September ‘19 Wrap Up

Hey everyone, and welcome back to the blog! September has been a wild ride, in terms of reading! There’s been books that have made me laugh and books that have made me cry – and that’s a rarity! Want to know which books they were? Well you’ll have to read on! So without further ado, let’s begin, and fair warning, there may be spoilers.

The first book I read this month was a library loan, and that was Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, the first book in the Six of Crows YA fantasy duology, and the fourth book set in the Grishaverse. This follows Kaz Brekker, a criminal prodigy, who is offered a chance to pull off a deadly heist. Kaz can’t do it alone though, and he is going to unite an unlikely group… I absolutely loved this and I’m so pleased to have finally ticked this off my TBR! Whilst all the characters in the heist are flawed in their own ways, they are equally as endearing – I love them all! I felt a certain kinship to the magical Nina, because she is described as a bigger girl. There was a range of characters which was nice as there was representation for various disabilities, mental health and the LGBT community. The writing seems so much more developed than the Shadow and Bone series, which is a joy – there is action, flirting, sexual tension, and although there are certain heist mechanics at work, it felt easy to read. There were twists, turns, heartache and humour, and I fell into a world that I didn’t want to come out of. Not all secrets are revealed though, and the ending left me wanting more. I can’t wait to read the sequel, and it will be no surprise to hear that I rated this 5 stars.

six of crows

The next book I read was Darkdawn by Jay Kristoff, which is the third and final book in The Nevernight Chronicles, which is an adult fantasy. Following on from the events of the previous book, assassin and gladiator Mia Corvere has rescued her brother and slaughtered her enemies, or so she thinks. The Red Church are on her back, trying to stop her from more vengeance, whilst secrets and truths are being unleashed… I was so nervous going into this, with it being the final instalment. I was fearful for characters fates and how the main story would play out. I was right to be cautious, but this was an action packed, emotional read that I loved. It was just as dark as the rest of the series, and the secrets that are revealed leave you gasping. It’s the characters that punch you in the chest and leave you shocked – to me, Mia has become a bisexual icon for the bookish community! The action is seamless, the romance steamy yet emotional, and the sarcasm and wit is as funny as ever. I laughed, I cried, I felt my heart break. I can’t say too much, but I definitely recommend reading The Nevernight Chronicles. This was a perfect end to the series and I rated this 5 stars.

darkdawn

The next book I read was a library loan, and that was Warcross by Marie Lu, which is the first book in the Warcross duology. This YA science-fiction follows Emika, a down on her luck hacker, who finds herself catapulted into the limelight of the world famous video game, Warcross. When Emika accidentally glitches herself into the opening championship, she soon finds herself in Tokyo before the game’s creator, Hideo Tanaka. Hideo offers her a job – find the hacker in his video game and stop them… I have mixed feelings about this. Whilst this futuristic world is intriguing, I found Emika’s narration irritating at times. It was kind of off-putting, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to continue. This being said, I enjoyed the mechanics of the video game, but I wanted more of this. It felt like Sword Art Online, but the real comparison comes with the villainous hidden plot. I found the romance awkward, and there’s something odd about it – the more I thought about it, it had some slight comparisons to Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele’s burgeoning “relationship” in the Fifty Shades of Grey series. There were times where I had some red flags, but I think that’s part of the devious nature of the characters and the edgy underworld of hacking. For me, I felt the dangerous parts were rushed, and I guessed the big secret. I was entertained, however, and I will probably finish the series. I rated this 3 stars.

warcross

The next book I read was a reread and that was The Shining by Stephen King, which is an adult horror, and is the first book in The Shining series. This follows the Torrance family (Jack, Wendy and young son, Danny) as they move to the Overlook Hotel in Colorado, to caretake it in the winter season. Whilst there, they experience strange supernatural events, and Danny feels it the strongest of all with his ESPN aka the shining… I’ve been trying to read a King a month, in publication (or as near to) order, and this is really working out for me. With this novel, there are heavy themes of isolation and loneliness, abuse and violence, which really works for the setting. For me, it feels more suspensful, but when the horror is ramped it does work. Jack has many layers to his personality, which makes him work as a secondary antagonist. Whilst the novel appears short, there are heavy chunks of prose which can drag and I found the background plots of gangsters didn’t quite fit or wasn’t interesting enough for me. Additionally, there is racist slurs, and it must be remembered that this was written and set in a time when those slurs were common and used often, even though King himself is not a racist. All in all, I did enjoy this, and I rated this 4 stars.

