Reading Recap: March 2018

Another month has come and gone, and I’ve been busy reading!  Because, really, what else do I have to do with my time?  Actually, I’m quite thrilled because my massive pile of library books that I’ve been chipping away at since January is now reduced to ZERO!  Which is a good feeling!

I was on a roll early in the month, but slowed down near the end due to being out of town.  This month features a ridiculous amount of YA (what else is new?), some new releases, some rereads, some hyped books, and some that had me less than thrilled.

My thoughts on the following books are all spoiler-free.  If you want to talk about any of the titles, feel free to leave a comment!

MarchWrapup18

Overall Statistics:

  • Number of books read: 13
  • Number of pages read: 4,902
  • Number of audiobooks listened to: 5
  • Number of rereads: 2
  • Longest book: Illuminae by Amy Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
  • Shortest book: Saga Vol. 8 by Brian K. Vaughan, art by Fiona Staples
  • Highest ratings:
    • Illuminae by Amy Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (5 stars)
    • The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation by Richard Rohr and Mike Morrell (4.75 stars)
    • The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert (4.5 stars)
  • Lowest rating:
    • Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella (2.5 stars)

Some notes on my stats:

  • Audiobooks are included in total page count.  It takes me longer to listen to a book than read it, so I count them.
  • My ratings are on a 5-star system
  • I don’t count my grad school readings

If you want more information about each book, follow the links embedded in the titles.  That will bring you to the book’s Goodreads page.


MARCH READS:

Shadowsong by S. Jae Jones

  • Pages: 384
  • Rating: 3.75 stars
  • Format: Print
  • Thoughts:
    • I read this book in practically two sittings.  It was really easy to get lost in.
    • The narrative is lush, dark, deeply personal and emotive
    • The plot itself dragged because the focus was on the characters
    • Mental illness was so misunderstood in the 18th Century and I loved reading a book set during this era featuring a bipolar heroine.  The fantasy undertones were marvelous.
    • One of my favorite things about this book is how deeply music impacts the story–I could almost hear it flowing from the page

Everless by Sarah Holland

  • Pages: 368
  • Rating: 3.75 stars
  • Format: Audiobook
  • Thoughts:
    • This was a really enjoyable book
    • There was lots of intrigue and hidden secrets, which I am 100% on board for.  Sadly, I saw most of the twists coming a mile away.
    • The magic system in this world was SO intriguing.  It takes the phrase “time is money” literally–currency in this land is time distilled into coinage.  Characters in need of money would siphon off their own years, which was both creepy and interesting.  The rich nobility could essentially live forever.
    • Jules was an annoying protagonist.  She constantly made impulsive, stupid decisions.  She raced headlong into danger again and again, despite characters going to great lengths to keep her safe.  As an intelligent reader, I found this frustrating.

Legend by Marie Lu

  • Pages: 305
  • Rating: 3 stars
  • Format: Audiobook
  • Thoughts:
    • I needed a filler audiobook while waiting for some library holds to come in and am glad I picked this up!  Marie Lu was on my “authors I want to read more of” list this year.
    • As far as dystopian novels go, this was really well done!  It didn’t blow my mind, but that might be because I’m not big into the genre.  I think my thirteen-year-old self would have LOVED this book.
    • June and Day were both really interesting protagonists.  I loved the shifting POV and both the narrators did an excellent job.

Saga Vol. 8 by Brian K. Vaughan, art by Fiona Staples

  • Pages: 146
  • Rating: 4 stars
  • Format: Print
  • Thoughts:
    • Another wonderful installment in my favorite comic
    • As usual, this volume was beautifully written with stunning artwork
    • This series never fails to impress me in its ability to address deep, complex topics in a wacky sci-fi setting.  This one focused largely on abortion, which made for a really interesting narrative.
    • My biggest critique of this volume was that one of the story lines abruptly left off in the middle of an intense moment, then appeared to merge with the others in a way that didn’t make any sense to me.  I was left confused.

