Hello lovelies and happy September! Having had a bit of a slow reading month in August – a combination of a slump and moving house – I have decided that I am going to set myself a TBR for September to try and encourage myself to read more. I’ve only picked four reads for this month, as to not overwhelm myself too much so that I just end up giving up, but I’m looking forward to seeing just how much I can read. There are two books which will be on my TBR but that haven’t been decided yet: my work book club pick and the Let’s Get Classical book pick for September. I’m so excited to try and get myself back into a reading routine in September. So without further ado, let’s go through these books!
Forbidden Lives: LGBT stories from Wales by Norena Shopland.
This is a non-fiction book that has been on my TBR for quite some time. I picked it up last year whilst in Cardiff and it instantly intrigued me. I definitely want to read more non-fiction as we come towards the end of 2020 as I think I have only read two so far this year, and I am determine to rectify this.
Forbidden Lives is a fascinating collection of portraits and discussions that aims to populate LGBT gaps in the history of Wales, a much neglected part of Welsh heritage. In it Norena Shopland reviews the reasons for this neglect while outlining the activity behind the recent growth of the LGBT profile here. She also surveys LGBT people and their activity as far back as Giraldus Cambrensis’ Journey Through Wales in the twelfth century where he reports on ‘bearded women’ and other hermaphrodites. There is still plenty of work to do, as chapters on the responses to Pride in Wales and the first gay play, We All Fall Down, clearly show. But the stories of the people portrayed in the book are less likely to be repeated: the LGBT community has moved from living forbidden lives to a place largely less forbidding. Norena Shopland helps us understand the struggle which achieved these changes.
The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang.
This is a very recent purchase of mine and, having heard nothing but fantastic things about it, I can’t wait to read this this month. It has been such a long time since I read an epic fantasy and this definitely seems like the best pick to jump back into the genre.
Trigger Warnings: Ableism; Abuse (emotional and physical); Addiction; Assault; Character death; Drugs; Fatphobia (unchallenged); Genocide; Gore; Human experimentation; Massacres; Mutilation; Murder; Racism; Rape; Self-harm; Torture; Violence (including against children); War
When Rin aced the Keju—the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies—it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard—the most elite military school in Nikan—was even more surprising.
But surprises aren’t always good.
Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.
For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .
Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late.
Dominicana by Angie Cruz
This is another that I have seen all over bookstagram at the moment and no one seems to have anything bad to say about it. I’m actively trying to diversify my shelves at the moment and I am very excited to try this read.
Fifteen-year-old Ana Cancion never dreamed of moving to America, the way the girls she grew up with in the Dominican countryside did. But when Juan Ruiz proposes and promises to take her to New York City, she has to say yes. It doesn’t matter that he is twice her age, that there is no love between them. Their marriage is an opportunity for her entire close-knit family to eventually immigrate. So on New Year’s Day, 1965, Ana leaves behind everything she knows and becomes Ana Ruiz, a wife confined to a cold six-floor walk-up in Washington Heights. Lonely and miserable, Ana hatches a reckless plan to escape. But at the bus terminal, she is stopped by Cesar, Juan’s free-spirited younger brother, who convinces her to stay.
As the Dominican Republic slides into political turmoil, Juan returns to protect his family’s assets, leaving Cesar to take care of Ana. Suddenly, Ana is free to take English lessons at a local church, lie on the beach at Coney Island, see a movie at Radio City Music Hall, go dancing with Cesar, and imagine the possibility of a different kind of life in America. When Juan returns, Ana must decide once again between her heart and her duty to her family.
The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell
This is a reread for me, and a book that I want to reread for an exciting project that I am taking part in in October. Laura Purcell is one of my favourite authors, and this is a fantastically spooky historical fiction, filled with ghosts, and magic, and secrets.
Trigger Warnings: Child murder; Death; Gore; Hitting a child; Miscarriage; Nausea; Psychiatric hospital; Racial slur; Suicide; Vomit
When Elsie married handsome young heir Rupert Bainbridge, she believed she was destined for a life of luxury. But with her husband dead just weeks after their marriage, her new servants resentful, and the local villagers actively hostile, Elsie has only her husband’s awkward cousin for company. Or so she thinks. Inside her new home lies a locked door, beyond which is a painted wooden figure–a silent companion–that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself. The residents of The Bridge are terrified of the figure, but Elsie tries to shrug this off as simple superstition–that is, until she notices the figure’s eyes following her.
And there we have it. I’m very much looking forward to seeing what September can bring, looking foward to things getting colder and more autumnal, and more importantly, it getting closer to October. What read are you looking forward to in September?