How on earth is it September already?! I’m not complaining, since it’s one of my favourite times of year, but I’m finding it hard to believe that the summer’s already over for another year. That does make me excited to plan my winter holidays though!
This month has been an absolute mad one for me; been working weird hours, packing lots into my weekends, and trying to plan ahead for upcoming events! How’s your month been?
Anyway, I’m pleased that I still managed my target of 4 books this month, as I really thought I wouldn’t be able to with how busy I’ve been!
Books I read this month
A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
Themes: magic, politics, dystopian/utopian (depending where we are in the book), crime. love, familial bonds
A Gathering of Shadows is the second book in the Shades of Magic series by Victoria Schwab. A little birdie told me that a movie’s in the works, as well as more books in the same world – if they’re anywhere near as good as this, then they’re going to be awesome!
Due to the fact that it’s the second book in the series, there’s more room for action since the foundations of the magic, the worlds, the characters etc. have been laid down in the previous book.
A Gathering of Shadows centres around a magic contest for all kingdoms run by Rhy Maresh, the prince of Arnes and the brother of the main character, Kell. Kell leads the story alongside Lila, his somewhat estranged companion from the previous book. Without saying too much, Lila’s character and skillset develops even more; she’s a fiery and determined lone wolf who is a law unto herself even in the presence of royalty. She’s a savvy and streetwise maverick whose eye never strays from whatever prize she’s set for herself. Kell, on the other hand, is finding it hard to adjust after a decision he made at the end of the last book. Needless to say, they’re the yin to each other’s yang, and despite the introduction of new characters, they’re clearly orbiting each other’s worlds and getting closer and closer. I’m excited to see how their relationship pans out in the third book, and how the story concludes, since there’s a lot of skillfully combined, rich plotlines that really add to the fast pace of the story.
Final Girls by Riley Sager
Themes: crime, murder, the media, peer pressure, trauma, denial, recovery, mystery, mental health
I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect from Final Girls. This kind of psychological murder mystery genre tends to be what I’m drawn to most, so I can sometimes get over overexcited about a potential new favourite and end up disappointed.
I gave this one a four out of five, because I’m a little on the fence about it still, but I’m taking into account my tendency to overexcite myself and be overly critical. Taking a step back though, I can honestly say I really enjoyed it; I read it in about two days even with work because I couldn’t put it down. It kept me guessing the whole way through; would the main character ever tell us what had happened to her? Who was the enemy? Can you ever really go back to normal after witnessing the murders of your best friends? In certain parts, it felt a bit like there was something missing in a way that other novels in this genre that I’ve loved haven’t done, but that’s the only fault I can really pick with it. It had a good twist too, which I’m a total sucker for!
The Power by Naomi Alderman
Themes: feminism, rape culture, misogyny, misandry, religion, politics, power, gender
I listened to this one as an audio book, and whilst there were some parts that had me completely stop whatever I was doing to just take in what was happening, I felt that this book was pretty disorganised and hard to follow for the most part. I did wonder if this was because I listened to instead of physically read it, but plenty of others have reviewed it saying the same thing.
The Power focusses on the idea of what the world would look like if women ran it. When girls turn 14, they realise that they have the power to shoot electricity from their fingertips, and can use this to hurt or kill. This is due to a new organ called the skein that girls are born with, allowing them to create electricity with their bodies in a similar way to electric eels. It follows the perspectives of Roxy, the daughter of a London gangster, who loves the power her newfound abilities awards her; Margot, a politician trying to prove her worth and realising that power has many different forms; Tunde, the only male perspective, a Nigerian journalist trying to report the story of the power whilst simultaneously adjusting his life to fit in as a second class citizen now women have taken the reigns from the patriarchy, and finally, Allie, who was abused in the foster care system in America and reinvents herself as Mother Eve, the leader of a somewhat creepy cult/religion worshipping the power.
