Oh hi! Remember me? I used to blog 2-3 times a week. I don’t know what happened… August may not have been my best month when it comes to blogging, but it was a pretty great reading month. I read 14 books, just like I did in July, and I really enjoyed most of them.
The Book of M by Peng Shepherd: The Book of M is one of the strangest, most enchanting books I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. It’s set in a dystopian world, where people lose their shadows and once their shadows are lost – they start to forget. That’s where things get even curiouser. Cause when a shadowless person forgets, the world forgets with them. Creating a strange, terrifying, yet achingly beautiful, almost dreamlike world world where deer may sprout wings instead of antlers and a wolf might warn a person not to ask a sparrow for directions (they always lie). If the premise alone doesn’t make you want to pick it up, it’s also got a diverse cast of complex, compelling characters, interesting relationship dynamics and a fascinating plot that never stops surprising you. This might be my favorite book of 2018, so far.
A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland: If someone had told me how completely ridiculous this book is, I would’ve read it months ago. It follows a girl called Esther, who’s family may or may not have been cursed by death. Each family member will develop one great fear and that fear will be their demise. Esther’s hoping to escape this fate by avoiding everything that scares her, but all that changes when she meets Jonah Smallwood. After pick pocketing her on a bus-stop and stealing her list of worst nightmares, he talks her into facing her fears, one by one – starting with lobsters. It’s pretty much a Wes Anderson movie in YA book format: dark, hilarious, quirky, profound and very aesthetic. TW: anxiety, depression, suicide, physical abuse
The Queen of Ieflaria by Effie Calvin: Sometimes I think I have unreasonably high expectations when it comes to novellas, than I read one like The Queens of Ieflaria and remember why my expectations are that high. It’s cause novellas can be every bit as satisfying as novels, if they’re complex enough. For me, it’s all in the details and this fantasy f/f romance gets it right. There’s an expansive world with different countries, cultures and traditions. There’s history and religion and political intrigue. There’s real character growth and a romance that builds realistically over time as the character interact and get to know each other. I’m amazed that Effie Calvin did all that in less than 200 pages.
Favorite quote: “Yes, she was too much. She felt like too much inside all the time. So why wasn’t she ever enough?”
The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo: This was the perfect light and fun contemporary to read on a lazy summer day. It’s about a Girl, Clara, who gets into trouble after one of her many pranks goes too far. As punishment her dad is making her work in his food truck all summer, with her nemesis Rose. I absolutely loved the focus on friendship and family in this book. We don’t get to see enough friendships from the beginning stages in novels and I think that’s a shame because building a friendship is as beautiful and messy and important as falling in love. And just as fun to read about!
The Diviners by Libba Bray: This is one of those books that everyone loves and I’ve been hearing nothing but wonderful things about it for more than five years now. But is that why I read it? Nope. Someone told me hte protagonist’s a Slytherin girl. That’s how you catch my attention, guys. But on to the book. It’s a paranormal mystery set in 1920’s New York and follows a cast of characters who all have a talent or ability outside of the ordinary. And I’m not just talking about their superior sass, which makes every single character interaction a joy to read. From the 20’s slang to the speakeasy’s, flapper fashion and bobbed hair Libba Bray really brings the era alive in the most immersive way, making it so much more than just a glitzy backdrop for a gruesome murder investigation.
The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed: This is a YA contemporary about a group of girls who decide to fight the patriarchy, and particularity rape-culture at their high school. It has a truly diverse cast of wonderful female characters, the main three being Rosina, a lesbian Mexican teen, Grace, a Christian teen who’s new in town and Erin, a teen with Asperger’s. For a contemporary – this is an usually atmospheric read, you really feel like you’re a part of the movement, as you cheer the girls on. And though it deals with some heavy topics and their’s a lot of misogyny on page, I never felt drained while reading it – just empowered and ready to destroy the patriarchy.
