This week was incredibly busy, so of course I managed to read MORE than average. TEN BOOKS THIS WEEK! Weirdly, I read two on eBook, both non-fiction. I absolutely ADORED Station Eleven – it was AMAZING, and convinced me that I would absolutely be a recluse with my library in the case of an apocalypse – because ‘survival is insufficient’. I also really enjoyed Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin, and The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli. I also read quite a bit of non-fiction. The No-Spend Year has encouraged me to make some big changes in the way I spend money! I was also pretty grossed out by Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed – what are your thoughts on fiction that disturbs you?
The Masked Truth – Kelley Armstrong (2 stars)
A YA thriller about troubled teens being held hostage. Riley Vasquez is haunted by the brutal murder of the couple she was babysitting for. This weekend was supposed to help her. And then armed men wearing masks storm the building where they are meeting. They’re not careful with their weapons, and soon Riley and another teen, Max are trying to escape. Only, Max can’t always trust what he is seeing… This book was OK, but it didn’t grip me. I’m not sure if this is just because I’m not big on the thriller genre, or if I’m correct in thinking that the writing and storyline weren’t amazing.
Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel (5 stars)
I loved this book! There has been a super-flu and civilisation has crumbled. But there is still a troupe of travelling actors and musicians, with the motto ‘Survival is insufficient’. The story divides itself between the present day, and the moment the flu struck. Those pieces of civilisation which have survived are explained through glimpses of the past. There are such incredible themes of survival, death, celebrity, creation, memory and happiness. It is a beautifully written story about so much more than the downfall of society. This is a book I will definitely make an effort to go back to, regularly.
The Last Days of Us – Beck Nicholas (Australian author) (3 stars)
This is a pretty cute contemporary romance, though it does take a little while to get into! It’s out in December, and I definitely recommend you get through the first few chapters before giving up. Five Australian teenagers are taking a road trip down the Great Ocean Road to make their way to a concert in Melbourne. It definitely gave me wanderlust – I want to do a road trip with me friends after finishing this book! But it isn’t all fun and games. Zoey is struggling with the death of her brother and the consequences of her actions in the aftermath. Her best friend is dating her ex-boyfriend, and both are on the road trip too – so that is a little awkward… But this is a journey of grief and healing, and discovering that what you thought you wanted might not be what you need.
No Way! Okay, Fine. – Brodie Lancaster (Australian author) (4 stars)
There were a lot of music references that went completely over my head… But overall, I loved this refreshing Australian memoir fusing pop culture and feminism on Lancaster’s journey towards discovering her authentic self. I really loved her essay about feeling lonely and trapped when living in New York – you’re supposed to be thrilled to be getting out and seeing the world, but it is hard and she made it OK for me to think that. Her voice is the voice in my head, but nicer, and it speaks to the experience of young women everywhere. I loved it!
Beserker – Emmy Laybourne (3 stars)
This was a pretty interested story about Hanne, a young Norwegian girl with a murderous ‘gift’ – she is a Beserker and flies into a killing rage if anyone she loves is threatened. There is a creepy count who wants to collect anyone with these kinds of special gifts, and after Hanne accidentally kills a few people, he sets people on her tail. Escaping to America with her family, she comes across many trials, and meets Owen, a young cowboy who they hire to be their guide across the country. It was a really interesting read; I love anything to do with Scandinavia. I did find the time period (gold rush in the US) a little bit odd to explore this particular story, but I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes.
The Last Namsara – Kristen Ciccarelli (4 stars)
DRAGONS! I was always going to love this book purely due to the dragons!!! However, Asha, the main character, is a dragonslayer, determined to kill every dragon to atone for a mistake in her past. She is engaged to an horrific man in a position of power, but as her friendship with his slave begins to grow, she decides to take charge of her own life. Her decision has terrible consequences. The dragons are called by old stories, stories which have been forbidden. But Asha knows them all. One element that I loved was the relevance the old stories had to Asha’s circumstances – they appeared in the book between chapters and were brilliant. I also loved that Asha is not traditionally beautiful – she is marred by an enormous scar, and it affects her in many different ways, both in her physical movements and in her self-confidence. Fabulous book.
The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well – Meik Wiking (3 stars)
I’m a notorious mess and I know that I need to minimise my belongings. However, I find that idea really really terrifying, so I looked to ‘hygge’ instead – the Danish idea of comfort as a means to happiness. It’s a lovely way to live, making the most of colder months with blankets, hearty food, and soft lighting. A really interesting read if you’re into lifestyle changes!
The No Spend Year: How I Spent Less and Lived More – Michelle McGagh (4 stars)
I would one day like to own a house. In the Sydney market, for a young, single female that seems a bit like a pipe dream. So I was incredibly intrigued when I read an article by Michelle McGagh about her no-spend year. She literally spent no cash (aside from her mortgage, bills, and a very strict grocery budget) for an entire year. So I just had to get the book. I did try to source it through a second-hand shop or the library in an attempt to live up to her thriftiness, but I resorted to purchasing it as an eBook. It was very interesting and it has definitely inspired me to make more of an effort to avoid spending unless absolutely necessary. The hardest thing has been convincing my friends to spend time with me without having to go to a bar or restaurant.
Wolf By Wolf – Ryan Graudin (4 stars)
This book was amazing. It’s set in an alternative world, one where Hitler and the Nazis won the war. Yael was experimented on in a concentration camp, to an extent that her molecular makeup is compromised. She can assume the faces of other people. And that leads her to her part in the resistance. She is going to kill Hitler. But first she has to win the most dangerous motorcycle race in the world, to ensure that she will get close enough to do it. It was such an incredible story – the high stakes, the characters, EVERYTHING. I can’t wait to get stuck into the next two!
Kindred Spirits – Rainbow Rowell (4 stars)
A teeny tiny little book about fan culture, specifically about three fans who line up at the cinema in a small town in anticipation of the new Star Wars movie. It was entertaining and a bit cute! And it has thoroughly convinced me that I will never queue for three days straight – not after the scene where Elena had to pee into a collectible Star Wars soda cup. Ewwwwwwwww! Hahahaha!
Gather the Daughters – Jennie Melamed (2 stars)
This book was disgusting. I say more here about how disturbed I was by this fiction. It was about a cult which legitimised the sexual abuse of daughters by the fathers. However, the book was sold to me, and it implies in the blurb, that it is a very feminist book where children and women run wild. Be warned. The writing was interesting, but the content just disgusted me too much for to say that I enjoyed the book. For people who like to be horrified, this could be a good read. I just couldn’t see past the grossness.
What have you been reading this week? Any favourites?