Right, well, I keep saying this blog’s hiatus is over and then failing to actually post, but this is it. I’m gonna do it. August, I’ve decided, is going to be a GOOD MONTH for this blog. Which means I should probably read some stuff, because I’ve been a bit lax about reading lately.
I’ve got a handful of reviews of things I’ve read in the past few months that I’ll put up soon, but I thought I should start with some mini-reviews of books I read in July, ones I don’t plan to review fully. This is mostly things I read from the library, rather than ARCs, for which I try and write proper reviews, but it’s a bit of a mixed bunch.
First up: A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas. I have a very mixed relationship with Maas’s work, to be honest, and I was fairly ambivalent about reading this because ACOWAR was something of a letdown for me and I always feel like short installments in larger series are nothing but money-spinners. But when I found my library had this as an ebook, I figured I had nothing to lose by giving it a go.
First up: it’s actually not that short. It’s definitely a novella rather than a short story or whatever (though I don’t know what the wordcount is), and its conciseness is one of its strengths. ACOWAR was significantly longer than it should have been, whereas this kept its plot within the range of its page count, and I appreciated that.
It does feel somewhat like canonical fanfic. I mean, it’s bizarrely cute, and it’s essentially a Christmas story, complete with snowball fights, present giving, and found family. I wouldn’t have been surprised to read something like this as a response to a fanfic prompt.
For the most part, I enjoyed it. Some of the sentences/paragraphs were weirdly short, and that got distracting at times, and while I understand the use of the terms ‘males’ and ‘females’ in context, I still cringe so hard every time that I become a turtle. But y’know. Apart from that, it was fun.
A Court of Frost and Starlight (Amazon)
I also read both Nevernight and Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff, which I’ve been wanting to read for a while but couldn’t afford at the time. (Again: libraries. Libraries are great. Though I got b2 because it was going cheap on Kindle.)
If you know me, you’ll know I’m a bit of a sucker for assassin stories, mostly because I’ve been working on one of my own for the last few years. I’m especially enthusiastic about teenage girls getting to be antiheroes, which is more or less exactly what this series gave me. Nevernight has a big focus on assassin training and competing among your peers, while Godsgrave has a whole gladiator thing going on, and neither of those are among my favourite tropes, but the humour, writing style, and general stabbiness still won me over.
I think I’d have enjoyed the footnotes more if I wasn’t reading on Kindle, though; substantial footnotes and ebooks don’t get on all that well.
I probably liked Godsgrave slightly better than Nevernight for romance reasons, but Nevernight had some excellent plot twists. Beware that both are fairly adult in content, not just because they’re stabby but also because there’s a fair amount of sex. (Though it’s less cringey than some I’ve read…)
Rating (for both): ****
Finally, a bit of a contrast: Wild Swans by Jessica Spotswood. I borrowed this from my library’s limited ebook loan system (I think it’s very cool that they have ebooks at all, but they don’t have a huge number that aren’t things I’ve already read). I picked it up because the blurb intrigued me — it sounded like some interesting family drama, and I thought it could be a nice change.
It was enjoyable enough, but it’s quite a romance-heavy contemporary and I felt the family aspects weren’t as well-developed as I’d have liked them to be. I enjoyed that angle, but things moved too quickly (basically, the protag finds out she has two half-sisters, and goes from hating them to caring a lot about them in no time at all, whereas I felt it could have been explored more gradually). And the romance, being as it was fairly conventional and therefore not really of interest to me as a romance-averse person, didn’t entirely win me over.
It’s probably a 2.5* read, with the caveat that it wasn’t really my genre and someone who is more into contemporaries and romance might have liked it a lot more.
Wild Swans (Amazon)
I’ll be back next week with some full-length reviews (I promise). I’ve also finally fixed the contact form on this blog so that emails no longer go into a void and remain unanswered for months at a time, so if you’d like to send me a copy of your book for review or whatever, you can contact me through there or by emailing miriam [at] miriamjoywrites [dot] com.
(I won’t always say yes, but you can definitely ask!)
All Amazon links are, as ever, affiliate links, so if you buy any of these books, I get a tiny commission at no extra cost to you, though I’d urge you to support your libraries and local bookshops if possible. As someone who lives in an area with no local bookshops, I understand the necessary evil of Amazon.
If you’d like to support me and this blog without supporting Amazon, I have a Ko-Fi account: