September Wrap-Up (2014)

September was a good reading month with a lot of 4 star reads. I read 5 books, 2 graphic novels, and 1 short story.

Rating system
1 out of 5 – I didn’t like it: badly written or just got on my nerves
2 out of 5 – It was okay: other people might enjoy it more
3 out of 5 – I liked it: a fun/enjoyable read
4 out of 5 – I really liked it: good characters & plot, maybe some theme that spoke to me
5 out of 5 – It was amazing: I consider it a favorite and will probably re-read at some point

My favorite post of the month

Review: Rebecca

This post is linked at “Best of the Bunch”, a monthly recap meme hosted by Always Lost in Stories.

Classic of the Month


By: Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
First published in 1871

Laura, a young girl living in a castle with her father somewhere in Eastern Europe, gains a companion from a beautiful girl called Carmilla, who, seemingly by chance, stays to live with them for a while.

Carmilla predates Bram Stoker’s Dracula, but even being so old, the book is a quick & easy read. For a modern reader, there is no actual mystery as to what Carmilla is: this beautiful visitor suffers from a mysterious illness that causes her to move languidly and only rise from her bed late in the afternoon. I really loved reading the nightly vampiric visitations that our protagonist, Laura, is plagued with; they were sufficiently creepy.

The presence of lesbian subtext was also very interesting to find in such an old book. Carmilla feeds primarily on young, pretty women, and she seems to want them to love and adore her. It gives the character a sense of loneliness, this want to have someone care for her in the isolation of her immortality, even though she does plan to eventually kill her companions.

I very much recommend this book to fans of vampire literature and Victorian horror.
4 out of 5 stars


Broken Homes
Broken Homes

(Peter Grant #4)
By: Ben Aaronovitch
First published in 2013
Genre: Urban fantasy police procedural

Police constable and apprentice wizard Peter Grant has to solve a murder case while continuing to navigate the magical politics of the gods and goddesses of the rivers of London.

The series continues on with great characters, a narrative voice filled with wry humor, and a great mix of wizards & police procedural. My current favorite urban fantasy series. Check out my video review here.
4 out of 5 stars

Keeping It Real
Keeping It Real

(Quantum Gravity #1)
By: Justina Robson
First published in 2006
Genre: Sci-fi/fantasy mix

Cyborg agent Lila Black is assigned to protect Zal, an elven rock star, after he receives some threatening letters.

This was a real-life book club pick for September, and I have to say I wasn’t impressed. What with the cyborgs mixed with elves, I was expecting fast-paced action and a fun, easy read. Even though the book tried to deliver just that, it never quite managed to grab me. The writing felt clunky at times, and the relationship between Lila and Zal felt pretty forced. Honestly, I thought Lila had better chemistry with every single other character in the book than Zal.

So this one didn’t pull me in, and I probably wouldn’t have finished it if it hadn’t been for the book club. I won’t be continuing on with the series.
2 out of 5 stars

The Princess Bride
The Princess Bride

By: William Goldman
First published in 2008
Genre: Comic fantasy

Buttercup and Westley are in love, but when Westley is pronounced dead in the hands of a pirate, the grieving Buttercup agrees to marry Prince Humperdinck, whom she doesn’t love.

First I have to say that I love the movie, and can’t really separate it from the reading experience. These are pretty much the same story with some slight changes, and the movie version misses only one or two scenes from the book. So my opinions are definitely influenced by the movie.

The Princess Bride has great characters. Inigo Montoya is awesome both in book and movie form, and is perhaps my favourite character to follow. To be quite honest, I’m not sure I would have liked Westley that much if I hadn’t seen the brilliant portrayal by Cary Elwes so many times before.

There was one significant minus to the book when compared to the movie: the frame narrative. In the book, the author William Goldman tells of a fictitious William Goldman, who had this story read to him as a kid and now wants to give the book to his son as a birthday present. The problem is, William Goldman in the book is a total a-hole. The parts about his life were so bitter and annoying, with him going on about how he almost cheated on his wife with a hot actress, how his wife is a cold fish, how their son is fat, and so on, and so on… It just kept going.

