Friday, 21 May 2021

What I read in April 2021 { Monthly Book Round-up }

I was always a bookworm as a child and even as a teenager and into my adult life. Becoming a mother of three made life busy and I dropped so many great hobbies, such as reading. Now that I have picked it up again I just can't stop! Each month I have read more and more, I've had some terrible reads, the worst book I have ever read was included in last months round-up post and I can safely say I have read at least four now that have been so could I just couldn't put them down. 

In April I managed to read 4 books, not much for some but a big achievement for me four months in.

A Closed and Common Orbit by Becki Chambers - ★★★★★

The first few books I read in April come from The Wayfarer series which I started with the first book The long way to a small angry planet at the end of March. As soon as I had finished with the first book I had to order the second to arrive the next day because I knew I wouldn't be able to wait any longer. The second book in the series is A Closed and Common Orbit, which tells the story of two different characters and has two different timelines. The first is the story of an AI called Lovelace who has left their ship with a stranger after waking up to the reality of their human counterparts losing their friend Lovey, Lovelaces previous installation that had to be reset after a terrible accident. Now Lovelace in inside of illegal synthetic body kit that closely mimics that of a human sapient, right down to the ability to bleed! Now comes the task of learning to live in the outside world, a place where her protocols were never meant to be. The journey of discovering herself, her needs, wants and the things she enjoys is not an easy one and we learn about her entire discovery of the body kit where she now lives and the galaxy itself with the help of a few friends. One of which has their own journey of discovery to share. 

The other story which runs alongside that of Lovelace is of another character, Pepper. Her story however is set 20 Solar years in the past. Pepper is the Mech Tech who help Lovelace escape her ship after she'd installed her software in the body kit. However she also knows what it feels like to not know who you are and to be thrown into life planet side in a galaxy full of sapient. You see Pepper was once Jane 23, she had a hard start in life and had to learn so much for herself. This alternative timeline runs through the book jumping to and fro between each chapter from Pepper to Lovelace's story.

This book os the story of two very different people, in two different circumstance that are also very similar. An AI hiding in a human body kit and a human who was modified to meet a need. Their stories are both of becoming acclimated and aware of living lives in a whole new way, one that is very different from their original intended purposes. They each battle their own inner turmoil while trying to discover a world they should never have stood in. 

For me I think this book gives the reader a real insight into the fights and the inner thoughts and the fights or feelings of any person who feels they don't quite fit into what society deems to be normal. The fact the stories are told in a whole galaxy full of accepted species only amplifies the social separation that both these characters have. I loved this entire book, more than the first which I didn't even think was possible! Each character was unique, their own personalities all very apparent and I loved every one of them. That and the whole story had me hooked, I just couldn't stop reading to find out what would happen in each story. I know this is one I will return to again and again! 

Record of a Space Born Few by Becki Chambers - ★★★★★

When humans abandoned Earth they didn't know what they would find in the galaxy. Still they took their homesteaders, made from the dismantled buildings and materials left on the dying planet and they headed for the stars. It's centuries later and while the fleet has served it's purpose the exodus fleet is still home to many humans, who are still following the traditions and lifestyles of their ancestors who had first left earth in search of a new planet.

However Humans are now citizens of the Galactic Commons, a whole galaxy full of sapient species and their unique choice of home, life sustaining systems and their ethos are all piquing the interests of their galactic neighbours. Living on board of ship that rarely sees anyone outside your own species can quickly feel threatening when they start to come on board. 

The events in this book follow directly after the end of the first book and alongside the second in the series timeline. This book follows the lives of five humans and one Harmagian aboard the Asteria in the Exodus fleet. At first most of the characters seem to be disconnected with only their home connecting them together. As the story progresses the lives of all six characters start to line up after one event touches them all.