I thought this story had great promise; I love feminist literature and dystopian novels, which this book supposedly combines. However, I just found it all a bit jumbled and hard to follow; from chapter to chapter, we’re skipping continents and landing in entirely different stories, whilst being interrupted by excerpts from letters between writers. I also felt it was a little too in-your-face; the new female power, coupled with the negative stereotypes about men, all hit you like a slap in the face. It sounds like I hated the book, which isn’t true – I just felt the idea could have been better brought to life and a little more subtle so I could see it more as a realistic vision of what the world might look like if men and women were equal everywhere, as opposed to a matriarchal society where men are downtrodden. This defeats the point of feminist literature for me; it’s supposed to be about equality, not fighting for the top spot all the time.
Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
Themes: supernatural, historical, gender expectations, romance, belonging, family
I read The Mortal Instruments series quite a few years ago and really enjoyed it, so I thought, about 6 years later, that it seemed logical to read the prequel series, The Infernal Devices. (Yes, I know that’s entirely illogical!)
The series starts with Clockwork Angel, and I’m not sure if perhaps it’s that my taste in literature has changed, or if it’s that I’m just in the minority of people that prefer The Mortal Instruments to The Infernal Devices, but this fell a little flat for me. It follows the story of Tessa Gray, an American in Victorian England, whose story ends up intertwined with that of the Shadowhunters, with particular focus on a young man called Will Herondale.
There were parts that kept me turning the pages, but I found the storyline a little flat, and most of the characters fairly unlikeable. Tessa irritated me; I understand that she’s a woman in Victorian England, but her thoughts are as though she’s been brainwashed; good heavens, that woman is wearing trousers! Knock me down with a feather, I just called him Will instead of Mr Herondale! Why is that lady fighting? How unfeminine! All a little too much for me. The only characters I really liked were Jem, Henry and Charlotte; they were the more subtle, relateable characters, whereas Tessa and Jessamine were caricatures of Victorian women, and Will was an overly confident yet moody and angsty teenager who wanted all the attention on him, but threw a hissy fit when anyone tried to properly get to know him. I know it’s the first in a trilogy, and I’ve heard from nearly everyone who’s read it that the second book is much better, but I couldn’t bear to pick it up immediately after as I needed a break from the characters!
Books I bought this month
- Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo (signed special edition copy, because sometimes you gotta treat yo’self!)
- Final Girls by Riley Sager
I’ve been pretty good this month! But I did also acquire two new books from the book swap at work, which were:
Advanced Reader Copies I received this month
- Girl Logic by Iliza Shlesinger (want to read this ASAP!)
- Darkness at the Edge of Town by Jennifer Harlow
- Picture Perfect Murder by Jenna St James
- The Disappearance of Adele Bedeau by Raymond Brunet
- Three Heart Echo by Keary Taylor
- Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land
- When You Disappeared by John Marrs
- Lady Macbeth by Nicholas Freeling
- Depth of Lies by E.C. Diskin
- If Only You Knew by Cynthia Clark
Bookish goodies I got this month
Some bought, some gifted to me!
- Luna Lovegood Lion Head Funko Pop
- Harry Potter Marauders’ Map dressing gown
- Harry Potter house arms socks
- Harry Potter Ravenclaw socks (yep, extra ones; gotta rep the Ravenclaw blues!)
- Harry Potter Marauders’ Map socks
- A purse of Chip from Beauty and the Beast (hmm, does that count?)
- A Romeo and Juliet necklace (pictured) from Poppet’s Widgets (check out creator Dena’s Instagram for bookish wonders too!)
- A Court of Candles loose leaf teas in the following bookish flavours; Amren, Rowan, Rhysand, Inner Circle, and Morrigan – delicious by the way; currently obsessed with the Amren tea, which is peppermint and pomegranate! I imagine it would make an amazing iced tea too. If you order from there, use the code TSUNDOKU for a 15% discount!
What’s been your favourite read this month? What would you recommend for me in the psychological/thriller genre?
Have a great September, guys!