September Reading Round Up
Happy October, everyone! This is one of my favorite months. The weather is cooler, the leaves are turning pretty colors, PUMPKIN EVERYTHING, and of course… Halloween! I consider October to be the kick-off for the holiday season and I am READY.
But first, it’s time for reviews of the books I read in September. Compared to how August was, I am definitely back to “normal” when it comes to my consumption of books because I read 9 of them and am currently reading one.
Let’s get to it!
Wild Hunger* (Heirs of Chicagoland #1) by Chloe Neill
Genre: Adult Urban Fantasy
Rating: 4 stars
Quick Summary: (If you haven’t read the Chicagoland Vampires books and don’t want spoilers…. go ahead and skip this review cause… ALL THE SPOILERS. You’ve been warned.) Elisa returns to Chicago after her schooling in Paris with other vampire houses is complete only to have to deal with assassinated diplomats and the sexy but arrogant werewolf she grew up with.
This book was a delightful way to jump back into my old reading habits. It’s the spin-off of Chloe Neill’s Chicagoland Vampires series (which I’m obsessed with) and follows the daughter of Merti and Ethan.
Technically it is a spin off so you don’t need to read the first series. However, I think it is highly beneficial that you do. 1) You’ll already understand the whole world and how it’s built. 2) Some of the background and set-up for this book would be lost. I’m sure you’d be able to follow the story fine, but without the background info to me it wouldn’t make as much sense. 3) You’ll get to see how Elisa is the perfect blend of Ethan and Merit. 4) ETHAN AND MERIT
It was really fun. Some of the plot itself I wasn’t super excited about, but I loved the characters, seeing a slightly “future” version of Chicago, and some of the twists of what/who Elise is. I’m excited to see where she goes with it next.
You'll Like This Book If You Also Enjoy: The Chicagoland Vampires series, urban fantasy, family, childhood rivals to lovers, witches, werewolves, vampires, paranormal, action packed
Content Warnings: It can get pretty violent at times and there’s some references to addiction from the previous series, but beyond that I don’t think there’s a whole lot of content to be concerned about.
A Duke by Default* (Reluctant Royals #2) by Alyssa Cole
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Format: Library Mass Market Paperback
Rating: 4 stars
Quick Summary: Portia goes to Scotland for a sword-making apprenticeship and starts falling for her boss - a silver fox who also happens to be a duke.
I’ve jumped on the Alyssa Cole bandwagon and grabbing each of her books as they release! I read the first book of Reluctant Royals back in March and it was super cute! Dare I say that I liked this one even more? I wasn’t sure about Portia as our heroine at first. I wasn’t a huge fan of hers in the first book. But oh goodness I fell in love with her. Then our hero? Silver fox who makes swords and has a Scottish accent?
However, I learned that there are a lot of mishaps when it came to the representation of royalty and living in the UK. (Also, if you’re writing about British dukes… maybe pick one that isn’t super famous or make one up. Or SOMETHING.) Beyond that, it was great. I mean, you had all of the perks of historical romance (castles, swords, knights) along with the perks of a contemporary romance. Can’t wait for book three!
You'll Like This Book If You Also Enjoy: Romances featuring royalty, romances with a significant age difference, finding yourself, swords, ADHD representation
Content Warnings: spiked drinks, alcohol abuse, sex addiction, bad parenting, racism
Crazy Rich Asians* (Crazy Rich Asians #1) by Kevin Kwan
Genre: Adult Contemporary
Format: Library Paperback
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Quick Summary: Rachel goes on vacation with her boyfriend in Singapore to attend his best friends wedding to find out that he’s a member of one of Asia’s most wealthy families.
Okay, since the movie was coming out I knew I had to read this book. It just wasn’t my favorite.
I love the concept, I love the overall plot, I love that we get to have Asian rep in a fun contemporary romance, and as I read I could totally see all of this as a movie and it made me SUPER EXCITED to see the movie.
I cannot stand his writing style. He’s always hopping heads. One second you’re reading from one character’s POV and then literally in the same or next paragraph we’re reading from another character’s POV. This is such a HUGE NOPE when it comes to writing. I just… I can’t. You can switch POVs. That’s fine. BUT NOT IN THE SAME PARAGRAPH.
I also felt like I didn’t really get to know the characters. Especially Rachel and Nick. (I loved Astrid.) They were cute and I was never not rooting for them. But I also wish I could have seen more reasons as to why I should root for them.
