To start off the New Year, I picked up The Vengekeep Prophecies by Brian Farrey. I bought this a long time ago, but didn’t get around to reading it until now. I thought it had some very smart twists and a great world-building. I warmed up to the Grimjinx family instantly, and I was a little disappointed that for most of the book, we don’t actually get to see them operate as a team. I think that’s really the only issue I had with the story, and perhaps it was why I found the middle to ‘sag’ a little. It had an awesome ending though.
Sorcery of Thorns was such a joy to read. It’s the kind of cozy fantasy that was perfect to read on a winter’s afternoon. The characters were all lovable and the romance went at the perfectly right pace for me. The plot was amazing, full of twists and turns. And yes, I have to mention this, being such a big fan of Fullmetal Alchemist, but the plot is very similar to FMA. Not that it takes away any enjoyment. On the contrary, picking up on the similar plot lines made me more excited to see how things would turn out in this world.
Whoa, I was on a roll again last month! Let’s get to it
Kat Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis
This book has been on my TBR list for a few years now, and it’s satisfying to finally get around to it.
Kat comes from a family with magic, which is lucky for her because her oldest sister is about to get married to a man rumoured to have murdered his previous wife.
I really love how packed this book is with action. It’s short, but so many things happen. I love Kat’s relationship with her sisters, how they don’t always get along, but deep down they have each others’ best interest at heart. I really enjoyed this book, and look forward to reading the rest of the series.
I’m still a little behind in my reading challenge, but I think I did better this month than I did in February. So let’s get right into it!
The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud
Lucy is one of the three members of a ghost-hunting company called Lockwood and co. One day, they are asked to resolve a haunting, and Lucy unwittingly takes the Source of the ghost. But the mission turns sour and it leads their company into near ruin. They decide to solve the mystery of the ghost to attract more customers. But when a too-good-to-be-true offer comes their way, is it really the opportunity they’re waiting for or someone who has a different agenda?
Let me tell you, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The premise of ghost-busting isn’t particularly original, and the plot was quite predictable at times. However, the twist of having only children sense ghosts was part of the reason Lockwood and co. was such an entertaining group to read about. The characters were fun, empathetic, and flawed. Lucy’s narration was so smooth. It’s one of those writing styles that just really suck you into the story. The worldbuilding was clever; actually what I really love about it is that it took a common concept and just gave it a little twist, and I was really excited to see what the story will do with it.
For most of the book, one of the things I really enjoyed is the way Lucy was never considered inferior to her peers because she’s a girl. It really seemed as if everyone just had this expectation that when it comes to ghost-hunting, girls and boys were equally skilled, and nobody expected otherwise. But this sadly got subverted near the end of the book, where even Lucy was forced to admit that as a girl, she’s more sensitive. I just didn’t think this was very fair for her.
Aaaand it’s that time of the year again! This is the point in the year where I look at the fiction I’ve read the previous year and give out some fake awards (according to my humble opinion of course). I’ve been doing this for several years in a row now. If you want to see previous years’ awards, I have a link here in my post last year.
This year’s candidates are shown in the neat little image above I captured from Goodreads. I faded out the nonfiction books I read, because these awards are geared towards fiction only. So without further ado, let’s get to it!
This is the sequel to Six of Crows. After the botched heist, Kaz Brekker and his crew of crows try to get back the money that Van Eck cheated from them. With risks higher than ever, and as old allies turn against them, Kaz launches his biggest plan yet.
Needless to say, I loved this. Loved SoC and this was an impeccable sequel. There was only one thing I didn’t like near the end, and I’m pretending it didn’t happen. Other than that, whoa, what a great ride. I’m adding this duology to my list of books with exemplar writing.
Wow, I think I made a reading record last month. 6 books! I’m notorious for being a slow reader, but I don’t know what I happened… I blew through 4 large books and 2 smaller ones.
Troubled Waters by Sharon Shinn
This book got me out of my reading slump. It’s about a noble girl who lived most of her life in exile, until her father died and she was brought back to court life. As someone who is an elemental mage, she holds a lot of power and soon she finds herself embroiled in intrigue.
I love how character-centric this was. Even though much of the plot isn’t action-oriented, I was always wondering what’s going to happen to Zoe next. Zoe was a likeable character, though I think for a character-oriented book, it kind of lacked a character arc.
One of the plot twists that I was afraid of happening happened in the last 5 pages of the book, which was… erm, a bit of a let down. So overall, I enjoyed this book lots except for a few parts, and thank it very much for pulling me out of my reading slump.
I know it might come as a surprise to many people when I confess that this is the first time I’m reading Harry Potter. HP is such a staple in children’s fantasy, which is one of my favourite genres (probably the most). But the way circumstances would have it, I only picked up the series a couple of weeks ago.
I’ll keep this review brief, because I think everyone by now is familiar with the series.
Needless to say, I enjoyed it. It was a lot more whimsical that I thought it would be. I did see 6 out of 8 movies, and I had the impression the books would be as dark and mysterious as the movies made the story seem to be. But I think it’s a lot more like Diana Wynne Jones’s books than anything. It’s got a very endearing quality to it, and I’m not surprised at all why so many people fell in love with the book.
Okay, I am so excited to review this book. This is the sequel to Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit, which is also the the basis of the anime, Seirei no Moribito. I read the book and I watched the anime back in 2015, and I fell completely in love with both. I got distracted since then, which was why it took me so long to pick this book up even though I bought both books at the same time. I really regret it, because… you guys… this book is beyond amazing!
Alright, in an effort to liven up this blog from my incessant writing woes posts, I’m going to take a moment to talk about some of the books I’ve read this month so far. I think if I read really quickly, I might be able to read one more book before the month is up.
Story Genius by Lisa Cron
I’ve been having a lot of difficulty writing the first draft of my story, mostly because I had a hard time really writing from any of my characters’ perspectives. This book was recommended to me in response to that.
I think the most valuable lesson I learned in this book is how every story that captivates readers sufficiently is ultimately a character-driven story. I’ve read many writing books before, and some of them distinguish between “plot-driven” and “character-driven” stories. In Story Genius, Lisa Cron explains why any kind of meaningful story is actually character-driven, no matter if the plot has tons of exciting things going on.
I know, it’s not a ground-breaking concept. Even in my own reading experience, I tend to gravitate towards books where I sympathized with characters the most. And I think her explanation brings home why this is so: an event in a story (in other words, the actual plot) has very little meaning unless the character gives us a context in which to make sense of that event. So really, even your most plot-driven story, if it’s good, is actually anchored by the protagonist.