June Book Reviews

June Book Reviews

It's time for this month's book reviews, where you can learn what books I read this month, plus what I liked and what I didn't. I actually read a lot of books since the last post (mostly because a bunch where due back at the library and couldn't be renewed any more, but who's mentioning that?). My Goodreads read list has 18 new books on it between the last post and this one. Two were graphic novels and a few were shorter stories, but still.

Anyway, I read so many good books this month, I'm going to up the best books list from two to three. I'll also be linking the other books to my Goodreads reviews so you can see what I thought about them, if you want to. On to the reviews!

Best Books

Splendors and Glooms- Laura Amy Schlitz

My Rating: 4 1/2 stars

What I Liked:

• Characters. This book has three main characters- Clara, Lizzie Rose, and Parsefall. They were all great and lots of fun. I especially liked Lizzie Rose. I could empathize with her struggle to get Parsefall to behave. Schlitz also had several other characters that fell more in the gray area.

• Despicable villains. I do love a good villain you can just hate. Both of the villains in here were evil and deceptive. Each got what they deserve in the end.

• Puppets! I've loved puppets and marionettes, like this book has, since a young age. There's just something so magical about them. This book shows a behind the scenes look at them, which is fun.

• Beautiful writing. This book is a great mix of historical fiction and fantasy. The kind with just a touch of magic. I've always liked that in a book. Schlitz is great at writing beautiful prose.

What I Didn't:

• Parsefall. Sorry, anyone who liked him, but I think I have too many brothers to really enjoy his character. That's why I sympathize with Lizzie Rose. Boys can be impossible to control.

The Valiant- Lesley Livingston

My Rating: 4 stars

What I Liked:

• Fallon. Fallon is the daughter of a tribal king in what will later be Great Britian, who gets stole from her homeland and sold into slavery. I loved watching her character mature over the course of the book and hold her own against the other people. She had great flaws and lots of spirit.

• Girl power. This story is about female gladiators. Did you even know that was a thing? (I didn't.) Fallon is in a gladiator school full of females who can kick your butt and it's awesome. It also didn't, as far I noticed, have any female-female romance, which was refreshing.

• Elka. Fallon's best friend is another slave. She's sassy and amazing.

• The fighting. I thought the fighting was well done. The gladiators fight with unusual weapons, which is great to see. Fallon fights with two swords, Elka with a spear. The author was very good at describing the fights in the arena as well.

• Historical setting. It's set in ancient Rome, obviously, and I thought it was interesting. I could get a real feel for Rome and what it looked like to a slave.

What I Didn't:

• Gory bits. There was a bit near the end where a group eats someone's heart and Fallon sees it. I thought it was gross and unnecessary. I may have missed something, but I didn't see how it tied into the plot either.

• Romance subplot. Cai, the Roman soldier Fallon falls in love with, only seemed to get in the way of the plot to me. Not that I didn't like him, or the romance, I only felt the story could have done without it.

• The cover. Don't get me wrong, it's a great cover. But every time I looked at it, all I saw was Lady Sif from the Thor movies. Anyone else agree with me?

Roses- G. R. Mannering

My Rating: 4 stars

What I Liked:

• Beauty and the Beast retelling. That's basically the whole reason I picked up this book. I'm a sucker for anything Beauty and the Beast. I felt this was a great retelling, keeping important elements, but adding enough originality to make it new. Beast especially was well done, as he was mean and beastly like in the original fairy tale.

• Beauty. She's a girl who looks unusual in her part of the country, and is described as having white hair and silvery skin. Because of this, everyone hates her. Beauty was a wise girl and I really liked her character.

• Worldbuilding. I felt like this world might be Africa inspired, but with green, lush grassland. It was something I'd never seen before, and I loved it. There was lots of political drama too.

What I Didn't:

• Confusing at times. I didn't understand everything about the world. Especially the politics, but that's okay. Maybe the author didn't want you to understand.

• Prose was a bit flowery. Most of the time I liked the prose, but sometimes it could be a bit over the top.

Worst Books

Queen of Hearts- Colleen Oakes

My Rating: 2 1/2 stars

What I Liked:

• The cover. It looks like a real playing card, which I thought was quite clever. It's got a great design.

• Wonderland, sometimes. This is the whole reason got an extra half star. There were some great quirky Wonderland touches, like pink snow or a sea of flowers, that were nice.

What I Didn't:

• Plot. Because there wasn't one. The story just meandered all over the place, with no point that I could see. Not good.

• The characters. I didn't like one character in this book. Not even the main character. Harsh, but true. They all seemed cruel. Dinah wasn't misunderstood at all. The only thing she misunderstood is that the boy she likes has feelings for her. He totally didn't.

• Basically everything else. This was a cruel Wonderland, where they have a yearly beheading. They keep people locked in towers that kill them. The people were coarse and heartless. I didn't like any of it.

Spinning Starlight- R. C. Lewis

My Rating: 3 1/2 stars.

What I Liked:

• It's based off the Wild Swans. You don't see this fairy tale used very often for retellings, so I enjoyed that. Except for a point that comes in later.

• The reason Liddi, the MC, couldn't speak. In this version, she had an implant in her throat, put there by the bad guy, that would blow up her brothers if she spoke. I thought it was a clever way to update her inability to speak.

• Liddi's brothers. She has seven brothers. They're great fun, more fun than her I must say.

What I Didn't:

• Not well based off the source material. You know the part where the princess had to stitch shirts of star flowers to free her brothers? It kind of disappeared in this retelling, and that's the biggest thing about this fairy tale. I think the portals were supposed to be that, but I couldn't really tell. Disappointing.

• Hard to understand. I couldn't understand the science in this book. Or a lot of the worldbuilding. I think the author could have done better at explaining, or simplified things a bit more.

• Liddi seemed self-centered. She was constantly thinking about herself. It may have even been the reason she rescued her brothers at all. I liked parts of her personality, and not others.

Notable Mention

Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant- Tony Cliff

My Rating: 4 stars

This book features one of my new favorite female protagonists, Delilah Dirk. She's amazing and ready for any adventure. In this first book in the graphic novel series, she gains her traveling companion, Mister Selim. It's written like Sherlock Holmes, with the sidekick narrating. Read it if you want extreme sarcasm, adventure, and thievery.

Other Books Read

The Curse of Maleficent- Elizabeth Rudnick (4 stars)
Mutation- Roland Smith (4 stars, but a disappointing ending)
The Crown of Fire- Tony Abbott (4 stars)
Cruel Crown- Victoria Aveyard (2 1/2 stars)
The Invention of Hugo Cabret- Brian Selznick (4 1/2 stars)
The Hunger Games- Suzanne Collins (4 stars)
Catching Fire- Suzanne Collins (3 1/2 stars)
Mockingjay- Suzanne Collins (4 stars)
Wire and Nerves- Marissa Meyer (3 1/2 stars)
Beheld- Alex Flinn (4 stars)
The Lost Girl of Astor Street- Stephanie Morrill (4 stars)
The Runaway- Alison Hart (3 stars)

Let's talk! What books have you read this month? Which did you love and which did you hate? Tell me in the comments.


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