*Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.*
This post also contains a book which was gifted to me by the publisher. However I was not asked to write this review and my thoughts are all my own.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record…October seemed to come and go in a flash; I don’t know that I even stopped to take a breath! It possibly had a lot to do with the Reading Retreat which happened at the start of October, and the delight (and relief) when it all went okay. The retreat is what also contributed to the amount of books I managed to read this month and I picked some good ones for it…but more on that below:-
Three Dark Crowns – Kendare Blake
‘A rich, dark YA fantasy with strong female characters. Had me hooked from the start’
This was the book, or rather, the series that I decided to pick up for the retreat. I wanted something which could be binge-read if necessary (it was!) and which would totally draw me in and have me obsessed. Obviously going into the book I didn’t know if that would be the case but I’m glad I took the chance.
This is a dark Young Adult fantasy which is made up of four books, split into two duologies. It centres around the island of Fennbirn where each generation, the reigning queen gives birth to a set of triplets. These triplets, always female, are all individually gifted with a different coveted magical ability. You have an elemental, a poisoner and a naturalist. The twist is that the ‘queens’ are all raised separately and on their 16th birthday must fight to the death to become the next crowned queen of Fennbirn.
We begin the story as the queens turn 16 and their fight begins. As you might imagine, it isn’t all straightforward and there are a good many twists to be enjoyed in this book. I loved how Blake gave each sister her own, strong personality along with plenty of other good female characters alongside and although it pains me to admit (as I do have my favourite queen), I also like how she keeps you guessing the whole way through about the outcome.
I read the first and second book back to back and they were fantastic. So easy to read, fast-paced and just very enjoyable. I’d say even if you aren’t massively familiar with fantasy you could pick up and devour these. I can’t wait to read the final two and see how the story concludes.
One Dark Throne (Three Dark Crowns #2) – Kendare Blake
See review above. I don’t want to even hint at what goes on in this story to avoid spoiling it for anyone. Let me just say that if you buy book #1, you almost certainly need to have book #2 on hand to pick up immediately after!
In The Woods (Dublin Murder Squad #1) – Tana French
‘Beautiful writing with a story that hits you in the gut. But don’t assume anything!’
I have had In The Woods on my shelves for what feels like the longest time, possibly even two or three years and I’ve always been put off by a) the thought of starting another series and b) the size of the book but I was in the mood for a good crime thriller so I decided to take the plunge.
I have got such mixed feelings about this book and even now, weeks after I put it down, I’m still mulling over what happened and whether I liked it or not!
We find ourselves caught up in the story of detectives Rob Ryan and Cassie Maddox, who work in the Dublin Murder Squad. Rob and Cassie are handed a case which throws up something from Rob’s past he has been trying very hard to outrun and which takes him right back to the place it all began.
As with any book in this genre, it’s difficult to talk about the plot without giving away spoilers but what makes this book so interesting, is that the plot is really only a vehicle for the characters. It is almost less about the crime and more about Rob and Cassie and I genuinely can’t decide if that is something I enjoyed. I loved that we got to know the characters beyond the surface, that we got to see how they ticked and form a bond with them…but I would also have liked to see some of French’s skill with the character development transfer into the overall storyline and crime element as well.
Don’t get me wrong, the writing is beautiful and descriptive, but this is not your usual fast-paced crime novel. It also doesn’t end in any way, shape or form, in the way you expect it to. I’m definitely intrigued to pick up another of Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad books to see if it helps my total bafflement over this first one! Jury’s still out I’m afraid…
The Children’s Block – Otto B Kraus
‘Heartbreaking, harrowing and an absolute must-read.’
This book was gifted to me by Penguin Random House UK and is based on the true story of an Auschwitz survivor (the author). He has written a fictionalised version of real events based on his own, personal experience and by talking to others who survived as well.
Reviewing a book like this is always tricky; it’s absolutely horrendous to even begin to contemplate the things which people had to endure when held by the Nazi regime during the Second World War. But I also think it is so very important to read and share about books like this because these are stories which cannot be forgotten. I often find myself stuck in the introduction or afterword section of books like these are they are often just as informative.
Alex Ehren is a poet, a prisoner and a teacher in the Children’s Block at the Auschwitz-Birkenau. The Children’s Block was part of a ‘family camp’ created by the Nazis to allow the Red Cross to visit and see what their prisoner of war camps looked like. It was, essentially, a ‘show camp’ but that does not mean that the people held there were treated any differently. Kraus offers up some figures of prisoners who passed through on their way to the gas chambers and truly, it hits you in the gut. Throughout Alex’s story we see glimpses of some of the horrors endured, and how the adults and teachers tried to shield the children from the worst of these and protect their childhoods whilst in the very bleakest of surroundings.
Whilst this book is a little ‘basic’ when it comes to storytelling, you can’t deny that it is a compelling and informative read and as I mentioned above, an important one. My thanks to Penguin Random House UK for sending me a copy.
The Wife Between Us – Greer Henricks and Sarah Pekkanen
‘Fast, twisty and with just enough character development to hook me in.’
As I mentioned above with In The Woods, it’s hard to review a book like this without accidentally giving away a spoiler; it really is best to go into these books as blind as possible. Especially when the blurb of the book tells you to ‘assume nothing’.
For me, this was an alright read. It was the Bookish Mamas choice for October and it seems as though everyone had mixed feelings. But for varying reasons. For me, I didn’t see the first big twist coming which was fantastic when it was revealed and I connected on some level with the characters. Part one of the book…I couldn’t get enough of. And there were even sections in the latter part of the book which had my heart racing and me checking under the bed. I think the authors just over-reached themselves and started throwing too many plot twists into the mix. I know that I have said this before, multiple times, but I am not a reader who enjoys being given a plot point which is then only half explored. And I felt that is very much what happened here. There was just too much going on and the main emphasis of the story just sort of drifted away.
On the whole I liked this book, I think it could just have been executed a little better. If you don’t guess the twists, I think most people would find this a very entertaining read.
So there you have it, the books I read in October. I’ve had a much slower start to November but I read a really good book at the beginning, so I’m going to let that be!
Happy reading, friends.