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

  • Pages: 429
  • Rating: 4 stars
  • Format: Library e-book
  • Thoughts:
    • I had no idea what to expect going into this book except that everyone in the bookstagram community is obsessed with it.  So.  Much.  Hype.  For the most part, it lived up to it.
    • HOLY CATS, Kristoff can write.  The pacing of this book was excellent, the climax was full of surprises I never saw coming, the prose was beautifully written.  I can’t not love a book that keeps me on my toes.
    • Here’s my favorite quote: ““The books we love, they love us back. And just as we mark our places in the pages, those pages leave their marks on us. I can see it in you, sure as I see it in me. You’re a daughter of the words. A girl with a story to tell.”
    • This series has SUCH strong world building.
    • Mia is a dazzling protagonist–morally, she’s extremely complex.  She has enormous baggage (which is super understandable, once you know her backstory) and doesn’t shirk from doing horrible things, yet also manages to retain her empathy.  She’s a fascinating blend of darkness and light.
    • My main issue with this book is how dark and graphic it was.  Yes, a story about assassins training to join a cult that serves a maternal death goddess is going to be dark.  I wasn’t surprised by the violence (which was pretty gruesome). It was the sexual content, though, that was too much for me.  While I want to progress to the next book, I think I’m going to wait a while until I’m in a place where I can handle it better.

The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation by Richard Rohr and Mike Morrell

  • Pages: 224
  • Rating: 4.75 stars
  • Format: Print
  • Thoughts:
    • I find it hard to offer any kind of insight into a book like this without writing a full review… but this is a deeply insightful book about the theology of the Trinity.  Already, it’s changed the way I view the role the Trinity plays.
    • Rohr writes with intelligence and poise.  I’m never intimidated by his discussion of theological history and principles.
    • There’s SO MUCH in this book.  When I reached the end, I wanted to go right back to the beginning.  I’ll probably be rereading this within a few months.
    • I find the history and practices of Christian mysticism really appealing.  I really appreciated the section at the end with practical ways to apply the theology described to our lives.  Over the past six months or so, I’ve been integrating contemplative practices into my prayer life and it has been really rewarding.

Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston

  • Pages: 480
  • Rating: 3.5 stars
  • Format: Library e-book
  • Thoughts:
    • The premise to this book is absolutely amazing.  A retelling of the Anastasia myth set in outer space?  YES, PLEASE!
    • It took me a while to get into this book.  Poston throws you right into the action, then world builds later.  I found this disconcerting.
    • This book gets a solid A for its diverse characters.  At times, it felt like diversity for the sake of diversity… but, for the most part, it worked.
    • I was surprised at first by the character pairings.  From the book’s description, I fully expected one couple, but the opposite happened.  At first, one of the main couples really bothered me.  Human/robot romantic love just doesn’t strike me as realistic.  But it grew on me.
    • I didn’t love this book, but I enjoyed it enough to read book two when it (eventually) comes out

Illuminae by Amy Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

  • Pages: 599
  • Rating: 5 stars
  • Format: Audiobook
  • Thoughts:
    • First double-read of the year!  Note, I’ve upped my rating since I read this in January.  It’s the kind of story that only gets better with rereads.
    • I can’t stop talking and thinking about this book.  I LOVE IT SO MUCH.  The storytelling is SO innovative.  I adore the case-file format.  It isn’t easy to fully develop characters when working with video transcripts and chat lots, but Kaufman and Kristoff pull it off marvelously.
    • Because the storytelling in the print version is so visual, I was skeptical for how that would translate to audiobook.  But it worked!  The full cast and sound effects were so well done.
    • Now I’m on to listening to Gemina so I can read Obsidio!

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

  • Pages: 366
  • Rating: 3.5 stars
  • Format: Library e-book
  • Thoughts:
    • I liked, but didn’t love this book.
    • After reading The Cruel Prince in January, I knew I wanted to read more Holly Black.  She utilizes folklore so, so well and has clearly done her research.
    • I really enjoyed the relationships between all the characters
    • The plot really lagged at times, which was frustrating.

