Notable Reads of Summer 2017

Pregnancy replaced Reading with baby paraphernalia research This fall, but I did enjoy several great books last summer.

Princess Academy (Princess Academy, #1)Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hale is quickly becoming a favourite author. Her command of language is exceptional--she pulls you along with such vivid imagery, and yet the words are stripped down and deceptively simple.

Beautiful story of worth and finding humour and courage in the awkward moments. I love it when I can read a new fairy tale, and this one of singing stone is a keeper.

The Bear and the Nightingale (Winternight Trilogy, #1)The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Enchanting. So many old folk tales spun anew in this debut that I could not put down!

There were no straw villains. Each character was thoughtfully faceted and, though there was a large cast, I could understand motive, cause and effect.

We hate the things we secretly are. Isn't our hypocrisy ironic? It's easier to condemn others than to condemn ourselves. And we fear what we don't understand.

I love this brave, headstrong heroine who still needed help and comfort and encouragement, could NOT do it all by herself, and yet finds the strength to save herself and others. Well done, highly recommend!

The MementoThe Memento by Christy Ann Conlin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lush gothic storytelling with a disturbingly riveting mystery. One dislike is the use of rape as a plot device, though the cause and effect of cyclical abuse and promiscuous behaviour is devastatingly realistic. After waiting the whole book long to understand how Fancy Mosher's "memento" would manifest, I was a little disappointed with some trope-y reveals of "he's actually your father/brother"...

Besides that, there was so much to love. Based in Nova Scotia? Around an enormous mansion full of secrets, surrounded by a hedge maze and labyrinth gardens? 😍 Before all goes awry, there is such a wistful description of simple childhood bliss: of berry picking and sampler embroidery and making pies and distilling rose water. Magical. Reminded me a little of The Thirteenth Tale.

Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a heist. What a plot! I was slackjawed by the sheer brilliance of Kaz Brekker, the agility of Inej, the wiles of Nina, and their wrenching complexity of character. Each page, I kept thinking to myself, "THIS. THIS, is how you write."

Every chapter is written from the perspective of a different character, which technically is a no-no, as few can do it well without confuzzling the reader. But it adds SO much. It actually saves the author from telling you much, because you are SHOWN things through different lenses. I don't even want to comment on the plot, or even give anyone a hint of what it's all about, because the whole book feels like a magic show. To tell you anything would rub the glint off the next trick around the corner...

What I will say is that the first chapter drew me in, with the barest minimum of worldbuilding, but Chapter 2 smacks you full across the face with foreign names, words, realms, and it requires a clear head to keep up. But once the characters tug your heartstrings...there's no turning back.

Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2)Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

WOW. Who needs a trilogy when you pull off the 2nd in a duology so well?? Bardugo, THANK YOU for writing characters who have hard, realistic consequences to their difficult choices. Thank you for showing corruption, political futility, rebellion, and prejudice. Thank you for giving us hope in broken people, fresh starts, forgiveness, self-sacrifice, teamwork, and trust.

Have you ever wondered what you would do if you were... kidnapped? Tortured? Blackmailed? Forced to betray those you loved?

Well, even if you haven't, you need to read this book.

I can't say enough. The characters are still alive in my head. I think they may always live there. I hope my own books can accomplish even a fraction of this masterpiece.