Hellooo. I’m excited to share my March reading wrap-up because I got a ton of reading done this month, which I wasn’t anticipating. (And, I stuck pretty well to my TBR!) In total, I finished ten books, two novellas, and one audiobook. I’m pretty pleased with myself! Below is a list of the books I read, along with my rating and a (somewhat) brief summary of my thoughts on each. Enjoy!
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (re-read)
I love this book; I love Harry Potter. This was my first time reading a British edition of Harry Potter, and I quite enjoyed exploring the subtle deviations from the American version. Goblet of Fire has long been one of my favorite installments in the series. It is such a good transition book, meshing the self-contained, relatively lighthearted plots of the first three books with the heavier, more ominous plot lines of the last three. And the Triwizard Tournament is just so much fun. GAH. On a side note, J.K. Rowling has a habit of inserting commas—or omitting them—in very interesting places in her sentences. Same thing with semicolons.
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (3 stars)
I read Shadow and Bone in one afternoon/evening. I liked it, but was by no means blown away by the story. I found the world-building to be lackluster and I saw bits and pieces of several different YA books/movies in this novel. I feel like not much happened throughout the story, but I also feel like a lot of stuff was rushed and happened way too quickly. I am looking forward to the sequel though, as the second half of the book picked up considerably in comparison to the first half (as did Alina’s likability and narration). Not a whole lot happened in the first half that I thought was unique or really engaging. The second half of the novel, while far from revolutionary, did hook me and keep me reading until nearly 12 am to find out what would happen. I picture the Darkling as a crossover between Kylo Ren and young Tom Riddle. Overall, there is nothing offensive about Shadow and Bone, nothing wrong with it, but it’s just fine in my opinion, whereas Bardugo’s Six of Crows was absolutely flipping fantastic. Some happenings were just a little too convenient and others were easily predictable. But like I said, Shadow and Bone is not a bad book. I enjoyed reading it, and I’m planning to marathon the rest of the trilogy.
Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo (2 stars)
Don’t let my rating fool you—I didn’t hate this book. However, the reading experience was quite blasé. Like its predecessor, Siege and Storm contains many tropes and unoriginal plot lines (along with major plot holes) while simultaneously suffering from a lack of world-building and second book syndrome. All that being said, I really have no feelings about it, good or bad. I’ve been oddly neutral and unaffected, emotionally or mentally, whilst reading the Grisha trilogy. There were definitely some annoying things in this book that would’ve driven me mad normally, but I just kept chugging through in a somewhat detached way. I’m not connecting with the Grisha trilogy at all, good or bad. But Bardugo’s books, for all their faults, are page-turners. My favorite character was definitely Sturmhond/Nikolai (love that name!); we definitely need more of him. And the first portion of the book aboard the ships was the most exciting and interesting. The banter between characters was a plus in Siege and Storm and I enjoyed some of the dry humor and sarcasm. I disliked the brevity of Alina’s “tough leader” stature, how quickly Nikolai became a side character, the execution of Mal and Alina’s relationship issues, and the choppiness and pacing of the plot. Also, the amount of unanswered questions! In my opinion, the best parts of both Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm are the “Before” and “After” chapters at the beginning and end. These prologues and epilogues are written in a detached style from third person omniscient, and they’re eery, mysterious, and wonderful.
The Tailor by Leigh Bardugo (4 stars)
I really enjoyed this novella. Genya is one of my favorite characters in the series, and it was interesting to see some of her backstory and her perspective on her friendship with and betrayal of Alina.
Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo (3.5 stars)
Ruin and Rising surprised me. I connected to the characters and the storyline, and I finally felt something for the first time while reading this series. Individually, I think it’s probably closer to a 4-star book, but I lowered my rating by half a star because of its two predecessors and because it still didn’t blow me away. I totally predicted several of the plot twists, but everything wrapped up nicely in the end. Nicely as in loose ends are tied up, but not everything is happy-go-lucky. It’s a bittersweet, wistful ending that reminds us of what could have been. I still think the Grisha trilogy could have benefited from multiple POVs. The writing and characterization were much improved in Ruin and Rising, although no progress was made with the world-building and fundamental fantasy questions were left unanswered. I wish Nikolai had played a bigger role in the novel; it seemed like Bardugo just took him out to avoid dealing with plot issues and to make her tidy ending more convenient. Overall though, I was pleasantly surprised by the improvements I saw in Ruin and Rising from first two books in the trilogy, and I found it to be a satisfying end to the series. The epilogue was very well done—it is poignant, moving, and very bittersweet, but there’s hope and consolation, too.
The Demon in the Wood by Leigh Bardugo (3 stars)
This novella is a snapshot of the 13-year-old Aleksander (who goes by Eryk in this story). I enjoyed seeing an innocent Darkling and witnessing the event that catapulted his dream for a Grisha safe place, but I wanted more. I would’ve been more interested to see his early evil days, to see his power begin to take hold of him and corrupt him. But that’s just me. The story was all right, but nothing too exciting. I did like observing the early relationship between the young boy and his mother.