Love, Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed: This is a YA contemporary about a Muslim Indian American girl who’s torn between following her dream of studying film at NYU and pleasing her conservative parents, as well as an exploration of how Islamophobia affects one family in the wake of a terrorist attack. But really, it’s mostly about the romance. So it’s a good thing the romance is so cute. Maya and Phil both have dreams that the other people in their life don’t necessarily understand or support, which is why it’s so nice to see them connect over it and encourage each other to to follow their hearts, despite knowing their dreams will take them down very different paths. I found their love story’s beautiful.
Favorite character: Thetha Knight. I mean Evie’s the bee’s knees, but when Theta strolled into the lobby wearing men’s pajamas I high key fell in love.
Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson: I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about this, it’s compelling in a strange way, but ultimately not as satisfying as I’ve come to expect from Jodi Lynn Anderson. It tells the story of three teenage girl: Adri, who’s staying with her 107 year old cousin, Lily, preparing for her journey to Mars as a colonist; Catherine, who’s looking for a way to save her little sister during the Dust Bowl and Lenore, who lost her brother in the Great War and meets a boy who was disfigured by it. These three girls are all connected in ephemeral ways, but what truly unites the three stories is that they’re all exploration of the ties that bind us together and the choice all three girls must face, staying where they are or going into the great unknown.
The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James: I bought this during my “YA romance set in space” phase, which didn’t last very long, and I was starting to think it might be time to unhaul it. But I’m very glad I didn’t, cause this book wasn’t the one I was expecting. It’s so much more intense, fast paced and action packed than I ever imagined a story about a girl alone on a space ship could ever be. I won’t go into the plot, cause it’s more fun the less you know. But if you’re in the mood for a twisty space adventure, check this one out!
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones: An American Marriage is a emotional and extremely character driven story about a young black couple and the unjust system that tears them apart after only one year as husband and wife. It’s told from the POV of three characters and I only really connected with one of them, Roy, the convicted husband. I’m in awe of Tayari Jones’s beautiful prose and ability to craft characters, but this won’t be a new favorite of mine.
Charlotte by David Foenkinos: Charlotte is a bleak and tragic, but powerful portrait of a young Jewish artist who was killed in Auschwitz. Reading her story was very harrowing, as all accounts of the Holocaust are. Unfortunately I wasn’t a fan of the writing style. It’s written in verse, so I was expecting it to be quite lyrical, and was disappointed by the sparseness of it.
Favorite ship: Theta & Memphis! You gotta love a couple whose meet-cute involves reading poetry at a speakeasy, running from the cops through secret passageways and being offended someone shot a hole through your library book.
Sea Witch by Sarah Henning: The Sea Witch is pretty much your typical YA fantasy about pretty dresses, petty nobles and pouty princes, just with more herring. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I was just expecting something a little more dark and twisted and ugly, it is Ursula’s origin story after all. And to be fair it’s not all fluff, there’s jealousy, vengeance, betrayal and dark magic. But I wanted more of that and less mooning over princes while petty nobles sneer cause your dress isn’t as pretty as theirs. The ending might be miles from fluffy, but the journey was pretty slow and uneventful.
Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller: I picked this up cause I was really missing Black Sails and wanted some epic pirate adventures, unfortunately this book didn’t give me that at all. The MC is full of fire, which I love, but she’s not nearly as smart as she thinks she is and half her choices make no sense. The romance between her and her designated kidnapper/pirate baby sitter was pretty sexy and fun, but the romance shouldn’t be the best part of a pirate novel (!!!!). The pirating should be. Someone please recommend me a book about pirates who like pillage and plunder some shit please.
The Blue Fox by Sjón: This is a strange, almost fable-like little book about a priest, a fox, a student and girl with Down syndrome set in Iceland. I usually adore Icelandic literature, some of my faves include a book about a man looking for sheep while drowning in snow, a postman trying to do his job while drowning in snow and a boy who’s just trying to return a book while drowning in snow. But for some reason a priest trying to shoot a fox while drowning in snow didn’t do it for me. To be honest it kind of lost me when the priest started debating electricity with a dead animal…