Books · Monthly Reading Wrap-Up

(Musical) May 2020 Reading Wrap-Up

It’s been an interesting month. I had some really fantastic reads, even some new favourites, and some average ones, but thankfully nothing that truly sucked! At the beginning of May there seemed to be a musical theme to what I was reading so I spontaneously decided to take that and run with it. I only read books with some sort of musical element from there on out. I had a blast!

I read ten books in the end. I had hoped to read more, but life got in the way, like it does sometimes! Still, nothing to be sniffed at!

  1. Sweet Thing (Renee Carlino) ★★★★☆☆☆
  2. Face It (Debbie Harry) ★★★★☆☆☆ (audio)
  3. The Promised Neverland  ★★★★★☆☆
  4. On The Come Up (Angie Thomas) ★★★★★★☆
  5. Mix Tape (Jane Sanderson) ★★★★★★★
  6.  Wilding (Isabella Tree) ★★★★★★★
  7. High Fidelity (Nick Hornby) ★★★★★☆☆ (audio)
  8. This Savage Song (V E Schwab) ★★★★★☆☆
  9. Heavy Vinyl: Riot on the Radio ★★★★★☆☆
  10. Meet Me In The Bathroom (LIzzy Goodman) ★★★★★★☆

Face It, Wilding and High Fidelity were audio books and I read two graphic novels this month, which is unusual for me, but I enjoyed it! Sweet Thing and Mix Tape were e-books, but I will definitely be buying a paper copy of the latter!  The only books without a musical theme were The Promised Neverland and Wilding. Wilding and Meet Me In The Bathroom were on my 20 for 2020 list, so I am right on schedule for that one!

BOOK OF THE MONTH:

Sanderson, Jane - Mix TapeI read four books I really loved, but two of those I adored, which were Wilding by Isabella Tree and Mix Tape by Jane Sanderson. I think my choice will have to be Mix Tape, as I did not expect to love that one as much as I did, whereas I always kind of expected to love Wilding.

Mix Tape spoke to me in so many ways. I loved that is a book about middle aged people, but not written as if they are old, if you know what I mean. They still felt like vibrant characters that had hopes and dreams. I loved that about it. It felt like it was written for me. I truly adored it!

 

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Meet Me in the Bathroom (Lizzy Goodman)

Goodman, Lizzy - Meet Me In The Bathroom

★★★★★★☆

Title: Meet Me in the Bathroom: Rebirth and Rock and Roll in New York City 2001-2011
Author: Lizzy Goodman
Genre: Non-Fiction/Music/Culture   Pages: 596 (+index)
First published: 2017
Edition: Paperback, published by Faber & Faber in 2017

New York, 2001. 9/11 plunges the US into a state of war and political volatility-and heralds the rebirth of the city’s rock scene. As the old-guard music industry crumbles, a group of iconoclastic bands suddenly become the voice of a generation desperately in need of an anthem.

This was such a fun ride. It basically tells a story of a specific group of people in a specific time in a specific city and the music that came from that. It takes us through the stories of bands like The Strokes, Interpol, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, LCD Sound System and Vampire Weekend, as well as some lesser known (to me) bands.

The book is told via quotes and stories told by various people, including the bands themselves. To learn more about their stories through their own words and through those of people that were part of that scene, sometimes with conflicting memories, was something I really enjoyed. It really a snapshot of a moment in time.  It took a while for me to get into, but this way of story telling brought so much energy, which seems synonymous with the music that was being made at the time.

This book is full of excess, debauchery and of course egos, but it also tells a story of people who share a passion for music and  in the end it is the beating heart of the City that is at the centre of this book.

Apart from Vampire Weekend, these are not bands that I listen to a lot these days, but I loved this book. Simply because there is so much passion in it and it is a story well told.  It is the story of the beginning of a scene and a little bit of the end, but I feel it still simmers.

If you have no affinity at all with these scene or these bands, I doubt you would find it very interesting, but to me, who was a scene girl of sorts in my teens and early twenties, this was a lot of fun.

