So, I kind of have a thing for books. If I could, I would read all day every day (and when I was unemployed, that’s pretty much what I did). My absolute favorite thing is getting book recommendations from other people – whether friends, bloggers, or even in the “Best Books of This Year” round-ups that newspapers publish annually. Because of that, I decided to do a monthly round-up feature of my books: what I read, why I read it, and what I thought. Enjoy!
Another month, friends! And what a month for books it was. As before, there were a couple of times I dashed through old favorites while I was waiting for a new book to come in to the library, so I shan’t review them here (although if you haven’t already read The Fault In Our Stars, what are you waiting for?). Away we go with new books for August! Sorr for the length.
WHAT I READ: The Gray Wolf Throne and The Crimson Crown, Seven Realms #3 and #4 (the last in the series), by Cinda Williams Chima
WHY I READ IT: I read the first book in this series following a recommendation from a friend and had to see what happens, OF COURSE. Quick background: the main characters are Raisa, the young newly-crowned Queen of the Fells (one of the Seven Realms), and Han, the gang-leader/streetlord ragger turned wizard/friend of Raisa/perhaps something more…
WHAT I THOUGHT: Real talk. I kinda forgot about what The Gray Wolf Throne was about. It suffers from the classic middle-of-the-series setbacks: it doesn’t have the excitement of setting up the story like a first book does, and it often lacks the crazy battles that will happen in the last book. I do remember constantly thinking in TGWT, “MAN. Raisa is SO COOL.” That’s overall one of my favorite impressions of the series. I love, love, love fantasy books that feature a strong leading lady. But the Seven Realms novels are interesting because unlike a lot of other YA/fantasy novels with a strong female, Chima pairs it with a strong male leading role in Han. That’s where The Crimson Crown gets so interesting. Both characters are at the peak of their development and, towards the middle of the book, tragically separated with no seeming way out. Needless to say, it all ends spectacularly. I don’t think I will buy this series for myself, but I THOROUGHLY enjoyed reading it, and if it ever catches my eye in a used bookstore or is a Kindle Daily Deal, it’s added to my cart!
WHAT I READ: Mudbound by Hillary Jordan
WHY I READ IT: One of my favorite bloggers tweeted that she couldn’t put it down — good enough for me! I also recently read Jordan’s When She Woke and enjoyed it immensely.
WHAT I THOUGHT: It’s outside of my normal YA/fantasy selection – the things I do for you, readers! – but I still ripped through it in two days. Not because it was an easy read; it is an emotionally difficult book to get through, as it touches on so many sensitive and in recent memories topics: it’s set in rural Mississippi post-WWII. It opens with two of the main characters digging a grave for their father, and then exists mainly in a series of flashbacks. What I found most interesting was that you knew what would happen (the death of the father) but you didn’t know how you get there. I felt like the novel was a cliff: after a climb, you suddenly start plunging down. Let’s just say I sat down to read a few chapters over lunch and an hour later, finally closed the back cover.
WHAT I READ: Grave Mercy by R.L.LaFevers
WHY I READ IT: Received 4.5 stars from one of my favorite book bloggers.
WHAT I THOUGHT: Uuugh you guys. Not a fan, unfortunately. I really wanted to like it since it got an “absolutely spectacular” from one who has not yet led me wrong, but I was just not into it. Interesting concept (historical fiction in 15th century France, young teenaged girl assassin), but it just did not grab me. I kept forgetting/not caring about the characters, which isn’t a good sign. And if a book is that boring, at least throw in more romance instead of approximately 5 pages of it in a 500 page book. Definitely skimmed the last 100 pages. The part I hated the most was that 90% of the dialogue would be “normal,” and then the author would be like, “OH YEAH this is historical fiction. I should probably throw in a ‘mayhap’ or something.” I laughed every time. Line that made me laugh the most? The VERY dramatic, “The desires of my convent have collided with the path of my heart.” UM OKAY. Next.
WHAT I READ: The Shadow Reader by Sandy Williams
WHY I READ IT: Received a great rec from my favorite book blogger
WHAT I THOUGHT: Solid 4 star-er (loved reading it, but I don’t want to immediately rush out and read the next one, especially since it is not available at the library). 80% of it was battle scenes, 17% sexual tension, 3% exposition. That meant I was 90% confused about what was going on and I kept forgetting who the characters were, but I still LOVED it. Kickass main character who is actually a 20-something woman, which was a nice change from what I normally read. Plus she cursed a lot.
WHAT I READ: Bone Season, by Samantha Shannon.
WHY I READ IT: This is undoubtedly the “It” book of the season (come on, people. OBVIOUSLY). I’ve been waiting months for it to come out and actually bought it the day it came out, which is reserved for only the very special books. People had been calling Shannon “the new J.K. Rowling,” which is pretty heavy stuff if you ask me.
WHAT I THOUGHT: As far as I can tell, the only similarity between Shannon and Rowling is that they are both British novelist who write compelling stories. It’s impossible for me to categorize Bone Season. It’s kinda sci fi, kinda fantasy, kinda young adult, kinda adult, definitely scary, definitely mature. Knowing that it is the first of seven books, I expected it to have a bit of a slow buildup, which it did. Shannon did an excellent job of creating this incredible alternate-history London/Oxford and pulling me into the world. I did find all the vocab a bit challenging, but luckily there is a helpful glossary! I found it different from HP in that many of those books stand on their own – while they fit into the larger puzzle over the seven book series, each is a very independent novel. Bone Season needs companion books to continue the story and continue to pique my interest. But I am definitely excited for the next book. Less excited about the fact that the author a) LITERALLY just graduated university and b) it was Oxford. So there’s a way to feel terrible about your life.
WHAT I READ: The White Queen, by Philippa Gregory
WHY I READ IT: Honestly, because it’s been made into a TV show and I love me some historical fiction.
WHAT I THOUGHT: A solid “eh.” I was a good break from the heavy book I read before it (The Bone Season) – it’s basically a perfect summer beach read for nerds. With the main character of Queen Elizabeth Woodville, the wife of King Edward and one of the main figures of the War of the Roses in 15th century England, it was interesting enough. This was a period of time that I did not know too much about, so I appreciated learning more about it in a really simple and easy-to-read way. It just got a little stupid sometimes and, real talk, I skimmed the last 100 pages. I also laughed every time the author wrote that Elizabeth had an eerie premonition about the Tower and how much she hated it (Elizabeth was the mother of the famous “Princes in the Tower” whom Richard III supposedly imprisoned/killed in order to claim the thrown). Cheeze-its, amirite? But it did result in me looking up articles about the period and listening to the Stuff You Missed in History Class podcast on Richard III so if the point of reading is education, then well played, Philippa. I probably won’t read the next one, even though I got it out of the library – time to move on to something a bit more erudite.
Annnnnd that’s it for August! To kick off September, I’m actually steering away a bit from my typical contemporary novels and diving back into the classics. What shall it be? (Or you can follow me on GoodReads and know for sure. I am not that mysterious.)