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  • What I Read In September 2019

    September 2019

    And that’s another month gone. This year is flying by way too fast to my taste! But it also means that I am having a great time. So I guess it is good! When it comes to books, this month hasn’t been that good however. To be honest, I think it has been my worst reading month ever. September 2019 has been a bit disappointing.

    I started with a book that I could not get invested in, to move onto a story I really struggle to not DNF. Then, a good thing happened: a good surprise. To move onto a book that was rather bland despite a very promising summary, to move onto something that arose my curiosity but that I did not find that interesting.

    A month of September 2019 that put me in a reading slump. The only way I found to get back into reading was re-reading Harry Potter. It is a safe bet after all! But even then, I spotted elements that sort of disturb me a tiny bit. So here is my reading recap for September 2019.

    1. Batman Nightwalker, Marie Lu

    Author: Marie Lu
    Published: January 2018
    Genre: YA
    Pages: 288
    Series: DC Icons

    Plot: 3/5
    Characters: 2.5/5
    Ending: 3.5/5

    Summary: Before he was Batman, he was Bruce Wayne. A reckless boy willing to break the rules for a girl who may be his worst enemy.

    The Nightwalkers are terrorizing Gotham City, and Bruce Wayne is next on their list. Bruce is turning eighteen and inheriting his family’s fortune, not to mention the keys to Wayne Industries and all the tech gadgetry that he could ever desire. But on the way home from his birthday party, he makes an impulsive choice that leads to community service at Arkham Asylum, the infamous prison. There, he meets Madeleine Wallace, a brilliant killer with ties to the Nightwalkers. A girl who will only speak to Bruce. She is the mystery he must unravel, but is he convincing her to divulge her secrets, or is he feeding her the information she needs to bring Gotham City to its knees?

    Bruce Wayne is proof that you don’t need superpowers to be a super hero, but can he survive Madeleine’s game of tense intrigue and deception?

    My review: I don’t really know what I expected here. Everybody talks about Marie Lu and how amazing her books are. I had read Catwoman Soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas from the same DC Icons Series. Thus, I assumed this book would be good too. My mistake.

    I don’t have much to say about Batman Nightwalker. It was not bad as I did not want at any point to DNF it. However, it was not good either. I did not feel drawn to the story, invested nor did I feel any connection or emotional attachment to the characters. Which were a tad cliché by the way. I appreciated that for once we did not had a broody dark Batman like we do in the movies. However, the story itself felt quite bland to me, rather predictable.

    The only way to describe the emotions I have felt while reading this book is indifference. There was no hate, nor love about this book. I was reading the story with indifference.

    2. Wilder Girls, Rory Power

    Author: Rory Power
    Published: July 2019
    Genre: YA
    Pages: 369

    Plot: 2/5
    Characters: 2.5/5
    Ending: 3/5

    Summary: It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her.

    It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.

    But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there’s more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.

    My review: Another big disappointment. Wilder Girls is a novel I have seen in bookstores, on Booktube, talked about a lot. It had a great premise and was giving me a female LGBTQ+ relationship, women as sole characters of the book, a plot with a Contagion vibe and a gorgeous cover.

    This book sold me dreams but did not live up to it. The plot was very slow and way too descriptive. The story did not move at all, anything barely happens in the first 300 pages of the book and even then, it was not intense nor that interesting. We were giving a lot of information but never the information we wanted. No questions are answered. The backstory of the school, what happened and why it happened, where the disease comes from, why it affects the girls in this way. Why teenagers have a different reaction to the disease than grown ups, why the few mens of the island have a different reaction too. No explanation at all. Or bits and pieces here and there but nothing to help understand.

    I did not feel that the romantic relationship was strong nor realistic. There is love between the girls at the boarding school. There is friendship then romantic feelings. However, when it comes to the main character and her “love interest”, it does not feel realistic at all. She does not feel anything for her love interest beyond a bit of fear, incomprehension and distrust. The love interest is very cold, distant and borderline mean. So here we have the “dark broody bad boy” trope in a girl who admits later in the novel that “she does all of that because she loves” the heroin.

    I tried to love this book, forced myself to read until the end, struggle to not DNF it. The book promised me so much but did not deliver. I tried, it did not make it for me.

