May & June Reading Recap

Phew, these last two months have been busy. Between graduating, packing, hosting my family, and then moving home, unpacking, and getting settled in our new home, I missed out on last month’s reading recap post and I hadn’t read as much last month. So I’m going to recap both months here.

Over May and June, I read 8 books. In total, I’ve read 28 books this year, which puts me past halfway done with my goal of reading 52 books this year and 3 books ahead of schedule! Yay! The 8 books I read were mainly from two series – one I finished and one I’m still working on. So I’m going to divide this review up by the series, instead of by the individual book. I’ve included the individual books underneath for clarification.

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer – 4.5/5 stars
(Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter)

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1)This series was such a lovely surprise. It takes a classic fairy tale story and characters and transforms it into something fresh and unique. The series focuses on Cinder, a cyborg mechanic living in a world ravaged by a plague called Letumosis. The Lunars – the population living on the moon – are ruled by an evil queen who is just biding her time to intervene on earth. The fate of both worlds lie in Cinder’s hands…. *dun dun dun*

Meyer did a wonderful job creating and developing the characters in this novel. I also loved how each book introduced a new fairy tale and the subsequent characters. And all of the plot points fit the fairy tale theme, if you will, without seeming like stretching the story to fit. It was effortless.

Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, #3)Scarlet introduces Scarlet, who mimics Little Red Riding Hood, as well as the grandmother and Big Bad Wolf, who isn’t so bad after all. Cress introduces Rapunzel,  and finally Winter introduces Snow White and her story. But while each book introduces new characters, the story still focuses around Cinder, with each of the characters playing vital roles.

The ending was very fitting as well; it wrapped things up while still giving some room for the reader’s speculation. It was such a creative series, giving a fun spin on the fairy tale stories we’ve all grown up with. Yet, the series really stands alone and I would recommend it to anyone who loves fantasy and young adult novels. There’s plenty of action and romance, and of course a strong female lead. :)

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho – 2/5 stars

The AlchemistI received this book as a Christmas gift last year and just got around to reading it. It was a short book – only 200 pages – but it still took me over a week to finish because I just couldn’t get into it. It reads like a parable, comparable perhaps to a book like Le Petit Prince or The Time Keeper. But unlike these novels, I was very underwhelmed by The Alchemist.

The story follows a simple shepherd boy who has a dream about treasures near the pyramids in Egypt. So he begins his quest, leaving everything behind to find this treasure, meeting different characters along the way.

While I suppose the author never intended this novel to carry suspense like a mystery novel, or action like an adventure novel, I feel like it didn’t have anything to go for it except for platitudes and other overgeneralized life lessons like:

Because, wherever your heart is, that is where you´ll find your treasure

As another reviewer put, “I feel like this book was trying to be deep but failed,” and I completely agree. This book is critically acclaimed and loved by many, many readers (including my brother who gave it 5 stars); however, I just didn’t get it. I felt generous giving it two stars.

Brotherband Chronicles (#1 – 3) by John Flanagan – 4/5 stars
The Outcasts, The Invaders, and The Hunters

The Outcasts (Brotherband Chronicles, #1)In middle school and high school – and still to this day – one of my favorite series of books is Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice. I was really disappointed when he finally concluded the series, but equally excited when I found out he would be writing a companion series that focuses on a different country and it’s people, called the Skandians, set in the same world. I was a bit skeptical of first, however, because while I liked Skandia – a land loosely based on present day Scandinavia, who present similar traits and qualities as vikings – I wasn’t enraptured. So, I went in with some low expectations and was, again, pleasantly surprised.

The Outcasts introduces us to our three main characters: Hal, Stig, and Thorn, the first two of which are young boys entering the brotherband training – the warrior and seafairing training that all boys enter in Skandia. It follows their training, which has Flanagan’s same trademark style from the Ranger’s Apprentice series. The Invaders and The Hunters follow Hal and his crew after they graduate from their Brotherband training and hunt down thieves who stole Skandia’s most prized treasure.

The Invaders (Brotherband Chronicles, #2)I really enjoy all of the characters. Each of them have distinct strengths as well as flaws, and Flanagan does a nice job developing them throughout each book. The plot remains interesting enough and Flanagan does a wonderful job developing the world and the different cultures and countries.

