We are halfway through March and I’ve now read 26 books so far this year. My Goodreads goal this year is to hit 75 (I fell short of my goal last year) so hopefully I can get there.
You can catch up on my past book round ups. Here’s my most recent one before this.
Rawblood by Catriona Ward
It had all the elements of a gothic romance, but it didn’t quite pull it off. It follows the story of a family followed by bad luck, revenge and a curse through several generations and centers around their isolated Dartmoor manor house. I struggled with the language a bit. I felt that Ward was being obliquely poetic for the sake of it, but not actually using her words with purpose and force at times. 3 stars.
The Queen Of The Tearling: (The Tearling Trilogy 1) by Erika Johansen
So this book is marketed as the “Hunger Games” meets “Game of Thrones” and that’s bullshit. However, I enjoyed this first novel immensely on its own merits. It’s set in a fantasy realm and follows the journey of Kelsea to claim her rightful crown in a world with a lot of danger and moderate magic. You could tell it was a set up for the whole series but it hooked me, and I bought the second on kindle before I’d finished this one. 4 stars.
The Invasion of the Tearling: (The Tearling Trilogy 2) (Queen of the Tearling) by Erika Johansen
In this second instalment, Kelsea has a tentative hold on the throne, but that doesn’t prevent disaster after disaster. I really enjoyed watching her come to terms with herself. I felt genuinely excited to see what happens next. 4 stars.
Heartless by Marissa Meyer
So I loved, loved, loved Meyer’s “Lunar Chronicles” so I was super pumped about this “Alice in Wonderland” spin off. I really loved 3/4ths of it, but I resented the ending. I should have realised that that was the way it was headed given the source material, but I love me a happy ending and you most certainly are not given one. 3 stars.
Wild: A Journey from Lost to Found by Cheryl Strayed
“Are you the book or the movie?” I’ll never be able to think about “Wild” now without thinking of the “Gilmore Girls”. I went through a whole gamut of emotions with Cheryl – at times I mourned with her, at times I laughed with her and at other times I hated her. But that’s being human, isn’t it? It didn’t affect me as deeply as I think the novel would have wanted to, though it did make me want to go hiking. 3 stars.
Between The World And Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
This is a series of essays that Coates writes to his young son about race in America today. It’s a supremely thoughtful examination of the way America treats black bodies and the systematic construction of a framework in America meant to oppress. (Mass incarceration and police brutality are both touched upon.) I think it should be required reading in high school. It’s heartbreaking and profound. 5 stars.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone: Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy Book 1: 1/3 by Laini Taylor
This book is about the fight between angels and monsters and is semi-set in Prague. It was definitely a fluffy YA fantasy read (and it is full fantasy) but it didn’t push any creative boundaries. 3 stars.
An Untamed State by Roxane Gay
A woman is kidnapped in Haiti and her father refuses to pay her ransom. This book was so hard to get through due to its *graphic* subject matter. It’s brutal and should come with all kinds of trigger warnings. It’s Roxane Gay’s first fiction novel and I’m excited to read more in the future. My biggest piece of criticism is that some of the relationships seem very one-dimensional and I wish they had been developed a bit more. 3 stars.
The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Rodard
Set in Paris in a complicated world where fallen angels rule and neighbourhoods are divided up amongst different factions (houses). I really liked our protagonist, Phillippe, but the plot really failed to excite. Humans harvesting angel bodies for magic shouldn’t be dull but it was. 2 stars.
The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k: How to stop spending time you don’t have doing things you don’t want to do with people you don’t like by Sarah Knight.
This isn’t going to necessarily change your life, but Knight’s book centers around giving you tips on how to care less so that you have more time for the things that you really do care for. At times I laughed along, and I definitely made my own lists as she encouraged us to, but there is a slightly repetitive nature to the book. 3 stars.
Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi
I found the gorgeous cover and the blurb about the book more appealing than the actual book itself. It follows a first-generation Polish-American girl named Boy Novak as she starts a new life for herself outside of New York City. It was marketed as a fairy tale re-telling and I think that was a huge marketing misstep because it set up completely false expectations within the reader, and the dialogue never really rang true. However, to it’s credit, I did find it engrossing. 3 stars.
