3 Months in Books – Quarterly Recap 1/2016

Sooo I have this problem at the moment. Last year, I really didn’t read much, so I started this series of doing quarterly book reviews, where I do quick mini reviews of the books I read in the last three months. Well, come 2016, and I’m suddenly on a roll when it comes to reading. Probably mostly because I now combine audiobooks with physical books, so I am basically constantly involved in the story. So yeah, this post is long; in January, February and March, I read ten books! Woops. I need your input: should I keep doing  these (probably long) quarterly recaps or should I switch them to monthly instead? Let me know in the comments!

Robinson Crusoe | ★★☆☆☆ 2/5
3 Months in Books at daneesaur.co.uk

Author: Daniel Defoe
Publisher: Penguin Books
Pages: 337
Published: 6 Dec 2012 (first published 1719)
Genre: Classics, Fiction, British Literature
Goodreads | Bookdepository

Here is the novel which has inspired countless imitations by lesser writers, none of which equal the power and originality of Defoe’s famous book. Robinson Crusoe, set ashore on an island after a terrible storm at sea, is forced to make do with only a knife, some tobacco, and a pipe. He learns how to build a canoe, make bread, and endure endless solitude. That is, until, twenty-four years later, when he confronts another human being. First published in 1719, Robinson Crusoe has been praised by such writers as James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and Samuel Johnson as one of the greatest novels in the English language. (Goodreads)

Okay, I know last time around I said I’d dropped this book, but sometimes I get ambitious and determined about silly things and wanted to finish it. So I headed over to LibriVox and listened to it instead of reading. As an aside, did you know that LibriVox has a huge selection of classics with expired copyright as free audiobooks? I swear this isn’t sponsored, this site has just been such a lifesaver for me.  Woop, filling otherwise silent times with audiobooks! Now, this book is … uhh … definitely a product of its time. As soon as Friday appears, I was pretty much sat there rolling my eyes near-constantly. The imperialism is strong with this one.

The Vicar of Wakefield | ★★★☆☆ 3/5

Author: Oliver GoldsmithRobinson Crusoe 2/5 ★★☆☆☆
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Pages: 197
Published: 2008 (first published 1766)
Genre: Classics, Fiction, British Literature
Goodreads | Bookdepository

Oliver Goldsmith’s hugely successful novel of 1766 remained for generations one of the most highly regarded and beloved works of eighteenth-century fiction. It depicts the fall and rise of the Primrose family, presided over by the benevolent vicar, the narrator of a fairy-tale plot of impersonation and deception, the abduction of a beautiful heroine and the machinations of an aristocratic villain. By turns comic and sentimental, the novel’s popularity owes much to its recognizable depiction of domestic life and loving family relationships. (Goodreads)

I actually finished one of the assigned readings on time! Go me! Celebrate! … but only because I listened to it as an audiobook for the second half of it. I liked it! It is fairly predictable, as 18th century novels tend to be, but it was nicely written, and contrary to Robinson Crusoe or Joseph Andrews, you actually feel with the characters somewhat. Not necessarily all the time, because they also tend to be vain as hell, but you can at least empathise.

The Remains of the Day | ★★★☆☆ 3/5

3 Months in Books at daneesaur.co.ukAuthor: Kazuo Ishiguro
Publisher: Faber and Faber
Pages: 258
Published: 2005 (first published 1988)
Genre: Historical Fiction, British Literature
Goodreads | Bookdepository

A contemporary classic, The Remains of the Day is Kazuo Ishiguro’s beautiful and haunting evocation of life between the wars in a Great English House.
In the summer of 1956, Stevens, the ageing butler of Darlington Hall, embarks on a leisurely holiday that will take him deep into the countryside and into his past. (Goodreads)

Such an utterly interesting read. This is my first Ishiguro, actually, but I think I rather like his writing style. As I’ve said in my previous post when I was still in the middle of reading this, I am really intrigued by unreliable narrators, and seeing his reality unfold in front of you is really fascinating.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime 1/5 ★☆☆☆☆

3 Months in Books at daneesaur.co.ukAuthor: Mark Haddon
Publisher: Red Fox
Pages: 268
Published: 2004 (first published 2003)
Genre: Mystery, Young Adult
Goodreads | Bookdepository

Fifteen-year-old Christopher has a photographic memory. He understands maths. He understands science. What he can’t understand are other human beings. When he finds his neighbour’s dog lying dead on the lawn, he decides to track down the killer and write a murder mystery about it. But what other mysteries will he end up uncovering? (Goodreads)

Ugh. So many things wrong with this book. It’s not well researched in regards to autism and the narration feels condescending and infantilising. The boy is supposed to be fifteen years old and reads like a 9-year-old (and don’t tell me that’s because ‘he’s meant to be autistic!!’). I’ve already ranted about this book in other places, so I don’t really feel like going on about it any more, but let’s just say we are in dire need of more positive well-researched neurodivergent representation and this book is definitely not it.

