March: Books I’ve Read Recently

"Books I've Read Recently" is a series where I, Penelope Gomez, will do a monthly wrap up of the books I've read throughout the past month. In this series I will give a brief synopsis of the story and then give the book a rating out of 5 stars. 5 stars being the best and 1 star being the worst!

I will then give a brief description of why I chose to rate a book a certain way.

So without further delay lets get into the "Books I've Read Recently," and as always leave a comment down below and tell me which of these books you've also read, or plan on reading next.

Books I've Read Recently

Turtle Under Ice, book cover

Turtle Under Ice by Juleah Del Rosario

Rowena feels like her family is a frayed string of lights that someone needs to fix with electrical tape. After her mother died a few years ago, she and her sister, Ariana, drifted into their own corners of the world, each figuring out in their own separate ways how to exist in a world in which their mother is no longer alive.

But then Ariana disappears under the cover of night in the middle of a snowstorm, leaving no trace or tracks. When Row wakes up to a world of snow and her sister’s empty bedroom, she is left to piece together the mystery behind where Ariana went and why, realizing along the way that she might be part of the reason Ariana is gone.

Haunting and evocative—and told in dual perspectives—Turtle Under Ice examines two sisters frozen by grief as they search for a way to unthaw.

My Rating: 4 Out Of 5 Stars

I am really on the fence about how I should rate this novel. I really wanted to give this story a 5-star rating, but the beginning of this novel starts out rather slow. That is the only reason I'm giving this novel 4 stars... I feel like I'm going to regret this decision later, but it’s a 4 star for me. In this short verse novel we follow two sisters who are grieving the loss of their mother. Their mother passed away from cancer over a year ago and they are still grieving. Each in their own unique way. Row has completely thrown herself into soccer, and her studies and is basically doing everything possible to ignore the fact that their mother is dead. Ariana on the other hand is completely depressed, her grades are slipping, she stopped talking to her friends and has completely removed herself from normal life activities. This book is told in short verses from both sisters’ perspectives. It was an incredibly quick read, that I enjoyed. This was not a happy read by any means but it ends in such a hopeful and heartfelt way that I ended up really enjoying this novel. Also that cover is amazing! If the first half of this novel wasn't sooo depressing I would have given this 5 stars but I don't like leaving a book feeling sad!

Tithe, book cover

Tithe by Holly Black

Welcome to the realm of very scary faeries!

Sixteen-year-old Kaye is a modern nomad. Fierce and independent, she travels from city to city with her mother's rock band until an ominous attack forces Kaye back to her childhood home. There, amid the industrial, blue-collar New Jersey backdrop, Kaye soon finds herself an unwilling pawn in an ancient power struggle between two rival faerie kingdoms - a struggle that could very well mean her death.

My Rating: 5 Out of 5 Stars

I LOVED Holly Black's The Cruel Prince series, so I knew without a doubt that I was going to absolutely adore this series as well, and it did not let me down! This book series is also set in the "Fae Realm," so if you liked that series then you will most likely love this one as well. This book starts off so whimsically it transported me straight back to my childhood. Kaye is a teenager now, but she remembers when she was a child she would play with fairies in her back yard. Only whenever she would talk about her magical friends everyone just assumed, that Kaye had imaginary friends and would eventually grow out it. Kaye's not sure if she grew out of it, or if it is just because she moved to New York. Obviously fairies would never want to live in New York. Then one day she gets the opportunity to move back to her childhood home and has a chance to find out if it all really was imaginary. It's not really a spoiler if I say that obviously it was real or this book series wouldn't have been any good... I'm not going to say how but Kaye does end up stumbling back into the Fae Realm in the most unexpected way. I really loved this novel because much like Kaye I used to sit in my backyard as a child and imagine fairies as well, so I really loved that, that was the premises for this book, because I think that's a really common imaginary world that so many kids have in common. So it was really interesting to see Kaye go back to that world as an almost adult and discovering that it was all real. It was just such a fun read. I will say that it's not all fun and games the way that Kaye remembers it though, it's actually a rather dangerous world Kaye discovers as an adult, so it gets really interesting as the book goes on. I can't wait to pick up the next book in the series. This novel also has a really good romance involved as well.

