February 2019 Reading Wrap Up » Part 1

Hi everyone. I’m rincey and this is
rincey reads. Today i’m going to be doing my February wrap-up part one. I almost
had March there. I know that a lot of people say January goes by really slowly
but really I feel like so much has already happened this month that it
feels like it should already be March. So anyways, let’s get onto the books that
I’ve read so far this month. Alright first book I finished is Thomas
Jefferson: the art of power by Jon Meacham. Those of you guys who have been
following my channel for a little bit know that one of my like lifetime goals
is to read a biography on every president, every U.S. president. So I am
currently on Thomas Jefferson. So I’m clearly not very far along on this
project. I mean, I always feel like I need to give this disclaimer but I’ve read
biographies of various presidents like throughout the years, like I picked up
random ones over the years. And so this is like a project to read them in
chronological order. Which is a thing that I actually really like because it’s
really interesting to see sort of how the different writers different
biographers take a certain point of view in regards to different events. Like I’m
on Thomas Jefferson and like multiple times now I’ve heard about the
founding of this country and the writing of the Declaration of Independence and
you know Revolutionary War and things like that. And so seeing it all from
different perspectives and seeing how different people look from different
peoples eyes is always really, really interesting. This is like a super
readable biography. I actually listened to it on audio and the audio book is great
as well because Edward Herrmann narrates it. He actually reads a lot of like US
history books. So if you are into that sort of thing, I highly recommend it.
That’s a separate tangent. But yes, it’s a great audiobook and this is a pretty
good biography. Like it’s not the most detailed and extensive biography I
probably could have picked up but I’m always looking for ones that are
slightly more entertaining I would say then extensive and detailed because
really I’m not like taking a test on these presidents. I don’t need to know
every single detail about their lives. But I like that general overview. Jon
Meacham isn’t my favorite biographer but he is a good one and I’ll probably be
picking up his Andrew Jackson biography when I get to Andrew Jackson. But next up
I have James Madison? Yeah, James Madison is next up on the list. I don’t
know which one I’m gonna pick up for that because from the cursory
research I’ve done on James Madison biographies, I have heard that
they’re like just okay. I’ve like barely talked about this book by the way.
This is, I mean, if you’re looking for a good Thomas Jefferson biography and you
like biographies, I mean this is a classic for a reason. My favorite part
about this is that Jon Meacham is like not afraid to point out like the weird
or unethical things about Thomas Jefferson but he does it in a way that’s
still really respectful. Which, I mean, I think it’s just amusing to see how he
works around those things. Like when he’s talking about the writing of the
Declaration of Independence and how Thomas Jefferson wrote life, liberty, and
the pursuit of happiness or you know or how he talks about like justice for all
men or liberty for all men he there’s like a note from Jon Meacham, or not a
note but like a comment that basically says but he was clearly just talking
about white men. Or there’s like, uh, I think it’s in the introduction or the
prologue where he talks about how Thomas Jefferson was kind of a conspiracy
theorist and Jon Meacham says something along the lines of but it’s not that
shocking thinking of the time that Thomas Jefferson was alive that he was a
conspiracy theorist. But also a lot of people thought he was real crazy. Like
little like aside like that really amused me a lot when reading these types
of biographies and I sort of like that Jon Meacham puts a little bit of
personality into this biography. So yeah, I mean, I enjoyed it. It’s a biography so
I feel like there’s not a whole lot to say on it. Okay next book that I have to
talk about is unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal. This is a brand new Pride and
Prejudice retelling that just came out in January and I really enjoyed this one.
This one takes place in Pakistan. And you are following the Binat family, so
instead of the Bennet family, and the main character who is playing the Lizzie
Bennet character is named Alys. Alys is a teacher at a local school and she
teaches English literature to a bunch of young girls who she hopes to inspire to
do more than just like aspire for marriage. But a lot of them end up just
dropping out to get married the Binat family has moved to this town after
falling on some hard times. The Binat family ends up getting an invitation to
the biggest wedding in their town. There they end up meeting “Bungles” or for Farat
Bingla who ends up catching– or whose end up falling for Jenna. And his
friend Valentine Darcy is there with him as well at the wedding
and he is obviously the Mr. Darcy character. So I feel like you know we
don’t really need to give a significant plot synopsis for this book because
again it’s a Pride and Prejudice retelling. So you can kind of guess how
things are gonna go. But I think that this one does a much better job of
fleshing out the side stories and characters a lot more. One of the things
I thought was the absolutely best well done is the Charlotte character in this
adaptation. In this adaptation, her name is Sherry and the way that everything
sort of works for her is so good. Like so good. I don’t think I’ve seen a Charlotte
character adapted this well in a really long time. Like I like what they did with
her in the Lizzie Bennet diaries but this one I think I like even more than
that. So yeah, I think that in and of itself redeemed this story for me. Now it
does feel a little bit rote because like they are following the pride and prejudice
storyline. So it does have to hit like certain plot points and certain things
just seem really obvious and some of this side, like other sisters end up
feeling more two-dimensional than I think is necessary.
Specifically Mary comes off really poorly and it doesn’t like play very
well. But I think that depending on the interpretation of Pride and Prejudice,
Mary and the original also comes off kind of that way as well. So yeah, I think
that if you’re someone who enjoys Pride and Prejudice adaptations, this is a
really, really good one. Honestly I like this one so much more than I liked Pride.
