Reading Wrap Up | September 2019 – 25 books!


Hi! My name’s Penny and as usual I’m here
to talk about some bookish things specifically today I wanted to wrap up
all the books that I’ve read in September which was actually 25 books so I’m
pretty pleased with myself although I still didn’t read all the books that I
was planning to read in September but life happens. I did also manage to read
9 books off my physical TBR shelves which means that that list is now down
to just 70 books. That’s still a lot and I’d like to get it down a lot more but
we’re making progress, which is good! Unfortunately, I did have quite a large
percentage of 2-star books this month and I don’t know whether that’s normal
because I just started collecting my stats a bit better this month but I hope
it’s not normal. I hope this isn’t what things are always like. I don’t think
so. I think just because I was tidying up my TBR list it means I read some books
that were always going to be a bit of a risk as to whether I’d like them or not
so that’s life. So since I got 25 books I better hurry up and just get
into telling you about them. As usual I’m gonna go from worst to best.
Unfortunately that means it will take a little while till I get to the good ones
so just skip to like halfway through the video if you don’t want to hear me
talk about the books that I didn’t enjoy. Okay so let’s start with the worst book
that I read in September and that is Sea Witch Rising by Sarah Henning. This is
the prequel to Sea Witch which was like an Ursula origin story and then Sea
Witch Rising is or at least I thought it was going to be the Little Mermaid story
told from the Sea Witch’s perspective and it kind of was but unfortunately a
lot of it was also told from the Little Mermaid’s
sister’s perspective which really wasn’t that interesting. And also the Sea Witch
part doesn’t make a lot of sense so unfortunately I only gave this two stars
just like the next eight books that I’m gonna talk about. Then I listened to the
audiobook of At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft. So this I listened to
for the Tome Infinity read-a-thon because I needed to read a book set in
Antartica. This is all about a scientific expedition to Antarctica
where they discover some monsters. Unfortunately I just couldn’t get on
board with the classic writing style and I felt like there
wasn’t enough to the story beyond just the discovery of these monsters. Then I
listened to the audiobook of Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful by Arwyn
Ellys Dayton. This is a science fiction short story anthology although all the
different short stories are kind of linked together as society gets more and
more messed up based on different political stances around genetic
modification. I think for me I was just hoping for something a little bit more
extreme in the science that it talked about and also a little bit darker. I do
think that the way it looked at the political ramifications of genetic
modification and people taking strong stances on genetic modification was
quite well done. I just didn’t think each story really stood up on its own and I
didn’t really care about the characters in the second half of the book. Then I
read the first book from the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series by Pip
Ballantine and Tee Morris, Phoenix Rising. This is a steampunk fantasy set around
the 1900s and we follow a couple of not very good agents who are part of the
Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences or who basically work for the government and go
and stop dark magic from causing trouble. I really wanted to love this because Pip
Ballantine is a New Zealand author although she lives in the states and I’ve
read some of her books before that I’ve really loved. Unfortunately I just found
this quite cheesy and just trying a little bit hard to be clever while not
actually having much substance to the plot and I think it was particularly
frustrating because I was trying to read the whole thing on the last day of the Tome
Infinity read-a-thon and when you’re trying to read a whole book in a single
day you really want to be enjoying it a lot more than I enjoyed this. Then I also
read Third Degree by Tania Roxbororgh. I picked this up in a book fair a couple
of months ago because Tania Roxborogh was my sixth form drama teacher and I
just wanted to see what kind of book my sixth form drama teacher would write. Turns
out she writes a book that seems very much like it was written by an English
teacher, which is not a surprise because she’s an English teacher. It turns out
that this is a very autobiographical story. It follows a girl who when she was
younger had an accident in the home, ended up getting third-degree burns on
a significant part of her body and spending a lot of time in a hospital
because of that and it also tells the story of when she’s older and she’s
having to deal with having the scars from those wounds as well as the
resulting difficulties in her relationship with her mother. In the end
I just didn’t think that the different plot lines fit together very well. There
was also a plot thread in there around the children having been given
medication in the hospital without their parents permission and that didn’t
really seem like it fit in with the story either, although from the author’s
note it seems to be what happened in reality which was interesting but it
wasn’t that interesting in the story. Then I also picked up Chinese Cinderella
by Adeline Yen Mah: the secret story of an unwanted daughter. This was okay. It is
written very simplistically but then it is a middle grade so that makes sense.
This was a reread for me and I found it interesting that on this particular
reread, I don’t know if it’s just because I’ve gotten older but I felt like a lot
of the things she was saying was so terrible in her childhood weren’t
actually that terrible. She definitely has some terrible things
that happened to her and her parents aren’t very caring,
especially her stepmother, but she made out like everything in her life was so
