It’s finally March, which means it’s time to chat about the books I’ve finished in the month of February.
I know I start basically all of my posts surprised about the date, but I’m very glad that we’re coming out of Winter- if you can call it that in Scotland, where it is almost always Winter. In fact, it has been snowing outside since Tuesday and everything in the area has basically ground to a halt. Happy Spring everyone!
I read quite a few books last month, mainly because they were all very short. Is that cheating? I guess it is a bit.
Here’s what I’ve been reading this month:
Hold Back The Stars by Katie Khan
This year one of my goals is to branch out a little bit when it comes to what I’m reading. Hold Back The Stars is definitely me branching out. This novel is about two people who are in space and get stuck outside their ship, with only 90 minutes of oxygen left. That’s not really a spoiler, as it’s on the back of the book and happens in the first chapter, don’t worry. The narrative focuses on the relationship between the two characters, and flips between the past and the present. Generally speaking, this book is pretty much everything I’m not that into. It’s both a sci-fi and a romance novel, neither of which I’m into really, but I wanted to branch out and try more things. And you know what? It was actually alright. It was readable, not my most favourite book in the world, and I wouldn’t be jumping to reread it, as like I said, the genres aren’t really my thing, but the relationship was okay and I didn’t have any significant issues with the plot. I gave this three stars, if you like either genre mentioned, I wou;led recommend giving this one a go because there’s a significant amount of both sci-if elements and romance to keep it interesting and the story going, without relying too heavily on one or the other.
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
In February, I finally finished The Glass Castle. I actually started it back at the end of last year, before I went to see the film adaptation but my kindle died and I never really got round to finishing it. After reading it in fits and starts, I finally finished it! I’m not often one for reading non-fiction but The Glass Castle is a memoir written by a journalist (which I also am) so I was quite interested. I also enjoyed the film, so I wanted to persevere with the book to see how they differed. I really enjoyed this, I don’t want to talk about the plot of the novel too much because I think it’s better if you go into it not knowing too much about the back story, but it follows Jeannette and her family as they move from place to place in America, with what could be described as an unconventional upbringing. Her parents struggle to make ends meet and the kids are left to their own devices to feed themselves, clothe themselves and deal with their parents’ problems. It’s a really interesting read, and I highly recommend this to anyone and everyone.
The End We Start From by Megan Hunter
I’d bought this on my kindle a while ago, and only gotten round to reading it last month. I really had no dea what it was about going into it, but I knew it wa as a pretty short novel. And it is, it’s only around the 160 page mark, which often makes it difficult to properly develop a story. The End We Start From follows a family who are living, and begin to live through some sort of natural disaster where London is completely flooded, and they have to move in order to keep themselves and their families safe. The novel follows a woman who has just given birth to her first child, and how she interacts with the surroundings and what’s going on with a newborn child to look after. The writing in this is beautiful, it’s very prose like and ‘prettily’ written, but it doesn’t really go into too much depth- you never really get to the bottom of exactly what’s happened, rather feel like you’re looking at it in a dream-like state. My main bugbear is that no one has a proper name, everyone is referred to by a letter. Her husband, her kid, the people she interacts with, all letters. For some reason, I found that made it harder to form a connection to any of the characters, and due to the fact this novel is all about providing for the child, I struggled with feeling like I could relate to it at all. That being said, it was a fairly enjoyable read, but not one that I would look at reading again.
Peach by Emma Glass
This is a really interesting book. I can’t say I think I actually understood really what it was going on about, but it was very interesting. It’s about a girl called Peach, who is the victim of a sexual assault on her way home one night, by a man called Lincoln. Bleeding and feeling sick to her stomach, she makes her way home where everything is bright and cheerful. As the days go on, Peach becomes more and more bloated and sick feeling, even when she’s with her boyfriend Green, who she feels comfortable and safe with. She sees Lincoln everywhere and smells his greasy, disgusting smell, which makes her worse. She’s described as ballooning in size, which corresponds with her feelings towards the incident in general. I don’t want to give too much about the novel away, but it ends in a way that you wonder whether you’ve missed some massive symbolism, or whether this novel is just very literal. Honestly, i’m still unsure. I don’t know whether Peach is a person, or a literal peach, or whether everything actually means something else. I really enjoyed the writing style though, and I would definitely look to reading more from Emma Glass in the future. In the meantime, if someone can explain exactly what the book really means to me, that would be phenomenal!
Vincent by Barbara Stok
If you’ve seen my last post at all, you’ll know that I read Vincent last month, which sparked the purchase of several graphic novels- something I’ve never really gotten into before. If February wasn’t the month of trying new things, I don’t know what will be. Vincent is a graphic novel about the life of artist Vincent Van Gogh. It specifically follows the period of his life he sent in Arles, the south of France, near the end of his life. He hopes to set up an artist house for him and his friends, which will allow them to draw inspiration from each other and the surrounding. It discusses his hopes and dreams, his mental illness, and his relationship with his younger brother, Theo. And yes- the famous ear cutting part of his life, which everyone seems to remember. As I mentioned in my last post, I absolutely loved this. The art style is adorable, and I would recommend it to anyone who has a slight interest in art, or who wants to get into graphic novels.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Little Fires Everywhere has been getting a lot of hype on booktube recently and on Waterstones, so I was quite excited to get stuck into this one. I also own Everything I Never Told You, but haven’t gotten around to reading it yet, but I understand that it’s also fantastic. Little Fires Everywhere begins with a house fire, but really isn’t about a house fire at all. It follows a family who live in a perfect neighbourhood, where everything is very prim and proper and efficient. A new family, a mother and her teenage daughter Pearl move in, and the children of the Richardson family soon become entwined in their lives. The book follows mostly the relationships between the children and Pearl, and includes the mother trying to get to the bottom of a ‘scandal’ which the mysterious mother, Mia, is involved in, after she supports a family who are trying to adopt a Chinese-American baby, amid a custody battle. It’s an interesting story, but Celeste Ng’s writing is fantastic. It’s immersive, but it’s also incredibly accessible, you never feel like it’s getting convoluted, but it doesn’t feel like the writing has been dumbed down either. I would highly recommend this novel, which receives high ratings for a very good reason- it’s just a really good contemporary.
Blitzed by Norman Ohler
The final novel I picked up in February is actually one that I took on my holiday with me, and it’s another non-fiction. I know, I was really pushing the boat out last month! I ended up picking this one up without having ever heard anything about it, but as someone who is interested in history and everything war-related, the prospect of reading a book about drugs in Nazi Germany was too interesting to pass up. I liked this novel just okay, which is something that happens a lot when I read non-fiction. I found some parts to be really interesting, such as the descriptions of how the drugs affected the people taking them, and how Hitler responded to the drugs he was constantly taking, but other parts I found slow and a bit dull, as expected. The information is taken from the medical notes of Hitler’s personal physician, Dr Morell, and I got a bit lost sometimes in the descriptions of various drugs and what they were made of. But then there were other sections that made up for this, which is why I ended up coming to the conclusion that it’s just okay. Because there’s no recorded direct dialect, as it’s not told from first person interviews, but from medical notes, it reads like that in parts. I think it would have benefit from interviews with someone who was there, although admittedly, I’m not sure how many people in the Nazi party still alive would be that keen to admit that fact now, even in the name of research. It’s also not that long of a novel, as a good 100 pages or so of it is actually the bibliography and references, which makes it seem a bit less of a daunting read. I would recommend it, if it’s the sort of thing you’re into, though.