Bit late again with this one, but I’ve been all over the place with gigs, courses, zooming around the country on a train. You know, standard. Anyway, better late than never!
Battle the Bookshelf is driving me mad. I’m starting to see why a lot of these books were left to die in a dusty corner; there’s a fair few I keep picking up, reading three pages, growling, and putting them back again. I can see that before too long, my Goodreads challenge is going to end up suffering while I put things off for longer and longer. I know I originally pledged that I wouldn’t buy anything else while I was doing the challenge, bar absolute favourite authors releasing new books, but I might have to be a bit more lenient with myself. Just for the sake of my brain.
Saying that, this month not everything I read came from the Battle the Bookshelf list, though I didn’t technically break any of my rules. I have a few unread books on my Kindle that have been picked up on random deals and free days and the like, that I’m not including in the list because some of them, particularly the free ones, are downright awful. I’m allowed to read those, but I’m not counting them in the list.
Hey, let’s get into what I actually read last month…
- Don’t Hold My Head Down – Lucy-Ann Holmes. This is one of the books that’s been on my Kindle for a few weeks – one of the last I bought before the Battle the Bookshelf challenge began, actually. A memoir about sex by the woman behind the No More Page 3 campaign, one of my earlier forays into feminism. Rather explicit and in places a bit airy-fairy, but a thoroughly enjoyable read nonetheless. The kind of empowering memoir that I wish I’d read somewhere in my mid-teens.
- The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared – Jonas Jonasson. This has been languishing on my bookshelf for a while and I’ve had it recommended by countless people. I was quite keen to finally get into this but… I think I was a bit disappointed. I could see the fabulous intricacy of the writing and the wonderfully weaved plot, but I just couldn’t bring myself to really care about any of the characters. Saying that, although I found it hard to find the impetus to pick it up each night, I often couldn’t put it down once I started. Definite mixed bag.
- The Last – Hanna Jameson. Another one that’s been buried in my Kindle library for a while. A murder mystery set mid-apocalypse. An excellently gripping page-turner, with a couple of fascinating characters; the murder mystery itself isn’t the most gripping thing I’ve ever read, but I did enjoy the creepy hotel setting, made even more creepy by the big old apocalypse going on. But despite it gripping me greatly, three or so weeks after finishing it, I couldn’t actually tell you how it ends.
- Old Baggage – Lissa Evans. I got this book for Christmas, so it’s not been languishing too long. It’s the story of an ageing suffragette struggling to find adventure in her between-wars days. The plot was a bit meandering, but since discovering that Mattie, the main character, has actually appeared in an earlier novel that follows some of her later life, I now understand why. The characters in this book practically jumped off the page for me, and I was sad to see the story end.
- The 5th Wave – Rick Yancey. I’ve had this book years, and I don’t know why I haven’t read it sooner. I haven’t actually seen the film version of this, and I think I might now have to seek it out. Another apocalypse, this time an alien one, which I found quite refreshing – most of the apocalypses I read are political or somehow medical, usually involving some form of zombies. This took an interesting twist to the YA apocalyptic genre, and kept me guessing what would happen right until the end. I don’t know if I’m that keen to keep reading the series, but I’ll definitely give it some consideration.
- Only Ever Yours – Louise O’Neill. I only read this for the first time in December, but I needed to go over it again a bit more slowly. It’s a YA dystopian story with some very adult themes; set in a facility where cloned girls are prepared for their grim future. Oh, I thoroughly recommend this to anyone with a vaguely feminist bent, its subtle and not-so-subtle messages about beauty, idealism and womanhood are powerful. I think I saw someone refer to it as ‘Mean Girls meet The Handmaid’s Tale’ and I’m cool with that description.
- Angels – Marian Keyes. I needed something funny after quite a lot of heavy reading this month (if not always heavy, often depressing) and Marian Keyes always cheers me up. This book is classic Marian; sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, sometimes utterly heartbreaking, but always making me smile by the end.
So what was my favourite read last month? Easy – definitely Old Baggage. I’m a sucker for between-the-wars stories, I have been ever since I read I Capture The Castle for the first time. And with this one being full of fabulous feminist idealism, I couldn’t help but be sucked in. When Mattie set up her club for girls, the Amazons, and has them careering over Hampstead Heath learning survival skills and sports, I wanted to cheer.
In fact, this is one example of where I’m probably going to cheat on my Battle the Bookshelf challenge; I’m not sure I want to go much longer without reading more about Mattie, and seeing what else happens in her fascinating life. Since I discovered about the other book Lissa Evans has written that features her, I’ve been itching to try it out. Maybe it won’t count quite so much as cheating if I only buy it on Kindle…?
If you fancy something new to read for your own Goodreads challenge – or to cheat on your own Battle the Bookshelf – why not try The Bean Jar? Only 99p on Amazon for a couple more days, go go go!