terrible and there were a lot of things that really just weren’t that terrible
especially in the context of what was happening in China at the time that this
is set. I do you think this has some interesting stuff in it about Chinese
culture but just overall I didn’t enjoy it as much as I was expecting to. Then I
actually read both the first and second volumes of this Avril Lavigne graphic
novel series Make Five Wishes and it’s only the second volume which is down
this far on the list in terms of rating. And the main reason for that is just
that ending was so 100% unsatisfying. I honestly thought there must be another
book and I went to try and look it up but no other book exists. It just ends
completely unfinished in my opinion. I’ll tell you more about it when I get to the
first one and I’m feeling more positive. Then I read Legion: the many lives of
Stephen Leeds by Brandon Sanderson. I have a lot of respect for Brandon
Sanderson so I was expecting a lot from this but unfortunately
I just couldn’t connect with the main character. In the story we have this main
guy called Steven Leeds and he has some kind of mental issue where he has lots
of different aspects of himself or different personalities and he can see
these different personalities and talk to them and for him it’s almost as if
they’re real. And to focus them he goes and solves different kinds of cases and
uses his different personalities’ skills in order to solve these cases.
Unfortunately while his different personalities were quite interesting
people, he himself was really boring and there was a subplot going on through all
the different novellas so this is three different stories wrapped into one and
there’s some kind of story going on about his ex-girlfriend Sandra hinted at
through the stories but when it finally came to fruition I was just really
disappointed that there wasn’t more to it. I also thought it just seemed very
convenient the way that he solved the cases he just happens to have this new
personality that’s able to figure out everything that he needs to know in
order to solve it. I don’t know. It was okay but I was just expecting something
much more amazing. Then we have Death Note 8. So I’ve been reading The Death
Note series for quite a while. This story follows a guy named Light Yagumi
who finds this Death Note which is the notebook that belongs to a death demon
when you write the name of someone in one of these notebooks that person dies
and you can also specify how they died and a lot more information. I do really
love this series but this particular volume went in a direction that I didn’t
enjoy as much. Now this has happened before in this series so I’m hoping that
it will get back on track. I only have another four volumes to read before I
finish this series. I’m hoping to read them in October. I really hope the series
redeems itself because if it keeps going like this I’m gonna be disappointed in
the end. Then I listened to Her Pretty Face by Robyn Harding. This is a domestic
thriller and I have come to realize that I don’t really like domestic thrillers. I
didn’t think this was a bad domestic thriller it’s just that I get quite
frustrated with how dysfunctional people in domestic thrillers
seem to be and it really makes me worry that this is what a lot of people
are living their lives like. Try to be less dysfunctional people! Especially
when it comes to relationships, I cannot believe that people don’t have better
relationships. Don’t stay in relationships if they’re like the
relationships in domestic thrillers! They’re not good relationships! So
basically what is the story even about? A woman struggles to make friends with the
other mothers in her son’s fancy school and a daughter runs around trying to get
into trouble. I don’t know, maybe I should look at the actual synopsis. Basically
not much really happens. There’s a lot of hints, there is a bit of a drama but in
the end not much really happens. People are just really dysfunctional. Then I
listened to the Queue by Basma Abdel Aziz. This is by an Egyptian woman and I read
it for Africa for the Tome Infinity read-a-thon. To be honest I read it at
three times speed which is not the best way to decide whether you like a book or
at least it’s a little bit fast for me. Like about twice as fast as I like to
listen to audiobooks. I thought it had some really intriguing ideas but I did
find there quite a few characters and I struggled to keep track of them but
again that might be because I listen to it at three times speed. The story is about
this gate that appears and takes over governance of the city and you have to
queue at the gate in order to get all sorts of things approved, including there
is one character trying to get surgery to remove a bullet and he can’t seem to
get that approved. Also at a certain point the gate closes, shuts down, and
people are still waiting in the queue trying to get their lives sorted out.
There’s a lot of misinformation going on, doctoring of the truth. It’s a really
interesting look at how quickly things could turn to shit. So in that regard it’s
quite disturbing but it’s also quite short and overall I didn’t connect that
much with the characters so I gave it three stars. Overall it was okay. If it’s a
topic that you think is interesting you’d probably want to give this a read.
Then I listened to the audiobook of Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson. This is a
murder mystery set in this school for gifted teenagers. fifty years ago there
was a murder at the school and we have this girl there learning to
be a detective who is interested in solving this crime and then more murders
start to happen. I felt like this book took quite a long time to get going
because there are a lot of characters that it’s trying to introduce and then
just as it started getting going it finished without really revealing
anything which drove me mad. I am definitely going to be continuing the
series because I want to know what happened but I was surprised that not
much happened in this first book of the series.