At first I didn't think that I enjoyed this book as much as the other two, the disconnection of the characters was throwing me off. It was only after 3 evenings of reading that I realised how quickly I was progressing. I never saw the event that changes all the characters lives coming, in fact I thought they would all meet in an entirely different way! I felt all of the effects of the event as if I was aboard the Asteria myself. I was heartbroken for those onboard and shocked at what had happened. I do feel that of the books I had read so far I could relate most to this book and it's events, they are mostly human but also one of the characters is a Mother, this made it easier for me to put myself in her shoes and to imagine how I would make the same decisions and choices. It was so easy to imagine myself on board running around after small children and living a life on a ship far off in a distant galaxy.

The Galaxy and the Ground Within by Becki Chambers - ★★★★☆

The events in this book happen at 20 solar days after those in the first book although this could be a stand alone book, no prior knowledge is needed to understand what happens. Knowing the first three books does give you a better understanding and this has a few references to events from book one which gives you a more detailed insight. 

This final book in the series is set on a planet called Gora, it was once a barren and inhospitable planet that stopped anything from growing. Gora was however the perfect place for galactic traffic to pass by. Which is why it has become inhabited, life on Gora happens under habitat domes which are dotted all around the planet. These domes are regularly filling and emptying with the travellers of the galaxy as they stop on their way to other places.

One of these domes is the Five Hop Stop, home to a Laru mother and her child, it provides services and products to those passing through or who need to dock their ship while they wait for their allocated travel times. Things go very wrong one day when the very anthracite system of satellites which floats round the planet goes into free fall, effectively cutting the entire planet off from the galaxy above. The Five Hop Stop has three lay overs docked when  the possibility of leaving Gora becomes impossible for several days. It forces the different species to get to know each other in ways they hadn't imagined they would. Each is forced to view life from each others perspective. We learn about each character and their species as they share more than they ever thought they would on Gora. 

I did enjoy this book, although not nearly as much as the other three in the series. I felt like it was lacking in the huge event. Of course the satellite system falling to the planet was huge and very exciting I just wanted more around the middle to end of the story. Compared to the other books it just wasn't as exciting, I didn't get as lost in this story as I did the other despite enjoying all the characters and their stories. It did feel like an end of sorts, maybe just not as exciting as I'd wanted but it was satisfying all the same. 

The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot - ★★★★★

The final book I read in April was The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot, I had been keeping up with Rebecca from Mum Of A Premature Baby when she read this as a read along back in March and I knew I just had to read it! 

Lenni and Margot meet at their ending. Lenni is a 17 year old terminal patient at the Glasgow Princess Royal Hospital while Margot is an 83 year old Heart patient. They first cross paths when Lenni crashes into the new art room at the hospital during a class for older patients. It is here inside this room that the plan from which this story is set comes to be. An odd friendship is struck between the two patients and Lenni has the idea to to create 100 paintings, which will each have their own story from Lenni and Margot's lives. The idea comes when Lenni realises that between them both they have lived for 100 years, a number f years that Lenni never thought she would live. 

Each of these one hundred paintings, drawings and other kinds of artwork they will create a story of their lives, one hundred pictures for their one hundred years. It is through the telling of each story behind each picture that we heart the lives, loves, heartbreaks and the years that both Lenni and Margot have lived. We see the web of moments each lived and now shared with the other. 

I completely fell in love with Lenni and Margot, their stories had me laughing, full belly laughs, crying heartbroken sobs full of ugly tears and even had me doing both more than once! There was so many twists and turn that I never would have seen coming, there was truly wonderful moments when I wished I could hug the characters to share their joy and of course there was heart-breaking moments when I was crying along. I know that having reached the end of this book it is a story that will stay with me for a long time It's been almost a month now since I finish reading and it feels like just yesterday. 

This whole book stays in your mind, it's a true testament to Marianne Cronin as a writer to have brought this story to life so well that you really can feel like your right there beside Lenni and Margot living life alongside them as they take this journey through their past at the end of their lives, in a hospital waiting for the end.

Everyone should read this story and learn about the One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot!

During April I really found my stride with reading again, I loved being sucked into the stories of each book and was reminded of how much I enjoy reading books in a series in particular. I am looking forward to finding more great book to sink my mind into and to discover many more authors to read. 

What is your favourite book series at the minute?


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