November 2019 Wrap-Up

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For someone who spent half the month in a reading slump, I had a pretty damn good reading month. I read five novels (two of which were rereads), one novella, and one graphic novel. But the really amazing part? Only one out of these seven books didn’t get five stars from me. Seriously. And at least two of them will be making my best list.

Knowing how amazing the quality is, I’m too excited to not just jump right into this wrap-up. Let’s do this!

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (Reread)
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Summary: Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price— and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager

A runaway with a privileged past

A spy known as the Wraith

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes

Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

My Thoughts: I’m so glad I let myself be bullied into rereading this series. I love this story, this world, and these characters so much. For more of my thoughts, check out my post on why this is the best YA series ever written.

My Rating: 5/5

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo (Reread)
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Summary: Kaz Brekker and his crew of deadly outcasts have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives.

Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties.

A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets – a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.

My Thoughts: If Six of Crows is 5 stars, then Crooked Kingdom is super 5 stars. This book is a masterwork of character development and plot control. Your faves just aren’t doing this. Again, check out my post on why this is the best YA series ever written.

My Rating: 5/5

Roadqueen: Eternal Roadtrip to Love by Mira Ong Chua
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Summary: She can steal the heart of every girl… except the one who stole her bike!

Leo’s the hottest senior at Princess Andromeda Academy, and her adoring fangirls have one goal: to beat her in a road race so she’ll go out with them. Unfortunately, the only thing Leo loves more than breaking hearts is her faithful old motorcycle, Bethany. But the arrival of mysterious new girl Vega upends her daily routine forever.

Now it’s graduation season, and with her beloved motorcycle gone, Leo finds herself facing a lonely summer at an all-time low… until mysterious beauty Vega comes crashing back into her life. The two strike a deal that puts Leo’s bike— and dignity— on the line. Will Leo rise to the occasion, or lose Bethany forever? What’s Vega’s deal, anyway? And what’s this burning feeling in both of their hearts???

My Thoughts: I read this because my sister came up to me in the bookstore and handed it to me saying, “This has lesbians in it.” (For context, I am a lesbian and I’m always looking for rep.) This story is so funny and cute. If you like fake dating, this graphic novel has it in spades.

My Rating: 5/5

Beartown by Fredrik Backman
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Summary: People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.

Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.

Beartown explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world.

My Thoughts: Wow, this is such a moving story. It has a slow start, but really comes together. Backman’s handling of the issue and writing style really remind me of Jodi Picoult, which is a good thing. I’ll definitely read more of his stuff and maybe even the sequel.

My Rating: 5/5

Crier’s War by Nina Varela
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Summary: After the War of Kinds ravaged the kingdom of Rabu, the Automae, Designed to be the playthings of royals, took over the estates of their owners and bent the human race to their will.

Now, Ayla, a human servant rising the ranks at the House of the Sovereign, dreams of avenging the death of her family… by killing the Sovereign’s daughter, Lady Crier. Crier, who was Made to be beautiful, to be flawless. And to take over the work of her father.

Crier had been preparing to do just that— to inherit her father’s rule over the land. But that was before she was betrothed to Scyre Kinok, who seems to have a thousand secrets. That was before she discovered her father isn’t as benevolent as she thought. That was before she met Ayla.

Set in a richly-imagined fantasy world, Nina Varela’s debut novel is a sweepingly romantic tale of love, loss and revenge, that challenges what it really means to be human.

My Thoughts: This was one of my most anticipated reads of the year and honestly? I feel kind of let down. This book isn’t bad, it’s just a very basic YA fantasy story. I was hoping for something new with such a unique mythology. The only thing that made this novel refreshing is the F/F relationship, but even that was underdeveloped.

This book makes some real rookie mistakes. The world-building is skeletal at best. There are some scenes that are meant to be devastating, but the characters and relationships aren’t explored enough to have impact. The climax feels remarkably tame after all the promises of peril. And, of course, there’s a lot that’s told instead of shown. For my more in-depth thoughts, check out my review.

My Rating: 3/5

The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang
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Summary: In the aftermath of the Third Poppy War, shaman and warrior Rin is on the run: haunted by the atrocity she committed to end the war, addicted to opium, and hiding from the murderous commands of her vengeful god, the fiery Phoenix. Her only reason for living is to get revenge on the traitorous Empress who sold out Nikan to their enemies.

With no other options, Rin joins forces with the powerful Dragon Warlord, who has a plan to conquer Nikan, unseat the Empress, and create a new Republic. Rin throws herself into his war. After all, making war is all she knows how to do.

But the Empress is a more powerful foe than she appears, and the Dragon Warlord’s motivations are not as democratic as they seem. The more Rin learns, the more she fears her love for Nikan will drive her away from every ally and lead her to rely more and more on the Phoenix’s deadly power. Because there is nothing she won’t sacrifice for her country and her vengeance.

My Thoughts: This was so good! It gave me everything I’d wanted from The Poppy War. I love Rin so much. And Kitay. And even Venka. This is such a gritty and inventive series. I can’t wait for the finale!

My Rating: 5/5

This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone
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Summary: Two time-traveling agents from warring futures, working their way through the past, begin to exchange letters— and fall in love in this thrilling and romantic book from award-winning authors Amal-El Mohtar and Max Gladstone.

Among the ashes of a dying world, an agent of the Commandant finds a letter. It reads: Burn before reading.

Thus begins an unlikely correspondence between two rival agents hellbent on securing the best possible future for their warring factions. Now, what began as a taunt, a battlefield boast, grows into something more. Something epic. Something romantic. Something that could change the past and the future.

Except the discovery of their bond would mean death for each of them. There’s still a war going on, after all. And someone has to win that war. That’s how war works. Right?

Co-written by two beloved and award-winning sci-fi writers, This Is How You Lose the Time War is an epic love story spanning time and space.

My Thoughts: Do you know how many times I had to set this book down because I was so overcome with how in love Blue and Red are? This world is super cool, but it’s their relationship and letters that really sold it for me. This is the lesbian love story I’ve been waiting for. I only wish it went on longer. I also wouldn’t be opposed to a sequel.

My Rating: 5/5

What did you read in November? Have you read any of these books? Let’s discuss in the comments!

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