Book reviews, musings and waffle from a British lit addict

August/September Wrap-Up

August and September have both been busy for various reasons and neither allowed me particularly intensive periods of reading.  Around my birthday in August, we were away in Florence for a wedding planning trip and then we were seeing a lot of friends and family.  In September, we had a few busy weekends and then were on holiday for a couple of weeks and (not unexpectedly) the only time I really had to read while we were away was while we were travelling between locations.  So all in all between the two months, I read a not-so-grand total of 7 books, which is actually more than I was expecting.  I’d thought that I’d read quite a mixed bag of genres but when I look at the books, it turns out that that’s not strictly true.  The vast majority had a sci-fi/fantasy slant, although they weren’t all the same type of sci-fi/fantasy book…
The Books

The Hatching by Ezekiel Boone (3*) – a spider-based dystopian novel that is easy to read and has plenty of action but feels as though it has something missing.  I’ve actually written a mini review that features this and will be up over the next few days or so I won’t ramble too much about it here.

The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (3*) – a bit disappointing if I’m being honest.  I’m trying to read the Sherlock Holmes stories in vaguely chronological order and I’m still in quite the early days (very early days) of the characters and I’m finding that the stories have a different feel to some of the later ones that I read way back when I was in school.  They’re entertaining enough but the character development is a bit iffy (this one had some particularly poorly elaborated/set up developments for Dr Watson) and I’m looking forward to getting past them and into more established territory.
One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor (4*) – I started this while I was slightly floundering through Leviathan Wakes because it seemed like a lighter read and I loved it.  Hanna read it too and reviewed it – I totally agree with her review but I’m going to try and scribble out some of my own thoughts soon too.  In the meantime, it’s about a time travelling historical research organisation and it’s just so much fun.  I have the second one to read soon.
Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey (3*) – this felt like it took me forever to read.  I don’t usually read space opera but for some reason I fancied trying some and I crawled through my first effort.  I don’t know if it’s because I’m just not used to the style or the themes or just because this one is part of a longer series and so is a bit more back-story heavy than others might be but it was a bit like hard work.  Another one I’ve written most of a review for and will be chatting about soon.
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (4*) – I reviewed this earlier in the month and it was pretty damn good.  The perfect gripping follow-up to the much laboured-over sci-fi.
Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas (4*) – I very rarely pre-order books but I did pre-order this one and it was great.  A spoiler-free brief review will be going up soon because I do have some thoughts on how the series is panning out.  I enjoyed this book and I swept through the pages generally but it wasn’t perfect and I have some reservations about some of the character development.  Not so much that they’d put me off finishing the series (I need to know how this story ends) but ones that took the extra star from what was otherwise another great part of a tremendous series.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stoneby J.K. Rowling (5*) – I’ve never re-read this before and I *loved* it.  Obviously I knew what I was in for but reading this so long after having initially read it (about 17 years ago) was so much fun.  The story’s so heart-warming and re-reading the beginning of the friendship of Harry, Ron and Hermione was far sweeter than I remembered.  I think if anything I was surprised by how short it was and how quickly I flew through it.  I’ll be setting some time aside for the rest of the series soon, definitely.
Aaaand that’s it! 
The Other Stuff
In the non-bookish world, we managed to pick a venue and photographer for our wedding and I’ve chosen bridesmaids dresses, all of which is tremendously exciting.  It’s still a bit unreal that we’ll be getting married in about 8 months time but we’ve got our Save the Date cards out so it’s starting to come together!
The biggest event was Hong Kong/Japan, which I’ve been looking forward to for ages.  Hong Kong was a heck of a lot of fun.  We walked for miles around the city and ate so much delicious Chinese food and tried some local craft beers and it was brilliant.  We stayed on Hong Kong Island and explored Kowloon and the New Territories too.  A blend of cultures and a fascinating place to explore.  And then there was Japan.  I’ve been wanting to go to Japan for absolutely years and oh man did it live up to my expectations!!  It’s an incredible country and Tokyo is one of the best cities we’ve ever visited.  Shiny new skyscrapers next to beautifully ornate old temples.  Stunning, peaceful gardens and parks bang in the middle of business districts and other commercial areas.  Quaint, traditional restaurants and bars in the glitziest of shopping districts.  It’s stunning and immaculate and I took hundreds of pictures.  The people were all super friendly and so helpful.  We didn’t struggle half as much as we feared we might and I know that most of that is because the people were so gracious and patient when we were trying to communicate in the very few Japanese words that we were able to pick up.  Visiting Fuji Hakone National Park was something really special too and the traditional dinner that we had that night was absolutely stunning both visually and in taste.  I know how fortunate that we are to be able to travel and experience countries like Japan so I spent the whole time feeling super grateful and just revelling in everything.  We’re hoping to go back to Japan soon to visit some other places and see even more!  If you’ve ever thought about going but weren’t 100% sure, I can’t recommend it highly enough.

I hope you all had superb Augusts and Septembers and that your Octobers aren’t yet too gloomy!