May Summary

May felt like a really slow month for me, but I still ended up knocking back almost 3,000 pages, so definitely nothing to feel bad about. My summary for May is:

Books read: 7
Pages read: 2,750
Main genres: Fantasy and Mystery
Favourite book: Children of Blood and Bone

I started the month off with an advanced reading copy of The Death of Mrs. Westaway from netgalley. I’m a little bit obsessed with Ruth Ware, so I was super excited about this one. Unfortunately it didn’t end of being one of my favourite Ruth Ware novels, but I did still enjoy it and I will definitely still be reading all her books.

After that I finally picked up a copy of Children of Blood and Bone, which I have been hearing SO MUCH hype about since it came out. I was worried it might have been over-hyped, but it definitely was not and I really liked this West-African inspired fantasy novel. It had several different perspectives and while I thought it was a little predictable, it was so fast paced and thoughful that I loved every second of it!

I went back and forth between fantasy and mystery novels this month. I really like mystery novels, but I don’t tend to read that many of them. I had 2 winners in May though! First I read Sometimes I Lie for my book club. I admit, I didn’t really want to read this one because it sounded kind of boring with the main character being in a coma. But it ended up being super compelling and have a million twists that I never saw coming.

The other mystery novel I picked up was Kristen Lepionka’s second book in her Roxane Weary series, What You Want To See. I loved Lepionka’s debut novel and I think Roxane Weary is a great PI/character. Her second novel did not disappoint and just made me love Roxane even more.

I had a few new fantasy releases that I just HAD to read in May. Sarah J Maas’ novella, A Court of Frost and Starlight, and the third book in the Ruined series, Allied, both came out on May 1. I wasn’t expecting much from A Court of Frost and Starlight, which is supposed to bridge the gap between the original series and a new spinoff series, and I got a story just as underwhelming as I expected. I have a whole ton of opinions on why this book was so bad, so read my full review for more. Allied was definitely better, although still a little underwhelming for the final book in a trilogy. I did like it, but sadly it didn’t have the same flair as the first two books.

I finished off the month with a great book though! I picked up The Astonishing Color of After on a whim and ended up loving it! It’s about a teenage girl who in her grief at losing her mother to suicide, believes she has come back as a bird. It’s full of magical realism and gorgeous writing. It took me a while to get through, but I thought it was a fabulous debut novel.

You’ll notice I didn’t complete a monthly challenge in May, but I have set one for June that I am very excited about!

Children of Blood and Bone

Rating: .5
Author: Tomi Adeyemi
Genres: Fantasy
Pub Date: Mar. 2018 (read May 2018)

I was so worried this was not going to live up to the hype – The Cruel Prince was a huge letdown for me earlier this year – but this absolutely did!

Children of Blood and Bone is the hottest new fantasy novel in 2018 and is particularly exciting because of it’s representation. Tomi Adeyemi is a Nigerian-American and this is very much a West-African themed fantasy novel. I loved almost everything about this. It is well written, has interesting and well developed characters, it’s not too romance heavy, it’s gritty and dark, and it had a fast moving plot that I actually cared about!

Children of Blood and Bone is set in the land of Orisha, which is a very lush and vibrant world. It has been 11 years since the King rid Orisha of magic and executed all of the Maji (the wielders of magic). However, he left the diviners, which are the children of Maji who have not yet matured enough to develop their magic. The diviners are identifiable by the white streak in their hair and the King continues to oppress them by increasing their taxes and forcing them to do brutal manual labour in the stocks when they can’t afford to pay.

Zelie is haunted by the death of her mother, who was a Reaper until the King destroyed magic and then strung up her mother with all of the other Maji. Zelie is a diviner, but her father and brother Tzain are not and she feels a constant threat to them. The attention drawn to her as a diviner puts the rest of her family at risk too. So she trains in the ways of the staff with Mama Agba in hopes of one day being able to fight back against her oppressors.

On the other side of the Kingdom, Inan and Amari are abused by the King in an entirely different way. They are his children, heirs to the throne, but he shows them no love as he tries to toughen them up and prepare them to one day take the throne. Amari is the younger child and her father has all but given up on her. He believes her weak and she hides from him with her friend and servant Binta. But when a rare magical artifact shows up that threatens to return magic to the Kingdom, her father threatens Binta and Amari makes a choice to steal to the artifact away and in a chance encounter, teams up with Zelie to try and bring magic back. Her older brother, Inan, is commissioned to hunt down Zelie and Amari and return the artifact by any means necessary.

Zelie, Tzain, Amari, and Inan are the main characters of the story and the novel shares narration between 3 of them. This would be one of my small complaints because I was curious why Adeyemi choice not to have Tzain narrate any of the story. I thought he was a fascinating character too and I would have really like to hear things through his perspective. We mostly only get his perspective through Zelie or Amari.

I thought Zelie was a fantastic protagonist though. She’s strong but vulnerable, a leader but still flawed. She makes mistake after mistake, but she is persistent and you can’t help but love her. I feel like the author took her character through the ringer in this novel and I loved that she wasn’t afraid to take risks with the plot. Parts of it were still a little predictable, but she throws in enough twists and turns and heartbreak that it doesn’t really matter. The stakes were high.

I loved Amari too. Inan is the dark, brooding villain who you just want to see the light so badly, but you never really know if he is capable of turning against the brutal upbringing that has been ingrained into him by his father. But Amari is soft spoken and timid and I love those quieter female characters who demonstrate different kinds of strength. She struggles to fight or kill, even though she’s been trained by her father her entire life, yet her love for her friend drives her to take the ultimate risk to steal the scroll. She had so many opportunities to turn back to her cushy palace life and even though she seemed weak to Tzain and Zelie, she never seriously considers abandoning them. I’d admired her tenacity. If I’d grown up in a palace I think one look at poverty, hunger, and violence would send me running back to my tower. I love bad-ass characters like Zelie and Celaena Sardothian and Katniss Everdeen. But I also really appreciate those softer characters who fight their battles through other means. Characters like Sansa Stark and Hermione Granger and Amari.

My other minor complaint would be about the romance. I liked that the romance wasn’t central to the story, but I also had a really hard time buying into the romance at all. I feel like I was supposed to be frustrated with Tzain’s views on the romance, but I actually think he had it completely right. I might have given this 4 stars in the middle of the book because of the romance, but I ended up liking some of the outcomes of the romance and how awry things ended up going, which I thought more accurate. So it gets the extra half star because I ended up actually being impressed with where the author took some of these relationships by the end of the book.

There will of course be another book in this series and I am definitely here for it! I can’t believe this is a debut novel and I will definitely be coming back for more!