Happy Friday, everyone, and welcome to October!
To be honest, September was a very mixed month for me. My grandfather died, I’ve barely had time for anything other than writing my thesis – which has manifested itself in a huge lack of sleep so that I can at least get some reading time in – and I am currently doing my very best to pretend I wasn’t born in Saxony. Seriously, how can you let the AfD become the strongest party in your state???
On a more positive note, though, the Greens and the SPD gained quite a few votes, I actually made quite a bit of progress on my thesis, and my grandfather’s funeral meant that, for the first time since the pandemic started, I finally got to see my maternal extended family again. Quite a few of my numerous cousins had new kids in the past two years, and I loved finally getting to meet them! I also went bowling with a couple of friends, and, although I was awful overall, I did not remain strike-less, which I will definitely count as a win!
And I joined a choir!! Throughout my school years, I was always part of one, but when I started university and the workload became super crazy, I gave it up in order to fully focus on orchestra. However, since I’m now only a month away from (hopefully) completing my master’s program and a new choir for young adults was founded basically right next to where I live, I thought I might as well give it a go. Even if I might have to move away to start teaching soon, it’s been wonderful! With orchestra cancelled due to COVID, I haven’t been part of a music ensemble for almost two years now, and I didn’t even realize how much I missed it. I MISSED IT SO MUCH, GUYS!!! 😭😭😭 You honestly have no idea.
But enough about music, let’s get to the books! I didn’t really read much this month – **cough thesis cough** – and what I did read was, like September, a pretty mixed bag. Some books ended up being a huge let-down, but on the other hand, I also discovered what will probably be my favorite book of the year, so I can’t really complain… Anyway, without further ado, here are the five books I read in September!
Bad Monkey (Andrew Yancy #1) by Carl Hiaasen (2/5 Stars)
Carl Hiaasen is one of those authors I’ve absolutely loved since childhood – I mean, I kind of had to, considering that Hoot, the first book of his I ever read, is centered around owls 🥰 The guy has a wacky sense of humor, he writes these weird but loveable characters that care deeply for the environment, and he just captures perfectly what it’s like to grow up in Florida! His books are the ones I turn to whenever I’m feeling particularly homesick or nostalgic, and they’ve never let me down. Until now.
After having adored all of Carl Hiaasen’s middle grade and YA novels, I was really looking forward to seeing how he fared in the adult category – so much so that I actually went and bought a copy of Bad Monkey myself, since my family apparently refused to notice that it had been on wishlist for years. I mean, it sounded so interesting! The start to a detective series that begins with the protagonist losing his job on the police force for beating someone up with a vacuum cleaner and him then somehow ending up with a mysterious human arm in his freezer? How could that not be good?
Apparently, in a lot of ways. The whole arm mystery was interesting enough, but since it was pretty clear from the get-go who the bad guys were, I just wasn’t super invested. Besides, this book seemed to be a lot more interested in describing people having affairs than actually exploring characters in a lot of depth. Or, scratch that, it seemed more interested in sex, period. The weirder the circumstances, the better. Like, why not do it on a mortician’s examination table, or during a hurricane so that the roof being blown from your house can symbolize just how mind-blowingly awesome your orgasm is? Overall, I found myself bored throughout large stretches of Bad Monkey and wishing for something that would convince me these characters actually had interests outside of boning each other. Especially the women, who were some of the flattest characters I’ve ever come across 🙄
Also – definitely don’t read this if you easily get queasy, because, boy, after this book, I’m seriously reconsidering whether I ever want to eat in a Floridian restaurant again! After being fired from the police force, Andrew Yancy gets a job as a food inspector, and let’s just say I completely understand why he suddenly loses a ton of weigh afterwards. If I’d seen the things he’d seen, I’m not sure if I’d ever be able to swallow a bite of food again, either… Especially since Carl Hiaasen mentions in the acknowledgements that the food inspector backstory is based on the real-life experiences of a friend of his 🤮
But yeah, I guess my overall verdict is that this one is not so great. I liked the mystery, the Floridian setting, and reading about the protagonist’s feud with his neighbor, but that was about it. There was too little character development and too much kinky sex for my tastes.
Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2) by Brandon Sanderson (5/5 Stars)
AGHHDNAGHAHDADWXIJVYYREWYUOSZQZDECBEEEUWXBWWZ!!!! THIS BOOK, YOU GUYS!!!! 🤩😍🥰
I loved it so much that I don’t even know what else I’m supposed to say about it. It has even managed to top The Betrayals and become my favorite book of the year, which I didn’t think was possible. There was so much character development, so much epic world-building, so much heartbreak, action, drama, politics, intrigue, betrayal, and hope that I just could not put it down.
All I can say is – making it through those slow and initially confusing first 400 pages of The Way of Kings is absolutely worth it for what you get afterwards. Kaladin and Adolin are precious and must be protected at all costs. Jasnah is one of the coolest characters I’ve ever come across. Dalinar is still super intriguing. Shallan took me completely by surprise and wormed her way into my heart as well. Roshar is one of the most unique and interesting worlds I’ve ever come across, and I love that I am continuing to learn more and more about it.
Just trust me on this, guys. If you love high fantasy, you have to read this series!!! If things keep going the way they have been, my adoration of The Stromlight Archive has already easily surpassed my love for the Mistborn trilogy, which is saying a lot. Just go read both of them!
Anyway, I am well aware that this isn’t a particularly coherent review. In my defense, though, it is next to impossible to say anything too concrete without spoiling this or The Way of Kings! So if you want more of my thoughts, you’re just going to have to check out my spoiler-filled review instead… (I’m definitely not going to vouch for that one being any more coherent, though 😁)
Le petit Nicolas by René Goscinny and Jean-Jacques Sempé (4/5 Stars)
[Note: I read this in the French original, but in case any of you non-French-speakers are interested in checking it out, there is an English translation called Nicholas!]
Le Petit Nicolas is an extremely well-known French children’s book that features stories from the life of a young schoolboy named – you guessed it – Nicolas. I’d actually already read quite a few of its chapters back when I was still in school and had only just started learning French, so when I saw the whole thing was available on Scribd, I got oddly nostalgic and knew immediately that I had to read it!
And I have no regrets. This book is written in a simple, yet charming style that immediately makes you feel like a carefree child again. It has you shaking your head at the weird behavior of grown-ups, grinning at the habits of some of the other children in Nicolas’ class, or in awe of how their teacher manages to make it through a lesson without bursting into tears.
Overall, I’d definitely recommend this to anyone who has young children and needs something fun to read to them, or anyone looking for some cute anecdotes to cuddle up with. And, like I said, the language is also pretty simple. There are a lot of phrases that are repeated in the different stories, so this is great for any French beginners out there who would like a good book to practice with!
Dina in der Drachenburg (Die Hüterin der Wahrheit #1) by Lene Kaaberbøl (4/5 Stars)
[Oh boy, this is where it gets complicated… 😅 The original Danish title of this book is Skammerens datter, but, since I don’t know Danish, I went for the German translation. Apparently, the edition I have is now out of print, though – so if you want a German copy, you’ll probably have better luck finding one titled Die Hüterin der Wahrheit – Dinas Bestimmung. And if you want to read it in English, go look for The Shamer’s Daughter!]
I’d never even heard of this book until Line @ First Line Reader mentioned that the Shamer Chronicles were one of her favorite series growing up and that she was thinking of rereading them in English for a Lost in Translation post. Obviously, my ears perked up at that. Line’s Lost in Translation posts are some of the best things on the entire blogosphere, and since she also has a real knack for picking out my five-star reads, I figured I might as well read this. In German, obviously, so that I could give my own two cents on stuff that got lost in translation… 😁
[Alas, this was before I knew that the Germans stopped translating after book one! What am I going to do now?! My bookshelves are organized by language first, and within that by genre, but I have a really cool system in place that still allows me to keep one author’s books and series together! And now, if I buy the rest of the books in English, it’s not going to work anymore 😫😭😫 But I’m definitely not rebuying the first book, either. I’m a poor university student, and I like my German copy. But I need to read the other books! What do I do???]
