Recent Reads: August 2015

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Recent Reads is a monthly reading wrap-up, with mini-reviews of all the books I finished in the past month. I’ll also share what I’m currently reading and any other books that are in the pipeline. Want to share your bookish happenings, too? Feel free to do so in the Comments section at the end!

August was a weird month reading-wise. Out of the five books I finished, three were disappointments. (They were also the last three books I’d read chronologically speaking, so I fell into a case of the Reading Slump Blues. :/  ) The other two books were fantastic awesome AMAZING, and are sure bets for my year-end favorites list. So, I apologize if this edition of Recent Reads ends up feeling like a rollercoaster ride. We’ll start on a positive note, though, with my pick for Read of the Month, which is…

Read of the Month: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (ARC)

Six of crowsSix of Crows (The Dregs Duology, Book #1) / Leigh Bardugo
YA Fantasy-Thriller / 462 pages
Rating: 
 4.75 out of 5 (Goodreads / Amazon)

Saints, does this book live up to its “Game of Thrones meets Ocean’s 11” description! Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows, her first novel outside of her best-selling Grisha Trilogy, follows six young outcasts recruited to pull off a impossible heist. If they succeed, they’ll be rich beyond their wildest dreams. But with a short timetable, danger and enemies galore, and tensions within the crew thick early on, it’s an “if” with a capital I-F. This story also expands on Bardugo’s “Grishaverse,” taking fans to corners of her fictional realm that are inspired by 16th-17th century Netherlands and (I think?) Scandinavia, while introducing a new threat to the alchemist-magicians known as the Grisha.

Six of Crows is one of the grittiest and most ambitious YA novels I’ve ever read – and I loved every moment of it! All six crew members are engaging, complex characters whom readers can sympathize with and cheer for. They also represent an array of nationalities, religious beliefs, physical and learning impairments, and sexual orientation. (FYI – The spy Inej and ringleader Kaz are my favorites, though I have a soft spot for Matthias, too.) Bardugo demonstrates her masterful world-building skills again while weaving in striking threads of action, suspense, heartache, and humor. (I lost track of how many times I burst out laughing while reading this book!) My only nitpick is that out of the six protagonists, one never gets any POV chapters. It doesn’t prevent the reader from bonding with him, but it would have been neat to see certain scenes from his perspective. Regardless, Six of Crows is an invigorating, engrossing wild ride that’s worth every minute you stay up late to finish it.

(NOTE: I read an ARC of this book that was provided by a friend who received it from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.)

Other Books I Read in August

Hundred Thousand Kingdoms coverThe Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (Inheritance Trilogy, Book #1) / N.K. Jemisin
Fantasy / 388 pages
Rating:
4.5 out of 5 (Amazon / Goodreads)

What if a society’s gods went to war, and the single victor trapped the others in semi-mortal bodies so humans could use them as weapons? That’s part of the premise of N.K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. The other part belongs to Yeine Darr, who is summoned by her grandfather to the city of Sky after her mother mysteriously dies. To her horror, Yeine is thrown into a power struggle with her cousins to vie for her grandfather’s throne. If she fails, her life is forfeit. Thus, Yeine struggles to navigate Sky’s corrupt politics while searching for clues about her mother’s death. As she comes closer to the truth, she is befriended by the enslaved gods – and learns how her plight is more closely linked to theirs than she could have fathomed.

What Jemisin accomplishes in The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is staggering. With clear, simple prose, she spins a tale of love, hatred, and betrayal with just enough world-building and history woven in to make it feel ancient and real. Yeine makes a riveting narrator with her flawed decisions and fierce determination; and the gods, especially the dark, dangerous Nahadoth and the childlike Sieh, are deliciously complex. The descriptions are a bit sparse, and the digressions from the main plot made little sense at first. But when I realized the purpose for those digressions, I actually fell even deeper for the story. If you like gritty, refreshing fantasies with magic, intrigue, and bold rule-breaking that works, you need to read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. Now.

[NOTE: Other reviews that were previously shown in this post have since been redacted.]

What I’m Reading Next

I should be almost done with Naomi Novik’s Uprooted by the time this goes live, and I’ve really enjoyed it so far. After that, who knows? Certain birthday gifts might throw any reading plans I’d normally make out the window. 😉

How about you? What books did you recently read? Have you read any of the titles mentioned above?

34 thoughts on “Recent Reads: August 2015

  1. I haven’t read any of them but Dolor and Shadow, The Hundred Thousand Kingdom, and Six of Crows (I hope that’s the title. I’m on my phone n can’t check) sounds up my alley. Jemison’s book sounds most appealing of all what with God’s trapped in human bodies. Plus I’ve always wanted to try one of her books.
    HAPPY MERRY BIRTHDAY when it comes!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Haven’t read any but waiting not so patiently to get my hands on Six of Crows! I totally understand what you mean about your standards for writing having changed what you can tolerate. It has affected my review levels too and almost want to go back and re rate some of my early ones but I’m refraining.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re almost there, though! Three more weeks till Six of Crows is out! 😉

      I can understand why you’d want to go back and re-rate your reviews based on your current reading-writing standards. But at the same time, your review was a snapshot of what you felt about it at that time. Our ideas of what’s good literature and what isn’t change over time, and I think most people understand that. That’s probably why I tend to leave my past review ratings alone despite any changes in my reading tastes.

      Liked by 1 person

      • 3 more weeks! Dang I need to pre order already! Yah that’s pretty much the conclusion I came to as well. Just as much as my writing and reviewing styles have changes over the years as well. If anything I may go back and re-read some that I care to later and re review them from the perspective of a re-read. But I’m not going to rewrite my history.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Six of Crows was my favorite recent read as well (if I’m not counting manga!). But “The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms” is on my to-read list. Sadly, I liked most of my August reads even less than you liked yours, 😦
    These are all great snapshot reviews, though I’m sorry that half of them were disappointing.
    Hopefully we will both have better luck in September!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think you might like THTK. It has some of the most unique world-building I’ve seen in a while. Definitely check out that one when you can.

      September’s reading is off to a good start! I’m hoping to finish Uprooted tonight; so far it’s as delightful as the reviewers have said it is. 🙂 And then it’s on to Siege & Storm by Leigh Bardugo (Book #2 of the Grisha Trilogy, and a birthday prezzie. 😀 )

      Like

  4. I’m so looking forward to Bardugo’s new book. So few YA books live up to the comparisons in their blurb, so the fact you say this one does is getting me excited! I love heist books too, so when I saw “Ocean’s 11” I immediately perked up!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It really does! It has the heist vibe and group dynamics of Ocean’s 11, with a multiple POV approach and at-times graphic violence like Game Of Thrones, but not quite as grisly. I think a lot of adult fantasy fans will enjoy Six of Crows, too, because of its complexity and maturity. I hope you enjoy when you get to read it! 😀

      Like

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  6. Happy Belated Birthdaaay!!! I hope it was a lovely one.
    Siren’s Fury, aww, sad to hear about that. I haven’t read it yet but plan to. I know what you mean about certian books changing your tastes for different writing styles, though. Btw, wow you for reading 5 books in one month, while still working on TKC! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you!! 😀

      I would never tell someone to not read a book, so still read Siren’s Fury if you’re planning to. Other readers enjoyed it more than I did, so maybe you will, too.

      Yeah, I’m definitely reading books at a much faster rate than I used to. But the thing is, I do most of my reading at night, even on the weekends. So it doesn’t conflict that much with working on TKC. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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