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This year I'm trying something different, and instead of posting my full reading list at the end of the year, I'm going to try to add to it as I go along. (Normally the in progress list is a Word doc sitting on my desktop.) Hopefully this will prompt me to write at least brief reviews somewhat more often. Volume wise, I hope to at least mostly keep pace with last year. I'm already woefully behind schedule because of The Diviners, but I refuse to give up in January. I'm also going to try splitting the list into fiction, non-fiction, and graphic novels in the hope that I'll actually read some non-fiction.


1. The Diviners by Libba Bray. This book is long. So long it took me most of the month to read, because sometimes my hand's literally hurt too much to pick up this brick of a novel. A lot of the length seems due to two things: a) Libba Bray did a ton of research about NYC in the 20s and b) she's setting up a series. I think the "first in a series" syndrome is the biggest thing that made me not love the book. After nearly 600 pages, some of the characters paths are yet to overlap, and I feel like we're just at the beginning of the "real" mystery. I'm betting things'll start to come together more in future books. (Side note: [personal profile] lunamystic and I went to see Libba Bray speak at Politics & Prose bookstore in D.C. for the book's release and she is amazing and hilarious in person. Instead of reading from the book, she read a horror story she wrote as a kid that featured lots of trapdoors and mysterious rooms. Midway through The Diviners that strange reading selection suddenly made a lot of sense!)

2. How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr. Based on the cover image and title, I initially thought this book was about suicide, which kept me from reading it. It's actually a story told from alternating perspectives about two teen girls: Jill, who is grieving her father's death by isolating herself from her friends, and Mandy, who is pregnant and preparing to give her baby up for adoption and start a new life. The girls come from very different backgrounds, but are brought together when Jill's mother decides to adopt Mandy's baby. I don't know that I really like either Jill or Mandy, but Zarr really brings to life their emotional struggles and shows how one person's coping behavior is easily interpreted by others as rude, suspicious, or just weird. I thought it was going to be an issue book, and it turned out to be a surprisingly poignant story about love and families.

3. Looking for Alaska by John Green. And with that, I have now read all four of John Green's novels, ending with his first, and many readers' perennial favorite. I kind of... don't know what to say about this book. I don't mean that in a bad way at all, because I really liked it, it's more that I think it'll take a little bit of time to process my feelings about it. Like all of John Green's work, Looking for Alaska features a group of intelligent, articulate teenagers bumbling through life through of emotional confusion and earnestness. There's lots of raging against the dying of the light, in an authentically teen way.

4. For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund. I borrowed the Kindle book from the library on Saturday night and finished it on Sunday morning, so it probably goes without saying that I really enjoyed this book. For Darkness Shows the Stars is a post-apocalyptic re-telling of Jane Austen's Persuasion, a book that I adore. Having read the original, I knew that everything was going to turn out fine for Elliot and Kai, but I still got wrapped up in the tension of their estranged relationship. The new setting is not-quite-biopunk, which adds some compelling new additions to the story and in some ways raises the stakes on Elliot's choice not to run away with Kai when she originally had the chance. Diana Peterfreund happens to be a local author, and I know I'll be tracking down more of her books.

5. Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor. This was not exactly what I expected from the sequel to Daughter of Smoke and Bone. The first book had fantastic elements, still mostly grounded in the real world, along with a star-crossed lovers plotline. I expected a story about how the lovers could reconcile, and got a war between two otherworldly races. I'm really interested to see where the next book goes.

6. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon. This one was a re-read for book club at work. It's been years since I read it, but I seem to remember liking it more. The "mystery" isn't really much of one, which leaves the central gimmick of the autistic narrator. Although Christopher certainly seem neuro-atypical, his narration doesn't ring true as the thoughts of a boy with an autism-spectrum disorder. 

7. The Map of Time by Félix J. Palma. Another one for book club, this time chosen by my students. There's a lot of interesting stuff going on, what with H.G. Wells and Jack the Ripper and the intrusive French Lieutenant's Woman style narrator, but I felt like it could have been much, much shorter. The book is just over 600 pages long, and it took almost 100 pages to get to the first mention of time travel, which was kind of the point. I also wished there were more women, particularly more women with agency. (Maybe H.G. could have been a woman, a la Warehouse 13.)

