Monday, 3 February 2014

February Reads!

In my January Reads post I mentioned how I'd consider making the Monthly Reads a monthly feature if I managed to keep up with what I set myself to read. As you already know, out of the four books I set myself to read I only read one of them and spent the rest of January catching up on Marissa Meyer's The Lunar Chronicles.

Even so, I think I'm going to turn this into a monthly feature anyway. Each month I'm going to list a varying number of books that I'd like to try and read, but I'm not going to beat myself up about if I decide to read something else instead - not to mention I think it'll be interesting for me to compare my Monthly Reads posts to my Wrap Ups!

This month there are eight books I'd like to try and get through if I can. I know that's rather a lot, particularly for the shortest month of the year, but two of them I've already started and I feel on a real reading kick right now; it's been ages since I had one of those!

by Marissa Meyer

Rapunzel’s tower is a satellite. She can’t let down her hair—or her guard. 

In this third book in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army. 

Their best hope lies with Cress, who has been trapped on a satellite since childhood with only her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker—unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice. 

When a daring rescue goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing stop her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only ones who can.

I know for a fact that I'll definitely be reading Cress this month - my copy is currently on its way in the post and I am so excited!

It's been a long time since I've been so into a series, I probably haven't felt this passionately about a series since I finished The Hunger Games trilogy back in 2012 and it's great to feel like this again. I just can't believe I'm going to have to wait until the end of 2015 for the release of Winter!

I'm really looking forward to seeing what Meyer does with the Rapunzel fairy tale - it was always one of my favourites when I was younger and so far I've loved the way Meyer has adapted the tales. I'm especially interested in seeing Captain Thorne's role in Cress, as I have a feeling he's our Prince of this re-telling! (For those of you who might be unfamiliar with Rapunzel, in the original fairy tale the wicked witch tricks the Prince into climbing Rapunzel's hair, which she has already cut, and then pushes him from the window, where he falls into some thorns and is blinded by them - ouch!)

by Karen Lindsey

The women who wed Henry VIII are remembered mainly for the ways their royal marriages ended: divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived. This book helps to restore full humanity to these six fascinating women by applying the insights of feminist scholarship. Here they appear not as stereotypes, not simply as victims, but as lively, intelligent noblewomen doing their best to survive in a treacherous court.

Divorced, Beheaded, Survived is the first of two books I've already started, in fact I'm already about half way through the book and I'm enjoying it so far. 

Unlike the other seven books this is a piece of non-fiction, and is ideal for the history nerd in me; particularly as I happen to love the Tudor period. I don't read that much non-fiction so I'd really like to read more of it, and because I do enjoy history so much books like this one are ideal when I need the odd break from fiction.

I'm hoping to finish this one either today or tomorrow!

by Graeme Simsion

Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.

Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent—and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don's Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper.

And here we have the second book I've already started!

I came across The Rosie Project in a book shop last year and was completely drawn in by the font on the spine. Simple pleasures and all that. Unfortunately I was (and still am) a poor student and at the time I saw it it was only available in hardback and therefore a little too expensive. Luckily for me I received a lovely hardback copy of it for my birthday back in October from my best friend, and now I've finally gotten around to starting it!

It's just recently been released in paperback and I've noticed a lot of people hauling it on tumblr, so I want to finish my copy before it becomes super popular because I must be a bit of a hipster. Oops!

by Jane Nickerson

When seventeen-year-old Sophia Petheram’s beloved father dies, she receives an unexpected letter. An invitation—on fine ivory paper, in bold black handwriting—from the mysterious Monsieur Bernard de Cressac, her godfather. With no money and fewer options, Sophie accepts, leaving her humble childhood home for the astonishingly lavish Wyndriven Abbey, in the heart of Mississippi.

Sophie has always longed for a comfortable life, and she finds herself both attracted to and shocked by the charm and easy manners of her overgenerous guardian. But as she begins to piece together the mystery of his past, it’s as if, thread by thread, a silken net is tightening around her. And as she gathers stories and catches whispers of his former wives—all with hair as red as her own—in the forgotten corners of the abbey, Sophie knows she’s trapped in the passion and danger of de Cressac’s intoxicating world.

I'm really eager to read Strands of Bronze and Gold this month because the copy I have isn't actually mine - one of my friends was kind enough to lend it to me before Christmas and I still haven't read it yet, so I'd love to read it soon and return it to her.

Like The Lunar Chronicles, Strands of Bronze and Gold is also a re-telling of an older tale; the Bluebeard story. The original Bluebeard tale follows a young woman who marries an aristocrat who is considerably older than her. He has been married several times before, and yet no one knows what has become of any of his previous wives...

