Wrap up

March 2022 Reading Wrap-Up

“Reginal Gatling’s doom found him beneath an oak tree, on the last Sunday of a fast-fading summer.”

First line in A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske

March. Did I do anything in March? Wasn’t it February yesterday? We changed to daylight saving time last weekend and that missing hour is still messing with me. It’s totally not because I stayed up all night last Sunday/Monday to watch the Oscars even though I had work on Monday. But hey, I got to watch the latest scandal live, and we’re done talking about that, aren’t we?

I have great news when it comes to my reading though. Just look at my stats:

I think my slump is over? I haven’t read this much in six or seven months, and as you can tell, the quality of what I was reading had a lot to do with it. I finished my reread of my favorite trilogy by getting through The Girl in the Tower and The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden, and while I had forgotten a lot, they were just as good as I remembered. That combined with a lot of other books that just had me prioritizing reading again makes me think I have my reading-mojo back. But let’s look at the books I read in March!

Elantris (Elantris #1)

Author: Brandon Sanderson

Published: May 2005

Genre: Fantasy

My rating:

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Buzzwords: Cosmere, mysterious city, mysterious disease, mysterious plot-conveniences

Synopsis: The capital of Arelon, the home to people transformed into magic-using demigods by the Shaod.

But then the magic failed, Elantris started to rot, and its inhabitants turned into powerless wrecks.

And in the new capital, Kae, close enough to Elantris for everyone to be reminded of what they have lost, a princess arrives. Sarene is to be married to unite Teod and Arelon against the religious imperialists of Fjordell. But she is told that Raoden, her husband to be, is dead.

Determined to carry on the fight for Teod and Arelon’s freedom, Sarene clashes with the high priest Hrathen. If Hrathen can persuade the populace to convert, Fjordell will reign supreme.

But there are secrets in Elantris, the dead and the ruined may yet have a role to play in this new world. Magic lives.

Goodreads

My thoughts

Word of advice: If you’re already having doubts about Sanderson (like me), you probably shouldn’t read this book. It is his debut, and it’s safe to say that you can tell. The number is conveniences in the plot is through the roof! I know this because I buddy-read this with Naemi @A Book Owl’s Corner and our comments were basically just us pointing out how convenient or stupid some developments were. I’m actually not sure if the only thing that kept this from getting 1 star was the buddy-reading experience with Naemi because at least we could bond over things not making sense so the reading experience itself wasn’t the most horrible. Besides that, I’m struggling to think of something I enjoyed about this book. The gripes I have with Sanderson’s later books were just magnified in here: simple characters, characters acting strangely in order to make a convenient plot point seem less convenient, his romances that are just friendships (and not even very deep ones). Then on top of that, Elantris had a world that wasn’t explored very deeply. Aspects of it were often just mentioned and then never explored further even when that could have benefitted the plot in order to make it less convenient.

I’m not sure where I stand with Sanderson. I’m too deep into the Cosmere to give up now, so I know I’ll finish the ongoing series, but I doubt I’ll read any more Sanderson beyond that.

Unwind (Unwind Dystology #1)

Author: Neal Shusterman

Published: November 6th, 2007

Genre: YA Science Fiction

My rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Buzzwords: Runaway teens, questioning morality, dystopian

Synopsis: In a society where unwanted teens are salvaged for their body parts, three runaways fight the system that would “unwind” them.
Connor’s parents want to be rid of him because he’s a troublemaker. Risa has no parents and is being unwound to cut orphanage costs. Lev’s unwinding has been planned since his birth, as part of his family’s strict religion. Brought together by chance, and kept together by desperation, these three unlikely companions make a harrowing cross-country journey, knowing their lives hang in the balance. If they can survive until their eighteenth birthday, they can’t be harmed — but when every piece of them, from their hands to their hearts, are wanted by a world gone mad, eighteen seems far, far away.

Goodreads

My thoughts

Why have reviews led me to believe that this series isn’t good? If the rest of it is as good as this first book, I’m going to be talking about it extensively! Unwind had everything I look for in a YA dystopian: the protagonists going against the system, questions of ethics, brutal scenes that should never happen (a certain scene might have scarred me for life…). A special aspect I really liked about this book is that through the nature of following teenagers meant to be unwound, we also follow teenagers with bad relationships with their parents. Why is that great, you may ask? Well, that’s me who prefers reading about dysfunctional families over loving ones, and this is an entire series full of them! I’m in heaven!

