September Wrap Up

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I had nine books on my September and I managed to read six of them! The ones I didn’t read (The Ghosts of Harvard, Transcendent Kingdom, and This Is How to Lose a Time War) are all still high priorities for me. I didn’t plan on posting an October TBR, as I recently posted my Fall TBR, but I saw that Read With Angie was hosting a month-long readathon that focuses on thrillers and spooky reads. I knew that I had to join, so I will be posting my TBR for that on Friday.

# of Books Read: 10

# of Pages Read: 3,574

Favourite Book(s) of the Month: Raybearer, Anxious People, Magic Lessons, Grown

Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

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Mary B. Addison killed a baby.

Allegedly. She didn’t say much in that first interview with detectives, and the media filled in the only blanks that mattered: A white baby had died while under the care of a churchgoing black woman and her nine-year-old daughter. The public convicted Mary and the jury made it official. But did she do it? She wouldn’t say.

Mary survived six years in baby jail before being dumped in a group home. The house isn’t really “home”—no place where you fear for your life can be considered a home. Home is Ted, who she meets on assignment at a nursing home.

There wasn’t a point to setting the record straight before, but now she’s got Ted—and their unborn child—to think about. When the state threatens to take her baby, Mary must find the voice to fight her past. And her fate lies in the hands of the one person she distrusts the most: her Momma. No one knows the real Momma. But who really knows the real Mary? 

Tiffany D. Jackson has become one of my favourite authors. I don’t know that anyone else writes YA thrillers quite like she does. Allegedly is her debut, which is so hard to believe. This book was definitely a page turner and gave me so many conflicting emotions. I never knew who to believe! The ending is quite polarizing, but after sitting with it for a few days I really thought it was the perfect conclusion and was well executed.

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

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Nothing is more important than loyalty.
But what if you’ve sworn to protect the one you were born to destroy?

Tarisai has always longed for the warmth of a family. She was raised in isolation by a mysterious, often absent mother known only as The Lady. The Lady sends her to the capital of the global empire of Aritsar to compete with other children to be chosen as one of the Crown Prince’s Council of 11. If she’s picked, she’ll be joined with the other Council members through the Ray, a bond deeper than blood. That closeness is irresistible to Tarisai, who has always wanted to belong somewhere. But The Lady has other ideas, including a magical wish that Tarisai is compelled to obey: Kill the Crown Prince once she gains his trust. Tarisai won’t stand by and become someone’s pawn—but is she strong enough to choose a different path for herself?

Raybearer is one of the best books I have read this year, which was so surprising for me as I don’t typically love fantasy. There was something so special about this story and these characters. I cannot stop thinking about it and I keep checking to see if the sequel has been announced. I need to be in this world again!

Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan

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On her very first morning on the jewel-like island of Capri, Lucie Churchill sets eyes on George Zao and she instantly can’t stand him. She can’t stand it when he gallantly offers to trade hotel rooms with her so that she can have the view of the Tyrrhenian Sea, she can’t stand that he knows more about Curzio Malaparte than she does, and she really can’t stand it when he kisses her in the darkness of the ancient ruins of a Roman villa and they are caught by her snobbish, disapproving cousin, Charlotte. “Your mother is Chinese so it’s no surprise you’d be attracted to someone like him,” Charlotte teases. Daughter of an American-born-Chinese mother and blue-blooded New York father, Lucie has always sublimated the Asian side of herself in favor of the white side, and she adamantly denies having feelings for George. But several years later, when George unexpectedly appears in East Hampton where Lucie is weekending with her new fiancé, Lucie finds herself drawn to George again. Soon, Lucy is spinning a web of deceit that involves her family, her fiancé, the co-op board of her Fifth Avenue apartment, and ultimately herself as she tries mightily to deny George entry into her world–and her heart. Moving between summer playgrounds of privilege, peppered with decadent food and extravagant fashion, Sex and Vanity is a truly modern love story, a daring homage to A Room with a View, and a brilliantly funny comedy of manners set between two cultures.

I have some mixed feelings about Sex and Vanity, but I enjoyed it overall. I thought it was entertaining and lush. I love the setting and the drama. There were moments that reminded me of what I loved so much about Crazy Rich Asians, though they are completely different stories. I will say that the first half was much stronger than the second, but I am glad that I read this!

Blood & Honey by Shelby Mahurin

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After narrowly escaping death at the hands of the Dames Blanches, Lou, Reid, Coco, and Ansel are on the run from coven, kingdom, and church—fugitives with nowhere to hide.

