The following are books that I was REALLY excited about reading but was totally underwhelmed. This list begins with the least to most underwhelming book of 2017 so far. Please click the covers for full reviews.
It’s almost six months into 2017 and I’ve read about 30 books. Normally I don’t read backwards (books older than 2017) but I had a Harry Potter reread with friends and I started the Queen’s Thief Series to be ready for Thick as Thieves by Megan Whaler Turner so because of that, I haven’t read as many 2017 books as I normally do. It’s been a low rating year so far, bummer, but I was able to come up with ten of my faves.
Please click the covers to read the full review. This list is in order ending with my fave of 2017 so far.
DRUM ROLL PLEASE……………..
This is the spoiler edition of That Inevitable Victorian Thing by EK Johnston.
In this alternate world, the coming out season is soon underway. Yes, the coming out season where girls and boys of age and class attend parties during a season. Helene is a plain jane who comes from humble means, Elizabeth is a celebrity socialite, and Margret is the princess of England and they all end up at the same party. In this world, people are matched by a Computer. You upload your DNA and it finds your perfect match. Some people live by the Computer and marry their match while some believe in free will.
So let’s begin with the okie doke-Henry and Lizzie were Helene and Margret. I didn’t see that coming and I thought Johnston set that up quite well. At the point of this reveal, I was really liking this book but I soon found myself not caring about their romance. I thought it was sweet but I didn’t have an attachment to either of the ladies (they were boring as hell) so I wasn’t invested in their romance.
I hated that the American States were not explained during the novel. All we got was that we were bigoted pirates with horrible food. There was no explanation about what happened after the failed American Revolution but Johnston added it to the author’s note. I know this book isn’t about American but considering a LARGE amount of people that will read/buy this book will be American, I think she could have added a little bit more backstory.
I was pretty confused through half of the book. I wasn’t sure how the Computer came to exist. Was it because one of the early queens didn’t want her kids to marry politically? I don’t know. I also wasn’t sure if New London was New York or Helene’s mom actual occupation.
That entire storyline about August and the pirates was so anti-climactic-COME ON!
THAT ENDING! So August, Helene, and Margret are going to have some weird polygamist situation? Is Helene going to be banging both of them? Or is August going to left out in the cold to watch? I’m so confused but at any rate; Johnston fairy tale endings are killing me.
I read 8 books in April. To see my full reviews, click the titles.
Sparks of Light by Janet B. Taylor: I read and wrote a review for SLJ (School Library Journal). You can read my review on the website or in the publication in the coming months. Click Into The Dim to see my review for book 1.
Through the Woods by Emily Carroll: I read this for my FYA (forever young adult) book club. This is a graphic novel of short horror stories. I’m not a graphic novel reader and I probably don’t give the art the appreciation it deserves but out of the five stories, I only liked three.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling: This is the second time reading this and it just gets better.
The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner: There’s a lot of hype about this series that is currently on book 5 so I decided to read it. This was published in 1996 and although some people my be put off because of the slow plot, I enjoyed it and I’m excited to read the rest of the series.
3/4 Little Monsters by Kara Thomas: Although the ending didn’t quite do it for me and the character development was lacking, most of the book was suspenseful and enjoyable. I especially liked the comparison of teen girls to little monsters; I thought it was accurate and would make a good discussion.
DNF-Jane Unlimited by Kristin Cashore: I don’t DNF often because I like to power through but this book was too long to power on. It was written well but there was too much going on and I wasn’t interested in the subject matter; however, I do recommend it
The Gentlemen’s Guide to Vice and Virtue: Although it was a fun read, it wasn’t a critical read. There were too many tropes and several of the major parts of the story didn’t drive the plot.
All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater: I finally read a five star book and I can’t believe it took me this long. This book is nothing like the Raven Cycle so please don’t go into it thinking it will be a sweeping love story with complicated characters. This is a stand-a-lone 288 page novel that is EXTREMELY character driven that’s full of metaphors and symbolism. It took a discussion with my co worker to fully like it but once I did, I loved it.
and my book assignment for SLJ. That makes 8 for May. Will there be any bangs?
Around this time last year I had given three books five stars and I have yet to do so this year. Is this a bad year for YA? Am I being too critical?
What 2017 books have you given five stars?
I only read five books this month which is a travesty for me. I try to read at least eight. Part of it was lack of enthusiasm about the books I was reading- I’d much rather watch TV than read my book. The other part was trying to find the next book-there were a few gaps in days where I was deciding on the next title. Click the titles to see my full reviews.
