Earlier this month, I shared which of the books from the Goodreads Choice Awards I had on my shelves and would be trying to read. And today I’m here with some reviews…kind of? It’s complicated, as you’re about to see.
Here in the Real World by Sara Pennypacker | Nominated for Best Middle Grade
I started off with this one for the sole reason that it was a library book and I wanted to return it a couple of days later. I don’t really know what to say about this—this kind of like middle-grade contemporary isn’t really my kind of thing. I thought it was a little more magical realism, but it is just real world stuff. It wasn’t bad at all, it’s a sweet enough story and I liked it, but it’s just not the sort of story I usually go for. That being said, I probably would’ve loved this as a kid—it has this adventure, outdoorsy, animal vibe that I would’ve gobbled up back then. I didn’t really expect for this to be the one I voted for, it’s going up against two of my favourite authors in Jacqueline Woodson and Jessica Townsend, but I’m happy I gave it a chance anyway.
How Much Of These Hills Is Gold by C. Pam Zhang |Best Debut
I picked this one up pretty soon after finishing Here in the Real World. I figured it was such a different style of book to the sort of thing that I usually read that it would be a nice way to break up the more structured reading plans I had for non-fiction November. I was not a fan of this. I had kind of expected this to be a four, maybe even five star, read for me but instead I struggled right from the get-go. I didn’t even make it past page 40 before I just had to give up, so I’m not counting this as read or a DNF, I’m just taking it off the list. I think my main struggle with this one was I kept expecting it to be like Stone Sky Gold Mountain by Mirandi Riwoe which I read early this year—it had very few similarities with this, but you know when you just get an idea stuck in your head and you can’t shake it? That was this for me.
Cinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron | Best YA Fantasy
Another one that just was not for me. I’m always sad when I do these kinds of posts and the ones I start with aren’t really for me, but at the same time, that usually means I end up enjoying the later ones. I actually started this one back in mid-September. I read 50 pages and then put it down and didn’t even think about it until I started putting these posts together. I thought this would be something that I loved—the synopsis makes it sound incredible. But this is really just another case of me not vibing with something. I think my issue here was that I’ve just read too many books that follow a kind of similar storyline to this—you know, fantasy world obsessed with women’s looks, a main character who doesn’t agree with that, some kind of competition. No one let me buy books like that anymore, okay? I only ever enjoy about 1 in 5 of them, and this was not one.
Writers and Lovers by Lily King | Best Fiction
Rounding off this bunch is Writers and Lovers! I got this one in a WellRead box back in May, and admittedly it was one of the ones I was least interested in that I’ve had from them. I don’t know if any other writers feel this same but reading books about writing/writers etc is something I find genuinely excruciating. I think sometimes it can be done very well—The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo immediately comes to mind. But generally, there’s just something about it that makes me kind of uncomfortable and anxious. Add to the fact the blurb describes the protagonist as ‘knocked sideways by grief and loneliness’ after her mother’s death. Speaking about grief especially in relations to mum’s is a huge trigger for me, and I just don’t think the rest of it is enough to hold my interest.
So looking back at it now, little sad that Here in the Real World was the only one I actually liked. But hopefully that means things will only go up from here!