So usually over the summer and winter vacations, my sister and I try to fit in as many books as we can. This summer I was a little busy studying and failed to read that many, but I still have enough for a full review post for today. I read mostly Regency novels (which is a genre that TheBetterCup loves, and I realized this summer is my favorite type of love story). I also read a few books my little (about 17) brother suggested, but for today I will list nine books I enjoyed over the summer.
1. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
So, I read this book in the very beginning of my summer break (some time early May). It is book 1 of three entitled All Souls Trilogy. I was not super interested in it to begin with to be honest. My sister suggested I try it by a recommendation of a friend of hers. I really love books that have the Witch culture involved (and even things like vampires and stuff), but only if its not really about love and more about like the freaky and bizarre. This story is more a love story then it is about the strange. The very beginning was really great. I liked the characters and the story line, but the more in love the characters fell, the less I liked the story. By the end, I did not want to continue to the next book. It was not horrible or anything. I just really stopped caring about the characters (even though I really did like the plot premise). The story is about a scholar named Diana Bishop who studies history of alchemy at the Oxford Bodleian Library (in England). She is a witch by birth, but tries her hardest to have nothing to do with witch craft and magic. One day she calls out books to study and is accidentally given an old manuscript that is encased in magic (that she is able to break). Afterwards daemons, witches, and vampires alike begin to harass her (all of them believing that they have the right to the book, but need her to break the spell on it). Of course, she meets a handsome and kind vampire and a love side story begins. Personally, the story was not well written enough to be really great, but I enjoyed it for the most part (especially the beginning). The pseudo history parts were great and so was the science stuff. I think they could have had a simpler love story, something that panned out more at the end (after working together efficiently together as friends to fix the issues), but that is only my opinion. I just wanted more about the Craft and less about the love story.
2. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Okay, so everyone probably knows the Fault in Our Stars by this point. I am not even sure I need to make a post. This is a book my brother suggested. My family members are all really into reading, and my brother was always the odd duck who hated to read. He really tried, reading any book we would suggest and reading any book given from school, but it always seemed like a chore for him. Then one day, he picked up this book to read so he could talk to a girl about it (typical teenage boy wants to impress a girl) and BAM, he couldn’t put down the book until he finished. He loved the book and the characters, and then began reading more books by John Green. He found more books by other authors that were similar and now he is a regular bibliophile like the rest of us. All it took was to find a genre to his liking (which ended up being very sad teenage love stories and coming of age), but point is he found it. I was never planning on reading this book (mostly cause cancer has always been a touchy subject with me), but since he loved it and wanted to talk to someone about it, I jumped at the chance to share something with him. It was a great book, I enjoyed it, and of course John Green is a good author. I don’t really want to say more about the book, other then it was good and wonderful. But what I really liked about it is the fact that this book helped my little (17 year old and almost a foot taller then me) brother finally read, and I am so grateful to John Green for that. I am probably gonna read some more books in this genre in the future, to connect with my brother, and I think I probably will enjoy most of them. If you don’t know, the story is about teenagers with cancer. It is funny heart warning, and really pulls on your heart strings. You have been warmed you will love this book, but cry a lot.
3. Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry, Ridley Pearson, and Greg Call (illustrations
Since I read my brother’s favorite book, I promised my mother, father, and sister the same thing. I still haven’t gotten to the books my parents recommended, but I did read Peter and the Starcatchers (TheBetterCup’s favorite). Peter Pan is my sister’s spirit animal. I can think of many characters that truly represent my sister’s personality, but Peter Pan is the personification of her soul (no joke). This book is one of her favorites, and to be honest it is a fantastic story. Kids and adults could enjoy this story. I have seen people try and compare this to Harry Potter (which is a good series in its own way), but honestly, I don’t really like Harry Potter as much as I liked this series. The story is a prequel to the story of Peter Pan that you probably know. Its the adventure of a young orphan who sets sail abroad the Never Land (a ship carrying a magical treasure). Witness an amazing journey, partake in theatrical and frightening battles with Pirates, Native Amerindians, and English Seamen, and enjoy a magical tale of the fearless little boy who never grows up.
4. Cotillion by Georgette Heyer
The rest of the stories were all Regency novels (love stories during the time that Napoleon was gaining land and influence, and England was separated from the rest of Europe as consequence). These are some great stories. If you like anime and manga, Regency novels may be your cup of tea as well. Usually the love stories are simpler and there are other problems involved that need to be solved before the characters fall in love (at the very end). I personally like these type of love stories over things like the Discovery of Witches or Twilight were the love story just kind of becomes an obsessive focal point of the plot. These are cute and fun, and all the main character girls are different and likable (so are the main male characters). This one in particular is by far my favorite Regency novel. The main female (Kitty) was less pushy and reckless then some of the other girls and felt like a normal girl (not obsessed with high society, but willing to try it out for fun). And Freddy (main male) had to be my favorite love interest thus far. He was not your typical Byronic hero (who I love by the way). Instead, he was frank and a simple man (maybe a little dandy, but not to extreme either). I think he was really well balanced and pretty understanding (not just barking orders and keeping a sour face all day). He tries hard for the people he loves (even going out of his way when he would really rather not) and is basically so friendly everyone likes him. And did I mention he is humble? Seriously the best character trait in world for me is to be humble. And unlike other Byronic heroes, people didn’t look up to him (respect him or fear him) and he was not particularly talented or anything, just nice. Heyer does a great job making characters, most of the guys have a whimsical side to them that anime/manga story board artists should learn from when they decide to make the cool and angry character that acts a little mean). Anyways, Cotillion is about Kitty Charing, a young girl who will inherit a great fortune from her caretaker as long as she marries one of his great nephews. She is in love with Jack (the favorite great nephew, but also a player and an asshole), but unfortunately none of the great nephews really want to marry her. To make Jack panic and propose, she asks Freddy (another of the great nephews who tries to live life with as little conflicts as he can) to pretend to be her fiance *soundslikesomemangaplot*. Soon, she gets herself mixed up with other peoples’s love stories and starts to wonder if Jack is really the right guy for her. Seriously, you can’t go wrong with a Regency love story, but this is one of the best.
