Septober Book Round-up

sept-and-oct

SO, I’ve been very bad, and put September and October together. Life getting in the way. In the not-good way.

In terms of books, these two months have been a really mixed bag. Some bloody fantastic reads, and some really meh, having-to-drag-my-attention-along-like-it’s-a-cat-on-a-leash reads. So I’ll be more sparing than usual with the reviews. Here’s the stand-outs:

  • Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky – science fiction
  • His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet – thriller/faux non fiction/f**k it I don’t know go and read it
  • An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro – literary fiction
  • An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield – non fiction

All books read in September (7) and October (7):

Eminent climate scientist explains why the loss of polar ice and all the resulting feedback effects are so damn terrifying.

I just wish the book hadn’t been so dry and devoid of a human touch. We need scientists who are good at their job AND good at communicating to the rest of us why their job is very important to the rest of us. Full review here.

A Chinese tale that spans across the twentieth century, during the days of Mao and Tiananmen Square, and after.

I’ve got to admit, I’m not sure I would’ve stuck with this book if I hadn’t been stuck in a car for a long journey. Man Booker 2016 shortlisted title. Make of that what you will.

Bray is pretty much my favourite author right now. Her debut A Song For Issy Bradley is beautifully devastating, and The Museum of You is a fine follow-up, full of bittersweet life. This book is a collection of short stories, originally published before her first novel. I enjoyed it at the time and could easily read it again, though I’ve already forgotten a lot of the stories – it didn’t make much of an imprint in me. Can’t wait for what she writes next, though.

A Man Booker shortlist title that is ACTUALLY WORTH READING, GUYS.

I have so many questions. I was so gripped. Immerse yourself in this grim dark tale.

Read my review for this fabulous work of science fiction on the blog, here.

Margaret Atwood is an incontestable legend in the literary world, but I still haven’t found a book of hers that rings in harmony with my soul… though this one is quite a good read. Just teeters a bit too much over the line of pastiche/surrealism. I like my apocalypse stories to be gritty and real.

A sort of memoir from the Canadian astronaut who’s made quite a name for himself with viral videos like singing Bowie up on the ISS. It wasn’t lyrically written, but it was very engaging, hopping back and forth between Hadfield’s experience of his trips into space (including his six month stay on the ISS) and his life on the ground as he worked towards the goal of becoming an astronaut. Packed full of pretty sensible life advice like teamwork, learning, and being at one with yourself and your hopes and dreams.

Also, did you know that before astronauts board the Soyuz to go up to the ISS, they stop on the road to pee against the front tyre of their minibus? It has something to do with Yuri Gagarin. Don’t ask.

Not as inspiring as I was hoping, but a decent read. See the review here.

  • Enon by Paul Harding – 4/10

Grief-stricken father goes off the tracks. Trying. Had a long plane journey so it got done.

Totally different to Never Let Me Go, which is a good thing because I did not engage with that book of Ishiguro’s at all. But this one is set in his native Japan, just after WW2, and it’s fascinating. The main character is a classic unreliable narrator, and the reader’s left to decide how much he’s forgotten, or has denied, or has buried deep in his subconscious.

Odd semi-magical realism. Girl gains the ability to taste people’s feelings in the food they’ve prepared.

One of those books I read when I feel like being sophisticated. A story with philosophical musings woven through. Interesting, but I wasn’t hugely engaged. Which makes me feel guilty because I gather it’s somewhat important in the history of literature.

YA about a girl in a coma who’s walking the hospital in spirit form, deciding whether to live or to leave.

I have to admit, I was “holding back” on this story for much of its duration, because I sort of felt “well, it’s easy to tug at the reader’s heartstrings with a premise like this, a bit sappy really”, but then I read the afterword and… it all made a lot more sense. And I approached the book with new understanding.

The book still felt a bit too sappy for my liking, but it was compelling, and it did pull on my heartstrings.

A lazy, free weekend meant I had plenty of time to get into this. The characters are very well-drawn, better than most of those I’ve come across recently, although the plot went a weird and slightly disappointing way. A girl who’s basically a Mutant ends up, of all places, on an X Factor-type show. And… everyone seems to think this is normal. See the review here.

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