I can’t believe how quickly this summer is going. Here’s what I read in July:
EVERYTHING LEADS TO YOU by Nina LaCour
I’m a big fan of Nina LaCour’s books, and her newest work is no exception. Emi works as a set designer in San Francisco. After discovering a letter from a deceased Hollywood icon at an estate sale, Emi sets out on a mission to locate the letter’s intended recipient, leading to an unexpected adventure.
The mystery elements of this novel (a girl’s quest for answers regarding strangers) reminded me vaguely of Golden (Jessi Kirby). LaCour’s writing is as fluid as ever, and the underlying themes of friendship, love, and family were woven beautifully into the story. My designer heart was also in love with all the set/prop references. Bonus points for a main character whose sexual orientation (Emi likes girls) is not the point of the novel, but simply an element of her character and one of many plot points in the book. I wasn’t expecting to, but I teared up by the end of this one. Fans of LaCour’s previous books should not miss ELTY.
RUIN AND RISING by Leigh Bardugo
I absolutely adored the final installment of Bardugo’s SHADOW AND BONE trilogy. RUIN AND RISING picks up right where book two leaves off: Alina and Co. are deep underground, recovering from the Darkling’s attack but well aware that they can’t stay there long. There’s a final amplifier to find and a war brewing on the horizon.
The mythology and legends woven into this book reminded me vaguely of Harry Potter, in the best way possible—dark family histories, mysteries, and twisty surprises abound. Nickolai, who quickly became my favorite character in book two, impresses again with his loyalty, charisma, and witty banter. The final showdown with the Darkling does not come without consequences, but Bardugo has crafted an incredibly satisfying (and un-putdownable) end to her trilogy.
TIGER LILY by Jodi Lynn Anderson
People have been telling me to read this reimagining of Peter Pan for ages. (In fact, Susan Dennard pushed it on me after beta-reading my novella, Stolen, because she said the stories had similar vibes and thought I’d enjoy it.) Well, folks, I’ve finally read TIGER LILY. And I didn’t just enjoy it, I loved it. This is easily among my all time favorites.
In some ways, it’s a departure from the original tale, and Pan purists might take issue with certain elements. Anderson’s Neverland is more brutal and savage and real. There is no flying or magic. The ‘Wendy Bird’ most of us know doesn’t appear until the final third of this book. And yet, the themes of Barrie’s original work exist here in stunning glory—first love, loss of innocence, time and the uncertain future—along with supporting and complex commentary on colonization and identity. Still, none of these themes hit the reader over the head. This is a beautifully tragic, bittersweet book that feels, much like its source material, timeless.
Narrated from Tinker Bell’s point-of-view, Anderson is able to provide a fresh take on Neverland, giving us glimpses of her very complex cast of characters. Tiger Lily is captivating yet flawed, Peter cocky and mischievous (though not as naive as Barrie’s Pan), Hook disenchanted and forlorn. Even secondary characters like the members of Tiger Lily’s tribe are nuanced and well-developed. I cannot say enough good things about this book. If you haven’t read it yet, change that as soon as possible.
Your turn! What did you read in July?