September 2020 Reads

Hi guys! Today’s post is a monthly round up of all the books read in September! After going through such a slump these last few months – people who read through lockdown, please tell me how because I just could not focus – I was surprised to find that I managed to read/listen to 12 books this month???? Fingers crossed that’s the slump over!

Below you’ll find a little round up with the format/book/rating, and further below, mini-reviews for each book if you’re interested in hearing my thoughts or are thinking of checking any of these out!

week one : 1st – 6th
📖 History Is All You Left Me, Adam Silvera ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
📱 The Shadows Between Us, Tricia Levenseller ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
📖 The Music Of What Happens, Bill Konisberg ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

week two : 7th – 13th
🎧 Every Heart A Doorway, Seanan McGuire ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
📱 We Were Liars, E. Lockhart ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
📱 My Sister, the Serial Killer, Oyinkan Braithwaite ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
📖 It’s Not About the Burqa, Mariam Khan ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

week three : 14th – 20th
📖 We Should All Be Feminists, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
🎧 Down Among The Sticks And Bones, Seanan McGuire ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

week four : 21st – 27th
📖 Loveless, Alice Oseman ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
📖 More Happy Than Not, Adam Silvera ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

week five : 28th – 31st
📖 Two Can Keep A Secret, Karen McManus ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️


week one : 1st – 6th
📖 History Is All You Left Me, Adam Silvera ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

You’re still alive in alternate universes, Theo, but I live in the real world, where this morning you’re having an open-casket funeral.

Have I even read an Adam Silvera book if I haven’t cried? Deciding to read this book at work probably wasn’t the best idea considering we’re introduced to the main character, Griffin, as he prepares to attend the funeral of his ex and first love, Theo.

This book will take you on an emotional journey of love, grief, and friendship as it explores the relationship between four boys. The story is told by Griffin, yet is anchored around Theo, who was not only the centre of the group in life but remains that way in death, as those left behind try to navigate a world without him.

I’ve always thought I preferred plot-driven stories, but reading this made me realise just how much I love stories that are character-focused, where we get to really see and understand the characters we meet – as heartbreaking as it may end up being. Don’t worry, this book isn’t all doom and gloom though, because as much as you will cry, it will also warm your heart with its warmth and emotion.

This book heavily features LGBT themes, with both gay and bisexual characters, but instead of the homophobia often featured in coming-of-age narratives, this book shows only supportive parents and friends. It’s a story that has LGBT characters, without making that the focus. It’s a story about boys who happen to like boys, trying to stay afloat in the ocean of loss they have been dropped into.

This is such an emotional, powerful and uplifting read, and it’s the type of book that leaves you thinking about it for weeks after.


📱 The Shadows Between Us, Tricia Levenseller ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

I know. I know. I know.

3/5, what am I possibly thinking???? But let me quickly say, 3/5 is not a bad rating! That means I enjoyed it, it just wasn’t a particularly stand out read.

I’ve seen so many great things about this book and perhaps it’s my own fault for having such high expectations, but I just didn’t feel super excited about it while I was reading it. Don’t get me wrong, it was good and I had fun reading it and liked the story/characters, but, it just didn’t do it for me. Which is honestly disappointing, because it is a good book, and even has a badass female mc who is unapologetically herself and refuses to change for anyone.

I think that my main issue may have been that the supporting characters felt one-dimensional? Something that’s so important to me in a book is that the secondary characters feel just as real as the main character and you see their character development throughout, yet with this book, it just felt like they were only there to support the mc. I don’t feel there was much development and for quite a few, it didn’t seem they had any autonomy within the world of the book and only existed to drive the plot and character arc of the main character.

The romance also didn’t do much for me. I was sold this as an enemies-to-lovers story, and it… it truly wasn’t. Okay, maybe for the first few chapters, but after that definitely not. When I say enemies-to-lovers I want to actual feel the tension, to see blades held against throats in dark rooms, to watch that hatred slowly fade to a tentative alliance and then to unwanted feelings of want and passion. Instead, this book gave us a mc with a plot to kill and gain power which disappeared within a few chapters of her meeting the target.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a good book and I recommend it, but personally, it just wasn’t for me.


📖 The Music Of What Happens, Bill Konisberg ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Two boys, an amateur food truck, no experience, and the threat of homelessness. What could go wrong?

So after sitting on my bookshelf for a year, cover facing outwards because it looked pretty, I finally stopped being a fake-fan and actually read The Music of What Happens, and now I’m stuck asking myself why it took me so long to get to????

I’ll admit, I thought this was just going to be a cheesy summer romance because of how cute and bright the cover was, but oh, how wrong I was. Yes, this book is completely adorable, will make you laugh out loud, and will make you feel incredibly single, but it also makes you think and sheds light on some really serious issues that aren’t often spoken about in mainstream society; race, identity, masculinity, and consent. These themes are interwoven so seamlessly and carefully within this lighthearted story of first love, and I really appreciated the effort made to make sure this book not only provided a cute narrative, but an important societal commentary.

