Mini Reviews #20: The Best of Summer

by - 12:25 PM

Hey, guys!

I've had a pretty good reading season this summer, and I'm still going - trying to cram as many books in as possible before the school year starts. However, there are still a select few reads that stood out as being the best of this summer.

What are they, you may ask?

As You Like It by William Shakespeare

Unjustly deposed by his younger brother, the rightful duke retreats to the Forest of Arden and forms a utopia with his loyal followers while his daughter remains at court as a companion to her cousin. When forbidden romance enters their lives, the girls assume disguises and flee to the forest, where they encounter a magical world of friendly outlaws and wise fools. Both a lighthearted comedy and a deeper exploration of social and literary issues, this play features a memorable cast of characters and some of Shakespeare's finest poetry. 

5/5 queens of the brethren court.

I haven't read Shakespeare for....nine months? And I hadn't remembered how much I was missing until I picked up As You Like It. Many people don't consider Shakespeare's comedies to be funny, but a close, careful reading warrants many chuckles and guffaws. That's the way it is with all Shakespeare, I believe. It may seen boring or confusing, but being willing to spend some mental energy untangling the sentence structure and word choice gives the reader a rewarding, pleasant read.

In terms of the plot, AYLI was fun and unexpected! And in terms of the characters, I loved a lot of them. Rosalind is a truly badass, strong, smart heroine who's not made fun of or demeaned like nearly all women of that time's literature. She's definitely my new favorite Shakespearian heroine (sorry, Ophelia). Celia and Oliver are delightful, and Jaques is marvelously funny. Orlando is a little Extra, ngl, but aren't we all, in our ways?

Overall, AYLI is an awesome addition to Shakespeare's roster! For any lovers of his comedies, this is a must.

Legion of the Dead by Paul Stewart, Chris Riddell (Illustrator)

Barnaby Grimes is a tick-tock lad, delivering messages and running errands all over the city, day and night. Gangland funerals and diving expeditions are hazardous enough, but when the graveyards begin to give up their dead, this tick-tock lad is faced with his deadliest challenge yet. . . .

A blood-curdling tale of greed and betrayal. Will Barnaby be defeated by the Legion of the Dead?

5/5 frizzy-haired Hermiones.

If you know me, you know middle-grade (8-12) is my favorite age range to read. And Legion of the Dead - one of the best books in an incredible series - perfectly exemplifies why.

Barnaby Grimes, our clever protagonist, narrates the story with dry, quick wit and a worldliness far past his age. He takes us on a thrilling, engaging journey through the supernatural underbelly of London in a tale of dark revenge, greed, faraway lands, fantastical creatures, and the frailty of human life. I was permanently glued to the pages, and my heart raced and stopped all throughout the story. The twists and turns kept me constantly guessing!

If you're a fan of Jonathan Stroud, Legion of the Dead is an absolute must-read.

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Her story is a phenomenon. Her life is a disaster.

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, she’s LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves the online one, and she has no desire to try.

Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and as he draws her out of her shell, she begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile.

But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.

5/5 best friends.
Well, it's official: Eliza and Her Monsters has cemented Francesca Zappia's place as my one and only auto-buy author.

I adored Made You Up, but I was pretty skeptical about Eliza. The plot didn't interest me at all, but I decided to pick it up because of how blown away I was by Zappia's writing skills when I read MYU.


I don't think I can say much about this book that hasn't already been said, so I'll limit it to this: I read this entire, nearly 400-page thing in one sitting. Zappia is an extremely talented writer, and Eliza and Her Monsters sucked me in immediately and didn't let go. Eliza proved to be a relatable and fascinating heroine, and her relationship with Wallace + Wallace himself were amazing. I loved that the age difference in Eliza's online friendships wasn't made a big deal of, and her little brothers ended up being the sweetest pair of siblings I've read in a while. The multimedia aspect of how the story was told - kind of like a toned-down version of Illuminae - was a fun surprise!

If you like contemporaries, books about fandom, mental illness rep, books about art, YA, or - well - almost anything, Eliza and Her Monsters is for you.


Let's chat! Have you read any of these books? What were your favorite reads this summer? What's your favorite age range to read? Comment below, and have an awesome day. <3



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  1. I read Eliza and Her Monsters and simply just ADORED the plot. I read it all in one sitting, too! I still need to get ahold of Made You Up, but I'll be doing that after heading to the library tomorrow.

    xoxo Abigail Lennah | ups & downs

    P.S. I also received your email; just wanted to let you know the photo works! Sorry for not getting back to you right away on that. >.<

    1. I hope you like it! It was one of the best books I read all 2016 :)

      No problem! Thanks for letting me know.

      - Ellie

  2. You are so right when you say that investing a bit of time and mental energy to unwind and understand Shakespeare is a rewarding endeavor. And really not even that difficult these days, considering you've got modern translations, summaries, movies, and all those types of things (SparkNotes made reading Hamlet a wonderful experience). I actually really enjoyed reading Hamlet last year in school. Plus my teacher gave us all links to the David Tennant movie version to watch alongside, so that was marvelous.

    Tagged you for the Early Writings Tag, by the way!

    1. I agree! Ooh, I'll be reading Hamlet next year, so I'll keep that in mind. That sounds fabulous!

      - Ellie

  3. As You Like It has to be one of my favorite Shakespeare plays! I wrote my final essay on it when I took a Shakespeare class back in uni, and I still enjoy going to see it live. I haven't read Eliza and Her Monsters yet, but it's on my list. :)

    1. Ohhh, a Shakespeare class sounds so fun!! I hope you enjoy :)

      - Ellie

  4. I NEED to read Eliza and her Monsters oh my gosh it sounds so good. I hope they have it at the library when I go back to school! Excellent reviews- I'm reading The Great Gatsby now because classics and also the language oh man it's so excellent. One of my favorite reads of the summer was Hush by Eishes Chayil. SO GOOD.


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