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Reviewing the 22 Books I read in the past few months

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at PSU chapter.

It was a slow summer for me and I couldn’t be happier to be back on campus. I lived in my rural hometown for the summer, and although I loved the extra time with my family, it was hard being away from all my friends and this college town that I’ve come to call home.

Additionally, I was working forty hours a week at my local YMCA summer camp, and although it provided great experience, a 7 am-3 pm day in a gym was definitely an adjustment from my college schedule, which had gaps of time between classes to do work or rest.

I came home at the end of each day tired and in need of a way to decompress, so I turned to reading. I have been a bookworm since I was three years old and made up stories to go along with the pictures in my books.

However, in my later years of high school and first two years of college, I fell out of the habit. With upcoming assignments looming over my head and textbooks to be read, it was hard to justify spending valuable time to read a book for fun instead of for class, even though I love it so much.

However, this past summer was the first summer in years that I had no schoolwork to complete, no applications to be filled out and no emails that needed answered immediately. I had time to sit outside in the sun, put in my headphones and let myself spend hours reading and at peace.

I was able to finish 22 books from the beginning of June to the end of August. If you’re looking for any books to read now that we’re heading into a cozy fall, many of these are amazing picks to curl up with, light a candle and disappear for a few hours.

1. “The paris apartment” by lucy foley – 8/10

This was a really fun mystery read! It kept me interested and engaged the whole time and it definitely was a page-turner. I was able to finish this one in about two afternoons and really enjoyed it.

This was a great one to curl up with in the corner of a coffee shop, sip your drink and enjoy the ride. It was slightly predictable at times, but still had enough twists to keep me guessing.

2. “the seven husbands of evelyn Hugo” by taylor jenkins reid – 10/10

I loved this book and was invested enough to finish it in a day at the beach. It was such a compelling story and Taylor Jenkins Reid did such an incredible job at making the characters seem so real. It was so easy to forget that I wasn’t reading the biography of a real-life movie star.

I loved the complicated, morally gray protagonist that Reid created with Evelyn Hugo. Despite all her flaws, all her mistakes, and the selfish decisions she made, I still fell in love with her character and understood the motives behind each choice she made.

Also the twist in this one was top tier. This was one book that BookTok was right about. I would recommend this to anybody looking for their next read.

3. “circe” by madeline miller – 9/10

I really enjoyed getting to read Greek mythology from a woman’s perspective. Greek mythology is so heavily based in misogyny that most books only focus on the accomplishments of Zeus and his male progeny. They never focus on the perspective of a woman, especially one who was banished by her father for thinking and acting on her own without the permission of anyone else.

This was a super interesting story that kept me hooked enough to finish it in two days. It also skyrocketed me straight back into my 6th grade Percy Jackson Greek mythology phase and introduced me to Madeline Miller’s writing style, which I really enjoyed.

4. “A good girl’s guide to murder” by holly jackson – 9/10

I really enjoyed this book. It definitely read like a young adult novel, but that made it quicker to read and I still thought the plot was great. This was one thriller/mystery where I really could not guess the ending. There were so many suspects and so many possibilities that I was just along for the ride.

I loved how it all came out in the end and thought Holly Jackson did an amazing job writing this book for a variety of audiences and keeping things interesting the whole time.

Justice for Barney, though. That one was cruel.

5. “Good girl, bad blood” by holly jackson – 7/10

Although I wasn’t as interested in the sequel as I was in the first “Good Girl’s Guide to Murder” book, I still really enjoyed reading this one. I loved Pip and Ravi’s characters, and I once again was stumped trying to guess the ending of the book.

The mystery in the first book hooked me more, but I was still intrigued and sucked in by Jamie’s disappearance and everything it unveiled. 

6. “as good as dead” by holly jackson – 6/10

I really liked this book up until about two-thirds of the way through. I personally just wasn’t a fan of Pip’s character in the last third of this one or how she handled the situation she was in.

One of my least favorite things to read in a book is when someone tells a big lie and then has to keep doubling down on the lie to cover for themselves. So, if you’ve read this one, you will get why I didn’t love that.

7. “a ballad of songbirds and snakes” by suzanne collins – 10/10

I am and always will be a huge fan of “The Hunger Games” world, so I really loved the insight this book gave into the early Hunger Games, President Snow’s youth, and what District 12 looked like decades before Katniss’ story.

This was another book that I couldn’t put down and I’m so excited to see the movie adaptation this November. 

8. “The inheritance games” by jennifer lynn barnes – 8/10

This book sucked me in so quickly. Jennifer Lynn Barnes genuinely did such a good job creating a world and characters that are so engrossing you can’t stop reading.

I would highly, highly recommend this one to any fans of “Knives Out,” because the vibes are very similar, just with a touch more romance and even more mysteries to unravel.

9. “The hawthorne legacy” by jennifer lynn barnes – 9/10

This was the sequel to “The Inheritance Games,” and I liked it even more than the first one. Usually, with a mystery series, the first book is a great mystery and the sequels feel more like attempts to live up to the first one.

Instead, with this series, it felt like the mysteries got bigger, more complicated, and more interesting as time went along. Everything tied into each other and each clue meant something in three or four different ways. The characters also grew more on me with every page.

10. “the final gambit” by jennifer lynn barnes – 10/10

Seriously, this series just kept getting better. I loved Avery’s character development as well as her relationship developments with all the other characters in the book.

This book quickly became a new favorite. I loved it and I would highly recommend this series to anyone looking to get back into reading.

This whole series also gives major fall vibes and there is a fourth book that just came out that I haven’t had a chance to read yet, so I highly recommend it for all your “-ber” months reading needs.

