October flew by in one snap, and I can’t even pinpoint whether it was a good or bad month. I can barely remember what I did! At least that means there’s no long intro this month!
PS: I know this is so, so late, but hey – I’ve been sick! On the mend now, though.
1. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
This graphic novel was just a total delight. I loved each and every character, the art, the story, the feels, and just the whole vibe. It really made me nostalgic for some reason, but ultimately I couldn’t stop grinning while I was reading. Nimona follows a young shapeshifter girl taken in by a villain, who is in turn plotting to expose the heroes in the kingdom for the frauds they are. But there’s more to the relationship between Blackheart (the villain) and Goldenloin (the lead hero). There’s the trope of the bad guy being terrible at being evil, which is something I love so much. It’s a very quick read, if you’re looking to squeeze in a book to bump up to your Goodreads challenge!
2. The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley
Unfortunately this was my only DNF of the month. The synopsis is purposely vague and I didn’t get too much of the bigger picture, but it follows a boy/young man as he returns to an isolated retreat called The Loney with his family and their church group. There’s an overarching mystery which I didn’t get far enough to dig into.
I did enjoy the very beginning of the book and found it atmospheric enough, but I was uncomfortable with the way the main character’s disabled brother was used in the plot, as well as a girl introduced at the 25% mark. I lost interest and didn’t want to pick it back up, so I set it aside.
3. The Yellow Wall-Paper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
This is a perfect choice for a short Halloween book if you’re still feeling spooky! It’s one of the Penguin Little Black Classics, so really is short, but packs a punch. The first story The Yellow Wall-Paper, which follows a woman struggling with her mental health in the 1800s. Her husband is a doctor and confines her to her bed and forbids her to do anything more strenuous than taking a turn in the fresh air. She is forbidden from writing, but manages to write in her diary in the moments he isn’t looking, and it is these entries we read.
There’s a whole lot of symbolism that isn’t too taxing, and I just loved the central feminist theme. It is is also genuinely creepy. The other stories were also very entertaining. I’m willing to bet Gilman had a few men in her life in mind when she was writing these!
4. Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
So this science-fiction novella blew me away. Since finishing I followed Nnedi Okorafor on Twitter and saw she’s also writing the Shuri comic series! I’m not surprised because her writing is absolutely brilliant. This story felt so original and vivid, whether it was while I was reading it or listening to the audiobook.
Binti is the first of the Himba people to be offered a place at Oomza University, meaning she must choose between her education and her family. She chooses the former despite the pain of leaving, but the hardship doesn’t end there. When she is faced with the Meduse – an alien race long at war with the new world she has entered into – she has to use every scrap of strength and intelligence she has. Which is a lot. She is a smart, smart cookie.
I can’t wait to dive into the rest of the series, but I’m trying to pace myself and savour them.
5. Undead Girl Gang
Ooooh, wow, I loved this. Looking back, this was actually a brilliant reading month?!
Undead Girl Gang follows a fat, Mexican girl called Mila, who practices Wicca with her best friend, Riley. But when Riley is found dead just after two of the ‘mean girls’ from their school die by suicide, her death is also presumed to be self-inflicted. Mila isn’t going to let that slide, knowing Riley wouldn’t have taken her life, and sets out to bring Riley back to life, to explain how it really went down. There’s just a small snag in the spell, as it not only brings Riley back, but the two mean girls, June and Dayton for seven days. Together, they navigate coming back from the dead, the limited time they have left, their own individual grief, testing out their new zombie status, all the while trying to find whoever murdered them.
This girl gang really is just so great to read about. They’re all very flawed and very real, which is at times absolutely hilarious and absolutely heartbreaking. I’ve never read a book that encapsulates fun horror films, autumn days carving pumpkins, the warmth that comes with being around a group of friends, and have a genuinely interesting mystery, all in one.
Please pick this book up. Please.
6. The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
The Walls Around Us is definitely, totally creepy, and kept me up reading way too late. I’ve heard Nova Ren Suma be dubbed the Shirley Jackson of YA and I totally see that. Her writing is so atmospheric and works so well with the dark themes and locations of her books.
This book revolves around three girls – two at the height of their pre-professional ballet career, Violet and Orianna; and Amber, locked up in Aurora Hills juvenile detention centre. But when Orianna is accused and found guilty of murder, her ballet aspiration are dashed and she is forced into the detention centre as the roommate of Amber. What follows is reconstructing what really happened that night through a series of flashbacks and glimpses into the future, as well as various paranormal influences.
I truly did absolutely love this book and its characters, and what it has to say about loyalty, the justice system, freedom, and ambition. I didn’t see the twist and was pretty well satisfied with the ending, which is a lot for me in YA thrillers.
7. Vicious by V.E. Schwab
I can’t believe I waited this long to read Vicious, it just seems like one of the most adored books in the bookish community, at least for as long as I can remember being here. I have to say it definitely lived up to the hype. Morally grey characters, superpowers, ragtag gangs – I was always going to love it. I wanted to dive straight into Vengeful after
8. Mirage by Somaiya Daud
Oh, how can I even begin to describe how utterly fantastic Mirage is?
In this Moroccan-inspired science fiction story, we follow sixteen year-old Amani, living in the brutal Vathek Empire, who colonised her home and continue to oppress her people. When she is singled out on her majority night, kidnapped and taken to the royal palace, she is tasked with being the body double for the half-Vathek Princess Maram. She is faced with danger at every second, threatened by those who would hurt the princess, but the court doesn’t know how dangerous she could be to them.
I’m fairly new to the sci-fi scene, but this book has almost single-handedly converted me to the genre. The sci-fi elements and the world-building are absolutely brilliant and I’m sure seasoned sci-fi fans will love it, but that’s not all the book has going for it.
Somaiya’s writing is so decadent and involved. She really digs into character emotions and reactions, so I had a clear image of Amani – her motivations, personality, inner conflict – in my mind from the first few pages, and from there, I was hooked.
The ending had me honestly bouncing up and down on the couch. I cannot wait for the next book.
9. Umami by Laia Jufresa
This was a strange one, but not one I didn’t enjoy. This is an adult literary fiction novel, following this one very small community in Mexico, in the years after a young girl dies. We follow the girl’s parents and older siblings, family friends, the landlord, and the neighbours of the girl’s family.
I’d thought from that synopsis that the different narratives would focus on the aftermath of the death of the girl, but really, it focused more on grief in general, and the individuals’ lives. Each had their own personal demons and story arc, but I felt that it wasn’t totally complete? It felt as though their arcs weren’t fully wrapped up, which was probably the intention, but wasn’t for me.
I did enjoy the themes of this book, which I took away to be: grief, growth, and in a strange way, stagnancy.
A pretty beaut reading month in terms of the quality of books I read, I’d say! My favourites were definitely Mirage and Vicious, but there wasn’t a bad one of the bunch at all in October!
You’ll be seeing my November wrap up in just a week because I’m a mess, but I thought some of you might be interested! I’ll be publishing a post in the next few days outlining my plans for my blog for December, but just know that I’m going to be a lot more active than I’ve been in November – if I don’t get sick again.
What were some of your favourite reads recently? Have you read any of the books I did in October? What are your thoughts? Let me know and we can chat!