Then I read Rainbow Sprinkles, the first volume of the Ice Cream Man graphic
novel. I did quite like the art and I quite liked the stories. It’s a bunch of horror
short stories all with this ice cream man featured in each one. Each story I
actually quite enjoyed but overall I felt like I don’t understand what’s
happening with this ice cream man and it made me feel like I was missing
something. I’m not sure that I actually was but when I got to the end like I
enjoyed the reading experience but I got to the end and I thought, did I even
understand this? Then I read The Painted Man by Peter V Brett. This is the first
book in the Demon Cycle series and after reading this I am excited to continue
the series although I will say the pacing in this was quite strange. In the
beginning it went into a lot of detail about these young teenagers as they find
their place in this world where there are demons that come out at night and
the humans use these wards or these rune type symbols to build magical barriers
to protect themselves from the demons. But then once we got out of the part
where they were children things started rushing quite a lot and I felt like the
characters were no longer as well developed and I felt like the climax of
the story was a little bit disappointing. So I really loved the world. I do think
there’s a lot of potential in this series and I’m hoping that Peter V
Brett got better at execution as he goes through the series. I just think it had a
lot of cool ideas that it could have done better. Then we come to volume 1 of
this Avril Lavigne graphic novel series. So basically this is a story about this
young girl who struggles with her life. Her parents are always fighting, she doesn’t
have a lot of friends in school and so she imagines that she can talk to
Avril Lavigne in order to cope with her feelings. But then when she’s struggling
she sees this ad to buy a box that will give her five wishes. This weird little
demon turns up offering to give her five wishes – he’s a jerk – and then it just
follows along with how her wishes go wrong because of course wishes always
go wrong, don’t they? I did quite like the art style. I think this guy was really
cute. I think investigated some really important themes but I don’t know that
Avril Lavigne was really important for the story other than marketing. And as I said
volume 2 didn’t have a decent ending at all and that was very disappointing. Then
I relistened to the audiobook of Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire. This is the
first book in the Wayward Children series which is a series about children
who find these doors into other worlds and then for whatever reason end up back
in our boring normal world and have to learn how to deal with reality again. So
the home for wayward children is basically this boarding school where
they can all live together and support each other. Unfortunately in this first
book there’s a murder mystery that is also going on. I do really like this
series although the second and fourth books in the series were my favorite
because those are ones where we actually follow the story of someone finding
their door and going into their magical worlds. The bits in the school I don’t
seem to enjoy as much, but I do think the concept is really cool and I’m looking
forward to listening to the audio books for the rest of the series. Then I listened
to the audiobook of Sadie by Courtney Summers. This is the story of a young
girl whose sister dies and then she goes off to try and get revenge on the person
that she thinks killed her sister. The story is also told through podcasts as
this guy who runs this podcast tries to find out what’s happened to this missing
girl. Personally I didn’t think the podcast added a lot to the story. I did
quite enjoy reading this although I didn’t think the podcast aspect actually
added that much to the story and then the ending was just so unsatisfactory
and I actually had to go back because I thought I’d missed something. I went back
in the audiobook and relistened to the last two chapters thinking there must be
a real ending in here somewhere but there was not. Okay so we’re finally
up to the 4-star books which is the best section. I listened to the audiobook of All
Rights Reserved by Gregory Scott Katsoulis. This is a story set in this
dystopia where when you turn 15 you get this cuff attached to your wrist that
tracks everything you say and any gestures you make and then charges you
for that communication. And the money goes to the rights holders. So there’s a
lot of inequality. The rights holders are really rich, everybody else’s living in
poverty. Also most information is restricted in the same way so people
don’t have a lot of information about what’s going on. I thought it was a
really interesting world that’s been created and a really interesting look at
copyright and inequality. I will say the ending let the story down a little bit
but I am excited to read the second book in the series and I hope that that will
wrap things up a little bit better. Then I also listened to the audiobook of
Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. This is a doctor’s story of his experience with
people that are in the part of their life when they’re essentially preparing
to die and having to deal with a lot of health issues and a health industry
that’s just focusing on keeping them alive without necessarily focusing on
the quality of life. So I think this is a really important book for people to read.
That’s what I was told and I think it’s right probably as you, yourself are
getting older or if anyone you love is getting older just to think about what’s
more important: quantity or quality. It’s definitely a part of life where
sometimes you might just want to focus on quality, rather than extending some
kind of horrible experience. It’s not necessarily a nice thing to think about
but it’s a reality we’re probably all gonna face at some point. I mean I like
to believe that the scientists are going to sort this shit out and make it so we
can live forever but sometimes scientists let us down. Then I read the
Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin. This was group book for the Tome Infinity
read-a-thon and I have to say I found this really slow going but in the end
the way that it all came together for me totally redeemed this book and I’m
really excited to continue the series. This is a dystopian future we
people have developed this extra sense where they can sense the world around
them and some people are able to use the Earth’s power to like create earthquakes
and volcanoes and do all sorts of other cool magical stuff but these people who
can do this are also very feared and they get a lot of blame for the horrible
things that are going on in the world and so most of them are enslaved or
exiled. One of the perspectives in this book is told from the second person so
it’s always referring to you do this, you do that. In it’s defense, in the end
there is a reason for that and so I think it was justified but it can be a
bit weird to read. This was a bit of a struggle but I totally think it was
worth it. Then I also read Bird Box by Josh Malerman. I’ve already returned this
to the library and before I read this I had watched the Netflix series
previously. This is a creepy story where people start seeing something and they
will suddenly get very violent and kill themselves in a violent way and hurt
anybody else around them. So people have started locking themselves up in their
houses and covering their eyes up when they go out and we’re following this
main woman named Mallorie, both as this situation initially starts and also in the
future which is trying to get these two children with her to safety. I do think
that the Netflix series and the book are not exactly the same but they do capture
the same feeling. It was very creepy. I read it at night when I felt like I was
trapped in the house and there was something outside, which is definitely
the kind of creepy atmosphere you want to read this book in, but it’s not so
good if you live alone and you then have to try and go to sleep, so keep that
in mind. Then I listened to the audiobook of Only Human which was a third book in
the Themis Files and I thought it was a really wonderful conclusion. Each book in
the series goes in a direction that you didn’t expect, which I guess for some
people might be a disappointment but I found it really interesting. I loved the
themes that the story explores about what humanity really is. And of course
what really made this series amazing is the audiobooks. This is a full cast audio
book narration and the acting is amazing. I can’t even imagine what the experience
of reading this book physically would be like because the audio book became such
an integral part of the story to me. Because the story is also told through
video transcripts and interview transcripts so in the audio book it’s
like you’re listening to things as they actually happen or like you’re hearing
from the characters exactly what they think happened. I guess I should tell you
what the story is about. In the first book this young girl falls into a hole
and finds herself on this giant hand and then they realize that this hand could not
possibly have been made on earth and then they start finding the rest of
the robot parts. But by the last book a lot has happened and the whole scope of
the story has changed but at the same time a story is still very focused on
the personal experiences of the different people involved. Then I read
this children’s book, Maui and other Maori Legends. So this is a book that
just means a lot to me from my childhood. It’s basically a bind up of all these
different stories of Maui, all these different legends, and I really love that.
Here’s Maui catching the Sun. I just think I mean how can you really rate
Maori legends? I I just love the art. I think that it does a really good job of
telling these different stories and I really enjoyed my experience of reading
it so in the end I had to give it five stars. Then we have two more five stars
and that is Descender 4 and Descender 5. So this one’s called Orbital
Mechanics and this one was called Rise of the Robots. There is one more volume
of this Descender graphic novel series for me to read and I’m really excited to finish
things off. This is a story about a world where humans are all out across the
universe and then these big robots come and just destroy a bunch of human cities,
kill off a bunch of humans, and then in retaliation the humans start just
killing all the robots and so we’ve got the robots versus humans war.
Amongst all of this we’ve got this companion robot called Tim who has been
the companion to this young boy on this moon. Then he wakes up, everybody on the
planet is gone or dead. He doesn’t know what’s happened and he is working with a
bunch of different characters trying to work out what caused this initial robot
attack and find a resolution. I just think it does such a good job of making
you feel empathy for both the humans and the robots.
I love, the robots just they touch my heart.
I just love some of them so much. And the humans are okay too. I think this is one
of my favorite graphic novel series so if you’re struggling to find good
graphic novel series and you like science fiction then this is a series I
would definitely recommend. So that was all the books that I read in September.
Overall I was pretty happy with my reading month even though I’ve read a
large number of 2 stars, I did manage to tick off a lot of books that I’ve
been wanting to read for a while and I also did read some books that I really
loved so it balances out. I did feel like this was a bit of a stressful reading
month because some of the books took me a lot longer to read than I was
hoping and I’m a bit sad that I didn’t get to
all the books on my September TBR but again, life happens. If you have read any
of the books that I talked about today I would love to talk with you about them
down in the comments or let me know if you’re planning to read any of them soon.
Otherwise thank you so much for watching! I hope that you’re having a wonderful
day and I will see you next time 🙂

