“The copper-haired rider looked at the black sky and swore.”First line in In the Hand of the Goddess by Tamora Pierce
What a month! A part of me feels like September lasted forever because I’ve been doing so many things this past month that were tremendously hard for me. I’ve actively been trying to fix my depression and maybe my anxiety by going to my doctor for help, but having social anxiety and then going to the doctor kinda feels like defying the laws of nature. My doctor also gave me some medication that felt like it was trying to kill me because it made sure I didn’t sleep or eat for 24 hours, but I’m okay now. It was just some pretty rough couple of days.
September was also the month where Denmark removed all covid-restrictions because so many of us are vaccinated. It’s weird! Like, was that it? Is it over? It’s kind of hard to believe, but I did use my newfound freedom to go see Dune in cinema, which definitely was a highlight of my month. Such a good movie and so much Timothée Chalamet!
My reading this month was a bit unusual. I read less than my usual and did quite a bit of rereading, probably all because of my aforementioned problems this month. Three out of five books were rereads, so I’m skipping my usual stats feature this time because it seemed a bit pointless. The rereads were The Binding by Bridget Collins and the first two books in The Shamer Chronicles by Lene Kaaberbøl. That also means that I only have two reviews for you this month, so I took the opportunity to make one of them a little longer than usual.
In the Hand of the Goddess (Song of the Lioness #2)
Author: Tamora Pierce
Published: September 1st, 1984
Genre: YA Fantasy
Check out the synopsis for the first book in the series, Alanna: The First Adventure, on Goodreads.
These books are so short, so it’s difficult to say much about them. I liked this one more than the first, partly because it was less confusing for me. I’m starting to get used to the way these books are written, so they’re easier for me to enjoy. However, I’m still not thrilled that we have characters called Raoul, Roald and Roger just like there are characters with names such as Gary, Gareth and George. Why?? I thought it was a rule that you had to pick character-names with different starting letters.
Still really liking Alanna as a main character, though, and truly appreciated her sassy moments in this book. She had some romance this time, and honestly, I don’t know how I feel about it. If you’ve read it, let me know what you think.
The Bird King
Author: G. Willow Wilson
Published: March 12th, 2019
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Buzzwords: Spanish Inquisition, Muslim characters, magical mapmaker
Synopsis: Set in 1491 during the reign of the last sultanate in the Iberian peninsula, The Bird King is the story of Fatima, the only remaining Circassian concubine to the sultan, and her dearest friend Hassan, the palace mapmaker.
Hassan has a secret–he can draw maps of places he’s never seen and bend the shape of reality. When representatives of the newly formed Spanish monarchy arrive to negotiate the sultan’s surrender, Fatima befriends one of the women, not realizing that she will see Hassan’s gift as sorcery and a threat to Christian Spanish rule. With their freedoms at stake, what will Fatima risk to save Hassan and escape the palace walls?
As Fatima and Hassan traverse Spain with the help of a clever jinn to find safety, The Bird King asks us to consider what love is and the price of freedom at a time when the West and the Muslim world were not yet separate.
I’m so angry with this book that I don’t even know where to start. Maybe with the one positive thing I have? I did like the writing. It’s very beautiful so in that regard, it wasn’t painful to get through. It was painful in so many other regards though.
This story takes place in Spain in 1491 and we follow the concubine Fatima as she flees the Spanish Inquisition. The synopsis could lead you to believe that this is also about the mapmaker Hassan and his strange magical ability, or that this story is about a deep and loving friendship between Fatima and Hassan. It is neither of those things. This is about Fatima and Fatima only, and Hassan’s ability feels merely like a tool to further Fatima’s story. I don’t think the ability was explained properly and also wasn’t used all that much throughout the story. It was one of the many things that seemed rather convenient.
But let’s talk about Fatima. She’s an extremely annoying main character that every other character just love the moment they meet her and they would tell me constantly how amazing she is while I desperately search for the nonexistent proof. Her horribleness is especially evident in her friendship with Hassan which I assumed was going to be my favorite thing about the book. Fatima is an unbelievably shitty friend, though. I don’t understand how I’m supposed to believe in their friendship. She is selfish, mean and overall toxic, yet it’s Hassan who’s making all the apologies. More than once she says that their friendship started because he was the only one who didn’t desire her (he’s gay), and that seems to be the only reason she likes him, although the author was trying to make me believe otherwise.
Before I stop ranting, I need to address how Hassan’s sexuality was handled because there was something about that that left a bad taste in my mouth. It was bordering on the stereotypical with him expressing an interest in pretty much every male character in the story, like his sexuality was his entire personality. And that was despite his cool map-making ability! But no, he’s gay and you aren’t allowed to forget that!
There was a lot of other stuff I hated about this book but I think you get the picture.
I’m sorry about this rather short wrap-up. I’m more than halfway through two books at the moment but couldn’t finish them in time for this wrap-up. The books are The King of Crows by Libba Bray and The Bitter Twins by Jen Williams. I’m enjoying both but they’re very long (probably too long in my opinion), so you’re going to have to wait for my final thoughts on those. But since I didn’t have that many books to talk about, I’d love to know which book was your favorite of September. And then I hope you all have a great October!
