As September wraps up, I’m recapping all the books that I’ve read through August and September! I like having the option of a library book by my bed to read at night or in between classes instead of just scrolling through my phone. Just having it available makes me so much more inclined to read the book. Growing up, I was always a huge reader and I’m glad I’ve been able to keep that up through college.
Maybe in Paris by Rebecca Christiansen – ★★ (2 stars)
Clearly this month I’ve been inspired by traveling! I didn’t like the main character, Keira, from the start. She came off as whiny and selfish…and stayed that way til the last few pages. While I liked the descriptions of Paris, Keira got in the way and her self-centered attitude made me frustrated with her actions. The writing was also very basic—but to be fair, when it’s written from the mind of a selfish 18-year-old, there’s not much you can do. I would have liked to see it written from both Keira and Levi’s perspectives.
Keira Braidwood lands in Paris with her autistic brother, Levi, and high hopes. Levi has just survived a suicide attempt and months in the psych ward—he’s ready for a dose of the wider world. Unlike their helicopter mom and the doctors who hover over Levi, Keira doesn’t think Levi’s certifiable. He’s just . . . quirky. Always has been.
Those quirks quickly begin to spoil the trip. Keira wants to traipse all over Europe; Levi barely wants to leave their grubby hotel room. She wants to dine on the world’s cuisine; he only wants fast food. Levi is one giant temper tantrum, and Keira’s ready to pull out her own hair.
She finally finds the adventure she craves in Gable, a hot Scottish bass player, but while Keira flirts in the Paris Catacombs, Levi’s mental health breaks. He disappears from their hotel room and Keira realizes, too late, that her brother is sicker than she was willing to believe. To bring him home safe, Keira must tear down the wall that Levi’s sickness and her own guilt have built between them.
Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch—★★★☆ (3.5 stars)
I loved this book! It’s definitely more of a summery read. I’ve also been studying some basic Italian, so it was fun to read the Italian words scattered throughout and actually understand them. Love and Gelato does a good job of intertwining the story with the history and culture of Italy. Lina was an enjoyable character to follow along with and the format of the book – Lina’s story with her mother’s journal entries – was an interesting twist.
“I made the wrong choice.”
Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is get back home.
But then she is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything she knew about her mother, her father—and even herself.
People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more.
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson – ★★★ (3 stars)
I read Speak by Anderson back in middle school, and I remember not understanding the main plot points, but re-reading it in high school and fully understanding the point of the whole book. Wintergirls is similar, focusing on a very tough topic of eating disorders, but in a lot more graphic way. This book was extremely well-written and sensitive to the topic; however, I did find it hard to read at different times. I read it only in short bursts and was glad when I was done. Personally, I wasn’t a fan of the topic, even though I did find the book interesting.
“Dead girl walking,” the boys say in the halls.
“Tell us your secret,” the girls whisper, one toilet to another.
I am that girl.
I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through.
I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame.
Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the skinniest. But what comes after size zero and size double-zero? When Cassie succumbs to the demons within, Lia feels she is being haunted by her friend’s restless spirit.
The Breakdown by B.A. Paris – ★★★★ (4 stars)
This makes me laugh a little to include this book, because while I enjoy this kind of thrillers, this is exactly my mom’s kind of book! Anything murder-mystery is totally up her alley. I read this on the plane coming home and it kept my attention the entire time. There were times that I was getting very frustrated with the main character seemingly going crazy. I came up with a really interesting theory along the way that even had my mom convinced at one point, but the ending totally surprised me! The thing I like about thrillers is not being able to predict the ending at all, and this one really stood out.
If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?
Cass is having a hard time since the night she saw the car in the woods, on the winding rural road, in the middle of a downpour, with the woman sitting inside―the woman who was killed. She’s been trying to put the crime out of her mind; what could she have done, really? It’s a dangerous road to be on in the middle of a storm. Her husband would be furious if he knew she’d broken her promise not to take that shortcut home. And she probably would only have been hurt herself if she’d stopped.
But since then, she’s been forgetting every little thing: where she left the car, if she took her pills, the alarm code, why she ordered a pram when she doesn’t have a baby.
The only thing she can’t forget is that woman, the woman she might have saved, and the terrible nagging guilt.
Or the silent calls she’s receiving, or the feeling that someone’s watching her…
The Lying Game by Sara Shepard – ★★★★ (4 stars)
I just finished this book and I’m so intrigued by what will happen next. Sara Shepard wrote Pretty Little Liars too, which I’ve been wanting to watch but honestly, I think it’d scare me too much. I remember trying to read the first chapter of the first book when I was sleeping over at my cousin’s house in middle school (maybe younger!) and I couldn’t handle it. This book is scary in a sense as well, but I’ve grown out of it a bit since being 12! Although it is based in high school and can seem immature at times, it’s a fun read and keeps up the suspense. I’m glad it’s a series and drags out the plot so I can get the full story on every character.
I had a life anyone would kill for.
Then someone did.
The worst part of being dead is that there’s nothing left to live for. No more kisses. No more secrets. No more gossip. It’s enough to kill a girl all over again. But I’m about to get something no one else does–an encore performance, thanks to Emma, the long-lost twin sister I never even got to meet.
Now Emma’s desperate to know what happened to me. And the only way to figure it out is to be me–to slip into my old life and piece it all together. But can she laugh at inside jokes with my best friends? Convince my boyfriend she’s the girl he fell in love with? Pretend to be a happy, care-free daughter when she hugs my parents goodnight? And can she keep up the charade, even after she realizes my murderer is watching her every move?
Thanks for reading!
(Also, as I’m typing this I realized that Hannah’s Book Club—HBC—is my monogram, so it’s meant to be!)