October was a busy month for me; lots going on with my day job at the charity (although I did get to enjoy a whole week off with the kids which was fantastic and a much needed breather from work). I was actually pretty surprised by how much I managed to read throughout the month although I think the catchphrase which best sums up my reading experience is ‘sitting on the fence’ as this is ultimately how I felt about most of the books I picked up!
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The Bands of Mourning – Brandon Sanderson
‘Three hundred years after the events of the Mistborn trilogy, Scadrial is now on the verge of modernity, with railroads to supplement the canals, electric lighting in the streets and the homes of the wealthy, and the first steel-framed skyscrapers racing for the clouds. The Bands of Mourning are the mythical metal minds owned by the Lord Ruler, said to grant anyone who wears them the powers that the Lord Ruler had at his command. Hardly anyone thinks they really exist. A kandra researcher has returned to Elendel with images that seem to depict the Bands, as well as writings in a language that no one can read. Waxillium Ladrian is recruited to travel south to the city of New Seran to investigate. Along the way he discovers hints that point to the true goals of his uncle Edwarn and the shadowy organization known as The Set.‘
I have to start by saying that I adore pretty much everything that Brandon Sanderson writes, and this book was no different. This is a spin-off from the original Mistborn trilogy and will eventually be a four book series. What lost it a star for me was the fact that I loved the first book in this series; I thought it was such a clever concept which didn’t take itself too seriously. Think a Wild-West inspired crime fighting duo which built on the world and the magic system Sanderson had already taken the time to create. I laughed out loud so many times. The characters are so on point and the way Wax and Wayne bounce off each other was just fantastic.
Now, three books in and these have, in my opinion, become much more like the original trilogy. Still good but just not as amusing as I was expecting or hoping. Probably me being a bit of a miser but I think if you loved the original Mistborn books then these will be right up your street.
The Mothers – Sarah J Naughton
‘Five Women. They meet at their NCT Group. The only thing they have in common is they’re all pregnant. Five Secrets. Three years later, they are all good friends. Aren’t they? One Missing Husband. Now the police have come knocking. Someone knows something. And the trouble with secrets is that someone always tells.‘
This was definitely my least favourite book of the month. I had picked it up hoping for something short and snappy, something that didn’t require too much of my brain to read but this fell so flat. I always try to find something positive to say about the books I read because I know the time and effort it takes, but I really didn’t like this.
We are following a group of women who have all met through their local NCT (pre and post natal) class; they don’t have much in common apart from their babies but we meet this women when one of their husband’s goes missing. Right from the beginning we are led to believe that the husband has done a runner; we find out he has been stealing money from bank accounts at work…but something is off. We follow the POVs of all the women plus the female detective who is put on the case.
There was something about this book that just left me feeling…gross…I can’t quite put my finger on it. None of the women were likeable, and although I think that was meant to be deliberate it just left me feeling really negative any time I picked the book up. There is also a strange plotline which involves the detective and one of her colleagues (the detective is basically lusting after one of her female colleagues) but it was, again, done in a really negative manner. The whole time I was reading I felt uncomfortable. A swing and a miss for me unfortunately.
The Colour of Magic / The Light Fantastic – Terry Pratchett
‘On a world supported on the back of a giant turtle (sex unknown), a gleeful, explosive, wickedly eccentric expedition sets out. There’s an avaricious but inept wizard, a naive tourist whose luggage moves on hundreds of dear little legs, dragons who only exist if you believe in them, and of course THE EDGE of the planet…as it moves towards a seemingly inevitable collision with a malevolent red star, the Discworld has only one possible saviour. Unfortunately, this happens to be the singularly inept and cowardly wizard called Rincewind, who was last seen falling off the edge of the world…’
It seems daft, I know, but when I started reading this I didn’t realise it was actually a bind-up of book 1 and 2 from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series although secretly I’m rather pleased because I’d only really just ‘gotten into it’ by the time the first book was drawing to it’s conclusion. I know that Terry Pratchett is a much beloved name in the book community, and I knew it was about time that I finally got round to reading one (or incidentally two!) of his books and I’m so glad I did.
