September Round-up

I’m on holiday in South Africa again (yay!), which is my excuse for why I was rather quiet last week, and why I’ll remain quiet over the next two weeks, although I’ll try my best to keep reading.

I had a whopping nine eARCs of books that were published in September, but I only managed to read five of them and review four. On the bright side, I managed to finish an 800-page whopper that’s been on my tbr list since it was published in 2010. It wasn’t very good, but that’s life. At least I can say I read it.

But on with the round-up. Please forgive me for using multiple thumbnail images instead of the usual collage – I’m working on my netbook without a mouse, and it’s just too much of a schlep to work with the images. Anyway, I finally posted my review of The Devil in Silver by Victor LaValle, a literary horror novel set in a mental institution in Queens, New York.

I reviewed the two debut novels from new YA published Strange Chemistry. They were ok, but not exactly memorable. Shift by Kim Curran is a sci fi novel about teenagers with the power to undo their decisions. There was plenty of action and wish fulfilment for teenage boys, but too many holes in the worldbuilding for me to ignore.

Blackwood by Gwenda Bond was a better novel. It’s a mystery/romance based on a North American legend known as the Lost Colony. The relationship at the heart of the novel is sweet if a little implausble. There’s plenty of adventure, but the mystery and fantasy aspects of the plot were a let-down.

It’s been a while since I reviewed an indie novel, so I took on Painting by Numbers by Tom Gillespie. It’s a mystery/thriller about a man obsessed with finding a mathematical theory hidden in the details of an obscure Spanish Baroque painting. I liked the premise, and the author writes good conversations, but after a certain point the novel unravels and is ultimately unsatisfying.

The best novel I read in September – not to mention one of the best historical novels I’ve ever read – was the delicious John Saturnall’s Feast by Lawrence Norfolk. It’s a lovely mix of food, history, mythology, romance, conflict and tragedy. Highly recommended, especially for foodies.

Sadly, the next book I finished was one of the worst I’ve ever read – Cry to Heaven  by Anne Rice. I read it for a reading challenge where each participant lists five novels they would take with them if trapped on a deserted island. You have to read one novel from each person’s list. Cry to Heaven was a dreadful choice. If I was stuck with it on a deserted island I’d use it for kindling or toilet paper. It’s a total soap opera about a bunch of boring assholes. Most of it is predictable and it’s filled with boring, angsty whining. Rice’s prose is a hideous shade of purple, and the many sex scenes are written with ridiculous euphemisms. I only finished the novel for the sake of the reading challenge and because I’d committed to a buddy read.

Then I finally finished The Etymologicon by Mark Forsyth, which I’ve been reading slowly over the past few months. It’s described as “A circular stroll through the hidden connections of the English language”, and it’s utterly delightful. It’s funny and odd, full of the weirdest trivia about words. If my boyfriend was ever in the same room with me while I read this, I’d constantly interrupt him with “Hey, did you know….”

Up next was The Passage by Justin Cronin, a post-apocalyptic horror novel featuring vampires. This is the novel that I’ve had on my tbr since it came out. It was very disappointing – a mostly boring, frustrating read that should have been cut down to 400 pages. Instead I had to slog through 800, and none of it was scary. I’ll post my review later this week.

My last review book for the month was Breed by Chase Novak, another item in my search for a horror novel that can actually scare me. I’d heard great things about Breed, a story of a couple who go to extreme measures to have children. Bits of it were unsettling, but it didn’t achieve the desired level of creepiness that I’m looking for. Nevertheless, it was a fairly good book. Review to follow.

I ended the month on a light note with Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett. Not one of his best, but charming as always, and I do love the witches.

And now, to continue working on that reading/reviewing backlog… First up for October is the YA post-apocalyptic/dystopian novel Pure by Julianna Baggot.


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