April Books – Quick Lit

I haven’t managed to read more than 10 pages in a real, printed book ever since imp number 2 was born. I hardly ever have the hands to spare that I would need to hold a book and flip a page, heck I often can’t even move out from under the babyandtoddlermountain to reach the book I mean to read. But I spend hours and hours breastfeeding said babyandtoddlermountain, so I also have an unprecedented amount of time to read and have managed to read more books now that I have two kids than I did when I had one. On the flip side I tend to be a bit tired when I read, so I quickly forget details or even entire arcs. I’m sick of seeing a book on my shelf (or my ‘READ’ list on my reader) and thinking ‘Hey, I read that! I have no idea what happened,’ so I decided I want to keep a little list.

The Great Alone – Kristin Hannah

The protagonist of The Great Alone is called Leni, a name that was amongst my top name picks should imp number 2 have turned out to be a girl (and if it weren’t so popular right now and if husband hadn’t vetoed it anyway). She’s 13 when the book begins and she’s led a rather chaotic life with lots of moves and school changes. Her father, Ernt, was a POW in Vietnam and when he comes back he’s an angry man who can’t keep a job or stay in a place for a long while – though it’s not as if she remembers him well from before the war. When he’s surprisingly given a homestead in Alaska the family moves there on a whim.

From then on, Ernt becomes increasingly unstable and paranoid and Leni’s situation at home becomes more and more claustrophobic and oppressive. At the same time her situation at home and the Alaskan wilderness make her grow stronger and more resilient and self-sufficient.

I wasn’t a fan of the ending, I thought it was a little over the top. And yet the book and its gloomy suspense had me clenching my fists and jaw, often to an extent that I had to consciously remind myself to loosen up. I couldn’t put it down and it was as if I could feel her fear (though I was a lot warmer in my bed than she was over there in Alaska). It made me want to pack up my stuff and move and become a homesteader in Alaska, while also never wanting to set foot there, for fear that Ernt or a bear or a lack of running water would get to me. It also made me seriously doubt my survivalist skills.

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand – Helen Simonson

The story of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand felt fairly uneventful. That’s not strictly the case though. Lots of things happen, they just don’t feel that extraordinary or climactic. The book lives more from its characters and their quirks and exchanges. And as pig-headed and close-minded as many of the characters are, it made me want to go to a little English village with a ridiculously long name and drink buckets of tea.

The love story is obvious but sweet and all in all it was just a feel good read that occasionally dipped its toe into more complicated issues.

The Great Believers – Rebecca Makkai

This book moved me so much! It has two story lines, one is set during the AIDS epidemic in 1980s Chicago, the other in present day Paris. The latter left me relatively cold and I’m not sure I would have missed it (I’m probably wrong and it needed to be there to balance the other story line, it just didn’t touch me as much and I found the characters to be less relatable). The AIDS epidemic storyline, however, was so powerful. It was such a beautiful description of such a horrible disease and time and of such wonderful friendships and characters, I loved them all, even the ones I didn’t like. And bits and pieces of the story or the characters or descriptions keep coming back to me at odd moments. I also feel like a learned a bit about this time and its events (and would like to learn more) and made me immensely thankful of the advances in modern medicine and in society.

The Kiss Quotient – Helen Hoang

The majority of the books I read felt quite dark and gloomy to me, so I wanted to read a love story to lighten things up a bit. The Kiss Quotient had good reviews, so I decided to give it a try. To make things short, I didn’t particularly enjoy it. It’s the love story between the neuroatypical Stella, who hires Michael, a troubled Vietnamese escort, to teach her how to be good at sex. And then they have a lot of sex and fall in love and misunderstand each other and, you guessed it, end up together after all.

I’ll give the book a plus point for being an ownvoices story by an author who is on the spectrum herself. Other than that I only remember that there were a lot of sex scenes, none of which stuck with me particularly and which I started to just skip because there were simply so many of them and I had understood three sex scenes ago that the protagonists were supposed to have great chemistry.

An American Marriage – Tayari Jones

Celestial and Roy are newlyweds, he’s a black executive from the South and she’s a black artist who makes dolls. After a night at a hotel he is wrongfully accused and convicted of rape and is sentenced to 12 years in prison and incarcerated. And suddenly this book that I had guessed would be a novel about a marriage and possibly a divorce turned into a book about a relationship, about being black in America, and about the American prison system.

It’s thought-provoking and maddening and saddening all while also being atmospheric and vivid. Luckily for me the American prison system has very little to do with my day to day life, so I can’t say that it felt familiar to me, but it’s an issue I’ve heard about, obviously. The small details of daily life in the South felt far more foreign and in a sense more surprising to me. Like one adult asking another adult to wash their hands before dinner, or the thought of people actually saying grace before dinner.

Children of Blood and Bone – Tomi Adeyemi

An ownvoices YA novel with an all black cast, set in a fictional version of Nigeria and based on yoruba mythology. This could have been fun and it was an ok read. I think they’re making it into a show and I guess I might watch it.

Zelie is a diviner and lives in a world where magic was forbidden and has disappeared and for some reason the gods have chosen her to bring it back. With a scroll and a dagger (I think) and a ritual. And then there’s the two kids, Amari and Inan, of the king who banished magic and is the reason Zelie’s mother was killed. And Zelie has a brother Tzain and a tigerlike animal that she can ride and that is really strong and quick.

They’re on a quest to perform/prevent said ritual and they are hunted and there’s an amount of violence that I hadn’t expected (probably should have, it’s just been a while since I read my last dystopian YA novel). Like I said, it was an ok read. But I didn’t quite warm to the characters and I didn’t really understand the magic. I did, however, find the author’s note to be very moving.

2 Comments

  1. I enjoyed Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand very much, but I like slow books and am an English expat, so I get nostalgic for my country. I’ve been keeping an eye out for her other book, The Summer Before the War (I like to get my books on sale). Hope you enjoy linking to Quick Lit!

    1. annaadmin says:

      I do, it’s nice to feel like I’m participating in something. Plus it’s a great way to keep track of what I’m reading.
      We’re planning on going to Slovenia this summer, so I’ll have a look if I can get some good tips on your blog!!

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