Monday, September 12, 2016

What I Read This Summer : A Complete Wrap-Up

I saw this kind of a post on a fashion and lifestyle blog I follow, and it made me want to take a deeper look back at some of the reads that really made my summer! With 24 titles under my belt, and one more on the way, I knew I was in for a bit of a ride. Here's what I read! 

Summer is always going to be a prime reading time for me... Really, is there anything better than sitting out in the sun, a drink in one hand and a book in the other, with nothing but time and sunshine on your side?

Ever since I was a kid, I used my summer vacation to get serious amounts of reading done - usually with the added incentive of scoring a cool prize from our local library - and this year was no different. I tackled a ton of reads, both new and old... so many, in fact, that it's hard to get a grasp on the kinds of books I read without seeing them all together in one place! So, here's a mini-catalogue of  every book I managed to read between the end of Spring Quarter, and the end of Labor Day! 

(Chronologically, of course.)

Return to the Isle of the Lost (Descendants #2), Melissa De La Cruz
Last summer's obsession for my family was the Disney Channel Original Movie Descendants, which, of course, meant reading its companion novels from Disney Hyperion. The saga continues in this sequel installment, and filming has already began for the movie's sequel, as well!

I Hate Fairyland, Vol. 1: Madly Ever After, Skottie Young
Books about young girls, transported to magical lands, and tasked with completing a personal quest, have long held a place in fantasy canon. But what happens if those little girls never really make it out? This madcap and surprisingly gorey comic answers.

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2), Sarah J Maas
A massive upgrade from the series' less-than-thrilling first installment, this book expands its world-building, character development, and romance, while also sensitively confronting issues like PTSD. What's in your YA high fantasy?

East, Edith Pattou
A middle-grade retelling of a Norwegian fairy tale with ties to Beauty and the Beast, this quick read was a fun and fantastic snowy counterpoint to the bright weather outside.

Shakespeare: The World as Stage, Bill Bryson
This slim and forthright examination of Shakespeare's life uses the whole truth, and nothing but the truth... which explains why it's so short. We know almost nothing concrete about Shakespeare that hasn't been remediated or rewritten by someone else!

Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant (Delilah Dirk #1), Tony Cliff
One of Disney's newest franchise purchases, this comic book series - centered around a fearless female jetsetter from the 1800s - is sumptuously illustrated and compellingly written... while also keeping the stage cleared for plenty of swordfights and explosions!

Uprooted, Naomi Novik
This Nebula Award Winner has been captivating readers all year with its unique subversals on high fantasy tropes, matching breakneck pace with powerful characters and a lushly-described world... plus, I loved it for its realistic and moving portrayals of positive female friendship!

Rebel Belle (Rebel Belle #1), Rachel Hawkins
High school is hard enough without having to factor in mysterious superpowers and combative evil forces into the mix. Even more so when these new abilities are bestowed for the purpose of defending the most annoying kid in said high school.

The Defining Decade, Meg Jay
People say your '20s are your decade to explore, invent, challenge, and engage, but what happens when you get to the threshold of your '30s, with nothing to show for it? Here's why your grand entrance to adulthood starts a little earlier than you might think,.. and what you can do to make the most of it!

A Visit from the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan
One of the most powerful books I ever read in college, was one I encountered in a freshman-level, entry-to-English class. Rereading this Pulitzer-winner was like a reminder from the Universe of how important the relationships you have and the time you invest in them are... a poignant lesson for a graduated senior.

Rat Queens, Vol. 1: Sass & Sorcery, Kurtis J. Weibe
A Spring spent obsessing over Dungeons and Dragons would surely result in a Summer spent with high fantasy and comic books, especially when those two genres combine into something this fun. Clearly, no one gets it done quite like a party comprised of magical female characters!

A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1), V. E. Schwab
Exploring the magical lines between three separate, yet overlapping, Londons, results in a battle for supremacy between those starved for power and those desperate to keep it. Starring an androgynous thief, a bisexual prince, and a one-eyed dimension-traveler, this is probably one of the most unique and engaging books I read all summer.

