March Reading Wrap Up (2020)

March was a poppin’ reading month for me, because I had a lot of time… duh. I read 2,175 pages across 6 graphic novels and 6 other novels. That makes 12 books total for this month; not bad.

Because I am crazy, I have upped my reading goal for the year to 100! I feel like I was going to hit 50 books way too soon, especially with the amount of time I have now. This is actually going to be a challenge for me, so I promise that I will not be changing my goal anymore this year… really. I promise.

As always all covers are from Goodreads and please share your recent reads with us!

Now, on to the books that I read in March:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/51914250-pile-of-bones

Pile of Bones(The Legends of the First Empire #0.5) by Michael J. Sullivan

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ◊

This is a short story that preludes the first book in the series. Interestingly enough, this is a free audiobook that the author wrote between publications for his wife and fans.

As you all probably already know, I am a sucker for Sullivan’s books. I was looking for a short audiobook while doing chores, and this is what I found.

This is a small glimpse into Suri’s life with Tura in the woods with magic at hand and dark beings afoot. I really enjoyed revisiting the old Suri, before her evolution in the main series, because she is so pure and relatable. I love the inclusion of nature in Sullivan’s stories and the characters from The Legends of the First Empire unconditionally, so naturally, I felt like this story wasn’t long enough.

I was shocked that it ended when it did and only wanted more, which is why I didn’t give this a full five stars. I did enjoy it, but it wasn’t as enveloping as some of Sullivan’s other work. Needless to say, I still loved it, and I will look into Sullivan’s other shorts very soon.

I think this is a Fall read, but I enjoyed it in Winter.

If you like dark fantasy, this could be your story. It is not what I would choose as an introduction into Sullivan’s work, but if you’ve already read his stuff, then this is great.


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7938371-the-capture

The Capture (Guardians of Ga’Hoole #1) by Kathryn Lasky

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

This is an amazing children’s fantasy about a kingdom of owls that believe in a legend of heroes, called the Guardians. This story is about an owl named Soren who is one of the owletts captured by St. Aggies, an organization that is capturing owls from all over the world with an insidious agenda. 

This is one of those amazing children’s books that don’t talk to kids like they are dumb and is good enough that adults can enjoy it. The world is massive, the characters are all around amazing, and the story is highly interesting. This book even names the types of owls and uses some facts about birds to create the story and conflict.

For a kids book, there are some pretty serious events, themes, and messages that anyone could get something from. Don’t think I mean inappropriate though, just more serious tones about family and identity and morality. This is a book that will make you think, and I love that.

Side Note: The movie is also good, but it does cover several of the books, so be warned before you watch it. The animation of that movie is just stunning by the way!

I will definitely be picking up the rest of this series this year, even though the movie covered more than one book (so I saw some spoilers).

This is a winter to early spring read in my opinion. I think any kid who likes animals and adventure will enjoy this book. It is pretty short, and worth noting is how useful it is in expanding a child’s vocabulary. Lasky does not shy away from trying to push the reader with bigger words (but not intimidating ones).


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35758543-moonstruck-vol-1

Moonstruck, Vol. 1: Magic to Brew (Moonstruck #1) by Grace Ellis and Shae Beagle

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ◊

This romantic, fantasy graphic novel is full of werewolves and a whole slew of magical creatures. Because the main character works in a cafe, this book is packed with wholesome cafe scenes. Additionally, this is a queer love story packed with social commentary and life lessons.

I loved the silly advertisements and magazine style breaks in the story; they were very funny. There were even mythical creature celebrities who offered advice to readers, and that advice was often hilarious.

I feel like this world was pretty well fleshed out for a graphic novel and there were a lot of characters for such a short story. I liked our main character and her love interest. I thought the couple banter was pretty realistic, because books tend to only show the happy side of relationships, while this one shows the actual struggle of young relationships.

I found myself laughing and smiling, but also sad while reading this. Overall, I would say it was pretty good, and I had a good time with it, but I wasn’t blown away by it. I feel like this book falls into the category that a lot of graphic novels fall into for me, which is that they are good concepts that are in the wrong medium. This story and its characters would really benefit from more. More time, more words, and more in general. The entire time I was reading this, I couldn’t fully enjoy what was happening because all I could think was that this needed to be a full novel or an anime. I call this the Graphic Novel Paradox.

So, because this book was enjoyable and a good ride, but so well thought out that I felt like I needed more than what I could get form the graphic novel medium, I am giving this 4 stars. It was good and I enjoyed it, but it didn’t hit me with the 5 star wow factor.

I am not sure if I will continue with the series quite yet. If I can easily get it at the library, then I probably will once the world opens back up, but until then I am happy to wait.

I would say this is a wholesome story for anyone at any time of year. There wasn’t a particular season that stood out to me while reading this.