    3. Cinder, Marissa Meyer

    Author: Marissa Meyer
    Published: January 2013
    Genre: YA Sci-Fi
    Pages: 448
    Series: The Lunar Chronicles

    Plot: 4.5/5
    Characters: 4/5
    Ending: 5/5

    Summary: Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

    Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

    My review: I have been wanting to start the Lunar Chronicles for a very long time. Renegades was so good that I really wanted to get into more books from Marissa Meyer. I was told however that there was a lot of flourishing in her writing but to be honest, I did not notice.

    After two books that were big disappointments, I went onto reading Cinder with absolutely no expectations. It could not be worst that what I had read before. And it was so much better, OMG! I read this book in one day! Knowing that it was a retelling of Cinderella, I expected a lot of cheesy romance and woman on woman’s hate, but no! Sure, you still have the hostile relationship with the stepmother and one of the stepsisters. But how refreshing was it to see that the other stepsister was the most adorable to Cinder!

    I really love the whole world: the future, New Beijing, cyborgs, etc. I think Cinderella in Sci-Fi is a brilliant idea! The political plot was well-written, intense, full of suspence and had me hooked to the book. I know it is a guilty pleasure for a lot of people and that “you are not supposed to like it” because it is for a much younger audience, but f*ck that! Because I loved it, I have nothing bad to say about it (actually!) and I can’t wait to read the next books in the series!

    September 2019

    4. The Gilded Wolves, Roshani Chokshi

    Author: Roshani Chokshi
    Published: January 2019
    Genre: YA Fantasy
    Pages: 400

    Plot: 3.5/5
    Characters: 3/5
    Ending: 3.5/5

    Summary: It’s 1889. The city is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. Here, no one keeps tabs on dark truths better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. When the elite, ever-powerful Order of Babel coerces him to help them on a mission, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

    To hunt down the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin calls upon a band of unlikely experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian banished from his home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in arms if not blood.

    Together, they will join Séverin as he explores the dark, glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the course of history–but only if they can stay alive.

    My review: Three things attracted me in this book: the beautiful cover, Paris at the end of the 19th century and the Exposition Universelle. I love the 20s but I am also fascinated by the end of the industrial revolution, with all the new inventions, the buildings and the architecture. Especially in Paris where you then have a mix of very old buildings made of stones with gorgeous molding on large avenues and constructions of steel and glass. 

    The premise was promising. There was a lot of mystery around the Order of Babel. A secret society in the likes of the Shadowhunters, the wizarding world in Harry Potter, etc. The book ticked all the boxes for diversity: different nationalities, different skin colors, different religion, different sexualities. Stereotypes of education, jobs and personalities are ditched and we find boys with a lot of emotional depth (i.e. attachments to animals usually associated with girls (all the Disney princesses have a pet companion)), girls that have highly skilled and technical jobs (i.e. engineering, usually given to boys).

    However, some aspects disturbed me a bit. A female character who is Indian and a dancer is, to me, very sexualized and seen as a fantasized other by our French hero (not sure if it is on purpose to reflect the reductive thinking of the time). A male character that is so entitled and believe something that his ancestors had, he should have too. Even though that changes slightly at the end.

    BUT… no suspence, no mystery, not much action, nothing really thrilling happening. To me, this was a clumsy retelling of an Indiana Jones tale in the Paris of the late nineteenth century. There is a treasure hunt, magic and a lot of obstacles and ennemies. However, despite a very few hurdles along the way, so very easily overcome, our heroes succeed in their quest so so easily. 

    I assume there will be a second book as the last chapter ended on quite a big cliffhanger revelation plus a trip to Russia. The adventure is not over. However, the lack of action and the ease with which everything was resolves disappointed me a bit and I am not sure I am willing to take the risk to go through that again with a second book.

    5. Sightwitch, Susan Dennard

    Author: Susan Dennard
    Published: February 2018
    Genre: YA Fantasy
    Pages: 240
    Series: The Witchlands

    Plot: 4.5/5
    Characters: 4.5/5
    Ending: 4.5/5

    Summary: Before Safi and Iseult battled a Bloodwitch… Before Merik returned from the dead…

    Ryber Fortiza was a Sightwitch Sister at a secluded convent, waiting to be called by her goddess into the depths of the mountain. There she would receive the gift of foretelling. But when that call never comes, Ryber finds herself the only Sister without the Sight.

