What I read this month

Back on track!

I managed to get through a good bit more this month than any other recent month, which feels pretty good in and of itself, even if what I read wasn’t all fantastic.

Here’s how it shook out:

Children of the Fox – Kevin Sands
The Books of Magic – Writer: Neil Gaiman; Art: John Bolton, Scott Hampton, Charles Vess, Paul Johnson; Lettering: Todd Klein
Let the Monster Out – Chad Lucas

Started and stopped
Eight Days – Teresa Toten

Firewalls Don’t Stop Dragons: A step-by-step guide to computer security and privacy for non-techies, Fifth Ed. – Carey Parker

My wife and daughter and I are knee-deep in the Forest of Reading books, which is an annual nation-wide reading program that promotes Canadian writing talent. The organization breaks up the book categories to suit various school grade ranges.
Children of the Fox, Let the Monster Out, and Eight Days were among the books we’ve had around the house lately.

Children of the Fox was a bit hit-and-miss for me. It took a while for the story to really engage me, then it waffled in and out a bit, and had a frankly frustrating ending. Whereas my wife and daughter both enjoyed it cover to cover, so take that as you will.

Let the Monster Out, on the other hand, was excellent start to finish. I’ve never seen a writer so adeptly handle autism from the autistic kid’s perspective, as Lucas does with one of the friends/teammates in the story.
I admit I also have a soft spot for stories where kids are the ones who figure out the problem and overcome the odds to win the day, but this book is one of the better ones I’ve read recently, full stop.

Eight Days, another Forest of Reading book, was recommended to me by my wife. It’s about a Toronto-based teen who’s been living with her alcoholic grandfather for years after being told her mother died in an accident, but who has just discovered that a) her mother was actually alive this whole time and that b) she’s actually died now of a drug overdose in Chicago. She, her grandfather and a nosy but well-meaning neighbour end up driving to Chicago and… I frankly don’t know what happens after that.
My wife recommended it because my mother has been battling alcoholism, which I discovered a couple of decades ago but had evidently been going on for some time well before that. And while I get that the book was about the main character contending with living with an alcoholic, even while it’s well written, I found that the book didn’t particularly speak to me. That character’s life and experiences are wholly unlike my own, so reading how that played out for her didn’t do much for me.

The Books of Magic was an unexpected bonus this month. Someone I follow on social media happened to promote it along the lines of, “Hey, if you want to read a book about a young English guy in glasses who discovers he could be a great magician and who gets an owl as a pet, but which pre-dates Harry Potter by seven years, check this out.”
It also happens to be written by Neil Gaiman, my favourite author, which added to the appeal of the idea.
I found it a good deal more existential than I had been expecting, getting into the proverbial Life, the Universe, and Everything. Combined with fundamentally involving magical and mystical characters from the DC comics universe — only a few of whom I really knew, and none well — made for a story that was at times a reach for me to follow with certainty that I was really… well… getting it.
But I did enjoy it. And if this all sounds like your thing, you would, too.

Looking forward to what reading fun April brings.