We’re rounding out the year strong with nine books this month, and I should meet my target of 70 books for the year (since I only have one more to go).
The icing on the cake would be to meet or beat last year’s number of 75, but we’ll see how next month goes.
Since I’ve got another 50 books on my shelf that are unread, I’m going to up next year’s target and increase to 100 books. Yep, 100 books in 12 months. That’s around two books per week 🙂
I have no idea what next year will bring, but we shouldn’t have six months on the road traveling around the UK, so my stability of being in London for at least the first nine months of the year should help with the target.
That, and adding in some smaller books that I can read quite quickly, but I’m only going to read them if they are classics or five-star reads as I don’t want to read a small book just for the sake of it.
So let’s go through what I read this month and the reviews!
The Coward by Jarred McGinnis (Gifted)
After a car accident Jarred discovers he’ll never walk again. Confined to a ‘giant roller-skate’, he finds himself with neither money nor job. Worse still, he’s forced to live back home with the father he hasn’t spoken to in ten years. Add in a shoplifting habit, an addiction to painkillers and the fact that total strangers now treat him like he’s an idiot, it’s a recipe for self-destruction. How can he stop himself careering out of control? As he tries to piece his life together again, he looks back over his past – the tragedy that blasted his family apart, why he ran away, the damage he’s caused himself and others – and starts to wonder whether, maybe, things don’t always have to stay broken after all.
My rating: ★★★★
I really enjoyed this book, but the one thing it did leave me with one huge question. The author and main character in the book, share the same name – but is this a work of fiction, or a memoir of sorts? The book follows Jarred coming to terms with life in a wheelchair after a car accident and having to move back home with his dad who he doesn’t have a great relationship. There are many questions to be answered throughout the book as to why Jarred left home when he was younger, what happened to his mother, who the girl in the car was and other happenings in his life before the accident. The book is full of wit and sarcasm (I did laugh out loud a few times), but also touches on really sad and emotional subjects. I would definitely recommend!
Circe by Madeline Miller
In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. Circe is strange – not powerful and terrible, like her father, nor gorgeous and mercenary like her mother. But she has a dark power of her own: witchcraft. When Circe’s gift threatens the gods, she is banished to the island of Aiaia where she hones her occult craft, casting spells, gathering strange herbs and taming wild beasts. Yet a woman who stands alone cannot live in peace for long – and among her island’s guests is an unexpected visitor: the mortal Odysseus, for whom Circe will risk everything.
My rating: ★★
Wow, was I glad when I finished this book. I was almost tempted to give the book one star, but considering I finished the book, I edged it up to a two star. I have seen this book everywhere on TikTok and Instagram, and especially Madeline Miller’s other book The Song of Achilles which I also bought based on the hype on social media. After reading Circe, I’m tempted to put The Song of Achilles on the bottom of my 50+ to-be-read pile. Madeline Miller is known for writing about Greek mythology, but in a modern and fictitious way, so I did really enjoy learning a little bit more about Greek mythology but there were just so many names, a lot happening at once, then nothing for a while, then a lot, and it was very hard to keep up and know who was who, and where we were at in the book. I didn’t enjoy the book at all, but if you’ve read it – let me know what you think!
It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
Sometimes it is the one who loves you who hurts you the most. Lily hasn’t always had it easy, but that’s never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up — she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily’s life suddenly seems almost too good to be true. As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan — her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.
My rating: ★★★★★
It seems that miss Colleen Hoover is probably the world’s most popular author right now, being the most hyped person on Book TikTok (that’s booktok to those of us down with the kids on the app), and everyone is reading every Colleen Hoover book they can get their hands on. Colleen isn’t a new author that has appeared on the scene. Colleen Hoover has been writing for years, so she has a catalogue of books waiting to be bought, and because someone discovered her fiction and started shouting about it on TikTok, now the whole world is reading every book she’s ever written. I will say that I did really enjoy It Ends With Us, but firstly, I think this is more young adult fiction than adult fiction and two, if you changed the characters in this to members of One Direction, it would just be like reading fanfiction back when I was 13, so I can see why it’s very hyped on TikTok. But I did enjoy it. And I may have another three of her books on my shelf.
The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Dare
All you have are your words. Meet Adunni, a teenage girl born into a rural Nigerian village. Aged fourteen, she is a commodity, a wife, a servant. She is also smart, funny, curious, with a spirit and joy infectious to those around her. And despite her situation going from bad to worse, she has a plan to escape: she will find her ‘louding voice’ and get her education, so that she can speak up for herself – and all the girls who came before her. As she turns enemies into friends and superiors into aides, Adunni will take you with her on a heart-breaking but inspiring journey from a small village to the wealthy enclaves of Lagos, and show you that no matter the situation, there is always some joy to be found.
My rating: ★★★★★
This is one that I’ve been wanting to read for a while. I recently received a £100 Amazon gift voucher which was 100% spent on books, so you’ll soon see a lot of very recent titles coming through on my book reviews. The Girl With the Louding Voice follows a girl in a Nigerian village, who is set to marry at the age of 14. However, Adunni wants to be educated and make her own way in the world and speak up against what is wrong. The story follows her journey to making a better life for herself and all that she has to endure to get there. A great book that looks at life in Nigeria and one that I would very much recommend.
Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood
Felix is at the top of his game as Artistic Director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival. His productions have amazed and confounded. Now he’s staging a Tempest like no other: not only will it boost his reputation, it will heal emotional wounds. Or that was the plan. Instead, after an act of unforeseen treachery, Felix is living in exile in a backwoods hovel, haunted by memories of his beloved lost daughter, Miranda. And also brewing revenge. After twelve years, revenge finally arrives in the shape of a theatre course at a nearby prison. Here, Felix and his inmate actors will put on his Tempest and snare the traitors who destroyed him. It’s magic! But will it remake Felix as his enemies fall?
My rating: ★★★
I had two Margaret Atwood books on my shelf, Hag-Seed and The Testaments. I do need to get my hands on The Handmaid’s Tale, but for now I will start with these two. Hag-Seed was the shorter option, so I chose to dive in first with this one. The story follows Felix, a theatre director who has been let go from his position and feeling like he can’t show his face again, goes to live in the middle of nowhere before taking a job at a prison, working with inmates to teach them theatre. This is a story about revenge, insanity and holding a very large grudge. I will say that I learnt a lot about Shakespeare’s The Tempest and it was an easy read, however I don’t think it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read and I may hold off on The Testaments a little while longer.
November 9 by Colleen Hoover
Fallon meets Ben, an aspiring novelist, the day before her scheduled cross-country move. Their untimely attraction leads them to spend Fallon’s last day in L.A. together, and her eventful life becomes the creative inspiration Ben has always sought for his novel. Over time and amidst the various relationships and tribulations of their own separate lives, they continue to meet on the same date every year. Until one day Fallon becomes unsure if Ben has been telling her the truth or fabricating a perfect reality for the sake of the ultimate plot twist. Can Ben’s relationship with Fallon—and simultaneously his novel—be considered a love story if it ends in heartbreak?
My rating: ★★★★
Oh look, it’s Colleen Hoover again. Since the title had the word November in it, I had to read it this month. I really liked the concept of this book, however I will say that once again this felt very fanfiction/a young adult style of writing. It was extremely cheesy, and at times I did almost gag at some of the lines in the book, but isn’t that Wattpad for you? I mean, the books are incredibly easy to read and I can sit and read the whole thing in one sitting, so I did enjoy it. I just don’t think these books are going to win any Pulitzer Prizes any time soon. But I’ll still read and enjoy them.
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet. So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favourite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfil the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos.
My rating: ★★★★
Another book that was included in my £100 order, I picked this up as I had read Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere last year and enjoyed it – I still need to watch the TV series. I think I preferred this book a lot more as I feel the characters went a lot deeper and you really got to know each individual very well which led to understanding their actions later in the book. It’s almost a murder mystery, trying to figure out why and how Lydia died, but also a story of family and loss and being a parent.
Text Me When You Get Home by Kayleen Schaefer
After joyful nights out together, female friends say this to one another as a way of cementing their love. It’s about safety but, more than that, it’s about solidarity. A validation of female friendship unlike any that’s ever existed before, Text Me When You Get Home is a mix of historical research, the author’s own personal experience, and conversations about friendships with women across the country. Everything Schaefer uncovers reveals that these ties are making us, both as individuals and as society as a whole, stronger than ever before.
My rating: ★★★★
I picked this up in a charity second-hand bookshop right next to my office for £3. With 50 books on my shelf unread, I also picked up The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde as it was something I’ve been meaning to read for a while now (also £3!). I thought the title of this book was very appropriate in regards to recent events and campaigns, particularly in London, so I was very intrigued to read it. The book wasn’t entirely about women’s safety, although it did touch on this at the beginning of the book, but more-so about female friendships and looking back at how women stayed in touch and the role of a woman, mother and her friends over the years. It was an extremely thought-provoking book for me and one that has created a few ideas for blog posts that I’m going to write over the next few months. I would really recommend this book to get you thinking about the relationships and friendships in your life. I would almost consider this a self-help book in a strange, roundabout way.
Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people… In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash. Separated by distance—and Papi’s secrets—the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered. And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.
My rating: ★★★★★
As I’ve mentioned a few too many times, I have over 50 books on my shelves that are unread. So at the weekend, I went and signed up to my local library that’s a five minute walk from my apartment. I was walking around the library like, Wait, I can read all of these books for free?! as if the concept of a library was entirely new to me. I think I was getting a little over-excited as they had so many new titles that I’ve been wanting to read, and this means I don’t have to pay for them and find space on my already-full shelves. Clap When You Land is one of my first library books (I borrowed three to start off), and what a book to start with. It didn’t help that I was quite confused until over 100 pages in when I realised there were two people telling the story (note to reader: read the blurb before beginning). The book is written in poetry form, so I was able to read the entire book in one day. It’s a unique way of writing that I haven’t yet come across, but it tells the story so well and there were so many well written verses that made me stop and re-read. A book I would thoroughly recommend (it’s also Young Adult).