Carry On, book cover

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Simon Snow is the worst chosen one who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here—it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

My Rating: 5 Out of 5 Stars

I hate, hate, hate to say this, but this book was basically a Harry Potter knock off... When I first started reading this book, I could NOT, not see the similarities between the two books. Simon Snow (Harry Potter) received a letter when he was 11 saying he's magical and has been accepted to Watford a magical school for wizards. Simon is also an orphan. When he gets to Watford he immediately makes an enemy of a spoiled rich kid named Baz (aka Draco Malfoy). His best friend is a girl named Penelope (aka Herminie Granger) who is incredibly smart and likes to study A LOT. There is a Mage (aka Dumbledore) who is head wizard of Watford and takes a liking to Simon immediately, because Simon is the "chosen one," and there is a really bad wizard who tries to kill them every semester that they've been at Watford... (Voldemort)... It was just way too similar for me at the beginning of this novel. I had a really hard time looking past all those similarities and I really thought I was going to HATE this book with a passion, but once I got through the back story and got into the actual plot, it ended up being its own unique thing. I had to power through the beginning of the book, but it ended up just being completely its own thing and the characters are not soooo similar once they get developed throughout the novel, but it just needed to be said. Rainbow Rowell definitely took a lot of inspiration from Harry Potter. Never the less this ended up being a really fun and hilarious read. There was never a dull moment, I was thoroughly entertained the ENTIRE novel from start to finish. Simon and Baz just have such big, over the top personalities it was just a breeze to read. I can't wait to read the next novel in this series. This book left me with A LOT of unanswered questions so I need to read the next one ASAP!

The Good Girls, book cover

The Good Girls by Claire Eliza Bartlett

The troublemaker. The overachiever. The cheer captain. The dead girl.

Like every high school in America, Jefferson-Lorne High contains all of the above.

After the shocking murder of senior Emma Baines, three of her classmates are at the top of the suspect list: Claude, the notorious partier; Avery, the head cheerleader; and Gwen, the would-be valedictorian.

Everyone has a label, whether they like it or not--and Emma was always known as a good girl. But appearances are never what they seem. And the truth behind what really happened to Emma may just be lying in plain sight. As long-buried secrets come to light, the clock is ticking to find Emma's killer--before another good girl goes down. 

My Rating: 3 Out of 5 Stars

I'll be honest, I really didn't understand this book... AT ALL. I don't think anybody got murdered?? I'm honestly so confused. I'm going to give this book 3 stars because I really liked the writing style. I want to say the set up for this novel was really, really good, but only about two-thirds of this novel made any sense. Towards the end when they begin to unravel this murder mystery and begin to explain what really happened and how all the characters are connected... I just got completely lost. Thinking back on this novel... I can't make heads or tails of what I read. I feel like I have to go back and reread this novel just to get a clear picture of what really happened. I'm not sure if it's because I listened to the audiobook and something important got lost in translation, but I liked this book enough to try to reread it again maybe like a year from now and see if it makes any more sense the second time around. I don't recommend the audiobook version of this novel at all for that reason. I think the pivotal plot points were just a little too complicated to grasp in an audiobook format. I could be wrong but something about this storyline just went completely over my head. I'm embarrassed that I didn't understand this book, someone read it and please explain it to me.

Bright Burning Stars, book cover

Bright Burning Stars by A. K. Small

Best friends Marine Duval and Kate Sanders have trained at the Paris Opera Ballet School since childhood, where they’ve formed an inseparable bond forged by respective family tragedies and a fierce love for dance. When the body of a student is found in the dorms just before the start of their final year, Marine and Kate begin to ask themselves what they would do to win the ultimate prize: to be the one girl selected to join the Opera’s prestigious corps de ballet. Would they die? Cheat? Seduce the most talented boy in the school, dubbed the Demigod, hoping his magic would make them shine, too? Neither girl is sure.

But then Kate gets closer to the Demigod, even as Marine has begun to capture his heart. And as selection day draws near, the competition—for the prize, for the Demigod—becomes fiercer, and Marine and Kate realize they have everything to lose, including each other.

My Rating: 5 Out of 5 Stars

This book was heartbreakingly beautiful. I don't know how else to describe it. When we think of the breathtaking world of ballet, unless we've personally danced we tend to think on the lighter side of ballet. We think of the beautiful costumes and the gracefully thin dancers. What we don't see is the amount of body breaking practice that goes into a single sequence of dance steps. Dancers will literally destroy their bodies in order to become the next prima ballerina. Some dancers will practice until their feet bleed. I was genuinely in awe as a read this novel because it delved into the dark side of dance. The constant weigh ins, the pressure to look a certain way and how common eating disorders can be among ballet dancers. I want to say this book should have TRIGGER WARNINGS specifically for ANOREXIA, DRUG ABUSE, SUICIDE and ABORTIONS. This book was a fairly complex read and it mainly centered around two girls at a ballet studio and their TOXIC tendencies towards themselves in their pursuit of ballet. This book was heartbreaking to read, but I think if you take anything away from this book, it's that self-love is important. These two girls are best friends and they want to protect each other from the dark side of ballet. The message I got from this book is if you wouldn't wish harm on your best friend why is it okay to accept harm for yourself? I walked away from this book feeling like I learned a valuable lesson on self-love, which is why I can only think to describe this book as heartbreaking, but beautiful. It's not the happiest of stories, but I genuinely loved it and I wish there was more.