What I’m Reading: Early November Part 1

Hello, there!  I’m back and ready to share this past month’s batch of reads.  I’m running a bit behind, so this will come in two parts.  Keep a lookout for the next installment sometime next week!  Enjoy, and be sure to let me know what you’ve been reading in the comments.


Even the Darkest Stars by Heather Fawcett

After reading the premise of this book, I was so in.  A Himalayan fantasy adventure story?  I needed this in my life.  The book, however, was a bit of a letdown.  The best part about it was the world that Fawcett creates–the magic, cultures, and history were engrossing.  The story was strongest at the beginning and end, with a middle that dragged so much that I almost put the book down.  I also found the description of the book misleading–it implies that Kamzin was the first pick to go with River on his great expedition and that’s what instigated the adventure.  When, really, he only picked her because her sister had already run off.  I REALLY don’t appreciate being mislead like this.  Also, I could have done without the romance.  It didn’t feel authentic.  Will I read the next book when it comes out?  Maybe, but probably not.

Ice Out by Mary Casanova

My library system is currently in the midst of a region-wide reading program centered around this book.  I lead a book discussion on it a few weeks ago, which was really fun!  Ice Out is the story of a young man named Own coming of age in a town on the Minnesota-Canadian boarder during the era of Prohibition.  Fueled by ambition, Owen borrows a significant amount of money to open an automobile dealership.  When his father dies, Owen makes a series of foolish choices and falls further into debt.  He becomes deeply entangled in the local bootlegging operation and has to find his way out.  The book was very well written and researched.  I really enjoyed it.  My favorite parts were the interludes between chapters that described the gradual weather changes (which, of course, reflect the internal state of the main characters).  Those sections captured the essence of Minnesota, which I loved.

The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

This is a collection of folktales set in Bardugo’s Grishaverse.  Each tale is rooted in one of her fictional countries, but loosely inspired by a story from our world.  While you catch glimpses of familiar stories like Hansel and Gretel, The Little Mermaid, and The Nutcracker, each story is all uniquely its own.  Each was deeply engrossing, almost like a miniature feast.  I could only handle one at a time, they were so rich.  The artwork in the collection is also breathtaking.  Doodles in the margins grow with each page, with new details constantly emerging into full-page illustrations.  The art is a reason in and of itself to read this book.  My favorite stories were the Soldier Prince and When Earth Sang Fire.

One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake

I’ve been looking forward to this book since I finished Three Dark Crowns a year ago.  My favorite thing about this series is the world building–I was sucked into the mysterious Fenburn Island with its pagan goddess and barbaric traditions.  In this installment, the three queens begin their ascension year where only one will come out alive.  I loved the characters and, since they’re in such a dark tale, desperately wanted everyone to come out okay.  There were so many plot twists in this story, I never knew where it would go next.  I fully expected the end to wrap up neatly, but there was a lot left unsettled.  Now I just have to wait for the next installment…

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