2016 bookshelf update: march

So I’m only eleven days late posting this…eep.

March was another slow-ish reading month. Between work stuff and traveling to see friends and family, I was left with less time to just read. (I also think my newfound dedication to running has bitten into my reading time, but that’s not the worst problem to have.) I’m hoping that the return of warmer weather will give me some encouragement in that area. But hey, it was better than February!

The Magiciansby Lev Grossman [re-read]


I first read this book (and the subsequent two) less than a year ago, but I already had to start re-reading because the series is just. so. good. In case you missed my write-up on the series last summer, The Magicians is the first in an adult fantasy trilogy that follows 17-year-old Quentin Coldwater, who suddenly finds himself enrolled at Brakebills College for Magical Pedagogy because, surprise surprise, he’s a magician! Quentin is also obsessed with a series of books known as Fillory and Further (an extremely closely-drawn parallel to the Narnia series). The book spans multiple years as Quentin and his fellow magicians-in-training navigate both their school years and the first years afterwards.

I’ll say this upfront: Quentin (“Q”) is an extremely obnoxious narrator. He is mopey and apathetic and just the worst kind of “that guy” I’ve ever read. But the world Grossman created somehow allows for that level of irritation to exist and still encourage you to keeping reading (plus Q gets called out with pleasing regularity).

It’s not a perfect book, and for the love of everything good, do not let your children read this series, oh my gosh, just don’t do it, I don’t care how much it aligns with Harry Potter and Narnia, this is not appropriate for children, but it sets up a series that only gets better with each subsequent book.

[4.25/5 stars]

The Cuckoo’s Calling, by Robert Galbraith


This was my “trapped in Barnes & Noble during a tornado warning” purchase. Thanks, crazy December weather.

So as a lover of Harry Potter, I wanted to see how I would like J.K. Rowling’s writing in another context (Galbraith is Rowling’s writing “alter ego”). And I did like the writing, but it took me a while to really engage with the plot of the book.

Cormoran Strike is a former military man-turned-private detective who is down on his luck in a pretty significant way. He believes it to be a stroke of pure luck when he is hired to investigate the apparent suicide of high fashion model Lula Landry. Her brother is sure it was murder and wants Strike to prove it. With the help of Robin Ellacott, Strike’s temporary secretary, he discovers there are many more twists to the case than anyone initially thought.

Until the last third of the book, I wasn’t really hooked. There were too many threads getting pulled, and it was a bit difficult to keep up. But everything does get tied up at the end (possibly too simply or quickly) and the last chapters read quickly. So a good read ultimately, but I’m on the fence as to whether I’ll continue with the other Cormoran Strike novels.

[3.75/5 stars]

After You (Me Before You #2), by JoJo Moyes


After I read Me Before You last May, I was satisfied but not super-enthralled. The internet thought otherwise because the vast majority of reviews seemed to share “I went through an entire box of tissues” experiences. But whatever. Maybe I was just being heartless. I probably would have waited to read the sequel until I could snag it in paperback, but I found a cheap hardback copy at 2nd & Charles, so…

Louisa (Lou) Clark is adrift after *SPOILER ALERT FOR ME BEFORE YOUthe man she loved, Will Traynor, killed himself via assisted suicide. She travelled like she promised him she would, and she’s finally living on her own in London, away from the rest of her family in the small town she’s always known. Unfortunately, she’s found her life at a standstill, working a soul-sucking job at an airport pub and begrudgingly attending a bereavement group once a week. But through a nasty fall, a surprise visitor on her doorstep, and a blossoming relationship, she begins to shift her course.

I think I preferred After You to Me Before You in many ways. I liked the more ambiguous nature of the plot (I felt I knew the outcome of MBY long before I reached the end of the book) and that the characters felt more fleshed out and complex. There was an appropriate amount of deference to the plot of the first book, while still allowing Lou to chart a new personal course that felt true to her characterization. So if you loved or liked MBY, I recommend checking this one out.

[4.25/5 stars]

I Am the Messenger, by Markus Zusak


Zusak is the author of one of my favorite books, The Book Thief, so I naturally had to pick up another of his novels. This one stars Ed Kennedy, an unmotivated and underage cab driver, who suddenly finds himself in the middle of a mysterious “messenger” society, where he must deliver “messages” in some form or another to strangers and, later, to friends and family. The process of delivering the messages pushes Ed to re-examine his life, his value, and his purpose.

Again, this was a slow burning book for me. It took a while for me to latch on to the message (*ba dum tss*) of the story, and while I appreciate and agreed with the overall themes, there were elements of the execution that rubbed me the wrong way (specifically Ed’s relationship with his friend Audrey). But Zusak’s writing is truly lovely, and I am not disappointed to have read it. It just won’t occupy a spot next to The Book Thief on my favorite books list.

[4/5 stars]

Favorite book this monthThe Magicians and After You

Most likely to re-read: The Magicians

Most likely to recommend: The Magicians and After You

So that was my March in reading! When Spring weather finally decides to stick around for good, I should have better motivation in my reading habits.

Keep reading and support your local libraries, y’all.



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