With the Mish-infamous September start fuelling my month, I shot through several books this month. I’m also back to twice-weekly commutes, which equals a solid 2.5 hours reading time on each of those days – dreamy! Like I’ve mentioned before, I’m really trying to be more organised and disciplined with my reading now. There’s more than 10 books on my TBR shelf upstairs, and I really want to read them all before 2023 rolls around, hence the random selection of titles here. In exciting news, too, I completed by Goodreads Reading Challenge 2022 at the weekend, by finishing 52 books!
Here are my mini September book reviews…
The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainini
I picked up this book in my first ever book haul after University (10 years ago!) and when I saw a Netflix adaptation had been released, I instantly bumped it up, or into, my TBR. It’s a middle-grade fantasy fiction, which I of course bore in mind as I read.
Best friends Sophie and Agatha live in Gavaldon, where Sophie dreams of being ‘kidnapped’ to attend the fabled School for Good and Evil and Agatha is suspicious and cynical. As you can probably guess, the girls’ – well, Sophie’s – dream is realised when they both end up at the school where fairytales are produced. However, not all is at seems: Sophie ends up in Evil and Agatha is placed in Good.
If I’m honest, I struggled with rating this book. I was tempted to DNF it at around 20% but something kept me reading; I was SO curious to see where Chainani would take the story. The writing is lovely and magical and incredibly descriptive, as several YA books are, but also felt a little predictable and cheesy. Of course Chainani attempts to change the narrative of usual fairytale tropes here, and they do it to degrees of varying success. While I couldn’t predict where the story would go, it did feel frustrating to see the girls lean into anti-hero and anti-villain tropes. Plus, there are plenty of not-very-feminist and borderline fatphobic comments throughout. Tread with caution. … Perhaps just watch the film next month?
Not Quite White by Laila Woozeer
I am SO incredibly proud of my friend Laila on the publication of their debut book, Not Quite White: A Memoir this year. I finished reading this at the start of the month and find myself thinking about it all the time. The memoir traces Laila’s upbringing between Wales and England from a mixed background, detailing their confusion and all of the niggles that come with living as a mixed person in the UK.
Magnetically moving, poetically written and enigmatically captivating, Laila has created a mastery of their life with this book. It feels so authentically Laila, and their story will undoubtedly resonate with generations for years to come.
Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover
Yes, I dipped my toe back into the world of Colleen Hoover again this month! I picked up Maybe Someday in a closing-down sale over the summer for just £2, and thought I may as well get it read before the cosiest reading months hit.
Sydney is a dedicated student living with her best friend and her boyfriend, living an idyllic life until she discovers her boyfriend is cheating. With the help of the man that plays guitar on the balcony opposite of her apartment, Sydney slowly begins to rebuild her life and attempts to move on. But, moving on is harder than she expects.
Maybe Someday is another life and character study from Colleen Hoover. I kinda get the hype for her books – they’re totally readable and full of humanity – but I also simply don’t think her work is entirely for me. This book felt emotional and romantic and was laced with a big theme: deafness and the deaf community. I enjoyed how Hoover portrayed deaf people beside hearing people and the intertwining music theme. Given the book also comes with a QR code so you can listen to a custom playlist by musician Griffin Peterson, I thought however that things weren’t fully thought out! Ridge, the musician, is a wonderful character; quiet, unassuming and thoughtful. Sydney is a little too perfect main character for me. Like I said, there’s a few parts that make me wince in this book, but it’s an easy read nonetheless.
Girls of Storm and Shadow by Natasha Ngan
Natasha Ngan does it again!! It’d been a good few years since I read Girls of Paper and Fire, but I finally picked up its sequel and it was incredible. Ngan’s mythical world of Ikhara is rich, compelling and full of so many wonderful East Asian references that I feel like I’m embraced by a warm hug almost every time I delve back in. Fellow East Asian readers, I’m sure you’ll similarly enjoy the references.
In Girls of Storm and Shadow, Lei is now known as the Moonchosen for what she managed at the Hidden Palace at the close of the first book. But, little did Lei realised, that would only be the beginning of her journey. Together with her love Wren – and a bounty on their heads – she must gather warriors to form a clan and army of her own. This book takes a darker and more vengeful turn from the first and sings with magic, lore, familial bonds and love. There are sword-wielding girls, grand landscapes, feasts, epic battles, breath-taking cliffhangers and more here, and I just LOVED it. So proud of you, Tash!
Takeaway by Angela Hui
Two non-fictions in one month! And another by one of my good friends. Takeaway is a beautiful memoir by Angela Hui, a fellow British-Chinese author who grew up at a Chinese takeaway. It felt indelibly special to read and savour all of Hui’s words about her childhood, as so much of it echoed my own. The book made me smile, cry and rush to tell my parents about so many similar experiences. After each chapter, Angela also generously shares a home comfort recipe from her roster, which I felt to be a wonderful touch – this book feels just like home.
- Mrs England by Stacey Halls
- These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
- Witch Hat Atelier by Kamome Shirahama
What did you read in September? Share one book with the Daisybutter community in the comments below.