September Reading Wrap-up 2019

Sunday, September 29, 2019
August was a fantastic reading month and I wanted to carry on with the amazing reads into September but sadly, I fell into a reading slump halfway through the month. I did manage to read nine books but it wasn't as many as I'd wanted and for the second month this year, I wasn't able to finish a book over 500 pages which I'm more annoyed by than I probably should be. My favourite books for the month of September include: Smoke and Bone by Leigh Bardugo and Monster, She Wrote. Although annoyingly I did have one DNF, The Maker Of Swans by Paraic O'Donnell which sounds amazing but it wasn't very engaging and I just didn't connect with it - the cover is utterly gorgeous though!

The Last by Hanna Jameson (390 pages) ★★★ 
One of the books I bought with a birthday gift card was The Last and I couldn't wait to start it. We follow the aftermath of a nuclear disaster and the inhabitants of a hotel in a remote area of Switzerland. The book begins with diary entries from Jon (an inhabitant of the hotel and visiting historian) and progresses into how the people within the hotel try to survive and deal with the body of a young girl who has been found murdered at the hotel. 

I found it to be initially very engaging, page turning and I loved the mystery as well as the remote setting (it had slight Agatha Christie vibes in terms of the dark mystery and the remote hotel setting). My impression of the book before reading it was that it might be darkly humorous but it definitely wasn't! The book was much darker than I thought it would be as well as much more raw and survival focused whereas I thought it would be more of a solely mystery focused read. 

The first half was engaging but I did lose interest after that point a little which is unfortunate. However, overall it was an interesting, page turning read that was eerie, mysterious and very dark at times (topics of murder, death, loss, drug use, accusations of rape, cannibalism etc). I found the ending very anticlimactic and it left so many questions unanswered which definitely dropped my rating for the book. If you like dark survival books then check it out but I was personally a little disappointed on the whole. 

This Way Madness Lies by Mike Kay (256 pages) ★★★ (3.5) 
I adore the beautifully published non-fiction niche reads by Thames and Hudson and this one all about the history of mental illness, psychology and asylums is no different. The book is published in a similar way to books by Richard Barnett (those are some of my favourite non-fiction reads) so I knew I'd love this. I like the plethora of photographs, illustrations and more throughout the book. 

If you didn't know, I have a first class BSc (hons) degree in psychology so naturally I had to read this book especially as the history of medicine is also one of my favourite topics. It did contain some information I already knew from previous books and documentaries but it was still an interesting, easy and beautifully designed non-fiction read. If you're looking for a book about the history of mental illness, the 'treatment' of mental illness and the history of asylums then definitely check it out, especially if you're new to the topic. 

Smoke and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (308 pages) ★★★ (3.75) 
I've had this YA fantasy book on my shelves for at least two years and I thought it was time to read it...I'm so glad I did as I loved this book. I was starting to fall into a reading slump and this book was exactly what I needed as it was easy, fast paced, entertaining and filled with everything I like in a fantasy book including a discovery of magical abilities, darker characters, combat, mysteries and magic. 

We follow Alina and Mal as they are taken from an orphanage and enrolled into the kings service. They travel with the army and grisha (individuals with magic) through 'the fold' which is an area filled with monsters where few people survive when Alina shows an ability for magic and saves everyone on the vessel. Her new abilities intrigue The Darkling (the most powerful grisha) and what follows is a tale of power, greed, deceit, romance and of course, magic. A character learning they have a magical ability is one of my favourite tropes (cough, Harry Potter, cough). 

I loved the magic within the book along with the Russian elements such as certain words, the setting and character names. I also loved the very quick and easy writing style that allowed me to finish this book in two days - it's like a tv show you can't stop watching. While I did like the romance, I was shipping Alina and the darkling instead, oops. Overall, while it had a few typical cheesy YA tropes and it was a little predictable, I still thoroughly enjoyed reading this book as it was just what I wanted. 

