October has been rushing past at an alarming pace, which is why it’s the 20th and I’m only now posting my September wrap-up. Ah, the neverending problem of not having enough time – it’s relentless! Anyway, let’s talk about the books. I managed to read seven of them, even though I didn’t feel like I was doing that much reading last month. There were a few five stars, but also a couple of books that had me slightly disappointed… Here are my reviews!
Maar je ziet er helemaal niet autistisch uit by Bianca Toeps ★★★★★ (5)
This is a Dutch non-fiction book (translated into English as But You Don’t Look Autistic at All) about the author’s experiences with autism. Bianca Toeps found out she’s autistic when she was halfway through her twenties, and in this book, she goes into what her life was like as a child, how autism affects her day-to-day life as an adult, and what it was like to get the diagnosis. Besides a very honest and personal look into her own life, she also provides a clear explanation of autism and how it often presents differently in women than it does in men. I learned a lot from this book and I enjoyed Toeps’ no-nonsense writing style as well as her honesty. Much of what is written about autism is still written by non-autistic people, and the autistic community has been very clear about how this often leads to misinformation, which can harm the community. Toeps is an advocate for “nothing about us without us”, and I’d recommend her book as a starting point to anyone who wants to know more about autism in women (or in general).
A Prayer for the Crown-Shy by Becky Chambers ★★★★★ (5)
I never really used to have one clear favourite writer, but this year Becky Chambers has cemented herself as my favourite writer of all time. Her hopepunk sci-fi novels are medicinal to me; they soothe my soul, not in the least because they are written so beautifully. A Prayer for the Crown-Shy is the second novella in the Monk and Robot series and it delivers everything I want from Becky Chambers’ books. The beautiful, almost reverent descriptions of nature, the wonderfully philosophical insights, the optimism, and the amazing characters. If you’re looking for a reprieve from everything that’s going on in the world, I’d recommend picking up the first book in this series. It’ll give you a moment to breathe and relax, while also enjoying a masterful piece of science fiction.
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng ★★★★⭑ (4.25)
This is the second novel by Celeste Ng that I’ve read and I enjoyed it as much as, if not more than, the first one (Little Fires Everywhere). Everything I Never Told You tells the story of how the Lee family deals with the loss of favourite daughter Lydia, who drowns in the lake by their home at the start of the novel. The novel reads as a reconstruction of everything that happened in the Lee family’s history, and you find out very quickly they aren’t the perfect suburban family they appear to be on the outside. A lot of secrets and resentment live underneath the surface. There’s something about Ng’s writing style that sets her apart from any other recent literary fiction that I’ve read. She has a wholly original way of constructing a story, of slowly and deliberately piecing together compelling and complex characters. This novel reads as multiple character studies brought together to form one perfect puzzle, and as I’m writing this I’m having a hard time remembering why I didn’t give this the full five stars…
Paris Daillencourt Is About to Crumble by Alexis Hall ★★★⭑☆ (3.5)
Alexis Hall is a name I’ve seen around a lot over the past few years, but I’d never read any of his novels until September. Paris Daillencourt Is About to Crumble is his newest novel, which came out in October, but I read it as an ARC via NetGalley. The premise seemed right up my alley: an LGBT romance novel set at a Great British Bake Off type baking competition, with anxiety representation. Unfortunately, I couldn’t fully enjoy the story, which mostly has to do with the pacing. Paris suffers from anxiety, which becomes very clear when his best friend enters him into the baking competition as well as when he starts dating Tariq, one of his co-contestants. However, it takes until nearly the end of the book for Paris to acknowledge his need for help. In the meantime, his entire personality is taken over by the anxiety and, as someone who struggles with anxiety as well, this made me quite uncomfortable while reading parts of the book. His inability to function was relatable, but the way he avoided dealing with it made me rather impatient – which in turn made me disappointed in myself. I enjoyed the writing, I loved the setting and the ending was quite wonderful, but ultimately this was a bit of a complicated reading experience for me.
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro ★★★☆☆ (3)
I had high expectations for Never Let Me Go since I was absolutely floored by The Buried Giant when I read it a few years ago and NLMG is arguably his most famous and well-loved novel. Unfortunately, it ended up being a bit disappointing to me, mostly because I thought it was rather boring, which I don’t often say about a novel. It’s not a long book (my copy is under 300 pages), but certain narrative choices caused it to drag quite a bit. I do think the story of this dystopian, darkly skewed version of England is interesting, but I would’ve preferred the book to go into a bit more depth about certain aspects of it, and spend less time on other parts. Ishiguro’s writing remains remarkably beautiful, though, so I’ll definitely be reading more of his work.
Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston ★★★★☆ (4)
A fun middle grade novel! I listened to this on audio and had an absolute blast with it. The story’s about Amari, who wants to find her missing older brother Quinton and finds out he was an important agent at the top secret Bureau of Supernatural Affairs but has been MIA for months. Amari, determined to find him, joins the summer tryouts at the Bureau. She has to wrap her head around the existence of all kinds of supernatural creatures while also defending her right to be at the Bureau, since many people don’t want her there. This is a story full of high stakes, black girl magic, heartwarming moments, and lots of supernatural shenanigans. I loved it and can’t wait to read the second book in the series!
Home by Nnedi Okorafor ★★★★★ (5)
Home is the second novella in the Binti trilogy, a sci-fi series about a young woman named Binti, who’s the first of the Himba people to ever be offered a place at the prestigious Oomza University, which is located on a different planet. The Himba people are very close-knit and it is very rare for one person to leave on their own. Nevertheless, Binti leaves for Oomza University, since her thirst for knowledge is unquenchable. This all happens in the first novella (along with some very traumatic experiences). In Home, Binti travels back to her family, which brings with it its own set of challenges, since Binti is no longer the same person she was when she left. There’s something about these novellas that is quite magical. They are only very short, but there’s so much depth and richness to the explorations of culture, family and trauma. I love Binti, and I’m looking forward to reading the final novella.
And that’s it for my wrap-up! Have you read any of these books, and if you did, did you enjoy them? What was your favourite book of September? Let’s chat in the comments!