I can’t believe it’s already basically February! January sort of slipped past me in a quiet way. And while everyone around me seems to be wishing hard for warmer weather, I am perfectly happy in my cocoon of sweaters and books, thank you very much. Whenever it snows, I rejoice (to myself).
I’ve decided to try and present my reads to you in monthly posts – so here’s what I read this month! Except for one, I really liked the books I’ve read.
Quiet Girl in a Noisy World by Debbie Tung
File this under: Books You Should Read If You Want to Understand Me Better. My pal Michele knows me real well and knew how much I’d love this book, so it was the perfect birthday present. I’ve followed Debbie’s comics online for a while but it was nice to see them together in a collection (that flowed very nicely, I might add). I read it within an hour or so (comics, woot!) and was delighted the whole way through. I love the way Debbie shows how introversion can be like your inner battery, as that’s how I often feel – when I’m worn out, I feel like my battery is low. But she also makes it clear introverts can still go to parties! I loved this and am looking forward to Debbie’s next book, Book Love.
Colour me disappointed. I was soooo excited for this, and it fell down hard. There are a lot of issues with this collection of “meet cute stories” by popular YA authors, and firstly, it’s that most of the stories are not actually meet cute moments. Yeah. In many of the stories, characters already knew each other in some way, or the way they get together is very gradual over the story, or not even until the end. A meet cute is like, a couple meets in an elevator when the girl drops her purse and the guy picks it up and they look at each other and sparks fly. I basically think of Mindy Kaling when I think of meet cutes. So there was that, which just made me disrespect the book because it had one simple thing to do! And there was no coherent editor for the book, no introduction, no reasoning, and a lot of the stories that were similar to each other were placed right next to each other. There were no guy-guy relationships present, or any ace, which I thought was too bad. I feel like this book could have been so good, but it was a big let down. And I don’t say this stuff lightly. The stories I did enjoy were Emery Lord’s “Oomph,” “Click” by Katherine McGhee, “The Dictionary of You and Me” by Jennifer L. Armentrout, and Jocelyn Davies’ “The Unlikelihood of Falling in Love.” I wasn’t super into Julie Murphy’s story unfortunately, and I couldn’t even finish Nicola Yoon’s. It makes me wonder if the publisher just wanted to put something together quickly to make a few bucks – which to be honest will work – but it just could have been done so much better, and I feel like many of these authors don’t have a lot of short story experience. I’d pass on this one if I were you.
The House at the End of Hope Street by Menna van Praag
LOOOVEEDD this. In December I discovered The Lost Art of Letter Writing by Menna van Praag, which is about a magical letter writing store, and had to have it immediately. When I looked up her other books, I found that I needed all of those too. I hadn’t even read her work and I needed her books, and this turned out in my favour! I liked The Lost Art of Letter Writing a lot, though was a little disappointed in how the book turned out to be more love stories that included the magical store, but I realized that was Menna’s style. So I read The House At the End of Hope Street next, which is about a magical house that young women find when they’re down-and-out and need help getting back on their feet. The house gives them 99 days to live there to turn their lives around (and helps them do so), and boasts alumni such as Agatha Christie, Sylvia Plath, Dorothy Parker, etc. It focuses on a young girl named Alba who was the youngest student at Cambridge University, but who had abandoned her studies after something happened with her professor. The book goes on to include the stories of three other women in the house, and guys, it was just lovely. It also includes characters that were in The Lost Art of Letter Writing, so if you want to read them, read this one first! That was a nice surprise though. I really like Menna’s beautiful style of writing, and how effortlessly she can bring you into a character’s life. I have two more books of hers to read, which I plan on doing very soon, and another one will be coming out later this year! All of her books have these soft touches of magical realism and follow smart young women in Cambridge, England. Yesss, I’m so charmed.
Far From the Tree by Robin Benway
This was another gorgeous read, and one that I wish I read when it came out last year purely for list reasons. I’ve never read Robin Benway before, but this book reminded me a lot of Jandy Nelsen’s style of writing – warm, loving, and understanding. In Far From the Tree, a 16-year-old named Grace has just given up her baby for adoption. Grace knows she was adopted too but also knows she cannot take care of a baby at that stage in her life, and wants the best thing for the baby. Grace is happy with the way she was brought up, but with the emptiness that fills her after the birth, she’s inspired to find her birth mother. That’s when her adopted parents let her know that she actually has a half-brother and half-sister who were also given up for adoption. Maya is her younger sister, who doesn’t fit in with her adopted family, and Joaquin never left the foster system. When the three of them find each other, you just want to envelope them in a big bear hug. They each have very serious obstacles to deal with, but now they have people who can support and understand their specific situations. All I want to say about this book is just about how beautiful it was. It still feels fresh to me, so, dreamy sigh.
Busted by Gina Ciocca
This is a fun, quick read-in-a-day kind of YA, in which a girl ends up being a pseudo private eye around her town for girls who suspect their boyfriends of cheating. It’s not exactly something Marisa wants to be doing, but she gets roped into a longer situation by an old friend and her boyfriend, who Marisa ends up getting close with. It’s cute, has a lot of chemistry, and is pretty silly. I found that towards the end things got kind of confusing – there’s this other storyline playing out that I didn’t fully get at times, and sometimes I’d get characters confused with each other (Jordan, Jason, you get it). Pick this one up when you need a quick lift!
Bookish Boyfriends by Tiffany Schmidt
I didn’t realize this book wasn’t out until May until I was already hooked, so I’ll talk more about it closer to release, but I will say I had a lot of fun with this. Tiffany has definitely worked out some good bookworm bait with this concept, but it was done well. Merrilee reads so many books and always swoons at her ‘book boyfriends’ so when she starts at a new (co-ed!) school, she’s in la la land. She’s a romantic at heart of course, but has never been kissed or had a boyfriend. So when she finds herself the object of a boy named Monroe’s quick obsession, she starts to realize that the perfect literary love story isn’t usually realistic. It gets wittier and cuter from there, so keep your eyes peeled and add it to your TBR! It’s also the planned first of a duology, so I’m happy I’ll get to read of Merrilee and her classmates again.
I enjoyed writing about my reads this way, and I hope you did too! Have you read any of these? What did you think? What’s on your TBR? What did you read this month?