A Week of 4-5 Star Reads
Reading Log: August 8th- 15th
This week, I focused a lot on fantasy with some horror and thrillers thrown in the mix. It’s a reflection of my typical reading habits. While I try to read a variety of genres, I focus mostly on these three.
I did not finish (DNF) two books this week. I won’t force myself to read if I’m dreading opening any book. However, the majority of what I read this week, I really enjoyed.
Let’s get into it.
The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black- 5/5
The third novel in the Folk of the Air series. I’ve been really enjoying both the novels and the companion books in this series.
This book could serve as a stand-alone as well as a conclusion. After the telling of the prophecy about Carden (king of Elphame), it follows Jude. Jude has been in exile due to killing the king’s brother (traitor to the throne). Her twin sister comes to the human realm as a result of the murder of her husband- as Jude cannot be glamoured and can lie, she is able to cover for Taryn. In the process, she is kidnapped by their father who is preparing to declare war on Carden to take the throne.
I loved how full of action and surprise twists this book contains. It’s a page turner from the very beginning. I love the character of Jude- her bravery as well as her clear-headedness and always being willing to do the right thing for the throne. The descriptions draw you into the world of Elphame, allowing you to picture everything that is going on.
How the King of Elphame Learned to Hate Stories- 4.5/5
A companion collection of short stories to the series “The Folk of the Air”. Containing stories that occurred between the novels as well as stories from afterward, that occur in the human realm. The thread connecting them is a witch who is a storyteller interpreting the same stories different ways to Carden.
The Queen of Nothing ends a bit abruptly. As a reader, I wanted to know what happens next. This collection of short stories was a good answer to that question. The one thing I didn’t like was that it would be difficult to read this collection without knowing what happened in the novels. What I loved is that it has the characters we come to love through the series in a few new situations. It also gives a look at what the relationship between Jude and Carden is like after everything that has occurred.
A Court of Thornes and Roses by Sarah J. Maas- 4.5/5
Last month, one of my favorite reads (although it was longer than it needed to be) was Crescent City: House of Earth and Blood. When I saw that one of my friends on Instagram was beginning a Sarah J. Maas reading journey, I decided to read alongside her.
A Court of Thornes and Roses is a Beauty and the Beast retelling, created in a fairy world. In it, we follow Feyre, a human girl who is the breadwinner for her father and sisters. One night, out of hatred, she shoots a fairy disguised as a wolf. This leads to a High Fae named Tamlin showing up at her door and leading her into exile. While he is kind and provides for both her family and all of her desires in the fairy world, she is to stay forever.
There is so much that I loved about this book. From the brilliantly written world to the twists on the classic fairy tale- for example, he gives her an art gallery, not a library. I loved Tamlin as a character is he is ever patient and kind. I struggled with loving Feyre- I didn’t see too much development on her part. When she gets to the new world, she is desperate to leave. By the end, she still wants her own way, on her own terms. Her stubbornness is both a good thing and a bad thing, depending on what it regards.
Darling Girl by Liz Michalski- 4/5
*This review contains spoiler alerts*
A Peter Pan retelling. This book follows Holly Darling (granddaughter of Wendy) and her children. Holly heads up a cosmetic company that is thriving. However, her personal life is another matter. Her daughter Eden has just woken up from a multi-year coma after falling from a tree. Her son struggles health wise, after being involved in the car accident that killed both his twin and his father.
I wanted to hate this book. The characters you thought were good- Peter Pan and Tinkerbell are the villains. Not only does Peter sell drugs to high school kids, but he also uses their blood to try to stay young. Tinkerbell is his servant in this. The evil Captain Hook- Christopher Cooke- is a good guy. He’s a for-hire private detective who helps try to keep kids safe.
Add in Holly, who uses her kids as an experiment. While she makes Jake her world, she uses her daughter’s blood (which has special healing properties) to keep him healthy after the accident. Eden is in a coma and is unable to protest. Since Holly is a scientist, she wants to know what kind of healing properties the blood contains.
When Eden is discovered as missing, Holly drops everything to go to England. Here she is put to the test of finding her daughter, while keeping her son safe. She eventually has to face her shortcomings and overcome Peter, who has kidnapped Jack and is holding him hostage until she turns over Eden.
Although I wanted to hate this book, I kept reading. First as a curiosity, where and how do they find Eden? Then as an interested observer- so everything including all of Holly’s lies blow up in her face? Finally she gets her come-uppance. Then intrigued by which child she will choose.
The transformation that occurs in Holly is tremendous and well-executed. The ending is a tear-jerker. It’s a fairy tale of its own making in some ways. Girl makes a lot of really bad choices that compromise her work and family- girl has to learn and change- girl gets rescued by someone willing to stand in her place- girl learns lesson. That’s the story, told in a compelling way, that I’m willing to give four stars to.
Bunny by Mona Awad- 4/5
Samantha can’t stand the rest of her writing cohort- a group called the bunnies. When she is invited to an event by them, however, she begins to integrate into the group. The group has a habit of creating- both written works as well as creatures. The lines of real life versus bunny life soon begin to blur.
What I loved about this book is the shift in reality. It lures you in by presenting a real-life situation: there’s a group you hate because you’ve never been asked to join. You finally get accepted and then embraced. You begin to give into the herd mentality of the group. However, from there, it gets crazier and crazier- starting with the sudden ability to see bunnies all over the campus. From there, things get more and more bizarre.
The Apartment by S. L. Grey- 5/5
I came across The Apartment from one of my monthly book subscription boxes- Used Books Monthly. It’s one I hadn’t heard of before, but one that I’m sure will stay with me for a while.
In this one, we follow two complex characters- Mark and Stephanie. They recently had a break in at their home and feel the need to go to Paris as a reset. They end up choosing to use a house swap website and set-up for the week. Upon arriving, the apartment is nothing like what they thought it would be. Also, Mark starts to see a ghost from his past in interesting places.
This book was a page turner from the beginning. It was a complex tale, weaved through clear descriptions and characters who were easy to be believed. The haunting is of both an internal and external nature. While the Paris apartment is haunted and abandoned, with only one neighbor who keeps saying that it’s “not meant for the living” and unpleasant surprises, like an excess of hair kept random places. Mark is also haunted with grief.
The atmosphere of the book is creepy and it’s a story that stays with the reader for a few days after putting it down.
Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey- Unrated
Finally, I read Greenlights. I don’t rate books that I conceive as autobiographical in any way. Non-fiction is not my usual reading (although I’m working on reading more) and I won’t rate someone who is writing about their life.
I will say however, that I absolutely loved Greenlights. It’s part storytelling about topics and events in McConaughey’s life. It’s also part sharing the lessons he takes from them and what we, as readers, can learn from him.
The audiobook is read by the author. Which leads to a pleasant experience. I also love his openness to share many details beyond what we saw on screen- the abusive parts of his parents’ relationship and the fact that his son asking him why his mother didn’t have the same last name that made him consider marriage. There is a lot more shared in the book, but these serve as good examples.
It’s well worth the read.
I’m still working on finishing the Trope-ical readathon (I have three more reads). I’m planning to read The Ravens, To All the Boys I Loved Before, and Intercepted as well as working on catching up on free review copies I’ve received. I would like a clear slate before September begins, so we will see.
What are You Reading?
What have you been enjoying lately? What book is next on your reading list? Let me know.