June 2015: Month in Review

by Marissa Meyer, Noelle Stevenson, Sherry Thomas, Tessa Dare
Published by Avon, Berkley, Feiwel & Friends, HarperTeen Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Historical, Humor, Romance, Science Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Paperback
Source: Library, Purchased

What I’ve Been Up To:

Blogging:

You guys may or may not have noticed, but I haven’t been blogging as much. That’s because I’ve been busy personally, with work, and just haven’t had as much time to devote to blogging. I’m officially announcing that I will be posting five times a week. I may, occasionally, post something on the weekend if I feel like it, but, for the most part, don’t expect new content on Saturday or Sunday. This has been an official announcement. *nods*

Shenanigans:
Let’s see. I had a super exciting (not) business trip to Oklahoma. It went pretty well and was mega stressful. I barely got any reading done for a couple of weeks because there was so much to do for that. Otherwise, I went on a bit of a shopping spree. Sorry not sorry. I also worked on rearranging my bookshelves, but that’s not quite finished.

Music:

June mix!

Artists I was especially into in June: American Authors, Echosmith, Halsey, Of Monsters and Men (DUH), Sheppard

Movies & TV:

I’m up through cycle 17 of ANTM, and I’m still totally obsessed with this show. I will never be the same again. The All Star cycle was so amazing, but then it crushed my dreams. I really can’t talk about it.

 photo gif i cant antm_zps6srecnke.gif

I did, however, finally manage to watch something aside from Next Top Model. While I was in NYC, I’d started Monstar, which I for some reason did not have high expectations for. Actually, I totally loved this kdrama. It’s about this big group of kids who are different high school stereotypes and are forced to work together. I love when people who aren’t friends have to get to know one another and become friends. I also totally shipped the ships, although it left a lot of the romance hanging, which was the only flaw for me. Ship rating: needs more kissing.

 photo gif monstar smile_zps7djfzlqc.gif

During June, I also rewatched one of my favorite kdramas, The Musical. It’s basically everything that Smash should have been. I’m still just such a big fan of it. There aren’t too many kdrama where you come to care for the love rival/villain. Plus, the chubby best friend character gets a romance. It’s not shown on screen much, but she totally has a ship leaving port. Also, MY SHIP. Ship rating: I WILL GO DOWN WITH THIS ADORABLE SHIP.

The Musical still
Why are there zero gifs of this showwwwwww?

Reviews Posted:

Ever since I started DNFing a whole bunch and not reviewing things when I didn’t feel like it, my average ratings had gone way up. Apparently this wasn’t my best month. I finished a couple that I thought I would like but didn’t, and my inability to not read Messenger books has also lowered my average this month. Oh well!

4.5 star:

Under the Lights (Daylight Falls #2) – Dahlia Adler
Emmy & Oliver – Robin Benway
Finding Audrey – Sophie Kinsella
Rebel Mechanics (Rebel Mechanics #1) – Shanna Swendson

4 star:

The Revenge Playbook – Rachael Allen
The Fixer (The Fixer #1) – Jennifer Lynn Barnes
The Night We Said Yes – Lauren Gibaldi

3.5 star:

Like It Never Happened – Emily Adrian
Jesse’s Girl (Hundred Oaks #6) – Miranda Kenneally
The Heart of Betrayal (The Remnant Chronicles #2) – Mary E. Pearson

3 star:

Re Jane – Patricia Park

2 star:

Nearly Found (Nearly Gone #2) – Elle Cosimano
Silver in the Blood (Silver in the Blood #1) – Jessica Day George

1.5 star:

Let the Storm Break (Sky Fall #2) – Shannon Messenger

.5 star:

Let the Sky Fall (Sky Fall #1) – Shannon Messenger

DNFs:

The Truth About My Success - Dyan Sheldon
Our Brothers at the Bottom of the Bottom of the Sea - Jonathan Kranz
Seriously Wicked - Tina Connolly

Mini Reviews:

June 2015: Month in ReviewBeguiling the Beauty by Sherry Thomas
Series: Fitzhugh Trilogy #1
Published by Berkley on May 1, 2012
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 281
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
three-half-stars

When the Duke of Lexington meets the mysterious Baroness von Seidlitz-Hardenberg on a transatlantic liner, he is fascinated. She’s exactly what he’s been searching for—a beautiful woman who interests and entices him. He falls hard and fast—and soon proposes marriage.And then she disappears without a trace…

For in reality, the “baroness” is Venetia Easterbrook—a proper young widow who had her own vengeful reasons for instigating an affair with the duke. But the plan has backfired. Venetia has fallen in love with the man she despised—and there’s no telling what might happen when she is finally unmasked…

Though I loved this, I kind of hate reviewing romance novels, so this is what you get. Sherry Thomas’ Beguiling the Beauty is not without flaws, but I shipped the ship and that’s enough for me. Beguiling the Beauty hits a lot of my favorite things: sexually experienced heroines, nerdy banter about fossils, dick jokes, and a hate to love romance. The ship also happens to be fake dating adjacent. Venetia’s keeping her identity a secret with the plan to seduce him as punishment for slandering her. It’s completely silly but also I devoured it in a couple of hours and really want to read about Millie and Helena. I don’t even mind the instalove, because in historical settings it makes so much more sense. Historical romance = the best kind of romance.

