Read in September 2023

September was a month without readathons, but I still had a pretty focused TBR. I wanted to finish a few outstanding series, continue reading in another series, participate in a book club and make progress with my Owlcrate project. And with this my reading month was quickly booked!

In September I read a total of 8 books, good for 2707 pages. The average September book comes down to 338 pages/book.

It was a month of some very good books, but also a few lesser books. In general, however, the good books got the upperhand, with two 5-star books and three 4-star books, giving an average September book of 3.6 stars.

In terms of target audience, I varied between 2 Young Adults and 6 adult books.

As always, I also varied in reading format, with 2 ebooks, 3 audiobooks and 3 physically owned books.

For the genres I varied a little less, namely between 3 genres, namely thriller (1), mystery (3) and fantasy (4).

For the language I stuck to English again and I didn’t read a single book in my native tongue of Flemish/Dutch.

Below is the list of the books I read in September and my star rating.
Click the link to jump to the blurb and my review! As always, be aware that both blurb and review may contain spoilers, especially when it comes to sequels in a series! Sometimes I will also hide spoilers behind a black band, which you can read by selecting the text like here!

  1. Sager, Riley – The Only One Left 🎧 ★★
  2. Faizal, Hafsah – We Hunt the Flame (Sands of Arawiya #1) ★★★★
  3. Griffiths, Elly – The Postscript Murders (Harbinder Kaur #2) 🎧 ★★★
  4. Faizal, Hafsah – We Free the Stars (Sands of Arawiya #2) ★★
  5. Tesh, Emily – Drowned Country (The Greenhollow Duology #2) ★★★★★
  6. Hays, Katy – The Cloisters ★★★★
  7. Horowitz, Anthony – Moriarty (Horowitz’s Holmes #2) 🎧 ★★★★
  8. Sanderson, Brandon – Dawnshard (The Stormlight Archive #3,5) ★★★★★

🎧 Sager, Riley – The Only One Left ★★

Genre: Thriller

At seventeen, Lenora Hope
Hung her sister with a rope

Now reduced to a schoolyard chant, the Hope family murders shocked the Maine coast one bloody night in 1929. While most people assume seventeen-year-old Lenora was responsible, the police were never able to prove it. Other than her denial after the killings, she has never spoken publicly about that night, nor has she set foot outside Hope’s End, the cliffside mansion where the massacre occurred.

Stabbed her father with a knife
Took her mother’s happy life

It’s now 1983, and home-health aide Kit McDeere arrives at a decaying Hope’s End to care for Lenora after her previous nurse fled in the middle of the night. In her seventies and confined to a wheelchair, Lenora was rendered mute by a series of strokes and can only communicate with Kit by tapping out sentences on an old typewriter. One night, Lenora uses it to make a tantalizing offer—I want to tell you everything.

“It wasn’t me,” Lenora said
But she’s the only one not dead

As Kit helps Lenora write about the events leading to the Hope family massacre, it becomes clear there’s more to the tale than people know. But when new details about her predecessor’s departure come to light, Kit starts to suspect Lenora might not be telling the complete truth—and that the seemingly harmless woman in her care could be far more dangerous than she first thought.

I really enjoyed the atmosphere in this one: gothic with the derelict mansion teetering precariously on a cliff. But the huge number of twists make the whole thing just ridiculously. The story literally and figuratively goes over the cliffs, comes crashing down and is swept away with the waves.

“I can only run into the hallway while continuing to scream as it all unfolds like a slow-motion car crash in front of me.”

The majority of the suspense is one part the setting and another part our erratic main character who keeps jumping to conclusions, acting on her every whim and freaking herself out.
The end reveal is just too much. HOW can you pretend for over FIFTY years to be almost completely paralysed? More importantly, WHY would you do that? Just to spite your sister? Ugh!!

Faizal, Hafsah – We Hunt the Flame (Sands of Arawiya #1) ★★★★

Genre: YA Fantasy

People lived because she killed. People died because he lived.

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the sultan. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways. Both Zafira and Nasir are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya–but neither wants to be.

War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the sultan on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds–and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

Another book I got too long ago in my Owlcrate subscription and never actually picked up, despite it sounding really good. And now that I have read this, I can confirm that it is indeed good!

“We hunt the flame, the light in the darkness, the good this world deserves.”

The premise was nothing groundbreaking, but the setting was refreshing for me, making it exotic and stand-out from similar quest type YA adventures. I saw most of the reveals coming, but this did not hinder my enjoyment, but more confirmed it.

I really like the characters and most of all the secondary ones. I had a bit difficulty of feeling connected to our main characters, probably because they’re also very disconnected from their feelings.

Read very bingeable, with a lot of bitesize chapters, making me fly through this. The author has a very unique style and I really liked the way she conveyed emotion through punctuation and line breaks.
My only point of critique would be that the book would have really benefited from a glossary, explaining the different terms used. Luckily, I found that on this website.

