“Oh dear,” said Linus Baker, wiping sweat from his brow.First line in The House in the Cerulean Sea by T. J. Klune
We’ve completed another month this year (yay), and so it’s time for my reading wrap up for August. This is where I share mini-reviews for the books I read this past month and share some statistics on my reading. So let’s start with the stats.
As you can tell, I had a pretty extraordinary reading month. I read 7 books instead of my usual 5, but funnily enough, it didn’t translate to more pages read. I actually read 80 less than in July. It was a month of short books for me, which isn’t unexpected since I read Oathbringer (1,220 pages) in July. In even better news, though, is that the quality of my reading was amazing. Out of the 7 books, there was only one that I didn’t really love, but I’m okay with that when the rest turned out to be so brilliant.
Personally, I’m also proud of myself for finishing two series this month. That means I get to start new ones, right? (Don’t worry, I already did). But enough about stats.
I finished my reread of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban this month, and there will not be a mini-review for that. It means that I have 6 mini-reviews for you so enjoy.
Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men
Author: Caroline Criado Perez
Published: March 7th 2019
Buzzwords: Feminism, people in power forgetting women exist
Synopsis: Imagine a world where your phone is too big for your hand, where your doctor prescribes a drug that is wrong for your body, where in a car accident you are 47% more likely to be seriously injured, where every week the countless hours of work you do are not recognised or valued. If any of this sounds familiar, chances are that you’re a woman.
Invisible Women shows us how, in a world largely built for and by men, we are systematically ignoring half the population. It exposes the gender data gap – a gap in our knowledge that is at the root of perpetual, systemic discrimination against women, and that has created a pervasive but invisible bias with a profound effect on women’s lives.
I don’t usually read non-fiction so don’t take my rating too seriously. It’s merely a reflection of how much I want other people to read this book! It talks so much about how many aspects of our daily life are designed to benefit men and not women because it’s assumed that if something works for men it must work for all. And the author provides so many examples. Each example might seem small and insignificant, but when you have 100 small things that complicate women’s lives, you can’t just ignore everything.
As a woman, this was a very frustrating read because it really made me aware of how much work we still have left to do to reach gender equality. I’m personally very privileged to be living in Denmark where I’m not as disadvantaged for being a woman as women elsewhere. However, a lot of the issues in this book are not country-specific but matter worldwide, such as the lack of research in women’s bodies.
If you’re interested in learning more about feminism, I highly recommend this read.
Firestarter (Timekeeper #3)
Author: Tara Sim
Published: January 15th 2019
Genre: YA Fantasy
Read the synopsis for the first book in the series, Timekeeper, on Goodreads.
There was something about this book that kept it from reaching the same awesomeness level as the first two books in the trilogy. Which is quite sad really. I especially felt that the plot was a little bit of a mess as there was never a clear direction to it. New plot lines were introduced in the last half of the book and those we had been working on in book two were discarded. There was also a certain trope involving the villain in this that I just never like so that dampened my enjoyment a bit.
What I still love about the series and this book are its characters and its magic system. Those were still great in the final book and we got to see a lot of development in both. There were also a lot of new characters introduced in this one, and I could tell that Sim wanted me to care about them by giving me their backstory… but I didn’t. They were fine but they weren’t necessary in my opinion.
It’s still a trilogy I highly recommend. Even though this final book was lacking in some areas it never failed to keep my attention. There were high stakes and action all the way through.
Author: Patrick Ness
Published: June 2nd 2020
Genre: YA Fantasy
Buzzwords: DRAGONS!, 1950’s
Synopsis: Sarah Dewhurst and her father, outcasts in their little town of Frome, Washington, are forced to hire a dragon to work their farm, something only the poorest of the poor ever have to resort to.
The dragon, Kazimir, has more to him than meets the eye, though. Sarah can’t help but be curious about him, an animal who supposedly doesn’t have a soul, but who is seemingly intent on keeping her safe.
