Memo Pad: October Review
So here’s all the books I reviewed in October.
1. Radio Silence by Alice Oseman **** – With the brilliant success of Solitaire – Oseman’s
debut – fresh in everyone’s mind, Radio Silence is sure to hit the market with a bang. It tackles the topics of university, academia, and school stresses in the fresh way only Alice Oseman can; unflinchingly honest, this author gets it right. If you’re wanting a book about teenagers from someone who actually knows youth culture, living it herself, then this is a must.
2. Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare **** – In my previous review of The Clockwork
Prince’s predecessor, The Clockwork Angel, I left no doubt that while I don’t like The Mortal Instruments; Clare has won me as a fan of her brilliantly written prequels about the Nephilim in The Infernal Devices. Clockwork Angel was a pleasing read of contemporary fantasy and I liken it to the works of Philip Reeve, whose novels will always be special to me. I preferred the dark, brooding, handsome William Herondale to his dark, brooding, handsome descendant Jace Wayland and the heroine, though highly improper in a society of proper ladies – where abovementioned Will is concerned… ahem – is a plucky, Victorian era American chick who kicks ass, or at least tries to. And I ADORE Jem! Enough said.
3. Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare *** – This is one review that I’ve actually been
dreading writing because even days after finishing the book I’m still not quite sure how I entirely feel about the conclusion of The Infernal Devices series. While I’ve enjoyed the books I never really felt incredibly connected or concerned for the characters, but I suppose they kind of snuck up on me at some point without me fully realizing it, because I found the ending to be bittersweet, surreal, and even a little sad.
4. Armada by Ernest Cline *** – Armada is a story about how gamers are the most important people in the world. This is not a new story; it’s served as the inspiration for countless video games over the past 40 years, not to mention the recent harassment campaigns that spawned out of gaming culture and the wounded, entitled pride at their heart. While the aims of the novel are onanistic rather than malicious, Armada nonetheless demands to be bronzed as the perfect embodiment of the impulses that so often make games—and gaming culture—boring, self-indulgent, and regressive.
5. A Gathering of Shadows by V E Schwab **** – A Gathering of Shadows is the follow up to A Darker Shade of Magic and again follows Lila Bard and Kell on their continued journey into the limits of their magic and the boundaries they keep pushing against. There may be spoilers for A Darker Shade of Magic below. I had a few problems with Kell in the previous novel, but I found him to be much more nuanced in this story. After the events at the end of A Darker Shade of Magic, Kell linked his life to save his adoptive brother, Rhyl the Prince of Red London. Due to this Kell has felt himself become more of a prisoner of the King and Queen rather than part of the family. Kell is unable to tell if this is due to a lack of trust or if they are just being overprotective towards the heir to the throne. Rhyl as well seems much more tempered and grown up, realising that his duty is to his people and has started to appreciate the skills he has, rather than being bothered by his lack of magic.
6. This is not a test by Courtney Summers **** – Listen closely. Do not draw attention to
yourself. Once you have found a secure location, stay where you are and help will come soon. This is not a test. Listen closely. This is not a test. On the day that Sloane Price decides to kill herself, the world ends. Wait. Let me start again, six months earlier.
7. Medea’s Curse by Anne Buist *** – The prologue and opening chapter of Medea’s Curse lends itself as an amazing read with just the right balance of intrigue, suspense and tension to grip the reader and draw them in. We are almost instantly introduced to a host of characters involving in a variety of compromising situations including the disappearance of a child. I instantly like the protagonist Natalie as she is very sassy, self-assured and confident although this can be mistaken for arrogance at times, she also uses this to hide her own insecurities and short-comings. I felt there way more to her than meets the eye, having read quite a few psychological thrillers written in many different style I had very high expectations going into this novel. The opening definitely delivered and I hope that the rest of the novel can keep up the astounding pace set in the first few chapters. I really enjoyed the quirky and sexually tense relationship between Natalie and Liam which she resists at first, I like seeing the contrast between Liam’s logical mind and Natalie’s emotional one. There are a lot of tense settings in which the characters are found and from the very first page there is never a dull moment.
8. Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare **** – Shadowhunter fans, are you ready for
Cassandra Clare’s next big Shadowhunter trilogy? Are you ready for more demon hunting, fighting the causes of evil, amazing plot twists, beautifully complex characters bleeding all over the pages, wild humour and forbidden love? Because if you are, Lady Midnight the first book in The Dark Artifices is here. Lady Midnight is set in Los Angeles five years after The Dark War, following parabatai Emma Carstairs and Julian Blackthorn as they investigate a series of murders of mundanes (the Shadowhunter name for humans) and faeries. But these are no ordinary series of murders, they are linked to the deaths of Emma’s parents.
9. The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare *** – These stories had such potential, the
world of Mortal Instruments, and one of the best characters, Magnus Bane. A bisexual warlock with crazy fashion sense, what’s not to like? I feel these stories would’ve been more successful as a novel, with a part at the beginning dedicated to his early life.
10. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch ***** – Blake Crouch’s latest novel begins as a
Hitchcockian thriller before taking a left turn into ambitious sci-fi territory, and that is a huge amount of fun. It starts with science professor and family man Jason Dessen popping out for a drink while his wife makes dinner. He’s abducted, driven to an abandoned building, stripped naked and asked, “Are you happy in your life?”
11. The Last Summer of Us by Maggie Harcourt **** – I have sat here for a few minutes trying to work out how to start this review, because I’m simply still in awe at how beautiful The Last Summer of Us by Maggie Harcourt is, and I can’t think of any better introduction than: Wow. Limpet has just had to bury her mum. She is so full of grief and guilt, and her dad is having a hard time coping, so when her best friend Steffan suggests she go on road trip with him and their other friend Jared, she jumps at the chance to get away from it all for a while. What follows are several days of highs and lows, laughs and sadness, and the realisation of how important these two guys are to her. But things are changing. Not only has her mum died, but Steffan will soon be leaving. And underneath it all there are things no-one is saying, secrets that if brought out from hiding could destroy the one thing keeping Limpet going right now; their friendship.
12. Red Rising by Pierce Brown **** – Red Rising by Pierce Brown is the first book in a new
sci-fi trilogy that seems to be taking the world by storm. I had been avoiding it because of the hype, and because friends were pressuring me to read it, but I’m glad I relented and gave this book a try. Red Rising is one of the most gripping stories I have read in recent memory, and Pierce Brown is a sadist who is unafraid to kill the characters you fall in love with. If you are looking for a comparison, I would say that this book is like Ender’s Game meets Game of Thrones meets Final Fantasy 7.
13. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan **** – This book is not what I was expecting. I knew Will Grayson, Will Grayson is a LGBTQ novel, but I misunderstood the synopsis and thought that the Will Graysons fell in love. They don’t. There is romance, but not between those two. The first Will Grayson is afraid of things going badly. Anything. Because of this, he lives by two rules; 1. Shut up, and 2. Don’t care. If you don’t voice your opinion much, or defend yourself, or express your feelings, and you don’t care enough to want to anyway, nothing is going to go wrong. So he’s constantly telling himself to shut up and stop caring. A little hard when his best friend is the extremely larger than life (literally) and very camp Tiny Cooper, who is always feeling and caring (read: falls in love with a different boy every five minutes – yes, I said love), and always talking and expressing. Add to that the fact Tiny wants to put on a big, loud and expressive musical about his very big, gay self, and that the Gay-Straight Alliance he has set up includes the cute Possibly Gay Jane, and it becomes exceptionally difficult for Will to keep himself from caring and to not open his mouth about many things.
14. My Second Life by Faye Bird *** – What intrigued me most about My Second Life was that the main character, Ana, remembers her past life. She’s been reincarnated but remembers her previous life and in this book starts to remember something awful that she did. Reincarnation is fascinating to me and I have read a lot of articles and watched a lot of shows about kids that remember a previous life. There are people out there who interview them and check facts, etc and they see that these kids know things they wouldn’t know if they weren’t reincarnated. Of course some people find excuses about how they might know, but to me it’s clear. So anyway, without getting into my own belief system… I just knew that this book was one I definitely wanted to read and I believed going in that Ana was reincarnated into this life because she needed to make something right.
15. Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovenoff *** – As other reviewers have said, readers in
search of a murder mystery should not pick up Paper Valentine in hopes of an enthralling chase to unmask a serial killer. Personally, I came into this with that expectation, and it took a bit of adjustment for me to realize that Yovanoff’s story had more to do with people living their lives and going through day-to-day stuff (whilst a serial killer is abroad), than about finding and punishing a murderer. Instead, Paper Valentine is about a girl and a ghost and relationships and imperfect people.
