Thanks to the Christmas break, I've had a little more time to read as of late, after my reading attempts slowed down a bit in the run up to the holidays. I thought today I'd talk about three of the books I've been indulging in lately. If you want to keep an eye on what I'm reading, hop on over to my Goodreads account, or follow me on Instagram.
by Natasha Pulley
The Night Circus has ignited a spark within me, a desperate need for more novels, set in the Victorian period, focused on strange and magical happenings. Okay, that's actually been a genre I've always been captivated by, but something I hadn't delved into for quite a while until I started Erin Morgenstein's novel about a magical contest. I had a bit of a wrong start with Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw (absolutely loved the book, but mistakenly got it into my head it had a historical setting rather than a modern one), but I definitely got my literature compass right with this one.
I'd been tempted by Natasha Pulley's The Watchmaker of Filigree Street for a while. As an illustrator and designer, the cover of a book is usually the first thing that catches my eye, and this one has such a glorious design. When I actually got around to reading the description and not just gazing at the cover, I realised it was more up my street than I had imagined. A mystery set in historic London? A scientist as the primary female character, who thinks the Suffragists of the 1880s aren't extreme enough? Japanese characters and settings in a time shortly after the nation opened up from its long isolation? A character who can predict the future, but one that isn't fully set in stone? An adorable clockwork octopus who likes to steal socks? Yes to all of that.
Though I have to admit the book confused me a little. Surprisingly not the elements of clairvoyance or scientific theory, but instead how the characters related to each other, and their motivations, especially Thaniel. It all just felt a little bit ... off. And then it all made complete and utter sense towards the end. If you've read the book, you'll understand exactly why. If you plan to read it in the future, and get the same feeling I do, don't worry.
I actually can't understand why I didn't see the 'suprise' coming (possibly because of the setting?) as the subtext is all there, but I guess that just means this one is ripe for a re-read very soon.
I also have to give Pulley kudos for, in Grace Carrow, writing a heroine with *gasp* dislikable traits who commits actions we may disagree with, in order to create the life she desires. So rarely do we get woman characters who have such complexity, either being completely delightful powerful forces, or complete doormats.
I'm very excited to find out that this is just book one of a planned trilogy (I think Pulley is close to finishing book three). So in the mean time I'll have to get my hands on her second novel, The Bedlam Stacks.
by Patrick Ness
Patrick Ness was first brought to my attention with the wonderful A Monster Calls, a novel I chance grabbed from a charity shop as I liked the cover (yeah, I am definitely one of those people) and had heard the author recommended before. It turned out to be one of my best experiences of random book buying (please go read it, but expect to gurn though half the book), and I've now read almost all of Patrick Ness's books. I just finished the Chaos Walking trilogy over the Christmas holidays and thought I might as well finish the only other book I currently owned by him that was unread.
This book details a day in the life of 17-year-old Adam, how he relates to his religious conservative parents, his older brother, best friend, co-workers, as well as his current, and past, boyfriends. It's a very heartfelt novel about shame and freedom, sexual harassment, teenage sexuality and relationships, both platonic and romantic.
After reading The Rest of Us Just Live Here, I think Ness must be a little like me; enjoys stories of teenage life and the trials that come with them, but loves a bit of fantasy/supernatural thrown into the mix of real life drama. I also wasn't expecting something labeled as young adult to be quite so explicit, though it's well done.
I now have an intense need to read Virginia Woolf's Mrs Dalloway (I've been meaning to read her work for years, but of course haven't actually gotten around to it, like so many authors), to see how Ness has mirrored her novel in Release.
by Janet Fitch
The Revolution of Marina M. is the current book taking up space on my bedside table, and quite a bit of space at that. As a large hardcover coming in at 800 pages (for book one...), I'm pretty sure it will still have residence there for a little while yet.
I'm really loving this one so far. When it comes to historical fiction, really anything that fits from the Victorian era to the 1920s is going to attract my attention. And after Japan, my current national obsession when it comes to settings is Russia. A book about the life of a young aristocratic Russian woman swayed by the political revolution of 1917 was always going to pop to the top of my to-read pile. In fact, as soon as I heard about this one, it went on my Christmas wish list.
I'm still making my way through this one, but I'm not rushing it and just letting the story wash over me. What better way is there to learn history than from a characters in the midst of the action?
About What I'm Loving
In the What I'm Loving column, I talk about the things I'm currently obsessing over, from brilliant books I've read, TV shows or films I'm loving, my favourite new singer or band, and everything else in between, with little bits of illustrations.