September 2018 Books to Read (and Skip)

September 2018 Books to Read


Well, my September books didn’t turn out swimmingly. I really liked two of them (and they’re both super unique!), but DNF’d the other three. That’s a lot of DNF’s.

The good news is I have a stellar October line-up and hope to report back with lots of fantastic books for you!

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Read These

Foe Foe by Iain Reid
Fiction – Literary / Science Fiction (Release Date: September 4, 2018)
272 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Publisher (Gallery / Scout Press)

Plot Summary: Set in the near future, Junior is selected to participate in a partially government-run endeavor that requires him to leave his wife (Hen) on their isolated farm for a long time…but, the powers that be will make sure Hen is not alone in Junior’s absence.

My Thoughts: I’m don’t typically love Science Fiction, but I have been known to occasionally enjoy genre mash-ups that dip their toes into Sci-Fi (e.g. Dark Matter, The Beautiful Bureaucrat). Part literary fiction, part page turner, part Sci-Fi (and definitely creepy), Foe falls in this category. From the moment the book opened (and, really, well into the second half), I had no idea what was going on. It was clear that some omnipresent higher power had control over regular citizens and something wasn’t quite right with Junior’s wife, Hen. Outside of that, Foe had that “WTF is going on” vibe that permeated The Beautiful Bureaucrat. And, I was incredibly curious to find out. My overwhelming curiosity and very short chapters had me turning the pages quickly. The best thing about Foe for me was that, in addition to the unsettled feeling about what was going on, it examines a marriage (power dynamics, life choices, and isolation) and makes you consider big life questions (What is humanity? How do you feel about progress?). Foe is a unique book and a great choice if you’re looking to try out some Science Fiction without jumping headfirst into the deep end (plus, make sure you don’t mind creepy, but not in a scary way!).

Everything changes. Change is one of the only certainties in life. Human beings progress. We have to. We evolve. We move. We expand. What seems far-fetched and extreme becomes normal and the outdated pretty quickly. We move on to the next thing, the next development, the next frontier.

The WildlandsThe Wildlands by Abby Geni
Fiction – Literary (Release Date: September 4, 2018)
368 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Publisher (Counterpoint)

Plot Summary: After the McCloud children lose everything in a Category 5 tornado in their hometown of Mercy, Oklahoma (thus attracting considerable media attention), their brother (Tucker) runs away leaving the three McCloud sisters to fend for themselves. He returns three years later amid further tragedy and thrusts the family into the spotlight yet again.

My Thoughts: The publisher describedThe Wildlands as a literary thriller…and while I don’t think that’s quite accurate, it is a fast-paced story about children that have lost literally everything trying to find their way again. This story touches themes far and wide…humans’ place in the ecosystem, environmental terrorism, children surviving on their own, the media spotlight, Patti Hearst-esque Stockholm syndrome, and complicated sibling relationships. There was lots in this book that reminded me of other books I read, but it all came together in its own unique way…making it very hard to find a single read-alike for it. It has the love of animals and nature of Where the Crawdads Sing (my review), the focus on media attention following a tragedy of Before the Fall (my review), and the family manipulation of Wiley Cash’s This Dark Road to Mercy (my review). There’s also some similarity to Christian Kiefer’s The Animals (my review). The place where I really did see the “literary thriller” come out was the ending, which was surprising and riveting, if not a tad improbable. A solid start to Fall book season! P.S. the publisher’s synopsis gives away way too much of the plot for my taste…I went in pretty blind and recommend you do too!

Maybe it all came back to the tornado. Maybe everything, in the end, came back to the tornado. Darlene wondered whether the storm transfigured her brother – shattering his temperament and reforming the shards into a new structure – or whether it had merely been a catalyst for a tendency already inside him. She would never be certain. Maybe the seeds of instability were present in his brain since birth, lying dormant, awaiting the right trigger to flourish. If it had not been the tornado, it would have been something else. Perhaps Tucker was always destined to chase wildness.

The DNF’s

Ordinary PeopleOrdinary People by Diana Evans (September 11, 2018)
DNF at 1%
Yep, 1%. Again…writing style. And huge blocks of text about some party that sounded pretentious and boring.



The Golden StateThe Golden State by Lydia Kiesling (September 4, 2018)
DNF at 3%
I immediately didn’t like the writing style…it was wordy, overly descriptive, and full of run-on sentences. I knew pretty quickly I wouldn’t be able to tolerate 300 pages of it.



Real LolitaThe Real Lolita by Sarah Weinman (September 11, 2018)
DNF at 34%
This true story of the 1948 abduction of Sally Horner and the connection to the classic novel, Lolita sounded incredibly fascinating and right up my alley (true crime and books? yes!). Alas, the execution wasn’t there. The sections about Lolita read like a term paper and the sections about Sally Horner were hit and miss…with frequent tangents that I didn’t see the point of.

