So, I kind of have a thing for books. If I could, I would read all day every day (and when I was unemployed, that’s pretty much what I did). My absolute favorite thing is getting book recommendations from other people – whether friends, bloggers, or even in the “Best Books of This Year” round-ups that newspapers publish annually. Because of that, I decided to do a monthly round-up feature of my books: what I read, why I read it, and what I thought. Enjoy!
Looking for full reviews? Leave me a comment or check out my GoodReads profile.
This was a slightly lighter month for me – I had a lot of life things going on (hey lookie at me, I have friends and a social life!), and I also did a lot of re-reading of favorite books in preparation for their sequels coming out (namely the Divergent series). Don’t hate.
For the TL;DR crowd…
If you liked If I Stay/Where She Went (WHY HAVEN’T YOU READ THEM THEY ARE WONDERFUL)… read Just One Day/Just One Year. Okay, if you like great books that are sad and happy and funny and romantic, read all four of those. I’ll wait.
If you like quirky, light, heartwarming books, read pretty much anything by Rainbow Rowell (this month I read her Fangirl and Attachments, both of which I adored)
If you haven’t already heard of Divergent… oh go on then and read it, everyone else is. If you have and you want a similar book… read The Darkest Minds + Never Fade
And here we go!
WHAT I READ: Untold (Lynburn Legacy #2), by Sarah Rees Brennan (YA fantasy/paranormal)
WHY I READ IT: The next book in the Lynburn Legacy series! I read the first one this summer and immediately put the second on a to-read list.
WHAT I THOUGHT (in three lines or less): The things I love remain the same: Kami’s way of speaking (she’s just SO CLEVER), the relationships between the characters (obviously a YA is not a YA without some rooommaaance) and of course magic. I knocked off a star because the plot felt just a teeeensey bit thin (looking back on it, not that much actually happened), and try as she might, a magic fight between sorcerers cannot ever compare to JK Rowling’s scenes. Still highly recommended!
WHAT I READ: The Night Rainbow, by Claire King (contemporary adult fiction)
WHY I READ IT: If I remember correctly, one of my favorite authors Tweeted that she loved this book, and it was also included on a list of “best books narrated by children” or something of that nature.
WHAT I THOUGHT: Lovely little story about the relationships between people – people old and young, relationships fresh and stale – and the power of imagination. I found it a little slow at times and really not a lot happens, but the power of this book is in its narrator Pea (a 5 year old girl who speaks in quite adult and humorous ways) and the “slow burn” as you learn to know her better and learn her situation better.
WHAT I READ: The Starboard Sea, by Amber Dermont (contemporary adult fiction)
WHY I READ IT: Whilst perusing at one of my favorite local bookstores, I noticed this was in the “highly recommended by staff” table and jotted down the title
WHAT I THOUGHT: I’m going to be real – this was a DNF, but only baaarely (I got hit with a sudden urge to read another book when I had about 50 pages left of this one and decided to ride it out). Overall, a pretty sad book that explores teenage cruelty and the pains of growing up, and how that impacts people in different ways. I would be interested in reading more things by this author, but maybe not reading this one again, although I did enjoy my time in it
WHAT I (re)READ: Just One Day, by Gayle Forman (YA/NA [“New Adult,” that nebulous space between “young” and “adult”] Fiction)
WHY I READ IT: I originally read this gem in the spring as I’m a fan of the author (If I Stay and Where She Went – PLEASE read them, they are gorgeous). The companion novel, Just One Year, came out on October 10 and in the middle of a yoga class I decided I wanted nothing more than to reread this book (or I should say rereread it because I’ve read it several times already…)
WHAT I THOUGHT: I could tell I loved this book based on the act that I tore through it in about four hours and, when it ended of a cliffhanger and a promise that the story continues in another character’s POV in a yet-to-be-released book, I slammed in shut in anger… and then immediately reread it. Forman is just a magnificent author and capturer of the young adult experience. One reason I love this book is that it so neatly covered the different phases of young adulthood that I myself am going through or have gone through: self-discovery through travel, friendships, the transition from high school to college and beyond, and more. I wanted to BE Allyson, to be there with her, seeing her in her growth.
WHAT I READ: Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell (NA Fiction)
WHY I READ IT: About fifteen million book bloggers recommended it.
WHAT I THOUGHT: What a wonderful book that perfectly captured the awkward, sad, uncomfortable, wonderful parts of the freshmen year experience. I saw so much of Cath in myself and loved to see her growth throughout this book. The only thing I didn’t like is that everything wasn’t perfectly wrapped up with a bow at the end – I wanted more resolution, damnit! So 4.8 stars out of 5 for that. Still a quick, delightful read that made me love the characters.
