TS’s Monthly Wrap-Up : May 2022

TS’s Monthly Wrap-Up : May 2022

Hello all!  Welcome back to my monthly wrap-up.

Amazingly, I found my Book of the Month for May right at the very beginning of the month, but that’s not to say that the books that came after that were not good.  Most of them were great reads (in fact, only one book disappointed me), and I’m happy to say that the series conclusion that I was looking forward to delivered very satisfactorily.   I did start to feel a slight burn-out from reading almost non-stop fantasy (albeit mostly Middle Grade) and ended the month with two crime/mystery thrillers.

NB. Books are rated within its genre.  For avoidance of doubt, rereads are not considered for Book of the Month.

Book of the Month

Farilane (The Rise and Fall, #2) by Michael J. Sullivan

I’ve no words (and I’m in tears).  What an incredible book! As a stand-alone story, Farilane packed a lot of interesting development and information as a bridge narrative between The Legends of the First Empire and Riyria Revelations, making it an immensely engaging read. To top it all off, it then delivered a hefty emotional punch at the end, one which I deemed close to being on par to that in Heir of Novron. Of all the prequel books to Riyria so far, this was the one where the impact will be most felt by readers who have read both the earlier published series.   While I’m sure that it’ll still be a great read without prior knowledge of the earlier published books, I don’t think that it will carry as much emotional weight as it did for me.

It goes without saying for any one of Sullivan’s books, the characters were the best part of the story and the main reason why I cared so much. Princess Farilane was another fantastic female character that grew on me very quickly. The highlight, however, was the one whom cannot be named, and it was this character’s story which made the ending so powerfully, brutally heartwrenching for me.   Save to say, reading Sullivan’s body of work for the world of Elan is an experience I will cherish and keep going back for time and again.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Middle Grade / Young Adult Novels

House of Many Ways (Howl’s Moving Castle, #3) by Diana Wynne Jones

Unfortunately, there wasn’t much I want to say except that I was quite disappointed.   While there was still much to enjoy about the story with its whimsical magic and humour, it was strongly marred by how much I didn’t like the main character at all.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Hollowpox: The Hunt for Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor, #3) by Jessica Townsend

Third book in and I’m becoming a big fan of Nevermoor with this and the last book racking up a 5-star rating.   Hollowpox was even better than Wundersmith for me, and its linchpin was the ever-present Ezra Squall as the overarching antagonist of the series.   The increasingly magical wonders in the city of Nevermoor and the immensely likeable characters already made this a highly enjoyable read.  On top of that, we have the added enigma of Squall and the heavily implied hidden story behind his notoriety and eventual exile which really intrigued me.  Nevermoor is really shaping up to be a favourite Middle Grade series.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

Crownbreaker (Spellslinger, #6) by Sebastien de Castell

It’s so satisfying when the best book of the series is its conclusion.  I found the character growth of Kellen throughout all six books to be really well-executed.  Our main protagonist in an underdog in every sense of the word – a jack of all trades but master of none, and in the case of magic, he only has access to a mere one-sixth of that available to his brethren.  However, he always has one more trick up his sleeve to save himself from imminent death.   The way de Castell was able to convince me that Kellen’s arsenal of tricks was capable of defeating the most powerful enemy was impressive to say the least.

As far as young adult books go, I think the Spellslinger series managed to avoid the pitfalls of common tropes.  Kellen was as far from a special snowflake as you can get, and you can’t help rooting for this guy.  He might have too much of a smart-mouth on him most of the times, but I found it to be quite endearing.  In fact, he reminded me of Falcio from The Greatcoats series.  I also loved how de Castell deftly balances the darkness of the narrative (believe me, there were some truly dark stuff here) and the humour which provided much needed levity.

But Kellen would be nothing without his fabulous ‘business partner’, Reichis the squirrel cat, and his friend and mentor, Ferius Parfax, the Argosi.  I’m really going to miss reading the interactions and dynamics between these characters.  Fortunately, there’s a prequel series featuring the backstory of the enigmatic and mysterious Argosi, which I’m definitely reading in the near future.

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars.

Mystery/Crime

The Chestnut Man by Soren Svenstrup

This book had been on my TBR since it’s been released 4 years ago, when its cover and title caught my eye at the local bookstore.  With my increasing interest and love for crime fiction, I made it a priority to read it as soon as possible.  When I felt that I needed a break from fantasy, I immediately picked this up as I was hankering for an exciting and gripping mystery.  No regrets there at all as I was instantly gripped from the get-go with the grisly and mysterious murders.  I’ve not read many thrillers centred around a serial killer plot, but if this book was anything to go by, I think I’ll be looking out for more.  While The Chestnut Man was a quite a long book for a crime thriller, it earned every single page in my opinion.  The only thing that held this back from a 5-star rating was how annoyed I got with some of the characters, including one of the main characters.  Hess was definitely my favourite character and I’m hoping to see a sequel where he’ll be back.

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars.

Bloodless (Pendergast, #20) by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

I’ve mentioned before that one of the reasons why I loved the Pendergast series was how it married what seemed to be the impossible with the plausible, i.e. supernatural and science.  Once again, Preston & Child took risks in their bold narratives because this one was totally wild and unexpected.  The setting in Savannah was deeply atmospheric and lent itself beautifully to the horror vibes that the story was angling towards.  I can’t say anything much more than that because it will completely spoil the plot.  I recognised that some readers might find it a stretch too far, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Re-read

The Well of Ascension (Mistborn, #2) by Brandon Sanderson

Wow, this reread was a significant improvement from my last reread.  I think it was partly due to the performances of the cast in the Graphic Audio production, as I really appreciated Elend’s character (whom I used to view as the weakest character of the book) a lot more.  The other part was my general aversion for political narratives seemed to have mellowed because I was quite riveted by all the political machinations in the story this time.  I was also previously a bit annoyed with the angst in the relationship between Vin and Elend.  Now though, I could again appreciate the doubts that beset both of them, and grew to love their dynamics as a couple.  So much so that that I think Hero of Ages will hit me even more in the feels this time around.

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars.

What’s Next in June 

I’ll be picking Redwall and The Chronicles of Prydain again after taking a short break from MG fantasy, as well continuing with the Alcatraz and Mistborn reread.  I’m very excited getting back to Hero of Ages, which was such a masterful conclusion from Sanderson.

Signing off until next month, happy reading y’all…

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