Saturday, March 1, 2014

February’s Reads

Ah February, the shortest month. Which in my mind equates to less time for reading! Let’s see what books I finished in February.

February’s Reads

One Summer by Bill Bryson

one summer

This is the first Bryson book I’ve finished. Not that I didn’t like the other I tried, I just didn’t finish that one as I only read it at my boyfriend’s house before we moved in together and kinda forgot about it. Anyway! This is a big book, 560 pages, about the summer in America in 1927. It goes through each month and talks about all the major things that happened then. From the first Transatlantic flight to Babe Ruth and that was happening in the baseball to the introduction of ‘talkies’ at the movies to what was happening in politics. I found it fascinating, how all the characters ended up being interconnected. For example, there was a whole segment about the boxer Jack Dempsey. Later, when talking about the silent actress Clara Bow and how she was promiscuous. One night, her boyfriend at the time arrived home and knew there was another man in the house. He called out for the coward to show his face, only for a sheepish looking Jack Dempsey to come out of the bathroom! There’s loads of other instances as well but that one stuck in my head. The book sometimes does go into a little bit more detail than needed (for example, explaining some baseball terms that went over my head) but overall it’s an enjoyable read and one that history lovers would probably enjoy.


Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell


After reading Fangirl last month, I decided to give this one a go as well, as I had heard a lot of good things about it. It’s the story of Eleanor, the new girl with bright read hair, crazy clothes and dysfunctional family, who strikes up an unusual friendship with Park, the boy she sits next to on the bus on the first day of school. At first Park is not impressed with having to sit next to her, wanting a seat to himself as well as not wanting to draw attention to the fact that this new girl is sitting next time him. But slowly they start to become friends, when Park realises she’s his comic as he’s reading them and lends them to her. Then he starts making her mixed tapes and they start talking and fall for each other. This book made me cry so much, mainly because I felt so sorry for Eleanor and her family situation (living in a crappy house, sharing a room with 3 of her other siblings, and a stepfather who she hates) and the fact she is bullied in school. The story is beautiful, it is lovely to see their relationship develop. It’s heart warming but heart breaking at the same time. A solid YA romance that isn’t all light and fluffy like some other YA stories.


Scarlet by Marissa Meyer


This is the second book in The Lunar Chronicles. I read the first one Cinder last July and finally got around to this one. This one is a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. It follows the story of Scarlet Benoit, who’s grandmother has gone missing. Scarlet meets Wolf, a street fighter, and he agrees to help her find her grandmother in Paris. In the meanwhile, the Cinder story continues as well and we learn how the two are interconnected. I really enjoy this series, I won’t go into it too much as this is the second book in the series but it’s a fun way to retell fairy tales. It’s got a sci-fi or steampunky vibe about it (well, Cinder is a cyborg after all) which I really enjoy as well. The next book, Cress, came out in February so I’m looking forward to checking that out and continuing on the series.


The Rosie Project by Graeme Siminson


Don Tillman is a professor of genetics and decides he wants a wife. He’s sets up The Wife Project, a questionnaire designed to find his perfect match. Nothing could go wrong could it? Until he meets Rosie and finds him strangely drawn to her, despite the fact she definitely fails plenty criteria on his checklist (she’s a smoker for one, a drinker and is always late). He puts The Wife Project on hold though to help Rosie with The Father Project, Rosie’s quest to find her biological father. As the two spend time together, Don begins to realize that sometimes love and compatibility isn’t as easy as the questionnaire might seem to be. I loved this book, Don definitely comes across as a Sheldon Cooper type of guy (incredibly punctual, has a set routine for what he eats for dinner every week, exercising regularly, is very set in his ways) and it’s enjoyable to see him come out of his comfort zone and try new things. Not overly cliqued, Rosie is by no means a Manic Pixie Dream Girl! She’s tough and smart and fiery! A sweet and funny read.


How To Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid


I actually started this before some of the books above but put it back down a few pages in for various reasons. One, I wasn’t hugely in the mood for the story. And two, it’s written like a self help book in the 2nd person. The author says things like ‘You go to school and …..’, specifically talking about one person and his life though. At first, this kinda messed with my mind. Not many fiction books are written from the 2nd person point of view. But I picked it back up again and gave it another shot as the story did intrigue me. It’s the story of a rural boy, who ends up moving to the city as a boy and how he works his way to corporate success, how he becomes filthy rich. The author writes beautifully, he has such a wonderful way of phrasing things. I really enjoyed this book and the pictures it painted.


