Hi, reader friends. Since I did not do an August wrap-up, I figured I would combine August and September into one post. I didn’t read near as many books these last two months as usual, but thankfully, I really loved the books I did read. Without further ado, let’s talk books!
The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin
The Obelisk Gate is the second installment in Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy. The first book in the series, The Fifth Season, is probably my favorite fantasy of this year so far, and this second book was a good continuation of the story. While I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as book one, I appreciated the expanded perspectives and the twists and turns I’ve come to expect from this series. The more I learn about this world, the more awe I’m in of Jemisin’s capacity for world-building. The magic system is so unique, and the back drop of the harsh world is a kiln to forge these characters that I have come to love. I don’t want to say too much, because I feel these books are ones you should go into with little knowledge. Suffice it to say, I will be picking up book three very soon.
“The way of the world isn’t the strong devouring the weak, but the weak deceiving and poisoning and whispering in the ears of the strong until they become weak, too.”The Obelisk Gate
The Stillness is never still – quakes and tsunamis constantly rack the Earth and sometimes end the world in a fifth season. Essun is a woman on the run, searching for her daughter as the world ends for the last time.
The Promise (Avatar: The Last Airbender) by Gene Luen Yang, Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko and Gurihiru
This was my first graphic novel ever, and I loved it. I recently watched Avatar The Last Airbender, and I was starved for content after I finished the show. As you might know, I loved the original show (I even have a recommendations post about it!), and while I would really, really like there to have been more seasons, the graphic novel installments sated my need for more. The art is beautiful, and the story felt like it could have walked right out of the show. I’m so glad both original creators are involved in these comics, and I can’t wait to pick up the rest.
The Promise picks up exactly where Avatar The Last Airbender leaves off, following Aang and his friends as they work through an issue between the Fire Nation and Earth Nation.
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
The Joy Luck Club had been on radar for a while now. A modern classic, this story follows generations of Chinese and Chinese-American women. I love a good multi-generational story, and this one was exactly the kind I like. Tan’s writing is lyrical and whimsical while still being rooted in reality and history. With all the perspectives, it was a bit difficult to keep everyone straight, but this became less of an issue as I got to know each character better. This is a book that definitely requires a re-read for me, so that I can pick up on all the subtleties I know are within this story.
Following a group of mothers and daughters, this book tells the stories of Chinese and Chinese-American women and touches on immigration, assimilation, intergenerational trauma, mother-daughter relationships, mythology and religion, the power of stories, and much more.
“We all had our miseries. But to despair was to wish back for something already lost. Or to prolong what was already unbearable.”The Joy Luck Club
Daughter of the Siren Queen by Tricia Levenseller
Daughter of the Siren Queen is the second installment in Levenseller’s duology that follows sirens and pirates through hijinks and heists, love and turmoil, and more. Quite simply, this duology is just fun. I really enjoyed both installments and was happy with the conclusion in this book. Riden and Alosa were both fun characters to read from, and I liked how this book increased the stakes for them, both individually and as a pair. The romance was great, and the pirate atmosphere was just what I was looking for at the time. Overall, I really enjoyed this series and would recommend it for someone looking for a quick, fun young adult/new adult pirate romance.
“I may not have been born in the sea, but I was born to rule it. I am the daughter of the siren queen.”Daughter of the Siren Queen
Daughter of the Pirate King follows Alosa, daughter of the pirate king, and Riden, a rival pirate, whose paths cross when Alosa purposefully gets herself kidnapped in order to find a priceless artifact.
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins
Well, I have mixed feelings about the divisive Hunger Games prequel. On one hand, I really liked being back in Panem. Even if it was vastly different from the world we know in the original Hunger Games trilogy, I still enjoyed learning more about the world and history. However, this book is too long. Ballad is a character study at its core, and sometimes I enjoy long, winding looks into a character; however, this one was simply long to be long. Much of the first half (or almost third) of this book could have been condensed. The last third or so felt more like the original trilogy – it was fast-paced and gripping. Yet, the first half, which built up the psyche of Snow, feels pointless since we know how the story ends already. Now, I will say, I really enjoyed the philosophical discourse in this book, even if it was heavy-handed. Oh and concerning the controversial ending – I liked it. Overall, I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it.
During the events of the 10th annual Hunger Games, young Coriolanus Snow is given the humiliating task of mentoring the girl tribute from District 12, and his life is made more difficult as he grapples with his role in his fated tributes life and the power he must attain to put his family back on top.
“Nothing you can take from me was ever worth keeping.”The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
Escaping from Houdini by Kerin Maniscalco
Escaping from Houdini is the third installment in Maniscalco’s Stalking Jack the Ripper series. The first two books in this series are wonderful, and were so much fun to read. While this third installment managed to keep the same mysterious and creepy atmosphere, I found it to be my least favorite so far. I really wanted to love this one. I still enjoyed it because I adore these characters, but I found the carnival aspect to be a bit underdeveloped, with more focus on the romantic relationships. Normally I would have loved this, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the turn this installment took. Nevertheless, it ended how I wanted, and I’m excited to read the final installment of this series.
Audrey Rose Wadsworth is a young girl in Victorian England who enjoys the wealth and status afforded her by virtue of being a lord’s daughter, but secretly, she’d rather by investigating murders, performing post mortems, and studying forensic medicine.
“We women could be called creatures, if only the men who said such careless words accepted our claws were fearsome things when we decided to scratch.”Escaping from Houdini
Becoming the Dark Prince by Keri Maniscalco
Well, I loved this novella. I was pretty sure I would, since Thomas Cresswell is one of my favorite young adult characters ever (and of course my girl Audrey Rose). Normally, I don’t love when a novella simply gives scenes we’ve already seen from a new perspective, but I didn’t mind it here. We got some new scenes and some we’d seen before, but all of them actually offered perspective on Thomas’ thoughts and feelings, which we don’t typically get otherwise. I would highly recommend fans of this series to pick up this novella.
Thomas Cresswell is a peculiar, intelligent young man who many don’t quite understand, including his partner in crime-solving, Audrey Rose, and Thomas’ perspective adds a new twist on some of the events during and after Escaping from Houdini.
“Winning is an archaic way or looking at romance. Her heart isn’t like a cheap round of cards. Love isn’t a game. It’s a choice.”Becoming the Dark Prince
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Well, I finally got around to The Shadow of the Wind, a book which I had never heard anything but praise. This is for good reason, in my opinion. A book for book lovers, The Shadow of the Wind is a lyrical ode to storytelling. While I found the first half a bit slow, I was totally immersed in the world by the second half. The writing was beautiful, and I adored the emphasis on reading and stories. I did have a few issues, namely the slow start and lack of discussion about gender (though it was a huge plot point throughout). However, my enjoyment did win out over these critiques.
The story begins in Barcelon, 1945, as the country heals from a brutal Civil War and a young man, Daniel, stumbles across a book by Julian Carax called The Shadow of the Wind that intrigues him, especially when he learns someone has been systematically destroying all Carax’s books.
“Once, in my father’s bookshop, I heard a regular customer say that few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds its way into his heart. Those first images, the echo of words we think we have left behind, accompany us throughout our lives and sculpt a palace in our memory to which, sooner or later—no matter how many books we read, how many worlds we discover, or how much we learn or forget—we will return.”The Shadow of the Wind
Well, there you have it folks! What did you read in August and September? What were your favorite reads? Let me know down in the comments. As always, a brief look at some of my October TBR is below.
- The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman
- Middlegame by Seanan McGuire
- The Shining by Stephen King