*There are some scenes where the main couple argue about being heard/wanted and general couple arguing, so if that kind of thing bothers you, then this could be a triggering book. I wouldn’t say it was intense at all and everything gets worked out in the end, but depending on the person, I could see this being a potential trigger. There was also a part with a friend that owes money to some gang-type person who tracks them down a lot. But again, this element is not detailed or too traumatic in my opinion, just be ready for it if you are sensitive.*


cheshireCheshire Crossing by Andy Weir 

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

I was initially drawn to this graphic novel for three reasons. First, I saw that it was written by Andy Weir, author of The Martian, which I loved. Second, it was illustrated by an artist that I have loved for many years, Sarah Andersen. Lastly, this story includes Alice in Wonderland, which I will mention again in this reading wrap up, because I am a big fan of the original story.

This mashup of Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, and Peter Pan is such a great ride. I was laughing and smiling throughout this entire book. I loved the connection these characters and their stories have, and I genuinely enjoyed the reading experience a lot more than I expected to.

This story has a more SciFi twist to it than other remakes that I’ve read and the characters are so much more interesting than I could have imagined. On the other hand, I wouldn’t consider this SciFi at all, just a more scientific approach that still includes magic.

I need this to become an anime or other type of TV show, because there is so much here that could be expanded on. When the journey was over, all I wanted was more (in a good way).

I would say this book can be enjoyed any time of year.

I thank the stars for this collaboration/mashup, but I also beg them for more from these two.


okay witchThe Okay Witch by Emma Steinkellner

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

This adorable, witchy graphic novel is about a girl named Moth who doesn’t really fit in. One day she discovers that she has magic. We follow Moth as she navigates the history of her mother’s life and how they came to live in a curiosities shop by themselves with no extended family.

This story is really about Moth’s relationships with her mother, family, and best friend, along with battling prejudice and coming into oneself. This story is wholesome, dramatic and all around a great ride. The witchy fun had me squealing, and the darker mentions of the Salem trials was incredibly fun to read in a lighthearted story.

This is a longer graphic novel, which really helps to do the characters and story justice, so I do not feel like this suffered from the graphic novel paradox that hinders my enjoyment.

I hope Steinkellner makes a series out of this or just makes more graphic novels like this. I will definitely be looking into her other books and all future ones.

If you are looking for a wholesome read with strong family/friendship themes and witchy banter, I highly recommend this to you.

I would have to say this gives me similar vibes to The Witch Boy series which I read in January, but I actually like that series more because it is a full series. With that said, this is still a good book that I recommend.


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30025791-princess-princess-ever-after

Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O’Neill

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

This is an adorable graphic novel with queer representation and some underlying feminism. This story is about a world where princesses are all locked away and have to be rescued by princes, but one day our main princess is rescued by another princess who doesn’t want to live the life of a princess.

They meet a prince who isn’t good at fighting and they protect him along the way. I won’t say more than that to avoid spoilers, but this story is super fast, cute, and leaves you with a warm feeling.

I love the strong princess who just wants to fight and the inclusion of a witch, dragons, and female-female romance.

The humor is witty and lighthearted, and the plot is kind of in the background. The main focus of this story is the characters and their journeys, not some exciting plot.

I enjoyed this book enough that I lent it to a coworker who also enjoyed The Prince and The Dressmaker that I read back in February, so check out that review for more heartwarming graphic novel recommendations.

I love everything that I’ve read by O’Neill so far, so I will continue to hunt down her books.

Her books, so far, have all been so cute and lighthearted. I love it.

You don’t get much of the world or characters, but it doesn’t feel like you need to. I feel like this is meant to be a quick peek into a cute story and nothing more. I didn’t feel the graphic novel paradox of needing more to enjoy it. I think the short one-off story was perfect in this case.


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/44774415-mooncakes

Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

This is another witchy graphic novel with queer representation, but this one also has werewolves and demons, unlike the Okay Witch.

I cannot stop thinking about this book, even several weeks later. The main character has a hearing aid and lives with her grandmothers. Her love interest is a nonbinary werewolf with family issues and a new found werewolf power.

This story is just so relatable, wholesome, and fun. The magic is great, and the story is well represented in the graphic novel medium, which I don’t say often. I just generally really liked this book and have no complaints, for once.

I do hope that Walker makes this a series, because I will definitely read them all. I want more!

This is an anytime, feel-good read for when you need something cute and lighthearted, in my opinion.


Jurassic Park (Jurassic Park #1) by Michael Crichton

Jurassic Park (Jurassic Park #1) by Michael Crichton

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

I am not going to say too much about this book, because I wrote an in depth review on this book last week, so check that out if you are interested in how I felt about this book.