Because the dragon knows something she doesn’t. He has arrived at the farm with a prophecy on his mind. A prophecy that involves a deadly assassin, a cult of dragon worshippers, two FBI agents in hot pursuit—and somehow, Sarah Dewhurst herself.
I loved this! And I was so surprised by that. It has a synopsis that doesn’t really give you much, and I would also definitely recommend going into it knowing as little as possible. Just trust that Patrick Ness will mesmerize you. If that’s not quite enough, I have a review to let you know about more of my thoughts.
Drowned Country (The Greenhollow Duology #2)
Author: Emily Tesh
Published: August 18th 2020
Read the synopsis for the first book in the series, Silver in the Wood, on Goodreads.
I want more!
There’s a change of POV character from the first book which means that the feel and focus of the book are a little different. Not bad different, though. It explores different aspects of what it means to be human and thereby feels like a natural continuation of the first book.
It still portrays a dark and magical atmosphere that will draw you in and make you wonder why you don’t already live in a forest. Tesh also really took the fairy tale concept and ran with it when she created this story. She explores it in quite a unique way by going back to its roots.
Obviously going to read whatever Tesh publishes in the future.
The House in the Cerulean Sea
Author: T. J. Klune
Published: March 17th 2020
Buzzwords: magical children, orphanage, fighting prejudice
Synopsis: A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.
Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.
When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.
But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.
Yes, everyone else has been giving this book 5 stars, but not me, of course. I really wanted to love it so I’m incredibly disappointed that I only found it… okay. My biggest issue is probably that it’s a Middle Grade disguised as an adult book, and I don’t care for Middle Grade books. I don’t want to read about children and they play a very significant role in this book. The story in itself also seems very juvenile and simple. It was very easy for me to predict what was going to happen and the “conflicts” weren’t actually conflicts. Everything was solved fairly easily, and it left me quite bored because why should I care then?
But it is a very sweet book. If that all you require of a book, then yes, you should read this. If you’re an adult who loves reading Middle Grade, this would probably be perfect. I only had a few problems with the writing style as I sometimes felt the author gave too much unnecessary information that would either make to story drag or ruin a perfectly good joke by over-explaining it.
This was my first book by T. J. Klune and even though it wasn’t a complete hit, I’m willing to try something else by him in the future.
The Bone Ships (The Tide Child #1)
Author: R. J. Barker
Published: September 24th 2019
Buzzwords: Naval adventure, sea dragons, violence everywhere, society outcasts
Synopsis: Two nations at war. A prize beyond compare.
For generations, the Hundred Isles have built their ships from the bones of ancient dragons to fight an endless war.
The dragons disappeared, but the battles for supremacy persisted.
Now the first dragon in centuries has been spotted in far-off waters, and both sides see a chance to shift the balance of power in their favour. Because whoever catches it will win not only glory, but the war.
I’m a little conflicted because, for the first half of this book, I was sure I was giving it 5 stars. The world-building is amazing. There was so much to learn about this unique world of sea-faring warriors that I was always eager to continue reading. It’s very much a world that looks at gender differently than we’re used to. That aside, it’s also a very brutal world in a way that I would almost classify as Grimdark (although I don’t know much about the sub-genre). The characters in here aren’t nice. They’re not sweet cinnamon rolls… but I liked them anyway? It’s very unusual for me, which I think is a testament to how well they’re written.
I took off a star because the latter half fell a little flat. Here I feel like I need to say that I don’t usually enjoy naval stories, so when the story shifted to be more about ship battles, it kind of lost me. Not that I hated the last part, but my level of excitement wasn’t anywhere what it was for the first part. It’s difficult for me to tell whether that was due to my own reading taste or something about the book. It’s still a book I highly recommend. Of course, especially if you like fantasy books about ships. I’ll definitely be reading the second book.
That was an incredible month for me. Really happy with what I read and hope I can carry that spirit into September. Let me know if you’ve read any of these or if you plan to. Happy reading!