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Reading wrap-up: March

I was proud of the seven books I read in February, very excited that my ‘mojo’ seemed to have returned and that I was well on the way to meeting, if not exceeding, my Goodreads challenge. It seems, happily, that February was just a warm-up. March has been an exceptional month for reading.

Here are the 15 – 15! – books that took my fancy in March:

A boy made of blocks

The second of the books sent to me by Amy for our Under-Cover series, A boy made of blocks made for a somewhat frustrating start to the month. It was not what I wanted to pick up at that time and I found the Dad, initially, self-centred. However, I read it in a day, gave it a solid three stars and was really happy that this was Amy’s pick for me. It opened me up to reading more books about Autism; a subject I haven’t read much about before.

 

A boy made of blocks
Author: Keith Stuart
Published: Sphere, 2016
Genre (According to Goodreads):  Fiction
Blurb
A Boy Made of Blocks is a funny, heartwarming story of family and love inspired by the author’s own experiences with his son, the perfect latest obsession for fans of The Rosie Project, David Nicholls and Jojo Moyes. 

A father who rediscovers love

Alex loves his wife Jody but has forgotten how to show it. He loves his son Sam but doesn’t understand him. He needs a reason to grab his future with both hands.

A son who shows him how to live

Meet eight-year-old Sam: beautiful, surprising – and different. To him, the world is a frightening mystery. But as his imagination comes to life, his family will be changed . . . for good.
Rating: 3/5 Stars

The bone season

The bone season series by Samantha Shannon is one of my favourites and I re-read the previous books every year when a new one is released. So, this marked my third reading of The Bone Season. It is an extremely well-developed world, full of twists and turns, the characters are well-rounded and flawed. This is one of those books where each reading turns up something new; it’s so vibrant. I cannot wait to be able to add Song Rising to my shelves (I know it’s already out but I’m waiting for the paperback).

 

The bone season
Author: Samantha Shannon
Published: Bloomsbury, 2013
Genre (According to Goodreads):  Fantasy
Blurb
The year is 2059. Nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney is working in the criminal underworld of Scion London, based at Seven Dials, employed by a man named Jaxon Hall. Her job: to scout for information by breaking into people’s minds. For Paige is a dream-walker, a clairvoyant and, in the world of Scion, she commits treason simply by breathing.
Rating: 4/5 Stars

Amy and Roger’s epic detour

This was pulled off my shelves in frustration one night when, no matter what I tried, I could not sleep. I was hoping that by reading something I knew was fun, cute, and a relatively easy read, I could take my mind off wanting to be asleep. It worked to some extent. I got pulled into the story and definitely forgot that I should be sleeping. I loved this story the first time around and this second time was no different.

 

Amy and Rogers epic detour
Author: Morgan Matson
Published: Simon and Schuster, 2014
Genre (According to Goodreads):  YA
Blurb
Amy Curry is not looking forward to her summer. Her mother decided to move across the country and now it’s Amy’s responsibility to get their car from California to Connecticut. The only problem is, since her father died in a car accident, she isn’t ready to get behind the wheel. Enter Roger. An old family friend, he also has to make the cross-country trip – and has plenty of baggage of his own. The road home may be unfamiliar – especially with their friendship venturing into uncharted territory – but together, Amy and Roger will figure out how to map their way.
Rating: 4/5 Stars

The Mime Order

The Mime Order was destined to swiftly follow The Bone Season. There’s not much to say about this that hasn’t already been articulated about its predecessor; it’s just as colourful, developed, and fast-paced. The characters are just as exciting, complicated, loveable or loathsome.

 

The mime order
Author: Samantha Shannon
Published: Bloomsbury, 2015
Genre (According to Goodreads):  Fantasy
Blurb
Paige Mahoney has escaped the brutal prison camp of Sheol I, but her problems have only just begun: many of the survivors are missing and she is the most wanted person in London…
Rating: 4/5 Stars

Artemis

The Martian was one of my favourite reads of 2016. It was an out of character read for me and so I was very pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed it as much as I did. The humour was spot on and helped to balance out what could have become – for me – the drier aspects; the science formulas and explanations. So, when I was reminded by a customer at work that Artemis had been published, I became very excited. When the same customer came back about a week later and gifted me his copy of Artemis (we’d been talking about The Martian and apparently he could ‘sense my enthusiasm’) I was overjoyed. It was so kind and thoughtful but also meant that I could start reading it immediately. Sadly, Artemis did not match up to the enthusiasm I felt for The Martain. The story was lacking the humour that made the Martian so likeable to be. I also began to, very quickly, doubt Weir’s ability to write a realistic female narrative. We are constantly reminded about Jazz’s sex-life, the number of people she’s slept with, and the effect she can have on men. The premise sounded so exciting – a heist on the moon, yes please! – but that’s where the imagination of Andy Weir seems to have run dry. Apart from the occasional very frequent mentions of zero-gravity and the dangers of space dust, the inhabitants pretty much go about daily life, completing transactions and tasks on tablets known as ‘gizmos’…

 

Artemis
Author: Andy Weir
Published: Del Ray, 2017
Genre (According to Goodreads):  Sci-Fi
Blurb
Jazz Bashara is a criminal.

Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you’re not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you’ve got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent.
Rating: 2.5/5 Stars

 

Eleanor and Park

Eleanor and Park earned the first 5-star rating of March. It broke my heart and put it back together. It’s a beautiful book full of raw emotion, depth of feeling, and flawed, very real characters. I could flounder around trying to articulate my feelings but instead, I’ll let John Green do it. As he says on the front cover: ‘Reminded me not just what it’s like to be young and in love … but also what it’s like to be young and in love with a book.’

 

 

Eleanor and Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell 
Published: Orion, 2013
Genre (According to Goodreads):  YA
Blurb
Eleanor is the new girl in town, and with her chaotic family life, her mismatched clothes and unruly red hair, she couldn’t stick out more if she tried.

Park is the boy at the back of the bus. Black T-shirts, headphones, head in a book – he thinks he’s made himself invisible. But not to Eleanor… never to Eleanor.

Slowly, steadily, through late-night conversations and an ever-growing stack of mixtapes, Eleanor and Park fall for each other. They fall in love the way you do the first time, when you’re young, and you feel as if you have nothing and everything to lose.
Rating: 5/5 Stars

 

Under-Cover: Book 3

Keep an eye out for a post in the next couple of weeks revealing what book this is and what I thought of it.

Under cover 3

The Secret Life of Cows

Sweet, short, cosy, this book made me smile, think, and want to buy a herd of cows. Told through anecdotal stories, this book invites you to meet the characters of Kite’s Nest Farm. At times it did feel a little too anthropomorphic and therefore a tad unbelievable but over-all it was just a fun read.

 

Secret life of cows
Author: Rosamund Young
Published: Faber and Faber, 2017
Genre (According to Goodreads):  Non-fiction
Blurb

Cows are as varied as people. They can be highly intelligent or slow to understand, vain, considerate, proud, shy or inventive.

Although much of a cow’s day is spent eating, they always find time for extra-curricular activities such as babysitting, playing hide and seek, blackberry-picking or fighting a tree.

This is an affectionate record of a hitherto secret world.
Rating: 3/5 Stars

 

Ready Player One

Another genre usually neglected by me, Ready Player One is a fifth of the seven rereads I lept back into. This book is marvellous! It’s so much fun, so fast-paced, so intricate and smart that I struggled to put it down. A showcase of how much Cline loves the 80s and video games, he avoids making the reader feel stupid or patronised. Instead the details about 80s pop culture and trivia, that I for one know next to nothing about, are explained as we answer the clues with Wade. It doesn’t jar you out of the story or leave you mouthing ‘what?!’ it takes you along for the adventure. I am more than a little bit tempted to pick it up again (again) as I write this, is that acceptable?

 

Ready player one
Author: Ernest Cline
Published: Broadway Books, 2012
Genre (According to Goodreads): Sci-Fi
Blurb
In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape. 
Rating: 5/5 Stars

 

A Wrinkle in Time

The news of a film adaptation brought this book back to popular attention. I had never heard of it before and hearing it be described as a ‘classic children’s book’ and with the trailer not really giving away anything, I decided to pick it up on a recent trip to Waterstones. Wow, this book is strange! A Guardian Article briefly describes it as The Wizard of Oz meets 1984 and it’s spot on. Unsettling, slightly disturbing, and never once taking a breather this book got weirder and weirder. I was almost immediately thrown at its classification as a children’s book. The main character, Meg, is at least 15 years old and the romance seems slightly inappropriate for anyone under the same age. I enjoyed it, I think. I spent quite a while confused, but my overriding feeling was that this book needed more pages. The writing style was simplistic and easy to follow as one would expect from a novel written for Children; the length also fits with the intended audience. But with so much going on, so many characters, imagery, and hidden meanings needed more pages to fully explain itself.

