What I Read: September 2017

September was a month of duds for me. A lot of 2.5, 3, and 3.5 ratings. Not terrible enough to give up on, but nothing to really spark my investment and make me want to abandon everything else in my life to keep reading. I probably played more phone games this past month than I have in ages because the books just weren’t drawing me in the way I would have liked. It was definitely a disappointing month for my reading life.

You might have noticed that I started writing more in depth book reviews every time I finish one. I’ve fallen a bit behind, so there are a couple at the bottom of September’s list that haven’t yet gotten the full review. But I need to get this post written, so I’ll just go ahead with what I have. I’ll try to keep it a bit more brief on these monthly posts and you can go back and read the full reviews if you’re curious!

Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley

Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley
Rating: 2.5 stars

This is book about the relationship between a man and his dying dog, Lily. Ted is a single gay man, whose entire world revolves around Lily. He’s let himself become a bit of a recluse, pushing everyone away from him, thinking he is beyond the need for anyone’s love besides Lily’s. One day Ted discovers a tumor on Lily’s head that he only refers to as an octopus. An octopus that talks to him in the same way that he holds constant conversations with Lily. Overall, you could say that this book is a bit whimsical and it’s certainly a fitting tribute to the love of sharing your life with a dog and how heartbreaking it can be at the end. But I found a lot of their interactions a bit ridiculous. At one point I lost sight of what was real and what was just fantasy in Ted’s head. It lost a lot of its appeal to me about halfway through.

Full review: here.

Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert

Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert
Rating: 2.5 stars

Lion and Little are teenage step-siblings that are each struggling with some major things in their lives. Lion has recently been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and has a hard time forcing himself to take his medication, knowing it will change everything about himself. Little was sent away to boarding school when Lion got his diagnosis because their parents thought it would be better for her. There she realized she’s sometimes deeply attracted to girls. The book takes place the summer after her year away at boarding school when Little wants to get back in Lion’s good graces, keeping his medication refusal a secret while he spirals back out of control. They both fall in love and lust with Little’s new co-worker, while Little also entertains a relationship with her male friend from childhood. As you can see, there’s a whole lot going on in this book. It’s a pretty good betrayal of how confusing the teenage years can be, especially when dealing with mental illness and sexuality. I was vaguely interested, but nothing about their story really grabbed me the way I had hoped.

Full review: here.

I Am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll

I Am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll
Rating: 3.5 stars

This is the story of 16 year old Anna, who disappeared a year prior, and the people that were closest to the mysterious tragedy. Chapters are told by various perspectives – Sarah (Anna’s best friend), Henry (Anna’s father), Ella (the witness to her meeting ex-cons on a train), Matthew (the private investigator), and occasionally the “watcher” who is sending threatening letters to Ella to leave the case alone. I thought this was quite the page turner because chapters were relatively short and always ended with some sort of cliffhanger. What happens, though, is about halfway through you realize the cliffhangers never go anywhere. They keep you reading, but you never really get full satisfaction. There were definitely a few twists and turns that I found unexpecting. It was a decent read.

Full review: here.

Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer
Rating: 5 stars

My only 5 star book of the month! In this book, Juliet is a teenager who writes and leaves letters at her mother’s grave. Declan, doing community service at the graveyard, picks up one of her letters and writes something back. The two of them form an anonymous friendship with each other as they learn how much they have in common with the heartbreak of familial loss. Of course it wouldn’t be a YA book if the main characters didn’t also have some sort of real life interactions without being aware they actually know the intimate details of each other’s hearts. This book is beautifully written and is not a light and breezy read. I felt deeply for each of the characters and was strongly rooting for them. I highly recommend this one.

Full review: here.

