Book chat

Book Chat: July 2020 Wrap Up

Taking a look at what Goodreads says that I finished in July, I was actually quite productive (reading-wise, at least!). Let’s have a look at what I read and what my thoughts are.

I’m always trying out new formats, so this will be a quite short post with the books listed in order of completion as per Goodreads. As always though, please feel free to leave a comment or contact me on Twitter if you want to hear any more of my thoughts 🙂

The Goblin Emperor – Katherine Addison – 3/5

  • I cannot actually explain how much I was looking forward to reading this one, but unfortuantely it wasn’t for me. It was too slow, didn’t contain as many fantastical elements as I was expected, and really just didn’t live up to the hype that it often receives (especially on r/fantasy) in my opinion.
  • I started reading it on my Kindle and then transferred to the audiobook to get through it a bit faster, but even then I just couldn’t connect with the characters of the narrative or their plight. The story itself was also quite predictable. The narration of the audiobook, however, was fairly decent and performed by Kyle McCarley. 
  • Everything is so slow, the fantastical elements… are minimal, the characters not all that well-developed (in the last 10% or so of the novel this changes, but itwas too little too late).
  • I can see why people like it, but it just isn’t for me I’m afraid.

The Way of Kings – Brandon Sanderson -5/5

  • Full marks, absolutely stunning. Don’t be put off by the length of this tome – it’s the longest book I’ve ever read (at over 1200 pages in my mass market edition) but it doesn’t feel like a chore at all.
  • I don’t want to gush, but basically this has everything that I could want in the first instalment of an epic fantasy series predicted to take many years to complete. It isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty damn close and that’s good enough for me to rate it 5/5.
  • I was absolutely enthralled in Sanderson’s masterful worldbuilding and (perhaps for the first time), his excellent characters and their development. The story is incredibly engaging and is presented almost like a blockbuster – lots of content and secrets to discover, nothing likely to lead the reader into an existential crisis (though certainly lots of philosophy, religion, and societal issues and questions to study), and the pacing. Oh the pacing.
  • The book is a chunkster and it starts quite slowly, but about 1/4 of the way through everything just clicked for me and I couldn’t stop. There are episodes which I could visualise easier than any other novel I can think of, and just when you think things are starting to slow down you’re hit with a new revelation or secret. Sanderson’s wiritng it not poetic, but it is engaging and he knows what he’s doing.
  • I cannot recommend this highly enough. I’m currently reading its sequel, Words of Radiance, as part of #StormAlong2020 (a readalong which aims to bring participants up to speed with the series before the release of the fourth book in November) and I’m loving it even more so far (about 25% of the way through). I’m already planning a re-read with the audiobooks in the not too distant future.

Less – Andrew Sean Greer – 4/5

  • This is an award winning short novel focusing on the journey of a gay man (his sexuality vital to his identity) as he tries to come to terms with hte state of his life and decide what he wants to do as he head towards 50 following a recent devastation. I won’t say any more as I really enjoyed diving into this with minimal context beforehand.
  • In short – just read this. It’s available at decent prices, there is loads of discussion about it online, and it is one of the best ‘low brow’ books I have read in the past few years that feels like it could very well easily elevate itself but chooses not to. I know that sounds pretentious, but hey, it’s how I felt (and there is nothing at all wrong with ‘low brow’ books, they make up 99% of what I read!).

And Then There Were None – Agatha Christie – 4/5

  • I grew up watching various Poirot TV specials and read The Murder of Roger Ackroyd a few years ago, so I knew what I was getting myself in for with this one – and I thoroughly enjoyed the story. A good old headscratcher.
  • The basic story is that a mixture of individuals are invited (for various reasons, by various people) to stay on a somehwat inaccessible island for a while and… well it isn’t long before someone dies and the rest have to try and find out the how and the why of what is going on. More importantly, how many others will die before the killer can be apprehended?
  • This was a truly thought-provoking mind tease of a novel, and I absolutely loved how it was split up – numerous short chapters each split into smaller sections. Each section tends to focus on different characters and throughout the course of the story we learn a fair bit about them (though it isn’t true development) and helps to maintain a high-paced narrative. The mystery is excellent, the hints thrown in really made me think about hwat was going on and try to work out who was doing the bad stuff (I was wrong!), and the overally novel well worth a read.
  • Definitely do not read ahead at all. I can be guilty of looking at the last sentence of a chapter (and indeed the odd novel), but doing so here will ruin the experience so don’t do it!
  • Some problematic content (mainly language choices to be honest) but nothing that detracts too much from the publication in my opinion.
  • Highly recommended.

BPRD Plague of Frogs, Volume 1 – 3.75/5

  • Definitely closer to 4 than 3.5, but certainly not worth anything higher in my opinion. The art is pretty consistently good but not overly amazing, which is not unexpected as this set includes numerous different creators running with a new(ish) (at least when first published) world and idea, so not at all surpirsed by the variations.
  • The stories in this volume are mostly entertaining, and when they get going they are really good, but unfortunately there were a few sections which I think lacked any real relevance to the tales (either in isolation or as part of the wider arc). This omnibus certainly ends much stronger than it starts.
  • Good exploration of various back stories and relationships, but th estart feels a bit too rushed and disconnected.
  • Generally pretty good, but not as amazing as the mainline Hellboy stories in my opinion by any stretch of the imagination. In fairness, this is the first volume of the wider BPRD world it’s clear that the crew were still finding their feet (both in terms of the creators and the characters).
  • I do think that the fatigue of reading so much of Mike Mignola’s world (aka the Mignolaverse) has well and truly set in at this point, so I am planning on taking a break of a couple of months before I carry on with the series.

Anyway, that was my pit-stop tour of what I finished reading in July 2020. I’m not too sure how much I like this format to be honest as it feels a bit like an essay draft – much more raw than what I usually post. We’ll see what I think in a few days/weeks when it comes time to start my August edition.

Please do let me know if you’ve read any of these – and link me to your own reviews/thoughts if you have them! Thanks 🙂

If you want to know what I plan on reading in August, click here. Or, click here for my June wrap up.

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