Wednesday, February 28, 2018

February Wrap-up

Winter is over! Well, not quite because it's freezing outside, but it's the last day of February so it must be over soon. February is a shorter month and I also was away for a few days and couldn't read too much, but I still managed to read 6 books like last month. Or rather I should say that I finished 6 books because I made progress with a few others. I think that this month I read a lot more pages than in January so I'm really happy. I'm trying to finish at least one big book every month, but this is a newer resolution that I didn't have in January so I have to catch up soon. Here are the books I finished this month!

The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro

Newlywed Grace Monroe doesn’t fit anyone’s expectations of a successful 1950s London socialite, least of all her own. When she receives an unexpected inheritance from a complete stranger, Madame Eva d’Orsey, Grace is drawn to uncover the identity of her mysterious benefactor.*

This is another historical fiction novel that has been on my 'to read' list for a few years. It was one of those books that I occasionally checked in sales and I finally bought it, without it being on sale, a couple of months ago. I liked it, wanted to love it, but didn't. I wouldn't call this a disappointment, yet I can't hope but feel that my expectations haven't been met. I don't want to give too many details about this book because mystery is part of it, but I found it a bit predictable at times. The perfume descriptions were quite nice and it had a nice period atmosphere, which made it a quick and pleasant read. One of my biggest problems was that I didn't really like the character of Grace, I found her quite spoiled and flat, nothing special. The other characters I quite enjoyed though. There's also a bit of romance in here if you are interested in that kind of stuff. I would have given it 3 and a half stars, but since there are no halves on Goodreads I rounded it up to 4 stars because I liked it more than my other 3 star reads.

Big Mama's Funeral by Gabriel García Márquez

The first short story collection of the month comes from one of my favorite writers. I am a huge García Márquez fan and have read almost all of his books. One that I hadn't read before is this collection of eight short stories from 1962, one of his early works that hasn't been available in my country until recently. I'm not very keen on short story collections and I've been known to leave some unfinished because I got bored, yet I've always enjoyed this author's short stories. I have two of his other collections in my library that I have read many times and enjoyed. It's probably because they are written in his amazing magical realism style that I love. What I don't like about short stories is that there is no time for the development of characters and the plot is more of a tiny scene that often leaves me unsatisfied. This, however, doesn't happen with García Márquez' stories because his style makes them more of an atmosphere piece and you don't really care about the plot, being distracted by the beautiful descriptions. Somehow he does manage to give the plots meaning also, which often leaves you puzzled and wanting to reread the story as soon as you finish it. For me his books are the escape from reality that no other fiction or fantasy book can give me. Naturally, I had to give this one 5 stars.

Shirley by Charlotte Brontë

Following the tremendous popular success of Jane Eyre, which earned her lifelong notoriety as a moral revolutionary, Charlotte Brontë vowed to write a sweeping social chronicle that focused on "something real and unromantic as Monday morning." Set in the industrializing England of the Napoleonic wars and Luddite revolts of 1811-12, Shirley (1849) is the story of two contrasting heroines. One is the shy Caroline Helstone, who is trapped in the oppressive atmosphere of a Yorkshire rectory and whose bare life symbolizes the plight of single women in the nineteenth century. The other is the vivacious Shirley Keeldar, who inherits a local estate and whose wealth liberates her from convention.*

This was by far my favorite read of the month. My history with Charlotte Bronte started in middle school, when I first forced myself to read Jane Eyre. It took me about a year to finish, I didn't like it and categorized it as a boring book. A few years ago I decided to give it another try and absolutely loved it. After that, I picked up the rest of Brontë's books, read Villette, which was also great and took a big break until now, when the classic mood hit me and made me try this one. It's a big book of over 600 pages and not quite easy to read, especially for a non-native speaker like me, yet I went through this quickly because it was amazing. There's a little bit of everything in here, from romance to politics, history and feminism. Charlotte Brontë's writing is incredible and her commentary is witty, funny and insightful. If you enjoyed Jane Eyre, you will probably love this but if you didn't you should still give this a try cause it might surprise you. 5 out of 5 stars for me.

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

Set in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. When Lily's fierce-hearted black "stand-in mother," Rosaleen, insults three of the deepest racists in town, Lily decides to spring them both free. They escape to Tiburon, South Carolina--a town that holds the secret to her mother's past. Taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters, Lily is introduced to their mesmerizing world of bees and honey, and the Black Madonna.*

Whenever I'm in the mood for reading YA, I go to my sister's bookshelf and pick something from there. I've been wanting to read this for a while and it also counted for Black History Month, plus it seemed like a cute and quick read. I ended up dragging it for over a week and only finished it because I wanted to have a sixth book finished by the end of the month. Otherwise, I would have probably struggled with it for another week or so. I know many people like this book but for me it was slow, predictable and boring at times. Although I enjoyed the writing style, the story was just not interesting to me. I often felt like I didn't care what was happening next and that's why I had to force myself to pick it up and read from it. I gave it 2.5 stars but rounded up to 3 on Goodreads because I enjoyed the writing style and I learned a few things about beekeeping that I didn't know.

Books not pictured that I also finished:

Ok, so here comes a review that is probably biased. I am a huge fan of Tom Hanks and when I heard that he wrote a book I had to read it. Then I also found out that the audiobook was narrated by Tom Hanks himself, which made me immediately sign up for Audible just to get it. And then I listened to it in about 4 days and loved it. I realize that this book of short stories doesn't have huge value from a literary point of view and I'm also not a big reader of short stories, but I think that the fact that I enjoyed them makes them special. The stories are very different from each other, one recurring theme is the typewriter, hence the title of this collection. It seems that Tom Hanks himself wrote this book on a vintage typewriter. What I really love about these stories is how familiar they all feel. I felt like I knew these characters and that rarely happens in my experience with short stories. The fact that they were also narrated by one of my favorite actors made them even more special. I gave this 4 (maybe even 4.5) stars. 

This masterpiece of science fiction is the fascinating story of Griffin, a scientist who creates a serum to render himself invisible, and his descent into madness that follows.*

I started this (pretty short) novel as an ebook on the first day of the year on my phone. Since I don't read much on my phone, I didn't make a lot of progress with it until I decided to download it to my ebook reader and finally finish it. This is supposed to be one of the first science fiction books ever written, but for me it was very disappointing. Except for two or three pages of (pretty questionable) science, the whole book seemed like a narration of a Laurel and Hardy movie to me. The only reason I finished it was because it was so short and I wanted to see where it ended up, needless to say I didn't enjoy the ending either. I gave this a generous rating of 2 stars, because it has the excuse that it's and old book and it tries to describe something that was probably hard to conceive back then. I still want to try some other H.G. Wells books in the hope of finding something I enjoy more, but this one was not for me.

So these are the books I managed to finish this month. I also made progress with the audiobook of The Count of Monte Cristo, a massive 50 hour listen that I'm about half way through. In terms of big books, I've read about two thirds of Steven King's Under the Dome and will finish it in March. I also started the audiobook of the first Harry Potter today because, believe it or not, I have never read those books in my life. So yeah, I love reading. Happy March!

*Source: Goodreads

No comments:

Post a Comment