7 books for the first week of August – not bad! I will definitely be slowing down as uni gets more hectic though… Favourites were The Lover’s Dictionary and Holding Up the Universe. Caraval was enchanting, and The Hungry Isle was a fantastic conclusion to Emily Rodda’s Star of Deltora series. Find any of them for yourself at Booktopia!
Holding Up the Universe – Jennifer Niven (4 stars)
Jennifer Niven’s All the Bright Places left me bawling in the corner of my bedroom. I had hoped that this one would not leave me quite so emotionally traumatised. (It didn’t, thank goodness!) Libby used to be the America’s Fattest Teen – she’s lost a lot of weight and is starting high school. Jack is one of the popular kids; only problem is, he has no idea who the people around him are – he can’t recognise their faces. Libby was just the best character EVER – the sheer level of sass she possesses is incredible. Jack was a bit irritating in his advances, but Libby always called him out on it. I will definitely be reviewing this in more detail – there’s too much to squeeze into this teeny tiny little paragraph!
The Lover’s Dictionary – David Levithan (5 stars)
This book reminded me of The A-Z of You and Me by James Hannah – it’s a love story told in mini instalments, out of chronological order. David Levithan’s book, however, is told in dictionary entries, in alphabetical order. It’s short, but wonderful. I connected to these characters, without ever knowing their names. Every entry meant something to me – the lovely beginnings, and the horrid endings. Just beautiful.
Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman – Lindy West (4 stars)
I first heard about Lindy West on This American Life, when she was part of an episode in which she confronted her worst internet troll. She was well-spoken and intelligent, and I later heard her read part of her book. It was about her husband’s public proposal, and she’d asked him why he had done it that way. It was this quote which pulled me to the book:
‘One time when you were drunk you told me, “If you ever propose to me, don’t do it in the bullshit way that dudes usually treat fat girls. Like it’s a secret, or you’re just trying to keep me from leaving you. Thin girls get public proposals, like those dudes are winning a fucking prize. Fat chicks deserve that too.”‘
This book covers many important issues – fat shaming was what drew me to this book, but it also covers feminism, abortion, marriage, and internet harassment. Lindy’s voice is so truthful – she says what we think, she says it with swearing, she says it with guts. She might have called her book Shrill, but she is not; she is a well-spoken, interesting woman with a voice everyone should be listening to.
The Hungry Isle – Emily Rodda (Australian author) (5 stars)
I really like the Star of Deltora series! (Aside from the atrocious covers, that is!) The last book in the series was no exception to my love. Britta and her friends have escaped Illica, but they are being chased by shadows trying to usher them to the Hungry Isle. It had a great twist ending! It’s a lot of fun, with a fantastic female protagonist. It’s gorgeous – this is a great fantasy series for kids, whether they liked the original Deltora Quest series or not.
Notes on an Exodus – Richard Flanagan & Ben Quilty (Australian author and illustrator) (5 stars)
This 53-page book might be tiny, but it carries a huge impact. It tells, through vignettes, stories of the refugees from Syria. It is heart-wrenching, showing how human beings react in the face of war, death and suffering. There is still so much dignity and courage despite the horrors they have faced. The Man Booker Prize-winning Richard Flanagan and Archibald Prize-winning Ben Quilty have donated all of their royalties from this book to World Vision.
‘There is no time in the future in which they might be helped. The only time we have is now.’
Caraval – Stephanie Garber (4 stars)
This book promised to be like The Night Circus – sadly it didn’t deliver that level of brilliance. However, it was still marvellous. Caraval is an exclusive game, and sisters Scarlett and Tella are invited. It’s an opportunity to finally escape their abusive father. But Tella is kidnapped as soon as the game begins – the one who finds her wins the game. The description of the clothes and the scenery are beautiful. The setting of the game was highly intriguing – I loved that there were players, but also tourists, who entered the game just to watch. It has high periods of action, but occasionally it was a little slow. The finalised book isn’t out until January – I’m excited to see it!
Promising Azra – Helen Thurloe (Australian author) (2 stars)
This book was disappointing. It was the story of Azra, a high school student who wants to pursue chemistry at university, but her family is trying to arrange her marriage to a cousin she has never met. They keep her in the dark. The story dragged on, and it concerned me how preachy the book sounded. While this book certainly raised my awareness of the forced marriage of teenagers, it definitely lacked cultural sensitivity at times and portrayed all of Azra’s Pakistani relatives as villains. I believe that this story is valid, but I do not believe that Helen Thurloe was the right person to tell this tale. I would be interested in reading a book about arranged or forced marriages written by somebody closer to the issue.
What books have you been reading? Which of these do you like the sound of?