journal. It’s a *late* wrap for March. I’m slightly behind on my reading goals as of writing this but never fear. There’s always the summer for catching up on those unfortunate books at the end of my lists that are started but not finished. I hope all of my readers have had restful Easter seasons, and, as I’m pressed for time as exam season approaches, below is everything I read in March 2021.
BOOKS OF MARCH 2021
Stuff I Read for Fun
The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon
★★★☆☆ Genre: Sci-Fi/Dystopian; Rating: PG-13
March was the last month used to wrap up what’s been released for Shannon’s Bone Season series. This one was definitely not one of my favourites. I struggled more than usual to get through it, and in the past, I’d tried reading it multiple times and ended up putting it down in favour of another read. I think it really boils down to pacing issues, but by golly I was so happy I had the next book to read after this one.
The Mask Falling by Samantha Shannon
★★★★★ Genre: Sci-Fi/Dystopian; Rating: PG-13
I’ve deemed this one Shannon’s best work yet. As I always say, Reader, when you find yourself intentionally slowing yourself down so the book will last longer- it’s a good read. Perhaps it was because the power couple was together throughout the majority of the text (as I’ve always said, separating them makes for rather boring, slow pace as seen in the previous book in the series), but I loved the intrigue, the French setting, the additional information provided on such a complex system of government and, for lack of a better term, “magic” system (Reader, I use “magic” for most things outside the realm of what’s normal in our world). As usual, this one ends in a cliff hanger, and a major plot twist. Shannon’s books are written so well likely because she takes longer than the usual year to write them, so it’s likely “hurry up and wait” for the next one. Below is a link to a Spotify playlist of all the songs or classical pieces mentioned thus far in the series because, like me, Shannon uses a lot of classical reference in her works.
Out of The Silent Planet by C. S. Lewis
★★★☆☆ Genre: Sci-Fi; Rating: PG for content; teen-adult for understanding/reading comprehension
I struggled with this one. I think in the end, I DNFed this book mostly because this isn’t the book in the series that everyone always talks about. To make a long story short, Lewis wrote this one on a dare from his writer’s circle, the Inklings, that “betcha can’t write a Sci-Fi novel.” And in true Lewis fashion, he said “watch me.” I knew it would be a more challenging read, having just finished Till We Have Faces and most of Mere Christianity (which I hope to review in a Journal article itself this summer after I’ve listened through the book at least twice), but this book is…a different sort of beast. The story revolves around the idea of our protagonist, Professor Ransom, being kidnapped to a foreign planet by come college buddies to be bargained with an alien race. I, being an avid Fantasy and Sci-Fi reader, should have loved this one, but I found, for it’s length, it moved stunningly slow. Perhaps I’ll revisit it over the summer so I can read the sequel -the book everyone talks about when they mention C. S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy– but it’s certainly a harder read. Couldn’t demote too many stars because…well it’s C. S. Lewis for goodness’ sake.
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
★★★★★ Genre: Children’s/Middle Grades/Fantasy; Rating: PG
Ah! I’d been dying to reread this book since having a conversation about it with my little brother whilst discussing books we read in school. Nestled in my fifth grade curriculum was this tiny book that I hated the way it ended. It’s certainly one of those books you only understand -and literary device-wise appreciate- until you reach adulthood. The story follows Winnie Foster, an almost-11-year-old girl who dreams of life beyond the white picket fence yard her parents never let her out of. One day, she explores beyond her humble abode into the forest beyond and meets a handsome boy with a heavy secret -his family, after drinking from a spring in the woods, have been living for over a hundred years without aging. Peril starts when someone follows Winnie into the forest and the family’s secret could get out. The story, as you can imagine, follows such themes as death, eternal life in a broken world, love, and family. As a child, the ending always baffled me, and I won’t spoil it, but it boils down to-who’d want to live forever in this broken, sinful world in which evil always triumphs? From the Christian perspective, which I’m not sure if Babbitt encouraged, who’d want to live forever in a world separated eternally from God and His pure goodness? For a fifth grade mind, believing it’s going to live forever, this is mind-probing. It’s a fairly short read, and I recommend Genre: Sci-Fi/Dystopian; Rating: PG-13 for anyone in need of a good, thought provoking read.
