May 2016 Wrap-Up

I didn’t thing my having read two books in April justified a wrap-up, especially since both were re-reads (City of Bones & City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare), so I am now back with my May wrap-up. May was an awesome reading month – I’ve finally finished re-reading the first three Mortal Instruments books, and started reading the other ones, which I have never actually came around to picking up. I also started Shades of Magic series (?), since they’ve been sitting on my shelf for ages, and all is well in the reading world.

One with You (Crossfire #5) by Sylvia Day 3/5

Crossfire series started off very hot and dark and intriguing, and went downhill with every book. Although I enjoyed One with You a little bit more than the previous two books, both of which I rated 2/5, this was not the conclusion I was hoping for. A couple of plot points that were introduced in this last instalment were never mentioned or hinted to before and made absolutely no sense to me, which I found to be very annoying, because I feel like it is just lazy writing in order to reach a certain page quantity. Also, so many things were left unresolved, and I really don’t care for it. As much as I grew attached to Eva and Gideon, I am glad their story is over (though it should’ve been over two books ago, don’t you think?).

City of Glass (The Mortal Instruments #3) by Cassandra Clare 4/5

I didn’t think I would ever re-read these books and continue on with the series, but Shadowhunters TV show changed my mind. I didn’t want to pick up where I’ve left off and start reading the fourth book, since I’ve read the first three years ago and didn’t remember much, so I picked them all up once again. I was very surprised, because I enjoyed them much more than the first time around! This time I decided not to dwell on continuous teen angst and tedious tropes, and noticed that the writing is actually quite humorous and lively, and that the plot is very action-packed and politically-driven, which is my favorite kind.

A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1) by V.E. Schwab 3/5

I liked A Darker Shade of Magic a lot! Though the start of the story was very slow and confusing, the pace did pick up in the second half, and I could barely put the book down. I’ve never read anything by V.E. Schwab before, and I find that she is a really great storyteller. Slow and confusing is perfectly understandable when you have to introduce the reader to four different Londons and a complicated magic system. I feel that it is a strong beginning to a potentially very interesting and intriguing series.

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1) by Sarah J. Maas 4/5

I wanted to refresh my memory before picking up A Court of Mist and Fury, so I also re-read ACOTAR in May. And although it’s only been a few months since I’ve read ACOTAR the first time, there were a lot of things I didn’t remember and some things I didn’t catch before. I thought I liked Feyre before, but this time she annoyed the hell out of me, though she did redeem herself in my eyes when she started to make smarter decisions, which I appreciate.

A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2) by V.E. Schwab 4/5

I loved to get to know more about elemental magic, and I loved seeing characters going their separate ways. The plot of A Gathering of Shadows was mostly focused on a magic tournament whose goal is to basically reassert the power of rulers. And as per usual, the most interesting things are going on behind the scenes. I also enjoyed little flashbacks to events that happened in the four months since our main characters saw each other last. I loved that Lila has become a real, not self-proclaimed, pirate. The ending was heartbreaking and made me feel for Kell so much! And I can’t wait to read the next one!

City of Fallen Angels (The Mortal Instruments #4) by Cassandra Clare 4/5

City of Fallen Angels kind of felt like the first book in a new series, which was actually kind of nice. New plot points, new struggles, new stories, new big bads! This series is ridiculously action-packed, and it is getting harder and harder to put these books down.

 

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Iced by Karen Marie Moning

karen-marie-moning-iced

The Fever series is back with Iced, a Dani O’Malley novel. After the Wall fell, Dublin is in ruins. And if that is not enough, someone is “icing” the city and killing a lot of beings, human and Fae. A self-proclaimed superhero with an actual super-speed superpower, Dani, is hired to help figure out who is doing it and how to stop him. And as if Dani has not got enough going on, an Unseelie prince is stalking her, Ryodan is watching her every move and Mac is out there plotting revenge.

Rating: 4/5

The only reason I picked up Iced is to “suffer through it”, so I can finally get on reading Mac’s story, because, honestly, who cares about Dani? It turned out that a 14-year-old superhero’s mind is actually a very entertaining and interesting place, full of witty remarks, existential crises and surprisingly quotable thoughts.

For example, who does not like a pun:

Dude, the bush is ready. Why are you still beating around it?

Or an inspirational talk that gets you to move you butt and do something:

Life’s a choice: you can live in black and white, or you can live in color. I’ll take every shade of the rainbow and the gazillion in between.

What-iffing is for grownups. They what-if themselves right into doing nothing, and die without ever living.

Or a girl that loves books:

Holy borrowing bibliophile, let’s book!

Or some seriously wise advice:

In my experience, anybody besides your mom that feeds you is going to want something in exchange for it.

Or a reason not to procrastinate:

You still end up exactly where you didn’t want to be, doing exactly what you didn’t want to do, with the only difference being that you lost all that time in between, during which you could have been doing something fun. Even worse, you probably stayed in a stressed-out, crappy mood the whole time you were avoiding it. If you know something is inevitable, do it and get it over with. Move on. Life is short.

Or a definition of love:

The active caring and concern for the health and well-being of another person’s body and heart. Active. Not passive.

Or a very relevant observation:

If she is bright as a butterfly and sexual as a lioness in mating season, she will be cherished.

