Thursday, 31 July 2014

July: What I Read, What I'm Reading

Good grief, another month's gone by already!  It's terrifying how fast the weeks are flying by at the moment.  This month's been a fairly slow one for reading, partly due to a duff book choice making me not want to read that much (oops) and partly due to a few long days spent prepping and painting my bedroom, usually finishing at around 7:30pm, by which point all I've wanted to do is flop down somewhere comfortable with a DVD.  Still, the next Bout of Books readathon is coming up next month, and I'm back in the swing of things a bit now, so hopefully August will see more books being toppled from my ever-growing to-read list...
~ What I Read ~
The 5th Wave (The 5th Wave 1)
by Rick Yancey
This one took a really long time to read, for some reason.  I started it on holiday at the end of June and didn't finish it until about a week into July, even though it's really good and quite the page-turner.  Seriously, I don't know what happened this month!  Anyway, I've had the book for ages, the sequel's coming out soon and it's also being made into a film, so it seemed a good time to read it - and I wasn't disappointed.  It's a fascinating alien apocalypse story mostly focussing on an isolated survivor called Cassie.  Her parents are dead, her little brother has been taken to an army camp somewhere, and Cassie has no idea who are the good guys or the bad guys any more.  Instead she is focussing only on her goal of being reunited with little Sam, however dangerous that journey might be.  I really enjoyed this; I thought the characters were interesting, the extra-terrestrial invasion was well thought-out and compelling to read, the inevitable love storyline was pleasantly secondary to the wider plot, and the seeds have been sown for a complex and exciting sequel.  I've already preordered my copy!  4 stars.

How to Build a Girl
by Caitlin Moran
If you've been around this corner of the internet at all over the past few weeks you can't NOT have noticed the readalong going on right now.  I'm not officially taking part, but I bought the book and read it anyway (because CAITLIN MORAN), which means I can at least read everyone's posts and join in the discussion a bit every week!  This is a semi-autobiographical novel about Johanna, an awkward, bookish but wonderfully spirited teenager living on a Wolverhampton council estate, who reinvents herself as Dolly Wilde, a wild-child pop culture fiend, in order to get a job in music journalism and earn money to help keep her family out of abject poverty.  It's absolutely hilarious, brutally honest and deliciously earthy, and I've underlined half the book; there are so many brilliant one-liners, beautiful little philosophies and moments of painfully real political and social commentary.  Love, love, love. 4.5 stars!

A Match to the Heart: One Woman's Story of Being Struck by Lightning
by Gretel Ehrlich
This would be the duff book I mentioned.  I've been reading it since May, and jeeez, it's been hard going for such a tiny book.  It sounded so fascinating, but sadly what I EXPECTED from it turned out to only be a small part of the book as a whole.  When Ehrlich is talking about the science of lightning, about the mechanics of a lightning strike, about its effects on the human body, about the medicine behind recovery from such a devastating electrical surge - all this is SO interesting.  Unfortunately a large proportion of the book is instead devoted to restless, self-indulgent, self-absorbed, faux-spiritual wallowing, and in these moments the author often plunges into prose so purple it actually made me laugh a few times.  It was like reading bad teenage poetry.  I've included an excerpt below to illustrate the kind of moment that literally had me laughing aloud - suffice it to say, I wouldn't recommend this one.  2.5 stars, purely for the on-topic interesting bits.

"Our large sleeping tent, staked farther up the slope, was shaken by the glacier's detonations and echoing thunder all night.  I wrote in my journal by flashlight: "I feel as if I were a fish feeding at the crumbling edge of the universe."  I wanted to wear clothes made from that place - perhaps an auklet feather skirt - and sleep on the white fin of an orca."

LOL, whatever.

~ What I'm Reading ~

Now that I've finally finished slogging through the Gretel Ehrlich, I've switched my attention back to Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore.  I've got about 120 pages left and it's SO GOOD.  Philosophical and hilarious and tongue-in-cheek and naughty and just utterly fantastic.  After that I have a couple of library books on their last possible renewals (oops), and after THAT I'm probably going to read Keep the Aspidistra Flying by George Orwell.  I've seen the Richard E. Grant adaptation a few times - it's one of my favourite rainy-day movies - so it's really about time I read the original!
Aaaand that was July!  Hope you're all having a lovely summer...  :)