September Reads

books illustration

I’m not one for writing detailed book reviews, but I do like to keep a note of the books I read so that I can make recommendations to anyone who is looking to get stuck into a new book. I must admit, I’m not exactly keeping tabs of the latest bestsellers and I have a to-read list as long as my arm (or twice as long, at least), so many of these will probably be old news. Nonetheless, these monthly instalments can be a record for me, if nobody else, and if I help you to pick out your next book then all the better.

Here’s a roundup of the fiction I lost myself in as summer turned to autumn and the weather became decidedly chillier.

The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett

Obviously a little late to the party with this classic novel, but I like to read a book I feel like I “ought to” have read every once in a while. The Secret Garden is a sickly sweet and heartwarming tale, but the saccharine ending left me frustrated. Sassy little Mary is a joy from start to finish and I loved seeing her develop from a wretched wee thing to a strong, happy girl. Sadly, though, the story which began with her ended with a different character entirely – a character Mary herself was responsible for developing, but for which she is given little credit. Would I recommend? If you love a classic read, absolutely. If you want to become absorbed in a compelling story, probably not.

The Poison Tree, Erin Kelly

I loved The Poison Tree from start to finish. The story builds relatively slowly, and to begin with it feels very much like it’s going to be a relatively gentle, relaxing read. However, Kelly inserted juicy revelations and dashes of intrigue just often enough that my interest was held. I think she writes beautifully and I felt completely swept up in her prose from the very first page. It may not be the most relatable story, for me at least, and to be perfectly honest I don’t think I really liked any of the characters all that much. Nonetheless, the twists and turns made it a fabulous page-turner.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, Robin Sloane

If you’re looking for a lighthearted, 21st century adventure, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is it. The protagonist’s voice is friendly, engaging and funny, and the book does a wonderful job of blending high-tech concepts with what is a rather traditional tale of mystery and intrigue. I found myself rooting for protagonist Clay and of course the eccentric Mr. Penumbra, but I do wish that Penumbra’s work had been for something a little more magical. Clay’s final revelations were ever so slightly disappointing. However, I think that only drove home the idea that stories and theories are often far more interesting than the truth.

The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde

Another classic that I perhaps should have read a long time ago, The Importance of Being Earnest is a clever and comical farce which made me laugh out loud many times. The characters are utterly ridiculous and I found myself feeling ever so sorry for their hired help who seemed to have far more sense than the people they waited on. Oscar Wilde’s wit is truly timeless and his scathing interpretation of Victorian aristocracy will no doubt continue to entertain for centuries more.

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