Reading Wrap-Up: February 2020

Hello, and welcome to my first wrap-up in a long, long time. Have you missed them? It was a very mixed bag this month, and I even gave a book just one star which I have not done in years!

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The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

The Martian Chroniclesย is a collection of short stories and pieces of writing which cover the period between 1999 and 2026 where humans are on a quest to colonise Mars. As with the majority of short story collections, it was a mixed bag. At times Bradbury’s stories were excellent, most notablyย Usher IIย andย The Third Expedition, which I could see myself re-reading, but there were also a lot which I just did not care about. I think that the collection is a good introduction to Bradbury as the format makes it easy to read, and to classic science fiction concepts but I’m not sure that the collection as a whole had the impact that I wanted it to. That said it was very close to being a four-star book for me, just not quite close enough.

Burn for Me and White Hot by Ilona Andrews ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

Burn for Meย is the first book in an adult urban fantasy romance series that follows PI Nevada Baylor in a cut-throat alternate reality where magic is everything. February was not off to a great start until I started reading this yesterday morning. I was hoping that it would give me Karen Marie Monning vibes and I was right. Although the stories are very differentย Burn for Meย has a delicious undertone of sexual tension between Nevada and โ€œMadโ€ Rogan, a powerful magic user who she has to work with. The tension holds the book together so that the plot itself has a tightness to it that just keeps you reading. It’s no secret that I adore a steamy romance with my urban fantasy but what made this book a little bit special was the fact that the side characters were so great in their own right I did not feel as though I was waiting for the love interest to reappear. At the risk of sounding too dramatic, I think I might have a new author to add to my list of favourites. You should bear in mind that if you don’t enjoy the romance from the first book then you’re not going to like this series. However, the romance is one of my favourites and what makes this series so addictive in my eyes. I like my romances to be super angsty and while the angst took a back seat I found myself rooting for them even more which is something which never happens.

Re-read: Vengeful by V.E. Schwab ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

This was a five star book when I first read it and my opinion has not changed in the slightest. This time around I feel like I was even more aware of just how superbly talented Schwab is as a writer.

Agatha Raisin and the Murderous Marriage by M.C Beaton ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

Agatha Raisin and the Murderous Marriageย is the fifth book in the Agatha Raisin series, a cosy murder mystery series set in the Cotswolds. What can I say about this one in particular? The mystery itself was perfectly fine, and although I have seen the adaptation could not remember who the killer was so it did come as a surprise. It wasn’t a stop-the-presses sort of surprise but I didn’t guess who it was. As with the previous book, it does feel a bit dated and when you consider the way in which the women are described it surprises me that this is written by a woman. As a character Agatha is not great, she’s borderline unlikable and I can’t tell whether that’s intentional or not. Despite this, I do what to grab hold of her and shake her and say “Agatha, you’re worth more than James’ attention”. So, after a so-so review, you may be wondering, ‘Victoria, why are you still reading these books if you don’t like them. My answer: I don’t dislike them, I suppose I just about like them, but mostly it’s because they’re an easy read and my library has all of them’. Maybe that’s not the best reason to continue but I don’t think I’m quite ready to stop just yet.

The Witcher Omnibus by Tobin, Queiro, Kowalski, Bertollini etc.๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

After being introduced to the world of The Witcher though the Netflix show I am desperate for more content which is the reason I picked this up fromย Forbidden Planetย (affiliate link). Objectively the stories contained in this bind-up are really good, but this is not the best way to be introduced to the Witcher. The closest this collection comes to establishing the world at its lore is the ‘Killing Monsters’ one-shot which doesn’t appear until about halfway through the book. Unfortunately, I also wasn’t a huge fan of the art, it was fine and served a purpose but it’s not the sort of art that I have to look twice at because it’s so compelling. That said, I want to reiterate that the writers do a brilliant job with the stories, making them feel fresh and unpredictable they just weren’t very accessible. If you already like the Witcher then, of course, you should pick this up, but you’re going to need some background because it’s all new to you and you won’t get that here.

