In the weeks/months where my blogging dwindled I read an awful lot. So much so that when it came to finally posting book reviews, I thought it best to do a summary. So here’s a rundown on what I’ve been reading lately.
The John Green books
Paper Towns, Looking For Alaska, Let It Snow, Will Grayson, Will Grayson
Having read and enjoyed (as much as you can enjoy a tear-jerker!) The Fault in Our Stars, I thought I’d crack on with the rest of John Green’s work. I have to say, even though it seems I have something of a soft spot for young adult titles (more on that later), I was a bit underwhelmed with some of them. Paper Towns and Looking for Alaska centred on teenage boys I didn’t care too much about who were off chasing girls who didn’t really deserve their attention. With Paper Towns, however, my favourite part was the friendship between the core group of guys and I enjoyed the road trip more than the climax. It was much the same with Will Grayson, Will Grayson – Tiny was a far more interesting character than either of the Wills – and the source of my inevitable tears! Nevertheless, they were still worth reading. With Let It Snow, Green wrote one of the three festive stories which feature some of the same characters. I liked that characters popped up in different stories – kinda like Buffy/Angel crossovers – but most of them weren’t particularly likeable.
How To Build A Girl, How To Be A Heroine, Not That Kind of Girl
I had read and loved Caitlin Moran’s How To Be A Woman and that kind of tone flowed through her novel How To Build A Girl. Most reviews pick up on how much sex and masturbation appears as part of the plot but what I focused on was the story of a teenager from a working-class family who dreams of making it as a writer. Can’t imagine why!
How To Be A Heroine wasn’t quite what I expected and I enjoyed reading about how the stories and heroines shaped Samantha Ellis’ life and how her opinions changed as she got older. Definitely one for female bookworms!
I stopped watching Girls at the end of Season 2. As much as Lena Dunham was hailed as The Voice of My Generation, I wasn’t quite convinced. I also wasn’t a fan of Tiny Furniture – I found it all a bit too self-involved and none of the characters particularly likeable (is that just the way young people are these days – not actually likeable?). Even so, I requested Not That Kind of Girl for Christmas and there was a lot which I enjoyed and could relate too. Although she did come across a bit like a feminist-emo Woody Allen…
The chick lit
Shopaholic to the Stars, Where Rainbows End, If You Could See Me Now
If I started reading the Shopaholic series now I don’t think I’d warm to ‘heroine’ Becky Bloomwood but I’ve been hooked for years now and await each new title eagerly. Shopaholic to the Stars is definitely one of those pure, escapist titles and something I like to return to for a bit of light reading.
I read Where Rainbows End for the first time over a decade ago and wanted to re-read it before watching Love, Rosie. I love that it’s told as a series of letters and emails but can’t help finding that kind of romance – the kind full of misunderstandings and people simply not being upfront with each other – incredibly frustrating.
Cecilia Ahern is one of my favourite writers but If You Could See Me Now is one of the fantasy titles – the kind that I find a bit marmitey. I can easily suspend my disbelief for films but when it comes to novels I want something a bit more real. Don’t ask why I requested the full set of Game of Thrones novels for Christmas! Even still, I enjoyed this one a lot more than A Place Called Here and The Book of Tomorrow. I just prefer the likes of PS I Love You.
And the rest
The Manifesto on How to be Interesting, The Road, Lobsters, The Court of Owls, Revolutionary Road, Ms Marvel, Leaving Time, Us
I really enjoyed Holly Bourne’s Soulmates and was keen to read her next title, The Manifesto on How To Be Interesting. I haven’t been a teenage girl for a while now but I think there’s something here that all women can relate to. I don’t understand the stigma around young adult titles and am looking forward to her next release later this year.
I also recently read The Road and Revolutionary Road, having seen the films ages ago. I really didn’t like the style in which The Road was written (very ‘and then and then and then’ but persevered with it) and wouldn’t recommend it! And Revolutionary Road was more depressing than I remember the film being – still, a faithful adaptation. I probably wouldn’t have seen the film without its all-star cast and wouldn’t have read the book having not seen the film first.
Another young adult title was Lobsters, which I was attracted to when I heard that it was co-written by a man and woman, with the story narrated by its two principle characters. I can’t help but wonder if I find so many characters in these books unlikeable because a lot of teenagers just aren’t likeable… There was one particular female character who was such an utter bitch that I wondered why the others bothered with her at all. It was also a bit predictable but the language was brilliant.
I’ve also gone back to the comic books, particularly with old favourite Batman and The Court of Owls, and I have been introduced to Ms Marvel, by way of a birthday present from the boyfriend, which was pretty awesome. It ticks so many boxes (female hero, loner/outcast, Muslim, normal teenage girl issues) and is such a huge step forward for comic books. It’s great to see such a relateable female character and I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of the series brings.
I read One Day just before the film was released (like, literally finished it minutes before seeing the film) and was intrigued by Us, David Nicholls’ latest release. I was a bit up and down reading it, not sure what I really wanted for the central character and even if I liked him. I guess what I’ve learned from most of the titles in these posts is that I need to know clearly from the off if I’m meant to like the narrator/hero of the book.
Leaving Time is the first title by Jodi Picoult (FYI, my favourite writer) where I was a bit ‘huh…’ at the end. I have read every single one of her other books. Some I loved more than others but in every case I have found the book a pleasure to read and have been completely gripped. With this one, things were a bit different. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone and still encourage fans of her work to read this one too but there was an aspect to it unlike her others that I couldn’t quite get in to – even though the ending still had me in tears! Damn, baby hormones!
There are a lot of titles here (19!), so I’ll whittle down my recommendations to a top five, in ascending order:
5. Will Grayson, Will Grayson
3. Leaving Time
2. How To Be A Heroine
1. Ms Marvel