Wednesday, March 14, 2018

March Mid-month Wrap-up

Hello! We're only halfway through March and I've already finished 7 books! Yes, seven, one more than I read in January and February. Of course this is because I have finished two massive ones that I started before, but who cares? The important thing is that I'm already way ahead (10 books ahead) of my goal for the year, which makes me so happy. I didn't want my March post to be 10 books long so I'm splitting it up in two. Since the 8th of March is International Women's Day, I decided to dedicate this month to books written by women. So except for the 3 books that I started before the beginning of the month, all the books I read were written by women and I will continue this until the end of March. Here are the books!

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

One Thursday lunchtime the Earth gets unexpectedly demolished to make way for a new hyperspace bypass. For Arthur Dent, who has only just had his house demolished that morning, this seems already to be more than he can cope with. Sadly, however, the weekend has only just begun, and the Galaxy is a very strange and startling place.*

I was a little nervous starting this book because I didn't know what to expect. The beginning was sort of boring to me, there was a lot of funny, quirky nonsense that I'm not a big fan of, so I was sure that I wasn't gonna like it and would not continue the series. Since it's a short book, I decided to keep on reading and try to finish it, so I went on and started to like it more and more. In the end, this is a rather deep book with lots of original and smart ideas and even though there is a bit of gibberish that I'm not into, I didn't mind it in the end. I will definitely continue the series because I'm really curious about where this story is gonna go. I gave this one 4 stars.

Under the Dome by Stephen King

It is the story of the small town of Chester's Mill, Maine which is inexplicably and suddenly sealed off from the rest of the world by an invisible force field. No one can get in and no one can get out.* 

I started this massive epic last year but wasn't in the mood and didn't have the patience to continue, so I took a long break. I picked it up again in February and finished it this month, but I actually only read the last 300 pages of it in March. So as you can see, I read a lot more in February than my wrap-up led to believe. Stephen King is one of my favorite authors. The way he writes and tells stories is incredibly comforting to me, his characters always become good friends that I thoroughly miss afterwards. I don't even mind that most of his books are so long, because it gives me time to get attached, plus why would you want something you enjoy to end so soon? I didn't expect this book to be as good as The Stand, but I enjoyed it very very much. If you like dystopian and apocalyptic science fiction, this is a must read. It's such a pity that the TV series based on this book isn't that good, because I would have liked to hang out with these characters again. I gave this 4.5 stars and rounded up to 5 stars on Goodreads.

The Power by Naomi Alderman

In The Power the world is a recognisable place: there's a rich Nigerian kid who lounges around the family pool; a foster girl whose religious parents hide their true nature; a local American politician; a tough London girl from a tricky family. But something vital has changed, causing their lives to converge with devastating effect. Teenage girls now have immense physical power - they can cause agonising pain and even death. And, with this small twist of nature, the world changes utterly.*

I decided to pick this up based on a few people's recommendations, although I felt like the premise was a little too much. I'm happy I did because this was a great book. Naomi Alderman was able to touch some really painful points. This book really made me think. If you are a fan of distopian books, this is an interesting new perspective. The writing is also great and the characters are great. This book was a big surprise for me. I gave it 4 shining stars!

At the Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier

1838: James and Sadie Goodenough have settled where their wagon got stuck - in the muddy, stagnant swamps of northwest Ohio. They and their five children work relentlessly to tame their patch of land, buying saplings from a local tree man known as John Appleseed so they can cultivate the fifty apple trees required to stake their claim on the property. But the orchard they plant sows the seeds of a long battle. James loves the apples, reminders of an easier life back in Connecticut; while Sadie prefers the applejack they make, an alcoholic refuge from brutal frontier life.

1853: Their youngest child Robert is wandering through Gold Rush California. Restless and haunted by the broken family he left behind, he has made his way alone across the country. In the redwood and giant sequoia groves he finds some solace, collecting seeds for a naturalist who sells plants from the new world to the gardeners of England. But you can run only so far, even in America, and when Robert's past makes an unexpected appearance he must decide whether to strike out again or stake his own claim to a home at last.*

You know I had to include at least one historical fiction book in this month's reads. Tracy Chevalier is an author who's books I always enjoy. I love her writing and I love that her books take me to different places, the atmosphere is so great that they always suck me in. This one had a slower start for me because one of the voices that narrates at the beginning is written in a really broken English. Since I read this as a translation in Romanian, I felt that the many mistakes were very distracting. But after that I totally got into the story and ended up binge reading it for the most part. It's a short book, so that isn't too hard. I have this 3.5 stars but rounded it up to 4 because I felt generous.

