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Reading Thoughts: February 2017

Let’s try this writing about the books I’ve read thing again, shall we?

A Visit from the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan – One of those books I like more in memory than I did while I was reading it, and which will probably grow in my mind over time, this contains lots of small stories about a variety of people around Bennie, “an aging former punk rocker”, and Sasha, who works for him. It’s little snapshots of the lives around both characters that reveal gradually the way that their lives turned out. I like these little vignettes, and the small pieces of human nature they reveal, but I think overall I prefer a more coherent narrative.

A Court of Mist and Fury, Sarah J. Mass – The follow-up to A Court of Thorns and Roses, this continues Feyre’s story as she has to cope with life after the events of the first book. I’m not as in love with this series as lots of people I know, but Maas has a surprisingly strong ability to tug and tug and tug on my heartstrings as she reveals more and more of what the first book only hinted at. I didn’t think I could love Rhysand and didn’t understand how others did when I very briefly skimmed the reviews of others – now I completely and totally do. Really enjoyable and really a book that suited my mood at the time I was reading it.

The Devonshires: The Story of a Family and a Nation, Roy Hattersley – This follows a chronological history of the Cavendish / Devonshire family through from Bess of Hardwick’s days to the earlier twentieth century. I’ve been to Hardwick Hall and read Bess of Hardwick (nearly 7 years ago, where on earth does time go?) so this seemed a natural progression for my interest, especially as we’re planning a visit to Chatsworth as soon as we can manage it. Parts of it were definitely better than others – for instance, I have always, always struggled with anything to do with the Stuarts, I just can’t seem to be interested. I enjoyed the beginning and especially the part about Joseph Paxton and his many innovations towards the end, but I felt it dragged significantly in the middle when the family members weren’t interesting enough on their own to hold my attention. Worth reading, but it’ll take perhaps longer than expected.

Heaven, Texas, Susan Elizabeth Phillips – The second in the Chicago Stars series, this covers the romance between Bobby Tom Denton, who’s just been forced into retirement from professional football due to an injury, and straight-laced, never-been-kissed Gracie Snow, hired simply to get him to a destination for filming. The actual romance was sweet enough, but I had real problems with the way Bobby Tom handled women – he’s completely a womaniser with a “type”, women throw themselves at him and he makes up football quizzes that women always fail (how is this possible? the logic of it got to me) to test whether they’re worthy of his hand in marriage. The whole thing made me feel uncomfortable. The author was clearly trying to portray him as a kind soul who gently lets these hoards of women down (now, anyway) and can’t let anyone in his home town down either, but it didn’t work for me, so I couldn’t get nearly enough behind the romance for my tastes.

The Last Viking: The Life of Roald Amundsen, Stephen R. Bown – I’m not sure what I expected when I bought this – I think I was attracted to the title – but I really liked it. I’m not all that familiar with the races to the North and South Poles, nor had I ever heard of Roald Amundsen, but the life of this particular adventurer caught and kept my interest throughout this book, as the author explores his motivations and his various record-breaking journeys. I find it difficult to wrap my mind around the concept of going on a five-year-long expedition, from which an explorer might not return, but reading about them, and learning a bit more about humanity’s relentless desire to find what’s out there, is awe-inspiring. Recommended.

As I’ve gone through and written these little paragraphs, I’ve realised that February wasn’t actually the best month for reading. I’ve been having some life dramas over the last month which have rattled me more than I’ve been particularly happy about, and I wonder how much my own personal situation prevented me from really enjoying any of these books – or perhaps my choice of reading didn’t exactly match what I needed as much as I’d hoped. In perfect honesty, I’m not sure that March will be a better month in life terms, not yet anyway, but something in me has been seeking this outlet again, a place to remember and reflect on what I’ve read and begin writing again.

In various other efforts to keep myself busy outside of work, I’ve been crocheting, having found the Scheepjes 2017 crochet-a-long:

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A bit of baking:

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and a lot of gaming both on my own and with various friends. Of course, I’ve kept on reading as you can see – at the moment, I’m reading The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley and Binti by Nnedi Okorafor, and I will do my best to tell you about them when I’ve finished!

How was your February?

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