Despite the fact that March was a heck of a lot busier than I had been expecting, when it came to reading I had a stellar reading month finishing 9 books in total. Part of the reason for that was because I joined in with a Youtube read-a-long called ‘Middlegrade March’ and Middlegrade books do tend to be a lot shorter, or just less complex to read, so it is mostly because of my choices for that read-a-long that I managed to squeeze in so many books.
Gangsta Granny by David Wallaims
This was an audiobook I listened to with the kids on the way down to my parents house at the start of the month. I’ve not read any of David Walliams books before so I was interested to see what his middlegrade offerring would be like and I was suitably impressed. He narrates the audiobook too which I think was the perfect choice and the kids spent the whole time in hysterics over what was happening. The story is basically about a young boy who is forced to stay at his Granny’s house every Friday night and he despises going. Until one day he discovers that his Granny may just have had a secret past as a jewel thief. Lots of amusing things happen as a result and it was a really great choice.
Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah
I went into this book with semi-high expectations. The Nightingale by the same author is one of my all-time favourite books so I was expecting big things from Firefly Lane. It is basically the story of female friendship following two girlsl who become friends as teenagers unexpectedly as they are from opposite walks of life, and it follows their friendship through the next 30 or so years. I didn’t love the story as much as I thought I would but I do think it is testament to Kristin Hannah’s writing that, despite the fact I thought the story was a little on the weak side, I still found myself crying at the end. Kristin Hannah has a way of creating characters which just manage to get under your skin and that was very much the case here.
Magic Study by Maria V Snyder
This is the second book in a fantasy series called The Chronicles of Ixia. I read the first book and loved it at the tail-end of last year so I was keen to jump back in. I can’t say too much about this book as it would spoil the first one but this is a series set in a world where magic has been outlawed. Our protagonist, Yelena, discovers that she has magic and has to keep it hidden whilst also working as the king’s food taster. It’s a very easy to read fantasy series, which I have really enjoyed falling into and I can’t wait to see where the third book goes.
The Girl Who Drank The Moon by Kelly Barnhill
OH.THIS.BOOK! This was my favourite book I read this month and I have literally not stopped talking about it since I finished. It was the perfect example of how a whimsical middlegrade book should be written and I will definitely be on the lookout for any other offerings by Barnhill in the near future. We follow the story of an old witch who lives in a forest, on one side of the forest is a dark and grey village and every year this village sacrifice their youngest baby to the witch in the hope that she will take the offering and not terrorise them. Unbeknownst to the villagers however, the witch Xan actually rescues the babies and takes them to a village on the other side of the forest where they are raised in loving families. As she travels across the forest she feeds the babies starlight in order to sustain them. Except one year she accidentally feeds the baby moonlight, causing her to be filled with magic. Xan decides to keep this baby and raise her, teaching her the ways of magic. And the story unfolds from there. I have to say though, that it is about so much more than that. It’s about love, hope, loneliness, sorrow and trust. It has dark moments but also truly beautiful moments and the writing in just GORGEOUS. To put it simply. I adored this book and I don’t think any small snippet will do it justice. You should just read it!
Lie with Me by Sabine Durrant
This book would be the perfect option for a holiday read. It is fast-paced and pulls you right into the story. It’s a thriller but isn’t too spine-tingly and was the ideal choice for me in a busy month. We follow the story of Tom who is a forty-something year old and a bit of a loser. He had some mild success with a book he wrote in his twenties but has been mostly sponging off friends and family since then, pretending at a life he doesn’t have. When he bumps into an old university friend and finds himself invited on a family holiday to Greece, events start to spiral out of his control and we begin to discover things about Tom’s past that he has managed to bury very, very deeply. I think if you want something straightforward and quick then this is a great read.
Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai
This is a middlegrade book written in verse, and it’s the first book I’ve ever read in this style. It is a beautiful and moving story about a young Vietnamese girl who is forced to flee from Saigon with her family. They travel across the sea and end up in America where she has to acclimatise to a whole new way of life. The style made it a very quick book to read but it was nonetheless a very worthwhile book about a culture that I am not massively familiar with and I’m really glad I went for it.
How To Stop Time by Matt Haig
This was the Bookish Mamas pick for the month and it was my first Matt Haig book. Having heard great things about his writing, I tried not to go into this with too high expectations. How To Stop Time is about Tom, a man with a secret. Tom ages differently from other people in that he ages a lot slower and so in our present day has actually been alive for centuries. He is part of a small group of people like him, and in order to protect themselves they never stay in one place for more than 8 years. On top of this, to avoid ‘complications’, the society has one rule which is to not fall in love. Suffice to say that when the book begins, Tom is beginning to feel dissatisfied with his life and this is an interesting look at humanity, what we need as people, the loneliness that can come from living with a hidden ‘illness’ and so much more. I really enjoyed it and although I wish it had expanded on a few more areas, it was a good choice and I will look to pick up more by Matt Haig in the future.
Five Children and It by E. Nesbit
A classic from my childhood which I haven’t read for many years I was excited to pick this up again. If you aren’t familiar with this story then it is about five children who discover a sand fairy whilst they are on their summer holidays. This sand fairy, or psammead can grant wishes and so the children go on a journey to discover that sometimes the things we think we want the most, are actually not in our best interests. I found E.Nesbit’s writing a little tricky to get into at first but once I had picked up the gist of it I flew through the book and it’s one I look forward to reading with Meg and Eli in the future.
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
This was the final book I read in the month of March and what a gem to end on. Again, this was a much loved book from when I was a child but one I hadn’t picked up for a long time. It is told entirely from the perspective of a gorgeous black horse and follows his life from its beginnings as a colt in the fields of a country manor house right through to his retirement. He is treated well, and poorly, and we meet characters from all different stations and walks of life. I don’t know what Anna Sewell’s hope was in writing this book but what always sticks out to me is the references she makes to the fact that animals may be ‘dumb’ but that doesn’t mean they are stupid. I know I’ve said it about many of the books I read this month but I’m very glad I picked this one up to round off a great reading month with.
If you are a reader and want to know what I will be picking up in the month of April then you can find my TBR video here.