Today was the day a thousand dreams would die and a single dream would be born.First line in The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
I’m here with another wrap up because somehow September ended. It was a weird month for me blogging-wise. I haven’t had a lot of motivation to write anything deep and profound lately, even though I’ve had the ideas. I feel like all my posts have been “easy posts” that don’t require a whole lot of effort on my part. I know it’s completely fine to just write those posts, but I miss writing something I’m really proud of. Part of the problem is that I really want something to go up every week, but at the moment, I’m finishing posts the day before they go up, so I don’t feel like I have the time to work on a longer post. I really want to work on that in October, even if I might have to skip a week or two.
But how was my reading in September? Pretty awful, actually, in terms of quality at least. Just take a look at my stats:
Look at that 3.1 average rating, and it doesn’t even tell the whole story. It doesn’t tell you that my only 5-star read of the month was a reread (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire). It also doesn’t include the DNF I had this month because I don’t rate those. So not a great month although, it started good. I was also pleasantly surprised by the number of books and pages I read. I had the feeling that I was reading less than normally, but I was actually well above my average.
But 7 books read minus one reread means I have 6 mini-reviews for you this month. Prepare to feel my disappointment in so many of them.
The Bedlam Stacks
Author: Natasha Pulley
Published: July 13th 2017
Genre: Historical Fiction/Magical Realism
Buzzwords: Peru, disabled MC, friendships, culture clashes
Synopsis: In 1859, ex-East India Company smuggler Merrick Tremayne is trapped at home in Cornwall after sustaining an injury that almost cost him his leg and something is wrong; a statue moves, his grandfather’s pines explode, and his brother accuses him of madness.
When the India Office recruits Merrick for an expedition to fetch quinine—essential for the treatment of malaria—from deep within Peru, he knows it’s a terrible idea. Nearly every able-bodied expeditionary who’s made the attempt has died, and he can barely walk. But Merrick is desperate to escape everything at home, so he sets off, against his better judgment, for a tiny mission colony on the edge of the Amazon where a salt line on the ground separates town from forest. Anyone who crosses is killed by something that watches from the trees, but somewhere beyond the salt are the quinine woods, and the way around is blocked.
Surrounded by local stories of lost time, cursed woods, and living rock, Merrick must separate truth from fairy tale and find out what befell the last expeditions; why the villagers are forbidden to go into the forest; and what is happening to Raphael, the young priest who seems to have known Merrick’s grandfather, who visited Peru many decades before. The Bedlam Stacks is the story of a profound friendship that grows in a place that seems just this side of magical.
A slow-paced book that explored some fascinating themes such as complicated friendships, and how a disabled individual still can go on an adventure. I wrote a full review filled with all of my complicated thoughts about this book.
The Faithless Hawk (The Merciful Crow #2)
Author: Margaret Own
Published: August 18th 2020
Genre: YA Fantasy
Go to Goodreads to read the synopsis for the first book in the duology, The Merciful Crow.
I was incredibly disappointed by this as I loved its predecessor. The action-packed plot from the first book had turned more meandering in this one, so a lot of time was spent waiting for stuff to happen. I kept thinking that the author had created this very interesting world… but didn’t know what to do with it. It wasn’t expanded upon enough to create minor plot-lines to fill in the gaps, and the main plot was mediocre and unoriginal.
I was also disappointed in the way that important side-characters from the first book were sort of cast aside in this one. They didn’t have much of an arc and was really just there for the MC to interact with. Because this book is all about her. And she was annoying. Too much angst and not enough personality. Also gotta say that there was something about the romance that rubbed me the wrong way, but I can’t go into details about it.
But I completed a series so that’s something, at least.
The Kiss of Deception (The Remnant Chronicles #1)
Author: Mary E. Pearson
Published: July 8th 2014
Genre: YA Fantasy
Buzzwords: Love triangle, runaway princess,
Synopsis: In a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia’s life follows a preordained course. As First Daughter, she is expected to have the revered gift of sight—but she doesn’t—and she knows her parents are perpetrating a sham when they arrange her marriage to secure an alliance with a neighboring kingdom—to a prince she has never met.
On the morning of her wedding, Lia flees to a distant village. She settles into a new life, hopeful when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deception abounds, and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—even as she finds herself falling in love.
I honestly don’t have much to say about this. It was fine. Nothing I really loved or hated about it. Romance is a major theme, but I wasn’t that invested in that part of the story. I was more into the political aspects although, we didn’t get much it that in this book. However, I predict it will be more prevalent in the next books, so I’m excited to continue the trilogy. That ending also really didn’t give me much of a choice.
The Lost Book of the White (The Eldest Curses #2)
Author: Cassandra Clare
Published: September 1st 2020
Genre: YA Fantasy
Synopsis: Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood are settling into domestic life with their son Max when the warlocks Ragnor Fell and Shinyun Jung break into their loft and steal a powerful spell book. Realizing that Ragnor and Shinyun are being controlled by a more sinister force, Magnus and Alec set out to stop them and recover the book before they can cause any more harm. With the help of Clary Fairchild, Jace Herondale, Isabelle Lightwood, and Simon Lovelace (who is fresh from the Shadowhunter Academy), they track the warlocks to Shanghai.
