So the most mammoth bookish post is now live! Forgive me for the extreme length of this post, but I appear to have read a ridiculous number of books in September – that’ll be the joy of a holiday for you! So read on to see what I thought of all my September reads.
The Whitstable High Tide Swimming Club: Part One by Katherine May
My first September read is set in Whitstable and tells the story of a bunch of people, misfits if you will, who all come together to form a swimming club and help each other through a number of personal issues. It’s the first of a three-part serialisation, released in ebook form over a six-month period. It was a good read – I was intrigued by the characters for one – and I did enjoy it.
However, I think it loses something because of the nature of serialisation. As just as you start to understand the characters and get into the meat of the story – so past the scene setting – the book ends. And you really just want to keep reading! It’s a bit of a mistake to be honest as it’s not the kind of in-depth, really intriguing tale that has me pre-ordering the next book. There was no big cliffhanger or anything and I don’t need to know what happens yet. So all in all I’m a bit meh about this ‘series’ now and probably won’t pick up/download book two.
Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart
We Were Liars is possibly one of my favourite books ever. It’s the sort of book you press into others’ hands to get them to read asap and it has a twist that completely bowls you over. So let’s just say that Genuine Fraud, the next book from E Lockhart, had a lot to live up to. And it kind of does! It’s most definitely a twisty page-turner of a read – I finished it in a day or so. Plus it introduces a really interesting character, a con artist that you don’t really like, but who you’re fascinated by! While it was intense and intriguing and, in parts, gripping it wasn’t as good as We Were Liars. So definitely worth reading if you’re a fan of a good thriller!
Shell by Paula Rawsthorne
This book is incredible and I raced through it in one train journey. It tells the tale of girl dying from cancer, which she’s ready for and has accepted. One day she wakes up in another girl’s body and cancer free, all thanks to a body transplant. Freaky, right? I have to be honest the concept really isn’t something I’d usually read, but it’s a work book so I had to give it a whirl. And I was pleasantly surprised!
Within a chapter I was hooked and needed to know what was going to happen to all involved. I loved how the writing drew you in and you felt like you were in the character’s head – you really did feel like you were in the wrong body. The writing was that good. The only bad point is that I probably didn’t agree completely with how some characters acted, especially towards the end of the book. But that’s a small point, especially as the book itself was so blooming gripping with such an incredible concept.
The Light Jar by Lisa Thompson
The next book on my September reads list is The Light Jar and it is a must-read. It’s an incredibly written book about domestic violence, imaginary friends and how we cope when things get scary. It tells the tale of a young boy who flees his home in the middle of the night with his Mum. Once they arrive he makes friends with a little girl who is on a mission to uncover a mystery from years ago and also has to deal with his Mum going missing too. It’s a tale of friendship and hope, fear and loneliness and you won’t be able to put it down. This is such a good book, and not just a good kids book – a good book full stop.
A Change is Gonna Come by various authors
This is a YA anthology written by BAME authors with each story focused on the theme of change. The book is written by well established authors as well as four debut authors and it’s so good, most definitely a must-read. Unusually, for an anthology, I loved every story included. Plus there was some poetry in there, which I also loved. The authors have written about a wide array of topics, from grief and friendship, to dealing with racism and first love. I defy you not to read this book, love it and find a particular story that resonates with you.
The Girlfriend by Michelle Frances
This is billed as the best thriller of the year and perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl. And while it’s good I think those comparisons go a bit far. Don’t get me wrong it’s twisty and full of flawed characters in the two main female characters, but it’s not as gripping or shocking as those original books, especially not Gone Girl. What it is however is an enthralling and interesting read about how a mother reacts when introduced to her son’s girlfriend for the first time and how small slights or exchanges can be perceived in different ways and escalate into something huge. Definitely a good read – just don’t assume it’ll be as good as some of the big thrillers of the last few years!
