May was a super busy month where I saw less of my boyfriend and spent less time in my own bed than planned, but also a super fun month filled with friends, amazing food and good times. So I’m actually pretty happy that I made it through all of my planned reads. I even started a new book, but it was always going to be too ambitious to finish that one.
Reviews for what I read in May below.
The Ocean at the end of the lane – Neil Gaiman
My Mum let me borrow this one and I was so eager to get through it that it took me about two days in-between working to finish it. It’s such a gorgeous book. If you’re a fan of Gaiman’s work, the writing style isn’t a huge shift away from the norm but it’s enchanting and manages to capture what’s great about being a kid and also the not so great.
It’s fantasy at its finest. You know it’s not real but the description is so gorgeously written that you can envisage and see everything you read as if it was. The perfect book to immerse yourself into when you want a little escapism. It deals with bigger issues though than it might suggest. At times it explores the ever expanding debate of what happens to us when we die, what came before us, what other kind of life is out there. It challenges perceptions about the mundane and the seemingly normal.
I personally liked the style, the way it plays on memory and delves into the past. The fact that our narrator is recalling childhood memories paints him as a not entirely reliable narrator and allows the fantastical things to flourish. Just how much of it actually happened versus a child who needed an escape from not so good times in his domestic life and the power of the human imagination; particularly that of a child, is well played on.
The Humans – Matt Haig
I’d known for a while that it was about time I checked out Matt Haig’s work, Twitter hadn’t let me forget just how popular he is and seemingly important to so many people. He’s an outspoken person on there, an advocate for mental health and as this book showed me, a talented author.
The Humans is different to many books I’ve read and it’s what I really loved about it. That and how much I felt I could relate to it, I could tell it was by somebody who I could go for a drink with, who sees the world the same way I do. Written in a journal/diary kind of format, you’re immediately put into the shoes of the protagonist. A different experience when it’s an alien impersonating a human. It looks at the things we take for granted that to any outsider would look entirely bizarre and unexplained.
It’s also an undoubtedly British view on things too. Certain things would make so little sense to those less familiar with the UK and of its culture and strange traits. The humour is fitting and it’s a book with more than a few laugh out loud moments. The kind that brings a smile to your face as you read it.
As well as its very clever perceptions and the humour, it’s a book with a lot to say. It looks at how family operate, the good, the bad and how often we take our loved ones for granted. It looks at how mental health is perceived and tackles this in its own, but thoughtful, way. At times, it’s crazy but also not so far fetched.
Below is one of my favourite things from it, though it’s fairly endlessly quotable!
Nightblind – Ragnar Jonasson
The second in the series, it’s another easy to read crime thriller. This one jumps forward in time a little. This bothered me somewhat. The ending of the last one had unanswered questions that I assumed would be addressed at the beginning of this one. Except they’re sort of not. The passing of time felt like an easy way out, a way to avoid having to cover this part of the plot. Ok, it’s sort of touched on at several points, but certain with huge gaps to fill in yourself.
As far as the crime goes, I enjoyed this one. It felt more expansive than the first, perhaps as the town is more open and involves a few more characters. Adding in a political edge certainly made things more intriguing and the characters felt a little more fleshed out. I’m still a little mixed in how I feel about the lead, Ari Thor, perhaps due to my earlier reservations. He’s a Dad in this one so that changes things a little. Again, it’s perhaps not as played on or used as it could have been.
I also wonder if my opinion is slightly less sold due to the other crime thriller I read this month that was superior. There’s nothing wrong with this one, it keeps you turning the pages and the town is no less appealing, but it perhaps didn’t develop as much as I thought it might.
The Bat – Jo Nesbo
The first in the multi-book verse of Harry Hole, a flawed but thorough detective. This one takes place in Australia with Hole mostly a mess, but very likeable. My first Hole book, but not my first Nesbo, I sort of knew what to expect.
It’s a good crime thriller and pleasingly, I didn’t guess the ‘who did it’, Always pleasant. The Australian setting also made for an interesting angle, the exploration of the Aboriginal culture an unexpected surprise.
Hole is a smart detective, but not such a smart human. He seems to have a habit of making the wrong decision for himself but the right one for the case. For the most part anyway. There was one twist in the book I didn’t think they’d actually succeed in, so that was a little shocking. And sad. I liked having the theme of water throughout and the flashbacks to what we learnt about Hole. The aquarium made a very good set piece in the story.
June’s Planned Reads:-
The Final Empire: Mistborn Book One: Brandon Sanderson
The Dark Tower (The Gunslinger, Book 1) – Stephen King
Blackout – Ragnar Jonasson
Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel
Alias: Volume 2 – Brian Bendis, Michael Gaydos