April 2017 | Wrap Up

Well, well, well, yet another month has passed – does anyone actually remember April happening? Because I sure as hell don’t know how it’s May already (cough it’s gonna be May cough) and yet here we are. I think a large part of that is due to the fortnight-long readathon that I took part in in the middle of April. The Tome Topple readathon meant that I focused more on getting through some hunkers of books rather than the amount of books read this month… which is my way of saying I didn’t read many books so there’s my excuse. Plus, with finishing up at my job, this month has seen me be a little bit preoccupied with one thing or another – that will change as we head into May and I (hopefully) get settled into my new work place with no huge problems. Mostly though, I am glad I got round to a couple of books that I was really long overdue to finish and I hope to continue this kind of finishing spirit into next month as I still have some A Song of Ice and Fire to catch up with. But, for now, let’s look back at how April’s reading went…

In March, I read a total of 4 books – 4 fiction and 0 non-fiction, amounting to 2036 pages in total, and, of these, 1 book was a re-read.

In terms of format: 2 were paperback, 1 was an e-ARC, and 1 was an audiobook.

And as for genre, very broadly speaking, books were fantasy and 1 was a classic.

Onto the books themselves…

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Review | Hard Times

Title: Hard Times (1854)
Author: Charles Dickens
Read: 29th March- 4th April
Genre: classic
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Published in 1854, Hard Times is one of Charles Dickens’ shortest novels and presents a pretty damning indictment of mid 19th-century industrial society, taking a swipe at the social and political philosophies of Bentham and Mill, but ultimately failing to deliver an engaging or cohesive plot that would match the opening chapter’s brilliance.

“Now, what I want is Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts; nothing else will ever be of any service to them.”

Hard Times tells the story of Coketown, a fictional 19th-century Northern industrial town which plays home to a host of polluting factories and their downtrodden employees, all overseen by factory owner Josiah Bounderby and his friend and Utilitarian Thomas Gradgrind, the schoolmaster who seeks to stamp out any sense of imagination or Fancy from the town’s schoolchildren. On the outskirts of the town cavorts Mr Sleary’s circus, a troupe of performers whose antics could provide a nice sense of distraction for the downtrodden ranks of Coketown’s population.

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Friday Reads | 31st March 2017

Well folks, the last Friday Reads I did I was saying that I couldn’t believe it was halfway through February and here we are at the end of March. Yep, that happened. So let’s just remain in a state of denial about the fact three whole months of 2017 have passed and focus instead on what books I’m currently reading and plan to read this weekend. Agreed? Agreed!

Smoke by Dan Vyleta

Imagine a world in which every bad thought you had was made visible. Where anger, hatred and envy appeared as a thick, infectious smoke pouring from your body, leaving soot on your skin. A society controlled by an elite who have learned to master their darkest desires. Thomas and Charlie are friends at a boarding school near Oxford, where the children of the rich and powerful are trained to be future leaders. Charlie is naturally good, but Thomas’s father was accused of a terrible crime, and Thomas fears that the same evil lies coiled inside him. Then, on a trip to London – a forbidden city shrouded in darkness – they learn all is not as it appears. So begins a quest to understand the truth about this world of smoke, soot and ash – and perhaps to change it. (source)

I have no idea what the hell is going on in this book… and I kind of love it for that. I was sold on it in the opening chapter when there was a posh boarding school full of repressed little school boys being “examined” by the prefect for their sins. If that sounds weird, it’s because it is. The academic in me is also super intrigued because it’s doing interesting things with corporeality and fluid bodies and basically the former MA student in me is clutching this book in delight. I’m sure that will continue today and into this weekend.

Hard Times by Charles Dickens

‘Facts alone are wanted in life’: the children at Mr Gradgrind’s school are sternly ordered to stifle their imaginations and pay attention only to cold, hard reality. They live in a smoky, troubled industrial town so entertainment is hard to come by and resentments run deep. The effects of Gradgrind’s teaching on his own children, Tom and Louisa, are particularly profound and leave them ill-equipped to deal with the unpredictable desires of the human heart. Luckily for them they have a friend in Sissy Jupe, the child of a circus clown, who retains her warm-hearted, compassionate nature despite the pressures around her. (source)

You know, I’m mildly surprised by how easy this is proving to be to read. I always find it’s more daunting to look at a Dickens book rather than just getting round to actually reading it. It helps that I picked the shortest Dickens book to read though, there’s no denying that fact. But the fact I can read this comfortably on a sometimes noisy train probably attests to how it isn’t too tricky to follow. I’m intrigued by this Dickens novel because I know very little about it, except for knowing Gradgrind as a character, and I’m being pleasantly surprised. The Northern industrial setting is also my bag… and Coketown is definitely Preston, right?

I’m likely to be doing a lot of reading today/this weekend since Liz is working this weekend and so I won’t be procrastinating by watching Friends with her. I’d also really like to get down to some good blogging and get caught up in all the reviews I need to write because that’s been playing on my mind for weeks now. In between that I’m sure I’ll find time to read, maybe even finish these two books? Is that too ambitious? Probably.

So, those are my likely reading plans for today and heading into the weekend ahead. Do you have any Friday Reads posts? Or perhaps just some fun plans for the weekend? Let me know in the comments!


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