How on earth has it been SO long since I shared a What I’m Reading round up. Oh my! Luckily if you follow me on Instagram you get my weekly Reading Roll Call update and if you are subscribed to my newsletter you get a peek of what I’m reading when I write those up. But still it has been TOO long. So this might be a bit of a long post but here are the books I read this Fall that really stood out to me.
And as something different I’m including a book that I HATED. I normally don’t share negative reviews here (I save those for goodreads) but this book was SO BAD I want to warn people against it because I think it is a bunch of screwed up propaganda and I strongly believe the message in the book is really messed up. Click on the title or cover of each book to get to the amazon listing where you can read the official synopses of each book.
I loved this. Great characters. Original fun story. Love the side commentary and greater lessons and perspective on the “less desirables” of society. Willowdean Dixon is a self-proclaimed fat girl. She says it as a fact not a judgement. She has always been comfortable with herself as is. Her mom is a former beauty queen who runs the yearly pageant. When Willowdean finds herself falling for cute Bo she finds herself self conscious of her body for the first time. She’s struggling with all that while also leading a band of misfits who have signed up for the pageant because heck if Willowdean can they can too. This is such it’s own unique story and with lots of twists and turns but also so many great messages about growing up and accepting yourself and not being afraid to want more for yourself. I found myself smiling so much while reading this. Just read it! Also make sure to listen to the audiobook it’s fantastic.
Gosh I liked this book. It’s got some great characters and ideas and I love the treatment of this boy with autism like features and who has lived a very sheltered life. The way that the story is told it seems possibly geared to younger teens which is surprising since there is some heavy and complex content. But somehow it works. Marcello is such a fun character, if you liked The Rosie Project you’ll appreciate the quirky honesty and perspective young Marcellow brings to the tale. The seetting had me flashing to some of my favorite law firm based TV shows which I loved. Those things paired with a good solid mystery that is woven within the coming of age story I think give you a winner of a book. How had I never heard of this book before? I listened to the audiobook and really liked it.
This book impressed me while at the same time really entertained me. As my friend put it this is “a very important story”. There’s good lessons and morals in this puppy but it doesn’t feel preachy. This is probably the best “suicide book” that I’ve read and turns out I’ve read a good number now (it seems like they are trendy right now). The way it deals with the friends of the suicidal I think is fantastic in a way that most books that circle this topic fall short. It’s a rough read in spots, the characters are pretty great, wonderfully quirky and complex and I’m glad to have made the journey with them. My only complaint is the ending feels too long. It feels like the story ends and then the book keeps on going but even then I think it was very good and I hope lots of people will read this both as education and entertainment. I listened to the audiobook and really liked it.
How have I not read anything by Emery Lord yet? Oh my this is one of my recent favs. When people ask what to read this is the first book that pops into my head lately. I just really liked this. If you are a fan of contemporary like Kasie West (see more below haha) you’ll want to check this out. Paige has been through some seriously rough stuff and it’s time to try and get back into life. She makes herself a checklist which includes dating her old crush. But what happens when they actually start talking. Loved the characters, the story, the honesty, the setting. This is one of those where the relationships are SO rich. Not just the romance although that’s solid but the familiar intricacies and friend dynamics are complex and great in their own ways. I really liked it and think you will too
I love Kasie West. It’s just that plain and simple. I wish I could put my finger on what it is that makes her books stand out to me but I haven’t figured it out. There’s the great characters that always learn about themselves, the cute boys, and just fun stories but there’s something else that pulls all of that together making her books special and this is no exception. Our shallow Gia finds herself dumped on the way into prom. Yup her fabulous boyfriend couldn’t stand her self absorbedness any longer. But she’s not upset about the end of the relationship she’s just mad that now her friends (including a particularly heinous frienemy) who already doubted the existence of the boyfriend will just get more fuel for their doubt. Enter the fill-in boyfriend. And in true Kasie West fashion Gia learns a lot, grows a lot, and there’s plenty of great friendship and relationship moments. Just go read it.
