I don’t know how I forgot to mention this last month, but it’s been over a year since I started doing wrap-up review posts for the blog. It’s been a really fun year of reading since then, and I’ve actually noticed that my books read per month has gone up a little since I started doing these. I had big plans for the month of September, too, and I actually managed to read seven out of my nine prescheduled TBR reads, but then got distracted with spooky books toward the end of the month.
What: The Glass Magician by Charlie N Holmberg
Review: I really did try to finish this in August, and I probably could have, but I just had a few days where I didn’t feel like reading. I started this on 8/29, and then didn’t read it again until 9/2 when I absolutely devoured the last half of it. I was so mad anytime I had to walk away and do something else. This one, like the first in the series, was kind of slow and meandering for the first half and then BAM ACTION THINGS ARE HAPPENING IN QUICK SUCCESSION for the second half. And before I forget, my review for The Paper Magician can be found here.
I really did enjoy this one, and it was a quick little read. In the first one, we’re primarily focused on paper magic, but in this one, as the title suggests, we get to see more of glass magic. I was a little bummed out that Ceony kind of fit into the damsel in distress role much more this time around, but was still fairly impressed with her by the end. Truly, the best way to describe these books is sweet and adventurous. It all feels very British.
What: When My Heart Joins the Thousand by AJ Steiger
Review: This book took me by surprise. Not in a I thought I wasn’t going to like it kind of way because all you have to do is look at the cover to know that I’m going to like it. I didn’t realize Alvie was on the spectrum, and once I started reading, I was even more excited about it. Romance, a sad boy, representation for autism? This book ticked a lot of my boxes. Steiger wrote Alvie’s autism as very believable in a way that left me feeling like she’d either done a ton of research or knew someone also on the spectrum. Alvie struggled with her autism, too, and with putting a label on it, and I thought that was beautifully written.
There’s a lot to love about this book. It follows two young adults who are trying to find their way in the world as individuals despite the many obstacles in their way. For Alvie, trying to become independent of the state at only 17 is something she’s always dreamed of. She wants to be able to support herself and prove to the world, and herself, that she can make it. For Stanley, moving on from the loss of his family seems an impossible thing. He wants to rise above the grief and pain that their loss has caused him, and in doing so, wants to find independence in his current life and in his disease.
It’s a story of hope and obstacles and how sometimes there’s another weird little puzzle piece out there in the world that is going to fit your wonky edges.
What: The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner:
Review: Every time I read one of these, I’m surprised by it. My reviews for The Thief and The Queen of Attolia are linked in their respective titles. Admittedly, I thought this was going to be in Eugenides’ POV, and though I was bummed it turned out being an unknown character, I was still excited. I like outsider POVs. Costis and I went on a journey together. Man. At the beginning, I was jiving with him, I liked seeing Gen and Attolia from the outside. After a hundred or so pages, I was starting to get frustrated because Gen is obviously up to something, but Costis is dumb as dirt and thinks only that Eugenides is the worst king Attolia has ever seen. Like. My dude. He was not named the Thief of Eddis for no reason. CLEARLY HE IS A TRICKY LITTLE BRAT. But no, Costis just thinks Gen mopes a lot and is a total newb and like COME ON. Quite soon after this fit of rage, I started to like Costis again, which was, coincidentally, around the time that Gen saved his own ass and Costis realized ah ha! Oh wait, this guy is actually capable.
Overall, I really, really enjoyed this book. It was a lot more politically driven than the first two, and I actually don’t think there was that much action or big plot things happening. It was mostly just moving pawns around and getting different high-ranking individuals into the right places. It should have been slow or boring, but maybe it was that I trusted so wholly that Eugenides was going to pull some wild magic trick toward the end that, when that inevitably happened, I felt like the whole book had been a big tense moment of waiting for the reveal. I really, really enjoyed this, and I definitely see myself reading the next one very soon.