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9 thoughts on “Reading Wrap Up | September 2019 – 25 books!”

  1. Catsandcamera says:

    Wow, you had a super productive reading month! It's unfortunate that quite a few of them seemed sort of ok rather than great, but I'm glad you got some off your list!
    It's so weird how an Avril Lavigne manga is a thing :s

  2. I_ReadPastMyBedtime says:

    25 Books! Holy cow! Girl you always blow me off my computer chair
    Your lipstick looks so good with your hair! and your hair is fading so neat!
    So many awesome books in this wrap up.
    Sorry still trying to pick my jaw up off the ground!

  3. The Paper Traveler says:

    Wow! Amazing reading month for you. All Rights Reserved sounds very interesting and one I haven’t heard of before.

  4. astoryandasong says:

    Great reading month:) well done for time infinity as well!

  5. BrewsandReviews says:

    Sad that Sea Witch Rising wasn't great. :/ Being Mortal sounds really interesting – I'm very pro quality of life so I think that would be fascinating.

  6. Linda's World of Books says:

    You had another great month. I don't think I would ever be able to read that many books in a month. The Themis Files were incredible audiobooks.

  7. tia and all the books says:

    25 books! Whoa! And great job working on your physical tbr!
    I think Ice Cream Man is one of those series that you have to read the whole series to fully get it. I’ve read the first 3 volumes and am still a bit confused about it. Lol.

  8. Gaia Athena says:

    Wow, I'm so sorry you read quite a few 2- and 3-star reads! Ugh so sorry about the ending of the second Avril Lavigne book. I love Brandon Sanderson's novels way more than his shorter works (short stories & novellas) to be honest. Shame about Volume 8 of DeathNote! I hope the last 4 volumes will be better. 3x speed! I could never do that, amazing your brain can keep up with that. What's the maximum x speed you can set your audiobooks as? I'm so sorry The Painted Man wasn't as good as you'd hoped. I read most of the volumes in the series years ago, when I was a different reader (a less critical reader, for one). I loved Down Among the Sticks and Bones (the 2nd book in the Wayward Children series). I can imagine the murder mystery in the first book isn't that good upon re-reading the book. I've only read the book once. Shame about the ending of All Rights Reserved, I'm glad the book was mostly good though. It sounds like an interesting premise. I'll be interested to know how you like the second book (as I'm not keen on starting series when it is not finished yet). I'm glad you enjoyed The Fifth Season in the end. It's good to know it's slow-going for a while, I'll have to keep that in mind when I get around to reading it. I'm so glad you enjoyed Only Human, I have the series on my TBR (physically, as I can't do audiobooks). The Maori book has such a nice art-style (I said it in the vlog you read it in, too, I think). I'm glad you read some great books too, and that you ticked some books off your TBR. I hope you'll have more 4- and 5-star reads in October!

  9. Alyssa’s Shelves says:

    Wow you read so many low rated books! I’m interested to see why the second person view is in the fifth season, hoping I can finish it this week.

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