🎧 Griffiths, Elly – The Postscript Murders (Harbinder Kaur #2) ★★★

Genre: Mysterie

Murder leaps off the page when crime novelists begin to turn up dead in this intricate new novel by internationally best-selling author Elly Griffiths, a literary mystery perfect for fans of Anthony Horowitz and Agatha Christie.

The death of a ninety-year-old woman with a heart condition should not be suspicious. Detective Sergeant Harbinder Kaur certainly sees nothing out of the ordinary when Peggy’s caretaker, Natalka, begins to recount Peggy Smith’s passing.

But Natalka had a reason to be at the police station: while clearing out Peggy’s flat, she noticed an unusual number of crime novels, all dedicated to Peggy. And each psychological thriller included a mysterious postscript: PS: for PS. When a gunman breaks into the flat to steal a book and its author is found dead shortly thereafter—Detective Kaur begins to think that perhaps there is no such thing as an unsuspicious death after all.

And then things escalate: from an Aberdeen literary festival to the streets of Edinburgh, writers are being targeted. DS Kaur embarks on a road trip across Europe and reckons with how exactly authors can think up such realistic crimes . . .

I actually learned about the existence of this book quite by accident, because it was recommended to me on Storytel. The title immediately appealed to me and with a quick search in Goodreads I learned that this was part two in a new police series by Elly Griffiths. What’s more, I learned that I had already read part one of this series in 2019, with no mention at the time that this would be the start of a new series!

Although I was not super positive about the first book in my review on Goodreads, I now mainly remembered the menacing atmosphere that managed to build up the tension well. My negativity was mainly focused on the ending, and experience has taught me that this is often very much a snapshot. Sometimes a reveal can be completely disappointing, while a similar reveal at a different time when I’m in another mood can suddenly be very enjoyable.
So with this knowledge and my intrigue by the title of this second book, I started the audiobook.

This was really a book in the cozy murder mystery genre and for the most part I really enjoyed this audio book, while I sat on the couch crocheting or knitting. The beginning was super intriguing, but along the way my interest waned a bit. Ultimately, this was a fun book for some light entertainment and escapism, but not super memorable, and sometimes that’s just fine.

Faizal, Hafsah – We Free the Stars (Sands of Arawiya #2) ★★

Genre: YA Fantasy

The battle on Sharr is over. The dark forest has fallen. Altair may be captive, but Zafira, Nasir, and Kifah are bound for Sultan’s Keep, determined to finish the plan he set in motion: restoring the hearts of the Sisters of Old to the minarets of each caliphate, and finally returning magic to all of Arawiya. But they are low on resources and allies alike, and the kingdom teems with fear of the Lion of the Night’s return.

As the zumra plots to overthrow the kingdom’s darkest threat, Nasir fights to command the magic in his blood. He must learn to hone his power into a weapon, to wield not only against the Lion but against his father, trapped under the Lion’s control. Zafira battles a very different darkness festering in her through her bond with the Jawarat—a darkness that hums with voices, pushing her to the brink of her sanity and to the edge of a chaos she dare not unleash. In spite of the darkness enclosing ever faster, Nasir and Zafira find themselves falling into a love they can’t stand to lose…but time is running out to achieve their ends, and if order is to be restored, drastic sacrifices will have to be made.

Lush and striking, hopeful and devastating, We Free the Stars is the masterful conclusion to the Sands of Arawiya duology by New York Times–bestselling author Hafsah Faizal.

I enjoyed reading book one and book two started off on the same note, but my interest quickly waned. It was way too long, too repetitive, confusing and just generally boring. I didn’t feel emotionally involved with the characters at all, and events that were clearly supposed to trigger emotion didn’t.
I can’t say whether it was the book or me, but the fact is that I had to seriously drag myself through this book, that I sighed and rolled my eyes several times at the exaggerated melodrama and that in the end I couldn’t care less about how the story would end.
Glad I can cross this duology off my list, but unfortunately I won’t remember it for long.

Tesh, Emily – Drowned Country (The Greenhollow Duology #2) ★★★★★

Genre: Fantasy

This second volume of the Greenhollow duology once again invites readers to lose themselves in the story of Henry and Tobias, and the magic of a myth they’ve always known.

Even the Wild Man of Greenhollow can’t ignore a summons from his mother, when that mother is the indomitable Adela Silver, practical folklorist. Henry Silver does not relish what he’ll find in the grimy seaside town of Rothport, where once the ancient wood extended before it was drowned beneath the sea—a missing girl, a monster on the loose, or, worst of all, Tobias Finch, who loves him.

“It may not treat you kindly; it is the Wood. It may not keep you safe; it is the Wood. It will not last forever, but it will last long enough; and the trees grow, and the seasons change, and the wild things come and go, as do the monsters.”

