Snapshot Stories

I read a lot. And, most of the time, I read very quickly. I’ve found that immediately reviewing the books that I read not only slows down my reading time, it diminishes the joy of the thing.

That said, I’ve read a ton of books ranging from cute fluff to mind-blowingly amazing, and I want to share them with everyone. A friend of mine Tweets her reviews, and this is my way of copying her–because, let’s be honest, I can’t limit all of these to 140 characters!

I picked up Even If the Sky Falls expecting a fluffy romance. What I got was the story of two complete strangers falling in love while trying to run away from themselves–with a splash of Mardi Gras magic.

I read Honor Girl, initially, in order to observe the form of a graphic memoir. (I like to challenge myself as a reader and a writer, and hearing Maggie Thrash speak at NoVA Teen last year inspired me to experiment with graphic memoir myself.) I was pleased to find that Thrash’s storytelling is honest and simple without being trite or sickening.

Exit, Pursued by a Bear was not an east read. In it, Johnston depicts the best-case scenario of a female rape victim. Equal parts stomach-turning and hopeful despite itself, this book is an important read. It will challenge you to reconsider your thoughts on justice, on abortion, on compassion. Perhaps you will come out politically unchanged (as I did), but you will never again be able to claim, “I never thought of it like that before.”

Having read Wild Swans, I truly believe that Jessica Spotswood understands my fragile human heart in a way that nobody else ever has. Between these pages, she encapsulates the longing for love and acceptance, the disappointment of feeling like you’re never enough, and the relief of knowing that you are loved. She reminds us that people of different political stripes can live and love together, and that every one of us is fighting our way through this life.

Summer Days and Summer Nights has a little something for everyone–unless you don’t like short stories. (It seems an insult that this one is so brief, but I loved it so much in so many different ways that it seems impossible to say more.)

While I took a while to really dive in to A Darker Shade of Magic, V. E. Schwab did not disappoint me. She has layered three Londons that re impossible to mix up with magic, peril, and characters whose limits are constantly being questioned. (When I first wrote this, I ended it with, “I confess, I am anxious to get my hands on A Gathering of Shadows.” But, as of this revision, I’ve just started reading it! Yay!)

Despite the obvious criticisms, I found myself enchanted by Me Before You. It conveys a subtle sort of everyday magic–proof positive that relationships can be transformed, just like in Beauty and the Beast. I like to think that all humans are capable of learning to love as Will and Lou do. And, while the story has been labelled “ableist” in many circles (perhaps rightly so), I genuinely believe that Moyes has hit upon something true: Sometimes, falling in love is simply not enough.

If you like Shakespeare, Monty Python, The Princess Bride, and Tudor history with a splash of fantasy, My Lady Jane is the book for you. At nearly five hundred pages it looks like a formidable read–but, rest assured, humor and magic make it easy to fly through at kestrel speed. (You’ll get that reference once you’ve read it, I promise.)

E. K. Johnston’s voice in A Thousand Nights is spellbinding. I can feel the desert, see the qasr, hear Lo-Melkhiin. She wraps you in words and transports you to a different time and place–one where faith becomes power which becomes magic. Fans looking for a more adult companion to Gail Carson Levine’s Ever should snap up copies of this immediately.

If you liked A. G. Howard’s Splintered series, allow me to suggest Lisa Maxwell’s Unhooked. Where Howard tosses us down the darkly whimsical rabbit hole, Maxwell introduces us to a weirder, wilder Neverland, one made up of lies and memories that refuse to be realized. And let’s not forget the splash of Pirates of the Caribbean, when Barbossa tells Elizabeth, “You’d best start believing in ghost stories, Miss Turner. You’re in one.” (Plus, bonus: Sexy Captain Hook!)

Wink Poppy Midnight is lyrical and intense–although, I must confess, I had trouble understanding it at times. It was disjointed and poetic in a way that worked, but that I found difficult to follow. So, the rest of this snapshot will have to follow suit: Wink feels, at times, like Luna Lovegood and Anne Shirley with the potential of something sinister lurking just under her freckles. This story is Holly Black crossed with The Raven Cycle with splashes of romance and mystery. Who to like? Who to trust? Who’s to know?

More to come!

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