Reading Lately: December 2017 Edition

Hi friends! I’m wrapping up 2017 with my last book reviews. I started off the month slow (I didn’t finish a book until mid-month!) but picked up speed big time at the end of the month. Granted, the first book I finished (Oathbringer) is a monster coming in at 1,200+ pages. All in all, some pretty good books without any major duds.

Reading Lately: December 2017 Edition. Book reviews of Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson, Invictus by Ryan Graudin, Artemis by Andy Weir, A Poison Dark and Drowning by Jessica Cluess, The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic by Leigh Bardugo, The Summer Dragon by Todd Lockwood, Carnegie's Maid by Marie Benedict | Puppies & Pretties

What I’ve been reading lately

Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson: This was on my top reads of 2017 list and for good reason. Sanderson is such an amazing writer with great world building, likable characters and a fascinating magic system.
5 out of 5 stars

Invictus by Ryan Graudin: Set in the future after time travel has been figured out, the main character, Faraway, just wants to join the elite company of time travelers. He has an interesting backstory and birth that plays a huge part in the story. But when he fails his final exam, he decides to take a job from a black market dealer to go get things from the past. He takes all his friends and life is grand. Until they meet a girl that doesn’t seem to quite fit in their present OR past. But what they find out might tear their world apart. While certainly an enjoyable story with a ton of action and a great plot, there seemed to be something missing. The characters seem a little flat. However, if you are looking for an interesting plot with some great technology and a glimpse into history, this would be a good book for you. Oh, there is a red panda as a pet. So that is always a win.
3.5 out of 5 stars
c/o Netgalley

A Poison Dark and Drowning by Jessica Cluess: This is the second book in the series (see my review of book one) and it picks up shortly after that. Henrietta is trying to grow into her new role while England continues to be attacked by the Ancients. While this isn’t a bad book (and series) it really isn’t all the good either. I get annoyed by the characters constantly saying woe is me everything is my fault. And it isn’t just one character that does this. It seems like ALL of the main/secondary characters think the plight of the world is their fault. It gets tiresome. Then of course there is one of the underlying storylines that blows up in Henrietta’s face that you could see from a mile away. It is like, THINK GIRL. Sigh. There is a new character introduced that I really enjoyed and she might be able to save the series, but time will tell. I’m undecided if I will continue the series.
3 out of 5 stars
c/o Blogging for Books

Artemis by Andy Weir: This book takes place in the near future where humans are living on the Moon. The main character, Jazz, is a lifer (as close as you can be) Artemis (the city on the moon) resident. She is crazy smart but doesn’t really apply herself much to the dismay of people around her. She works as a porter and smuggler. Then she is offered a job (heist) of her lifetime. What comes after is all sorts of crazy for not only her but Artemis itself. This author also wrote The Martian (which is amazing BTW) so I had high hopes for this one. While I don’t think it lives up to The Martian, I still enjoyed it. It has the science-y bits and the wise cracking characters, but it does’t flow quite as well. It is also really action packed, maybe even too much. But if you don’t like dark-ish (sometimes crude) humor, probably best to pass on it.
4 out of 5 stars
c/o Netgalley

The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic by Leigh Bardugo: This is a collection of short fairytale-esque stories. One thing is for sure, get the physical book. There are illustrations throughout the stories that are just gorgeous. These are darker fairy tales without the normal fairytale ending. I found them all enjoyable, but I do wish I had spaced my reading out a bit. Like read one story a day. I read most of them in a day and it got a little depressing. But the writing is on point and it is certainly an enjoyable book.
4 out of 5 stars
c/o Goodreads giveaway

The Summer Dragon by Todd Lockwood: This book has some things going for it. Dragons, politics, a pretty bad ass female character and some pretty scary bad dudes. Maia has grown up helping her family raise dragons for the Empire and hopes to get one of her own to ride and bond. What follows is a bit of quest slash fighting the political fight and navigating her own close relationships. A solid fantasy story that is a fun read.
4 out of 5 stars

