Monday, 3 October 2016

September Favourites

September Favourites - Reading, Writing, Booking

I thought I'd start doing a monthly favourites; a collection of the best books I've read each month.

I read even more books than usual in September as I was spectacularly jet lagged at the beginning of the month after getting back from Canada, then I had a bastard of a cold all last week, so there has been even more lying around and reading done than usual.

So, here a few of the favourite books that I've read this month.

Johannes Cabal The Necromancer (Johannes Cabal #1)
by Jonathan L. Howard

Johannes Cabal The Necromancer - Jonathan L. Howard

I'd never heard of the Johannes Cabal series before it popped up on my recommended books on Good Reads. I liked the sound of the description and reviews, and I found it on Amazon for only one penny plus postage so I thought, what the hell.
I'll do a proper review of Johannes Cabal the Necromancer, but as a brief write up here, this is the story of a necromancer who has to win his soul back from the devil by securing 100 souls, is like a Faustian tale mixed with Terry Pratchett.
It covers dark subjects with dry humour and has a cast of brilliant characters, not all human. I particularly liked Johannes and his vampire brother.
I found The Necromancer very visual, although quite often it's describing things you don't want to visualise.
Sometimes it does feel rather like Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaimon, both deal with hell and demons with a dollp of comedy, but The Necromancer manages to be just different enough to be interesting.
It ends on a cliff hanger and I had to order the next book in the series, The Detective.

by Ottessa Moshfegh

Eileen - Ottessa Moshfegh

I've already reviewed Eileen here, but I wanted to mention it again as it was one of my stand out books for September. While not exactly a comfy read (in fact I spent a lot of the time feeling slightly sick) I found Eileen a brilliant insight into an original character, one who is not often the central focus in fiction. The disturbed, disgusting, sad, hate-filled yet still funny Eileen is a horribly mesmerising character. Eileen has been shortlisted for the 2016 Man Booker Prize, but is a controversial choice as some people feel it is taking the place of more deserving books. However, I think Moshfegh's writing is so good that it definitely deserves its place, though it may not be winning material.

by Elizabeth Gaskell

Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell - Illustrations

I'd only ever read The Life of Charlotte Bronte by Elizabeth Gaskell before, but none of her fiction. Her biography of Bronte is wonderful but a completely different thing to Cranford.
I got this Literary Heritage Collection edition as part of my 10p book hall, which I'm still very chuffed about.
The book follows the lives of a group of 'gentlewomen' who live in the English village of Cranford, producing a series of episodes in their lives. The beauty of Cranford is the subtle humour that mocks while also encapsulating Victorian Society and the stolid village life that tries to remain constant against the ever changing times.
At times it is also very sad, especially in the character of Miss Matty who seems to have been bowed by convention, a determined older sister and the constant worry of what is proper into a rather depleted life. Yet, she is always optimistic and kind, albeit spectacularly naive.

Seldom Seen
by Sarah Ridgard

Seldom Seen - Sarah Ridgard

This is another book that I will write a proper review of at some point (I have a never ending list), but I wanted to include it in this month's favourites as it was a real surprise hit. Seldom Seen is a thriller set in the countryside near the Suffolk town of Framlingham, not that far from where I live, so I recognised a lot of the places and the landscape. The plain fields of Suffolk may seem a strange place to set a thriller, but this is a strange book. Desiree White, finds the body of a baby in a ditch, making the usually ignored girl suddenly the centre of attention. As the years follow everyone forgets about the baby, but Desiree, who is literally haunted by it, sets out to solve the mystery.
The characters in Seldom Seen really jumped out at me; they're residents of a sparse rural community, with little interest in their lives, yet Ridgard picks up all their nuances and desires. I was especially intrigued by Desiree herself, who is quuite an original teen character, and her mother who desperately longs for but fears a more exciting life.
Seldom Seen is a good read for lovers of thrillers who want something a little different; it hasn't got the fast pace or the bang of a Gone Girl, but its slow revealing of secrets and movement of life is just as disturbing and shocking.

Rivers of London Series (Peter Grant)
by Ben Aaronovitch

Foxglove Summer - Ben Aaronovitch

I've included this whole series as I ploughed through the last three books during September. I reviewed the first Peter Grant book, Rivers of London already, and will eventually get round to reviewing the rest, but overall, I bloody love it!
The books just seem to get better and better as they go along. While I like debut novels and first books of a series, there's something comforting about picking up a book where you know the main characters and their relationships, you don't have to waste time with set ups and descriptions, but just drop into the action and watch their relationships evolve.
For those who haven't read any of the books, the Rivers of London series focuses on PC Peter Grant whose life is changed when he tries to take a statement from a witness who just happens to be dead. He then becomes the first trainee wizard on the police force in 50 years and discovers a whole layer of crimes performed by ghouls and ghosties.
In a way it has a similar feel to The Necromancer; both exploring the occult, but with a dry, very British.
The most recent book, Foxglove Summer, finds PC Grant leaving his beloved London and heading to, shock horror, the countryside to investigate the disappearance of two children. This book is a bit different to the rest of the series as it is not set in London and doesn't have as much of the other supporting characters in it. However, it is still full of Peter Grant banter and a good number of other worldly creatures. Underneath it all is a good, old fashioned who dunnit, which is what makes these books great.
The next book in the series, The Hanging Tree, is out in November and I cannot wait!

September Favourites - Reading, Writing, Booking

I hope you  enjoyed my September Favourites.

What were your favourite books from September?

Have you read any of my favourites? What did you think?

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