Anyway, The Shamer’s Daughter is a middle-grade fantasy novel that immediately sucked me in. Something about the writing style, the idyllic descriptions of the countryside, the stoic determination of the characters, and the gloomy foreboding atmosphere reminded me a little bit of Astrid Lindgren’s The Brothers Lionheart – one of my favorite books growing up. This book transported me back into my childhood, but with a new story, and I was absolutely hooked.
Honestly, the whole premise of this series is so interesting! Looking into a Shamer’s eyes will force a person to relive their darkest, most shameful memories, and allow the Shamer to see everything the person wants to hide. While essential to the justice system in this world, Shamers are also feared, and hardly anyone dares to meet their gaze. Dina has inherited the Shamer’s gift from her mother, and she hates how it sets her apart from the rest of the world. But when her mother is fetched to force a confession of murder from the heir to the throne and never returns, Dina learns that her gift might help her save her mother – and the princedom – after all.
Overall, I had a ton of fun reading this! The only thing I could complain about is that there aren’t really many subplots, which makes the story a bit straightforward at times, and that the villains are very black-and-white, but then again, this is a middle grade novel and I don’t think those things would have bothered me at all as a kid.
Although I still have to solve my book language conundrum, I definitely plan on continuing on with the series. Line, even as a child, you obviously had great taste in books!
The Jasmine Throne (Burning Kingdoms #1) by Tasha Suri (2.5/5 Stars)
Everything about this book suggests that I should have absolutely loved it. It’s the start to a political fantasy series based on Indian mythology. It has a magic system unlike any I’d ever seen before. There are lots of unlikely friendships, messed-up sibling relationships, and a sapphic romance that comes pretty close to my much beloved enemies-to-lovers trope.
And yet, I never really found myself all that invested in any of it. The whole time while I was reading The Jasmine Throne, I was itching to finally be done and read something else instead. I’m not exactly sure what the issue was. But I do have a few theories.
For one thing, there is such a big cast of POV-characters – I stopped counting by the time we got to seven – that I never really felt I had enough time to connect to any of them. Yes, our main protagonists Priya and Malini do get a bit more page time, but it wasn’t enough to win me over. We never really explore anyone’s thoughts and feelings, and our heroines are so perfect and without depth that I ended up being somewhat annoyed with them. And, honestly, we don’t get to see their relationship develop much, either. They think the other one is attractive pretty much from the start, and that and a bit of time spent together seems to be enough for each of them to blindly trust the other. Where were the grueling conversations? Where was that sense of heartbreak and betrayal? Where were the moments where they had to prove they truly cared?
Also, the writing. The ellipses. The sentences. The words. Saying everything five or six times. Without verbs. No verbs can do this story justice. No verbs can lead up to a big, dramatic climax. A passionate, fierce, dramatic, stormy climax. Oh my god, guys, once I started noticing this – something that unfortunately happened somewhere in the first chapter – it drove me absolutely nuts!!! Never in my life have I seen so much unnecessarily dramatic writing, and this is coming from someone who has read her fair share of Sarah J. Maas books…
Still, it wasn’t all bad. A big reason I’m complaining is because I’m so disappointed this book didn’t live up to all it could have been. There was so much potential! I did genuinely enjoy the world, and thought the magic system was super intriguing. There were a lot of interesting ideas about conquest and the role of women in society within The Jasmine Throne‘s pages. And even though I did think the plot was a bit predictable, it was still engaging enough to keep me reading.
Overall, would I recommend this? To all you world-building and plot fanatics, maybe yes. To more character-driven readers, probably not so much. Personally, I don’t think I’ll be continuing on with the series, but nonetheless, I can see other people liking it!
And that wraps up what I read in September! Let me know down below whether you’ve read any of these and what you thought of them, and maybe tell me about something good that happened to you last month as well!
Seriously, I’ve been so focused on my thesis that I’ve barely been keeping up with anyone’s posts (SORRY!!! 🥺), but I’d still love to know what is going on in your lives! I’ll definitely be back full-time in November, I promise!