My book-choosing skills improved drastically last month, like the library gods took pity upon me after the horrid reading month I had in August. So I am happy to report back to you, Internet Diary, all the books I was reading in September instead of writing here in you. Well, the first half, anyway.
This was an EXCELLENT kick-off to month nine. I don’t even know what inspired me to pick it up because I hadn’t heard about it anywhere, but then it popped up on Scribd one day and I saved it for some reason.
The setting is 1980s San Francisco and we’re following Eulabee, a middle schooler, and three of her supposed best friends. I love me some good coming-of-age books and this one delivered. The girls in this book were SUCH BITCHES. Oh, and please don’t think this is some lame YA book because it’s definitely written as adult fiction and superbly at that.
2. The Lost Village – Camilla Sten
This Swedish horror novel is GOOOOD. If you like Blair Witch-y things, and I surely do, then this might be something for you. It’s about a woman who is filming a documentary about what is literally a lost village in Sweden, where one day in 1959 everyone disappeared. The documentarian has familial ties to the village – her grandmother was born there but had moved away with her husband before the mysterious Disappearing happened, leaving behind her parents and younger sister.
What I liked about this is that it goes back and forth between the present day with the documentarian and her small crew as they are scouting the area, obtaining b-roll, etc.. and the days leading up to the mass disappearance.
There were times where I was REALLY creeped out (I was listening to this on audio over Labor Day weekend when we were in the car which was oftentimes AT NIGHT ooooh) and was actually very interested in the plot and invested in the characters. If you’re into slow burn, atmospheric horror and not so much gory, serial killer, monster shit, then maybe you’ll like this WHO AM I TO SAY?
Fun fact about Blair Witch, though: I was 100% convinced that it was real because I saw it several months before it was released – I don’t even think any previews had come out yet. I had a friend who was the manager of Eide’s Entertainment and he had somehow gotten his hands on an advanced copy of it. We watched it knowing NOTHING and then Janna and I were so scared driving back to my apartment late that night in the dark, lol. Then I remember that the website was set up to make it seem like it was literally found footage as well, and we were like OH MY GAWDDDDDD. Man, imagine how much longer they could have dragged that out if it had come out in the late 80s instead.
And FWIW, I still really love that film. It’s a legit pioneer of the found footage horror genre and was just done to perfection. The scene with Heather crying real-ass tears into the camera? Iconic.
That being said, if this was turned into a movie, I’d watch the shit out of it. In the dark. Holding my stuffed dog, Purple.
3. Zara Hossain is Here – Sabina Khan
Wanna get your blood boiling? Need extra motivation to punch a racist today? (Like we don’t have it in spades.) Then read this book and imagine for a second what it’s like for POC teens going to school every day and getting bullied, dragged, harassed, threatened, and terrorized by ignorant piece of shit white kids. And then imagine when it spills over and affects your entire family.
The rep is pretty good in this one too, as our main character is Pakistani and bisexual, and there are some great conversations about culture, race, ethnicity and sexuality in here. Zara is such a strong female lead too with a sweet and strong relationship with her parents that made my heart swell. This book has got to be so important for all the Muslim teens out there.
I think books of this nature should really be required reading in middle and high school. When white kids are consistently being forced to read classics written by, for, and about other white people, it’s just helping that cycle of systemic racism to continue right the hell along. These kids should be reading about the struggles that their very own neighbors are having because of their skin color, religious beliefs, gender identity, etc.
I am 99.999999999% confident in the fact that my kid is never going to walk into school and start slinging racial slurs or engage in blatant cultural appropriation, etc.
, but every time I read a book like this, I feel compelled to give him THE OL’ REMINDER of how we do and do not treat people in this house. I know he gets it but at the same time, I’m not going to just say it once and then sit back and assume that’s enough parenting. I actually just overheard him and two of his friends talking in the car last night about some white kid at school who claims it’s OK to use the n-word when gaming and Chooch was like, “NO IT’S NOT. IT’S LITERALLY NEVER OK FOR A WHITE PERSON TO SAY THAT” and his friends vehemently agreed and I was like, “Yesssss, Chooch. Educate.”
Fighting racism is FULL TIME and the more books out there with characters like Zara Hossain, the better.
4. Malibu Rising – Taylor Jenkins Reid
This might be the only book in September that I just didn’t really like all that much. It wasn’t bad enough to DNF but it made me realize that this author might not actually be worth the hype? I read Daisy Jones and The Six and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by her and really enjoyed both, and unwisely assumed that I would be super into this one as well, especially since it’s set around the children of one of the seven husbands in the author’s last book.
The story takes place over the span of 24 hours in the early 80s, where two brothers and two sisters are preparing to have their annual summer party. The problem is that none of the characters feel real, there are two many side characters that don’t add anything to the plot or even any interest in general, and it just feels like a lot of nothing. Like there is so much build up and then it’s just, “OK cool, who cares.” That’s how I felt, anyway.
Oh, and the dialogue was ROUGH. If I’m reading a book and I can’t hear the conversation in my head, then you’re not a good writer.
It just felt so unnatural to me, like, did young adults really talk that way in the early 80s?
And then it occurred to me that the reason I liked the other two books was that I listened to them on audio. Daisy Jones had a full cast (some of the narratives were pretty big names too, like Jennifer Beals, Benjamin Bratt (even though I forgot he existed lol), and Judy Greer (love her and her voice). So those two books felt REALLY SPECIAL. Both were in interview format too (moreso Daisy Jones) and it was fast-paced and the characters were actually interesting.
I won’t recommend this one to anyone, but try the other two maybe! In Malibu Rising, everyone could have died at the end and I wouldn’t have shed a tear and I usually cry at everything, so.
5. Heartstopper, Vol. 3 – Alice Oseman
THIS SERIES IS FUCKING BEAUTIFUL. FIVE STARS. I have nothing more to add other than I can’t wait to read Vol. 4!
6. Jar of Hearts – Jennifer Hillier
This thriller was middle-of-the-road for me. It’s about a woman who knew that her boyfriend-at-the-time murdered her best friend 14 years ago, when they were in high school. (Maybe 16 years ago?) They both end up going to jail and oh yeah it also turns out that the boyfriend was a serial killer, so that’s cool.
The book jumps back and forth between the time she’s in jail (hated those chapters, honestly; I just don’t like anything where the setting is a prison) and the time leading up to the murder of the friend so you don’t really know this whole time if she actually played a role in the murder or just the cover-up, why the friend was murdered, you know – thriller stuff.
It was OK, honestly! I didn’t hate it but I also didn’t scream at Henry to add it to his list, which is what I do after I finish something really good that I loved (unless it’s contemporary fiction because he usually doesn’t like those lol).
There were some parts during the climax that made me say, “Um wow OK you went there, Jennifer Hillier.” But overall I would give this the “airport book store” rating. As in, this would be a semi-solid pick if you were about to catch a flight but forgot to bring a book/pack your Kindle and needed something in a pinch. It’s entertaining enough to distract you for several hours, but it’s not really something I would confidently recommend to any of my friends…? Am I getting worse at reviewing books??
Oh shit, gotta go! One of my pet squirrels is at the window!!!!