I think because it’s longer and it’s fleshed out a lot more. There’s enough
stuff about like Pakistan and Pakistani culture that I really, really enjoyed.
Obviously I’m Indian so I felt like I could relate to a lot about what’s
happening in the story. Like there were multiple points while and I was reading
this book where I was like this is too real to me. But I also really appreciated
it for that fact. So I gave unmarriageable 4 out of 5 stars. I really,
really enjoyed it. I think that if you are a fan of Pride and Prejudice and enjoy
Pride and Prejudice retellings, you’re going to like this one a lot. Alright the next
book that I finished is Liar’s Candle by August Thomas. This is a book I read
for a read or dead episode that we’ll be recording in the future. We’re doing an
episode on espionage books and so this is the one that I read. This one takes
place in Turkey and you are following this character named Penny who
is an intern at the US Embassy in Turkey. There is a bomb that goes off at their
4th of July celebration. And the story starts with her waking up in the
hospital and she’s like reminded of the bomb going off and she’s like one of the
only survivors from the incident. And apparently she was right next to this
guy named Zack who also worked at the Embassy who they think is a traitor or
had something to do with the bomb. And he has gone missing. And so they are asking
penny about like what happened what can she remember and things like that. But
things seem were really suspicious to her and she also doesn’t believe that
Zack would be a traitor. And so the story just follows her as she tries to
remember what exactly happened and tries to figure out what’s going on but also
she’s dealing with like the embassy and the FBI and the CIA and all of these
covert people and she doesn’t really know who she can trust. So yeah, I liked
this. I’m not a big like espionage person but this one isn’t too espionage-y. That’s
not a real word. Like I don’t really enjoy John LeCarre’s novels or
anything like that because they always feel really dry to me. This one is really
action-packed and plot driven. So if you’re in the mood for something like that, I recommend this. There are certain
points that feel really eye roll-y. Penny is like super naive. Like I recognize the
cheese in college and she’s an intern so she’s probably like 20, 21. But she seems
real naive about the way the world works. But maybe that’s just me being
someone in her 30s who has seen things happen in the world at this point. But
she seems like super trusting of people and like super gung-ho about certain
things. And I’m like, I feel like you should be slightly more skeptical about things.
But it works for the sake of the story. This one does sort of wrap up as like, I
don’t wanna say happily ever after but the ending is really, really neat. That’s
a thing as well that I think is fine but it’s not like my favorite thing. I like
when there’s slightly more complexity and gray to characters and stories and
things like that. So I think that if you’re someone who just wants like a
straightforward mystery spy book that’s fun and just like something that’s good
for a vacation or a beach read or where you don’t have to think a whole lot, I
think this is a good book. That seems really insulting but I mean
sometimes you just want those like action-packed, plot driven stories. And
this is a book that like I was compelled by. Like I didn’t hate reading this but
it’s just very shallow in terms of character development and things like
that. So yeah, I gave it a 3 out of 5 stars. It’s alright it’s not terrible but
nothing mind-blowing. Alright and the final book that I have to talk about in
this video is bitter orange by Claire Fuller. This is a relatively new release.
When did it come out? October of last year and I was sent this copy by tin house.
Claire fuller wrote the short story collection swimming lessons that came
out a couple of years ago and there were some like mixed reaction to that. This is
like a completely different book. This is like literary suspense is probably the
best way to describe it. So in this story you are following this character named
Francis who is living in the attic of this house in England in like the late
1960s. And there are some like tenants who are moving into the downstairs area
of the house named Cara and Peter and she becomes a little bit obsessed with
them. They end up forming a friendship altogether. But then she realizes that
not everything is quite okay between this couple. And she realizes that the
stories that Cara’s telling her it’s not quite adding up. And so this story is
told from the perspective of Francis basically like looking back on her life
and telling the story of this summer. And you know that like something has
happened but you’re not really sure quite what is going on. So it has that
sort of like I said literary suspense feeling to it. It gave me like Daphne du
Maurier vibes but it’s not quite up to Daphne du Maurier level. Very few books
are. But I think if you want something like a really atmospheric, a good slow
burn of a book then I think that this would be an interesting one to pick up.
It wasn’t like a complete surprise where this story was going but there were
little moments here and there that did surprise me. The way it wrapped up all
together in the end wasn’t super shocking but again like there were
little twists in the plot where I was like oh I didn’t see that one coming.
Claire fuller does a good job of creating that uneasiness and that
darkness over everything that’s going on here, which I always think is really
impressive when writers are able to do that. This is another book where
I didn’t necessarily love it but I was intrigued and I wanted to see how it was
all going to turn out. So this one is probably like a three and a half stars
for me. It’s not a perfect book by any means but it is good if you are in the
mood for one of those atmospheric, slow burn books. So that is everything that I
have for this video. I feel like I haven’t read that much this month so far
even though I did just talk about four books. But I’m in the middle of two
books that I am super loving and I can’t wait to talk to you about those next
time, which will be in two weeks. I don’t know why there was so much of a pause
there. So yeah, let me know down the comments below if you’ve read any of
these books and what your opinions were on them. Or if you have any questions
about any of the books that I talked about here, feel free to leave that down
in the comments section as well. So yeah, that’s all I have for now and thanks for watching.

