January WeddingToday's Tune:
Hello! Are you a Kristin Cashore fan? Then you should definitely go check out this post and comment to win a signed copy of BITTERBLUE.
Anyway. I've had a little more time than usual to read, so I recently read a pair of books that I'd like to recommend because I enjoyed them very much.
First, let's talk about THE UNNATURALISTS by Tiffany Trent.
I have a special place in my heart for YA Steampunk, given that I've written some of my own. On the surface, it seems like a pretty narrow genre, but in reality, there's quite a lot of variation to be had. It can range from very scientific in nature to very fantastical. Sometimes there's magic, sometimes not. It's typically set in London or another European setting, but there are a number of authors who are exploring colonialism and the effect of the British Empire in other areas of the world, and it's all fascinating. This particular book happens to be set in the alternate world of "New London" and blends steampunk technology with natural magic into this sort of paranormal-steampunk-fantasy hybrid. The world building is lovely, and the story moves along very well and may resonate with you if you're into natural world vs. industrialism sorts of storylines.
The narration style is something I don't think I've seen before -- alternating POV, with half the chapters in Vespa's first-person narration and the other half in third-person narration following Syrus (Vespa is our MC, Syrus is a pre-teen boy who's seeking her help). It takes some getting used to, but weirdly, it worked for me. The story can be a little hard to follow at times and the romantic subplot was just okay, but overall, I thought this was a wonderful book that will speak to steampunk and fantasy fans alike. Plus... POC main character AND POC on the cover!
And, of course: DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT.
Oh, Laini Taylor, how do you brain. DoBaS is the sequel to her wonderful DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE, which came out last year. It's quite possibly one of the best sequels/middle-of-a-trilogy books I've read in... maybe ever. Where many such books suffer from "sagging middle" syndrome, or the feeling that they're just passing time until the big finale, this book manages to be so full of story and plot that it's practically bursting.
I had a few small qualms with DAUGHTER, primarily in the pacing and the last third of the novel. Overall, I found the book a gorgeous and unique read, and though I love Taylor's prose, the last third of DAUGHTER dragged a bit for me. Taylor has a habit of beginning to build a mystery, then dropping enough information to reveal the end of a plotline so you know what's coming, but then continuing to slowly feed you the plotline anyway even though you already know how it's going to end. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't. In DAUGHTER, the last third didn't work for me because I'd already figured it out and there was another plotline I wanted to get back to, but I had to wait through a (very long) flashback in order to get to it.
In DAYS, I didn't have this issue. The same tactic is used, but I felt it was used more successfully. Taylor weaves so many subplots together so deftly that you barely notice she's doing it. We're introduced to new characters who are so fleshed out that you feel as though you've known them all along. The emotional crescendos are awe-inspiring and crushing, and the stakes are very real. All of this on top of Taylor's masterful, colorful prose. These books are a joy to read (when you're not gasping or tearing up. Oh, whatever, they're a joy even then.).
I highly recommend.
What have you read lately, my wonderful readers?