September Wrap Up + Mini Reviews

September was a surprisingly busy month for me. My job became all-consuming for a little while in order for me to get a promotion I’d been after which drastically changed my daily life; I went on a week-long family vacation to Tennessee; and my witchy aesthetic girl gang started spending more time together. It was a complete whirlwind of a month, to say the least. I’ve had hardly any time to dedicate to my hobbies with how crazy things have been.

Unfortunately, that meant reading often got put on the backburner. I did read the Splintered Series by A.G. Howard, and honestly managing to read seven books this month in spite of everything else I had going on is still impressive for me. I actually read both of my Book of the Month picks in the month I got them! I only read one of my three books for my monthly book club, but four of the seven books I read were ones I own that I can check off the towering list that is my tbr pile, so overall, it was a good reading month!

I decided to do mini reviews with all the books I read this month, because while some were terrible, some blew me away, and some were tucked cozily right in between, I didn’t feel I had enough to say about each of them to warrant their own separate reviews.

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Review: The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork

Summary: When Vicky Cruz wakes up in the Lakeview Hospital Mental Disorders ward, she knows one thing: After her suicide attempt, she shouldn’t be alive. But then she meets Mona, the live wire; Gabriel, the saint; E.M., always angry; and Dr. Desai, a quiet force. With stories and honesty, kindness and hard work, they push her to reconsider her life before Lakeview, and offer her an acceptance she’s never had.

But Vicky’s newfound peace is as fragile as the roses that grow around the hospital. And when a crisis forces the group to split up, sending Vick back to the life that drove her to suicide, she must try to find her own courage and strength. She may not have them. She doesn’t know. The Memory of Light focuses not on the events leading up to a suicide attempt, but the recovery from one – about living when life doesn’t seem worth it, and how we go on anyway. 

Genre: young adult, contemporary
Rating: ★★★★★

I’ve been ruminating on this review for a few weeks now, trying to explain exactly why it impacted me so much, and I don’t think I can give it the review it deserves without being a completely open book. So here goes.

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Review: A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland + a Discussion on Mental Health Depiction in Fiction

Summary: Ever since Esther Solar’s grandfather met Death, her entire family has been doomed to suffer one great fear in their lifetime—a fear that will eventually lead each and every one of them to their graves. Esther’s managed to escape the curse…so far. She doesn’t yet have a great fear because she avoids pretty much everything.

Esther thinks she has it all figured out, until she’s reunited with an old elementary school classmate—and first crush—Jonah Smallwood. The encounter is the beginning of an unexpected friendship between the two, one that sends the pair on a journey of self-discovery as they try to break the curse that’s consumed Esther’s family. Together they face their greatest fears, one debilitating phobia at a time, only to discover the one fear they hadn’t counted on: love.

Genre: young adult, contemporary
Rating: ★★★★

Worst Nightmares will not be a book for everyone. It’s quirky, uncomfortable (there was one scene that flared up some anxiety in me), and extremely heavy. This book covers mental health, death, illness, abusive homes, and so much more. And yet, it still finds a way to be charming in its own right, with scenes that made me smile and a romantic plot that appeases a certain crowd. And of course, the overall message will absolutely rip your heart right out of your chest. This was an emotional rollercoaster, and I felt my heart break repeatedly for these characters.

**this review will contain MAJOR SPOILERS**

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Mini Reviews + Some Minor Changes

My main purpose for creating this book blog was to be able to review what I read with an emphasis on the books I own. I wanted to hold myself accountable for constantly buying a mountain of books, and I missed writing about the books I read. So far I think it’s going well for me; I love being able to rant and rave about stories I love or hate. I don’t necessarily have a schedule to my posts, and right now I’m happy with that because I don’t want any stress about this blog, so I don’t give myself any. I’m sure that’ll change at some point though, considering I live to stress myself out.

That’s not to say I don’t sometimes struggle with my book blog. Sometimes I read a book and don’t feel like I have enough to talk about, so I never review it and then forget about it (looking at some of my read books from February, RIP). Sometimes I read a lot of comics or ebooks and feel that I don’t need to give them the same attention that I give books from my physical tbr pile.

I debated doing a monthly wrap-up post, but some months I review every single book I read so it seems pointless. Maybe I’ll do a quarterly post of mini reviews just to maintain reviewing everything I read. I haven’t figured out all the weird kinks to having a blog yet, but I’ll smooth it out eventually. For now, I figured I would write mini reviews about some of the books I’ve read throughout the year that I haven’t gotten around to reviewing yet. All of them are stories I enjoyed but felt weren’t necessarily deserving of an entire review post. I can sum up everything I felt about them in a few sentences, and they’ll include individual ratings.

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Review: The Gatekeepers by Jen Lancaster

Summary: Anyone passing through North Shore, IL, would think this was the most picture-perfect place ever, with all the lakefront mansions and manicured hedges and iron gates. No one talks about the fact that the brilliant, talented kids in this town have a terrible history of throwing themselves in front of trains, and that there’s rampant opioid abuse that often leads to heroin usage.

Meet Simone, the bohemian transfer student from London, who is thrust into the strange new reality of the American high school; Mallory, the hyper-competitive queen bee; and Stephen, the first generation genius who struggles with crippling self-doubt. Each one is shocked when lovable football player Braden takes his own life and the tragedy becomes a suicide cluster. With so many students facing their own demons, can they find a way to save each other—as well as themselves?

Genre: young adult, contemporary
Rating: 2.5/5 stars

The Gatekeepers is loosely based off Lake Forest High School in Illinois, where students in an extremely wealthy town with an over-the-top, ritzy school were suddenly committing suicide by jumping in front of oncoming trains. This is a tragic, fascinating case, and I actually found myself spiraling deeper into news articles (Chicago Magazine has a wonderful write-up) and researching the origins of Gatekeepers, and what I’ve decided is this is an important story to talk about. I just don’t know that it should have been written by this author.

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