3/4 Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge-I was very exited about this because of The Lie Tree. I also read and kinda didn’t like Cuckoo Song so I was also weary of this. Unfortunately the latter rang true. I think the reason is that Face Like Glass was written before Lie Tree during Hardinge’s need for a better editor stage. Hardinge has great world building but tends to loose track and go all over the place-this is what happened in Cuckoo and Face. The Lie Tree had a focus.
The Upside of the Unrequited by Becky Albertalli-I loved Simon but I didn’t love Upside as much. I’m not nor have I never been a gay teen boy so Simon added a new perspective. I have however been an insecure 16-year-old girl and as a 40-year-old, I was bored by all the things going on in this girl’s head. 16-year-old me would have love this but not 40-year-old me. This book was just not written for me and it was a bit predictable.
The Next Together by Lauren James- I reviewed this for SLJ (School Library Journal) and you can catch my rating in the May issue.
The Violet Grenade by Victoria Scott-Domino’s monster was supposed to make this book stand out of a basic plot about a coming of age homeless girl but it didn’t land. The romance was blah, she gets bullied by other girls-Big Whoop; and she grows in the end-okay, I’ve read that a million times.
Traitor’s Kiss by Erin Beaty-This started off well but a third of the way through it fell apart. There are many things that annoyed me in YA fantasy (listen to our podcast below) and Traitor violated several-The Lonely Island (one female among a bunch a dudes); The Gwenevere Complex (in this case, Sage is plain but everyone loves her); The War Strategist (sheltered girl knows more than generals/captains and wins the war).
Here’s the round up of what I read in February; did I give any (5 star reviews)? Let’s find out.
Click the book titles to read full reviews.
Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor-I loved the Smoke and Bone Series (well the first two b/c the size of book 3 scared the crap out of me) so I was VERY EXCITED for Strange and it didn’t disappoint. My only issue was that it was too loquacious. So close to a bang but not quite. 1/2
Hunted by Meagan Spooner-This was an interesting take on Beauty and the Beast because we are able to read from the perspective of the beast but I felt it ended up being to predictable and the pacing was all over the place. 1/2
The Valiant by Lesley Livingston-Great cover, great premise, and great time period but it was a missed opportunity to really dive into the historical fiction part. Valiant suffered from tropes-instalove; girl fights; the old switcheroo; and the everyone-likes-me-even-though-I’m-the-same-lame ass-heroine-you’ve-read-a-million-times. The pacing was also all over the place.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas-This book has lots of buzz and lots of star ratings from book publications and I agree it’s a solid read. The main character is relatable, it offers insight to a part of our country that many of us are unfamiliar, and it’s timely. It was written well but it didn’t blow me away.
The Ship Beyond Time by Heidi Heilig-There were two problems with this book. #1. The rules were all over the place and it was beginning to get confusing. #2. Heilig tried to jam this book with big exciting parts but there was little character development and world building in the middle. It was all, our ship is attacked-BAM; here’s this mysterious girl-BAM; time to sail to a land that doesn’t really exist-BAM; Nix blacks out-BAM; a character out of nowhere-BAM; Nix blacks out again-BAM; somebody shot somebody-BAM; now we get caught sneaking away-BAM; now my life has been a lie-BAM! If you like that sort of thing then you’ll love this but I prefer more story than stuff. 3/4
Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner-I’ll start off by saying that I loved The Serpent King better but this was a solid read. There’s not much you can do with a grief book and I think Zentner gave it the old college try with this one.
I also read Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince for the second time and it’s my favorite of the series.
Strange The Dreamer was very close but sadly there were no in February.
I love quotes so this is a great topic for me. I recently started having authors write my favorite quotes in their book and the first half are the pics. That is not a quote from Falling Kingdoms; it’s my ship.
The second set are my favorite quotes.
- “It doesn’t do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” Harry Potter/Sorcerer’s Stone
- “Macho Nachos be damned!” Eleanor & Park
- “People really are like houses with vast rooms and tiny windows.” Simon Vs.
- “Kiss me, Hardy! KISS ME QUICK!” Code Name Verity
- “I don’t care.” Winner’s Curse (It’s all about the context of the quote)
- “Let’s drink wine and dance inappropriately.” Stalking Jack the Ripper
- “And if someone does figure it out and start a rumour, we’ll just deal with it…What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and all that crap.” Exit, Pursued by a Bear
- “I don’t suffer fools.” We Were Liars
- “I’ll have you without armour, Kaz Brekker, or I’ll not have you at all.” Six of Crows
- “Fire breathing bitch queen.” Queen of Shadows.