A Simple Story | ★★★☆☆ 3/5

3 Months in Books at daneesaur.co.ukAuthor: Elizabeth Inchbald
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Pages: 345
Published: 2009 (first published 1791)
Genre: Classics, Fiction, British Literature
Goodreads | Bookdepository

When Miss Milner announces her passion for her guardian, a Catholic priest, she breaks through the double barrier of his religious vocation and 18th-century British society’s standards of proper womanly behavior. Like other women writers of her time, Elizabeth Inchbald concentrates on the question of a woman’s “proper education,” and her sureness of touch and subtlety of characterization prefigure Jane Austen’s work. (Goodreads)

The last book I read for my class on 18th Century Novels. Again I listened to most of this as an audiobook on LibriVox whenever I had the time, but the recording for this was actually quite annoying; it was a joint project by 5+ different readers, most of which weren’t very good. The story, on the other hand, is quite interesting; it’s essentially split in two parts, the first two volumes talking about Miss Milner, the latter two about her daughter Matilda. Some characters completely change their personality (we’re talking 180° here) in the second half, completely unexplained, which was more than awkward, but it was enjoyable nonetheless. Even though it’s just another story about female virtue.

Gone Girl | ★★★★☆ 4/5

3 Months in Books at daneesaur.co.ukAuthor: Gillian Flynn
Publisher: Crown
Pages: 566
Published: 2012
Genre: Mystery, Fiction, Thriller
Goodreads | Bookdepository

On the morning of their fifth wedding anniversary, Nick’s wife, Amy, has disappeared. Nick is weak, Nick is a liar, and maybe he’s not the very best of husbands — but is he a killer? Amy’s diary reveals turmoil over their marriage, strange sicknesses, and her deep wish to be a mother — but is she telling the whole story? As the evidence slowly mounts, and the police investigation deepens, Nick is incriminated in horrible ways. He swears he didn’t murder his beautiful wife and goes on the offensive to clear his name. The mystery of Amy’s disappearance only gets more tangled as secrets unfurl from the web of their knotty marriage, and it becomes clear that something may have happened more disturbing than death. (Goodreads)

Oh man, this book fucked me up. I mean, I’m sure it was supposed to. It is a thriller, you know. I don’t usually read thrillers, and now I know why. I don’t like the suspense. It makes me anxious. Anyway, this book was beautifully crafted. You really, really start to hate some people. Which is good, I guess. You’re supposed to hate psychopaths, right? Well, a bunch of the attitudes were horribly misogynistic, but that was to be expected when both main characters have this sort of “Not Like Them” attitude. Beautifully executed, at any rate. I liked it.

Carry On | ★★★★★ 5/5

3 Months in Books at daneesaur.co.ukAuthor: Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Pages: 517
Published: 2015
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance, LGBT
Goodreads | Bookdepository

Simon Snow just wants to relax and savor his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, but no one will let him. His girlfriend broke up with him, his best friend is a pest, and his mentor keeps trying to hide him away in the mountains where maybe he’ll be safe. Simon can’t even enjoy the fact that his roommate and longtime nemesis is missing, because he can’t stop worrying about the evil git. Plus there are ghosts. And vampires. And actual evil things trying to shut Simon down. When you’re the most powerful magician the world has ever known, you never get to relax and savor anything. 
Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story — but far, far more monsters. (Goodreads)

Oh, I was so skeptical about this book. So skeptical. I stayed that way for the first, I don’t know, maybe 50 pages? Because it’s Harry Potter, without being Harry Potter. It was weird. It put me off. And then this stuck up little vampire saunders into my life and ruins everything. Carry On is everything I have ever wanted from a Young Adult book. The magic works in a wonderful way – by using sayings and song lyrics. What a neat idea! I don’t want to say all that much about it, because I just know I’ll get too excited and spoil you all, but it’s safe to say that you need to read this book. Even if you don’t like YA. I mean, don’t even like YA that much. And if it feels like an awkward cheap HP knockoff in the beginning – don’t worry, that will pass. One thing I will say is that I listened to parts of it as an audiobook, read by Euan Morton, and he does this thing when he reads female point of views where his voice gets all nasally and aspirated/sing-songy, which I couldn’t take seriously – that was massively annoying, I don’t think it’s at all necessary when a man narrates a girl.

