I started the month well having read 10 books in the first 10 days, unlike my previous attempt at this challenge my early success did not effect my enthusiasm. After finishing The Ghastling Book No 6 I decided to finish The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer by reading its final instalment, Winter. The Lunar Chronicles is a series of YA novels each a sci-fi retelling of a different classic fairytale. Winter is a retelling of Snow White, as suggested by the cover. Its predecessors are retellings of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel. The characters from each novel overlap as they share the same supernatural world, Winter is my favourite character in the Lunar universe and I wasn’t disappointed in the series ending. Despite being over 800 pages long the action packed finalé was a really quick, easy read.
I then decided to pick up another classic, my first Children’s classic of the month, Heidi by Johanna Spyri. I was inspired to read at least one children’s novel as part of the #readkidslit movement lead by WordsofaReader on Youtube. I grew up watching the 1995 adaptation of Heidi directed by Toshiyuki Hiruma and Takashi Masunaga, a movie that I adore, therefore I had very high expectations of Spyri’s classic novel. While I was not disappointed I do agree with the common criticism that the novel is, at times, sickly sweet. Nevertheless I believe this novel is under appreciated, with its heroine too often being overshadowed by Montgomery’s Anne. Personally, I prefer Heidi’s protagonist and found the setting of this novel far more captivating.
Heidi was followed by my most disappointing read of the month, The Last Tycoon by F. Scott Fitzgerald. This is Fitzgerald’s only unfinished novel as he passed away before its completion. As he is in fact one of my favourite authors, I have previously read and loved each of his completed novels, from my favourite to least favourite these are: This Side of Paradise, The Great Gatsby, The Beautiful and Damned and Tender is the Night. The Last Tycoon did not live up to any of these novels, as can be expected! However I feel it would be wrong to give any other criticism to the novel so will say no more on the matter.
Having read a couple of classics back to back, I then reached for Tokyo Ghoul Volume 8 by Sui Ishida. I enjoyed this instalment more than the last and am looking forward to completing the now finished series.
As I am borrowing the instalments for both Tokyo Ghoul and Naoki Urasawa’s Monster from my sisters I quickly picked up Volume 3 of Monster as my 15th book of the month. I enjoyed this volume as much as the previous two and wanted to immediately pick up the next instalment. This series differs from Tokyo Ghoul as it is less gory and more suspenseful, there is also fewer main characters. However I compare them I am definitely enjoying reading both series alongside each other.
After having read two fast-paced manga volumes I did not want to dive into another classic or binge read some of the non-fiction books I have been savouring. As a result I found myself picking up a contemporary children’s novel; A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. I first read Ness last year including More Than This and The Rest of Us Just Live Here which fast became one of my favourite YA novels. Both of the novels I have previously read have been incredibly unique which drew me to pick up my third of his works, A Monster Calls. I would now happily work my way through his bibliography as I thoroughly enjoyed this novel reading it in only a couple of hours. Surprisingly I cried only once while reading this novel as early on as page 29! This will surely become a modern classic. I also recommend the movie adaptation which varies slightly from the novel but is equally as brilliant.
I then finished my first Non-Fiction book of the month: Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly which chronicles the lives and achievements of many black women who contributed to NASA research and the American Space Race and whose work has previously been overlooked in history books and documentaries. This book is not only well-written but extremely effecting, it made me care deeply for each of the ‘main characters’ including the most commonly known Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, as well as many others. I have yet to see the Oscar-nominated adaptation though I assume it is these women who are portrayed here (by Janelle Monáe, Taraji P. Henson and Octavia Spencer) on the cover of the book and the centre of the film. The highlight of the book is the successful launch of John Glenn into orbit, though it is not his personal achievement that has you, the reader, cheering. I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in Space.
Having read two novels by some of my favourite writers, Fitzgerald and Ness, I decided to continue the trend by reading my second Murakami novel. One of my reading goals for 2017 was to read more novels by newly discovered authors, I met this challenge with A Monster Calls and my next pick, Haruki Murakami’s South of the Border, West of the Sun. I read Norwegian Wood in 2015 which became one of my favourite novels of all time (of which there are currently 23.) As a result I have been eager to read more of Murakami’s fiction. I found this novel however, rather dull. My main issue was with Murakami’s narrator who, though you are not supposed to like, I found completely unbearable. I did not care for any of the characters and saw no sign of character development, subsequently I will not be in a hurry to pick up any more Murakami novels in the near future.
I moved back to manga afterwards as I suspected the following volumes of Monster to be far more enjoyable and found them to be reliably so, I have gave every Volume so far five stars. I have therefore read 20 books so far throughout this challenge and hope my success continues!
I hope you’re having a good reading month and as always,
Wish me luck!