Monthly Reads: November 2017, Part 2

Hello everyone, and welcome back!

I didn’t make it on 30 books in 30 days, sadly. Not even close.

It was, weirdly, a larger time commitment than Nanowrimo has been on the years I actually won? I guess I should’ve anticipated that, because when you are excited about a novel and have it planned, a few hours a day should get 1,667 words done nicely. There is no stretch routine for 30 books, though. I can only read as fast as I can read, so all I can do to lessen the time it takes is read short books. And reading short books can get tiring, since, well, as you’ve all read in my reviews, a lot of short books are just that: short, but in a way that makes them feel abbreviated, not deliberate.

(That, and I had way more work than expected this month, so I didn’t really have the time like, at all.)

In any case: here’s the second half of the books I did manage to read. And five in half a month still beats the four I read in at least one summer month, so, there’s that about it. (I might also make my 100 books this year goal, too. So there’s also that.)

You Are Among Monsters by Jon R. Flieger

You Are Among Monsters

This is not a YA book at all, so yeah, I’m off-brand.

It was a short book, but actually not one that felt abbreviated, so that worked out nicely. It’s actually the latest book by a friend of mine who is a very morbidly funny guy, which you might anticipate after reading a novel about the mortuary arts (and failing at being an academic) that is alternately gross, sad, and also humorous. If you read stuff that’s more Canadian-adult-literary, check it out.

(Also: If you also dig this cover design, it’s by another friend of mine who you should definitely check out.)

American Street by Ibi Zoboi

American Street

This is a book about an immigrant girl, Fabiola, who comes to Detroit to live with her aunt and her cousins, but it’s not all it’s cracked up to be, especially since her mother gets stopped at immigration.

This book was reasonably good; I liked Fabiola and how she translated her beliefs and values to her new landscape in order to find something of herself in her Detroit life. But it was definitely a short book that felt abbreviated because it tried to do a lot: culture shock, a handful of familial relationships, romance, friendship, magical realism, crime drama, etc. I get it: a lot of books like this try to do a lot because teenagers, especially those in extenuating circumstances, are overwhelmed by how much is going on. But in book form, this doesn’t always stick the landing quite as well. It gets too busy, not all of the characters get the development they should, and big moments don’t hit as hard as they could.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven Boys

I did it. I finally read one of the most beloved YA contemporary fantasy books in the blogosphere. (I wasn’t that into it. Don’t mob me.)

This book is about Blue, who grew up not-psychic in a family of psychics, and the Raven Boys, a group of boys from a nearby private school who are investigating ley lines and the tomb of a legendary Welsh king. This book basically sets up a couple of main plots but then goes on a couple of side plot adventures, which would be kind of okay if we really got to know and cared about all of the characters doing that. I didn’t really (I could’ve just done with more Blue hanging around the house with all the women), so this wasn’t really my scene.

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

This was a magical realism novel about three generations of women in the Roux family. Emilienne, Viviane, and Ava all have their own particular magics, although Ava’s is the most visible: she’s born with wings.

This book was beautifully written stylistically. With its explorations of love across generations, it often felt more adult-literature than particularly YA, which was a little confusing. The emotional beats of this story have strong messages, but don’t land as much as they could because there isn’t a lot of time to fully develop the secondary characters involved in them, or even the relationships between these three women. It was good, but not as amazing as it could’ve been.

American Girls by Alison Umminger

American Girls

This book is about Anna, who feels invisible to her parents and runs away to escape their lack of notice and the changes in her life. It’s also about LA, her older sister Delia and her life, and the research she takes on about the Manson girls for a screenplay. It’s also about the bad things people do that can lead them down awful roads, and about the way some attention and forgiveness might bring them back.

In theory, this book was great. It very much digs into the setting of LA, with poverty next to wasteful wealth, the perils and thrills of Hollywood, and so on. It slowly unravels some weighty concepts on the way people hurt one another. In practice, though, beyond the conceptual, the book didn’t spend long developing most of the main relationships (between Anna and her sister, her mother, her love interest, etc.), so there were a lot of great potential messages without much reason for emotional investment.

What were your reads this month? Any new favourites? Or were you too busy doing Nanowrimo? (Did you win?) Let me know in the comments, and I’ll speak to you again soon!

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