I can’t believe February is already over…it feels like only yesterday that it started. Though I’m pretty sure I say that about every month. This month I read a total of 10 books. Unfortunately, again most of my ratings of these books were in the middle. The majority were three stars, and I had only two four stars and no five stars. Hopefully next month I can read some five stars!
Well, let’s stop blabbering on about ratings and get into the books I read this month.
- Shadow and Bone (Grisha Trilogy #1) by Leigh Bardugo (released 2012)
- The Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner (released Feb. 2021)
- On one hand, I could understand what Meissner was trying to do with this story with the twists and turns, part mystery, part drama. But everything fell flat for me. All the twists either came out of nowhere, or seemed obvious to me from near the beginning. I did appreciate how Sophie came to look at Kat as a daughter, but it was in her nature so no surprise. And the jumping back and forth from police interrogation to Sophie’s perspective felt unnecessary and only there to increase tension (though it didn’t increase the tension for me). Also, I felt like the very real tragedy of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake was more in the backdrop, ignored for about 75% of the book except for where it aided the plot. I liked the premise of a mail-order bride marrying a man and raising his daughter, only to find out not everything is not as it seems, but the execution was pretty disappointing to me.
- At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald (released 1871)
- I grew up with MacDonald’s The Lost Princess, so I was excited to read another book of his. However, I wasn’t a massive fan of this book. I liked the beginning and the idea of a little boy traveling on adventures with the North Wind, learning valuable lessons as he goes. Unfortunately, the adventures were so repetitive and very few lessons were learned. The ending also was very sad, though not unexpected. I could see how MacDonald was trying to explore themes of pain and death, but for the most part this book was too slow with too much vague meaning to really be enjoyable.
- Untimely Demise: A Miscellany of Murder by William Dylan Powell (released 2016)
- This book is such a unique one, filled with 365 ways to die and filled with true crime tidbits. The categories of death are Killer Moves, Pernicious Poisons, Murder Most Strange, Thug Life, Fatal Firearms, Slasher Madness, and Sneaky Sabotage. I enjoyed reading the book and the unique ways to die. Also, the puns were just great! However, there is a lot of repetition in this book, because Powell had to find 365 ways to die. For example, a lot of the guns overlap, as well as the martial arts moves. I found myself skimming over certain categories. Saying that, I believe it is a great resource for people who write murder mysteries (namely, me) and who want some random ideas of ways to kill characters. I see myself using this frequently as a resource for my writing.
- Micro by Michael Crichton (released 2011)
- So this book is kind of like “Jurassic Park” meets “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.” It examines the science of shrinking someone to a tiny size, and follows a group of grad students who have to survive in the dangerous jungles of Hawaii in tiny form. I really enjoyed this book. It has Michael Crichton’s typical fascination with heavy scientific theory, and the science combined with fiction is the best part. Saying that, that characters are pretty bland, and I would say only four or so have any real type of deep characterization. I kept confusing all the students in the beginning. Also, the middle is a little slow. There are only so many times the students can get attacked by bugs that I can endure before it gets repetitive. Also, my copy is 530 pages, and this book should probably have been more like 350 to cut out a lot of the slow parts. But this was still a really endurable read!
- Siege and Storm (Grisha Trilogy #2) by Leigh Bardugo (released 2013)
- my review.
- Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky (released 2004)
- my review.
- China: A History by The Field Museum (released 2019)
- I’m a big fan of Chinese history, so I was pleased to find this short, concise book about the history of China with beautiful pictures. Saying that, I’ve seen a lot better choice for organization than this book. The first two chapters were great, focusing on prehistoric China and the rise of empires (mostly Qin and Han dynasties). However, after that all chronology was lost to random topics the book snapped on (like religion), giving us small details as opposed to a general overview. I still enjoyed this book, but when it comes to books on the history of China, this one wouldn’t be one of my top ones.
- Bessie Bell & The Goblin King (Tales of Aylfenhame #3) by Charlotte E. English (released 2016)
- This book gave me strong Hollow Kingdom and Howl’s Moving Castle vibes. Following the feisty Bessie Bell who leaves her maid position under…um…not the best circumstances in the middle of the night, only to be picked up by a mysterious man who is not at all who he appears to be and is dragged into a world a fantasy and adventure. I loved this book, even if technically speaking it, it had some weaknesses. All the characters are absolutely hilarious, and the world was interesting while still staying in the realm of familiar fairytales. I enjoyed some of the twists and the romance was sweet. Saying that, I never felt like Bessie really fell in love in the book. I could feel her care for him, but not necessarily any romance from her side. Also, I didn’t always like how bossy she was, as it didn’t make sense for a girl who has been a maid all her life to automatically take charge constantly. But I still really enjoyed this book!
- Abina and the Important Men: A Graphic History by Trevor R. Getz and Liz Clarke (released 2011)
- This graphic history is an adaptation of a court transcript of a girl who took her slave owner to court in 1876 West Africa. She lost the case, but her story remained in that transcript until historian Trevor R. Getz teamed up with artist Liz Clarke to recreated Abina’s life in this non-fiction graphic novel. I really enjoyed this book, especially with the historical context explained in the back. I don’t read that many graphic novels, and I love how this book attempts to combine the lightness of a graphic novel with the complexity of history. I highly recommend this book if you’re curious to learn more about African history but don’t want to start with a big, scary textbook.
So there are the books I read this month. Have you read any of these books? Do any of them look interesting to you? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments, follow my blog for more musings and, as always,
Best wishes in your life full of adventure,