In these two books we are following the adventures of the rather hapless wizard, Rincewind, and tourist Twoflower who comes on the journey with his walking suitcase as company. This is sharp and witty and sardonic and perfect for those with a dry sense of humour. It skips around a fair bit in terms of timing and the locations of our main characters which did take a bit of getting used to; I also felt that this impacted my connection with the characters which is a huge part of my reading experience but as I said, once I got to book two I was well into the flow and I thought these were very enjoyable. A perfect light-hearted respite for picking up between heavier books.
My Sister, the Serial Killer – Oyinkan Braithwaite
‘When Korede’s dinner is interrupted one night by a distress call from her sister, Ayoola, she knows what’s expected of her: bleach, rubber gloves, nerves of steel and a strong stomach. This’ll be the third boyfriend Ayoola’s dispatched in, quote, self-defence and the third mess that her lethal little sibling has left Korede to clear away. She should probably go to the police for the good of the menfolk of Nigeria, but she loves her sister and, as they say, family always comes first. Until, that is, Ayoola starts dating the doctor where Korede works as a nurse. Korede’s long been in love with him, and isn’t prepared to see him wind up with a knife in his back: but to save one would mean sacrificing the other…‘
This was my book club’s pick for the month and it was the perfect option for October. I think I have actually left this book unrated on Goodreads because it truly was a book that caused me to sit on the fence. It is sharp and witty with dark humour, and there were several parts which had me laughing out loud BUT it was so short that I didn’t make any real connection to the storyline or the characters. I was also left with a lot of questions and I guess my ‘on the fence’ part is down to whether this was a deliberate and clever move by the author. You are pretty much left to come to your own conclusions about a good many things…something I can’t decide if I could get on board with or not!
The author explores and touches on a lot of different subjects within the book and I would have liked her to delve so much deeper into these areas as her writing style was absolutely on point for me; I will certainly be looking out for more of Oyinkan Braithwaite’s works. (TRIGGER WARNING) She covers the corruption of the police in Lagos, family betrayals and heartbreak, domestic violence, murder (obviously), and plenty more besides.
I really liked the character of Korede and rooted for her throughout the whole book, and I appreciated the way in which the author depicted how what we see on the outside isn’t necessarily what is reflected on the inside. As I said, it was funny and dark and hit many of the right spots. I just wish it had been a whole lot longer.
Fingersmith – Sarah Waters
‘No one and nothing is as it seems in this Dickensian novel of thrills and reversals. Sue Trinder is an orphan, left as an infant in the care of Mrs. Sucksby, a “baby farmer.” Mrs. Sucksby’s household also hosts a transient family of petty thieves–fingersmiths–for whom this house in the heart of a mean London slum is home. One day, the most beloved thief of all arrives–Gentleman, an elegant con man, who carries with him an enticing proposition for Sue: If she wins a position as the maid to Maud Lilly, a naïve gentlewoman, and aids Gentleman in her seduction, they all will share in Maud’s vast inheritance. With dreams of paying back the kindness of her adopted family, Sue agrees to the plan. Once in, however, Sue begins to regret her decision.‘
I went into this book knowing absolutely nothing about it apart from what it said in the blurb and what a ride this book was. It is split into three parts and I recall getting to the end of part one and thinking the story was pretty much concluded, with a whole lot of book left to go. If only I had known what was in store! I don’t even really want to say too much because I think this is a book that is somewhat about the plot, somewhat about the characters and a lot about the journey that you get to go on.
It is dark and atmospheric, it is moving and heartbreaking, it is dramatic and heartwarming and frustrating and plenty more besides. I found myself drawn to the character of Sue despite everything that goes on. There is a Sapphic romance in this book which forms a large part of the plot but is more of an undercurrent, a driving force behind what takes place and I thought it was well done. Certainly a book I would highly recommend; by the time I got to part three I simply didn’t know what on earth was coming next. My first Sarah Waters’ book but definitely not my last.
I’d love to know what you read in the month of October or what you are reading now?
Happy reading friends x