I seem to say this every single time I sit down to write a blog post now, but it's honestly been forever since I last sat down to write. I put a whole load of pressure on myself to write something monumental (especially at the moment) and it seems pointless and trivial to just write something mundane and bookish. However, that basically sums up my life, especially in lockdown.
I've managed to get through quite a mix of books that I've wanted to read forever, brand new ones and ones that I've had sat on my shelves glaring at me for too long.
Right, let's get started with February's books, the slightly quieter month of the two.
1.) The Memory Wood by Sam Lloyd (this was gifted to discuss on Instagram but not on my blog). A thriller set around a cabin in the woods, this tells the story of 13 year old Elissa who's kidnapped at a chess tournament. Her captor keeps her in a basement in the woods where she's visited by Elijah, a boy who sneaks her food and company when her captor's not around. I really enjoyed this book right up until the ending - a lot of threads were left loose and I like everything to be tied up neatly.
2.) Bad Romance by Emily Hill. I'm not always a short story fan but I had high hopes for this collection of them. They're all modern twists on romance from a feminist perspective. I was very excited to read this, but came away quite disappointed. The stories lacked any kind of substance, and were too similar to stand alone as separate stories well but slightly too different to fit together nicely.
3.) On the Come Up by Angie Thomas. I've put off reading this for so long because I was worried that it wouldn't be as good as The Hate U Give but that was dumb. One the Come Up is about 16-year-old Bri who wants to make it as a rap star to support her single-parent family financially. Her mum however is much more concerned about her doing well in school. The book is all about growing up as a teen and trying to figure out who you are in a world where stereotypes make it seem as though that's already been decided.
4.) Normal People by Sally Rooney. This is another I've been meaning to read for a while. Connell and Marianne are two teens living in Ireland. They're hooking up at home but whilst Connell's popular, Marianne is not and they keep their relationship secret. In a sort of 'One Day' esque way, the book tracks their relationship through school, university and into their twenties. The chapters are separated by about three months each time, and show the natural fluctations in their on again off again affair.
5.) The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides. A psychological thriller told from two perspectives: one is a therapist working in a facility for people with severe mental health issues, and the other is a patient who murdered her husband and has refused to talk ever since. There were parts of this that were pretty slow but the last section of the book was incredible and turned this from a 3 star to a 5 star read for me (so stick with it!).
I spent at least half of March in self-isolation so I managed to get a LOT of reading done because literally what else is there to do?
1.) Far From the Madding Crowdby Thomas Hardy. This is a re-read of a book I read 10 years ago and honestly I loved it just as much as I did the first time round. Our main character Gabriel Oak falls in love with a beautiful woman called Bathsheba. He proposes and she turns him down because she doesn't love him, but ends up hiring him as farm help after he loses his own farm. There's a rival dastardly Sargent lusting after her too as well as a local landowner who wants to join their farms and fortunes. Hardy's an incredible writer, and his books are always a little soothing for me.
2.) The Missing by C. L. Taylor. A crime thriller about a teenage boy that goes missing, this book is told from the perspective of a desperate mother learning things about her family she never expected to realise. She knows he wouldn't run away, and the longer he's gone for, the closer to home her suspicions begin to lie. This was a bit of a disappointing read for me I won't lie - the culprit was so obvious throughout the whole book and I just wish maybe the book had focused less on how overtly suspicious this character was acting.
3.) The Prison Doctor by Dr Amanda Brown. This was my only non-fiction read for the past couple of months and it was way more harrowing than I'd ever anticipated. It's a memoir by a prison doctor who's seen the worst of medical issues and incidents in prison. It comes with a massive trigger warning for almost anything you can think of: sexual assault/abuse, self harm, suicide, eating disorders. I found it a really tough read interspersed with some bits that (to me) felt like a lot of self-praise from the author. However, it was a really interesting insight into something I don't know much about at all.
4.) VOX by Christina Dalcher is a handmaid-esque dystopian story in which women can only speak 100 words a day. Go over the limit and the wrist clamp you've got will send volts of electricity through your body. Things change for Jean when she's asked back into her old lab (the first time she's stepped foot into it since women had their jobs taken from them) and she realises she's helping develop a serum that will damage society even more than has already been done. I enjoyed this one, although there were a few moments where everything really did drag a little.
5.) Shame by Salman Rushdie. This really was completely different to anything else I've read in a long time. A post-colonial novel set in Pakistan, this is the best example of magical realism I think I've ever read. With a character who really embodies shame, turning red and hot and massacring animals and people, as well as three women who birth a child in such a way that all three physically and maternally are indistinguishable as his mother, this really is a work of art.