I've also decided to reinstate grading. Ugh. I can't believe I'm doing this. I have such a difficult time assessing and comparing books and I tend to grade highly, anyway. I'd honestly be happy rating books 1, 2 or 3 and be done with it. Excellent, Good, and Just Okay. Does it really need to be any more complicated than that? Apparently, it does. My grading scale can be found on my sidebar, and is basically as follows:
B+ Very Good
D Not Very Good
F Did Not Finish
Here's a run down of what I read in January:
Total books read: 6
Young Adult: 3
Urban Fantasy: 1
General fiction: 1
Within the young adult genre, two were contemporary young adult and one was urban fantasy.
1. The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa
The Iron Fey series, Book 3
This is the second full length novel in the Iron Fey series, but the third book if you count the novella, "Winter's Passage," which I am counting. In this story, Megan Chase who is half Summer fairy and half human, honors her promise to Ash, the Winter Prince, and returns to the Winter Kingdom with him, where she is sort of a guest, but more like a prisoner. Ash turns cold towards her immediately and isn't there to protect or stick up for her. Instead, Megan is alone and scared with no one to trust. Then Megan alone witnesses the Iron Fey stealing the Scepter of Seasons, and of course, no one believes her... except Ash. The two escape the Winter Court and are on the run from everyone in a race to find and return the scepter to the Queen of Winter before the Winter and Summer courts go to war against each other.
This is a really fun series. It has adventure rooted in both the faery world, Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream, and a little bit of modernism with the introduction of the Iron Fey who were born from the human obsessions with technology and lack of imagination and emotion. There's also a little bit of romance. GRADE: B+
2. The Stormchasers by Jenna Blum
I read this book for the Authors by the Alphabet Book Club. It is a story about twins Karena and Charles, who was diagnosed with a bipolar disorder when he was an adolescent. On the night of Karena and Charles' 18th birthday they chase a storm that leads to a horrific event that they decide to keep secret. Shortly afterwards the two are separated and don't see each other again until 20 years later.
I had difficulty getting drawn into the story for at least the first half of the book, largely due to the awkward point of view that the story is told--third person present. The story picked up in the last half of the book when Charles finally got some page time. The ending was well written and gave the story a very satisfying finish, but overall the book was merely satisfactory for me. GRADE: C+
My full review can be found HERE.
3. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
This very emotional contemporary young adult book is told from the first person point of view of a teenage girl named Mia. Mia and her family are in a horrific car accident and she is seeing the scene of the accident from outside her body and then as she is transported to the hospital where she lies in a coma. Mia tells her story while she reflects on her life, her family, her choices and the possibilities of her future when she wakes up. If she wakes up. She also tells parts of her story as doctors, nurses, family, friends and her boyfriend visit her in the hospital. Have tissues handy, but a very good story.
4. The Space Between Trees by Katie Williams
I read this book after reading a review on The Book Smugglers last year. I waited on the hold list for this book for more than three months! The library was about to pronounce it lost when it was finally returned. Someone paid a hefty library fine. Anyway, once I started reading this book, I found it very hard to put down. It's a contemporary young adult novel told from the first person point of view of sixteen year old Evie, a loner with a vivid imagination and a tendency to fabricate lies usually as a means to be noticed or heard. When a childhood playmate, Zabet, is found dead in the woods, Evie's lies lead her to befriending the dead girl's father and pulled into a search for the killer with Zabet's best friend. It's a haunting coming of age type story that is very well written, yet will have the reader feeling uncomfortable from beginning to end. Interesting and thought provoking.
5. Shadowfever by Karen Marie Moning
Fever series, Book 5
I'm giving this book an A grade with a disclaimer of sorts, which I know is a pretty lame thing to do, but it's my blog, my prerogative, blah, blah, blah. Here's my deal. I read the first book in this series way over three years ago when it first came out in paperback. I loved the series premise and thought it had a lot of potential, but in hindsight I don't think I was ready for urban fantasy back then. I didn't appreciate the lack of romance or happily ever after ending or the more complicated world building or the slower development of a series story arc. I reread the first book last November and found it so much more fun, fascinating and suspenseful than the first time. I was hooked. I read the second, third and fourth books and breathlessly awaited the release of the fifth and final book of the series, Shadowfever, anxious for answers to so many mysteries--people, places, connections, resolutions, and so on.
I was on the edge of my seat the entire time I read Shadowfever, half thrilled, half nervous with anticipation as pieces of puzzles came together, some coming swiftly and others not revealing themselves until the very, very end. I had a very pleased sense of 'Wow. What an adventure!' when I finished, which is what makes a great and memorable book, right? So hence the A grade.
Yet... (and there it is) despite the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed reading this thrilling and fascinating final installment to the Fever series, there are a few things that don't sit perfectly with me regarding Shadowfever, which makes me question my own sanity or perhaps it's indecision in saying it's an A read.
Some of what doesn't sit right with me regarding Shadowfever may just be my personal reader preference. For instance, wanting a definite romance or at least one tender romantic scene where declarations of love are complete and believable. Is it so wrong of me to have expected Mac to get some genuine heart felt love from Barrons? Too much was still left unspoken between them and what some may consider 'THE love scene' of the book felt rather forced and unexpected to me. I waited five books for that? It wasn't enough. However, I understand this series is urban fantasy and no one promised me true love, they live happily ever after, the end. I can accept that.
Also, while so many pieces of this story do finally come together, there are a lot of pieces that don't. Some questions have been left unanswered and there are even new ones! Not exactly the way the last book in a series should come together, even with the promise of a spin off series.
However inconsistent as I appear, I stand by my love for this series and the fact that Shadowfever was a thrilling and fascinating adventure that kept me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. For another, albeit less wishy-washy perspective of Shadowfever, I suggest you visit Hilcia's review HERE where she gives Shadowfever a D!? *gasp*! But don't be hating on her! She raises some very valid points.
MY GRADE: A
6. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
Book One of The Inheritance Trilogy
This is the January selection for the Women of Fantasy 2011 Book Club. What a story! In the short span of just less than five hundred pages, the author pens an elaborate tale about a world of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms--the mythology of creation, the hierarchy and powers of the gods, and how the world arrived at its current state of affairs. It's an intricate tale of the people who inhabit the world, their relationships to each other and their gods and how closely entwined the two are. The story encompasses such a vast array of topics such as religion, world politics, familial issues, racial and ethnic issues and above all, the life of one young woman who gets entangled in a complicated struggle between peoples and gods when all she wishes for is to live happy and free and to love and be loved.
I can't wait to read the next book in the trilogy, The Broken Kingdoms.