Dead in the Water by Carola Dunn ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

The sixth book in the Daisy Dalrymple series finds Daisy embroiled, once again, in the murder of an acquaintance. This time the victim is a much-disliked member of a rowing team and proceeds in the same procedural manner as the previous books do. That is by no means a bad thing, as this sort of set-up is part of the genre of the cosy murder mystery. However, after four of these int he past month i do think that it might be time for me to slow down just a bit.ย Dead in the Waterย would be a brilliant mystery to read during the summertime, and definitely kept me guessing right up till the very end. Alec and Daisy are as charming as always, though I will miss seeing the inception of their relationship as it is now much more established. Overall, this sixth book was a decent addition to the series.

Re-read: Once and Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

I’ve never re-read a book and had such a different opinion on it. I don’t know what has happened over the past year to make me change my mind so much because I did not like this book nearly as much as I did in 2019. As a result, I’ve changed my star rating, which is something I never do, and I disagree with pretty much everything I said in the review believe, bar the plot summary. It’s an okay book but there’s not much to it beyond that. If you’re looking for an Arthur story you should just read White’sย The Once and Future Kingbecause it’s superior to this retelling. I’m so confused about how my opinion has changed so drastically in the space of a year.ย 

Lancelot by Giles Kristian ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

If you’ve been following my updates then you’ll already know that I have been dragging myself towards the end of this book for the past two weeks. After taking a university class on the myth of King Arthur I feel as though I have read a number of depictions and love this myth. When I learnt that this was the Arthurian myth from Lancelot’s point-of-view I was super excited to read this. The reason I love the myth is because of the love that exists between the characters, particularly Arthur-Gwen-Lancelot, whether that’s romantic love or platonic love. This book felt as though it was supposed to be a love story and yet I did not feel that at any point during the book. The relationships, which this story hinges on, felt so utterly, and impossibly, sterile. It was clear that Kristian’s interest lay in the battles, which was fine, but it is impossible to tell the story of Lancelot without the relationships. Ultimately my favourite part was in the beginning with the falcon, and if you’ve read it you know how hat ended. The writing wasn’t awful but I was bored to death, and if you want an Arthurian retelling you should just read T.H. White (and believe me, I’m sick of writing this).ย 

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

North and Southย is an 1854 novel that follows Margaret as her father leaves his role as a clergyman and moves the family from a charming southern village to the industrial north. I picked it up as part of my #ClassicsCommunity reading challenge since I’d watched and really enjoyed the BBC adaptation. Little did I know that this book would quickly become a favourite. Gaskell is adept and handling the romance between Margaret and Mr Thronton, a mill-owner, with buckets of angst. The result feels surprisingly modern, especially when compared to other romances written during the same time. What was also very unusual, at least in my experience was the changes in point of view, something which I really love in my books. Overall I don’t think I could have enjoyed this any more.

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir ๐ŸŒŸ

Gideon the Ninthย is the first book inย The Locked Tombย series, and was the book in Illumicrate’s August 2019 box. I had never heard of this book and wasn’t sold until I started seeing so many good reviews from various people. Little did I know that I would not find these review as relatable once I started reading the book. From my rating, you can see that I di not enjoy this book at all. I feel really bad about the rating but cannot think of a reason other than guilt to give it a higher rating. What is this book about? I could not tell you. There are necromancers, and some keys, and some murders. That’s all I can remember. Gideon is a strange character that does not fit in with the rest of the characters or this world at all. It’s not the sort of alienation that you can pass off as a contrast because it just feels far too out of place. Gideon feels like she was ripped from another story and just dumped into this universe. Speaking of the universe, there are nine houses all with different necromantic powers, and I could not tell you anything else about it.ย Gideon the Ninthย is 440 pages long, and I spent the latter 400 feeling lost and confused. I’m still lost and confused and disappointed. Honestly, the best thing I have to say about this book is that I really like the cover, so thank you Tommy Arnold for your art.

Re-read: Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

I loved it. I still love it, and I have a full spoiler-free review if you want to know more.

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And those are the books that I read in February. My highlight of the month was probably Ilona Andrews, North and South, and re-reading Vengeful because you can never go wrong with Queen V.

What about you? Have you read any of these books? What did you read this month? What were you’re highlights?

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