Welcome back to my What I’ve Been Reading feature!
It’s been a while since I updated you on the books I’ve read.
Nearly 5 whole months in fact!
I mean, I have still actually been reading… I just haven’t written about it.
So let’s cut straight to the chase shall we?
The Garden of Evening Mists BY TAN TWAN ENG
I have to be entirely honest here… I’m still working my way through this one.
IT’S JUST SO LONG.
The writing is absolutely beautiful, with stunning descriptions. It’s almost like seeing a work of art being painted.
But it’s just so, so SLOW. This is definitely more about the style than the substance.
Not that it’s a bad story, mind. It just floats along in such a zen state of calm that it’s hard to get really stuck into.
I’m still battling through though, and I’m determined to conquer!
Verdict: Still ongoing, but for now… THREE AND A HALF STARS
The Woodcutter BY KATE DANLEY
I absolutely adored this!
It’s so up my street that I’m surprised I hadn’t discovered it before to be honest.
A merging of fairytales. The Woodcutter is charged with keeping the peace between the Twelve Kingdoms of Man and the Realm of the Faerie. When a young girl in glass slippers appears dead in his forest, he must find he killer before others suffer the same fate.
It’s got faeries and princesses and pixie dust and hellhounds and evil queens and it’s just… magical.
I was completely hooked from start to finish and I thought it was brilliant. If you love fantastical fairy tales, you’ll love this!
Verdict: FIVE STARS
The Miniaturist BY JESSIE BURTON
This one was also on my list of award-winning-books-I-really-should-read-this-year.
I’d heard some mixed reviews so I was a bit apprehensive about it, but it turned out to be nothing at all like I’d expected, and I actually really enjoyed it!
It’s the middle of the 17th century, and 18 year-old Nella Oortman has just married her much older husband, and moved up to Amsterdam from the country to be with him. Life in Amsterdam doesn’t go quite how she’d hoped though, until one day her husband buys her a huge doll’s house.
In the process of furnishing her doll’s house, funny things begin to happen in the household, and soon Nella begins to realise just how much danger they’re all in.
It’s so hard to explain because I really don’t want to give away too much! I loved the characters, I loved the mystery…
My only real complaint is about the ending. It left things so open and unexplained, and I had SO many more questions I wanted answers to…
Verdict: FOUR STARS
The Snow Child BY EOWYN IVEY
Jack and Mabel are old and childless. They move up to Alaska in the 1920s to try to escape their grief and despair, but soon discover that the place is wild, dangerous and very lonely.
One night they build a little snow girl in the back yard. The next morning she’s gone. But then they spot a little blonde girl running through the woods…
The Snow Child is a re-telling of an old Russian fairytale. It’s not one I’d heard before, but having looked it up since, it’s a beautiful story.
Unfortunately, The Snow Child is just a bit too long and strong on the descriptions and, same as The Miniaturist, never really gives a satisfactory ending to the mystery.
I think the whole point of the tale is to highlight the older couple, but Ivey makes it really hard as I didn’t particularly warm to Mabel…
Basically: I loved the premise, I just didn’t like the execution.
Verdict: THREE STARS
Songs of the Earth (BOOK #1) BY ELSPETH COOPER
I picked this one up in a charity shop and didn’t realise until later that it’s actually the first book in a trilogy.
On the back cover it compares it to Patrick Rothfuss’ Name of the Wind, which is a book I adored, so I thought this would be brilliant!
Unfortunately, it’s not quite up to Rothfuss’ standard.
Gair can hear music in his head. Not just any music: he can hear the songs of the earth, and weave that music into magic. But in the Holy City, that makes him a witch…
He then meets an older man who becomes his mentor, and they run away together and they go to a school of magic and suddenly Gair has this amazing superpower that’s really special and rare and he’s super powerful and they have to defeat the bad guys and… you see where this is going right?
It’s a shame because it starts off REALLY well, but then it just descends into cliché after cliché. The writing is good enough but, once I’d finished it, I didn’t really feel pushed to read the next one.
Verdict: TWO AND A HALF STARS
The Glassblower BY PETRA DURST-BENNING
I do love me a bit of historical fiction!
When Joost Steinmann passes away unexpectedly, he leaves behind three daughters who must learn to fend for themselves. Their tiny village in Germany is known for glass-making, but only men may blow the glass, so what are the girls to do?
I quite enjoyed this. I found the characters a bit annoying sometimes, but as a sister myself, I thought their interactions together were really accurate and well portrayed!
There were quite a few scenes that got unexpectedly violent and graphic, and I’ve seen a few complaints about the historical accuracy, but overall it’s a story about women and family and strength, and I thought it was pretty good.
However, I’ve since found out that this is ALSO the first book in a trilogy, and I have to admit I’m not too fussed about reading the next one…
Verdict: THREE STARS
I have obviously read more than 6 books this Summer (I only say “obviously” cos I speed-read like nobody’s business!), but these were the only NEW ones in my repertoire.
Mostly I’ve been reading old favourites from my recently re-discovered paperback collection!
I really need to get back into it though, so I’d love some recommendations :)
What have you read recently?