September round-up

Apologies if this seems something of a cop-out, but work has rather got in the way of me posting reviews of late. I am still reading, but the time for updating my blog has been short. For this reason I have decided to give a round-up of the remainder of my September reading.

During the latter weeks of September I have finished Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series. In ‘Blood Promise’ we watch Rose travel to Russia in an attempt to track down Dimitri and keep her promise. Things don’t go to plan. Much as I’d enjoyed the series, this was not one of my favourite reads and it felt slow. Things picked up a little in ‘Spirit Bound’ and there was a definite sense of political intrigue in the world of the Academy. Dimitri remains at large, determined to make Rose pay, but I liked the fact that Lissa gets to play more of a role in events as the understanding of Strigoi evolves. Rose still comes across as rather immature, but she just about manages to keep a grip on her more extreme reactions. The final instalment in the series – ‘Last Sacrifice’ – is a fitting end to the series. Rose is accused of murdering the Queen, and we focus on her attempts to clear her name. Alongside this intrigue – which does, indeed, lead us up one or two garden paths – we have the rather slower story of the trial to find the new queen. There’s a lot in here…some parts of which are definitely more appealing than others. The breakout and Rose’s quest to clear her name is entertaining. The development of Lissa and her role was well-handled, though I felt the ambiguity of Lisa’s reaction to Jill wasn’t quite in keeping with her character. Of course, it wouldn’t have been right to not deal with the relationship between Rose and Dimitri. I’ve always liked Dimitri, and I got the feeling this was going to be a ‘Twilight’-style thing where, eventually, they end up together. Six books in – and after a lot of obstacles – they get their happy ending. Naturally, this makes me happy except for one thing…Adrian. There has to be fallout, I get it. But the way Adrian is treated is shabby. I don’t normally get so attached to a character, but I really felt he deserved more.

After something of a series glut, I knew it was time to get back onto the ARCs I’d received from Edelweiss and NetGalley. First up was ‘Pushing Perfect’ by Michelle Falkoff, which focuses on the story of Kara who ends up in a dangerous game due to the pressure she feels under to achieve perfection. While this suggested it would be an exploration of pressure and its effects, we soon got into a bizarre ‘Pretty Little Liars’-style story where everyone had something to hide. Unfortunately I felt this was going to be better than it was.

This was followed by Danielle Paige’s ‘Stealing Snow’ which was an intriguing idea, but not entirely successful. Snow is living in a psychiatric hospital and finds herself drawn into another world where she learns just what she is and what it is rumoured she will achieve. There were some interesting ideas here, but they were not particularly well-linked and I didn’t really feel I could engage with any of the characters. The mixed reviews of this on Goodreads suggests that it will have its fans; I wasn’t one.

My final read of the month was ‘The Beginning Woods’ by Malcolm McNeill, and it was a good way to end the month. It was not without its faults – random capitalization of dialogue and unconnected events – but this was a captivating read that will stay with me for some time. Max was abandoned in a bookshop and he seems to be an important part of the Vanishings taking place, though nobody is sure how. There was a haunting feel to the writing, and some beautifully evocative description. Originally published in German, this is a children’s novel that I feel will appeal more to adults due to its layering of ideas and the length.

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