So far, 2018 has been a great reading year. I don’t think there has ever been a year where, within the span of three months, I’ve managed to read five books (for pleasure). For me that’s such a win.
I had originally set my 2018 Bookish New Years Resolution to read 30 books but the first couple of weeks in January didn’t go so well, in terms of bookish accomplishments. Then I heard that Ariel Bissett sets her goal to one book every year to take the pressure off. So, I changed my goal to 12 books. That’s one book a month; easy stuff. I am already seeing what a good idea it has turned out to be. According to GoodReads I am three-whole-books books ahead of schedule. It feels good.
Anyway, you came here for spoiler-free mini-reviews of all the books that I’ve read. So, without further ado, it begins:
Half a King by Joe Abercrombie
The main character in this book, Yarvi, is a Prince but he is destined for a life away from the throne. That is until his father, the king, is murdered. Thus ensues heartbreak, betrayal, and treason.
Half a King was not a fast-paced book, although the beginning is the exception– it thrusts you into the events and, before you know it, you’re hooked and rooting for poor Yarvi. There’s a lot of character growth in Yarvi and how could there not be when your family betrays you and you’re forcibly sold to a fierce sea-captain as a slave. Yarvi is resourceful and intelligent and, despite all the hardships he has endured, Yarvi is kind. He becomes a man during the events of this book but I’d have a tough time deciding if Half a King is character based or plot based.
I’d say the driving force for this book (at least for me) is the possibility of catharsis. You can’t wait for Yarvi to get home one day and show his family and his people how strong he is, how much he’s suffered, and how misunderstood he has been. And we get a real treat of what I like to call “double-catharisis” at the end.
My only qualm with his book is that it was too short. I know it’s the first book in a series but this book needed more, especially as a borderline-high-fantasy. It needed more description, more character development of all of the characters, more conflict, more journeying. More of everything. Except the ending. The ending was prefect.
Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
When people ask me what I thought of this book I am always struck with how little I have to say. This is simply because my opinion can be wrapped up in a neat little sentence: Reading Adichie’s letters helped me change how I perceive things. If you want me to go on further: it helped me open my eyes and recognize things that I’d buried deep within me. These aspects of life Adichie mentions were things that, as a woman, I’d noticed and some things I didn’t realize that I’d noticed. But in reading this book, all of those underlying details that I’d buried deep within me because of the patriarchal society we live in, came to the surface and now I perceive the world differently. More importantly, I perceive the world more actively.
Everyone should read this book no matter the gender that they identify with, no matter if they have children or not, no matter if they are fifteen years old or ninety-five.
Sea of Shadows by Kelly Armstrong
There’s always that one book you want to love but turns out to be a dud. I don’t like to write negative things about books unless they’re really bad like how I felt about The Captive Prince so I’ll keep this “review” short. This books was really lacking in my opinion. Lacking in writing, lacking in character, lacking in plot. I was just not impressed. I think the most frustrating thing about it was that I could not pin down the two main characters: Moria and Ashyn. I think the problem there came from when we first meet Moria. In those first few pages I developed a sense for her character but when we meet again I found Moria’s initial characteristics in Ashyn and the confusion between the two never cleared. Beyond that, I won’t say much. I did find the story to be alluring, in that I wanted to find out what happened next. The writing, on the other hand, left everything to be desired which felt strange considering Armstrong’s status in the literary world.
The Telling Pool by David Clement-Davies
This book has many mixed reviews and, as for me, I have very mixed feelings. While the writing was rich and the plot was loaded with many allegories and lessons, I can’t quite pinpoint the story’s nature or it’s intended audience. This is my first David Clement-Davies book so I look forward to seeing how this matches up to the likes of The Sight. I like how real this book was, how close to human nature, and how Rhodri’s thoughts process and develop throughout the book. It was a much slower read, especially having just read Sea of Shadows which takes the form of the most basic writing style and which I zipped through.
I feel like I still need to process the story in order to properly review it. Maybe one day I’ll have my thoughts in order…
Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman
Besides Adichie’s book (above), Call Me By Your Name is one of my favourite reads this year. I listened to it in the span of three days, I couldn’t get enough. I then proceeded to watch the movie and have declared myself obsessed. I don’t know if my obsession is in the story or in the idea of love. As a twenty-three year old woman who has never fallen in love, this Aciman fed me full of what it must be like to be in love (though Elio and Oliver’s love can also called infatuation– but I cannot argue that with so little evidence from my own life to draw from). This story is filled with so much of what it means to be human that reading it I felt raw at times. It was so beautiful. I want to review this in a separate post at some point because I have so much to say. Beyond that, I will leave you with this: Call Me By Your Name is one of my favourite books, though my impression just after reading it was that I wouldn’t call it one of my top five. Make of that what you will, I suppose.
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (re-read)
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach