January: A Retrospect
The first book I finished in 2018 was A Boy Made of Blocks (Keith Stuart) – a family story based around an autistic child, and inspired by the author’s own experiences with his son. I thought it was just OK, with better books tackling this subject out there. Mostly, the author’s voice and style of writing just didn’t resonate with me.
I followed that up with a re-read of A Little Life (Hanya Yanagihara), which I loved as much as I did the first time round…even if I had completely forgotten the Oh S**t! moment that occurs and leaves you reeling. The full review is available here: A Little Life
I loved Fredrik Backman’s A Man Called Ove when I read it last year, but I was slightly less enamoured by My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises. I loved the kookiness of the grandmother and the little girl in this story, but the bar set by A Man Called Ove just wasn’t met, and I can’t quite put my finger on why – it was maybe a little too similar in style to A Man Called Ove, but with less heart somehow.
Philip Pullman’s Book of Dust was totally worth the wait and has made me want to revisit the original Northern Lights trilogy while I (unwillingly) wait for the next two books in the series. There is another full review available here: La Belle Sauvage: Book of Dust #1
This month I also dipped into and out of Anthony Doerr’s The Shell Collector at random – one of the perks of short stories being you can read one story, put the book down (without guilt), and then go back to it when you want another small dose. I loved All the Light We Cannot See which is what drew me to this collection, and it once again demonstrated the power of the author’s writing. Some stories were definitely better than others, Mkondo being one of my favourites, and I loved that a couple of them were set in various parts of Africa. However, short stories as a form of writing – still not my favourite.
I’m a little late to the Red Queen (Victoria Aveyard) party, but I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing given the fourth and final installment of this young adult series is coming out in May. I did enjoy the first one but am ambivalent about continuing because of mixed reviews of the next two books, so I am waiting on a friend to give me his verdict! If you want to weigh in on this, please do let me know if I should continue or not…
The audiobook for January was Eight Years in Power, a collection of essays from Ta-Nehisi Coates. Again, I am a big fan of this author and his thinking, but I have to admit I struggled with this in audiobook form and feel like it may be one that is better actually read, so I will definitely be revisiting this in the good old-fashioned hardcopy format.
A Boy Made of Blocks (Keith Stuart): ★★
A Little Life (Hanya Yanagihara): ★★★★★
My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises (Fredrik Backman): ★★★
La Belle Sauvage: Book of Dust #1 (Philip Pullman): ★★★★★
The Shell Collector (Anthony Doerr): ★★★
Red Queen (Victoria Aveyard): ★★★★
Eight Years in Power (Ta-Nehisi Coates): ★★★