“Well, someone has to marry the man,” the Emperor said.First line in Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell
It’s time for my monthly wrap-up for June, a very unusual month for me to say the least. It has been one big emotional roller coaster because a large part of my month was dedicated to watching the European Football Championship. I support Denmark obviously, and if you don’t know, one of our players almost died during the first game. That was absolutely horrifying! He’s fine now, but I felt awful for days and still have images in my head that I wish I didn’t. It was also so surreal to see our news media the next day filled with general advice on how to deal with shock and trauma because I don’t think anyone who watched that was totally okay afterwards. But remember that roller coaster I was talking about? Because as traumatizing as that event was for everyone involved, the way everyone here came together to support the players has been so beautiful to witness. And the players themselves have proven to be literal superhumans because they’ve just gone out and played better than ever. I’m in awe. And I’m emotional.
However, with all of that going on and a ton of other football games to watch, I didn’t read all that much this month. Here are my stats:
I’m very satisfied with my four books and the rating it pretty good as well. And second month in a row with zero books from male authors… I’m reading one right now, so sort of rectifying it but also so not. Still, I have four mini-reviews for you and there’s actually one that isn’t fantasy this time.
Rule of Wolves (King of Scars #2)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Published: March 30th, 2021
Genre: YA Fantasy
Check out the synopsis for the first book in the series, King of Scars, on Goodreads.
This book and this duology is an example of what I feel often happens when authors get their books adapted into movies/tv shows. For some reason, they start writing their books in a way that makes them easier to adapt. The books are written like movies to avoid future problems, and the author starts bringing back characters because it would bring back beloved actors in a possible future adaptation. I have discovered that that is a big pet peeve of mine. In this case, I think it meant that the book was very busy doing a lot of different things but doing them only halfway. Too many aspects were just there to satisfy fans, making the plot feel very disjointed.
I will also continue to be upset about the fact that Nikolai was the least important character in here, and I felt there were so many issues surrounding his character that was never explored properly. Oh, and I hated the ending because it made it so blatantly clear how this entire duology is just set-up for future Grisha books. I still gave it 2.5 stars and not 1 because there were one or two plot twists that I liked (also a bunch that I didn’t), and the world is still very cool and seems to be expanding.
The Kingdom of Copper (The Daevabad Trilogy #2)
Author: S. A. Chakraborty
Published: January 22nd, 2019
Check out the synopsis for the first book in the series, The City of Brass, on Goodreads.
A strong candidate for my favorite book of the year. This did what I so often love about second books in trilogies and that is focus on character relationships. Where the first book was all about world-building, that part of the book took a step back here in the second one. The groundwork was done so I could properly appreciate the characters and their development. It was beautiful and painful as a book should be. It also had so many twists I didn’t see coming and I only had wrong theories along the way. I loved it!
If you’ve already read this book, I wrote quite a long spoiler-filled review for you to check out.
Author: Natasha Pulley
Published: May 25th, 2021
Genre: Historical Fiction/Fantasy
Buzzwords: England as a French colony, time travel, naval warfare, alternative history
Synopsis: Joe Tournier has a bad case of amnesia. His first memory is of stepping off a train in the nineteenth-century French colony of England. The only clue Joe has about his identity is a century-old postcard of a Scottish lighthouse that arrives in London the same month he does. Written in illegal English-instead of French-the postcard is signed only with the letter “M,” but Joe is certain whoever wrote it knows him far better than he currently knows himself, and he’s determined to find the writer. The search for M, though, will drive Joe from French-ruled London to rebel-owned Scotland and finally onto the battle ships of a lost empire’s Royal Navy. In the process, Joe will remake history, and himself.
I had very high hopes for this book because I have fallen deeply in love with the rest of this author’s books. However, The Kingdoms didn’t quite reach the same level of greatness for me, mainly because it felt rushed. I would have appreciated some more time dedicated to building the characters so that their actions felt real instead of plot convenient. I still really liked the characters because there’s just something about Pulley’s way of writing them that I can’t resist, although I didn’t like them as much as characters from her other books. Maybe that is also why I was less inclined to excuse some of the minor technical aspects of the book that I didn’t think worked properly. Again the rushed-ness played a role in the world-building where we start the story in a French-ruled England. The book doesn’t really dwell on that much, which is sad because that’s such a unique premise to have. It might have worked better as a series because I also didn’t feel the book had the time to explore such a topic.
At this point you might be wondering why I still gave the book 4 stars. Well, it’s Natasha Pulley and I love her writing! I also love that it is a book that takes risks. No, not everything pays off and a lot of readers aren’t going to like the book because of that, but I love when I can see an author pushing boundaries. There’s also an amnesia plot line in the book that was really well done and kept me hooked. So no, this isn’t my favorite book by this author but I’m still very much in love.
Author: Everina Maxwell
Published: February 2nd, 2021
Genre: Science Fiction
Buzzwords: Arranged marriage, cultural differences, complicated political alliances, opposites attract romance
Synopsis: While the Iskat Empire has long dominated the system through treaties and political alliances, several planets, including Thea, have begun to chafe under Iskat’s rule. When tragedy befalls Imperial Prince Taam, his Thean widower, Jainan, is rushed into an arranged marriage with Taam’s cousin, the disreputable Kiem, in a bid to keep the rising hostilities between the two worlds under control.
But when it comes to light that Prince Taam’s death may not have been an accident, and that Jainan himself may be a suspect, the unlikely pair must overcome their misgivings and learn to trust one another as they navigate the perils of the Iskat court, try to solve a murder, and prevent an interplanetary war… all while dealing with their growing feelings for each other.
A very sweet story, but also a bit bland. It doesn’t exactly do anything unexpected and is more of a feel-good, turn-your-brain-off kind of book. Those are rarely my thing but I still found this quite enjoyable. We got some interesting character interactions because of the arranged marriage plot line, so I was mainly into the book when we were dealing with that. I’m sad I wasn’t more interested in the political parts of the book because they took up a lot of it. I didn’t feel everything was explained in very great detail so whenever something happened, it felt random and convenient.
I liked the relationship between the two main characters but there were a few instances were I thought their problems with each other could easily have been solved if they just had a conversation. And they were often so close to having said conversation but were always interrupted. I always feel that’s a bit of a cheap way to create tension and it prevented me from being fully invested because I could clearly see how it would all be solved eventually. Still, the book is easy and sweet if that’s what you’re into.
That was it for this month. As always, feel free to share your thoughts about these books if you’ve read them. If you’re also obsessed with football at the moment, I’d love to talk about that as well. It has been a crazy tournament so far. But anyway, hope you all had a great month and happy reading in July!