To elude the scores of witches and throngs of chasseurs at their heels, Lou and Reid need allies. Strong ones. But protection comes at a price, and the group is forced to embark on separate quests to build their forces. As Lou and Reid try to close the widening rift between them, the dastardly Morgane baits them in a lethal game of cat and mouse that threatens to destroy something worth more than any coven.

I think that Blood & Honey may be my biggest disappointment of the year. I really thought that the first book, Serpent & Dove, was fun and I loved the banter between the characters; however, some of that magic was lost in the sequel. It felt like I was reading about completely different characters! I know that it was supposed to be a duology but the publisher pushed for another book, so I don’t think Mahurin was prepared to stretch her story over three books. The ending was interesting though and I will finish the series!

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

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Viewing an apartment normally doesn’t turn into a life-or-death situation, but this particular open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber bursts in and takes everyone in the apartment hostage. As the pressure mounts, the eight strangers begin slowly opening up to one another and reveal long-hidden truths.

First is Zara, a wealthy bank director who has been too busy to care about anyone else until tragedy changed her life. Now, she’s obsessed with visiting open houses to see how ordinary people live—and, perhaps, to set an old wrong to right. Then there’s Roger and Anna-Lena, an Ikea-addicted retired couple who are on a never-ending hunt for fixer-uppers to hide the fact that they don’t know how to fix their own failing marriage. Julia and Ro are a young lesbian couple and soon-to-be parents who are nervous about their chances for a successful life together since they can’t agree on anything. And there’s Estelle, an eighty-year-old woman who has lived long enough to be unimpressed by a masked bank robber waving a gun in her face. And despite the story she tells them all, Estelle hasn’t really come to the apartment to view it for her daughter, and her husband really isn’t outside parking the car.

As police surround the premises and television channels broadcast the hostage situation live, the tension mounts and even deeper secrets are slowly revealed. Before long, the robber must decide which is the more terrifying prospect: going out to face the police, or staying in the apartment with this group of impossible people.

Anxious People was my most anticipated book of the year and it didn’t disappoint! Backman has this magical way of writing flawed characters that you care about deeply. The story was so well constructed and hopeful- there was also the signature humour that I loved so much in A Man Called Ove. It was also fantastic on audio!

Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman

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Where does the story of the Owens bloodline begin? With Maria Owens, in the 1600s, when she’s abandoned in a snowy field in rural England as a baby. Under the care of Hannah Owens, Maria learns about the “Unnamed Arts.” Hannah recognizes that Maria has a gift and she teaches the girl all she knows. It is here that she learns her first important lesson: Always love someone who will love you back.

When Maria is abandoned by the man who has declared his love for her, she follows him to Salem, Massachusetts. Here she invokes the curse that will haunt her family. And it’s here that she learns the rules of magic and the lesson that she will carry with her for the rest of her life. Love is the only thing that matters.

Magic Lessons is a celebration of life and love and a showcase of Alice Hoffman’s masterful storytelling.

Magic Lessons is the latest installment in Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic series. I have to say that this is probably my favourite one so far (I am hoping for more!). I adore Maria Owens and it was interesting to find out more about where the curse originated. Hoffman’s writing is so detailed and intricate, and this book has a strong sense of place.

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

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An isolated mansion. A chillingly charismatic aristocrat. And a brave socialite drawn to expose their treacherous secrets. . . .

From the author of Gods of Jade and Shadow comes a novel set in glamorous 1950s Mexico.

After receiving a frantic letter from her newlywed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find – her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.

Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.

And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind. 

I don’t know how to begin to talk about Mexican Gothic! The setting was the highlight for me- I love a spooky house. It is also very suspenseful and I really liked the main character. The book reads like a classic Gothic novel, which I loved. I will definitely read more from Silvia Moreno-Garcia. That said, there were moments that were quite confusing and this book is being so hyped that it is almost possible to live up to it!

Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson

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Korey Fields is dead.

When Enchanted Jones wakes with blood on her hands and zero memory of the previous night, no one—the police and Korey’s fans included—has more questions than she does. All she really knows is that this isn’t how things are supposed to be. Korey was Enchanted’s ticket to stardom.

Before there was a dead body, Enchanted was an aspiring singer, struggling with her tight knit family’s recent move to the suburbs while trying to find her place as the lone Black girl in high school. But then legendary R&B artist Korey Fields spots her at an audition. And suddenly her dream of being a professional singer takes flight.