Just My Type by Simon Garfield


I gave myself a break from non-fiction after finishing One Summer before picking up this book. Just My Type is a book on fonts. Yes, sounds a bit boring but trust me it’s not! It’s broken into different short chapters, some broken down into the stories of specifics fonts, others about the processes and history of font making. First chapter is about Comic Sans and the big hate for it. There’s a chapter near the end about some of the worst fonts created which I particularly enjoyed. It mentions Helvetica, which you might have heard of. Even if you haven’t and don’t think you’ve ever seen it, think again buddy! It’s is one of the most popular types, if not THE most popular types used for corporate logos. Skype, American Apparel, American Airways, Oral B, Toyota, BMW, Evian, Microsoft, Panasonic, Target. I could go on and on! It’s the font used for the New York Subway signs. It’s everywhere! There was an interesting part about a man who tries to spend the whole day not interacting in Helvetica. Meaning, not wearing clothes with Helvetica on care label, avoid shops and products that use it on labels or logos. I found it fascinating. There’s also a short chapter on the massive uproar that occured when Ikea changed it’s logo font from Futura to Verdana (seriously, Google it, so many articles come up!). Another thing that interested me was an interview with one man who hates when he’s watching a film and spots a font being used for something that wasn’t even invented yet during the film’s timeline. As someone who has often thought about continuity in films and anachronisms (like updated Old Spice bottle being used in a film during the 80s), I never once thought of fonts coming under that! Look, I’m babbling here but I seriously do think it’s fascinating book and not the nerdy, dry, boring book it sounds like when you say ‘oh, I’m reading a book about fonts’ (my boyfriend called me a big nerd when I told him what I was reading!). I’m looking forward to checking out more of Garfield’s books.


In The Woods by Tana French


 In The Woods starts with a story set in the 80s, where 3 kids are playing in the woods and don’t come home in time for tea. Eventually one kid is found, Adam, in a catatonic state, his socks and shoes soaking in blood and no sight or sound of the 2 other children. Fast forward years later and Adam is now Detective Rob Ryan, in the Dublin Murder Squad. He has never remembered what happened that day but has gotten on with his life. Though a new case occurs, where a 12 year old girl has turned up dead in that same woods (now an archaeological site) and it’s Detective Ryan’s case. Only his parents, one old boarding school friend and his work partner Detective Cassie Maddox knows his past. The story revolves around mainly trying to figure out this new case, with Rob trying to get a grip on the past. While I did like the story, there’s a few things I’m not happy about. One is the way it’s told. It’s in past tense, which is fine usually, but this is more told in a way that Rob is looking back and telling you the story. Which is always fine, but sometimes it gets confusing as it jumps around a bit. I did really enjoy it though, I ended getting hooked and might check out the next in the Dublin Murder Squad series. I did also really enjoy the Irish slant on it and some of the Irish references (red lemonade anyone!).


February’s Stats

Number of books read- 7
Ratio fiction to non-fiction- 5:2
Number of eBooks- 1 (Scarlet)
Number of books borrowed from library- 6
Number of books from Reading Resolutions- 2 (read more diversely and read more Irish authors)

Not too bad! Especially considering that for a lot of February I wasn’t in the mood for reading, I don’t think I read for 3 days at one stage (yeah yeah, I know that doesn’t sound shocking but it is for me!). I felt like I had kinda lost my interest in reading for a bit but managed to pick it back up again. I just noticed however that I didn’t read any of my own books, so I need to read some more on my shelves! Though will that happen? Probably not!


  1. I have to read the Lunar Chronicles!! I keep seeing them everywhere and they look excellent! I love Tana French, Faithful Place is the best of hers but I've read them all and they're all very good.

    1. Lunar Chronicles is very good if you like YA and that kind of thing! I had seen the Cinder book around last year but it wasn't until I saw Sharon had read it that it pushed me to read it.

      Good to hear about Tana French! I will probably continue reading the series but space it out, otherwise I feel like I'll get sick of it very quickly, if you get what I mean? I mainly picked her to read to up my Irish authors count and to kick off my month of March trying to read Irish authors I hadn't read before


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