16. Half Lost by Sally Green **** – It’s going to be hard to write a review about this
without spoiling anything, but I will do my darndest. Because this finale to one of my favorite YA Fantasy series deserves a very good review. So given how much I loved Half Bad and Half Wild, I had pretty high hopes for Half Lost. I was ready to see one relationship I despised crash and burn; I was ready to see the relationship I’d been dying to see since book one flourish; I was ready to see Nathan come into himself and become the truly powerful witch everyone knew all along he would be. I got all of that and more.
17. Breaking Butterflies by M. Anjelais *** – This book was captivating from start to
finish. It was devastating, terrifying and completely unputdownable. (yes, it’s a word). It would have been an easy book to hate – I know a lot of other bloggers before me have rated it 1- and 2-stars. And while the message at the end of this book was…erm, a little ambiguous, it was nevertheless a very powerful story.
18. A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin **** – As warden of the north, Lord Eddard
Stark counts it a curse when King Robert bestows on him the office of the Hand. His honour weighs him down at court where a true man does what he will, not what he must … and a dead enemy is a thing of beauty. The old gods have no power in the south, Stark’s family is split and there is treachery at court. Worse, a vengeance mad boy has grown to maturity in exile in the Free Cities beyond the sea. Heir of the mad Dragon King deposed by Robert, he claims the Iron Throne.
19. Solitaire by Alice Oseman ***** – For being such a young author, Alice Oseman has an
amazing talent for writing believable characters and a plot with so much depth to it that it’s a puzzle you get to work out while exploring the relationships between the characters too. I picked this book up with very little idea of what it was actually about, but I had seen a lot of people raving about it on their blogs or in videos on YouTube so I figured it couldn’t hurt to try it. This is a writer to watch.
20. The twice-lived summer of Bluebell Jones ***** – The Twice Lived Summer of Bluebell
Jones is a short book and it didn’t take me long to read it – but it certainly made an impact on me! I loved everything about the book. The characters, the writing, the story line, and the ENDING! Bluebell was a lovely character. She was kind and quite insecure, and very likeable as a main character and narrator. Red was…a strange character. I didn’t think she should have kept so many things from Bluebell, but I suppose for the sake of the story it had to be done! There was a brilliant cast of supporting characters – I loved Bluebell’s friend Fozzie, Bluebell’s fantastic sister Tiger, and of course, the mysterious Merlin!
21. Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan **** – This is the cutest,
most adorable book to exist – right up there with Anna and the french kiss and fangirl. it’s also super cliché, but sometimes you need that in your life. now is one of those times. This story is told from two points of view: dash and lily. dash is strolling through his favorite bookstore when he finds a mysterious red moleskine. he then sets off to accomplish the challenges the notebook dares. and their conversation begins. the story is set during Christmas and new year’s, so it’s perfect to read during the holidays. it’s a fun adventure, making me want to visit one of my favorite cities (Manhattan, new York) again.
22. Useless Bay by M. J. Beaufrand ***** – The opening to Useless Bay was very
unconventional it was plain while being dramatic with extremely dark undertones. While only being under 230 pages long and written in an understandable way for middle grade children I would most certainly recommend this to a young adult and up audience. This book is told from the duel perspectives of Pixie and Henry. Pixie is the youngest of Gray quintuplets, the only girl among four brothers fighting to be their equal. Henry is a friend of Pixie’s who family having some away time at their second home on Useless Bay after Henry gets into a fight. Henry is secretly in love with Pixie and it breaks his heart to see her friendly with his younger brother; Grant. But this take another dramatic twist – the day after arriving in Useless Bay both Grant and their stepmother go missing.
23. The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan **** – I am so glad to get the chance to
read and review The Dark and Hollow Places as I really enjoyed the first two books in this series. I am glad to report that this final book did not disappoint. In each of the three books Carrie Ryan has shown us a different aspect of the world of the Forest of Hands and Teeth. The first book was set in a remote, isolated village in the middle of a forest infested with zombies. It seemed like the last safe place in the world and then, in an instant, that safety was destroyed. The second book took us to the coastal town of Vista where Gabry lived in a lighthouse and the Unconsecrated washed in with the tide. The third and final book hurls us straight into the broken, dangerous landscape of The Dark City where Annah struggles to survive.
