Welcome back to my monthly wrap-up! I think this is the most I've read in one month, ever. I know two of the books are graphic novels/manga and I can get through a lot of pages there a lot quicker than a novel, but phew this month felt chalk-full of reading and books for me! 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 thirteen (!!) books this month: eight physical books and five audiobooks. Let's go!
Hench - Natalie Zina Walschots
⬤⬤⬤⬤〇 | hardcover | purchase here
On Goodreads it would appear that there might be a sequel in the works to this book, and while I don't think I'm interested in continuing with a series, I would recommend this book as a standalone to anyone who finds the subgenre or synopsis interesting.
Where the Drowned Girls Go - Seanan McGuire
⬤⬤⬤◕〇 | audiobook | synopsis here
My Review: This is probably my favorite installment in the Wayward Children series so far. I can't say that Cora is my favorite character, but I was excited for the chance to see what the other school mentioned in prior books was like. I feel like McGuire's prose was muchhhh more under control this time and the dialogue and narration flowed nicely.
I wish there had been more doors and magic in this one, but I understand that isn't always the case in these books. I expect I might find it difficult to remember the plot of this one in a month or so, but I do know I enjoyed my time reading it.
Stealing - Margaret Verble
⬤⬤⬤◐〇 | audiobook | synopsis here
My Review: The synopsis describes this as a "gut-punch" of a novel and I think that's better wording than whatever I was going to come up with. I do think the blurb was slightly misleading; this book focused a lot more on Kit's pre-boarding school days than I had anticipated, which was a little disappointing to me. Now, I don't know that I really want to spend more time reading about Kit's school experiences, since those were the most nauseating chapters, but I do think those sections could have been better developed.
I really enjoyed the writing style and perspective that Verble chose. Reading (or listening, in my case) to this story in the first-person perspective of a young kid provides special insight into how Kit sees the world, what she doesn't understand, and how hard it can be to communicate how you feel as a child.
While the ending and convergence of timelines felt a little rushed and I fear this book won't stand out among others that I read this year, I do think this was an interesting title worth taking a look at, if you feel you can stomach the content.
If We're Being Honest - Cat Shook
⬤⬤⬤⬤〇 | e-ARC | synopsis here
My Review: Thanks to Celadon Books and NetGalley for providing me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and feedback are my own.
I'm having trouble starting this review because I keep wanting to call If We're Being Honest a lighthearted contemporary, which feels wrong because the inciting incident is the death of a parent/husband/grandfather. But this book really is lighthearted and moving. Shook explores so many types of family relationships that you're sure to relate to one of them. I loved the prose and the way the characters were developed. I found them all loveable, even the ones who were fun to dislike.
I thought the ending to each character arc was very satisfying and well-deserved. I felt like the plot lagged at times because I enjoyed some characters and their conflicts more than others, as is to be expected, but I was never in a slump or in danger of DNFing. I do almost think there were too many main characters - definitely had to use my Kindle lookup feature a few times - but once I got a handle on it it wasn't too bad.
Overall, I would recommend this one, especially if you have a close, large family or are going through some interpersonal relationship issues. I don't know if this one has staying power in my mind, but I do know I enjoyed it while I was reading.
Heartstopper, Volume Two - Alice Oseman
⬤⬤⬤⬤⬤ | hardcover | synopsis here
My Review: These books continue to make my heart feel so warm and fuzzy. I can't believe I wasn't planning on reading this series until my friend recommended it to me! I can't wait to finish reading the volumes that are out and watch the TV show as well! I think this series has really opened my eyes to graphic novels as a medium and I'm excited to continue to explore more titles in the future (and more books by Alice Oseman!).
Felix Ever After - Kacen Callender
⬤⬤⬤⬤◔ | audiobook | synopsis here
My Review: I read this book with a friend who requested a buddy read, and I'm really glad they did! This book is a little outside of what I normally read; I'm not a big contemporary romance gal. However, this is such a well-written novel that has a lot to say and it sucked me right in. I listened to this on audiobook and the narrator does a great job, so you won't go wrong if that's how you choose to consume this one. There is so much good rep and diversity in this book, and it is funny, heartfelt, emotional, and important.
As someone who is white and cis and bisexual but married to a man, I feel like it's not my place to speak on how well these characters were portrayed, but I found them to be loveable and real and well-developed. I thought the layers of conflict with parents and friends beyond the main conflict of the story added depth and believability to both the plot and the characters.