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg
This is such a fun mystery book and one I wish I’d read as a child. It follows two children who run away from home to live in a museum and stumble across a mystery that they then decide to solve. It is such a fun premise, both the museum living (bathing in fountains and sleeping in a four-poster bed from hundreds of years ago), and the mysterious statue that the kids try to solve the mystery of. This really should be a classic that every child reads.
Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
Book one in this fantasy trilogy is incredible – it’s the perfect mix of magic and fantasy, rivalry and love, peril and friendship. The world that Kendare Blake has created is so well described that you feel like you’re living in and experiencing it. As for the story – amazing! Law decreed that each generation the three queens are separated as children and grow up in different areas in the kingdom. There the three sisters – an elemental, who can control fire, a poisoner, who can ingest the deadliest poisons, and a naturalist, who is said to control the fiercest beasts and bloom flowers – learn more about the magical gifts they are born with. Then on their 16th birthday the sisters meet again and so begins a fight to the death, and the crown. Seriously it’s incredible!
American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld
This book has been on my TBR pile for years, and that’s not even a slight exaggeration! I’ve just been waiting for a longish holiday so that I didn’t have to heft all 650 pages around for weeks – I needed concentrated reading time. So thank goodness for Portugal where I was finally able to read it. And it was amazing, I devoured it in about two days and adored it. It’s just so fascinating.
The premise is a fictional version of Laura Bush’s life. So it takes some of the true facts and imagines what could have happened and the circumstances around her life. I had no idea about any of Laura Bush’s life and I’m now fascinated by her – I had no clue she wasn’t born into an American elite family or that she might not have the same political outlook as her husband and his family. It’s truly intriguing. I definitely need to pick up her autobiography now to sort the fact from the fiction.
I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell
This is a memoir that tells the tale of 17 brushes with death. From childbirth and a horrendous childhood illness to a potential plane crash and drowning, novelist Maggie O’Farrell explores her life with such honesty and beauty. She wrote the book in response to her daughter being diagnosed with a severe immunology disorder, as a way to find sense in it all – by examining how close we all are, throughout our live, to the possibility of death and the realities of pain. It’s beautifully written – in parts harrowing and in parts uplifting. It’s so beautiful and one of my favourite memoirs ever.
Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton
Book two in this Arabian nights style fantasy series is incredible. I raced through it on holiday and this tale of love, secrets, traitors, rebels, revenge, princes and magical powers was the perfect holiday read. It veers from the original desert setting of book one and enters the Sultan’s palace, which was such a welcome change to a lot of other YA books. The characters are intriguing, all with different outlooks and priorities and possibly not quite what you think – all of which makes this a thrilling, page-a-minute read!
You Will Not Have My Hate by Antoine Leiris
Antoine Leiris’ positivity in the face of a horrific event – the loss of his wife during the Bataclan attack in Paris – is so inspiring. The fact that he refuses to let the perpetrators’ hatred turn into hatred that infects his life is such an incredible view. In this long essay he recounts the horror of those initial hours and days and how he handled everything about the attack. From hearing an attack was happening, to discovering his wife was dead, to telling his toddler son his Mummy wasn’t returning, to visiting her body and saying a final goodbye to living each day since that moment without her. It’s beautiful, honest, heartbreaking and, above all, hopeful.
Tower of Dawn by Sarah J Maas
It’s no secret, to anyone, that I adore Sarah J Maas’ Throne of Glass series. I’ve devoured each of the five books in mere days and haven’t wanted to put them down. Book six in the series, Tower of Dawn, was no different. Despite it veering away from Caelena and focusing on Chaol and Nesryn’s story. The new characters and location of the story just meant there was more to discover. More of the world to understand. Plus more characters to be surprised by, to be betrayed by and to fall in love with. It’s just a great fantasy YA book and if you’ve not discovered these books yet you MUST!
So there we go thirteen books in September’s reading pile. All of them so very different and many of them the best books I’ve read for a long while. So if you’re looking for a memoir, a kids book or a new YA read, I’ve got you covered! Tell me though, what have you read recently, what should I read next?