7 thoughts on “September 2021 Reading Wrap-Up”
Seeing your doctor sounds like a huge step, so you should feel really proud of yourself! 💙 I’m sorry that medication hit so hard, though. Since I just got back from a friend’s wedding, I am very close to not having slept for 24 hours, which makes that part sound particularly horrible… I’m glad things are looking better now, though, and hope the medication helps in the long run!
And I’m thrilled to hear you liked Dune! I want to watch it so badly, but I also want to read the book first – which is why I planned ahead and gave it to my brother for his birthday in June 😁 However, my siblings seem to have a tendency to take my extremely selfless gifts to university with them and not bring them back, so we’ll see if I ever manage to get my hands on that copy again 😂
Also, I never noticed the similarities between all the names in Alanna until you pointed them out! I’ve never had an issue with getting names mixed up if they sound similar, but will get secondary characters mixed up no matter what their names are if I don’t find them memorable enough 🤣 And as for the romance in Alanna – I have a ton of thoughts, but I don’t think I can give them to you yet. They stray dangerously close to spoiling the next books in the series…
And OMG, the Bird King review 😂😂😂 I’m surprised you still gave it two stars; the injustice done to Hassan’s character and Fatima’s awfulness sounds like it would warrant docking all of them 🙄 No matter how beautiful the writing and how intriguing the synopsis is, I’m definitely not reading that. Like, the map maker thing was what sounded the most interesting! How can the book be more focused on Fatima’s awfulness than on that??
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Thank you 🥰
Dune was the best movie I’ve seen in a long time and I’m not over it! I made the decision that I didn’t want to read the book because based on what I’d heard about, I very much doubt that I’d like it. Of course, seeing the movie almost changed that decision because I just needed more 😄 Still, unless you come and say it’s a must-read, I’m still passing on that. But you clearly need to have a serious conversation with your siblings about your selfless gifts and why they need to stay in your vicinity 😂
It baffles me that you never noticed the many similar names because those were all I saw 😅 It made me think of how I’ve heard that we don’t actually read every word entirely but your brain just recognizes the beginning of the word and kind of fill out the blank which is also why you can read and understand words that are misspelled without noticing that they’re misspelled. I thought of that constantly while reading these books because my brain would “fill out the blank” with a wrong name if I was reading a little too quickly and so I got all confused 😅 But maybe that’s just me.
And I don’t know whether to be excited or unnerved by your comment on the romance. The ending to this book kind of left it at a point where I have no idea where the rest of the series might be going.
I’m glad to have provided another entertaining rant review 😂 I actually also have my doubts about the two stars. It looked wrong when I was reading the post through but I didn’t want to change it because I felt I had committed to it. But I’m glad you’re not reading it because I do not understand how anyone could love this. I’ve been reading 5-star reviews on Goodreads to try and make sense of it but I still can’t. And I do know why it focused on Fatima so much, and that is because this book is trying to be feminist. Not the kind of feminism I buy into though because it’s all “I’m allowed to be mean because that’s who I am and you just have to accept it. If I were a man you wouldn’t bat an eye”. Nobody should be mean! And I’m pretty sure that if she was a man she would be called an abuser. I hate this book so much!
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That makes me want to see Dune even more badly! But I always wanted to read the book even before I knew there would be a movie because it is THE novel all science fiction nerds are always talking about 😄 I think Brandon Sanderson also mentioned it among his favorites, and if he approves, surely that’s a good sign… So I definitely need to read it and have my own mental imagery before the movie comes along and messes with it! (Although I suppose picturing Timothée Chalamet isn’t too bad, either… 😂)
And lol, my brain definitely isn’t immune to the filling in the blanks thing. Hvae you eevr raed tsohe ttxes wrhee tehy cnehgad all ltertes epecxt the frsit and lsat one and you can slitl raed it pfetrlcey? So weird! But for some reason, I’ve never had that problem with names…
Ugh, yes, that type of “feminism” is the worst! I’ve been seeing these supposedly “strong female characters” more and more often lately, and I really don’t understand why they are apparently so popular! Like, why do you condem male characters for behaving like absolutely douchebags and then praise the female ones for being even shittier people?? I just don’t understand!
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True, Dune is one of the big ones. However, I’m more hesitant about trusting Sanderson since he also loves Wheel of Time, but maybe he was just a bit confused about that one 😄 And seriously, everyone in that cast is beautiful so it shouldn’t be a problem picturing any of them 😁
Yes! That’s the kind of text I was talking about. Roald could easily be Raoul but misspelled! 😂
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Oh gosh, I’d almost forgotten about Wheel of Time and how annoying it was to constantly read what felt like the same passage about Rand having weird dreams or everyone running away from Trollocs – and I only made it through book one 🙈 Still, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Dune is better!
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