Hey look at me, finally writing reviews that I’ve been putting off for weeks!
So here we are: mini reviews for six books I’ve read recently(-ish). Let’s just get into it!
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
“The universe is what we make of it. It’s up to you to decide what part you will play.”
This sci-fi book follows the crew of a ship called the Wayfarer, which tunnels wormholes through space. The crew takes on a potentially dangerous job that involves taking the long way to their destination, and this book chronicles their journey.
I don’t know exactly what I was expecting from this book, but I was pleasantly surprised by what I got. This is no epic space opera with huge battles and constant life-or-death stakes. Instead, it’s slow, quiet, and character focused, which is something I always love to see in genre fiction.
The book has an episodic feel; though there is an overarching plot, it often takes a back seat to the smaller stories that occur in each chapter. (Part of the reason I think this would make a fantastic TV show.) The worldbuilding is incredible, to the level that I think Tolkien would be impressed by it. And so much of the story is focused on the characters, their little found family, and interpersonal relationships. This was a lovely, heartfelt book that definitely makes me want to pick up the sequels.
Love, Creekwood by Becky Albertalli
“So when something beautiful happens, there’s this impulse to press pause and save the game. We want to make sure we can find our way back to that moment.”
Set after the events of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and Leah On the Offbeat, this novella is told through emails and texts between Simon, Bram, Abby, Leah, and the rest of the gang.
Is this book absolutely necessary for wrapping up the Simonverse books? Of course not. Did it make me laugh and squeal and cry and overall make me incredibly happy? I mean, obviously. I am trash for these books and that will never stop.
If you want to pick it up, I wouldn’t go in expecting any major revelations or game-changers about the original books — just nonstop cuteness. I don’t know what else to say besides the fact that I loved it and these characters so much. It’s hard to believe that I’ve spent almost five years of my life loving Simon Spier and this is the last book I’ll read with him in it. Basically, I have no way of being objective about this book, so yeah, five stars.
A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor by Hank Green (Carls #2)
“You’re radically collaborative, profoundly empathetic, and deeply communal. Everyone who tells you anything different is selling the fear that is the only thing that can break that nature.”
⚠️ This review is not spoiler-free for An Absolutely Remarkable Thing. ⚠️
Picking up a few months after the first book ended, A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor deals with the aftermath of the Carls and the disappearance of April May. April’s friends are trying to move on, but strange circumstances and all-knowing books keep showing up and pulling them back in.
This book is bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S. If you thought the first one was wild, then whew, wait till you read this. Not to mention, the ideas explored are fascinating; I cannot tell you how many times I had to pause to fully take in what I was reading or mark a passage. It’s truly astonishing to me that this was written pre-COVID, since so many of its themes about fear-mongering, polarization, capitalism, and poor national leadership are chillingly applicable to today. But what I love most about this series is its unwavering faith in humanity. It shows some of the best and worst that humanity has to offer, but always maintains that we have the ability to be, well, absolutely remarkable.
Since April’s voice was one of my favorite aspects of the first book, the fact that this one is (mostly) narrated by other characters made it a smidge less enjoyable to me. It’s not that I don’t like the other characters, because I do! But it’s hard for them to shine as bright when someone as dynamic as April was the narrator for so long. Still, this book was smart, engaging, and brought some twists that left my jaw on the floor. A worthy conclusion to an amazing duology.
Content warnings: gore
Out Now: Queer We Go Again, edited by Saundra Mitchell
The follow-up anthology to All Out tells the stories of modern queer teens. There were some standout stories, but overall this didn’t blow me away. Even though my average rating between all of the stories was 3.47 stars, I ended up rounding down to 3 stars, since that felt more accurate to my feelings about the book as a whole. Here’s the breakdown:
- “Kick. Push. Coast.” by Candice Montgomery: 2.5 stars
- “What Happens in the Closet” by Caleb Roehrig: 4.5 stars
- “Player One Fight!” by Eliot Schrefer: 3.5 stars
- “Lumber Me Mine” by CB Lee: 4 stars
- “Follower” by Will Kostakis: 3 stars
- “Refresh” by Mark Oshiro: 3.5 stars
- “Victory Lap” by Julian Winters: 3.5 stars
- “A Road of One’s Own” by Kate Hart: 4.5 stars
- “Seditious Teapots” by Katherine Locke: 4 stars
- “Star-Crossed in DC” by Jessica Verdi: 3 stars
- “Floating” by Tanya Boteju: 3 stars
- “The Soft Place” by Hillary Monahan: 2.5 stars
- “A Pound of Flesh” by Kosoko Jackson: 3 stars
- “One Spell Too Many” by Tara Sim: 4 stars
- “Far From Home” by Saundra Mitchell: 4 stars
- “The Coronation” by Meredith Russo: 3 stars
- “Once Upon a Seastorm” by Fox Benwell: 3.5 stars
The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
“Once, there was a girl who vowed she would save everyone in the world, but forgot herself.”
In a town where humans and faeries live side by side, a horned boy sleeping in a glass coffin is a tourist attraction. Hazel and her brother Ben were both in love with him as children, never imagining that one day he would wake up. But then he does.
I spent much of this book feeling like I was holding my breath because the writing was so eerie and captivating. The vibe felt like a combination of The Raven Boys and Stranger Things, which is pretty much a guaranteed win in my book. I loved the town of Fairfold, the ordinary butting up against the fantastical and often existing in the same place (hello, Jack). It was just so good!!
As for the characters, I spent so much of this book wanting to scream “NO DON’T DO THAT,” even though I understood exactly why they were doing that. They’re flawed and messy and absolutely amazing. I love Hazel with my whole heart, and her relationship with Ben was one of my favorite aspects of the story.
This was a book that kept me glued to the page as the story unfolded and more and more secrets were revealed. If anyone knows of other Holly Black books/books in general with similar vibes to this one, please recommend them to me!
Content warnings: dog death, parental neglect, self harm
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
“Kinder than is necessary. Because it’s not enough to be kind. One should be kinder than needed.”
This middle grade book follows a ten-year-old boy named August with facial abnormalities as he starts school for the first time. I’ve been meaning to read it for a long time, but the fact that I finally got around to it is thanks to Lauren @ Twenty-Seven Letters, who sent me a copy with sticky notes marking her favorite parts, aka one of the best gifts I’ve ever received?? Thank you again, Lauren! 💙
Well, I finally understand why this is considered a must-read, especially for young kids who are just learning empathy and kindness. Truly, there is so much kindness and love in this book, and it made my heart burst. From Auggie’s parents, who love him unconditionally, to his classmates, who come to know him, learn not to be judgmental, and see beyond physical appearances. I spent so much of this book just clutching my heart with how pure and soft it was.
Not to mention, in typical middle grade fashion, it’s really funny and relatable! Auggie’s sense of humor shines through, and there were so many moments throughout the book that made me flash back to my own middle school days (and cringe a lot). I also enjoyed that we got to see parts of the story from other characters’ POVs, giving us different perspectives and making all of the characters well-rounded (though I wish there had been a little more difference in character voice, since they all sounded pretty much the same). This is definitely the perfect book to hand to a young reader to teach them so many important lessons about kindness and bravery.
Content warnings: bullying, dog death
What books have you read recently? Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?