All in all though, I’m really glad this book exists and so many people like it because representation matters. There were a lot of things that I probably didn’t really fully understand or appreciate - but I was 100000% okay with that because I wasn’t supposed to have gotten it. I’m not the intended audience, and I’m glad for that. Because us white people have far too many books that are intended for us.
I also plan on seeing the movie because I can almost see it translating to screen better than to a book. I might read the other books in the trilogy, but we’ll see.
You'll Like This Book If You Also Enjoy: rom coms, big families, soap-opera type plots, outrageously rich people, Asia (specifically Singapore)
Content Warnings: Racial slurs, graphic dog fight, father threatening violence against child, cheating, classism, prejudice
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before* (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #1) by Jenny Han
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Format: Library Hard Cover
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Quick Summary: When Laura Jean’s secret letters to all of her past crushes are mysteriously mailed, chaos, romance, and shenanigans ensue.
I am SO LATE to the party for this book series. Everyone on Booktube has been talking about it for years but I never read them. Then, the Netflix movie was released and I was like “fine, I’ll read the book.”
It was cute. Laura Jean is refreshingly naive which I really appreciated because I was the same way in high school. (Heck, I still am, let’s be real.) Peter was also super adorable, and I loved the dynamics with Laura Jean and her sisters.
This was another one where I just wasn’t a huge fan of the writing style. It was very… simple. Which made sense and it’s a young adult contemporary romance. But, I was expecting just a bit more to the prose itself. Which, I’m usually not one to say that. I’m not a fan of big complicated flowery writing. That being said, if even I’m saying the writing could have a bit more to it, I feel like that’s saying something.
But, I did watch the movie almost immediately after and it was super adorable. I also think I really would have loved these books in high school - which is a good thing since that’s the audience it’s intended for. I kind of wish they existed back then because I probably would have loved them that much.
You'll Like This Book If You Also Enjoy: teen romance, fake relationship turned real relationship trope, sisters
Content Warnings: loss of a parent, divorce, fear of driving, there’s a theme of how rumors spread and how girls’ reputations can be easily damaged, slut shamming
The Fated Sky* (Lady Astronaut #2) by Mary Robinette Kowal
Genre: Adult Historical Science Fiction
Format: Library Paperback
Rating: 4.5 stars
Quick Summary: Several years after The Calculating Stars, the USA is now planning their first trip to Mars and Elma plans to be on that rocket!
It’s the sequel to The Calculating Stars! I was SO EXCITED for this book. It’s really rare when an author released the first and second books of a series within months of each other.
I love these books SO SO MUCH and I haven’t been able to shut up about them. Whenever people have asked for book recs (or even when they’ haven’t…) I’ve been telling them to read these books!
I didn’t love it quite as much as I did the first one. (Probably because she wasn’t with Nathaniel as much as she was in the first one - ha!) But, it’s still amazing.
You'll Like This Book If You Also Enjoy: SPACE! MARS! HAPPY HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS! Historical fiction, Hidden Figures vibes, feminism, women in STEM roles
Content Warnings: anxiety, death by violent accident, death by disease, anger, racism, bullying, violent attacks, hostage, loss, sorrow
The Lady Astronaut of Mars* (Lady Astronaut #4.5) by Mary Robinette Kowal
Genre: Adult Sci-Fi Novelette
Rating: 4.5 stars
Quick Summary: We see a glimpse of life for Elma and Nathaniel on Mars.
Naturally, I had to read the novelette which inspired it all. Yes, this one was written before either The Calculating Stars or The Fated Sky. Kowal wrote this story, then decided to go backwards in time and write the other books.
Well… this story completely destroyed me. I can barely even write this review because I just want to sit in a corner and cry.
It’s so beautifully written though and the fact that it destroyed me so much is just a sign of how attached I am to the characters and the story.
You'll Like This Book If You Also Enjoy: space, Mars, women in STEM, established relationships
Content Warnings: loss of a loved one, diminishing health
Empire of Storms* (Throne of Glass #5) by Sarah J Maas
Genre: New Adult Fantasy
Rating: 4 stars
Quick Summary: Our heroine and her friends all journey on their separate paths to reclaim Tessaran.
Personal note: technically this book is considered YA but considering none of the main characters are teens and how graphic the violent and sex scenes are I label this as “new adult.” Not that teens cannot read this book - they totally can! Just be prepared for more adult content.
Onward with the Throne of Glass re-read! Reading Empire of Storms for the first time since it was first released was an interesting experience.