WHAT I READ: Just One Year, by Gayle Forman (NA Fiction)
WHY I READ IT: Follow-up to Just One Day, of course!
WHAT I THOUGHT: For as much as I loved about this, I didn’t love it AS intensely as Just One Day. I think that’s partly because I naturally identify with female leads, especially when those female leads are on a journey of self-discovery through travel, friendship, and their own growing bravery.But it was also set simultaneously to Just One Day – so both start with Willem and Allyson meeting in Paris, and then JUST ONE DAY goes over Allyson’s events for the next year and JUST ONE YEAR goes over Willem’s events. It isn’t until the VERY LAST PAGE that they are together again and you really never see what happens to them as a couple – just to Willem as an individual. I selfishly wanted it to be more romantic and full of details about their relationship than it was, I guess. I still loved loved loved reading it and will continue to read both for years to come – I guess I will just have to create my own ideas for what happens to them next!
WHAT I (re)READ: Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth (YA/NA Dystopian/Sci-Fi/Fantasy Fiction)
WHY I READ IT: Over a year and a half ago a friend of mine recommended this up-and-coming book series to me, and boy was I glad she did. It’s now become the Hot New Thing – the movie comes out in March and has heavy-hitter stars like Shailene Woodley and Kate Winslet. As the third book came out in late October, I reread the first two in anticipation.
WHAT I THOUGHT: (briefly): [First two books] Just… incredible. The type of book where, after finishing it for the first time, I immediately turned back to the beginning to reread it. Veronica Roth has done a fantastic job of building her world and adding so much depth and texture to the characters. It’s nearly impossible to tell who are the “good guys” and the “bad guys” because everyone has flaws – even (especially!) Tris, the main character. I feel that the world established by Roth is so scarily close to what our world could be that everything she writes resonates intensely.
[Third book] Well… hmm. Not sure what to think about this one. I love love loved the series as a whole, and this book did not disappointed in the wrap-up (although I know a lot of people VEHEMENTLY disagree). Maybe I’ve just read a LOT more YA dystopian novels by this point so it’s not so novel. It’s also because this book had a lot of ‘splaining to do about the world and everything like that, so there wasn’t a lot of action – mainly just exposition. Either way, I’m disappointed I didn’t cry, but I just wasn’t feeling it, ya know? It gets a solid 3.5 stars, but I’m knocking it up to 4 in appreciation of the series and my excitement for the movies.
WHAT I READ: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell (Adult contemporary fiction)
WHY I READ IT: After Fangirl she’s definitely becoming a favorite author – I have more on her books on hold at the library!
WHAT I THOUGHT: Rainbow Rowell is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors with this and FANGIRL. Just an all-around quirky, lighthearted, heartwarming book. It wasn’t anything necessarily mind-blowing or ground-breaking, but was oh-so-enjoyable to read. Must read more of her books
WHAT I READ: Never Fade (Darkest Minds #2) by Alexandra Bracken (YA Dystopian/Sci Fi fiction)
WHY I READ IT: Follow-up to the wonderful, wonderful Darkest Minds
WHAT I THOUGHT: I REALLY liked The Darkest Minds, so I guess it was only inevitable that this would slip a tad. It suffered from middle-of-the-trilogy-itis: you don’t have the fun of exposing a new world like in Book One, but you also don’t have the dramatic, end-of-story showdown like in Book 3. So Never Fade felt a little draggy, a little too similar to the first book without adding new information, and there’s still SO much I want to know that wasn’t revealed. Still much better than a LOT of other YA out there, and I will absolutely read the third book.
WHAT I READ: The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (AKA J.K. Rowling) (Adult mystery/thriller)
WHY I READ IT: Um hi, this was QUITE the buzz in the literary community. Secret book by JK Rowling?! I was on the wait list at the library for four months!
WHAT I THOUGHT: I’ve never been one who is all WHY IS SHE NOT WRITING HARRY POTTER I HATE HER SHE IS THE WORST UNLESS IT IS HARRY. I actually love Casual Vacancy. That being said, I enjoyed this book, but thought it was a little one-dimensional. My favorite mystery/detective books (Tana French) have a strong “A” story of the mystery, but a solid “B” story of the main character’s life/love/etc. This had a great “A”, but the “B” story, while present, seemed more like a “N” or “S” story. It was just so minimal, and for an author famous for her characterization I would have liked to see more. Still a fantastic read!
Aaand that’s it for this month! In retrospect, this was a month REALLY heavy on the YA. My b. Too many follow-up books came out! I have a HUGE pile of library books I had on hold that came in, so I’ll be trying to knock those out in November… in between my week-long international travel, that is! 🙂