Happy December! I can actually hardly believe it’s December already – this year has flown by so fast it’d make your head spin thinking about it. I’ve read some neat books over the last couple of months, with highs and lows, and looking over the list I can only wonder at all the places I’ve been (metaphorically speaking).
The Dream Thieves ─ This second volume of The Raven cycle just amped up the action and added another layer to the drama and mystery. The experience was totally different for me, since I listened to the first book on audio and read the hardcover of this one, but the writing and pacing is so good that it’s a joy no matter which format it’s in. There’s also the addition of an interesting new character called the Gray Man, and I’m excited to see what more we’ll get from him in the future.
Blue Lily, Lily Blue ─ I remember seeing this book when it first came out and thinking the cover looked cool. Well, now I think all the covers look cool, but this is the one I remember the most. The story has really escalated from the previous two, upping the ante, tragedy, and most of all the magic. I’ll be excited to see how this cycle wraps up.
House of Many Ways ─ I saw this and had to pick it up. I’d been intending to read the sequels to Howl’s Moving Castle for a while, but as with many things, just haven’t gotten around to it. With it sitting there on the library shelf, though, there were literally no excuses not to pick it up, and what a joy it was to read! It took me the equivalent of a day to breeze through this romping adventure. It has all the charm, wit, and whimsy I’ve come to love from Jones’s books, with the added bonus of revisiting a beloved world and beloved characters, although in a different light this time around. It was familiar and new all at the same time and a real pleasure to cozy up with.
The Way of Kings ─ Wow. I listened to this on audio by my brother’s suggestion, and it’s taken me well over a month to get through all forty-five whopping hours of it. And what a trip! This is my first Brandon Sanderson book and I can clearly see how he’s become so popular. The worldbuilding is vast and intricate, the characters are three dimensional and varied, and the story is complex and engaging. As a reader I am gobsmacked, as a writer I am mind boggled ─ and to think that this is only the first stage in the adventure! But honestly, though, he had me at ‘thunderclast’.
The Raven King ─ The fourth and final book in The Raven cycle, and overall it was enjoyable. The cycle as a whole was good, but this last one left me wanting. There were many great parts of the book, and as always the writing was superb, but it got pretty trippy there, and went places I couldn’t sympathize with. The characters all experienced their diverse arcs, and all the intricate threads wove together nicely, but I felt the ending was pretty anticlimactic, and left me rather disappointed.
It Happened in a Flash: An Anthology of 64 Bite-sized Stories ─ It’s taken me forever to get through this, which is kind of ironic, considering. Part of the reason is because I have the ebook edition and I just don’t particularly enjoy reading things on a screen half the size of an index card. The other part of the reason is that the stories didn’t excite me. Once in a while I came across one that I enjoyed, but half the time I didn’t even understand them. I guess I’m just not a big fan of the style? Stories, like candy bars, are less enjoyable in the ‘fun-size!’ than the regular bar.
If you like candy bars.
Which, as it happens, I don’t.
So that entire metaphor falls rather flat, now. Ah, well. Can’t win them all.
But in all seriousness, I started reading this back in the spring when I was working on that flash fiction writing course. I wanted to see in practical terms what I was aiming for. I’m still not entirely sure I got it right, though . . .
In any event, it was an interesting and difference experience.
The Novice ─ Book 1 in the Summoner trilogy, I was nogginknocked when I found this at my local bookstore (since it’s rare I find anything on my TBR list anywhere outside the library or big booksellers). I’ve had it a week and gobbled it up super fast! This is a fun, YA read reminiscent of Harry Potter, with notes of fantasy high school and a sprinkling of eccentric worldbuilding. There’s magic. There’s swords. There’s guns. There’s tele-emathic-somthing otherworld warrior-pets. The story is a fun romp where the characters get into all kinds of trouble, but it also deals a lot with racism, legitimacy, and social castes. The main cast of aspiring heroes is a group of society’s misfits all fighting to make a better world, and who doesn’t love the story of an underdog? The pacing was swift with something new, something else, something more around every corner, and I wound up reading the last two-thirds in one go because I couldn’t find a place I wanted to stop. It has a very classic and familiar feel about it.
Nevertheless, I think it could have done with some more thorough editing, as it feels a bit rough around the edges and needs to be sanded down. There were a few places the narrative could have been clearer, because I had to read a section over again for lack of understanding, and then towards the end Fletcher and Othello both claimed to have fought this one character in a situation where that wasn’t possible. I’m also curious about winters in Corcillum, which, though cold, had no mention of snow and instead rained. There is also apparently ripe sweet corn still on the stalks, which makes me curious about the climate. There was also no real mention of the change in seasons as the story progressed over the course of a year.
That aside, I see a lot of promise in what this story could be and where it could go, especially in regards to the characters and their goals to change how things work in the government. I’m glad I picked it up.
Have you read any of these? What did you think of them? Or, what have you been reading recently?