Books I Read in September

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I mentioned in my last monthly wrap up post that I had hit a small reading slump and I really felt like that continued for a little while into September. It could possibly have been caused by the general chaos of the kids returning to school and trying to get back into the routine of every day life but I simply didn’t feel the drive to pick up many books and read.

I mean, I still managed to get five under my belt but I’d say only a couple were more ‘challenging’ reads. As we are now well into October I can officially confirm that thanks to a certain YA dark fantasy series (more on that next month!), I am well and truly out of that slump!

But less of that and more of the books that I read and completed in September…

Books and pumpkin

BecomingMichelle Obama

‘An interesting insight into Michelle Obama’s early life, and life outside of being First Lady.’

I have to hang my head in shame a little over this one as it’s an audiobook which I actually started listening to way back in May. Worse than that, it was the Bookish Mamas choice for May…so you can see how terribly I failed at completing this read!

I have a funny relationship with audiobooks; I find it difficult to concentrate on them when I’m doing other things so I tend to stick to non-fiction, and the autobiography of former US First Lady Michelle Obama, narrated by Michelle herself, seemed like a great choice. She has a certain likability and a lilting voice which is extremely easy to listen to and I must have made it at least 80% of the way through the book by June. Then I just sort of ground to a halt and lost my interest in listening.

If you are interested in the childhood of Michelle Obama, and her life outside of being First Lady then I’d definitely recommend it.

Truly Madly GuiltyLiane Moriarty

‘A forgettable storyline, which felt like it tried too hard. Only one for the dedicated fans IMO’

As an author, Liane Moriarty is a bit of a hit or miss. Some of her books I have loved and devoured and others I could easily have passed on. Unfortunately, whilst I thought the premise of this book was okay, it was almost instantly forgettable and not likely to be a book I recommend (unless you happen to be a die-hard Moriarty fan and then…carry on!)

Once again we find ourselves in the suburbs of an Australian city, with a varied cast of characters (little attempt made at diversity) whose lives are all about to be turned upside down when something happens at a barbecue. You don’t actually discover the ‘big’ event until quite a ways into the book so I won’t spoil it for you here. Suffice to say, it is kind of worth the wait but at the same time, not knowing made the story drag for me.

My main problem was the characters. None of them were likeable. And the dynamics between them were just off. You have best friends who I think hate each other, but I still can’t decide what Moriarty was trying to get at there. There is marital strife and breakdown and one wife keeping a monumental secret from her husband but it’s okay we don’t need to actually address this because *wink wink* he already knows. We have a mother dealing with mental health issues and an emotionally damaged adult because of said mother…at the risk of sounding like a broken record (I’m fairly certain I mentioned this in relation to a Jodi Picoult book in my last wrap up) there are basically a bunch of huge issues laid out before us and little to no resolution.

I feel like sounding a klaxon alert to all authors; don’t bring me your characters HUGE life troubles if you aren’t going to walk their journey through to completion. And I know that may sound naive and I know that life is not that straightforward and easy to tidy up but I struggle to understand the purpose of a book if all it does is tell us how awful the characters lives are, with no sense of resolution?!

As you can probably tell…I was not such a fan. Will it stop me picking up her books in future? Probably not, but I’ll need to be confident that they are really something special.

The Man Who Didn’t CallRosie Walsh

‘An interesting blend of genres; slow to start but once it gets going is a great little read.’

It’s unfortunate that I chose to pick up the Bookish Mamas choice after Truly, Madly, Guilty as I went into it trying desperately to avoid a reading slump…which is perhaps not the best reason to jump into a story.

I was baffled for a good 30% of this book as to what genre it actually fell into. I had been expecting a light and fluffy romance but the language in the initial third of the book is quite heavy and flowery, and then suddenly the plot picks up and it’s like you are reading something totally different.

This is the story of Sarah, recently separated and returned from the US to her home town in the UK. On this particular return trip Sarah meets a man and they spend 7 blissful, amazing days together. Then she has to leave. He promises to call…and then he doesn’t. We follow Sarah as she goes through the rollercoaster of emotions, the madness of not knowing and the ultimate discovery of what is really going on.

As I said, the latter half of this book is really what sold it for me. I felt like it took a while to get going but once the author found her stride it was a really fast-paced, good read with an interesting twist at the end which I only (sort of) saw coming. I also appreciated how Rosie Walsh attempted to blend different genres and I’d definitely be intrigued to see what she comes up with next.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue + The Raven KingMaggie Stiefvater

‘Gorgeous end to gorgeous series. Loved both.’

I’m going to put these two books together because they are the third and fourth in a quartet and I basically binge-read the pair! They are part of a series known as The Raven Cycle; YA paranormal romance which was so unlike anything I’ve picked up before (if you want to discount Twilight) and such fun reads!

It’s difficult to talk too much about these books without spoilers so I’ll just say that the way Maggie Stiefvater developed her storyline and her characters was just so on-point for me. I liked them each in their own way, was rooting for them all and I just adored the way she concluded this series. I could tell you that the premise of the first book is that we meet Blue, a girl who has grown up her whole life knowing her true love will die when they kiss…but the books are SO much more than that. There is magical realism, coming of age, mystery and just a smidge of romance. If you enjoy reading YA then I’d definitely give these a whirl.

A Woman of WarMandy Robotham

‘A fresh take on WW2 fiction with a real sense of our main character’s ethical dilemma.’

This book was gifted to me for review by Avon Books. It is World War Two historical fiction and centres around our main character, Anke Hoff, who is being held in a camp as a political prisoner. Anke is a trained midwife and becomes well known for her compassion and her skills. It is for this reason that she is chosen to become a midwife for one of Nazi Germany’s inner circle. Anke must choose between fighting against a regime she despises and doing what she believes is right; taking care of a woman and her baby.

On the whole I enjoyed this book. It was a new look at a well worn part of history, with some interesting points raised. I liked the pacing of the book, the way Robotham sold Anke as a character and the back burner romance which takes place.

I felt it was perhaps a little more surface-level than I was used to and I would have liked to explore the characters stories a little more, especially some of the side characters. I also felt the book ended quite abruptly, almost as though she ran out of things to write about and include. This isn’t your typical World War fiction as the war sort of takes place away from our characters and aside from beginning in the camps, it is explored very little.

I gave this book 3 stars as I felt like it ticked a lot of boxes but left me ultimately wanting more from it.

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