It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (new host of Monday reading: Kathryn T at Book Date). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.
Last Monday, I shared 10 international picture books that I read during quarantine. Today, I’m sharing 10 books that I rated 5 stars on Goodreads during the first half of 2020. Three of the titles were part of my Fantasy Book Club’s reading list. Fun! I’ve included the synopsis for each book. Some also have the review I wrote on Goodreads. Happy Reading Week, everyone!
All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery-magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather.
Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire, and Elisabeth is implicated in the crime. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.
My Goodreads blurb: What a great book to kickstart the new year! Although I liked Rogerson’s debut novel, An Enchantment of Ravens, I enjoyed Sorcery of Thorns so much more. It has great characters and good pacing. Love, love, love! Also, for the record, this world is not worthy of Silas.
A marvel: something you find amazing. Even ordinary-amazing. Like potatoes-because they make French fries happen. Like the perfect fries Adam and his mom used to make together.
An oddity: whatever gives you pause. Like the fact that there are hateful people in the world. Like Zayneb’s teacher, who won’t stop reminding the class how “bad” Muslims are.
Marvel: Adam and Zayneb meeting.
Oddity: Adam and Zayneb meeting.
My Goodreads blurb: “Fifth impressions are the absolute best.” Refreshing and beautiful.
In thirteen-year-old Aster’s family, all the girls are raised to be witches, while boys grow up to be shapeshifters. Anyone who dares cross those lines is exiled. Unfortunately for Aster, he still hasn’t shifted . . . and he’s still fascinated by witchery, no matter how forbidden it might be. When a mysterious danger threatens the other boys, Aster knows he can help — as a witch. It will take the encouragement of a new friend, the non-magical and non-conforming Charlie, to convince Aster to try practicing his skills. And it will require even more courage to save his family . . . and be truly himself.
A dark, gripping and witty thriller in which the only thing humanity has control over is death.
In a world where disease, war and crime have been eliminated, the only way to die is to be randomly killed (“gleaned”) by professional scythes. Citra and Rowan are teenagers who have been selected to be scythes’ apprentices, and despite wanting nothing to do with the vocation, they must learn the art of killing and understand the necessity of what they do.
My Goodreads blurb: Scythe is a slow burn utopian fiction that I tremendously enjoyed reading. Although it became predictable near the end, this book did not disappoint. I like how Neal Shusterman divided the story into three different narratives: Citra’s POV, Rowan’s POV, and excerpts from the gleaning journals of scythes. The latter, especially, filled the gaps and enabled me to understand the world of Scythedom. My heart stopped a few times and I was really glad that Shusterman didn’t build much on the romance between the two main characters in the book. Overall, Scythe is a really good book that looks at life and death in a very interesting and thought-provoking way.
The stakes are high in this chilling sci-fi thriller, in which professional scythes control who dies. Everything else is out of human control, managed by the Thunderhead. It’s a perfect system – until it isn’t.
My Goodreads blurb: Thunderhead brings forth new characters and a fresh perspective. This sequel to Scythe provides an insight into the thoughts—and feelings, perhaps—of the titular character, the Thunderhead. It was one hell of a ride.
In this pulse-pounding finale to Neal Shusterman’s internationally bestselling trilogy, constitutions are tested and old friends are brought back from the dead.
My Goodreads blurb: The story took a completely different turn in this final installment of the series. Readers will learn about the Toll and get deeper into the Thunderhead’s backbrain. I was very fond of the last two chapters, and I thought that these circled back to the first book, in a way. Needless to say, I enjoyed this series as a whole.
Kell is one of the last Antari–magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black. Kell was raised in Arnes–Red London–and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand. After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure. Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.
Four months have passed since the shadow stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard…
As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games-an extravagant international competition of magic, meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries-a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.
But while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life, and those who were thought to be forever gone have returned.
My Goodreads blurb: I must admit, the first half was a slow burn, but that could also be the quarantine life talking. However, as soon as I reached that point in the book, the story picked up and it was hard to put down. I’m going to bed brimming with excitement. Good. I think I’m ready for the third book. As Travars.
Witness the fate of beloved heroes and notorious foes in the heart-stopping conclusion to V.E. Schwab’s New York Times bestselling Shades of Magic trilogy.
As darkness sweeps the Maresh Empire, the once precarious balance of power among the four Londons has reached its breaking point.
My Goodreads blurb: What a finale! Well played, Ms. Schwab. Anoshe.
Akata Witch weaves together a heart-pounding tale of magic, mystery, and finding one’s place in the world.Twelve-year-old Sunny lives in Nigeria, but she was born American. Her features are African, but she’s albino. She’s a terrific athlete, but can’t go out into the sun to play soccer. There seems to be no place where she fits in. And then she discovers something amazing–she is a “free agent” with latent magical power. Soon she’s part of a quartet of magic students, studying the visible and invisible, learning to change reality. But will it be enough to help them when they are asked to catch a career criminal who knows magic too?
My Goodreads blurb: Nnedi Okorafor is a brilliant writer! Nothing but love for Sunny and her friends!