June 2015: Month in ReviewFairest by Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #3.5
Published by Feiwel & Friends on January 27, 2015
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 220
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
three-stars

In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.

Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.

Fairest was good. This is one of those cases where, had I read the prequel before the series (though that’s impossible in this case), I would likely have loved it. Fairest is intense and creepy, and Marissa Meyer’s writing really has something magical about it. However, coming after Cress, Fairest didn’t measure up to my expectations.

The window into Queen Levana’s past reveals why she’s a villain: she’s insane. Incredibly, get-this-woman-a-straitjacket-and-padded-cell insane. She had a poor childhood: love withheld from her parents, spoiled rotten, and mentally and physically abused by her older sister. Still, I guess I wanted to see a bit more of Levana’s humanity before she turned evil. Either that or for her to be a straight up psychopath. As it is, I’m not sure. What I am sure of is that Levana is a View Spoiler », which is just monstrously dark for YA. I mean, she’s our POV character. Obviously, there are not gruesome details or anything and View Spoiler » but it was seriously horrible. Poor, poor Evret.

Getting to see a bit of Princess Winter as a child was perhaps the highlight. She’s obviously changed a lot since the events at the end of Fairest, and I think knowing her background better will make Winter an even better read.

June 2015: Month in ReviewRavishing the Heiress by Sherry Thomas
Series: Fitzhugh Trilogy #2
Published by Berkley on July 3, 2012
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 285
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
three-stars

Millicent understands the terms of her arranged marriage all too well. She gets to be a Countess by marrying an impoverished Earl. And in return, the Earl Fitzhugh receives the benefit of her vast wealth, saving his family from bankruptcy. Because of her youth, they have agreed to wait eight years before consummating the marriage--and then, only to beget an heir. After which, they will lead separate lives.

It is a most sensible arrangement. Except for one little thing. Somehow Millie has fallen head over heels in love with her husband. Her husband, who has become her very best friend, but nothing more...Her husband, who plans to reunite with his childhood sweetheart, the beautiful and newly widowed Isabella, as soon as he has honored the pact with his wife...

As the hour they truly become husband-and-wife draws near, both Millie and Fitzhugh must face the truth in their hearts. Has their pact bred only a great friendship--or has it, without either of them quite noticing, given rise to a great love?

Though I still enjoyed Ravishing the Heiress, it wasn’t as strong as Beguiling the Beauty. There are a couple of reasons for this. First off, Millie’s story is one of unrequited love for her husband for eight years. Pining isn’t something I find particularly romantic. Despite that, I didn’t unship them, which is fairly impressive.

The other big detractor in this series is that Thomas decided to include snippets of what was going on with the other girls in Beguiling the Beauty. Before I started, I knew what the ship would be. That, alone, is fine. I was excited to read Millie and Helena’s romances. However, Thomas covers a lot of the same ground again. I didn’t need the back story because I already had it. Then, after waiting and waiting for them to get together, it ends abruptly. More time on them together and less on repetition of what the reader who read the series in order already knows would have been nice.

One element I did appreciate a lot was Millie’s role in running her father’s company. Though she doesn’t directly involve herself because it would upset people, she’s basically the mad man behind the scenes making the products sell with the revolutionary idea of marketing them to women. The fact that the Earl encourages and loves this about her is what made me ship them despite the book being one of my least favorite romance tropes.

June 2015: Month in ReviewSay Yes to the Marquess by Tessa Dare
Series: Castles Ever After #2
Published by Avon on December 30, 2014
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Your presence is requested at romantic Twill Castle for the wedding of Miss Clio Whitmore and . . . and . . . ?

After eight years of waiting for Piers Brandon, the wandering Marquess of Granville, to set a wedding date, Clio Whitmore has had enough. She's inherited a castle, scraped together some pride, and made plans to break her engagement.

Not if Rafe Brandon can help it. A ruthless prizefighter and notorious rake, Rafe is determined that Clio will marry his brother—even if he has to plan the dratted wedding himself.

So how does a hardened fighter cure a reluctant bride's cold feet?
● He starts with flowers. A wedding can't have too many flowers. Or harps. Or cakes.