Enchanted is dazzled by Korey’s luxurious life but soon her dream turns into a nightmare. Behind Korey’s charm and star power hides a dark side, one that wants to control her every move, with rage and consequences. Except now he’s dead and the police are at the door. Who killed Korey Fields?

All signs point to Enchanted. 

Grown is Tiffany D. Jackson’s newest release, and wow it is a tough one. It is inspired by R. Kelly, and if you know anything about the allegations made against him you will understand why this book made me so uncomfortable. That said, I trusted this story in Jackson’s hands and she accomplished what she set out to do, which further solidified her as a favourite author.

When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole

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The gentrification of a Brooklyn neighborhood takes on a sinister new meaning…

Sydney Green is Brooklyn born and raised, but her beloved neighborhood seems to change every time she blinks. Condos are sprouting like weeds, FOR SALE signs are popping up overnight, and the neighbors she’s known all her life are disappearing. To hold onto her community’s past and present, Sydney channels her frustration into a walking tour and finds an unlikely and unwanted assistant in one of the new arrivals to the block—her neighbor Theo.

But Sydney and Theo’s deep dive into history quickly becomes a dizzying descent into paranoia and fear. Their neighbors may not have moved to the suburbs after all, and the push to revitalize the community may be more deadly than advertised.

When does coincidence become conspiracy? Where do people go when gentrification pushes them out? Can Sydney and Theo trust each other—or themselves—long enough to find out before they too disappear?

No One is Watching is one of my favourite thrillers, even though its thriller classification doesn’t quite accurately explain all that this book is. It is first and foremost a social commentary that is rooted in so much truth. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this book since I finished it. I hope that Alyssa Cole continues to explore other genres!

Drowned Country by Emily Tesh

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Drowned Country is the stunning sequel to Silver in the Wood, Emily Tesh’s lush, folkloric debut. This second volume of the Greenhollow duology once again invites readers to lose themselves in the story of Henry and Tobias, and the magic of a myth they’ve always known.

Even the Wild Man of Greenhollow can’t ignore a summons from his mother, when that mother is the indomitable Adela Silver, practical folklorist. Henry Silver does not relish what he’ll find in the grimy seaside town of Rothport, where once the ancient wood extended before it was drowned beneath the sea—a missing girl, a monster on the loose, or, worst of all, Tobias Finch, who loves him.

The Greenhollow Duology is so underrated! I absolutely loved the first novella, Silver in the Woods, and I thought that Drowned Country had the same magic that made the first book so special. As these books are so short, I think it is best to go into them knowing nothing about the plot!

September turned out to be an amazing reading month for me. I read some of my favourite books of the year! I am looking forward to what October brings, as it is usually my favourite reading month!

What was the best book you read this month?

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18 thoughts on “September Wrap Up

  1. Looks like you read a lot of great books this month! I cannot WAIT to pick up Grown ASAP, I loveeee Tiffany’s writing, she never fails to amaze me!! I was iffy on picking up Raybearer but i’m glad to hear you enjoyed it, I might have to reconsider that one! And I hope to read Mexican Gothic as soon as my library hold comes in…which could be a while, its in high demand haha! I’m also curious to pick up Sex and Vanity, since I enjoyed Crazy Rich Asians trilogy, but its not high on my priority list and I feel like I’d feel the same as you about it…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You’ve read a LOT of books! Gee whiz! Do you read several at a time or singularly?
    I really liked reading The Hippo at the End of the Hall, The Vanderbeekers and the Secret Garden, and The Solution is Political Revolution. They were all good! I haven’t been able to read a whole lot this past month sadly though. Good post, good picks! xoxo

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  3. I am SO happy to hear you enjoyed Anxious People! I really want to read it but I also want to get around to reading Fredriks other works too! It’s a little overwhelming at times because I never know where to start. I’m also scared they won’t be as good as A Man Called Ove because I freaking LOVED that book. I also really want to read Mexican Gothic. It sounds amazing. I didn’t realize how dark it was until I saw all these reviews! It makes me even more excited to get to it! I’m glad it seems like you had a pretty good reading month! 😀

    -Amber

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m so excited to read Raybearer! My copy just arrived and it’s so pretty and I can’t wait to. get to it!
    I’ve also been really excited to read The Mexican Gothic and considering it’s October, it seems like the perfect time to pick it up!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It was great to see your thoughts on these books as so many of them are on my TBR! Grown was the first Tiffany D. Jackson book that I’ve read and I thought it was so well written that I can’t wait to read her backlist. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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