Book talk · Personal · Reviewing my monthly reads

Reviewing my February reads

Ok, so February wasn’t the greatest of months, not from a creative point of view. I kept on top of my Yahoo writing, though let’s be honest, with the amount of stuff going on with my club, the articles practically wrote themselves. I failed though to post a single blog entry here, submit something for another blog or to get my Tumblr queue into some kind of order before it ran dry. I barely watched a film for more than half the month. I did however spend lots of time with my man, family and reading. So it wasn’t a write off.

Below are what I’ve read this month and my next picks.

Jessica Jones: Alias Volume 1 (AKA Jessica Jones)– Bendis/Gaydos

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Wittily written and a little different to Marvel comics I read before, I enjoyed this as much as I hoped. I have to admit that prior to the Netflix series around Jones, I was a little oblivious. So I started here and will definitely be continuing.

I like the graphics; while not the flashiest of the comics I’ve read and not as beautiful as Paper Girls or Wytches, it made up for it in the dialogue and the approach to being a superhero. Jessica is more like one of us, except wittier and braver. So yeah, still a superhero I guess. The above I snapped is a wisecrack about Spiderman over wine. The comic also features one of my favourites, Captain America.

Slaughterhouse-Five – Kurt Vonnegut

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I’ve read some Kurt Vonnegut. But not enough and certainly not for a long time. I’d not read this much shorter book before but again, Kindle offers dangled this for 99p and I couldn’t resist.

Don’t be fooled by how easy this one is to get into. It’s one of his most personal, charting his own experiences of wartime. As an American soldier in war, he’s captured as a prisoner and just so happens to be in Dresden when it all goes up. He took his time to put this out, to write it all. So it’s no surprise that when he did, he did it less as a straight autobiography and more as a novel, charting the story of a man who, having made it back from the fireball of Dresden, goes on to a life abducted by aliens and seemingly shunned by his family because of it. It’s an interesting take on PTSD and the way America, or people as a whole, treat veterans and those who’ve seen things worse than you can imagine. Some may dismiss it as ramblings, less an account of what happened, then delusions and fiction. Personally, I felt like that was the point. A way of coping with the horrors seen and probably smelt.

It’s exactly what you expect from Vonnegut; incredibly deep material told with humour and a lot of weird thrown in. It’s also a short book, one easily completed within a sitting with a good cup of coffee and nowhere to go. Again, choosing just one quote to put above was tough. I considered going with the often repeated, titular phrase ‘So it goes’ which means so much more than you first think, but I chose the above. A reflection, a musing on war. It feels incredibly poignant. A lot of the book did really, highlighting the danger of men caught up in something orchestrated far away for far different reasons than those on the front line can attest.

It was a read that I sat and pondered for a while when finishing it. I thought about my Grandad. I was very young when he died and his own memories of war had left deep scars, so it wasn’t something you brought up or that he willingly discussed. I was probably too young to understand it, but I guess that was its own form of disassociation, of coping. It’s not something I’ll probably have to experience myself. It’s generational mostly. That in itself is fascinating.

 

The Son – Jo Nesbo

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So, a confession: This was my first Jo Nesbo book. Maybe not the logical starting point but easier to test the waters of writing style with this standalone book as opposed to the Harry Hole series. Though with a film on the way and my enjoyment of this one, I’ll certainly be looking to pick them up soon enough.

One of the most popular Scandi-crime authors out there, I’ve known Nesbo’s name and books a long time. My parents are huge fans so it was only natural that I’d end up reading them at some point; it’s just taken me a while. His style of writing is easy to get on with, not too flashy but it settles you in nicely and you feel at home turning the pages.

In this, the characters are well fleshed and the story unfolds at a steady, enjoyable pace. It keeps you guessing but the twists and turns never become frustrating. I didn’t entirely guess the end or outcome either, so props for that. I much prefer a book that keeps me turning the pages because I don’t entirely know how it’s going to end. It’s a revenge story, but not one quite as you know it, or expect. It’s no wonder Nesbo books are often adapted; their narratives are well suited to the big, or even small, screen.

I loved the design of this book too, the dotwork cover with the vibrant red beneath the sleeve (I’m not the only person who detests reading them with the sleeve in place right?) and of course, a map! Now I just want to jetset and go to Oslo. Oh well.

 

Plus my bonus read; The Snow Child – Eowyn Ivey

This book was beautiful. I picked it up for 99p thanks to a Kindle flash sale (I’m a little bit tight so I’m always keeping an eye out for books on offer). It came highly recommended from my Mum and it had been long enough since she’d told me about it that I’d forgotten most of the plot. It’s wise to go in blind because this magical, fairytale type story is best enjoyed that way.

Set in 1800s Alaska, I enjoyed the settings and the descriptions made me feel suitably cold. They also had me wondering if I could survive and cope with such an extreme life. Obviously in these day and ages you’d probably still have internet and some kind of electric in good weather so maybe I could. In this sense, I was brought back to my enjoyment of Amy Liptrott’s ‘The Outrrun’. There’s a clear sign of affection for this utterly beautiful but often cruel land and it made me want to go there even more.

Very different to my other reads this month it was hard not to be charmed. It’s a heart warming tale, sometimes heart-breaking too. The characters are realistically flawed but you root for them. The idea itself is simple, but clever, drawing on a Russian fairytale. For a debut novel, it’s simplicity is so brilliantly executed, you’re left excited for what Ivey does next. Doesn’t she even have a great name? Perfect for the location and themes of her book. It’s played out pretty straight, for much of it we know only what our central couple know. We learn, we discover and we smile as they do know. Cliched as that may sound.

While certainly not the longest book, I still powered through it in around two days because of the strength of the writing and the narrative. I could have picked so many quotes to screenshot and use below and it was tempting to use one of the many that so beautifully paints an icy, snowy scene. Instead, I chose this one because it felt relatable. The book discovers ageing and growing with somebody you’ve known for years in a rather lovely fashion too.

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March’s Planned Reads:-

Wishful Drinking – Carrie Fisher

To the Lighthouse – Virginia Woolf

Preacher Volume 1 – Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon

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