That's a Wrap | January to March 2017


I had a good start at the beginning of the year, but I can already feel my schedule filling up from this point on. (Goodreads tells me I'm three books behind already!) Still, at fourteen books this quarter, I think I did pretty well. Without further ado, here are the books I read from January to March.

1. Bitter of Tongue by Cassandra Clare

There are some great moments in here that help to get a better sense of the Shadowhunter universe.


SYNOPSIS
When Simon is kidnapped by the fey, he’s amazed to find a friend in former Shadowhunter Mark Blackthorn. One of ten adventures in Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy. After Simon is kidnapped by faeries (why is he always kidnapped?), he uncovers rumors of a secret weapon Sebastian left behind for the faerie queen. He must escape the Fey, relying on his only ally, former Shadowhunter and Dark Artifices character Mark Blackthorn.

2. The Fiery Trial by Cassandra Clare

I love that we get to see the parabatai ritual and what it entails.


SYNOPSIS
Emma Carstairs and Julian Blackthorn become parabatai. Simon and Clary both act as their witnesses, so they can see what a parabatai bond forming looks like as they want to become parabatai as soon as Simon graduates — and because Emma asked Clary. The ritual goes unexpectedly ...

3. Born to Endless Night by Cassandra Clare

One word: MALEC. 90% of the reason I watch the Shadowhunters TV show is because of Malec. #sorrynotsorry


SYNOPSIS
Simon, like the rest of the Academy, is stunned when a navy-skinned warlock baby is found on the Academy steps. They hand the child over to guest lecturer Magnus Bane, who has to bring a child home ... temporarily, of course ... to his man!

4. Angels Twice Descending by Cassandra Clare

I finally had time to finish the rest of the Tales of the Shadowhunter Academy, but I'm sad now that it's over. It was a fun adventure, Simon, it really was.


SYNOPSIS
Someone lives and someone dies at Simon’s Ascension ceremony.

5. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

This is a book I read for my book club at school. I really love the art and story in this graphic novel and I definitely recommend it. I would love to see more from this author.


SYNOPSIS
The graphic novel debut from rising star Noelle Stevenson, based on her beloved and critically acclaimed web comic, which Slate awarded its Cartoonist Studio Prize, calling it "a deadpan epic." Nemeses! Dragons! Science! Symbolism! All these and more await in this brilliantly subversive, sharply irreverent epic from Noelle Stevenson. Featuring an exclusive epilogue not seen in the web comic, along with bonus conceptual sketches and revised pages throughout, this gorgeous full-color graphic novel is perfect for the legions of fans of the web comic and is sure to win Noelle many new ones. Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren't the heroes everyone thinks they are. But as small acts of mischief escalate into a vicious battle, Lord Blackheart realizes that Nimona's powers are as murky and mysterious as her past. And her unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit.

6. Positively Mine by Christine Duval

I did NOT like this book. The writing was not terrible all the time, but when it was, it really was. I was also not able to connect with the main character or the story at all. Read my review here.


SYNOPSIS
It is four weeks into her freshman year of college, and Laurel’s first test was unexpected. Discovering she’s pregnant isn’t exactly what she had planned for her first semester, and while she intends to tell her emotionally-distant father, being away at school makes it all too easy to hide. An imperfect heroine plagued by bad choices and isolated during what should be the best time of her life, readers are sure to identify with Laurel as she confronts teen pregnancy, in secret.

7. More than You Know by April Bennett

This was a rather vanilla romance novel that included good characters, a good story, and good writing-- do you see what's wrong here? The story lacked a lot of depth in both the characters and the plot that would have made the story much more engaging. Read my review here.


SYNOPSIS
Reeling from a painful divorce, Miranda has returned to her hometown after a fifteen-year absence. When her brother offers her a job with the family company she takes it, not realizing she’ll be working with the man who was once the object of her teen fantasies. When lifelong bachelor Robert decides to reform his rakish ways, he moves from Chicago to the little town of Alandale. Awayfrom the bustling pace of city living, he settles into a new work partnership with his best friend. His new assistant Miranda is a mystery to him, and Robert is a thorn in her side. Chemistry sizzles between them, but they have both been burned once. Will they let past heartaches, fear of disrupting the status quo, and a disapproving older brother ruin their future?

8. Reaper's Claim by Simone Elise

My first impression of the motorcycle gang trope was not very good-- my review.


SYNOPSIS
In my motorcycle club I’ve earned the name ‘Reaper’ and now I have my claim on Abby Harrison. Reaper: I didn’t know what love was, but I knew what want was, and I wanted Abby. When I walked out of the club and saw her I was stone cold sober. She was quietly beautiful and unlike any other woman I’d had before. But she was the daughter of the president of Satan’s Sons MC and completely out of my reach. Abby: Everyone knew The Reaper and how he got his name, so I never expected him to be my salvation when my sisters drunk boyfriend wanted to lay hands on me. I thought my innocence would be lost in that alley, until he showed up and saved me. I know being with Reaper will lead to trouble, but I don’t know if I have the strength to stay away. Being together might be dangerous, but outlaws are meant to break the rules.

9. Yours and Mine by Christine Duval

This is the sequel to Positively Mine, which was mentioned above. I liked it a lot better than the first book, but still, this series was not for me. Read my review.


