What are some of your favorite series?
I’m generally very picky about the books I buy, so you know I love all of these! And for those of you who have stuck around for a while, you won’t be surprised by my choices.
- The Raybearer duology
- This is a fantastic YA fantasy series that’s inspired by West-African mythology. If you’re usually into adult fantasy but want to delve into YA fantasy, this is a great place to start. It has a complex magic system and worldbuilding and a dynamic main character.
- The Forestborn duology
- Are you tired of me talking about the Forestborn duology yet? This duology has the perfect mix of great characters, adventure, shapeshifting, romance, and politics.
- The Legendborn Cycle
- This YA contemporary fantasy series has hard-hitting themes and a crazy amount of action and worldbuilding. It’s such a fun yet emotional series. Even if you’re not into King Arthur retellings, you should pick it up.
- The Defy the Night series
- Defy the Night is pure fun. It has a plague, enemies-to-lovers (that’s technically enemies-to-lovers to friends-to-lovers and back again) and plenty of court politics.
- The Drowning Empire series
- This adult fantasy series has multiple POVs, an animal sidekick, bone magic, a heavy dose of mysteries, a revolution, and (you guessed it) drowning islands. If you’re looking for a unique read, I haven’t read anything else quite like it.
Some series not included in the picture include the A Court of Thorns and Roses series, which has enough hype without me talking it up even more, the Six of Crows duology, and the YA sci-fi series The Infinity Courts.
I hope you all have had a great reading month so far. It feels like January has been crawling by!
“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are far more than our abilities.” -Albus Dumbledore
It’s been cold and rainy here for June. But it’s been the perfect weather to re-read Harry Potter. Just put me on the Hogwarts Express and take me to Scotland, please.
I found myself comparing this book to the movie adaptation (which seems to be a trend, considering I did the same thing for the first book). Out of all the movies, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is known for being the closest to the book. And while there were bound to be some differences in the details, I still found the movie to be true to the book.
I’m comparing it to the movie simply because, like most people on the planet, I have seen the Harry Potter movies over and over again, so often that I have most of them memorized. While I’ve re-read Harry Potter in the past, it’s a lot harder to read and memorize 7 books than it is to watch and memorize 8 movies.
Of course, the books have so much more subtext. On this re-read, I loved noticing all of the foreshadowing and the details that will come into play later in the series.
I also think it’s imporant to note that Harry is picked on and disliked by a group of Hufflepuffs in this book, when they believe that Harry is the heir of Slytherin. While Rowling certainly typecasted Slytherin as a walking house of bullies, I feel like the movies play this up even more. It’s also important to note that the books are mostly from Harry’s point-of-view, so of course the Slytherins are going to seem more villianish.
Overall, I’m enjoying this series re-read just as much as I thought I would, and I can’t wait to read more!
Anna: I’m sorry to say that I was so disappointed by this! In the vein of 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘊𝘶𝘳𝘴𝘦𝘥 𝘊𝘩𝘪𝘭𝘥, 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘛𝘦𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘴 read like a total money grab. I really enjoyed 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘏𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘮𝘢𝘪𝘥’𝘴 𝘛𝘢𝘭𝘦, and in no way did 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘛𝘦𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘴 feel like its sequel. For one, 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘛𝘦𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘴 lacks the tension and literary weight of 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘏𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘮𝘢𝘪𝘥’𝘴 𝘛𝘢𝘭𝘦 in every way.
𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘏𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘮𝘢𝘪𝘥’𝘴 𝘛𝘢𝘭𝘦 is slow-paced and slowly reveals the horror of the dystopian world of Gilead. 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘛𝘦𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘴, on the other hand, is pace-y, dialogue heavy, and driven mostly by plot. It completely lacks the dark, creeping so prevalent in 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘏𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘮𝘢𝘪𝘥’𝘴 𝘛𝘢𝘭𝘦.
Set fifteen years after 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘏𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘮𝘢𝘪𝘥’𝘴 𝘛𝘢𝘭𝘦, 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘛𝘦𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘴 is told in three perspectives. There’s Agnes, who grows up in a prominent family in Gilead; Daisy; living in the free country of Canada; and, wait for it… the third is Aunt Lydia’s perspective. My biggest problem is Aunt Lydia’s storyline, which just wasn’t believable for me. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but I just didn’t buy any of it. The other two perspectives were interesting enough. That is, until they started to overlap, which is where I really think this book fell apart.