Althea & Oliver (not recommended)
This book is about rape and is NOT shown in a bad let alone serious light. It happens early on so I don’t think it’s a spoiler. For a book that is marketed to young adults I’m honestly horrified. I was SO disturbed by the character’s actions and reflections on the rape. Let’s be clear people GIRLS CAN RAPE BOYS. YOu’re completely screwed up and sexist if you think otherwise. It might be harder to do but the author sets up a scenario in which one character has sex with another who is UNABLE TO CONSENT and UNAWARE OF HIS BEHAVIOR. That my friends is rape.
If this were a book about a drunk girl who’s best friend had sex with her while she was far gone people would be up in arms. THe whole “you wanted to” is even in there. Yuck yuck yuck. I just feel dirty recalling thing. But really how did this get published? Shame on you all for perpetuating such a screwed up attitude towards rape and boy’s sexual rights. Yuck again.
I tried to keep reading assuming that it would get better, that she would feel remorse that the side characters would criticize her but no it’s all fine and dandy and the rape victim oh he’s being ridiculous feeling violated when he finally finds out. WHAT THE HECK?!
Besides the bad bad bad bad content, the characters were kind of annoying. Very trying too hard.
I read A LOT Of it but when it seemed like there was not going to be any remorse and I was thoroughly disturbed I checked out the other reviews to fine nope it doesn’t get better it just gets worse and I decided I would NOT be torturing myself with this ignorant propaganda any longer.
I liked this book I did, but sadly it is nowhere near A Girl of Fire and Thorns. Those books were amazing genius that has built a permanent place in my heart. This on the other hand more like a good solid historical fiction with the tiniest bit of fantasy. The fantastical element is SO small though that it has me craving more. Maybe more will come with following books. The characters are just as good as you’d expect from Rae Carson. And as always she has a special way with the villian. But without the amazing world building I just don’t think it was very special. I’m still glad I read it it was as good as most books I like but having the history of A Girl of Fire and Thorns I just was hoping for so much more. I listened to the audio book and really liked that. I think I would have had a hard time getting through a traditional paper book.
This is exactly what I want out of middle grade. Fun characters, innocent adventures, a peek at the real world and real evil but nothing overbearing. This is the second book in the Magisterium series (the first is The Iron Trial). This is geared to a younger crowd so perfect for fans of the early Harry Potter books, Percy Jackson, and Insignia. It’s an easy read that great to read as a family or when you need some safe adventure.
This took me a while to get into only because I didn’t quite understand the premise of the story. While the official synopsis is catchy and after you read the book makes sense I don’t think the average reader might appreciate a bit more set up. So here it is. You know all those awesome fantasy books that take place in the normal world but have a paranormal element living along side mundane humans? What about all the humans, surely they know SOMETHING is up? I mean the same small town can only have so many teenagers mysteriously dying so often and schools exploding so many times for them not to realize. Well this story is about those kids. The non-heroes. The other ones who just live there. I LOVED the perspective and angle this story shows at the same time the characters are fun and there is indeed a real story to get behind. This is a book for book lovers! The audibook is great.
While this is a thoroughly entertaining, super unique story with fabulous characters, I especially love it because it exposes people who might not have (or think to search for) the opportunity to interact with developmentally disabled people a realistic peek into that world. Cammie McGovern has a way at writing a story about people with disabilities that really grasps the community as those who may not have much contact with them without seeming fake. I’ve read a good number of books that make developmentally disabled people just seem like angelic children. But that isn’t quite right. Often times the childish moments are the ones that are similar to a tantruming selfish brat and they think about sex too. Have experience working with people with developmental disabilities this treatment was refreshing. But that’s all just set up. Even if you don’t care about that stuff it’s a really good story about learning about yourself, having values and living those values out, and giving yourself a chance to learn from your mistakes. And I highly recommend that you check out the audiobook version.
You also might like:
Awesome Fairytale Retellings (you don’t have to have read the originals)
Books for when you need a break from the the normal day to day grind.
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