Hello, and welcome back to another monthly wrap-up. In March, I managed to read 9 books whilst trying not to have a breakdown over uni and my current life situation. I’m feeling much better, though!
Unfortunately, I don’t have any reviews for the following books. But, as always, you can check out my Goodreads page, where I always write a lil mini review when I finish a book! Let’s get into the wrap-up…
THE LANCASHIRE WITCHES | 3 STARS:
William Harrison Ainsworth‘s The Lancashire Witches is a hefty book that writes on the Pendle witches. It’s quite a messy book, in terms of plot, with summoning of devils, selling souls, witchcraft, burning at the stake, and all that fun stuff. King James I even makes an appearance.
I didn’t enjoy this as much as I would have liked. You know me, I love witches, especially the Pendle witches – I’m from Lancashire after all. But, my god, was this overly drawn out. Ainsworth likes to waffle – a lot. It could have been edited, with unnecessary chapters cut out. I did, however, enjoy how Ainsworth engaged with witchy stereotypes. He went all out, with cauldrons, brooms, familiars, and anything else you can imagine.
POEMS BY CURRER, ELLIS AND ACTON BELL | 3 STARS:
Shocked by my rating? Well, you shouldn’t be. You know I’m not the biggest fan of poetry, and, unfortunately, the Brontë sisters are no exception to this. This edition has the original selection of poetry that the sisters published in 1846.
It is not their strongest poetry, to say the least. The poems that they chose not to include, especially a lot of Emily’s, are definitely the better stuff. Anne’s was, of course, the best of the collection. I’ll always hold Anne’s poetry in high esteem – it’s so powerful and moving. Charlotte’s was the worst of the bunch *shock, horror* – Charlotte is definitely a superior novelist.
CLOCKWORK PRINCE | 5 STARS:
I carried on with my re-read of the Shadowhunter Chronicles last month, finishing Clockwork Prince and starting Clockwork Princess. I can’t say too much about this book, without giving spoilers, and I’ll have a massive series review up *hopefully* by the end of this week.
All you need to know is: cute friendship, an irritatingly pure love triangle, supernatural figures, and an amazing story line. Seriously, please read The Infernal Devices if you haven’t already – it’s definitely the best series out of the Shadowhunter Chronicles. Cassandra Clare is very talented when it comes to writing compelling stories, with amazing world building, and fantastic characters.
A STRING OF PEARLS (SWEENEY TODD) | 2 STARS:
We all know the story of Sweeney Todd, the demon barber of Fleet Street, right? Middle-class men visit his establishment, end up going missing, but, in reality, they’ve had their throats slit and their bodies baked into pastries. It’s a crazy, wild ride.
Unfortunately, James Malcom Rymer‘s original text didn’t live up to the musical version (Jamie Campbell-Bower as Tobias Ragg is all you need). The text, especially the murders, was really vague, and I’m someone who likes detail. The characters were a little flat, and the story a little jumpy, which is probably due to the fact that this was serialised over a few months. Not the best…
‘MODERN LOVE’ | 2 STARS:
Written by George Meredith, this is a collection 50 16-line sonnets about the failure of his first marriage. It is said that Meredith reflects his own disillusionment after his wife, Mary Ellen, left him for another man.
It was a very deep and moving poem, especially as it explored the break down of a marriage and how hard it is to become an individual again. I just think it was a little boring and dry. For a poem, I found the rhythm hard to follow at times, which made reading it quite difficult and unfulfilling.
THE RETURN OF THE NATIVE | 2 STARS:
I found this Thomas Hardy novel a little…confusing. A little…boring. Eustacia Vye criss-crosses the wild Egdon Heath, eager to experience life to the full in her quest for ‘music, poetry, passion, war’. She marries Clym Yeobright, native of the heath, but his idealism frustrates her romantic ambitions and her discontent draws others into a tangled web of deceit and unhappiness.
This could have been told in half the page count. Not a lot happened and, for the most part, it was pure waffle. I thought Eustacia being considered a witch was quite an interesting – it was Hardy to a T. However, I found that it was left unexplored in areas, and thus a little disappointing. Hardy could have definitely drawn that out, especially the town’s superstition, and it would have improved the reading experience drastically.
‘LOIS THE WITCH’ | 4 STARS:
Newly orphaned, the God-fearing and heart-broken Lois is sent across the Atlantic to live with her uncle’s family in Salem. When the local Pastor’s daughters are apparently possessed by satanic powers, the whole town is whipped into a hysterical witch hunt. And when Lois’s cousins start to resent her presence in their household, life becomes precarious and an old woman’s curse returns to haunt her.
I love Elizabeth Gaskell. I love witches. I love reading about witch hunts. I love the Salem witch trials. So this was the perfect short story for me. It’s actually one of the only short stories that I’ve actually enjoyed start to finish. It was brilliant, and highlighted some interesting issues that I don’t usually think of when I read witchy stories. A new favourite!
HOW TO BE A TUDOR | 1 STAR:
Just like Ruth Goodman‘s How to be a Victorian, she takes you on a whistle-stop tour of everything Tudor-y. From how they wake up in the morning, to how they clean, and dress. From what they eat, how they cook, what they do for a living, and so on.
Unfortunately, this was a huuuugeee disaster. It lacked the enthusiasm and fascination for the period that was very in your face in How to be a Victorian. I think it was a mixture of that and just being in a little bit of a slumpy reading mood that made me dislike this book. I never wanted to pick it up and I started to skim over a lot towards the end, only reading certain passages. A disappointment!
THE PENELOPIAD | 2.5 STARS:
Ah, yes, another disappointment. Penelope. Immortalised in legend and myth as the devoted wife of the glorious Odysseus, silently weaving and unpicking and weaving again as she waits for her husband’s return. Now Penelope wanders the underworld, spinning a different kind of thread: her own side of the story – a tale of lust, greed and murder.
There were two reasons why I didn’t like: 1) Penelope. She got on my nerves *a lot*. I didn’t like the way Margaret Atwood characterised her at all. And 2) I didn’t like the way Atwood framed the narration. It felt so disjointed. It’s present Penelope reflecting on her life, from the initial stages of her marriage till the underworld. Present Penelope would randomly break narration with a weird and useless observation. This would have worked so much better as a novel.
…and that’s my March wrap-up. In terms of enjoyment, it was a disappointing month. A lot of my reads were lacklustre or dull. Ugh. My favourite, however, was either my re-read of Clockwork Prince or Gaskell’s ‘Lois the Witch’. I’m in such a witchy mood, thanks to my dissertation, so if you have any recommendations please let me know!
What was your favourite book of the month? Maybe I can add it to my TBR?
Thanks for reading, Lauren X
2 thoughts on “March Reading Wrap-up:”
My favourites were State of Sorrow and Song of Sorrow by Melinda Salisbury
I’ve heard great things about that series! Might give it a try 🙂