Unfortunately, I came away from this feeling that Atwood was forced into this book in response to the show. I’m so sad–I really wanted to love this!
VERDICT: 3 stars
In the age of JK Rowling, who has exploited her wold and characters for everything that she can (disclaimer, I still love the original Harry Potter books), I feel that having a bestselling book or series isn’t enough any more. The new Hunger Games book coming out this year, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, is a prime example. It’s a prequel to the series that reveals the backstory of President Snow. I’m so over prequels and have no desire to read this. I think that sometimes there’s value in letting a good book or series stand on it’s own. I know things like book deals and an author’s career are part of this, but I think I’ll be avoiding any long-awaited add ons to old favorites for a while.
Anna: The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan has major Lord of the Rings and The Name of the Wind vibes. It’s perfect if you’re looking for a new high fantasy series to lose yourself in!
Set in an atmospheric Middle Earth-esque world, Rand lives with his father on a farm in the Two Rivers, a village deep in the woods and far from anything. When an Ades Sedei, a female wizard-like being who can harness the One Power, visits the village during their spring festival, the villagers fear rumors of darkness stirring is true. At the same time, a strange cloaked figures haunt Rand. When dark creatures attack the village, and Rand and his friends are forced to flee, launching them on an epic 800-page adventure.
Faced paced, full of strong female characters and an epic story of good versus evil, I really enjoyed immersing myself in this world and this story. I’m not sure if I have the stamina to read the next 13 Wheel of Time books, but I’d definitely try another, especially with the show in the works!
VERDICT: 4 books
I’m here again to gush about this great book. It took me a month to read–partly because it’s dense and partly because I wanted to savor it. I loved My Brilliant Friend, but it took me a year to get to book two. I’m going to make it a priority to finish the series in 2019!
VERDICT: 5 Stars
This is the second book in the Neopolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante, translated by Ann Goldstein. I’m not going to get into much of the plot, because I don’t want to spoil anything. While My Brilliant Friend told of Elena and Lila’s childhood together growing up in a poor working-class village in Naples, My Brilliant Friend follows them as Elena goes to university, and Lila navigates her new marriage. This book deals with the the effects of education, wealth, and marriage on people and their relationships. What I love about these books is that above all they’re about the complicated but unbreakable bonds of female friendship, and two friends who won’t let sexism and poverty dictate their lives.
When I was a pre-teen or teen, the Matt Cruse trilogy was one of my favorite series. Airborn, the first in the series, is a YA adventure with a Titanic vibe and an undercurrent of zoology, set in an early 1900’s alternate reality where airships are the primary mode of transportation. I know, interesting, right?
As I re-read this, I remember how much I enjoyed the story and the characters. Lately, about 90% of the books I’ve been reading have been from a female POV, and this is a good change of pace. Airborn is from the POV of Matt, a 15-year-old cabin boy of the airship Aurora. The story follows Matt on his adventures with a girl he meets named Kate as they try to track down a mysterious winged creature mentioned in a journal of a dying ballooinst. I really enjoy both Matt’s character and POV, as well as Kate’s curious and spunky character.
This story is pure action-adventure, complete with pirates and a surivival storyline. I recommend reading the other two books in the series, as well. The series only becomes more interesting as the characters grow older and space travel gets involved!
Anna: 2019 has unfortunately been off to a slow reading start for me—I’ve just been so busy this week! Here’s what I’ve found time to dive into, regardless.
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo is the conclusion to the Six of Crows Duology, which made it onto Alexis’s top reads of 2018. I read Six of Crows over the summer, but I have a bad habit of never finishing series, which I hope to amend this year. We also got this book signed by Bardugo herself! I haven’t read YA fantasy in a while and am immensely enjoying the fantastic character building.
I also just started reading Grant Park by Leonard Pitts Jr. My fiance and I chose this for our monthly “book club.” I don’t think I’ve ever read a political thriller, so I’m excited for this one!