September was both a fantastic and an unusual reading month for me. While the average amount of books I read in a month is normally around 4, I ended up reading 11 things in September and most of it I really enjoyed. It was unusual though, because all the books except one are classified as adult while I would consider myself someone who primarily reads YA. However, at the beginning of the year I set out with the goal to diversify my reading (both in terms of diversity within books as well as books of different genres and age groups) and I’m so happy that I’ve been doing so.
So, without further ado, here are the books I read in September (in chronological order):
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn: This was my second book by Gillian Flynn and I have to say she does not disappoint. Just like in Dark Places, all the characters are messed up and despicable, yet you somehow find yourself rooting for them anyway. I hated every single character and wanted to strangle them on more than one occasion, but my eyes stayed glued to the page and I needed to know just what horrific thing was going to happen next. There were some pacing issues and the ending felt rushed, but I would still highly recommend this book if you’re into the psychological thriller genre. Just be warned that this book is very dark. 3.5 stars
All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr: This is one of those book I’ve been wanting to read for a long time and I actually put it on my list of “books I have to read in 2016”. Yet, somehow, I kept being intimidated by its size and the fact that it’s a Pulitzer Prize winner adult literary fiction novel. Having read it now, I just want to force it into everyone’s hands and make them read it right now. This is truly one of the most beautifully written and intricately woven novels I have ever read and a serious contender for my favourite book of the year. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Everyone needs to read it, especially if you’re a fan of poetic writing and/or historical fiction. 5 stars
Do not Disturb by A.R. Torre: Though I did not love the first instalment in this series – The Girl in 6E – I still found it to be incredibly enjoyable. This sequel however, disappointed me. It wasn’t even that the book was terrible, the problem was more that the novel was too similar to the first one and what was new I didn’t like. This instalment focuses more on the romance which I personally couldn’t stand and some of the events that happened were so convenient I found it difficult to suspend my disbelief. I still recommend the first book but unless you’re completely hooked, you should probably skip this one. 1.5 stars
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes: I received this book as a present from one of my best friends and decided to pick it up on a whim. And what a pleasant surprise this book was! Flowers for Algernon is a classic science-fiction novel that is cleverly written and full of empathy and thought-provoking questions about what makes us human and who we are. Seeing this man evolve and change and witnessing the different ways society reacted to his transformation was truly fascinating. The story was heart-breaking and meaningful and I believe it’s a book everyone should read, regardless of whether or not you enjoy speculative fiction. 4 stars
Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: I have so much love for this book and I think I knew I would within the first couple of pages. I’ve wanted to read a book by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie for a long time but was always intimidated. When Diversathon came around (the first readathon I’ve ever participated in!) I decided I no longer wanted to wait. And honestly my expectations of this book were so wrong: it wasn’t at all dense or difficult to read, but instead ended up being a touching novel about different kinds of love, loyalty and the paths we walk. I was deeply moved by Kambili’s story and related to her on an emotional level. I also loved the insight we get into Nigerian culture as well as what colonialism means for a native population. The family dynamic was fascinating, albeit harrowing, and I can’t think of another book that deals with religious fanaticism and its consequences so well. This is truly a book I recommend to everyone. It’s easy to read and fall into, but also very insightful and thought-provoking. I cannot wait to read more by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, I will for sure read all her books now. One of my favourite books of the year. 5 stars
Saga Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples: I have repeatedly said that I don’t really enjoy graphic novels and yet I find myself trying them out once in a while anyway. Saga is perhaps one of the most well-known and loved graphic novel series in the blogosphere and so I decided to give it a go. And omg, am I glad I did. Saga is weird. Like, seriously strange. But there is something about it that draws you in. The artwork is beautiful and the story and world-building really detailed and complex. It was such a fun read and I was surprised at how much I cared about the characters, despite the fact that it’s only one volume. What stands out is the incredible creativity of it all and how it truly comes across as something that is different from anything else I’ve read. If you think you won’t enjoy graphic novels, give this one a go, especially if you enjoy fantasy and science-fiction. I really loved it and can’t wait to get my hands on the next volume! 4 stars
