Saturday, May 6, 2017

march reads : fiction with a capital f

I've never been one for adult fiction, that mysterious 'Fiction' with a capital f. I was almost always content to stay in the cozy corner of my regional library designated with the title YA. I walked down those aisles and saw familiar spines, friendly faces, wherever I looked. it took being employed at a college library, where the aisles are filled with unfamiliar books, books that are full of science and math and famous literary figures, to make me want to branch out a little further than I'm used to.

and yes, that is my roundabout way of announcing that I now have a job. *trumpets sounds* I work when I'm not in class, and this week--the first week of summer "break"--has been a lot of working. which means I can buy books again. and makeup. and clothes. I filled up my car for the first time for a whole month with my own money, and it felt flipping fantastic. I'd never done that before. and I get to save for other more important things like, I dunno, summer classes and such (also, my phone just broke and having a job means that I can help make payments. IT'S AMAZING!). I love this job a lot, and even though it means I don't have quite as much free time to fill with Netflix and Pinterest and blogging, the best thing about being a student librarian is that I get to read on the job. so while I sit at the circ desk and wait for the copier to jam (*knocks on wood*) or for that dreaded phone to ring, I read. oh do I read.

and this month (aka March, because I'm a failure and didn't get this published in April), I read Fiction. with a capital f.


(I also read a lot of series' this month, and I loved all the books, which never happens. you can make me pick a favourite. you can't.)

the shades of magic series, by v. e. schwab

I actually read the first book of this series sometime back in November or October, I think? and when I read it, I just wasn't feeling it. not sure why, but it wasn't my jam. it had all the makings of something I should have loved, but at the time, I don't think I immersed myself in it like I needed to. and since I was coming off of Schwab's writing in This Savage Song, it wasn't quite what I was expecting. not bad--just not what I was looking for.

but I'm glad that when all the buzz about book 3 was going down, I decided to pick up A Gathering of Shadows and go for it.

AGoS didn't have much of a plot like ADSoM did, but I ended up liking it a lot more. even though my OTP were separated, I feel like I got to know the characters a lot more in this second book--and for a sequel, that says something. I'm also a big fan of tournaments and magical tournaments are double the awesome. just like the first book, I wasn't a huge fan of the scenes in White London, just because it didn't flow the same as the rest of the book, but I am proud of myself for not being offended by the constant changing of POVs. normally that's enough to drive me away, but this book was good enough to keep me interested.

Kell's development in A Gathering of Shadows was wonderful. you got to see him bloom from someone trapped in the hands of those above him to someone who (albeit unwillingly) stepped out of those boundaries and found the beginning of his own path. the tensions between him and Rhys were an excellent part of the novel--what Kell did was both a blessing and a curse, and watching the two brothers wrestle over what their lives meant because of it was fascinating to me. frankly, if the whole book had been about that, I still would've read it.

and my dear, dear Lila Bard. I don't want to say too much because of spoilers, but she was just as devilish and ingenious and ridiculous as ever. and although she and Kell spent half the book apart (or thinking each other were other people smh you idiots), I think that was important for the reader to get to know them both more as individuals before they returned to each other's sides. that was a lot of my problem with book 1--I just didn't feel like I knew anyone adequately enough, and book 2 gave that.

after finishing book 2, I quickly put book 3 on hold--but it wasn't getting there fast enough. so I ordered A Conjuring of Light and quickly devoured it. I was ready for disappointment--even though the world was shouting from on high that this book was everything it should be. thankfully, the world was right. the first two books had been a little uneventful (which for those giant books, that's saying something), but book 3 was the culmination of the story, and the plot was driving. I think  I read it during one shift--all of it. yeah. I don't know whether that's a statement on how fast I read or how long my Friday night shifts are. but I was hooked.

I really felt like the villain was more tangible in book 3, which I REALLY APPRECIATED. and I didn't expect to like Holland at all in this series, but book 3 changed that. I actually felt sympathy for him? it was so weird. and although I was rather done with Alucard in book 2, book 3 really made me like him (and wished for him and Rhy to be happy oh my gosh). basically, I just loved it so much and you should really read it. that ending was EVERYTHING. other authors, take note. that is how you do a conclusion. bless Schwab.

timothy wilde trilogy, by lindsey faye

okay, this one I had never heard of until Aimee mentioned it and I was intrigued. and since it was an adult fiction book, I figured I'd give it a shot. and my goodness am I glad I did.

Timothy Wild was such a joy to read, and for a lot of different reasons. at first, I thought that the writing was going to be very dry and kind of boring--as most historical fiction that I've read has been--but to my surprise, the writing was quite funny? and sarcastic? and bitter? and devastating? I'm not sure how all those things wrapped up into one novel actually happened, but I'm glad it did, because it was incredibly similar to my unexpected love of the writing style. the characters were truly what invested me in this series. Timothy's antihero-ness shifting into "I gotta save the world, man", Bird's spunk, Valentine's simultaneous impudence and intelligence, Jim's gentle balance for the two Wilde brothers...I adored it all. except for Mercy. The whole Mercy storyline was, in a nutshell, a let down. and maybe it's not Mercy that I have a problem with, but how Timothy reacted to her.

