November reading wrap up | 2019

IMG_20191219_130003.jpg

The festive period is already upon us, and it’s almost time to start compiling my end of the year posts, and hopes for next year.

However, before I start getting ahead of myself, I thought I would wrap up everything that I read last month.

November was a fairly good reading month for me, and I ended up reading 11 books.

 

42815544

Bunny by Mona Awad

Rating: Four stars

I had no idea what to expect while going into this, and on reflection, I wholeheartedly agree with everyone who just describes this book as weird.

It follows a girl called Samantha who is a writer at a prestigious graduate school, who shares classes with a cult-like clique called the bunnies, so called because they refer to each other as bunny. She isn’t interested in them at all and tries to get out of their classes, until one day she gets invited along to a party they are having, and ends up sucked into their odd cult, which turns out is actually pretty paranormal.

You’re much better going into this one blind, but if you’re a fan of dark books and don’t mind a magical realism/paranormal twist, this might be one you enjoy. I actually found it really engaging and I wasn’t bored at any point of the book, and was genuinely interested to find out what was going to happen next. There’s a few twists you probably won’t see coming as well.

 

women-power-mary-beard-9781788160605

Women & Power: A Manifesto by Mary Beard

Rating: No rating

This is a collection of short essays put together by Mary Beard on topics surrounding the power of women, and how it’s viewed. I don’t have a lot to say about these because honestly I can’t actually remember anything about them at all.

I didn’t dislike any of the essays, but I didn’t find that they moved me in any way or made me think at all. I would be inclined to pick up more of her writing, but as there’s only a couple in here, I don’t think it’s very fair to rate it on that basis.

 

81FOFfskpYL

The Vegetarian by Han Kang

Rating: No rating

The Vegetarian is something that I’ve had in mind to read, and on my actual TBR for quite some time, but hadn’t gotten around to picking up yet. I was very wary about the way that this would portray vegetarianism, as it’s something that is more unusual in Korea, where this book is set, than the UK/US. Again in what seems to be a theme for the books in November, couldn’t decide on a rating for this one.

Basically I could see what it was trying to do, but putting parallels of vegetarianism and mental health together I thought was a bit of a harmful way to do things, trivialising mental health issues and also suggesting that people who decide not to eat meat have a mental illness. I do think this is a personal way of viewing things, because I know other people who had the total opposite reaction to me.

It was a very sad portrayal of a woman who doesn’t get the necessary help she deserves, and also an interesting perspective on how different cultures can be (although this book was released in 2007). I found the men in this story particularly repulsive, and I ended up just wishing that someone would just listen to Yeong-hye. Sadly – people trying to convince her to eat meat is something that actually does happen.

 

41QIYUJMBjL._SX382_BO1,204,203,200_

The End of the Fucking World by Charles Forsman

Rating: Two stars

Two stars is a pretty generous rating for how much I didn’t like this graphic novel. My main criticism is based on the fact that I re-watched the whole of the first season, and watched the second season of the TV programme version of this before I realised it was a graphic novel, which being a book person I immediately bought. It basically follows two teenagers, one who professes himself to be a bit of a serial killer psychopath type, while the other acts out. They go on a road trip, and kill a man, where his lover then comes looking for them to exact her revenge.

Oh boy. For a start, The End of the Fucking World covers what is both seasons of the show, in about 100 pages. Yes, I know this came first, but the show is much better done than the novel, which pains me to say and is rarely the case. The book takes such an odd timeline and jumps about so much that had I not seen the show I wouldn’t have had a clue what was going on. I didn’t think the relationships were well developed, if developed at all, there was no inkling of reasoning behind any of the character’s actions and it was over so fast I had to go back to check if I missed anything.

If you’re interested, stick with the programme.

 

91zUwAoAxEL

The Confession by Jessie Burton

Rating: Four stars

The Confession is a kind of contemporary mystery about a woman called Rose, who never knew her mum, and only finds out from her dad when she is going through some tougher times, that she knew a famous author called Constance. From there, Rose gets a job with Constance under a fake alias, and becomes entwined with her life, while she is working out some major life changes herself.

The book moves back and forwards between Rose’s present day, and her mum’s past relationship with Constance, before you start to put pieces together near the end of the book, to find out what really happened to the woman who mysteriously disappeared.

I really enjoyed this one, it’s an easy read, and was interesting enough plot-wise to keep my interest up throughout the book, as well as focusing on exploring the different kinds of relationships a person can have. Would recommend this.

 

90

Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

Rating: Three stars

Shadow of Night is the second instalment of Deborah Harkness’ A Discovery of Witches series, which I started in October, after picking up on a whim from my library.

It’s not my normal type of read, being a paranormal book about vampires, witches and daemons, but it’s something I would have loved as a teenager so it’s been fun getting into that kind of world again.

