For years, I thought The Shadow of the Wind was a standalone novel. When I learned that wasn’t the case, I ignored that information for more years. I thought The Shadow of the Wind was pretty nearly perfect on its own, and didn’t need expanded upon. I’ve read some marvelous books that should have been left alone, that had further books tacked on later that didn’t measure up to the first, and somehow manage to tarnish that first book. I didn’t want that to happen to my magical experience with The Shadow of the Wind, so I just ignored the rest of the series for a long time. But then, I found a gorgeous copy of The Labyrinth of the Spirits, the last of the quartet, on sale. I had to buy it for the cover alone, because it just captivated me. But I still didn’t think I intended to read it, or the two books between it and that first novel I had so loved. …
Rhythm of War is hands down my favorite book of the year, and I’ve read some truly incredible books over the course of 2020. At the moment, it’s also my favorite fantasy book I’ve ever read. That title has been held by The Name of the Wind for over a decade, but in Rhythm of War Sanderson has usurped it.
Humans are a poem. A song.
For ones so soft, they are somehow strong.
For ones so varied, they are somehow intense.
For ones so lost, they are somehow determined.
For ones so confused, they are somehow brilliant.
For ones so tarnished, they are somehow bright.
Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 6 of 5 stars
Series: The Stormlight Archive (Book 4 of 10)
Genre: Epic fantasy, high fantasy
Published: 17th November 2020 by Tor Books (US) and Gollancz (UK)
Rhythm of War had me humming to the Rhythm of Awe. Even with my sky-high expectations for this book, Sanderson has surpassed them yet again. This book was STORMING INCREDIBLE!
I’m not sure I can even express how wildly Beyond the Point surpassed my expectations, but I’m sure going to try. I’ve always had a lot of respect for our military, and for the people who sacrifice their time, dreams, bodies, and lives in its service. I also have a lot of empathy for the family of those who serve, as I can’t even begin to imagine how terrifying it must be to watch someone you love with your entire being fly into a war zone, and how insanely stressful it must be to wait and hope for their return. But this book has increased all of those feelings for me. Witnessing military life from the inside, from the perspectives of three girls as they graduate high school, attend West Point, and embark on their careers thereafter, made for a moving and eye-opening experience.
“Some wounds are invisible. It doesn’t mean they’re not real.”
The Crippled God by Steven Erikson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.
Series: Malazan Book of the Fallen (Book 10 of 10)
Genre: Epic fantasy, grimdark fantasy, fantasy
First published: March 2011 by Bantam (UK) and Tor (US)
The Crippled God is a breathtaking conclusion to an outstanding series; Malazan Book of the Fallen is a masterpiece of its genre and has affirmed its place as my favourite epic grimdark fantasy series. …
“Truth and courage are the banners I live by. Love, loyalty and friendship shall be my guiding light. I will be the bright star in the night sky, the candle in the darkness. The defender of the innocent, protector of the weak. I will bring hope to the lost, give my life for the helpless. With Truth as my shield, and Courage as my sword, I shall stand against the darkness. From this day on, until the time of my death.”
— The Oath of The Order of the Bright Star.
I firmly believe that John Gwynne is one of the most gifted, powerful fantasy authors of our age. In the course of this trilogy and the quartet preceding it, Gwynne was able to create a world that feels as real as our own. The lore he wove into each book was fascinating and completely transportive. He crafted a compendium of characters for whom I cared so deeply that I rejoiced and wept with them as if they were my friends in reality instead of merely fictional. And don’t even get me started on his action-scene prowess. The fact that he can keep a battle going for 200 pages and keep everything in such incredibly clear focus that boredom has no hope of setting in and tension is so well maintained that I never once felt tempted to skim is an incredible accomplishment that I don’t think has been matched by any other author I’ve read outside of Brandon Sanderson. I honestly don’t know that anything about the series as a whole or this book in particular could’ve been improved in any way. In A Time of Courage, Gwynne penned an incredible finale that moved me deeply and left me feeling weepy and exhausted and content. …
Cover illustration by: Matt Duffin
The Labyrinth of the Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
My rating: 6 of 5 stars
Series: The Cemetery of Forgotten Books (Book #4 of 4)
Genre: Historical fiction, Mystery, Thriller
Translated Edition Published: 2018 by Weidenfield & Nicholson, Orion Books (UK) & Harper (US)
The Labyrinth of the Spirits is one of the best books I’ve ever read. It has it all – evocative history, engrossing mystery, atmospheric setting, compelling characters, incredible emotional depth – wrapped up in writing so beautiful that it moves your soul.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher (Random House) and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Ghosts of Harvard completely blew me away. At its core, it houses such a poignant window into mental illness and the victims it leaves behind when those struggling with it take their own lives. The portrayal of grief is brutal and beautiful and real. And yet this story is so much more than that. As she explores the Harvard campus on which her brother took his own life, Cady is faced with a plethora of mysteries. While her brother’s last days consume her from the start, she also finds herself digging into the university’s past as she grapples with fear over her own future. Ghosts of Harvard is a brilliant and seamless bridging of so many ideas and genres. I am in awe of how much research went into the writing of this book, and how Serritella was able to convey so much without a single aspect feeling forced. She struck a perfect balance in so many ways, and she truly gave the world a gift through the publication of this novel.
I came into The Great Alone expecting an adventure story. While there was indeed adventure in these pages, I found so much more than that. Hannah gives her readers a peak into not only Alaska, but into love in all its forms and scope and limitless variety. We see the love of a child for their parent and a parent for their child, and how far each would go to protect the other. We see romantic love so twisted that it becomes deadly to at least one party, and romantic love so strong and pure that it can conquer the worst adversities. We see the love that can grow within a community, and how family can form among completely unrelated people. And lacing all of these loves together, we see the love that nature can foster within a human heart, even when said nature is just as brutal and dangerous as it is stunningly beautiful.
“I think you stand by the people you love.”
Valentine is absolutely gorgeous. The writing is so vivid and transporting that I felt like I indwelled each character during their prospective chapters. It’s also one of the most tragic, heartbreaking stories I’ve read in a very long time. My heart almost physically ached during my time reading this book. But most of all, Valentine is immensely powerful. It proclaims an almost rebellious resilience in the face of heinous adversity that is fiercely and unequivocally feminist, and I felt impacted by it at a soul-deep level.
“Mercy is hard in a place like this…”