Sunday, 17 January 2016

December Wrap Up

In the month of December I read a total of 5 books, which wasn't at all the amount of books I wanted to complete last month but nonetheless here is my extremely late December Wrap-Up.

1. Life As We Knew It by  Susan Beth Pfeffer

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ 2 stars

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer was my first read of the month and I really did not enjoy this at all. This was the choice for my school book club so in a way I felt an obligation to give this book a try even though I was wary of it. Life As We Knew It is a post apocalyptic novel that follows Miranda and her family as they struggle to survive on earth after the moon is knocked out of orbit and is in closer proximity to the earth, causing a change in weather conditions. 

This novel was quite taxing to read. The main source of my dislike would have to be the writing. The way that Pfeffer writes is read as juvenile and it was hard for me to discern if this way a middle grade or young adult book. There isn't much that happens in this novel, the plot mainly just focuses on Miranda and her family staying in their house. The rest of the characters in this novel felt very one-dimensional and I couldn't really connect to them. Though I gave this 2 stars instead of 1 because during the end of the novel Miranda began to redeem herself which I really appreciated. I know there are three other books in this series, but I am certain that I won't be reading those.

2. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

Rating: ★★★★★ 5 stars (10 million stars)

A book of my heart and soul. If you follow me on Instagram you already know how much I am in love with this book. I have a full review here if want to know my complete thoughts. This novel is both beautiful and heartbreaking. A Little Life follows Jude St. Francis, the quietest and mysterious out of his three friends and catalogs their lives throughout college and mid-adulthood as Jude tries to come to terms with severe abuse he received as a child. This book is just so intricate and intimate. Hanya Yanagihara has such a way of manipulating words that make you feel deeply for Jude. At times it became very hard to read and many times I ended up having to put this book down. I can't recommend enough how phenomenal this book is, and if you take the time to consume it slowly, you'll enjoy it all the same.

3. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 3.5 stars

Started The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne in November, but finally completed it in December. This was required reading in my English class and I fairly enjoyed it. Recently I've been enjoying more of the classical literature that I am required to read in school. The Scarlet Letter centers around Hester Prynne who is ostracized by her Puritan village after they discover she committed adultery and is forced to wear an embroidered scarlet letter on her chest. This novel surprised me immensely. I will admit that Hawthorne can become quite verbose in his writing, but once you root through all the extraneous words, the story is very easy to follow. I appreciated being able to discuss this class and go more in depth into it. Hester Prynne becomes almost a saint-like figure as she humbles herself and takes her punishment. If you have to read this for class I recommend reading it slowly or even reading the modern text No Fear version to help discern some of the tougher parts of the text.

4. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

Rating: ★★★★☆ 4 stars

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh is a retelling of the classic A Thousand and One Nights. This story follows Shahrzard who volunteers to be the wife of  Khalid, murderous boy-king who ends up killing his wife every night. Shahrzad volunteers in hopes of killing him in order to avenge her friend's death who was one of his victims. This story is languid and almost sensual and I really enjoyed Ahedieh's writing style, there was something atmospheric about the setting in the desert. Although I enjoyed this story for the most part I found it really disconcerting how it felt like the author was trying to absolve Khalid of his actions. That was the main reason why I did not love this novel, but I also wished the magical elements of this novel was explain more in depth because it came off as underdeveloped and halfhearted. I have a full review here if you want more of my thoughts.

5. The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Rating: ★★★★★ 5 stars

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen was my last read of December. (I actually finished it on New Year's Eve) And this book flew to the top of my favorite books of 2015 list. I went into this novel with pretty high expectations and I am so glad that they were all met. The Queen of the Tearling is an unconventional fantasy story actually set in the future, with both medieval and modern aspects, and focuses on young queen Kelsea Raleigh, who upon turning nineteen must take up her family throne after so many years away from her kingdom. This novel had everything I wanted and then some. Kelsea isn't really a physically strong character, but she is wise and uses her brain. It shows how much she thinks situations through and actually cares for the well-being of her country, which she barely knows. For such a lengthy novel, the plot really flies through as Erika Johansen encapsulates you in this world. I am quite to get back to the second book, Invasion of the Tearling. My full thoughts can be found here.

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