Updated: May 17, 2020
It is the 6th of October and rain is pouring down: fall is here. Time to write a wrap-up of the books I read this summer. (As I have summer holidays from the end of June until the end of September I count September as a summer month.) I read 8 books (this is very little for me, unfortunately): 5 paper copies, 2 audiobooks and an e-arc.
1. SADIE - Courtney Summers (audiobook) ✩✩✩✩
But love is complicated, it’s messy. It can inspire selflessness, selfishness, our greatest accomplishments and our hardest mistakes. It brings us together and it can just as easily drive us apart.
When thirteen year old Mattie is found dead, her sister Sadie goes after her murderer. However, Sadie herself goes missing on her journey. West McCray - a radio personality - accidentally hears the story about these two sisters at a gas station and decides to investigate the mystery. He records his investigation as a podcast.
This book is a combination of chapters from the view of Sadie and the podcast, each complementing each other with information and thus creating suspence. The podcast format was really original, and makes this book perfect to listen to as an audiobook. The audiobook is performed by a full cast, which makes it even more entertaining to listen to characters with each their own voice.
I have such mixed feelings about his book, though. Being a sister myself I can understand you are uncontrollably angry with your sister's murderer, but sometimes Sadie almost seemed coldblooded. At first the end was dissatisfying, because it left me behind with so many questions. However, then I realized this is exactly as the story should have ended because it makes you feel the same as all the characters in the book: left behind with too many questions. This is a story about a journey through deep emotions and mourning, not about finding the answers.
Sadie is a very good book: in terms of plots, characters, tension, format. It is just my mixed feelings about Sadie's actions sometimes that keeps me from rating 5 stars.
2. THE GOLDEN COMPASS (His Dark Materials #1) - Philip Pullman ✩✩✩
You cannot change what you are, only what you do.
This small summary does not do any justice to the rich plot of The Golden Compass, but I have to give you something: Her determination to look for children - including her best friend Roger - who have been kidnapped by the Gobblers takes Lyra on a journey to the North, where armored bears, witches and of course the Gobblers live. I may not forget to mention Lyra's uncle Asriel is also in the North, building a bridge to a parallel world.
The Golden Compass has a great worldbuilding and interesting characters, it has everything to be an epic fantasy story and I understand where the popularity of this book, even 25 years after writing, comes from. But as much as I wanted to love this story, I didn't.
The writing style did not suit me. It is written for a youth audience, but nevertheless I often found the descriptions too long to hold a child's attention. Sometimes it felt as if the author wanted to pass on a great deal of information in this book to be able to build on it in the next book, which made some scenes overwhelming and not always relevant.
So the all the story elements where there, but the writing style prevented me from really diving into this book and enjoying it. However, I do think I will give the second book in the trilogy a chance, because I want to know if all this information really becomes relevant in the next book. I just need to find the time and enthusiam. Some day. Maybe.
3. AURORA RISING - Amy Kaufman & Jay Kristoff ✩✩✩.5
Cat turns her glare on Aurora, and the accusations in her eyes are plain as starlight: This is your fault. Without you Tyler would have got his golden squad and I'd be part of it and none of this would be happening.
After his heroic act of rescuing Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley from interdimensional space where she has been in a cryo-sleep for two centuries, star pupil Tyler sees his dream to roam in space with a star squad, shattered. He is now stuck with a group of six losers and a girl who will be the trigger of a war that has been threatening for millions of years.
This squad of teenage losers turns out - surprise surprise - to be a squad of talents. They are all trained for a specific task and are required to work together to complete missions succesfully. They are stuck with each other 24/7 and that leads to tensions and - of course - romances. More about that later.
Every character has its own distinct personality and acts accordingly. The dialogues between these teenagers feel realistic: you notice that they are carrying great responsibilities, but sometimes are just still teenagers. However, sometimes the dialogue was strange and inappropriate in a life-threatening situation. I understand that sometimes jokes are made to ventilate panic, but sometimes there too much is said if they have such little time.
And for the romance part: I liked how the love interests weren't obvious from the start. My perspective on the possible love couples shifted throughout the story. However, I was dissappointed that all ships are heterosexual, except for Fin maybe. He was the only character I really liked, with his sexual confusion, silly jokes, and sarcasm to hide his own physical pains and shortcomings.