The 5th Wave| ★★★☆☆ 3/5

3 Months in Books at daneesaur.co.ukAuthor: Rick Yancey
Publisher: Penguin Books
Pages: 460
Published: 2013
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Goodreads | Bookdepository

The Passage meets The Hunger Games in a gripping new series from Carnegie-shortlisted Rick Yancey. After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one. Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave. On a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, until Cassie meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan may be her only hope for rescuing her brother and even saving herself. […] (Goodreads)

Mh. MMMMMHHH. Well, first thing I can say about this book is that I enjoyed the audiobook a whole lot more. It’s narrated by Phoebe Strole and Brandon Espinoza, who definitely play the parts of the teenagers very well. Also, the whole ‘making everything female characters say sound ridiculous’ that I criticised in Carry On’s audiobook didn’t happen, which made me very happy. As for the story, it was actually quite interesting (and scary, truth be told). It’s a very recent book, so a lot of the behaviour that is described is very, very relateable. Especially what happens with the death of the smartphones (sob). It’s told from two perspectives, Cassie’s and Zombie’s. Zombie’s perspective started to bore me quite quickly, because for the most part it’s just him going through boot camp, which … I’m not all that interested in, and Yancy didn’t manage to make it sound very compelling, either (well, that was probably the point). And Cassie’s story seems to develop into a strange and not quite relatable love story. Girl gets the romance plot and boy gets the military plot? I don’t know. That being said, Cassie is a cyncical sass master and I love her. I think I’m definitely interested in reading the second and third volume of the trilogy.

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope 3/5 ★★★☆☆

3 Months in Books at daneesaur.co.ukAuthor: Ian Doescher
Publisher: Quirk Books
Pages: 174
Published: 2013
Genre: Science Fiction, Humour, Poetry
Goodreads | Bookdepository

Return once more to a galaxy far, far away with this sublime retelling of George Lucas’s epic Star Wars in the style of the immortal Bard of Avon. The sage of a wise (Jedi) knight and an evil (Sith) lord, of a beautiful princess held captive and a young hero coming of age, Star Wars abounds with all the valor and villainy of Shakespeare’s greatest plays. ‘Tis a tale told by fretful Droids, full of faithful Wookiees and fearsome Stormtroopers, signifying… pretty much everything. {…] (Goodreads)

I had this book on my wish list, so my wonderful friend Janina gave me this for my birthday. It was a quick read, because I obviously knew the story beforehand, and it was funny to see it in all its Shakespearean glory! I immediately wanted to grab myself some actors and put the whole thing on stage. Some “classic” Shakespeare lines made it into the book, revamped into Star Wars style. Loved it. If you’re a Star Wars fan, and also like Shakespeare, I’d definitely recommend giving this one a go. Also, can I get the cover as a postcard/print please? It’s so pretty!

Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged | ★★★★☆ 4/5

3 Months in Books at daneesaur.co.ukAuthor: Ayisha Malik
Publisher: Twenty7
Pages: 456
Published: 2015
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Goodreads | Bookdepository

“Brilliant idea! Excellent! Muslim dating? Well, I had no idea you were allowed to date.’ Then he leaned towards me and looked at me sympathetically. ‘Are your parents quite disappointed?’
Unlucky in love once again after her possible-marriage-partner-to-be proves a little too close to his parents, Sofia Khan is ready to renounce men for good. Or at least she was, until her boss persuades her to write a tell-all expose about the Muslim dating scene. 
As her woes become her work, Sofia must lean on the support of her brilliant friends, baffled colleagues and baffling parents as she goes in search of stories for her book. In amongst the marriage-crazy relatives, racist tube passengers and decidedly odd online daters, could there be a lingering possibility that she might just be falling in love . . . ? (Goodreads)

I read the last 300 pages of this in one day, which finally feels like I’m slowly turning back towards my binge-reading days. I’m not usually one for “chick lit” (though I despise the name, but “romance novels” make me think of topless men and frail women swooning in their arms on the cover, and “dating books” sound like self-help instructions), but this book got me hooked. The lovely Leena has called the book “our generation’s Bridget Jones” (coming from someone who adored those novels), but since I never really liked Bridget Jones myself, I have to say this is worlds better. Ayisha Malik (and by extension her focaliser/main character Sofia) is witty, sharp and a sass master. You know I always fall for the sass masters. I was pretty surprised by the ending (can’t say I didn’t like it though), and my pencil and I have found many-a-thing to underline. If you’re going to make any decision in life, be fearless about it. 
The only thing that really annoyed me at times is the fact that there are quite a few typos in the book. A forgotten quotation mark here, a missing word there – more than there should be in an edited and proofread publication. But as a proofreader myself, I know that things can go unseen no matter how many corrections it’s gone through.

Well! You’ve made it! These are the books I’ve read this year so far. What have been some of your highlight reads? And don’t forget to give me your input on doing quarterly or monthly recaps. 😉 xx

in Books.