the shining

The next book I read was a library loan and that was Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo, which is the final book in the Six of Crows duology, and is the fifth book in the Grishaverse. Following on from the events of the previous book, Kaz and his crew are broken down, but not defeated. Low on resources, allies and hope, the Dregs will find their loyalties tested, which may shape their very world… This was another stellar read! The flaws that made us fall in love with the characters are embellished upon further, and made them more human. The action is still deadly, but this book also shows that brute force isn’t always the best thing – brains can really help you get ahead. The writing is just as good as the first, with simmering tensions and romances amongst the grit and crime of the world. I have laughed reading this, and I have cried. I honestly can’t believe it has taken me this long to read the duology. Whilst I’d love a sequel to happen (apparently Leigh Bardugo has some plans for that), I’d be nervous to see what would happen to the characters that I have grown to care for. I rated this 5 stars.

crooked kingdom

I then read my library loan of This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada, which is a YA science-fiction, and is the first book in the This Mortal Coil series. Set in a world where a deadly virus is spreading, taking hold of its victims, leading them to explode, survivor Catarina receives a letter stating her geneticist father is dead. Her father was searching for a way to beat the virus. And then she finds a coded message, learning that there is a vaccine, but searching for it may put her into the path of shadowy organisation, Cartaxus… This was an interesting novel that I didn’t know whether I would DNF or not, and I’m really pleased I didn’t. This futuristic, dystopian world feels not too far from humanities future, with DNA panel implants, hidden codes and apps to change the slightest thing about our bodies. Catarina is a strong willed protagonist, whereas love interest and super soldier, Cole, felt a little too stereotypical. There were moments I didn’t see coming, which was a nice contrast to the more stereotypical moments. Sometimes the technological language was difficult to understand, and I’m relieved that I have a little bit of science-fiction knowledge to aid me! In the end, I was pleasantly surprised, and I think I’m going to continue the series. I rated this 4 stars.

this mortal coil

The next book I read was a library loan and that was Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King, which is an adult horror. The small Maine town of Tarker Mills is under attack. Every month sees a new body found, mauled to death by a vicious beast – the werewolf… I read this as part of a library readathon, with the challenge to read a book under 200 pages. The novel is set in a small town, which adds to the confinement and suspicion. There isn’t much to this plot however. Every month there is a new victim, until one survivor discovers the identity of the werewolf and goads him into a reveal. The illustrations are good, although February’s seems a little too sexual. I felt like there could be more to this novel – the months could be expanded with the setting, characters and the wolf’s thought processes. All in all though, it was a fun, quick read and I rated this 3 stars.

cycle of the werewolf

The next book I read was William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily A New Hope by Ian Doeschler. Told like a Shakespearean play, this follows the plot of Star Wars: A New Hope, in which young Luke Skywalker teams up with a Jedi Knight, a pilot, a Wookiee and two droids to save their galaxy from the tyranny of the Empire, and to rescue Princess Leia from the clutches of the evil Darth Vader… There’s not much to really say about this – if you know the plot of A New Hope, or are a Star Wars fan in general, then you know the plot and the characters well. This being said, I thought it was great fun, mixing Shakespearean language and well known quotes with science-fiction, and having comedic observations or hearty monologues. I really enjoyed this – it made me laugh a lot, and I had fond memories of being involved in theatre and reading Shakespeare at school. This was a delight, and I rated this 5 stars, simply because of how much fun I had.