I also need to talk about Neal Shusterman, of course, because this is the sixth book of his that I read and I have yet to rate anything lower than four stars. In this book, in particular, I was so impressed with his plot twists, not only because there were multiple, but also because of how he set them up and revealed them. They definitely took me by surprise more than once, which also kept me invested because at no point did I have an idea of where this book was going. I’m also very fond of a special type of chapter that I’ve noticed Shusterman likes to put in his books, which are short chapters from the perspectives of random people that Shusterman uses to develop the world. They are always so efficient because he can make you care about this person you don’t even know the name of so they don’t feel like they’re interrupting the story while they give small insights into the world that the main characters can’t give you.

A Marvellous Light (The Last Binding #1)

Author: Freya Marske

Published: October 26th, 2021

Genre: Historical Fantasy

My rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Buzzwords: Magicians, Edwardian England, queer romance

Synopsis: Robin Blyth has more than enough bother in his life. He’s struggling to be a good older brother, a responsible employer, and the harried baronet of a seat gutted by his late parents’ excesses. When an administrative mistake sees him named the civil service liaison to a hidden magical society, he discovers what’s been operating beneath the unextraordinary reality he’s always known.

Now Robin must contend with the beauty and danger of magic, an excruciating deadly curse, and the alarming visions of the future that come with it—not to mention Edwin Courcey, his cold and prickly counterpart in the magical bureaucracy, who clearly wishes Robin were anyone and anywhere else.

Robin’s predecessor has disappeared, and the mystery of what happened to him reveals unsettling truths about the very oldest stories they’ve been told about the land they live on and what binds it. Thrown together and facing unexpected dangers, Robin and Edwin discover a plot that threatens every magician in the British Isles—and a secret that more than one person has already died to keep.

Goodreads

My thoughts

This book was just a good time. It was fun and sweet and actually managed quite a bit of world-building for a fantasy book under 400 pages. There’s a very cool magic system that reminded me of the one in The Magicians by Lev Grossman in that there’s a scientific approach to it. Not that we get to go very deep into it, but you get a sense of it and see the possibilities for future books. That’s really my overall feeling about the world-building because there is an entire community of magicians we only really get a glimpse of, but I also don’t think we needed more than what we got for this book to work, which I really appreciate.

Then there’s also the fact that this book is as much romance as it is fantasy, which I know can deter some people. And you really need to be into this queer romance to like the book but it’s not hard to love. It’s a very sweet, opposites-attract kind of romance, and I especially liked how the character Robin was a breath of fresh air in that regard. He doesn’t strike me as a typical character from a romance book in that Marske actually dared to create a main character who doesn’t like to read and prefers sports and talking to people. That said though, I feel like I need to stress that this is a romance and by that, I mean that it gets graphic. There are no fade-to-blacks or subtle suggestive hints; you know exactly what’s going on so just be prepared for that. If you don’t mind that (like I didn’t) then I highly recommend this book. The only problem is that the sequel seems to follow completely different characters, and as someone who gets attached to characters and pretty much nothing else about a book, I can only say I absolutely hate that trend.

Fool’s Errand (The Tawny Man #1)

Author: Robin Hobb

Published: October 15th, 2001

Genre: Fantasy

My rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

My thoughts

This is the seventh book in Hobb’s Realm of the Elderlings and I had been looking forward to spending time with Fitz again whom we followed in the first trilogy. Yet, I think I surprised myself by exactly how happy it made me just to read about him again. The first half of this book didn’t really have much of a plot, but I didn’t miss it for one second because just reading about these characters doing nothing and just talking is all I need. So it was a little annoying when the plot started going, maybe also because it wasn’t the most thrilling plot, but it was necessary because I felt it was setting up a lot of stuff for the next books.

A funny thing I noticed about the book: I think this is the least painful Hobb book I’ve read so far, and while I do like the hard-hitting stuff, getting less of it clearly didn’t influence my enjoyment here. That said, I’m very scared of the last two books.

Including my rereads I had four (!!) 5-star reads this month! What?!? If you’re new here, I’m usually lucky if I have one each month, so I think it’s safe to say that this is the best reading month I’ve ever had. I’m almost hesitant about picking up a new book because what if I break this trend?
It’s hard for me to pick a favorite between Unwind and Fool’s Errand, so I’d rather hear what YOUR favorite book of the month was. How was your reading month?

8 thoughts on “March 2022 Reading Wrap-Up

  1. The daylight savings switch was so cruel! I had actually completely forgotten about it, so imagine my shock when I looked at my watch and realized it was an hour earlier than on my phone and that I’d been robbed!! 😫

    I loved, loved, loved this wrap-up, though – probably largely because of the books in it 🥰 I already lost it at the crossed out mysterious plot conveniences in your Elantris buzzwords, and yes, I agree, the fact that we read the book together made everything so much better!! Still, I probably would have given it more than one star even if I had read it on my own, simply because I did like the idea of how hopelessly run down Elantris was and because it had Hrathen!