24. The Girl who could read Hearts by Sherry Maysonave ***** – The opening chapter to the Girl who could read Hearts was the starting of a great fantasy novel especially with the idea of a seventh sense but you can tell from the offset that this book will have very strong religious overtones which can be disastrous when done wrong. From this chapter the religious theme is strong but restrained which make for concise, clear reading which I really enjoyed. I didn’t really feel a connection with Kate until the end of the first chapter which was strange as I connect usually straight away with the protagonist and this didn’t happen for me. Although going into the second chapter the point of view changes so I am not sure whether this is a multiple P.O.V book and if it is I’m not sure whether it will fit in with the genre of this book I find mysteries, thrillers and action books do well the multiple points of view and religious, spiritual, romance and dystopian books suit the singular point of view better, but I am still undecided on this and probably will be until the final page.
25. Blindfolded Innocence by Alessandra Torre *** – Julia Campbell is a young law student
who has just broken off her wedding engagement and moved into a new apartment. She’s got a fresh start and a new job as an intern in a very prestigious law firm. The partner she is working for is a hard worker who demands long hours, and has warned her off the partner at the other end of the building,where the hours are shorter and it seems like they’re partying every week. A chance encounter with the ‘Playboy Partner’ puts Julia on his radar, and she might put up a good front but in reality she’s intrigued with this sexy, mysterious man. Being with him could ruin her future career prospects, more importantly, it could also ruin her heart.
26. Cinder by Marissa Meyer – Cinder is 387 pages and has thirty-eight chapters. The
narration is third-person and provides Cinder’s perspective primarily, though there are several instances in which we are shown Prince Kai’s viewpoint. This book offers the beginning of a quartet of books called The Lunar Chronicles. While Cinder reflects its fairy tale origins (deceased father figure, cruel stepmother, an overworked, grimy heroine, and an impending ball with a handsome prince), the book has unexpected layers to its plot and characters. One of the main departures from its roots is the book’s science-fiction slant. Cinder is a cyborg, and references to data input and internal system alerts (such as the blinking orange light that notifies her when someone is lying) are woven fairly seamlessly into the narrative. Other futuristic mainstays—like multi-use androids and hover crafts—make their appearance throughout the book, but the heart of the story rests in its characters.
27. The Assembly Room by Bryony Allen **** – What would you usually get when you
move into a crummy old house? The Assembly Room of course, which comes with a package of dark, gory mystery neatly wrapped in a beautifully written story. We start off with Merryn’s family moving into the disgustingly rotting house that Merryn’s father inherited from an insane late uncle. Right off the bat, we know that we’re in for a disturbing past because really, all horror stories begin with someone doing something stupid in the past like 300 years ago. In this case, Merryn is reliving all of these moments in the past that are haunting the future, her present.
28. A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray ***** – From page one we are thrown into the action. Claudia Gray has done a fantastic job of establishing her world, technology and plot and making sure the reader is hooked from the very first page. To be honest, I was a little worried I wasn’t going to love this one, as Claudia Gray books and I have an odd relationship. While I always love the premise of her books, I’m yet to read one that has absolutely blown me away. While A Thousand Pieces of You wasn’t PERFECT, it was pretty high up there on the enjoyability factor.
29. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir **** – The book begins as Laia learns that her
brother is working for the Resistance. Raiders come to arrest her brother and in the chaos kill her grandparents who she has been living with since her parents were killed many years ago. Laia flees and later feels cowardly for not trying to help her brother. She decides she must find the Resistance so that they can help her save her brother. When she finds them they agree to help her, but only after they learn that she is the secret daughter of legendary former Resistance leaders.
30. I was here by Gayle Foreman ** – I sincerely believe there is a place in the world for
stories where the protagonist loses someone to suicide and has to work through their grief. That is a valid and very painful human experience. Books like I Was Here ruin those stories for everyone. I WAS HERE at GoodreadsI Was Here by Gayle Forman is a complicated book. It’s also one that should be completely plastered with trigger warnings for suicide, encouragement of suicide, and romanticizing of suicide.