What: City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab
Review: I so did not mean to read this in one day. That’s a lie, I think. I meant to read half of it and half of something else, but then this was so good and so easy to read that I just read this in its entirety instead. This was Schwab’s first middle reader, and it was adorable! Truly, it was just really cute, and I loved it so much. Jacob was my favorite, obviously, and every instance of Grim made me cackle, but it was Cass that stole the show. This first book follows Cassidy around Edinburgh while her parents are filming a ghostly reality TV show. And while they can’t see ghosts, Cassidy can. In fact, her best friend is a ghost.
Schwab describes this as a weird little ghost book, and it’s definitely the right description for it. It is full of spooky happenings and twists that I mostly didn’t see coming. It was incredibly well written, especially because I’m so used to her YA and Adult writing style, and thus I was even more impressed with how well it fit into the MG style. It was just the right amount of all the good things, and I can’t wait for the next one.
What: Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake
Review: WELL WHAT AN ENDING. As I’m writing this review, I’ve literally just finished reading this maybe less than two minutes ago, so this may be wild and rambling. This is the third in the Crowns quartet; my review for Three Dark Crowns is here, and my review for One Dark Throne is here. I’m super stoked, too, because this came out on 9/4, and I actually managed to read it pretty close to its release date. The third in this series follows the three queens again, though only Katharine remains on the island. Mirabella and Arsinoe have made it successfully to the mainland and are trying to settle into their new lives. Fennbirn, however, cannot seem to let them go.
Wow. WOW. This was so good from start to finish. Like, it was just a wild, nonstop ride of me going oh my god oh my god oh my god. This had everything that I was hoping it would out of the sequel and more. There were so many things I did not see coming, and so many things that I was excited for, and wow, I loved it. Why only four stars? I don’t know what it is, but the present tense and lack of contractions make this so difficult for me to read and thoroughly get lost in it. I’ve enjoyed all of them and read them pretty quickly, but I can’t sink into like I can with a normal novel. It’s just such a stilted way of writing that it feels unnatural and keeps reminding me that I’m reading a book, not experiencing a story.
What: Fierce Like a Firestorm by Lana Popović
Review: This is the sequel to Wicked Like a Wildfire, and my review for it can be found here. This was really enjoyable, albeit a little slow, and when the pace picked up, it was sporadic and SUDDENLY THINGS ARE HAPPENING oh wait not anymore. The writing was absolutely gorgeous as in the first one, and I really, really loved the representation of Death in this. I liked having more POVs this time, as well, though I did feel like Malina was significantly more sure of herself and badass than the first one? Maybe I’m remembering wrong, but she seemed kind of, for lack of a better word, floaty in the first one. Like, she fell into the trope of little sister who needs taking care of. I could be remembering wrong, but while reading, it felt like Lina was this leader and war-ready character out of nowhere. And the pacing–this was shorter than the first one and definitely could have been longer. All the moments in-between the big scenes were so long and drawn out, but the actual big scenes were over in a flash. It was like chapters and chapters of build-up for a couple of pages. This was good–I just wanted more.
This picked up right where Wicked left off. Like, exactly where it left off. Iris has just woken in Death’s kingdom after they failed to completely break his spell, and Malina has returned to Mara’s coven to start preparing for Herron’s return, who is like a soulless human become demonish thing that even Death can’t kill? It was a little lacking in clarity, but I understood for the most part. Lots of magic, lots of gorgeous Montenegro vibes, and tons of new fun characters!
What: The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
Review: This was an okay book. It followed the journey of a few different people. Xan, who the town of Protectorate believes to been an ancient and evil Witch who steals their babies. Turns out, she actually saves those babies from the Tower, who leave them there as a “sacrifice” to the evil woods, and she brings them over to the Free Cities. However, one day, she falls in love with one of the babies and keeps her as her own, raising Luna as her grandchild. There, Luna makes friends with Glerk the Bog monster and Fyrian, a Simply Enormous dragon that’s having trouble growing up. Luna was accidentally enmagicked by consuming moonlight, though, so Xan freezes her magic in place until she turns thirteen, which is also conveniently when a volcano erupts and Luna must save everyone.
This was okay. It was boring at times, but also well written and interesting. It was kind of all over the place, and there was always a ton of things happening at once. It took me a while to read it both because I was reading the below book at the same time, which I loved a lot more, and also because it just wasn’t holding my interest. I mean, it was good. But just good.
What: Forever Young: A Life of Adventure and Space by John Young
Review: Ha, I started this in March, but I literally only read the Foreword (by Mike Collins, whom I also love!), and then who the heck knows what happened, but I didn’t pick it up again until I was having this massive and sudden longing for space. John Young flew on Gemini X, which saw astronauts in Earth’s orbit as they prepared for a bigger and bolder mission; on Apollo 10, which orbited the moon and had the lunar module descend (but not land) to make sure that everything was functional; and commanded Apollo 16, where he walked on the moon, as well as several Shuttle missions. This biography began with his birth in the early 30s and ended in 2012, with him now retired from NASA.
This was really adorable. I spent a lot of time talking about it on my Instagram story or sending my friends screenshots of different passages. I also showed anyone who would listen to me a super handsome picture of John in the beginning of his career. I definitely had a crush on him by the end of the book, but can you blame me? Look at that cutie! This was definitely, however, one of those astronaut books that you really only read if you’re super into space. There was a lot of technical jargon in it that I kind of glossed over, but a lot that was also really, really interesting. Young had a ton of knowledge, and did a lot of amazing things at NASA, and if space is your jam like me, this is definitely worth a read. I laughed, and I cried for the first time in a biography, and I really, truly enjoyed this little handsome dork and all his exclamation points.
What: The Lantern’s Ember by Colleen Houck
Review: Don’t let this beautiful cover fool you into thinking this is going to be a spooky adventure through the underworld because it’s not. Don’t even let it fool you into thinking it’s going to contain writing that’s as gorgeous as its cover cos nope, sorry not happening. I think, truthfully, I would have enjoyed this a lot more if two things had happened: (one) if I either knew there were vampires as main characters before diving in or if there just weren’t vampires (two) the constantly changing POVs wasn’t a thing. I’m not even talking that each chapter was a different POV. That, I don’t mind. That, I actually really enjoy. But when two paragraphs are one POV, and the following one is a different one, and then the next couple of lines are someone else? All on the same page??? Girl, stop. Stop right now. I think I also would have enjoyed it more, as well, if the summary wasn’t so misleading in making me think I was about to embark upon a scary journey with a gatekeeper to the underworld and a witch. Say, if the summary kind of hinted at the fact that the witch was a damsel in distress all the time and the gatekeeper of the underworld was involved in a romantic battle for her heart with TWO other men (this isn’t even a love triangle, it’s a freaking square), I probably would have not been so put off when all of these things started happening. But, as it is, from the outside (cover + summary), this book looks like it’s going to be a perfect little Halloween scare. Instead, it’s Twilight, but the steampunk version.
(don’t get me started on the steampunk, you don’t want to hear my thoughts, I promise)
But what is this about, you ask? So you’ve got Jack, who is a lantern, which is an undead (kind of) mortal who has been serviced to the Otherworld for eternity as a gatekeeper between the worlds. He has a smiling (sometimes sentient) pumpkin that holds his soul that he carries around. He rides a black stallion that he summons from the Otherworld named Shadow. He’s 100% based on Ichabod Crane. Then you’ve got Ember (good god the lantern’s soul is called an ember and at one point someone says oh where you’s ember and Ember goes oh I’m right here and I ACTUALLY THREW UP IN MY MOUTH A LITTLE) who is a super special witch that is hellbent on getting through the crossroads and into the Otherworld. There’s a super predictable Edward Cullen vampire named Deverell (ugh), and his sister Delia, as well as her werewolf counterpart, Graydon, and this crazy doctor and the boogeyman and a high witch and the Lord of the Otherworld and all sorts of stupid shit, but then there’s Finney, the only (mildly) redeemable character of the entire book. Truthfully, the only reason Finney isn’t redeemable is because he’s part of the love square, but even then, I’m not all that mad about it because he’s basically Wylan Van Eck from Six of Crows–he’s a super nerdy, bumbling little fool that I just adored. Anyway, so Ember sneaks her way into the Otherworld with Dev the vampire, and Jack goes chasing after them with Finney helping him, and the more I write this review, the more I want to change my star rating, so bye.
