Given that it is still February, I feel like I am at least slightly justified in still putting up this post. As the saying goes, it is always better late than never. With that now being said, I can talk about the books that I read in January! I had what I would class as a successful reading month – I read a total of three books, which is roughly consistent with reaching my goal of reading forty books this year. I also happened to enjoy all three of them!
Book #1: Beowulf by Unknown
This was the first of the texts assigned for my “Other Worlds” module at uni – a module that is as good as it sounds! Beowulf follows the exploits of its hero, Beowulf, as he attempts to free the hall of Hereot from the murderous presence of the monster/demon/general person they don’t want around, Grendal.
I know at least for me, I’d heard of Beowulf and had a rough idea of the general premise but didn’t really know any more than that when I first picked up this epic poem. All in all, I thought it was fairly good. I enjoyed the whirlwind-adventure style of it, and the gradual escalation in drama, but some parts simply made very little sense. I’m pretty sure that’s to do with the fact that we know virtually nothing about the author or what their intentions were, but it did make for a slightly confusing read. What perhaps made it more interesting for me was seeing all of the areas that clearly influenced J.R.R. Tolkien’s writing, especially with regards to the events in The Hobbit. Beowulf is therefore something I’m glad I’ve read, but something I’m doubtful I’ll ever read again.
Rating: 3/5 stars
Book #2: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by Unknown
This was another text that I had to pick up for my course, and I am so glad we got assigned it! As a lover of fantasy and of Arthurian legend – at least after watching and loving Merlin! – I was very, very excited about this one, and thankfully it did not disappoint. This poem (that largely reads as a narrative) follows Sir Gawain of King Arthur’s court in his attempt to uphold a bargain after beheading a mysterious green knight.
This story takes place across sprawling wild landscapes, rich castles and shady looking dens, and every one of them was described in so much detail that I was enchanted throughout! I feel like it needs to be pointed out that this poem is utterly bizarre, but in the best way. At only 86 pages, and in very accessible language, I was able to read this poem in about an hour, and honestly it was so satisfying. I left it feeling as though I had just been taken through one nicely completed story, with all the adventure and intrigue that you’d expect from an Arthurian tale. I am definitely reading more of them after this!
Rating: 5/5 stars
Book #3: A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
Reading this was a big moment for me. After two and a half years of slowly working my way through Sarah J. Maas’ works, I’ve finally finished reading every single one, and if you’ve been reading most of my recent-ish blog posts you’ll know that Sarah J. Maas is pretty much the only author I’ve been talking about lately. The fact that I’ve read every one of her books says a lot in itself, as it is very rare that I will ever become that invested in one particular author – I just find her worlds to be some of the richest, and her characters some of the most compelling, that I’ve ever read.
For the most part, I adored this final (main) instalment in the A Court of Thorns and Roses series. What I undoubtedly love the most about SJM’s writing is her ability to weave a beautiful description; the introduction of the Dawn Court was a magical addition to the world that she had already established in the previous novels, and one that I think added a lot to contrast the darkness of the stunningly crafted Night Court. I feel as though I’ve said this before, but the descriptions that SJM writes are the sorts of things that I’ve always imagined wanting to produce if I’m ever lucky enough to write my own novels. They’re just breath-taking. Alongside that, I particularly enjoyed the character development of many of the leading female characters – Mor and Nesta in particular. I felt like before this novel they both had so much potential and it was so good to see that start to play out a bit more.
I did, however, take a long time deciding whether I wanted to give ACOWAR four or five stars; the main two reasons for this being that 1) the book was possibly too long – I found some parts dragged on slightly too long without adding a great deal to the story, and 2) the plot hole at the end (or at least what I saw as a slight oversight). I won’t go in to what I thought this was because I want to keep this review spoiler-free, however there was just one moment that I thought worked out almost too well, at the expense of other characters. Nonetheless, I loved this book, and felt like it reached a very fitting conclusion for another incredible series by Sarah J. Maas.
Rating: 5/5 stars
Brief note: I’ve decided that for 2018 I’m going to start including the films I’ve watched each month with a literal one-line description of what I thought of it, purely because I love film and I think this will be a great way to incorporate something a little different to these posts! For January, I only actually watched one film, and that was a re-watch, but I’ve been much more successful in February already!
(RW) The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014) – A pretty much perfect conclusion to one of my favourite film series of all time (5/5 stars)
Thus concludes my first Reflection post of 2018! I hope you enjoyed reading it, and let me know if you’ve read any of the books I mentioned or are planning to in the near future!
First book for February: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard