March Reading Round Up

This will be another short round up as I simply haven’t had time to read as much as I would have liked. I’m mostly proud that I’ve only fallen one book behind in my GoodReads challenge. In March, I read Girls Will Be Girls and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and I’ve made a good dent in All The Bright Places. Read on to find out what I thought…

Girls Will Be Girls: Dressing Up, Playing Parts and Daring to Act Differently

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I finished this book at the beginning of March. It’s an autobiographical look at gender in modern-day society. I mentioned it in International Women’s Day: Books By Fierce Females because I think it is a fantastic insight into how we perceive and perform gender on an every day basis; from hair removal to the pronouns we use and the assumptions we make about people based on gender. I felt enlightened after reading it and found myself questioning the little things in life. Why is it women ‘do’ housework and men ‘help’? And why oh why does our hair matter so much? O’Toole makes sociological theory very accessible and I loved the combination of humour and light heartedness with a very heavy subject. I 100% recommend this to everyone!

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Finally got around the reading the fourth book in the Harry Potter series. I liked it but not as much as I liked Prisoner of Azkaban. I think because I have watched the films and have endured the hype around these books for so many years, I find it difficult to enjoy them in their own right. I just can’t make myself love them as much as I know I should. Having said that, they do provide a great escape after a long, hard day. But seriously, the biggest takeaway from Goblet of Fire is…

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Did Not Finish… Yet

I’ve been listening to Sarah Knight’s The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving A F*** on Audible and I’m not sure how I feel about it. It’s motivational and there have been some great takeaways. Knight makes you come up with a f*** budget in which you organise the time and energy you spend on certain things in life and how you could put your f*** bucks to better use. It’s making me realise how much energy I put into things that really don’t matter i.e why should I care what people think of me if I don’t want to go out and party every other weekend? But, ultimately, I’m finding it a bit repetitive. It’s more of a series of examples of things you should and shouldn’t give a f*** about and Sarah Knight swearing a lot. I am going to finish it but, like I said, I’m not sure how I feel.

Coming Up

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I’m currently reading All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. It’s been in my TBR pile since last summer but for some reason there were always other books to read beforehand. I’m about 200 pages in and I love it. It’s just the kind of fun YA respite I needed to get out of another reading slump. If you haven’t heard about it (i.e you’ve been living under a rock), it’s contemporary fiction folllowing two young adults who are struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts. It deals with harrowing subjects like domestic abuse, death and depression without overburderning the reader. It’s going to be a film in 2018, I’m looking forward to that, and it won the Goodreads Choice Award for Young Adult fiction in 2015. Plus Theodore Finch is such a cute lead character. I like his weirdness and the way he makes up different personas for himself; it reminds me of my own boyfriend.

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Next on my reading list is THE MAKING OF HER by Susan Nott-Bower published by Linen Press – the indie press I’m currently interning for. I was captured by this cover which I just adore. Seriously, it’s so striking and enigmatic. The novel looks at the vulnerabilties of older women in a society which values youth over wisdom and beauty over experience.

A truly intelligent, incisive page-turner with so much to say about women’s lives – a sharp, satisfying treat of a read!
— Kate Harrison, author of The Secret Shopper novels


A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas

Hello! Welcome to my first blog post of 2017. Let me start by saying I will be slowly implementing some changes to The Fourth Month by focussing on the kind of content you really want to read. Right now, I split my blog into three parts: books, food and lifestyle. Lifestyle mostly focuses on shopping independent and cruelty-free. By having such diverse topics and not having a “niche”, I fear that I’m isolating some of you so I’m hoping to change that. I also felt because my topic range was wide, I’ve been finding it difficult to sit down and write blog posts. If you have any comments or ideas, I would love to hear them. Like I said, this will be a slow change (I can barely find the time or energy to write a post) so don’t worry.

Now that’s out of the way, this is my review for the incredibly popular A Court of Thorns and Roses by the formidable author, Sarah J Maas. I apologise for any spoilers – be warned!

