Welcome back to my monthly wrap-up! I know that some of these books may be listed for sale on the website, but I want to keep my reviews honest. We may not have the same taste in books and I encourage you to check them out regardless!
I read ten books this month: eight physical books and two audiobooks. Let's go!
The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea - Axie Oh
⬤⬤◐〇〇 | hardcover | purchase here
I feel like the plot pacing was off - too slow and fast in the opposite places. The characters seemed flat and underdeveloped and not particularly likeable. I didn't dislike them per se, but I didn't feel any connection to them. I wish the worldbuilding was better, because I really did enjoy the vague concept of the what little we were given - especially some of the types of gods, the river of souls, and the paper boat prayers. There just wasn't enough. The plot contrivances and coincidences paired with a lackluster romance (boo instalove!) just topped it off for me.
content warnings: child death, violence
The Salt Grows Heavy - Cassandra Khaw
⬤⬤⬤◕〇 | e-ARC | synopsis here
My Review: Thanks to Tor Publishing and NetGalley for providing me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and feedback are my own.
I suppose one of the things about requesting an ARC is that apart from some scant reviews and the provided synopsis, you don't have much to go off of. In most cases I think this is wonderful; I love diving into a book with no preconceptions. I think with this one though, I was given more than I bargained for.
This is a beautifully written novella, despite the content. I don't think I've ever looked up as many words while reading, bless the Kindle lookup feature. Each word is chosen with purpose and each sentence lyrically crafted. I also think this is one of the few novellas I've read that is exactly the length it should be. I thought the book was eerie, disgusting, and atmospheric. I enjoyed our characters and the relationship between them, even if their development was a little flat.
With that being said, I think this is the closest I've gotten to reading splatterpunk, and I don't plan on getting any closer. I felt a little blindsided by the levels of explicit gore in this book and while I felt like I was in a good headspace to handle that, it was a lot. I think people who love graphic horror will eat this one up (pun not intended EW!), but for atmospheric slow-burn psychological horror girlies like me, it was a tad much.
If you decide to go for this one, take those content warnings seriously.
content warnings: cannibalism, body horror, gore, torture
The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse - Charlie Mackesy
⬤⬤⬤⬤⬤ | hardcover | synopsis here
My Review: Everyone should own a copy of this book; the messages in it transcend age or format. The illustrations are charming, the characters are sweet, but, of course, the best thing about it is the messaging. No matter what is going on in your life, there's something in here that you need to hear and that will speak directly to you. For me, that quote was, "Sometimes all you hear about is the hate, but there is more love in this world than you can possible imagine". And I just really needed to remember that. It made me cry, even.
This book is more of a collection of thoughts than a cohesive story, but that was just what I needed. I will certainly read this to my kids one day and I hope everyone has the chance to read it for themselves.
Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital - Sheri Fink
⬤⬤⬤◐〇 | audiobook | synopsis here
My Review: I was alive when Katrina hit but too young to understand its impact. This book is well-researched, very detailed, and unflinching when it comes to the accounts of the five days spent at Memorial and the fallout after the fact. The first half of the book recounts the five days during the hurricane, and the second half gives details on the aftermath and ensuing legal battle that occurred.
I really enjoyed the first half of this book and it was exactly what I expected going in. A great piece of narrative nonfiction that I would recommend to anyone wanting to learn more about this disaster. And then it started to drag. I figured Fink would get into some details of what happened after Katrina, but not to the extent that she did. While I do think that she does a good job of talking about the medical malpractice issues and discussing both viewpoints, it became repetitive for me and I found myself zoning out more frequently.
If you want a very full picture of what happened, this may just be the book for you, but at 550 pages, I'd recommend stopping after the fifth day at Memorial if you aren't as interested in the aftermath.
content warnings: death, medical content, medical trauma, animal death, ableism, terminal illness
The Complete Poetry of Edgar Allan Poe - Edgar Allan Poe
⬤⬤⬤〇〇 | paperback | synopsis here
My Review: I don't really read poetry and I think reading this solidified that for me. I picked this up from the library because I'm participating in a reading challenge where one of the books is a book of poetry published before 1990 and this was the least terrible thing I could think of. And I will say, obviously, that Poe is incredibly talented. The rhythm, meter, and themes of all of these poems was enjoyable, even on the surface level at which I felt I consumed them.
My favorite poems from this book are as follow. I wish I could have been more surprising with my choices but I guess I'm just a basic bitch:
I felt like a lot of my experience was just skimming and pretending like I knew what was going on, but of course this is a problem with me and not the poetry.
Heartstopper: Volume Four - Alice Oseman
⬤⬤⬤⬤⬤ | paperback | synopsis here
My Review: Another banger by Alice Oseman. The art style is so cute (NELLIE!!) and something gets a laugh out of me at least once a book. I appreciate the added depth we're getting with Charlie's eating disorder and discussions of mental illness. I was in Nick's shoes when I was in high school and I would have found this book extremely comforting and helpful if I had read it back then. I don't want this series to end but I'm glad that Oseman is doing it on her terms with a plan instead of running the series into the ground. Absolutely can't wait for the next one.
content warnings: eating disorder, self harm, mental illness, homophobia
The Ferryman - Justin Cronin
⬤⬤⬤⬤◐ | e-ARC | synopsis here
I wasn't sure what to expect from The Ferryman when I began reading - I own a copy of The Passage but haven't read it yet, so this was my first experience with Cronin. I cannot wait to read more by him. This book left me confused, in awe, whiplashed...how else can I describe it? I absolutely love when a twist falls into place that you absolutely do not see coming, but can see in retrospect the signs and how everything ties together. It was pretty masterfully done.
I really enjoyed our characters, the setting and off-putting atmosphere, the social tensions. I don't really have a lot of complaints. This isn't a perfect five stars because I found the plot to drag slightly at times, but I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this to someone if they feel up to reading a bigger book.
content warnings: classism, child death
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow - Gabrielle Zevin
⬤⬤⬤⬤◐ | audiobook | synopsis here
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow really solidifies that I'm a character-based novel type of person. I can see why some people wouldn't like it or think that it's overhyped. I think that it's a beautifully written novel that explores friendship and growth that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to a friend, even if they're not big into video games.
content warnings: gun violence, death, car crash
All My Rage - Sabaa Tahir
⬤⬤⬤⬤◔ | hardcover | purchase here
My Review: There's a lot going on with this book and I'm not even sure where to start. This book, in general, is a lot to take in, and I didn't really know what I was getting into. Don't get me wrong, I really liked this book. But you do have to be in the right headspace to read it. I get that this is a young adult novel and I think that's a good genre for it, but this reads like an adult novel and doesn't shy away from some really hard topics.
Sabaa Tahir's writing is beautiful and a joy to read. Even as I was getting angrier and angrier while reading, I appreciated her craft and style. As a few others have mentioned in their reviews, I'm thankful the last chapter of this book ended the way it did. There was too much anger built up for it to not resolve the way it did (otherwise I would have been in a serious book slump/depression for a while). Altogether emotional and heartbreaking, I think All My Rage is a book everyone should read, regardless of age.
content warnings: racism, islamophobia, alcoholism, death of parent, drug abuse, domestic abuse, sexual assault
What was your favorite book you read this month? Let me know!