Kayla Rayne and Trina do such a good job of running the Goodreads group for the Monthly Recommendations meme, coming up with suggestions, creating their own videos, and so on. I’ve been lax in making my own monthly recommendations list, but this is the perfect month to come back to the fold because the topic is Mash Up! Instead of a specific topic, it’s one recommendation based on the topics that have been touched on this past year.
1. Best First Book in a Series
Published: 2 May 2017
Category: Science Fiction/Novella
In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.
But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.
On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid — a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.
But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.
Murderbot is one of my new favorite characters this year. All it wants to do is be left along to enjoy its media and figure itself out. How relatable is that? But no, the humans have to muck things up and who has to protect them and figure things out? Murderbot, of course. This is the first in the Murderbot Diaries and I am so looking forward to the rest of the series.
2. Graphic Novels/Mixed Media
Published: 23 October 2018
Category: Sequential Art/Humor
Adam’s comics deal with weightier topics like seasonal affective disorder and struggles with self-esteem, while also touching on the silly and absurd—like his brief, but intense obsession with crystals. With a bright, positive outlook and a sense of humor, Super Chill tells a story that is both highly relatable and intensely personal.
Adam’s humor never fails to be both humorous and relatable, whether it’s his love for his cats (including his tripod kitty) or the trials he faces in day to day life. I could not recommend this collection, and his ongoing comic, more.
Rise of the Empress Duology
I read Forest of a Thousand Lanterns and reviewed it on The Book Bratz (review here) earlier this year because I love villain origin stories. While it didn’t turn out exactly as I thought it would, I still think that Julie C. Dao has immensely writing talent and would recommend her books. I still have to read Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix, but you best believe it’s at home here and waiting on my tbr. 🙂
4. Mental Health Representation
Published: 11 September 2018
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Category: Contemporary/Young Adult/LGBT+
Rumi Seto spends a lot of time worrying she doesn’t have the answers to everything. What to eat, where to go, whom to love. But there is one thing she is absolutely sure of—she wants to spend the rest of her life writing music with her younger sister, Lea.
Then Lea dies in a car accident, and her mother sends her away to live with her aunt in Hawaii while she deals with her own grief. Now thousands of miles from home, Rumi struggles to navigate the loss of her sister, being abandoned by her mother, and the absence of music in her life. With the help of the “boys next door”—a teenage surfer named Kai, who smiles too much and doesn’t take anything seriously, and an eighty-year-old named George Watanabe, who succumbed to his own grief years ago—Rumi attempts to find her way back to her music, to write the song she and Lea never had the chance to finish.
If there’s one author that I’m sure knows how to write about mental health issues, it’s Akemi Dawn Bowman. After reading her previous book Starfish, I knew that Summer Bird Blue would be on my list and I am so thankful that it was. For all the heartbreak and toughness that was in it, it was a superb read that handled difficult subjects well. You can read me review here.
5. Books that Booktube Made Me Read
Published: 24 October 2017
Category: Young Adult/Fantasy
On Christmas Eve five years ago, Holly was visited by three ghosts who showed her how selfish and spoiled she’d become. They tried to convince her to mend her ways.
And then she died.
Now she’s stuck working for the top-secret company Project Scrooge–as the latest Ghost of Christmas Past.
Every year, they save another miserly grouch. Every year, Holly stays frozen at seventeen while her family and friends go on living without her. So far, Holly’s afterlife has been miserable.
But this year, everything is about to change. . . .
This one isn’t strictly accurate because I haven’t watched a whole lot of BookTube this year, so I couldn’t pinpoint a book I’d read because of BookTube specifically. However, there was a readathon near the middle of December hosted by a BookTuber (Book Roast) that had, as its first challenge, a requirement to finish up our current read. Close enough? For me and for this recommendation, I’m counting it! lol
This retelling of the Scrooge myth was an interesting one and it certainly had a good time with its twists and magic affecting the modern take on the old story.
Published: 13 June 2017
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Twin sisters Jack and Jill were seventeen when they found their way home and were packed off to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children.
This is the story of what happened first…
Jacqueline was her mother’s perfect daughter—polite and quiet, always dressed as a princess. If her mother was sometimes a little strict, it’s because crafting the perfect daughter takes discipline.
Jillian was her father’s perfect daughter—adventurous, thrill-seeking, and a bit of a tom-boy. He really would have preferred a son, but you work with what you’ve got.
They were five when they learned that grown-ups can’t be trusted.
They were twelve when they walked down the impossible staircase and discovered that the pretense of love can never be enough to prepare you a life filled with magic in a land filled with mad scientists and death and choices.
