It’s been a good year for reading so far, I have read 27 books since January so I am well on my way to over take my goal of reading 32 books from last year! Leading on from my first Quarterly Book Review from January to April, here is the books I’ve read from May -July. I think you know the drill by now, I give each book 1 – 5 stars depending on how much I enjoyed them:
Burned by Ellen Hopkins:
I technically started this book at the end of April but thought I’d put it in this quarter as I didn’t finish it until May, I’m not cheating a swear!
Burned is the second novel I’ve read by the author Ellen Hopkins and I am now hooked on her books. Burned follows teenager Pattyn Von Stratten who is raised in an abusive, Morman household dominated by an alcoholic father, 6 sisters and a repressed mother. Rebelling against her Church and Father’s strict rules, Pattyn ends up sent to live with her estranged Aunt J in the wilds of Nevada for the Summer. There, Pattyn discovers what love and acceptance really is.
Burned is such a special book, I was hooked from start to finish. Hopkins writes all her novels in a poetic manner, some pages are simple verses and others can have only one word written on them for dramatic effect. I honestly feel this way of writing portrays the characters emotions better than normal writing. Pattyn isn’t your average heroine but she was engaging, smart and went on a character building journey throughout this story. Definitely a book not to miss!
I am Thunder by Muhammed Khan:
I am Thunder lived up to it’s name, it roared louder than a lot of other YA novels and demanded to be heard. This book covered everything from racism, family issues and bullying to discrimination, prejudice and extremism.
The protagonist of this story is fifteen year old Muzna Saleem, an only child living by her Pakistani parent’s strict standards and her communities even stricter ones. When Muzna’s childhood friend gets into trouble and is shammed by their community, Muzna’s dad packs the family up and moves them to the other side of London to keep her from the same fate. With the pressures of a new start and bullying she cannot out run from, Muzna befriends cheeky lad Arif. However Arif and his brother have a secret, one that Muzna is getting sucked in to, which could have catastrophic results.
This book was powerful. Muzna is a strong yet relatable lead character, she’s passionate, curious about her heritage and religion and has great character building. Muhammed Khan really showed how easy it is for young people to get sucked in to a world of extremism and lies due to the discrimination of the Muslim communities in the Western World. 10/10 must read!
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins:
I put off this book for so long as I’m not usually one for books that are super hyped up, I usually end up being disappointed, but this was the exception.
An alcoholic and depressed Rachel get’s aboard the same train to London at the same time, every day. Every day the train stops at the same signal overlooking the back gardens of a row of houses with seemingly perfect couples living in them. Until one day is not the same as the others, causing Rachel to be thrust in to the middle of their lives and a murder mystery.
This novel was one twist after the other, the whole time I didn’t know who I should trust as everyone was suspect. Narrated by three very different women with very intertwined lives: one an alcoholic, one a liar and one a cheat, a very gripping read and definitely one to add to your bookshelf.
Renegades by Marissa Meyer:
Now for the only book on this list that I wouldn’t recommend.. Renegades revolves around the joint narration of Nova, an Anarchist and Adrian, a Renegade – both on opposite sides of the war between super heroes and super villains. Nova blames the Renegades for the loss of her family and mentor, vowing to seek revenge.
The characters could have had the opportunity to be more developed personality wise, but instead there was just too many of them meaning all we knew about some of them was their Alias and what their power was. It took me way over half the book to remember which superhero name belonged to which civilian, luckily Marissa wrote an index in the beginning of the book, but I personally didn’t like having to keep referring back to that. The book was just too damn long for what little happens, this is just the first book in the series but barely anything was concluded.
I will give Meyer credit though, some of the powers of the Renegades and Anarchists was really imaginative, Adrian can draw anything and it comes to life/can be used, there is someone that controls toys and can also turn people in to living puppets and someone who is basically a human bomb – it’s pretty cool.
This just simply wasn’t my thing, and that is coming from someone that loves super heroes, magical girls, super powers etc, this might be more for the hard core comic book fans out there.
Seed by Lisa Heathfield:
Got a bit of a thing for books revolved around Cults apparently haha! Seed showcases the story of 15 year old Pearl who lives within the community of Seed, a small group run by the charismatic (and very gross) Papa S. Seed have no communication with the outside world apart from selling produce at the local market and believe that the ‘outside’ is full of wickedness. Pearl’s seemingly idyllic life starts to unravel with the arrival of a new family looking for a fresh start within Seed, she begins to question her way of life and everything she has been lead to believe.
This book really lived up to my standards and more, I previously read After the Fire and thought no other book about Cults could out beat that novel, I was wrong. Pearl is a great narrator, she’s naive but she’s so real, she acts how most 15 year old girls would act in her situation. The pace of the book was great too, it was well detailed without dragging. My only criticism is that I want to know more! At the end of my copy of the book there is a note saying ‘Coming soon: the sequel to Seed’… but there is no sequel and no word of Heathfield writing one, gutted. Still, I must read for anyone who loved After the Fire and other novels centred around Cults.
Nina is not Okay by Shappi Khorsandi:
I would give this book 100 stars if I could, without a doubt one of the best books I have ever had the pleasure of reading!
Nina has a problem with alcohol and a chaotic past she’s not quite recovered from. She’s used to partying most weekends and having to get her friends to fill in the blanks after a heavy session. However one Sunday morning after a particularly heavy night previously, Nina wakes with no knowledge of the night before and a sense that something bad has happened.
This book dealt with some very heavy subjects in an amazing way, it was darkly funny, informative and ultimately uplifting. I don’t want to write too much about this coming of age novel as I would hate to spoil the magic for anyone, do yourself a favour and make ‘Nina is not Okay’ the next book you read.
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl:
I will confess that I watched the Beautiful Creatures film before I read the book, just like I did with the Mortal Instruments too. It was a tad confusing as the movie changed Ridley’s appearance a lot and some events in the book were missed out, but that in no way affected my review of the book.
Ethan Wate, a small town high school senior is counting down the days until he can escape Gatlin, South Carolina. Outcast Lena Duchannes moves to town and into the town’s infamous plantation manor, but she’s come to Gatlin to escape future events. Ethan and Lena have an undeniable connection, but the town’s oldest and darkest secrets threaten this.
For someone who has always been fascinated with the supernatural, this book really didn’t do much for me. Don’t get me wrong, the concept was really good and I loved learning about how the Caster’s world worked. However, the book fell a little flat for an almost 600 page novel. Ethan felt a little bit too perfect, it’s like a 14 year old girl dreamt up her dream southern gentleman and shoved him in her perfect twilight-esque fantasy. Lena could have been an amazing and complex character but she fell flat too. Two authors wrote this novel and they still couldn’t come up with a supernatural, young adult story without all the cliches, it’s a shame really. I probably won’t carry on with the story and read the other 3 novels, might instead read the prequels to The Mortal Instruments.
If anyone can recommend any books to read, please comment below. Thanks for reading!