BrightFall by Jamie Lee Moyer (320 pages) ★★★
A beautifully packaged arc arrived in the mail and the cover instantly intrigued me! Set in the fictional world of Robin Hood, we follow Marian, as she is tasked to find out who is killing the merry men. However, this isn't your usual tale of Robin Hood stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, no. Yhis Robin is a religious fanatic who has abandoned Marian, his children and his friends to seek penance but his wrongdoings could be the death of them all, unless Marian and her supernatural allies can find and stop the killer. 

Firstly, I adored the setting and the number of folktales and mythological beings within this book. I also liked the quick, easy writing, the classic adventure style of the book and the rich settings. It was an entertaining read on the whole and I think it's great for this time of the year but I did have a couple of problems. I personally found it to be very repetitive, it was predictable and I couldn't get my head around this new version of Robin Hood as it almost goes against everything I was told about the fictional tale of Robin Hood. If you do like stories around folktales, mythology and Robin Hood then I cannot recommend it enough but it did fall a little flat for me overall. 

Ash by Malinda Lo (291 pages) ★★★
Next up is a re-telling of cinderella with a f/f romance (kind of but not really), fae, folklore, magic and an evil stepmother, obviously. We follow Ash as she is dealing with her grief for her mother as she also looses her father and has to live with her stepmother and stepsisters. The only solace she finds is with a mysterious fae who she finds in the woods and when she also stumbles across the kings huntress in the woods, she finds an opportunity to escape and create a life of her own. I'll start with the positives, it was an incredibly quick and easy read, I loved the folklore and magical elements and I liked the classic fairytale feel of the book but...it was just a bit boring. It only became a cinderella-like story about half way through, the relationship was almost completely devoid of emotion and it was predictable/boring throughout sadly. Unfortunately I don't think I'd recommend it. 

Mischief: A Turner Novella by Cat Sebastian (129 pages) ★★★
The autumn months make me not only want to read all of the spooky, dark, gothic and creepy books but also historical fiction so I had to read this historical fiction novella with a f/f relationship. It's set within victorian London which is a setting and time period I will forever love to read about. We follow thief and lady's maid Molly and her employer's companion, Alice. What follows is an exploration into the lives and past of both Molly and Alice as well as their relationship. As I've said, I loved the setting and it was a very quick and easy read but it was a little disappointing. It ended too soon, I didn't feel any connection between the characters, it felt like insta-love which I cannot stand and I just didn't find it very interesting or entertaining, if I'm honest. 

Wychwood by George Mann (400 pages) ★★★ (3.5)
Wychwood is a book I've been interested in for a while but I never got round to buying it; however it became available on Kindle Unlimited recently so I was able to read it for free thanks to my Kindle Unlimited trial. We follow Elspeth, a journalist, as she returns to her mothers home after losing her job and partner when she finds a murdered woman, cryptic symbols, Celtic folklore and an investigation into the sinister secrets in the sleepy English village of Wilsby-Under-Wychwood. 

The premise sounded not only amazing but perfect for this time of the year when the leaves are turning and the temperatures are dropping. Despite being slightly longer than my average page count per book, it was an incredibly quick read (I read 62% in one sitting) as I didn't want to put it down. The writing was quick, easy and arguably a little simplistic at times but it was vivid and descriptive enough to give off a classic 'cosy' murder mystery feel. 

I loved the Celtic folklore elements as it's something I haven't read about previously and it gave the book a more autumnal and sinister feel. I liked the friendship between Elspeth and Peter, the setting was perfect and I loved trying to figure out the mystery of the murders. I adored the tone and it was very entertaining but the mystery was 'solved' well before the end and the very ending was a little anti-climactic. I would still definitely recommend it though, especially if you can read it for free with Kindle Unlimited. 

