Hello fellow book people!
We are well on our way to a mostly rainy and windy Autumn here in Groningen, the university classes have started and the Man Booker shortlist was announced just a couple of days ago. I had decided to undertake the Project Man Booker 2017 here on my blog, by attempting to read all 13 titles before the announcement of the shortlist. As you can probably imagine I failed to meet my project’s deadline, but I will be posting an update in a few days on the books I have read so far and my thoughts on the shortlist.
But now let’s have a look at my September book haul.
First I have here the longlisted novel by Kamila Shamsie that did not make it into the second round of the Man Booker prize. Shamsie is reimagining Sophocle’s Antigone, introducing Isma and Ameeka, two sisters that deeply love each other but, after a heated argument about their brother who has disappeared from their lives, anger becomes an unmoving barrier between them and they grow apart. I have read about 20% of the book and I have enjoyed it so far, I think it has the potential to be a beautiful story but unfortunately I will have to put it on hold for now in favour of the shortlisted novels I have not yet read. Book synopsis:
Isma is free. After years spent raising her twin siblings in the wake of their mother’s death, she is finally studying in America, resuming a dream long deferred. But she can’t stop worrying about Aneeka, her beautiful, headstrong sister back in London – or their brother, Parvaiz, who’s disappeared in pursuit of his own dream: to prove himself to the dark legacy of the jihadist father he never knew.
Then Eamonn enters the sisters’ lives. Handsome and privileged, he inhabits a London worlds away from theirs. As the son of a powerful British Muslim politician, Eamonn has his own birthright to live up to – or defy. Is he to be a chance at love? The means of Parvaiz’s salvation? Two families’ fates are inextricably, devastatingly entwined in this searing novel that asks: what sacrifices will we make in the name of love?
Along with Home Fire, I also got Elmet since these books were the two latest releases of the Booker longlist. Elmet has not been given much attention as of yet but I have heard positive opinions about it. The story sounds very promising to me and since it has found its place in the longlist I will be picking it up very soon. Book synopsis:
Daniel is heading north. He is looking for someone. The simplicity of his early life with Daddy and Cathy has turned sour and fearful. They lived apart in the house that Daddy built for them with his bare hands. They foraged and hunted. When they were younger, Daniel and Cathy had gone to school. But they were not like the other children then, and they were even less like them now. Sometimes Daddy disappeared, and would return with a rage in his eyes. But when he was at home he was at peace. He told them that the little copse in Elmet was theirs alone. But that wasn’t true. Local men, greedy and watchful, began to circle like vultures. All the while, the terrible violence in Daddy grew.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Yes, I have still not read Station Eleven. Not only that but I have specifically avoided every single review about it along with the synopsis because I wanted to go into it blind. Unfortunately, it was impossible not to find out at least that it is a post-apocalyptic story since everyone was talking about Station Eleven on BookTube. Finally, I bought my own copy. The thing about apocalyptic novels and myself is that I am very interested in end-of-the-world stories. I find them unbelievably interesting and fun and I so I am always going into them with the highest of expectations. It is no wonder then that I am mostly disappointed in the end. This is exactly the case with Station Eleven, too. I am expecting an amazing story, I am also expecting to be disappointed. Book synopsis:
One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve.
Moving back and forth in time—from the actor’s early days as a film star to fifteen years in the future, when a theater troupe known as The Travelling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains—this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor’s first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Traveling Symphony, caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet.
BookDepository: Station Eleven
Orange Is the New Black by Piper Kerman
This is the memoir that inspired the titular TV series OITNB and is the story of Piper Kerman, a woman who has a loving relationship, a career and an otherwise normal life if you don’t count her criminal past. Ten years ago Kerman delivered a suitcase of drug money and has now been sentenced to serve fifteen months in prison. Admittedly, it was the TV show that urged me to pick up this book last year. I read the two chapters that I found available as a sampler and I wanted to know more about Piper Kerman’s real life and experience in a federal correctional facility. If you haven’t watch the TV show yet, I strongly recommend it. The first episode is probably the best Pilot episode I have even watched in a series so if you are not hooked from the beginning you don’t have to wait for it to “get better”. But yes, what a unique perspective from a woman with a widely relatable life and how she changes when she has to survive the cruelty of the system at its worse. Book synopsis:
With a career, a boyfriend, and a loving family, Piper Kerman barely resembles the reckless young woman who delivered a suitcase of drug money ten years before.
But that past has caught up with her.
Convicted and sentenced to fifteen months at the infamous federal correctional facility in Danbury, Connecticut, the well-heeled Smith College alumna is now inmate #11187–424 — one of the millions of people who disappear “down the rabbit hole” of the American penal system.
From her first strip search to her final release, Kerman learns to navigate this strange world with its strictly enforced codes of behavior and arbitrary rules. She meets women from all walks of life, who surprise her with small tokens of generosity, hard words of wisdom, and simple acts of acceptance.
Heartbreaking, hilarious, and at times enraging, Kerman’s story offers a rare look into the lives of women in prison—why it is we lock so many away and what happens to them when they’re there.