The main focus of the book is Jordan and Max, who are stuck running a food truck over summer to try and make enough money to save Jordan and his mum from losing their home. The characters in this book feel so real, and you’re right alongside them as they laugh, cry, and struggle. It’s such a raw and emotional read that balances the lightheartedness of first love with such important topics. If you’re not already sold, just know I read this book in one sitting and cannot recommend it enough.

Content warning, because this book does deal with rape and the aftermath, but it’s handled so delicately and carefully and makes it clear that those who have been through sexual assault are not victims, but survivors.


week two : 7th – 13th

🎧 Every Heart A Doorway, Seanan McGuire ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

I’ve tried listening to this audiobook twice before and haven’t made it past the second chapter. As you can see from the four stars that sit above, that was clearly an idiotic mistake. When I tell you I love this world, story, and all of its characters, I fully mean that. It has a great fantasy story, amazing lgbt+ rep, and I adore these characters and could read pages and pages and pages about them.

At first glance, this book seems like a dark and creepy take on fairytales and the children who find themselves in mystical worlds full of strange beings and intriguing landscapes, but at its heart, it’s a series about friendship, identity, and belonging. It balances the eerie writing style and gothic themes with the humour and light that comes from finding those who are the same as you. This series is for everyone who doesn’t belong, who feels like society just isn’t made for people like them. This is a story that reminds us we’ll all find our place in life, that we’ll all find our people.

I know I’ll be revisiting for years to come, so please don’t be an idiot like me who failed to give it a real chance, because I promise you, you will fall in love with this series.

I listened to the audiobook, and if you can get your hands on it, fully recommend listening to it!



📱 We Were Liars, E. Lockhart ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Unpopular opinion coming in…

…3

…2

…1

I thought this book was just, okay.

I know, I know!

It’s been so heavily hyped and I’ve seen it everywhere and I think that’s probably the reason I found this book so… underwhelming. And honestly, I also expected it to be more of a thriller based on the title and general vibe of the book, which is definitely my fault.

BUT STILL, my lack of genre acknowledgment doesn’t explain for the general blandness I found this book to be. Don’t get me wrong, it was enjoyable and I liked the writing style + use of metaphors, but I found the plot and characters really lacking, and for a book that’s super character focused, they just felt so one-dimensional and undeveloped. It just left the book feeling empty.

It was a quick read, and like I said, I did enjoy it, and if you’re looking for something light + fast to get through then I recommend it, but it wasn’t anything groundbreaking or spectacular.

Also (spoilers are about to follow) the fact that the plot basically consisted of a rich white girl who’s main problem is that her family are obsessed with fighting for their inheritance was very – how do I put it – meh. I don’t know. I’ve been really trying to read more diverse books so this just felt very ‘oh woe is me/rich people problems’ and I just really couldn’t find myself sympathising with the main character.

I know plenty of people really enjoyed this, and like I said, I liked the writing style and it was a quick read, but I also just found it really lacking. So yeah, if you’re interested give it a go, but maybe don’t go in with the high expectations the hype around it has created.



📱 My Sister, the Serial Killer, Oyinkan Braithwaite ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

I wasn’t completely sure about this when I first started it, but after the first few chapters I was hooked. Braithwaite crafts such a dark, twisted, funny, and entertaining tale of murder and mystery in this book and I read it in pretty much one sitting once I got into it.

The story follows Korede as she tries to figure out if her sister, Ayoola is simply unlucky or is an active participant in the deaths of her past boyfriends. An issue which becomes more urgent when Ayoola starts to date Korede’s workplace friend and crush, Tade, and she begins to worry if he will meet the same fate as Ayoola’s past love interests.

What ensues is a wild ride as we get to see their dysfunctional relationship, try to figure out if Ayoola truly is a serial killer, and wonder if Tade will end up with a blade in the back. I thoroughly enjoyed this read, and as short as it is compared to other books, its fast-paced and is constantly keeping us on the edge of our seats with new twists and turns as the plot develops.

Such a strong debut from the author and I can’t wait to see what they do next!



📖 It’s Not About the Burqa, Mariam Khan ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

I’ve already written a full blog post on this amazing book which can be found here! This is honestly such an important book and I cannot say it enough that everyone should give this a read!

The Muslim identity has become increasingly politicised by mainstream media, news, and the government, in a way that fails to actually acknowledge who the Muslim community are. Instead of hearing from the community themselves, they are reduced to negative cliches and harmful stereotypes. In a successful attempt to negate this character assassination and reclaim their identity, Mariam Khan has collected 17 powerful intelligent, and thought-provoking essays that give Muslim women the platform to tell us exactly who they are.

The book asks us to throw out our western prejudices and actually listen to those we have been asked to be prejudiced against. It asks us to listen to these stories and understand that the Muslim Woman we are shown in the news does not exist. Because just like every other person on this planet, Muslim women cannot be put into a box. They are all uniquely different with a diverse array of experiences, thoughts, opinions, and beliefs.

