Hello everyone, and welcome back!
We are officially rolling into the winter season, and I’m here to wrap this one up.
I read a lot of books this season thanks to a many-book November, although I’m not sure I read a lot of super strong ones or super bad ones? There was a lot of middle of the road, so this post is a little indecisive compared to previous months.
In any case, the disclaimer: the best are the books (generally YA, because I prefer to stick to reviewing that for now) that stand out to me as the season wraps up; the worst are the one that disappointed me somehow. And we’ll roll these out in no particular order, because that’s just the way we live around here.
When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore
This is a magical realism romance about Miel, a girl who grows roses from her wrist, and Sam, a boy who hangs moons from the trees to help people sleep. Miel struggles with the secrets of her lost family; Sam struggles with his gender identity.
This book really isn’t for everyone, because it’s definitely low on plot and high on description, atmosphere, and very internal character moments. But if you do like really character-driven books with hints of magic and diversity in your romantic leads, then this book is for you.
We Are Okay by Nina Lacour
This is a contemporary grief-driven book: Marin lost her only parent, her grandfather, last summer; this winter, she’s thousands of miles from home and hosting her former best friend, who she abandoned in the wake of her grief. She’s struggling to explain why it was that she left.
This book, again, isn’t for everyone; it’s pretty slow and ponderous, with a lot of quiet dish-washing and other stalling. But there’s also some beauty to its style, and although it was too short to build all of the character relationships to the level I wanted, it was emotionally affecting.
All the Rage by Courtney Summers
This is a book about rape, sexual assault, and rape culture, told through the perspective of Romy, who was raped and is very angry. She puts on her makeup as armour and faces every day as best she can after her unjust “fall from grace” at school, up until things go too far.
In terms of contemporaries about this subject, I read another this season, What We Saw, that was also pretty well-written. However, I appreciate that this book is from the perspective of the victim and doesn’t resort to being too ham-handed in making its case. There’s also something really powerful about the process of Romy’s makeup application that stuck with me.
Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King
This is another book about grief, although definitely different from We Are Okay: Vera’s former best friend Charlie recently died, but only Vera knows the whole story, and she’s having trouble coping with it.
I didn’t always love the plot of this book; the twists with Charlie are…okay. But Vera has a great voice as a character, and the form of this book is often a lot of fun: sometimes, there are point-of-view pieces from the pagoda. This isn’t my favourite book ever (none of those in this season are, to be honest), but it does make me feel like I’d happily pick up this author again.
What Light by Jay Asher
This book was about a female protagonist who leaves town every year to go sell Christmas trees in another state with her family, and while she’s there she meets a boy with a rough reputation. You may be able to tell how the rest of this will go.
I’m not sure if this was better or worse than Thirteen Reasons Why. It was a fairly shallow, melodramatic contemporary Christmas romance, but it didn’t trouble me with its ethics the way the other book did. It mostly kinda bored me.
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. SÁNCHEZ
Julia’s sister Olga recently died, and ever since, her mother is putting more and more pressure on her to be perfect. She’s also juggling dreams of college, dating, her friendships, and trying to figure out her dead sister’s secrets.
I wanted to love this book, but there was just too much happening in it and the style was really…unpolished. There are time jumps that feel really abrupt, long sequences that drag in Julia’s head, and characters who seem only momentarily important. I so wish I could’ve liked this book.
Where Futures End by Parker Peevyhouse
This is a sci-fi/fantasy book that takes place in five different times and deals with two different worlds: one like ours, and a fantasy-like world it’s connected to. The first protagonist slips into the other world in a time like ours; the rest of the short stories deal with the connection between worlds and its consequences as time progresses.
This was a really cool book in terms of worldbuilding and form (most books aren’t five vignettes), but the premise doesn’t spend too much time trying to make sense, and characters we get interested in drop out of the rest of the book, and it just generally disappointed me how cool some of the worldbuilding could be when the rest of the book just kind of fell flat for me.
Well, winter is here, and with it will hopefully come great books, tea, and cozy armchair reading. Here’s hoping I have nothing but bests to list next season! (But we all know that won’t happen.) What are some of your favourites of the past few months? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll speak to you again soon!