May 2020 Reading Wrap Up – Part Two [Books]

May 2020 2

JanuaryFebruary / March Part 1 / March Part 2/ April Part 1 / April Part 2 / May Part 1

Black Dogs, Black Tales – Edited by Tabitha Wood & Cassie Hart

black dogs

Review Coming Soon on Dead Head Reviews

This is an anthology you should definitely pick up. 17 authors to represent the 17% of people in New Zealand with mental health problems, and with profits going towards a New Zealand Mental Health Charity. Even without that awesomeness, the stories here are brilliant, powerful, moving, and creepy. And best of all, the dogs all survive.

American Gods – Neil Gaiman

american gods

My Review

I read this book years ago, but revisited it via Audible. The version I listened to was full cast, and was really good. Turns out there were some parts I remembered really cleary, and others I didn’t, but it was still great to slip back into this world.

From Twisted Roots – S.H. Cooper

from twisted roots

Review coming soon on Dead Head Reviews

I will never stop talking about good Cooper is. Her work is fantastic. Her short stories are really unique in their style and range, with a lot falling into that strange sub-genre of wholesome horror. From Twisted Roots takes a lot at families, at relationships, some with supernatural horror elements, and some where the horror comes from the humans themselves. Definitely worth checking out.

Devolution – Max Brooks

devolution

My Review

Although I didn’t like this as much as World War Z, I still really enjoyed it. It’s a fantastic book, using that ‘found text’ style, and where WWZ read like a history textbook (in a good, OMG this feels like it happened kind of way), Devolution takes a more singular, personal approach, and presenting it as a journal works really well.

Spider-Man/Deadpool Volume 1: Isn’t It Bromantic

spiderman deadpool

My Review

I love a good graphic novel and this one did not disappoint. Teaming up the wise-cracking Spider-Man with the Merc with the Mouth results in some funny, some heartwarming, and some damn scary moments. The way they riff off each other just feels natural and I’m keeping hope we eventually get to see these two in a film together.

Breakfast at Bronzefield – Sophie Campbell

breakfast at bronzefields

My Review

A woman’s experiences in two British women’s prisons, this is a book I would strongly urge others to pick up. Campbell explains the treatment she received in prison, as well as providing facts and statistics where they are related. It’s eye-opening, and makes the argument for reform really well.

Zombieville – C.V. Hunt

zombieville

Review Coming Soon on Dead Head Reviews

This was one where I listened to the Audiobook version. It’s an intriguing story with two interesting point of view characters – Chris, who is a zombie, and Raven, a young woman who has just moved to town, and has no idea what she’s really getting into. The only let down in this was the narrator really, but I go into that more in the actual review.

Writing the Other – Nisi Shawl & Cynthia Ward

writing the other

My Review

Another book I honestly think everyone should read. Everyone with an interest in writing, anyway. This book doesn’t talk down to the reader, explains that yes, when writing outside your experience you will make mistakes, but if you do what you can to mitigate that, it’s better than not trying. I really would urge writers to pick this one up – it’s one of the strongest craft books I’ve read recently.

So there we have it. The second half of my May wrap up. I read 16 books in May, and my current total on Goodreads (at time of writing on 12/06) is 66/75 books read for 2020. I originally set my goal at 50 with the plan being to revisit it this month, but I upped it previously as I’d exceeded 50. If I managed to hit 75 this month, I’ll be amending my goal to 100. Let’s see how that goes.

How did your May go? Did you read everything you wanted to? Anything unexpected you really enjoyed?

American Gods – Neil Gaiman [Books]

american gods

I originally read American Gods years ago, but since seeing the first series of the TV show I wanted to reread it. Listening to the full cast audio version via Audible seemed a good way of getting reacquainted with the story.  As I’ve said before, I’m really enjoying the full cast audio productions, and American Gods is no different.

Shadow Moon is on the verge of being released from prison, and he cannot wait to return home to his wife, Laura. But things don’t go to plan. and Shadow is released early due to the death of Laura and his best friend. With no wife and no job to return to, Shadow very reluctantly accepts a job from the mysterious Mr Wednesday. As Shadow is drawn deeper into Wednesday’s world, he’s also drawn into a brewing war, one between the old gods and the new, one Wednesday seems determined to win.

Like the version of the book I originally read, this is the extended version – the ‘author’s cut’, in a sense. With scenes which were originally taken out of the book. It’s sort of strange coming back to a book like this after so long, especially with a TV series between readings.

Some elements were clear in my mind, and others I remembered as the story progressed, mainly those parts that were changed from book to TV show. But listening to the audio version was a great experience, and the voice actors involved really matched the characters well, especially Shadow and Wednesday.

Listening to this reminded me why I loved the book in the first place. Shadow is an absolute sweetheart, just trying always to do the right thing, though sometimes it’s hard to tell what the right thing is. And the people around him push and pull in every direction, meaning he’s not always completely clear on what’s happening, left with no choice but to simply go through with it. Even then, he does it, and he does it without complaint, because he’s made a promise and Shadow never breaks a promise.

Shadow is well written, and so undeniably human in the face of all these gods who surround him. He doesn’t back down from a challenge, something that can be dangerous when faced with gods. And around him is a really strong supporting ‘cast’, including his dead wife, Laura.

As well as great characters, there are some absolutely wonderful settings here, rich in their description and all which serve a solid purpose, from The House on the Rock (which I want to visit so, so bad) to the town where Shadow hides. Gaiman creates beautiful settings which really serve the story, and it works so well here, grounding us even as Wednesday and Shadow zip from one place to the next.

I really enjoyed re experiencing this world again, and getting to meet these characters in a different setting. The book and TV show are very different, and though I haven’t caught up with season 2, I did thoroughly enjoy season 1, but it’s definitely a situation where both should be viewed slightly separate from one another. That said, if you are a fan of the show but haven’t yet read the book, I do recommend checking it out. And if you are a fan of audio books, the full cast version of this was absolutely fantastic.