Book talk · Reviewing my monthly reads

Reviewing my July reads

August marks a year since I really got back into reading and I have to say, I don’t know how I’d fallen out of the habit. It’s relaxing, perfect escapism and has generally made me feel better. However, I have to say I was almost defeated in July and it came down to the wire for finishing the fourth book I’d set myself. Reviews for what I read below.

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The Raven Cycle (Book 1, The Raven Boys) – Maggie Stiefvater

I realise I’m probably not the target demographic for this book, it feels marketing wise that it’s very much aimed for teenage girls. I’m going to be 28 this year. I am however somewhat of a Tumblr veteran (Here if you are interested) and for a couple of years now, I’ve continuously seen quotes and things to do with this book. Enough to spark my interest and when I found the first one for 99p on Kindle, I thought why not.

I’ll admit to having initial reservations in the first couple of chapters. They didn’t last long though. Despite not necessarily being easily likeable, I did find myself being charmed in one way or another by most of the characters. It feels like, from Tumblr anyway, Gansey is the fan favourite. The hype is real, he’s endlessly quotable and intriguing. The interplay with his friends and then with Blue is also cleverly written and there’s no real indication from book one about how it will all play out.

A different kind of book to most of the stuff I’ve been reading lately but that’s never a bad thing. It was easy to breeze through and never dull. Some of the stuff to do with the magic side felt a little heavily leaned on initially but became much more interesting as we progressed through. Some of the images it conjures up in the forest are very well done and chilling in parts. I’m not a believer in the likes of ley lane and psychics but Stiefvater makes it convincing enough to go along with and has clearly done her research.

I’ll be buying the next ones when I can get them for a reasonable price (and I’ve read a few more of the other 50 odd books I’ve not read yet)

Moby Dick – Herman Melville

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Yes, I know. One of the most famous books and I’d not read it. I’d been meaning to and then my enjoyment of ‘In the Heart of the Sea’ reminded me that I really needed to.

I have to admit that this also took me the best part of two weeks to get through. Yes, I only get limited time but even so, this was a bit of a challenge. The way its presented doesn’t make it much easier either.

There are many parts you’ll find yourself going back to a couple of times to re-read and try to understand them. It’s debatable how well you’ll understand them, but it helps. It’s not always difficult to read, or to decipher, but it is a patience testing one.

I feel like I learnt more than I probably needed to about whaling, can’t deny that he didn’t do his research or know his craft! There are some quotes in it that did resonate with me and that I thoroughly enjoyed. In the end, it’s an interesting enough look at human nature as it is whales. It explores guilt, revenge, leadership and a glimpse of interactions back in the past.

 

Player Piano – Kurt Vonnegut

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Not bad for a first novel, right? Another I’d been long overdue to catch up on, this I absolutely raced through out of sheer enjoyment. Set in a dystopian future that feels rather close to home, or at least that certainly requires little imagination, it’s cleverly told and played out.

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Despite being his first and a little more straightly told than later works, some of the trademark Vonnegut writing still shows through. It’s darkly funny in parts and chilling in its telling. It writes about modern issues, about power and money. About ideology and how dangerous it gets. It’s also an interesting look at how man has to have a purpose and how much people lose hope and heart when they feel they have nothing to offer.

This felt like a novel that will feel as topical now as it will in another fifty years and that it will hold up to multiple re-reads. I look forward to seeing what I can take out of it next time.

 

The Dark Tower: The Waste Lands (Book 3) – Stephen King

My last book of the month to get through and the thickest of the series thus far, I had just three days to read this. Luckily, I’m incredibly eager to keep ploughing through this series, though I’ve not quite figured out what I’ll do when I get to the end…start all over again?

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King wears his love, and inspiration, of Tolkien on his sleeve more than ever in this third instalment, but it never feels overdone, or a rip off. He’s managed to make such a vivid and fascinating world in these books that you perceive them as clever nods that cause a wry smile rather than anything sinister.

We move into several new landscapes here and one rather reminded me of Lost, so I wonder if the television may have stolen a few influences themselves here. The pacing picks up again in this instalment, never slowing and never changing. Roland is an interesting enough character on his own, but he’s more exciting around others. The dialogue we get is a treat.

I particularly enjoyed the riddles in this and how it feels like we’re moving along in the journey to get to the Tower. I came to love Eddie and Susannah even more too.

 

Here’s what I’ve got on the planned list for August?

The Dark Tower: Wizard and Glass (Book 4) – Stephen King

Band of Brothers – Stephen Ambrose

Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

Paper Girls (Volume 3) – Brian Vaughan

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