Tuesday, 22 December 2015

December Wrap Up + January TBR

It's been a very quiet month from me because I've been very busy, between work and other things, and although I've still been reading I haven't really had the time or the energy to write any reviews!

However, although it's slightly early, here's what I've read in December and what I'm going to be reading in the New Year!


Burial Rites - Hannah Kent
I picked this one up to start the month with a wintery sort of feel, and although not all of this book was actually set in the winter, it definitely was a good one to start the month with. I think I expected it to be a bit more thrilling than it was, but it still worked well as a text – I didn't know until I read the little essay at the end that it was based on a real person, which would have probably made me realise that it wasn't going to be very plot driven if I'd known! I think what I liked the most was how much of the focus was on the female characters, and on reflection (knowing that it's based on historical events/people) it's wonderful to read something that focuses on female stories.

The Accidental - Ali Smith
This was my first Ali Smith book, and one that I think I picked up in a charity shop at some point, although I can't say how long it's been waiting to be read! It was an interesting book to read, and I liked the way that she played with style and various techniques; I enjoyed that each character's chapter had its own voice, even though it was told in the third person, and I thought the characters were all well developed. The only thing I wasn't entirely sure about was the main plot twist towards the end, although it's hard to say more about it without spoiling the plot!

We Have Always Lived in the Castle - Shirley Jackson
I saw this one being promoted in October as Waterstone's book of the month, but I actually only picked this one up earlier this month (when I saw it in the buy one get one half price section). I can see how it might fit as a Halloween read, but I think it works well as a winter read too. It was definitely the kind of book that stayed on my mind, and I think will likely be one I re-read again around this time of year.

And Then There Were None - Agatha Christie
I always mean to read more Agatha Christie – this is only my second one! – but my main motivation for wanting to read this one was the BBC adaptation that's coming up over the holidays. When I saw it in the buy one get one half price section (it's definitely my favourite part of Waterstones...!) I had to pick a copy up, and I read it all over the space of two evenings before bed! Unfortunately I accidentally saw the very last page when I was loosening the spine up, which kind of spoiled the ending for me a bit. All I saw was a name, so I didn't know for sure that it was the murderer, but it was and it did probably take some of the fun out of reading it for the first time. However, it was still a brilliant read and I was completely hooked on it (thus reading it in two sittings, and the first one had me staying up til nearly half one in the morning!). I'm really excited to see the BBC adaptation of it now!

January TBR

The Dressmaker - Rosalie Ham
I've already started this one, but given that I'll be pretty busy over the Christmas period too, I don't know if I'll manage to get it finished before January, so this is on the list!

The Snow Child - Eowyn Ivey
I don't know a lot about this one, aside from it being inspired by a fairy tale and being a very wintery book, which is why I want to read it now! I've had the Kindle ebook of it for a while now, which is handy as it's a lot easier to read on my phone on the bus to/from work than reading a physical book.

Satin Island - Tom McCarthy
I was given this to review, but decided to delay starting it until I felt like I'd be able to actually write a decent review of it! I'm thinking I might take this one a little more seriously and try to take notes like I would for a university text so that I can write a more detailed review (eg. with quotes) so I think I'll probably start on this one over the holidays when I'm off work as I'll be able to dedicate more time to it. It's also going to break a considerable streak of me reading books by women (16 in a row at time of writing!), but as it was a Man Booker I did want to read it at some point anyway!

Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
As I am kind of optimistic that I'll read a lot over the holidays, I'm choosing a fourth book for January, which is also a classic! It's one I've been meaning to read for a long time and got a copy of a month or two ago, so I want to read it in the New Year!

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

November Wrap Up

Well, as it's been November, I didn't quite read as much as I might have wanted to this month because I was spending a lot of my time instead working on NaNoWriMo (which I won!) although I did still get a fair bit of reading done.

This month I read/finished:

To the Lighthouse - Virginia Woolf
I do think I'll end up re-reading this one at some point to get a better appreciation for it, but I did enjoy it, even if it took me a while to finish it!

Trouble - Non Pratt
This actually proved slightly useful reading for me as it relates to part of my NaNoWriMo. One thing that I find with a lot of YA books is that I often feel too separate from the characters, because they just don't feel real or relatable to me (which might be partly because I'm too old now) but this one managed to avoid that, mostly, for me. I also appreciated the character development in the novel, and if there was a sequel to this I might be interested in reading it.

milk and honey - Rupi Kaur
This really didn't take me long to read; I just sat there one evening and read it from cover to cover. Some of her poetry is more relatable to me than others – in particular the poems that were about break ups and the end of relationships, as it's not something I've really experienced. I also loved the artwork within the book, and it's definitely something I think I'll re-read again and again, although it's unlikely to be cover to cover. 

Stone Mattress - Margaret Atwood
I got this from the library and I was thinking about doing a proper review on it, but I find it so difficult to review short story collections that I'm not sure if I ever will. There was one story in the collection that felt quite out of place for me, given that the other ones all had some form of link (be it with shared characters or just thematically). It was a good read – I'd say that I rate it higher than The Heart Goes Last, but not as high as The Handmaid's Tale.

Men Explain Things to Me - Rebecca Solnit
I think I might have had higher hopes/expectations for this than I should have, because I was a little bit underwhelmed by it. I did enjoy it, but I guess it didn't really present many new ideas to me (although my favourite essay was definitely "In Praise of the Threat", which did actually present a new way of thinking about marriage equality and it's opposers to me). I think Roxane Gay's Bad Feminist was much better and also more to my tastes. I didn't get much of a sense of Solnit as a person, compared to how much I felt I was getting to read and feel Gay's personality coming through in her book. I am interested in reading more of Solnit's work in the future, though.

I also started but decided not to continue reading The Woman Destroyed by Simone De Beauvoir. I explained briefly on Goodreads why I didn't want to finish this one, but it was mainly just the case that the third story (which takes up half of the book) in the collection wasn't enjoyable to read. I got irritated with the characters and the premise and I just decided that it wasn't worth me making myself read it while disliking it just so I could say I'd finished the book.

December TBR
I've not really got any ideas for what I'm reading this month, at least not enough for it to be worth making a separate post for this!

So far this month I've started reading Burial Rites by Hannah Kent, but otherwise I haven't really thought about what I'll be reading.