Sunday, March 6, 2016

February 2016 Wrap-Up

Hello readers!! A little late, but never forgotten. Here is my February 2016 wrap-up in all of its book loving glory. As with all the best laid plans of mice and men, I got a bit distracted from my TBR quest. That distraction has a name: Gilmore Girls. That's right. One day in early February I kept seeing all this news about a reboot of the series and wondered why I never bothered to watch the show. I mean when the main character is a bookworm, how can you possibly ignore it. Two seasons later and here I am. Currently I'm on a self enforced ban because the show was sucking too much of my life away. The plus side is I did get some reading done, so it's review time!
  • The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey

Those of you who have stuck around with the blog from the beginning or enjoyed reading my watch-a-thon series know that I'm a Jane Eyre addict. I can't resist a movie adaption or in the case of The Flight of Gemma Hardy, an interpretation of the novel. All I can say is that an author that takes on the challenge of filling Charlotte Bronte's shoes must invent a pretty fantastic premise. I'm of the opinion that if you are going to use a previous book as inspiration you need to find some way to build upon the themes and characters of the original story or twist the plotline in a way that makes it distinct from the one everybody knows.

Of course I was excited to see how Livesey would put Jane Eyre in 60's Scotland. What I wasn't happy to discover was that the author literally just rips most of the story and places it in the loosely described 60's setting. If I'm going to be honest Gemma Hardy is a limp noodle compared to Jane Eyre and Mr. Sinclair is nothing compared to Mr. Rochester. Each character lacked something special and they just felt like shadows of their Bronte counterparts. I'm not really in the mood to end this review on a negative note, so I will say that I applaud this adaption for including Jane/Gemma's difficult childhood and how she is forced to beg for food and work once she leaves Rochester/Sinclair.
  • Stars Above by Marissa Meyer

Just as I started to consider a life without The Lunar Chronicles Series, Marissa Meyer gifts us with this lovely gem of a book. Stars Above is a collection of short stories that feature all of the characters we know and love. The stories take place during different parts of the series timeline. Only one of the stories picks up where Winter left off and of course that story is way too amazing to spoil for you. The majority of the stories are prequels to the books in the series, which include learning more about Cress and Captain Thorne's childhood as well as the beginning of Winter and Jacin's relationship.

The one downside to this collection is the fact that not all of these stories are new. A few of them have been previously released, which is a bummer for those of us who have already read them. This is a must read if you are a fan of the Lunar Chronicles.

  • Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children #3)

This month I also decided to finish up another one of my favorite series and while I'm sad that the series is over, I'm glad that it ended so well. At the beginning of this book, Jacob is tasked with trying to save all of his peculiar friends as well as the kidnapped Ymbrynes. This leads him to Devil's Acre, a seedy place where all the castaway peculiars have taken up residence.

While the plot was a little slow to start, it does get interesting when you start to learn more about the past, particularly Miss Peregrine's, and the relationships of the characters. Just as a heads up, the first half of the book seems to be very information driven, while the second half has more of the action based plot. The photographs also add that creepy factor that the story needs and factor into the plot seamlessly. The ending wasn't quite as exciting as I was hoping for and the main villain of the series was kind of one dimensional. I kind of wish these characters would live on in short stories that chronicle Jacob and the peculiars' adventures. Sadly, all the fans have to look forward to is the soul shattering suspense over whether or not Tim Burton will butcher the movie adaption of the first book. Cross your fingers everyone!!
  • Ginger: My Story by Ginger Rogers

As I mentioned in my TBR post, Ginger Rogers is one of my favorite actresses and I wanted to know more about her life. I'm one of those people that prefers an autobiography over a biography because an outside author always attaches their own biases to the subject's life. In the case of Ginger Rogers, I felt like the autobiography did get a touch boring at times and the content tended to repeat itself. I think a little bit of content editing would have done a world of good.

One fact about Ginger Rogers that shocked me to no end was the fact that she was a Christian Science follower. You know, the people who believe that the power of prayer will cure you and you should avoid hospitals and doctors. You know, the religious subset that has been the center of prosecutions where parents have been convicted of manslaughter for refusing to seek treatment for their children with curable diseases and illnesses. I'm not quite sure how I feel about that revelation.

That being said her narrative did have some great moments that give readers snapshots into Ginger's life. I loved the story about the feathered dress she insisted on wearing in one of her movies that Fred Astaire and a ton of the crew hated. Her autobiography also shared how tough it actually was and still is to an extent to be a woman in Hollywood. Ginger writes about all of the trouble she went through to negotiate salaries for herself that were still lower than her male counterparts.

Many people associate Ginger Rogers with just the movies she did with Fred Astaire and this autobiography proves that she is so much more.
  • The Epic of Gilgamesh

Now it's time for the classic pick of the month. In what is now starting to become a trend, I left this book for last, but I'm grateful that I forced myself to read it. Gilgamesh is another book that I really should have read in school because it's widely considered part of the canon. I mean it is arguably one of the first epics with all of the usual hallmarks. You've got the hero's journey and the ever popular quest for immortality. I scored this brand new Norton Critical edition from one of my college professors and I find that the footnotes and added criticism help to make the reading experience more enjoyable. It certainly wasn't my favorite epic, but it wasn't one of the worst.

My only gripe is that I wished I had read this when I took the Ancient Near East course in college. I feel like literature and history naturally go hand in hand, but the professor I had didn't share that opinion. The course was mostly about memorizing a bunch of facts that I've long since forgotten about. The history that I was learning about in the Sumerian and Akkadian cultures would have given this story a world of context that I don't have now. Now that I've critiqued the educational system, I think it's about time to wrap-up this wrap-up.

Even though my new tv obsession distracted me, I'd like to think I read a great assortment of books and managed to read more than I set out in my monthly TBR. Now there is no rest for a book lover, so it's on to the next book. See you next week!!