Thursday, July 2, 2015

June Wrap-Up (16 books!)

June was an awesome reading month. I read 16 books, most of which I really enjoyed. Because there are so many books this month, I thought I would group them by category. Or at least attempt to! I like how diverse my reading was this month. I got through classics, LOTS of children books and a few recent releases. So without further delay, let's begin!

The Classics 

The first classic I read this month was Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. It covers the events of a day as middle-aged Clarissa Dalloway makes the preparation for the upcoming party which is to take place in the evening. As the day slowly passes, Clarissa reflects on her faded youth and the people who were important to her then. Meanwhile, somewhere else in town, a young war survivor slowly sinks into madness, haunted by visions and nightmares. I gave it 5 stars.

The next classic I read was Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. In this rags-to-riches story, Pip's modest life takes an unexpected turn when a mysterious benefactor enters his life and decides to man a gentleman out of him. Through his relationships with characters such as strange the Miss Havisham who hasn't stepped out of her tattered wedding dress since her groom abandoned her at the altar, and the cold and beautiful Estella who captures Pip's heart, the young man begins a journey of self-discovery through a book which is as captivating as it's eventful. I gave this book 4 stars.

I also read Fairy Tales of Andersen by Hans Christian Andersen, which is a compilation of some of Andersen's best fairy tales. If I had to rate these stories individually, there are many which would get 5 stars. Because there were some I enjoyed less than others though, I ended giving this book 4 stars. I'll definitely be reading more of Andersen's stories later on. 

My TBR shelf veterans...

After four years (or so), I finally completed the Wicked Lovely series, by Melissa Marr. Finally :D I read books 4 and 5, respectively Radiant Shadows and Darkest Mercy, back to back over the course of two days. These books might not have much to offer plotwise and they may not have the best characters in YA fantasy, but you have to give them credit for being fast reads. I would recommend these books mostly to those who, just like me, have been following this series for a while and just want to know how it ends. Oh, and I gave them 2 and 3 stars respectively. 

The children books I kinda liked...

These are last three books in the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. Book 6,  The Horse and his Boy, follows the adventures of two runaways, a Narnian talking horse and a little boy, as they attempt to reach the land of Narnia. It was rather enjoyable and I ended giving it 3 stars. 

Book 6, The Magician's Nephew, follows the adventures of Polly and Diggory, two young children who find magic rings which give them the power to travel between worlds. Their rings eventually lead them to the dangerous Queen Jadis who sets out to conquer their world, and later to a barren land where they come to witness the birth of Narnia. I found the mythology and creation of Narnia in this one quite fun to read about, hence a 4-star rating. 

Book 7, The Last Battle... was just terrible. There's a fake Aslan who's creating chaos in all the land of Narnia, lots of racism and a great deal of misogyny. At this point, I just want to forget about this book. This is sad because if not for the sexist and racial cringeworthy scenes, this would have been an awesome series. But as it is, The Last Battle is just a poor ending to an enjoyable book series. One star, duh...

The children books I really liked

This month, I also read the Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi. These books follow the adventures of the twins Simon and Jared and their older sister Mallory as they discover the hidden world of faeries after moving in the old house of their Great-Aunt. This was overall very fun to read. Each of the five books in this series is around 120 pages or so and read more like segments of the same story rather than individual novels of their own. In fact, the books had rather abrupt endings which feels like they could have been combined to form larger volumes but were, for some reason, split into five. This is why I gave them 3 stars each. This however remains a really nice children fantasy series and I would totally recommend them to fans of the genre.

Recent Releases (2014-2015)

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas is a Beauty and the Beast retelling set in a faerie universe. When 19 year old Feyre accidentally kills a faerie during a hunt, she is taken away to the faerie lands as retribution for what she has done. Feyre soon realizes that her captor, Tamlin, is not just any mere fae but in fact one of the strongest of his kind, gifted with very powerful magic. While Feyre initially tries to figure out a way back home, her growing friendship for Tamlin and terrifying revelations about their world, soon begin to make her question her plans. Is her place truly back in her old life or is it in this new land, with its promises of magic and protection? This book was overall quite good. I ended up giving it four stars.  

All The Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr, is a historical fiction set during WWII. It follows the two main perspectives of a blind French girl who lives in German-occupied France and a young German soldier who is given a chance to rise from the poverty of his childhood by joining the military services. I gave this book 5 stars and I'm not even kidding when I say this is now of my favorite books ever. Beautifully written, with a lyrical prose, delightful descriptions and just the right pacing, this is a book that will make you feel all the feels and stay with you for a long time. Trust me, you need this book in your life!  

This Month's Favorite 

After their parents die abroad, Melanie and her younger siblings are sent to live with an uncle they barely know, who owns a toyshop in London. There, Melanie meets her mute aunt Margaret, along with Margaret's brothers. Francie, who doesn't talk much, seems to care mostly for his music while Finn, outrageous and daring, quickly befriends Melanie. And ruling over their strange, mismatched household is Melanie's uncle, who is as mysterious as he is menacing. Indeed, his only love seem to be the lifelike puppets he creates himself. Short but powerfully written in a lyrical language rich in subtle messages and hidden meanings, this was not only my favorite book of the month but also one of the most unusual and interesting books I've ever read. While it doesn't actually have any element of supernatural nor magic realism, the book does convey a somewhat Gothic atmosphere that I really enjoyed. A five star book for sure.

So that's it for this month's wrap-up guys. Have you read any of the books mentioned here? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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  1. Woohoo! You finally finished Marrs series!:D I got stuck on book four I think or maybe it was three. All the character hopping was kinda frustrating to me, so I get why you rated them so low =/

  2. Oh I love the Spiderwick series!! I miss those books ;)

    1. I wish I had read them as a kid. I know I would have given them 5 stars then. These books were so fun :) I'm thinking of watching the movie now.

  3. I had to read great expectations at school, that is the only one I have read, but I will try to get All The Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr it sounds really good!

  4. You read an awful lot of books! This month I read all the Spiderwick ones as well, and I absolutely LOVED them, especially the amazing illustrations they came with <3 I wish I read them as a child. I haven't read the Narnia series yet, just another my childhood missed out on. And it's always great when you finally finish a series!

    1. Have you watched the Spiderwick movie? I'm thinking of watching it soon. I wish I read the books as a child too. I know I would have really loved them. There are a lot of children books that I'm only now discovering. The Narnia books are among those. I did enjoy the first half of the series but the second half was a bit disappointing. Yep, finishing a series is always nice :)

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