I have had a lovely time reading this month. Twenty books read and there were some corkers in there. I started off by reading some more of the Dresden Files that I have on loan from Tree. I then attempted to wean myself off them for a little while with a vampire book, before starting on one of the many bookrings that landed on my doormat this month.
Picks of the month? The Dresden Files, obviously and I intend to go back to those just as soon as I get a gap between bookrings. Wide Sargasso Sea was pretty amazing and I loved What a carve up. The Christopher Moore was excellent so I had a really good start to the month. The Reader was one of my favourites as was Willard and his bowling trophies which gets bizarre book of the month award.
And amazingly, I managed to not only meet my reading targets for the 1001 list and The Big Read, but I also managed to read more books from the TBR pile than I added to it, for the first time since January. Yay me! Perhaps I should go and buy some books to celebrate…
8 x bookrings
1 x 1001-library
10 x from TBR
1 x local library
10 x 1001 list
2 x Big Read
Summer Knight – Jim Butcher (tbr) Following on from March, I'm still addicted to the Dresden files books that I've borrowed from Tree. This was book Four in the series and was mostly concerned with Faeries with some vampires thrown in just to keep Harry busy. Marvellous!
Death Masks – Jim Butcher (tbr) – More Dresden files, can't seem to stop reading them. This one had vampires, fallen angels and lots of danger and pace. Phew!
Blood Rites – Jim Butcher (tbr) – I know, I really must read something different but these are just so darned good! This one had vampires in it again, not surprising given the current story arc, but had different branches of the vampire courts, and there were some interesting character developments. Lots of action as usual. Right, off to pick a book that isn't a Dresden files.
You suck – Christopher Moore (tbr) This is the follow up to Blood sucking fiends, which I read recently, and is, obviously, about vampires. It's also very, very funny. There's a blue prostitute, a group of night workers at Safeway called the Animals, a very old vampire, a young sassy goth minion, etc. The list goes on. There's such an odd cast of characters and an increasingly bizarre and amusing storyline, that you can't help but keep smiling. Brilliant!
Wide Sargasso Sea – Jean Rhys (1001, bookray) This is the story of the first Mrs Rochester, the mad wife in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, and is superb. It's only 150 pages and is divided into three parts. The first is told from the first wife's point of view as she grows up in Jamaica. The second from her new husband's point of view on their honeymoon, and the third from the wife's again as she is kept captive in the house in England. It makes you look at Jane Eyre, the book, in a completely different light so in that respect is very clever, but it's also a very good book in its own right, as it's very atmospheric and descriptive. Definitely recommended.
What a carve up – Jonathan Coe (1001, bookray) Absolutely marvellous! And I'm not at all biased by the fact that the author is a Brummie. Not in the slightest. Ok, maybe just a tad, but he can't half write! The background of the book is a potted history of Britain through the 60s, 70s, 80s etc., so it was like the background of my life, which gave me even more of a connection to the book. There were some hilarious moments in it such as the Birmingham porn cinema scene, and President Bush on the TV to name but two. There were sad bits too, some twisty turny bits and a brilliant ending. I loved every word, to be honest. Not a quick read at 500 pages but well worth the effort. And for any Brummie of my generation, if you haven't read Coe's The Rotter's club – do so now. Yes Jackie – that means you 😉
Good Omens – Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman (tbr, Big Read) Excellent! This was one of my designated Big Read books for April, and one I'd been looking forward to. I wasn't disappointed. This was very clever. Clever and funny. Loved it.
The book of laughter and forgetting – Milan Kundera (1001-library) I've been reading this on and off for months but I just couldn't get on with it. I've made myself finish it so it could go back to the library but I can't say that I actually enjoyed it that much.
Between the assassinations – Aravind Adiga (tbr) As I'd enjoyed The White Tiger so much I absolutely had to buy this when it came out in paperback and unlike most purchases it went straight to the top of the pile and has been read within a week of buying it. It was quite different from The White Tiger, and I'd say not quite as good, but then it'd have to be pretty special to live up to its predecessor. This one didn't grab me from the first chapter but gradually pulled me in. It was written as a snapshot of a fictional city in India and was quite horrifying in places. I liked the way it was set out as a travel guide taking you through the city and then giving you a taste of each area. Definitely an interesting book, and yes, I did enjoy it. Just not quite as much as The White Tiger.
