Monthly Roundup

Monthly Roundup: February 2014

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Every first Wednesday of the month, I’ll be posting a roundup of the month just gone, and writing about what’s to come in the next few weeks.

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Last month I read a total of eight books – less than January, but no novellas or graphic novels this time. Cash: The Autobiography of Johnny Cash (with Patrick Carr), Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie, Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer, She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgewick, Lockstep by Karl Schroeder, Paper Towns by John Green, The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson and The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris.

Standout books include The Final Empire, The Gospel of Loki and Cash: The Autobiography of Johnny Cash – one of my favourite musicians ever, his life was absolutely fascinating to read about. I’ve now read twenty-three books towards my goal of fifty this year, but I’m unsure about raising it just yet.

Challenge progress:

  • I read four more books towards the Avengers vs. X-Men Challenge, and managed to beat this month’s boss – Crimson Dynamo! Gooooo X-Men! *waves mutant flag*
  • Another one ticked off of the Dragons & Jetpacks Ultimate Booklist Challenge, which handily also happened to be February’s Fantasy Book of the Month!
  • I’m slowly finishing off my TBR Pile 2013 Challenge – I achieved my goal for the year last year, but I had a list of thirty books, and aimed to read at least fifteen in 2013. Now I want to read the rest throughout 2014.
  • And finally, the Review Copy Clean-up Challenge! I read three review copies this month, which isn’t quite as many as I’d hoped to – but my Netgalley ratio is now 55.5%, which is a bonus. I still have to review one of the books, although that one was from Goodreads.

Currently reading:

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Reviews on the blog this month:

Other posts:

Upcoming:

  • A couple of reviews, including She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgewick and The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson.
  • A post about my time at the Harry Potter Studio Tour, which I visited on 19th February!
  • The usual discussions and features will return, minus Weekly Roundup which has become rather infrequent as I’m trying to not buy books. CRAZY, I know.

Off the blog:

Well as I mentioned, I was ill at the end of February… I had really bad tonsillitis in November (during Sci-Fi Month!) so I was really worried it would be another case of that – but luckily it was just a throat infection and cold. Earlier in the month I visited the Harry Potter Studio Tour with one of my best friends which was amazing, but more on that in another post! I then had another best friend to stay for a few days, and it was so lovely to see her – we met up with another friend from uni and had a lovely day out at a National Trust place nearby, then went out for tapas in the evening. I’m really quite scared at how fast the year is going, see as I’ll be moving to the Netherlands in mid-August and I have a LOT to sort out before then. Better get on it!

And that was my February! I remember writing up the Review Copy Cleanup post quite clearly, so I think it’s gone a *little* too quickly for my liking. How was your month?

Misc.

Insta-love 101: Why Insta-Love Just Doesn’t Work

I’m taking part in Insta-Love 101 hosted by A Novel Idea – a two week long event spread over many blogs (view the schedule) to discuss this ever so common feature of fiction today! If you know me, you know I don’t like romance novels. And I scorn insta-love. But now I want to explain just why I don’t like it…

Why Insta-Love Just Doesn’t Work

Imagine you are sat in a coffee shop, having your usual cappuccino and reading a book. You take your eyes off the page for just a second, and cast your gaze across the room. Immediately, you stop and stare at this breathtaking person, who in turn is staring at you. You can instantly feel the chemistry and right there you know you want to spend the rest of your life (or at least a large part of it) with this one person. You don’t know them, their name, their interests, story, anything. That latte they’re drinking may not even be their coffee preference. But still, you feel this overwhelming desire to be with them.

If that was me, I’d be completely and utterly freaked out.

Wouldn’t you? Why do our protaganists not think this feeling is weird? Why is it more acceptable or possible in fiction? Look, I get the whole star-crossed lovers, destined to be together thing – but I don’t think you can really come to that conclusion until you actually know someone (which rules Romeo and Juliet out…).

So why doesn’t insta-love work for me in books?

It is generally always based on appearances.

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It often tends to happen when the protagonist has seen someone for the first time, not spoken to them or had an all night in-depth conversation. Which to me just screams ‘shallow!’ and doesn’t really put the main character in a good light. Of course you can be instantly attracted to someone, physically at least, but how could you fall in love with them if you don’t know a thing about them?

You miss the soul-crushing excitement of having a possibly unrequited crush.

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Or is that just me?? Not knowing whether that person that you really like likes you back, feeling those butterflies every time you see them or talk to them, getting super excited when they contact you first. In most books I’ve read lately where there has been a budding romance, there’s been none of this. No big build up, just one little moment where both characters declare their feelings – and they NEVER get turned down! What is this magical world where everyone is instantly attracted to the ‘right’ person? Where’s the excitement in that? The sheer terror of your feelings being thrown back into your face? Pssh, who wants soppy perfect romance when you can have possibly unrequited love!

Characters tend to ignore everyone else in their life for their new ‘love’.

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Okay, so you’ve known Mr. Smouldering Eyes for all of two minutes. It’s TOTALLY OKAY to now abandon and ignore everyone else in your life. Yes, I’m looking at you, Bella Swan! Just forget about those people who tried to help you ease into life at your new school. Just forget about your poor neglected dad who is trying so hard to make you feel comfortable in his home. Just throw all your cautions to the wind and go off with this guy, who on one of your first meetings looked as though the very sight of you was going to make him puke. Yeah. Good choice. *two thumbs up*

It takes time to fall in love.

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Maybe this is more of a personal thing – but I do not believe in love at first sight. Sure, you can be really attracted to someone’s appearance when you first see them, but you don’t know the person inside. And you won’t until you spend time with them. See, Hades knows how it works. You get to know someone first – you go on dates, you chat, you share interests and passions.

From past experiences, I’m not particularly optimistic in relationships. Things happen that you don’t expect, they can be hard to maintain, you can lose interest, one person can want more than the other – they are hard. And I don’t think just loving someone is enough to keep it going, so insta-love as a device and answer for the perfect relationship seems like a bit of a laughable idea to me. And as much as I love the idea, I don’t think there is a ‘The One’ for everybody – so two people can’t be ‘destined’ to be together. It’s just a matter of finding someone attractive, both internally and externally, enjoying spending time with them, feeling yourself with them and feeling happy.

In conclusion, Insta-Love just doesn’t work because it’s not possible to love someone just like that. You need time to get to know them. Instant attraction is probably what most of our protagonists are feeling!

What are your thoughts on Insta-Love? Do you like it in books, or does it annoy you?