But nothing is as it seems. Ragnor and Shinyun are working at the behest of a Greater Demon. Their goal is to open a Portal from the demon realms to Earth, flooding the city of Shanghai with dangerous demons. When a violent encounter causes Magnus’s magic to grow increasingly unstable, Alec and Magnus rally their friends to strike at the heart of the demon’s power. But what they find there is far stranger and more nefarious than they ever could have expected…
Yeah, this book still didn’t make it clear why we need this series in the Shadowhunter world. It’s sweet seeing Magnus and Alec being all domestic, but I don’t think the rest of the story justifies a full-length novel. What this accomplishes could just as easily have been accomplished through a novella. I wouldn’t even call this necessary reading for the world overall (except maybe for the epilogue, and that statement tells you all you need to know about this book).
What bothered me most about the book is the decision to drag all of the Mortal Instruments characters into it. I don’t know why because the authors clearly didn’t know what to do with them. Their stories are over. We’re done with them. Their most important job in this book was to deliver “funny” one-liners.
As with the previous book, it’s hard to fear for the characters when books set later on have told me they’re fine. And the book really tries to raise the stakes, but it didn’t manage to make me care.
A Gathering of Ravens (Grimnir #1)
Author: Scott Oden
Published: June 20th 2017
Genre: Historical Fantasy
My rating: DNF at 53%
Buzzwords: Vikings, Norse mythology vs. Christianity,
Synopsis: To the Danes, he is skraelingr; to the English, he is orcneas; to the Irish, he is fomoraig. He is Corpse-maker and Life-quencher, the Bringer of Night, the Son of the Wolf and Brother of the Serpent. He is Grimnir, and he is the last of his kind–the last in a long line of monsters who have plagued humanity since the Elder Days.
Drawn from his lair by a thirst for vengeance against the Dane who slew his brother, Grimnir emerges into a world that’s changed. A new faith has arisen. The Old Ways are dying, and their followers retreating into the shadows; even still, Grimnir’s vengeance cannot be denied.
Taking a young Christian hostage to be his guide, Grimnir embarks on a journey that takes him from the hinterlands of Denmark, where the wisdom of the ancient dwarves has given way to madness, to the war-torn heart of southern England, where the spirits of the land make violence on one another. And thence to the green shores of Ireland and the Viking stronghold of Dubhlinn, where his enemy awaits.
But, unless Grimnir can set aside his hatreds, his dream of retribution will come to nothing. For Dubhlinn is set to be the site of a reckoning–the Old Ways versus the New–and Grimnir, the last of his kind left to plague mankind, must choose: stand with the Christian King of Ireland and see his vengeance done or stand against him and see it slip away?
I very rarely DNF books. I don’t like doing it, but I could tell I would fall into a reading slump if I kept going. It’s not even that I hate the book. I was just so incredibly bored. With a great focus on Norse mythology and the interesting premise of Christianity’s arrival in the North, this book sounded like a different take on the old standard Viking stories. However, it seems like the author forgot to add a plot. Not that every book needs a plot, but this one does.
Instead of plot, we got a lot of atmospheric landscape descriptions and dreamlike visions that slowed the story down too much. I do love atmospheric books, and I would also say this is very well written. There was just too much of it, and it was too repetitive at times. Reeling it in would have helped. Also, characters having prophetic dreams that reveal some big secrets aren’t exactly a trope I enjoy all that much.
The Nephilim Protocol (The Solomon Code #1)
Author: J. D. Kloosterman
Published: September 7th 2020
Genre: YA Fantasy
Buzzwords: Half angels, superpowers, confined to remote island
A received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: Everyone in his life has always seemed to hate him. Chad doesn’t know why. He never can do the right thing to please anyone. He doesn’t understand what he’s supposed to be guilty of, or why everyone assumes he’s so dangerous. When a friend tries to shoot up the school, Chad smashes through a brick wall in the fight to stop him. And then he knows.
Descended from the race of the half-angel Nephilim, Chad has gained massive strength, quick reflexes, and varied strange abilities. Once, his ancestors were kings, Templars, demigods; ruling the Earth with cruel indifference. Now, their descendants are imprisoned on the most remote location in Alaska—Attu Island, hundreds of miles out in the ocean.
Up against the camp’s guards, the fatal Alaskan weather, and even his fellow Nephilim campers, simply surviving is a challenge for Chad. He doesn’t want to die at the camp, but at the frozen edge of the world, can even an angel escape?
This is a book that’s very much not written for me. What sounded like a cool concept about half angels being imprisoned on an island turned out to be lacking in its execution because it, apparently, was more important for the reader to know how racist and sexist the characters were. The book goes for the narrative of how it is oh so hard for teenage boys not to be racist and sexist. But the main character is trying, so that’s okay. It’s really not, though. Overall, it made this book very uncomfortable to read, and it definitely made it hard for me to root for these characters even they weren’t displaying that despicable behavior.
In the positive section, I will say that it had some very action-packed scenes that were quite well written. It definitely made sure I wasn’t bored. There are also some interesting powers for these half angels that I wish would have been explored more. I generally could have used a bit more world-building.
That was my September. Really hoping that my October reading will be better. Please share your favorite read of September in the comments, so we can get some positive vibes going. Happy reading!