The Little Bookery Round-up: August

Aug book covers.jpg

Predecessor to The Running Hare, reviewed in last month’s round-up. And quite similar it is too, taking us through a year of the life in a hay meadow lovingly cared for Lewis-Stempel. His golden heart encompasses the soil, the plants, the wildlife, the farm animals that all call the meadow their home for some or all of the year.

Simply lovely.

I gave this two stars on Amazon along with a reasonably-sized review explaining my rating. So far it’s got ‘0 out of 4 helpful votes’ which means that four people are very, very angry that I did not enjoy this book. Lolz.

There’s nothing stand-out about this book at all. If you’ve read this guy’s stuff before than I guess you could try it (the author includes several footnotes directing you to read other books of his…). But there was nothing on offer for a new reader.

In the 1950s, a young female archaeologist travels to the American West to search for evidence of ancient humans in a canyon soon to be swallowed by a dam.

I’m not sure how memorable this book will prove for me, but I enjoyed it. Will definitely appeal to horsie people.

I already knew something of how intelligent and individuated octopuses are (not octopi, because you don’t pluralise Greek words like that. Now you know). But this book provided a plethora of anecdotes about just how intelligent and individuated octopuses are, centring around the New England Aquarium in Boston and its resident octopuses.

I did sometimes feel uncomfortable reading the book – the author waxes lyrical about octopuses but never truly faces up to the reality that capturing them for the aquarium means caging them for the rest of their lives. But there is reason in her statement that these individuals act as ambassadors for all wild octopuses and for the oceans.

Most amazing thing I learned: so much of an octopus’s neural matter is concentrated in its tentacles that it essentially has a “fragmented consciousness”. Imagine if your limbs were sentient?

There was an octopus in this book too! Except it was an octopus that had been bio-printed in a lab. With a human consciousness projected into it.

This is a pretty damn awesome sci-fi or, perhaps more accurately, speculative fiction (less space opera and more “Bristol-based crazy mind technology”). Essentially there’s a whole industry around the technology of projecting human minds into specially-created animal vessels. Through the protagonist, Kit (the titular Katherine North), we see through so many different eyes – fox, spider, elephant, tiger, whale, seal… The way Geen wrote it was fantastic. She’s clearly done so much research, because she portrays the experiences of Kit through these animals so intimately, so vividly. Animal-lovers will love this.

The ending’s dodgy, hence why I can’t give a full 10/10. But I really, really hope there’s a sequel.

  • Replica by Lauren Oliver – 5/10

YA speculative fiction about cloning. I was pretty disappointed by this after all the pre-publication hype. It had so much unfulfilled potential and the central conceit of allowing the reader to choose which order to read the POVs (Points of View) in wasn’t nearly as innovative as it presented itself as.

Some of you on Facebook may have seen how I acquired this book – it came over the garden fence.

A children’s book I should have read as a child, really, but still a lovely way to pass the time. I felt transported to the Yorkshire moor.

I first saw this book months ago in the hands of a fellow tube commuter, who read it over the course of two weeks or so (I kept track). It’s so pretty. So when I found myself in Foyles a few weeks ago with a book token to burn (THE JOY), and the book presented itself to me on its shelf, I couldn’t resist.

Michell went to Argentina in the 1970s to teach at a boarding school. On one of his school holiday travels, he walked onto a beach covered in dead Magellanic penguins, massacred by an oil slick.

But one penguin was still alive. Michell took it back to his rooms, cleaned it, and then tried to release it. But it refused to leave him. And so, he took it back to school with him.

It’s a fairly short book, but a wonderful one that reaffirms the endless potential of interspecies friendship.

I cried.

Very bad thriller/horror.

Also, there was no ice.

There was a lot of sand, though.

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