This month, amongst the craziness of starting a new job, I’ve read four books: a mixture of fantasy, non-fiction, and dystopian.
“The greatest danger is always the one we are ignorant of.”
Fool’s Fate is the final book in Robin Hobb’s Tawny Man trilogy, an epic fantasy series that forms part of an even more epic fantasy series set in the realm of the Elderlings. I won’t divulge any major plot details here, since this would spoil earlier books in the series, but I will say that this is an epic fantasy story filled with danger, intrigue, and tragedy.
This book had me hooked. The story was so epic and exciting, and featured moments of triumph and heartache for some of the characters I’ve grown to love throughout this series. Whilst it did lull slightly in the middle, the wait was worth it for the events that were to come. Robin Hobb still knows how to tug on my emotions.
Not That Kind of Girl
“But ambition is a funny thing: it creeps in when you least expect it and keeps you moving, even when you think you want to stay put.”
This is a collection of autobiographical essays from the perspective of actress and writer Lena Dunham, on topics including sex, body confidence, romance and friendship.
My overall feelings about this book are that it was “okay”. Most of the anecdotes in this book and a lot of the views expressed in it are so distanced to my own experiences that I found this book hard to relate to. They also weren’t that interesting to me. This collection felt quite unstructured, and a lot of the stories reminded me of listening to a friend veer off on a tangent – I just wasn’t sure why these stories needed to be shared. I’m sure that some of them will be relatable to someone, and that the humour would have connected with some people, but unfortunately not me.
“You have to pretend you get an endgame. You have to carry on like you will; otherwise, you can’t carry on at all.”
A book born from a fictional fanfic (confusing, I know), Carry On is a young adult fantasy story about Simon Snow, the “Chosen One”, a young magician who attends a wizarding school, struggles to control his powers, and could at any moment be captured by a magic-eating monster (again). On top of that, when Simon returns to school for his final year, he finds that his roommate and nemesis, Baz, who also happens to be a vampire, is missing.
I liked this book, but I didn’t love it. I’ve heard plenty of glowing reviews, but for me, Carry On just didn’t excite me as much as I hoped. I liked some of the romance, and I liked how it played on popular YA fantasy tropes, twisting them slightly to make something fun and different, and the story was enjoyable. Overall, Carry On was a fun read.
The Handmaid’s Tale
“There is more than one kind of freedom… Freedom to and freedom from. In the days of anarchy, it was freedom to. Now you are being given freedom from. Don’t underrate it.”
The Handmaid’s Tale is the classic dystopian novel told from the point of Offred, a handmaid in the republic of Gilead, where her status and life are dictated by the fact that she has viable ovaries. In this dark future, Offred, who once had a job that paid, a husband she made love to, a daughter she cared for, and friends with whom she could talk freely, is now faced with the captivity that has been forced upon her.
I loved this book. Not because it was fun, or optimistic, or even empowering, but because the writing is mesmerising, and the world it paints a picture of is vivid and horrifying, and at times, close enough to touch. Emotionally, this was a really tough read because of the subject matter, though there are also snippets of dark humour and wit scattered throughout the book. I’m also really impressed by how much I loved it, even after only recently watching the TV series – the two are different enough that the book still felt new, and I definitely got something out of the writing that I didn’t get from the show. I would recommend this book to everybody.
On my October TBR, I have my first ARC from Orbit: The Tethered Mage by Melissa Caruso, a fantasy novel set in a world where magic is scarce and power is coveted and controlled. I’m also currently reading Time of Contemptby Andrzej Sapkowksi, the fourth of the Witcher books.
Edit: I’ve also realised I’ve now surpassed my Goodreads challenge of reading 50 books this year! I’m pretty pleased with this, since a couple of years ago I was probably reading about a quarter of that each year, so I’m glad I’ve been able to make time to fit more reading into my life.
Let me know what you’ve been reading lately in the comments below! And feel free to share any recommendations.