Hello everyone, and happy Hallowe’en!
This has been a superior reading month to previous reading months, that’s for sure. Not enough to catch up with my book reading deficit for the goal I set for 2017—but, I mean, I’ll take it for a start. I should have a lot more time in November (hopefully), so here’s hoping I can make it at least close to 100 (new) books this year, despite it all.
But without further ado, let’s get into this month’s round-up!
The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman
I was still on re-reads to start this month. Also: This is neither the cover I grew up with nor the one I bought and just re-read, but it does have a cat on it and it’s easier to find on the Internet, so there’s that.
I’m not really sure what to say about His Dark Materials upon re-read, because I mean, I grew up having really enjoyed it as a series, so there’s nostalgia value. Still, I’d say that this series is entertaining for a middle gradeish audience while still being really mature in the subjects it handles?
Also, Will is a great protagonist, too, in different ways than Lyra. He’s got a sense of honour while still being underhanded, with a strong will to survive and protect those he cares about.
The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman
I remember not being 100% sold on this one as a kid, because I wasn’t totally into the time spent with a third protagonist, Mary, who is not a child, but I sort of enjoy the imaginative descriptions of the world she’s in more as an adult. I’m still kind of not as sold on the cosmic battle going on, since the broader context of the adults and their activities and politics is just not as engaging as what’s going on with Lyra and Will, but I think that’s hard to balance in a book that’s supposed to be for young readers?
In any case, would still recommend this series, even if I think I probably like the first two books more than the third.
Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust
This was yet another fairy tale retelling, a bit of a mash-up of Snow White and the fairy tale Frozen comes from (The Snow Queen?).
This book had potential because it at least intends to focus on complex relationships between women, but it was just…not great in the end. It relied on us caring about the relationships at the heart of it, but spent very little time developing them.
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
The newest John Green is about a girl with intrusive thoughts and anxiety who starts a manhunt with her best friend for a missing rich businessman, the father of an old crush of hers from grief camp.
It’s better than most John Green books, but not better than The Fault in Our Stars, I think, for all its faults. I liked the way it overturned some genre tropes and didn’t play into expectations, but it also felt like a book that relied on us getting invested in its key relationships, and also just didn’t spend much time on them. (This might have been a short book problem.)
A Line in the Dark by Malinda Lo
This book was a mystery/queer girl drama about Jess, her best friend/crush Angie, Angie’s new rich girlfriend Margot, and Margot’s friends.
I liked this book in theory (and the cover aesthetic), but in practice, we didn’t get to know the not-Jess characters well enough to get really invested in the mystery (or even really the drama; I’m not 100% sure I understood the appeal of Angie). I’d take another shot with the author in future, but this is just a pass for me.
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez
Julia’s older sister Olga was the perfect daughter, but now she’s gone, and all of the pressure of being the daughter their parents want is on Julia. And maybe Olga wasn’t as perfect as she appeared to be.
I wanted to love this book, but it was just too scattered to work for me. It’s about grief, but not, because it’s also about the mystery of Olga, life in poverty, mental illness, love interests, cultural differences, familial expectations, generation gaps, just…yeah. All of these things could maybe work? But the book is short and mostly all in Julia’s head, with some pretty whiplash-y time jumps. I wanted to like it, because all of the topics it covered interest me, but it was too much at once, with too little development for most plots/characters to get into them.
When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore
This is a magical realism romance about Miel, a girl who fell out of the water tower and who grows roses from her wrist, and Sam, a boy who hangs moons from the trees to scare away nightmares.
This book will probably end up being one of my favourites of the season. It’s short on plot, but the descriptions are lovely, it was easy to get invested in Sam and Miel, and it was lovely to see some diverse characters in a romance (Sam is Pakistani-Italian and trans, while Miel is Latina). There was also probably some novelty to this genre, which isn’t common in YA and worked very well in this lush story.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
So this is not a YA book, but it is a very short, psuedo-spooky book being adapted into a film, so it made my TBR list a while back and I thought I’d pick it up since I’m low on my book count and it’s Spooky Season.
This is about Merricat (Mary Katherine), who lives with her Uncle Julian and sister Constance—who was acquitted of the murders of the rest of her family six years ago. The book is a mystery regarding the murders, and also just a weird, interesting romp through the isolated Merricat’s mind.
From that perspective, I mostly liked it; Merricat is pretty imaginative and a great narrator. In terms of the mystery plot, I’m not sure I felt exactly satisfied by the end; it was hard to suss out the familial relationships that used to exist (or even those within the timeline of the book, other than the closeness of Merricat and Constance), so that left me feeling…not totally finished.
Which books have you been reading during Spooky Month? Any that you would recommend? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll speak to you again soon!