I decided to split this post into two as I really enjoyed all the books I read in April and talking about each one concisely was always going to prove to be tricky! If you want to see Part One of the books I read then you can find that here.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I had a really good reading month in April. I not only liked the vast majority of the books that I read but I also managed to get through a lot more than I expected to, which is always a win.
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
This was my first experience of Laini Taylor’s writing. I have been meaning to start her Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy for absolutely ages but have never gotten round to it. I actually wanted to read that trilogy first before picking this one up but then a good bookish friend of mine asked if I wanted to read Strange the Dreamer with her so of course I had to say yes. This is a fantasy book about warring Gods and humans, and it focuses on our main character Lazlo Strange, an orphan who has long dreamed of visiting the lost city of Weep. One day, an envoy from Weep comes to his city and Lazlo is able to join with them to go back and discover what exactly has happened to this mysterious place. I know that sounds a little basic but there is SO much more to the story than that. I wasn’t all that hot on Lazlo as our main protagonist but I loved loved loved one of the side characters, Sarai, and I was total heartbroken by the end of the book so Laini Taylor definitely has a way of getting her hooks in you! This was such a fascinating and whimsical story and I really enjoyed Laini Taylor’s writing, I found it very lyrcial and got completely swept up in it. A fantastic read.
Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
I actually listened to this on audiobook and it has taken me literally months to get through. I was quite disappointed to discover that there is an audio version of this narrated by Rachel McAdams which people seem to really love, but that was not the version I bought. I mention this because I think, for me, the narrator of the audiobook really coloured my experience of this story. I didn’t enjoy listening to her at all and I struggled to get the motivation to carry on. I didn’t realise at the time you can return audiobooks but I shall definitely do this in future! As for the story; the way the narrator portrayed Anne throughout; as a spoilt, self-centred little madam, had a real impact on me and I struggle to see why so many people think so fondly of this book! I didn’t like Anne as a character at all and although she does come of age and mature by the end of the story, for the most part I just wanted someone to give her a stern talking to (although she’s so precocious I imagine that wouldn’t have done any good at all). Don’t get me wrong, I did feel something for the story and the emotional last few chapters found me moved to a certain extent but either this just isn’t for me or I need to get hold of a paper copy and read it for myself, without the inflections and characterisation offered by the narrator.
Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend
Nevermoor was a middle-grade book I had actually planned on reading in March but didn’t get round to. It was another of my buddy-reads this month and again I found this a really enjoyable way to get through the story. This is a magical tale of a young girl called Morrigan Crow who is a ‘cursed child’ destined to die at midnight on her eleventh birthday. Morrigan has grown up being blamed for just about anything that goes wrong in her town and as such, is treated fairly appalling by her father and her step-mother. Then, one day, a man called Jupiter North appears and sweeps her away to a magical land called Nevermoor. Here Morrigan is given the chance to compete in a number of trials in order to become a member of an elite society, and remain safe in Nevermoor, rather than returning to her home. I liked so much about this book, I thought it was a very fun and entertaining read and Jupiter North is by far one of my favourite all-time children’s book characters. I did have a number of issues with it, and thought there were some glaring plot-holes such as the fact that we are given hints but never really told about what happened to Morrigan’s mother, but overall I thought this was a brilliant read and I can’t wait for Meg to pick it up.
Fingers in the Sparkle Jar by Chris Packham
This was the Bookish Mama’s pick for April and I was a little slow in getting to it, simply because it isn’t the type of book I would normally go for. Fingers in the Sparkle Jar is Chris Packham’s memoir and it is written in quite a unique style. If you don’t know, Chris Packham is a well loved naturalist here in the UK and has been on a number of TV shows. However he also has Aspergers and this is his story of growing up and how he found his connection to life, and death, through the natural world around him. One of the difficulties I had with the book was that we jump all over the place in time; I understand mixing up past and present but even within the ‘past’ sections of the book, we go back and forth and I found it difficult to place the events Chris was describing. He also had a very interesting and descriptive way of writing which took me a little while to get used to and he holds nothing back when describing some of his encounters with wildlife (I will never look at frogspawn in the same way again…). I do also wish there had been a little more of his adult life as I was interested to learn how he got into television but I appreciate that wasn’t the main focus of his story. Whilst it wasn’t the most comfortable read, I can appreciate how honest Chris had to have been to write this, and I’m pleased I read it. I also have to say huge kudos to his parents, who constantly went out of their way to help their son engage with the world around him; as the mother of a little naturalist I can’t say that I would be totally onboard with a whole cacophony of live and dead things in Eli’s room so I take my hat off to them!
If you are a reader and want to know what I will be picking up in May then you can see my TBR video here.