5. Sprig Muslin by Georgette Heyer
This was my second favorite of the Regency novels that I read. I loved the main characters (who were both mature and found humor in everything), and I especially loved having older characters for once fall in love. It gets old always having 18 years old falling in love or a young girl and an older guy (not that I hate those, I still like reading them. But it is fun to mix it up more). This is a fun story, where two people find themselves at the marrying age and then get mixed up in a lot of silly and stupid situations before just saying ‘fuck it’ and deciding to be together (despite all the shit that make up their lives). I liked this one cause it was fun, entertaining, and easy to cheer for each of the characters. This story focused on Sir Gareth Ludlow, a Byronic hero with a sly and almost childish sense of humor, who decides to marry a girl he has known most of his life (now that he is in his thirties, his original fiance died seven years prior, and he should be having a family). On his way to propose to Hester (who acts all simple and obedient, but who is really rather sly and who is about to refuse his ass), he meets a beautiful young girl who is unattended and decided to help her get home. This opens up a world of trouble for Hester and Gareth, but gives them the opportunity they need to decide who they love and what they want in life. I don’t want to say much else, because this love story is a little more complicated, but its definitely fun and adorable.
6. The Reluctant Widow by Georgette Heyer
Another one of the Regency novels by Heyer, this story was also fun and charming, but with a twist. The Reluctant Widow is more of mystery story, with murders, intruders breaking into the main character’s home, fake marriage, and stolen documents that can cause England’s lose in a war with Napoleon. It was a really interesting and different take on the typical regency novel, yet funny and enjoyable. In this story, Elinor (a young woman who though born into the higher class, has now ended up needing to work as a governess to live respectably). While traveling to her new job, she accidentally gets mixed up with Ned Carylon, who wants to hire her to marry his dying cousin. In a strange turn of events, Elinor accepts and gets herself involved in a complicated political problem and dangerous plot. All through the story, the characters keep a light and humorous feel. I really enjoyed it, and even if you are able to figure out who is involved in the messed up story, their reasoning are more complicated and harder to figure out till the end. This was my least favorite of the three, but still super enjoyable. I loved Elinor, who was sarcastic and prone to anger (which was funny), and all the other characters were fun too.
7. Cecily (Regency Trilogy #1) by Clare Darcy
One of three stories, Cecily was my favorite characters (though the story was the simplest of the three and the girl had poor decision making written all over her). I still really enjoyed the story, and liked the characters. This was Darcy’s first publication, and I think she did a great job. Lots of reviews I have seen seem upset by how clean and chaste this romance is (simple, straight to the point, pretty ‘dull’), but I disagree with the sentiment. I don’t think any of those things make this a bad story. I liked that it was a little different in that way. The great part about Regency novels (like manga/shojo) is that it follows the equation that makes it fit the genre while changing things to keep it interesting and different. I mean, having a simple story every now and again is fun, sweet, and endearing. It would be no fun if all you ever read was angst love stories (got to throw in a Cinderella fairy tale and an adventure now and again). Keep it spicy. The story is about Cecily, a young girl with an innocent face who is now coming out as an actress on the theatrical stage. An aristocrat and leader of high society in London, Robert Ranleigh finds himself introduced to her (because of a silly bet) and ends up helping her try and get a respectable job as a governess, but of course things don’t go as planned.
8. Georgina (Regency Trilogy #2) by Clare Darcy
The second story of the trilogy, Georgina felt like she was more prepared to maneuver between the complicated social groups of the high class then Cecily was. This was also a good story and very fun. In this story, Georgina Powers is being heckled by her rude grandmother and extraordinarily subservient mom into marrying rich (they are already rich, but they wanted an even richer and more respectable suitor). Upset with Georgina, her grandmother sends her to live with some distant relatives for a while in Ireland to force her to reflect on her mistakes. There she meets Mr. Shannon a good man with a bad name who Georgina can’t help but get involved with. Georgina seemed to have a good head on her shoulders, and I really liked her. I just wish she didn’t believe some jealous lady so easily when it felt so obvious that she was the least trusting person possible. The ending was also the best part. I love having the Grandma told to basically fuck off.
9. Lydia (Regency Trilogy #2) by Clare Darcy
The last story on this list (thankfully cause I was finding it hard to continue and explain so many stories that i read months ago), Lydia had to have the most interesting characters of the bunch. I mean the main hero was the type of guy to laugh at almost everything (he barely got upset) and the heroine was completely out there. She was sassy, sure of herself, and really sweet in her own way. She was definitely the most reckless and the least ‘proper’, but I really liked that, and this was TheBetterCup’s favorite of the group. Lydia is an American young lady, who has entered Regency London by storm. She and her family are completely out of the ordinary and like to keep people on their toes. She is outrageous and catches the attention of the rich, thirty year old, Lord Northover (who laughs a lot, takes life in strides, and was once in the military). The story is basically a lot of misunderstandings that need to be fixed, because you know when you don’t act ‘proper’ people assume the worst of you. I loved the ending and the characters were really fun.