The start of this year is very interesting, book wise – I got a few of the books I wanted to read on my wish list for Christmas and my birthday, and had some vouchers to spend this month. Over the last month and the beginning of this month, I read The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, and previous to that I think I read The Lollipop Shoes by Joanne Harris and Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr. The Lovely Bones and The Lollipop Shoes were brilliant and definitely worth reading.

I’m not so sure about Wicked Lovely – it was a teen supernatural/faerie romance sort of book, featuring interesting characters with tattoos and stuff. Part of the issue with it was just that it seemed a bit predictable but I did like what Marr did with the characters, that they were involved in a sort of punk/goth/tattoo subculture. I haven’t read any faerie romance books, or at least can’t recall reading any when I was a teen. I think I’ve mentioned before that I read The Night World books by L.J. Smith during my teen years. I’m awaiting the long expected and much delayed tenth book that she’s been writing for many years. They were mostly Vampires/Shapeshifters/Witches rather than faeries!

The Lollipop Shoes was a book I found at whim online after looking for any more books by Joanne Harris. I fell in love with her prose and style after reading Chocolat when I was doing my A Levels. I had no idea that there was a sequel to Chocolat until I was browsing, and it’s definitely a worthy sequel, very much containing the tension that Vianne constantly lives with. Of course, Roux is there, eventually, but I won’t give the plot away! In the film of Chocolat, it sort of has a Hollywood ending because Roux doesn’t leave, he stays, whereas in the book Vianne leaves the town because the wind sweeps in again, leaving Roux too. I think the book is better than the film in many ways, even though I have a lot of affection for the film too. The books are mystical and there is a wildness about them that didn’t necessarily get shown to great effect in the film.

The Lovely Bones is something I knew I would eventually get round to reading, but had been putting off for a little while. I bought it with book vouchers that my parents gave me for my birthday in December. I wasn’t disappointed, it was a raw and emotional book, reflective and intense. It’s been made into a film so I’m glad I read the book first. I can’t really put my finger on why I liked it so much. I left the book with a feeling of catharsis, like at the end of a tragedy play. In a nutshell, it is about a girl of fourteen who has been brutally raped then murdered by a neighbour. It follows her story and her family and friends as she watches them from heaven, dealing or not dealing with the aftermath of her death and the investigation into her death. It is beautifully wrought, not cliched or melodramatic at all, and it feels very believable.

At the moment, I’m reading The Complete Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby, which I bought on a whim from Waterstones. It’s a record of his reading and the reading process over a year or so, as he wrote a column for The Believer or something about it. He’s a good writer, and I can relate in some ways to how he makes his choices of reading matter and what it’s like – sometimes we buy things and then read half of them then put them down to read something else for various reasons. I remember I was reading The Time Traveller’s Wife but I got about a quarter of the way through then put it down again for some reason. I get so impatient to read some of the books I’ve got queued up that sometimes I don’t pay enough attention to letting a story unfold properly. So I’m attempting to re-read The Time Traveller’s Wife again at the moment.

I’m about a third of the way through my notebook right now. At various points I’ve actually kept a record of when I finish a book and have written my immediate impressions of each one. I think it’s good for a writer to keep a sort of record of what they get from each book – whether it’s a review or just whether they enjoyed it or not. When you get into a frenzied state of reading one book after another, you sometimes forget what you get from each story, whether it gives you any inspiration or taps into a memory or feeling. So it’s been good for me to write down my reading record.

So, the books I’ve got queued up are a mixture, really. I’ve got two Neil Gaiman books – Anansi Boys and American Gods – because I really enjoyed reading Neverwhere last year (he also wrote Stardust). I just picked up Neverwhere in Waterstones in the summer because I liked the sound of it. It’s quite nice to get a chance to browse a bookshop – I don’t always get the chance. I like the smell of new books (creepiness alert…) 😀

I also received the third book by Stieg Laarson – The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest – because I read the other two books over the summer. His books were the brilliant surprise hits of last year – they introduced me to the investigative/detective sort of genre. I also have Dawn French’s Dear Fatty autobiography to read, and The Book of Tomorrow by Cecilia Ahern (she wrote P.S I Love You, which I still haven’t read). There’s also The Women’s Room by Marilyn French and Sunshine by Robin McKinley. So yes, you could say I’ve got plenty to occupy me over the next three or four months! 🙂 I’m fairly sure that I won’t need to buy any more books for a little while, at least…

I better get to bed, I’ve got work tomorrow – volunteering with the database for my mother 😀

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