I think I’ve had a record number of one star reads this month, which is unfortunate, particularly at the start and end of September. However, sandwiched between these disappointments were some sparkling gems of books, including a book off of my most-anticipated list: A Closed and Common Orbit. Boy was I not let down! Other popular books I finally got around to include Nevernight by Jay Kristoff and Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake, but I also discovered a couple of under-the-radar fantastic books.
In my personal life, university has started back up again and I’m already getting back into the swing of lectures, readings, and assignments. I’ve also ramped up my running training, including a new distance PB that I managed to do by getting completely lost in a forest and adding an extra 4km to my distance… But enough about me! Without further ado, the books:
Spotlight ARC of the Month:
* * * * * 5 / 5
spinning around the earth, endlessly. an orbit of devotion. nothing in the universe loves like the moon loves the earth.
I have made it my personal mission to promote this book. I absolutely adored it, yet have barely seen any excitement for it anywhere! I haven’t once seen it on my Goodreads dashboard and that’s practically criminal. This book was so raw and emotional and sort of made me want to go into space (although I’m sure it would make me puke my guts up, so maybe just one of those 0g chambers…), and Leo was just such a perfect character.
space is the wrong word, because this is something that goes on forever & is full of worlds, billions of them, pinpricks sparkling in the endless darkness.
Leo and Orion and Libra were born in space. These children cannot wait to finally walk, to sleep without being strapped down, but they are also a little wary of leaving the only place they have ever known: the infinite, cold, dark entity that is space. The plot is unlike anything I have ever read but what really makes this novel is the characters. Our three central characters are all distinct: Orion is a music-lover, a devourer of poetry; Libra is green-fingered, an aspiring botanist and a thoughtful girl; Leo is a dreamer, a thinker, a boy whose mother, an astronaut, barely speaks to him, and who wants nothing more than to go and live on the ranch of his grandfather, an ex-astronaut and a wonderful character in his own right.
flight: the noun for flying & the noun for fleeing
we flee the earth & my heart pounds with the joy of it. what’s wrong with me? all i ever wanted was this place. the ranch. the feeling of the ground beneath my feet.
but when we take off, into the sky, my body sings with it
I adored Satellite. I thought the writing itself was beautiful, philosophical, and deliciously quotable, the main characters and particularly Leo were delightful and felt like real people, and that the plot had the right mix of action, space-related things, wonder, suspense, conspiracies, and drama.
Born and raised on Moon 2, Leo and the twins, Orion and Libra, are finally old enough and strong enough to endure the dangerous trip to Earth. They’ve been “parented” by teams of astronauts since birth and have run countless drills to ready themselves for every conceivable difficulty they might face on the flight.
But has anything really prepared them for life on terra firma? Because while the planet may be home to billions of people, living there is more treacherous than Leo and his friends could ever have imagined, and their very survival will mean defying impossible odds
Spotlight Read of the Month:
A Closed and Common Orbit
* * * * *
5 / 5
Life is terrifying
The best way I can think to describe this book is that it’s like a comforting hug: the writing flows, the emotions can run high and vibrant, but everything has this sort of cozy feel, like everything is good and safe and right. I loved this book and if you enjoyed The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet, you’ll probably love this one too. It replaces space and voyages and ships with AI and coding and planet-side life, but it’s just as thoughtful and complex and lovely as the first book.
A Closed and Common Orbit picks up the story of Pepper, a mechanic who grew up as a clone, and Lovelace, the AI who got wiped. Lovelace has been illegally installed into a body kit and now she has to blend in with the other sapients on Port Coriol, learning to adapt to her new body, so uncomfortable and so unlike a ship, and to go undetected. Pepper takes Lovelace, who takes on the name Sidra to help differentiate herself from Lovey, the AI who was loved and wanted, into her home and shop in order to repay a dept of a lifetime.
It’s an amazingly written plot, language so excellently used to convey how someone without many words might see her world, how someone raised only for one purpose might begin to conceive of an entire universe. How that same someone might, many years later, be searching for a lost ship that once became a home.
Lovelace was once merely a ship’s artificial intelligence. When she wakes up in an new body, following a total system shut-down and reboot, she has no memory of what came before. As Lovelace learns to negotiate the universe and discover who she is, she makes friends with Pepper, an excitable engineer, who’s determined to help her learn and grow.
Together, Pepper and Lovey will discover that no matter how vast space is, two people can fill it together.
* * * * The Girl With the Red Balloon (The Balloonmakers #1), Katherine Locke – Review
The Girl With The Red Balloon is a beautifully written and magical (in more ways than one) novel that I implore you to read, featuring time travel and predominantly set in the time of the Iron Curtain and the Berlin Wall.
* * * Sorcery for Beginners, Matt Harry
This book was funny and interesting and I loved the layout, sort of like a fun textbook, as a way to impart clunky information yet remain interesting. It’s about Owen Macready, sorcery initiate, and his ragtag group of nerdy friends. It’s got bullies and gangs and hilarious unintended uses of magic.
* * * * Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle #1), Jay Kristoff
Nevernight is dark and fast-paced and full of murder. Featuring Mia Corvere, who is seeking out the Red Church to train to be an assassin, so that she might wreak havoc upon an empire. A fantastic book for the more adult reader, and massive points for using footnotes!
* * * * Godsgrave (The Nevernight Chronicle #2), Jay Kristoff
An excellent sequel, Godsgrave features an even better Mia, I loved her skills and her evolving morality and the hilarious banter between Mister Kindly and Eclipse, and a ton of gladiators. It didn’t go at all the way I thought it would and I really enjoyed the building romance.
* * Three Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns #1), Kendare Blake – Review
This book has infamously received varied reviews: unfortunately, I was on the “this book is slow and boring and nothing happens and I feel nothing” camp. What should have been a book cram packed with emotions and murder became a snooze-fest.
* One Dark Throne (Three Dark Crowns #2), Kendare Blake – Review
Somehow, this sequel to Three Dark Crowns was even more boring and the romances even more vapid. Katherine became my solid favourite, at times she was disturbingly dark and morbid, whislt Arsinoe and Mirabella became virtually interchangeable.
* * I Hate Everyone But You, Gaby Dunn & Allison Raskin
A classic coming of age and going to university story about two friends, told via email transcripts, text messages, and IM logs. Started off exceedingly compelling, but the plot lagged as the characters became more and more unlikeable.
* * * Shadowblack (Spellslinger #2), Sebastien de Castell
I adored Spellslinger, but Shadowblack felt episodic, like a filler episode to bide time whilst we waited for the good stuff. Regardless, it was still fun and feature the great original trio of Kellen, Reichis, and Ferius.
* * * Boys Don’t Knit, T. S. Easton – Review
Ben is on probation following an unfortunate incident involving a lollipop lady, a party, and an unwilling act of shoplifting from Waitrose. To make it up to society, Ben has to take a knitting class, which he quickly begins to enjoy. Quirky, heartwarming, and a fun read.
* All Fall Down (Embassy Row #1), Ally Carter – Review
I was a massive fan of Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girls books. I’ve read them all at least three times. I later tried her Heist Society books, only managing to read the first one which I thought was a reasonably enjoyable read, but nothing particularly special. All Fall Down, however, was simply bad.
* Solitaire, Alice Oseman
It’s really hard for to genuinely believe that this book is by the same author that wrote Radio Silence, which I absolutely loved. Solitaire was a trainwreck of book from the cringeworthy tagline “this is not a love story…” to the main character who hates “the fakers” and “doesn’t care about anything” to the predictable plot.