Monday, 5 June 2017

Reading recap: April and May

It’s already June and I realise I’ve completely forgotten to update you on my reading in April, so this is a double feature for May too. April and May weren’t particularly good reading months in terms of numbers read, partly because I read a couple of longer books that took longer to finish, partly because other engagements kept me from reading – I know, right – and partly because I started and then discarded a number of books that I just couldn’t get into. But those books that I ended up reading and finishing, five in all, were all absolutely brilliant. Four of the books were from my reading list, and the last one was an absolutely necessary addition.

The Chosen by J.R. Ward
First up was one of my favourite series, Black Dagger Brotherhood by J.R. Ward. Book number fifteen, The Chosen, was as good as any in the series, which hasn’t had a weak book yet. I really like Ms Ward’s style of edgy writing, and especially how she introduces characters and their backstories throughout the series, and follows them after the happily ever after too, showing that there never is love so great that the happy couple couldn’t mess things up. This book combined all those sides: Layla has been an important character for many books already, as has Xcor. But their love threatened not only the Black Dagger Brotherhood, but the marriage of Qhuinn and Blay too. The solutions weren’t easy, but they were satisfying. The book also introduced new characters and opened new storylines, promising many books to come, which made this one feel a bit like an in-between book, or a start of a new era, especially with the revelation concerning Lassiter. But it didn’t diminish my enjoyment of it at all. On the contrary.

Made for Sin by Stacia Kane

Next up was an enjoyable standalone novel by Stacia Kane whose Downside Ghosts series is one of my absolute favourite urban fantasies. Made for Sin is a detective novel set in modern Las Vegas with elements of supernatural. Speare, a foster son of a mafia boss, has a demon inside him, which makes him valuable for his foster father, who asks him to solve a series of gruesome murders for him. While Speare wasn’t as broken as Chess and Terrible in Downside Ghosts, he wasn’t exactly a whole character either, which made him interesting and easy to sympathise with. It wasn’t a long novel, but the characters and the story were well-formed and nothing felt hasty. The ending wasn’t quite what I expected, but it was in line with Ms Kane’s other books, and it made me wish there was an entire series with Speare.

A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab

A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab ended her brilliant Shades of Magic trilogy. It was about twice as long as the first book, and while I felt at times that it could’ve been shorter, it at least made it clear that conquering the great evil wasn’t easy and the price the characters had to pay for it was steep. The ending was satisfying, managing the right balance between sad and hopeful, which doesn’t happen as often in fantasy trilogies as I would hope. All in all, a great ending.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

My perfect reading streak ended with Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo, which I read back to back. Wonderful mix of heist-story and fantasy, set in a world that combines medieval, magic, and modern weaponry, the two books hit my fancy exactly. In the first book, Six of Crows, we meet a ragtag group of thieves, con-artists, and former slaves who all are more than they seem, who none of them are perfect and whole, and who all have personal stories to tell. For various reasons, they agree to try an impossible heist, only to be swindled of their price in the end. The second book, Crooked Kingdom, is about their payback. In both books, nothing goes as easily as it should, forcing the mastermind Kaz to come up with new plans on the go. As is typical with heist stories, movies at least, the characters always know more than the reader, so even the most upsetting disappointments often turn out to be exactly what they were meant to be. And throughout, the characters work their way to personal redemptions with more or less success. The end is hopeful and open enough that I can’t help hoping there will be more books to come.

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

On top of these books, I started but haventyetfinished The Glorious Angels by Justina Robson, Those Below by Daniel Polansky, The Copper Promise by Jen Williams, The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, and a number of self-published romances I got on a cheap. Some of them I will finish, but not all, and not in June, because I have more great books lined up: I have Assassins Fate by Robin Hobb already waiting, and there are new books from my favourite authors coming out in June, like Silver Silence by Nalini Singh, and Our Dark Duet by V.E. Schwab. Looking forward to reading all of them.

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