4 out of 5 stars. The most recent in my V.E. Schwab reading obsession, Vicious is a dark comic book-esque story of ordinary people who, through extreme trauma, become ExtraOrdinary. Victor Vale is out for revenge. Eli Ever thinks he’s doing God’s work. And caught up between their single-minded pursuits to stab the hell out of each other are a cast of interesting and complex side characters.
3 out of 5 stars. I wish I liked this more than I did, but I sat down the second Volume halfway through and have had 0 interest in picking it back up again. Sana Takeda’s painting-like artwork is gorgeous and vivid, bringing the world of Monstress to life in exquisite detail, but that’s where my interest in this both begins and ends. The gorgeous artwork carried me through this, but I feel as if I was dropped into the middle of the story with this volume–so much so that the “twist” at the end simply left me feeling confused. Why should I care exactly? What could the character motivations here possibly be? I’m not invested enough in the characters by this point to legitimately want the answers to this question, which is why I’m struggling so hard to finish the second volume, I think.
The art really is beautiful, though. I’m not “good” at reading comics (I normally catch myself focusing only on the text bubbles), but Takeda’s work is so compelling that I would’ve gladly flipped through only for the wonderful details. I’ll wrap up the second volume soon, I think, but given how much praise this comic has received I was quite surprised to see that I wasn’t more invested. Probably just not my cup of tea!
5 out of 5 stars. City of Ghosts is a cute, quick little read that I really enjoyed my time with, despite its simplicity. Very obviously targeted at a much younger age group, Schwab’s vivid attention to detail still shines through, creating an enchanting little ghost world for Cassidy and Jacob to explore. This world coupled with the usual charming characters and Schwab’s solid skill with writing make this worth reading even as an adult. It will take you about an hour or two to get through, so why not! Read it. Admire how cute Cassidy and Jacob are. Buy a few copies for the adventure-loving kids in your life who are more interested in the morbid side (as a pre-teen, I’m certain I would’ve just devoured this book. It is exactly my style).
4 out of 5 stars. Ocean’s Eleven meets Avatar: The Last Airbender, Six of Crows follows Kaz Brekker and his daring team of thieves and renegades as they take on the biggest job of their lives–break into a high security prison and retrieve a scientist named Bo Yul-Bayur. With enough cash on the line to ensure all six of them are able to leave their life of crime behind, they’ll do anything to make sure they succeed.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Epic fantasy at its finest, The Way of Kings has one of the most engaging and well-thought-out fantasy worlds I think I’ve ever read. From page one it’s setting up the universe and its rules, from how magic works to the specialized weapons and armor that the rich or the lucky wield to devastating effect. I am absolutely in love with the level of detail Sanderson pours into this world right from the start.
The characters, likewise, are relatable and complex, each having their own flaws and motivations that make them all engaging. I don’t believe there was a single one I was tired of reading about when the point of view shifted, a problem that plagued other fantasy series I’ve read shift viewpoints so frequently. Part of this has to be attributed to the work of Michael Kramer and Kate Reading as narrators – they are both incredible at what they do. Their character voices are distinct yet clear, their descriptions and emotional investment are such that the reader gets a very good feel of how Kaladin or Shallan feel in that moment. The limited number of viewpoint characters also helps cement those feelings of attachment. I’ve always struggled with epic fantasy novels that jump between some dozen characters, so sticking to the core group helped with this.
On the note of shifting viewpoints, I did love the interlude chapters perhaps just as much as the main plot. These little glimpses into other parts of the world were all fascinating and I hope we get to see these paths cross as the series continues.
At 50%, however, I started to fall off a bit. Each character had been stuck in their situation for what felt like forever, slowly picking away at the conflict they faced. The pay off in each character’s story was worth it, but I did sit this one down for a few months, disinterested in getting through that hurdle in the middle. Things pick back up at about the 75% mark and continue steadily onward to the end from there, with plenty of surprises to keep you on your toes. The Way of Kings isn’t entirely unpredictable, but there’s just enough twists to generate tons of interest in the second book of the series, Words of Radiance. I’ve already got it lined up on Audible and will be getting a physical copy to follow along with as well, though I think I’ll be taking a break from the Stormlight Archives for a bit. I try to avoid reading all the books of a series in a row since I know I’ll burn out on it (looking at you, Game of Thrones).
Overall, The Way of Kings is a really great fantasy series. Sanderson’s world building holds up to its reputation, giving us just enough to intrigue us while still creating a deeply complex world. With clever writing and well-rounded characters, Sanderson does a great job setting up a world and hooking you right into it. Power through the slow middle – or take a break like I did – and it’ll all be worth it in the end.
On to book two!
Last week was a quiet week from me, but there’s a good reason for that… we’re buying a house! Well, we’re beginning the process of buying a house, and now need to deal with all the un-glamorous parts of buying a house that no one tells you about. Like inspections and appraisals and spending more money than you can even wrap your head around. So my last few weeks have been crammed full of pouring over listings, scheduling showings, and conversations with mortgage consultants and realtors. It’s been chaos!
As a result, May just flew past. It was like I blinked and it was gone. Luckily for me, I had a week long vacation somewhere in all that insanity, and during that time I got some good reading in. So I do have some books to talk about! Just not nearly as many as I’d hoped for, given it being a vacation month, but ah well. Thaaat’s life.
But enough about boring old life stuff, let’s talk about BOOKS.
It’s time for a BOOK HAUL! This month would’ve been a “no buy” month for me, but I wanted to temporarily cancel my Audible subscription. The credits you build up will disappear when you cancel, so I used them up on a bit of a random spread before doing that. I also picked up one paper book on a whim this month for a total of five new books. That’s… pretty terrible for a no buy month, but the credits hardly count, right?