Eep. February was… not the best month for the old reading challenge.
Oh, I’m still bang on track, thankfully. But halfway through February I decided to start my ‘Battle the Bookshelf‘ challenge, which means NO NEW BOOKS. I challenged myself to go completely Waterstones cold turkey until I’ve got through the thirty-odd books that have been gathering dust in my spare room for the past year.
Yes, I know. Terrible excuse for a voracious reader.
And although I started well, powering through my first neglected book in a matter of hours (ish), since then I’ve kind of… slowed down. It didn’t help that there was a whole glut of news about the new His Dark Materials series on the BBC (it’s going to be SO MUCH BETTER than that terrible Golden Compass film and I can’t wait) and the new Philip Pullman book coming out this year (I can’t wait even more) (oh heck, I’d better be off my book ban by then). So instead of ploughing on with my TBR list, I’ve been rereading Northern Lights. I couldn’t help myself; I needed to get back into Lyra’s world. Daemons and Dust and bears, oh my.
FYI, my daemon would be a small black and white kitten called Balénessa who sits on my shoulder and chews my ear.
Right, there’s not much to add to the list from last month, but let’s have a cheesy breakdown anyway!
- Dear Mrs Bird – A.J. Pearce. This has been all over the place lately, and it was getting such good reviews I had to give it a go. I’m so glad I did. It’s a gentle tale of a budding journalist getting on with her life during the Second World War in London, and was beautifully, charmingly written.
- Dumplin’ – Julie Murphy. This has recently been released on Netflix and I wanted to read the book before I saw the film. Utterly fabulous characters – a young adult coming-of-age story based in small-town America. Right up my street. I found it a bit Rainbow Rowell-esque, which can only be a good thing. And it was splendidly feminist, to boot. I fell in love with most of the characters, and I was so pleased to find out Millie gets her own book!
- Everything I Know About Love – Dolly Alderton. I got this book for Christmas, and it’s the first book I’ve finished on my Battle the Bookshelf challenge. I devoured it in two days, even though I didn’t love every bit of it. Some of it, yes – Dolly Alderton’s teenage years signing in and out of MSN to get a boy to notice her, oh yes, that was my adolescence too. And I found it very easy to read; like listening to a friend have a chat after a couple of glasses of wine. Even though I did enjoy it enough to give it four stars on Goodreads, I did still find myself wanting to pick the author up and shake her every once in a while (though I’m sure if I was to write a similar book about my life, she’d have the exact same impulse about me).
- Alice – Christina Henry. Another Battle the Bookshelf casualty. I’m still not sure about this. I kind of loved it. Kind of hated it. Was kind of traumatised by it. A strange and twisted retelling of Alice In Wonderland, this was a tiny bit like a nightmare written down. I don’t mean the actual writing, the actual writing was excellent. Just the setting. And the characters. And the general hazy aura of ‘is this really happening?’. Beautiful moments of fairytale interspersed with shocking random outbursts of violence. But, you know what, I really grew to love the main characters, especially Hatcher. And I think once I’ve got over this one (and my book ban), I’ll seek out the next one.
- Northern Lights – Philip Pullman. With all the Pullman-related news going around at the moment, I had to restart this beloved fantasy series. With my battered old copy, of course, not my beautiful signed edition. I’m not a heathen.
And that was it for reading, last month.
My February favourite is hard to pick (because there’s not much to choose from, and they were all pretty damn good) but I’m going to go with Dear Mrs Bird. Looking at reviews on Goodreads, the author’s writing style seems to be a bit of a sticking point for a lot of readers, but I actually really liked it; I found it quirky and chatty, a bit like I’d like to be myself. It might look like a light, fluffy read, and it is… until that moment when it isn’t. I found it really brought the Second World War to life in a way that other books don’t seem to manage; I genuinely cared about the characters, and felt their faux-blasé attitudes towards the war to be so typically, fabulously British. When some of them were out at the cinema and started throwing snacks at the manager when he asked them to go to the air raid shelter, because they wanted to stay and see the film instead… yeah that’s the kind of thing I could see us all doing today.
God, look at that list of books from this month. When it’s written down it really doesn’t look like much. I’m determined to do a bit better this month: I’ve got a lot of time off work thanks to having a metric fuckton of annual leave to use up, and a couple of nice long (Ted-free) train journeys to make. If that’s not perfect time for getting a shedload of reading done, I don’t know what is.
If you’re looking for something to read for your own Goodreads challenge, my book ‘The Bean Jar’ is available on Amazon now. Go and check it out!