Mercy was Tim's manic pixie dream girl, the woman who was the essence of perfection and who could do no wrong. but when Timothy found out that Mercy was as flawed and as human and as corrupted as he was...he got angry. which made me pissed. I was actually glad she moved away, moved on, because I felt that Tim needed to grow up a little bit. unfortunately, he kept on pining away for her, using Elena as a distraction. but when Elena finally became more than just a distraction, it was too late and Tim was left with unrequited feelings for Mercy all over again. I loved the ending of this series--all the feels, man--but I did not like that. even though Tim said he'd moved on, even though he did kind of move on...he ended up in the same place as he began--despite all the new and difficult things he experienced over the course of this series, his childish love of Mercy remained the same. I just feel like Timothy should have pulled his stupid head out of the sand and taken his shot with Elena when he had it. but of course, maybe Tim had to miss that chance because he was so desperately human.

so yeah. loved this book for the characters--I could talk forever and a day about Valentine, and given the chance, I probably would. just everything about him and the decisions he makes...it hurts, man. it really hurts.

as for the mysteries in these novels, I was actually pretty impressed. not a lot of mystery novels get me, but these had a few twists and turns that surprised me. and I also have a tough time rereading mysteries, mostly because you know what's going to happen next (and if it wasn't written well it can be quite boring), but because of the intricate characters and the depth of the historical period, I definitely plan on revisiting these wonderful books. *lowkey plans on asking for them for my birthday because I adore them*

also, fun fact: right as I was reading these books, we were discussing the exact themes and topics mentioned in them in my history class. we talked about the Fugitive Slave Act and the Irish and the mill girls. it was kind of eerie, but also really interesting to get the classroom perspective and the fictional perspective of this tense historical period. all in all, I think that this series was my favourite out of all the books I read last month. so good. so sad. so beautiful.

vinegar girl, by anne tyler

teeeeeechnically I read this in April, but don't judge me--it's adult fiction and I really loved it so I'm slipping it into this post. I can't remember how I found this one--I think it might have been recommended on Goodreads. but the moment I saw that it was a rendition of The Taming of the Shrew, I knew I had to read it. and that I probably would love it. and guess what--I did.

the story wasn't much. you have Dr. Battista on the brink of discovering something great in his research, but his research assistant, Pyotr, is running out of time left in America thanks to an expiring visa. what other option does the good doctor have but to get Pyotr to marry his crotchety oldest daughter Katherine? most of the plot consisted of Pyotr trying to get on Katie's good side (and failing miserably), Bonnie being a complicated teenager, and Katherine being unsure of what she wants out of life. this book was SHORT, guys. too short. I gladly would've taken another hundred and fifty pages, especially because the characters were so interesting and the writing was so great. but maybe it being longer would have changed how I feel about this book. I don't know. the feminist aspect of the story, although a tad awkwardly smattered through the plot and then heavily placed at the end, was really great, and it was definitely necessary. Katherine also made me want to cry, because she was everything I felt the original Katherine from the play should be. yes, she had a hard time being around people. yes, she was abrasive and brash. yes, she was independent and angry. but this book made her all those things while making her a beautiful, intricate human as well. I loved it. just loved it.

beloved poison, by e. s. thomson

well...this book tried to be Timothy Wilde and didn't quite make it. I still liked it, but it definitely wasn't as great as the other books. I did appreciate a female lead in such a male-dominant genre--so many historical mysteries are male driven, and that drives me nuts. and while Jem was in disguise (this isn't a spoiler, although I was shocked to find this out on the first chapter because the blurb alluded nothing to her gender), you kind of get the feeling that she's neither male nor female--she's somewhere between. the mystery was nothing to be amazed at, but the hospital dynamic and slightly creepy undertones that this novel really sold me. and there were so many threads that came together quite nicely in the end. to my joy and excitement, there's a second book out called Dark Asylum, but I can't seem to find it. *sighs heavily* guess i'll just have to be patient.

honorary mention: the lies of locke lamora (aka the book that would never end), by scott lynch

I tried. honestly, I tried. but no matter how hard I tried to read this mini-tome of a book, no matter how much I liked the writing and the humor and the characters, I just...couldn't get through it. oh well. maybe it was how thick and tiny it was, maybe it was the awkward jumping back and forth between time periods and so many different characters speaking at all the same time. I honestly don't know. I how to give this one another shot, but who knows when.

are you on a strict YA only diet like I once was? maybe you should check some of these books out (literally, lol. library jokes.) but in all seriousness, after reading these books, I feel a lot more open to reading that ominous Fiction with a capital f. so if you have any faves or recommendations, send 'em my way. not that I have time to read this week, thanks to summer classes. *runs into the void screaming*

hope y'all have a great week--and if you're headed into finals (unlike me, who got them done early ehehehehe), take a deep breath! you're going to be just fine in the end. <3

2 comments:

  1. These sound interesting to varying degrees! I'll have to give them a try. I'm trying to branch out a little more too in my reading. I took a Germanic literature class wherein we read some Icelandic sagas, Anglo-Saxon poetry, and Beowulf. I enjoyed all of it! so since I liked something that was YA, I'm a little braver about reading other things now.

    Also, working in the library and getting to read at work sounds like the coolest thing!

    Happy reading!

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  2. I NEED to read the Shades of Magic series! I've been debating whether or not to read Locke Lamora; I've only heard either really great or really uncomplimentary things about it.

    I find that I mostly read YA, but I tend to prefer adult and MG? Some of the best adult fiction I've read this year is The Martian by Andy Weir, Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan, and 11/22/63 by Stephen King.

    Ellie | On the Other Side of Reality

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