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June 2015 Books Completed

June marks the end of the first half of 2015! To complete the 100 Books Challenge, you should be at 50 books for the year.  Unfortunately, I’m not quite there yet — I’m actually falling pretty far behind. But take a look at the books I finished this month.

Upside-Down Magic by Sarah Mylnowski, Lauren Myracle, and Emily Jenkins. A lower middle-grade title about a girl whose magic is “upside-down.” To be frank, I found its constant racial labeling strange, and I didn’t like the style of writing, as it just felt insulting to children’s intelligence. Wouldn’t really recommend for most children. 2 out of 5 stars

The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin. An adult fantasy about a woman searching for her daughter during an apocalypse-level event. A perfect fantasy read for lovers of science fiction. Review is forthcoming at Girls in Capes5 out of 5 stars

The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker. This YA fantasy is to some extent a spiritual successor to Tamora Pierce’s Tortallan universe, featuring a heroine whose problems are surprisingly modern. Not my favorite of YA fantasy, but an interesting read. 3.5 out of 5 stars

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon. Contemporary YA romance centered around a girl whose immune disorder means she can’t leave the house and the boy next door she falls in love with. Despite what I consider a significant flaw in the book, still well-written and heart-wrenching. 4 out of 5 stars

Fortune’s Pawn by Rachel Bach. I re-read this adult space opera for this month’s Girls in Capes book club. It’s a book I really like, but some of its issues are a little too annoying for me to rate it that high. 3 out of 5 stars

Durarara!! Vol. 1 by Ryohgo Narita. This light novel starts off pretty meandering, and overall, it’s too surrealist for my personal tastes. It starts to pull together about 2/3 through the book. This series doesn’t feel like it’s for me. 2.5 out of 5 stars

What were your favorite books this June?

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May 2015 Books Completed

Graduation and Book Expo prep made this month’s reading list pretty short. I’m hoping to catch up in June before the June 30 middle of the year!

The Last Ride of Caleb O’Toole by Eric Pierpont. A middle-grade historical adventure I read for my internship. Not my most favorite MG read, but solid writing, definitely recommended for kids who love the Oregon Trail computer games. 3 out of 5 stars

Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey. A re-read of an old favorite for the Girls in Capes Book Club. There are some issues on my end in terms of the book’s slightly inconsistent message, but as far as vampire romances go, this is as far as it gets for me. 3 out of 5 stars

Who Could That Be at This Hour? by Lemony Snicket. A Book Expo America title. Not as good as A Series of Unfortunate Events, but not too bad. Relies a bit heavily on wordplay and may go over a younger reader’s head. 3 out of 5 stars

So Cute It Hurts!! Vol. 1 by IKEYAMADA Go. An advanced review copy of a June 2 release from VIZ Media’s Shojo Beat imprint. It’s cute, sweet, and endearing, addressing some issues not usually seen in manga, but may not stand out enough for a discerning reader. 3.5 out of 5 stars

What were your favorite books this May?

The 2015 100 Books Challenge

Leckie_AncillarySword_TP-197x300I’m excited to start my fourth year attempting the 100 Books challenge!

Last year, I managed to read 97 books.  Some of my favorites?  Ann Leckie’s ANCILLARY SWORD — sequel to 2013’s ANCILLARY JUSTICE — along with M. R. Carey’s THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS, the first volume of the new MS. MARVEL written by G. Willow Wilson about a Pakistani-American superheroine, and SHADOWBOXER by Tricia Sullivan.

This year, I’ve already got 7 books on my list — mainly books I was trying but failed to finish in 2014, plus a couple for upcoming events and reviews:

  • The Walled City by Ryan Graudin
  • Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 9, ed. Andrew Drilon & Charles Tan
  • Once We Were* by Kat Zhang
  • Asura Girl* by Otaro Maijo
  • A Crown for Cold Silver by Alex Marshall (ARC)
  • Red Rising by Pierce Brown (GiC Book Club)

You’ll be able to find reviews of The Walled City and Asura Girl up this month over at Girls in Capes.  If you’re in the West Philadelphia suburbs area, join us for our book club on Jan. 31 to talk about Red Rising.

What books are you most looking forward to this year?

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March 2014 Review

After coming home from a trip to Seattle for AWP, I was very ready to kick off the month with a bang.

This month’s articles:

This month’s books for the 100 in 2014 Challenge have been a lot of fun. I finished up ANCILLARY JUSTICE for the Girls in Capes Book Club – it was a re-read, but I definitely enjoyed it!

The titles I read in March feel pretty diverse, especially looking back at the list now.  Aside from space operas ANCILLARY JUSTICE and the new title from Rachel Bach, HONOR’S KNIGHT, I also read a pair of historical fiction graphic novels, BOXERS & SAINTS by Gene Yang, and the first volume of MADOKA MAGICA: THE DIFFERENT STORY by Magica Quartet.

