melissa ratcliff april 2017 tbr robin roe a list of cages

Melissa Ratcliff’s April 2017 TBR: Becky Albertalli, Robin Roe and More

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At this point, I have more than made up for being behind on my TBR list. Although I am still two books behind, I managed to catch up on a lot of reading, which included a few books from February, as well as finishing all of the books on my list from last month. In fact, I even managed to start a few that are featured this month. Due to the fact that I have been extremely productive when it comes to reading lately, my April 2017 TBR list is going to be rather ambitious.

With three young adult books and a number of works from genres I’ve yet to explore, this month will be full of new reads, figuratively and literally, as three of this month’s novels have or are expected to release this year.

Here are all the books I hope to read to make April my most productive reading month yet:

The Upside of Unrequited, Becky Albertalli

the upside down of unrequited becky albertalli book review
Balzer + Bray / Becky Albertalli

Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. If Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker, Reid. He’s a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him.

Right?

Thoughts: The cover immediately made me interested in this YA romance. There’s something about it, that, while simple, is appealing. Maybe it’s the arrows—for some reason I’m obsessed with them, which makes the chapter title pages even better because each chapter is headed with a number written inside of an arrow.

Besides my slightly strange appeal to the book’s cover, I’ve heard a lot of things about Albertailli’s latest book on Goodreads. Molly seems like an incredibly relatable character—I mean, who doesn’t know what it’s like to have at least one crush, right? Not to mention the fact that, as a nerd, I am incredibly interested in Reid. Is it weird that I already want Molly and Reid to get together?

Regardless, I am really looking forward to this book, and I am incredibly excited to have an ARC of it. The Upside of Unrequited is definitely the first on my list to get through this month. (You can read my review here!)

A List of Cages, Robin Roe

a list of cages robin roe book review
Disney-Hyperion / Twitter (@robinroewriter)

Synopsis: When Adam Blake lands the best elective ever in his senior year, serving as an aide to the school psychologist, he thinks he’s got it made. Sure, it means a lot of sitting around, which isn’t easy for a guy with ADHD, but he can’t complain, since he gets to spend the period texting all his friends. Then the doctor asks him to track down the troubled freshman who keeps dodging her, and Adam discovers that the boy is Julian—the foster brother he hasn’t seen in five years.

Adam is ecstatic to be reunited. At first, Julian seems like the boy he once knew. He’s still kindhearted. He still writes stories and loves picture books meant for little kids. But as they spend more time together, Adam realizes that Julian is keeping secrets, like where he hides during the middle of the day, and what’s really going on inside his house. Adam is determined to help him, but his involvement could cost both boys their lives…

Thoughts: As much as I hate to admit this, the cover is what made me initially want to read this book. Back in January, A List of Cages was all over Goodreads, and without knowing anything about it, I knew immediately that I was going to read it. As simple as it is, I absolutely love the design of the cover. It’s beautiful, yet incredibly powerful at the same time.

After looking around a bit, A List of Cages seems like it is going to be another great YA pick for the month. Based off of what I know right now, this book is going to be just as powerful as the cover is. My initial thought was that the cover was incredibly beautiful, yet expresses pain and loneliness, with just a hint of hope. When paired with the synopsis, I think I am getting myself into a novel that covers a lot of very deep issues.

The River at Night, Erica Ferencik

the river at night erica ferencik book review
Scout Press / Erica Ferencik (via Culture Fly)

Synopsis: Winifred Allen needs a vacation.

Stifled by a soul-crushing job, devastated by the death of her beloved brother, and lonely after the end of a fifteen-year marriage, Wini is feeling vulnerable. So when her three best friends insist on a high-octane getaway for their annual girls’ trip, she signs on, despite her misgivings.

What starts out as an invigorating hiking and rafting excursion in the remote Allagash Wilderness soon becomes an all-too-real nightmare: A freak accident leaves the women stranded, separating them from their raft and everything they need to survive. When night descends, a fire on the mountainside lures them to a ramshackle camp that appears to be their lifeline. But as Wini and her friends grasp the true intent of their supposed saviors, long-buried secrets emerge and lifelong allegiances are put to the test. To survive, Wini must reach beyond the world she knows to harness an inner strength she never knew she possessed.

With intimately observed characters, visceral prose, and pacing as ruthless as the river itself, The River at Night is a dark exploration of creatures—both friend and foe—that you won’t soon forget.

Thoughts: In an attempt to branch out and read something new, I signed up for a Goodreads giveaway for The River at Night back in January and won a copy! (A thing I’m getting better and better at, apparently.) I just received my copy about a week ago and a half ago, so I will be reading it this month to take a break from my usual genres.

I have been seeing a lot about this book on Twitter recently, which is part of the reason I am choosing to read it now, despite my rather full list of books that I am hoping to complete this month. As if a freak accident wasn’t troubling enough, the idea that it transforms into something even worse is appealing in an odd way. I already want to know what happens that might tear these women apart. If the pacing and suspense in this story is as interesting and fast paced as the synopsis claims it is, I will definitely be finishing this novel quickly. Good suspense and mystery are a guaranteed way to keep me reading, besides romance, of course, so I am really looking forward to The River at Night.

The Falconer, Elizabeth May

the falconer elizabeth may book review
Chronicle Books / Elizabeth May

Synopsis: One girl’s nightmare is this girl’s faery tale.

She’s a stunner.
Edinburgh, 1844. Eighteen-year-old Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, has everything a girl could dream of: brains, charm, wealth, a title—and drop-dead beauty.

