This month was a so-so batch until I read my final book of the year, Forty Rooms, which saved everything. December had three fiction, three YA and one poetry book. My final count of read books in 2016 was….73 books. If you read my reviews and have picked up any of the books I’ve recommended I hope you have enjoyed them. Here’s to many more good books in 2017.
- Swing Time by Zadie Smith // Swing Time was my first Zadie novel and after reading other reviews, I’m not sure if it’s one I should have chosen to dive in with. The storyline is fresh and interesting but something about Smith’s writing felt a little too wordy and heavy for my personal taste. Clocking in at a whopping 453 pages, it was a LOT of content. In a nutshell, Swing Time follows the narrator (who remains unnamed) and Tracy (her childhood best friend) from their younger years through adulthood. I found the narrator to be a bit wearing during her own personal journey and was almost more interested in Tracy’s life that we got small snapshots from every time we were able to check in with her. 3 out of 5 stars.
- Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley // LATO was the first pick in a new book club I joined with a few friends in LA. I’m pretty talked out on this book because we destroyed it at book club but I will say that I commend Rowley for the creative liberties he took as a narrator. The story revolves around a man as he comes to terms with his dog’s illness and the different ways he copes. Not my cup of tea but not completely unreadable either. 2.5 out of 5 stars.
- The Young Elites by Marie Lu // My favorite series to stumble upon are the ones that wrap up their final installment just as I learn about them. This means I can blow through the entire series and not have to play the waiting game with cliffhangers. The Young Elites was first published in 2014 and just wrapped up the trilogy this past October. TYE sets us in a dystopian society and introduces us to our main bad ass, Adelina. Adelina is a malfetto, a child who was marked by the blood fever that swept the nation and given supernatural abilities. The first book in the trilogy has Adelina meeting the Dagger Society (fellow malfettos) and learning to better master her ability of illusions. What makes TYE different from other dystopian novels is that Adelina isn’t inherently good, she’s actually a villain. For the first time in a very long time, the author makes the reader reflect between choosing to root for the main character because she is the main character, or choosing to root for her because of who she is. 4 out of 5 stars.
- The Rose Society by Marie Lu // TRS picks up exactly where TYE left off and goes even darker. Adelina has nearly mastered her powers of dark, tortuous illusions and uses them to hurt people. She creates her own version of the Dagger Society, calls it the Rose Society and starts to build her army. TRS manages to avoid the sequel slump many series face and amps every part of the plot. Adelina is bigger, stronger, better and darker. I loved it. 5 out of 5 stars.
- Midnight Star by Marie Lu // MS is the final installment of The Young Elites series and for the most part, I loved it. MS showed Adelina at her peak power and while also showing exactly what parts of herself she had to sacrifice to get there. She is ruthless power, dark beauty and pure tyrant of her kingdom with no chance of letting up. My only complaint was that the book wasn’t another 50-100 pages longer. The ending that had been built up for three books felt rushed and somewhat glazed over after so many action packed war scenes and I wish it would have been fleshed out more. Overall though I am a huge fan of the series and found it so interesting to follow a female villain narrator who was so completely unashamed and ruthless. 4 out of 5 stars.
- The Princess Saves Herself in this One by Amanda Lovelace // TPSHITO had been on my “to-read” shelf on Goodreads for a very long time and I finally picked up a copy over the holidays after it won the Poetry Book of the Year. After hearing so many good things, I have to admit I was not as in love with the poetry compilation as others have been. While each poem is full to the brim with emotion and storytelling, I found them to be too tumblr-esque in their writing structure (tumblr-esque meaning choppy and extremely short). It wasn’t my favorite poetry book but I still found a few that I marked as favorites to go back to. 3.5 out of 5 stars.
- Forty Rooms by Olga Grushin // I debated writing a full blown review for Forty Rooms but didn’t end up having time before this monthly book wrap up. I finished the book about a week ago, have been thinking about it constantly and can confidently say that Forty Rooms was one of the best books I have read in my entire life. I do not say that lightly or impulsively and after reflecting on it for the past few days, I still find myself going back to certain passages to reread. FR takes the concept that woman will travel through forty separate rooms throughout her lifetime. Each chapter of the narrator’s life (nameless until she becomes Mrs. Caldwell after her marriage) shows pieces of her life through different rooms she has inhabited. We start at her childhood apartment in Moscow, move to her college dorm in America, her post college studio, her first apartment with her husband and finally her family house where she serves as matriarch. FR left me extremely introspective of my own life as I journeyed through the narrators. Her life was full of choices, some good, some bad, some made out of fear, others made out of necessity, all bringing a different set of outcomes. I flagged dozens of passages throughout the book (one I even put in my January Editor’s Letter) because of the language and flow of the writing. It was so visual and beautiful (the narrator is a poet so it comes with the territory) and it made me feel and think on such a deep level in the way very few books can. I cannot wait to come back to this one as I continue to grow into myself. 5 out of 5 stars.