Stuff I read for class
This month, we read fantasy related books in Children’s Lit! These were longer books, so there are admittedly fewer on the list.
The Arrival by Shaun Tan
★★★★☆ Genre: Fantasy/Children’s?; Rating:PG with some scenes children may find troubling
This story about an immigrant coming to a fantasy world has no words, but detailed images that somehow capture more than dialogue would in any other book. I really enjoyed the tale about different reasons people might leave their home countries to move somewhere else, and I loved how it was organized around the concept of a fantasy world, lending native, natural born citizens a window into how daunting immigrating can be. Definitely one for kids of all ages and adults, too.
Skeleton Creek by Patrick Carman
★★★☆☆ Genre: Middle Grades/Horror/Thriller; Rating:PG-13 (almost? Read review)
This one was pretty cool. The book contains links to websites that are videos that follow along with the story, which follows two teens uncovering a mystery around an abandoned factory building in their town. The book itself isn’t scary but some of the videos are, and I would be careful about what kind of kid I passed it off to. Definitely a cool read, though.
Coraline: The Graphic Novel by P. Craig Russell based on the original story by Neil Gaiman
★★★★☆ Genre: Middle Grades/Horror/Thriller/Fantasy; Rating: PG-13 (in the same way as above)
I think most people have seen/heard of the movie, so I’ll save the description. The drawings in this one were scary enough to give my 21-year-old brain nightmares, so I think a content warning is in order again.
Stuff I started but haven’t finished:
Lore by Alexandra Bracken
Rating so far: ★★☆☆☆ Genre: YA Fantasy; Rating: PG-13
Yeah… I’m not sure about this one. Might DNF (did not finish) it come the end of March if I haven’t returned to it. Based loosely on Greek Mythology, the novel follows a competition that comes every so many years for Greek gods to fight to keep their lives, lest they be killed and their roles assumed by their murderers. This story follows the protagonist, Lore, and her journey to help the goddess Athena while avenging the death of her family. This was one of my most anticipated YA reads of 2021 but so far it has failed to engage me. Will be trying it again in March.
Shame shame shame. Here’s some repeats from last month.
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell – Susanna Clarke
Rating so far: ★★★★★ Genre: Fantasy/Alternate History; Rated: PG-13
This one is awesome! But it’s over 1000 pages. My dad jokingly refers to it as my “tome,” and that’s no understatement. Clarke’s work is immersive, rewriting the history of the Napoleonic wars from the side of the British. I stumbled across it after reading Piranesi (another good read by Clarke) at the recommendation of one of my favourite authors, Alix E. Harrow. This is shaping to be one of my favorites, but only in small doses. It’s definitely a hard read, but I think rewarding in the end. I can’t wait to write about it fully next month! (hopefully)
Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
Rating so far: ★★★★☆ Genre: Classic/Romance; Rating: PG
Okay, I confess. I’ve only ever read excerpts of this one. I adore the movie with Kiera Knightley, and it’s probably the greatest reason why I got bangs, but I’ve never read the book. I’m delving through it now, and it’s not super easy. I find Bronte’s work to be more engaging and rewarding of my time, but I had the paperback copy and felt… insistent. So far, I find issue with the lack of tags to identify speakers, but Elizabeth and Darcy’s banter is so perfectly brilliant my time is definitely well spent. Will update in full later.
*all book photo covers are from GoodReads
Link to my personal GoodReads page: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/24737202-elizabeth-taylor
Cover Photo: Taken from a pathway behind Barratt Hall, Lander University’s Nursing Building, and the place I retrieved my, hard-earned minor in Biology (and academic detour to say the least). I think it was March when my then-roommate Kenzie and I paused to take photos of some trees that were blooming pink.