Tales of Mystery & the Macabre (Tales of Mystery & The Supernatural) by Elizabeth Gaskell
Gaskell is known for her pioneering social novels in the 1840s, but she also wrote a lot of macabre Gothic lit as well. It’s not a collection of Victorian ghost stories as there aren’t a whole lot of actual ghosts in the novels. But they are creepy and macabre in other ways. As a collection it’s a really mixed bag of stories, but a solid 3 stars.
The Fate of the Tearling: (The Tearling Trilogy 3) by Erika Johansen
This series was so freaking good that I want to disown the last 50 pages of the finale. It was awful and it ruined the whole series. I don’t want to spoil anything but it was such an authorial cop out that I am pretending that it wasn’t the real ending so that I can continue to enjoy the series retrospectively. 2 stars.
Agnes Grey (Wordsworth Classics) by Anne Bronte
This totally seems like the original nanny diaries. And because I have been a nanny it really resonated with me. Though, thank god, I’m not working in the 1800s. I’m not sure that the romantic element worked for me. but it was a quick “classic” read. 3 stars.
The Burning Page (The Invisible Library series) by Genevieve Cogman
The latest instalment in the “Library” series. I actually enjoyed this one more than the last. I am a huge Irene-Vale shipper and there were some tantalising bits in this. 4 stars.
The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
I’ve seen the film multiple times but I’d never read the novel that it was based on. Of course, reading it now, it was hard to get the film out of my head. It was different enough to the film to still have some elements that were exciting in their newness, but there are still some elements of the plot that are a bit vague to me. (I have the same problem with the film, in all fairness). Not for the faint of heart when it comes to language. 3 starts.
Of All That Ends by Gunter Grass
I adored some of Grass poetry. It was really great to see his art too. This book was a collection that looks back on his long life and his preparations to pass on one day soon. 3 stars.
The Doll-Master And Other Tales Of Horror by Joyce Carol Oates
A collection of short horror stories. Some were markedly better than others so it’s a difficult thing to judge. I’d give it a safe 3 stars as a collection.
The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer
I generally like Amy Schumer’s comedy. And I liked reading her book – but it didn’t rock my world so to speak. (She’s covered a lot of it in other formats in the past.) I couldn’t help but compare it to Lindy West’s novel which was phenomenal. 3 Stars.
The New Garconne: How to Be a Modern Gentlewoman by Navaz Baltiwalla
I really enjoyed this. It did feel like reading a study magazine, in some ways (short articles, snippets). But I absolutely loved getting a peek into the wardrobes of and the inspirations to some of the most influential women working in media and art today. 4 stars.
Bloom: navigating life and style by Estee Lalonde
I honestly applaude Estee for being so successful so young, but it felt like this book was hugely under-developed. She touches on some really interesting concepts in her essays, but fails to examine them enough to make it worth reading. It’s very cotton-candy self-acceptance without getting to the meat of it. However, I’d overlook that for the most part except that this book was not edited. Or if it was, this editor was awful. There were grammar and spelling errors, as well as glaring typos galore! It’s a pretty coffee table book, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Just read her blog instead. 2 stars.
The Devil’s Daughters by Diana Bretherick
Never has there been a novel about a serial killer as boring as this one. The blurb on the back sounded amazing, but the writing is dull. I’ve never quit a book after starting it due to boredom, but this was almost a first for me. 2 stars.
The Harrowing by James Aitcheson
My inner history nerd really enjoyed this tale of 5 strangers in England during the time of the Norman invasion. I did have to keep flipping back to the glossary at the beginning to translate place names into their modern equivalents but it was a light piece of historical fiction. 3 stars.
The Fireman by Joe Hill
This was my favourite Joe Hill novel that I’ve read so far. At 700+ pages it was a time investment, but it flew by. It reminded me of Stephen King’s “The Stand” but only in the best possible ways. I very much enjoyed this semi-post apocalyptic novel. Plus I really appreciated some of its pop culture references. 4 stars.
My top 3 picks from this bunch? “Between the World and Me” “The Fireman” and “The Tearling series”.
Have you been reading anything recently that is excellent and that you’d highly recommend?