In which I have poor judgement
My September reading was never going to be as impressive as August. 13 books is still one of my best monthly totals of the year. But while August had so many brilliant reads and highlights I could barely narrow it down, my September reads were… shall we say underwhelming.
Now, this is partly down to the aforementioned poor judgement. I know perfectly well YA contemporary is a tricky genre for me; a lot of books in it simply don’t suit me, perhaps because I’m older than the target audience, or perhaps because it’s such a wide-ranging genre that it’s always going to be a mix. I ought to trust myself and stick to ones I really like the look of, instead of picking up anything I vaguely recognise. Yep, that’s what happened.
What I read
The Dark Days Club is best described as Shadowhunters meets Regency Romance. There was nothing particularly deep going on, but it was a fun, quick read. The marriage of the urban fantasy tropes with the social mores of Georgian England might not sound like a match made in heaven but it really worked, the stifling social and familial expectations the MC was under only adding to the conflict and humour. Lord Carlston is one more bad boy with a tragic past and the hints of romance were predictable to say the least – if you’re morally opposed to love triangles you should steer clear – but hell, I enjoyed it. 3.5 stars.
Queens of Geek is another fun, easy YA contemporary with a grounding in the nerdy, fandom worlds I’m so fond of, and I loved the way the diverse cast was incorporated and their various issues handled. However, the story didn’t grab me the way, say, Geekerella did. Still, it was a good book and worth reading just for the angry feminist tendencies of some of the characters (in case there’s any doubt, I view angry feminist tendencies as a Good Thing). One of the MC’s is a girl on the autism spectrum (and #ownvoices) which isn’t something you see very often in YA lit, so if you’re interested in it from the representation point of view I would definitely recommend. 3.5 stars.
Saga Vol. 1 was my first graphic novel and I spent a fair amount of time wondering what on earth I was reading. I loved it anyway; the art was clean and vibrant, the characters leapt off the page, and it had a sort of Star Wars feel to the way so many different races and technologies were just thrown in and you rolled with it. Unlike Star Wars, it is definitely not family friendly. You have been warned! The story zips around between different viewpoints, with the obvious “heroes” being Marko and Alana, the parents from warring races just trying to escape and raise their newborn daughter in peace, but I also loved a number of the side characters such as assassin The Will and his Lying Cat. And that ending! 4 stars.
The Night Circus was beautifully written, evocative and romantic, with a real sense of wonder and mystery. The characters were likeable if not loveable, and while I often dislike this style of narration – a bit distant, many viewpoints, present tense – it worked for this particular story. The plot, such as it was, took second place to the atmosphere and sense of marvel of the circus. I can definitely see why it’s a favourite for so many people. I’m glad I read it, and it was definitely more enjoyable than not, but there were a lot of parts that were slow or confusing. 3.5 stars.
I got the whole The Summer I Turned Pretty trilogy as an omnibus edition from the library. Otherwise, I doubt I would have bothered with the latter two books (It’s Not Summer Without You and We’ll Always Have Summer). I wish I hadn’t. Basically, the entire plot of the entire trilogy boils down to how long can you string out a love triangle between one girl and a pair of brothers. Ugh. She came across very young in the first book, which, you know, fine, the plot was probably supposed to be about growing up as much as the romance. But that was the only book with any sort of half-decent background plot, and she didn’t seem to have improved in book three when she was supposedly a college student. Oh, and the marriage plot in book three just didn’t fit with the young tone and the characters. All in all a complete miss for me. Book one got 3 stars, and it went downhill from there.
Letters to the Lost might have been a favourite in other circumstances, but it dealt with a lot of the same themes as I’ll Give You The Sun, one of last month’s favourites, and didn’t quite measure up. The plot of people writing to each other without realising they know each other in real life isn’t exactly original, but it was done well and I really felt the building chemistry. I loved that Juliet was a photographer with a real passion for her art, something that permeates the story and her viewpoint, and her ongoing grief over her mother’s death was moving and heartfelt. I would have liked it better if not for the twist/reveal at the end – learning to deal with grief and not to judge people so quickly and harshly would have made enough of a story without it. Plus, again, I’ll Give You The Sun had a similar twist but in my view done much better. 4 stars.
Four is a collection of short stories from the Divergent world, written from – you guessed it – Four’s point of view. They were enjoyable enough as they went, and getting some of Four’s background before the events in the main trilogy was interesting. Nothing that’s going to stay with me for long, though. 3 stars.
Hollow City is the second of the Miss Peregrine books, and leapt right into the plot without the degree of worldbuilding and set-up of the first. It made for a tighter, gripping read; the antagonists were far more tangible and threatening, the stakes felt higher and there were a few twists that took me completely by surprise (especially that one at the end). I’m still not sold on the romance, and some of the fantastical elements stretched belief a little too far, though I did enjoy the way the peculiar fairy tales were incorporated into the plot. After the reveals and confrontation at the end of this I’m definitely looking forward to the final instalment. 4 stars.
Radio Silence incorporates a lot of Facebook messaging, tumblr, text messages, Twitter… it did not translate well to audiobook. That aside, the characters and concept were interesting, and the MC in particular was very relatable, but the plot never quite felt joined up. The last quarter was definitely the best, and I did love the focus on friendship rather than romance. One of the characters produced a a podcast called Universe City and the snippets of its episodes included really added depth and atmosphere. 3 stars.
A Room With A View was the first E. M. Forster book I’ve read, but it definitely won’t be the last. Although a little too fond of grandiose philosophy in places, and occasionally confusing, it was an engaging read peopled with delightfully ridiculous characters. Their flaws and foibles took centre stage and were as entertaining to me as they were exasperating to each other. The ending was a little weak, but overall I loved the witty, light-hearted writing style and gave it 3.5 stars.
Z for Zachariah showed its age, but read it for what it was and it works. It’s funny to see how much shorter books aimed at the YA market were! The post-nuclear survival story was much more popular back then, and this is a good example of it. The MC, Ann, was the sort of character you could really root for, resourceful and determined. There was a really claustrophobic feel to the plot and the setting which kept the tension high, and the conflict between the two characters was brilliantly done, the issues of who had the trust and the power, Ann’s options gradually being closed down until the final confrontation. 4 stars.
September book haul
Ooops. Well, when you walk past a charity shop with a window display of almost all Rick Riordan’s books, including several hardbacks, what else can you do? Then there’s One Dark Throne. I was dubious about it, after finding the first book underwhelming, but since it was on offer I decided to give it another chance.
And while it might be another failure to stop buying so many books, I did at least read more than I bought this month! There’s hope for my TBR yet.
There’s a comment button right below, whether you agree or disagree with my reviews. I’d love to know what you think!