A fairy tale-like full-color graphic novel called THE LEGEND OF BOLD RILEY – written by Leia Weathington and featuring art by several different artists – was one of my favorites this month.  The protagonist, Bold Riley, is a former princess who gave up her claims to the throne to pursue countless adventures in the style of Sinbad the Sailor.  Weathington’s fairy tale-esque language makes Bold Riley a simultaneously comfortable and fun read.

My least favorite this month was a manga titled AI ORE! by SHINJO Mayu. It was a gender-bender title about a romance between a tall, handsome girl and a short, pretty boy, and it was a really fun ride until it reached the last part of the volume, which was kind of disturbing.  I wouldn’t recommend this for readers, even shoujo manga people.

December 2013 Review

It’s always sad to close out a year. But I can honestly say that 2013 has been a wonderful year for me: I’m officially halfway through my graduate degree program, Girls in Capes launched and met with wonderful successes, and I had the opportunity to meet some of the most interesting people yet.

December was a great month, though: I had the opportunity to speak at an event in my hometown and ended the year at Girls in Capes with a bang.

Here are a few pieces I did this December:

This month, I read a ton of books to catch up on my 100 Books in 2013 challenge.  There were several graphic novels – SWEET REIN Vol. 1, WONDER WOMAN: THE HIKETEIA, WHO IS WONDER WOMAN?, RINNE vol. 1 & 2, and THE COMPLETE PERSEPOLIS – along with a few prose titles as well, including ALLEGIANT and HOSTAGE THREE.

Of the new-to-me books, I think the best was probably RINNE, written and illustrated by one of my favorite mangaka. Naturally, though, my overall favorite read in December was WONDER WOMAN: THE HIKETEIA, which was a re-read for me. It’s the first American graphic novel I ever read, and it inspired me to read more comics. But beyond that, it changed my life in many ways, which I spoke on earlier this month during my appearance at Women Unbound in Toledo.

31 January: Review

A new year means a fresh start, and I’m starting fresh in a few different ways.  This month, I launched a new website called Girls in Capes – an online magazine focusing on girls and women in geek culture such as comics, video games, and science fiction.  You can check it out over here.  We’re currently growing our staff of writers and feature three at the moment, including myself!

You can find my work at the following locations:

I’m also entering my second semester at Rosemont College – and on the staff of Rathalla Review.  You can submit to Rathalla Review here.  Keep checking back for updates on what’s going on over at the Review!

This month, I started a total of 10 books in the 100 Books challenge.  I will still be working on two during February — Temple of a Thousand Faces by John Shors and Andrew Pyper’s The Demonologist — so my real “completed” total is 8 books for the month of January.

What have you read this month?

The Challenge: Up to 100 in 2013

I like to read.

That’s an understatement, especially if you’ve met me in real life.  I studied books in college, and I’m in graduate school studying publishing.  It’s not so much that I like to read as much as it is that I am madly in love with books.

Last year, I participated in the 100 Books in 2012 challenge.  If you check out the challenge page I set up, you’ll notice I didn’t exactly make it.  I fell short by almost 30 books, clocking my final tally at just 71 books.  (Impressive for some people, but I didn’t find it particularly impressive at all.)

This year, I’m aiming for the same goal – but I know I need to look at what I did wrong if I hope to do better this time around.  There are a few things I didn’t do that I probably should have done:

  • Planning ahead for academic emergencies.  There are several months on my list that have a very short number of titles.  Two of them are ones I wholly expected: April — the month before I completed my undergraduate degree — and November — the month before I completed my first semester of graduate school.  I planned ahead that I would do poorly in April, since I read 12 books total in March, but I didn’t plan ahead in October at all.
  • Catching up when I had time.  After my one-book month in November, I did plenty of December reading to make up for it, completing a whopping 13 titles (plus one title started) that month.  But looking back at the year, there’s something funny: May, June, and July are all nearly empty.  As I spent that time working with no classes or homework to distract me, it seems strange now to think that I didn’t take the opportunity to catch up on extra reading.  What’s wrong with hitting the library in the summer?

Those were really the primary issues I had with the challenge in 2012.  Now that I know what’s going on, I can plan ahead better for 2013.

  • Reading while on trips.  I have at least two conferences to attend in 2013, and several of the titles in my list for December 2012 were completed while I was traveling.  If I’m going to be taking the train at all this year, which in all likelihood I will, I’m guessing I’d better bring a few books along for the ride.
  • Planning ahead for academic emergencies – and following up afterward.  Knowing that my greatest weakness was not before but after finals week in the early part of the year is a big help, and now I know to read a few books as I wind down from a difficult semester.
  • Don’t just catch up during downtime: get ahead.  I can read pretty fast, and I typically use that to my advantage.  Luckily for me, graduate school requires a lot of reading – and now I work at a bookstore.

Are you participating in any reading challenges this year?  If so, how many books will you be reading and how do you plan to accomplish that?