It’s that time again when I run through everything I’ve read in the past month. It’s gone by pretty darn quick, hasn’t it? And I’ve read some absolutely cracking books this month.
I managed to work my way through 10 books in March, so not bad going at all, and this puts me on track for my year challenge. A lot of these books were also on my TBR for the emojiathon, and you can see the original post for that here .
Spaceman of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kalfar
Literary sci-fi, this book was not at all what I expected. If you’re looking for a nice, quick romp amongst the stars, then this is not for you, as following Jakub in space is actually only a very small fraction of the book. However, don’t let that put you off. It is poignant, eerie and a balanced look into identity and what makes us who we are. It is an interesting study of the effects post-Communist occupation have had on the Czech Republic and its people, and a book I highly recommend for that alone.
Opal by Maggie Stiefvater
Ok, I admit, technically not a book, but rather a short story that comes after the events of The Raven Cycle. I’m including it anyway. I can’t say too much to avoid spoilers if you haven’t read the original series (go find it and read it NOW), but for those who have it is suitably gorgeous, sweet and kinda heartbreaking. It also sets up the possible events for the next trilogy very nicely.
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Mixed feelings about this one. A YA fantasy set in a world based on tsarist Russia, it’s something a little bit different and it intrigued me when it first came out (but I’ve only bought this one recently as I’ve seen such love for the Six of Crows duology and wanted to start with the original Grisha novels first). I think the main issue I had was that this book just isn’t long enough and so it throws the pacing completely out. Where I want a rich, sumptuous world-building that provides depth to the characters, I ended up with a feeling of everything being just a little superfluous and predictable. That being said, The Darkling is an interesting character (could’ve had a LOT MORE of him throughout) and its an interesting start. I’ve heard the next two books get darker and better (with PIRATES!), so I will probably continue with this one, but I’m not rushing out to get them.
The Other Side of You by Sally Vickers
I adore Caravaggio, so it was about time I got to this beautiful book. Following a psychologist and one of his suicidal patients, it is a quiet and contemplative book that provides a snapshot into life and love, investigating what it is about the sequence of our lives that forces some people to feel they must take their own life. Never morbid, it feels honest in its simple questioning: why?
Lock In by John Scalzi, narrated by Wil Wheaton
Well isn’t this just a blast! This audiobook is absolutely perfect to listen to, and Wheaton’s narration is spot on. Following the aftermath of a catastrophic disease that leaves some of the world’s population ‘locked in’ to their bodies so they cannot move or speak, it follows Shane as he investigates a rather unusual murder. This is wildly entertaining, with moments of real tenderness that left me a little teary. If you can get hold of this one, I highly recommend – especially in audiobook.
Anatomy of a Soldier by Harry Parker
And this book. Oh flip, this book. It is not for the faint-hearted, but it is absolutely necessary. This unusual novel tells the story of a soldier who is severely wounded after an IED explosion from the perspective of 45 different objects that were involved before, during and after his injury. While other reviews I’ve seen criticise this technique for distancing the reader from the story, I think it is precisely this distancing that makes the book so involving and devastating. My empathy for what is happening out in the world right now twisted with every new chapter and left me aching. Stunning.
The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember
A Norse mythology retelling of The Little Mermaid with LGBTQ+ rep all of the place, this is a lovely, short book that had one of the best twists in it I genuinely didn’t see coming. There’s a good dose of feminist spin, an intriguing lesbian romance and – oh yes – Loki the Trickster God is non-binary and you have no freaking idea how brilliant I found that, and how happy it made me!
Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
And while we’re on the subject of Loki, I listened to the audiobook of this one (narrated by Gaiman) and thoroughly enjoyed it. The stories retold were some I knew and some I didn’t, and Gaiman’s prose suits the subject perfectly. It certainly has intrigued me to know more, so I might just pick up some more books on Norse myth in the future.
Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman
Yes, I jumped on this particular bandwagon. I have now watched the film three times in three weeks. I will probably watch it again. I will read this book again, maybe even again this year. Stream-of-consciousness prose dealing with the passions, obsessions and heartache of youth set in northern Italy in the 80s and filled with more subtlety and nuance than I can even begin to fully appreciate. Haunting and beautiful, both separate to and a companion to the film (if you’re interested in one or the other – some prefer the film as it is a little … kinder, I guess. More sensual than sexual, too), I adore this book, this story, all of it.
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
I wanted to love this so much. You’ve seen me excited for this book already when I predicted my top reads of the year. And it had such a good start – lyrical, whimsical, with the lovely Lazlo Strange. And then … it fell flat for me. This is a much beloved book by a lot of people, but I just found the second protagonist (I won’t spoil it) kind of, well, dull. Anytime their chapters came up, I inwardly groaned and just wanted to get back to sweet, interesting, adorable Lazlo. It probably doesn’t help that I have a dislike for different narrative perspectives that basically give away all of the story – I much prefer to learn and experience things along with a protagonist rather than have everything thrown at me so I have no opportunity to explore and be shocked by secrets and twists. I did enjoy it overall – the writing is lovely (although not as outstanding as others have gushed about) and the world interesting and dynamic – but not the incredible book I hoped for. A real shame, and it leaves me in a bit of a pickle as the second book is out later this year …
I have also just finished reading another stunning book, but I will wait until my next wrap-up to give you my thoughts on that one! I am such a tease…
As always, let me know down below if you’ve got any thoughts on the books I’ve mentioned, and tell me what you guys have been reading lately!