Phew, these last two months have been busy. Between graduating, packing, hosting my family, and then moving home, unpacking, and getting settled in our new home, I missed out on last month’s reading recap post and I hadn’t read as much last month. So I’m going to recap both months here.
Over May and June, I read 8 books. In total, I’ve read 28 books this year, which puts me past halfway done with my goal of reading 52 books this year and 3 books ahead of schedule! Yay! The 8 books I read were mainly from two series – one I finished and one I’m still working on. So I’m going to divide this review up by the series, instead of by the individual book. I’ve included the individual books underneath for clarification.
The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer – 4.5/5 stars
(Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter)
This series was such a lovely surprise. It takes a classic fairy tale story and characters and transforms it into something fresh and unique. The series focuses on Cinder, a cyborg mechanic living in a world ravaged by a plague called Letumosis. The Lunars – the population living on the moon – are ruled by an evil queen who is just biding her time to intervene on earth. The fate of both worlds lie in Cinder’s hands…. *dun dun dun*
Meyer did a wonderful job creating and developing the characters in this novel. I also loved how each book introduced a new fairy tale and the subsequent characters. And all of the plot points fit the fairy tale theme, if you will, without seeming like stretching the story to fit. It was effortless.
Scarlet introduces Scarlet, who mimics Little Red Riding Hood, as well as the grandmother and Big Bad Wolf, who isn’t so bad after all. Cress introduces Rapunzel, and finally Winter introduces Snow White and her story. But while each book introduces new characters, the story still focuses around Cinder, with each of the characters playing vital roles.
The ending was very fitting as well; it wrapped things up while still giving some room for the reader’s speculation. It was such a creative series, giving a fun spin on the fairy tale stories we’ve all grown up with. Yet, the series really stands alone and I would recommend it to anyone who loves fantasy and young adult novels. There’s plenty of action and romance, and of course a strong female lead.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho – 2/5 stars
I received this book as a Christmas gift last year and just got around to reading it. It was a short book – only 200 pages – but it still took me over a week to finish because I just couldn’t get into it. It reads like a parable, comparable perhaps to a book like Le Petit Prince or The Time Keeper. But unlike these novels, I was very underwhelmed by The Alchemist.
The story follows a simple shepherd boy who has a dream about treasures near the pyramids in Egypt. So he begins his quest, leaving everything behind to find this treasure, meeting different characters along the way.
While I suppose the author never intended this novel to carry suspense like a mystery novel, or action like an adventure novel, I feel like it didn’t have anything to go for it except for platitudes and other overgeneralized life lessons like:
Because, wherever your heart is, that is where you´ll find your treasure
As another reviewer put, “I feel like this book was trying to be deep but failed,” and I completely agree. This book is critically acclaimed and loved by many, many readers (including my brother who gave it 5 stars); however, I just didn’t get it. I felt generous giving it two stars.
Brotherband Chronicles (#1 – 3) by John Flanagan – 4/5 stars
The Outcasts, The Invaders, and The Hunters
In middle school and high school – and still to this day – one of my favorite series of books is Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice. I was really disappointed when he finally concluded the series, but equally excited when I found out he would be writing a companion series that focuses on a different country and it’s people, called the Skandians, set in the same world. I was a bit skeptical of first, however, because while I liked Skandia – a land loosely based on present day Scandinavia, who present similar traits and qualities as vikings – I wasn’t enraptured. So, I went in with some low expectations and was, again, pleasantly surprised.
The Outcasts introduces us to our three main characters: Hal, Stig, and Thorn, the first two of which are young boys entering the brotherband training – the warrior and seafairing training that all boys enter in Skandia. It follows their training, which has Flanagan’s same trademark style from the Ranger’s Apprentice series. The Invaders and The Hunters follow Hal and his crew after they graduate from their Brotherband training and hunt down thieves who stole Skandia’s most prized treasure.
I really enjoy all of the characters. Each of them have distinct strengths as well as flaws, and Flanagan does a nice job developing them throughout each book. The plot remains interesting enough and Flanagan does a wonderful job developing the world and the different cultures and countries.
As children’s and teen books do, it does have some silly boy humor and some of the lines seem a bit contrived. There’s a fair amount of eye rolling and an unusually large amount of the phrase “pretty much” being used. But even so, I really enjoy the series and can’t seem to keep the books down for long. I don’t like them quite as much as the Ranger’s Apprentice books and they won’t hit my “favorite” shelf, but I still really enjoy them. I describe them as my “pre-teen boy” guilty pleasure, haha.
Overall a pretty good couple months. Happy reading!