Sunday, 21 April 2013

A (couple of) month(s) of reading

It has been a while since my last 'A month of reading' post what with work being busy, things at the allotment needing to be done, cars breaking down and the general day-to-day getting on with life lark there hasn't been an awful lot of time for reading but here is a summary of what I have managed to get through:

1. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Ooo I do love a bit of whimsy!  The Night Circus is packed with that magic lark and Morgenstern's writing is so engaging.  Some of the characters inevitably have a floaty, wispy edge to them which isn't always my favourite but that didn't massively detract from this excellent story.  The Night Circus appears without warning in a field on the edge of a town or city, open for several nights visitors flock to see the mind boggling array of attractions and concealed magic, but (a ha ha!) the circus is merely a forum for a more sinister game of chess being played without regard for the people involved or the inevitable consequences.

2. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

This isn't my favourite book of this month's list, but it is neither-the-less lovely and sad, and hopeful.  You may have guessed that the tale follows Harold Fry, a retired man living in Kingsbridge (which is a whole other layer of awesome for me because I know Kingsbridge well and loved reading about it) whose life of retirement has taken a rather mundane turn of pottering and routine.  One day Harold goes to post a letter, but instead of posting it at the post box on the corner he decides to walk into town, but it's a nice day and he continues his walk until it turns into his pilgrimage.  Taking in towns of my childhood and present (which blew my mind a little bit) the story unpicks the events leading to Harold's need to make amends.  It's a very gentle, beautiful story which I would definitely recommend.

3. Dominion by C.J. Sansom

Dominion is a fab book, very much along the same lines as Robert Harris' 'Fatherland' in that it tells of an alternative history of Britain.  A Britain where we didn't win the Second World War and Nazi influence over everyday British life is gripping ever tighter.  The lead character seems an unlikely spy whose life has already been filled with grief and the burden of keeping secrets, I have always loved Sansom's books (especially the Shardlake series) and of course I love a bit of Second World War historical fiction!  Perhaps it's not the sort of book you would enjoy as much if you didn't have a vague interest in historical fiction, I'm not sure, but certainly you rattle through the pages at a pace.  I didn't read this book on a long journey but would imagine it would be the perfect travelling companion.

4. Uglies by Scot Westerfield

*Utter bobbins alert!* The Kindle store kept recommending this one to me (clearly my own fault for reading too much young adult fiction) so I thought why not.  Ugh, this book is packed with self indulgent teenage, over the top angst nonsense with a moral message that dangles itself in your face screaming 'Look at me! Look at me!  Why is no one paying attention to meeeeee!'.  If you are buying a book for a teenager go for John Green whose writing has a moral message without being all, you know, 'morally'.  I would rather bathe in a vat of rat urine whilst being forced to listen to the Sound of Music soundtrack on repeat than read any more of this series.

5. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

Moving swiftly on... The Snow Child, nice, but a bit dull.  Ivey is being very indulgent, very writery, and overly descriptive for my tastes with tale.  I managed to skip several pages of rose tinted, gooey talk of snowy forests and the wonder of supportive neighbour folk whose spidery senses tingle at a single  flicker of distress, they race round with pots of jam and heart warming words of support and love and still the story hadn't moved on!  The thing is, it is a nice book, just not to my tastes.

6. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Right, back to a little bit of historical Second World War fiction *glee*.  Female pilots and spies trotting about in France being tortured by the Nazi's, being rescued by and working with the Resistance and having a jolly spiffing time of it.  After The Snow Child I wanted a tale with a bit more pep and this did the job!  The story is told via two main characters and takes the general form of diary writing (ish) the first half of the story is told by a British spy being held in France by the Nazi's and is supposed to be a retelling of her training, and a confession of codes etc I can't really go into much more detail without ruining things if you decide to read it.  It is an engaging story and I liked Wein's writing (despite it taking a little bit of getting used to) which wasn't too rose tinted and nostalgic.

Well hopefully I won't leave it too long next time, as always if you have any recommendations I would love to hear them!

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