8. Ask the Passengers by A.S. King. At this point, I've read a fair few books about LBGTQ teens, but one of the things that Ask the Passengers made me remember is that the "questioning" that often appears as one of the Q's in the various acronyms is often left out. Astrid Jones falls smack in that questioning category. She's had a girlfriend for a few months, but so far it's a secret from her friends and family, partly because she's afraid of the judgement she'll face in her small town, and partly because she's really not sure of her identity yet. Instead, she talks to the passengers of the planes passing overhead, and because they can't talk back, they don't judge her. I hated pretty much everyone in this book besides Astrid and Socrates, who, yes, appears as a character as Astrid learns about him in a humanities class. A tough story at times, but important.

9. The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen. Helloooo unreliable narrator! Sage, the protagonist of The False Prince is an orphan and a thief who is 'recruited' (i.e. purchased, kidnapped) and trained to impersonate the long lost (and presumed dead) Prince Jaron of Carthya. Trying to untangle all the lies and intrigue was fun, and I look forward to the next two books in the sereis.

10. Cinders & Sapphires by Leila Rasheed. It's a teen historical capitalizing on the success of Downton Abbey that delivers more scandal than you can shake a stick at. Seriously, every character in this book (and there are lots) has a Deep Dark Secret™. The ones that bugged me the most were the 'forbidden' love at first sight and the fact that the gay character was name Sebastian (Hellloooo, Brideshead!). It's fairly ridiculous, but mostly amusingly so, and a very quick read, and on the upside actually has a bit about education for women and Indian politics.

11. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. I first heard about this book right before it won the Morris Award, but in spite that endorsement, I was just blown away by how good this book was. It takes place in a world where humans and dragons (who have the ability to take human form) formed an uneasy truce about a generation ago. Seraphina is both trying to make her way in the world as assistant to the court composer and hide her half-dragon heritage. I fell in love with both the characters and the world they lived in. The world building was excellent and understated—there was not an info-dump to be found. In particular, I enjoyed gradually learning more about the various saints that made up the religious life of Gorredd, largely because it's such an everyday thing. I literally couldn't put the book down and can't wait for the sequels. I read on the Kindle, so I didn't notice the hilarious character guide until the end. My edition also included a prequel short-story, "The Audition."

12. The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth. This lesbian coming out/coming of age story could not be more different from Ask the Passengers, read the month prior. Cam is a teenager growing up in Miles City, Montana in the 90s. Her life is changed forever in a single day: she and Irene Klaussen share their first kiss, and Cam's parents are killed in a car accident. The book explores Cam's guilt about her parents death, confusion over her sexual identity, and strained relationship with her guardian, her born-again Aunt Ruth. Cam's love for her cowgirl classmate Coley Taylor eventually leads to her being sent to a Christian de-gaying school. Cam's struggles are very grounded in her small-town setting, and the characters around her seem like real people. It's a sad book at a lot of times, exploring how even the actions of well-meaning people can hurt deeply.

13. Just One Day by Gayle Forman. This was a book that was not what I expected based on the jacket description. The set up seems like it's going to be about a girl still mooning over a one night stand, but Allyson's story is actually about her struggle to figure out her life, particularly whether she's doing what she really wants or just what's expected of her. 

14. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood. A re-read for book club, but for once book club wasn't a chore. Margaret Atwood is such a masterful writer, and reading The Blind Assassin for the second time just makes it more obvious how wonderfully constructed it is. The book actually has four intertwined narratives: Iris Chase's life as an elderly woman estranged from her only remaining family, the story of Iris's family, from her childhood to her sister Laura's death, and Laura's posthumously published novel—which features a sci-fi story within the story. That description really can't do that book justice at all. At it's heart, it's a story about two sisters, both of whom end up victims, in a way, of both their choices and circumstances.

15. The Maze Runner by James Dashner. I've been meaning to pick up this series for awhile, since it's one of those "If you like The Hunger Games, you'll like this" books, but let's be honest, it took the news of Dylan O'Brien being cast in the movie for me to finally read it. Overall, it's a fun adventure story, except at the end, the whole dystopian set-up doesn't actually make sense, and the characters are all pretty flat and generic. Do I care enough to read three or four more books to find out if it gets better? Ehh, probably not, but that won't stop me watching the moive.

16. The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson. The second book of Shades of London series didn't really hold up the first.

(This review was going to be longer, but Heather thinks it's funny this way.)

17. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. Pardon me while I steal from John Green for a sec: "'Eleanor & Park' reminded me not just what it’s like to be young and in love with a girl, but also what it’s like to be young and in love with a book." I know there are some people this book just didn't work for, but to me it was very real and joyful and painful—definitely deserving of the praise it's been garnering.

18. Return to Me by Justina Chen. I loved North of Beautiful, so I wanted to love Return to Me, it just didn't work out that way. Part of this was colored by the book immediately following Eleanor & Park, part of this was colored by my own experience. It was hard for me to really feel for a character who's so out of touch with how privileged she is. Key example: Rebecca's parents are getting divorced, which sucks, so she, her mom, and brother go to visit Grandpa at his B&B in Hawaii before returning to their island property near Seattle. Yeah.

19. Midnight Blue-Light Special by Seanan McGuire. Sometimes you just need a break from the serious problems of life to read about supernatural creatures and badass ladies doing parkour all over the city of New York and Aeslin Mice. Lots of Aeslin Mice. This series is all action and humor and weird monsters and I like it.

20. Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith. I've re-read this book a gazillion times since high school, so I don't really have an unbiased opinion. It's one of those books I love and will never fail to cheer me up. It's swords and sorcery and a barefoot countess and her brother trying to mount a rebellion against an evil king, then figuring out politics and romance when the revolution's done. Perfect for fans of Robin McKinley and Tamora Pierce. Best suspenseful removing of a glove. A++ would read again.

21. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins. The sequel(ish) to Anna and the French Kiss was a cute romance with likable characters, like it's predecessor, this time set in San Francsisco instead of Paris. I didn't love the "I really like you but I'm already with someone else" plot repeating, but overall it was a fun, light read.

22. Cinder by Marissa Mayer. Here's one for the column "books I read because my friend's 12 year old daughter reviewed it with too many exclamation points." I put it off for a bit due to Cinderella retelling fatigue, but I'm glad I finally picked it up. Plot wise there weren't a lot of surprises (even the new twists were apparent from a mile away) but I still enjoyed hanging out in this sci-fi world and I'm interested to see where the series goes next. If you've ever thought what fairy tales needed is more cyborgs, then this is a book for you.

23. The Rules for Disappearing by Ashley Elston. A teen novel with action and suspense and romance but NOT a dystopian society!! "Meg," the book's protagonist, is in witness protection, along with her parents and sister, but she doesn't know why. In less than a year she's taken on multiple new identities in town's across the country, but it's wearing on her and her family and she wants a way out. There were times I wanted to smack Meg for making really dangerous choices that could make her end up dead, but that's par for the course. Try to ignore that part of your brain asking "is this realistic?" and just sit back and enjoy.

24. Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein. Rose Under Fire is a companion, not a sequel, to Code Name Verity. Like Maddie in CNV, Rose Justice is a young pilot for the Air Transport Auxiliary in Britain. When a mission in France goes awry, Rose is captured by the Luftwaffe and mistakenly sent to the women's concentration camp at Ravensbrück with a truckload of French resistance fighters. The situations that Rose faces are very different than those of Maddie and Julie, but the common thread between the two books is the struggle to survive the most horrible conditions and the strength of friendships gained through adversity. Another commonality between the two books—one that Elizabeth Wein talked about some when I saw her at Politics & Prose in May—is the importance of writing. Wein very deliberately constructs the narrative as written by the characters. In Rose's case, she writes both for healing and as testimony—to spread the story of the Polish "Rabbits" who were experimented on by the Nazis and became some of her closest friends in prison. Just like CNV, Rose Under Fire is a story that really sticks with you. (Reviewed from a free ARC from NetGalley.)

25. The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr. I was anticipating this book after reading that Sara Zarr's latest protagonist was a young musician. Lucy is an award winning teenage pianist who drops out of the music world despite her family's pressure to keep competing. Lucy was sometimes hard to like because she makes her fair share of bad choices, especially when it comes to dudes, but her struggles made her a pretty relatable teen. She really struggles to figure out how to have a 'normal' life and whether she can love music without it consuming everything.

26. Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloane. I don't read much literary fiction anymore, but I'm glad that didn't stop me from picking this up. It's a lot more fun (and funny) than a lot of literary fiction and features a charmingly bizarre cast of characters. Features a barely trafficked San Francisco bookstore, code-breaking, the Googleplex, a miniature city in a living room, secret organizations, computer programmers, and an underground NYC reading room. Recommended for the books about books crowd, though note that this one is much more about books than about stories. (There's totally a distinction between the physical objects and the contents, yo.) But it does end up having a good story. So.

