Another month gone, and what have I been up to?
- February was a short month, and I ended up reading a handful of short books to match. I was just in a short-book mood, I guess. Sometimes it’s nice to be in the middle of an epic series, and sometimes it’s nice to just sit down with a plate of cheese and crackers and have the whole novel finished by the time you’re done nibbling on your lunch. This month I had some of both lengths, but I don’t anticipate reading this many short books in the upcoming months, so I’m calling it a trend.
- This month I finished watching the TV series Big Little Lies for the first time. I read the novel in May 2017, and rated it 3 stars. Watching this series definitely made me appreciate the story more, perhaps because the film seemed more focused on the characters than the mystery, which was a more compelling tactic, in my opinion. The violence in the TV series seemed more shocking to me than it did in the book, but I think that stems from the difference in reading about it happening to fictional people and seeing a visual representation of it acted out by real people. The mystery portion of the film seemed flimsy at best, with the excessive gossipy interviews and the actual murder so glossed over and “artsy” at the end, so I’m glad I experienced this story in both formats, since they played to such different strengths.
- I also watched the movie Room for the first time. I read the novel in June 2016, and rated it 4 stars. The film gave me a much stronger sense of Jack’s mother right from the beginning; the book begins with narration from 5 year-old Jack, which gives a unique perspective to a terrible situation, but in the film (obviously) the viewer sees the room and the mother with his/her own eyes, forcing the narration to take a different approach than the novel. Nevertheless, though both mediums have their merits, I don’t think anything vital is missing from either, and watching the movie felt a lot like rereading the book likely would have.
- Lastly, I re-watched the movie of The Perks of Being a Wallflower in February. I read the novel in January 2013, and rated it 5 stars. I watched the film immediately after. I haven’t watched it since, until last week. The plots are very similar between the two, although the two mediums have their own personalities and styles that makes both of them equally enjoyable to me. I love Emma Watson’s acting. I love this story in general, but I think it’s one that I could get tired of if I see/read it too many times. It needs a bit of shock value to hit the emotions properly, which it definitely did for me this time.
Books I finished reading:
- Iron Gold by Pierce Brown. 5 stars. It took me a while to read this one, but only because Pierce Brown’s books speak to my soul and I want to savor them and also not have a heart attack from reading all the intensity at once. I cannot wait until the next book is released in September, so I’ll probably be doing some Red Rising Saga rereading this year. In this latest edition to the series, Brown’s characters are as strong as ever, though some of them are moving in some new and intriguing directions. Iron Gold felt like a set-up book for what’s coming next, but even though it covers a lot of building ground it’s not lacking in plot.
- Night by Elie Wiesel. 5 stars. A short nonfiction book about the Holocaust should’ve seemed a world away from a futuristic space drama, but with Iron Gold so focused on war, Night felt like a pretty decent follow-up for it. I think it’s important to dig out the grains of truth in fiction, but it’s equally important to remember the real stories. This is a powerful book narrated by a Jewish WWII survivor and it’s probably the best book about that time period that I’ve ever read.
- Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. 5 stars. Last year I read Adichie’s We Should All Be Feminists, and while I loved it, very little of it surprised me. This one felt more practical, more proactive. I don’t have any children at this point in my life, but there are some great reminders in here about which lessons children learn from this world are worth remembering, and which should be uprooted before they even take hold. This one was more inspiring to me, and I liked that it felt more personal, as a letter to a real person. And now that I’ve read Adichie’s shortest works, I’m definitely ready to move on something longer, like her novel Americanah.
- Saga: Volume 7 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. 4 stars. This wasn’t my favorite Saga volume, but it did have some good features, including a punch at the end that I’m glad I waited to read until I also had my hands on:
- Saga: Volume 8 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. 5 stars. I’m caught up on this series now! Luckily the end of this one wasn’t so cliff-hanger-y; I’m going to miss these characters while I’m waiting for Volume 9. This one actually ended up being one of my favorite volumes of the set, though it’s definitely more focused on the relationships than the Landfall/Wreath war most of the time. Some cool seeds were sown for new enemies/alliances coming up though, so I’m still pretty interested in where this is all going and I’ll definitely be reading more as future volumes are released. I might even pick up some other comics while I’m waiting.
- Emma by Jane Austen. 4 stars. This is the first Jane Austen book that really impressed me with its formatting; so much of the strength of this story depends on the use of its dialogue and the personality traits that are displayed more through what’s not said than what is. The romances are lovely, of course, but predictable. It’s the character development evident through much of the dialogue that kept me reading this one, and I found it a perfect Valentine’s read because of the love stories but also because of the tragedies that result from Emma’s attempts at match-making (I’m a little cynical, I like to commemorate the day of love with some serious consequences to meddling with love. Last year I read Jane Eyre).
- Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar. 3 stars. I liked the idea behind this one, and the writing itself was fine, but somehow this one failed to make much of an impression– good or bad. I had no trouble finishing this short book quickly and I enjoyed its oddities, but I’m glad it wasn’t any longer and I was fully ready to get back to full length novels after this novella. I’m still looking forward to reading more from Stephen King, but I don’t think this one will stick with me very long and I’m not sad about it. His writing is superb, but his longer works do it better justice.
- Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo. 5 stars. I’m ashamed that it took me four months to get around to reading this one after Six of Crows, even knowing I loved that first book and would probably enjoy the end of this duology just as much as the beginning. It was a fun ride, but I actually didn’t love this one as much as Six of Crows. Book 2 operated the same ways as Book 1, so its surprises were less surprising. But it still has some great messages, some fun twists up its sleeve (we can call a dust jacket a sleeve, right?), and some of the best characters ever to appear in YA fantasy. I’m so glad I finally got around to this one and I desperately hope Inej makes future appearances in Bardugo’s Grishaverse because she’s my fave.
- The Philosopher’s Flight by Tom Miller. 4 stars. I’m proud of myself again, for reading my Book of the Month selection within the month I received it. 🙂 I’m actually in the middle of a second BOTM book that’s backlogged from last year, but I did at least finish my February selection, so I’ve achieved the bare minimum by not falling farther behind. And this was a good one! It’s probably the weirdest book I’ve read all year, but I liked it. It was a fun experience. It was unusual, and that’s my goal for the year– to read books that are unusual to me. And also to catch up on my BOTM books, but there’s still time. I’m going to be picking up some of BOTM’s other February selections in upcoming weeks, as well, but this one was an unexpectedly good start.
- Avg. rating this month: 4.4 . . . (wow, that’s high!)
- Books hauled this month: 3 . . . (I met my goal!)
- Owned books that I read for the first time this month: 4 . . . (I reduced my TBR bookshelf!)
- Total books read in 2018 = 18 . . . (I’m ahead of schedule for my goal of 90 books!)
All in all, this was a good month. February didn’t drag on like January, I read more books that I thought I would get through (although some of them were short), and I mostly loved what I read. I’m excited to see what next month will bring! Did you notice I’m making some changes to my usual wrap-up structure? Let me know in the comments what you like to see in my monthly wrap-ups, so I know whether to keep things like the “trending” section, my thoughts on film adaptations from the month, and my overall stats. Is there anything more you would like to see?
Have you read any of these books? What was your favorite book from your February reading?
The Literary Elephant