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!
Well, I can’t post my 2015 favorite books lists without sharing what I read in December, can I? 😉 I managed to squeeze in four books in December and have decided to review three of them. And beware – there’s all kinds of magical, mechanical, and speculative fiction goodness to follow, starting with my Read of the Month!
Read of the Month: Towers Fall (Towers Trilogy, Book #3) by Karina Sumner-Smith
After being fascinated by Radiant and feeling lukewarm about Defiant, I didn’t know what to expect from Towers Fall, the conclusion to Karina Sumner-Smith‘s genre-blending Towers Trilogy. So, what did this book do to me? It stunned me. It swept me away. It gave me reason upon reason to call it my favorite book of the series.
Towers Fall kicks off not long after Defiant wraps up. The Central Spire, the City’s most powerful entity, warns the citizens of the impoverish Lower City to evacuate in three days – or face annihilation. Determined to save their home, Xhea and her ghost friend Shai hatch a plot that pits one type of magic against another. But when the girls are separated again, they must search for answers on their own. Revelations about their world, their magic, and their pasts change everything. And in the end, Xhea’s and Shai’s powers may not be enough to protect them from the might of the Towers…
I’m still not sure why I enjoyed Towers Fall more than the previous two books. The writing style still relies on exposition, and the pacing’s a bit slow at times. However, maybe I love it because of how the loose ends are tied up, and any remaining mysteries about the City are finally answered. Maybe it’s how Sumner-Smith’s evocative prose allowed the magic to leap to life and the overall sense of urgency to crackle. Or, maybe it’s how Xhea stole the show with her witty sarcasm and aching vulnerability, or how the explosive climax feels like it’s straight out of a blockbuster film. You know what? I think it’s for all of those reasons. 🙂 This was a thrilling, heartrending close to one of the most inventive speculative fiction series I’ve ever read.
Other Books I Read in December
Romeo and Juliet meets Like Water for Chocolate in this YA tale of feuding families, tree-scaling tightrope walkers, and professional mermaids. The Weight of Feathers unites Lace Paloma, in her first year of performing with her family’s troupe; and Cluck Corbeau, relegated to designing his relatives’ winged costumes because of a hand injury. Both teens have been raised to hate the other’s family for possessing black magic. However, when an accident at a local factory spells disaster for the town where the Palomas and Corbeaus are performing, Cluck rescues Lace without knowing her true identity. The two soon fall in love; and they find themselves unraveling the mystery behind the Paloma-Corbeau rivalry and entangled in secrets that could tear apart both families – and each other.
The Weight of Feathers has drawn comparisons to Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, and I can see why. It’s literary in approach, with an emphasis on narrative and description. I often detached from this kind of writing; it tends to keep characters at a distance, so I don’t connect with them as well as I do with characters in more “commercial” novels. That happened with The Weight of Feathers – but at the same time, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. The setting was enigmatic yet grounded in reality, and Lace and Cluck’s web of dilemmas was tense and believable. McLemore’s ethereal writing style and the incorporation of Spanish and French phrases heighten the overall aura of awe and romance, and compel you to keep reading. If you like love stories with a dash of magic, dive into The Weight of Feathers and let it sweep you away.
Imagine if one of the world’s largest libraries had not only survived the test of time, but had also become powerful enough to govern distribution of all printed material and and forbid personal ownership of books. Rachel Caine explores this frightening idea in Ink and Bone, a globe-trotting adventure where the pursuit of knowledge is both empowering and dangerous.
Jess Brightwell, a bibliophile whose family in involved in illegal book-trading, is sent to spy on the Great Library’s headquarters in Alexandria, Egypt. His guise? A Postulant, or a Library trainee with access to every book ever published. But Jess’s training turns out to be more perilous than he could have imagined, testing his loyalties with his family, his fellow Postulants, and the scholars he thought he could trust. Then again, when the Great Library believes that knowledge is more valuable than the lives of those who help maintain that knowledge, who can be trusted?
It’s impossible to not be drawn into Ink and Bone. The original concept, healthy dashes of character diversity, and steampunk elements such as sphynx automatons and an international railway system make it exciting and realistic. At the same time, I struggled with certain aspects of the story. Though Jess is a wonderfully complex character, I didn’t connect with some of his fellow Postulants. Nor did I feel or understand the “romantic chemistry” between Jess and Morgan. However, the last three chapters floored me! They redeemed the less satisfying parts, and the outcome gives Jess the perfect spark of motivation for Paper and Fire. So, if you’re wondering whether Ink and Bone is deserving of the hype it’s received, my answer is a resounding YES.
What I’m Reading Next
I’m binge-finishing Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy!! 🙂 I adored the first book when I read it last year. And after getting Books #2 and #3 (Days of Blood and Starlight and Dreams of Gods and Monsters, respectively) for Christmas, I was NOT going to wait long to find out what happens next.
What books did you recently read? Have you read any of the titles mentioned above?