June was an awesome month for reading - everything was good, nothing below 3 stars! I would speculate on how July will be, but since it's nearly over, I'll just hush up and let you get to the reviews. :) As always, if you want more, check out GoodReads. (I will say that one or two reviews are cut-and-paste from my reviews over there, but that's because I wrote them here first and didn't want to write up a separate one for GR. Any time I review a book on GR first, I will still write up a new review when writing these posts - helps keep my thoughts honest about the books I read, and see if maybe I've changed my mind without realizing it in the meantime.)
City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare -5 stars. I didn't realize there were more than three books in this series, and I was nervous about reading this one after the way everything seemed tied up and over at the end of the third book. But, having liked them, I gave it a go - and it was fantastic. This isn't a pretty little YA paranormal romance. Decisions that were made, deeds that were done, have serious consequences, and this book is all about dealing with them and figuring out what to do afterward. A good reminder that things are never perfect, and in fact they can go pretty badly, even from a good intention.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (audiobook) by J. K. Rowling, narrated by Jim Dale - 4 stars. Do I really need to give this a review? It's a solid book in the HP series. A few of my favorite characters are introduced here - Sirius and Lupin.
The Rook by Daniel O'Malley - 4 stars. The main character, Myfanwy, begins her story with no memory, surrounded by a circle of dead bodies, and a letter from her former self telling her that someone is after her. The way her amnesia was handled was very interesting. The letters and notes Thomas (the old Myfanwy) left was a neat trick - this way we got to avoid the over-used "flashback" pieces along with a ton of infodumping. The end, however, needed some heavy editing help: the story built itself up well, came to a great climax, and then fell apart in the last 20 pages. Way too much relatively useless exposition. I think it's supposed to be setup for the next book, but it should just have been cut from this book and made the beginning of the next one.
Wish You Were Here by Rita Mae Brown and (Sneaky Pie Brown) - 5 stars. Written by a cat. Narrated by a cat and dog (third person POV). Fun murder mystery novel for anyone who ever wonders what goes on inside their pets' minds. I'm going to thoroughly enjoy this series.
Grave Mercy by R. L. LaFevers - 3 stars. Not as much fun as I'd hoped it would be. Starring an assassin nun, said to be the daughter of Death himself, this held so much promise but just failed to deliver the thrills. The story was decent and solid, but there weren't any big twists or surprises that a half-awake reader couldn't see coming. I might continue the series, but there's definitely better stuff out there.
The Andalite Chronicles by Katherine Applegate - 4 stars. Finally, a book that doesn't automatically assume that the Andalite race is infallible. Elfangor rises from cadet to Prince and learns firsthand what the "backwards" human race has to offer. This story sheds some interesting light on the Animorphs and makes the series much more intriguing.
Bleach vol. 25: No Shaking Throne by Tite Kubo - 5 stars. In the four Bleach volumes I read this month, Ichigo realizes he can't run from his inner demons. Orihime has a confession to make with time running short. Ishida uses a loophole to his advantage, and the group sees Las Noches for the first time. A strange little Arrancar meets them in the desert-like plane. This story is moving along!
Bleach vol. 26: The Mascaron Drive by Tite Kubo - 5 stars.
Bleach vol. 27: Goodbye, Halcyon Days by Tite Kubo - 5 stars.
Bleach, vol. 28: Baron's Lecture Full-Course by Tite Kubo - 4 stars. Small note - Kubo has some of the strangest titles ever. I love them.
Naruto vol. 7: Orochimaru's Curse by Masashi Kishimoto - 4 stars. In these four volumes of Naruto, we survived the Forest of Death and proceed directly to the preliminaries for the third and final round of the Chuunin exam! Lots of character development scattered into the one-on-one battles. We see Kakashi get a little freaked out (which cannot ever bode well), and, at long last, one of my most favorite characters in the series joins the scene: Jiraiya!
Naruto vol. 8: Life-and-Death Battles by Masashi Kishimoto - 5 stars.
Naruto vol. 9: Turning the Tables by Masashi Kishimoto - 5 stars.
