This is a where I look back at what I read (or tried to read) during the past month. I also plan on highlighting my experiences in any book club reads I from the month as well. I will always start with any books I would label as a surprise find/underread books so if anyone missed my reviews for them, and don’t make it to the end of this post, they’ll be easy to find.
Surprise Find/Underrated/Underread Book
Between Two Fires by Christopher Buehlman – This book was an unexpectedly wonderful and terrifying find. I stumbled on the audiobook of it from my local library and was unsure as I had heard nothing about it. At first thought was going to be more of a Historical Fiction type of book with just a bit of Fantasy bend to it. And it definitely is a historical fiction setting/feel with beautifully crafted prose that flows easily. But it has supernatural elements that are done in a lurking, terrifying, perhaps rip you asunder, you don’t know what the hell just hit you (or them) kind of way. More like horror. If you are squeamish, or shy away from books with rape or graphic violence, put this book on your never read list. But for those of you like me that are fans of dark and gritty fantasy, definitely check it out.
Book Club Reviews
It was an OK month for book clubs. One new book that was not amazing overall, but did have some glimpses of brilliance. It was fun talking about both with other readers. And then, a book club read for a book I read earlier this year.
Fantasy Faction Book Club
We read King Rat by China Mieville. This book came in second place a record number of times. I was glad it finally won so I wouldn’t have to keep adding it to the polls! 🙂 This was my first book by Mieville, and I am still unsure if it was a best first read for the author. First, I don’t think this is as “weird” as his other books (which was part of what drew me to it). But I also think from comments in the discussions that it is a weaker book in many areas when compared to his other works. Makes sense as this was his debut. I loved the descriptive atmosphere Mieville could create in this, but the story in general was just alright. It was nice comparing thoughts with other readers to know I was not alone.
Reddit /r/Fantasy Goodreads Discussion Group
Reddit’s book was Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson. I read this one in January with the Fantasy Faction book club. Unfortunately, I just didn’t engage as much in this discussion. Maybe because I read the book 5 – 6months ago. We did get some good comments in this group, but there’s not much follow through and not nearly as much exchange between readers (of which I am just as guilty). There were very few comments in the final discussion which was disappointing. This group is younger than FF, I keep hoping it will start to thrive a bit more. Oh well. Since I had already read it, I was likely not as invested myself. It’s a good book though, one of these days I will get around to reading Deadhouse Gates (which I bought as soon as I finished GotM).
Reading Highlights (non-bookclub reads)
Highlights in the way of non-book club reads? Pretty good month, but I had a couple of ones I set to the side.
Thief’s Magic by Trudi Canavan – I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read this. But I got it cheap and felt like reading a strong character driven story. This is that. There’s 2 POVs that don’t intersect in this book, which I did not mind at all. I love that I really enjoyed both story lines and did not have a strong preference for either. I’ll definitely read the next one. I felt this was much stronger than The Black Magician trilogy.
Unwept by Tracy Hickman – I was in the mood for something different, and the premise of this intrigued me. I think it could be a good story, but the execution fell flat for me because while I enjoyed the premise, I just never was as drawn in as I had hoped. I may have been just looking for more of a horror story than this turned out to be. I’m left feeling rather “meh” about this one
Tower Lord by Anthony Ryan – If you enjoyed Blood Song, by all means, you have to read this. I think the strengths of this book are different than Blood Song, but it works so well. (if you haven’t heard, there are multiple POVs) Blood Song was the coming of age story of Vaelin and setup for the grander story. This book gives you a much clearer picture of the impressive scale of the conflict, introduces you to more characters. And it has siege porn!
Books I Set Aside/Did Not Finish (A Walk of Shame this month)
Alright, there are two books that have received much praise and for one reason or another, I just couldn’t finish.
The Boy with the Porcelain Blade by Den Patrick just felt overly descriptive on mundane things I just didnt care about to the point of annoyance. Maybe I was just grumpy because I’ve seen so many positive things about this. So, I set aside and will hopefully find myself in a better mood for it in the future.
And here’s the kicker. Here’s my real shame. I tried. A couple of times. I may try again. But I just couldn’t bring myself to finish Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence. I’ll admit, I was not thrilled with the ending to his trilogy, but I loved the trilogy overall, so I went into this with positive expectations. I really expected to love this as well. But, well, humor in books and me sometimes just don’t get along. Loved the dark humor in Broken Empire, but in here, Jalan just seemed a bit too much for me. I do plan on trying again, maybe it will work better for me another day. I hate that I had to put this one on hold and not just once, but a couple of times so far. I don’t blame the book for this. This is all me and I have had similar reactions to other popular books (Dresden as one example). I swear. I have a sense of humor. Really, I do. It’s just awfully picky.
Most Awkward Graphic Novel for Your Kids to Find in Your Possession
Well, last month, I had the most Most Laughably Awkward Sex Scene award. Couldn’t come up with anything to compete with that this month (and I honestly think I am thankful for that). BUT I did leave a few graphic novels laying about for a couple of days before reading them and decided Awkward is not just applicable to what you read, but also, to what could be found. I know my kids looked at all the covers. I really hope they stopped there, because really, no kids want to think of their mom looking at anything that involves sex (even though we obviously know more about it or they wouldn’t be here. Funny how that works). It made me realize, as much as I enjoy the book, it is likely the most awkward one ever brought into our house for my kids to find (and realize it was mine)
Saga #1 by Brian K. Vaughan – Another graphic novel for me. It has action, humor, love, suspense and some very cool artwork. Features a family with a newborn baby, quite different seeing “real world” problems mixed into the sci-fi story. Not really for anyone sensitive to sexually explicit images (or one that you would want your kids to find laying about). But other than that, I highly recommend it.