#AMonthofFaves: Books Worth the Hype (including one I’m on the fence about)

December 2, 2019

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! That’s right: #AMonthofFaves is back.

True story: I woke up on Sunday worried that it wasn’t happening this year because I am so, so far behind on reading blog posts, but it IS happening, and everything is as it should be.

Many thanks to Tanya Patrice, Kim, and Tamara for hosting yet again.

Today’s prompt is books worth the hype (or not).


Books That Lived Up To the Hype

EducatedEducated by Tara Westover

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a very well-written memoir and super engaging. I listened to the audio (my first Julia Whelan, which is surprising because she is pretty prolific, and fantastic), and was immediately hooked.

This is also VERY triggering, which I was not prepared for. I was just so not prepared. But I did feel compelled to finish the whole thing, which just goes back to how engaging the story is. So, there’s also that.

View all my reviews

Paper Girls: Book OnePaper Girls: Book One by Brian K. Vaughan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I got hooked by the female friendship before I realized this was sci-fi WITH TIME TRAVEL, so that’s a thing that happened.

I enjoyed this! Lots of humor, great artwork, and enough twists and turns that I honestly had no idea what was about to happen next. I’ll read the next volume, so there you go.

View all my reviews

The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth, #1)The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Yeah, so this definitely deserves the hype. It took me a few chapters to get into it and then I was hooked. I will also say that as a black woman whose rage levels are at their peak right now, this really got to some of the stuff that is bothering me, so for that, I am truly grateful.

Reread for book club on 4/21/19:

Ah, this book is SO GOOD. It would be a five-star read for me because the last half is basically unputdownable, but the beginning just takes so long to engage me. (Even this time when I knew how good it was, I had to remind myself to keep reading.) So, yes, good stuff but just give yourself a minute to get into it.

Also, I did listen to some of it on audio (Robin Miles = amazing as always) but it got my minority rage way more activated than reading with my eyeballs so I had to let that go. But! The narrative is amazing. So it was just a thing with my ~emotions~.

View all my reviews

The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth, #2)The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Whew, this one is better than the first–mostly because the world is established so that need to establish the world is gone and also because we find out what happens to Essun’s daughter AND there’s a lot of talk of generational trauma.

Also, at some point when Jemisin was describing Castrima, all I could think is that I understand why some people HAVE to write because imagine carrying all of that around in your head forever. I’m just saying.

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The Stone Sky (The Broken Earth, #3)The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 stars, rounding up

I really liked this overall and Jemisin has some beautiful language here, but she was back on the high fantasy world building train for a part of this, so it was a little harder for me to stay interested in the beginning and part of the middle. (Yes, I understand this is high fantasy. Yes, I can recognize that she’s really super good at it even as I understand that it’s not my jam and that it still affects my overall enjoyment.)

That mother/daughter stuff, though? And all that community building? And the commentary on trauma? WHEW.

I give the overall series 4 1/2 stars. Highly recommend!

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Like Water for ChocolateLike Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am not sure how I feel about this book, so I think that means I liked it. The writing is awesome, though I do wish I could read it in Spanish because there was one bit that I know had to be so much better in the original language (it just wasn’t sexy in English, but context tells me it was a super hot moment).

A+ look at women’s rage and the different forms it can take and the different ways women can be consumed by it. I LOVE THE TITLE. That is all.

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There ThereThere There by Tommy Orange

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a series of interrelated short stories or vignettes, which I like. What I didn’t like is that there’s a lot of–I don’t want to say authorial voice, but–a lot of pontificating and describing in circles sometimes and not enough dialogue and action. When the characters interact with each other, things are super engaging and pick up, but there are long stretches when they don’t, so that made some sections seem to drag on, even though this is a pretty short novel.

One of my favorite things about the book is the way Orange gives all of the characters voice, including who would typically be considered the bad guys. He really humanizes all of them by letting us understand and experience their trauma instead of just letting them sit on the page as, in the case of Octavio, just this really sort of intimidating dude who is able to bully people into doing what he wants. I found that really affecting, and I appreciated getting that character’s perspective. When I got to that part, I was like, “Wait, isn’t this…?” and it was. It’s a nice reminder that those types of people are still people and often broken people at that.

I listened to the audiobook, and I liked all of the narrators. However, with twelve characters and only four narrators, sometimes the same narrator read for back to back sections/chapters, which made it harder for me to keep track of who was who and in whose perspective I was experiencing the book.

The ending is extremely open, which I like, but I know some people hate. So just a heads up on that.

Ultimately, I liked this book as a whole, but it is pretty bleak, which is not really my thing. I get and appreciate *why* it’s that way, but still. Also, I told my colleague who teaches the Native American fiction class about the book, and he was excited to know there’s a contemporary novel about Urban Indians he can now include in his course, so there is also that.

View all my reviews

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  1. natashajk

    I too was so excited to see #AMonthofFaves happening again this year! It was so much fun last year!

    And I really need to check out N K Jemisin because I see her all over the place and haven’t read anything of hers yet…

  2. Heather

    I loved so many of the books you listed here! N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth series? Yesssss! I haven’t gotten a chance to read Educated yet, but it’s on my list! I work full time and I’m going back to school, so I don’t get a lot of time for pleasure reading, but I think I’m going to read that one on my break between semesters.

  3. travelingwitht

    SO glad you could join in for this #AMonthofFaves post!!!

  4. Kimberlykayl

    Yay! Thanks for joining us again. I also loved The Fifth Season and Paper girls.

  5. Carolina

    Thank you! Every time I read your blog, I hear your voice like if we were having a conversation!

  6. Deb Nance at Readerbuzz

    It’s ridiculous, but I still haven’t gotten around to reading Educated. Everyone seems to love that one.

    • Akilah

      I wouldn’t say that I loved it, but it’s vey well written and engaging. It’s a hard read, though.

  7. Sharlene

    Yes!!! Jemisin was at her brilliant best with this series! So good!


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