Because I wasn't really invested in the characters, I rarely felt real suspence when they were in dangerous situations. However, I loved the worldbuilding and the writing style, and the plot overall too, I just wished the characters appealed to me a bit more.
4. HOMO DEUS - A History of Tomorrow ✩✩✩✩
In the past there were many things only humans could do. But now robots and computers are catching up and may soon outperform humans in most tasks. (...) We are are on the brink of a momentous revolution. Humans are in in danger of losing their economic value, because intelligence is decoupling from consciousness.
I am going to keep this review short. Harari is a really intelligent man. I would recommend his books to everyone because they are eye-opening. You may not agree with everything he says or may believe different things, but both Homo Sapiens and Homo Deus that makes you look differently at the world and makes you conscious about things happening around us that we didn't want to see before.
To be honest, I thought this book would give me fears about are shared future, but it didn't. Harari puts many fears into perspective. However, sometimes it felt like Harari was repeating himself over and over, just in different words. I think this book could have been 50-100 pages shorter without losing any essential information. That's why I liked Homo Sapiens a little better, it was more to the point and based on facts than assumptions.
5. THE PRINCESS SAVES HERSELF IN THIS ONE - Amanda Lovelace (audiobook) ✩✩
The Princess Saves Herself In This One is very hard to review. I think I made a mistake to listen to this book as an audio book. I had little or no prior knowledge and although I soon realized that the text was very poetic, I was often confused as to whether these were single texts connected with a common thread, or whether they were a complete story.
And then they didn't even sound like poems?
6. A THOUSAND SHIPS - Natalie Haynes (ARC) ✩✩✩.5
Sing, Muse, he says, and the edge in his voice makes it clear that this is not a request. (...)
But I am not in the mood to be a muse today.Perhaps he hasn't thought of what it is like to be me.
(E-book provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. )
A thousand ships is the umpteeth retelling of the Trojan war, BUT it is the first time I have read a retelling from the perspectives of the women in the story. In that respect this was a very original story. You read the views of women on both sides of the front, of the goddesses and mortals, of mothers and daughters.
The writing style was quite easy, which is great for non native English speakers, and made me fly through the book.
However, I felt like these women told their story more than lived it. This was perhaps a conscious choice of style, but it was a disappointment. What may not have benefited this choice of style is that Natalie Haynes writes from many different perspectives, so that every woman had a limited narrative time. As a result the story, the actions and emotions, often remained superficial.
I love reading from multiple perspectives because you get to know both sides af a story, but in this case there were just to much sides.
A final point of criticism is that the structure felt illogical. An onchronological plot can contribute to tension because important information is not immediately revealed. But in this case I saw no reason for the onchronological build-up (except for a few moments maybe).
Nevertheless, I enjoyed this book. I want to emphasize again that I thought it was an original and good idea to tell this historical story from the female perspective! So a recommendation if you want to read this popular story in a different way.
7. NIGHTFLYERS - George R.R. Martin ✩✩✩
George R.R. Martin is one of my favorite authors. This fact made me buy Nightflyers, even though I never read or watch horror. I am easily scared and I don't have a reference because it was my first horror story, and so I cannot really tell you if this one was scary, but it creeped me out at times. However, in a good way. I enjoyed the creepiness. I think I will watch the Netflix series, now I know what will come and hopefully will be less scared.
The plot was great, but this story also had the same flaw as many short stories have: the characters felt rather superficial. It would have created more suspence if I could have been able to get emotionally attached to them. So not my best read of George R.R. Martin!
8. BECOMING - Michele Obama ✩✩✩✩✩
I am so happy I could finish this summer with a 5 star read. I did not read any meh book, but neither a book that really impressed me or touched me emotionally.
However, I was impressed by Becoming. Michele Obama already proved that she is such a strong, honest woman.
Now she also proved she is a great writer. She might not have had to think about creating a thrilling plot, but she still managed to write in a style that is easy to read and sometimes even entertaining.
She is open about her thoughts and emotions towards her family, her husband, her friends and collegues, and their choices. She tells honestly what she does or does not approves of, about which choices in life she has made, and would also admit when she was wrong in her opinion or choice.
Michelle Obama is truly a woman I look up to. I highly recommend this book!
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