Novels I read in February 2018 – Reading Wrap Up

Unfortunately, while last month I was able to split my wrap up into manageable bite sized chunks I basically ONLY read adult fiction this month. Not only that, but it was a fairly varied batch of books, which makes even splitting up by genre or fiction/nonfiction not as feasible. So this will be an epically long nine book write up. My comics wrap up for this month should be posted it the link there.

  • The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
    • Rating: 4.75/5
    • Thoughts: You know, I’m always hesitant to pick up classics in genre fiction. Mostly because a lot of so called “masterpieces” turn into diatribes against women and POC (looking at ya boy Lovecraft), which is honestly something I do not have time for. I’m happy to say this is not the case at all for this novel. I’d read Something Wicked This Way Comes in high school (and absolutely LOVED it. It’s one of my favorite books of all time), and had picked up a couple of Bradbury’s short stories at other points in my academic career, so I wasn’t going into this blind. My SO had also been recommending this book for awhile and since he finally picked it up on one of trips to the used bookstore, I had absolutely no more excuses. This collection of short stories is absolutely phenomenal – and its discussions on issues of the day still ring incredibly clear even decades later. Bradbury truly deserves a place as one of the best scifi writers – I love how he writes, and I really enjoyed how poetically he gets the message across in all of these stories. Honestly, I’m rating this higher than I had originally just talking about it. I haven’t picked up his most seminal work of yet, but if it’s anything like my last couple trips into Bradbury’s writing, I am looking forward to it. This is a must read for any sci-fi fan.
  • The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
    • Rating: 3.75/5
    • Thoughts: I’ve read Agatha Christie before when I was in middle school, but this was my first foray as an adult. Also, the first audiobook I ended up checking out! I listen mostly to podcasts, so I’ve been hesitant to get into another audio medium. But I figured a some classic mystery novels would be a good start and… Considering I picked up another Christie Audiobook a little bit after this, it was really really great! Something curious about Agatha Christie is that I think is that I and a lot of other people I know were exposed to her really young – I think maybe a bit TOO young to really appreciate her. (I for one was more confused than impressed with her mystery as a middle schooler, but that is neither here nor there.) Agatha Christie is just so incredible at subverting expectations and putting together some just damn good mysteries. And I always fall into the trap where I think I’ve figured it out, and then find out at the end that I was SO WRONG. The audiobook I picked up was narrated by Hugh Fraser and he’s GREAT. His voices are charming and made it almost effortless to engage in. All in all, I liked this book, but it is a fairly standard mystery with an intersting twist. Just WAIT until I get to the mini-review of the next one I picked up because I have some DEEP feelings.

