So, that’s a wrap on September!
I’m so relieved that I was able to bounce back from my crappy reading month in August to have a great reading month in September. My plan to mood-read rather than giving myself a set TBR definitely paid off; I didn’t put pressure on myself to read certain books and genuinely just went with whatever I was in the mood for. This lead to a great mixture of genres: I bounced between nonfiction, fantasy, near-future SF, and thriller-ish reads. I was able to read three books that count toward the R.i.P. XII readathon, but I’m planning to get to a lot more of those spooky-type reads in October.
Here are my stats:
Number of books read: 9
When did I acquire the books I read? June 2016 (Among Others), July 2016 (The Brides of Rollrock Island), December 2016 (The Glass Castle), February 2017 (The Last One), June 2017 (An Enchantment of Ravens, When She Woke), August 2017 (Blue Nights, All the Missing Girls)
Among Others by Jo Walton (5 stars) – I fell in love with this book. It’s about a Welsh teenager obsessed with SFF literature who finds herself an outsider in a British boarding school after a family tragedy. Oh, and she can communicate with fairies. It’s a quietly powerful book about reading and growing up and finding your place in the world; I think it’s perfect for SFF fans of all ages.
The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan (4.25 stars) – First off, I’d just like to ask everyone to ignore this book cover, even though it’s very pretty, because it’s not at all an accurate representation of this dark little book. I’d also like to say that in my opinion, this book is really miscategorized as YA fantasy; I would call it an adult myth retelling.
The Brides of Rollrock Island is a very dark retelling of the myth of selkies that uses the folktale vehicle to shine a light on a lot of issues that are still so relevant today, including consent and how cultural misogyny can lead to women mistreating other women. It’s told in multiple perspectives, but if the story has one anchor, it’s Misskaela, the so-called witch of the island, who began life as a misfit and mistreated child and grew to embrace the powers that set her apart from others and use them to cause a complete upheaval in the lives of Rollrock’s inhabitants. Lanagan’s prose is atmospheric and skillful; she can go from describing something transcendent to something abhorrent in one sentence and it still seems completely natural. This book both entranced and disturbed me; I’m very much looking forward to reading more from Margo Lanagan, and I’d highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys darker fairytale and myth retellings.
All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda (4 stars) – I was not at all expecting to enjoy this book as much as I did. It’s a really smart, well-written thriller that’s told backwards over the course of 2 weeks when the main character returns to her small North Carolina town, during which memories of her best friend who went missing 10 years ago resurface and another girls in town also disappears. It was a perfect fall thriller, and now I need to pick up the author’s next thriller too, which just came out this year.
An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson (4 stars) – I enjoyed this book so much! An Enchantment of Ravens is the story of Isobel, a young human artist whose town’s economy thrives on the Fair Folk’s love of human Craft–essentially any type of artwork or human-made object. In exchange for the items they covet, the fae will gift humans spellwork, which will typically involve some type of trickery on behalf of the fae so that the humans never get what they really desire. Because of this, Isobel has learned to distrust her fae customers, and is able to cleverly manipulate the spellwork she receives in exchange for painting their portraits to be simple and practical enough to benefit without harming her or her family.
Everything changes for Isobel, though, when she meets Rook, the autumn prince of the fae, and in attempting to capture his likeness makes a terrible mistake not only by painting him with human emotions but by falling for him. Rook forces Isobel to follow him to the fae lands to stand trial for what she has done, and the two of them end up meeting with a lot more than they’d bargained for.
An Enchantment of Ravens is a standalone fantasy, which I really liked; I do get tired of everything becoming a series. It’s very well-written and uses a more traditional notion of the Fair Folk as being covetous and deceitful while at the same time distant from mortal emotions. I liked this depiction of faeries, and the writing style played well to this more traditional fairy-tale-esque vibe. I really admired Isobel’s practicality and intelligence; she’s not a heroine who stumbles into problems without thinking, and she always thinks of what’s best not only for herself but for her family before she decides on a course of action.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book, and I’d be very interested to see what Margaret Rogerson comes out with next. I’d recommend An Enchantment of Ravens to fans of fairy tale-ish books and YA fantasy with admirable heroines. (I received an ARC of An Enchantment of Ravens from the publisher at BookCon)
The Last One by Alexandra Oliva (4 stars) – If you’re like me and you like to try to read some books that are sort of horror/suspense/thriller-y as we move into fall, but you have a hard time finding books you really like in those genres, and you’re more into near-future SF and post-apocalyptic type things, you should pick up this book.
Basically, this book is about a contestant on a survival-themed reality show when the show’s structure appears to start breaking down around her and it becomes clear that there’s something very wrong happening to the world around her, but she can’t tell whether it’s real or just a part of the show. It’s told in first-person from the contestant’s point of view (she’s referred to by the show producers as Zoo because she works at a wildlife preserve), and also in third person descriptions of the early days of the show and her interactions with other contestants. There’s even some bits of internet commentary from the show’s fans.
This book does a great job of building creepy tension, and the reality-show/survival premise gives it some Hunger Games-esque vibes at times, which I loved. It’s definitely well-written, in case you’re also picky about that in your suspense-type reads (I very much am). Overall, definitely would recommend as a fall read. I’ll be interested to see what this author comes out with next.
Blue Nights by Joan Didion (4 stars) – this is the second of Didion’s memoirs focused on grief that I’ve read; her writing is skillful and heartbreaking.
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (3.5 stars) – this is a well-written and absorbing memoir, but it’s also really disturbing and I would not recommend it at all if you’re sensitive to reading about child abuse.
When She Woke by Hillary Jordan (2.5 stars) – I really don’t recommend this book. It’s just not very well-written, and everything stays very surface-level and obvious with the characters and plot. Things never reach any depth, and the author has not gotten the whole “show don’t tell” memo. This was really a disappointment for me.
Vampire Girl by Karpov Kindrade (1 star) – I hate giving books 1-star ratings. I went into this with low expectations just looking for a fun vampire read, but it was just very poorly written, the plot was rushed and predictable, and it was very cliched, to a degree that really bugged me. On top of that, this is NOT a vampire book! It’s a book that pretends that these demon princes are somehow also vampires.
What did you all read in September? What were your faves (or least faves)? Let me know!