March Wrap-Up (2014)

In March I had a couple of books that I finished really quickly, and then a couple of books that I struggled with longer. I also finally managed to write some separate reviews during the month itself (I’m not that experienced a review writer yet), and those are linked below for the books in question.

Rating system
1 out of 5 – I didn’t like it: badly written or just got on my nerves
2 out of 5 – It was okay: other people might enjoy it more
3 out of 5 – I liked it: a fun/enjoyable read
4 out of 5 – I really liked it: good characters & plot, maybe some theme that spoke to me
5 out of 5 – It was amazing: I consider it a favorite and will probably re-read at some point

This post is linked at “Best of the Bunch”, a monthly recap meme hosted by Always Lost in Stories.

High Fantasy of the Month

The Wise Man's Fear
The Wise-Man’s Fear

(The Kingkiller Chronicle #2)
By: Patrick Rothfuss
First published in 2011

Kvothe continues his story on the truth behind his legendary history.

I continued reading the second book of The Kingkiller Chronicle right after finishing the first one. It might have been a mistake – I hit a bit of a slump in the middle of reading it, and it took me about a month to finish. Rothfuss still writes very well; his style draws you into the story and has you turning pages, but I don’t think the story was as good as in the first book.

A lot of the book was just Kvothe learning new skills. Training to be an awesome lover, training to be a kick-ass fighter. I understand that the books are about the truth behind the legend of Kvothe, and he would have to have some real-life legendary skills for the legends to be born in the first place. But in the end, not much movement further in the plot was made in this book – it was mostly just training.

Once again, Elodin and Bast were the best parts, and I’m still left intrigued by Bast. I had hoped that this book had included his and Kvothe’s first meeting, but sadly it didn’t.
4 out of 5 stars

Speculative Fiction

All These Things I've Done Best of the Month sticker
All These Things I’ve Done
(Birthright #1)
By: Gabrielle Zevin
First published in 2011
Genre: Futuristic YA crime thriller

After the murder of her Mafia boss father, Anya’s life consists of going to school, taking care of her siblings and her dying grandmother, trying to avoid falling in love with the new assistant D.A.’s son, and avoiding her loser ex-boyfriend.

Review here. 4 out of 5 stars

City of Glass
City of Glass

(The Mortal Instruments #3)
By: Cassanda Clare
First published in 2009
Genre: YA modern fantasy

Amid the chaos of war, the Shadowhunters must decide to fight with the vampires, werewolves and other Downworlders – or against them. Meanwhile, Jace and Clary have their own decision to make: should they pursue the love they know is forbidden?

Review here. 3 out of 5 stars

Other genres

Valkea kuin lumi
Valkea kuin lumi

(Lumikki Andersson #2)
By: Salla Simukka
First published in
Genre: Ya Crime Thriller (Finnish)

Lumikki travels to Prague where a woman who claims to be her sister gets her mixed up in a religious cult.

I continued with the Finnish Lumikki Andersson YA trilogy (you can read my thoughts on the first book in my February Wrap-Up). This book was definitely weaker than the first one. The plot isn’t as interesting; the whole religious cult thing feels pretty far-fetched. For some reason Lumikki running around in Prague wasn’t as interesting as Lumikki running around in Tampere!

The aspect of the book I was the most interested in were the flashbacks to Lumikki’s first love a couple of summers back, a relationship that was handled briefly in the first book as well. I like how the Finnish language makes it possible to not know whether Lumikki is talking about a boy- or a girlfriend in these flashbacks – although we do find that out in this second book, in the first one it was left a mystery. I will definitely be reading the third and final book, since it might focus more on Lumikki’s life, with her flashbacks being the most interesting parts of both of these previous books.
3 out of 5 stars

Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

By: Robin Sloane
First published in 2012
Genre: Literary fiction, books about books

An unemployed graphic designer gets a job in a mysterious bookstore which leads him to a secret society.

This book sounded like something right up my alley. Everything was great in the beginning – the setting of the bookstore with its dangerously high shelves and mysterious rules drew me in, and I liked the added aspect of technology with the main character being a web designer and his girlfriend working at Google. The writing flowed well, and promised a fun, easy read. Also, I could relate to the unemployed graphic designer scenario, and wouldn’t say no to a job in a mysterious bookstore, myself!

