Thursday, 11 October 2018

September Wrap Up

Hello and happy October! Now that September is over I really feel as though autumn has well and truly arrived: the leaves are turning, the nights are drawing in, and yesterday I wore my big winter coat for the first time. I love autumn although I think my body is suffering from a bout of post-summer blues as I’ve been fighting a chest infection for the better part of two weeks. This has put me a week behind my blogging schedule, but hey, sometimes we humans don’t feel 100% and that’s okay.

With that, I thought for this week’s post I would talk about the books I read throughout September. I had a pretty good reading month and managed four books in total (one of them I’ve had on hold for nearly a year!). Anyway, here we go.

First up:

2014  355 pages   Picador

I found this little gem in a charity shop a few weeks ago and just had to pick it up. I first heard about Hannah Kent on Booktube and her debut sounded like an interesting, if somewhat sad, story about the real-life events of a woman called Agnes Magnúsdóttir. Set in early nineteenth century Iceland, Burial Rites follows Agnes after she has been tried and sentenced to death for murdering her lover and her relationship with the family she has been sent to live with while she awaits her execution. From the offset I knew this was going to be a sad tale, but the tragic nature of the story and Kent’s beautiful prose had me hooked. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever read. It’s a literary mystery thriller with elements of gothic woven in against a vivid Icelandic backdrop. A slow read but it still encapsulated everything I love about historical fiction.

Overall rating: 4 stars

2015  580 pages   Sphere

With the latest instalment of the series having just been released, my interest to continue with the Strike books sparked after not being invested in the story for nearly a year. I read The Cuckoo’s Calling and loved it and quickly watched the BBC adaption afterwards. For The Silkworm however, I watched the show and then tried to read the book and couldn’t connect with it because I knew how the plot panned out. Nearly a year later, I decided to try again and I had much better luck.

I didn’t enjoy The Silkworm as much as its predecessor but it was still enjoyable. It tells the gruesome murder of a disgraced writer found killed in the same way as the protagonist of his final manuscript. I did get some of the characters a bit muddled and couldn’t engage with the mystery all that well, but I love Strike and Robin’s relationship and I'm eager to see how things move on for them in the next book. The two lead characters carry these books for me and I found I was reading the story more for them as opposed to the actual mystery.

Overall rating: 3 stars

2014  67 pages  Weidenfield and Nicholson

I’ve now read all of Gillian Flynn’s published work I think The Grown Up emulates Fylnn’s classic style: a flawed narrator, a psychological twist, and a peculiar family at the centre. For a short story I think it does a lot - it’s creepy and definitely thriller-eque and I love how Gillian Flynn’s writing manages to keep me on my toes. In the middle part of the story it seems like the plot is going to go down a paranormal route, which I was actually quite excited for, and then Flynn twists it to fit her more well-known psychological style. I felt the last third of the story was the weakest and I didn’t feel completely satisfied once I turned the final page. It was an enjoyable story but the ambiguous ending let it down for me.

Overall rating: 3 stars

2016  400 pages   Hodder and Stroughton

I love the Borgias. I find them so fascinating and they’ve certainly had their fair share of attention in popular culture over the past 10 years thanks to two TV shows and countless books being written on them. The Serpent and the Pearl by Kate Quinn is what first piqued my interest in this notorious Renaissance family and so when I found a copy of The Vatican Princess for just £2, I had to pick it up. The story follows Lucrezia Borgia, daughter to Pope Alexander VI whom history has painted as an infamous femme fatale. Gortner however shine a new and more plausible light on Lucrezia and we follow her from the tender age of 12 to 19 when her family was at the height of their power and Lucrezia was a pawn in their game. 

It’s fast paced. The book isn’t quite 400 pages and we cover seven years full of intrigue and drama. At times it felt as thought things were moving a bit too quickly – you could jump half a year in just a couple of pages but I liked Gortner’s portrayal of Lucrezia and how she grew throughout the story. She felt realistic and I loved her character development, as well as the development of the other central characters. It was a fresh insight in to a woman history has branded as notorious.

Overall rating: 3.5 stars

There we are! My September wrap-up. Which books did you read in September? Any new favourites?

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