The second month of the year is over and I have read some more books! Yay books! Let’s see the February results, shall we?
The Book of Joan by Lidia Yuknavitch
This was the first book I have ever won in a Goodreads Giveaway and I absolutely loved it. A dystopian, feminist retelling of the story of Joan of Ark, this book felt like a weird and wonderful mashup of Angela Carter and Ursula Le Guin. I wasn’t sure at first, but once the story got going, I was absolutely hooked.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
I just wanted to curl up and read a book in a day, so I picked up this classic. I really enjoyed The Martian Chronicles from Bradbury, so I had a good feeling about this one. Suitably powerful and thought-provoking, this book is just as relevant today as it was when first released. And I’ve just found out it’s been adapted by HBO with Michael B. Jordan and I am so ready for that!
Wild Beauty by Anna-Maria McLemore
A sweet YA magical realism novel that follows five young women from the same family, cursed to make the men they love disappear, swallowed by the garden they can grow with their magic. For me, there were far too many characters in this book, and even with only having two perspectives it still felt like too much. It meant there was a lack of depth to the rich history and emotions that had the potential to be there. But it is a good read, with some great diversity and LGBTQ rep.
Viper Wine by Hermione Eyre
I think the main problem with this was that I was expecting one thing from this book and ended up with something very different. A historical novel set just before the English Civil War, it has some time-bending elements woven in, as objects from the future appear in and around the characters, with references to well-known, twentieth century figures in attendance to certain events as well. My overriding feeling was that there wasn’t much plot to the story and the characters weren’t interesting enough to hold up on their own. I only vaguely appreciate that the time travel stuff is supposed to translate both as a bow to the modern-mind of one of the characters and the pervading toxicity of the beauty industry across time, but overall it seemed irrelevant. I came away just thinking the author was trying to be too clever and it didn’t quite pay off for me.
The Exquisite Corpse by Alfred Chester
After reading Stet by Diana Athill for university, she mentioned this title and it instantly intrigued me. I’ve had it on my shelf since then and decided, in a gut-reaction decision, that I wanted to read it. And holy wow this book is messed up. Less a novel and more a series of bizarre interconnected vignettes, this also fell into the Angela Carter-esque vibes, but from a queer, masculine perspective. The result is offensively poignant and brutally intense. The slightly sick and twisted portion of my heart absolutely loved it and it is one of the few books that genuinely kept me up reading past my bedtime…
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Ah, Kvothe, you absolute beauty. Contemporary high fantasy at its best: nearly 700 pages of pure delight. At no point was I bored, at no point did anything feel like a cliche, in spite of the many usual tropes in the genre. If you have not picked this one up yet, then you simply must, if only for the pleasure of getting to know such a stunningly rendered character.
The Witch Finder’s Sister by Beth Underdown
My first audiobook of the year, and a pretty good one at that. A fictional account of the witch trials and investigations by real-life witch finder Matthew Hopkins, this was a well-detailed, well-thought out novel. The characters are interesting and have good depth to them, with Underdown ensuring you have at least some perspective on why the characters do what they do. It was also narrated really well, as there’s always a chance narration can be a bit grating for historical work, but I was engrossed on my long car journeys every day!
Firmin by Sam Savage
About a rat that lives in a bookshop. Need I say more? An interesting and introspective piece about the ‘devouring’ of literature (figuratively and literally) and the effects of trying to balance fantasy and the imagination with the reality of the real world. A short read, but an intriguing one.
Perfume: Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind
Ok – this is another fault of mine. I assumed, given the title, there’d be a lot more murder. Apparently not. Other than one brief bit near the beginning, most of it happens right at the end and is finally brushed away in a very odd ending that left me with a general feeling of ‘wait, really?’. The overall atmosphere and invocation of scent throughout the novel is impressive, but there was a huge amount of vague introspection that started to grate after a while – for a story about a murderer, I felt it just lacked tension all the way through. I compare the style and feel of the book with Thomas Mann and Death in Venice – perhaps it’s a German thing? – but Mann does it significantly better, in my opinion.
That’s all the books I read in February, bringing my total for the year so far to fifteen, so I am on track for my yearly goal.
Let me know down below if you’ve read any of the above and what you thought of them. Love to hear from you all 🙂