It was hard to find time to read this autumn, so the fall books list is short, but mostly sweet.
Circe — This book tells the story of the Greek goddess Circe from her own perspective. Along the way, we hear many Greek myths from her lens, especially about Odysseus. I’m not sure how I felt about this book. I always enjoyed it when I was reading it. Maybe even enjoyed it a lot! It certainly never felt like hard work. But I also never felt compelled to read more. It was like the opposite of a page-turner — I could stop in mid-page almost anywhere, and be fine to not pick the book back up for several days. That’s usually how I react to somewhat dry non-fiction, not fiction I’m ostensibly finding quite pleasant. I neither recommend it nor dis-recommend it, I guess. Three stars.
The Fifth Season — This is the first instalment in N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth Series. It’s dystopian sci-fi, set in a future where the Earth’s climate has been destroyed and modern civilization along with it. People have adapted by living in neo-feudal settlements, where life is brutish, as they attempt to survive the climate-related disasters that descend every few years, wiping out everyone if a settlement is unprepared or unlucky or both. We spend most of the book with a woman called Essun as she journeys across the continent. But we also jump through time and place, piecing together more threads as we go. I have been lukewarm on the dystopian novels I’ve read this year, but this one I thoroughly enjoyed. We spent enough time with Essun to really know her character, while also gradually piecing together how and why the world has unfolded in this way. Four stars, and looking forward to the next book in the series.
Black Cake — The story opens with two estranged siblings, brought back together by the death of their mother Eleanor. Before her death, their mother recorded a long message, explaining who she was before she became their mother. Through a mixture of the recording and flashbacks, we learn about Eleanor’s real history, how the brother and sister came to be estranged, and how they might rebuild their relationship as something new. I found this book enormously readable and gave it four stars. I could nitpick some of the ways the story tied up in the end, but they didn’t take away my thorough enjoyment of the book and its main characters.
Dear Edward — The premise of this book is that a plane crashes, and Edward, a 12-year old boy, is the sole survivor. We jump back and forth between the travellers before and during their fateful flight and Edward’s existence post-disaster. A lot of the book focuses on Edward’s relationship with his older brother and I found it very emotionally difficult to read about a boy bereft of his brother, specifically.
A Boy Called Christmas — This was read aloud to the kids over the month of December, and it was very charming Santa origin story with lots of high drama