Spring is finally here in southwestern Ontario, and soon it will be warm enough to spend my afternoons outside reading! After an April full of snow and freezing rain, I can’t wait to get outside and soak up sun while reading all the books on my nightstand.
I spent a lot of time reading this winter, but not a lot of time writing. Sometimes life just gets in the way. However, I’ve gone through 17 books so far this year, and would love to tell you about some of my favourites!
Journey to the Centre of the Earth, by Jules Verne
One of my reading goals this year is to read more books that I already own (specifically books that have been on my shelves for a year or more, which is an embarrassingly high amount). I’ve read some of Jules Verne’s books before, and decided Journey to the Centre of the Earth would be a good adventure story to start the year off with. Plus, there were dinosaurs on the cover, and who doesn’t love dinosaurs?
The story was incredibly entertaining, and followed Professor Otto Lindenbrock, his nephew Axel, and their guide, Hans, as they did exactly what the title suggested, and journeyed down into the centre of the Earth. I’m not really sure what I was expecting from this book, but I was not expecting so much geology. It makes sense, given the fact that the main character is a geologist, but I really didn’t think I’d be reading so much about rocks.
Their journey is indeed incredible, and, spoiler alert, they find many prehistoric creatures that were thought to have been extinct! Mastodons, a pterosaur, and multiple marine reptiles including Plesiosaurus and Ichthyosaurus. However, as far as I am aware, they didn’t find any actual dinosaurs, which was disappointing given the cover illustration. I guess that’s just another reason why you should never judge a book by its cover!
Overall, I did enjoy Journey to the Centre of the Earth, and would recommend it to anyone looking for a quick, classic science-fiction story to read.
The Bear and the Nightingale, by Katherine Arden
The Bear and the Nightingale was my book club’s second pick this year. It’s the first in a trilogy that blends traditional Russian folklore with fantasy.
Vasilisa lives with her father and siblings in a small, simple town on the edge of a forest, and spends her childhood paying homage to pagan spirits. However, when a new priest comes to town and her father’s young bride claims to see demons, things start to change. Vasilisa discovers that she was born with a foresight that allows her to see and interact with these spirits, and she is tasked with protecting them. However, her power alone is not enough, and danger is coming along with a cold, harsh winter.
I found this story somewhat difficult to follow, and slow at times, but the folklore drew me in and I was committed to seeing how the story ended. Despite it being the first of three books, I was satisfied with how The Bear and the Nightingale ended. I’m not sure how the series will continue, as you aren’t left with a cliffhanger, but perhaps the necklace Vasilisa was gifted has a larger meaning. . .
The Woman in the Window, by A.J. Finn
I have a love-hate relationship with thrillers. I love that they are fast-paced and entertaining, but I hate how predictable they can be. I was hesitant to read The Woman in the Window, but heard a lot of great things, so I thought I’d give it a try. I borrowed a copy from a friend, dove into the story, and came out a couple days later totally blown away by what had happened.
The main character, Anna Fox, is confined to her home thanks to her agoraphobia. She passes her days playing chess, counselling others in online chat groups, drinking wine, and watching her neighbours from her window. But then one day she witnesses something distressing, and her whole life turns upside down.
I’m going to be honest: I’m really tired of authors using females with mental illnesses and/or drinking a bit too much as unreliable narrators. That was hands-down my biggest issue with this book. When Anna reports what she saw, no one believes her, because she’s just “that crazy neighbour lady who drinks too much and isn’t all there.” Not cool.
However, she fights for herself, and does whatever she has to, including overcoming her fear of going outside, in order to prove what she believes in. It becomes an empowering story, and the plot twist at the end will leave you reeling for days. I’ll admit I thought I had this book figured out, but the ending caught me completely off guard!
Midnight at the Electric, by Jodi Lynn Anderson
Midnight at the Electric is a beautiful story that weaves the story of three young women together.
Adri is living in the year 2065, preparing to be one of the first humans to colonize Mars, when she finds letters written almost 150 years ago between two friends. Lenore, who lived in 1919, is saving up to move from England to America in order to start a new life and reunite with a childhood friend. In these letters, Adri also learns about Catherine, who lived in 1934, and escaped the Dust Bowl of Oklahoma to find a better life for herself and her little sister in New York.
At first glance, these three young women have nothing in common, but as the story progresses and you learn more about their lives, you see how intertwined they actually are. It might seem like not a lot happens throughout this book, but by the end you’ll find yourself emotionally invested in friendships, love, loss, and an uncertainty for what the future holds.
Midnight at the Electric is a beautifully written and emotionally charged story. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a multi-generational story that will leave you thinking about the interconnectedness of life.