Carnegie’s Maid by Marie Benedict: This is a historical fiction novel focusing on a maid in Andrew Carnegie’s household during Carnegie’s rise to a tycoon of industry. I’ve always been interested in that time in American history and with Benedict writing it (I loved her first book, The Other Einstein – review here) I knew this would be a good one. Clara is from Ireland and while her family survived the famine, there are other enemies. Her father decides to send her to America in hopes of being an additional source of income. When she lands, an opportunity falls in her lap to take the identity of another woman (with the same name) that vanished during the crossing. If she pulls it off and becomes Mrs. Carnegie’s (Andrew’s mother) maid, she will be able to truly support her family. What follows is a transformation of not only Clara, but also Andrew Carnegie. Clara struggles to find herself in her new situation and identity. But what she does is keep Carnegie grounded in where he came from and not just constantly follow the almighty dollar. What this book does so well is show the injustices of the time. We see not only Irish immigrants and other lower class people, but in another way we see how “new money” like the Carnegie’s, try to fight their way into the “old money” upper class. Within all of this, we see the interactions between all of these classes and just how much the world was changing at the time. I loved that Clara was intelligent and was willing to use her smarts. I would highly recommend this book for anyone, especially if you like strong female characters that live bigger than their times.
4 out of 5 stars
c/o Netgalley

What have you been reading lately?

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  • I just read Perks of Being a Wallflower and The Astronauts Wife Club. Loved them! Always up for more book suggestions!

    • Trish

      I loved The Astronaut Wives Club. I read it a few years ago and it was my favorite read of the year.

  • I’ve been reading a lot of chick lit lately, haha (Sophie Kinsella, Cecelia Ahern). But I’m trying to expand my horizon, some of these books sound great!

  • Trish

    I enjoyed reading your reviews! I have Carnegie’s Maid on my Kindle right now (also from Netgalley) and look forward to reading it. I really love the time period that it is set in.

    I just read The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen. It was delightful!

  • Wow, 1200 pages! I feel like one of those awful kids where anything over around 350 pages just feels too long to me haha (and I’m a librarian lol). I just finished the Handmaid’s Tale, and right now I’m in the middle of a book called The Lotterys Plus One.

    • Me too! I keep thinking, “Did you NEED all these words?” and I love reading.

  • Holy smokes, that’s a lot of pages in one book! I struggle finishing a 300-page book, how much more 1,200 pages?? It must be a great read! Among the ones you had on this list, Artemis is also in my to-be-read pile this year. I got curious about it when it won in Goodreads Choice Awards last year!

    Lately I’ve been reading “In Twenty Years” by Allison Winn Scotch. I’m liking it so far!

  • I was debating about reading Artemis! It sounds so good.

  • I haven’t read any of these, but Carnegie’s Maid sounds really interesting!

  • I enjoyed Artemis but agree that it wasn’t as great as The Martian, which I loved to my surprise. Still, it was worth the read as I enjoyed the snark. 😀

  • I liked Artemis too!! I agree – it wasn’t QUITE up to par with the Martian, but still so good!!!

  • I think I had Artemis on my TBR as soon as I heard about it after reading the Martian. I hope to get to it soon! Haven’t read any of the others on your list but I think I’d really like Carnegie’s Maid.

  • I liked Artemis. I don’t think you can live up to The Martian but this does just fine on its own.

  • I have Artemis from Netgalley too and really need to read it. I think i’ve been putting it off because I liked The Martian so much and I don’t want to compare them.

  • I had Artemis out from the library but didn’t have a chance to read it before it was due back. Not sure if I’m rushing to read it anyway. I surprisingly enjoyed the Martian a lot. But if this one isn’t as good, not sure I’ll be into it.

  • shootingstarsmag

    Thanks for sharing! I’m curious about Invictus as I really love the author. Sorry you didn’t ADORE that one though.

    -Lauren
    http://www.shootingstarsmag.net

  • i’ve never read a Sanderson book but they are all on my list. Artemis is on my kindle, i’m hoping to get to it soon. i am trying to keep my martian-loving-expectations low.

  • You’ve convinced me to add Carnegie’s Maid to the TBR. Which, at this rate, I’ll get to it this time next year!