Does anyone else feel like this year has absolutely flown by at top speed??
Back in June/July, I followed a trend I saw on TikTok, the “mid-year reading check,” which was a great idea for a blog post (and ended up as two posts). This month and next month, I present to you my end-of-year reading check!
So, here’s what (fiction) I’ve read in the second half of this year, in chronological order, with a bit of commentary about each book:
The Warrior’s Apprentice by Lois McMaster Bujold
Loved it! The main character, Miles, reminds me of my cousin—a total ENTP. Always coming up with new ideas and schemes, bouncing from one thing to the next. Very entertaining! You never know what’s going to happen and how he’s going to get himself out of the crazy situations he’s gotten himself into! I need to read more sci-fi...I definitely will try to read the other books in this series. I highly recommend it!
The Rose and the Claw by Nancy O’Toole
I liked it. It’s a novella, and it was a quick read. An interesting take on Beauty and the Beast. It was nice to read about a heroine who’s a little older than your typical Disney princess. And she’s also a widow, and traveling in an enemy country, so she gets treated with some hostility, as an outsider (not just the village oddball). She’s more down-to-earth and no-nonsense, and I like her attitude. Too bad the whole bookworm thing got left out! I also thought the way the Beast got his human form back at the end was a bit...underwhelming.
East by Edith Pattou
Definitely liked this book! Now I wish I knew what direction my mom was facing when I was born...haha. There’s a whole superstition about birth direction that the main character’s mom is obsessed with, and it kind of spurs the adventure that happens. Rose is a very likeable main character but is not the child her mother wanted. Her fate says she’s destined to leave and—well, I won’t spoil the other bit—and her mom tries to keep that hidden and keep Rose home. But of course you know that won’t happen. I’ve never read East of the Sun, West of the Moon, but I’m really glad I read this fantastic retelling of it. It kept me turning pages quickly.
Akithar’s Greatest Trick by Jason Dorough
Loved it!! This is one of those indie books that shows that self-published can be fantastic! I saw it advertised as “for fans of Six of Crows,” which I read this year and loved (see my June post), so I jumped at the deal. Let me tell you, Akithar did NOT disappoint! I only saw part of the ending coming, great twist! Very exciting with some heists and magic and steampunk-type stuff (magic working together with engineering). And there’s both neurodivergent AND chronic-illness rep (done well), yay!! I highly recommend this book, and yes, definitely to fans of Six of Crows. (Warning: the sequel’s not ready yet. Ugh, I need it now....)
Sunshine by Robin McKinley
It’s good! So interesting and different. A little dense and slow-paced at times, not as action-oriented as I thought it was going to be. (It’s definitely not like Buffy the Vampire Slayer.) The characters are well developed and interesting, and the main character is just so loveable with a great narrative voice! The only bad thing is that it begs for a sequel, and there isn’t one. McKinley could have gone a lot farther showing the vampires-vs.-humans conflict and the SOF agency that keeps tabs on the Others (vamps and all kinds of magical creatures). It’s like she presents us a rich, intriguing world and only lets us take a very short trip to it. Maybe she’ll still write more??? (Ms. McKinley, if you see this, please!!)
This post is pretty long, so I’m breaking it in half. Next month, I’ll post Part 2 with the other books I’ve read in the second half of this year!
Sarah Awa lives in Ohio with two hairy guys and writes books about werewolves.