My Year in Reading: Cassie-la’s December 2018 Wrap Up

The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker (★★★½)

This super original novel — Walker’s sophomore follow up to The Age of Miracles — explores a mysterious illness that quickly infects residents of an allegedly cursed college town in California, trapping the infected in a perpetual state of sleep. With a premise that’s as intriguing as her first novel (if you’re not in the know, it’s set in a world where the earth’s rotation begins to gradually slow down), it’s no surprise that I was immediately hooked. Pick up The Dreamers for the unique story, stay for the beautiful prose.

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson (★★★★½)

True crime enthusiast Stevie is determined to solve the decades-old murder and kidnapping at the prestigious Ellingham Academy boarding school. With a story that alternates between the present day and the events of 1936, when Albert Ellingham’s wife and daughter were kidnapped, Johnson’s new series is a fun-page turner full of a lovable cast of weirdos and several intriguing mysteries to solve. The only downside? The book ends on a major cliffhanger that will leave you wanting so much more.

My Boyfriend is a Bear by Pamela Robin (★★★★)

Much like Hot Tub Time Machine, you know exactly what you’re getting with this graphic novel. Starring a cutesy girl named Nora who happens to be dating a bear, My Boyfriend is a Bear is a surprisingly adorable story with even more adorable artwork from artist Cat Farris. A little weird at times (for obvious bear on human reasons), this graphic novel may be a metaphor for prejudices and the way that opposites attract … but also might not be a metaphor at all? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The Walking Dead Vol. 31: The Rotten Core by Robert Kirkman (★★★★)

How tired are you of the never-ending formula that is The Walking Dead (read: Rick and company encounter a new community, community is not what it seems, our heroes are forced to take down said community, everything returns to normal until they meet another new community, lather, rinse, repeat). On the one hand, I find it tedious and predictable. On the other, Kirkman keeps creating new and intriguing communities to explore, so I can only be slightly annoyed. This latest trade is no exception to that formula, but does set up what is sure to be an explosive new arc.

Check, Please! Vol. 1: #Hockey by Ngozi Ukazu (★★★★½)

The first volume of Check, Please! collects the freshman and sophomore years of Bitty, a former figure skating champion turned college hockey player. Even though I have zero interest in or any understanding of hockey, this is a super adorable and fast-paced collection that follows Bitty’s first two years at Samwell University as he get to know his teammates, starts to fall for his brooding team captain, and bakes all the pies.

Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman (★★★★)

Holy. Fucking. Shit. Scythe was good, but Thunderhead? Thunderhead is on a whole different level. Picking up where the first book left off, Shusterman takes his world building to the next level (I’m talking global Scythedom here), and gives us a much closer look inside the mind of the sentient super computer — see also my new favorite character — the Thunderhead. Why are my favorite characters in science fiction always the computers? See also: AIDAN in Illuminae. Not to mention a brand-new character named Greyson Tolliver who has a huge role to play in both Citra and Rowan’s story. BOOK THREE AND BOOK THREE NOW, PLEASE AND THANKS!

The Land I Lost by Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan (★★★)

The novella-sized penultimate short story in the Ghosts of the Shadow Market series is the longest tale in the collection, and also the most frustrating. Once again Alec and Magnus’ adorable blue demon baby is in the picture, which makes everyone as obnoxious and out of character as possible. Thankfully, Tessa, Jem and Lily — along with all her amazing Jem puns — are there to bring some much-needed sanity and humor to the tale. Unfortunately, they don’t make up for the fact that everyone wants to talk about their feelings a disturbing and unnecessary amount.

Spill Zone: The Broken Vow by Scott Westerfeld (★★★★)

The Broken Vow is the super crazy and extremely trippy conclusion to the Spill Zone duology, except that it kind of leaves things very open ended. So maybe we’ll get even more spill-related adventures in the future? Fun and fast-paced, the only description that seems fitting is science fiction with a creepy twist. Much-deserved props to artist Alex Puvilland and colorist Hilary Sycamore for bringing Westerfeld’s vision to life.

Through Blood, Through Fire by Cassandra Clare and Robin Wasserman (★★★★½)

In the last short story in the Ghosts of the Shadow Market collection, everyone’s favorite precious cinnamon rolls Tessa and Jem finally end their search for the lost Herondale … because they found him. See also: spoilers for the end of Lady Midnight. Even if you skipped every other story in this collection, this one is a must read. Jem/Tessa shippers, you will not be disappointed by the reveal at the end. My heart. It is broken by the adorableness.

Hark! The Herald Angels Scream [edited] by Christpher Golden (★★★½)

I definitely grabbed this new short story anthology edited by Christopher Golden because one, ’tis the season, and two, that cover. As with most collections, I found this one to be a mixed bag, with some amazingly horrifying tales, others that were enjoyable but far too predictable, and a few that were downright awful. Top stories include not one, but three tales of revenge (It’s a Wonderful Knife, Honor Thy Mother and The Hangman’s Bride), and one story that will leave your jaw on the floor (Christmas in Barcelona). Much deserved shout outs also go to Hiking Through and Snakes’s Tail, both of which were well written and deliciously spooky.

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