September 2019: Reading Challenge Reviews

Fall is finally here!

I don’t know about you but autumn is one of my favourite times to read. There’s nothing like the sound of rain hitting the windowpanes as you curl up with a good book and a knit blanket. And this September, “Raincouver” has lived up to its name.

So, without further ado, here are my rainy-day reads for the month!

Victory Garden - Rhys Bowen Review
Book With A Strong Female Lead
(Week 36: September 3 – 9, 2019) The Victory Garden — Rhys Bowen

Somedays you just want to curl up on the couch, grab an “easy” read, and relax. That’s what Rhys Bowen’s books are for me.

The Victory Garden is set at the end of the first world war. Twenty-one-year-old Emily is ready to contribute to the war efforts and signs up as a “Land Girl.” As her path crosses with a young Australian pilot, her life spins and tangles in ways she’d never imagined but wouldn’t ever change.

For a Saturday afternoon in the sun, this is a great read. It’s comfortable in its predictability with an easy plot and charming writing. The dialogue occasionally “tells” more than it “shows” but the characters are winsome and sweet. If you’re looking for a lighthearted historical romance, this may be a good choice for you!

4 stars out of 5

Columbine Book ReviewA Book That Makes You Mad
(Week 37: September 10 – 16,
 2019) Columbine — Dave Cullen

This book needs little introduction. (The title speaks for itself — evoking images of violence and devastation.) Columbine was heartbreaking and difficult to read. But it’s also a story of remarkable triumph and perseverance. It’s raw and real and uncovered a lot of the myths that still cling to this tragedy.

While this book felt well researched, there were, however, a couple of things that didn’t sit quite right for me. Along with its seemingly unbalanced portrayal of faith, I struggled with the writing style. It was an interesting book with gripping facts but it didn’t quite hit the mark for me as a reader. Thus, this book earned itself 3.5 stars out of 5.

Marilla Book Review

Set in the Victorian Era
(Week 38: September 17 – 23,
 2019) Marilla — Sarah McCoy

One of my favourite parts of this challenge is the ability to get creative with prompts. When we think about books set in the Victorian Era, we naturally gravitate towards England — and that’s why I was thrilled to discover that while Marilla is set on Prince Edward Island, Canada, it takes place between the years 1837 and 1876. (They even make mention of the Queen’s coronation!) Perfect.

Marilla is written as a prequel to one of my favourite series — “Anne of Green Gables” by L.M Montgomery. This is an absolutely beautiful take on Marilla’s coming-of-age story. The chapters are layered with those familiar Avonlea faces and places, alongside a healthy dose of pre-confederation Canadian history. I love how McCoy captured the essence of the characters we know and love, while giving us an entirely plausible glimpse into their “pre-Anne” years.

While I felt that the book ended with Marilla being a bit too soft (given her gruff entry in the Anne books) it was still a very satisfying spinoff. This delightful and entirely nostalgic novel is well-deserving of its 5 stars out of 5.

A Spark of Light Review

Nominated for 2018 GoodReads Choice Awards
(Week 39: September 24 – 30,
 2019) A Spark Of Light — Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult is always a go-to author for me. I love her ability to take controversial subjects and weave together the lives of characters with fundamentally different perspectives. While her early books grew a bit formulaic, I always take a lot away from her stories.

This novel is written backwards, exploring the characters who find themselves caught up in a women’s health clinic shooting. While the book was an interesting read, if I’m honest, this wasn’t one of my favourites from Picoult. The “reverse storytelling” and rapid switching from one narrative to another left me struggling to distinguish between characters. While the plot was intriguing, the “twist” at the end wasn’t nearly as “twisty” as her previous novels and overall, I was left feeling a little “meh.”

Not her strongest work, but still an easy 3.5 stars out of 5.

 


September Reads 2019 Challenge

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