Leading on from my second Quarterly Book Reviews from May – July, here is the books I’ve read from August – October. This quarter has been such a good one for reading, I’ve ventured on from mostly YA novels to reading some more adult books which was a refreshing perspective. Hopefully the next quarter will be as good as this one!
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas:
‘The Hate U Give’ was such a compelling read, I feel like I not only really enjoyed the novel but also learnt a lot, which is what more YA novels should do. I would give this novel 10,000 stars if it was possible.
This novel centres around 16 year old Starr who is torn between her new life at a ‘posh school’ in the predominately white suburbs, and her roots in the poor neighbourhood her family live in. This all comes to a head when Starr witnesses her unarmed, best friend Khalil get shot by a police officer.
For a book with lots of different characters, each with complex family and friend dynamics, none of the characters were cliche or were shoved in to the story unnecessarily. Each had an interesting back story, they were all fleshed out and most importantly – they could easily represent real life people.
This novel made me understand how much of a problem police brutality is in America and how to not always trust the media when it comes to issues like this. I really thank ‘The Hate U Give’ for opening my mind and giving a voice to those who are being silenced. I’ve just watched the trailer for the film based on this book and I am so excited to watch it if they keep the story close to the film.
All These Beautiful Strangers by Elizabeth Klehfoth:
‘All These Beautiful Strangers’ was a very beautiful surprise, I mostly picked it up as I needed another book so I could get a buy one and get one half price deal. The cover is absolutely stunning, with a rainbow hue running throughout the cover and raised bubbles surround the title.
This story revolves around Charlie Calloway, a rich kid attending prestigious Knollwood Prep boarding school in New Hampshire, USA. In her Junior year, Charlie receives an invitation to join Knowllwood’s infamous and elite secret society – The A’s. However joining the A’s won’t come without a price and Charlie begins to unravel the mystery of her Mother’s disappearance from their family Lake House ten years prior.
The story was told from different narrators through different timelines, including Charlie, her father and her mother. Even with three different narrators, the story was never confusing and I didn’t feel lost anytime while reading this story, also a time and date stamp was located above each chapter.
This novel was very compelling, I went to bed way later than I should have most nights as I just had to read one more chapter (of two.. or three). Charlie is a great lead character, she’s not perfect and she grows a lot in the novel to try to become a better person. Every single character was interesting, fleshed out and actually had a story which was a breath of fresh air for a Young Adult novel.
For anyone who loves the TV shows Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars will have to pick up this book!
The Girls of No Return by Erin Saldin:
‘The Girls of No Return’ was the 30th book of the year I read and the 3rd book in a row that had me hooked from the first sentence.
The story follows 16 years old Lida, who is sent to the Alice Marshall School for Girls in the heart of the Frank Church River, No Return Wilderness Area in Idaho. This camp is specifically designed to house troubled teens and to unearth their ‘Things’ through counselling and wilderness walks. There Lida meets a handful of colourful personalities: the tough chick Boone with the tough upbringing, happy go-lucky Jules with the dark past, and finally the mysterious and beautiful Gia, who bewitches all that get close to her. Lida and Gia start a turbulent and intense friendship based off of longing and obsession.
For someone who has had their fair share of intense female friendships, this really hit me hard. Saldin wrote a compelling novel full of secrets, personal struggles and friendship, everyone should give this novel a read.
Also, what makes this novel so real is the fact that the No Wilderness Area is a real place, a lot of the places described are real areas and structures within this area. It is also literally in the arse end of no-where like described in the book. The only downfall of this novel was that I would have really liked to know more about Gia’s background, what did she do to end up at Alice Marshall? What happened to her in the epilogue? I guess I’ll never know.
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld:
I was really hoping to love this book as I heard it is similar to that of Divergent, however it completely fell flat for me. I completed this book in a couple of days as I was rushing to finish it so I could read something better.
Set in a dystopian future where being ‘pretty’ is all that matters. Fifteen year old Tally can’t wait until her sixteenth birthday in a few months so she can have an operation to make her ‘a pretty’, someone with no physical flaws. This all changes when her friend Shay who isn’t sold of the whole ‘pretty’ trope runs away, leaving Tally to be blackmailed in to finding her. While adventuring out of the city she has never left before, Tally finds out that there is a bigger risk to becoming pretty then she would ever imagine.
