April has been a great month of reading for me, both in terms of the books I’ve picked up and how inspired I’ve been feeling to read. I’ve even set up my goodreads account properly and stepped up my yearly challenge from 24 to 50 books for 2020!
As April has been a full month of lockdown, I decided to spend a little more money on ordering some of the books that I really wanted to get my hands on. Now, I’m about half way through that stack and excited to get stuck into May’s reading list.
I’ve had a great month working on some fun bookish content including a virtual shoot with Madi (some of the photos below!), joining my first online ‘bring your own book‘ event and interviewing the lovely Sophie of Women’s Writes. I’m hoping that April will bring about some more creative projects and great online events to get involved with too!
I’d be very surprised if you haven’t already heard about this award-winning novel – everyone is talking about it, and for good reason!
This rich, layered book follows the lives of 12 characters in the UK across several decades, and paints a vast, diverse picture of black women. Evaristo explores the lives of these women across different generations, social classes, ages, sexualities, gender identities and experiences of the world.
Every chapter displays a distinct voice, and Evaristo masterfully develops each character within the reality short space of just one chapter. I love the variety of women brought to life through the pages of this book and how their stories find a way back to each other, weaving throughout the decades.
I received both Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams and Girl, Woman, Other as gifts, and despite both being books that I wouldn’t have previously picked up for myself, I feel so grateful to have read them as they’ve completely blown apart the types of books, writing and authors that I now want to read. Both books have given me a hunger for reading that I haven’t experienced in a long time.
This book is great for a fun, quick and easy read. As a fan of true crime and horror, I was immediately drawn to the subject. The story follows Korede, as she deals with the aftermath of her sister’s propensity for killing her partners and the overwhelming sisterly duty she feels to cover for, and protect her.
The short chapters and simple writing style mean I inhaled this book in just shy of one sitting. I really enjoyed lying in bed for a couple of hours and racing through it. It’s not a book that’s going to change your life, but if you’re looking for something quick and easy then I recommend adding it to your shelf.
I loved this book. I was torn between not being able to stop thinking about it and having to put it down for a break from the weight of the subject.
My Dark Vanessa explores the relationship* that develops between 15 year old Vanessa Wye and her 42 year old English teacher. The story alternates between the start of the relationship in 2000, and the present day life of Vanessa in 2017 when allegations of sexual abuse start to come to light.
Despite the discomfort created by this book, it is beautifully written. I fell in love with Russell’s descriptions of the physical and emotional responses of Vanessa to different situations. It is, without doubt, a hard and harrowing subject, but it was interesting to hear a different perspective on the experience of abuse, particularly when the individual doesn’t think they’re being abused. It asks questions about consent and agency, and painfully highlights the impact of an intimate, intense relationship in such dark circumstances.
You acutely feel the heady excitement of the infatuated teenage girl experiencing (albeit very problematic) love and attention for the first time, but mourn for the time, passion and sense of self that Vanessa has taken away from her.
(*It feels problematic to use the term relationship in the context of abuse and the very disproportionate power at play, but I hope you understand that I’m just summarising this specific ‘relationship’ in the book).
I was really struggling to find a new audiobook to listen to at the beginning of April. I wanted something soothing, enjoyable and easy to listen to, something to distract my mind when I was feeling down – and, oh boy, did I find that in Circe!
I’ve never really been one for myths and stories of the gods, but as I’m trying to spread my horizons with reading, I decided to give Circe a go following lots of positive reviews and recommendations.
I was immediately drawn to the audiobook because of what can only be described as the liquid gold voice of Perdita Weeks. Her satin-soft vocals are perfectly matched to this story as we follow Circe, daughter of Helios, god of the sun, as her life is set on a new trajectory following her banishment to a deserted island. Here, we see Circe explore different relationships, craft her skills and take ownership of her power. Circe is a story of wrath, vengeance, honour, strength and love.
I loved the decadent descriptions of the islands and homes of the gods, and adored the growth of Circe’s character as she’s a complex character, both loving and gentle, but true to herself and her power.
I wasn’t sure how I felt about this book at first (I’m not a huge fan of writing in the third person) but the final section was like one sustained, heartbreaking punch to the gut.
Dear Edward is a pretty compelling read. It’s an intense exploration of what it’s like to be the sole survivor of a plane crash, intertwined with a close look at the lives, stories and anticipated futures of a handful of characters aboard the plane.
It wasn’t a perfect read as I sometimes struggled with the slow pacing and found some parts quite repetitive in style, but it was an otherwise powerful and enjoyable read, despite the heavy topic. It was worth reading for the impact of the final, breathtaking section alone.
You feel every ounce of panic, confusion and overwhelming love in the final moments of life onboard the plane, and ache for Edward’s painful reality of growing up with that crash etched into every part of his being.
What have you been reading in April?
Have you read any of these books? Have you been joining any virtual meetings, clubs or events? I’d love to hear about what you’ve been up to or reading in April. Let me know in the comments!