Huntress – L. J. Smith (tbr) One of the books of The Nightworld. You're really only going to like these if you like books with vampires, witches and weres in them. I do.
Black Dawn – L. J. Smith (tbr) And another Nightworld book. I'm reading these in order and they're starting to take quite a dark turn to them. Not a bad thing, I like a bit of darkness in my vampire fiction.
Witchlight – L. J. Smith (tbr) And guess what? Yup, another Nightworld book. They're strangely addictive. Once you start reading them, you just can't stop. Especially when they start dealing with 'end of the world' stuff. Excellent!
Blood and guts in high school – Kathy Acker (1001, bookring) Well, that was different! And certainly not for the faint-hearted. It was very graphic in places. Actually, most of it was. And with the illustrations in it, it's not something I'd like to read in public! Having said that, I rather enjoyed it. I find I can read most anything as long as it's fiction. Something like this would be sickening if it were non-fic but I just find it compelling otherwise. The writing style was interesting, and gripping. Yeah, I liked it.
Hunger – Knut Hamsun (1001, bookring) This was quite compelling. It tells of a writer who's struggling to earn anything, to keep a roof over his head and to feed himself. He pawns everything he owns and you see him struggling with his pride and his hunger and watch him in a gradual downward spiral. The book didn't end how I expected, which is always a bonus as I like to be surprised.I'd say I liked it rather more than I expected after reading previous journal entries from the bookring. An interesting book.
The Reader – Bernhard Schlink (1001, bookring) Marvellous! I really loved this one. A beautiful and mesmerising story overlaid onto rich descriptive language. Normally when I read, I read quickly. I get caught up in the story and 'need' to find out what's going to happen next. I still manage to take everything in, but on a subconscious level. With this book, I found myself slowing down in places to savour the words a little more and to make sure I had the pictures firmly fixed in my mind. It's not a book you can rush.
I still got through it in one sitting, though. Highly recommended!
Willard and His Bowling Trophies: A Perverse Mystery – Richard Brautigan (1001, bookring) This was weird and wonderful and I absolutely loved it. There are some amazingly bizarre books out there and it's amazing how many of them seem to have found their way onto the 1001 list. I'm so glad this one did as I doubt very much I'd have ever come across it otherwise. Marvellous. If you ever chance upon a copy, grab it and read it.
Two for the dough – Stephanie Plum (local library) Hee hee, this was excellent. I ordered it online from the library as soon as I finished the first book in the series but it's taken ages to get it. It took me a couple of chapters to get into it and get used to the characters again but once I did I really enjoyed it. More than the first book probably. I love the way Stephanie knows everyone! And her grandmother is brilliant.
I must go and order book three now.
The Old Devils – Kingsley Amis (1001, bookring) I'm actually stumped for what to say about this one. I just didn't engage with it. I read it, it was ok but I was quite happy when I finally got to the end. I neither liked or disliked it. Apparently it's supposed to be funny, but I just didn't get it. I must not have the right sense of humour…
Everything is illuminated – Jonathan Safran Foer (1001, bookring) This was another slightly offbeat book. It's quite difficult to describe what it was about as it's one of those books you just have to read in order to see for yourself. It was funny in places. Lots of places. Sad in others. I loved the way the character of Alex was written. I loved the whole concept of it. I did like the beginning slightly more than the end, which I felt got a bit messy, in terms of the writing style, but that's only a very slight niggle. Overall I thought it was wonderful and well worth a recommendation.
Emma – Jane Austen (tbr, Big Read, 1001) The second of my designated Big Read books for April and it was wonderful. Typical Austen. Emma was charming and a delight to read. I wasn't altogether impressed with the part where she insults Birmingham, but other than that, very good indeed.