03/09/14 - Monthly Reads: August

I read a lot...not as much as I used to, but still a considerable amount.  Sometimes I read things that maybe aren't quite worthy of an entire review post of their own, but that I still want to share with the world.  Sometimes I might want to write an entire review of something but just know that I'll never get around to it.  So I've decided to give you a little rundown of everything I've read recently in handy bite-sized chunks...this might be a bit of a cop-out, but at least I get a chance to have a little chat about them all.

1) Ed King by David Guterson

Maybe not a great note to start the month (and hence this blog post) on, but this wasn't a particularly impressive read in my opinion.  There's nothing wrong with the book itself but I just found reading it to be a pretty long-winded experience.  It didn't really hook me and I found myself desperately trying to get through it just so I'd be able to read something else.  The idea isn't bad - updating the Oedipus story was quite an interesting thought - but I feel like maybe if I'd read this at a time when I had more time to commit to it, I might have enjoyed it a little more.  I did like watching the handful of seemingly separate plotlines and characters come together, but for some reason even that struggled to really hold my attention.

2) Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

This is most definitely the best book I've read recently.  I was initially mildly skeptical when Shaun recommended I watch the film; I'd heard a lot about it and what an amazing experience it was but naively assumed it would be a bit of a typical 'boy' thing, all action and people beating each other up.  I was so wrong, and that was what pushed me to read the book immediately after watching the film.  There's so much more to it than that and although a lot of the themes revolve around masculinity and a male's role in society, I found that as a woman I still got an awful lot out of it.  It's a fascinating glimpse into the way society expects us to behave and how far people can be pushed when they break away from that or feel alienated by what is expected of them.  The prose is absolutely stunning and I spent most of the book wishing I had a highlighter to hand (and that the copy I was reading belonged to me), so that I could mark my favourite passages.  For me, that's the sign of a particularly impressive read.  Whether you've seen the movie or not, you need to get your hands on this book.  Amazing, utterly amazing.

3) Sin City Vol. 1: The Hard Goodbye by Frank Miller

This is the first graphic novel that I've ever read and I really enjoyed it.  I wasn't sure whether or not it would really be my bag, but I was very pleasantly surprised.  I particularly enjoyed my first excursion into a new medium and genre, particularly enjoying the almost film noir quality of the illustrations and the dark thread of the plot.  I found it a much quicker read than most things, because some of the pages are made up of images alone.  On one hand, it made me feel a little like I was skipping through the book too fast but on the other, it makes for a really interesting experience and definitely appeals to the aesthete in me.  I'm really looking forward to delving further into the series as well as seeing how well they translate onto a screen.

4) Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

This is one that's been on my list for a little while, having heard an awful lot about it around the Internet.  Overall, it's just an utterly gorgeous book.  The writing is brilliant, the addition of images really enhances the reading experience and the whole thing is incredibly well-executed.  It's chilling in parts and I definitely wouldn't recommend reading some of it before bed if you're a little bit nervy, but ultimately all the supernatural and creepy elements don't detract from the incredible heart that this book has.  A fascinating read.

5) The Basic Eight by Daniel Handler

I've reviewed Daniel Handler books on here before, so you may already be aware that he is Lemony Snicket who penned the wonderful A Series of Unfortunate Events books.  This was little more of a nod towards that side of his writing than Adverbs or Why We Broke Up; there's a very sinister note running throughout the novel and it's quite difficult to get a handle of what can and can't be trusted from the unreliable narrator which can leave the reader a little disorientated.  It's a very easy plot to get engrossed in and although you know the outcome from the start of the novel, it's still easy to root for the characters and you find yourself willing them to make different choices.  Personally, I felt the very ending was a little lacking compared to the rest of the book but don't let that put you off.

6) Animals by Emma Jane Unsworth

This has been described by Matt Haig as a "drunker, swearier Girls" and I can most definitely see the comparisons here.  The theme of the modern female friendship between struggling twenty-somethings is one that seems to be everywhere these days because it's so easy for a lot of people to relate to.  I certainly found myself nodding along at times, seeing thoughts that we all have written out on the page.  No matter how silly and trivial the details at times, the familiarity of them paired with Unsworth's eloquence is what makes this such an interesting read.  My one little niggle is that the book is set so heavily in Manchester; of course, there's nothing wrong with that and as a Manc girl myself now (I'm slowly being converted), it was interesting to see the geography of the city described in the novel.  However, I feel that if a reader weren't familiar with the city, they might find the experience a little alienating and the themes might be clearer if it could be more easily applied to any big city rather than being so heavily reliant on one specific place.  That all said, it's still a read that I would recommend to anyone in their twenties who feels that their life isn't quite on the track they expected it to be.

And that was my August!  You can keep up with everything I've been reading recently on Goodreads and if you'd like to see this become a regular feature, please let me know in the comments.

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