11. “love and other words” by christina lauren – 8/10

I really enjoyed this book and thought it was a great quick read to start and finish in an afternoon. I loved the love story in this book and I was really invested in Elliot and Macy’s friendship and romance in both timelines of the novel.

The only reason I docked this from a 10/10 to an 8/10 is because I thought the ending felt so rushed. I felt like I read this slow burn romance that spanned over a decade between two people who have grown from children to adults together, only to get hit with a quick explanation of why they haven’t spoken in years, and then wam bam here’s the end.

I also hate the miscommunication trope, so I was not a fan of how this was done. I felt like we could have used more at the end of the book. Despite this, I really enjoyed this novel on the whole and would read it again.

12. “song of achilles” by madeline miller – 10/10

Wow. Just wow. This was one of those books that I was thinking about for days while reading it and after finishing it.

I started it on a Thursday night before bed, spent the whole next day at work thinking about it and trying to sneak in chapters during my lunch and then finished it Friday night before dinner.

It was just one of those books that I couldn’t put down. It was the most beautiful story, and I couldn’t recommend it enough. Achilles and Patroclus stole my heart.

13. “when no one’s watching” by alyssa cole – 6/10

Unfortunately, the romance of this book was not really romancing for me. I didn’t really feel any organic chemistry between the two love interests other than sexual attraction. However, I am kind of a hopeless romantic and a romance snob, so that might be a me problem.

I thought this book was a really interesting social commentary and the twist was really great! It was unexpected and the suspense of this book did keep me hanging on.

I did feel like it took a while to get to the actual plot of the book. The first fourth of it was just kind of wondering what the big conflict was going to be, followed by a pretty rushed reveal and ending.

However, the book was still absolutely worth the read and I enjoyed it a lot. The main character was a great protagonist and made me think about the fact that I haven’t read many books with a Black woman as the main character, which is something that I’d like to change. 

14. “the half life of GENIUS LEGEND pierce” by katrina leno – 9/10

I can’t say too much about this book without spoiling the whole thing, but I really enjoyed this one. I was sucked in right from the start and flew through it in two hours.

I would recommend this one to anyone interested in psychology and slow-unraveling mysteries.

15. “the one by kiera cass” – 8/10

This one was a spontaneous late night re-read for me, but since I hadn’t read this one in years I enjoyed it, and I was entertained the whole time as if I was reading a new book. This one was a really quick read, which is nice, and I loved Maxon’s character.

It took me a second to remember the plot of the first two books, so I was a little confused for the first two chapters, but once I jogged my memory a little I really liked it. 

16. “imagine me” by tahereh mafi – 8/10

This was the final book in the “Shatter Me” series, a series that I read years ago and loved, but I never got to the last book until this summer. To be honest, when I started reading it I was really struggling to remember some of the side characters, because there are a lot of them, and I could not tell them apart.

However, the main characters were exactly as I remembered, and I have always loved Ella/Juliette, Warner/Aaron, and Kenji, so I still loved this book since it revolved around them. There was definitely a lot going on and it was more fast-paced than other books I read this summer.

I’ll be completely honest, I did undeniably struggle to figure out what was happening sometimes, but that was on me for not rereading the other six books first. Despite my own confusion, I was still thoroughly entertained by this book and thought it was great.

My favorite book in the series is still “Ignite Me,” though. I live for Warner/Aaron’s character arc.

17. “catching fire” by suzanne collins – 10/10

This one was a re-read for me (this was probably the 15th time I’ve read it), but I still love it every time. I think there’s always something new to discover about “The Hunger Games,” whether it’s more about the characters or the political structure of Panem. I will always love Katniss and Peeta’s story.

18. “mockingjay” by suzanne collins – 10/10

Just like “Catching Fire,” I have read this book so many times, but each time I found something new to focus on. I will always love “The Hunger Games” with my whole heart and could analyze it for hours. 

Seriously, if you ever want to analyze “The Hunger Games,” my Instagram is @emmahogan___ and you can feel free to DM me with your takes. There’s so much to pull from these books politically, romantically and psychologically, and I love them.

My inner middle schooler is thrilled at the resurgence of Hunger Games TikToks and is so excited for the new movie.

19-22. The “peeta’s games” series by @IGSYGRACE on AO3 – 10/10

It definitely was a Hunger Games Summer for me. Disclaimer: I didn’t know whether I should count these because technically they’re not published books, but they are 20+ chapters each, incredibly well-written and I loved them so I’m counting them.

This summer I went onto Archive of Our Own and downloaded “Peeta’s Games,” “Throwing Sparks,” “The Mutt” and “Back to Twelve” onto the Books app on my iPad, and I refuse to gate-keep these because they were actually so good.

To the Hunger Games fan out there who rewrote the entire Hunger Games series from Peeta’s perspective, and then put it out there on the Internet for all of us to read for free, bless your heart.

She did such an amazing job of mimicking Suzanne Collins’ writing style. She actually did it so well that I kept forgetting that these weren’t real Hunger Games books.

I mean, they were full-length novels that perfectly captured Peeta’s character from the books. I also loved “Back to Twelve,” because it filled in all the gaps between the end of “Mockingjay” and its epilogue, the 15 years it took for Katniss and Peeta to grow back together and eventually have the children mentioned at the end of the book.

Thank you @igsygrace on Archive of Our Own. You’re a true hero. 10/10 for all four.

Happy reading everybody, I hope you love these books as much as I did.

Emma is a third-year Elementary and Early Childhood Education major at Penn State University. When she's not writing, you can usually find her singing, reading, painting, going on walks, hanging out with friends/her incredible boyfriend, and drinking iced chai lattes. Outside of Her Campus, Emma is the President of the Penn State Singing Lions, a Students United Against Poverty Ambassador, a member of the Phi Eta Sigma honors fraternity, and works at an after-school program.