Reading recap: October

I got back on my reading track in October with five great books. Well, technically I finished the last one in November, but it was in the small hours of the morning, so I’m counting it to this month. As has been my habit this year, some of the books were outside of my reading list, some from it.

I started the month with a great young adult book called Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John. It tells about Piper who ends up as a manager of the up and coming – hopefully – band called Dumb of her high school, mostly on dare, but partly because her parents have raided her college fund to pay for a hearing implant for her baby sister and she wants to get rich fast. It would’ve been a good premise as is, but the twist is that Piper is deaf, so she has no idea if the band is any good or not. Also she has zero knowledge of the music the band is interested in, or music in general. The book is kind of an emotional roller-coaster with both the band and her family offering her plenty of opportunities for personal growth. And she mostly learns from them too, but not before creating quite a mess. The only parts that felt a bit glued on were the trips to the past music scenes of Seattle where she lives, presumably to teach Piper about it, but mostly, I felt, to show the readers how much the author knows about it. But I can forgive that, because Piper was a wonderful character and the author had taken great pains in imagining what it would be like to be deaf in the world of the hearing and not be discouraged by it.

Five Flavors of Dumb by Anthony John

In sharp contrast with the first book was White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L. Armentrout, also about a high-schooler, Layla. She, too, is different from her friends, she’s part demon, part gargoyle, but since she can’t talk about it with them, her school friends are sort of add-ons to the story instead of part of her life. She’s not really accepted at home either among her adoptive caretakers, who are full gargoyles and hunt demons.  The story is basically about Layla finding out about her roots, why she is the way she is, but since it’s the first book in a series, nothing conclusive is said about it. There’s a love story too, between Layla and a demon who claims to help her against demons who hunt her, but for a book with such a name, it was disappointinly chaste and lame. I found the book tedious and too long, and ended up skipping a bit. But the ending was good.

White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L. Armentrout

My best readings of the month were two books in Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence series, Two Serpents Rise and Full Fathom Five, which are books two and three in the series. Gladstone has created an amazing fantasy world were soul stuff is currency that can be accumulated and saved in banks, and which is used for all kinds of transactions that bind the countries, the people and the gods. The world is divided to countries with and without gods, the Gods War having killed most of the gods in the former. They are ruled by craft users, sort of magicians, but more like lawyers who negotiate intricate contracts to bind the world to their will. But gods haven’t completely disappeared and it’s the theme in both books.

Two Serpents Rise by Max Gladstone

In the first book, Caleb Altemoc who works as a risk manager for a water company – basically – is sent to investigate why demons are infesting the water reservoir. It starts a long and complicated crime mystery where dormant gods play a role too. And things aren’t made any easier by the fact that Caleb’s estranged father Temoc, the last living priest of the former gods, is the prime suspect. In the second book, set in a far-off island, idols that are used for storing soul stuff for companies that need gods but do not want them, start gaining consciousness and becoming gods in truth. Like in all the books in the series, this isn’t a theological or metaphysical problem, but an economic one and requires complicated action to save the entire world from a financial ruin. Easiest solution would be killing the emerging gods, but the main characters, a beggar and thief Izzy who’s become an unwitting priestess of the gods, and Kai, a priestess-accountant who creates the idols, have other ideas. A couple of characters from the first book make an appearance too. After three books, it’s evident that this is definitely a series unlike anything out there, both big and small at the same time, an amazing world combined with characters that feel real.

Full Fathom Five by Max Gladstone

I ended the month with one of my all-time favourite urban fantasy series, Charley Davidson by Darynda Jones. The Trouble with Twelfth Grave is already book twelve, but the series is still going strong – though sadly soon to end. We pick off where the previous book ended, Charley’s husband Rey returning from a hell dimension as an evil god. Charley isn’t discouraged by it – she’s never discouraged by anything, she’s too ADHD to think that far ahead; she tries to prove that her husband is still somewhere inside the evil version of him. But a series of gruesome deaths that might be done by him dampens her spirits a bit. After all sorts of shenanigans, the true killer is found, but it only delivers a kick-in-the-gut twist that ends the book in a cliff-hanger.  It was a good book, though not quite as funny as most of the previous ones. And now we have the agonising wait for the next one.

The Trouble with Twelfth Grave by Darynda Jones

That’s my recap. But I’ve done more than just reading, I’ve been writing too. Coming up next week, cover reveal and an excerpt of the fourth Tracy Hayes book, Tracy Hayes, P.I. with the Eye. Stay tuned. And if you haven't read the earlier books, you can start with Tracy Hayes, Apprentice P.I.

Tracy Hayes, Apprentice P.I. by Susanna Shore

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