Monthly Roundup

Monthly Roundup: August 2015

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Every first Wednesday of the month, I’ll be posting a roundup of the month just gone, and writing about what’s to come in the next few weeks.

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Last month I read a total of ten books: A History of Ancient Britain by Neil Oliver, The Lola Quartet by Hilary St. John Mandel, Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding, Landline by Rainbow Rowell, Catalyst (Insignia #3) by S.J. Kincaid, We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo, Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1) by Brandon Sanderson, The String Diaries (The String Diaries #1) by Stephen Lloyd Jones, Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira and The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton.

Warbreaker, Catalyst and We Need New Names were the stand out books for August. I was left disappointed by Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy and Landline – mostly they just did not work for me due to my age.

August was a funny month as I was internetless, so it was really difficult to do much for the blog. That will be changing now, however, as I finally have internet – and also Sci-Fi Month to prepare for! 😉

 

Challenge progress:

  • I have currently read 61 books towards my Goodreads goal – which was 50, and I had to raise to 75, hoping to raise it again before the end of the year!

 

Currently reading:

Twelve Kings
How was August for you?

Review

Review: We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo

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4 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

Initially, I was a little put off of this book when I started reading it because of the lack of speech marks – which may seem like a petty thing, but it’s not a device I particularly like. To me, it makes the text run into itself, and can sometimes make it difficult to tell who is talking. However I quickly got over this small hiccup, due to NoViolet Bulawayo’s gift for prose. Her writing is visual and vivid, shocking and touching, but also honest.

I felt just as gripped by Darling’s simple life of stealing fruit and inventing new games to play with her friends as I would be with some epic quest-filled fantasy or giant space opera. I was drawn into Darling’s world, where every little thing seemed to have so much meaning and significance.

However, this book was not just about a ten year old girl in Zimbabwe, passing her days playing games with her friends. There were so many serious issues – politics, poverty, AIDs, rape, child pregnancy, racism – covered within the book. The portrayal of these issues through the eyes of an innocent child made them all the more shocking, such as Darling’s emotionless reaction to her father dying of AIDs.

Darling’s main ambition is to move to America, and live with her aunt in Detroit (referred to by Darling and her friends as ‘Destroyedmicheygen’). Eventually she is able to join her aunt in the US, and this is where NoViolet Bulawayo demonstrates fantastic character progression. Darling’s language changes as she ages and adapts to the USA. She picks up slang, she is suddenly surrounded by technology and supermarkets and other things that were missing or less common in her life in Zimbabwe. As she grows, we see her lose her curiosity in things. We see how many people like Darling move to the States with big hopes and dreams, with the aim of providing for their family, and then can never return home because if they do, they cannot re-enter the States. Therefore they must sacrifice this connection with their family for the ability to provide for them.

We Need New Names was an absolutely beautiful book, in both prose and subject matter. We see Darling change from a curious young girl to a hard-working woman, working her way towards community college and also sending money back home for her mother, friends and other people from her village. The book felt both sad and joyful at the same time, in that Darling achieved her goals, but for that she had to sacrifice her connection to her homeland. Definitely highly recommended to all.

Past Features

Weekly Roundup #34

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My ‘Weekly Roundup’ is where I share the books I have received in the past week, whether bought, gifted, borrowed etc. This is a couple of weeks worth of this feature – apparently I haven’t posted one since October, what with Sci-Fi Month in November and then the blog migration to WordPress in December.


Gifted

  • Lonely Planet: The Netherlands – I received this for Christmas from my parents, as I’m off to the Netherlands for my Masters this year. Even though I’ll be studying, I’ve got to make the most of my year abroad (although I’m hoping I’ll stay there a bit longer if possible) and I want to visit as many places as possible!
  • The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon – I’m sure you’ve seen this one all over the blogosphere. Samantha Shannon has been pipped as ‘the new J.K. Rowling’, and has signed a seven book deal, as well as the film rights to the series – and she’s a year younger than me. Urk.

 

Bought

  • Hodd by Adam Thorpe – this is a sort of alternate version of the traditional Robin Hood story. I kept seeing it in my local charity shop, and eventually picked it up – it’s practically brand new. This is one of my planned books for the Avengers vs. X-Men Challenge.
  • The Dinner by Herman Koch – I first heard about this book when I read Kelly’s review of it. It’s the sort of contemporary/adult fiction novel I like – with something just hidden below the surface. Plus it’s set in Amsterdam, and I want to read more books set in the Netherlands!
  • The Science of Doctor Who by Paul Parsons – um, how was I ever going to spot this in a charity shop and NOT buy it?
  • The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan – I’m interested to see how this one plays out, as it’s co-written by a film director – although it’s definitely within his genre. This is another one I’m planning to read for the Avengers vs. X-Men Challenge.

 

For Kindle

Ever since I got my own Kindle, I’ve gone kind of crazy. All these 99p deals on brand new books! And the classics, which I’ll mention but not bother with covers: Popular Tales from the Norse, The Babylonian Legends of Creation, Lysistrata, The Birds, The Frogs, The Eleven Comedies, Travels in West Africa, The Works of Edgar Allan Poe, Vanity Fair and soooo many more… (I started listing them then realised exactly how many I had downloaded…)

Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith

  • Raising Steam (Discworld #40) by Terry Pratchett – new Discworld novel? For 99p? Yes, yes I will buy it.
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman – short adult fiction by Neil Gaiman. I’ve only read his books for younger readers, so I’d like to see how different his adult writing is.
  • The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – Donna Tartt’s The Secret History is one of my favourite books, and when I spotted this new release of hers for 99p I thought I’d give it a try.
  • The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith – written by J.K. Rowling under a pseudonym, I’d love to see how this differs from her usual writing style.

 

Netgalley

So one of my Bookish New Years Resolutions was to get my Netgalley ratio up to at LEAST 50%. So naturally, at the beginning of the year I requested a whole load of new books from Netgalley. The cover links to the Goodreads page.

The Vanishing by Wendy Webb Camelot Burning by Kathryn Rose The Cruel Path by David J. Normoyle Drawn by Cecilia Gray In the Company of Thieves by Kage Baker The Martian by Andy Weir We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo Doctor Who: The Death Pit by A.L. Kennedy Providence Hang Wire by Adam Christopher The Waking Engine by David Edison Black Moon

And that’s it! I think I have enough for a while now… not that that will stop me getting more books! What new reads do you have this week?