Harry Potter *cough*). I could see myself getting tired of the Flavia mysteries and wanting to switch off every other book.

What are you guys reading this month? Let me know in the comments!

Aliens! The End of the World! | Zero Repeat Forever by G.S. Prendergast [ARC]

28945665Raven, her boyfriend, and her boyfriend’s identical twin brother got in some trouble. Instead of being sent to Juvie, they were given permission to work at a summer camp as camp counselors instead. That’s where they were when the Nahx arrived. The Nahx use their high-tech dart guns to kill any humans they encounter sparing no one. That is, until Raven. Not only did the Nahx she meet leave her alive, but he carried her to a place where her friends could safely find her. A Nahx has never showed a human mercy before, so why her?

First of all, I find the overall premise of this book kind of weird. I don’t know why I keep requesting sci-fi alien books, because I don’t actually like them very much. But anyway, I did like some things about this book. The emotions that I felt at times really took me by surprise. I was going along reading and then all of the sudden one of the scenes really hit me and I really began to empathize with Eighth. Like seriously, my heart just broke for him. Raven, on the other hand, I never really liked. I just didn’t really find her authentic as a character. She had all these mood swings. I mean, I understand that she’s currently witnessing the end of the world and that her boyfriend was killed and all that, but the context in which she has mood swings just didn’t really fit. So with that being said, her and Eighth’s relationship wasn’t my favorite. Eighth deserved better.

The writing in this book was kind of weird at times. It was very slow-moving to begin with, but then the flow wasn’t great or consistent. I mean, the book is almost 500 pages so it’ll take a little while to get through. It also deals with some HEAVY topics like abusive relationships, racism, grief, hope, identity. Just to name a few.

Overall, I thought this book was just okay. It didn’t blow me away, but I didn’t hate it either. Like I said earlier, I was surprised by the depth of the emotions I was feeling in the middle of the book, but I still didn’t particularly care for almost all of the characters. If you’re already into sci-fi, though, you might like this one.

Overall Rating: 3
Language: Moderate
Violence: Heavy
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate
Sexual Content: Mild

Note: I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Cage by Megan Shepherd

One second Cora’s in the car with her brother driving to meet their parents at a ski resort. Next thing she knows, she’s waking up in a desert in someone else’s clothes.

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This book is CRAZY right from the beginning. I guess in the Goodreads summary, you find out right away that Cora and the others have been abducted by an alien race. I did not know that coming into this book. So when the aliens are introduced I was just like, “Umm….okay….well, I guess I’ll see how this plays out…” As you can tell by all of the ellipses, there was a lot of hesitation on my part, but I think it turned out pretty good. I’m not really a big Sci-Fi/Alien reader so I just wasn’t sure whether this would be my kind of thing.

Right off the bat, the reader and the characters are all really confused (maybe I would have been less confused if I’d read the summary more carefully, but I didn’t). The story is told from multiple perspectives so we’re privy to private information about the characters that the other characters don’t know yet. The voices of the characters were all pretty distinctive, so that was nice. I hate when you have multiple perspectives, but the voices are all the same so you can’t tell them apart.

The whole situation that these characters are in makes the reader pretty uneasy. I mean, these humans are basically being treated like animals and that can be a bit unnerving. It really made me think about how I would react in this situation. Would I be like Cora and try to escape? Or would I just accept my fate and play games all day?

Even though I enjoyed the book, I didn’t find any of the characters to be particularly likable. Nok and Rolf were both pretty annoying to me. We don’t see too much of Leon or Mali so I’m still up in the air about them. Lucky is okay but kind of weak as a person (which I find unappealing in a character). And then there’s Cora…she’s okay, but she does a lot of freaking out throughout the book. I just don’t know how I feel about her. Mostly I just need her to calm down and be a little more rational about things.

Overall, I did like this book. I know my review kind of sounds negative, but there were a lot of things to like. There’s a big plot twist at the end that I totally did NOT see coming. Like, it’s so big that I wanted to immediately reread the book with this new information in mind. The book was just kind of lacking in character development. As it is, even though the book itself is great, the characters just felt kind of flat to me.

Overall Rating: 4
Language: Mild
Violence: Moderate
Sexual Content: Heavy, but it’s mostly in a breeding context. No explicit scenes.
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate

Gone by Michael Grant

In Perdido Beach, CA everybody over the age of 13 has vanished into thin air. Soon the kids discover that some of them have special powers, animals are mutating, and there’s an invisible wall surrounding their town. Bullies from the local private school, Coates Academy, are soon running things in a way very reminiscent of Golding’s “Lord of the Flies”. Some kids are interested in finding a way out, some kids rejoice in their new-found power and authority, and some kids are just trying to stay alive.9780061448782_p0_v2_s260x420

I loved reading “Lord of the Flies” when I was in high school so I was excited to find a book that has a similar premise (kids running wild without adult supervision). Just a warning right off the bat: this book is long (almost 600 pages) and it’s the first in a six book series (all about as long). If you do not have the time, the patience, or the desire to invest in this series, I do not recommend starting the first book. That being said, up to this point I have only read “Gone” (although I do have the second book in the series waiting on my Kindle as I’m writing this).

With that disclaimer out of the way…the book was pretty good, but frustrating. First the good. If you’ve read any of my previous reviews, you’ve probably picked up on the fact that I appreciate realism. Even in fantastical worlds that abide by different laws than Earth, I appreciate when characters are realistic in their choices and reactions. This book mostly does that for me. The author acknowledged the reality of having all adults disappear simultaneously. Babies and small children would die if no one were there to take care of them and the author brings that up. The older kids in charge may not have been as realistic as I would have liked…maybe a little too smart/clever for 13-year-olds, but I can forgive that.

Now for the bad. The mutating animals are just weird and whatever darkness is going on in the mountains…also weird. The special powers are also a little hard for me to swallow, but I’m more okay with that than I am with the talking coyotes. Like I said, weird. My main issue with this book is the length. It’s interesting to read about how the kids reestablish civilization and all that, but does that really take 600 pages and five more books? I just want to know how the kids get out and if they’ll be reunited with their families! Truth be told, if I wasn’t so interested in how that was going to happen I probably wouldn’t read the rest of the series. Alas, I’m dying to know how the heck they get out of this dang city. Looks like I’ll be slogging my way through 2,500 more pages of pre-teens fighting with each other.

Overall Rating: 3
Violence: Moderate. Some gore.
Sexual Content: None
Language: Mild
Smoking/Drinking: Mild. Some characters drink beer.

The rest of the books in the series: Hunger, Lies, Light, Fear, and Plague.