Looking Back At 20 Books Of Summer

20 Books of Summer

September is here, and 20 Books of Summer is officially over (even if I’m hoping summer itself may linger a few more weeks). So, how did I get on?

20 Books of Summer is an annual challenge hosted by Cathy of 746 Books. The idea is to chip away at our TBRs – we declare a reading list up front and a target (10, 15 or 20 books) and away we go. You can go off-list, but rereads don’t count. Easy, right?

Yes, well.

My annual August reading slump never helps me with this one, and WorldCon (glorious as it was) happened in August too. But I managed XXX reads – let’s take a look!

★★★★★ reads

The Calculating Stars – Mary Robinette Kowal

My book of the summer and now a worthy Hugo winner – I may never manage to review this book because UGH FEELINGS, but also what can I possibly say that hasn’t been said already? I may give it a go for SciFiMonth though, when I plan to read sequel The Fated Sky.

★★★★☆ reads

This Is How You Lose The Time War – Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

Wait, did I say UGH FEELINGS already? Erm, there’s a theme, okay? I thought this little book would be far more divisive than reviews are proving it to be – I loved it along with almost everyone else (that I’ve seen). Full review.

Turning Darkness Into Light – Marie Brennan

Review coming up this weekend – my August Book of the Month took me back to a favourite world and dished up a tasty stew of political academics with a side of learning to step out from under your esteemed grandmother’s shadow.

★★★★ reads

Artificial Condition – Martha Wells

Murderbot is back and I love it even more the second time around. My reread increased my estimation of All Systems Red, and Artificial Condition builds on those excellent foundations to deliver more or less exactly what I was looking for. Full review.

★★★☆ reads

Semiosis – Sue Burke

An episodic tales of the challenges of utopia and the hazards of first contact – this is a cerebral debut that I like more the more I think about it. I’m very intrigued to read the sequel later this autumn. Full review.

The Survival of Molly Southbourne – Tade Thompson  ★★★☆

Tade Thompson delivers another intense psychological study with a side of body horror, revisiting his bleak exploration of the lives of murderous clones. I preferred Murders, but Survival is an excellent companion for those who have read the first novella. Full review.

Once Upon A River – Diane Setterfield

A story of hope, heartache and the art of storytelling as meandering as the river whose banks it is set beside. I liked this gentle fairytale best for its characters, although I ended up more interested in the fate of Maud the pig than Amelia Vaughan and Alice Armstrong. Sorry, not sorry.  Chipping away at a full review!

Brightfall – Jaime Lee Moyer  ★★★☆

A reimagining of what happened to Maid Marian and Robin Hood after they retired from outlawry, I enjoyed this magical vision of Sherwood with its themes of responsibility and revenge. Full review out tomorrow!

★★★ reads

84K – Claire North  ★★★

A cynical, timely vision of a very post-Brexit British dystopia, this pushed all the buttons I didn’t need pushing (anxious enough, thank you 201x) without getting me to care about its characters… One I admired rather than enjoyed… And yes, those ellipses irritated the hell out of me.

The Psychology of Time Travel – Kate Mascarenhas  ★★★

Our Subjective Chaos winner for having the Best Blurred Boundaries of 2018! I wasn’t on the panel for this category, but belatedly caught up with it over the summer. While I loved the ingredients of this time travel / crime / romance, it never quite won my heart. I’m yet to read the rest of the category nominees.

Penric’s Demon – Lois McMaster Bujold  ★★★

Oh hey, a cosy fantasy novella! This was my first foray into the works of Lois McMaster Bujold and I’ll certainly be back for the further adventures of this thoroughly nice young man and his powerful, snarky sometime-possessor.

Darksoul – Anna Stephens  ★★★

A blood-soaked, gut-punching, gods-damned sequel that scythes through its characters and stubborns through my grimdark reservations with its unexpected through-lines of hope and compassion. Subversive? Maybe. Although it’s not persuading me to read grimdark by anyone other than Anna Stephens. Yet. Full review.

Just Not For Me

Space Opera – Catherynne Valente

When the world has gone to shit it’s time to go big and add glitter. I briefly found Space Opera quirky and fun, before I drowned in its torrent of adjectives and images. I admire Valente’s imagination and use of language, but this mostly reminded me that I grew out of enjoying Douglas Adams (yes, sorry, you can stop talking to me now if you like) and have never enjoyed Eurovision (the idea is great, just don’t ask me to watch it). Subjective Chaos: it’s always good for pushing me out of my comfort zone for a wander into other nooks and crannies of genre, but it doesn’t always convince me to move my sofa.

Overall, it’s been a very satisfying summer of reading. Thank you Cathy!