Naruto vol. 10: A Splendid Ninja by Masashi Kishimoto - 5 stars.
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde - 5 stars. Fforde is a great writer. I think the biggest problem I had with this book was actually the blurb on the back cover that is supposed to get you pulled in to the story. In this case, it was all about what happens when a character gets pulled out of her novel and into our (ok, a parallel version of our) world, and how Thursday (the main character) has to deal with it. But that wasn't really what the story was about - that didn't even happen until almost the very end. It was more about Thursday trying to prevent that from happening and seeing what kind of tools, powers, and friends were available to her, and who was chewing up all her attempts to set things right. Don't get me wrong - I enjoyed the book and have Fforde on my short list of "I need to read everything written by these authors". I just want the blurb changed. Maybe this is a sign that I should stop reading them...
Cold Streets by P. N. Elrod - 5 stars. Holy crap. I don't even care about the plot (which was still good, by the way) - this book was all about character. Jack may be a vampire, but he's not immune to the things that haunt us as humans. I was expecting another dramatic escape (as these types of novels have commonly given) but it was so much better. You want to talk about serious consequences? I cannot wait for the next book!
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (audiobook) by J. K. Rowling, narrated by Jim Dale - 5 stars. Still HP. Still love it. Although there are some things I still want to know - why did Moody have to wait until the end of the year? All this time, Voldemort is so antsy to get at Harry - there was never anything that gave a reason for why they had to wait until the end of the year. The only reason I see is because there needed to be time so that there would be a book - but a couple of added lines would have fixed things. Voldemort had to wait because that's how long the process took to complete. Something. But I still love this book - I think it is my second favorite after the first book.
Black Butler vol. 1 by Yana Toboso - 3 stars. I've seen the anime for this series - season 1 sticks to the manga more or less, while season 2 goes off and does its own thing. I loved season 1, so I figured the manga would be good, too. Luckily, that kept me going through this volume - it's a pretty slow start for a new series. Although there are some funny bits and a really cool action episode when Sebastian visits an Italian mobster. I especially liked the line, "Allow me to return these to you." Trust me, in context, it's funny and freaky. :)
And Then You Die by Iris Johansen - 3 stars. For loving the other books by Johansen as much as I did, it took me a long time to get around to reading this one. And when I did, I kept inadvertently making excuses not to finish it. I'm not sure why - there wasn't anything wrong with it. I actually liked it quite a bit. But Bess annoyed me, and it's not easy to finish a book when the main character ticks you off. Her decisions seemed shallow and selfish even while she was claiming them to be because of her love for her sister and the unlucky baby girl they rescued. And the conflict between Bess and Kaldak was weird - and pretty straight-forward (which I don't think is a good thing when trying to describe a conflict). Still, this was Johansen's first attempt at a thriller/mystery after so many successful romance novels, so I expected it to be a bit rough around the edges. And knowing that I like her later works more convinces me to keep reading her stuff. I like watching authors grow.
Once Bitten, Twice Shy by Jennifer Rardin - 4 stars. Now here was an interesting concept. I can't really discuss it at length without giving away a major spoiler point. But I will say what I can - I picked this book randomly off my list of vampire books I hadn't yet read and gave it a go. I will definitely be reading more in this series. I'm intrigued by some of the concepts, I liked the storytelling, and I liked the slow reveal of character development and backstory instead of holding everything back and then infodumping on us (seriously, does anyone like getting dumped on?). I took issue with one mechanism employed near the end of the book - the reasoning for why Jaz is still standing - although it was better than having her secretly turn out to be a vampire who just didn't know it (again - seriously, how could you be a vampire for any length of time and not know it?). Even so, I'm excited for the sequel.
Last post's quote was "Home, James!" and is from a little book called The Wednesday Witch, written by Ruth Chew. I must have read it about a thousand times. I actually borrowed it from the library and lost it on a vacation, so of course I had to pay the library for the book - and then I found the book, about 6 months later, caught in a fold on the inside of my suitcase. So then I became the proud owner of a somewhat battered, and very loved, copy of The Wednesday Witch. I still have it, and it's still awesome.
So... what book is this quote from? "Does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker?"