At first I was pretty into it. But something happened in the middle of the book, and I got stuck. The story left the bookstore and focused on the secret society side of things, which I was disappointed to find not the least bit interesting. Everything just fell flat to me about the moment we got to New York. After that, I found it a struggle to finish the book. I would read a chapter here, a chapter there, but I never got back the interest I had in the beginning. I heard later that this book was originally a short story, and I might look it up and read it – the story might work better that way, the focus not being able to shift that much in shorter form
2 out of 5 stars


Review: City of Glass

City of Glass
City of Glass

(The Mortal Instruments #3)
By: Cassanda Clare
Genre: YA modern fantasy
First published in 2009

Amid the chaos of war, the Shadowhunters must decide to fight with the vampires, werewolves and other Downworlders – or against them. Meanwhile, Jace and Clary have their own decision to make: should they pursue the love they know is forbidden?

Guys, I did it! I finally finished reading the first Mortal Instruments trilogy! Now I can move on to the Infernal Devices! It was that trilogy which originally caught my eye, with its wonderful cover art and Victorian London / steampunk setting. Perhaps foolishly I thought that I should read the original Mortal Instruments first, to get all the references that would appear in the Infernal Devices. It ended up taking me two years, but here I am.

I found the first Mortal Instruments book to be a fun YA urban fantasy (I gave it 3 out of 5 stars on GoodReads), but I didn’t like the second book, which was the reason it took me so long to read these. The main reason I disliked it was the focus on the love triangle – the characters acted really bratty towards each other all the time, and I just didn’t have the patience for that. The third book brought things more back on track.

While the second book suffered from being the middle volume with the setting already introduced and the world-building done, but the final showdown not yet at hand, the third book didn’t have these problems. We are transported to a whole new setting, the Shadowhunter city of Idris. This helps with the sense of wonder again, as this new place needs introducing to the reader. The stakes are also higher, since Valentine’s master plan is getting so much nearer to fruition. Also, the focus on the love triangle is thankfully put on the back burner.

One thing I realized with this book was that I liked everything better whenever Jace and Clary were in different places. So whenever Clary was out with some characters doing her thing, and Jace in a different place with other characters, I had fun reading. Combine Jace & Clary, and they just become so annoying with endless accusations, shouting and even throwing plates at one point.

In my review of the second book I brought up the disturbing paragraph in which our main character found the possibility of her love interest hitting her hot. Now, there were some pretty cringe-worthy paragraphs this time around, too. Let me show you them. The emphasis in bold is mine.

In this one part coming seemingly out of nowhere, Clary casually “fake-geek-girl”s another girl.

Clary couldn’t imagine Maia wearing anything as girly as a dress, and indeed she was clad in low-slung camo pants and a black T-shirt that said CHOOSE YOUR WEAPON and had a design of dice under the words. It was a gamer tee, Clary thought, wondering if Maia was really a gamer or was wearing the T-shirt to impress Simon. If so, it was a good choice.

Really, Clary? She herself says that Maia has been wearing nothing but casual wear, often with print tees, the whole book, but when she sees her in a gamer tee, she’s probably wearing it to impress a boy. I mean, where did that come from? Why was it even in the book? The idea wasn’t even challenged. I’m so over this whole “fake geek girl” thing, I don’t need women authors writing it into their books for teens, with female characters doing it to other female characters as a casual, non-challenged side remark.

There was also an exchange between characters that made me angry. It is even worse than the part in the second book where Clary got all hot-and-bothered of the idea of Jace striking her or knocking her down. I mean, Clary might be into that (even though it seems like a weird choice to include in a YA book). No, this next one is worse.

“Well,” said Clary, after a judicious pause, “I guess you wouldn’t have taken advantage of her when she’s so grief-stricken and all.”

Simon snorted. “If you ever meet the man who could take advantage of Isabelle, you’ll have to let me know. I’d like to shake his hand. Or run away from him very fast, I’m not sure which.”

It’s not like there’s a choice there, Simon! You should never, ever congratulate someone for “managing” to take advantage of someone else. The idea of it being an commendable accomplishment that someone succeeded in taking advantage of a girl known to be strong and good in a fight, is awful. I mean, what is going on in these characters’ heads sometimes, I swear I don’t know!

Now, let me wind down from all that… breathes deep…

So, despite the couple of atrocities mentioned above, City of Glass is still better than its predecessor. Even though I guessed most of the big reveals, I had fun following the story. The glittery warlock Magnus Bane is still my very favourite character, and I can’t wait to see what he got up to in Victorian London!

I give City of Glass 3 out of 5 stars.