BookDepository: Orange Is the New Black
Red Country by Joe Abercrombie
When you read the major works of George R. R. Martin, A Game of Thrones, there is an inevitable feeling of emptiness once you finish the last page. How will there ever be anything that can measure up to this? is the question that follows. Joe Abercrombie, of course, is not comparable to George R. R. Martin simply because, although they both swim in the fantasy realm, their voices and chosen narrative paths are completely different. Still, as a big fantasy reader I am very happy to have added Abercrombie to my short list of Top Fantasy Authors. And, even though I am only half way through Last Argument of Kings which is the last novel in The First Law Trilogy, I went ahead and bought the rest of The First Law series that is comprised by three standalone novels the last one being Red Country (there is also a recent collection of short stories which I might be picking up later on). Book synopsis:
They burned her home.
They stole her brother and sister.
But vengeance is following.
Shy South hoped to bury her bloody past and ride away smiling, but she’ll have to sharpen up some bad old ways to get her family back, and she’s not a woman to flinch from what needs doing. She sets off in pursuit with only a pair of oxen and her cowardly old step father Lamb for company. But it turns out Lamb’s buried a bloody past of his own. And out in the lawless Far Country, the past never stays buried.
Their journey will take them across the barren plains to a frontier town gripped by gold fever, through feud, duel and massacre, high into the unmapped mountains to a reckoning with the Ghosts. Even worse it will force them into alliance with Nicomo Cosca, infamous soldier of fortune, and his feckless lawyer, Temple, two men no one should ever have to trust…
The past never stays buried…
Half a King by Joe Abercrombie
Not only did I buy Red Country, but Abercrombie is the reason why I picked up a YA series. Now, through the years when I was younger I loved reading young adult fiction and I could never imagine myself ever reading adult books let alone never reading YA fiction anymore. In fact there was a time that I was worried there wasn’t going to be enough YA fiction for me to read ( I was a naive little shit). But, sadly, I have outgrown my YA obsession. I no longer find happiness in young adult works, and I consistently find most of them to be, to put it mildly, not for me. But every once in a blue moon, a YA novel appears that is fun and deep and simply the YA story I am looking to find which was the case with the Red Rising trilogy that I very much enjoyed. Abercrombie has generated enough faith in me to give a try to his YA trilogy, Shattered Sea. I opened the book’s first page, read the first paragraph and thought “Who writes like this?”. The prose was simply beautiful. High expectations there Mr Abercrombie! Book synopsis:
Betrayed by his family and left for dead, Prince Yarvi, reluctant heir to a divided kingdom, has vowed to reclaim a throne he never wanted.
But first he must survive cruelty, chains and the bitter waters of the Shattered Sea itself – all with only one good hand. Born a weakling in the eyes of a hard, cold world, he cannot grip a shield or swing an axe, so he has sharpened his mind to a deadly edge.
Gathering a strange fellowship of the outcast, he finds they can help him more than any noble could. Even so, Yarvi’s path may end as it began – in twists, traps and tragedy…
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
Along with me starting the Shattered Sea trilogy soon I will also be starting this multiple award-winning novel by Ann Leckie called the Imperial Radch. I read a little bit of Ancillary Justice before buying it and the story has stayed with me for weeks sparking my curiosity to see what’s next. Book synopsis:
On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest. Once, she was the Justice of Toren- a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy. Now, an act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with one fragile human body, unanswered questions, and a burning desire for vengeance.
BookDepository: Ancillary Justice
And these are all the books I got in September. I am really looking forward to dive into the new series and to complete an old one now that the weather is getting colder and the days shorter and I have many excuses to read more.
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6 Comments Add yours
Don’t you just love book hauls? I just did a shopping spree myself. My reading is usually all over the place (so many genres and age brackets), but this time I was looking specifically for contemporary YA realistic fiction. I searched for hours reading reviews and whatnot and deciding what to buy. How do you usually decide what to buy or what to read next? Do you always focus on the award lists or follow blog/fried recommendations? There is just so much to read and so little time 🙂
Have fun reading. I enjoyed seeing the titles you decided on.
Oh, I know what you mean with the shopping spree! Haha, I hope you got some great YA books.
That’s actually a very nice question. I don’t follow award lists so much, this year was the first time I decided to read the Man Booker longlist. But I have found that the Pulitzer prize agrees with me (or rather I tend to agree with it) so I am going for the winning books there. Otherwise I think the best thing to do is find some reviewers and friends that I trust and mostly enjoy their recommendations. I watch Thomas from the BookTube channel SFF180 for SFF books and a few reviewers on Goodreads I tend to have similar tastes with.
What about you? How do you decide what to get?
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To find my next books, I usually look at the recommendations on Amazon or Goodreads. I also found certain reviewers on Goodreads that I tend to agree with, so I check out their lists as well. And sometimes some of the book blogs I follow has a post that draws my attention.
My favorite YA books that I’ve read recently are The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, A Monster Calls, and Me & Earl & the Dying Girl. All three are fantastic, but most of the other YA I’ve picked up the past year has been disappointing. YA is tricky that way. Either I really really like it or I just don’t.
The one I’m reading right now from my most recent book haul is called What to Say Next. I’m at 25% right now and I’m a little disappointed, but I’m going to keep reading and hope it gets better.
I also thought A Monster Calls was great but the movie of Me & Earl was better than the book for me. I am very difficult to please when it comes to YA which is a shame because it’s the most popular and widely available genre.
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Some great sounding books in here. I’ve never read anything by Joe Abercrombie, but I’m curious about him. I should post my latest book haul too.
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I kept hearing about Joe Abercrombie since his first novel came out. But still, now, after reading him I think he is a little underappreciated.
Anyway, I hope you will give him a try and like his work as much as I do. And ye on the book haul 🙂