Hi guys! How are you? I feel like it’s been forever and it kinda has, mostly because I spent a most of July on boats and tiny islands with no wi-fi. But also because I’ve been having a hard time balancing my reading time with blogging. Sometimes a girl just wants to disappear into a book all day, every day, you know? Anyways, here’s what I read while I wasn’t blogging:
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden: This was my third read of this book and it’s lost none of it’s magic. It’s the perfect blend of historical fiction and Russian fairytale, with a fierce and fantastic heroine. I love it with all my heart.
Girl Made of Stars Ashley Herring Blake : This is YA contemporary about girl who’s twin brother is accused of raping his girlfriend, who’s also one of her best friends. Telling the story from perspective of someone who’s not only close to both the victim and the abuser, but a sexual abuse survivor herself allows for one of the most nuanced and powerful explorations on the subject I’ve read. This is a gut-wrenching read, but also full of grace. TW: Rape, sexual assault.
Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames : This is the feel good fantasy about a band of mercenaries I never knew I always wanted. It has everything you’d expect from an epic fantasy novel, a cast of grizzled characters, a dangerous quest, epic battles and big, angry dragons. But this one also has lots of laughs, the best bromance and so much heart.
The Book of Pearl by Timothée de Fombelle: I picked this up cause I’d never read a fantasy book translated from French before and I’m so glad I did, cause it was a wonderful read. It’s tells the story of a prince and a fairy in love, who are torn apart when the prince’s banished to a place where fairytales aren’t real and nobody believes in magic, 1930’s Paris. Like any decent fairy tale this book is full of magic, wonder and a touch of mortal danger.
Favorite quote: “It’s so easy to hate the pretty one, worship the genius, love the rock star, trust the good girl. That’s never their only story. We are all anthologies. We are each thousands of pages long, filled with fairy tales and poetry, mysteries and tragedy, forgotten stories in the back no one will ever read.”
Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell: The Last Magician is a time traveling heist-novel set mostly in New York anno 1902, about a girl who travels back in time to steal a book believed to be the source of all magic and gets involved with a street gang of magicians. This book was an absolute whirlwind of twists and turns, double crosses and magic tricks. Heist plots usually aren’t my favorites, but the characters stole my heart. (No pun intended, I swear)
Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl: Marisha Pessl’s first YA novel is also her weirdest book yet, after a car accident five teens are trapped inside a time-loop known as a Neverworld. While in the loop they decide to investigate the mysterious death of their friend, Jim. I loved the weird, supernatural parts of this book, but the real life parts weren’t as compelling. It has that whole outcast falls in with the rich, popular, terrible kids thing going on. I happen to like that thing (even if it’s been done better), but if you don’t I wouldn’t recommend this one. TW: Depression, suicide.
To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo: So, I finally read this one and it was pretty much exactly what everyone said it would be; ruthless and amazing YA fantasy about a siren who collects the hearts of princes and a siren-slaying prince. I love both the main characters (That’s right, I loved a prince) and their banter was so fun to read. Christo writes the best dialogue! It’s so sassy and sarcastic, but also natural – which I think is a hard balance to strike. I found the overall plot a tiny bit predictable, but the story was so entertaining, it didn’t really effect my enjoyment.
Daughters of Castle Deverill by Santa Montefiore: This is the second book in the Deverill Chronicles, which follows a family of English aristocrats living in Ireland in the early 20th century. It especially focuses on three girls: Kitty, the daughter of the future Lord of the castle; her cousin Celia and Bridie, Kitty’s best friend and the daughter of the castle cook. This one took me a little longer to get into than the first book, but it’s still an amazing family saga perfect for fans of Downton Abbey. TW: Rape, suicide.
Favorite character: Gaela, the fierce warrior who’d be king and Regan, the witch who’d be her sister queen, from Queens of Innis Lear. These two sisters are both complex, ambitious women with grey morals who’ll do anything to get what they want and refuse to compromise. They’re equal parts frustrating and fascinating, and were my favorite part of the book.
Bruja Born by Zoraida Córdova: Bruja Born is the sequel to Labyrinth Lost, one of my favorite reads of 2017. While Labyrinth Lost was more of a portal fantasy, Bruja Born is straight up urban fantasy, which is why I enjoyed it a little less than the first book. Urban fantasy just isn’t my favorite genre. The characters are amazing though and I loved getting to know the Moritz sister, especially Lula even better, and I’m so excited to read Rose’s story in book 3!
Empire by Michael R. Hicks : This is a coming of age story set in the middle of a intergalactic war, about a boy who’s taken to the enemies’ planet to be studied and trained in their ways. Though this is a sci-fi novel, it has a pretty classic fantasy narrative, just set on an alien planet. I loved reading about Kreelans, the alien race, their culture and history, and I loved seeing the slow burn from enemies to lovers for the main characters. TW: Sexual assault.
The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton: This is a fantasy retelling of Shakespeare’s King Lear, but it also has echoes of another classic work of literature: Wuthering Heights. From the dramatic climate and landscape of Innis Lear, to the complicated family dynamics and obsessive love-stories, there’s something very gothic about this story. I wanted to love this so much, and I feel like I should have, cause it’s truly an incredible literary accomplishment. But despite the complex characters, the gorgeous prose, the intricate plot and detailed world-building, I never connected with the story, it was all just pretty words on a page to me.
Favorite ship: Esta and Harte Darrigan. Hate to love, mind games, banter and cons conning cons – what’s not to love?
Secrets of Selkie Bay by Shelley Moore Thomas: This MG novel is set in a small coastal town in Ireland, where the legends of the legends of selkies are part of daily life and follows three sisters who become convinced their mum’s one of the legendary creatures, after she disappears. I picked this up cause it reminded me of Song of the Sea, but it wasn’t really for me. If you want to read a bittersweet story about sisterhood and the stories we tell ourselves, I’d recommend this. But if your’e after some enchanting selkie magic, maybe watch Song of the Sea instead.
Red Sister by Mark Lawrence: This is a well loved and very hyped loved epic fantasy novel about a school for assassin nuns, which unfortunately fell flat for me. It’s very character driven, which is usually a good thing in my book, but since I didn’t connect with any of the characters and the plot was so slow, there wasn’t a lot to keep my attention.
All Systems Red by Martha Wells: This is a sci-fi novella about a Murderbot who’s hacked it’s own system and instead of, you know, murdering people, it’s downloading and binge watching tv-shows. I love this take on an AI, it was refreshing and fun to read, but I wanted a bit more from the plot and supporting cast.