*Monster, She Wrote by Lisa Kroger and Melanie Anderson (352 pages) ★★★★
One of my favourite publishers has to be Quirk Books as they produce some of the most...quirky books with beautiful covers and this one is no different. I was very kindly sent the arc version so the page count and certain pages are a little different to the final copy. The book focuses on various female authors that published horror, speculate fiction, ghost tales and scary stories even though at the time, women weren't viewed as competent writers, especially when it comes to the macabre tales. 

The cover is utterly gorgeous and the illustrations throughout the book are equally as fantastic! I love the layout of the book with it's format of a few pages per author along with book recommendations and quotes. A few of the authors I've already heard of but many of them I hadn't so it was a great way of finding new authors as well as learning a little about each writer, their life, career and which books I should start with. 

I had to stop reading after almost every author so I could add their books to my already ginormous Amazon wish list! I was only 100 or so pages into the book and I had already downloaded a handful of the recommended books...oops. The first book I downloaded was The Carnival Of Florence by Marjorie Bowen which will be reviewed in my October wrap-up post. This non-fiction book was perfect for this time of the year as it gave me so many recommendations for halloween-suitable reads. I cannot recommend this book enough, not only as a selection of mini biographies but also for book recommendations. 

Morgue by Dr Vincent Di Maio (256 pages) ★★★★★
We all know by now how much I love darker books, in particular non-fiction books around history, medicine and...death, I just find those topics incredibly fascinating as well as eye opening and I'm left in awe of doctors, medical examiners, forensic pathologists, funeral directors, morticians and nurses who have to deal with some of the worst things anyone could see. This book follows the career, life and case studies of Dr Vincent Di Maio, from the beginning of this life and career until the more recent cases he was involved in. 

As I've said, I have read various books involving this topic such as Smoke Gets In Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty, All That Remains by Professor Sue Black and Working Stiff by Dr Judy Melinek and more so I'm familiar with the potentially gruesome, heart wrenching topics discussed but nothing could prepare me for some of the heart breaking case studies with this book. I think the only book I've read that has affected me as much as this one did was All That Remains (particularly the section on Kosovo and 9/11). It had all of the aspects I like in any non-fiction books such as an easy but personal writing style and well explained terms. 

I found myself completely in awe of the author as well as his father - I cannot believe how much both have done with their lives and the things they've had to see. I was throughly interested in not only learning about his life and his career progression but also all of the aspects of the various case studies explored in the book, from the crime, autopsy and findings to the trial, conviction and the aftermath. Some of the case studies will stay with me for a long time, especially the chapters titled 'an empty nursery' and 'the ghosts of west Memphis' that left me feeling utterly heart broken. I think that if you can deal with the devastating topics (trigger for pretty much everything from child abuse, rape, murder, suicide, death and more), it will be a difficult but important read that you won't forget. 

Have you read any of these books? 

*Gifted

11 comments

  1. Oooh the Morgue book sounds right up my street!

    Love, Amie ❤

    The Curvaceous Vegan

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  2. I want to read some more, these look so good!

    Erin || MakeErinOver

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  3. Morgue sounds incredible! I love a good non-fiction book x

    Sophie

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  4. I hit a reading slump, a book I had wanted to read for ages and ages was such a slog to read it wore me out x

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  5. Some great sounding reads! I really want to get back into reading x

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  6. I was sent The Last a little while ago, looking forward to reading that one now x

    Jenny
    http://www.jennyinneverland.com

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  7. Wow you managed to read so many! I've not read any of these yet actually x

    Tiffany x www.foodandotherloves.co.uk

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  8. Morgue sounds interesting, I'm gonna look it up on Amazon in a sec xx

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  9. I really need to type up my own September wrap-up! I managed to read a few books last month that were hit and miss! Smoke and Bone sounds really interesting so I may have to give it a read!

    Daisy xoxo | TheDeeWhoLived

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  10. Ooh Morgue is definitely appealing to my true crime interest!

    Jasmine xx



    Jasmine Talks Beauty

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  11. I really should start reading, and I still haven’t! Sound like great reads x

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Feel free to leave me a comment, I read all of them!

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