Saturday, 8 June 2013

Reading Wrap-Up | May 2013

Considering May was the month in which I had my very last exam - an exam that I had less than a fortnight to revise for thanks to my dissertation deadline - I still managed to get through five books. Perhaps not the biggest pile ever but still pretty good, I think, as I only had the latter half of the month to really get back into my reading.
     Let's start at the beginning, and finish at the end:

My Rating: 

The Massacre of Glencoe happened at 5am on 13th February 1692 when thirty-eight members of the Macdonald clan were killed by soldiers who had enjoyed the clan's hospitality for the previous ten days. Many more died from exposure in the mountains. Fifty miles to the south Corrag is condemned for her involvement in the Massacre. She is imprisoned, accused of witchcraft and murder, and awaits her death. The era of witch-hunts is coming to an end - but Charles Leslie, an Irish propagandist and Jacobite, hears of the Massacre and, keen to publicise it, comes to the tollbooth to question her on the events of that night, and the weeks preceding it. Leslie seeks any information that will condemn the Protestant King William, rumoured to be involved in the massacre, and reinstate the Catholic James. Corrag agrees to talk to him so that the truth may be known about her involvement, and so that she may be less alone, in her final days. As she tells her story, Leslie questions his own beliefs and purpose - and a friendship develops between them that alters both their lives. In Corrag, Susan Fletcher tells us the story of an epic historic event, of the difference a single heart can make - and how deep and lasting relationships that can come from the most unlikely places.

The first book I finished in May was Susan Fletcher's Corrag - also known as Witch Light - a stand-alone historical fiction novel centered around a young girl named Corrag who has been imprisoned and is waiting to be burned at the stake. Charged with witchcraft and murder, Corrag is accused of having something to do with the Glencoe Massacre. Then Mr Leslie, an Irish Jacobite, travels from Ireland to Scotland to interview Corrag while she waits for her execution in the hope of finding evidence that King William was involved in the massacre, for if Mr Leslie can somehow prove the king's involvement he hopes to get King James back on the throne.
     The real story, however, is Corrag's. In exchange for her information regarding the massacre she asks Mr Leslie to listen to her life story before she is executed and an unlikely friendship develops between the two. This novel is just beautiful; Fletcher's writing style is gorgeous, and the story is told in such a way that it's as though Corrag is telling her story to you, too.
     If you're a fan of historical fiction then I highly recommend this, but it's perhaps not quite the right novel for readers out there who like something action packed and fast paced; Corrag takes its time, but it's worth the wait.

My Rating: 

There are no laws in Saba's world. When her twin brother is stolen, she pursues his captors through a wild, wasted land. She must become a warrior to survive. On this dangerous road she can trust no one. Not even the handsome thief who saves her life - and steals her heart.

Next I read Moira Young's Blood Red Road and I adored it, which is strange as when I first picked it up I thought I was going to hate it. I first came across it in a bookstore after several people recommended it to me and when I picked it up and flicked through it I was terrified: this book doesn't use speech marks, and the protagonist's voice is pretty, for lack of a better word, distinctive. So I put it back on the shelf. A couple of days later I came across it in another bookstore where it was only £2. The universe was obviously trying to tell me something, so I bought it and one night when I couldn't sleep I picked it up with the intention of just skimming a few pages. I was up until four in the morning having read over half of it.
     It's the characters that really drive this novel forward and that's why I loved it so much. Our heroine Saba lives in a post-apocalyptic/dystopian world with her father, brother and sister until one day a group of men called the Tonton take her brother away and kill her father. Saba adores her brother and sets off to rescue him, and along the way she goes through a lot of crap. 
     Saba is angry and selfish and tough and I love her; if any of you out there are missing Katniss Everdeen then give this book a read. This novel is fast-paced and exciting, a must-read for any dystopian and post-apocalyptic fans out there.

My Rating: 

Trapped in space and frozen in time, Amy is bound for a new planet. But fifty years before she's due to arrive, she is violently woken, the victim of an attempted murder. Now Amy's lost on board and nothing makes sense - she's never felt so alone.

Beth Revis's Across the Universe was the third book I read in May, and something a little different for me as sci-fi is not a genre I read a lot of. Obviously this is something I need to change. Luckily for me this novel was fairly easy to get into as there were plenty of dystopian elements to it and dystopia is a genre I know pretty well.
     A spaceship is leaving for a new planet three hundred years in the future and the novel begins with our heroine Amy being frozen for the voyage alongside her parents who are needed on the new planet. Everything doesn't quite go as planned, however, when Amy finally wakes from her frozen state only to discover that she has been woken fifty years too early, and a search for the culprit begins as other frozen people find themselves in danger.
     I decided to pick this one up after seeing so many other people raving about it, and while I did enjoy it it's not one of my favourite dystopias out there. Amy and Elder were interesting characters to follow but sometimes, I don't know why, they irritated me a little bit. Overall, however, it was an enjoyable read and I recommend it to any fans of dystopia or sci-fi. At some point in the future I'm sure I'll continue with the trilogy.

My Rating: 

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.

I actually started The Night Circus back in the beginning of April but I didn't get round to finishing it until last month. This is yet another book that I have heard so many people talking about and one that I just had to pick up because the cover is so beautiful.
     The story stars two main characters - Celia and Marco - who, from a young age, are pitted against one another in a competition. They know neither who their competitor is nor what the competition really entails until they are both enlisted into The Night Circus; an elaborate and enchanting attraction which travels the world with an array of astounding performers and peculiar tents.
     It was a beautiful, beautiful read, but it was very description heavy. I don't have a problem with description at all, but when there's a surplus of it I often feel like I'm not getting anywhere no matter how much I read. As much as I enjoyed this when I finally finished it I felt as though I'd acheived something and I'm not quite sure that's the best feeling to have upon reaching the end of a novel. It is the length of time it took for me to feel as though the plot was going somewhere which meant this novel missed out on a five star rating, but I still highly recommend it to anyone out there who loves to read about magic. This is a stunning book and one that should bring hope to any budding writers out there, as the first draft was in fact written up during NaNoWriMo.

My Rating:

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths—until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

It's a real shame that I had to end the month with a book I didn't enjoy very much at all. In fact there were so many things in this novel that I felt could have been better or had more potential that I've actually written a full review on it which you can find here if you'd like to check it out.
     Marie Lu's Legend is a YA dystopian novel - the first in a trilogy - which takes place in a futuristic American society in which there is a severe divide between the wealthy and the people in the slums. We follow two protagonists - June and Day - who are on opposite sides of this divide. June believes Day is behind the murder of her brother and sets out for revenge, only to discover that not everything is as it seems.
     If anything this was a quick read and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys quick reads or perhaps someone who is only just getting into the dystopian genre and would prefer to start with something a little easy. For me there was just no depth; there was a lack of world building and the characters were far too two dimensional. It's safe to say I won't be continuing with the trilogy.

So that's everything I read in May. If you have any comments about any of the books mentioned here then feel free to leave them below and I'll get back to you! Don't forget to check back in at the end of June for another monthly wrap-up!
     Toodles! J.

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