Wrap Up: September 2015

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I read quite a lot of books in September but I kind of got stuck in a bit of a slump towards the middle of the month. A Little Life was so good that I had a bit of a book hangover, and it also didn’t help that I read a string of books that were quite average after it. But let’s get into what I read because I still managed to complete my 150 book challenge on Goodreads (which I’ve now increased to 200 books).

I am currently reading Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. Stay tuned for a review on that!

September15

Reading summary header

As always, these books are listed in the order that I read them during the month, and my reviews are linked.

1. Queen of Shadows – Sarah J. Maas 5 stars
This is the fourth book in the Throne of Glass series and it was so good! A really great continuation to the series and it ended so epically as well. Looking forward to Book 5!

2. Hello, Goodbye and Everything In Between – Jennifer E. Smith 4 stars
This new contemporary release from Jennifer E. Smith did not disappoint. This book is about two high school graduates and their last night together as they try to figure out whether to break up or go long distance.

3. Everything Everything – Nicola Yoon 45 stars
A fast-paced and cute contemporary about a girl with SCID. This book has received so much hype and it’s all well deserved.

4. A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara 5 stars
This was by far the best read of September for me. It took me 2 weeks to read but it was so worth it! Check out my review for in depth thoughts because this book is not for everyone.

5. Supermutant Magic Academy – Jillian Tamaki 3 stars
This was my first graphic novel in a while and it was just okay for me. I didn’t find it to be as funny as some other reviewers found it. It’s a very slice-of-life kind of book.

6. Afternoon Tea at the Sunflower Cafe – Milly Johnson 4 stars
This was a really fun book about female friendships and getting revenge on the men who have wronged you.

7. Fans of the Impossible Life – Kate Scelsa 1 star
A book about friendship and mental illness… I had many, many problems with not only the messages but also the writing style. Wasn’t really worth my time.

8. Dumplin’ – Julie Murphy 35 stars
A book with a great message about body weight and confidence. I loved the messages in this book but there were some things that I wish had been better executed.

9. Mosquitoland – David Arnold 35 stars
A really enjoyable book about a crazy road trip and friendship. There was a lot that I enjoyed about it but it was a bit too purple prose-y for me to fully enjoy.

10. The Replacement Wife – Rowena Wiseman 1 star
This is my least favourite read of the month, and probably one of my least favourite reads ever. I requested this on NetGalley because the author is Australian and it was a short book. Worst. Decision. Ever. It was a book full of terrible decisions and terrible writing.

11. The Substitute Bride – Kathleen O’Brien 4 stars
I just realised that this book has pretty much the same title as the previous one, but this was a much better read. I saw this in the free books section on iBooks so I downloaded it to give it a go. It was a really charming and enjoyable book.

12. The Rest Of Us Just Live Here – Patrick Ness 4 stars
My first Patrick Ness book did not disappoint. It had a great premise and was executed really well. This is a book about all the other kids in the world and what happens to them when the chosen ones are off saving the world.

13. The Heart Goes Last – Margaret Atwood 3 stars
A married couple living in a chaotic and anarchic world sign up to live in a utopia forever. They soon realise that this utopia is definitely more of a dystopia. A bit of a weird read for me. I still don’t really know how I feel about it.

14. Tonight The Streets Are Ours – Leila Sales 45 stars
This is a love story, but it’s not about romance. It’s a book about loving yourself and putting yourself first. This was definitely the surprise of the month!

15. The Landing – Susan Johnson 35 stars
Set in a small coastal town in Australia, an exploration of the joys and disappointments of love and humanity.

16. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass – Lewis Carroll 35 stars
I don’t think this needs any introduction. I’ve read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland before but this was my first time reading Through the Looking Glass. It was wonderful in parts but a bit draggy in others.

T10T

I did five Top Ten Tuesday posts this month:


I also did a giveaway this month to celebrate my birthday. And the winner of that giveaway was Kelly @ Dancing Through The Pages!

If you’ve done a September wrap up, leave me a link in the comments! I would love to check out what you’ve read!

Review: Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa

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Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release date: September 8, 2015
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 0062331752
Pages: 368
Goodreads || Book Depository

Ten months after her recurring depression landed her in the hospital, Mira is starting over at Saint Francis Prep. She promised her parents she would at least try to pretend that she could act like a normal functioning human this time, not a girl who sometimes can’t get out of bed for days on end, who only feels awake when she’s with Sebby.

Jeremy is the painfully shy art nerd at Saint Francis who’s been in self-imposed isolation after an incident that ruined his last year of school. When he sees Sebby for the first time across the school lawn, it’s as if he’s been expecting him.

Sebby, Mira’s gay best friend, is a boy who seems to carry sunlight around with him like a backlit halo. Even as life in his foster home starts to take its toll, Sebby and Mira together craft a world of magic rituals and secret road trips, designed to fix the broken parts of their lives.

As Jeremy finds himself drawn into Sebby and Mira’s world, he begins to understand the secrets that they hide in order to protect themselves, to keep each other safe from those who don’t understand their quest to live for the impossible.

A captivating and profound debut novel, Fans of the Impossible Life is a story about complicated love and the friendships that change you forever.

MY THOUGHTS

1 star

Fans of the Impossible Life was a book that I pre-ordered about a month ago and it was one that I was very excited to read. Unfortunately, I was a bit let down. My rating of this book was probably a little bit influenced by my personal life philosophy, so I’ll talk about my thoughts on the ‘objective’ aspects of the book first.

First, let’s discuss the writing. I didn’t think the writing was very sophisticated, which isn’t a problem because I love simple writing too. I just feel like there were some scenes that had unnecessary descriptions. Also, the book was written from three different perspectives (Jeremy, Mira, and Sebby) and they were all written from different narrative styles. Jeremy’s chapters were in first person narration, Mira’s in third person, and Sebby’s were in second person. I thought this was completely unnecessary because it didn’t add anything to the story or the tone of the book. I don’t know if it was intended to be a plot device… but if it was, it was very unsuccessful. It just made the whole book awkward for me to read. There just didn’t seem to be a reason for the book to be written this way, and these sorts of gimmicks just turn me off.

The plot of the book was almost non-existent until about page 280 (and the book is only about 360 pages!!). Nothing happened in this book at all – it was very slice of life – until close to the end of the book. After the first 100 pages, I was bored and wanted to DNF, which I never do. The book is also split into 3 parts but I don’t think there was anything that really distinguished Part 1 from Part 2 in terms of plot or theme. Part 3 was when everything started happening, so I understand why that was a separate section, but Parts 1 and 2 just kind of blurred together. In terms of the little bit of plot that we did get, I don’t think there was a resolution at all. I don’t mind that there was an open ending but none of the issues were resolved. I’ll get into this a little bit more further down in my review.

I didn’t like any of the main characters in Fans of the Impossible Life. They felt a little bit pretentious and forced, like the author was trying to make them seem quirky. I thought Jeremy was okay but that might have just been because his chapters were written in first person and I connected with him a little bit more than the other two. I was not into Mira or Sebby at all. What I disliked the most was that there was absolutely no character development in this book. At the end of the book, they’re pretty much where they were at the beginning, except now they’re a group of three instead of a group of two plus Jeremy. I also didn’t really see the friendship developing at all. It kind of just happened – one day they didn’t know each other and then the next day they were friends.

I want to talk a little bit about the themes now, and the first is friendship. This book is supposed to be about friendships and how they can change you, but I thought the author took it too far in this book, or at least not in the direction I thought it would go in. Our three main characters in this book were depending on each other so much that they felt like they couldn’t live without each other. There are mental health relapses that occur when the friendship breaks down and I just really disliked this aspect of the book. Not being able to breathe when you haven’t heard from your friend for 3 days is not normal, at least not in my life. I do recognize that social relationships and having support leads to better mental health but I thought this was taking it too far. This level of dependency on another person is not healthy and I think the book idealised it a bit too much for my liking.

Another thing that I think was romanticized in the book was mental illness. This is a book about mental illness and it was not handled well at all in this novel. Mental illness is present throughout the book but it was never presented as a problem. None of our characters are in therapy or taking any steps to get better or stay better, and the book ends without any of them really acknowledging the problem or taking clear steps towards treatment. It was very unresolved. Mira is seeing a nutritionist in the book as a sort of ‘fix’ for her depression. I’m sorry, but a nutritionist is not able to treat your depression! She doesn’t see a psychologist, and if I remember correctly, the antidepressants that she does have are locked away from her in her mother’s drawer.

I think it’s important to incorporate mental illness into YA books so that readers are exposed to what these disorders look like. But there’s no point in making it a book about mental illness when you don’t properly show the behaviours, cognitions and steps towards treatment that may be involved. You’re almost idealizing mental illness when you don’t acknowledge that it’s a problem. I also don’t think mental illnesses were represented very well in this book at all. Mira has depression but I wouldn’t have known if the book hadn’t explicitly stated that. The only obvious symptom that I saw in the book was fatigue, besides a suicide attempt. Why should I think that depression is a serious illness when it just seems like something I feel on a bad day?

I also had a very big problem with the romance/sex in this book. There were some mature scenes in the book and they really put me off because they didn’t seem to be completely consensual. For example, there is a scene where one person tells another to do something to a third person (and this was all under the influence of alcohol and drugs). I don’t mind YA books that mention sex in them, but I felt like this book romanticized and encouraged this non-consensual behaviour. The author made it seem like it was done out of love for each other when actually one person was pretty much coercing another into doing things. There were just a lot of things that I felt like were not okay.

Overall, I disliked this book quite a bit. It presented a lot of issues that I felt could have been explored more deeply and handled a lot better. I finished the book not really understanding what messages the author wanted to convey. And I just didn’t understand what the point of the book was.