Hello! This is a new feature on my blog where I’ll be briefly talking about the books I’ve read this year. I did quarterly wrap up posts last year, but I decided that I wanted to do these wrap up posts with a little more frequency. Really, I’d just like to get into the habit of saying something about every book that I read, and I don’t always have enough to say about a book to warrant a full length review.
I’ve read 11 books so far this year — if you’re wondering why this post is starting at #6, it’s because I talked about the first four books I read this year in my #DAReadathon Wrap Up post back in January, and I’ve also written a full length review of Heartless by Marissa Meyer. I’ve had a great reading year so far, I honestly don’t know that I’ve ever read over ten books before the end of February before. Plus, I’ve given every book I’ve read a pretty good rating, so let’s get into it!
Covers = Goodreads.
THE VEGETARIAN BY HAN KANG
I started reading this during the #DAReadathon, but didn’t finish it in time. This won the International Man Booker prize last year, and I saw nothing but amazing reviews following its win. The Vegetarian is translated fiction set in modern day South Korea. All I knew about it going in was that it’s about a woman, Yeong-hye, who decides to become a vegetarian, which is a somewhat subversive decision in South Korea. The book is told in three parts; the first is narrated from the perspective of Yeong-hye’s husband; the second is from the perspective of her brother-in-law; the third is from her sister’s perspective. Yeong-hye’s decision to become a vegetarian — indeed, she forgoes all animal products entirely — is unclear throughout the novel, and this is heightened by the fact that we never hear directly from Yeong-hye herself. I enjoyed this narrative technique, and I liked that we switched perspective. Yeong-hye’s husband and her brother-in-law are deeply unlikable characters. Despite this, I enjoyed the first part of the novel. Yeong-hye’s husband is incredibly dismissive of her, and there are several uncomfortable moments in his narrative as he presumes to make decisions for Yeong-hye, and treats her body as if it is his to control.
However, the book lost me in the second part. This focused almost entirely on Yeong-hye’s brother-in-law’s sexual desire for her. This was also the longest part of the book, and noticeably so, given that the book is so short in the first place. So this dragged a little for me, which was a shame since the first part had me so involved. I did like what this was saying about another kind of control. As Yeong-hye’s husband attempts to physically control her body, here we can see that despite the fact that she remains a vegetarian, she has no control over how her body is perceived.
I did enjoy the final part of the book. This dealt primarily with Yeong-hye’s relationship with her older sister, In-hye, as Yeong-hye’s mental and physical health decline. This was often touching to read, and I’m glad that this was where the novel ended.
I did enjoy the book overall, but it was more peculiar than I was expecting. Really, the book is less to do with Yeong-hye’s decision to become a vegetarian, and more to do with her desire to become a tree. In any case, I’m glad I picked it up, and it would definitely be a good book to discuss with other people.
I AM MALALA BY MALALA YOUSAFZAI
I started reading this book last year and got about 100 pages into it before getting distracted by other books. I decided to finally pick it up and finish it, and I went back and skim-read the first 100 pages. This book is Malala’s memoir; Malala was shot by the Taliban in 2012 for standing up for girls’ education. This book details her life in Swat, Pakistan, before the shooting, and also discusses everything that happened after. This was incredibly enlightening. In addition to Malala’s personal history, both in regard to herself and her family, the book also discusses the history of Pakistan more generally. I ended up learning so much from this, and I tabbed so many quotes. Malala is an intelligent and inspiring young woman. Her voice is incredibly strong throughout the book, and despite the fact that it does sometimes deal heavily with facts and history, it’s always engaging and easy to read. It’s a great book and one that I’d highly recommend to anyone.
I actually want to direct you to Erin @ Ways to Adventure’s blog post about this book. She discusses the importance of education, and why this book is still relevant, especially in regard to Trump’s presidency. Definitely check it out!
THE SUMMER PALACE BY C.S. PACAT
Changing genre completely, I read the latest of C.S. Pacat’s short stories set in the Captive Prince universe. And, okay, fine, maybe it’s cheating to count a short story towards your Goodreads goal. But, whatever. I’m cheating. The Summer Palace functions as an epilogue to Kings Rising, the last book in the series. As such, there isn’t too much that I can say about it, except that I completely loved it. It was just as sweet as I’d hoped and expected. I love Damen and Laurent, so naturally I’m going to love anything to do with them. I’m really hoping to reread the series at some point this year, because this just reminded me of how much I love it.
WINTER BY MARISSA MEYER
After a lot of peer-pressure from one of my friends, I finally picked up Winter, the last book in the Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer. While I was disappointed by Heartless, it made me remember how much I loved this series, so that was an unexpected plus. I was so hyped for this book that I actually went out and bought it on its release day but didn’t get around to reading it until over a year after the fact. Honestly, this was largely to do with the fact that it’s 800 pages, and I’m skeptical of YA books that nudge 500 pages. I can’t say much about it, since it’s the last book in the series, but I was incredibly impressed by this.
If the length of this last book was putting you off picking up the series, you really don’t need to worry about it. I absolutely flew through this; there’s so much action and tension that it’s hard to put it down. The characters in this book are amazing. There are so many great female characters. I was very satisfied with how everything ended. There are two things I specifically want to mention, but they’re spoilery, so highlight to read them if you’d like. The first is that this actually contained a trope that I really dislike, but is often seen in YA series, this being that everyone gets paired together in heterosexual relationships. But they are fairy tale retellings, so I’m willing to let that slide, and I found that these relationships were actually incredibly well developed throughout the course of the series. The exception being Winter and Jacin, but even their relationship isn’t rushed. The second is that I’m also not keen on ‘royalty reclaiming their throne’ stories, but to my absolute joy, this series actually ends with the lost princess wanting to dissolve the monarchy, which was a complete surprise! Honestly, this series is great. I was kept on the edge of my seat throughout this last book, and it’s just such a fun read!
STARS ABOVE BY MARISSA MEYER
After reading Winter, my friend loaned me her copy of Stars Above. This is a collection of short stories set in the Lunar Chronicles universe. Mostly, they’re expansions on things that were mentioned in the series, such as seeing exactly how Cinder arrived on Earth in the first place. As with any short story collection, I enjoyed some of these more than others. I particularly liked The Little Android, which is a retelling of The Little Mermaid. I also liked the final story in this collection, Something Old, Something New, which reads like an epilogue to the series as a whole. I think it’s best to read these when you’re really missing the Lunar Chronicles universe, rather than reading them straight after finishing, like I did. Much like Fairest, it doesn’t really add anything to the series as a whole, it’s just nice to revisit the characters and get a bit more detail on their background stories. It’s by no means essential reading, but if you’re a big fan of the Lunar Chronicles and haven’t gotten around to picking it up, I would definitely recommend doing so.
So those are some of the books I’ve read recently! Hopefully I can maintain doing these posts quite regularly.
Since I did this for my quarterly wrap ups last year, I figured I’d do something similar here, and tell you about the books I’m currently reading. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while and you’re wondering if I’m still reading House of Leaves the answer is yes. Yes I am still reading it. I’ve also decided to make my way through the short story anthology Rogues, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. I read two short stories from this last year, these being What Do You Do? by Gillian Flynn (separately released as The Grownup) and How the Marquis Got His Coat Back by Neil Gaiman. Having enjoyed both, I didn’t see any reason not to begin reading some of the others, so I’ll be slowly making my way through that over the coming months. I’m also going to pick up either The Wise Man’s Fear or A Conjuring of Light this week, though I haven’t decided which yet!
As always, if you’ve read any of these books I’d love to hear your thoughts! 🙂