“Waves as monuments: huge and uncaring, crowned in furious white.”First line in Call of the Bone Ships by RJ Barker
Somehow it’s already February, and that means I need to post my wrap-up for January, so here we are. In terms of my personal life, January was a month I would very much like to bury deep, deep under ground and never look at again. I have had some issues with my family for a few months now which kind of culminated in the beginning of January. I’m being vague on purpose because the details of it all are literally too dark to share casually in a post like this, and I don’t want to ruin your day or anything like that. But my depression has just been thriving because of it, to the extent that I even considered taking a break from blogging. However, I quickly realized that blogging and reading are my main sources of happiness at the moment, so I’m not quitting either.
And blogging in particular has brought so much happiness in January! I mean, I hit 300 followers, which is so crazy that I can’t wrap my head around it. Later in the month, I also got so many sweet and thoughtful comments on my post about social anxiety, and I just wanted to let you know that I’m so incredibly grateful for everything.
Well, weren’t we supposed to talk about books? Yes, and all of that mess in my personal life meant that I needed to escape into books a lot. Just take a look at my stats for the month:
It has been several months since I’ve read this much, but the page count was also greatly helped by the 1,200 pages in Rhythm of War. The quality of what I was reading was also incredible, but most of the books were also sequels in series I already love. I needed that comfort this month. Lastly, I’m quickly going to mention that one of the five books was a reread (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows), so I will not be reviewing that. That leaves four mini-reviews, so let’s go.
Rhythm of War (The Stormlight Archive #4)
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Published: November 17th 2020
Find the synopsis for the first book in the series, The Way of Kings, on Goodreads.
This was hella difficult to rate because this is such a long book, and I didn’t like all parts of it equally. It started out great! Parts 1 and 2 were magnificent. So full of action and meaningful character interactions. There was also more Kaladin and less Dalinar and Shallan. I was loving it! When reading those parts, I was contemplating calling this book a new favorite in the series. Then Part 3 and 4 happened… The brakes were slammed, and the story started to drag so horribly. Like, some characters would act out of character to purposefully slow the story down, and I felt like the big climactic moment in Part 5 could just as easily have happened in Part 3 if we didn’t have to stall. We instead spend the time on more world-building, specifically how the “magic” works. And yes, it’s very interesting… just not that much. I’m the kind of reader where you can just tell me that stuff works, and I swear I’ll believe it. I don’t need the intricate details on the ‘how’. It was also especially frustrating because Sanderson had put the characters in a situation with so much potential for some great scenes (really trying to avoid spoilers here), but we didn’t get them, and the story turned meandering instead.
Fortunately, the final part (Part 5) did improve, and we got a great ending. Not ‘Words of Radiance’-great, but nothing’s ever going to top that anyway.
Author: Neil Gaiman
Published: September 20th 2005
Buzzwords: Gods, urban fantasy, weird
Synopsis: When Fat Charlie’s dad named something, it stuck. Like calling Fat Charlie “Fat Charlie.” Even now, twenty years later, Charlie Nancy can’t shake that name, one of the many embarrassing “gifts” his father bestowed — before he dropped dead on a karaoke stage and ruined Fat Charlie’s life.
Mr. Nancy left Fat Charlie things. Things like the tall, good-looking stranger who appears on Charlie’s doorstep, who appears to be the brother he never knew. A brother as different from Charlie as night is from day, a brother who’s going to show Charlie how to lighten up and have a little fun … just like Dear Old Dad. And all of a sudden, life starts getting very interesting for Fat Charlie.
Because, you see, Charlie’s dad wasn’t just any dad. He was Anansi, a trickster god, the spider-god. Anansi is the spirit of rebellion, able to overturn the social order, create wealth out of thin air, and baffle the devil. Some said he could cheat even Death himself.
This one was weird. Not that I expected anything else from Neil Gaiman, but it still makes you wonder how that man is able to write these kinds of stories. Nevertheless, I enjoyed his writing. It reminded me a lot of Neverwhere by the same author, but I think that’s because his style is so recognizable and unique. It’s rooted in some dark humor, which isn’t usually my thing, but it still made it a great reading experience because Gaiman does it so well.
The reason behind my lower rating is that I felt myself feeling indifferent especially towards the characters but also the story itself. Concerning the characters, I’ve had this problem every time I’ve read a Gaiman book, so I don’t think I’m connecting with him on that level. I feel more like a neutral observer of his characters instead of being properly connected to them, feel what they feel. In terms of the plot, I thought it was fine, but slightly underwhelming.
The Archive of the Forgotten (Hell’s Library #2)
Author: A. J. Hackwith
Published: October 6th 2020
Check out the synopsis for the first book in the series, The Library of the Unwritten, over on Goodreads.
A book about books! My favorite thing to read about and this one was no disappointment. We continue to follow these flawed characters and their struggles. And these characters aren’t all nice and sweet, but for some reason, I can’t help but love them dearly. Hackwith just writes them in a way that highlights their vulnerabilities, even when they are being horribly mean, so you just want to hug them.
The small criticism I have is due to the fact that I can’t help but compare it to the first book, which was a bit more… adventurous than this one. I really loved that about the first book, so I sometimes felt that the second one was a bit slower, especially towards the end. Overall though, the character development and the wonderful quotes about books made me love this book so much.
Call of the Bone Ships (The Tide Child #2)
Author: RJ Barker
Published: November 24th 2020
Check out the synopsis for the first book in the trilogy, The Bone Ships, on Goodreads.
I have some mixed feelings on this one, but I’m overall positive. The characters continue to be amazingly interesting while the author explores themes of loss and a different kind of bravery. However, I cannot help but feel that the plot suffered a little bit from middle book syndrome. It was very slow in some areas, and with the ending that we got, it all feels like one big lead-up to the final book. It isn’t a big negative for me because the plot isn’t what I’m here for anyway.
I’m here for the characters and the way they deal with everything that is thrown at them. I liked that part very much! Nevertheless, I could use some more time dedicated to building the relationships between the characters. A lot of the time we’re just told that character X and character Y are close, but we never really see it. And don’t get me wrong, this way of portraying relationships actually work a lot of the time in the way that Barker does it. It’s very subtle, but I would have liked to see just a few small scenes here and there to prove that character X and character Y are close. I could tell that there were characters I was supposed to care about but didn’t because I hadn’t seen them matter to anyone (hope that makes sense).
What a month! Despite all my real-life drama, I think this is one of the best months I’ve had in terms of reading ever, both in quantity and quality. It certainly helped me get through this rough start to 2021.
I sincerely hope your January has been better than mine. Let me know what your favorite book of the month was. Happy reading in February!