Obviously I can’t say an awful lot about this one given that it’s the second in a series, but it again follows the main characters on their quest to find the missing pages of the Ashmole 782. I didn’t enjoy this one as much as the first book, which I think is partly due to the fact that it’s set in the past, which is a bit odd as usually I love historical fiction.

This book also gets a lot heavier on the romance, and is much more adult-themed than the first book, so if that’s something you’re not into, be aware that there’s a fair amount of sex scenes in this one.

91BsxGspgML

Educated by Tara Westover

Rating: Four stars

I bought Educated when it first came out, and had put off reading for absolutely no reason, because I knew I’d really enjoy this. It reminds me a lot of The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, and follows her family where she wasn’t allowed to go to school, and was forced to live around abusive family members, both physically and emotionally manipulative. I’ve heard a lot of criticism that this book isn’t really about her going to university and getting educated as it’s billed, which it isn’t, but I felt that the Educated title extended to more her understanding about her situation, and how she made decisions based on that.

It’s clear the author still has a lot of hurt and anger towards her family, who cut her off when she spoke out against her physically abusive brother, and have since said that she lied about the contents of her book, which I doubt is true. I’ve heard of this upsetting quite a few people with its contents, and if abusive families are something you are sensitive about, I’d read more into the story before picking it up to see if it would be for you. Other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed the memoir.

 

512xN8HTbYL._SX342_BO1,204,203,200_

The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman

Rating: No rating

Maus is a graphic novel memoir written by Art Spiegelman about his dad, who was Jewish, and lived through World War 2. It follows how he lived and kept his family safe, as well as going into the later years of how things changed during the course of the war, including being taken into the concentration camps. I ended up not being able to decide what rating I would give this, because I thought I was going to absolutely love this, and ultimately I didn’t as much as I thought. It’s an incredibly important story to tell, but I think I felt a bit removed by the usage of animals as characters, although the Nazis saw Jewish people as animals rather than humans, so the use of that medium does make creative sense.

It also skipped back and forward from the story in the past, to his present relationship with his dad and his quite frankly horrible relationship with his new wife, which I didn’t enjoy, as it kept pulling me out of the story.

It’s a shame because I did really love the parts told in the war, but the present elements just ultimately dropped this down for me, and in the end I couldn’t decide on a suitable rating. I’d still highly recommend this to anyone, as it’s an important story that should be remembered.

 

43522576.jpg

Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky

Rating: Two stars

I really enjoyed The Perks of Being a Wallflower, so I knew I liked Chbosky’s writing style. This one is billed as a horror novel, which I love, so I was definitely looking forward to picking this one up. However, it’s also over 700 pages long. It follows a boy called Christopher, who isn’t good at schoolwork. One day, he follows a cloud into the woods and is missing for several days, before he finds his way back to his mum after being helped by “the nice man.” What follows is a total change in him, where his mum wins the lottery and he starts to get As on his tests. At this time, he also begins speaking to the nice man, working to make a treehouse to help get him out of the trap that he has been stuck in due to the hissing lady.

Basically A LOT of pages later, everyone in the town gets sick, and Christopher begins fighting his battles in a dream-like sort of state, between the living and the dead, but the side he thought he was on wasn’t as clear cut as he originally thought.

So I originally took this out from the library then switched to audiobook when I very quickly realised I wasn’t going to finish it before it had to go back. It’s far too long for what it is, I think so much of the book was over explained and repeated, or just unnecessary to the story. I didn’t really care for any of the characters, and just ended up rolling my eyes as I got further to the end. For the size, I wouldn’t recommend people pick this one up.

 

81yaoZjd5iL

Quicksand by Malin Persson Giolito

Rating: Four stars

If you like courtroom books, you’ll probably enjoy this one. It follows a girl called Maja, who is arrested for murder and accessory to murder, after a school shooting in an affluent neighbourhood of Sweden. The story switches between the trial and parts of Maja’s life, from when she meets her boyfriend Sebastian, who is also involved, up to when the final details of what actually happened are revealed towards the end of the book.

I really enjoyed this one, it’s a slow burn, and it doesn’t reveal everything at once, which a lot of books would be inclined to do. It keeps you guessing, and I think struck a great balance between the two parts of Maja’s life – before and after. It also brings up quite a lot of discussion about class and wealth. I did think the ending was quite obvious, but you can’t have everything.

 

81Txxs4TaML

Ms Ice Sandwich by Mieko Kawakami

Rating: No rating

This is one of the shorter books I picked up at the end of November/start of December, which I’d had sitting on my TBR, as I’d read a few longer books in the month.

Ms Ice Sandwich is a typical slice of life Japanese fiction novel, about a child who always buys sandwiches from a woman who he is fascinated with, affectionately known as Ms Ice Woman. However, their world changes after witnessing an incident where she leaves her job. It’s very short, and it’s definitely a bit of a random book that also follows a friendship, but it was an easy read. I didn’t give it a rating because it was a bit short to really make up my mind.

 

What are your views?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s