Reading Challenge 4/12
Trying to read a variety of genres and authors this month has been something of a challenge as the library system has been down for most of the month, which meant I had to read whatever was available on BorrowBox and supplement them with books I'd been given/lent and the odd few left on my bookshelves that I hadn't read. After getting thoroughly depressed last month I also had to make sure that I was reading enough books that were a bit more light-hearted and there were some old favourites I wanted to revisit.
There are times when I think longingly back to the days where I was happy to read my favourite genres and didn't worry about diversifying my reading or reading books that challenged me to think differently. Then I think about all the brilliant books I've read this year that I wouldn't have looked twice at in the past and I remember why I started this challenge and I come to the conclusion that basically I need to learn to live on less sleep so that I can read more!
It's a shorter list again this month as althoughthere were two weeks of school holidays, which usually means more reading and less writing, I've also been knee deep in launching Makarelle, editing Book 2 and trying to catch up with writing Book 3. It's been an incredibly busy month.
The eagle-eyed among you will notice that the books I've reviewed, don't match up to the number of books I've read. I haven't cheated, I promise! It's simply that one of the books I read was written by a friend and I promised him I wouldn't talk about it until he was ready for it to be promoted, but there will be a blog post about this book in the future.
April Book Total: 24
Overall Challenge Total: 112/150
April Book Reviews
The Wild Girl – Kate Forsyth (Most people probably don’t know that many of the fairytales in the famous Grimm brothers’ book were told to Wilhelm by his neighbour Dörtchen Wild. This is her story as imagined by the author. Beautifully written story that gives a voice [albeit a fictional one] to an oft-neglected woman.)
The Botanist’s Daughter – Kayte Nunn (an interesting book that had the potential to be excellent. It was good as far as it went, but it felt a little rushed towards the end and some characters felt a little surplus to requirements. A nice light read, but nothing out of the ordinary.)
Jackdaws – Ken Follett (really disappointed with this. I love his Century Trilogy but this was nowhere near as well written. Some of the characterisation was clunky – all the female characters were ‘sexy’ and the overuse of ‘panties’ irritated me. The lead character was meant to be an experienced SOE agent feared by the Nazis and at times she came across more like a sex deprived schoolgirl on heat. Not his best book.)
Southern Sons – Annemarie Brear (in a box of books that were donated to me. Picked it out because it was about Australian soldiers during WW1 and I thought it might give some useful insights for my WIP. Proper saga-style book. I think there are others in the same series that give more detail to the background of the family. So many characters I got a bit lost in how they were all related to each other and so didn’t feel much empathy when terrible things happened. Comfortable read though.)
City of Tears - Kate Mosse (latest instalment of Mosse's new trilogy. Continues the story begun in The Burning Chambers weaves wonderful narrative into real historical events. This series focuses on the religious wars in France. As always with Mosse, she doesn't shy away from dealing harsh blows to the central characters, which makes for an incredibly nerve-racking read! The usual superb storytelling I've come to expect from one of my favourite authors and I cannot wait for Book 3!)
The Rosie Project - Graeme Simsion (I think I came across a mention of this in a study book and thought it sounded good. It’s a bit like a male Eleanor Oliphant and I fell in love with Don and Rosie almost immediately. Will almost certainly read the rest of the series, as it was a real feel good story.)
To Sir Philip With Love – Julia Quinn (5th in the Bridgerton series. Not my favourite by any means, but I’m glad Eloise ended up happy, as I loved her character.)
Love In A Cold Climate – Nancy Mitford (2nd of the series and a worthy follow up to The Pursuit of Love. Less depressing ending than the first one and will be reading the 3rd one. Very glad I finally got around to reading it and I’ve also added biographies of the Mitford sisters to my reading list, along with Nancy’s biographies of other historical figures.)
Spring on Rendezvous Lane – Angela Britnell (the first of my books from Rachel’s Random Resources. I’ve already done an extensive review of this, which can be found here.)
Invisible – Lindsay Woodward (another of my Rachel’s Random Resources reviews. Full review and a guest post by the author coming on 19th May)
The Man In The Brown Suit – Agatha Christie (not one of my favourite of Christie’s books, but it’s an intriguing one. I couldn’t remember much about the plot of the book, but having recently watched an adaptation of it, I wanted to see how closely it had adhered to the original.)
FiftyFifty – Steve Cavanagh (a ‘Between The Covers’ recommendation. Read his ‘Th1rt3en’ last year and thought it was one of the best plotted thrillers I’d ever read. Having read that, I did work out the killer before the end this time, but it didn’t take an ounce of pleasure away from the reading of it. Another brilliant book. If you like thrillers, this is a must read.)
The Never Game – Jeffrey Deaver (1st in a series which I will continue to read as the ending wasn’t really an ending and there were many questions about the hero left unanswered. An interesting insight into the world of gaming addictions though.)
The Devil And The Dark Water – Stuart Turton (I loved his Evelyn Hardcastle, which was a masterclass in complicated plot development, but wasn’t sure if this would be a book for me because the blurb didn’t massively appeal. However, I wanted to give it a chance because his last book was so good. I’m so glad I did. It was superb and on reading the author notes at the end, I loved that he said he didn’t care what genre it ended up being put in, nor did he care if his description of the boat wasn’t 100% accurate to ships of the time. It was the story that was important. Accuracy is something I’m paranoid about getting wrong in my own writing, so it was lovely to read that sometimes it’s OK to just put it to one side for the sake of the story.)
The Midnight Library – Matt Haig (an intriguing concept of what happens between life and death. A true up-lit book, especially when the author has been so open about his own mental health issues. Definitely worth reading.)
Redhead By The Side Of The Road – Anne Tyler (recommended by my husband who’d heard about it on the radio. A short but interesting read about a man who is slightly out of step with everyone around him. Title is slightly misleading, but fits with the character!)
No One Is Talking About This – Patricia Lockwood (recommended by a friend, this is a slightly odd book. It’s a bit ‘stream of consciousness’ in style which I always find challenging, but if you’re looking for something that’s a bit different this is a good one to pick. It touches on issues surrounding abortion laws in America.)
Little Disasters – Sarah Vaughan (not a thriller as such, but just as terrifying as if it was. Perfectly captures how one lie escalates into another and how easily the truth of a situation can be concealed and give entirely the wrong impression.)
Detransition, Baby - Torrey Peters (nominated for the longest for the Women's Prize for Fiction. This book deals with issues around gender identity, trans-relationships and the desire (or lack thereof) for children. Extraordinary book and a well-deserved nominee.
Mort – Terry Pratchett (I’ve already written a lengthier review of this as it was my 100th book of the year, but I thoroughly enjoyed re-reading it.)
The Uncommon Reader – Alan Bennett (a quirky comedy about what happens when the Queen accidentally visits a mobile library and discovers an unexpected love of reading. Very short, but typically Bennett in character.)
Blonde Roots – Bernadine Evaristo (a race-reversed account of slavery. Perfectly captured the quirks of language, accent, dress of both the different races and the era. A really interesting ‘what if’ and well worth a read.)
The Australians At Brightlingsea – J.P. Foynes (research for my WIP. Very informative and well written.)
Favourite Book Of This Month?
As always, it's a tough choice because I've read some cracking books this month. Contenders this month were The Midnight Library, The Uncommon Reader and Blonde Roots. However, in the end I had to choose The Devil and The Dark Water. I loved Stuart Turton's debut novel The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle where he showed himself to be a complete master of the intricate plot and Devil is no different. It's so hard to place it in a single genre and the fact that he openly acknowledges that was hugely confidence boosting for me as a writer. It's a fabulous book and a rollicking good adventure on the High Seas.