What I’ve Read – September 2013

She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth – Helen Castor

This has been on my to be read list for ages. You couldn’t tailor a book more perfect for my interests, medieval English history and the role of queens. So I knew I’d like the subject matter and this really drew me in, I knew the rough outline of the history but there was lots of detail I didn’t know and seeing each story one after another helped to see the development of the ‘rules’ such as they were. I really enjoyed it, if you have a thing about medieval history, you should read this.

Falls the Shadow – Sharon Penman

This is technically a re-read, I read this ages ago but She-Wolves put me in mind of it so I read it again and I really enjoyed it again!

The Transfer – Veronica Roth

I’m waiting for Allegiant and this short story was an easy read to get me out of the medieval world and into something else. Which it did quite nicely.

The Bitter Kingdom – Rae Carson

I really enjoyed the story of this book. I liked that all the mysteries weren’t cleared up. What really hits me now I’ve read all three books are the things that you want to see in a series that are going into the hands of impressionable teenagers – Elisa gets things done because of herself but also because of the people that she loves and who love her. The book models different kind of love, not just romantic love. Which is also important because in this book Hector’s life is at stake and although she does everything she can to save him, Elisa is aware that she would survive his death and do what she needs to do. Hector also isn’t the first person she’s been in love with, which is a refreshing change from the ‘he’s my only true love, I’ll never love again’ trope that comes up so much in YA. I also like that Hector, as difficult as he sometimes finds it, lets Elisa make her own decisions about how safe or not she should be and he can take orders from her. Finally I love that the reason she’s special (she has a Godstone which indicates that she has an act of service to perform) isn’t the story we’ve been following for 3 books. Sorting out treaties and preventing civil war, not her act of service or the concern of the God in this universe, no that God is concerned with water! I’m really sad to leave this world and Elisa but I’m happy about where it ended.

Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell

This book didn’t feel like YA. I think that a bookshop would bung it into a New Adult category. I liked it and I liked Cath. I liked that she was set up as the dysfunctional twin but actually wasn’t, that she finally started to grow into herself and learn what was real and important and what wasn’t.

Longbourn – Jo Baker

I wanted to read this for a while, however, it is worth pointing out that I’m not a massive fan of Pride and Prejudice, unlike some of my friends, I don’t re-read it every year. I enjoyed the book, more in the first than the second half because I think in the second half there was almost too much story. There are things that are left unsaid in P&P that Baker makes part of her story, Bingley’s profiting from the slave and sugar trade, the wars and the need for able bodied men are two examples and Baker does show the reader the sheer drudgery of working in service at the time “If Elizabeth had the washing of her own petticoats, Sarah often thought, she’d most likely be a sight more careful with them”

Baker is also nicer about Mary and Mr Collins than Austen ever was and it’s her sympathy for the underdog that comes through. Worth reading but if you love P&P, you may not like this much and the Bennetts don’t show well in this story.

Eleanor and Park – Rainbow Rowell

So I read Fangirl and enjoyed it far more than I expected and lots of people whose opinions I admire suggested that this was worth a read. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I expected and I kept nitpicking. I would recommend it to others but it didn’t quite click for me.

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About nicdempsey

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