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September Wrap Up and Reading Challenge Update

— feeling cool

Another good reading month. I read way more than I thought I would be able to:


North and South - Elizabeth Gaskell classic fiction 4/5 stars 

My first Gaskell but definitely not my last. This is the story of two young people who are attracted to each other but are polar opposites in pretty much everything. Felt like a very serious Pride and Prejudice tackling so weighty political issues.


The Floating Brothel: The Extraordinary True Story of an Eighteenth-century Ship and Its Cargo of Female Convicts - Siân Rees  non fiction 5/5 stars

A really informative and entertaining look at the year-long voyage of the Lady Julian, the second fleet to sail for Australia. I say fleet because it was originally supposed to be accompanied by other ships which got delayed. The Lady Julian was full of female convicts who would otherwise have gone to the gallows but were destined to be wives and mistresses to men already in the new colony. 


Afterlife by Marcus Sakey fiction 3.5/5 stars

Brilliance has been sitting on my Kindle for I don't know how long but I mean to read it very soon having read Afterlife. This is the story of two FBI agents who also happen to be lovers who are hunting a serial killer. I can't really say too much because everything I say would be a spoiler. I really enjoyed it but FBI agents as heroes in the Afterlife grated on my a little.   


The Haunting of Hill House - Shirley Jackson fiction 3.5/5 stars

I enjoyed it but I didn't find it as great as a lot of people claim. The two female characters were really annoying. This book is somehow a child of its time, I think.


Zwei Frauen - Diana Beate Hellmann fiction 4/5 stars

Although the author claims that this should be read as a work of fiction it is based on her own experiences as a cancer patient and reads very much as a memoir. This was a reread for me and I enjoyed it just as much the second time around. It has its highs and lows and feels very real.


Children of Time - Adrian Tchaikovsky fiction 5/5 stars

I thought this book was great. It was epic. It belongs on the same shelf as Arthur C Clarke's Rama and Alastair Reynolds Pushing Ice. I could never have contemplated spiders as space-faring beings but the world the author creates makes it seem completely reasonable.


Noumenon - Marina J. Lostetter fiction 3.5/5 stars

This one suffered because I read it straight after Children of Time, it would have been a very tough job indeed to live up to that. A fleet of ships is sent off to investigate a star with some remarkable characteristics. The book focuses more on the journey itself and what they find when they return to Earth. I enjoyed it although I would like to have spent more time at the star and the ending felt illogical in the light of what they found when they returned. I should probably give it a 4 star rating on reflection but I'll stick with 3.5 for now.


Midnight Express - Billy Hayes,William Hoffer non fiction 5/5 stars

 This book has been sitting on my shelves for at least 20 years! I bought it second hand after I'd watched the film. It was definitely time. I have a problem with drug-smugglers who get caught and plead against the harsh sentences they are given, if you are not prepared to take the consequences don't commit the crime. That is the logical part of me. The humanitarian part of me thinks the death sentence is too harsh. Anyway, Billy Hayes had my sympathy by the end of the book. In his early 20s he got caught smuggling a relatively small amount of marijuana out of Turkey. For that he was imprisoned for 4 years with time off for good behaviour. Just days before he was due to be released his prison sentence still hadn't been approved by the authorities. He was sent back to court and received a sentence of life imprisonment reduced to 30 years! Until that point he hadn't really considered escape but now he was starting to get desperate. The book follows Billy from his initial arrest to his return to America and I was rooting for him all the way. 



  Katherine of Aragon: the True Queen fiction 3.5/5

I didn't feel that Alison Weir had anything new to add to the familiar story of Katherine of Aragon. The book had moments in the dialogue that I felt were too modern but overall it was a solid book I think I am just suffering from Tudor fatigue.


Blindness - José Saramago  fiction 3.5/5 stars

I had expected more from this one. I felt the behaviour of the incarcerated blind people was authentic but I can't believe that there wouldn't have been scientists in hazmat suits studying the afflicted. I did not like the ending either but maybe I just missed some deep philosophical insight that came with it.


The first part of my challenge has been completed, I am currently on 65/60 books Yay.

The second part of the challenge is not so great:


German 4/12

Classic 5/12

Non-fiction 9/12


and I'm still mopping up those started-but-not-finished books! I've got a lot of catching up to do...