She’s a liar.
But Aileana only looks the part of an aristocratic young lady. she’s leading a double life: She has a rare ability to sense the sìthíchean—the faery race obsessed with slaughtering humans—and, with the aid of a mysterious mentor, has spent the year since her mother died learning how to kill them.

She’s a murderer.
Now Aileana is dedicated to slaying the fae before they take innocent lives. With her knack for inventing ingenious tools and weapons—from flying machines to detonators to lightning pistols—ruthless Aileana has one goal: Destroy the faery who destroyed her mother.

She’s a Falconer.
The last in a line of female warriors born with a gift for hunting and killing the fae, Aileana is the sole hope of preventing a powerful faery population from massacring all of humanity. Suddenly, her quest is a lot more complicated. She still longs to avenge her mother’s murder—but she’ll have to save the world first.

The first volume of a trilogy from an exciting new voice in young adult fantasy, this electrifying thriller combines romance and action, steampunk technology and Scottish lore in a deliciously addictive read.

Thoughts: The Falconer is Vaginal Fantasy’s main pick for April, and after reading the synopsis, I can’t explain how excited I am to read this book.

Not only is Aileana’s name pretty awesome, but we are immediately introduced to so many different and unique aspects of her character. She’s a warrior and an inventor? She had me at inventor, honestly. Reading the synopsis, I was immediately reminded of Leonardo da Vinci, who is one of my favorite historical figures.

If that wasn’t enough, The Falconer is the first book in a trilogy that incorporates elements of historical fiction, fantasy, and romance? Where does the romance come in!? I can’t wait to get my hands on this book.

Here’s to hoping that this YA pick from the book club is better than the forum picked, Invisible Library, from earlier this year, which left me feeling a little disappointed.

Written in Red, Anne Bishop

written in red anne bishop book review
Roc / Anne Bishop

Synopsis: As a cassandra sangue, or blood prophet, Meg Corbyn can see the future when her skin is cut—a gift that feels more like a curse. Meg’s Controller keeps her enslaved so he can have full access to her visions. But when she escapes, the only safe place Meg can hide is at the Lakeside Courtyard—a business district operated by the Others.

Shape-shifter Simon Wolfgard is reluctant to hire the stranger who inquires about the Human Liaison job. First, he senses she’s keeping a secret, and second, she doesn’t smell like human prey. Yet a stronger instinct propels him to give Meg the job. And when he learns the truth about Meg and that she’s wanted by the government, he’ll have to decide if she’s worth the fight between humans and the Others that will surely follow.

Thoughts: One of the wonderful things about Vaginal Fantasy is that I have been introduced to so many different books that I would never have picked up before. Although fantasy is my favorite genre to read, I am pretty particular about what types of fantasy novels I read. Now that the book club is back to picking two books every month (one main pick chosen by the moderators, and another chosen by forum poll), I will be exploring a lot of new books in the genre, and I couldn’t be more excited.

To be honest, Written in Red is not something that I would have picked on my own. I love fantasy, but there’s a point where I would rather not be introduced to a world where a lot of different otherworldly creatures exist. Humans, shape-shifters, and others? It seems like a little much to me. Sometimes, the presence of a bunch of different fantasy creatures just feels like a cop-out (to me, anyway).

Regardless, Meg’s character seems interesting. I haven’t seen anything like a blood prophet before in fantasy, so I am interested in how the events of the novel will unfold.

1Q84, Haruki Murakami

1q84 haruki murakami book review
Vintage / Haruki Murakami

Synopsis:  The year is 1984 and the city is Tokyo.

A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver’s enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her. She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 —“Q is for ‘question mark.’ A world that bears a question.” Meanwhile, an aspiring writer named Tengo takes on a suspect ghostwriting project. He becomes so wrapped up with the work and its unusual author that, soon, his previously placid life begins to come unraveled.

As Aomame’s and Tengo’s narratives converge over the course of this single year, we learn of the profound and tangled connections that bind them ever closer: a beautiful, dyslexic teenage girl with a unique vision; a mysterious religious cult that instigated a shoot-out with the metropolitan police; a reclusive, wealthy dowager who runs a shelter for abused women; a hideously ugly private investigator; a mild-mannered yet ruthlessly efficient bodyguard; and a peculiarly insistent television-fee collector.

Thoughts: If you’ve been following any of my TBR’s over the past two months, you’ll know that I am working on reading all of Haruki Murakami’s works that I haven’t already read. In addition to what I have read in the past since I have started, I have read Kafka on the Shore, which was immediately followed by Sputnik Sweetheart.

I have wanted to read 1Q84 for a very long time. Often referred to as Murakami’s best work, I decided to read it sooner rather than later, despite its massive size. Despite the obvious resemblance to George Orwell’s 1984 in the title, 1Q84 (九、pronounced kyuu, is one of the ways in which Japan pronounces the number nine, and sounds exactly like the English ‘Q’), I am curious to know why Aomame refers to the world as 1Q84. Not to mention the fact that uncovering the many mysteries and themes present Murakami’s work is something that I enjoy immensely.

Furthermore, I went ahead and purchased the three volume set of 1Q84, as it is something that I have always wanted. It’s beautiful, and it will eventually make it easier for me to work on reading the original in Japanese, something that I plan on doing sometime later this year.

While I’m unsure of whether or not I will actually finish during the course of the month of April, I will definitely be starting the much-anticipated novel, which will be my final pick of the month.  


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Melissa Ratcliff
Reader, Writer & Translator. Cats, books and video games are my life.