I loved this even more than the first story. It was just perfect, from the atmosphere to the fairytale vibes, filled with magic and wonder, haunting and heartwarming, exciting and sweet. I just wish there were more stories like this.

Hays, Katy – The Cloisters ★★★★

Genre: Mysterie

Ann Stilwell arrives in New York City, hoping to spend her summer working at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Instead, she is assigned to The Cloisters, a gothic museum and garden renowned for its collection of medieval and Renaissance art.

There she is drawn into a small circle of charismatic but enigmatic researchers, each with their own secrets and desires, including the museum’s curator, Patrick Roland, who is convinced that the history of Tarot holds the key to unlocking contemporary fortune telling.

Relieved to have left her troubled past behind and eager for the approval of her new colleagues, Ann is only too happy to indulge some of Patrick’s more outlandish theories. But when Ann discovers a mysterious, once-thought lost deck of 15th-century Italian tarot cards she suddenly finds herself at the centre of a dangerous game of power, toxic friendship and ambition.

And as the game being played within the Cloisters spirals out of control, Ann must decide whether she is truly able to defy the cards and shape her own future . . .

Bringing together the modern and the arcane, The Cloisters is a rich, thrillingly told tale of obsession and the ruthless pursuit of power.

Slow, but compelling.

“Choice is the one thing we all share. It’s the ultimate level playing field.”

For a large part of the book, not much happens and as a reader you mainly rely on the atmosphere, which is built up perfectly and continues to lure, soothe and intoxicate you as a reader. The plot is mysterious and often remains in the background, while the focus is given to the charismatic characters and their influence on our main character. The revelations and twists were interesting and the ending was satisfying.

🎧 Horowitz, Anthony – Moriarty (Horowitz’s Holmes #2) ★★★★

Genre: Mysterie

Internationally bestselling author Anthony Horowitz’s nail-biting new novel plunges us back into the dark and complex world of Detective Sherlock Holmes and Professor James Moriarty—dubbed “the Napoleon of crime”—in the aftermath of their fateful struggle at the Reichenbach Falls.

Days after Holmes and Moriarty disappear into the waterfall’s churning depths, Frederick Chase, a senior investigator at New York’s infamous Pinkerton Detective Agency, arrives in Switzerland. Chase brings with him a dire warning: Moriarty’s death has left a convenient vacancy in London’s criminal underworld. There is no shortage of candidates to take his place—including one particularly fiendish criminal mastermind.

Chase is assisted by Inspector Athelney Jones, a Scotland Yard detective and devoted student of Holmes’s methods of deduction, whom Conan Doyle introduced in The Sign of Four. The two men join forces and fight their way through the sinuous streets of Victorian London—from the elegant squares of Mayfair to the shadowy wharfs and alleyways of the Docks—in pursuit of this sinister figure, a man much feared but seldom seen, who is determined to stake his claim as Moriarty’s successor.

Riveting and deeply atmospheric, Moriarty is the first Sherlock Holmes novel sanctioned by the author’s estate since Horowitz’s House of Silk. This tale of murder and menace breathes life into Holmes’s fascinating world, again proving that once you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however im- probable, must be the truth.

I really enjoyed this!
I knew fairly quickly what the twist was going to be, but I was still surprised when it came.
Excellently written, masterly plotted and so much fun.

Sanderson, Brandon – Dawnshard (The Stormlight Archive #3,5) ★★★★★

Genre: Fantasy

From Brandon Sanderson — author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Stormlight Archive and its fourth massive installment, Rhythm of War — comes a new hefty novella, Dawnshard. Taking place between Oathbringer and Rhythm of War, this tale (like Edgedancer before it) gives often-overshadowed characters their own chance to shine.

When a ghost ship is discovered, its crew presumed dead after trying to reach the storm-shrouded island Akina, Navani Kholin must send an expedition to make sure the island hasn’t fallen into enemy hands. Knights Radiant who fly too near find their Stormlight suddenly drained, so the voyage must be by sea.

Shipowner Rysn Ftori lost the use of her legs but gained the companionship of Chiri-Chiri, a Stormlight-ingesting winged larkin, a species once thought extinct. Now Rysn’s pet is ill, and any hope for Chiri-Chiri’s recovery can be found only at the ancestral home of the larkin: Akinah. With the help of Lopen, the formerly one-armed Windrunner, Rysn must accept Navani’s quest and sail into the perilous storm from which no one has returned alive. If the crew cannot uncover the secrets of the hidden island city before the wrath of its ancient guardians falls upon them, the fate of Roshar and the entire Cosmere hangs in the balance.

I expected that I would enjoy reading this novella, but I didn’t expect the story to be so impactful for the entire series! Simply amazing.
Great story, exciting adventure and fantastic to get to know these characters better. Curious how this will link into the bigger story!

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