6 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

(Comic) Book Thoughts: Heavy Vinyl – Riot on the Radio (Usdin/Vakueva/Flores/Nalty)

Usdin, Vakueva, Flores, Nalty - Heavy Vinyl #1 Riot on the Radio

★★★★★☆☆

Title: Riot on the Radio (Heavy Vinyl #1)
Author: Carly Usdin (story)
Artwork: Nina Vakueva / Nina Vankueva / Rebecca Nalty
Genre: Comic/Graphic Novel   Pages: 112
First published: 2018
Edition: Paperback, published by Boom! Box in 2018

New Jersey, 1998. Chris has just started the teen dream job: working at Vinyl Mayhem, the local record store. She’s prepared to deal with anything—misogynistic metalheads, grunge wannabes, even a crush on her wicked cute co-worker, Maggie. But when the staff’s favorite singer mysteriously vanishes the night before her band’s show in town, Chris finds out her co-workers are doing more than just sorting vinyl… her local indie record store is also a front for a teen girl vigilante fight club!

*

I bought this comic on a whim, but I am glad I did. It was so much fun!

IMG_20200529_100251It’s definitely a girl power kind of comic with badass queer girls and cute relationships. It is aimed at teens and it is simply so much fun. Oh, and you can never go wrong with recordshop based fun in my eyes!

I love the artwork, it’s cute and colourful. The story is light and fun, but it does give a big fat wink to what I sometimes feel is going on in the music industry.

In the beginning I felt the plot was moving a bit jerky. It was a bit stop/start, but towards the middle it seemed to find its groove and I really enjoyed it.

I enjoyed it and would definitely recommend this if you like fun lighthearted comics with queer badass teenage girls leading the way. I will be picking up the second volume at some point for sure.

5 out of 7 stars

 

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts; This Savage Song ( V E Schwab)

Schwab, V E - Monster of Verity 1 This Savage Song

★★★★★☆☆

Title: This Savage Song
Author: V E Schwab
Genre: Fiction/Fantasy/Dystopian
First published: 2016
Edition: Paperback, published by Titan in 2016

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city, a grisly metropolis where the violence has begun to create real and deadly monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets monsters roam free and makes the inhabitants pay for his protection. August just wants to be human, as good-hearted as his own father – but his curse is to be what the humans fear. 

*

I enjoyed this one. It took me a while to read it, but that was not the book’s fauly.

I was engaged from the beginning and I liked both Kate and August, the main characters,  well enough. I really liked the way this world was set up and the mechanics of it. The concept certainly felt pretty original and different. However, I felt it could have been a bit more fleshed out.

I think that is how I felt about this book as a whole. I really enjoyed it, but despite it’s distinctive world, it simply felt a bit predictable and at times I felt like it was simply going through the motions a little bit. I am not quite sure why I feel that way, as I enjoyed what I was reading, but nothing felt surprising or particularly sticks out now I have finished it.

Overall, I really did like the writing itself. I will definitely be reading the second book in this duology and I am sure I will try another on of this author’s series in the future.

5 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

(audio) Book Thoughts: High Fidelity (Nick Hornby)

Hornby, Nick - High Fidelity

★★★★★☆☆

Title: High Fidelity
Author: Nick Hornby – Narrator: Russell Tovey
Genre: Fiction/contemporary
First published: 1995
Edition: Audio book

Do you know your desert-island, all-time, top five most memorable split-ups? Rob does. He keeps a list, in fact. But Laura isn’t on it – even though she’s just become his latest ex. He’s got his life back, you see. He can just do what he wants when he wants: like listen to whatever music he likes, look up the girls that are on his list, and generally behave as if Laura never mattered. But Rob finds he can’t move on. He’s stuck in a really deep groove – and it’s called Laura. Soon, he’s asking himself some big questions: about love, about life – and about why we choose to share ours with the people we do.

*

I listened to this on a whim as an Instagram ‘book club’ I love was reading this. It is one of those books that had been on my radar for years, but I just never really felt like actually reading. I knew I had watched the movie in the 90s, but could not really remember it at all.

It was an interesting trip reading this book. It is kind good and bad at the same time, which is a curious thing to achieve! The book is mostly about relationship and emotional attachment and is told from the point of view of a guy, who is a bit of an arse really.

