September 2023 Wrap Up

September was a pretty successful reading month! I managed to find some new favourites and I also fell back in love with graphic novels. What is it about graphic novels in the Fall that brings me so much joy! If you aren’t aware, I vlog my wrap up throughout the month so that my thoughts are fresh when I talk about each book, so I am going to write this post in the order in which I read each book.

The Mask of Mirrors was a carry over from August and it was also the book for my online book club, The Book Check Out Book Club. This was outside of my comfort zone because I do not read a lot of epic fantasy or books over 600 pages, but I ended up really liking The Mask of Mirrors because I need to know what happens next! I think it is important to know that the first 300 pages are slow and it is a lot of info to take in, which I know can sound daunting, but trust me it is worth pushing through. The second half went by in a flash and I found myself deeply invested. There is a lot of great character work and there was a moment where I actually teared up, which showed me just how attached I was to these characters and their relationships. There are still a lot of questions I need answers to but I have been assured I will be satisfied by the end of the trilogy.

Live show discussion!

Can you believe that it took me this long to finally read Half a Soul? Especially when you consider just how much I love cozy fantasy! Half a Soul lived up to all of the incredible hype it has received and it has some of the best banter I have ever read. I actually wish that it was a little bit longer and more slow burn so we would have had even more of the banter! I really loved some of the choices that Olivia Atwater made with the direction of the story and I also adored so many of the side characters. There truly is a lot to love about this book!

Starling House was my first full-length novel from Alix E Harrow, who is an author I have heard mixed things about, and I ended up really loving this. I cannot say I am too surprised because I love small town Gothic horror and I especially love a sentient house. The house in this book had so much personality that I actually wish it got more page time! I thought that there were moments of awkward info dumping but that was easy for me to overlook because so much of this was perfect for me. It is super atmospheric, has a great sister/brother relationship, and there is a slow burn romance that was really sweet.

It is so hard for me to believe that I Feed Her to the Beast and the Beast is Me is Jamison Shea’s debut because it was that good. She is an author who I will be keeping my eye on and I will definitely be reading the sequel, I am the Dark That Answers When You Call, the moment it comes out. I love anything that explores the dark side of ballet (I was a huge fan of Center Stage afterall!) and the fact that this had a paranormal element made it that much better. At the end of the day, this is a villain origin story and I could not help rooting for Laure despite all of the awful things she does. Good for her!

House of Roots and Ruin is the sequel to House of Salt and Sorrows, though I do think it can be read as a standalone since it takes place years after book one. I also think that if book one wasn’t your favourite book, it is still worth checking out House of Roots and Ruin. The are so different when it comes to tone and the overall vibe. Book one was super atmospheric and creepy while I wouldn’t say that book two is scary it is more disturbing. I was liking the first half but it wasn’t feeling like a five star book but once we got to the second half it was one twist after another and i got whiplash in the best way possible. This was the definition of a page turner and I ate it up. It actually put me in a reading slump because I could not move on!

Over My Dead Body was a cute graphic novel that I turned to in order to help me out of my slump and I think that was a good decision. I will say that the set up was very Hogwarts coded but I was able to look passed that and appreciate it for what it is. The illustrations were well done and I liked the characters and their friendships. Each student also has an animal familiar who they are bonded to and that was my favourite part. The mystery was predictable but I don’t think that is why you would pick up this graphic novel in the first place.

Over My Dead Body reminded me how much I love graphic novels this time of year and a friend recommended I try Garlic and the Vampire and I am so happy I tried it because this was the cutest thing. If you want to ultimate cozy vibes this Fall, look no further. You can read it in ten minutes and you’ll want to read it over and over. It is one of those graphic novels I can see myself reading every year.

Of course, I also had to read the sequel to Garlic and the Vampire! Garlic and the Witch was just as adorable as book one and I was smiling the entire time I was reading it because I just love Garlic so much. I am not sure if Bree Paulsen has plans to put out more books in this series but at this point I will read anything she publishes.