I don’t think it’s my favorite of the series. I love Elide and Lorcan the best in this book, and I’m still obsessed with Mannon, Dorian, and my girl Aelin.
Just… I don’t know. Something about this book just misses the mark for me. The second half I prefer to the first. There are some things I think which could have either been cut or shortened. Then the end is completely heartbreaking and will destroy you. Just… structurally some things could be improved.
But you know me and my undying love for ToG. Even with my critiques, I still love this book more than a lot of others so… there we go. Can you believe the final one releases THIS MONTH? I’m gonna die. I’m not ready.
You'll Like This Book If You Also Enjoy: epic fantasy, romance, sexy times (but it’s only 2 scenes. They’re pretty graphic, but it’s not like it’s an “erotic” novel), epic battles, young queens rising into power, feminism,
Content Warnings: LOTS of violence, torture, references to sexual and physical abuse
Girl, Wash Your Face* by Rachel Hollis
Genre: Adult Non-Fiction/Motivational
Format: Library Hardcover
Rating: 4 stars
Quick Summary: Social Media star and former party-planner shares how to “Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant To Be.”
I’d heard people talking about this book and I haven’t read a non-fiction book in awhile so I thought I’d give it a shot.
I was pleasantly surprised! It wasn’t that I thought I wouldn’t like it, but I didn’t think it’d like it as much as I did. A lot of what Hollis discusses isn’t all that new about going after what you want, how we shouldn’t compare ourselves to other people, etc. However, I haven’t heard a lot of these topics discussed by an openly Christian writer.
For those who don’t read Christian books and such, what she has to say may or may not be super ground breaking for you. But those of you who do, this is pretty big. Focusing on empowering yourself, making your own choices, realizing that you are enough, and heck- even going deep into talking about sex outside of “wait for marriage and then once you have a ring on your finer your sex life will be amazing!”, is really unheard of for most Christian writing.
A lot of people claim that she doesn’t talk about “God’s plan for your life” and how “God is in control” enough - but I found it refreshing. (Sorry, sometimes “if you pray and have faith God will rain blessings upon your head” isn’t the answer.)
Granted, Hollis is more privileged than she realizes. That’s not to say that she hasn’t worked her ass off or that she doesn’t deserve what she has or hasn’t faced a lot of trials and challenges in her life or anything like that. But… it is also very easy for an upper middle class (even if she didn’t start that way), straight, able-bodied, white girl who graduated high school a year early, moved to LA at 17, and was able to quit college because she had a full time job opportunity, then met her future husband that same year to say “don’t feel like if you haven’t accomplished certain things by a certain age that you’re behind.” Not that this isn’t true, but I also think she’s a bit out of touch of other people’s realities.
Overall though, this was good. Not for everyone, but I can think of some friends who would enjoy it.
You'll Like This Book If You Also Enjoy: Rachel Hollis’ blog https://thechicsite.com/, motivational books, feminist books, Christian books
Content Warnings: references to depression and suicide, unhealthy relationships, unhealthy weight loss, divorce, bad parenting
P.S. I Still Love You* (Laura Jean #2) by Jenny Han
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Format: Library Hardcover
Rating: 3 Stars
Quick Summary: When the recipient of one of her love letters emerges, Laura Jean wonders if she could be in love with two boys at the same time.
I didn’t think I was going to read the second book for Lara Jean- but the first one ended on a bit of cliff-hanger and I was like “now I HAVE to read it!”
Not as good as the first, there were definitely times I was like “ugh… how much more do I have to read?” But, it was still really cute. I like Laura Jean and her family, Peter is still great, and it was classic high school drama. Again, I really think high school me would have LOVED these books.
I’ll probably read the last one just because I’ve gotten this far so, why not?
You'll Like This Book If You Also Enjoy: love triangles, teen contemporary romance, close families
Content Warnings: loss of a parent, some references to racism and prejudice (and general ignorance) to Japanese, ongoing theme of how a girl’s reputation can be tarnished quickly thanks to social media, cyber bullying, slut shamming
Vengeful* (Villains #2) by VE Schwab
Genre: Adult Sci-Fi/Fantasy
I can’t really give a good summary since I just started the book and there’s several character POVs so far. Once I finish it and I include a summary in my October round up.
So far, it’s wonderful! It starts out with a super intense scene and grabs you right away. I still love these characters as much as I did in the first book, and I’m super excited to see where this sequel takes me!
As for content warnings, so far it’s VERY violent and ruthless.
That’s what I read in September! What good books have you read recently?
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