March wrap-up (& and bookish rant) | 4 mini book reviews

Hello folks!

Right I’m going to be honest, I’m always a little startled when another month is over and I feel like I have to talk about how many books I’ve read and my malignant thoughts ultimately turn to the books I haven’t read yet.Which is ridiculous because life happens! And for me reading is usually a leisurely activity I partake in because I want to alleviate pressure, not encourage it.

This month I’ve decided to be more positive, and casual, about my humble wrap-up and not race myself to finish books by remembering how much I love the reading experience! I urge you too to ponder whether you give yourself too much slack on not achieving your reading goals.

Cue mini guilt-free, somewhat carefree, book reviews because I’m a blogging superstar irrespective of how much I read and you are too:

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  1. Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter

Grief is the Thing with Feathers reveals the aftermath a mother’s death on the lives of her boys and the widow she leaves behind. This is told from a number of perspectives; the crow who mysteriously comes to visit once she passes away, her grieving husband and her two estranged sons. This is their story of ordinary days after everything a family knows falls out of place, and the coping mechanisms they develop to fill the unspeakable void. I believe this book was heavily inspired by Ted Hughes poem ‘Crow’ but the sombreness and wit are heavily reminiscent of Poe’s work.

What I adored:

  1. I loved the premise of this little novella – it’s quite plotless and is mostly a character study of the dad figure and what I read as his wild, untamed alter-ego Crow.
  2. The form: part poetry part prose part words to turn your world upside down. The lyricism of this reminded me of Ali Smith’s Autumn, I recommend reading sections aloud.
  3. I love that it was messy, unfinished, raw – because who ever did grieve perfectly?
  4. There are so many levels to this: sardonic humor, split-personalities, family turmoil but despite it’s lack of a firm plot it felt incredibly rich and well-paced.

Things that weren’t my cuppa tea:

  1. As with most novellas I read and love, I sort of wished it was a tad longer just because the character development potential was huge but it worked regardless!

Read if you loved: The Humans by Matt Haig (the theme of family, loss and witty magical realism), The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe (loquacious birds who take the piss, gothic themes, poetic genius) and Citizen by Claudia Rankine (a powerful narrative voice and lyricism)

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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3. Paper Girls by Brian Vaughan, illustrated by Cliff Chiang

I’ve seen numerous people compare Brain Vaughan’s Paper Girls to Stranger Things and I completely agree, I’m going to admit now that I totally picked it up because I loved ST! However, I warn you it is far more fast-paced and gory than its Netflix big brother.

Paper Girls is a sci fi graphic novel which centres around four paper delivery girls who live in american suburbia. All too soon an extraterrestrial visit inverts the norms of their sleepy town.

What I adored:

  1. The characters in Paper Girls are independent young women who make no apologies for packing a lot of punch.
  2. I can already tell there’s a whole lot of backstory to come and I’m so excited to unveil what’s next.
  3. The illustrations, by Cliff Chiang , are rather lovely – recommended for fans of manga.
  4. I adore the premise, without spoiling it for you, the twist you’ll probably see coming but you’ll love regardless.
  5. Brian Vaughan writes sci fi like no one else, the flow of his words and his heaps of charm never disappoints, I urge you to read this one if you were as besotted with Saga as me!

Things that weren’t my cuppa of tea:

  1. At first, I’ve got to be honest, I did not get along with some of the traits of the characters, bearing in mind they’re 12, there’s a lot of smoking/shooting/cringey swearing…I did think the characterisation was a bit strained at first, but once you get into it you can see where Vaughan is going and released I was being a bit hypocritical!

Read if you loved: Saga by Brian Vaughan, Stranger Things, Doctor Who back in the day, and War of the Worlds/ The Sleeper Awakes/ anything by H.G Wells

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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4. My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout 

My Name is Lucy Barton tells the story of Lucy a 30-something author who is visited by her estranged mother in her New York hospital bed – what follows is a series of conversations, and flashbacks, that dig deeper into their shared history than they have ever been before. This is an intricately formed and subtle book about what it means to face yourself. Strout infuses her pages with the subtexts of family trauma that ordinarily go unspoken, commented upon by her protagonist’s feverish need to write her own story, regardless of the oppositions she encounters in her personal life.

What I adored:

  1. I find books about storytelling, or writing in any form or fashion, so comforting and always great food for thought. This is one such book, it’s a glimpse into the urgency of the act of writing and writing as catharsis which reminded me a lot of Jeanette Winterson. If you enjoy realist contemporary literary fiction – this is one for you.
  2. This felt like a memoir; Lucy was likeable but flawed; imbued with a really genuine humanity, which for a work of fiction under 200 pages, is quite a remarkable feat.
  3. Again plot-less (kind of). I thought I disliked ‘plotless’ books but character studies of families and self-exploration? I’ve been digging it March, I really have.

What wasn’t my cuppa tea:

  1. I couldn’t help but want a narrative voice from Lucy’s mother and her doctor. Lucy is somewhat of an unreliable narrator, and her privacy, while essential to the plot, limits the reader’s ability to peek into certain areas of her life I was most interested in. Such a shame because this drags it down to a 4 star read for me!

Read if you loved: Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson or We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

 

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5. Homegoing by Yaa Ysai

I also read my favourite book of the month. I could harp on about forever, unluckily for you I ALREADY HAVE – read it here if you fancy!

Overall I was lucky enough to have fabulous reading month illuminated by brilliant four and five star reads I highly, highly recommend. Have you read any of these books, or anything you would really recommend from your March reads?

Let me know in the comments! Until then happy reading.

 

Fi x

 

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