31. Wither by Lauren DeStefano **** – The story begins with Rhine, a girl, being
kidnapped to become a bride. We are introduced to the near future on Earth, where scientists have developed a cure for most diseases found on our planet. As people took this cure, they were happy and healthy and had children. Unfortunately, an unknown virus happened because of this treatment – all of their children would only live to see 20 years for females, and 25 for males. Because of this, the world is split into young people and ‘First Generations’, the people who had these children and are not yet affected by the virus, thus living longer.
32. Since you’ve been gone by Morgan Matson **** – After the sudden disappearance of
Emily’s best friend, Sloane, she receives a random list of things to do written by Sloane. Emily takes this as a sign and accepts the challenge to complete all of the items, as frightening as they are. Skinny dipping? Penelope? Yikes. There’s absolutely zero doubt that Morgan Matson is one of my favorite authors. Without a second thought, I pre-order her books and add them to my Goodreads to-read list (likely without even reading the summary). Morgan creates these worlds in which I not only know and love the main character, but I can envision their entire world — their homes, their neighborhoods, their day-to-day routines. And that’s exactly how deeply I wish to know all of the main characters in the books I read.
33. The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss **** – We’ve been waiting four years for the
sequel to Patrick Rothfuss’s hit debut, ‘The Name of the Wind’, and we’ve finally been granted what we’ve been waiting for. Mostly. ‘The Wise Man’s Fear’ has been long anticipated. Rothfuss has spent many long months rewriting and polishing this book, and it shows in the end product. His grasp and control of the English language, his beautifully written prose and elegant sentences all make for a superb read.
34. Forgive me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick *** – Matthew Quick’s fourth novel,
“Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock”, ventures into the mind of the title character, a precocious, angst-ridden, confused young man. Leonard is determined to kill himself and his former best friend on his 18th birthday. The book’s title lends itself to two plausible, conflicting interpretations. Is it a direct address by someone who has wronged Leonard, apologizing to him? Or could it be a parting statement, authored by Leonard himself?
35. The Arrivals by Melissa Marr **** – In The Wastelands of some world away from Earth,
you can find a group of individuals self-titled “The Arrivals.” The brother and sister leaders of The Arrivals are Jackson and Katherine Reed. Having once lived in California in the Wild West, Jack and Kitty (as they prefer to be called) were picked up by a wormhole and dropped in the wastelands. As they were the first to arrive on this strange world, they had the longest time to acclimate themselves to the oddities living in the world around them. So, as people kept dropping in from the planet we know as Earth (just different time periods), the brother and sister duo would help each individual collect their bearings as they had done.
36. Girl Hearts Girl by Lucy Sutcliffe ***** – I absolutely adored the opening to Girl Hearts
Girl and immediately connected the Lucy as she is an avid bookworm like myself and was bullied for it as the other children in her school didn’t understand the elation at finding a new world or character to explore in the written world. This book is very short and I loved all the literary references especially to Harry Potter there is even a chapter named after Hermione Granger. Lucy has a confidence I never had in my pre-teen years she accepts that other kids may see her as strange and weird but just chooses to get on her with her life using Hermione as her role while me I was always changing myself in order to make new friends especially when I started secondary school.
37. Uprooted by Naomi Novik *** – This review of Naomi Novik’s much-discussed new
fantasy novel, Uprooted, is for people like me who read the first three chapters online, or perhaps got only that far in the book proper, and came away with rather the wrong impression. Uprooted is not, as I thought it might be after those first three chapters, any of the following: a Beauty and the Beast story; a somewhat quiet tale about learning one’s magical abilities and negotiating a relationship with one’s teacher; or a story that includes intrinsically-gendered magic. What it is, is a kingdom-level fantasy with great magic and an engaging narrator—which packs a surprising amount of plot into its single volume. I recommend it highly.
38. Paper Towns by John Green **** – I start with the understatement of the century: I read a lot. In fact, I spend quite a lot of my time reading and the majority of books I read are average reads, you know, those books that are good reads, interesting reads even, but not earth-shattering reads. The latter reads are special and don’t happen very often and that is a good thing too because then you don’t become accustomed, and therefore impervious to “special”. When I do read a book that is different and special or find a new author whose books are of that variety of awesome that I am always looking for (I am like a Knight in the quest for The Holy Grail) it makes me want to sing its praises to the world. In plain Smugglevese: I find that I am consumed with love and admiration for John Green’s books. He totally writes Books Made For me.