  • The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty
    • Rating: 4.5/5
    • Thoughts: One thing I’ve wanted to do is to pick  more recently published books – which this one definitely falls into the category of. This is the first book from my Book of the Month box that I picked up this year and it was really good! Some really really solid middle eastern based fantasy. There’s two perspectives in this book, both with some very good characters all across the board (though I will admit one of the main characters took until the last third of the book to really grow on me), which makes this a pretty enjoyable read. I feel like I FLEW through this book, the characters were so nice to read. Though I think what really makes this book interesting is the world building and the political machinations that end up happening in the latter half. I also think the dual perspective thing is super super common now a days to the point of being overused, but it really works in helping introduce the character to the world and kind of setting the stage. The representation felt pretty solid as well – The only other book that I’ve read like this is probably Alif the Unseen and that’s only in VERY general setting. It was a joy to read, and I will be waiting with baited breath for the sequel.
  • The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story by Douglas Preston
    • Rating: 3.5/5
    • Thoughts: I picked this up as my second foray into audiobooks, and, to my surprise, I really enjoyed it! I don’t read general nonfiction like… at all, but this is a pretty good diving board to get into it. The writing for the most part is pretty well paced and strikes a good balance of being informative but also engaging. It’s an interesting dual adventure biography and historical piece. However, I think it really succeeds as the book for only the first… 2/3rd, 3/4th of the book? The end of the book focuses a lot more on the aftermath of their expedition, which when they were talking about the academia response was fine, but they went into some pretty graphic detail on the parasite and illnesses they caught out there. I had to pause it at some points to kind of collect myself. And I think it kind of just… lost the thread? I didn’t mind the asides talking about the history of the region, the academic and political struggles because those were all really important to the expedition, but some the latter parts seemed to lack that kind of focused idea to tie it all back together. All in all, I wanted to dig up at least every article within the past six months on archaelogy, so I definitely would recommend it if you have any interest in that.
  • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    • Rating: 4/5
    • Thoughts:  My SO’s mom got this for me a couple years back, and I finally was in the mood to pick us up. And for my first foray into Adiche’s work, I’m pretty pleased with it! This book came out in 2013 but somehow its discussions on race and immigration are even MORE important now than they must have been in Obama-Era America. While I think the ideas and the thoughts were super interesting and presented for the most part very well, I had some pretty big issues with…. some parts of this book. I don’t want to go too deep into it because they’re spoilers, but suffice to say there were things that some of the main characters did that were pretty reprehensible, and it sometimes felt like the narrative tried to justify these reprehensible things to the reader as “inevitable” or “acceptable” when it clearly wasn’t. It really really rubbed me the wrong way, and it wasn’t just like. A one off thing either.
      The novel also touts itself as a dual perspective novel, which in reality its very lopsided. I found this kind of a shame, as the perspective that kind of got the short end of the stick had some of my favorite chapters in the book. I think the ending was a bit abrupt as well, but to be honest, this is not really a book that tells a story, it more of expresses characters and ideas and meanders through their lives until it feels like it should end. I think this is a very interesting novel that I don’t regret picking up, but I almost wish I’d started with some of Adiche’s earlier novels. I came out of this book interested, but not eager to dive into more of her work. Maybe after a month or two and my misgivings settle down.
  • Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
    • Rating: 5/5
    • Thoughts: I’m pretty much the ideal audience for this kind of book, so me rating it 5/5 is about as predictable as possible. I LOVE almost any kind of mythology and fairy tale, and Norse mythology is always tons of fun to dive into. Neil Gaiman is also a favorite of mine, and I think he especially excels in adaptions and shorter works. His writing always has a great voice and incredible ideas, but I tend to think his longer works struggle to find some kind of ending, or have a plot that actually makes a ton of sense. However, he works wonders with this kind of framework – it was something pretty special. He really does capture the humor of a lot of the stories, as well as this kind of…. inevitable melancholy that builds throughout the entire collection. The last story about Ragnarok left me speechless. If your not familiar with these stories at all, I think this, and Magnus Chase are really good starts. I also want to add: GET THIS AS AN AUDIOBOOK. Neil Gaiman reads them himself and he is an absolute delight. He’s got a way of really reading the emotions of the words – his feelings are rather infectious. I probably would have rated this a bit lower if I hadn’t done so.
  • Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
    • Rating: 3.5/5
    • Thoughts:  This series seems to have gotten very popular over the past year or so hasn’t it? I finally picked up and I feel like I’m in agreement with some of the general consensus I’ve seen online: Super super interesting idea stuffed into a VERY short book. I think the pacing of the last half of this book super rushed which is a damn shame, since I think with a little more room to breathe, maybe one or two more chapters, this would have been a lot better. Still, the idea is still just marvelous, and McGuire has a good voice and talent for creating memorable characters. Not much to say on this one – it’s good, but kind of lacking. Though the next book in the series is about the two characters I found the most interesting in this novel, so my interest is still perked.
  • First Test by Tamora Pierce
    • Rating: 5/5
    • Thoughts: I have SO MANY great feelings about this one! What an excellent start to a YA series! I grew up on Tamora Pierce’s work, and rekindled my love for her when I was in college, but I had yet to pick up the Protector of the Small series. Minuiko over on Tumblr has always had GREAT things to say about Kel and this series, and I saw it on the kindle eshop and thought ‘oh what the hell’. Y’all. Y’ALL. Your faves could NEVER! This is by far the best start to one of her series. The characters are what really make this book a head above a lot of other YA. For such a large cast, most of the characters are pretty memorable, and a LOT of them turned into underrated favorites. But all of that is nothing compared to Best Girl Kel. Kel really is an INCREDIBLE main character. She’s a character I really wished I’d read when I was a kid. I’m trying not to get all sappy and dumb about this, but I would die for her. It’s also paced REALLY well – I think some of Pierce’s earlier book had a bit more trouble with their pacing, but this one does a great job by having it only take place over a year. It never felt rushed at all. This is a good. Good. GOOD book.
      I read the 2nd book literally right after this, if that tells you how eager I was to pick up more. Read Tamora Pierce’s work! She’s great! You’ll need to read the Song of the Lioness series at least before you pick this up, but if you have, pick this one up! It’s very good YA! Very very good.

This was a pretty strong reading month for me! Unfortunately with what I’ve picked up so far in March, this month’s not going to be as strong, but fingers crossed it gets better.

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