As children’s and teen books do, it does have some silly boy humor and some of the lines seem a bit contrived. There’s a fair amount of eye rolling and an unusually large amount of the phrase “pretty much” being used. But even so, I really enjoy the series and can’t seem to keep the books down for long. I don’t like them quite as much as the Ranger’s Apprentice books and they won’t hit my “favorite” shelf, but I still really enjoy them. I describe them as my “pre-teen boy” guilty pleasure, haha. ;)

Overall a pretty good couple months. Happy reading! :D

12 thoughts on “May & June Reading Recap”

  1. Ooooh! Yay for doing more reading :D

    The only one I’ve heard of is The Alchemist. The rest I’ve heard for the first time XD I have to say they are not striking me as the type of books to read, but I may look into Brotherband Chronicles. I find some YA/children series to be a bit off-putting, but I figure nothing can be worse than The Diary of a WImpy Kid, so I may check into that one :)

    Thanks for sharing your reading recaps!

    1. I agree that a lot of children’s series can be off-putting, as you said, but then there are some that I still really enjoy as an adult. I find the Brotherband books to be a lot more mature – as they face a lot more mature issues, but there’s also that childlike humor that is usually pretty humorous to me instead of being annoying. So I think that John Flanagan does a great job creating these books for younger teens and children, while still making them enjoyable for the older crowd, too.

  2. I’ve wanted to read The Alchemist for a while, based on Mimi Ikkon’s recommendation, but based on your review, I think I’ll be disappointed! At 200 pages though, I’ll still give it a try. I recently read Mimi’s book and that felt like it was trying too hard to be deep and meaningful….
    The other books you’ve mentioned sound amazing though! I’m particularly interested in The Lunar Chronicles, they sound right up my street! I’ve been re-reading Artimies Fowl this month, and Harry Potter. They’re taking me a while just because I’m so short on time, but I’ll get there!

  3. So great you were able to do more reading and have read so many this year! :D It’s great that you enjoyed a number of them and it’s interesting to read the opinions of others on different books. It can be so strange when you read a book that has such high praise and it just doesn’t connect with you. It’s a personal journey and we all have our own thoughts/opinions we carry with us. :D Never a right or wrong way, just what we like or do not.

  4. I can’t recall if I’ve even read The Alchemist. I’ve heard of it, but I don’t know if I’ve read it or not. There’s been so many books in high school that I’ve had to read and half of which I don’t remember reading except “Huck Finn,” and “Beowulf.” That’s about it; however, The Alchemist does sound pretty interesting, I may have to read it.

    Tristan and I on occasion will head over to Barnes And Noble just to see if they’ve come out with any new coding books i.e. HTML5, CSS3, or C# ya know? Some times, I will get a little bored just browsing the same books over and over again because they rarely update their HTML5 and CSS3 section. One book in particular is a supplemental guide to Microsoft’s HTML5 and CSS3 certification exam that they had once upon a time and I failed to get it as I kept thinking “It’ll be there tomorrow.” I’m kicking myself in the butt for not getting it when I had the chance. I guess that’s why they have Amazon and Barnes And Nobles websites right?

    Speaking of Cinder and Cress, I actually had those two books in my hands after you’ve blogged about those books. Tristan and I went to Barnes And Nobles the next day after to see what we could get – if any- and ended up getting Stephen King’s hard back book (those are rare to get) as it’s the third installment of his “Mr. Mercedes” trilogy. Tristan told me that when he or myself gets paid we can come back and get those. I know there are four books, I believe, but what is the first of the series? Is it Cinder? Please let me know!

  5. Ugh. This is me continuing to hate you for actually reading. It sounds like you had a very productive few months and on your way to your goal. Me, I’m procrastinating and stuffing y face with dark chocolate.

  6. I haven’t read the Lunar Chronicles yet, but I love how there are so many fairytale retellings.
    I want to read all of the ones inspired by Beauty and the Beast. But there are a few Peter Pan retellings that I might dive into.

    Congrats on being ahead of your reading goal!!!

    1. One of my favorite Peter Pan stories is the Peter and the Starcatchers series. They’re intended for younger audience (like middle school and up) but I absolutely loved the story of how Peter became who he is, as well as all of the other characters in the story. I believe there are four books in the series, so I would definitely recommend those if you’re looking for some good Peter Pan reads!

  7. It looks like you’re on track with your goal! I think you had a good reason to be away from books, so it’s all good ;). I’ve been hearing all sorts of good stuff about Cinder and Cress! I’m a bit interested because of the fairy tale twist in the story.

    The Alchemist sounded so familiar when I first saw the name, then I realized that it was one of the books I read back in 9th grade. It couldn’t catch my attention for some reason @___@… Maybe because of the writing prompts we had to answer about the book?

    Keep it up! :)

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