In general, I absolutely love this book and would even say it is my favorite read of the year so far. I both listened to and read this book, which were both very enjoyable experiences. I will probably reread the second book again soon. I can even see myself picking this book up again next year, but who knows.

This dinosaur freak is even more obsessed now. If you haven’t read my review, I recommend you do, because this book shocked me on so many levels. Plus I put a lot of effort into getting my thoughts down without rambling too much… which I am doing here. Moving on, lol.


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29960611-alice-in-wonderland

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, Scarlett Johansson (narrator)

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

This audiobook performance by Scarlett Johansson is amazing. It is not narrated by her, it is performed by her. This is a silly and exciting listen read by Black Widow… what is better?! “Nothing” is the answer to that.

Each character is given a unique voice, and she does such a good job of portraying Alice’s quirky personality using only her voice. I have already read the original story before, but Audible currently has a bunch of titles for free to listen to during quarantine, so I gave this a shot. I am so glad that I did.

If you need some audiobooks to listen to during this hard time, Audible has a huge selection of classics, childrens, and even teens books for free for anyone to listen to online. I highly recommend checking out their selection.

I can see myself listening to this specific version of the book whenever I need a short and fun story to brighten my mood, because that’s what it does.


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6578822-z-rex

Z. Rex (The Hunting #1) by Steve Cole

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ◊ ◊ ◊

This book is not great… I read this children’s dinosaur SciFi, because I love dinosaurs and there aren’t many out there.

I originally started this back in fall 2019 but DNF-ed it, because it’s just not good. I picked it back up because I wanted to just finish it out, and I had just finished Jurassic Park and wanted more dinosaurs.

This does deliver dinosaurs, but the story is just bad. The science is terrible; the plot is crazy and weird; and the suspension of  disbelief required by the reader is just too much.

I was on board all the way until the dinosaur could talk and use video game fighting moves. Like… what?! The flying and adaptation to blend in with surroundings made sense, but talking? Really?!

Not to mention the story is so predictable and the ending is pretty stupid.

Now, I can acknowledge that a 7- 10 year old kid might love this book, because it could be pretty fun for a person that young, but kids aren’t dumb, so I think many will not like it.

Also, I don’t know who this book was intended for, but the writing seems too advanced for a 7-10 year old, which makes me think this was intended for a middle grade audience or slightly younger than middle grade. Let’s just say this is probably not worth the read for any age.

I didn’t hate it enough to give less than two stars, because it was okay. I sort of enjoyed it aside from my issues with it, but I don’t feel like it was good enough to be average, 3 out of 5 stars.

If you want an absurd and unbelievable story with dinosaurs, then this may be for you, but I generally would not recommend it otherwise.


IRLIn Real Life by Cory Doctorow, Jen Wang (Illustrations)

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

This was the most surprising book of the month for me, because I was not expecting this to be so good. This is a longer graphic novel about a gamer girl navigating adolescence in a world of technology that many adults don’t understand.

She ends up crossing online paths with a Chinese boy who needs health insurance, but can’t get it. We see our main character learn how economics in other countries are not similar to that of the U.S., and how making friends and enemies on the internet can be a double edged sword.

A good story with a moving message was not what I expected from a graphic novel about video games. I was drawn to this book for the illustrator alone, but the story blew me away.

Apparently, Doctorow also writes nonfiction articles relating to technology and software development. He was a software developer before he began writing SciFi. A friend of mine even mentioned that he saw a talk by Doctorow at SCALE some years back, which is pretty cool.

If you like Ready Player One or stories with video games as the backdrop, then this might be for you, and I suggest giving it a shot.

It is a longer graphic novel, but it is still not a huge time commitment and is worth the read.


Year in Books:

36 /100 Books Read (36%)

∴∴∴∴∴∴∴∴∴∴∴

7,221 Pages Read

∴∴∴∴∴∴∴∴∴∴∴

Average rating:  4.3 / 5 stars

[These are the numbers for the year, up to this point.]

 


PS:

dai5ez7-d5b5fef5-215d-4985-b550-f1b0d6314964This month I did listen to a bit more of Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb and started Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare and The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones, which are all from my March TBR. I am almost done with The Bone Houses, but sadly didn’t get far into Royal Assassin because I wasn’t in the mood. I only got a few chapters into Chain of Gold.

The Bone Houses and Chain of Gold are on my O.W.L. Magical Readathon TBR, so I will be finishing those in April. I will get to Royal Assassin when I am in the mood, but right now I am just mood reading to keep motivated and productive, so please be patient with me.


What did you read this month? What was your average rating?

Don’t forget to check out my O.W.L. Magical Readathon TBR, which is basically my April TBR!

Let us know if you are participating in any readathons or book clubs! 

-Knight of Cups ❤


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