● He lets her know she'll make a beautiful, desirable bride—and tries not to picture her as his.

● He doesn't kiss her.

● If he kisses her, he definitely doesn't kiss her again.

● When all else fails, he puts her in a stunning gown. And vows not to be nearby when the gown comes off.

● And no matter what—he doesn't fall in disastrous, hopeless love with the one woman he can never call his own.

While I can’t say that the ship in Say Yes to the Marquess was my favorite one, there’s a magic in Tessa Dare books. Dare doesn’t see any reason why romances shouldn’t also be genuinely funny and silly. In Say Yes to the Marquess, two boxers are trying to get the heroine interested in planning her wedding. It’s so damn funny. Best use of a monocle ever also.

I also endlessly appreciate that Dare overthrows traditional romance dynamics. The hero in Say Yes to the Marquess is very physically appealing to the heroine, but he’s not traditionally handsome particularly. He’s a brute, but a gentle one. He has sexist attitudes like you might expect, but Clio calls Rafe on them. Also, though he’s the first to initiate kissing, she’s the one who initiates most every other physical encounter. Clio, too, has big plans for how to live independently, now that she’s inherited this castle and doesn’t have to rely on a husband for economic prosperity. Though she does get married, she doesn’t set aside her dreams of work.

June 2015: Month in ReviewTempting the Bride by Sherry Thomas
Series: Fitzhugh Trilogy #3
Published by Berkley on October 2, 2012
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 279
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
two-half-stars

In this new masterpiece of historical romance from the acclaimed Sherry Thomas, a headstrong beauty is rescued by the notorious rake she has always despised...

Helena Fitzhugh understands perfectly well that she would be ruined should her secret love affair be discovered. So when a rendezvous goes wrong and she is about to be caught in the act, it is with the greatest reluctance that she accepts help from David Hillsborough, Viscount Hastings, and elopes with him to save her reputation.

Helena has despised David since they were children—the notorious rake has tormented her all her life. David, on the other hand, has always loved Helena, but his pride will never let him admit the secrets of his heart.

A carriage accident the day after their elopement, however, robs Helena of her memory—the slate is wiped clean. At last David dares to reveal his love, and she finds him both fascinating and desirable. But what will happen when her memory returns and she realizes she has fallen for a man she has sworn never to trust?

Tempting the Bride could easily have been my favorite in the Fitzhugh trilogy. I’ve been waiting for this ship since the first book in the series, because they have the hateful banter down, and I am so there for that. The ship is, in a lot of ways, as good as I’d hoped. Plus, there was a lot less repetition than in the second book in the series, and less POV jumping.

However, as the blurb will tell you, Sherry Thomas resolves the heroine’s hate by giving her amnesia. While she can’t remember what a shit he’s been towards her since she was fourteen, she falls in love with him. It would have been so much stronger to not use that cheat. Still, I shipped it anyway, and I really loved reading this one.

June 2015: Month in ReviewNimona by Noelle Stevenson
Published by HarperTeen on May 12, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Humor, Adventure
Pages: 266
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads
five-stars

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.

I fucking love Nimona. It’s hilarious and silly and dark and feels-punchy. It’s a whole lot of things all at once, and it manages to do them very, very well in a very brief span of time. I adore Noelle Stevenson’s art and her characters. The only thing I wish is that there was going to be MORE.

Also, I ship it so much. Amazing wonderful gay ship is amaaaazing. Just saying. EVERYONE READ IT.

 

8 responses to “June 2015: Month in Review”

  1. I have nothing but admiration for you that you are still posting so often. I mean, 5 days a week vs. 7?! That’s not much a break, ma’am 🙂 Between work and university studies, I can find time to read, but not nearly enough time for coherent thoughts about what I read often enough.

    You have interesting taste in music, and I love discovering new (to me) artists and bands. Thanks for posting the playlist! 🙂

    I see that you are reading Song of Summer, which is my current read, too. Considering GoodReads once matched us based on our reading and rating similarities, this comes as no real surprise. Haha. Looking forward to your thoughts on this one!

    • Christina Franke says:

      Well, the trouble with five days a week is the massive pile of BEA books. I do not have days to post reviews as I do books. Some will end up in this post, but I’ll probably still be reviewing September books in like November. Idk. I’ll just have to see how it goes and try not to stress about it.

      Ha! Thank you. I happen to love my taste in music. 🙂

      I hope you enjoyed Song of Summer as much as I did. The voice in that one was so strong! Review goes up tomorrow.

  2. Layla says:

    Oh man, yessss, I could not stand the amnesia in Tempting the Bride. I thought it was kind of a cheat, and I also felt like it made her consent … kind of dubious in places. (Like, hey dude, you are doing things that you know she wouldn’t want you to do if she remembered shit! Ack!)

