Hello, fellow book nerds! It's that time of the month to look back at what we've read and what we're looking forward to next month.
This month was a bit strange for me. I had the release of Hale and Gemini to throw me all out of sorts (and a huge thank you to everyone who bought, downloaded, read, and reviewed!) and I had TWO books tossed in the DNF pile. TWO. That's crazy. Here's what I read, what I liked, and what I DNF'd (and why).
First up for July: Gemina!
I just couldn't stay away from this one a moment longer. I love the epistolary format with the mix of video feed transcription, IMs, and journal entries.
Kaufman and Kristoff did an excellent job (again) of creating fun, interesting characters and edge-of-your-seat action. There were really funny parts, scary parts, sad parts, and happy parts, too. I was head over heels for this one and CANNOT imagine what I was doing with life before I read it.
Next up, I read A Court of Mist and Fury. I've put this one off for a long while. Goodreads tells me I read A Court of Thorns and Roses way back in June 2016. But I didn't have a copy of A Court of Wings and Ruin and I didn't want to get stuck mid-series (and you guys know I hate to buy a hardback). But it was time and so I read it.
And it was AMAZING. I couldn't imagine how SJM could turn me off Tamlin and make me even glance in the direction of Rhysand, but she did both and then some. By the end, I was swooning hard and DESPERATE for ACOWAR, which I immediately ordered the dreaded hardback.
While I waited for my copy of ACOWAR to arrive, I dove into Portal of a Thousand Worlds. I picked up this book on whim at B&N way back in April in Texas visiting family. I loved the cover and the title and I was all kinds of excited for this strange little book I'd never heard about.
This book is told with an ancient style where everyone has nouns for names and throughout the multiple POVs, we get a picture of ancient China from an emperor/empress/whore/farmer/murderer/soldier and a bunch more. My only real disappointment was that the portal didn't really come into play until right at the end. I wanted to see all the worlds, dangit!
And then my (hardback) of A Court of Wings and Ruin finally came. Incidentally, my sister and brother-in-law happened into town on a last-minute, week-long visit. So I read the entirety of this book in my front yard while kids played.
And I loved EVERY MINUTE OF IT. It wasn't the breathless, soul-shattering amazing of ACOMAF, but I still cried at the end, not because it was necessarily sad, but because I was sad it was over and I don't get anymore Feyre or Rhysand or Azriel. I'll miss them forever.
I knew whatever book came after ACOWAR would be at a major disadvantage, so I chose a book I wasn't super excited about. I received this ARC of The Bear and the Nightingale at BookCon back in April, not because I'm a huge fan of the author or loved the title or anything. I just happened to be standing where they were passing them out and so I got one.
But it was really good. Way better than expected. It read like a fairytale whispered around a fire, and covered Vasya's life from birth to teen years (I think fourteen?) and all the events in between. I loved the story of the Frost King and the maiden and really loved how it was all woven together. My only complaint was that it took a while to get to the good stuff, but we did eventually get it!
I'll be honest. I don't love the cover of this one. It's not doing this story ANY favors. But I loved TSS/ODD, and so I was excited to get back into VS's delicious writing with A Darker Shade of Magic. And it did not disappoint!
She has a way of making people and places jump from the page, and Kell and Lila were perfect examples of her literary prowess. I loved the idea of four Londons and Antari that could go between. I also loved that Kell was both an orphan and a prince and that he was stuck in some grey area between the two. Lila was a bolt of much needed awesome and I was so glad to get to know both of them. Rest of series on order!
With the release of Hale and Gemini, I decided it was time to brush up on my marketing. Rather than keep doing the same old-same old, I wanted to check out what new things are going on in the industry lately.
5-Minute Book Marketing for Authors was a quick read (maybe 100 pages?) of tips and tricks on how to get more readers to your book page, how to showcase your book in the best way, and how to get readers coming back for more. I feel like I got a lot out of it for how short it was, and I'd definitely recommend it for any author looking to take a step toward selling more books.
In the same vein, I read Joanna Penn's Business for Authors. I would call this one a MUST READ for all authors. Whether big or small, hobbyist or best-seller, you NEED THIS BOOK.
From legals to financials to marketing to promotion, this book is stuffed full with great and necessary info. Some parts are a bit dry (legal/tax stuff), but they are super important and JP does a great job of giving you the gist and moving on without preamble.
If you haven't read this one, I definitely recommend it!
And now, sadly, on the DNF's. I think I have set aside less than ten books in my reading life. I'm one of those habitual finishers, even if I don't necessarily care for the story. There's a part of me that requires closure and knowing what happened, and so I just read it.
However, once in a blue moon, I'll get one like this that I just can't keep reading for the life of me. The Waking Land was also given out at BookCon, and again I had no idea what I was getting into. But I love fantasy and romance and this felt right up my alley.
And then I started reading. Elena is a political captive who is treated like family by only the king, who suddenly dies. When Elena is captured by her parents' allies, she rebels and insists on staying loyal to the king that raised her. Except, not really. There is a LOT of back-and-forthing, on every page, in every scene, in every chapter. I love the king, no I don't. I like these rebels, no they're dangerous. Between the whiny main character, predictable brooding hot guy, and long, drawn out sections of wishy-washiness, I just couldn't make myself go on. I slammed it shut, stuck it on a shelf, and there it sits (looking admittedly pretty). I know lots and LOTS of folks really liked this one, so I'm sure it was just a personal preference thing. But still, not for me.
The second book I DNF'd in July was The Iron Daughter. Now, this one is probably my fault. I didn't love The Iron King. I had to force myself to finish it. I hated Meghan's insta-love with Ash and the over- and multi-explaining of things. The chosen-one trope is so over used and it didn't feel like there was a lot going on to break it down into something new.
But this series is super successful and tons of readers love it, so I thought I'd give it another go and see if it got miraculously better in the second book.
Nope. Still insta-love and over-explaining. I think the first FIFTY pages were a summary of The Iron King. Why? Why did I have to read through that? It wasn't even particularly well written. Just a summary.
However, the reason I closed this one was Meghan herself. She's in 'love' with Ash who is a Class A D-Bag to her, makes it PERFECTLY clear that he doesn't want a future with her, and even if he did, they would both be killed for it. And she's still like 'But just give me a kiss!' and 'Take off your shirt!' and 'I just want to hold you!' and it was really painful to watch even a fictional character be so PATHETIC. Like what girl? Don't you have any self-respect? Can't you hold your head high and walk away?
I got the idea readers were supposed to feel sucked into the will-they/won't-they aspect of the romance, but in my case, it sent me running for the bookshelf for a new and less aggravating read.
Hopefully, I'll have better luck with choosing books I love in August. First up, I'm reading Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, and I'm pretty sure I'm the last person on the planet who hasn't read it. But here goes nothing! (I will do my absolute best not to ugly-cry in public!)
What books are you excited about reading in August?