September Wrap-up & Reviews

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I am horribly behind on my bookish blog posts, but I had very busy two months.

Here is my TBR list for September. I am really proud of myself – I managed to read quite a few books (almost all of my TBR list) even though I was watching movies at TIFF almost every day.

I loved most of the books I read in September. I planned to write review for every single one of them, but I think I will just post them all in this blog post. All of my reviews can be found on my GoodReads page too.

  • Sharon Cameron “Rook”
  • Nina LaCour “Everything Leads To You”
  • Melissa Landers “Alienated”
  • Libba Bray “Beauty Queens”
  • Courtney C. Stevens “Faking Normal”
  • Becky Albertalli “Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda”
  • Patrick Ness “More Than This”
  • Jay Cantor, James Romberger “Aaron and Ahmed” (graphic novel)

REVIEWS:

“Rook” by Sharon Cameron

Personal rating: 4.5 stars

I started reading “Rook” in August for Perustopia Book Club and it took me by surprise, as I enjoyed it way more than I expected. It is a perfect blend of dystopian fantasy and adventure narratives (spies and intrigue). The romance in it was well written and not too obnoxious and I must say I really liked the main character, Sophia. She is smart and adventurous and I loved it. She also has a pet fox called St. Vincent!

The world is well built and quite unique.

Some moments were a bit predictable but I thoroughly enjoyed it and the ending was just perfect. I really would love to read more books like that. I am both relieved and upset that this is a stand alone novel. One one hand, I would love to read more stories about this world, but on the other hand – it is perfect as it is.

“Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda” by Becky Albertalli

Personal rating: 5 stars

Ok, but where has this book been before??? It is perfect and I would have been thrilled to have it in my life as a teen!

The plot revolves over the email conversation between Simon and Blue, his incognito friend whom he befriended via Tumblr and developed a strong connection to. (Sound familiar, eh?) They don’t know each others identities but they go to the same school. Simon is being blackmailed by another classmate who wants to date a girl, who is Simon’s friend. In spite of serious topics of coming out, discovering oneself, first love, social media, privacy (something which becomes more and more important in modern age) it is a very lighthearted novel, which gave me a warm feeling when I finished reading it.

The plot reminded me of a book by German writer Daniel Glattauer called “Gegen Nordwind”. It has a similar plot twist, in which a man and a woman start emailing each other by a pure accident and fall in love. The whole novel is constructed of emails and it is an adult fiction.

“Simon” is a sweet YA book, which is a very easy read – I read it like in less than two days – and would definitely appeal to many teens (and adults). The ending was just perfect, and even though I sort of guessed Blue’s identity before Simon, I thought that their first meeting was perfectly executed.

Definitely worth reading.

“Beauty Queens” by Libba Bray

Personal rating: 3.5 stars

(I was about to give it even less stars, to be honest.)

My first reaction after reading the first two pages was “what the hell is going on there?!”. I was very confused, the book seemed to be a joke. I couldn’t understand why so many booktubers were raving about it.

I took a breath and went back to reading it.

Listening to reviews of this book I didn’t expect it to be what it is, a humorous, even satirical YA novel. Nobody said, oh by the way, it won’t make any sense because it is not supposed to make any sense. Every was just raving about how cool it is, and how great it is about diversity and representation. Well, yes, it is all that. But the genre and the plot irritated me.

I am not a fan of funny books. I mean, there is serious fiction and there is humorous fantasy, but even that is not my thing unless we are talking about the likes of Terry Pratchett, and there are those cute girly novels about shopaholics and cute girly problems that have cute covers with lots of pink on it. I shudder at the thought of reading one even as I type it.

Thank goodness, “Beauty Queens” is not a funny and cute  book, even though it is about beauty queens/pageant contestants. Once I wrapped my head over what this book was NOT, I realized that it had lots of witty referrals to pop culture and stereotypes.  Those were funny.

But for the most part it was rather tedious to read – I barely paid attention to what was happening. I didn’t like the plot which for all its twist reminded me of a gender bender “Lord of the flies” novel mixed with a generic Family Guy episode. I kept reading the book because I had nothing better to do while queueing to see some movies and I liked the diversity of the characters and I wanted to know who would survive at the end (spoiler alert: not all deaths turned out to be real deaths, but rather cartoonish ones).

