You know those months where it feels like you haven’t read many books, but then you look back and you’ve read at least 10? Yeah, that was this month for me, with a total of 11 books. Normally, I’d think that says something about the quality if the books I finished. But overall, I did have a pretty good reading month!
I started this month with volume 2 of Heartstopper by Alice Oseman. To be honest, I should start every month with a read of one of these books. This was a little buddy read with my boyfriend (it’s becoming like tradition now to read these books when we’re together!) and just like the first book, it left us smiling super hard! This is a continuation of Nick and Charlie’s story. We get to see their relationship grow in this volume, as well as explore what they want from each other and themselves. I particularly liked the parts with Nick understanding his bisexuality and what that means for him. Nick Nelson, why do you always make me cry?? This was definitely my favorite book of the month! 🌈✨
I continued my binge of Riley Sager’s books with The Last Time I Lied next on my reading list. My library had the audiobook readily available, so I listened to it on my commute home one night and finished it sometime the next day. What a fast-paced book! It follows a woman who is invited back to the camp where her cabinmates went missing 15 years prior, an event that has haunted her since and resurfaces in her paintings of the girls.
This was much more fun than Final Girls was to me. There were more characters to analyze and the setting allowed for more scares than the previous one did. Unfortunately, this did eventually lead to me feeling a but overwhelmed with the sheer amount of “twists” that came by way of accusations. Some leads were focused on for what I felt was too long, and I found myself feeling a little bit like I was being dragged along. One part of the ending felt like too much of an easy answer, but the very ending? I can’t say I expected that! The Last Time I Lied was fun step up from Final Girls, but not my favorite book of Riley Sager’s. Not like…
Lock Every Door by Riley Sager! There’s something addicting about his books. I picked up his latest novel almost immediately via audiobook. Jules, our main character, has lost her job, boyfriend, and home within the last two weeks. With no family to turn to, she’s staying with her best friend when she sees the ad for a job apartment sitting in Manhattan’s most infamous building, The Bartholomew. There are certain strange conditions to living there, though, and with the building’s dark history, Jules may be in for more than she’s bargained for…
This book felt so different from the previous two! The chills felt more prominent and real. I was hitting pause on my audiobook every what felt like two minutes, trying to decide if I’d heard someone else in the apartment with me. I’d heard a few people say that this one felt more supernatural than the rest, and I completely agree! A good chunk of my reading experience was spent wondering “Is this… ghosts? This is the work of ghosts, isn’t it?”
The characters were all interesting, the plot kept me intrigued, and even though this was set mostly in one place just like Final Girls, it felt like more was happening than in the first book! Watching the mystery unravel was such a pleasant (and creepy!) experience and I recommend this book the most of all of Riley Sager’s work.
The Barnes & Noble YA Book Club pick for this month was I’m Not Dying With You Tonight by Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal. Since I was hosting the club at my branch, I read this book in a combo of audiobook and physically. Since the story is about two girls who don’t see eye-to-eye caught up in the aftermath of violence, I was expecting an intense ride that left me gasping for air in the best way possible.
Unfortunately, I didn’t like this book. While it was fast-paced, I always felt like I was stumbling behind and not given enough time to actually care about the characters and what happened to them. Conversations about things like racism were sort of rushed — which I can forgive, given the novel takes place over one night and there’s not a ton of room for talking — and we can only rely on the thoughts of the characters to lead our discussions. While this is fine, I would have loved to see the characters challenging each other more (don’t get me wrong, they did! But it still felt rushed and I think bigger & more nuanced issues need more page-time to really get a discussion going in the outside world). The book also ended so abruptly! I was turning the last page thinking “That’s it???”
The audiobook was the biggest reason this book didn’t work for me. The narrator for Lena was so over-the-top; it reminded me of a mom reading a picture book to a group of four-year-olds. While I’d definitely attend one of her storytimes, it doesn’t work for this book at all. The narrator for Campbell, in contrast, read with almost no emotion whatsoever. I might as well have been listening to a robot.
