What I Read: September 2023

What I Read: September 2023

Since I’ve been on a big fantasy kick lately, I tried to force myself to read a few other books outside of that genre this month, including a horror novel in the spirit of fall.

I ended up reading six books in total for September:

  • The Guest by Emma Cline
  • Trail of the Lost by Andrea Lankford
  • The Troop by Nick Cutter
  • The Creative Act by Rick Rubin
  • King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo
  • Bow Before the Elf Queen by J.M. Kearl

I’m not sure if I’m just grumpy or if I’m becoming more picky the more books I read, but I read some books this month that I wasn’t the biggest fan of personally. So, apologies if I come off a bit critical. (I’m not a complete hater…)

On that note, let’s get into the reviews!

The Guest by Emma Cline

Apparently, this is a controversial book: You either really like it or really hate it. I fall into the latter camp.

Alex is staying on the East End of Long Island with a wealthy, older man. But after damaging his car and lying about it and a weird moment at a party, Simon breaks up with her and kicks her out. Alex not only has no money and no place to go, but she also has a man that is seemingly stalking her. Rather than leave the island entirely, Alex pretends she belongs. Everywhere.

For me, the plot was a bit slow. Alex essentially wanders around the entire book, building up to a big event, but then the book ends abruptly. I’m OK with vague endings, but only if there’s more action first.

Rating: 5/10

Trail of the Lost by Andrea Lankford

I thought this book was very interesting, but also very sad.

Andrea, a former law enforcement park ranger, becomes deeply involved in the search for three missing Pacific Crest Trail hikers: Kris Fowler, Chris Sylvia, and David O’Sullivan. From drones to dogs to psychics, Andrea follows along as a small group of investigators (some law enforcement, most just concerned civilians) does everything they can to find out what happened to these hikers who all disappeared in subsequent years.

While there’s not necessarily proof that any crimes occurred related to their disappearances, the book itself does read a lot like true crime.

Rating: 8/10

The Troop by Nick Cutter

The good news: I checked off something from 2023 my fall bucket list by reading a horror novel.

The bad news: I didn’t like it.

I had such high hopes for The Troop after reading that Stephen King was a big fan of it… but I don’t feel the same.

A group of Boy Scouts takes a camping trip to an isolated island with their troop leader, Tim Riggs. While on this remote island, a mysterious man shows up on a very small boat. He’s gaunt, hungry, and acting strange. Tim, a doctor, feels compelled to help, leading to a horrible cascade of events for the troop.

While I wasn’t necessarily the biggest fan of the plot as it was kind of gross and made you feel a bit squeamish, that wasn’t my issue with the book. One of the boys was definitely a very sick individual and some of his chapters had very disturbing descriptions of animal abuse that I don’t think needed to be included. If I had known in advance, I would have skipped this one.

Rating: ?/10

(I don’t think I can be a fair judge of this one. It does have fairly good ratings on Goodreads.)

The Creative Act by Rick Rubin

I listened to this as an audiobook, but I think it would have been better in paper format. This book was basically a bunch of thoughts about creativity and living a creative life compiled together. If you’ve read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic, parts of this reminded me of that.

I think one of my favorite takeaways from this book was about shaking things up when you feel stuck. If you always write in the morning, try writing at night. If you write in silence, try writing with music. If you only write on the computer, try writing with a pen and paper. And so on.

Rather than reading straight through like I did, I could see this being a good book to pick up, read a few pages, and then come back to whenever you need a pep talk.

Rating: 7/10

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

Note: This may contain some spoilers for the Shadow and Bone trilogy and The Six of Crows duology. Proceed with caution!

This book is set in the Grishaverse and follows the aftermath of the Shadow and Bone trilogy and makes some references to the The Six of Crows duology, so it’s helpful to have read all of those books first. I don’t want to say too much and risk spoiling any of those for you, so if you haven’t read either of those series, I’d stop reading now!

In King of Scars, Nikolai Lantsov is grappling with the dark magic that’s still attached to him as a result of the battle against the Darkling. At first, the effects are barely noticeable, but slowly, this evil begins to take over. Nikolai must find a cure or risk losing himself and Ravka. The journey takes him some strange places. Meanwhile, Nina Zenik is mourning and struggling to move forward with her life. She agrees to take on a dangerous undercover mission rather than deal with her emotions. It turns out to be a lot more than she expected.

To me, this felt a bit slow, but I could tell it’s building to something big in the second book of this duology.

Rating: 7/10

Bow Before the Elf Queen by J.M. Kearl

If you’re a fan of fantasy books with a romance storyline, this is a fun read!

Layala is a unique faerie in that she was born with magical abilities. But this also puts her in danger from the High King who is determined to regain his own magic. To protect her, Layala’s parents give her to a friend to sneak away shortly after birth. But, before they could do so, the High King’s baby, Thane, and Layala were betrothed in a magical ceremony. Now that they’re adults, can they fight their magical connection?

I listened to this as an audiobook and would highly recommend doing so. I thought the voice actors did a great job. Can’t wait to read (listen to) the next book!

Rating: 9/10

Want more book reviews? Check out what I read in August 2023.

Read any good books lately? Leave your recommendations in the comments below!

One thought on “What I Read: September 2023

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *