September Reading Wrap Up

Well, September was quite the month. I read what will most likely be one of my favourite books of 2018 – possibly two of my favourite books of 2018 – along with a book that has taken me over a year to finish. Halfway through the month I thought I’d only finish 2 books, and it got to the end of the month and I somehow realised that I’d read far more than anticipated.

The first book I finished in the month of September was an 800+ page beast of a book, The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon. Thanks to very good friends and the lovely world of publishing, I managed to get my hands on an early review copy. As we all know, I adore all things fantasy and dragons – and this tome did not disappoint. Sweeping landscapes, extensive character lists, and intricately intertwined plots made this standalone epic a true delight. I truly hope that Shannon has a chance to write more in this world, as it’s probably the first 800+ page book that I’ve ever finished and wished for more. Highly recommend to any fantasy lovers, or those looking for a fresh, feminist take on typical fantastical tropes found in legends and lore.

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The next book I read was On Writing by Stephen King – an unexpected gem. I’ve been desperately trying to get back into a good writing habit, and thought a little bit of non-fiction writing wisdom from one of the greats might inspire some motivation in me. This book did that and more – it told the story of how Stephen King became, well, Stephen King, along with the tools and habits that he picked up on the way. There are snippets of advice, hints, and tricks to guide you on your way, along with incredibly poignant and moving episodes and anecdotes that came as a complete surprise to me. I found myself wanting to highlight passages like it was a textbook I needed to study, and now that I’ve finished it I know I’ll be dipping back into its pages to try and unlock even more.

Then came the book that I’ve been literally reading for over a year. It’s no secret that I’ve been trying to get through the Harry Potter books on audiobook, and I was enjoying listening to them so much that I thought it would help me get through other, very different, titles. After finishing The Order of the Phoenix, I decided to listen to something else before continuing my listening journey with Harry and the gang – what a mistake. A year and several months after starting, I have finally finished listening to 36 hours of Bleak House by Charles Dickens. I can’t quite collect my thoughts on this book just yet, so thrilled I am to be finished, but it is finally, finally, over. Goodbye Esther and Jarndyce, it’s been quite a ride.

The last book I finished this month was a sequel I never thought I’d get to a book I never thought could get better – Vengeful by V.E Schwab. Honestly, Vicious was one of my favourite books when I read it, an incredible reimagining of the Frankenstein myth in a new, superhero format with dark edges, twisting plots, and brilliant characters. Vengeful was like Vicious at 100 miles per hour. The characters were even better, with new characters that definitely fit the current mood of the world where all women want to burn everything to the ground (which is exactly what we got with Marcella). Schwab has a great way of setting up lots of different plot lines and little details, some that she’ll use later and some that she won’t, and drawing all of them together in a huge, climactic finale that has you reeling. Beautifully written, gripping all the way through – it is no surprise that I finished this book in just a few sittings.

And that was my September. It’s going to be a struggle to top it in October, but I suppose with the cold nights drawing in and the increase in evenings spent curled up in blankets with candles lit, I’m sure I’ll get some good reading in.

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Vicious by V.E Schwab

I’ve been meaning to review this ever since I finished it, but was sidetracked by my university reading – the first book of which is Frankenstein that I finished about three minutes ago. And I’m very glad I chose to read it, one of the reasons being that I realised how V.E Schwab uses the story of Frankenstein in her book.

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same ambition in each other. A shared interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.

Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl with a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the arch-nemeses have set a course for revenge but who will be left alive at the end?

I will just say now, that I will have a short spoiler section at the end of this review, but there will be plenty of warning before you see it. I’ll also be talking about Frankenstein in this section.

Are we surprised this is yet another fantasy novel? No. Probably should rename this blog ‘alwayslovetoreadalotoffantasy’. Back to the book, Vicious is the superhero book I’ve always wanted to read (and write). I’ve always loved the concept of superheroes, ever since watching The Incredibles when I was a child up until recently reading All My Friends Are Superheroes by Andrew Kaufman. Vicious is a book about superheroes for adults – and the term ‘superheroes’ is one I use loosely, particularly the ‘heroes’ part.

This book turns every idea you have about superheroes on its head. It turns the concept of who is ‘good’ and who is ‘bad’, who the ‘hero’ is and who the ‘villain’ is, completely upside down. The book follows Eli and Victor, who start off as friends and become enemies. The layout of the novel is gripping, jumping back and forth between the past and present to slowly unravel what the hell is actually going on and how it got to this point. You see Eli and Victor as teenagers, full of curiosity and ambition, then the next page you see them as adults, entirely vengeful.

Not only do you have such complex main characters, but the ‘sidekicks’ all have their intricate backgrounds and even more interesting abilities. I loved seeing the different relationships, especially that of the sisters and how their abilities affected their relationship. I don’t want to say so much more on this, because I’m pretty sure I’m going to spoil it.

Which means, it’s time for some spoilers. Along with some Frankenstein context. For those of you stopping here though, if you enjoy anything fantasy, with action, revenge, and fantastic characters – this is the book for you.

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