The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli – 4.5 stars
So I love Becky Albertalli. And I will forever read anything that she writes. Plus, she’s adorable on Twitter.
And I did love this. But I didn’t love this as much as Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda.
For a while, I was just kinda like “aw, this is cute,” and then wham, I got hit by The Feels Train. And that’s what pushed it up to a 4.5 stars for me.
I read Dumplin’ last year and while these two books are definitely not the same, I must say that this was the “fat girl” book that I was hoping Dumplin’ would be. I found myself relating to Molly so freaking much it almost hurt. I totally understood her thoughts about being a fat girl and how you think that everyone is thinking about your weight, even when it’s most likely that they aren’t. I got her insecurities about the likelihood that someone else would like you. I, too, have a crush on Lin Manuel-Miranda (though, admittedly, that was not the case when I was a teenager since I didn’t know who he was until I was in college). I also understood having so many crushes and being so scared to act on them because of not wanting to put yourself out there. I also freaking love Mini Eggs (case in point, my sister got me a 1 pound bag for Easter). I just. It was like Becky Albertalli was speaking to teenage me through Molly.
And I absolutely adored the side characters. I love the diversity in the book. And I love that it just felt natural. It felt like I was reading about the world around me. I loved that Albertalli included that Molly is on Zoloft – I think that more YA novels need to show their characters with mental illnesses on medication to try to help get rid of the stigma of being on medication. I loved that Mina is pansexual. I loved that Molly and Cassie are “sperm donor babies.” I just really appreciated Albertalli’s inclusion.
I think one of my favorite parts was Molly and Cassie’s relationship. I’m super close with my sister, and it was refreshing to read a relationship where the sisters are also super close. And I loved reading about Molly worrying about the fact that you eventually grow apart from your sister. And I loved that they didn’t have the perfect relationship and that they were pissed at each other after one of the big conflicts. But I also love that they were able to sit down and talk it out. And I also loved how fiercely protective Cassie is over Molly. It was like reading about my own sister.
I also appreciated that Patty and Nadine (Cassie and Molly’s moms) are super present and involved. Just like with Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, Albertalli just gets it when it comes to parents. And I felt like this was one of the more realistic portrayals of teen life. The teens aren’t perfect. They make mistakes. They fight with each other. They lie. They drink. They talk about sex. But most importantly, you never doubted for a second that they were teens and that their actions were not authentic. Again, Albertalli just gets it.
So in short, this was a super cute, super fluffy read. I would recommend reading Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda first for some of the cameos to mean even more, but you can definitely read this on its own and still love it. It’ll hit you in the feels in just the right way.
A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin – 5 stars
I FINALLY FINISHED!
It literally only took me 3+ years to read this. Well. It’s been almost 4 years since I finished A Clash of Kings. And I can’t explain why it took me so long to read this one, especially because it is easily my favorite of the series so far.
I actively keep up with the show, so I knew a lot of what was going to happen (and I’ve made my sister tell me in explicit detail the different plot lines because I’m like that), and I think that was part of what took me so long. I wanted to read things that were new to me. However, once I picked this up for #TomeTopple this go around, I sped through 720-ish pages over the course of a couple of days because I just wanted to be back in Westeros so much.
I definitely prefer the audiobook narrated to Roy Dotrice over just reading the book like I did for A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings. It was much easier for me to get through some of the descriptions when I didn’t have to pay quite so much attention to it.
But there were definitely times that I couldn’t tear my attention away even if I wanted to. Like the Purple Wedding. It was just as satisfying as it was in the show and I feel like a horrid person for actively cheering on a character’s death. The Red Wedding was not as emotional for me as it was in the show, but it still tugged at my heart. And good lord, the Red Viper’s death was a gut punch.
I also super shrieked at the epilogue because one of my favorite characters that doesn’t actually have a place in the show made her debut and it was everything I could have hoped for.
I wish that there was more Dany because she’s my forever favorite and I’m actually kinda bored by her story line. I know that it doesn’t really get much better based on the show until the content that isn’t published, and that kinda super bums me out.
I also super loved reading about the Hound and Arya. Their buddy-cop road trip was one of my favorite things in the show and it was just as enjoyable in the book.
And I’m really interested to see the fake-Arya’s storyline because I know that it’s Jeyne Poole and not Sansa like the liar show would have you believe.
And I really liked Jon’s storyline and enjoyed reading what I’ve already seen on screen. The politics of the wildlings and the Wall are really intriguing to me.
I was also super thankful for the lack of Bran because his storyline also bores me until the unpublished content that I’m hoping the show actually got right.
So yeah, I’m super excited to be back in Westeros since we have to wait until June for the show to come out and who knows when George R.R. Martin will get The Winds of Winter published.
The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman – 4 stars
I’m just really on a children’s literature kick right now.
I love Lyra and how fierce she is. I also love how even though she’s crazy brave, she also breaks down and cries like the child she is supposed to be. And I absolutely adored her relationship with Pan. I thought the idea of the daemons was just brilliant, especially the idea that during childhood, the daemons can change shape.
I really wish that armored bears were a thing and that I could be friends with Iorek. Because he is such a kind hearted badass. And I also loved the gyptians and how they were so willing to fight for what was right and that they took Lyra in and looked after her as if she were one of their own. I also really liked Serafina Pekkala and hope that we get to see more of her throughout the trilogy. Though as a side note, was it really necessary to always call her by her full name? Actually, on that note, did we have to call each character by their full name? It got to be a little annoying.
I’m still confused about the idea of Dust and exactly what Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter and all of the adults are trying to do with it. I hope that in the rest of the trilogy it gets to be a little bit more clear. That’s the main reason why this wasn’t a 5-star book for me.
I’ve been on a serious audiobook kick lately (in case you haven’t noticed) and this was one of the better ones that I’ve listened to – there’s a full cast and they just add so much depth to the story. I would highly recommend checking it out.
The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan – 5 stars
I am definitely enjoying this much more than the Percy Jackson series.
I am absolutely loving the Roman aspects of the series and seeing how the Greek and Roman worlds are colliding. It was really interesting to see a little bit of Camp Jupiter and how in some ways it’s very similar to Camp Half-Blood but in others, it is so different.
I really like Hazel and Frank. And I like Percy a whole lot more than I did in his own series. Hell, I even like Mars a whole lot more than I did Ares.
Ella has a very special place in my heart and she is easily my favorite character in this entire series. I just want to put her in a blanket, feed her cinnamon rolls, and keep her safe.
The formulaic plot didn’t even bother me in this one. I think I’ve just become so used to it that I’ve kind of let it slide. I am curious to see how it goes with them in Rome and Greece, though.
Overall, I definitely prefer this series to Percy Jackson. I just think that maybe Percy was too juvenile and that if I read it when I was younger I would have liked it more. It definitely helps that the characters in this series are older for the most part. And their sarcasm and wittiness are much more developed, which I highly appreciate.
The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan – 5 stars
I really liked that we finally went somewhere that wasn’t the United States. And I loved seeing the Roman and Greek demigods working together.
I also felt like this one in particular pulled a lot from both the Greek and Roman mythologies, which I also really appreciated. Especially since this is a middle grade novel. I think this is a fantastic way to introduce younger readers to mythology.
I also really liked that this one actually felt like there were things at stake. I don’t know why, but in the past books, I never really got that feeling. And the ending. It just killed me. I am so excited to see how things shape up in The House of Hades.