Strands of Bronze and Gold is the first in a trilogy, I believe, though I think while each book is set in the same world they do not involve the same characters. From what I can gather it appears as though each book re-tells an old folktale in the form of a Historical Fiction novel set in America. I love re-tellings and I love Historical Fiction, so I'm hoping I'll really enjoy this read!

The second book, The Mirk and Midnight Hour, is based on the Scottish Ballad of Tam Lin and is due to be released next month!

by Rosemary Goring

Patrick Paniter was James IV's right-hand man, a diplomatic genius who was in charge of the guns at the disastrous battle of Flodden in September 1513 in which the English annihilated the Scots. After the death of his king he is tormented by guilt as he relives the events that led to war. When Louise Brenier, daughter of a rogue sea trader, asks his help in finding out if her brother Benoit was killed in action, it is the least he can do to salve his conscience. Not satisfied with the news he brings, Louise sets off to find out the truth herself, and swiftly falls foul of one of the lawless clans that rule the ungovernable borderlands. 

When it comes to my history I really don't know that much at all about the Battle of Flodden, but about a week ago I came across this lovely book in The Works and just kept going back to it. In the end I decided not to buy it - I already have plenty to read after all - but I kept thinking about it, and when I looked it up on Goodreads and saw how many people had given it 5/5 stars I just had to go back and look for it.

So yesterday I went back to The Works and luckily for me it was still there - not only that, but it was a very pretty hardback edition that was now only £4.99 when it should have been £14.99! It was a sign, I just had to buy it.

I'm not sure what it is about this book that has me so excited, but I'm really eager to read it and I'm on a bit of a Historical Fiction kick right now so I'm hoping I'll read it this month!

by Paula Brackston

My name is Elizabeth Anne Hawksmith, and my age is three hundred and eighty-four years. Each new settlement asks for a new journal, and so this Book of Shadows begins…

In the spring of 1628, the Witchfinder of Wessex finds himself a true Witch. As Bess Hawksmith watches her mother swing from the Hanging Tree she knows that only one man can save her from the same fate at the hands of the panicked mob: the Warlock Gideon Masters, and his Book of Shadows. Secluded at his cottage in the woods, Gideon instructs Bess in the Craft, awakening formidable powers she didn’t know she had and making her immortal. She couldn't have foreseen that even now, centuries later, he would be hunting her across time, determined to claim payment for saving her life.

In present-day England, Elizabeth has built a quiet life for herself, tending her garden and selling herbs and oils at the local farmers' market. But her solitude abruptly ends when a teenage girl called Tegan starts hanging around. Against her better judgment, Elizabeth begins teaching Tegan the ways of the Hedge Witch, in the process awakening memories--and demons—long thought forgotten.

I've mentioned in previous posts that I'm currently working on a Historical Fiction novel for my MA which revolves around witchcraft and the relationship between a mother and her daughter. On my course we're expected to read widely, but we're especially encouraged to read books that somehow relate to what we are working on. Naturally, this book seemed perfect, which is especially weird because I recently discovered that Paula Brackston also did her MA at my university!

This is another book that begins a series, and like the Strands series I'm fairly certain each of the books in Brackston's The Shadow Chronicles is set in the same world but focuses on separate characters. 

The second book, The Winter Witch, is already out, and the third book, The Midnight Witch, is being released next month!

by Deborah Harkness

Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell. 

Here we have the start to another trilogy, and one that I've been meaning to read for a while now. So far I've heard nothing but good things about this trilogy, and seeing how the final book, The Book of Life, is coming out this year it's about time I read the first two - I got my hands on a copy of the second book, Shadow of Night, for just £1.99 in The Works yesterday!

Hopefully I'll get around to A Discovery of Witches this month!

by Maria V. Snyder

As the last Healer in the Fifteen Realms, Avry of Kazan is in a unique position: in the minds of her friends and foes alike, she no longer exists. Despite her need to prevent the megalomanical King Tohon from winning control of the Realms, Avry is also determined to find her sister and repair their estrangement. And she must do it alone, as Kerrick, her partner and sole confident, returns to Alga to summon his country into battle.

Though she should be in hiding, Avry will do whatever she can to support Tohon’s opponents. Including infiltrating a holy army, evading magic sniffers, teaching forest skills to soldiers and figuring out how to stop Tohon’s most horrible creations yet; an army of the walking dead—human and animal alike and nearly impossible to defeat.

War is coming and Avry is alone. Unless she figures out how to do the impossible ... again.

I read Touch of Power, the first book in Snyder's Healer trilogy, last year and liked it a lot. Last month the final book in the trilogy, Taste of Darkness, was released, so it's the perfect time for me to continue with the series.

I bought my copy of Scent of Magic in the middle of last year, so I really should get around to reading it soon!

There we have it, the eight books I'd like to try and read in February! What are you aiming to read this month?

Be sure to check back throughout the rest of the month for regular posts every Monday and Friday!

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