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai & Christina Lamb: This book is very difficult to review. For one, it’s a memoir. How do you criticize a person’s life? And when that person is Malala who is such an inspiring and strong young woman it seems like even more of an impossible feat. So when I say that I didn’t love the book, it by no means is a judgement of the main character or her family. What didn’t work for me was the way the book was written. It was very heavy on the political side but I didn’t really mind that since I enjoy learning about different cultures and countries. What bothered me more was how content and writing didn’t mesh. It was an odd mix of political and historical fact as well as personal reflections on Malala’s part and it just didn’t quite gel. I wanted more personal insight from Malala rather than her almost clinical detachment. Sometimes I wondered who I was even listening to, Malala or Christina Lamb. Still, a worthy read that I can definitely recommend. It’s an inspiring story that will hopefully give you some insight into the political situation in Pakistan. 3 stars
A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston: A Thousand Nights has gotten a mixed reception and it only takes a few pages to realize why. The writing style does not have the same easy readability and accessibility that people expect from YA books. It’s quite dense and the whole book is very literary; a fast-paced adventure is not what you will find in these pages. There were times where I struggled with this: I would have to reread paragraphs because my mind drifted elsewhere or had to go back a few pages because I had missed one of the subtle hints. So this book wasn’t always enjoyable, and yet I really liked it. The Arabian atmosphere seemed wonderfully authentic and palpable and the writing was beautiful. The main character was so strong, despite not having a name, and she was someone I could root for completely. This novel won’t be for everyone but if you don’t mind books that are more slow-paced and the premise sound interesting to you, definitely give it a go! 4 stars
The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera: I decided to pick this up randomly. I was looking for an ownvoices book for Diverseathon and saw it on one of the recommendations lists. It intrigued me because I have seen the movie The Whale Rider when I was little and it was one of my favourite movies ever as a child. Having read the book now, I can say that I prefer the film to the novel. The book is beautifully written and gave some insight into the lives of the Maori people (of which I’ve never read anything from) which I really appreciated. There are also some lovely feminist elements and I adored the mythology. In terms of actual story-telling however, I didn’t enjoy it that much. We never get any attachment to the characters, some of the scenes are really confusing and there was a general lack of context. Sometimes the book would feel like a children’s book, other times the vocabulary and story progression went over my head. With a concept like that, a better execution could have made it into something extraordinary, but it wasn’t. Try the book if it interests you, but I would recommend skipping to the movie instead. 3 stars
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch: In complete honesty, I’m not sure I understand why this book is getting so much hype. I found Dark Matter to be very enjoyable, but not overly special. The story pulls you in right away and is full of suspense and action until the very end. Jason is an easy character to root for and you want him to succeed. In terms of science-fiction however, this novel doesn’t do anything new (though it does explore some old ideas in an interesting way). I don’t have anything negative to say about it but I also didn’t find it outstanding or mind-blowing like so many other people. I recommend it if you need something fast and engaging to get you out of a reading slump. 3.5 stars
The Girl With Ghost Eyes by M.H. Boron: This book was SUCH a disappointment to me. It could have been everything I ever wanted: nineteenth century San Francisco Chinatown, Chinese religion and mythology, ghost and spirits and magical priests. Literally my dream book. But the actual story was so ordinary and boring. The novel lacked coherence; scenes were scattered in randomly just to show off more of the world and didn’t have any actual impact to the overall storyline. The main character was one of the most annoying protagonists I’ve read in a long time. She made stupid decisions and didn’t learn from her mistakes. Her character development seemed forced and I didn’t find a single supporting character to be three-dimensional. They were all just walking and talking archetypes. Overall, I thought the world-building and concept were fantastic, but the rest was utterly underwhelming. 2 stars
So that’s it from me! I had a great reading month in September but I know that this trend will not continue for the rest of the year since university has started up again and is taking up all my time. How was your reading month? Have you read any of the books I mentioned? Do you want to read any of them? Discuss with me in the comments!