What: Vengeful by VE Schwab
Review: VICTOR “FINGER GUNS” VALE, UGH. I’m going to meet Victoria on Wednesday, and I’m very, very excited about it, so I definitely had to read this before then. And WOW. Somehow, despite the fact that this is full of murder and not even morally ambiguous characters, just straight up villains, I laughed a lot. And mostly at Victor. Between the finger guns and the “it’s all I have in black”, I was losing my cool. My review for Vicious is linked there, and I honestly might have liked this as much as if not more than the first one. (I really, really need there to be a third one someday, and with that ending, she totally could.)
As before, this novel follows Victor Vale & Eli Ever (GOD WHAT NAMES) on their everlasting journey to hate each other more than the other. It’s like a battle of who loathes who more, and it’s fantastic. Victor’s recently been brought back from the dead via Sydney, but something’s off with his power, and it’s making him die. A lot. Cue a road trip with Victor, Syd, Mitch, and Dol to find someone who might be able to help. Meanwhile
off in Gotham, Marcella Riggins is definitely murdering a lot of people, Eli is trying to sneak his way out of prison, and June just wants everyone to get along, okay.
I loved this so much. I can’t even describe how much I loved it. As always, I wanted to take my time with it, live with Victor for a while, but I was just so anxious about his well-being that I binged hardcore. I’m still trying to decide if I’m going to dress up like Wednesday Addams or Victor for my Wednesday M&G. We’ll see. But! How was this awesome? Okay, so obviously I love the characters, and if you’ve read Vicious, you’ll also still love the characters. They’re just so fleshed out, which is so impressive when you think about the structure of these books and how it could have totally led to kind of one-dimensional characters, but instead, they’re, like, six dimensions. Don’t look at me like that, I just love these people a lot, okay. The writing is HELLA GOOD. I’m talking damn, I was laughing during murder, you guys. I’m not even exaggerating. It’s the right amount of intense and wild combined with sad and plot-building, and just UGH. So good. Read this damn book now.
OH MY GOSH I ONLY HAVE 20 BOOKS LEFT UNTIL I REACH MY GOAL OF 100
Guys. I know autumn is the best season around, but you know what’s even more amazing?
IT’S HALLOWEEN TIME! I decided early on in September that I was going to start celebrating Halloween as soon as I damn well pleased because I was wearing a Pugsley sweater and listening to Nightmare Before Christmas one day, and it just felt right. Thus, I also thought it would be fun to give myself spooky books to read for the month of October. Or, at least, as spooky as I could get with my current TBR.
- Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh
- Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride
- Preacher: Book One by Garth Ennis & Steve Dillon
- Song of the Dark Crystal by J. M. Lee
- N0S4A2 by Joe Hill
Yes, I did start a little early with the spooky toward the end of September. I also have one preorder coming this month, Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor, so I’m hoping to read that, as well. Also, to be completely transparent, I only know if one of these is actually going to be spooky. Reign of the Fallen has undead people in it, though, and Hold Me Closer, Necromancer sounds funny, but necromancers, so that’s a point for Halloween. Preacher will likely just be weird, and Song of the Dark Crystal is going to be scary purely based on the fact that it’s in the Dark Crystal world. I’m expecting Joe Hill’s to be scary because he’s my go-to for weird and scary. A few of my books for September actually would have been perfect for this challenge, so I was clearly feeling the ghostly vibes early on.