As promised, I’m back to doing mid-month wrap ups so these posts don’t get too out of hand! My reading has been off to a pretty strong start this month, though I’m itching to pick up some nonfiction. As you’ll see in this post, I haven’t read any in a while!
Hello Stranger by Lisa Kleypas
Hello Stranger is the highly anticipated (at least by me) book about Garrett Anderson and Ethan Ransom’s story. A spy for the crown, Ethan has found himself fascinated by Garrett, the only female doctor admitted to practice in England via a loophole that she exploited. He’s taken to shadowing and protecting her when she visits some of the less savory parts of London to provide medical treatment, until one night he comes out of the shadows to save her from an attack and ultimately agrees to give her lessons in self defense.
I enjoyed this book a lot, but I have to admit that I was pulled out of it a bit by Smart Bitches’ review, and that kept me from enjoying it as much as I think I would have otherwise. It just got me second guessing a bunch of things and being overly critical and generally just distracted me from Garrett and Ethan’s story. I think they make an important point in the review and I’m impressed by Kleypas’ response, but I would recommend waiting to read their criticism until after you’ve read Hello Stranger.
I’m not sure if I would have picked up on these things if it weren’t for the Smart Bitches’ review making me overly critical, but I question a few of Kleypas’ decisions in this book. For instance, I understand Ethan is following Garrett to protect her, and it’s easy to find that romantic, but I wish she’d address that it can be interpreted as creepy. I also love how Ethan wound up teaching Garrett self defense, but I would have liked to have seen Garrett be a badass who’s capable of taking care of herself without Ethan coming to the rescue. Like I said, they’re just little things that kept me from fully immersing in the story.
Overall, I do like Garrett and Ethan together and I really enjoyed their story, but I don’t think it’s Kleypas’ best. Although even when Kleypas isn’t at the top of her game, she still writes an excellent book! I enjoyed it a lot, and she’s got me so, so excited for West Ravenal’s story.
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
Northanger Abbey was my February reread pick, and while I did start this in February, I didn’t actually finish it until March, which is how it wound up in this recap. For those who aren’t familiar with Northanger Abbey, Goodreads sums it up best when saying it “tells the story of Catherine Morland and her dangerously sweet nature, innocence, and sometime self-delusion. Though Austen’s fallible heroine is repeatedly drawn into scrapes while vacationing at Bath and during her subsequent visit to Northanger Abbey, Catherine eventually triumphs, blossoming into a discerning woman who learns truths about love, life, and the heady power of literature.”
This book actually took me a little bit to get into! Maybe I wasn’t in the right mental space to be reading it when I started, but after a few chapters, I got completely absorbed in the story. Austen is truly a master in character studies, and I’m in complete awe at what she accomplishes with her stories. Northanger Abbey might not be my favorite Austen book, but that’s only because the likes of Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility are pretty hard to keep up with. (For the record, Persuasion also slightly beats out Northanger Abbey, which I currently consider my fourth-favorite Austen novel). Once I got into it, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I’m really glad I reread it.
The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness
The Book of Life is the final book in the All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness, though fortunately we’ll be getting more books following these characters! I don’t want to share to much about the plot of these book because spoilers, but I think this trilogy is worth checking out if you like urban fantasy, history, secret societies, and hidden powers. Keep in mind that they’re slower reads, but that just makes it even easier to savor them.
I thought The Book of Life was an excellent conclusion to an excellent trilogy, and quite possibly my favorite book in the series. I really liked having all of the characters from the previous two books come together, as well as all of the various plot threads that were laid out in the first two installments. Plus you finally get a bunch of questions answered that have been asked since the beginning of the first book! It just really felt like everything came full circle and I absolutely loved it. I’m so excited that we’ll be getting more books in this world! I’m dying to know more about Matthew and Diana’s kids…
Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann
I actually didn’t read enough of Buddenbrooks to really mention it here, only 50 pages out of about 700, but I wanted to include it since I’ve made a big deal out of putting it on my TBRs for the last two months. It’s a readable book, but I just don’t care enough to read all 700 pages of it, and frankly the summary on Wikipedia doesn’t sound all that appealing to me. I just decided there are too many other books that I’m really excited to read about, and that I’d rather practice my German than learn more about German literature. Maybe one day I’ll circle back to it, but I won’t get anything out of it if I force myself to read it now.
A Court of Thorns and Roses Trilogy by Sarah J. Maas
So I was only planning to read A Court of Thorns and Roses this month. I was planning to read it later in the month, too, but then the big storm hit New York and I found myself with an extra night off and nothing to do, so I started reading ACOTAR. And of course I couldn’t not immediately start reading A Court of Mist and Fury, and once I finished that, it was impossible to not just finish out the trilogy with A Court of Wings and Ruin. So here we are!
I’m going to talk about my thoughts below, but there will be spoilers, so skip it if you haven’t read these books yet.
The entire time I was reading ACOTAR, I just wanted to skip ahead to ACOMAF. I didn’t care about Tamlin, I didn’t care about Feyre’s journey to defeat Amarantha, I just wanted to read about Rhys. This was my first time rereading ACOTAR, and while I still generally enjoyed it, I’m not sure I see myself rereading it again. I’d rather just read a few scenes and then dive straight into ACOMAF.
Speaking of ACOMAF, this book was just as good as I remembered. Maas seriously did an amazing job with this book. I loved, loved, loved seeing Feyre’s growth and how she recognized that Tamlin’s behavior was not acceptable, and how Rhys helped show her what she deserved in a relationship. And I loved getting to know Rhys throughout the course of the book and seeing again all of the little ways he helped Feyre. Their romance is one of my favorites of all time, and I completely adore this book.
I decided to continue with ACOWAR without taking a break first because I just wasn’t ready for Feyre and Rhys’ story to be over. I know the first time I read this book, I was kind of disappointed in it, but I actually enjoyed it a lot more the second time around. It’s not without its flaws—I didn’t like how Mor’s sexuality has handled, and I felt like the book got a bit long with too many unnecessary plot points. And I still maintain that there were too many loose threads at the end of this book to properly wrap up this trilogy. But I loved spending more time with the Night Court and Feyre and Rhys and seeing them solidify their bond, plus it was really cool to visit more of the other courts. Even though this book is a beast at more than 700 pages, I wasn’t ready for it to be over, and I’m kicking myself a bit for not waiting until next month to reread these books, because I want A Court of Frost and Starlight now! I can’t wait to see where Maas takes this series.
March Book Two by John Lewis
March Book Two is the second installment in Representative John Lewis’ three-part graphic memoir about his role in the Civil Rights Movement. I really can’t speak highly enough about these graphic novels. Reading them has really driven home how little I know about the Civil Rights Movement, as well as how terrible people can really be. It’s horrifying to read about the beatings, shootings, and other terrible mistreatments that white people inflicted on black people who demanded equal rights. It’s hard to wrap my head around how people can treat other people like that, and this book is a really important reminder of how dark American history can be as well as what important work the people in the Civil Rights Movement did. More than that, though, I also really appreciate the inside look into what Lewis was thinking at the time and his role in the March on Washington. I’m also really, really impressed by the decision to frame these books with the inauguration of President Barack Obama, because I think that does an excellent job highlighting what an important moment in history that was and showing the longterm impact of the Civil Rights Movement. These books are so important, and I highly recommend them.
Like I said, lots of good reading so far this month! Interestingly enough, it’s all been rereading, which has been a lot of fun, but I’m ready for something new. My plan is to make some progress in Grant this weekend and finish up some books that I’ve been working on for a while, and then maybe pick up Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race.
How has your reading month been going so far? Let me know in the comments!