September Wrap Up, Pt. 2

Toward the beginning of the month, I was in a bit of a reading slump and just wasn’t in the mood to finish anything. Fortunately, that mood mostly abated in the second half so there are eleven books for you in this post. I know, I’m ridiculous. Also, I didn’t wind up reading any graphic novels because… Well, I really don’t know why. I just wasn’t in the mood for them. I did however finish my entire TBR for September so YAY!

Alright, stats time for anyone who cares… If you don’t, you can skip down to The Dream Thieves. I read 18 books and 6,350 pages, which were mostly in the 4-5 star range. Here are some fun charts:

1. The Dream Thieves by Maggie Steifvater

For some reason, this book took me significantly longer to get into and to finish than The Raven Boys, and for whatever reason that I can’t pinpoint, I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as the first. However, I did really enjoy the changing character dynamics. It’s difficult to talk about this since this is the second book in a series without spoiling something, but basically, I felt that the changing dynamics kind of raised the stakes, but slowly, so slowly. I’m really excited to jump into the third one, but I don’t feel the same fevered need as I did when I completed The Raven Boys. However, I’m definitely going to pick up with Blue Lily, Lily Blue in October! Especially since I saw a maybe spoiler on tumblr that has me extremely intrigued. Not to mention, gotta catch up before BooksandLala has another The Raven Cycle TV adaptation installation.

2. Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa de la Cruz

I gave this book a one star rating. It’s a Pride and Prejudice gender bent reimagining that comes out October 17, 2017. I had requested and received an ARC from NetGalley for this book, but that does not, in any way influence my thoughts on this book. I didn’t like this book for numerous reasons that I will go into more depth in my full review that will be posted on October 17th, but for a brief preview here, we’ll go with: (1) I disliked the writing style, which I felt was juvenile and repetitive, (2) Darcy’s characterization felt shallow and inconsistent, (3) the relationship between Luke and Darcy was unbelievable, (4) the conflict was nonsensical and absurd, and (5) the weird gender dynamics that weren’t quite girl hate, but I don’t have a better way to describe it. I read this a month prior to publication, so here’s a brief preview, but look out for a full review on October 17th. I’ve already written it so it’s scheduled to release at 8am. Yay!

3. Roomies by Christina Lauren

I started this immediately after finishing PP&M because I just wanted to read something I was sure I would like and unsurprisingly, Christina Lauren did not disappoint. Unfortunately for you all, Roomies doesn’t come out until December so you’ve got to wait a bit before you’ll be able to get your hands on it. I won’t torment you too much by raving about how brilliant it is, but get excited. If you like a marriage of convenience, if you enjoyed The Wall of Winnipeg and Me, but wanted a little more laughter and a shorter read, this book is perfect for you! Or if you loved The Wall of Winnipeg and Me and just want more marriages of convenience, you’ll be thrilled, I assure you. I can’t wait to tell you more about this book!

4. Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing by Jennifer Weiner

Jennifer Weiner is one of my absolute favorite authors and I desperately miss her live-tweets of The Bachelor and would like to thank Donald Trump for ruining a good thing by bringing sexism so toxic back to the forefront of America that Weiner quit live tweeting. That said, I was so excited to finally get around to reading her memoir/collection of personal essays via an audiobook from the library. I’ve had this book on my Want to Read list on Goodreads since before it was even released because I follow Weiner on Twitter and adore her as a person.

This collection of essays felt like the most real and raw of all of the memoirs I read this month. Even more real and raw than HRC’s What Happened, at least in my opinion. Weiner had a rough childhood in a way that I can empathize with, but am thankful I did not experience. From a young age, Weiner was always an outcast. She did not get along well with peers her age and found solace in books. She tried so hard to fit in, but her peers were pretty merciless in their torment. Eventually, when she gave up on trying to be liked, she made friends with her crew teammates in high school, but used a cruel brand of humor to ingratiate herself with the group. Attending Princeton seemed to set her back again, to an aching loneliness that sounds so fresh, I feel like I honestly wouldn’t be surprised to know that Weiner was crying as she wrote it. The stories of her father’s abrupt departure from her and her siblings lives and the resulting financial instability were heartbreaking in their honesty and rawness.

My personal favorite essays were the one she wrote about the inspiration for and the process of writing Good in Bed, one of my all time favorite Weiner novels, and Appetites, where Weiner talks about her decision to get weight loss surgery. Part of why Weiner is one of my favorites is the fact that her heroines are strong, but not thin. Weiner, similarly, is strong, but not thin. She’s a size 16 and she does barre classes, yoga, swimming marathons. This memoir is so important and sometimes hard to read, though in a different hard to read than What Happened.

5. The Windfall by Diksha Basu

It took me such an inordinate amount of time to read this book and I really don’t know why. I didn’t like some of the characters (aka the son who was bafflingly unmotivated or his father or the new neighbor). Basically, I liked the women in this book and if the whole thing had been Mrs. Jha and Mrs. Ray complaining about how useless and stupid Mrs. Jha’s husband and son were and how handsome Mrs. Ray found Upen, I would have enjoyed this book so much more. Nonetheless, it was a really great read that is set in both India and Ithaca, NY and there were discussions of feminism and culture that I would not have gotten without reading this book. My full review is posted and is linked on the side, so please check that out and, if you’ve read it, let me know your thoughts!

6. Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older

Let’s start with the Goodreads blurb:

Sierra Santiago was looking forward to a fun summer of making art, hanging out with her friends, and skating around Brooklyn. But then a weird zombie guy crashes the first party of the season. Sierra’s near-comatose abuelo begins to say “Lo siento” over and over. And when the graffiti murals in Bed-Stuy start to weep…. Well, something stranger than the usual New York mayhem is going on.

Sierra soon discovers a supernatural order called the Shadowshapers, who connect with spirits via paintings, music, and stories. Her grandfather once shared the order’s secrets with an anthropologist, Dr. Jonathan Wick, who turned the Caribbean magic to his own foul ends. Now Wick wants to become the ultimate Shadowshaper by killing all the others, one by one. With the help of her friends and the hot graffiti artist Robbie, Sierra must dodge Wick’s supernatural creations, harness her own Shadowshaping abilities, and save her family’s past, present, and future.

My Thoughts: There is no waiting to be sucked in to this story. You start reading and you’re immediately hooked. If you’re not immediately hooked, I’m very confused. I thought the plot of this book was exceptionally intriguing. The only thing that really bothered me sometimes was the accents being used. I think, on the one hand, it lends an authenticity to the text that would otherwise be lacking, and on the other hand, like with all accents, trying to decipher what the characters are saying can get annoying. This is an entirely personal preference, I think, because it’s such a common thing so others much adore it. Regardless, the way this book ended!!!!!! Y’all! Thank goodness the second one is already out because I need it in my life.

The main character is of Puerto Rican descent and Robbie is Haitian. There are two side characters featured in the first novella after this book that are in a f/f relationship. The book tackles racism, gentrification, and so much more so quickly, easily, and naturally. It is amazing.

7. Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

There’s a whole review for this book that you can find on the side, but long story short, this book was extremely thought provoking in the sense that I couldn’t stop thinking about my high school experience and how much I needed a book like this in high school. Feminism obviously existed in 2004-2009, but, uh, I legitimately don’t remember hearing about it at all. There was just so much about this book that I found relatable for myself and who I was in high school. I’m wary about giving a blanket recommendation because I feel like for people who were more enlightened (idk if this is the best word for this) in high school might find Vivvy too aggravating. If you read this, let me know your thoughts, I’m very curious!

8. Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin

I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this book quite as much as I did, which is perhaps unfair of me to say. This book is a spin on Monica Lewinsky, I suppose, but Monica Lewinsky is just the most famous woman to be taken advantage of by an older male politician. This book is about Aviva Grossman and the people her decision affected, her mom, herself, her daughter, and the Congressman’s wife. I very much appreciated that Rachel (Aviva’s mother) got to have conversations about dating at 64. I feel like too often media I consume acts like women disappear or stop being interested in sex or dating or romantic love once they hit like 45, so it was really great to see this narrative. Also, this book is Own Voices for it’s Jewish rep and has excellent conversations about feminism. So much feminist education to appreciate in my literature this month. I’m a fan.

I leave you though with this quote:

“I love Franny, but she can get ideas.”

Yes, I thought, she has a brain and those do peskily tend to make ideas.

9. Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas

I am absurd and sobbed through so much of this book. Not with tears necessarily, I just couldn’t actually handle anything that was happening so… Sobbing. Yep. And the last chapter????? SARAH HOW DARE YOU? Moving on, this book was actually so incredible?? Like… I wasn’t necessarily expecting it to be as good as it was, which in hindsight was silly because SJM is amazing at writing the emotional arc for her characters. Aeilin’s in Heir of Fire, literally everyone in A Court of Mist and Fury… Now we can add Tower of Dawn to the list because it was amazing. Also, NESRYN IS MY QUEEN. I really just can’t not fangirl about this book right now, so uh… Yeah, my book talk will be posted sometime soon and it’ll be full of spoilers and gushing because spoiler free stuff is just not going to work. Please go read Throne of Glass if you haven’t.

10. And I Darken by Kiersten White

If you haven’t heard of this book/series, it’s an alternative historical fiction book where Vlad the Impaler is Lada, a young woman who, um, doesn’t really seem to like being a woman. It was an interesting perspective on gender, religion (Lada is a Christian, technically, and feels really betrayed when her brother converts to Islam after they’ve been in the Ottoman Empire for a bit), and life in the time of conquerer’s. I felt like it was a very slow start, like I was half-way through before I ever felt an actual compulsion to keep going and turning the page. That said, the end was EXCELLENT so I ultimately gave it 4 stars, but I think maybe 3.5 is more accurate? (Y’all, I’m finally learning to rate books, maybe?) Anyway, I’ll update if/when I make it to book two!

11. Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali

I expected to enjoy this book, but I had barely gotten into it when I realized it wasn’t what I was anticipating. Janna was assaulted by her friend’s cousin who is well respected in her mosque for having memorized the Quran. She doesn’t tell anyone, but in the midst of her everyday life experiences, she is dealing with the trauma of that encounter. I really appreciated how the book balances that trauma with Janna’s crush on a non-Muslim boy, her brother’s engagement of sorts with “Saint” Sarah, and her relationship with her mom. Ultimately though, this book is about Janna finding her voice or remembering that she has one, depending on your perspective. I think this book is so important and I’m really glad I read it, but for real, major TW for sexual assault.

My favorite read of the second half of September was hands down Tower of Dawn, but I also adored Roomies. Those two are for sure my favorites. What was your favorite book of September? What was your worst? Mine, unsurprisingly, was Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe, but hopefully I’ll avoid other one star reads for the rest of the year.


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