Books to Read: Magic, Mayhem, and Dying Girls (February Book Round Up)

Hello Readers! February is gone and I read another 5 books, so it’s time to share my latest treasures (and “eh, I’ll pass” feelings) with you! There was a lot of magical thinking going on in the books I read this month. Sometimes that meant magic was a well-respected element in the story. Other times, it was a magical imagination! Read on to find a new book that piques your interest!

Feb Books 1 - The Peculiar

“The Peculiar” by Stefan Bachmann
Book Type: Audiobook
Source: Library
Rating: 4 – Pretty Good

This book had beautiful world building! I was both enthralled by this fairy-infested world and appalled by it. Bartholomew is a sweet and compelling hero (at least after the first few chapters). His love for his sister, Hettie, propels much of the second half of this story, which makes him seem quite vulnerable and heroic. (He could have just walked away, couldn’t he?)

I listened to it as an audiobook, and I will say that while the narrator is incredibly talented in voice acting, the fairy voices creeped me out so much! It took a while to get used to them and actually hear the story rather than cringe every time a fairy spoke in what I’d like to term “creepy witch or troll under the bridge” voice. But as the story went on, their creepy voices kind of made more sense considering the developments in the narrative. It leaves you with a cliffhanger and I’m excited to find the next book at my local library! (But I think I’ll go with a hard copy this time to avoid the voices).

Feb Books 2 - The Night Circus

“The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern
Book Type: eBook
Source: Library
Rating: 5 – Awesome!

I love this book so much! It captures the meaning of magic for me. I love all the characters and my only issue would be not getting to know more and follow them into eternity!

What really stood out for me in this book is how Morgenstern describes the new attractions which are both described in detail and left elusive so as to allow your imagination to fill in the details. Essentially there’s a magical quality to the writing when she writes about the circus itself. The rest of the story is compelling but nothing as awe-inspiring as the circus. (This is also consequently one of the issues dealt with in the narrative). However, this magical quality would make it difficult to capture in film form so while I’d love to see this book adapted for the screen, I wonder if it would take away from the magic and mystery that’s allowed to permeate the story to the limits of the reader’s visual imagination.

Feb Books 3 - Mr Penumbras

“Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore” by Robin Sloan
Book Type: Audiobook
Source: Library
Rating: 5 – Awesome!

This book made me feel so many things!!!! I found it and added it to my “to-read list” after seeing a list on “Books You Might Like If You Loved Harry Potter” on Buzzfeed. However, the synopsis made it sound less than magical, which is why I held off so long in reading it. BUT OH MY GOSH THIS IS THE BEST BOOK!

This book is great because it’s full of quirky characters, vividly described settings, and references to technology that make it seem magical without being fantasy. An oxymoron, right? I don’t think it will be everyone’s cup of tea, but for me, it blended my love of books and technology and creativity together in a way I hadn’t seen done before. PURE MAGIC GUYS!!! I was literally crying when it ended because I didn’t want to stop reading.

Please read this book!

Feb Books 4 - The 5th Wave

“The 5th Wave” by Rick Yancey
Book Type: Hard Copy
Source: Own
Rating: 3 – Okay

On the one hand, the alien “invasion” in this book is such a fresh and compelling idea. That’s what hooks you to read it. But I had a real problem with the main character, Cassie. I mean I like her at times, but I mostly have the problem with the way she was written. In comparison to the male characters whose perspectives we also explore (e.g. Evan, Sammy, Ben), she seems so much less serious and weak. She isn’t physically weak, that’s very obvious. But there’s a mental vulnerability that isn’t shown in the other characters and it feels like it’s just because she’s a girl. For this reason, “The 5th Wave” got the lowest rating I’ve given to any book I’ve read so far this year.

I’m intrigued enough to read the next book, but she’s just written so differently than the male characters, and it bothered me. It took away from the book as a whole. And I can’t imagine it would make a very compelling movie. Has anyone seen the movie? It was a big deal for a while, but then it seemed like it was silently released which makes me think it’s dud (which is disappointing).

Feb Books 5 - Me and Earl

“Me and Earl and Dying Girl” by Jesse Andrews
Book Type: eBook
Source: Library
Rating: 5 – Awesome!

This book is different than I thought it was going to be. When I heard it called the “cynical version of The Fault in Our Stars,” I guess I didn’t really understand what that meant. Maybe I thought it would have the same kind of twisted sense of humor that TFiOS has but just ramped up a bit with a sweet and heart-warming message at the end. But believe me, it’s cynical. And it’s not a love story or a heart-warming story (as Greg Gaines, the “author” of the story will repeatedly tell you throughout). But even though I kept wondering when the ball would drop, I still loved it. I think the part I can really relate to is Gregg’s filmmaking. I can’t fully articulate what it is about the filmmaking aspect, but perhaps just because I’m a filmmaker too, I found myself reflected in Greg’s struggle to tell a story he didn’t want to tell and didn’t feel like he was qualified enough to tell anyway. He’s got some major self-esteem problems, and I totally get that. If nothing else, I really enjoyed the wide array of storytelling techniques used. I felt the struggle of an 18-year-old guy trying to put down on paper what happened to him and how he felt (or rather, didn’t feel) about it.

I actually watched the movie right after finishing the book, and although there were some significant changes to the adaptation and it’s overall cynicism, I love the movie just as much as the book. This is definitely a situation where there were changes made for the adaptation that actually enhanced the story for this different type of medium.

All in all, this was a great month for reading! With the exception of “The 5th Wave” these books are some of my favorite I’ve ever read! I won’t be forgetting “The Night Circus” or “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore” anytime soon. This month’s books also made me think a lot about film adaptations and how easy or hard they would be for each and what kind of storytelling techniques would need to be used to capture the essence of each of these stories.

Does that make me a weirdo? Do you guys imagine the book as a movie while reading? Tell me down in the comments!

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