Dani is an astonishingly interesting, amusing, thought-provoking character whose voice is written beautifully, in my opinion. She is a kid that had to grow up fast, so she is street-smart, intelligent and wise beyond her years, and childish and naive all at the same time. Reading her point of view is very refreshing – she is a teen that is all businesslike, direct and demanding, and it may be funny at times, yet this is exactly how people her age behave – larger than life. She is also very observant.

Her passion for life pushes her limbs further than they were meant to go.

I cannot stress enough how enjoyable being in her head is. And how captivating the situations she gets herself into are. She says herself, that she has

the luck of a broken mirror nailed beneath an upside-down horseshoe with a ladder nearby that a black cat just walked under.

I think Karen Marie Moning did a wonderful job distinguishing between points of view. There was never any doubt about whose point of view you are reading, because they are all genuinely discernible. Dani, Christian, Kat sound completely different from each other, which is the point a lot of authors cannot qualitatively accomplish introducing different points of view.

Plot-wise the story is very compelling. Other than the obvious “Who’s the bad guy icing Dubling”, there are also “What does Ryodan actually want with Dani?”, “Is Christian going to turn full-on evil?”; “Is Mac actually after Dani for killing her sister?”; “Why is everyone so enthralled with the girl?” etc.

All in all, something I was going to “suffer through” turned out to be very “fecking” awesome, and I cannot wait to read Burned (Mac and Barrons are finally back! Yay!).

Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Georgie McCool is a TV writer looking for her big break. So when the opportunity knocks, she does not think twice about it, even though it might mean ruining her marriage. Two days before she and her husband Neal are supposed to visit Neal’s parents for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she cannot go. Neal takes the kids and goes without her and Georgie wonders if this is the thing that will finally irreversibly ruin her relationship with her husband. Neal does not take her calls; but Georgie soon discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past.

Rating: 5/5

Landline is a very entertaining, romantic, light-hearted story full of amusing, playful dialogues, vivid flashbacks and whimsical characters. As Georgie communicates with the Past Neal, she remembers the little things that were forgotten over the years. She remembers why she fell in love with him. She remembers their time together and starts to feel that she made the wrong decision not going on holiday with her family, putting her work first.

I take for granted that you’ll be there when I’m done doing whatever it is I’m doing. I take for granted that you’ll love me no matter what.

Even though the book deals with Past and Present selves of the characters, it is in no way a book about time travel. The means of communicating to the past – the magic phone – is never explained. It is just a means to nudge Georgie in the right direction, making her stop taking her family for granted and try to care less about her career. And by the end of the story you are left with a very real feeling that things do happen for a reason!

It is a great book for Christmas time. It is also great for people who might be struggling with their own relationships, because it puts things in perspective.

Nobody’s lives just fit together. Fitting together is something you work at. It’s something you make happen – because you love each other.

Wasn’t that the point of life? To find someone to share it with?
And if you got that part right, how far wrong could you go? If you were standing next to the person you loved more than everything else, wasn’t everything else just scenery?

Adultery by Paulo Coelho

Adultery

Adultery is a story about a woman in her thirties who is starting to become depressed and question her ability to ever be happy. She has got a husband who loves her, two children, a successful career, and everything money can buy, yet nothing makes her excited or passionate. Until she meets her high-school boyfriend and starts cheating on her husband, that is.

Rating: 2/5

Although I feel utmost respect for Paulo Coelho, I have never viewed him as a great writer, particularly masterful storyteller or a profound philosopher, as a lot of people do because of his ability to put tough topics into generic and understandable words that are appealing to masses. Not to say I have not read and liked some of his books. I have enjoyed his books when I was 16 years old, my favourite was  The Devil and Miss Prym and I have read Zahir in my early twenties and found that the book really spoke to me. But Adultery has got to be the poorest author’s work yet. What I did like about it is its structure (I found abrupt, short chapters kind of alluring), flow-of-consciousness narration, matter-of-fact, no-nonsense, sometimes manic behaviour of the protagonist, and the beginning and the end of the book, parts which are surprisingly quotable.

EVERY morning, when I open my eyes to the so-called “new day”, I feel like closing them again, staying in bed, and not getting up. But I can’t do that.

Today I am a woman torn between the terror that everything might change and the equal terror that everything might carry on exactly the same for the rest of my days.

Have we reached the point where risking our life is the only thing that frees us from boredom?

What I did not like was generic, “deep” thoughts, that are supposed to be viewed as profound, but in essence are completely meaningless and oddly blank – I read the words, I understood them, but somehow they did not seem relevant.

Love isn’t just a feeling; it’s an art.

These leaves were once part of a tree, a tree that has now gone to ground to prepare for season of rest. Did the tree have any consideration for the green cloak that covered it, fed it, and enabled it to breathe?

These quotes remind me of my writing class in middle school where I was given topics like “I am me” or “Loneliness and solitude” to ponder about in 500 words. And my 13-year-old past self was writing things much like Paulo Coelho. I did sympathize with the “middle-aged” thirty-year-old woman – depression is not something that is to be taken lightly – and her approach of not wanting to be medicated and talking about her feelings with incompetent and negligent therapists. But I am quite sure that any husband would prefer his wife medicated than cheating on him. All in all, Adultery definitely was not my piece of cake, but if you are a loyal Paulo Coelho reader, you should definitely pick it up!