What’s the best book you’ve read so far this month?

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  1. Interesting… I’ve been hearing a lot about Foe, but was initially put off by the Sci-Fi elements as I really don’t read a lot within that genre, however your thoughts have swayed me to give it a try at least. Perhaps I’ll see if my local library carries it. Thanks for sharing; love the format of these posts.

    Posted 9.13.18 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      I don’t read much in that genre either…but still really really liked it! And thank you!

      Posted 9.13.18 Reply
  2. renee wrote:

    I’m reading The Wildlands now and I really like it. I definitely get a Where the Crawdads Sing vibe with the nature and animal writing

    Posted 9.13.18 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      So glad you’re liking it! I thought you might since it’s pretty fast-paced!

      Posted 9.13.18 Reply
  3. I was really excited about The Real Lolita but am not hearing great things about it. :/

    Posted 9.13.18 Reply
  4. I’m with you on Ordinary People…dullsville! I wish the writing in The Golden State had worked for you because I think you would have enjoyed the story elements. It seems authors are taking more and more liberties with “proper” writing conventions. I don’t know why the editors aren’t more aware of what a turn off that can be to so many readers. To me it always feels very lazy.

    I’ve been thoroughly enjoying The Wildlands. With 3.5 hours to go, I’m excited to see how it all wraps up. And Foe? SO good!

    Posted 9.13.18 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      Yay! So glad you liked Foe and Wildlands! And I definitely wish Golden State writing had worked for me..I know I would love those themes.

      Posted 9.13.18 Reply
  5. Good luck with your October reads! Your “read these” books both sound great. I was interested in The Real Lolita, but I can’t stand nonfiction that’s dry or textbookish.

    Posted 9.13.18 Reply
  6. Amanda wrote:

    I love that you can DNF at 1%. I think I’m jealous. I am very curious about Foe!

    Posted 9.13.18 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      Haha! Maybe I should acquire some more patience?!

      Posted 9.13.18 Reply
  7. Tina wrote:

    Oh man! I was super into the Lolita premise too. But Foe sounds wonderful!

    Posted 9.13.18 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      Me too. It’s a shame.

      Posted 9.13.18 Reply
  8. Amanda wrote:

    Nah. You have enough to read and to do with 2 kids!

    Posted 9.14.18 Reply
  9. Thanks for saving me the trouble on the Lolita one. I just finished Vera (Mrs. Valdimir Nabokov) and saw the title and thought it might add to that reading experience. Good reviews on all.

    Posted 9.14.18 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      I did hear a fiction version of this story called Rust & Stardust is pretty good!

      Posted 9.25.18 Reply
  10. Beth F wrote:

    I’m still planning on reading the Lolita one — but I’ll likely pick print now instead of audio (so I can skim a bit if need be).

    Posted 9.15.18 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      Would love to hear your thoughts when/if you finish!

      Posted 9.25.18 Reply
  11. Sarah, hi! I appreciate you let your readers know exactly where a book stands with you. Helpful reviews, for sure …

    Posted 9.15.18 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      Thank you 🙂 I try to be as candid as possible!

      Posted 9.25.18 Reply
  12. Andrea wrote:

    Glad to hear a review from someone I trust on The Wildlands – a lot of buzz, but wasn’t sure if it was over hyped! Also, now I have to read Foe, apparently! Love an atypical sci-fi.

    Posted 9.16.18 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      Definitely read Foe then! And I didn’t even realize The Wildlands had gotten a lot of buzz! It’s a unique read that I couldn’t put down.

      Posted 9.25.18 Reply
  13. Rory wrote:

    I have (had?) such high hopes for Golden State. I’m still going to give it a try, but maybe I’ll lower my expectations going in.

    Posted 9.17.18 Reply
  14. Ha ha, I also DNFed The Golden State the other day — at 2%. Those run-on sentences, and the pretentious writing!

    Posted 9.18.18 Reply
  15. Jan wrote:

    Loved The Wildlands. I listened on audio and it was riveting narration. I don’t think I would describe it as a literary thriller either but I’m not sure what genre I would put it under. In any case, thanks for the recommendation. If not for your post I think this one would have escaped my notice.

    Foe is on my radar. I entered a GR giveaway and hope I win. Library due dates stress me out, ha!

    I too love your honesty and trust your reviews because of it.

    Posted 9.21.18 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      I couldn’t put The Wildlands under any genre! And I loved that about it!

      And thank you – I always try to be as candid as possible!

      Posted 9.25.18 Reply

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