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
Rating: 3 stars

I’ll tell you upfront – they both die at the end. It really happens and it’s depressing. In this futuristic reality, people get a phone call from a company called Death Cast on the day they are going to die. They don’t know when or how it will happen, just that it’s their last day alive. Rufus and Mateo are both teenagers in NYC who got the call. Through a variety of circumstances, they end up getting the Last Friend app on their phones and are partnered up together to meet and spend their last day together. The book follows their final adventures as they push each other out of their comfort zones to live the day to the fullest. The story is about friendship and fully loving the people in your lives. Letting them in and loving them well. While I appreciated the sentiment, I found the countdown to their deaths to just be too depressing. It’s sad. There’s really no way around that.

Full review: here.

Seven Days of You by Cecilia Vinesse

Seven Days of You by Cecilia Vinesse
Rating: 3 stars

While they don’t die at the end of this book, the relationship between the main characters has a seven day countdown to them moving across the world from each other. I might have enjoyed this more if I hadn’t just read the book above. Countdown to separation does not appeal to me in the YA romantic genre! This books is about Sophia’s last week of living in Tokyo, and her childhood friend’s first week back in Tokyo after four years away at boarding school. The novel itself is a fitting tribute to Tokyo as a city. The characters spend the entire book traveling around the city, with basically no cares from their parents as to where they are. Sophia and Jamie go through a lot of intense emotions in a very short time frame and then let each other go at the end. I didn’t find any of it to be particularly interesting or enthralling.

Full review: here.

Sourdough by Robin Sloan

Sourdough by Robin Sloan
Rating: 3.5 stars

Sourdough is about a woman named Lois who lives a lonely life working in the tech industry. She’s a coder for robotics and basically lives at the office, along with all of her co-workers. One day she orders soup and sourdough from a local takeout place and her world begins to brighten. After ordering the same thing night after night, the company closes and the chef gives Lois the starter so she can make her own sourdough. Which sparks a whirlwind adventure in baking and basically uprooting everything about her life. Lois is invited to join in with an experimental farmer’s market, selling her sourdough with baking help from a robotic arm she helped code. I loved the book in the first half and it got a bit bizarre and abstract at the end. I wish the robotics stuff had nothing to do with it, though I also get that’s why the book itself is unique. Overall, a fast and fun book that will make you want to eat a lot of bread.

Full review: here.

As You Wish by Cary Elwes

As You Wish by Cary Elwes – Audiobook Version
Rating: 4 stars

The Princess Bride was my favorite movie as a child. I’ve probably seen it more than any other movie in my lifetime. I used to watch it all the time and sword fight (with bats) with my brother in the yard. I used to dream of getting a dog and naming her Buttercup. And I have a deeply rooted fear of rats and mice because of this movie. When I saw a recommendation online for this has a good audiobook, I decided to check it out. I was not disappointed! Cary Elwes goes into great depth behind the filming of the movie and the people behind the characters. The audio version is narrated by many different voices and the book has contributions from just about everybody. If you don’t have any great connection to the movie, you probably won’t care about the book. But if you enjoyed it as much as I did, you’ll appreciate the nostalgia this book brings up. Overall, a really interesting listen!

Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder

Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder
Rating: 3 stars

Orphan Island is a place where nine children live by themselves – no more and no less. Each year a boat delivers a new Care to the island takes away the current Elder. Year after year this happens without question. At the start of this book we see Jinny as she becomes Elder to her new care Ess. Jinny struggles with wondering what will happen when she’s taken away. She loves the island and her life there and never wants to leave. When it comes her turn she decides to buck the system and refuses to leave, causing impending doom on all the island’s occupants. I liked the concept of this book, but I feel like it kind of missed the mark. I suppose it’s supposed to be a bit fantasy, but I was frustrated with how many questions were left unanswered. This is a middle grade read that I picked up because I thought the cover was so beautiful. Perhaps younger girls would really enjoy this one.

That’s it for September! I really hope October brings me some better books!

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Author: Amy Noe

I'm a maker, a writer, a reader, a wife, and a mom. I love pursuing my creative passions!

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