I am a sucker for a YA slasher but I find them hard to find, so you will see me often recommending There’s No Way I’d Die First from now on when this topic comes up! It was campy and a little predictable and silly but it was a page turner and everything I have come to expect and love about this subgenre. The romance subplot was distracting for me but I understood why it was included. It adds to the campiness and gives you something to root for. The slashing was fun and this book certainly did not help with my fear of clowns!

It is no secret that I love a fairytale retelling, but I cannot say I have ever read a Hansel and Gretel one! I loved that After the Forest wasn’t a direct retelling of the events of the original story rather it was an imagining of what would happen to these characters years later. t was next level atmospheric and went in a direction I was not expecting. The first half is slow and a lot of set up but all the groundwork was necessary and pays off!

If you asked me to tell you my favourite author I discovered this year, I might tell you it is Kennedy Ryan. I trust her to handle difficult topics in a way that feels honest and respectful. Do not take the content warnings for Long Shot lightly. There is domestic abuse on page and it is quite graphic and harrowing. It is a book I had to take pauses with and I still haven’t rated it on Goodreads because my feelings about it are complicated. I think a lot of women will feel seen by the main character, Iris, but the hero, August, just is not my kind of love interest. I am more of a cinnamon roll kind of person and he was a little possessive and said some things that didn’t quite sit right with me. I want him to grow on me and he just didn’t. Iris was fantastic though and I love Kennedy Ryan’s writing!

It took me all month to read Can’t Spell Treason Without Tea and I can’t quite put my finger on why. In theory, I should have loved this cozy fantasy but I struggled a little with it. I think the stakes may have been too high for a cozy. There were some sweet moments but I was never able to fully immerse myself into the coziness of it all because I knew this big conflict was coming. I also thought that the romance was cute but a little surface level and I prefered one perspective of the other. That said, there were things I liked about it, especially the side characters, and the ending makes me curious to pick up the sequel.

When the Crow’s Away is the second book in the Evenfall Witches B&B Mystery series and it was just as good as the first book! While in a lot of ways it feels like your traditional cozy mystery, I also think it does some things that subverts the typical tropes. For one thing, there is no romance and the main character is also a witch who can see the dead. So she talks to the ghosts of those who die in her community and in this case helps to solve a murder. It was the perfect way to end my month! The book does end on a bit of a cliffhanger, so I went to the author’s Instagram to see if there was any news about the third book. I was sad to see that Berkley had dropped the series because they are not doing these mass market paperback mysteries anymore. That said, it looks like there is potential for another publisher to pick it up. I am really hoping that happens!

What was the best book you read in September?

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7 thoughts on “September 2023 Wrap Up

  1. Ahh you read some great books!! I also just realised I wasn’t subscribed to your YT channel (which is a crime I know). Jus twatched your video and it’s such a fun vlog!

  2. Oh, I’ll add Over My Dead Body to my TBR. And I’ve wanted to read Garlic & the Vampire. Sorry Can’t Spell Treason Without Tea didn’t work out though.

  3. Long Shot sounds interesting and I’ve never heard of Kennedy Ryan before! I’ll add that to my TBR list (thanks!) My favorite read as of late is “Pretend with Me” (Book #1 in the Beacon Hill series) by Emily Mayer – here is the author’s website in case you want to check it out –
    I loved this book because it kept me laughing and it kept me hooked. The story follows leading lady, Sutton, on her trip back to her small hometown in the South to help take care of her dad who recently injured himself. It’s as if everything has been preserved in time. Her mom still works at the same place, the gossip is still the same, her sister hasn’t changed a bit (complete nightmare) BUT(!) she is getting married – GASP- to Sutton’s childhood dream guy.. Now let’s add a very eligible brother to the mix and that’s all I’m going to share. I laughed, I cringed, I stayed up way too late reading this and now I’m left wanting more (good things it’s book 1 in the Beacon Hill series). If you do end up checking this out, I would love to know what you think.

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