My Year in Reading: Cassie-la’s August 2018 Wrap Up

Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig (★★★½)

Part memoir, part self-help(ish) book, part something else entirely, Matt Haig’s Reasons to Stay Alive seeks to remove the stigma society places on depression, by revealing the author’s own struggles with the disease, as well as peppering the book with facts and statistics on depression and suicide. Super personal and very raw, I see this as a sort of companion to Notes on a Nervous Planet, which is structured in a very similar manner. Warning: this one is not nearly as light-hearted, but equally helpful.

Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage (★★★½)

Baby Teeth stars a pint-sized sociopath with designs to kill her mother, the mother herself, and the father who is completely oblivious to his wife and daughter’s true selves. You know, totally normal family dynamic type stuff. The story is made up of alternating chapters that switch between the crazed daughter who is too smart/demonic to be believable, and her mother, who is convinced she will never be a good enough wife and mother. While a super interesting premise — mostly because the kid is not alright — the plot definitely drags at times.

Rust & Stardust by T. Greenwood (★★★★★)

Rust & Stardust is based on the 1948 kidnapping of 11-year-old Florence “Sally” Horner, a crime that would go on to inspire the Vladimir Nabokov classic Lolita. Despite being pulled straight from history, Greenwood’s novel is less a true crime story and more historical fiction, exploring the horrors that Sally was most likely forced to endure during her 21-month ordeal, and the ramifications it had on the people in her life. This heartbreaking and beautifully written novel deserves every single star (and then some).

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton (★★★)

Who killed Miss Hardcastle by the reflecting pool with the revolver? In this genre bending murder mystery, the protagonist has eight days to solve the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle. The catch? Each day is the same day, and each morning the narrator wakes up in a different body. If they do not unmask her killer by 11:00 p.m. on the eighth day, their memories will be erased and the loop reset. Super inventive — albeit a little slow at times — The 7 1/12 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is Groundhog Day meets Every Day meets Black Mirror meets Agatha Christie.

A Deeper Love by Cassandra Clare and Maureen Johnson (★★★)

The fifth short story in the Ghosts of the Shadow Market collection brings two Shadowhunter fan favorites briefly back together: Tessa Gray and Jem Carstairs. Their not-so-meet-cute is set against the “romantic” backdrop of the Second World War, as Jem gets pulled further into the mystery of the lost Herondale. While it was nice to see these two cuties pining over each other again, I still wish I knew why some of these short stories mattered to the larger Shadowhunter universe.

#FashionVictim by Amina Akhtar (★★★)

The Devil Wears Prada meets American Psycho with a side of Single White Female in this incredibly dumb romp through the world of the New York fashion scene. From the inner workings of a fictional fashion magazine to the real life catwalks of New York Fashion Week, this young adult debut makes mockeries of them all with its terrible dialogue and less than stellar fashion moments (really, capes?). Dumb fun at its dumbest, #FashionVictim tries to make a point about body image and bullying, but ends up being a pointless shlockfest.

Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo (★★★★½)

Bardugo’s Language of Thorns contains six lush and beautifully written fairy tales inspired by Hansel and Gretel, The Little Mermaid and The Nutcracker, as well as other assorted myths and folklore. Gorgeously illustrated by Sara Kipin, each fully illustrated page manages to tell a vivid story of its own. Even if you’re not familiar with the Grishaverse, this collection is perfect for fans of fractured fairy tales, feminist retellings, and tales of betrayal and revenge.

One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake (★★★)

That awkward moment when you’re really enjoying the Three Dark Crowns quartet, but (and this is a big but), you wish it was only two books instead of four. Dear publishers, please stop messing around with duologies just to make more money. With that being said, as much as I hate that nonsensical plot point that exists just to stretch the story and extend the series beyond the author’s original intentions, I definitely love Katharine even more now. More murder in book three, please and thanks!

Follow Me by Sara Shepard (★★½)

I finally got around to reading Follow Me, the second book in The Amateurs series (see also: a trilogy I keep hate reading for some reason), and boy do I wish I could quit these terrible Sara Shepard books. In her latest not-so murder mystery/train wreck, there is slut shaming, toxic masculinity, more inexplicable doppelgangers, a police officer who refers to a kidnap victim as “melodramatic,” the phrase “Indica weed,” and a plot where absolutely nothing of note happens until the very last chapter. To summarize: don’t even bother.

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