Sarah J Maas has become an entity in herself. The blonde bombshell has captured the hearts of Young Adult readers all over the world and, as always, I was slightly reluctant to give into the hype that was everywhere by actually reading one of her books. I finally bought ACOTAR in summer but didn’t actually get round to reading it until November. I was lucky enough to do a placement at Scottish Book Trust where I edited Author’s Confessions videos including about twenty minutes of footage from Sarah J Maas herself (check out the video here) so I decided it was time to see what all the fuss was about. When I did, I quickly learned that Maas’ writing is as addictive as people say it is but more than slightly problematic. Nevertheless, I engulfed it as quickly as I could whilst juggling university deadlines.

Firstly, I want to get the problems out of the way. I can’t really talk about this book without acknowledging the issues. The issue of domestic and sexual abuse in ACOTAR simply cannot and should not be ignored just because Rhysland is pretty delicious. Yes, Maas tries to explain away Rhysland’s horrific behaviour towards Feyre but the arm-breaking, drugging and lap-dancing just crosses a line and quickly becomes a little too 50 shades for my taste.

Also, in a world with faeries and sexy men with bat wings, is it unreasonable to expect a little range in colour, gender or sexuality? I don’t think so. There’s also the issue of cliches and tropes. Female protagonist? Check! Love triangle? Check! Dystopian fantasy? Check! I also really didn’t like how quickly Feyre falls in love with Tamlin without justification. They go from 0 to 100 very quickly.

Having said all of this, I did enjoy reading ACOTAR. Sarah J Maas has a talent for world-building and storytelling. I don’t typically read fantasy but I absolutely adored diving into the world of Prythian. I fell in love with the magical realms and its creatures. The descriptions of its creatures are intoxicating; you can really visualise the world that Feyre inhabits. As someone who has written fantasy in the past, I’m envious of Maas’ ability to build such rich worlds.

I’m also a big fan of fairytale retellings. This is by no means Angela Carter but I do think Maas puts a unique spin on the story of Beauty and the Beast. It takes on a life of its own and Feyre is anything but a humble and quiet ‘beauty.’ I guess it is important to remember that this is a retelling of a traditional fairytale because it helps understand the themes of kidnapping and abduction…

I mentioned Rhysland’s flaws but I do think he is one of the biggest draws to this series. I had heard about him, and seen some interesting illustrations, long before I even picked up the book so I was nervously awaiting my first encounter with him. I didn’t fall in love with Tamlin, he is a typical Beast character: arrogant and suffocating. Rhysland is arrogant too but I knew as soon as he arrived on the scene that he would provide both the comic relief and the sex appeal. His one-liners often made me laugh out loud and his antagonism but his clear attraction to Feyre from the beginning keeps you hanging on to watch their relationship unfold.

Compared to most YA protagonists, I liked Feyre. She is headstrong and very loyal to her family (although she doesn’t really seem to struggle with abandoning them to live a life of luxury with Tamlin). She also can’t read. Her illiteracy gives her a vulnerability and a tangibility that many YA protagonists don’t possess. I liked that she was intelligent and tenacious without having read Tolstoy or Dickens; it was refreshing. In terms of female characters, Feyre’s sister Nesta is probably my favourite from ACOTAR. She’s hot-headed and tempestuous but unexpectedly fights for her sister in the end.

Overall, yes, ACOTAR seems to divide the Young Adult community because of its troublesome Beauty and the Beast tropes (Stockholm Syndrome and a lot of sexual violence) Ultimately, Maas has created a rich and exciting world full of powerful and mysterious characters who will have you wincing sometimes and in awe at others. I’ve been reading ACOMAF on and off since I finished A Court of Thorns and Roses but I just can’t get my teeth into it. Am I missing something?


Have you read any Sarah J Maas books? Where do you weigh in with this one? Let me on Twitter and Instagram.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

This book was recommended to me by an old friend from school and I’d seen the series floating around the Bookstagram world for a while so in the midst of my Dragonfly in Amber book hangover, I picked it up because I knew it would be a quick and fun read and what a ride it was. I can’t wait to read the next in the series and would definitely recommend this to any Young Adult/Fantasy lovers.

