April has been a strange reading month for me (and has also seen me be a little despondent about my blog; thankfully though, this seems to be passing). Leading on from the success of March, I had high hopes for April. It definitely did not deliver for a while. It wasn’t until the Song Rising that things started to pick up and I was able to feel that much-loved momentum return.
Here are the 13 books I read in April:
(Apologies for the lack of variety in the pictures, and the fact that I forgot to take any photos of the first two books – The images of Attachment and Life, the Universe, and Everything are from Amazon)
Attachments had been on my radar for a long time but for some reason, I was always hesitant to pick it up. However, after adoring Eleanor and Park last month and having spotted the incredible bright pink cover at work, I decided to finally give Rainbow Rowell’s debut a go. This might sound harsh, but I am really glad that I wasn’t convinced by the stripey covered edition – which would have matched really well with my copy of Eleanor and Park – to buy the book. It was okay. I found it incredibly slow to start with, at times having to really force myself to turn the page, and whilst it did redeem itself towards the end, I couldn’t shake the feeling of frustration I had about how long it took to get that point. Essentially, it was good but it missed the human connection and the emotion that I had come to love (and expect) from Rowell. This, I suppose, is the potential danger of reading a debut after subsequent novels.
Life, the universe, and everything
I feel a bit guilty about claiming to have read this novel – the third in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series (A trilogy in four parts) – because at least the 100 pages passed in a frustrated blur. My eyes followed the words but I can remember nothing other than a rising sense of anger and confusion. These books are so acclaimed and apparently so well loved but I cannot for the life of me see why. Occasional wittiness was soon forgotten as I struggled to stay abreast of just what on earth – or anywhere in the galaxy – was going on. Everything from the timeline to the location and the characters just cropped up whenever with seemingly no regard for the story at hand. There is no denying that Douglas Adams has a quirky imagination but this read more like a journal – a collection of thoughts and queries – than an edited novel.
When Mr Dog Bites
This is another that I have forgotten a lot about. What I do remember most is the bizarre writing style; a style which very nearly religated Dylan Mint to the DNF shelf. However, after a quick peruse of Goodreads and the reviews from Goodreads users who were apparently as perplexed as me, I decided to persevere. I am, unlike with the previous mention, glad I did. This is the first book I’ve read about Tourettes and this provided an interesting account. However, I feel as though I would have enjoyed it better if that was the main – if not only – focus, or if the others were better explained. For example, it seems that Dylan may have also had a learning disability. The language used in this book was confusing, distracting, and at times annoying and problematic – ‘but not in a gay way’ was a phrase used very often, not to mention the interactions with female peers – and for a long time, it felt as though there was no reason for this. Of course, reasoning does not excuse problematic behaviour. It also goes without saying that having a learning disability does not make you homophobic and sexist (or vice-versa). However, as a reader, I could have maybe been more understanding (for want of a better word) if I hadn’t just been left to work it out.
Oranges are not the only fruit
Eurgh, this book. I picked it up because it was short, because I had read it before, and because I had enjoyed it enough then to make me wonder whether I would understand it better, take more from it now. I was wrong. So wrong and upon finishing it, actually threw it across the table. I do think a large part of that was my general frustration with reading in April. I had yet to find a book that I truly enjoyed reading and Jennette Winterson’s debut just seemed to compound the issue, and what was worse, I wanted to love it! Instead, I find myself wholeheartedly agreeing with the other 1-star raters. The central themes are religion, motherhood, sexuality, and how all three can conflict. What should have been a fascinating and profound text – especially as it is based on Winterson’s childhood – was lost amongst a collection of nonsensical phrases and a profound sense that the author was trying to prove how clever she is by making the plot entirely undiscernable.
The song rising
This book marked the turning of the tides – thank you, Samantha Shannon, thank you! The third in her Bone Season trilogy I lept into this with no reservations (and also very impatient to remove myself from the cliff upon which I’d been hanging since the conclusion of The Mime Order). It did not disappoint, restoring my faith that fulfilling books could be found. There is not a lot that can be said about this sequel without spoiling the story. However, I would say that this was probably my favourite so far. They are all fantastic, extraordinarily developed and well rounded, but this felt the most confident in its skin.
