Anyone else feel like February came and went in the blink of an eye? We had the delicious promise of spring in the mild weather which meant we were out and about more, so I got a little less reading done than I had hoped but I still had an overall good month. I think.
I came very close to completing my Winter TBR and as spring doesn’t officially arrive in the UK until mid-March, I genuinely think I might be able to do it. There is a first time for everything!
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Slave – Anna with Jason Johnson
I started my reading month by picking up a non-fiction I have been meaning to get around to for a while. I purchased it after seeing Sian at Helpful Mum talking about it on her Youtube channel and I’m really glad I did.
This is the horrendous true story of a young woman who was living and working in London when she was snatched on her way home, flown to Ireland and forced into the sex slave industry. She is taken by people who live in the same house as her, so they have her passport and documentation, making her feel totally powerless. It’s an incredible story. Anna is able to gain the trust of her captors, and get a position of some ‘authority’ in the network and then she is able to escape. She then brings evidence against the people who took and kept her, and eventually sees them prosecuted.
I think going into this book I was a little naive about just how close to home it would be. It’s the type of thing I imagined went on ‘elsewhere’ but not in the UK and the thought that someone could be in this position not to far from where I am right now, is completely heartbreaking. I am glad I picked this book up and had my eyes opened to this world and I will definitely be doing some more study on the topic as I feel it’s a very important issue.
I’m not sure this is the type of book which can be given a star rating so I’m going to pass on that this time.
The Dream Thieves – Maggie Stiefvater
The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves were sneaky additions to my TBR but I’m really pleased I picked them both up. These are paranormal romance YA books and are just fun and quick reads. The Dream Thieves is the second book so I don’t want to go into too much detail but this particular books focuses more on one of the characters from TRB, Ronan, and in particular his ability to fall asleep and bring things out of his dreams.
Ronan is your typical grey area character which, you may already know by now because I never stop going on about it…is my actual FAVOURITE type of character. Give me the heart-broken, the angry, the frustrated all day long. Ronan definitely fits that bill and I enjoyed that we got to delve a little deeper into his character in this book (not too deep mind as this is a YA after all).
The main premise of The Raven Cycle books is that our protagonist, a young girl called Blue, has grown up her whole life knowing that when she kisses her true love, he will die. Blue’s mother has psychic abilities and she lives with other women who also share this gift so Blue is surrounded by the paranormal. She falls in with a group of boys from the nearby private school, the leader of which, Gansey, is a charismatic young man looking for a ley line. He believes there is a sleeping Welsh King to be found on the ley line and on waking, this King will grant one wish.
Like I said…super fun. I find these books to be fast and easy to read. They are by no means literary masterpieces but sometimes you just need some lighthearted fiction, right? I will say that although I enjoyed that we got to discover more about Ronan in this book I found myself a little lost with some of the plot points Maggie Stiefvater introduced. I don’t know whether these will be revisited in the later books but I was left feeling baffled by a few of them.
There are two more books in the series but I think I’ll take a short break for now.
STAR RATING: ***
The Silkworm – Robert Galbraith
The Silkworm is the sequel to The Cuckoo’s Calling which I picked up and read in September 2018 and enjoyed very much. I don’t know whether my experience of reading this was coloured by the fact that I had just finished reading a book which was incredibly fun and fast-paced but this one really felt like an effort.
We are once again following the story of private detective Cormoran Strike, some months after the publicity from the first book has died down. This is a traditional ‘whodunnit’ style detective thriller fiction book and I did enjoy the writing style, along with the dynamic between some of the characters including Strike and his assistant Robin. This particular book is about a novelist who writes an expose about some big names in the publishing world and after mailing out copies to various people, then goes missing. The author’s wife enlists the help of Strike to try and find the author, only for him to turn up quite graphically murdered a short while after. There are strange similarities between the author’s book and his murder and Strike decides to continue with his own investigation despite the police taking over.
Where this book fell down, in my opinion, was with its pacing. It felt very slow and took a long time to get to the point. I also struggled with the snippets of the expose we were given; I think the gothic writing style wasn’t for me and it meant I really didn’t get all that drawn in. Perhaps that says more about me than the book though.
I will continue with the series as I do think it has plenty going for it. This time we just didn’t click.
STAR RATING: ***
Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban – JK Rowling
I know I have mentioned this before but we are currently listening to these books on audio with the kids and we finished book number three this month. The books are narrated by Stephen Fry, who does a very good job in my opinion and listening to them on audio with the kids has been a lot of fun. I don’t really have much else to say about these as I’m sure everyone is pretty familiar with the Harry Potter synopsis! But I would highly recommend the audio-books as an alternative way to read them.
STAR RATING: *****
Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng
The final book I picked up in February was one I was a little dubious about as I had read Celeste Ng’s debut novel ‘Everything I Never Told You’, again in September 2018 and had not been a huge fan. I had heard plenty of people rave about Little Fires Everywhere though so decided to give it a go.
I’m really pleased I did as I found this book to be much more enjoyable.
The basic premise is that we have a mother and daughter who move into a community called Shaker Heights. Shaker Heights is a community which has been purposefully planned so that everything is just so. Even down to having the same number of trees on each street, or dustbins not visible. It’s very Stepford Wives-esque. Mia is an artist and she brings her daughter Pearl to live in a rental. Up until now, Mia and Pearl have lived a very nomadic lifestyle but they have decided to settle down. As the name of the book suggests, their arrival literally causes little fires everywhere.
The other family we follow in the story are The Richardsons. The Richardsons consist of mum, dad and four children and they are a backbone of the Shaker Heights community. Celeste Ng uses the two different families to explore some interesting ideas about what makes good parenting, what is needed i.e. money or time or stability in the traditional sesnse etc and I enjoyed the way she made the comparisons. She touches on some hard issues like adoption and abortion which I also thought were done well.
The only thing which I felt let the book down, was the ending when I felt very led as a reader to fall in line with Celeste Ng’s opinion. There is a particular story-line which, up until the final chapter, Ng deals with in a very unbiased opinion but that slips towards the end of the novel and I didn’t appreciate that so much. I also didn’t like being left not knowing how everything concludes for each of the characters but that is my own personal thing!
Overall I am glad I picked this book up and I will definitely look out for Celeste Ng’s future work.
STAR RATING: ****