Book chat · wrapup

BC: June 2018 wrap up

This has definitely been my best reading month so far this year – no doubt down to the fact that all of my exams are done for this academic year! Being at home instead of uni also means that I’m walking to places less frequently than I would during term time, explaining why I haven’t made much progress with audiobooks (I’m currently 71% of the way through Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale). With my internship starting on Monday, my reading for July will feature fewer books, but maybe a couple more audiobooks.


Small Talk – Betty Bohm. 1/5. This was actually the only audiobook I finished in June 2018. After seeing it on a list of easy-going self-improvement books, I thought it was worth a punt and… well, it wasn’t. I have to think that I got the wrong book because the recommendation was talking about how amazing the book was and how it offered a new perspective which everyone could benefit from, but I can’t find that page anymore so hey ho! The book is poorly written, has minimal content (somehow stretched to 114 pages with terrible examples of conversations), and tells you nothing new. The information can be condensed into just a few bullet points:

  • Everyone you speak to has their own life and experiences so don’t focus on yourself too much
  • You don’t always have to make small talk
  • You don’t have to force a conversation for any reason
  • It is usually best to not bother if you feel uncomfortable/ the other people looks uninterested

There might be a small minority who would benefit from being told these things, but 99% of people know them by the time you know what small talk is.


The Immortalists – Chloe Benjamin. 3/5. I was looking forward to reading this so much – the blurb sounds really promising and I was very excited to read what seemed like an intricately-weaved fantasy tale. Nope. The marketing for this book was dishonest at best, and I was massively let down to find instead a literary fiction novel with a rather predictable plot spread over four points of view across a number of years. The story follows children who are told by a mysterious woman when they will die, and how they react to the information in later life. Unfortunately, that is more or less the end of the fantastical elements and I was disappointed to find myself stuck with only a mildly entertaining narrative which had only a few points of interest. The writing style was also a bit grating – the author injecting weird sentences into otherwise fine paragraphs. To discuss further would spoil an element of the story, but you if you read the text you will see what I mean in the first couple of chapters. My rating might not seem to fair: I should judge the book I read not the one I hoped for – but it seems to be a recurring idea that everyone expected more fantasy in the story.


Brother’s Ruin – Emma Newman. 3.5/5. Read my review for this novella here.


Weaver’s Lament – Emma Newman. I will have a review of the second entry into the Industrial Magic series posted next week – it is very much a mixed bag of improvements and issues carried forward from its predecessor.


Shaking Hands with Death – Terry Pratchett. 5/5. Read my review for this essay here.


The Watchmaker of Filigree Street – Natasha Pulley. I’ll be posting a review of the novel in the coming days, but I was very impressed by it for a debut. I am currently reading Pulley’s following novel, The Bedlam Stacks due to the strength of this one.


Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury. 5/5. This thoroughly enjoyable novel was my first foray into Bradbury and I was not disappointed. Does it have its issues? Yes, but to me, they are small in comparison to the narrative as a whole and thus don’t really detract from the book. The story follows Guy Montag, a fireman in a semi-dystopian future where books are illegal, and the buildings fireproof. The citizens of the state are addicted to a lifestyle of false friends and family, doing as they are told by those at the top. The job of the firemen in this society is to burn all books and, if the owners of said books do not comply with the fire starters, burn them alive. This novel introduced me to a world of juxtaposing desperation and ambivalence not too far off our own, giving me ideas to consider to say the least. I highly recommend it to near enough everyone.


From Here to Eternity – Caitlin Doughty. 4.5/5 (rounded to 5 for Goodreads). In this nonfiction memoir we follow Doughty, a funeral director from the US, as she travels around the world to see first-hand how different cultures deal with death. We see everything from preserving corpses of family members (so that they can be spoken with later) to a literal glass wall preventing direct interaction with the casket-bound body. There are many cultures explored here but I really enjoyed discovering them as I progressed through the memoir so I won’t discuss any more of them here. I highly recommend this fascinating book to everyone and only docked it 0.5 as I would have enjoyed more detailed accounts of some of the locations. There are many cultures and practices explored here and my eyes were opened to just how closed-off we are to new ideas here in the UK.


Strange the Dreamer – Laini Taylor. 5/5. Thoroughly enjoyed reading this YA, the highlights definitely being our main character, Lazlo Strange, and the new mythology/pantheon created by the author. I am sure you have all heard of this one so I won’t discuss the plot, but for anybody on the line about whether or not to read it, my advice is to just do it. The novel is relatively straightforward (even if it is long), and offers a polished take of YA without any of the cringe-inducing elements which are so popular nowadays. No forced, poorly written romance here, only well thought out and elegantly conveyed relationships (both good and bad). I may end up writing a review for this one but as you can see, I already have a fair few written and scheduled for uploading!


The long way to a small, angry planet – Becky Chambers. 5/5. Read my review for the space opera here. I absolutely adored this one – I plan on being up to date in time for the release of the third book in the series later in 2018.


Guild of Tokens: Initiate – Jon Auerbach. I have a review written which I will be posting tomorrow! A quick, easy read which is a nice break from heavier narratives.


The Clarity of Cold Steel – Kevin Wright. I received this book in turn for an honest review, which I will be posting next week. In the meantime, anybody considering reading the book should just do it (you won’t be disappointed!).


The Night Cyclist – Stephen Graham Jones. A review is scheduled to be posted soon but until then just know that in only 30 pages long the author conveys a highly entertaining and thought-provoking story which doesn’t disappoint. It is technically horror (which I don’t usually read), but it isn’t that scary so don’t let the ominous name put you off!


And that’s that for June 2018. A solid reading month with a fair few deserving high scores. As per my rating/review policy, I recommend anything with a 3.5/5 if you think the blurb sounds interesting, and anything with a 4/5 or higher as a definite read for anyone with even a passing interest in the genre.


If you’d like more in-depth thoughts on any of those listed let me know and I’ll whip up either a detailed comment or a review! Let me know if you have read any of these books and what you thought of them.


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