Tuesday, 9 May 2017

April Wrap Up: Six Mini Book Reviews

Sometimes life gets in the way and you end up posting your monthly reading wrap up over a week in to the new month... April was a busy month for me but I still managed to get good lot of reading done and I read some brilliant books in April. So here we go:


HOLLOW CITY BY RANSOM RIGGS (2015)
Quirk Books  428 pages

Last years I read the much acclaimed Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children. I quite enjoyed it and I was interested enough in the story to continue with the series, so I picked up Hollow City of Amazon's Three Paperbacks for £10 deal and got reading. I guess you could say I'm glad I read it - it's certainly an original idea, but I wasn't blown away by it. Partly this has to do with my own tastes and the fact that YA fiction just isn't really my jam anymore. I found the romance to be underdeveloped and unnecessary, while the story's use of time travel as a plot device created to many continuity errors. It's set the UK in 1944 and at one point the phrase "Her Majesty" is used when it was actually George VI who was monarch during war time. 

Something about the story kept me reading though because I've since bought the final book in the series (Amazon three for ten, thank you very much). I guess I thought I've got this far, I might as well finish what I started.

Overall rating: 2 stars


THE ISLAND AT THE END OF EVERYTHING BY KIRAN MILLWOOD HARGRAVE (2017)
Chicken House  288 pages

In my opinion, Millwood Hargrave's second novel surpasses her debut. The Island at the End of Everything is a beautifully touching story about love and friendship set in the Phillipines at the beginning of the last century. It was sent to me by The Bookbag for review and I already have a full review uploaded here if you want to know more about it. This was a great story to start the month and I highly recommend Millwood Hargrave's work. 

Overall rating: 4.5 stars


WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR BY PAUL KALANITHI (2016)
Vintage  252 pages

This was my non-fiction pick for April and boy, it was a good'n. Paul Kalanithi's memoir has been doing the rounds on BookTube and Bookstagram for a while now and it's certainly become popular since its publication. Kalanithi tells his own story about his battle with cancer, how he and his family dealt with the difficulty of fighting such an illness, and how his medical education and philosophy allowed him to think about his illness. It's a poignant read and delicately written - Paul Kalanithi was certainly a brilliant man, in both intelligence and bravery. A lot of the medical jargon went over my head but the way he writes this book and how he explores his ideas on life undoubtedly make this an exquisite read. 

Overall rating: 3.5 stars


The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (2012)
Bloomsbury  352

I bought this on a a bit of a whim in Waterstones which is something I very rarely do. It was hardly a whim really considering it had been on my GoodReads TBR for a little while, but I found a copy whilst I was browsing and sat down and read the first couple of chapters in store. Liking what I read I purchased it and carried on reading it for the rest of the day because this book gives me the escapism I crave when I'm reading. I know very little about Greek mythology but that didn't take away the pleasure I had in reading this thrilling story. It's ripe with raw emotion and follows the love between Patroclus and the legendary Greek hero, Achilles. I actually was planning to read For The Most Beautiful by Emily Hauser in April which also chronicles the Trojan War - I will certainly get around to it at some point because this story was beautiful and it left me with a sudden urge to read Homer's Illiad.

Overall rating: 4 stars


THE TROUBLE WITH GOATS AND SHEEP BY JOANNA CANNON (2016)
The Borough Press  464 pages

I wasn't even alive in the summer of 1976 but this book gave me all the nostalgic feelings. Set in an English avenue during the hottest summer on British records, ten year olds Grace and Tilly go in search of their missing neighbour in the hope of finding out what happened to her. In their search they discover many other things about the rest of their neighbours - hidden secrets and lies which has blinded this quiet little suburban street to prejudice and injustice. This was a wonderful story that delicately deals with society and friendship with a mystery at its core. If you're looking for an easy, quintessentially English read then I highly recommend checking this out. I thoroughly enjoyed this and will be looking out for more of Joanna Cannon's work in the future.

Overall rating: 4.5 stars


THE DOLL'S ALPHABET BY CAMILLA GRUDOVA
Fitzcarraldo Editions  182 pages

This weird little book was one of two short story collections that came in the May Moth Box and as soon as I opened it, I couldn't wait to get started with this one. Camilla Grudova's magical collection is grotesque and dark - and I mean that in the best way possible. Recurring images of tinned food, decay, sewing machines, and mirrors run throughout each of these stories, threaded together by Grudova's unique style. As with most short story collections, some I enjoyed more than other and I think my favourite was the opening story - Unstitching - in which women un-stitch themselves in order to free themselves. They're highly imaginative and I loved the recurring motifs and themes throughout, yet some of the stories were just a little too weird for me. 

Overall rating: 3 stars

So, another good reading month in all! I think the variety of books I read last month really kept it interesting which is something I'm going to try and keep up each month. Happy reading, fellow book lovers! 
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