The Raven Boys is the first novel in The Raven Cycle series and it tells the tale of a girl called Blue who lives in an all psychic household with her clairvoyant mother. The only thing is Blue doesn’t have any psychic abilities of her own – except that she makes other people’s power stronger like a walking battery charger. Blue crosses paths with a group of boys from the local private school, Aglionby, otherwise known as Raven Boys. However, Blue has met the leader of the pack, a rich student called Gansey, before… on a soon-to-be-dead-people-march. Also, add in the fact that Blue has been warned that she cannot kiss her true love because he will die! Yeah, it gets weirder. The novel follows Blue, Gansey, Adam, Ronan and Noah as they hunt for Glendower: an ancient Welsh king who is said to be laying dormant awaiting a true hero to awake him from his permanent slumber. Whoever wakes him up is granted one very special wish.

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This book is crazy. It is filled with awesome and very quirky characters and I get the impression Maggie Stiefvater is not in the least bit interested in making her YA novels seem realistic. I actually detected a hint of magical realism in the way that all of her characters just seem to shrug and accept the magical and fantastical events that take place. Oh, my friend that I’ve been hanging out with has actually been dead this whole time, whoops oh well let’s go for ice-cream. At times it was difficult for me to invest in these eighteen-year-olds who were chasing down ancient Welsh kings and speaking Latin to trees but once I looked past that, I really got hooked on this story.

Like I said, the characters are really what make this series great. The protagonist, Blue, is unashamedly weird and embraces both her quirkiness and feistiness. Also, it was really refreshing that Blue didn’t have to slam the popular girls just to prove she’s ~different~; that’s a YA cliché that I despise. As for the Raven Boys, I love Gansey. I know a lot of people online seem to favour Ronan but his moping just annoyed me, to be honest. Although that last line really startled me, I think I’m going to like him a lot more in the next book if we learn more about his past and why he is such a phenomenal a**hole. Adam as the romantic interest of Blue didn’t really work for me. Again, I just felt he spent too much time moping. Gansey is the most dynamic character in the book and I felt frustrated on his behalf that everyone kept seeing him for his money and not his soul. Maybe I just like boys who are really passionate about stuff but he was my favourite out of the boys. If you’ve read the series, let me know who your favourite Raven Boy is.

“Crushed and broken,” Gansey said. “Just the way women like ’em…”

One of my favourite things about this book is Maggie Stiefvater’s talent for description. Sometimes she would describe something in the background, something unimportant, but it would stick out to me because her language is so vivid. For example, I actually felt like I was standing amidst this scene where Blue first sees Gansey, Ronan, Adam and Noah in the diner:

Close to the beginning of her shift, four boys came through the front door, letting a cold hiss of fresh air into the room that smelled of oregano and beer. In the window beside the boys, a neon light that said Since 1976 lit their faces a Limesicle green.

I swear I must have read those lines about twenty times because I just loved the description. That Limesicle green, the oregano and beer, it’s so tangible. Stiefvater’s world building ability is something I noticed throughout. I’m not sure if it’s the pretentious literature graduate coming out in me but for what I thought was going to be a “fluffy” read, the writing was stunning.

In addition to all the magic and the chaos, The Raven Boys also deals with more serious issues like domestic abuse and, oh yeah, murder. The way Stiefvater intertwines magic, fantasy, comedy and fun with dark issues like Adam’s poverty and the abuse of his father is carefully done. She shows family life as complex and sometimes painful and that’s not just Adam’s. At times she suggests that you make your own family by surrounding yourself with the people you love (your friends) The little circle of Aglionby boys was really heartwarming to read. They protect each other and look out for one another no matter what.

Basically, The Raven Boys is worth the hype. I thought I had fallen out of love with the Young Adult genre after reading a few that fell flat but this has restored my faith in all things hyped up. I look forward to diving back into this tumultuous adventure soon with The Dream Thieves.

Have you read The Raven Boys yet? What did you think? Let me know on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.