May Reading Wrap Up

And just like that, we’re approaching the half-way mark for 2018. Mad, exciting, worrying, and ever so slightly terrifying, this year has flown by – which I know I probably say every year, but at least I’m consistent.

Reading wise, May has been my best yet with 5 books devoured. The first of which was particularly monstrous, as I finished the Laini Taylor Trilogy with Dreams of Gods and Monsters. Breathtakingly creative, this series has been one that is as inspiring as it is impressive. There are moments of hilarity as well as heart-wrenching sadness, with characters that are diverse, charming, and well-crafted. Laini Taylor has had be won over as an author since reading Strange the Dreamer last year, and I’m so glad I decided to read this imaginative, fantastical series.

Somewhere during my reading of Dreams of Gods and Monsters, I went to an incredible talk by Louise O’Neill, an author who manages to deliver books that punch you in the gut and leave you reeling, wanting to change the world. You can see my review of Asking for It here, a book that I’ve thought about often since finishing, so I knew I had to pick up her latest book The Surface Breaks. A feminist retelling of ‘The Little Mermaid’, this treasure of a book is one I’d recommend to anyone in their early teens – as I wish I had had it when I was that age. Closer to the original story rather than the Disney version, this tale is of a young girl who is paraded around as a commodity and something to possess rather than an individual with her own voice, her body something to be used and decorated and belonging to the men around her. This is a story of her reclaiming her body and her voice, despite losing it. The Sea Witch is an incredible character, one who I want to have her own story, and never before is it made so painfully clear that the heroine goes from one abusive relationship to the next, her life dictated by the men she tries to love, until she finally wakes up and sees the world for what it is. Buy it for your daughters, nieces and sisters, and especially buy it for your sons, brothers and nephews. A powerful, important book.

After thoroughly enjoying the new Marvel film, I decided to keep that love going by picking up Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman. He is such a clever writer, and more and more I find a more suitable title for him is wordsmith. He crafts sentences and stories in a way that sweep you to another place, and definitely makes his mark on these myths – some well-known, and others less so. I honestly could have read this in one sitting, but managed to pace it out with various tube-journeys. Would highly recommend to those who are new to Norse mythology, and even old hands who want to revisit the grand stories told in a different style.

Clearly not over my onslaught of fantasy, after that I delved into Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. I’ve seen this book several times over the last few years, and always thought it would be something I’d enjoy (hello, dragons). A very different kind of fantasy book, this one is set in an old-fashioned world and written in a language to reflect this setting. It’s a world of court and dragons, and a girl stuck between the two worlds. Well-told, this was definitely a slow-burner for me but definitely worth the wait.

Then finally, I read ‘The Custard Heart’ and other stories by Dorothy Parker, all wrapped up in the new beautiful Vintage covers. Along with two other tales, ‘The Custard Heart’ was a well-told short story with a strong female lead and interesting side-characters. Each had a loud, boisterous heroine and tackled various themes and topics. Whilst they didn’t have my heart soaring, I did enjoy them as short reads and am glad to have had a taster for Dorothy Parker’s writing style. A great way to finish off the month of May.

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December Reading Wrap Up

Well we made it – only a few hours to go and then it will be 2018. It’s been one hell of a year and I’ve read some fantastic books, but before I write about my top books of 2017, here is my December Reading Wrap Up.

First off, I finally finished the Northern Lights series with The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman. An incredible finale to such an amazing series, which was far more complex and richer than I had anticipated. The first book was your classic fun-loving fantasy adventure, but over the course of the sequels it morphed into this fantastical essay about religion and life, with very strong ties to Milton’s Paradise Lost. I’d recommend this to people of all ages, and I’m so glad that after a short break I was able to get back into the series with such excitement.

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After so much fiction, I decided I needed some non-fiction to give my imagination a rest and challenge my mind a little. I picked up Argonauts by Maggie Nelson, a memoir that looks at gender, her marriage, and motherhood. A truly brilliant piece of literature, and I want to encourage so many people to pick up this little gem. Filled with insightful thought and intelligent notions, this truly encapsulated the themes perfectly.

Clearly after that I was craving fantasy again, as I whizzed through Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I adored her book Strange The Dreamer, so I was expecting to enjoy this immensely – I just didn’t anticipate how quickly I’d get through it. Whilst I found the first half more engaging than the second, it definitely set up the world and had me desperate for more. I’ve already read half of the sequel, which I plan to finish early 2018 and pick up the final instalment soon after.

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Finally, I finished off the year with the Queen of Roman History, Mary Beard, and her new novella Women & Power. Short but definitely not sweet, this book gets right down to the nit and grit of our past responses to women and their association with power. It definitely could have been a whole novel, and I hope one day she uses this as a starting point for such a piece of literature, but this was the perfect size to incite the mind and get my blood boiling. Once again, I would highly recommend.

And that was 2017. I’ve ticked off another feminist book, a series I’ve started, a blue cover, and a book from my TBR. I’m so happy with how my 17 challenges have gone so far this year, and only two weren’t completed. The 4 Classics goal was almost completed, but I made the mistake of listening to my 4th classic Bleak House on Audible, so I still have a long way to go. The other challenge that is left uncompleted is the character with my name, but I’m not too fussed about that.

  1. ***4 ‘Classics’
  2. *A Man Booker nominee
  3. **A Baileys nominee
  4. ***A Feminist Book cover to cover
  5. ****‘A Blue Cover’
  6. *A Graphic Novel
  7. *A Horror Book
  8. ****Finish a series you’ve started
  9. ***A friend’s favourite book
  10. **Poetry book
  11. **Book over 500 pages
  12. *Book under 150 pages
  13. Book with a character with your name
  14. *An autobiography
  15. **A play
  16. ****A book from your TBR
  17. *******Book published in 2017

 

I already have a few challenges in mind for 2018, and whilst I’m not going to do 18 challenges to mimic this year, I’m certain that it will keep me busy. So far, my goal is to read more non-fiction (for every 2 fiction books, I’d like to read a non-fiction book) and I’m also hoping to read a lot, if not all, of Virginia Woolf’s books. I’ve read so many extracts from them, but never read one cover to cover, so that is my main goal for 2018.

I’m sure I’ll think of other challenges along the way, but for now I’m going to sit back, relax, and enjoy the last moments of 2017. So Happy New Year everyone, and may your 2018 be filled with books!