I like my music, so I loved how much the main character, Rob,  loves music and the fact that he owns a record shop, but apart from that…. He needed a good slap. To be honest, so did his (ex?) girlfriend Laura, also a bit of an arse. I got way too annoyed with all the characters at one point or another, but kind of rooted for Rob at the same time.

I do like this type of oddball book, which is sort of about nothing, but simply looks at human nature and the world from a rather ordinary perspective.

Russell Tovey’s narration was fine for the most part. His tone was a bit off sometimes, especially when doing the ladies’ voices, but overall I liked it.

When I finished it me and my husband sat down to watch the movie for the first time in 20 years.

The book feels very British and I kind of enjoyed that about it. The movie adaptation (with John Cusack) sort of misses that Britishness (obviously being American it would!).

5 out of 7 stars

 

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Wilding (Isabella Tree)

Tree, Isabella - Wilding

★★★★★★★

Title: Wilding
Author: Isabella Tree
Genre: Non-Fiction/Natural World Pages: 384
First published: 2018
Edition: Audio Book (& Hardback)

Forced to accept that intensive farming on the heavy clay of their land at Knepp in West Sussex was economically unsustainable, Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell made a spectacular leap of faith: they decided to step back and let nature take over. Thanks to the introduction of free-roaming cattle, ponies, pigs and deer – proxies of the large animals that once roamed Britain – the 3,500 acre project has seen extraordinary increases in wildlife numbers and diversity in little over a decade.

*

I had a feeling I was going to love this book. I love books that are about someone going on some sort of journey and learning about a subject with them. This kind of felt like that and it felt like a revelation.

As I followed this couple with a farming background return their estate in Sussex to a natural state (or as close as possible with modern rules and regulations in place) I learned what nature actually means. I discovered how manufactured what I think of as nature actually is. But what I learned most is how Mother Nature in all her glory knows exactly what is best for her. One creature’s actions can cause a chain reaction with far reaching consequences for all the creatures and plants around it. This goes for us humans, but also for a Tamworth pig or a beaver.

Of course I loved hearing about nightingales and butterflies, deer and Exmoor ponies, but surprisingly I found the passages on farming incredibly interesting. Both in how farming and government incentives have helped destroy our natural diversity and health and how changing farming practices can be our saving grace.  This book deals with a lot of environmental arguments and it made me much more aware about the world around me and how we can still turn things around. I found it both profoundly sad, but also gave me hope for a brighter future. 

I am not doing justice to this gem of a book, but if you are at all interested in nature and the environment, this is a must-read book.

7 out of 7 stars

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Mix Tape (Jane Sanderson)

Sanderson, Jane - Mix Tape

★★★★★★★

Title: Mix Tape
Author: Jane Sanderson
Genre: Fiction/Romance Pages: 408
First published: 2020
Edition: Kindle e-book

Daniel was the first boy to make Alison a mix tape. But that was years ago and Ali hasn’t thought about him in a very long time. Even if she had, she might not have called him ‘the one that got away’; after all, she’d been the one to run. Then Dan’s name pops up on her phone, with a link to a song from their shared past. For two blissful minutes, Alison is no longer an adult in Adelaide with temperamental daughters; she is sixteen in Sheffield, dancing in her skin-tight jeans. She cannot help but respond in kind. And so begins a new mix tape.

Let me start by stating that this is one of my favourite books I have read this year. I adored it.

Although it is billed as a romance book and the cover suggests a light read, I feel that this is slightly misleading. This books deals with a lot of trauma, such as alcoholism, rape and suicide. If you go in expecting a fun light read, this is not that, and in my opinion all the better for it.

The novel follows two people during two time lines – one in 1979 and the other in 2012/13. In the later timeline both are in their late forties, have other partners and adult children and yet they find their way back to each other, reconnecting through music that they send to each other via Twitter. I loved having older protagonists that still felt young at heart. I guess I recognised much of myself in them!

It does deal with adultery, which is not a subject I am particularly fond of, but somehow it works here and it did not bother me too much.

I loved the main characters, as well as the quirky cast of side characters. There were some really endearing dynamics.

I loved the big role the music aspect played in this narrative. Music is very evocative for me personally, so for me this novel made a lot of sense and I felt wave after wave of nostalgia whilst reading it.

I adored this so much. This was perfect for me.

7 out of 7 stars