August reading round-up

The summer turned out quite nice in the end here in Bristol. But perhaps I’m biased because August ends with mine and Tim’s anniversary. This year we celebrated 14 years. That’s two-fifths of my life!

My reading has been fairly eclectic this month. I took more than two weeks to read a perfectly ordinary short novel so then I turned to easy reads like superhero comics. I think I’m back on track now, but I did only manage one book towards Women in Translation Month in the end, which isn’t as good as I’d hoped.

I did treat myself to a little book shopping. Because new books! Here are my purchases:

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Books read

The Monster’s Daughter by Michelle Pretorius
This genre-bender jumps between two storylines: the investigation surrounding a murder in a small town called Unie in 2010 and the intertwined lives of two children born in 1901 during the Boer War. A lot of dark themes come up but amidst the violence and brutality there are great characters and just enough levity.

Zennor in Darkness by Helen Dunmore
I picked this off the TBR after coming home from holiday in Cornwall, because it’s set in Cornwall. Zennor is a small village in Cornwall near St Ives. It’s 1917 and the Great War is at its height. Clare Coyne has always felt like an outsider in her home town but now the war is changing everything. Will her beloved cousin John William come home safe? Can she trust the newcomer DH Lawrence and his German wife? This is a lyrical novel and I really need to write my review. [Update: here’s my review.]

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
In this YA dystopia, everyone has plastic surgery on their 16th birthday to turn them from an Ugly into a Pretty. Tally is really looking forward to her operation until she meets Shay, the first Ugly she ever knew who didn’t want to become Pretty. Shay has her reasons – reasons that lead to a rollicking adventure. This is a fun read but pretty predictable.

Spider-Woman: Shifting Gears, Vol. 1: Baby Talk by Dennis Hopeless and Javier Rodriguez
If you’ve read Marvel comics recently, you may have noticed that Spider-Woman has gone and had a baby. This is the story of her pregnancy, and her attempt to fit crime-fighting around impending motherhood. It’s a fun read.

Secret Avengers, Vol. 1: Let’s Have a Problem by Ales Kot, Michael Walsh
Secret Avengers, Vol. 2: The Labyrinth by Ales Kot, Michael Walsh
Secret Avengers, Vol. 3: God Level by Ales Kot, Michael Walsh
SHIELD boss Maria Hill has put together a crack secret team – Black Widow, Spider-Woman, Nick Fury, Phil Coulson and definitely not Hawkeye – and they have multiple secret missions to fight. This is a fun series, teasing all the possible combinations of team-up, with an assortment of interesting villains.

Chéri by Colette
I love Colette. This is typical fare: the story of a rich middle-aged courtesan called Léa who has spent six years grooming the beautiful youth she calls Chéri. Now it’s time for him to marry and they both need to confront the possibility that they have actual feelings for each other.

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
I first read this modern classic for my A-levels but that was almost 20 years ago so I thought it was time for a revisit. It’s the story of a great Nigerian warrior called Okonkwo and his fall from grace – helped along by the arrival of the white man. It’s written in a very straightforward folktale style and I do recommend it – but don’t read the blurb on the back as, on my edition at least, the very end of the story is given away.

Short stories read

“The boy detective” by Roger Rosenblatt (Selected Shorts podcast)

“Notes from a lady at a dinner party” by Bernard Malamud (Selected Shorts podcast)

“The king’s teacup at rest” by Michael Andreasen (New Yorker, July 11 & 18, 2016)

Hope you had a great August. Happy September!

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