Friday, 28 February 2014

Reading Wrap Up | February 2014

Even though it's the shortest month of the year February ended up being a really good reading month for me; I ended up reading three novels, a novella, a short story and a piece of non-fiction. 

Not only was I reading frequently throughout the month but I enjoyed pretty much everything I read, and that's always a great feeling. Nothing encourages me to read more than reading great books!

by Marissa Meyer

My Rating: 

When android Mech6.0, saves the life of a handsome hardware engineer, her body is destroyed and her mechanics discover a glitch in her programing. Androids aren’t not meant to develop unpractical reasoning or near-emotional responses…let alone fall in love.

After my Lunar Chronicles binge last month I was desperate for my copy of Cress to arrive. Luckily for me Marissa Meyer's new short story, a retelling of The Little Mermaid set in the same world, was available to read on Wattpad!

It was a really fun little retelling - I loved how Meyer managed to incorporate elements of the original story into a sci-fi setting, and I was so excited when Cinder made a cameo appearance. Then again Cinder is pretty much my favourite YA heroine right now, so I fangirl hard whenever I see anything to do with her...

I didn't enjoy it as much as the other short stories, but I think that's because they're much more involved with the story of The Lunar Chronicles, whereas The Little Android simply takes place in the same world. Even so I did enjoy it, and returning to the world got me even more excited for Cress!

by Karen Lindsey

My Rating: 

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.

Here we have my first non-fiction book of 2014!

I've said before that I'm a huge lover of history, and I'm incredibly interested in the Tudor period in particular. I don't think I could tell you in just one sentence why this particular period of history has always fascinated me, but the one thing I am sure of is that I've always been more interested in the women of the period than the men.

I received this book for Christmas from my parents and I was surprised at how thin it is - it didn't take me long at all to read, and I found the writing easy and conversational which I love in my non-fiction; I want to be talked to, not at.

It wasn't without its flaws, of course. Every historian has their own interpretation and while there were some things I disagreed with Lindsey on - she seemed to merely dismiss Jane Seymour, which I thought defeated the object of the book - she brought up other arguments which really made me think about these women in a different way. I loved her chapters on Anne Boleyn, Anne of Cleves and Kathryn Howard in particular.

If you're interested in the women of the Tudor period I'd recommend this book!

by Marissa Meyer

My Rating: 

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.

This was probably my most anticipated read of the year and one of the books I wanted to tick off my Booket List. Did it live up to my expectations? No. It surpassed them.

I can't even begin to describe how much I love this series, and Cress was a fantastic third installment. One of the things I love most about this series is that I love all the protagonists; while I adore Cinder and want to be her bff I'm not bored during the scenes she's not in. I thought Cress was adorable and the dynamic between her and Thorne was very Tangled-esque, which I also loved.

It was just perfect. I love where this story is going, I love how all the characters work in a group, I love that Cinder's finally starting to realise her full potential and I love Winter. I can't wait to see more of her in the fourth and final book, I just can't believe we have to wait a whole year for it!

by Colm Tóibín

My Rating: 

In the ancient town of Ephesus, Mary lives alone, years after her son's crucifixion. She has no interest in collaborating with the authors of the Gospel—her keepers, who provide her with food and shelter and visit her regularly. She does not agree that her son is the Son of God; nor that his death was “worth it;” nor that the “group of misfits he gathered around him, men who could not look a woman in the eye,” were holy disciples. Mary judges herself ruthlessly (she did not stay at the foot of the Cross until her son died—she fled, to save herself), and is equally harsh on her judgment of others. This woman who we know from centuries of paintings and scripture as the docile, loving, silent, long-suffering, obedient, worshipful mother of Christ becomes, in Toibin’s searing evocation, a tragic heroine with the relentless eloquence of Electra or Medea or Antigone. This tour de force of imagination and language is a portrait so vivid and convincing that our image of Mary will be forever transformed.

I came across this little novella in the bookshop on my university campus a while ago and I was immediately intrigued. As you all already know I love Historical Fiction, and I was really interested in the idea of a story told entirely from Mary's point of view regarding her son's crucifixion.

I decided not to buy it when I saw it mainly because in the shops it's the same price, and sometimes even more expensive, than classics that are four times its size. I don't know about you but I don't really want to pay £8 for a novella. And it's a good job I didn't, because when I borrowed it from the library I didn't enjoy it all that much.

It felt very told rather than shown, and while we could argue that's because of the way it's narrated I don't think it's much of an excuse. This was an idea with such potential - and some of the descriptions were really lovely - but unfortunately it just wasn't for me.

by Graeme Simsion

My Rating: 

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.

As I was nearing the end of February I was still suffering from a little bit of a post-Cress book hangover, and that coupled with the disappointment that The Testament of Mary turned out to be meant I just didn't know what I wanted to read next.

This was around the time I started reading Deborah Harkness's A Discovery of Witches alongside my friend, because I hoped that knowing I was reading it with someone would make me read it and force me out of the slump I was heading into.

While A Discovery of Witches intrigued me I just couldn't get into it, so instead I decided to pick up where I left off in The Rosie Project, which I'd started to read before I received my copy of Cress in the post.

I read the first 50 pages of The Rosie Project before I was distracted by Cress and in those first pages I was unsure, I really didn't know if I was going to like this book or not. I desperately wanted to like it because it sounded just like the kind of Contemporary Romance I like in my fiction, and not only that but it was also a birthday present from my best friend.

As it turns out I stopped reading in favour of Cress just as the story started to get really interesting, because once I got back into it I couldn't put it down. It was just what I needed to avert me from the reading slump I thought was inevitable! It was cute and funny and, while it certainly wasn't without its flaws - it's rather abrupt ending being the main one for me - it was a nice read all the same.

I enjoyed this book, and I recommend it to any Contemporary lovers out there!

by Robin LaFevers

My Rating: 

Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

The final book I read in February came as a surprise even to me! Once I'd finished The Rosie Project I'd hoped to try reading A Discovery of Witches again, but I was staring at Grave Mercy on my shelf and just had this sudden urge to pick it up.

So I did just that, and while, like with The Rosie Project, I was a bit unsure during the first few chapters, it turned out to be a great read. I enjoyed this book so much that I've actually jumped straight into the second one, Dark Triumph, and hope that I'll love it just as much.

It might not be the most historically accurate book out there and there were certainly moments between the heroine and her love interest that were a little corny, but I didn't care. It's a book about assassin nuns, for heaven's sake, I was always going to love it!

So that's everything I read in February! What did you read this month?

You might have noticed that I didn't post any reviews this month. I haven't stopped doing them, instead I have review related news coming next month so stay tuned!

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