Hello everyone, and welcome back!
Yet again, I’m here to wrap up a season to make my end of year posts easier to sort out. This wrap-up is a little iffy, to be honest, since I had a total reading slump in August and I re-read the entire Harry Potter series in late June/early July, which I’m not counting among reads here because like, new reads.
(If you want to count re-reads, you can consider those among my best. I don’t think I can be objective about Harry Potter at all, but I always really enjoy reading them, so there you are.)
Anyway, the bests are the books that stand out to me as the season wraps up; the worst are ones that disappointed me in one way or another. In no particular order, because ordered lists are maybe for suckers? Or maybe just for later in the year. Without further ado, let’s get to it!
The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis
My ordering thing aside, this has got to be the standout of the season and the one book I would definitely recommend, as long as you can handle the topic. (It has a few graphic moments about sexual assault, which it’s essentially about, and of violence, which is how one of its protagonists deals with the former issue.)
This book is about Alex, who killed the man who raped and murdered her sister; Jack, the guy who’s into her; and PK, her coworker at the animal shelter. It’s also a lot about rape culture. It’s a tough read, but it had a real impact.
The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
Y’all, my second chances series has been paying dividends pretty often, so you can guarantee I’ll be doing that forever.
Anyway, this outing by Nicola Yoon is about a pair of teens who meet by chance in NYC when one of them is on their way to a college interview, and one of them is trying desperately not to get deported. It’s very much a fate, romance, butterfly effect kind of novel, so if you can’t get into anything that takes that remotely seriously (I think this book does challenge itself on that, given how scientific the female protagonist is), then you are likely to eyeroll yourself into another plane of being.
But if you can jam with a little dash on instalove and fated romance and you’re looking for something fresh in terms of not-the-standard-two-perspective-romance bit, then this might be what you’re looking for. Lovely writing, likeable characters, everyone has a story. I dug it.
Saints & Misfits by S.K. Ali
I don’t know if this book would’ve made another season’s list; it was a solid, enjoyable read, but I went with three stars for it because it’s a bit busy and short (a common complaint of mine, so maybe that’s a bit subjective).
Still, this one is worth checking out, especially since it’s fairly unique. It’s a slice-of-life about a Muslim hijabi teen that deals with the topics of sexual assault and of Janna’s day-to-day life (her family, friendships, responsibilities, and interests) with equal poise. It has stuck in my mind for the season, for sure.
Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
I’m not really sure what I expected from this one, but I guess I heard it was one of the darker, more complexly written fairy tale rewrites in the genre. I appreciated the bitterness of the beauty in this Beauty and the Beast situation, but this kind of read like Once Upon a Time Belle/Rumple fanfiction? (And I have read better in that genre.) So it let me down pretty hard.
I think one of my issues with this genre? subgenre?…anyway, my issue is often that we have to buy into a romance that’s barely developed at all, then we also have to get over the fact that the male love interest tells the protagonist nothing, and we are reading from the perspective of that protagonist, and so we don’t know a blessed thing about what’s happening until near the end. But also the protagonist has to prove her love somehow to some dude who’s been lying at least by omission all along whose relationship with her I never invested in, and…yeah, you get it.
The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
This was also kind of a retelling that drew elements from Greek mythology and Indian folklore. That premise sounded incredibly neat, but the execution…fell short for me.
The plot was pretty confusing, as is that same genre where the male love interest keeps things from the protagonist, so then you as the reader just have no dang idea what’s even happening until the very end. And this was really, really guilty on that point because what was even going on.
The horse here was a cool character, and this really showed its mythic roots in interesting ways, but…yeah, I’m going to have to take a mulligan on this author for when she starts a new series.
Because You Love to Hate Me, edited by Ameriie
This was an anthology of stories about villains written by YA authors in collaboration with BookTubers who gave them prompts and then wrote essayish pieces in response to the results. This isn’t the worst or anything; some of the stories are actually pretty great (I really liked Victoria Schwab’s, in particular), although there are definitely weak outings, too (and a few prompts I thought were kind of boring, sorry BookTubers).
But I’m not sure that the idea of the collection meshed very well; the BookTuber essays about the stories/their prompts sometimes felt tacked on, even though I generally really enjoy BookTube. (I guess I could’ve skipped them, but then I’m skipping a third of the book, so that’s not the biggest endorsement either?)
Fall is here: pumpkin spice, Hallowe’en, autumn leaves, sweater weather…I love all of these things, but maybe not their proximity to the harsh, long winter. What are your favourite types of books to read during the harvest season? Did you love or hate any of my best/worst list? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll speak to you again soon!