I'm actually so behind on everything (my house is a mess, my blog is a mess and can I even use social media properly anymore? Unsure), that putting this up near the end of June actually almost feels like I'm on time. I read a LOT last month, because, well, mostly because summer's not actually arrived yet, has it?
I read two kindle books last month. The first was Thus Bad Beginsby Javier Marias. This follows the story of Juan de Vere, who becomes an assistant to Eduardo Muriel, a film director he admires. He ends up living in Muriel's house and witnessing the breakdown of his marriage. In the face of Hollywood-esque lifestyle ideas, Muriel and his wife Beatrice are living an unhappy marriage.
It's the first adult fiction book I've read in a LONG time that looks at mental health issues in a way that isn't violent, or offensive, or totally out-of-touch. Coming in at over 500 pages, this is a lengthy tome to get through, but I didn't feel as though I totally lost interest at any point.
The other kindle book I read last month was One Day in December by Josie Silver, which was just about as far away from Thus Bad Begins as you could get. When Laurie locks eyes with a guy at a bus stop heading home in December, she feels a spark. She spends the next year going on a whole host of dates, hoping to find the bus stop guy again, and her best friend Sarah helps her along the way. One year on, Laurie's given up, and Sarah introduces her to her new boyfriend: it's the guy from the bus stop. Laurie can't tell her (or him) who he is to her, as Sarah's finally happy, but over the next few years, the boundaries between what Laurie wants, and what she's willing to put aside for her friend get a little blurred.
I really struggled to enjoy this. The narrative was very slow in places (the book definitely could have been 100 pages shorter without really making it worse), and I couldn't empathise with any of the characters. Their decisions didn't ever really seem to make much sense in terms of fitting with their personalities, and I think it lacked a bit of continuity. I eventually did get invested in what was happening, so it wasn't all bad.
Right, onto paper books now. I finished A Clash of Kingsby George R R Martin a couple of days into May, but it took me over a month to get there. It's a meaty 900 page book (possibly the longest I've ever read?), and wow. This is the second book in the Game of Thrones series, and the plot is loosely the same as the second series of the show.
I've got a big plot breakdown blog post on this here, so I won't go into too much detail now. In this book we have five kings all vying to have the greatest amount of power: Renly Baratheon, Stannis Baratheon, Joffrey Baratheon, Robb Stark and Balon Greyjoy. Stannis has taken up a new religion, which he believes will help his ultimate victory, whilst the others are all relying on their own cunning and force. The book culminates in the Battle of the Blackwater, which completely distorts the previous power structures.
Next is The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton. This is a murder mystery novel with a twist. Our narrator, Aidan Bishop attends a party where Evelyn Hardcastle is murdered at 11pm. The next morning he wakes up to the same situation and this loop will continue until he finds out 'whodunnit'. Each day Aidan wakes up in the body of a different party-goer, and they all have their own advantages and disadvantages.
Although it started off very slowly, and I found it difficult to wrap my head around exactly what was happening, I loved it by the end. The plot was so clever, and made you not only try to work out who killed Evelyn, but also who Aidan Bishop was, and where he was.
It was a BUSY month for reading, and I leapt straight into A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard next. I loved Beautiful Broken Things by the author, and although they're both YA fiction, the two are very different. AQKoT is all about Steffi, a girl with selective mutism, and Rhys, a boy who can't hear. When Rhys joins Steffi's school as the cute new boy, she's asked to help show him around as she can use a bit of sign language. They very quickly fall for each other, and the book tells the story of teenage love and its pitfalls, particularly in the face of disability.
I whizzed through this, muttering 'just one more chapter' to myself over and over again until oblivion. I loved the fact that the characters in the book were diverse, and they read as though they really were teens. Sometimes an author is so distanced from modern young people that I feel as though the writing of teen characters is out of touch, but Sara Barnard always seems to get it spot on.
And finally we reach the last book - A Storm of Swords part one: Steel and Snow. I just about managed to cram this into the end of May because I read it non-stop. I finally feel as though in this book we really started hitting the juicy bit of the series, and it also set the scene for some BIG moments to come (Red Wedding anyone?). This is another book that I've done a big recap of, which you can have a peek at here.
In this book, the Night's Watch begins to break down, Jon questions his loyalties, Arya meets the Hound again, Sansa is forced into something she never imagined and the Lord of Light weaves his way through the book wreaking havoc. The Game of Thrones series have been absolutely stellar for me, and I just feel like I'm not ready for the breakdown when I finish the final one?