Overall, this book felt like the start of an important conversation that was rushed and got cut off. There was so much more to be explored, and it just missed the mark for me.
Thankfully, I was saved by The Babysitters Coven by Kate Williams next! I’ve already written a mini review for this book which you can read here, so we can move on to the next book~
Sometime during the month, Libby decided I was ready for pain. I had put some Taylor Jenkins Reid audiobooks on hold and forgotten about them, and they came in at the same time. I started with One True Loves, a book about a woman about to get married when she finds out that the fiancé she thought was dead after a helicopter crash is actually alive and coming back to her.
The first thing I noticed about this book is how straightforward and easy to read it was. It only took me a few minutes before I was completely wrapped up in the story and its characters. What I loved most about this book, though, was its exploration of true love and all of its forms. I could go on and on about how many types of love there are in this world plus their varying uses. It’s a conversation that a lot of people aren’t exactly ready for, or don’t see exactly eye-to-eye with me on because we’ve been so conditioned to believe that love is this one set thing. I’m glad TJR was able to explore this a bit in this novel! Also, I cried. But what else did we expect?
I started After I Do within minutes of finishing One True Loves. You know, the more I think about this book, the less I feel about it. It’s about a couple whose marriage has fallen apart, and they decide to take a year apart to figure out what their final decision will be.
If there’s one thing Taylor Jenkins Reid does flawlessly, it’s characters. I loved them all, even when I didn’t, and they all felt so human and real to me. I’ve heard a lot of people say they experienced this while reading The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (and I did too! 🙋🏽♀️) but I was happy to see that it extended to her characters who weren’t stars with explosive personalities. They made questionable choices (her main character in particular!) and mistakes, just like real people do. It was this humanity that made me cry during the end of this novel.
But as for the rest of it? Well. I sort of wished it would be over sooner. I was waiting for something to happen, but, it felt different. I usually love slow stories with characters as the main focus (my favorite author is Sarah Dessen, for goodness sake), but this was hinging on things that I felt could have been fixed so much more easily. Something just felt missing to me.
But…. I still cried, so…. 😅
Oh boy. This book. Somewhat on a whim, I picked up A Lesson in Thorns by Sierra Simone. I can’t recall now what made me want to start reading it right that second, but when do I not want to read about a bunch of bi people who want each other?
I’ve seen almost everybody rate this book highly. I’ve heard a lot about the sex scenes in it, about the variety in couples and amount of people participating in each one. Color me intrigued. I was expecting it to be quite sexy and explicit, but what I wasn’t expecting was for it to be written so beautifully. Am I the asshole here? It’s not that I expected it to be written poorly; I’m just used to smutty romances being more relaxed and more of an easy-reading experience. This book, though… it wrapped me in mystery and a sense of magic right from the start. I think that might have kept me intrigued more than the impending sex scenes!
(I said “might”. I know what I’m about).
Sometime after that, I got an urge to read a creepy story. A ghost story would be the best choice. I adore books about ghosts! Somehow they’re scarier to me than the idea of a serial killer. I decided to listen to Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake all in one afternoon while I did some clothes shopping.
I wish I could say more about this book, but it ended up being the kind of book you read once and enjoy but then eventually forget about. The narrator for the audiobook paused in the strangest places in the middle of sentences. Also, the voice for one of the characters made it so difficult to take the whole book seriously! Not that it was a super serious book, though: despite the premise of a ghost that mercilessly kills anyone that enters her home, the book is surprisingly light-hearted. I think we owe that to our protagonist, a boy who has a good sense of humor and hunts ghosts in his spare time. The dynamic of the friend group that comes together as the novel progresses was interesting and fun, and I felt my heart break the most for a certain character whose backstory we see, but it ultimately wasn’t enough to have me requesting the next book in the series.
The last two books I read were both thrillers, and I wrote reviews for each of them! You can read my post for The Liar’s Daughter here, and for I’ll Never Tell here; these were both very quick reads that I’d recommend for this time of year!
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That’s all for today! What books did you read in September? If you’ve read any of the books I’ve listed, let me know your thoughts!