I should just accept that four books is a reasonable number of books to read in a month, and anything more would be nothing short of a miracle. This blog post is kind of all over the place, and I don’t know how much anybody else will get out of this. It’s mostly just ramblings and stories, but I’m posting for posterity. These are the books I read in April.
HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN by JK Rowling
I started reading Harry Potter when I was 10 or 11, which is comparatively later than many of my peers. Or at least, it felt that way. In primary school, we had this reading rewards program where they encouraged us to read books by completing reading-based activities, and if we completed a certain number of activities within a month or whatever, we got a voucher for one Pizza Hut buffet. Which was more relevant when Pizza Hut buffets actually existed and were delicious.
But anyway, one of the activities was to pick one page out of whatever novel you were reading, and read it out loud to the class. One boy in my class was super into Harry Potter, and I was like “haha what a nerd”, but I think that was mostly because he used to bully me a bunch and so everything he liked was horrible because he was just the worst. Except that he chose to read out a page describing a really exciting Quidditch match (I forget which one) and I went from being slumped over my desk in a bored stupor to sitting up straight and thinking “oh no…this is great and I must read all the Harry Potter books I can immediately”.
I think this was also during Book Week, when we have to dress up as a book character and walk or “parade” around, because what is cuter than small children in costume? But the best part about Book Week was the book fair in the library, which was the only time I could buy my own books, so I always looked forward to it. That year I searched frantically for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, but all they had was Prizoner of Azkaban — the adult paperback version, no less! Why on earth would you buy anything with a cover marketed to adults to sell at a children’s book fair?! HOW COULD A GREYSCALE HIPPOGRIFF APPEAL TO A YOUNG AUDIENCE??? Maybe there was a batch mistake. I bought it anyway, because I was that desperate to start reading the series.
Anyway, that is why Prisoner of Azkaban was the first Harry Potter book I ever read, and why it is the only one with a drastically different cover. It is still my favourite Harry Potter book. Time travel! Dementors! Sir Cadogan! What’s not to love?
THE SPELL BOOK OF LISTEN TAYLOR by Jaclyn Moriarty
Jaclyn Moriarty is one of my favourite writers, but hardly anyone I know has heard of her. She used to keep a blog that I loved reading, but then she stopped updating it. She also wrote the Ashbury/Brookfield series, which I adore, and a standalone called I Have A Bed Made of Buttermilk Pancakes. More recently, she’s written The Colours of Madeline Trilogy, but I haven’t read any of those books yet.
The Spell Book of Listen Taylor is a reimagining of I Have A Bed Made of Buttermilk Pancakes, but with more focus on the teenager (Listen Taylor). The plot itself is the same though, I think.
Here is what The Spell Book is about:
- a snow storm in Sydney
- the Zing Family Secret
- teenage girls
- magic (a little)
This is a good book. I like it.
MONSTERS OF MEN by Patrick Ness
In my final year of high school, one of my major projects was to write a short thesis or a creative writing piece for an Extension English class. My English teacher made a point to tell us that using creative spacing or differently sized fonts was not the ideal way to convey emotion to the reader. That we should just use our words instead. Or something like that.
I have a feeling my English teacher would have rolled her eyes at the changes in both fonts and sizes in the Chaos Walking trilogy, but I think it works. It feels a little heavy-handed at times, but I mean, how else are you supposed to make an explosion land without using an all-caps, 30pt BOOM?
But yes, I finally read the last instalment of the Chaos Walking trilogy. I liked it. There was a lot of Miaka! Tamahome!-esque yelling from the two main characters —which I will never not roll my eyes at — but the romance wasn’t too unbearable, and it was actually a decent plot device, so good work Patrick Ness. You write good series.
THE TEN THOUSAND FOLLAR TAN LINE by Rob Thomas
Another novel that takes me back to high school; one of our English modules was on crime fiction, and my English teacher1 said that it was her favourite genre to read, because formulaic mysteries are the best mysteries. I privately disagreed, because where was the fun in reading if you knew how the story was structured, and particularly if you had to study that structure for a whole year (or term? I honestly forget how the school year is set out)?
But then again, some of my favourite television shows — House, Veronica Mars, Castle — have all had protagonists who were the hard-boiled detective reimagined, so I mean, maybe she had a point.
Reading The Ten Thousand Dollar Tan Line was exactly like watching an episode of Veronica Mars. It helped that I had recently seen the film, which leaves off where the novel starts. It reminded me of how much I loved the show, and because of the medium, it didn’t include any unnecessary cameos or fanservice (looking at you, The Veronica Mars Movie feat James Franco), and it was just a nice, easy read. Not enough to get me back into the crime fiction genre, but enough to rekindle my appreciation for it.
I also started reading some Harry Potter fanfiction, and I’ve been using the Pocket Fiction app on my iPad to do so. It basically downloads the stories from a server (Fanfiction.net is the default, but you can add other ones) and the app turns them into e-book files, breaks them into chapters, and makes them available offline. Back in the day, I just read my fanfiction from a computer browser, so this is crazy luxurious to me. Portable fanfiction? That’s nuts!
1 a different one, I took three different English classes in high school so I could read a bunch and still be credited for it.