Following my re-read of Ready Player One last month, I decided to give Armada a second chance. The first time I read it I determinedly rated it as ‘okay’; it was nothing special and especially disappointing after the enjoyment I felt whilst reading Ready Player One. I came really close to un-hauling it, but it hung around. For some reason, I just couldn’t commit to removing it from my shelves for good. Gathering dust, it sat next to my bed for months until I finally decided that I would give it one last chance. If my thoughts hadn’t changed, to the charity shop it would go. I’m honestly so cross with myself for considering passing it on. There can be no denying that it isn’t as good as Ready Player One. The characters are less likeable and relatable and the plot was less exciting. However, it was still fun. I really enjoyed the merging of reality and fantasy and the way that was done. I can’t see Armada being re-read as often as a lot of the other books on my shelf but I won’t rule out reading it for a third time at some point.
Another re-read, I predominantly picked up The Martian because I was craving more ‘action’ and choices are limited on my shelves. I was actually really hesitant to re-read this as it was one of my favourites of 2016 and I didn’t want my opinion of it to change. I obviously knew, deep down, that I wouldn’t feel the same this reading. It’s not that I disliked it but, for whatever reason, the humour didn’t make me chuckle as it had before and Mark Watney was a little less endearing and a little more annoying. It’s still a good book and an enjoyable read (the film is also excellent), I am just sad that it didn’t hit the mark as it had two years ago.
How to find love in a bookshop
Once you spot a title like this one how can you not pick it up? The weather was rumoured to be really nice for the next few days and, as I wasn’t working, I wanted nothing more than to sit in the garden with a sweet book; having this also be a book about books was obviously a big bonus. As promised, and as hoped, it was the perfect garden read, easy and fun. However, I was a little disappointed that the romance didn’t occur in the bookshop, or rather the bookshop (and books) was less instrumental in the romance than I had wanted – it felt somewhat like Veronica Henry was trying to be more serious than the plot allowed for.
This should be written in the present tense
There’s not a lot to be said about this book. I picked it up from the library, along with How to find love in a bookshop, on a whim. The cover is gorgeous and the premise sounded interesting enough, plus I like short books. Furthermore, I had never previously read anything translated from Danish. It was, like many books in April, okay. The simplicity of the writing style was perfect for an afternoon in the sun. Whilst I occasionally felt as though I was reading a list, I liked how it was used to portray the mundaneness of the protagonist’s life. I enjoyed it, it was fine, but it didn’t make me feel anything.
Parsnips, Buttered: How to win at modern life, one email at a time
Oh, Joe Lycett, you do make me laugh! I’ve been wanting to read this for ages but had kind of forgotten about it until I spied the bright yellow spine nestled among the shelves at work. Within three days both myself and Dad had finished it; laughing a good proportion of the time. A lot of the content I had heard before either from watching him Live at the Apollo (on the TV) or on 8 out of 10 cats does Countdown. However, that didn’t detract much. Basically, if you want a laugh, read this book.
Anna and the French Kiss
Anna, and the other members of Stephanie Perkins’ YA series, have become somewhat of a comfort blanket to me. These books have never failed to lift my mood, make me smile or compel me to hug the book upon finishing it. Picked up as something to read before bed, this time was no different. Light(ish), sweet, romantic contemporaries, these books don’t try to be anything more than what the covers imply and I have no shame in declaring them pretty much perfect.
It only happens in the movies
I was so surprised to find this at work and checked it out to myself before anyone else had a chance to. I don’t really know what to say about this read. I enjoyed it, it earned a solid 3 stars from me, maybe even 3.5, but there was something that stopped me really gelling with it. As a fan of the rom-com, on occasion I felt as though I was being told off, chastised for liking a genre of film that the main character (author?) deemed ‘dangerous’, constantly being told ‘they’re not real!’ Audrey had her reasons for being annoyed with rom-coms, they were very valid, and I understood. However, at times it felt like a somewhat excessive rant about the genre and an unnecessary disparage of the reader should they not feel the same way. I may write a full review of this at a later date as I am still collecting my thoughts.
Lola and the boy next door
Essentially, see my comment on Anna and the French Kiss. My least favourite of the series, it is still a 4-star read; I just don’t quite connect with the characters in the same way.
What did you read during April, let me know in the comments below? If you have a blog, don’t forget to leave your links. Happy reading!