What I’ve Read – January 2018

Welcome to a new year of ‘What I’ve Read’…

It’s not been a bad start to the year but I need to knuckle down to the 564 page, Citizen Clem (about Clem Attlee) in February. Fun fact that is completely unrelated to reading, I grew up opposite Clem Attlee Court, where eventually my Grandad lived, all the blocks were named after Labour politicians, Grandad lived at Jim Griffiths, I remember when he moved in. Grandad moved from a three bed council flat in Sands End to a one bed, to free up the space and to be nearer to us, it can’t have been long after we moved to North End Road because his flat was painted (by my Dad) with the same paint as our living room was (a nice 1970’s beige!). I do remember that we couldn’t get his wardrobe up the the stairs and it lived in the sitting room! He eventually moved to the sheltered housing on the estate, Michael Stewart House, he loved that and as an adult I loved the planner who thought, that mixed age housing was a good idea.

Anyway on to reading in January…

Magus Chase and the Ship of the Dead – Rick Riordan.

I was trying to get myself out of my December reading slump and I thought this would be fun and easy to read. It was both of those things. I’ve been reading Riordan’s books with the godchildren forever and you can see that he is really thinking about representation in them, he doesn’t make a big deal about it but the fact that there is representation and it just is, is really important. Aside from that, this read like a last book, like Percy Jackson and his other hero’s Magus does better because of his friends, his friends are the people who get him though and winning in this book is pretty peaceful. I liked it.

Heart on Fire – Amanda Bouchet

This is the last of a trilogy and I was really looking forward to it and it was deeply ok. Cat irritated the hell out of me. I loved the world building but it was just the same thing over and over. Cat confronts her mother, discovers her power, fails to beat her mother and realises how perfect Griffin is for her. Again and again. It was boring because she didn’t grow, she just kept doing the same thing. Look being the chosen one is hard but Cat’s refusal to engage her sodding brain when everyone is telling and showing her how fabulous she was, was very irritating. And then it just ended. They won but nothing about anyone else, it was strange.

The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas

All of the praise this book has received is well deserved. I loved Starr, I loved her voice and I loved her strong parents. One of the problems I have with YA, especially as I get older is parents in YA, because they are mostly awful people. Starr’s parents are not. They aren’t at all perfect (and both younger than I am now, which was horrifying…) but they are really doing all they can. They can’t solve the issues that Starr is dealing with but they care, they are involved and they never leave here hanging. Honestly, it was really good to read. All of this makes it an easy book to read, what it’s about is hard. Thomas never sugarcoats it and reading her notes, this book based on her life and experiences. We need to read books like this.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman

This year at Christmas, I bought everyone a book. This was Ma’s book, which she wanted to read after hearing it as a Book at Bedtime. I borrowed it when she’d finished and I loved it. Eleanor is an odd duck, it’s almost as if she’s on the spectrum, she wears the same clothes everyday, has had the same job for 9 years, and spends every weekend alone and drunk on vodka. She’s fine, a survivor. Eleanor tells us about her life and you know something is not right, the references to Mummy, the flat that she lives in was because she was in care, she’s also really bright and very strange. At the start of the book, she’s been to a concert and developed a crush on a singer because he’s wearing a three piece suit correctly but she’s also getting drawn into other people’s lives and then things start to happen. She’s so damaged and so innocent and so alone. She’s terribly lonely and she doesn’t know what to do about it. I know a couple of people like this, I wonder if this is how I’ll end up. All through the book, I was rooting for her and laughing at her (she gives a 40th birthday present of half a bottle of vodka and a packet of sliced cheese – because men love cheese!). Eventually life gets better but only after it gets much worse. I loved this book and everyone should read it.

Jane and Prudence – Barbara Pym

At some point in this book Prudence asks Jane if the village Jane has just moved to has any of the right sort of people. This encapsulates the issue I had with this book, I am not the right sort of people for it. I don’t understand the people (Philip Larkin, I’m looking at you) who think that she is better than Jane Austen.

Iron Gold – Pierce Brown

This book picks up 10 years after the events of the first three books and things are not going well. At times I didn’t want to read this book because it’s nasty, people are compromised and they know it. Darrow really wants to give up, nothing has gone the way he planned. In fact everyone in this book is compromised. The beginning of the third book gave me nightmares and this one is depressing in a different way. I really hope Brown has a way out of this because I can’t take that much hopelessness right now. On the other hand, the people feel real for all the good and the bad in them. The world building is better, I got a real sense of a future world but there had better be another book with more resolution….

About nicdempsey

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