 

A wrinkle in time
Author: Madeleine L’Engle
Published: Puffin, 2014 (first published: 1962)
Genre (According to Goodreads): Children’s fiction
Blurb

It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger.
Meg’s father had been experimenting with this fifth dimension of time travel when he mysteriously disappeared. Now the time has come for Meg, her friend Calvin, and Charles Wallace to rescue him. But can they outwit the forces of evil they will encounter on their heart-stopping journey through space?
Rating: 3/5 Stars

 

The Night Circus

This was an interesting re-read for me. I remember first reading Erin Morgenstern’s debut in 2014 and being completely enamoured with it. This was the first time since that I have picked it up and I just didn’t, and still don’t, feel the same. Maybe part of this was down to the pacing. The majority of books I had been reading were much quicker reads, less indulgent, less subtle and I became accustomed to, and enjoyed, the chain-reading this afforded. The Night circus forced me to slow down and by quite a considerable amount; at times I found this frustrating. I wanted action and excitement, not description and imagery. I rated this five stars in 2014 and three in 2018. Maybe that’s unfair, maybe I did this novel a disservice in reading it when I did. I guess I’ll have to wait until I next remove it from my shelves to find out.

 

The night circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Published: Vintage, 2012
Genre (According to Goodreads): Historical fiction
Blurb
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.
Rating: 3/5 Stars

 

The DUFF

This was another taken off the shelf above my bed one morning. It was one of those rare mornings when I woke up at a reasonable time and fancied reading in bed. Four hours later, I was very late getting out of bed and the book was finished. It was a quick read, cute at moments, and was exactly what I wanted at that moment. However, the story itself was a little bit lacking and occasionally a little bit uncomfortable, Bianca spent the first chapter ‘slut’ shamming her friends, and generally, throughout the book, she was just unagreeable. That being said, it’s likely that I will re-read it in the future but purely because I fancy reading. I’m not sure this makes sense but, there it is.

 

The DUFF
Author: Kody Keplinger
Published: Little Brown, 2010
Genre (According to Goodreads): YA
Blurb
Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn’t think she’s the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She’s also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her “the Duff,” she throws her Coke in his face. 
Rating: 2/5 Stars

 

Simon VS the Homo Sapiens Agenda

I can’t believe it took me so long to read this book! There is so much emotion in this book whilst remaining an enjoyable read. It also raises some very important questions and definitely made me stop and think about how privileged I am as a heterosexual –  “Why is straight the default? Everyone should have to declare one way or another, and it shouldn’t be this big awkward thing whether you’re straight, gay, bi, or whatever.” I absolutely adored all the characters and their flaws, they were so real and their combined stories. It was so emotional and I found myself pretty much choked up from the beginning. By the middle, I was crying and the end saw myself grinning like an idiot.

 

Simon VS the homo sapiens agenda
Author: Becky Albertalli
Published: Penguin, 2015
Genre (According to Goodreads): YA
Blurb:
Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.
Rating: 5/5 Stars

 

Call me by Your Name

I am not usually someone who falls in love with a writing style. However, this book was gorgeous. Unlike with The Night Circus, I relished the slow pace. This was a stroll in the sun, it lingered. There was no rush. You could feel what the characters felt, you could feel the electricity, the longing, every emotion that they felt. This is a beautiful, sad, life-affirming, heart-warming, mournful novel that I really recommend.

 

Call me by your name
Author: André Aciman
Published: Atlantic books, 2017
Genre (According to Goodreads): Contemporary fiction
Blurb
The story of a sudden and powerful romance that blossoms between an adolescent boy and a summer guest at his parents’ cliff-side mansion on the Italian Riviera. Unprepared for the consequences of their attraction, at first each feigns indifference. But during the restless summer weeks that follow, unrelenting buried currents of obsession and fear, fascination and desire, intensify their passion as they test the charged ground between them
Rating: 4/5 Stars

 

The Tao of Pooh

This was picked up on a complete whim from the Library and I am so glad that I did. I do think that’ll it require a second reading before the principles really make sense, and also a slightly slower reading speed. Whilst this book does describe Taoism very well, and very simply, there are still some parts I’d like to revisit and think about in greater depth.

 

The Tao of Pooh
Author: Benjamin Hoff
Published: Egmont Books, 2006
Genre (According to Goodreads): Philosophy
Blurb
Is there such thing as a Western Taoist? Benjamin Hoff says there is, and this Taoist’s favorite food is honey. Through brilliant and witty dialogue with the beloved Pooh-bear and his companions, the author of this smash bestseller explains with ease and aplomb that rather than being a distant and mysterious concept, Taoism is as near and practical to us as our morning breakfast bowl. 
Romp through the enchanting world of Winnie-the-Pooh while soaking up invaluable lessons on simplicity and natural living
Rating: 4/5 Stars

 

 

So there they are, all the books I read in March. I hope that April is just as good a reading Month (although slightly less books would make the wrap up a lot quicker to put together 🙂 )

Have you read any of these books? What did you read in March? Let me know in the comments below and, if you have any wrap-up type posts, don’t forget to leave the links.

 

4 thoughts on “Reading wrap-up: March Leave a comment

  1. I read Simon vs in March too and loved it! Such a beautiful story. I think I feel the same about A Wrinkle in Time – it’s such a cool concept but I feel like it didn’t have the time it needed xx

    Liked by 1 person

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