01 October 2011

Last Month in Review: September 2011

Happy October, y'all!  October is one of my favorite months and has been in every place I've lived, be it midwest, New England, or the South.  It's a month of transition and unpredictable weather, but despite its unpredictability it's a month always kind enough to guarantee a certain number of cool sunny days, chilly nights, and blue skies whose depth one can only guess at. It also happens to be my beloved's birthday month AND his fall break, which means we usually take a mini-getaway in celebration. 

Thanks in part to three audio books (one of which was begun in July and finished in early September), last month was my most productive reading month of the year except for June, when I had a 16 day vacation, and even so, June beat September by just one book!  The downside of reading so voraciously, I've found, is that I've spent less time writing reviews.  I am trying hard not to feel guilty about that.

Eighteen works in all; 2 non-fiction, 3 audio, 6 for middle grade or YA, 4 novel-length works of Harry Potter fanfiction, 5 not-yet-published novels, and 5 of which I'd read before.  Here they are, in order of which I finished them:

1. Strangers at the Feast by Jennifer Vanderbes.  Review here

2. Carry the One by Carol Anshaw.  Review here

3. Slide by Jill Hathaway.  Review here.

4. For the Love of Hufflepuff Parts 1-3 by Christina Theresa, which combine to make one novel length fanfiction.  Read at www.witchfics.org. 

5. The Best Revenge by the excellent Arsinoe de Blassenville, both parts.  This could count as 2 books but I'll consolidate them down to just one.  What would happen if Snape became Harry's proxy guardian for the wizarding world? 

6. The audio of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling, read by Jim Dale.  Review here but if you don't want to read my rant, suffice it to say that I turned to fanfiction a LOT this month to combat my feeling of disappointment.  This was the audio that I started in July and didn't finish until now.

7. Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness by Alexandra Fuller.  Review here.  Loved this book.  One of only two nonfiction reads for the month. 

8. Maud by Harry Bruce.  This is a biography of L. M. Montgomery, one of my favorite authors.  It's really quite terrible and there's not a single reference to original source materials, or even an index.  But I bought it on a long-ago visit to Prince Edward Island and never read it, plus it was pretty short.  I definitely do not recommend it and will not waste any further time or bandwidth to discuss it.

9 & 10. The Awakening and The Struggle by L. J. Smith.  Review here

11 & 12. Harry Potter and the Enemy Within and Harry Potter and the Chained Souls, both pieces of fanfiction by Theowyn.  These are excellent and give me exactly the kind of tension and resolution between Harry and Snape that I expected from Rowling but didn't get.  Rowling's creations remain firmly rooted in character (which means NO slash), but they do evolve.  It's extremely satisfying and I love that instead of the now-trite Battle of Hogwarts scene, Theowyn involves Harry and Voldemort in a duel of legilimancy.  You can read them here

13. Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller.  Wow, I loved this book and devoured it over two days.  Hopefully I'll be able to settle down and review it soon.  An imagined life of Achilles, told through the eyes of his long time companion and lover, Patroclus, ending of course with Achilles' death in the Trojan War.  Amazing! Also, the cover is beautiful--the helmet shown here is actually bright, reflective gold.

14. So B. It by Sarah Weeks, read by Cherry Jones.  This is one of the worst audio books I've ever listened to.  It was so bad that I couldn't tell if the story was also awful or if it was just the medium.  The ending transcended the reader and was okay, but overall this was torture.  I kept listening 'cause it was short (it's a middle grade book) and I wanted my numbers high for the month.

15. The Cove by Ron Rash.  Again, wow!  Devoured this book, too, and will hopefully find time later to write a review. 

16. Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery. Clearly after reading the awful bio of Maud I had to re-read Anne to cleanse my palate!  I laughed and cried my way through the book yet again--there's no telling how many times I've read this book in the past but it is a novel that touches me deeply. 

17. The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey.  Flew through this read, too, over the course of two semi-insomiac nights.  It's Jane Eyre, retold and set in 1950s & 1960s Scotland and the Orkney Islands.  Great setting.  Loved this book as a child.  And the Rochester character in this book is less reprehensible than the original.

18. The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, read by Tara Sands.  Review here.


  1. Never heard of Flight of Gemma Hardy, but it sounds interesting.

    I can't believe a Cherry Jones audiobook was bad! I love her muchly.

  2. Oh man, a new Ron Rash book! Gimme! Checking it out of the library ASAP.

  3. Funny--I didn't know who Cherry Jones is until I read your comment and looked her up on IMDB. She was definitely not a good match for this book.

    the Gemma Hardy book releases next spring, ditto for the Ron Rash, so requesting them now will put you at the head of the library lists.

  4. Oh gosh, you saved me. I was SO LOOKING forward to reading MAUD!!! Yikes. What a huge disappointment.

    I did love reading her words in the Literary Ladies Guide to Writing. So amazing that she was rooked by her publisher and had so little appreciation when she sent out her manuscripts.

    Pages of joy to you,


  5. Finally, I can leave a comment on your site. I've changed my comment format because people couldn't leave a comment on mine. You might want to check my post from yesterday to see the solution which might help you too. The comment that I tried to make earlier had to do with my admiration of your rate of reading. Have you ever taken speed reading courses? To what do you attribute your ability to read so fast?

  6. Song of Achilles looks like a fabulous book. After reading The Golden Mean a few months ago -and having very low expectations, at that- I was blown away by how much I enjoyed reading stories of really ancient times. And, yeah, the cover . . . gorgeous.


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