The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson (4.25 stars)
The Kiss of Deception was one of the best books I read in 2015, and, overall, The Heart of Betrayal was a good sequel. I was never bored while reading it; in fact, I found it quite difficult to put down. However, not much actually happens in this installment and it seemed to me that more questions were raised than explained, which worries me because there’s only one book left in the trilogy and a whole lot that needs answering. That being said, Lia is an AWESOME heroine, and I love the alternating perspectives. Though I didn’t really understand the need for Pauline’s chapters (hers didn’t really add much to the story), Kaden’s really grew on me—I loved his character growth in this novel. The Komizar, too, was a fascinating character. I was torn between liking and disliking him for most of the book, but his beating of Lia sealed the deal with my hate for him. And what an ending! I don’t know where the last book will take us—or Lia.
The Offering by Kimberly Derting (2 stars)
I loved The Pledge and really liked The Essence. However, most of The Offering was boring and pointless. I started it back in 2014, a few months after it was released, and only got 70 pages in before I was bored to tears. Nevertheless, I’ve been on a YA fantasy kick lately, and I picked it back up again this month, determined to finally finish it. I did enjoy the action-packed and satisfying ending, which tied up the multiple perspectives and overarching plot points of the trilogy nicely.
Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes (3 stars)
I hope and expect the rest of the series to be much better if it’s going to live up to its hype. Falling Kingdoms was neither fantastic nor horrible. It was interesting and enjoyable, and it definitely had its moments. I liked the alternating perspectives a lot. Rhodes manages to get you to sympathize with each character and to understand his or her perspective. For example, my opinion of Magnus changed drastically when viewing him through his POV sections as compared to viewing him through Cleo’s POV sections. The characters are all flawed and multidimensional. Cleo is ignorant and bratty, but also bold and fiercely loyal. Jonas is intuitive and a good leader, though he has a strong temper. And Magnus… Well, Magnus is complicated. His feelings for his sister, Lucia, are disturbing, particularly because he is not aware that she is not his sister by blood when they first develop. Regardless, Magnus and Lucia were raised as brother and sister, blood-related or not. I’m intrigued with the way Rhodes is delving into incest and am curious to see whether Magnus’ unrequited love will abate. I also appreciate how Rhodes doesn’t shy away from putting her characters through hell (and lots of deaths), but I found every major “plot twist” predictable. SPOILERS: I predicted Theon’s death, that Cleo would be left orphaned with no family, that Lucia would reject Magnus, that Magnus is a borderline sociopath, that King Gaius would turn on the Chief, and that Jonas and Cleo will have a romance (this hasn’t actually happened yet, but I’m pretty sure it will). END SPOILERS. Overall, Falling Kingdoms was a decent book, but I just wasn’t hooked and amazed the way some people seem to be by this series. I do have hopes that the series will improve with each installment though, and the ascending ratings on Goodreads serve as confirmation of my expectations. We’ll see!
The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson (re-read)
Boy oh boy do I love this book. It was one of the best books I read last year and re-reading it was just as great. Lia is most definitely one of my top female protagonists… She is just so dang AWESOME. I loved the male perspectives in The Kiss of Deception, Rafe’s and Kaden’s. I love getting to see Lia not only through her own eyes, but through theirs as well. AH. Read this book ASAP!!!
The Girl Who Fell by S. M. Parker (2.75 stars)
The Girl Who Fell is a really tough book for me to rate. I believe the author had the best intentions when writing it, a belief that is supported by the author’s note in the back of the book. However, it was an uncomfortable and generally un-fun book to read, often because of the topic it deals with. The dialogue (and relationship) between Alec and Zephyr is dramatic, awkward, cheesy, and cringeworthy. He’s such a creep. The writing style left me feeling like I was being told a lot and shown very little, particularly in regards to Zephyr’s family life and her father’s departure. The ending, when Zephyr finally sees Alec for what he really is, was the best part of the book, but even it was rushed and not thorough. I would have preferred to see less of the book dedicated to Zephyr and Alec’s relationship and more to the aftermath of its ending.
Goodreads | My Review
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (4 stars)
I finally got around to reading this classic for an independent reading assignment for my senior English class. I’d been wanting to read it since at least freshman year, and I’m not ashamed to say that my interest was originally piqued by Stephenie Meyer’s Eclipse. Wuthering Heights was perhaps not the most enjoyable book to read, due to its slew of dysfunctional characters and, at times, tedious narration/plot line. However, I so admired the ways in which Brontë connects the stories of two generations of characters (and the influence of the first on the second), and was so gripped by the juxtaposition between Catherine and Heathcliff’s unconventional personalities and fierce, unwavering love, that it has definitely earned a place on my list of favorite classics. For around 200 pages, I was more immersed in Wuthering Heights than I think I’ve ever been whilst reading a classic, so much so that I didn’t feel like I was reading a classic at all.
Goodreads | My Review
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling, narrated by Jim Dale (5 stars)
I really loved listening to the audiobook of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I enjoyed Jim Dale’s narration and voices, and the story seemed more magical than ever before. The audiobook truly brings the story, characters, and wizarding world to life in a way I’d never imagined—and for Harry Potter, which is already so real to so many of us, that’s really saying something.
Audible | My Review
BITS & PIECES
I read 124 pages of Red Rising by Pierce Brown before DNFing it (for now), I started re-reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and I got a few chapters into the audiobook of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (LOVING IT). We also began Hamlet in my English class and have read/listened to the first three acts. Finally, I read a great portion of The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.
What was the best book you read this month?
Thanks for reading.