I am not sure if it was the sun, the warmth or merely escaping March, but April was a rather lovely month for reading.
I Capture the Castle by Dodi Smith
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
“Do not let the time travel put you off, it is a facilitator for so much more, this is not a sci-fi novel. In fact, I would describe it more of a war novel; as we travel primarily through Billy Pilgrim’s experience of the Second World-War and his time at Dresden. Described as a child’s war, front line soldiers were young men, barely trained or prepared for battle. Battlefield stories, packed with bombs and fighting, are of little interest to me, however, when a story delves into the psychological affects of war, I am hooked. I want to know all about the front line, how the war affected the lives of the soldiers stationed there, during and after. Slaughterhouse-Five serves this purpose marvellously. It also explores the idea of free will – things cannot be changed or altered, they just happen; this throws up interesting ideas on the nature and prevention of war.”
The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
“In The Silver Linings Playbook, Quick gives us madness wrapped in humour; he’s telling a serious story, but he wants us to laugh and empathise along the way. Pat is an adorable man, his madness is a little scary in its determined nature, but he clearly holds a lot of love and low self worth. He is both masculine, hard and tough, and a child who needs looking after.”
Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane
“Rather quickly you begin to suspect that something is not quite right on Shutter Island; it is not much of a surprise when the plot turns on Teddy, our protagonist. As you read you will find you become Teddy; I suspected whom he suspected, I sided with and supported his allies. You may find other revelations surprise you, I did, but the main gist of the story will not be unfamiliar. Set in post-war America, Shutter Island reflects themes of espionage and allegiances; tensions are high. Remembering that Shutter Island is set during McCarthyism and the early Cold War adds further layers to Teddy’s suspicion, actions and fears.”
The Railway Children by E. Nesbit
Timelessly charming, The Railway Children by E. Nesbit was heartwarming if not a tad sentimental; this is definitely a book which has dated. The children are sickly sweet reminders that young readers must behave their best; even when Bobbie, Peter and Phyll fail, they do so with the best intentions. Asserting, that while it is in a child’s nature to be naughty, if they try to be good this can be controlled. The novel made me cry at times, however, I attributed this to my love of the adaptation – which still makes me weep to this day! “Daddy, my Daddy!” – try watching that without crying, it is not easy.
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
“Although overly peppy and utterly crushing, Me Before You is a surprisingly entertaining read. The ending, while making perfect sense, broke my heart – if you are looking for a ‘happily ever after’, avoid this book. Yes, it utilises the usual cliches, but I did not feel it relied on them to tell a good story.”
Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch
Recommended by my friend Sophie, the general premise was an interesting one, but ultimately I found Rivers of London very dull. The London trivia, Aaronovitch litters amongst the story is the most interesting element of the book. While his characters are culturally diverse and Peter the protagonist is well rounded and interesting, every time I tried to engage with the story my mind drifted to other places. Simply put, I found it too easy; without intending to sound pretentious, I think I prefer packed prose.
Inversions by Iain M. Banks
Recommended as an introduction into some serious sci-fi reading by my friend Xena, Inversions was a new adventure for me. I was surprised by the story; Banks is marvellously subtle, he doesn’t push the sci-fi element. It is the type of book where a lot happens, without much actually happening. Inversions sets out two stories parallel to one another, following Doctor Vosill, personal doctor to King Quience of Haspidus, and DeWar, bodyguard to General UrLeyn, the Prime Protector of the Protectorate of Tassasen. Initially it seems both stories appear to have little to do with each other – besides existing at the same time on the same world – and yet actions and characters appear to mirror one another. Thoroughly enjoyed it, but it took time to read.
How was your reading April? Based on what I’ve enjoyed, do you have any recommendations?