27. The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson. It was interesting, but in a lot of places I felt like it just didn't delve far enough into the social/ethical/moral issues it brought up. The main focus is on Jenna's quest for identity after she wakes up from a coma with no memories of her life before, but her personal identity issues can't quite be unentangled from the larger picture. I really disliked the tacked on feeling epilogue which left me really confused about how this could be the first of a series. Maybe it was originally meant to stand alone?

28. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. I thought this was a dystopia. I don't know why. It's not. At all. The book takes place on island known for its horses, especially the dangerous water horses that come in from the sea once each year. The island is almost as much a character as the actual main characters, Puck and Sean, who alternate perspectives. Their relationship develops slowly over the course of the book and is, of course, closely intertwined with the land and the horses. A quietly wonderful book.

29. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer. The sequel to Cinder is a take on Little Red Riding Hood. I really enjoyed Scarlet's side of the story and was really eager to see how her adventures would intersect with Cinder's and Kai's. The third book in the Lunar trilogy isn't due out for awhile yet, but I'm looking forward to seeing how Meyer brings things to a close. Hopefully this includes some kicking of Queen Levana's Lunar ass.

30. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. I finally read it! There was a lot of walking. And no women. I feel like I should be more thrilled, since so many people love it, but I mostly thought it was okay.

31. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. I'm really not sure what I expected here, but it wasn't what I got. That seems to be a theme lately. The Raven Boys felt a little bit like the movie version of Practical Magic (which my sister and I both love) crossed with Special Topics in Calamity Physics. (Both books even feature protagonists named Blue!) There are a lot of mysteries and secrets to unravel, several of which are still unresolved at the end of the book. I really enjoyed the characters and the atmosphere, and for once I wasn't tearing my hair out at a first book in a series that is clearly only an introduction to what's going on. Partly because there was resolution to a few important threads of the story, partly because I've already got the ARC of The Dream Thieves waiting for me on my Kindle.

32. The Scorch Trials by James Dashner. Look, I don't really know what I expected here. The characters are still pretty bland while the situations are interesting, but don't make any sense. So is he going to explain everything in book three, or is this just kind poorly written?

33. Delirium by Lauren Oliver. I avoided this one for awhile, cause I'm getting tired of dystopias and the premise seemed pretty meh, but I eventually gave it a change because I really enjoyed Before I Fall. The book takes place in a version of the US where science has determined that love is a disease and is the cause of most of societies ills. Luckily, they've figured out how to cure it. A lot of the romantic elements were predictable, but I was surprised by the exploration of other types of love in Lena's life, particularly for her dead mother and her friend Hana. Oliver is an eloquent writer, and I think that really raises the book beyond a so-so premise. In a book exploring surpressing emotion, it was really important that the emotional moments seemed true. In particular, the high school graduation scene early in the book really rang true to me, and it was moments like that that made me invested in the story.

34. Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund. I was so excited to get an ARC of this book, because I loved For Darkness Shows the Stars, which is set in the same universe. This one is a Sci-Fi retelling of The Scarlet Pimpernel, so with Peterfreund starting from source material I love I knew it was going to be good. This basically felt like a book written just for me. Spies and aristocrats and revolutionaries and weird technology... and the Red Poppy, this universes pimpernel, is a woman! And she is awesome. Buy this book when it's released! I know that's what I'll be doing.

35. God's War by Kameron Hurley. Some of the coolest, most expansive world-building I've read in awhile. It takes place in a weird sci-fi/fantasy world on a desert planet that been at war for generations. The book follows a team of bounty hunters on a disaster of a mission. The characters all have secrets and dark pasts--they're interesting, if not strictly likable. The more gruesome aspects of the story took away from my enjoyment, but if you're into severed heads, that won't be a problem.

36. The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater. Next up in the year of Maggie Stiefvater, The Dream Thieves! It's a sequel, and while it continues the story of The Raven Boys, it's surprisingly different in tone. The series features an ensemble cast, but where the first book was most concerned with Blue and Gansey, this one shifts focus to Ronan and Adam. It's a little bit darker than the first, again due to the shift in narrative focus--Ronan and Adam are both just darker people. (And, dude, there is so much more to Ronan and his family than we learned in the first book!) Hats of to Maggie Stiefvater for portraying the complex relationships of a group of friends without the typical love triangle set-up.

37. Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz. I don't read a lot of middle grade lit, but Patty insisted. Splendors and Glooms is a fairy tale like book with witches, cursed jewels, and children being turned into marionettes. And by fairy tale I mean the slightly creepy, cautionary, Victorian type, not the bright, shiny, Disney type.

38. Cold Magic by Kate Elliott. Several of my friends got an earful on how cool the setup of this alternate-history fantasy. It takes place in 19th century Europe, but not as we know it--and not steampunk either. Celtic tribes and other groups broke away from the Roman Empire (which still exists, but smaller) and Europe never formed modern nation-states. There are Phoenician spies running around not-England! This was a book that featured lots of traveling--including walking--which can often be a slog for me, but in this story, those random encounters along the road turned out to be not so random. (Elliott fired all the guns in the third act, and it was awesome.) Cat Hassi Barahal is a great heroine and I'm eager to read more of her adventures.

39. Parasite by Mira Grant. Another one procured early through NetGalley! At first the book seemed to lack the urgency of Feed, but then again, not every book can begin with a zombie chase scene. It takes a little bit of time to settle in with Sal, and for me putting that time in paid off. The premise of genetic experimentation with parasites gone awry is creeptastic (blergh, tapeworms!) and with so many mad scientists around, it's no surprise Sal doesn't really know who to trust. The book closes on a big revelation for the narrator (though not for the readers, if you've paid attention to the clues dropped along the way) but I think the more surprising revelation comes just earlier. Mira Grant is definitely setting up for some messy showdowns in the next two books.

40. Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff. Hannah is being haunted by the ghost of her best friend, whose struggle with anorexia led to her death, and her relationships with her living friends are fraying apart. At the same time, her town is living in fear of a serial murderer targeting teen girls. Really creepy, sort of Southern Gothic vibe and good depictions of dealing with love and loss.

41. Chimes at Midnight by Seanan McGuire. I feel like Seanan McGuire has really turned it up to 11 with the last few Toby Daye books. I think a big part of that is that she's set up all the elements of this world and the characters relationships in place, so it's easy for her to throw Toby into higher stakes scenarios. At some point I really want to re-read the series from the start, and watch Toby's progression from faerie-outcast to influential force for good. I loved Toby and Tybalt's negotiation of their mutual fears for each other's safety vs. understanding of duties to get involved in dangerous shit. Oh, and we finally find out who Quentin is!

42. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH. It will probably get it's own review post. It just perfectly captured so many things about being involved in fandom, going away to college (especially at a midwestern school!), and relationships with family and friends. I identified with Cath a lot. I will probably be re-reading this one, pronto.

43. Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan. It's a short book, but I got off to a slow start, largely because of the unusual narrative choices. The book's collective narrator--a group of gay men who died in the AIDS epidemic--follows the lives of a handful of gay teens living in nearby towns. It's a book that's very much about a short present of today's gay teens--the ways that they can live more openly than their predecessors, but also how much progress is yet to be made.

44. Doll Bones by Holly Black. After much urging, I have finally read a Holly Black book! Doll Bones is a story of Zach, Poppy, and Alice, three 12-year-old friends on a quest to put to rest the ghost of a girl whose father cremated her after her death, and used her ashes to make a creepy bone china doll. Definitely recommended for middle-grade readers who enjoy an imaginative adventure.

45. Cold Fire by Kate Elliott. This one's the sequel to Cold Magic, and although I didn't like it quite as much as the first, it's still a good read. I definitely got bogged down in the middle, where there a bit more "walking" both literally in the traveling bits that are always my least favorite bits of fantasy novels and just metaphorically sections where not much is happening. In the plus column, most of the action moves to the Caribbean, so there's a whole new culture to learn about.

46. Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver. Another sequel, this time to Delirium, a book I enjoyed more than I expected to. In the second book, Lena's gotten involved in the resistance movement against the restrictive U.S. government. The book alternates back and forth between her resistance work in New York City and her experiences with other "Invalids" when she first escaped from Portland. Despite the "Oh no, not another teen love triangle" twist at the end, I'd still like to see how the series concludes.