I wish there hadn't been so many Harry Potter references lol and while I understand that Felix is a teenager with a lot on his plate, their teenage immaturity and constant tardiness/desire to blow off assignments kind of got on my nerves haha. Nevertheless, would absolutely recommend this one! The hype is totally deserved.
Lost in the Moment and Found - Seanan McGuire
⬤⬤⬤◕〇 | audiobook | synopsis here
My Review: I really liked the next installment in this series. They're some of my favorite audiobooks for my commute into work, and I always look forward to seeing where McGuire is going to take us next. I always enjoy door exploration books more than the school books, so that automatically gives this one an advantage. I enjoyed the writing, I thought the twist was good, the narrator did a great job, and I liked our main character.
As is the trouble with most novellas that I read, I feel like Lost in the Moment and Found could have really benefitted from like, 150-200 more pages. I just wanted to know more. I wanted to explore the house more and get more development of the worlds the doors opened to. I think some aspects of the plot would have been more impactful if other characters had been more developed.
Overall, this is a book whose topics are very clearly important and personal to the author, and it shows in a great way. Always looking forward to continuing this series.
In the Lives of Puppets - TJ Klune
⬤⬤⬤⬤◔ | e-ARC | synopsis here
I think I'm maybe the only one in the book community who hasn't read something by TJ Klune prior to this, but I am so glad I requested this ARC. My husband told me he hasn't ever heard me laugh out loud as hard or as much as I did at a book before, ever, and I think that's true. I cackled. So much. This book's prose and its dialogue are a delight, and the characters were truly wonderful and a joy to love and root for. It's a true talent when you can write a post-apocalyptic book about human killing robots and have your audience describe it as 'cozy', but here we are.
I spent about half this book thinking it was a hands-down five star read, but a little over 50% through and the plot started to drag and get a little repetitive. It only slowed my pace a little bit, but I was disappointed because this book got off to a stellar start.
I'm so glad I read this book and I would highly recommend it to everyone, especially if you've enjoyed one of Klune's books in the past. I'm definitely picking up a hardcover copy once it releases!
content warnings: genocide, dementia, grief, death
Uzumaki - Junji Ito
⬤⬤⬤⬤◕ | hardcover | synopsis here
My Review: Behold, the first book I've ever read that has made me physically afraid to turn a page. The first book to make me go "EUGH!" out loud and have to put down the book for a minute. Some panels have certainly be burned into my mind forever.
Thank god these panels are done in black and white, although it might be scarier that way. Each page and each panel are so detailed and intentionally placed and drawn, consuming this book was to take in a work of art. Each chapter was unique and horrifying, and the thread that connected them all equally well done.
I don't know what could have made this book five stars, but after I was done I was left feeling tired and kind of icky, like it could have been the beginning of a reading slump if I didn't already have another book I was currently reading. I'm excited and also dreading reading more by Junji Ito.
content warnings: d
Through the Woods - Emily Carroll
⬤⬤⬤◐〇 | ebook | synopsis here
I think this is a fun read and I would recommend it, but probably only if you borrowed it from your library. The stories didn't have enough substance to merit me wanting to buy this or check it out again, though I do think if there's a sequel I would be interested in checking it out and reading it too.
I Have Some Questions For You - Rebecca Makkai
⬤⬤⬤〇〇 | hardcover | purchase here
There were so many times where I felt like there was an interesting plot thread - the hypocrisy of Bodie defending her husband, allusions to an eating disorder she has, commentary on the effect of true crime on those close to the case - and yet these topics were brushed over, never to be returned to.
I think if you're a mystery fan and aren't looking for a deep dive into the topics I mentioned above, you'll have a great time reading this. I just don't think it was for me.
content warnings: murder, adult/minor relationship
Heartstopper, Volume Three - Alice Oseman
I can't wait to keep reading this series but I don't want it to end! I think I'll definitely be buying all the volumes once I finish them.
content warnings: homophobia, eating disorders, biphobia, self harm, bullying
The Escape Artist: The Man Who Broke Out of Auschwitz to Warn the World - Jonathan Freedland
content warnings: genocide, death, antisemitism, child death, suicide
What was your favorite book you read this month? Let me know!