SYNOPSIS
Picking up from the dramatic ending of Positively Mine, Yours and Mine continues the Freshman Forty series as we meet Danny Santoro, Laurel’s baby’s father, for the first time. It’s been almost a year since he last saw her, that sultry morning she walked off the beach before dawn had even cracked the August sky. It seemed from her silence, she was out of his life forever. But Laurel’s timing couldn’t be worse to tell him he’s a father. The last year hasn’t been easy. Danny’s own father was arrested for a DUI, his mother moved out, and Danny started sleeping with his brother’s old high school, drug-abusing girlfriend. After Laurel shocks him with the news, she attempts to relinquish Danny of any parental responsibility leading to a heated custody battle. In an unorthodox arrangement, an eccentric judge orders Danny and Laurel to spend alternating nights with each other for the upcoming school year. Told from Danny’s point of view, Yours and Mine explores the second chapter of a romance that never got off the ground, the challenges of young parenting, and the hope of rekindled love.

10. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

My first novel by Nicola Yoon! I absolutely adored this story and nearly EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING about this novel. Read it before the movie comes out in May!


SYNOPSIS
My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla. But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly. Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

11. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

A beautiful classic I finally had the chance to read.


SYNOPSIS
Enthralled by his own exquisite portrait, Dorian Gray exchanges his soul for eternal youth and beauty. Influenced by his friend Lord Henry Wotton, he is drawn into a corrupt double life, indulging his desires in secret while remaining a gentleman in the eyes of polite society. Only his portrait bears the traces of his decadence.

12. Bluff by Julie Dill

What I thought would be a heartbreaking novel about a young girl forced to grow up too soon, is actually a poorly written story that lacks realism and authentic emotion. I'm not going to lie, I'm majorly disappointed.


SYNOPSIS
Seventeen-year-old Chelsea Knowles is surrounded by the privileged. Michael Kors gym bags and designer shoes are part of her daily scene, but the talented cheerleader has a secret: she and her dad can barely pay the bills. Broken by his wife walking out on their family, Chelsea’s father ignores his responsibilities. Between cheer costs, grocery bills, electricity, and other regular financial burdens, it’s no surprise when a cut-off notice arrives in the mail. Chelsea knows it’ll be up to her to keep the lights on. With the deck stacked against her, Chelsea decides to bet their future on the dubious poker knowledge she learned from her father before he gave up on parenting. Nervous but determined, Chelsea heads to a casino with very little security and wins big. Thrilled by her win, she’s quickly drawn to the casino again and again. She risks it all, especially when the attractive, young pit boss takes an interest in her. Chelsea’s life, no longer filled with cheerleading, school, and hanging out with her friends, is now consumed by smoky casino floors and the ups and downs of a gambler’s life. True gamblers know when to fold, but Chelsea keeps betting long after her needs are met. The complicated web of lies soon begins to spin out of control, threatening to expose everything. Will someone see through her bluff?

13. A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks

This was a reread, and I love it just as much I as did the first time around. Definitely recommend this book if you like romance and crying.


SYNOPSIS
Every April, when the wind blows from the sea and mingles with the scent of lilacs, Landon Carter remembers his last year at Beaufort High. It was 1958, and Landon had already dated a girl or two. He even swore that he had once been in love. Certainly the last person in town he thought he'd fall for was Jamie Sullivan, the daughter of the town's Baptist minister. A quiet girl who always carried a Bible with her schoolbooks, Jamie seemed content living in a world apart from the other teens. She took care of her widowed father, rescued hurt animals, and helped out at the local orphanage. No boy had ever asked her out. Landon would never have dreamed of it. Then a twist of fate made Jamie his partner for the homecoming dance, and Landon Carter's life would never be the same. Being with Jamie would show him the depths of the human heart and lead him to a decision so stunning it would send him irrevocably on the road to manhood ...

14. Alpha by Jasinda Wilder

I hear Jasinda Wilder is fairly popular, though I can't really imagine why. Perhaps it's just this particular book, but I did not have the greatest experience with it.


SYNOPSIS
The first time it happened, it seemed like an impossible miracle. Bills were piling up, adding up to more money than I could ever make. Mom's hospital bills. My baby brother's tuition. My tuition. Rent. Electricity. All of it on my shoulders. And I had just lost my job. There was no hope, no money in my account, no work to be found. And then, just when I thought all hope was lost, I found an envelope in the mail. No return address. My name on the front, my address. Inside was a check, made out to me, in the amount of ten thousand dollars. Enough to pay the bills and leave me some left over to live on until I found a job. Enough to let me focus on classes. There was no name on the check, just "VRI Inc.," and a post office box address for somewhere in the city. No hint of identity or reason for the check or anything. No mention of repayment, interest, nothing…except a single word, on the notes line: "You." Just those three letters.

If you receive a mysterious check, for enough money to erase all your worries, would you cash it? I did. The next month, I received another check, again from VRI Incorporated. It too contained a single word: "belong." A third check, the next month. This time, two words. Four letters. "To me." The checks kept coming. The notes stopped. Ten thousand dollars, every month. A girl gets used to that, real quick. It let me pay the bills without going into debt. Let me keep my baby brother in school and Mom's hospice care paid for. How do you turn down what seems like free money, when you're desperate? You don't. I didn't. And then, after a year, there was a knock on my door. A sleek black limousine sat on the curb in front of my house. A driver stood in front of me, and he spoke six words: "It's time to pay your debt." Would you have gotten in? I did.

It turns out $120,000 doesn't come free.

And that's a wrap for January, February, and March! I can't believe we're already a quarter way through the year. What are the highlights of your recent reads?

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