47. Poison by Bridget Zinn. I really enjoyed Poison and was sad to discover just after finishing it that Bridget Zinn died before her first book made it to publication. Her book is a fantasy adventure story with a dash of romance and a cute piglet, and it's just... fun. The main character, Kyra, is a fugitive, after attempting to assassinate the Princess, who was also her best friend. All the principal characters have some secrets, but when they're finally revealed, I didn't feel duped at all... more like the characters really were trying to protect their interests by not giving away too much. 

48. This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales. I admit, I totally picked this one up because of the awesome title and cover. Lucky thing, too, because otherwise I might not have read it, because bullying, depression, and suicide are major themes in the book, and I normally shy away from that. Elise has never fit in, but over the course of the novel, while she's dealing with vicious treatment at school, she's also learning about who she wants to be through her love of music after she starts DJing for an underground dance party. Elise is awesome, the music is awesome, I read the book in a few hours. 

49. Rampant by Diana Peterfreund. Unicorns are a thing! And they like to kill people! But they can be killed by virginal descendants of Alexander the Great! The premise is a little... silly. And their are some suspect bits concerning the virginity requirements of this unicorn hunting business. But also their are awesome teen girls hunting unicorns from an old, creepy convent in Rome. So that's cool.

50. Honey, Baby, Sweetheart by Deb Caletti. It's pretty clear from the start that the bad boy that attracts Ruby's attention isn't kind and gentle on the inside. From the start he pushes Ruby into doing things she's uncomfortable about—and she's fairly self-aware about it—so it was really hard for me to understand why she wanted to be around him. I generally like the cast of characters and the town they inhabit, but I was slightly disappointed by the story.

51. Allegiant by Veronica Roth. There was some good stuff in here, but my overall impression was that the series went of the rails a little in the final volume. I really wasn't invested in the romance between Tris and Four, and the reveal of what was going on in Chicago just... didn't make sense. Oh well, we'll always have Divergent.

52. When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. I've been meaning to read this Newberry winner for years. It didn't completely live up to the hype for me, but I did enjoy the story. I think part of that reaction is colored by the fact that I've read lots of stories with time travel, so I wanted more explanation for those elements of the story, but I did like the call-backs to tessering and A Wrinkle In Time. Miranda's very imperfect judgements of both her classmates and the adults in her life rang very true for a character her age.

53. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. It seemed appropriate to complete the Rainbow Rowell trifecta. This book really has no business being as charming as it is, since the plot centers around one character reading other characters personal e-mail exchanges without their knowledge. But it works. And thus, a cute romance. In Omaha. In 1999. (Oh, 1999, you seem so delightfully long ago.)

54. My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick. Part of an attempt at "let's read happy fun things", this book turned out to be more complex than I expected. The plot centers around a sweet and, in my opinion, realistically depicted teen romance between Samantha and her next door neighbor Jase. Toward the end the stakes get a little higher when Samantha has to decide between doing what she thinks is morally correct and doing what will protect her family. There's going to be a sequel featuring one of the secondary characters, which I'll be keeping my eye out for.

55. Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers. Heather told me to read it, so I obeyed. Grave Mercy is a great book if you enjoy the idea of magical assassin nuns in 15th century France, and, I mean, who doesn't? Also featuring lots of royal court intrigue and a book long version of everybody's favorite "fake relationship" plot. Bonus points for featuring a lot of historical detail about a particular place and time I'm not very familiar with, which prompted me to go down the Wikipedia rabbit whole reading up on medieval and Renaissance Brittany.

56. Vampire Academy by Rachel Mead. If you've seen the horrible movie trailer and thought, "what the hell?" you might actually still enjoy the book. It's less "oooh, we go to a school for sexy vampires" and more "we tried to escape from vampire school for damn good reasons but now we're being dragged back oh shit I hope we don't die." Granted, I'm not a vampire connoisseur, but I thought there were some interesting vampire world-building choices, and I liked that the strongest relationship at the heart of the book is a friendship between two teen girls. 

57. Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan. Yet another book in a long series that Heather has shoved in my hands, that I for some reason expected to be about werewolves, but is not. Kami Garcia takes it upon herself to investigate the secrets of the Lynburn family, who have suddenly returned to her small English town. Unlike a lot of modern supernatural fare, where the supes in question are actually secretly good, the evil in the book is actually 100% creepy ass murdering for their own benefit evil. It's actual gothic, not Northanger Abbey oops I thought the manor was haunted gothic. The potential romantic pairings play out unexpectedly, their are POC and LGBT characters, and the book ends on a kind of down note. All of which is still abnormal in YA. Next up, getting my hands on the sequel. 

58. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey.

59. The Other Countess by Eve Edwards. I picked this up because I was looking for something fluffy and the library had the ebook, but it turned out to be mostly a disappointment. What's the point of a reading a romance novel where I feel no connection between the leads and the narrative keeps getting bogged down in subplots that go nowhere? (The noblewoman regretting an affair with Walter Raleigh! Secret Catholic priests traveling the country! Turning lead into gold is still impossible! Being half Spanish is suspicious!) And since it's YA, there's not even the benefit of sexytimes to make up for it. 

60. Sabriel by Garth Nix.

Graphic Novels

1. District Comics: An Unconventional History of Washington, D.C. by Scott O. Brown and many others. Washington, D.C. is a strange, wonderful city with a rich and fascinating history that goes far beyond the government buildings and museums. Since moving to the area in 2008, I've learned a lot about the history of the District, but many of the stories in this book were completely new to me. District Comics is a collection of short comics about everything from Dolly Madison to the District's punk rock scene. As a whole, it's somewhat uneven, but overall I felt that the good stories outweighed the mediocre ones. (Some of the comics gave me a new appreciation for good comic book lettering—it's not as easy as it seems, but makes a big difference!)

2. A Bride's Story v. 1 by Kaoru Mori. I've been meaning to pick up this series for awhile, so I was excited that my library finally got a copy in! A Bride's Story takes place in Central Asia in the 19th Century and stars an "old" 20-year-old bride from a nomadic family and her new 12-year-old husband. The story so far is basically "slice of life" with this volume mostly focusing on how Amir adapts to her new family and life in a new village. While the story is simple, the art is incredibly incritate, including elaborate clothing, decorative rugs, and beautiful wood carvings. It's a really beautiful and atmospheric manga that immersed me in a culture I otherwise know nothing about. 

3. Batgirl v. 1: The Darkest Reflection by Gail Simone. I don't really know much about the DC Universe, beyond things absorbed through fandom osmosis, Adam West, and Lois & Clark. What I knew about Batgirl was that Barbara Gordon was Batgirl, then she got shot and became Oracle, wheelchair user and researcher extraordinaire, then when the New 52 came around she was Batgirl again. Now that I've read it, I'm really impressed with Gail Simone as a writer. Miraculous recovery is not a great trope in fiction about people with disabilities, but Simone handles it so, so well. I'll probably always be more of a Marvel girl, but I look forward to reading more about this character, and more of Simone's comics.

4. Fear Itself: The Fearless by Cullen Bunn. The Fearless is a tie-in with the Fear Itself, which honestly wasn't my favorite Marvel event, but it also leads into Valkyrie's story in Fearless Defenders. The story overall was just okay, but it was a good intro to Valkyrie's badassery.

5. X-23 v. 1: The Killing Dream by Marjorie Liu et al.

6. American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang.

7. Saga v. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. This comic is so, so weird. So weird. I like it a lot.

8. Avengers: The Children's Crusade by Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung. I think the biggest thing this trade made me realize is that I really don't miss Patriot that much. Cassie's death was sad, so I'm glad her place on the team was taken by another awesome lady (Miss America Chavez). Carol punches things a lot in the backgrounds of panels, and that is awesome.

9. A Bride's Story v. 2 by Kaoru Mori.


1. How To Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran. I'd never heard of British media journalist Caitlin Moran until a friend reviewed her book on Goodreads. How To Be a Woman is a funny feminist polemic memoir, which as it turns out is in fact a possible book genre. Moran writes about feminism for women who grew up at the end of the 20th century through the lens of her own adolescence and young adulthood. I strongly identified with a lot of this, despite having such completely different life experiences.

2. Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didon. Okay, I admit it that I picked up the collection because everyone and their brother is writing "why I left New York" essays, and I wanted to read "Goodbye To All That." Since I'm looking at leaving a city where I lived for five years, it had a lot of appeal. Unlike most of the more recent essays I've read, Didion's is actually good, both because she originated the leaving NYC genre, and because her prose is excellent. There are a lot of other truly excellent essays in the collection as well. Didion has a great ability to capture people and places at an exact moment. Her essays about California all somehow connect to an idea of the "American Dream" becoming more and more impossible, which is certainly just as relevant now as it was in the '60s.
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