Any of Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children series would be a delight to listen to, but I’m highlight the second in the series, Down Among the Sticks and Bones, because it is read by the author. Technically this book is a prequel, so I suppose you could read it before Every Heart a Doorway, though I think there might be just the slightest bit lost in character surprise if you did. So, read them in order, but I think you’ll be in for a real treat when you listen to this, book #2, because Seanan does such a good job of reading her children to life.
7. Books Worth a Reread
Published: 12 August 2005 (originally 1943)
Publisher: Harper Audio
Category: Classics/Historical Fiction
A moving coming-of-age story set in the 1900’s, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn follows the lives of 11-year-old Francie Nolan, her younger brother Neely, and their parents, Irish immigrants who have settled in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. Johnny Nolan is as loving and fanciful as they come, but he is also often drunk and out of work, unable to find his place in the land of opportunity. His wife Katie scrubs floors to put food on the table and clothes on her childrens’ backs, instilling in them the values of being practical and planning ahead.
When Johnny dies, leaving Katie pregnant, Francie, smart, pensive and hoping for something better, cannot believe that life can carry on as before. But with her own determination, and that of her mother behind her, Francie is able to move toward the future of her dreams, completing her education and heading oft to college, always carrying the beloved Brooklyn of her childhood in her heart.
I’ve read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn at least twice a year for a couple years now, so I can definitely say it’s worth a reread. Whether you decide to pick up a physical copy, an e-copy, or listen to the incomparable Kate Burton read this classic story aloud, you’re in for a treat.
8. Underrated Books
Published: 28 July 2016
Publisher: BOOM! Box
Category: Sequential Art/Young Adult/Fantasy
Eons ago, it was prophesied…four distinguished champions would be chosen to lead the universe into a new age of strength and peace. They were expecting warriors; what they got was a little bit…different. Join Amie, an art student, Sandy, a single mom, Kevin, aging athlete and Silas…a goldfish?…as they learn to navigate Earth and each other as the most unanticipated powerful beings in the universe!
Created by New York Times-bestselling writer Kate Leth (ADVENTURE TIME, BRAVEST WARRIORS) and illustrator Matt Cummings (BATTLE DOG), POWER UP is a super team-up with a twist…and in the end, finding a family where you least expect it.
This hilarious, bright, wonderfully illustrated comic does not get talked about enough! The team behind it, Kate & Matt, are just amazing. The story is so out there that you can’t quite believe what’s going on, but that’s half the fun! 😀
9. Marathon Worthy Series
These are honking big books, but I think you’ll want to marathon them despite that. With the twists, the unique formatting, and the cliffhangers in the first two books, it would be impossible not to marathon this series once you start. The characters, the scenarios, everything just draws you in so that you have to know what happens next to the various crews in their quest for survival and justice.
10. Witchy Reads
Published: 13 March 2018
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Category: Fantasy/Young Adult/Paranormal
From the author of The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender comes a haunting maelstrom of magic and murder in the lush, moody Pacific Northwest.
When Rona Blackburn landed on Anathema Island more than a century ago, her otherworldly skills might have benefited friendlier neighbors. Guilt and fear instead led the island’s original eight settlers to burn “the witch” out of her home. So Rona cursed them. Fast-forward one hundred–some years: All Nor Blackburn wants is to live an unremarkable teenage life. She has reason to hope: First, her supernatural powers, if they can be called that, are unexceptional. Second, her love life is nonexistent, which means she might escape the other perverse side effect of the matriarch’s backfiring curse, too. But then a mysterious book comes out, promising to cast any spell for the right price. Nor senses a storm coming and is pretty sure she’ll be smack in the eye of it. In her second novel, Leslye Walton spins a dark, mesmerizing tale of a girl stumbling along the path toward self-acceptance and first love, even as the Price Guide’s malevolent author — Nor’s own mother — looms and threatens to strangle any hope for happiness.
This book is packed full of witches and witchy themes. You can read my review here.
11. Relatable Characters
Published: 9 March 2017
Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre
Lost for Words is a compelling, irresistible, and heart-rending audiobook from author Stephanie Butland
Loveday Cardew prefers books to people. If you look carefully, you might glimpse the first lines of the novels she loves most tattooed on her skin. But there are some things Loveday will never, ever show you.
Into her hiding place – the bookstore where she works – come a poet, a lover, and three suspicious deliveries.
Someone has found out about her mysterious past. Will Loveday survive her own heartbreaking secrets?
Loveday’s got it. Books to people? Sounds about right. The Lost for Words Book Shop is her refuge and I think a lot of us can agree that it sounds like heaven, being able to have that sort of place to go, to have support us. Archie, the owner, is such a dear and is just the best support network for Loveday. The overall bookish feel of this story, obviously of Loveday, is totally relatable.
All media (pictures, quotes, etc.) belong to the respective owners and are used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.