“My parlot smelled of linseed oil and spike lavender, and a dab of lead tin yellow glistened on my canvas.”First line in An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson
We’re not quite done with October yet but I’m not finishing any more books this month, so I figured I might as well post this wrap-up today. It has been a very unremarkable month for me and that’s another way for me to say that I remember nothing about it and could have sworn it was September yesterday. I got into playing The Sims, which is a very dangerous thing because suddenly all my reading time was gone, but if you’ve ever had a Sims-phase, you know you just can’t decide to stop. I still got some reading done as you can tell from my stats:
It looks like a very typical month for me and I clearly loved most of what I read. One of the books read was a re-read, The Serpent Gift by Lene Kaaberbøl, which means I only have one book left in my re-read of that series from my childhood. But that leaves this wrap-up with four mini-reviews of the books I read in October.
The Bitter Twins (The Winnowing Flame Trilogy #2)
Author: Jen Williams
Published: March 8th, 2018
Check out the synopsis for the first book in the series, The Ninth Rain, on Goodreads.
I sense some middle-book syndrome. Or at least that’s what I hope so that the final book is better than this. I keep mentioning world-building when I talk about these books, and it IS really interesting but I’m starting to think that it takes up too much of these books. In this one, I definitely felt that the characters drowned in all the information presented to us about the world. There is little to no character development and most conversations between the characters serve an information-sharing purpose rather than character exploration. Then the world and the plot can be as amazing as it wants to be, but if the character work is poor, I’m not going to care about any of it. Still, my love for the characters was founded in the first book, so I still wanted to read about them. The way they were written in this one, though, was very frustrating. You know when you’re waiting for certain scenes to happen and you’ve just been looking forward to them for several hundred pages… and then the author skips them or tell about them in a flashback. That happened a lot, so me and Jen Williams clearly aren’t on the same page about what’s important in these books.
Finally, that middle-book feeling also came into play in terms of the plot where I felt that there were some awkward developments in order to stretch the problems into a third book. Basically, I still see no reason why our heroes weren’t annihilated at the beginning of this second book, but I guess the reason is just “well, then there would be no book”. I’m pretty sure it’s negligible if you love the world, but I needed great characters to distract me.
The King of Crows (The Diviners #4)
Author: Libba Bray
Published: February 4th, 2020
Genre: YA Fantasy
Check out the synopsis for the first book in the series, The Diviners, on Goodreads.
Despite a general feeling of this book being too long, I still quite enjoyed it. Writing atmosphere is definitely Bray’s strong suit and I loved both how eerie she made the whole book feel and also the way she captured the atmosphere of 1920s America. Those two combined make the book feel quite unique and I also kept thinking that not every writer could do this. I often pay attention to the language of the characters, especially in historical novels, and I could just tell how much research had gone into it to make it right. I appreciate details like that.
The best part of these books is how they deal with modern issues in their historical setting, and I really liked this final book’s messages and themes. It’s a tricky thing, but Libba Bray just makes it feel very natural for these things to appear where I’ve often seen other authors try to shoehorn modern morals into their books and thereby ruin my historical immersion.
However, it is a very long book, of course, made so because there are so many main characters. It could definitely have been handled worse, but I did feel that the story drowned a bit in all the characters who needed to have their moment(s). That has been my feeling with the other books as well, so it’s not that this is particularly bad or anything. It just felt like I had to sit through it longer.
An Enchantment of Ravens
Author: Margaret Rogerson
Published: September 27th, 2017
Genre: YA Fantasy
Buzzwords: Fae, artist MC, romance
Synopsis: With a flick of her paintbrush, Isobel creates stunning portraits for a dangerous set of clients: the fair folk. These immortal creatures cannot bake bread or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and they trade valuable enchantments for Isobel’s paintings. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—Isobel makes a deadly mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes, a weakness that could cost him his throne, and even his life.
Furious, Rook spirits Isobel away to his kingdom to stand trial for her crime. But something is seriously amiss in his world, and they are attacked from every side. With Isobel and Rook depending upon each other for survival, their alliance blossoms into trust, perhaps even love . . . a forbidden emotion that would violate the fair folks’ ruthless laws, rendering both their lives forfeit. What force could Isobel’s paintings conjure that is powerful enough to defy the ancient malice of the fairy courts?
Isobel and Rook journey along a knife-edge in a lush world where beauty masks corruption and the cost of survival might be more frightening than death itself.
I read this book because I was in the mood for a short book with a sweet but forbidden romance between loveable characters. And that’s exactly what I got. The book isn’t at all perfect, but knowing it was a debut from an author whose second book I dearly love, I felt myself willing to forgive a lot. However, I can understand if other readers feel the heroine is a bit bland, the romance a bit forced and the world-building a bit lacking. I did really like the two main characters, though, and thought they had some cute banter although there could have been more of it. That and the beautifully written atmosphere made it quite an enjoyable read still.
The Mad Ship (Liveship Traders #2)
Author: Robin Hobb
Published: March 1999
Check out the synopsis for the first book in the series, The Ship of Magic, on Goodreads.
This book just works. I was a little apprehensive after the first book, but the sequel was just so engaging. I’d say that the pacing is still as slow as in the first book, but I felt there was more of a direction to the plot and the way the characters were developed. I could tell what the purpose of each chapter was so that tiny sense of boredom I had reading the first book wasn’t an issue here. Then you also just have the immense depth of each character that kept me reading even if the plot took its time to develop. Of course, I had my favorite characters that I’d rather spend time with but there’s nothing to fault the book on there. It’s just me preferring single POV stories. Still, I’m very excited to see how it all ends!
That was all for October. November is right around the corner and for me, that means getting into the Christmas spirit but also slowly dying at work, so a great balance. But let me know if you’ve read any of my October books or if you plan to. My favorite of the month was probably The Mad Ship because Hobb can do no wrong.
I hope you all have a great November and read some amazing books!