18 thoughts on “February 2019 Reading Wrap Up » Part 1

  1. I currently listening to Bitter Orange on audible. It's one of the 48 books on the Booktuber Prize longlist run by Robert at Barter Hoards.

  2. Do you have any plans to do any sort of check-in video on your presidential biography project? Like, idk, every 5 presidents or something? What I'm really saying with this question is that I would watch this content.

  3. I love this idea of reading them in chronological order! I think it must really help understanding history as it progressed. I’m going to look into this.

  4. Which book did you read for Adams? I have read some of the letters between Adams and Jefferson after neither was president and they did not hate each other so much. Interesting that they died on the same day.

  5. Swimming Lessons is a novel if you are interested in reading it. I liked it although I can see why some people might not like it.

  6. When you get to Teddy Roosevelt, I highly recommend Edmund Morris' trilogy on him (beginning with The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt). They are enormous books (about 800 pages each), but that series is probably one of my favorites of all time across all genres. It's so well-written that instead of feeling well-researched, it feels like a novel with incredible world-building and character development. Truly worthwhile.

    Also, if you're a fan of Pride and Prejudice and ever get the chance, Kate Hamill's stage version of Pride and Prejudice is absolutely hilarious and beautifully feminist.

  7. I also gave Unmarriageable 4 stars, I really enjoyed it. I think it would be a 5 star read if it did not stick too much to the P&P storyline, the characters were interesting enough to drive the story.

  8. Adding Unmarriageable to the TBR! I know what you mean about espionage books. I did a reading challenge where that was the only one I didn't do! I've hears so many things about Bitter Orange.

  9. I really liked Unmarriageable as well! I think it’s probably the book I’ve most enjoyed reading this year so far. Bitter Orange sounds intriguing.

  10. Great video as always! I remember watching your video on David McCullough's John Adams, which I'm reading now and enjoying. Unmarriagable and Bitter Orange are both on my TBR.

  11. I read the Meacham bio of Jefferson as well. It was good but not great. I am on Chernow’s bio of Grant. It’s good but Highly detailed. It’s taking me a loooong time!

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