verily a new hope

The next book I read was a library loan and that was The Dragon Republic by R. F. Kuang, which is an adult fantasy, and is the second book in The Poppy War series. Following on from the events of the previous book, Rin is on the run, addicted to opium, driven by a vengeful God, and haunted by her actions. What drives her on is the thought of revenge on the traitorous Empress, leading her to join the powerful Dragon Warlord… I read this as part of a library readathon, with the challenge to read a book that has been published within the last twelve months (The Dragon Republic was published in August of this year). This was one of my highly anticipated reads, and it didn’t disappoint. This is a book with many heavy topics, such as addiction, mental and physical health, self-harm, rape, and more. It definitely isn’t easy to read, and can be triggering at times. Whilst Rin is a powerful character, in terms of her abilities, she is often crushed under her own thoughts. Rin has essentially been abused and used her entire life, and there are attempts to address this, but this is something she needs to see for herself. That kind of characterisation can be hard to write, so hat’s off to the author! I loved the character of Nehza, and I want him and Rin to become a couple so much, but I honestly can’t see this happening! This is set in wartime, and there is a lot of tactics and battles in the fore and backgrounds. There are moments of compassion, dare I say love, but still danger. My only criticism is that there is a huge cast list which mingles with locations and battles, and it can feel like the book drags or becomes confusing. This being said, there was so much growth in the characters. Once again, I loved the writing style, and I couldn’t believe the twists. I can’t wait for the next book in the series, and I rated this 4.5 stars.

dragon republic

The next book I read was a library loan and that was The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin, which is the first book in the adult fantasy series, The Broken Earth. This follows survivors in a post apocalyptic world as the Earth ends and is constantly being attacked by itself. The power the Earth holds is now a weapon and there are some who can manipulate that power – for good or for bad… I read this as part of a library readathon, with the challenge to read a book that is 400+ pages. This was a book I thought I was going to DNF, as the writing style takes a while to get into. It switches between formal fantasy, and informal chatty casual conversation, and often slips between second and third person. This was jarring, and I honestly don’t know if it added too much to the novel, besides “shock” for the twists. The characters do feel real though, especially main characters Damaya, Essun and Syenite. There is representation of the LGBT+ community, those from other races and cultures, and I saw a myriad of abuse (physical, mental and sexual, although this could be different to someone else’s perspective). I think this is an original novel with great promise, but it’s heavy and slow at times. I’ve seen other people say this and it bears repeating – the novel requires patience. There’s a lot of information and world building to be done and established, but there are breadcrumbs to secrets lying around for the taking. I think I’m going to continue the series and rated this 4 stars.

fifth season

I then read my library loan of The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker, which is an adult historical novel, weaving Greek mythology and legend. This follows Queen Briseis, who has been taken as a bed slave by the great and mighty hero, Achilles, after he sacks her home. Briseis is about to recount her time with Achilles and share her whole sorry tale… I read this as part of a library readathon, with the challenge to read a book that just took my fancy, and I was in the mood for Greek myths and legends. Sadly, I was really disappointed. Whilst characters of legend such as Achilles are memorable, simply because he is known in other tales, Briseis is not. She is very passive, always watching, and I understand that her silence speaks for the many women and girls who were or will ever be abused. Her narration sometimes slips though, and becomes almost interview style. There are also moments of dialogue that seem more modern than Ancient Greek. I found that nothing really happens with the plot as Briseis is so passive – there is a war, she is captured and spends the remainder of her life in war camps. I found it a little repetitive, and I honestly found it a chore, hoping for more each time. I can see it’s power and message for the #MeToo movement, but I think it could have been done differently and more effectively, even in the historical sphere. In the end, I rated this 2 stars.

silence of the girls

The final book I read this month was a YA fantasy, and that was Five Dark Fates by Kendare Blake, the fourth and final book in the Three Dark Crowns series. Following on from the events of the previous book, Queen’s Arsinoe and Mirabella are aligned with the Rebellion with Legion Cursed Queen Jules. At the opposing side, is Crowned Queen Katharine, her body a host to long dead queens. The island is shrouded in mist and everything is about to come to a head… This was one of my most anticipated books of the year, and I’m sad to say, it didn’t live up to my expectations. I felt like the biggest problem for me is that the pacing was off – I felt like the last 150 pages were barrelling to the end, and I think because of that the characters, writing and overall plot suffered. I did enjoy the characters, and I was surprised with the ending, but it wasn’t truly satisfying for me. It was a fast paced read, but I just wasn’t blown away. I can’t say too much, but I do recommend Three Dark Crowns if you like dark fantasy. In the end, I rated this 3 stars.

five dark fates

So that completes my September ’19 wrap up! Let me know what book/books you have read this month – whether it’s paper/hardback, audio, eBook, graphic novels or manga, they all count! If you have any recommendations, please feel free to let me know!

– ReadWriteZoe.

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