The week of the summer Biannual Bibliothon and Booktubeathon is over! I had a ton of fun reading with the whole community, and even though it took me a few days I ended up having a ton of fun getting involved with the readathons on Twitter. Even though I dropped off doing blog challenges on Day 3, I ended up completing 7 books (plus 2 and a graphic novel that didn’t go with any challenges) and all 7 reading challenges of each readathon while having a great time, so I’d count that as a success. I also read some amazing books along the way!
Without further ado, here are the books I read during the Biannual Bibliothon and Booktubeathon!
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Challenge: Banned book + read completely outside
OM&M is a classic novel about 2 boys, George and Lennie, who travel to work in ranches to save up money to buy a farm of their own. Lennie has a mental disability, so George looks after him and tries to fix the situations that arise when Lennie unknowingly does things that get them into trouble.
I was torn on this book. On one hand, it packed an emotional punch and made me think about quite a few issues that were prevalent in the time of this novel’s writing, and that have some significance even now. However, I had a few huge problems with how Lennie’s character, along with the novel’s one female character and one character of color were treated both in the plot and the narration.
Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh
Challenge: BiBib group book + character who is very different from you
Flame in the Mist is pitched as a Mulan retelling, but that’s not the case. It’s about Mariko, the daughter of a wealthy samurai, who is on her way to her marriage arranged for money and power when her caravan is attacked. She then disguises herself as a boy to try to find her attackers.
The only thing I liked about this book was the writing. The characters were boring, the plot was predictable, the distribution of perspectives was weird, the pacing was awkward, and the writing was repetitive. I’m glad I gave Renee Ahdieh a shot, but I probably won’t read anything more by her.
Ash by Malinda Lo
Challenge: LGBTQIA+ + read in one day
Ash is a retelling of Cinderella, which follows a girl named Ash who falls in love with the Royal Huntress. There are also some weird fairy elements in there as well???
I was really disappointed by this book. I expected it to be amazing, and I think those expectations might’ve factored into why I wasn’t a fan. Ultimately, I think I would’ve liked this book more if I was younger when I read it. The characters and relationship were underdeveloped, and there was basically no plot or conflict.
November 9 by Colleen Hoover
Challenge: Found somewhere other than booktube + hyped book
Oh, man. November 9. I’m sure most people know about this book, but it’s about 2 18-year-olds, Fallon and Ben, who meet and decide to have no communication with the other at all, but to meet up every November 9.
I thought I would hate this book. I was right. I’m not usually one to tab books because I check things out from my library, but I was so annoyed that I started putting a tab on every red flag that I saw. There were a ton, from Ben butting into Fallon’s highly emotional conversation with her father and trying to ~rescue her~ (i.e. find out what color underwear she was wearing-this isn’t a joke) to him making sexual advances even after she tells him in no uncertain terms to stop. This book was a trainwreck.
Far From You by Tess Sharpe
Challenge: Throwback (book you always pass over) + read 7 books
In Far From You we follow Sophie, a drug addict who has been clean for over 9 months, but is trying to work through the death of her best friend, Mina. Everyone thinks that Mina died in a drug deal gone wrong, and won’t listen to Sophie, who knows that it was something different. After being forced into rehab by her parents who don’t believe her, Sophie works to try to figure out what really happened to Mina.
This novel was intense. I usually am not a fan of thrillers (I’m never super into the mystery and am put off by the characters, who are usually unlikeable and underdeveloped), but I really enjoyed this one. There was a great balance of both plot and characters, and I was invested until the very end.
Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman
Challenge: Adaptation (I cheated on this one) + person on the cover
Challenger Deep is about a teenage boy named Caden Bosch, who is on a voyage to Challenger Deep, the deepest point of the ocean. Caden is also a high school student who is beginning to act unusually. In this novel we follow Caden through both of these aspects of his life.
This book surprised me. I expected to like it, but instead I loved it. It’s beautifully and poetically written – some people might think it’s a bit too metaphorical/lyrical, but I think it worked incredibly well. It’s also a great examination of mental health, showing the reality without glamorizing or romanticizing anything.
When the Moon was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore
Challenge: Host’s favorite genre (magical realism) + book you got because of the cover
Miel and Sam are best friends, inseparable and odd. Miel has roses that grow out of her wrist, and Sam creates moons that he hangs around their rural community. The two outsiders make sure to stay away from the Bonner girls, four sisters who are rumored to be witches. However, the Bonner sisters begin taking an interest in Miel’s roses, and attempt to use all her insecurities and secrets to get them.
When the Moon was Ours is a solid magical realism book. There’s Latinx, Pakistani, and trans representation in it, and from what I’ve read the representation is pretty good. I think I would’ve enjoyed this more if I read it at a different time, because after reading Challenger Deep I was a little burned out on highly poetic writing, which made this book hard to get into. My rating is also a bit lower because this book is focused heavily on romance, and I’m rarely interested in fictional romances.
After I read all 7 books on my TBR, I was still in a big reading mood. Within the 7 days of the Biannual Bibliothon, I read one graphic novel and two more books. I was a little exhausted, though, and picked out an assortment of books that were super easy and relaxing to read.
Lumberjanes vol. 2: Friendship to the Max by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters, Maarta Laiho, and Brooke A. Allen
Lumberjanes is a middle grade graphic novel series which follows the strange events that take place at a summer camp for the Lumberjanes, an organization for girls that is reminiscent of the Girl Scouts, but with more mythical creatures and magical adventures.
This graphic novel was so cute and fun! Volume 1 was my first graphic novel ever, and I really enjoyed it. I loved volume 2 even more, because we got more character development and a more complex plot. These graphic novels give me serious Gravity Falls vibes, but with a cast of diverse female protagonists. I love the Lumberjanes, and I’m excited to keep reading.
The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi
During her twelfth birthday party, Farah and her two best friends get sucked into The Gauntlet, a mysterious mechanical board game. They must beat the game and find Farah’s younger brother in order to escape, or will be trapped in the game forever.
The Gauntlet was a lot of fun, and a book that I’m glad exists for younger readers. Farah is a spunky, intelligent hijabi girl, and this book brings Bangladeshi culture into a Jumanji-esque storyline. For all its diversity and fun, I commend this book. However, there were a few big plot holes (which I didn’t factor heavily into my rating because this is middle grade), and a few of the challenges were ridiculously easy or low-stakes. It was an enjoyable adventure, though!
The Lightning Dreamer: Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist by Margarita Engle
The Lightning Dreamer is a historical fiction book in verse based on the true story of Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda, nicknamed Tula. Tula was a poet, novelist, and abolitionist who refused an arranged marriage and worked for the abolition of slavery and gender equality in 19th century Cuba.
I really wanted to love this book. Tula’s story is so interesting, and she’s a figure who I was excited to learn more about. However, this book didn’t hit the mark for me. I wasn’t a fan of the book being in verse, as it made it so we only got a line or two to show huge events. Therefore, nothing really seemed that important to me and I was surprised when the story ended, because I felt like we were still in exposition.
Those were all the things I read during Biannual Bibliothon / Booktubeathon! There’s still another day of Booktubeathon, but I probably won’t finish anything else. I started Citizen by Claudia Rankine today, which is the book my university selected for all incoming freshmen to read, but I plan on taking my time with it. Leave me a comment with any thoughts you had on these books, or your favorite book you read this week!