Because of the bitter taste this left in my mouth after finishing the book, I will take out half a star. If you ignore that main narrative, the rest of the book is a fun, swashbuckling adventure.
4.5 out of 5 stars

Without A Summer
Without A Summer

(Glamourist Histories #3)
By: Mary Robinette Kowal
First published in 2013
Genre: Regency fantasy / Fantasy of manners

Jane and Vincent receive a commission from a prominent family in London, and take Jane’s sister Melody to town with them. Once there, talk is of nothing but the crop failures caused by the cold and increased unemployment of the coldmongers, which have provoked riots in several cities to the north.

This is the third book in a series, so I won’t go into much detail. Plot-wise, I thought the book was the strongest one so far. The plot twists weren’t that hard to guess, but it didn’t bother me. The characters were their regular selves, with an added layer of a hint of Austen’s Emma in Jane’s character development. The main antagonist in this book is so off-putting that I sometimes found it hard to keep reading. I had to put the book down and breathe for a while.

The series has a nice, light-hearted tone, even though at times there can be quite serious things happening. While the first book had a charm of its own, the second one fell a bit flat for me, but the third one is back on track, and is the best installment in the series so far.
4 out of 5 stars

The Curious Case
The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn’t, the Mummy That Was, and the Cat in the Jar

(Parasol Protectorate 0.5)
By: Gail Carriger
First published in 2014
Genre: Steampunk/Alternate history

A short story taking place in Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate universe.

This very quick adventure takes place in Egypt, and features the father of the main character of the Parasol Protectorate books, when he was a young man. It paints Alessandro Tarabotti as exactly the sort of scoundrel I expected him to be. I would have gladly read a longer story.
3 out of 5 stars

Graphic novels

Chroniques De Jerusalem
Chroniques de Jérusalem

By: Guy Delisle
First published in 2008
Genre: Autobiography/Travel journal

Comic artist Delisle spends a year living in Jerusalem taking care of the kids while his wife works in Gaza for the Doctors Without Borders organization.

Note: I read the Finnish translation, not the English. The original is in French.

Delisle’s autobiography combines his everyday routines with revelations of some horrible things going on in other people’s lives. The book doesn’t dwell on these injustices, instead it just mentions them and moves on, leaving the reader thinking about these things for themselves.

I’ve read all of Delisle’s travelogues so far. If you are interested in them, I recommend my favourite, Pyongyang, for starters. In that one Delisle lives in North Korea for two months, while working at a local animation studio. Jerusalem didn’t quite reach the level of some of those earlier graphic novels. Watching him take the kids to school and wander aimlessly around town isn’t as interesting as him working in an animation studio and interacting with his colleagues. This book could have used a bit more of that human interaction.
3 out of 5 stars

Through The Woods Best of the Month sticker
Through the Woods
By: Emily Carroll
First published in 2014
Genre: Horror

Five short horror stories.

The five stories in this beautiful graphic novel manage to be both gorgeously illustrated and very unsettling. The creepy atmosphere is accomplished through a great use of colour as well as some sudden, disturbing visuals. The atmosphere of the book can only be described as a fairytale-like mix of charm and dread.

My favourite stories were His Face All Red, which managed to actually send shivers down my spine when I read it late at night, and A Lady’s Hands Are Cold, which was the most gorgeously coloured story in the whole book.

You should really read this book this Halloween. Don’t go in expecting super scary horror stories; the atmosphere is more spooky than scary, but with some great shivers.
5 out of 5 stars


2 thoughts on “September Wrap-Up (2014)

  1. What a great list. I’m now reminded yet again how very far behind I am with Aaronovitch (goes to the back of the class!)
    So happy that you loved Princess Bride – I danced a little jig – not like I wrote it or anything!!! But, you know.
    I want to read the Glamourist Histories – I’ve had them on my mind for a while and you’re up to No.3!!! (goes to see Headteacher!)
    And, finally, I love the cover from Through the Woods.
    Lynn :D

    • I’m happy to finally be caught up on Aaronovitch. Now I’m just left waiting for the new book… And yes, I think it would have taken a miracle (from Miracle Max) to get me to hate The Princess Bride.

      Through the Woods is a really gorgeous item – all those white branches at the bottom part of the cover are embossed! At least on the hardback edition.

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