For someone who has a huge imagination while reading books, I couldn’t for the life of me picture of some places that were described in the book. Think some of the wording used seemed quite childish and really put me off, words like ‘littlies, uglies, pretties, rusties, smokies’ just ruined the book. All the characters fell flat too, not sure if this was on purpose as most of them had been shut off from the outside world, but they just bored me.
I wouldn’t recommend this book, read some other dystopian novels like The Hunger Games or Divergent instead.
How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather:
Ever since I can remember I was always fascinated by witches, witchcraft and the occult. I grew up on Sabrina the Teenage Witch, The Craft and then American Horror Story: Coven, each fuelling an absolute desire to discover more about witch history.
This novel is set in Salem, Massachusetts when Sam and her step Mother move to town while her dad is in a coma in a hospital near by. Unfortunately Sam’s last name causes a stir in the small town, as she is a direct descendant of Cotton Mather, one of the townsfolk responsibly for the Salem witch trials. Throw in a young Ghost haunting Sam’s new house, a gang of girls who are direct descendants of those accused in the witch trials and a couple of centuries long curse.. and you have this interesting novel.
A mix between Mean Girls and the Craft, this book is perfect for those, like me, fascinated by witchy tales. Sam is quite a compelling character, she’s sassy but reserved and loosely based off of the author as she too, is a decent of Cotton Mather. There is a good mix of other characters, I found the Descendants fun to read about as they all had very different personalities that complimented the story well. The ending didn’t quite live up to the rest of the book as I expected something else to happen, but it didn’t take away from the other half of the book.
A great read to get you in to the Halloween vibes!
The Hate List by Jennifer Brown:
We have all as Teenagers wrote a list of people we dislike, whether that be our parents, friends, bullies or teachers. Someone I used to know had a Death Note and we used to write in names of people we didn’t like, luckily the Death Note is from an Anime of the same name so nothing could possibly come from it, but that isn’t what happened in ‘The Hate List’.
Going back and forth between the present and the past, high school junior Valerie Leftman tries to come to terms with a traumatic event in which her boyfriend Nick opened fire in their school cafeteria. A handful of teachers and students were killed, many were injured, including Valerie. The reason why Nick opened fire is now talk of the small community and many blame Valerie due to the fact her and Nick created a list of people they dislike.. all who were targets of the shooting.
This novel was utterly perfect. It showed that there is more to the usual shooter = villain and everyone else = victim narrative, everyone has hate within them and everyone could and should do better to be nicer to each other and extend help to one another.
Valerie was such an easy character to sympathise with.. she is incredibly flawed but that is what makes her real. She represents every single person that has ever felt outcasted, ashamed, hurt, angry and judged. Someone I didn’t think I’d empathise with was Nick, his back story was explained in depth, he was a very angry guy and if one person could have saw the signs then maybe he wouldn’t have done what he did.
A very thought provoking book showcasing an event that happens in many schools all around the world. A must read!
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman:
I can’t quite comprehend how to review this book, it is everything I’ve been wanting in a story and more, an instant classic.
Eleanor Oliphant follows a socially inept, 29 year old woman. She leads a simple, routine filled life, she goes to work 5 days a week then on her way home from work on Friday she buys the same Pizza and the same two bottle of Vodka from the same shop, then the week starts again. She lives alone and doesn’t have many friends, but that’s okay.. she’s okay. But is she really?
In a lot of books the social awkward/unaware characters get easily tossed to the side and aren’t always written to be likeable, however the author made Eleanor into a 3D, lovely and hilariously brilliant protagonist. This isn’t a comedy book though, between each page is a splash of sadness: how segregated she is made at work, how much of a lonely life Eleanor leads, the eventual realisation of her turbulent childhood and also how she has never been shown proper love. Although the book is quite sad, it is real, true and raw.
You will belly laugh and cry all within a few pages. Please, please, please add this on to your ‘to read’ list, you will fall in love with the oddity that is Eleanor Oliphant.
Thanks for reading! The last book review of the year will be up at the end of December and I will do another Goodreads Reading Challenge review in January 🙂