2 September, 2021

what i read last month

part of the lazy hazy days of august included time to read, and boy did i! i finished eight books, two on paper, and six on my Kindle Paperwhite (I love that thing). i also started three more, and probably would have finished them too were it not for sleeping in late, and taking naps.

here’s what i read:

Girl, Woman, Other


Girl, Woman, Other follows the lives and struggles of twelve very different characters. Mostly women, black and British, they tell the stories of their families, friends and lovers, across the country and through the years.

I loved the mix of very different characters of varying origins, who were all intertwined somehow. The story took me to unexpected locations, and I felt for each one of thm as they explored their sexuality, heritage, and place in the world.

My Sister, the Serial Killer


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.

What a premise! I raced through this as fast as I could to figure out the ending. I confess I wasn’t satisfied wntirelym but I get it. This one will spook you, but it’s fun.

The Old Drift


On the banks of the Zambezi River, a few miles from the majestic Victoria Falls, there was once a colonial settlement called The Old Drift. Here begins the story of a small African nation, told by a swarm-like chorus that calls itself man’s greatest nemesis.

From a woman covered with hair and another plagued with endless tears, to forbidden love affairs and fiery political ones, to homegrown technological marvels like Afronauts, microdrones and viral vaccines – this novel sweeps over the years and the globe.

This epic which tells the story of three separate families completely blew me away. I was excited to read about a location that I’d never read about before (Zambia), and to learn more about the discovery and damming of Victoria Falls. The historical fiction coupled with some magic realism kept me spellbound. At times it felt that I had lost the thread when a different character was introduced, but then it would wrap back around and I’d go “Ohhh!” Definitely my top read last month.

The Girl Who Drank the Moon


Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. They hope this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch in the forest, Xan, is kind and gentle. She shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster named Glerk and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon, Fyrian. Xan rescues the abandoned children and deliver them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight on the journey. 

I recently discovered that I really enjoy middle grade novels. Maybe it’s because it’s the kind of book my son reads, but I find myself reading stories that he hasn’t! this one was a delightfully witchy tale with a lovable monster, a funny sidekick, a strong girl, and a tortured nice guy. And I haven’t even mentioned the bad guys! A really sweet feel good fantasy,

The Color of Magic


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 naïve tourist whose luggage moves on hundreds of dear little legs, dragons who only exist if you believe in them, and of course THE EDGE on the planet.

I finally jumped into Terry Pratchett’s Discworld and I don’t regret it! This is laugh out loud absurdity wrapped up in fantasy that only the like of him could produce. Perfect summer reading. I was rooting for the two hapless heros for the entire thing.

Mexican Gothic


After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.

I was pleasantly surprised by this one, as after the first few pages I thought it would be quite frivolous. Noemi is an unlikely, but believable hero, and while you will need to suspend disbelief, it’s quite a well written story. If you love books like Rebecca, you’d probably enjoy this one. Another book that left me wanting to research periods of history that I’m unfamiliar with. I definitely want to read more by this author too.

Instructions for Dancing


In this romantic page-turner from the author of Everything, Everything and The Sun is Also a Star, Evie has the power to see other people’s romantic fates–what will happen when she finally sees her own?

I loooved this book so much! Another one that kept me glued to the pages until the wee hours of the morning. I was nervous to start it, having enjoyed the author’s other two books, and hoping this wouldn’t disappoint. It certainly didn’t. I was completely pulled into this story. I loved that it was a realistic YA, with many things I could identify with. But also with a bit of magic which was fun.

We Are All Birds of Uganda


1960s UGANDA. Hasan struggles to keep his family business afloat following the sudden death of his wife. As he begins to put his shattered life back together piece by piece, a new regime seizes power, and a wave of rising prejudice threatens to sweep away everything he has built.

Present-day LONDON. Sameer, a young high-flying lawyer, senses an emptiness in what he thought was the life of his dreams. Called back to his family home by an unexpected tragedy, Sameer begins to find the missing pieces of himself not in his future plans, but in a heritage he never knew.

I read this on a friend’s recommendation, and before I picked it up I was lucky enough to see an interview with the author during a book festival. Yet another story that will have me researching historical events, I knew very little about Uganda, beyond what I vaguely heard growing up, and from watching The Last King of Scotland (which I now plan to watch again). It took me a little while to get used to her writing style, but once I did I was engrossed. I felt like I was with both Sameer and Hasan every step of the way. A lot of this is shocking, Hasan’s narrative took me aback more than once, but was nicely balanced by Sameer’s.

In August I also started Texaco, The Murmur of Bees, and Slaughterhouse Five (which I finished last night). A stellar reading month!

What have you read lately?