Tag Archives: Kate Saunders

Monthly Wrap-up: February 2015 Reads

February kind of flew by, didn’t it? It turned out to be a great reading month for me, though – I managed to finish 13 books! It breaks down to three audiobooks, two graphic novels, and eight print books. No ebooks! Which is a little surprising, although I did finish Stephen King’s IT in ebook format (because it was too suspenseful to finish in audio).

Here are my February 2015 reads, in the order I read them – and oh, can I just say here, I love love love my reading spreadsheets – never before have I had access to such information about my reading! Before I started keeping track this year, I would have been hard-pressed to tell you what I’d just finished reading the previous week, much less the format and the order of reading!

February1

What Did You Eat Yesterday? by Fumi Yoshinaga (manga/graphic novel). This is definitely one for those who like graphic novels about food. It’s the story of Shiro and Kenji, a gay couple living in Tokyo and the food they eat. Lots of cooking on these pages, plus a recipe after each story. Do not read on an empty stomach, or you’ll find yourself raiding the fridge.

Blood Harvest by S.J. Bolton (Sharon Bolton) (print copy). This is the third book written by Bolton, but the first one of hers that I’ve read (although I think I may have previously read the first in her Lacey Flint series a while back). This was a suspenseful mystery, with a nice twist at the end. My favourite character was Harry, the vicar. I didn’t like the way the book ended, in the epilogue, but I really enjoyed the book as a whole.

Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson (print copy). The story of a truly epic detour that Amy, whose dad has recently died, takes with Roger, the son of an old friend of her mom’s, when they drive cross country to the new life her mother’s making for herself in Connecticut. This is not the type of book that normally finds its way into my TBR, and I don’t know what prompted me to put it there in the first place, but I’m very glad that I did. The depiction of Amy’s grief felt so very true to me.

“Good-byes didn’t seem as important to me as they once had – I’d found that when you’re never going to see someone again, it’s not the good-bye that matters. What matters is that you’re never going to be able to say anything else to them. And you’re left with an eternal unfinished conversation. (p. 118)

IT by Stephen King (audiobook) (I talk about it here). I started this one in January, but it got so intense near the end, I had to wait until I could get an ebook copy from my library to finish it.  I really liked the way King went from the present to the past so effortlessly, without giving the reader any jolts. An enjoyable read, although I still say – what was up with that scene with Bev and the boys? It was SO unnecessary.

February2

Saga Vol 4 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (graphic novel). I really enjoyed this one, although I’m a little embarrassed to admit, I was talking with Tasha earlier today about the Saga series and totally forgot I’d read volume 4 already. (I told her I really had to get to it – haha!). I think mostly I had it confused with volume 5, which hasn’t been released yet. That’s my story, anyway, and yes, I’m sticking with it. My bad book memory should in no way reflect on the awesomeness of this series.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (audiobook). I will probably be in the minority here, but I enjoyed Fangirl mostly for the Simon and Baz segments (and I’m thrilled that Rowell is going to be releasing a book about Simon and Baz!). And it was lovely seeing Cath finally figure out how to be her own person who can stand apart from her twin Wren. The characters are also nicely developed – not just Cath and Wren, but Reagan, Cath’s roommate and Levi, Cath’s boyfriend. Where the story dragged a little for me was Cath and Levi’s relationship, once they were clearly together. But overall, I enjoyed this one.

The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami (print book). This was another good read – my first Murakami that wasn’t a short story, although I can’t call it my first full-length Murakami either, as it’s more of a novella. The illustrations really added to the very strange and quirky story. It was a fun read, and at the end, there are quite a few ways you can take the final paragraph. It does take some getting used to, this not being able to say with any certainty exactly what’s meant by that last paragraph. But that’s also part of the appeal, I think.

Sacrifice by S.J. Bolton (Sharon Bolton) (print book). I enjoyed Blood Harvest so much, I decided to check out Bolton’s debut novel. It definitely didn’t disappoint, coming as it does with twists galore. You do have to read it fully willing to suspend your disbelief, as the plot does get quite wild there at the end. It’s a page-turner, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself staying up late into the night to finish this one.

February3

Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman (print copy). Trigger Warning is a collection of Gaiman’s short stories and poems. Very very lovely read, especially if you’re a Gaiman fan. I wrote more about it here so I won’t repeat myself now.

Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor by Lynda Barry (print copy). Yes, I finally did finish this one! And it took me a while not because it wasn’t good – it was very very good – but because I’d put it down on my desk and it got buried under a pile of papers. (I find it impossible to keep my desk tidy.) Since it’s nonfiction, I didn’t miss it the way I would a story I was in the middle of. But I’m glad I remembered to dig it out and finish it, because it was very very good (oh, did I say that already?). If you’re interested in creativity, imagination or drawing comics, this is a fun one to read.

