Books of the month – autumn is for reading

With additional trips to the uni, my commute hours increased in September – which means my reading hours did, too. This month’s total was 7.5. which is outstanding in my world. 8/10: Updated with book summaries.

In my excitement of sharing these books I left out an important detail: what are they about? The one-sentence summaries are now added which will hopefully help you decide whether or not to invest your reading hours into these.

Books I loved

Heart of Mist (The Oremere Chronicles, #1) by Helen Scheuerer

“In a realm where toxic mist sweeps the lands and magic is forbidden, all Bleak wants is a cure for her power.”
Highly-highly recommended. Even if you’re not a friend of fantasy, even if you are, read this book. This debut novel from long time editor has everything for good entertainment. You will love and hate the characters, you will shout at them “Don’t be daft!”, you will be surprised, you will be upset, you will be thoroughly entertained. I gave it my very rare 5 stars. Read more why.

Highland Raven (The Celtic Blood Series, #1) by Melanie Karsak

“Destined to become Queen of Scotland. Bound by blood to the Celtic gods.”
There is something attractive and tragic about Scottish history and while this part of the story is about the relatively happy youth of the woman who will later become Lady Macbeth, the darkness is already tangible. It’s not a historical novel, mind you, but still gives a fairly good insight to the basics of society of the time. It was a pleasant surprise that pagan beliefs and rituals were also covered in the story – I’m quite taken with those.

Books I enjoyed

Afterlife by Marcus Sakey

Between life and death lies an epic war, a relentless manhunt through two worlds…and an unforgettable love story.”
Recommended when you’re ready to be surprised, to think about your beliefs of good and bad and of course about what happens in the afterlife. I would have loved it more with more complex characters but it was an interesting read.

Brilliance by Marcus Sakey

An adventure that’s at once breakneck thriller and shrewd social commentary; a gripping tale of a world fundamentally different and yet horrifyingly similar to our own, where being born gifted can be a terrible curse.”
It’s actually a coincidence that I read two books from this author this month, and it was a good surprise that it wasn’t boring with too many similarities. Brilliance raises excellent questions as well through a fast-paced story: What would happen if being born with a rare talent would make you automatically suspicious to the government? What would racism be like if those “on the other side” were infinitely smarter than the racists themselves? How far would people go to fight for their beliefs and for the right to fight for their beliefs?

These are the questions you can expect reading this book and with all its potholes and simplified characters, I do recommend reading. If for nothing else but try to draw comparisons to what we have today.

The odd one out

Andrew Mayne: The Naturalist

I am putting this book into its own category because it almost feels like 3 people wrote it with different levels of talent for writing.

Professor Theo Cray is trained to see patterns where others see chaos. So when mutilated bodies found deep in the Montana woods leave the cops searching blindly for clues, Theo sees something they missed. Something unnatural. Something only he can stop.”
This was an easy read. A page turner, especially in the beginning. 5+ stars to the first third, only 2 to the last though. Read more on what I thought of the book here.

Books I enjoyed less

Prescient aka Prophet of Doom: Delphi Chronicles Book One by Derek Murphy

“A genetic experiment. An apocalyptic vision. A race against time.”
Dystopia, time-travel, zombie-like creatures and teenagers. Hard to make a good soup with these ingredients no matter how unique the specifics are. And they are unique indeed but the final product is not as good as it could be.

Half-Blood Dragon (Dragon Born Trilogy #1) by K.N. Lee

“Pirates, dragons, mermaids. Embark on a coming of age journey that will leave you breathless.”
The first part of the series was thankfully short. The setup, humans and dragons and other fairy tale characters with a new spin is interesting enough. The delivery, the characters are not. It feels like a draft you write when you don’t know where to go with your story.

CDF – Could Not Finish

It’s rare for me not to finish a book I started but I made a decision to be more careful with my time. There are too many great books out there for me to waste it on ones that could not grab me. The new rule is to read until about 15-20% (depending on the size) and then make a decision whether to continue or not.

The first that didn’t pass through the sieve was Trickery (Curse of the Gods, #1) by Jaymin Eve.
“Willa Knight: Dweller. Slave. Non-magical being.”
The two main reasons I had to stop reading were the language and the character of the narrator-protagonist. The language is trying so hard to be cute that it ends up being simply stupid and the character is just annoying. You know how in some books your protagonist is too perfect, too beautiful, too talented? Well, this one is the complete opposite. We are supposed to believe that she falls all the time, drops things all the time and a disaster all the time.

Dear writers, none of the extremes work. Be more creative, thorough and create a character who is almost like us, even if their world isn’t.

Books in progress

Kalman Mikszath: The Town in Black

The Hungarian book is from the beginning of the last century. Witty with a pretty precise social take on the life in the countryside – it’s got a lot of good things going. I didn’t stop because I didn’t like it, I stopped because I don’t usually carry it with me and it ended up back on the bookshelf where it!s still waiting on me.

Target update

My updated goal is to read one book a week (other than my coursebooks, a total of 45 books (the target was set later in the year). The current read count is 34 so as GoodReads says, I’m on track. (Yay!)

Your books

What did you read in September that you’d like to recommend? Did you set a reading challenge for this year? If so, how are you doing?

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