This July was one of my stronger reading months in recent memory, with me checking off a memoir, two thrillers, and two contemporaries from my TBR. If you also read my post from a few weeks back, aka all the books I need to read by 2018, you’ll be happy to know I managed to check one off the list. It was amazing and adorable and I have absolutely no clue how I managed to go this long without reading it. The positive vibes continued for the rest of the month, which saw me hand out one 5 star, a 4 star, a three star, and two 2 stars. Which, for me, is pretty much unheard of. Fingers crossed I can keep picking up #winning books as we head into August. So obviously I have a lot of feels and a lot of thoughts, which means it’s time for me to cut to the books!
I Never by Laura Hopper- 3 stars
This debut doesn’t release until November 7th, but I was in a major reading slump and this contemporary was just what I needed to get out of it. I flew through I Never in mere hours and just want to say that, despite my mediocre rating, it comes highly recommended from me. It’s a very honest, very realistic portrayal of sex, and offers a fierce take down of the taboos that often accompany it. Unfortunately, it also draws (for obvious reasons) comparison to Judy Blume’s Forever. And while this is a solid book for sure, it is nowhere near as enduring as its predecessor. The story is extremely short, and would probably benefit from being 100 pages longer. Certain storylines are never fleshed out, and just sort of draw to a close with the book. It also lacks an umph necessary to be truly memorable, beyond the controversy it’s likely to face. There’s little else on the market that caters to this important niche, so for that reason I say read it- though don’t expect a classic.
The Hanging Girl by Eileen Cook- 2 stars
I’ve heard such amazing things about Eileen Cook’s work, especially Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood and With Malice, but The Hanging Girl just couldn’t hit any of the right notes. It has a lot of problems, the least of which is how incredibly boring it is. Had the plotting not been so fast paced I doubt I would have finished, considering there’s paper dolls with more substance than this story. The Hanging Girl should also come with a ‘beware of whiplash’ warning; a completely contradictory statement to what I just said, but a necessary nonetheless. Such a boring book should not leave my head feeling like it’s about to spin off from all the (largely unnecessary) plot twists, but Cook still managed to do it. To be completely honest this book is so generic I’m running out of things to complain about. My 2 star rating can be entirely contributed to the exact same things I encounter every single time I read YA clearly following a set formula. Do not rush to the bookstore on October 3rd.
My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier- 4 stars
If you’ve already checked out my review you’ll know I very, VERY much appreciated the psychological thriller Justine Larbalestier crafted here. It’s unlike anything I’ve read before, and just adds to the list of amazing thrillers I’ve discovered in 2017. For some reason, despite reading leagues of stellar reviews, I was reluctant to give this one a chance. If that’s the boat you’re also in, know I can’t say enough positive things about this one. The characters are stellar, super fleshed out and dynamic in a way that makes the story come alive. Rosa, the titular psychopath, is creepy and charismatic in all the right ways- making it easy to understand how others fall so easily into her web. Not to mention the ending, which will leave your jaw hanging on the ground. Seriously, it’s that good. The closest books I can compare it to are Allegedly and The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly, but really there’s nothing like it on the market right now. Just read it!
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han- 5 stars
Immediately after finishing this one (in less than 24 hours, btw) I gave it 5 stars. Then, an hour later, 4 stars. Then I flipped back to 5 stars, because really this book is just that good. There’s definitely some technical shortcomings I hope to see resolved in the sequel , and I’m not sure I would have rated it this high had I not known there would be a second book. I stilled adored the heart of this story though, and any time I can say that a book deserves 5 stars for the emotional impact alone. The timing alone could not be more perfect, considering the day I finished reading production began for the movie (which I didn’t even know was a thing). So now I get to be totally jazzed to see the flawless Lara Jean and Peter K. come alive on the big screen. My heart. As an added bonus, I am now totally jazzed to complete the challenge I set for myself of reading these 10 books before 2018 is upon us. Yikes.
Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek by Maya Van Wagenen- 2 stars
I haven’t read a memoir in a long time, and Maya Van Wagenen’s Popular did not make me want to remedy that. In theory it’s an interesting concept, but I felt like the whole thing was way too much of a publicity grab. Van Wagenen’s journey to popularity is sickly sweet, and unrealistic to say the least. I don’t want to say it was unhonest, but I definitely think there was a narrative arc they wanted to achieve, and as a result the story was twisted to reflect it. Call me cynical, but I have a hard time believing that 100 fourteen year olds were all so accepting of their classmate dressing in ‘50’s attire. I will say though that the target age group for this book is about 11-12, and would likely hold more appeal there. There’s not much of a storyline here, or any unique ideas on the points Van Wagenen touches on. It’s a cute book for younger readers, but it just didn’t work for me.
What did you read this August? Are any of these on your TBR? Let me know in the comments!