Lots of people seem to like Libba Bray books. Perhaps, I picked the wrong book to get introduced to her writing. I understand that this book has its own merit, but it is just not my thing.

p.s. This book will stay in my memory as I spent hours in rain, shielding myself with an umbrella and freezing, queueing to see movies. It was the only entertainment that saved me from hours of utter boredom.

“Everything Leads To You” by Nina LaCour

Personal rating: 4 stars

It is a lovely book. It was a rather easy to read, although at times it was not as engaging as I hoped it would be. A very sweet story which fit perfectly into the atmosphere of the film festival that I was attending while reading it. I loved all the bits about the film production.

It is that type of the book that you would want to read on a deck with a cup of coffee on a lazy Sunday morning. Well written and very sweet. Wish there were more books like this.

Can’t give it 5 stars just because it was not as fast paced as I would have preferred it to be.

p.s. I love the cover but I still don’t understand who is portrayed on it? Because Emi is not white and Ava is a redhead, and the girl on the cover is white and blond. Even though the cover is very dreamy and I like the typography, I am still a bit confused.

“Alienated” by Melissa Landers

Personal rating: 4.5 stars

I didn’t expect to enjoy this book as much as I did! In a way, it is a cliched YA romance story, but on the other hand it has an interesting plot idea and it is a sci-fi novel. It has some elements that usually make me roll my eyes, but in this book it sort of works. Perhaps, because Melissa’s tone of narration is rather light and there is no unnecessary drama (for the sake of drama).

An alien exchange student arrives to live with Cara, and everyone seems to be quite taken with the guy, but she is not. Until she gets to know him better and falls in love with him. Only that her new friend didn’t want to be on Earth in the first place and is trying to sabotage the whole operation, and while trying to do so discovers something shocking.

The book has a couple of cheesy moments (sometimes Cara’s parents act like teenagers themselves), but otherwise it has a solid plot and an interesting premise. I am quite looking forward to reading the sequel, Invaded, this month. It was a fun read!

“More Than This” by Patrick Ness 

Personal rating: 5 stars

(I would give it 10 if I could!)

This is the second book by Patrick Ness that I read and absolutely loved! It has everything that I love in it: a bizarre plot, angst, heartbreak, hope, and coming of age.

Seth drowns and dies. But only then he wakes up, naked, by an empty house that looks just like the one from his childhood in UK, in a city that has no people in it. The whole book is intercepted by his memories of his life before up to the moment of his death.

I must say that some of the moments in the book (the ones that led to his death) made me tear up a bit.

It is a wonderful novel. It is creepy at times and heartwarming at others. It has a bizarre, Matrix kinda style twists. I couldn’t put it down. I want this book. I want to own this book.

I also want to know what happened after. Because that ending, Mr. Ness, was cruel!

There is nothing else I can say about this book except for – read it now!

“Faking Normal” by Courtney C. Stevens

Personal rating: 4 stars

It is a very well written book on a very difficult topic – abuse, its consequences and perceptions related to it, as well as mental health.  The book addresses several very important points, and I think the author did a great job writing about it in two clear teenaged voices affected by abuse.

I can’t say I loved the book, as I can’t love anything related to the topic of abuse (and other horrors), but it was very well written and I really enjoyed reading it. And if it ever has a sequel (although the story is completed), I will read it gladly.

The main twist of the otherwise uneventful narrative was who of the guys mentioned in the books is the culprit. Let me tell you: I didn’t see it coming. But the way it was resolved at the end and the way the main character, Alexi, was dealing with the consequences of the event that had changed her life was written very well.

It is not an easy and fun book to read, but it is something that I would love more people to read because of its message.

Well done, Courtney. I hope to read more books by you in the future.

“Aaron and Ahmed” (graphic novel) by Jay Cantor, James Romberger 

Personal rating: 3 stars.

I posted my review on GoodReads before I wrote this post. Can’t say I enjoyed this novel. I can’t even say why I gave it 3 stars at all.

[EDIT]: I forgot that I read one more book in September! It was an ARC for “Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things” book by Martina McAtee. I read it on Kindle and it completely slipped my mind. You can read the review on GoodReads. I must say, the cover is so gorgeous!

I read total of 8 books and 1 graphic novel in September. A good reading month!