Wrap-Up: September 2012

Oh September, how good you have been to me.  I went on holiday to a sunny island later than most people do and it helped me escape the already plummeting temperatures of Vienna for two more weeks. I mostly did other things than reading (like battling the sea… needless to say, the sea won, and eating tons of delicious food) and when I did pick up a book, it was usually something that I’ve been putting off, that I had already started, or that I wouldn’t read in my hasty everyday life. This helped me discover that I am actually a fan of precocious 11-year-old crime solving girls with pigtails, that I wouldn’t mind living in a castle but would very much mind living in a silo, that not all self-published books are necessarily of mediocre quality and that even authors I fell in love with aren’t infallible…

BOOKS READ: 8

PAGES READ: 3186

THE BEST:

Hugh Howey – Wool (Omnibus) 8,5/10

I should have known I’d love it, really. Luke Burrage recommended it very highly but I was still sceptical at first. Then I entered the world of this mysterious underground silo with its many levels, containing what is left of humanity after an undefined apocalypse. So many characters to root for, so many great ideas, and all of that really well written. Hugh Howey is my hero of the month.

Patrick Ness – A Monster Calls 8,5/10

A young boy receives nightly visits by a monster unlike any he had expected. A story that seems predictable but surprised me along the way and ended up being terribly touching. It is also beautifully illustrated and would make a perfect Christmas gift, for those who are already pondering them.

Alan Bradley – The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie 7/10

This was a light holiday read and I didn’t expect it would catch on so well with me. An 11-year-old girl with a passion for chemistry solves crimes in her small village. Flavia de Luce, apart from being wonderfully named, has a charm and wit about her that I simply can’t resist. The voice of the story captured me even though the plot may not have been perfect.

Alan Bradley – The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag 7/10

And here’s another one. I preferred the theme of this part to volume one in the Flavia de Luce series but it took a little longer to resolve, so the rating is the same. It’s mostly Flavia’s voice that won me over again and I think I’d read about pretty much anything that pigtailed girl does, she is so much fun.

THE WORST:

Scott Westerfeld – Leviathan 5,5/10

It wasn’t all bad. But as this month goes, it was the worst book I’ve read. The characters in this YA steampunk adventure are extremely flat, there is no development and the plot is so thin that the story could have been told on half the amount of pages. The illustrations were a highlight and totally up my alley, the idea of Clankers versus Darwinists is intriguing, it’s just the execution that was sadly lacking.

THE REST:

David Mitchell – Cloud Atlas 6,5/10

A more literary than fantasy/sci-fi novel that tells six half-stories only to finish them in the reverse order. A structurally interesting novel that shows off David Mitchell’s grasp of the English language well. As the stories, while connected, are pretty much standing each on their own, I didn’t like all of the equally. And I particularly missed some sort of big bang at the end of this big novel. It is worth reading and I look forward to the movie (which I suspect will be more impressive, simply because of the visuals).

Dodie Smith – I Capture the Castle 6,5/10

This was probably one of the best coming-of-age stories I have ever read. Beautiful prose, a romantic setting, and lovable characters – except, that is, the protagonist. I didn’t like Cassandra and not matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t care about her. That, of course, diminished the pleasure of reading a little. But I suspect that I will like the movie much better because we don’t focus so strictly on Cassandra’s character. She seemed so aloof, so above everybody else. Despite that, this was a beautiful little story that I recommend, especially to girls and women.

N.K. Jemisin – The Killing Moon 6/10

I may be completely alone in rating this book so “low”. I have fallen in love with Jemisin’s writing only this year and devoured everything she has published so far. But I thought in this book, the characters didn’t get enough time to grow on the readers, there were too many words that are explained too late in the story. It made for disruptive reading, for some dragging bits where I didn’t care about the characters and so couldn’t get excited when they did get into danger. I loved the ideas behind the story and will read book two. But there is no rush. Not at all…

Coming up in October:

Yann Martel – Life of Pi

I’m still put off a bit by the preface where Mr. Martel explains that this story was not at all his idea. I’m not sure if the preface is part of the fiction already. Either way,  I’m halfway through this novel and loving it more and more. The less Pi talks about god and religion, the more I enjoy it. And his comments about zoo animals – or animals in general – and the way humans tend to cutefy them, are wonderful to read.

J. K. Rowling – The Casual Vacancy

It is well written, that much is obvious. But I don’t feel as drawn to the plot as I do to other books at the moment. So I’ll be enjoying this slowly and keeping my read-along thread alive. I am intrigued by some of the characters, all the story is missing now is that spark that gives it momentum, that makes the plot really take off. But, let’s face it, I still have almost 400 pages to go, so let’s not complain yet.

Tad Williams – Tailchaser’s Song

So far, this is very much The Hobbit with cats. Tad Williams is a great writer and I loved his Otherland series, but this is a book that is taking me a while. I love the style of it and the characters are lovable and decidedly cat-like. However, I feel that I know exactly what’s coming (the hints were very obvious) and the author is just taking a long time actually getting there. Enjoyable so far, but not great.

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