During this month I also ran a reading challenge, which you can read about here and here. Most of the books I read were for judging so can’t be discussed here, but I also managed to squeeze in a few other titles for fun or review. Thank goodness, I needed the break!
Onto the novels read in September!
An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield is probably the most inspiring book I’ve read in years. Col. Hadfield has an excellent way with words, clearly having spent ages trying to explain things most people have never and will never experience in a way where we can not only understand but comprehend what he’s trying to get across. I was lucky enough to see him live last month when I visited my friend, Alisa, and from here I can’t get enough of his work – look him up on youtube, the seemingly simple things he shows us about space are excellent.
Basically, he’s been up in space as part of the international space station, and it’s endlessly fascinating what it all involves.
Shaler’s Fish by Helen Macdonald is a reprint of one of her books of poetry. In this collection of 42 poems we see the lyrical writing we loved in H is for Hawk put to perfect use for it’s ability to be read aloud and shared, for the beautiful beat the poems are set to, and the musical phrasing.
I’m not usually one for poetry – I like it, but don’t often seek it out – and this was hard to put down.
You can read my review of it here.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling was read for Bethwyn’s re-read. This has always been my least favourite of the series, finding the humour and plot in general socially awkward – between Dobby and Prof Lockhart I’m just cringing right out the door wanting to escape! Bring on the third book – my favourite. At least I hope it still is.
Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa was a book highly recommended from a few friends, and on reading I can see why. The characters in this are raw and real – Sebby is all a bit wow. You feel so much for these characters and what they’re going through, and at the same time you just think wow, they’re so young. The diversity in this book is excellent as is the issues they deal with. The ending however… hrmm.
Fallout: Lois Lane by Gwenda Bond was highly recommended, but didn’t overly manage to grab me – wrong mood, too stressed from trying to read All The Things? Who knows. I know this was aimed at a certain age group however this doesn’t necessarily mean the book would be too simple to be engaging, which is how I found it, unfortunately.
Compound a Felony by Elinor Gray was a bit of fun – fanfiction written in the Sherlock Holmes (original era, not BBC or Elementary, etc) which is, as you can see from the cover, wavers slightly from the canon in a certain regard. It was a quick read that’s well written in parts, however a little repetitive. Recommended for good fanfiction though!
The Beast’s Garden by Kate Forsyth was reported as a retelling of the Grimms’ Beauty and The Beast, set in Nazi Germany. It’s more accurately of ‘The Singing, Springing Lark’ but all in all, it’s strongly in its own form as a window into a horrific time in our history, which made it hard to read at times. Excellent characters made this impossible to put down.
You can read my review of it here.
Forever Red by Margaret Stohl wasn’t as good as I hoped it would be. The parts with Romanoff and Coulson were excellent but few. Tony didn’t seem as realistic. Ava is amazing, but I found Alex fairly dull. Overall I was probably over-hyped for how this novel turned out to be. Overall, it was a nice read, but a bit lacking. Or I was hoping for the world – either way.
The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon by Julie Phillips was amazing. This month has been all about the non-fiction, with two other books part-read and not finished read. The life of Alice Sheldon is truly inspiring. In her life she’s been a painter, worked military intelligence, was part of the very early CIA, tried various writing jobs and different university courses… a long life of trying to find somewhere to fit. Eventually she became one of the best science fiction writers of our time – but known as a man (Tiptree Jr.), as there was no space in that world as a female. It’s heart-breaking and fascinating and just makes you wonder how different life is like today – sadly, probably not much. Not enough.
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor was a novella, packing such a powerful punch in around 100 pages. Binti is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University – an amazing place of study that has a human population of 5%. To say that leaving her family and her people behind is hard is an understatement, it simply isn’t done and there’s little chance of going back thanks to the shame she’s now brought her family for leaving, and utterly ruining her marriage prospects. This is soon the least of her worries though, as the journey to the uni takes a turn for the worst no one could have expected…
Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson was just like her first book – beyond amazing. Lawson explains and discusses mental illness like few others manage to. She’s a wonderful person, startlingly real in a realm of ‘no one else can be as fucked up as I am’. She gives this a voice and a connection, showing many/most people with mental illness feel the same way. When you read her work you realise you’re not as alone as you sometimes feel, and you get a hundred gasping laughs at the absurdity and the magic Lawson has with words as a bonus.
I can’t recommend her books enough, I really can’t.
September was my birthday month, and I also bought my first car (unrelated to the first point), which seems a bit of a mile stone!