    Feeeeelings about that one.

    Adding Nimona to my TBR list!
    Layla recently posted…The Awesome: ReviewMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      Yeahhhhhh, it’s sort of shameful to me that I still kind of loved the book. I know I shouldn’t have. I still shipped it too. I DO see the problems with it though for sure, but I’d also been shipping them for two books already. The agonizing thing about it for me is that this book could have been the fucking best, you know? Like, if she figured out how to bring them together. There could have been hate banging turning into feels banging. I’m just saying. What did help, though, is that when I was on GR, I saw a blog post of hers talking about how she regretted this particular plot line and that it happened because she had so little time to get it done, so at least she knows.

      ALSO, I DIDN’T KNOW YOU READ ROMANCE NOVELS. DO YOU HAVE RECS?

      YESSSS NIMONAAAAA. I suspect you shall delight in it. 🙂

      • Layla says:

        “Hate banging turning into feels banging” is for reals one of my favorite tropes in romances. (It’s sometimes a delicate balance to strike, though, depending on what the reasons for the initial hatred are. If it’s too icky, it doesn’t always work for me.) And yesss, could have been so good! One of the reasons I really wanted to read this one before it came out, but man, I hated the amnesia storyline here – part of the pleasure in hate-to-allthefeels is watching the H/h work through their hatred and process the shit out of it. I LOVE THAT. Amnesia storyline deprived me of that & also made it dubiously consensual.

        I LOVE ROMANCE NOVELS. I think they are the fucking best. 😀 I have a ton of recs because, yes, but it might depend on what you like to read? Um, my favorite romance novelist is Courtney Milan, if you haven’t read anything by her. (Skip her first two books and move straight to either the Brothers Sinister series or the Turner Brothers. My preference is for the Brothers Sinister series, because she starts self-publishing and it gives her way more freedom to do things like include queer secondary romances.) For other historicals: I also really love Tessa Dare – I like most of the Spindle Cove series (I disliked the first one) and the first book in her new series, “Romancing the Duke.” Also, Cecilia Grant’s “A Lady Awakened” is great (first book is way better than the next books in the series). For contemporaries: I like Ruthie Knox’s books, especially “Truly” and think her NA books are smart and at least trying to do interesting, feminist things. I like Cara McKenna and Julie James too (especially her series about US attorneys or whatever?). Recently read Sonali Dev’s “A Bollywood Affair” – would rec! And one of my all-time favorite contemporaries is Jennifer Cruisie’s “Bet Me.” (So great, and lovingly describes Krispy Kreme donuts w/in its pages.)

        Those are my faves off the top of my head. I just got the new(ish) Meljean Brook book from the library yesterday – The Kraken King and I AM EXCITE.

        What do you like? What would you rec? What’s on your TBR? >:-) I am so delighted by this entire conversation. (PS Wendy likes romance novels too!!)
        Layla recently posted…A History of Glitter and Blood: ReviewMy Profile

      • Christina Franke says:

        Well, the reasons for the feelings and the sex are always tricky in romance. I mean, the hate bang in OITNB was pretty awful (s3e2or3). Obviously you have to behind the ship or it could be frustrating.

        I definitely agree from a logical place about the amnesia, but I still really ship them to my eternal shame. I’m just going to headcanon it. Haha.

        Oh, forgot to say on Twitter, but I fucking love Jennifer Crusie. Bet Me, Welcome to Temptation and Fast Women were my favorites but I’ve read most of them, until she started mostly working with male cowriters. I also love Janet Evanovich’s romance novels. Stephanie Plum went on too long but her one off romance novels are a lot of fun. Or the Full series, which is mostly companion novels.

        Ooooh, I think I remember The Kraken King having a gorgeous cover! Let me know if it’s good!

        I’ve been adding a bunch of random romance novels to my TBR based on the ratings of the few friends I have on GR who read romance. The next romance series I’m planning to try is Wicked Widows by Manda Collins.

        The next stuff on my (free read) TBR is: Fire (reread) and Bitterblue; the Megan Whalen Turner series; the Kiera Cass books because reasons; Me, Earl and the Dying Girl to beat the movie (I just read The Martian for the same reason); and The Difference Between You and Me (a lesbian YA contemp romance I bought ages ago). That and a bunch of review books. WEEEE

  3. Lyn Kaye says:

    I’m happy to hear that you are doing what you need to take care of yourself. Working and blogging is such a HUGE chore.

    I keep forgetting to place Nimona on my wish list. I will go remedy that issue now.
    Lyn Kaye recently posted…Epic Recs Review: I Am the MessengerMy Profile

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