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

  • Pages: 368
  • Rating: 4.5 stars
  • Format: Audiobook
  • Thoughts:
    • There’s been a lot of hype surrounding this book in the YA sphere and, honestly, I was fully prepared to hate it.  I heard it had Alice and Wonderland vibes (which, yes, it did) and I’m not an Alice fan.  But, I was pleasantly surprised!
    • This book is well-written, intricate, creepy, and lovely.  Albert explores the concept of fairytales and why we are drawn to them.  She’s super meta about it, which is an absolute treat.
    • Alice, the protagonist, has serious anger issues and I absolutely loved it.  Who said that nice girls get all the glory?  (I don’t want to spoil anything, but she’s got legitimate reasons for all her anger.)
    • This is a book I see myself returning to over and over again.  I see myself enjoying it more each time.

The Love that Split the World by Emily Henry

  • Pages: 396
  • Rating: 3 stars
  • Format: Library e-book
  • Thoughts:
    • This is another book that I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into.  All I knew was it was a love story and it had multiple dimensions.  It was an interesting experience!  The ending was super weird.
    • In many ways, this was your typical summer-after-high-school-coming-of-age story.
    • What I wasn’t expecting: Native American folklore woven into the narrative.  The main character, Natalie, is Native American, but was adopted by white parents.  She has a mystical guardian figure that she calls Grandmother who visits her and tells her stories.  I really enjoyed learning about this bit of culture.
    • Some of the writing in this book is really lovely.  Natalie is a deeply introspective character and the inside of her head is scary similar to mine.  I liked being inside it.
    • I didn’t really get the love story aspect of this book… it was, again, your stereotypical intense teenage romance.  It didn’t seem like the kind of things worlds split over.

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

  • Pages: 435
  • Rating: 3 stars
  • Format: Audiobook
  • Thoughts:
    • I demoted this book from four to three stars.  I just can’t handle this series.  I enjoyed it well enough my first time around, but compared to the perfection that is the Six of Crows duology, this reread has me underwhelmed.
    • Alina’s first person narrative is frustrating.  She’s just not a fun character to walk around with.  My favorite parts are the third person in the opening and closing of the book.  I’m realizing that Bardugo is just, in general, much better at writing from a third person perspective.
    • Mal sucks.  He just does.  He’s moody, grumpy, and annoying.  I completely understand where he’s coming from–he’s sacrificed a lot for Alina and hasn’t gotten anything in return.  But he still sucks.  Every time he enters a scene I’m like, “Really, you’re back?  Can’t you go back to your corner and sulk for a while longer?”
    • The Darkling isn’t great either.  Sure, he’s an alluring, seductive, self-aware villain, but he’s not that captivating.  And his actions in this book are ridiculously creepy.
    • And then there’s the book’s one saving grace… darling Nikolai, (in my opinion) the only complex, interesting character in this series.  He just leaps from the page.  Such charisma!  Such charm!  Such Slytherin ambition!  Bardugo has a thing for false princes (read The Language of Thorns for more) and I am on board for all of it.  I can’t wait to get more of this character in King of Scars.
    • What I do like about this series: Bardugo explores the idea of sainthood.  What is a saint?  What is the purpose of religion?  Does the myths one believes have to be true to have meaning?  These are all super interesting questions that are addressed.  My confusion, though, is that the religion of Ravka doesn’t make much sense.  It appears to mirror Christian Eastern Orthodoxy, but there is no higher deity mentioned.  They just worship saints.

Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella

  • Pages: 412
  • Rating: 2.5 stars
  • Format: Print
  • Thoughts:
    • I wanted to much to enjoy this book.  I usually adore Kinsella’s novels–they’re fluffy, funny, and fast.  This time around, though, I just wasn’t in the right mood.  This is the kind of book I should be able to read easily in two days.  Instead, it took me nearly five.  I almost didn’t even finish.
    • I appreciated the focus of this novel, which was on the challenges of marriage.  The concept was funny, but it just didn’t work for me.  The most compelling part was the end, where the different plot lines finally started coming together in a meaningful way.
    • The tone is light, conversational, and honest.  There’s a cast of quirky characters, but I had a hard time connecting with any of them.  (Maybe this is because I’m not married?  Who knows?)
    • My favorite thing is how quintessentially British this book is.  That’s what I love most about Kinsella’s writing and why I keep coming back to her.

See you next month for another recap!

For more of my reading adventures, add me on Goodreads

I’m on Bookstagram!  Follow me at @librarianamelia

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