As predicted: I’ve had a crazy busy month with my surgical rotations in November (still do as of writing this). Nonetheless, I managed to get quite some reading done in the train towards the hospital, and thanks to the audiobooks on my phone. All things considered: November exceeded my expectations with how great of a reading month it was. I have 6 books to wrap up, two of which are 5-stars, and one of which has been added to my All-time Favourite list. Something that doesn’t happen too often to me.
Without further ado: it’s time to look back at Novembers books, and make plans for my final TBR of 2019…
These Divided Shores - Sara Raasch
These Divided Shores is the second and final book in the Stream Raiders Duology, and after how much I enjoyed the first book, I was excited to see how the story would continue. Unfortunately, I was left a little disappointed. A similar thing happened to me when reading Sara Raasch first series Snow Like Ashes: I loved the ideas, loved the worldbuilding, lore and the promise of everything to come, particularly in the first book. Then the later books in the series just didn’t deliver on those promises.
Divided Shores is even more political than These Rebel Waves was, which normally doesn’t bother me, but did in this case. The world continues to feel surface level, never quite going in depth enough to make the reader fully understand the stakes of the political turmoil. Additionally, I liked the characters fine enough in book 1, but in the sequel they took a sharp turn for the “cliché YA”.
All in all: not a bad book, but for me a disappointing sequel to book I had very high hopes for. Perhaps Sara Raasch just isn’t the author for me…
My Rating: 3/5 stars
Follow Me To Ground by Sue Rainsford
Unique, atmospheric, fairytale-esque and a little unsettling… those are the words that come to mind to describe Follow Me To Ground.
I had no idea what I was getting into when I first started this story, and I won't lie: throughout the first 50 pages I was utterly lost. This incredibly unique magical realism debut shifts the balance between familiar and alien far towards the latter, with its story surrounding a not-quite-human father and daughter, using something between witchcraft and magic to heal the sick in their neighbouring village. It had me confused and a little unsettled at first, but it pulled me in like a sirens' song and kept me hooked until the end.
Beautifully written, utterly unique and intriguing from first to far past the last page.
Rating: 5/5 stars
Deeplight - Frances Hardinge
I’ve had mixed experiences with Frances Hardinges writing in the past, but when I heard she was coming out with a story that ticked all of my “ocean-fantasy” boxes, I off course couldn’t stay away. Deeplight is set in archipelago The Myriad, where Gods and monsters used to rule, and men lived in fear of the sea. Now the Gods have died, leaving only body parts infused with their power in the depth of the Undersea. Parts that are worth a lot of money to the right person. Fourteen-year-old impoverished Hark and Jelt, have set their sights on just that kind of money. However, as they embark on an adventure to find and sell these deepsea artefacts, they discover they might be in way over their heads.
I thoroughly enjoyed Deeplight, both for its story, folklore, characters and writing style. A full review will follow at a later time.
Rating: 4/5 stars
Bridge of Clay - Markus Zusak
Smack down in the middle, we have my highlight of the month, perhaps one of the highlights of my reading year. Bridges of Clay (by the author famous for The Book Thief, which is another of my all-time favourite novels) quickly made its way into my heart, and is there to stay. It’s a unique book, that has been quite polarizing to reviewers, but to me this was utter and emotional perfection.
Extra points for including one of my favourite themes in literature (grief), and executing it extremely well. If you want to read my in depth thoughts, a full review can be found here.
Rating: 5/5 stars
The Twisted Ones - T. Kingfisher
The Twisted Ones is one of the finalists in the Horror category of the Goodreads Choice Awards 2019, and despite having heard of almost all its competitors, this book was completely new to me. It did draw my attention however, and I decided to read it before casting my final vote.
This story of a young woman tasked with tidying up her deceased (hoarder) grandmother’s house, when eerie occurrences in the surrounding forest start to take place, might not be the most original, but it’s perhaps the most fun I’ve had with any horror novel this year. Thanks to the amazing narrative voice, it stands out from the crowd and kept me engaged until the last page.
Full review can be found here.
Rating: 4/5 stars
Pine Lakes - Christopher Motz
I was in quite the horror mood after the success of The Twisted Ones, so on a whim I decided to pick up this indie horror-novel straight after it. Unfortunately, this let to my biggest disappointment in the eleventh hour of the month. Although I hate to “bash” on indie authors, I have to be honest and say that this wasn’t for me. Most of what I loved about The Twisted Ones did right, I disliked in Pine Lakes: Unoriginal, flat characters, and an overall unsatisfying ending.
I’m not going to put in the attention of writing a dedicated review, but a short summary of my thoughts can be found on Goodreads.
Rating: 1.5/5 stars
I can’t wrap my head around the fact that we’re on the final stretches of 2019 already. I have (again) a busy month ahead of my with the final 3 weeks of my surgical rotation, followed by a week off for the holidays, so I struggled to “plan” my reading for the coming month. Nonetheless, I’m giving myself some ideas/loose plans with the following. You might notice a wintery theme with some of them: I’ve been freezing for about a month now in the Netherlands, so I guess my brain decided to match my reading to that…
A Shiver of Smoke and Sky by Lisa Lueddecke
Winter is of course the best time to read polar fantasy, so I held off on picking this one up from my library until a more appropriate time. I think I was in that “holding off” mood for a little too long however, as this book is due to be returned in 1 week now. I’d better get to it soon.
The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van de Kolk
It’s been an unintentional tradition over the past years that I tend to read non-fiction on hard-hitting (medical) topic in the month of December. I did memoirs on dying in 2017, non-fiction on cancer in 2018, and now this. The Body Keeps the Score is a non-fiction book by famous Dutch psychiatrist Bessel van de Kolk on the topic of trauma and PTSD. I’ve been wanting to read this for month, ever since the resident on my psychiatry rotation brought it to my attention. I’m reading it as of writing this post, and will continue to do so throughout the month of December.
A Winters Promise by Christelle Dabos
At the start of 2019, I made a list of 13 books (8 backlist and 5 new releases) I wanted to read before the year’s up. Only two of them, I haven’t gotten around to. The first is A Winters Promise. This book came highly recommended by many a book reviewer and a large part of me expects it to be a 5-star read. I put it off until the winter (mostly because of the title), so December might just be the perfect time for it.
The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
Similar to A Winters Promise, The Starless Sea is the second book of my list that I haven’t gotten around to just yet, mostly as it’s only been out for less than a month. I’m beyond excited for my most anticipated release of the year, and terrified to be disappointed at the same time…
The Last True Poets of The Sea by Julia Drake
Although it wasn’t on my list at the beginning of the year, this book is still one that I’ve been highly anticipating and really hope to read before 2020.