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)
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
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?