One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories, B.J. Novak
If you're dying for a laugh, and ready to die laughing, read this complex and intelligent collection of short stories, courtesy of a master television writer.

Persepolis (Persepolis #1), Marjane Satrapi
Mediating the power dynamics of war, torture, and death through the eyes of a child - and the black-and-white illustrations of a comic book - Persepolis is worth every single accolade it's ever gotten. (If you haven't read it yet, do it during Banned Books Week!)

How to Be a Heroine, Samantha Ellis
If you are what you read, then I am a product of some seriously influential heroines... and so is Samantha Ellis. Exploring the trajectory of her life as a writer and a feminist through the lenses of characters like Lizzie Bennet, Anne of Green Gables, and Scarlett O'Hara, Ellis re-examines the fictional females of her youth.

Rat Queens, Vol. 2: The Far-Reaching Tentacles of N'rygoth, Kurtis J. Weibe
My favorite installment of the series thus far, this continuation of the Rat Queens story rallies our characters against - naturally - demonic squid creatures summoned from the sky. Isn't high fantasy just the best?

The Girl from Everywhere, Heidi Heilig
An interesting and cute YA perspective on time-traveling that still succumbs to some of the foibles of both the YA and time-traveling genres, this was a fun example of a pretty fantastic beach read. And with Hawaii as a setting, the beaches are included!

Rat Queens, Vol. 3: Demons, Kurtis J. Weibe
My least favorite installment of the story thus far, an illustrator switch-up and supremely irritating storyline get a veto from not only me, but most people I know who read this series. Hopefully Vol. 4 will get us - and our girls - back on track?

The Song of Achilles, Madeline Miller
Published in 2012, and a forerunner of the LGBT and #WeNeedDiverseReads movements, this intimate and emotional perspective on the relationship between mythical Achilles and his companion - and lover - Patroclus, is an engaging romance that still stays true to what we know of ancient history. Are you ready to cry?

Delilah Dirk and the King's Shilling (Delilah Dirk #2), Tony Cliff
Delilah Dirk has rallied against plenty of fearsome foes along her journeys, but when her travels take her back once again to her native England, dealing out retribution gets a little more dicey... it's easy to trip in all of those petticoats, you know?

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain
A childhood favorite and American classic, this book begs for a reread every single summer, and who am I to say no to such an old friend?

American Gods, Neil Gaiman
When gods walk among man, a man might find himself the crux in a battle for life and legacy, as religions and beliefs from all over the world match power in the heart of America. One of the longest books I read all summer, it was also one of the most compelling.

Why We Write About Ourselves, Meredith Maran
It's easy enough to talk about yourself, and its easy enough to tell a story, but there couldn't be anything harder than telling a story about yourself, and making it interesting, relatable, and compelling. Somehow, this collection of 20 authors all found the right way to do it.

Fables, Vol. 1: Legends in Exile, Bill Willingham
My last comic book of the summer, this hyped and librarian-touted series follows the lives of fairy tale and storybook refugees hiding out in modern-day New York. When one of their members goes missing, some of  your childhood favorites just might make it on the list of suspects!

What I ended on, and haven't actually ended yet: Sleeping Giants, by Sylvain Neuvel.
A bright and curious scientist is forced to confront one of the greatest mysteries of her childhood, when the giant metal hand she unearthed in her youth serves as subject in a top-secret government experiment.

These books made their way into not just my Goodreads Challenge count for this year, but a Summer Book Bingo, hosted by Seattle Public Libraries, Seattle Arts and Lectures, and plenty of independent bookstores, all around the city! As soon as I saw it, it reminded me of the numerous summer library book challenges I completed in my youth, and I knew I needed to spend time checking off the boxes on this list. Not only did it encourage me to pay more attention to the genres I'm reading, but it convinced me to break out of my normal habits, too. And while I still have a couple of blank spots that prevented me from earning a full blackout, I know that they'll serve as the perfect jumping-off point for determining my Fall reads, too!

How many books did you read this summer? Which was your favorite? Let me know, in the comments below! 

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