Yes, I’m procrastinating. Two posts in one day? What else could possibly be going on? I’ve got a document to draft by Tuesday, and I meant to have it finished by Thursday evening. It’s far from done, so I’m crossing off other bits of mental laundry so that tomorrow can be as productive as physically/mentally possible. Terrifyingly, it’s nearly 6 months since I last jotted notes here on my recent reading. In the meantime, I’ve finished 32 books (what can I say, the longer commute and the part-time work suit me down to the ground). As last time, links go to my commentary elsewhere online.

Of the many things we would tick off our list of cultural experiences in the US, I hadn’t really considered low-budget air travel as high on the list. We were flying Frontier from Des Moines to Denver, dumping our “executive SUV” (as the Budget salesman pimped it when selling in the upgrade; we were so over-tired and jetlagged we didn’t even notice we were being upsold, we were too busy nodding and signing anything he put in front of us) that had so comfortably conveyed us across the past 1300 miles.

It was in South Dakota and Grinnell when it sank in: Americans really are nice to each other practically all of the time. And they mostly seem to really mean it. This comes as complete culture shock to any Brit, I suspect, but particularly to Londoners. Our lives as social animals revolve around restraint, concealing or counterfeiting emotion, exuding disinterest or engaging in combative exchanges of chiselled sarcasm. Nothing is so terrible that you can’t make a joke about it, and snide comments are just another way in which we protect ourselves from baring our souls. London takes everything and nothing seriously, so oscillates between gaiety and aggression in a whirlwind of sniggering, shouting and rude remarks.

Our long late summer is finally fading into autumn. I love autumn. Every year, I get excited by the return of cold crisp air, and the brief rich colours of the trees. I never used to notice the shortening days (only the darkening mornings), but now that I run, this is autumn’s down side: getting used to running through the dark.

Book cover: The Windup Girl - Paolo BacigalupiAnderson Lake is a Calorie Man, hunting Bangkok’s markets for foodstuffs long thought to be extinct. There he meets the windup girl Emiko – one of the New People, engineered to satisfy a rich man’s whims, then abandoned to the slums. Welcome to a near-future where oil has run out, seas are rising, and food safety is in the hands of a ruthless few.

As some of you are aware, I’ve been lucky enough to have some extended time off this year, which inevitably means that I’ve been reading like the dedicated bookworm that I am. I’m likely to read as many books by the end of June as I’ve read in an entire year (during a lean year, anyway), and I’ve loved every minute. It’s been a couple of months since I last captured what I’ve thought of this mountain of material, so I wanted to do another recap – although I have had the time to be much, much better about logging reviews and ratings on my LibraryThing, which is increasingly becoming my main platform for all book-related activity.

Book cover: Sixty-One Nails - Mike ShevdonWhen Niall has a heart attack mid-commute, he is rescued by Blackbird, a little old lady who is demonstrably more than she appears. She introduces him to the Feyre and none-too-gently informs him that he is part-Fey – and consequently on the Untainted’s death list.

Niall must master his talents, dodge his pursuers, help Blackbird stop the barrier keeping the wraithkin at bay from crumbling, and earn the protection of a Feyre Court if he and his daughter are to have any sort of future…