    And who told you Unwind was bad?! 😨 I like Scythe more, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Unwind Dystology is amazing! 🥰 Regarding Neal Shusterman, it’s only the Skinjackers Trilogy that I didn’t end up liking all that much…

    Excuse me, though – FOOL’S ERRAND WAS LESS PAINFUL THAN THE OTHER BOOKS??? 😭😭😭 I’m seriously questioning your heartlessness right now!!! 😜 But yeah, it was a different kind of pain in this one, so I think I get where you’re coming from 😉

    Anyway, I’ll keep my fingers crossed that April will be as great of a reading month as March for both of us 😊 I didn’t have quite as many five-star books as you did, but two and two four-star ones on top of that is still way better than average!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I wasn’t that fascinated by Hrathen and his ending was one of the things that ruined the book most for me. I might have been able to find something good about the book anyway, but I’m sure that the whole experience would have been so annoying to me that I wouldn’t have been able to reward the book with an extra star for whatever I found 😅

      And just generally “people” said that this wasn’t anywhere near Arc of a Scythe, but seriously, the first book in Unwind is better than the first book in Scythe so people have been lying to me!

      Of course, Fool’s Errand was less painful! I read the whole thing just bracing for that pain I had learned would come but it never really showed up. There weren’t any of those life-shattering events we see in all her other books, so I found this one quite pleasant. And maybe it’s now that I break it to you that I don’t care about Nighteyes *runs and hides*. It’s nothing personal! I never care about animal characters because they’re just not that interesting to me and take time away from the human characters, so I’m not going to be sad that they aren’t there anymore. SORRY! *still hiding*

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, the Hrathen ending was awful 😅 But at least he was tolerable at the beginning, compared to perfect Raoden and Sarene! 🙄 And we got some Cosmere clues and came up with our cool theory, so I’m still counting reading it as a win!

        And lolol, I do think the first Scythe book was better than the first Unwind book 😁 But not by much, so I feel like your perspective is acceptable 😉 If I remember correctly, my only criticism at the time I first read it was that I didn’t find it believable that Unwinding had become so widely accepted, but the rest of the series did eventually convince me otherwise, so I’d actually be interested in seeing if my thoughts on book one might change if I reread it in full! 🤔 (As of yet, I’ve only completely reread book 3 because it features my favorite character in the series very heavily 🥰)

        And you’d better hide! Nighteyes is one of the best characters in the whole series! He doesn’t deserve to be discriminated against simply for being a wolf 😤😭 And also, Fitz just relied on him so completely that him being gone is the saddest thing ever!!! But it’s fine 😫 I’ll get over it… (I guess now I know how you felt when I wanted to punch Wintrow, so I suppose I’m sorry in retrospect 🤣)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yeah, I had no trouble believing that humanity would do something so completely outrageous because I think the real world has taught me that only a few people need to think something is a good idea, and then the rest is all about communication.

        Also, to be fair, I didn’t actually want Nighteyes to die! I just didn’t want him to be there at all (I believe I’ve mentioned being hesitant about Hobb because I don’t like the animal companion trope) 😅 Like, him going off somewhere and living his own life would have been perfect! Then Fitz and the Fool could talk without being interrupted 😁

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yeah, the last few years have really contributed to making me a whole lot more cynical where humanity is concerned as well, so I feel like I’d unfortunately be way more easily convinced now, too 😥

        But… one of the most beautiful things about Fitz and the Fool’s relationship was how completely the Fool accepted Nighteyes as being part of the Fitz-package deal, loved him along with Fitz, and never tried to exclude him!!! 😭 (Unlike a certain someone whose name begins with “S” and ends in “tarling” 🙄) But yeah, it’s fine 😂 I think I’ve also told you that I always fall for the animal companion trope hook, line, and sinker, so… my Nighteyes love was guaranteed from the get go 🥰 As far as I can recall, we already disagreed on how amazing he was when we read The Farseer Trilogy – and since Nighteyes’s epicness didn’t already convince you there, I suppose I’ll have to accept that you’re simply a lost cause 😁

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I like Sanderson’s books, but maybe it’s because I don’t have to think too hard. His writing style lends itself perfectly for comfort reading for me :). It’s why I enjoy them, I think.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can recognize that about his writing. I used to really like his books but I think my tastes have changed so I’m not into that simple writing anymore, not even as comfort reading 🤷‍♀️ I’m glad you still enjoy them though! There’s no stopping him it seems 😄

      Like

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