Throughout the essays, the authors discuss their own relationship with Islam, discussions which cover a range of topics from sexuality, faith, divorce, love, feminism, and clothing. It will make you laugh, it will make you nod your head in agreement, it will make you angry, but most importantly, it will make you think. This book is a must-read that forces you to examine your own assumptions and prejudices and educates you for the better.


week three : 14th – 20th
📖 We Should All Be Feminists, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

I’ve loved Adichie’s work ever since I stumbled across her TED talk on ‘The Danger of the Single Story’ (which can be found here and I recommend you watch) when I was doing my Undergraduate dissertation. We Should All Be Feminists is an essay adapted from her TED talk of the same name. Whilst the book itself is more of a pamphlet, the size does not mean the work is unimportant of lacking, but that every word used hit’s home and makes an important point on what it means to be a woman in this society.

Gender as it functions today is a grave injustice. […] We should all be angry.

In the essay Adichie examines what it is to be a feminist, and how gender affects and oppresses all. Women are taught to be silent, that their voice doesn’t matter, that by simply existing they should be ashamed of who they are. Men are taught that they can’t show emotions, that they must be the dominant party, that if they are not in charge they are weak. Adichie explains that if we were just allowed to be ourselves, without the societal pressures of gender conformity, we would all be a lot happier.

Whilst short, this essay delivers an excellent and important critique of how gender operates in society and how we are all under its oppressive restraints.



🎧 Down Among The Sticks And Bones, Seanan McGuire ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

I love this book. Love it. It acts as a prequel to Every Heart a Doorway and gives us a more in depth look into Jack and Jill and how they came to end up at Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. I absolutely adore these creepy little fairytales McGuire is so skilled at crafting, and again, if you can get your hands on the audiobook I 100% recommend listening to it, especially since this one was narrated by the author themselves.

It provides such an interesting take on nature vs. nature as we watch the twins grow up with strict parents who force them into stereotypical roles, which quickly begin to shift once they enter the Moors and are finally allowed the freedom to choose for themselves. I absolutely adore Jack’s character and know I will definitely be revisiting this world over and over again. If you haven’t already, you need to give this series a chance!


week four : 21st – 27th
📖 Loveless, Alice Oseman ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Not to be dramatic, but I almost cried reading this. Not because of the story or characters, but because I am so grateful that teenagers and young people have these books to grow up alongside. As someone who’s bisexual, I definitely had a tough time figuring out my sexuality and there was a lot of mental tennis as I went back and forth over my own identity. If I had had access to books like these, then it probably would have been a lot easier.

There will definitely be a full review of this book coming up soon so I don’t want to say too much, but I absolutely love this book and will always be a fan of Alice Oseman and everything she puts out. She has such an ability to make you feel like you know the characters, like you’re their alongside them as they go through the ups and downs of identity and growing up and coming to realise who you are. Every single character we meet feel is jut as real as the protagonist and their stories and growth are equally as important.

This is an essential story with such a meaningful message, and as one of the few books I’ve seen with an asexual main character, a book that features such deeply important representation.



📖 More Happy Than Not, Adam Silvera ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

When I tell you no one makes me cry quite like Adam Silvera, just know I’m being 100% serious.

This book was a rollercoaster of emotions and plot twists. Like, damn Silvera, give a gal a moment to breathe. Whilst History Is All You Left Me is an uplifting story of dealing with grief and loss, that allows its LGBT characters to exist without the homophobia and ugliness we constantly see around us, the same cannot be said for this book. This is a sad book that deals with depression, homophobia, and suicide, and it does not pull its punches as it shows you what this world of prejudice and hate we live in can cause. Does that mean I don’t think you should read it? No. As sad and heartbreaking as this was, it’s still such an important book and I loved the characters we got to meet. But, you should be aware that this is not a cute, sappy contemporary. Yeah, it’s cute at time and has its moments of humour and nerdy teen quirks, but ultimately, this book will leave you broken hearted.

This book has a diverse cast of characters, a great story (as sad as it is), and I appreciated how well the themes within the book were handled and the care they were written with. And I will say, as sad as this book it is, ultimately, it acts as a reminder that even as we go through adversity and tragedy, it often paves the way for us to find the light and fully appreciate our brightest moments.

As much as his books make me sob – and I mean sob – Silvera has now firmly become one of my favourite authors and I cannot to see where he oes next.


week five : 28th – 31st
📖 Two Can Keep A Secret, Karen McManus ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

This book definitely had a hard time since it was competing with One of Us is Lying, a book I gave 4 stars to and absolutely loved. And although this book received a lower rating, I did still really enjoy it, just not as much as the previous book by McManus. I enjoyed the mystery and I was guessing right up until the end (and I’ll admit, I was completely wrong even though the clues were definitely there), but I just didn’t feel a connect to these characters like I did with the other book and the pace felt a lot slower.

Still an enjoyable read and if you’re looking for a ya mystery/thriller then definitely give it a try, but for me, it just didn’t live up to her other book.


Spot any favourites? Or add any new books to your TBR? If so, let me know down below! And I’d love to know what your favourite read of the month was! I think mine has to be What About the Burqa and Loveless!

Thanks for reading!
Holly x

2 thoughts on “September 2020 Reads

  1. Wow! Thanks for this post and sooo many books! I’ve heard loads about Every Heart a Doorway, your review pushes it up my tbr! 😊🙌

    Liked by 1 person

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