You’d have thought that after my mammoth reading month in March, that I might have taken it a little easy on myself during April but it turned out to not be the case at all. If anything, it spurred me on to have another great bookish month. I had lost my routine of switching off my phone and spending a good hour of my evening reading before going to sleep and it is something I have rediscovered in the last month or so. I often get asked how I manage to read so much and this step is one of the main reasons. Our phones are rabbit-holes and I have lost countless half hours just scrolling through nothing at all when I could have been lost in a good book.
If you want my absolute top tip for getting more reading done then there it is. Put down your phone and pick up a book instead.
But lecture over, here is part one of the books I read in the month of April:-
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
This book was an interesting one to pick up because it had a whole lot of hype. It had been featured as a mumsnet book club pick I think and I’d also just seen it all over Insta and Youtube with people praising it to high heaven. So trying to go in with low expectations was tricky. We follow the story of Eleanor; a woman in her early 30s who lives a life of routine. She wears the same clothes, eats the same food, goes to her job and comes home almost every day of the week apart from at the weekends when she drinks herself into oblivion waiting for Monday morning to roll around again. It is essentially a book about kindness and loneliness, about learning to let go of our pasts and about self-discovery. I really enjoyed it, although the writing style is a little quirky and took a while to get used to. It is very moving and I particularly fell in love with a couple of the side characters. There was a twist at the end which I thought was a tad overdone but in terms of characters and overall story-line, this is one I’d definitely recommend.
Caraval by Stephanie Garber
This was a book which I picked up as part of a buddy-read with a fellow booktuber and getting to read and discuss with another bookworm added a really fun element into the book reading experience. This is YA fantasy about two sisters who live with an oppressive father. Their mother has ‘left’ and their father is extremely violent and controlling. One of the sisters dreams about going to an event called ‘Caraval’ which is an immersive opera slash circus slash game type experience (it’s hard to define!) and then one day is given the chance to escape with her sister to take part in Caraval. When they arrive however, her sister is kidnapped and the aim of this year’s game is to be the first to find her. There were a lot of obvious plot holes in this story but I thought the whole thing was so much fun that I was happy to go along for the ride. One of my favourite parts is that you are told repeatedly at the beginning that not everything which happens in Caraval is real so you spend the whole story not knowing what to believe, changing theories about what is happening and who is who and I just thought this added a really fun dynamic to the story. This is also one of the main criticisms of the book so if you don’t enjoy reading unreliable narration then I’d possibly give this one a miss. Personally I loved it and I can’t wait for the next book in the series to come out!
The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld
I knew hardly anything about this book going into it; the synopsis on the back cover was extremely vague and other than having it recommended to me a number of times, I just didn’t know what to expect. I am actually very glad that it turned out that way as I think this is a book best read blind. I will tell you the basis premise; which is that it is a magical realism book set inside a maximum security prison. We follow the perspective of a prisoner on death row but we also follow the stories of a number of side characters including a death row investigator and a priest. This is not a book about the rights and wrongs of death row but a simple exploration of what makes people monsters. I found it to be a very moving book and I found myself surprisingly emotional at the end of it. It isn’t always a comfortable read and it does touch on some dark subject matter but if you can handle that then I do think this is a book worth reading. And that is literally all I am going to say!
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Another really hyped book which I had owned and planned to read for the longest time but had simply never gotten round to. This is about a teenage girl called Starr who lives in a rough part of her city, but goes to school in a more affluent part. She finds herself behaving as two separate people, depending on who she is around, but this all comes to a head when she is coming home from a party with a friend and they are pulled over by the police. Her friend is shot and killed and Starr has to decide who she is, who she wants to be, and how she is going to speak up in a world which is still, for all the ‘progress’ we have made, so unjust. I really enjoyed this book, as I suspected I would, and I’d highly recommend it, especially if you want to read a book which is perhaps out of your comfort zone a little bit.
Find the second part of this post here.