Books that are not in the pictures:

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter has never even heard of Hogwarts when the letters start dropping on the doormat at number four, Privet Drive. Addressed in green ink on yellowish parchment with a purple seal, they are swiftly confiscated by his grisly aunt and uncle. Then, on Harry's eleventh birthday, a great beetle-eyed giant of a man called Rubeus Hagrid bursts in with some astonishing news: Harry Potter is a wizard, and he has a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. An incredible adventure is about to begin!*

OK, unpopular opinion time! When the first Harry Potter book came out in the UK I was 10 years old. But given that I live in a East European country and it was the 90's, the books didn't get translated in my language until a few years later and by the time I found out about them I was already reading classics and felt like I was too old for them. Fast forward until now, when I finally decided to find out what all the fuss was about. I listened to this as an audiobook narrated by Stephen Fry, a really great narration that I sped up to about 1.25 and I still got bored at times. Yes, this is a cute book and I can see why children like it, but for me it didn't feel interesting and at times I actually felt annoyed about some things. It would probably feel different if I had the nostalgia of the people who read it when they were young. I gave it only 3 stars. Sorry, 5 million people that gave it 4 or 5 stars! Right now I don't know if I want to continue the series, if it gets better and if I wanna power through the second and third book to get to the more YA ones that are supposed to be better. We will see!

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.*

Hyped books. Can't live with them, can't live without them. I often avoid reading them early because I then feel disappointed, not to mention that I then feel bad for not liking them. Luckily, it wasn't the case with this one. My YA read for this month had to be this contemporary meaningful novel that doesn't feel like fiction at all. Well yes, the characters are not real and the story did not happen literally, yet I feel that this happened too many times already. It all felt so real that I couldn't help but read on, rooting for these characters, but knowing in the end that there's still a lot of work to be done. I love that this story was written as a YA book, because it can be read by anyone and it reaches the people that really need to learn about this stuff. It's also really well written. I feel like there's so much to say about this book but it speaks for itself in reality. You need to pick this up! I read it as an ebook and gave it 4 (more like 4.5) stars on Goodreads. 

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

In 1815 Edmond Dantès, a young and successful merchant sailor who has just recently been granted the succession of his erstwhile captain Leclère, returns to Marseille to marry his Catalan fiancée Mercédès. Thrown in prison for a crime he has not committed, Edmond Dantès is confined to the grim fortress of If. There he learns of a great hoard of treasure hidden on the Isle of Monte Cristo and he becomes determined not only to escape, but also to unearth the treasure and use it to plot the destruction of the three men responsible for his incarceration.* 

107 chapters and two months later, I'm finally done with this monster of a classic. I listened to this as a Librivox audiobook and only made real progress once I increased the speed to about 1.3-1.4. That's how I managed to get through about half of it in two weeks. If it weren't for audiobooks I don't think I would have had the patience to read this. First off, it was not what I expected. I wasn't familiar with the story since I have never read it or watched the movie, but somehow I expected more at sea action, with pirates and prison breaks. It's a great book, beautifully written, with characters that develop and mature, meaningful life lessons and a few plot twists. But it is also full of long dramatic scenes and intrigue. It was also hard for me at times to follow the characters because there were so many and they were all related to each others in some way. I guess a list of characters with short descriptions at the beginning of the book would help, of course not if you are listening to it as an audiobook. All in all, it's a good story and I enjoyed listening to the book a lot. Totally worth the read if you are a fast reader or don't mind spending a lot of time on it. I gave it 4 stars.

That is all for now. Hopefully I will have some more books to show at the end of the month. We got a Kindle this month so there will be more ebooks showing up, but I still want to read physical books and there are a lot of them on my bookshelf that are unread. See you at the end of the month!

*Source: Goodreads

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