    Years pass and Ryber’s misfit pain becomes a dull ache, until one day, Sisters who already possess the Sight are summoned into the mountain, never to return. Soon enough, Ryber is the only Sister left. Now, it is up to her to save her Sisters, though she does not have the Sight―and though she does not know what might await her inside the mountain.

    On her journey underground, she encounters a young captain named Kullen Ikray, who has no memory of who he is or how he got there. Together, the two journey ever deeper in search of answers, their road filled with horrors, and what they find at the end of that road will alter the fate of the Witchlands forever.

    My review: I read book one and two in July. Book three sits proudly on my shelves next to Sightwitch. Even though I adored the magic system and the political intrigue in the series, many aspects disturbed me quite a lot in the characters, as explained in my past reading recaps.

    Sightwitch takes place between book two and three. It is an independent story, tying to the saga as a whole and adding a bit to comprehend what I assume will happen in the third book (and probably fourth as well). It is in the form of a diary by Ryber Fortizia, which we see in the two previous book.

    To be very honest, I do not have much to say about this installment of the saga. It was good and I enjoyed reading it. I did not expect action nor mystery since it is a diary. It gave me more background on two very important characters and planted the seeds of a political intrigue even bigger than what  book one and two let on. I was a bit disappointed by book two but the event and revelations of this novel really made me want to read book three!

    6. Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets, J.K. Rowling

    Author: J.K. Rowling
    Published: July 1999
    Genre: YA Fantasy
    Pages: 352
    Series: Harry Potter

    Plot: 4.5/5
    Characters: 3.5/5
    Ending: 5/5

    Summary: The Dursleys were so mean that hideous that summer that all Harry Potter wanted was to get back to the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. But just as he’s packing his bags, Harry receives a warning from a strange, impish creature named Dobby who says that if Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts, disaster will strike.

    And strike it does. For in Harry’s second year at Hogwarts, fresh torments and horrors arise, including an outrageously stuck-up new professor, Gilderoy Lockheart, a spirit named Moaning Myrtle who haunts the girls’ bathroom, and the unwanted attentions of Ron Weasley’s younger sister, Ginny.

    But each of these seem minor annoyances when the real trouble begins, and someone–or something–starts turning Hogwarts students to stone. Could it be Draco Malfoy, a more poisonous rival than ever? Could it possibly be Hagrid, whose mysterious past is finally told? Or could it be the one everyone at Hogwarts most suspects…Harry Potter himself?

    My review: Since I did not have the best reading month in September 2019, I sort of hit a reading slump. No motivation for reading whatsoever. Too afraid to be disappointed again. So I decided to do the only logical thing: re-read a book that cannot disappoint me. Hence why Harry Potter and the chamber of secrets.

    I did enjoy to re-read it. It is always a joy. Re-reading allowed me to spot details I had not seen before but also to realize that some events in the book were done better in the film that in the book itself. For example, when in the Forbidden Forest, Harry and Ron find the car first, then find the spiders, then are saved by the car. In the movie, Harry and Ron find the spiders and are rescued at the last minute by the car. Suspence and feel of emergency wise, it made more sense in the movie.

    I also realize that although Hermione would never ever be depicted as a true vilain, she is sort of still a bit annoying: guilt-tripping, moralizing, giving lessons here and there. When compared to carefree and funny Harry and Ron, and kept in the context of their inner circle and school, she has the role of the vilain in some way. And takes on a very stereotypical female role as such. I would need to re-read book three to see if that changes (which I will do of course) because I don’t remember much from my previous read.

    September 2019

    Here are the six books I read back in September 2019. Less than in August for sure, but hey, I have less time. Job hunting and interviews are quite chronophage, are they not!

    Which books did you read in September 2019? Any new favorites? Or disappointment? Any recommendations you’d have for me?

    Thanks a lot for stopping by. I hope you liked this post.

    See you soon,
    Love,
    Corinne.

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    3 Comments

    1. October 2, 2019 / 7:24 pm

      I love how you break down the reviews into gradings for different elements as this is really useful — and your summaries have helped me pick out some books I want to read after I finish my current book!

    2. October 6, 2019 / 11:17 am

      I mostly read Chinese web novels nowadays and I’m glad that I found one with a unique storyline and well-put plot. And, re-reading has always been a joy for me. You just made me want to pick one of HP books again for my October read x

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