Friday, 8 April 2016

Re-Readathon Reviews

This Re-Readathon that's just happened ended up being one where everything I read was something I hadn't read in years. Most of the titles I read either before I started the blog or in the very early days, and many never got reviewed, so I thought that since everything I read ended up staying on my keeper shelf (newly revamped so that everything has to earn its spot there by having been read more than once. If I don't want to re-read it soon, it goes) it was probably worth talking a little about them!

The first title I picked up was The Secret Seven Collection by Enid Blyton, actually four books in one so I felt ultra accomplished before we'd even started. I finished it the first day and considering it's probably been almost twenty years since I read any of the Secret Seven books I was surprisingly enchanted with them. They're definitely a more mild kind of adventure than the Famous Five (a couple of which I read a year or two back) and sometimes it's a stretch to believe that it would have been possible for a group of fairly young children to continually stumble on planned horse thefts, train robberies and the like without the local police having any idea what was going on, but honestly the whole world that the books are set in is so alien to me that why not? I mean, I know that once upon a time children could go out to play by themselves or with friends for hours on end without their parents having to follow them around or know where they were every second of the day. This world existed, my parents and grandparents grew up in it, so if I'm suspending my disbelief enough to believe that then why not all the mysteries too? They're definitely fun! And that's the thing with Enid Blyton. Currently I'm reading The Enchanted Wood to Benji (don't worry we have a pre-name changes version) and even after so many years she absolutely manages to retain the air of magic and joy that her books always had for me as a child.

I went from that to American Gods by Neil Gaiman, which was the title I was most excited to read from my TBR. Katie and I had talked about buddy reading it but in the end we just both read it separately which was totally fine. I first read American Gods when I was 17 or so and haven't actually read it since. I was actually surprised by how little I remembered about it and how much of it felt like a first read while being comfortingly familiar at the same time. In case you don't know and the title doesn't give it away, the book is about the Gods that people brought with them when they emigrated or were brought to America and the incarnations that they take today. It's also about the more modern Gods who have taken their place and who they are now doing battle with. And it's about a guy called Shadow who's just got out of prison and discovered his wife has been killed, and that he's somehow caught up in something he has no idea he's a part of. I loved this book as much as I'd remembered, although there are many more references to male anatomy than I'd remembered, but as long as you're prepared for that it's all good! The mythology is spot on and so cleverly woven in and Neil Gaiman is just pretty much the master of stories, especially weird ones. I know this is the book that divides people - if you're looking for a Gaiman you'll like, read Neverwhere, but I'm firmly in the loving American Gods camp.

A photo posted by Bex Hughes (@armchairbythesea) on

 I toyed with what to read after American Gods but eventually picked up True Notebooks: A Writer's Year in Juvenile Hall by Mark Salzman, which I read way back at the beginning of the blog on the recommendation of The Complete Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby, the book that kick started this whole thing! True Notebooks is kind of like Freedom Writers but if the freedom writers had only encountered Erin Gruwell after they'd committed whatever crime they were on the path to when she deterred them in the book. It's brilliant and a really inspiring look at why rehabilitation is important and how creativity can actually change people and lives. Just, really, read it.

I finished up the re-readathon with Scarlett Thomas's first novel, Dead Clever, the first in her detective series featuring Lily Pascale, English lecturer turned amateur sleuth. I loved these when I first read them and I don't love it any less now. The trilogy is set in Devon which is the holiday place of my childhood and I adore it, and because Lily is as awesome as Scarlett's heroines always are and the amount of her personal life which is intertwined with the mystery means there are nice breaks of levity between the decapitation.

So yes, all of these are books I should have talked about before on the blog. I have no idea why I haven't, except that for a book blogger I'm surprisingly remiss about actually talking about the books I love in any real depth. But there we go, you should immediately add all of these to your TBR if you haven't read them already!

1 comment:

  1. I'm sorry, was rubbish at the buddy-reading thing we didn't end up doing. Oops! American Gods is one of those books I come to understand more with every reread (I think I've read it 4 times now) how it all fits together. I didn't really register anything odd about male anatomy mentions, it was a very particular scene involving unusual-behaving FEMALE anatomy that I do not think I will ever be desensitised to! I'm careful with who I recommend this book to... if someone can handle the first chapter and interlude, I think they'd be OK.

    I haven't read Secret Seven for years! They always seemed much younger than the Famous Five, and even as a kid I got annoyed that Janet, Pam and Barbara tended to get left with the safe jobs of copying tyre tracks and making lemonade, while the boys all got to go sneaking up to old abandoned warehouses at night after burglars. Grr.