Victims by Jonathan Kellerman (audiobook). Kellerman’s Alex Delaware series is basically a comfort series for me. For the longest while now, I only ever read these in audio, and I obviously don’t retain much of what I hear, as another blogger recently reviewed this book and I was all like “hey, you mean there’s an Alex Delaware novel I haven’t read?” because the plot did not sound familiar at all to me. So I borrowed this from the library, and started listening to it. And while I was listening to it, bits and pieces felt very familiar. It wasn’t until I was about halfway through that I realized I’d already read this one before. But despite this, I still couldn’t remember how it ended, so I just kept on going with it.

Five Children on the Western Front by Kate Saunders (print copy). If E. Nesbit’s Five Children and It formed any part of your childhood reading, then you really must pick up this wonderful book by Kate Saunders. Saunders has taken the story of the five children (now six) and the Psammead ten years into the future, when England is at war with Germany. It is a lovely read, and it made me cry. I knew it would.

awakening

Awakening by S.J. Bolton (Sharon Bolton) (print copy). As you can see, I was somewhat enamoured of Ms. Bolton last month. Awakening is her second book, and another enjoyable read. It wasn’t quite as twist-worthy as Sacrifice and Blood Harvest but it was still a good read. I do enjoy the characters Bolton creates – in this case, particularly Clara, with that giant chip on her shoulder (and understandably so). And the larger than life Sean North! He was fun to read about.

So those are the books I read in February. Hopefully I will do as well in March! How did your reading go in February?

A book club of two

Every time I read someone’s book club post, I find myself yearning to be in a book club.

And guess what? My wish has been fulfilled! Well, sort of. Maybe a quarter fulfilled?

Here’s what happened: I was browsing around on Flipboard and came across this article, “Forget ‘Grey Divorce': Here’s How to Make Love Last“. I’d never heard of the term “Grey Divorce” before, but apparently increasing divorce rates among older people are the new trend.

I was intrigued by the “how to make love last” part of the article. And one of the things recommended was really quite simple: share in an activity your partner enjoys.

Ward and I went out for a Valentine’s Day dinner (but on Sunday, after the mad rush of “sorry, we have no reservations for Valentine’s Day” had died down) and before dinner started I handed him my phone and asked him to read the article. He did, and agreed with me it was a good idea, to share in an activity your partner enjoys.

We looked at each other and realized right away what each of our “activities” were. With Ward, it’s music. And me? Books, of course!

When Ward was a kid, he read a lot. But unlike me, he read mostly non-fiction. And then when he got older, he grew out of the habit of reading. So now he’s been getting a taste of fiction.

Since we went out for dinner on Sunday, he’s read Haruki Murakami’s The Strange Library (definitely not the book for him). I’m very impressed that he kept going after reading a book he didn’t really enjoy (on the other hand, The Strange Library  – which I did enjoy – is really just a novella).

He started reading Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman next, and he likes what he’s read so far, but since we were both reading it at the same time (only one book between the two of us – and no, sharing a book isn’t at all like sharing a blanket!) he decided to read the next book on my list: Five Children on the Western Front by Kate Saunders.

Five children on the western front

Five Children on the Western Front recently won the Costa Award. It’s inspired by the classic E. Nesbit story of Five Children and It, which was a favourite of mine when I was a kid. In Five Children on the Western Front, the Psammead comes back ten years later to find the older children are involved in the First World War. “Before this last adventure ends, all will be changed, and the two younger children will have seen the Great War from every possible viewpoint – factory-workers, soldiers and sailors, nurses and ambulance drivers, and the people left at home, and the war’s impact will be felt right at the heart of their family.”

Doesn’t it sound so good?

I’m looking forward to this read. Ward started it yesterday, and he spent this afternoon reading it. I suspect he would still be reading it now, only he had a ticket to see Don Giovanni. He says he’s really liking it (the book, I mean, not the opera.) When I first asked him about it, he said it reminded him of Narnia.

One thing I’ve discovered about him. He reads FAST, as fast as I do! Which is a good sign, since we’re now in a book club of two.

I haven’t suggested this to him yet, but it seems to me our book club of two would get off to a great start if we held our meetings at restaurants. Dinner out! Doesn’t that sound just lovely?

Mind you, our next few dinner dates are already spoken for. When we went out for dinner on Sunday, we decided to go through these 36 questions that lead to love. They’re meant for new relationships but we figured they might be handy for rejuvenating a long-term relationship. And we were right! It was the best dinner out we’d had in a while, and we learned things about each other we’d never known before. We only got through six questions (in two hours!) so we have a lot more questions to go.

As a friend of mine said, the questions are ones you’d think you should already know about your partner if you’re in a long-term relationship, but you really don’t.

And as for the music side of things, I’m rather looking forward to the next music event that pops up on Ward’s calendar. I’m hoping it will be jazz!

Update: Ward got back from opera and told me he’d already finished Five Children on the Western Front. He really liked it. And he cried at the end. But he cries at movies too, so I already predicted that one.