I planned to do a Fall 2018 wrap-up to highlight the books I read or listened to this fall, but since there would have only been one more month of books, I decided to just wrap up the rest of 2018 in a single post. Here’s what I read or listened to since September.
Queen of Geeks by Jen Wilde
This book was so disappointing. It’s goal was to be a “feel good” book, and while I recognize that mental illness is a thing that needs to be addressed in books, the way it was handled in this was bad. Plus, the details of the Con were laughable. If you want a good YA contemporary set at a Con, read Geekerella by Ashley Poston.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
I’ll be honest: I decided to read this because I wanted to watch the Netflix adaptation. (Which I haven’t watched yet…) Epistolary novels can be hit or miss because sometimes information and relationships aren’t as easy to follow in them, but I quite enjoyed this story. It’s an interesting look at the German occupation in Europe, and I like how it paints the story in shades of gray, instead of black and white.
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
I probably should have read this book ages ago, but I finally did and it was great. Anne has such a way with words that she makes it interesting to read about writing and craft. If you consider yourself a writer, you should probably read this book (or at least parts of it).
Bonnie and Clyde by Karen Blumenthal
I don’t normally like to read non-fiction, but I wanted to give this book a try because I’m intrigued by the legend of Bonnie and Clyde. I like that this book doesn’t paint their life as this glamorous “on the run” story. They suffered. Their life was not something to be celebrated or glorified. They were so, so young and so misguided. I love the depth of detail in this book that helps give new insight into their story.
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Several people told me to read this because it’s such a good YA contemporary, but it left me more angry than anything else. Any book that deals with mental illness and suicide can be touchy, and I felt that while the author was trying to be genuine, the ending ruined the book for me. I find it interesting that so many people bash 13 Reasons Why for discussing suicide in such prevalent ways, yet people praise this book even though it does exactly the same thing.
The Fall of Gondolin by J.R.R. Tolkien
Honestly, if you give me a book by Tolkien, I’m going to say it’s the best thing ever. This was fantastic.
Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk
I’ve wanted to read this title for a while, so when a friend gave me a copy, I finally did. It was so great and easily one of my favorite middle grade books. It reminded me a lot of The War that Saved My Life, and I’m still appalled it wasn’t the Newbery winner.
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
I’ve heard good things about this classic novel, but I think I just didn’t get it. The beginning was slow and there is so much talking. Lord Henry was super annoying, and I was just disappointed and bored while reading.
Vincent and Theo by Deborah Heiligman
I don’t know when I first fell in love with Van Gogh’s art, but I will never be over “Starry Night” as long as I live. Reading this book was odd because the narration is present tense and it’s long and there is so much information stuffed into it. Probably too much information that I didn’t want to know. The formatting of the book was perfect, though.
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
I thought Salt to the Sea was brutal and heartbreaking, but Between Shades of Gray is on par with it. This book shredded my heart to a pulp. I don’t know much about the Soviet occupation and Lithuanian deportation, and I am so, so grateful that Ruta Sepetys is writing books about this time period and place, shedding light on such atrocities. I also appreciate that she shows multiple sides of the story.
Wolf by Wolf and Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin
Don’t you just love when the second book is better than the first? That’s the case with Wolf by Wolf and Blood for Blood. The first book is great, but the second book is amazing. I don’t know why it took me so long to finally read this series, but I am so glad I did. It’s a whirlwind of nerves, and I love the characters and world-building and dash of science-fiction. There is so much I could say about this duology but it would take ages to sort it all out. Basically: I laughed. I cried. I wanted to scream. These books ruined me. I can’t wait to read more books by Ryan Graudin.
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
I never read this book in school, so I thought I should finally read it. It’s highly praised as the first YA book and resonating with generations of readers, but I just didn’t get it. I guess I can’t relate to a story about gangs and violence and I don’t think the writing is that great. I do appreciate that Ponyboy’s narrative voice sounds like a fourteen year-old boy and that it does try to explore the devastating effects of violence.
Mortal Engines and Predator’s Gold by Philip Reeve
I planned to read the entire Mortal Engines quartet, but I’m going to wait to read book three and four in the new year. The concept of these book is incredible, and I love Tom and Hester so much, but these books are so odd. At times, the writing feels like it would be perfect for a middle grade novel. Tom is often naive and too precious for the world, and Hester’s actions often make her seem like an angry and jealous middle school girl. But then the violence level and amount of deaths and mature themes included the book make it seem like it should be a series for adults. I liked reading them and I want to continue the series, but I’m still baffled by these books.
The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
I was a bit disappointed in this one. It’s a highly praised children’s books, but I found the story to be different than I expected. The narrative choice of addressing the reader was annoying and jarring. The artwork was at times terrifying, and I wasn’t thrilled when the story jumped to other characters and wasn’t about Despereaux. I never felt like I truly grasped any one character as it jumped around too often. All in all, it just wasn’t a book for me.
I’m of the unpopular opinion that the Fantastic Beasts series is better than Harry Potter. Maybe it’s because it’s a movie and not a 300-800 page book of average writing, but I love the characters and story. Sure, The Crimes of Grindelwald is controversial for many reasons, but I think it accomplishes what it set out to do. This is only the screenplay, not a full book, but it’ll help explain whatever someone didn’t catch while watching the movie. Plus, the design of the book and the artwork by MinaLima is gorgeous.
The Last Jedi by Jason Fry
Star Wars audiobooks will always be superior, even if the plot and character development of this story is garbage.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story by Alexander Freed
Why was this book so much better than the movie? Because it actually explained what the frick-frack was going on! There is so much backstory to characters and better motivation for their actions than what was shown in the movie.
The Magic Misfits by Neil Patrick Harris
If this wasn’t written and also narrated by Neil Patrick Harris, I don’t think I would have enjoyed it as much. Part of this were boring, and the plot didn’t start until more than halfway through the book (which is annoying). It was cute, though, and I like that it focuses on friendship and finding a place to belong.
Skullduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy
I was so looking forward to this book because I’ve heard such great things, but I was so bored listening to it. There were moments of exciting action and cool mythology with the magic, but there was so much talking and the dry British humor got old fast. There was so much potential…
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls by Steven Hockensmith
This book is a completely ridiculous and unnecessary prequel, but I enjoyed listening to the audiobook. The narrator of this did an excellent job with all the voices (she nailed Mrs. Bennet), and if it weren’t for her, I probably wouldn’t have cared for the story as much. It’s a bit predictable if you know the plot of the main book, but it’s still fun to learn how the Bennet sisters were taught to fight zombies. I plan to listen to the sequel Dreadfully Ever After next.
The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli
This was a reread as I prepared for the sequel/companion novel, The Caged Queen. And I was glad to find I still love this story a year later, and that I think I enjoyed it even more because I noticed different things this time around.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
An online book club hosted by author Mary Weber chose this book as the September read, so this was a reread for me. It’s interesting how my opinion of these books shifted so much since the first time I read them a few years ago. I caught a lot of flaws in the story, but I still enjoyed the characters and magical world.
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
In preparation for Muse of Nightmares, I reread Strange the Dreamer. It’s still so good. The characters, the world-building, the story. It all slays me.
The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell
I reread this one in preparation for the sequel, The Devil’s Thief, and it was still amazing as the first time I read it. Seriously, I can’t even handle these characters or this story. I love it so much
The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy
I’ve been waiting all year to reread this lovely book in time for Disappearance Day (November 29). It was reassuring to discover that I still love this story. Sometimes I worry that what I resonates with me one year will significantly shift another year. But this story still enchants me.
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
I’m probably going to reread this book every November for obvious reasons. It’s one of my favorite books ever, and every time I read it, I find something new that ruins me. This year, we made November cakes and they were so good I pretty much died eating them.