Reading Wrap-up: May 2017 Edition

It’s been a quiet month here on the blog and I’m going to try to rectify that for next month by being a bit more active post-wise in June, though I make no promises.    But I did read four new books in May, so let’s just dive right into my thoughts on those:

1) Den of Wolves by Juliet Marillier.  This is the concluding novel to Marillier’s latest series, Blackthorn and Grim.  And because it is the concluding novel, I don’t want to go into too much of the plot.  That being said, it kind of struck me by surprise that this was the last installment.  Based off of the premise set up within the first book, I was anticipating a series much longer than just three volumes, and when I sat down to start reading it I had no inkling that it was the final one.  Therefore the ending, when it did come, snuck up on me a bit – the suddenness with which it happened, not so much the events themselves.  I suspect this is partly due to the fact that I have read all but two of Marillier’s novels (Foxskin and Wolfmask are the exceptions, and a copy of each is currently sitting on my bookshelf, waiting to be read).  Therefore my familiarity with her writing style, coupled with the fact that all her stories pull heavily from fairytales and folklore and therefore obey the rules of the genre, mean that I am rarely surprised by the twists and turns her stories take.  But what keeps me coming back – the reason why I have an entire shelf devoted solely to her works – is the beauty with which she writes her books, the care and detail she takes in building her characters.  Something about the Blackthorn and Grim series that I really appreciated is that the titular heroes of the story are quite a bit older than nearly all the protagonists in her other works.  Admittedly this isn’t saying that much, since Blackthorn and Grim are most likely in their thirties, but when all her other narratives focus upon people in their teens and early twenties, the extra years Blackthorn and Grim have under their belts – not to mention the traumas they’ve endured and which drive them – lend the narrative a depth and nuance that’s different from what I’ve read in her other series.

2) Saga, Volume Seven by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples.  If you have not read any of the Saga graphic novel series, do yourself a favor and go find yourself a copy.  It is both epic space opera and intimate family drama, and it is gorgeous.  Though, I should warn you, it is for mature readers only.  Sex, violence, language, drug abuse, etc. – it’s got everything you can possibly imagine to damage fragile sensibilities.  But if none of those bother you, I suggest you get on board.  The description for Volume Seven markets it as a standalone installment and while that is technically true, it really does behove you to start at the beginning.  I think the emotional wallop Volume Seven packs will resonate regardless of whether or not you know the history of the rest of the series, but it will make it that much powerful if you’ve read the full story.

3) In the Labyrinth of Drakes by Marie Brennan.  What can I say about the Memoirs of Lady Trent series that I have not already said?  Continuing the theme in my blurbs above about Den of Wolves and Saga, this is an installment deep into the series and I don’t want to say too much.  Go read them all.  Do it now.  You won’t regret it.

4) Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.  The reason for my reading this book this month is as follows: after getting together with friends to watch the first episode of the American Gods TV show (which is AMAZING and you should all watch it), it came to my attention that everyone in the room had read Good Omens except me.  Which, as you can imagine, is a highly unusual occurrence on my part.  So a week or two later when I found myself in a bookstore (as I am wont to do), I picked up a copy.  And I promptly abandoned the other book I had started (which is dense and lengthy and will hopefully be included in my June wrap-up if I can hunker down to read it) and devoured this one instead.  I needed the break, and I was not disappointed. Whimsical, funny, and poignant.  Exactly what I expect from Neil Gaiman.  And now, apparently, from Terry Pratchett.  He’s yet another author I now need to check out.

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