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  • Writer's pictureNaomi P. Cohen

October Reads Part 1

Estranged by Ethan M. Albridge: I saw a mention made of this book circulating a little on social media and decided to purchase it for my nephews. Or for myself, and then a second copy for my nephews. It’s a beautifully illustrated graphic novel with hints of Jim Henson’s Labyrinth and Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere to it.

In the story, a changeling and the fairy who replaced him, meet and go on a journey to stop an evil queen who has torn apart the human’s fairy family and is now threatening the fairy child’s human family. Both boys want to know where they belong, having grown up feeling out of place in their homes. Accompanied by a wax golem, they encounter goblins, witches, and dragons as they journey. A truly delightful read!

Dream of the Navigator by Stephen Zimmer: First of all, this book gave me so much cover envy. The front cover is absolutely beautiful! That said, the book was a slow burner for me. I won it in a giveaway and was quite eager to read it, but the topic is heavy. It’s described as Narnia meets 1984 and that’s an apt comparison. It’s a thinking book for sure. It brought up some very realistic possibilities with many people in the futuristic setting, opting to never leave their homes with the amount of things available through VR: entertainment, social interaction, even schooling. A ruling elite uses this technology to control and monitor the population.

The story goes a little slowly for my taste, with several of the concepts being repeated in discussions more than once as the different characters learned about them. The dialogue and summarization also left a little to be desired. I don’t have a pressing need to read the rest of the story soon, but I did enjoy the book, and I will put the series on my TBR.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo: This one is a long over-due re-read. I read this trilogy in high school and was put off by the dark themes of the story. I read the series to the end but I didn’t care for it. After picking up and adoring Six of Crows, I decided to give this book another chance. It’s fast paced and quite the change from Dream of the Navigator.

I knew I would be useless until I finished this book, so I read it very quickly. It lacks the elements that made me love Six of Crows but it’s still a wonderful book. I am so glad I re-read it. A greater maturity level and more knowledge of Russian folktales allowed me to fully enjoy this book this time around. It reminds me of Uprooted by Naomi Novik. Also, having read this series to the end once, and the following duology, I was able to pick up on a lot of references to the different countries of this world. Leigh Bardugo has created such a well thought out world. Highly recommend as a twist on the traditional folktale.

A side note on this one: Six of Crows and Shadow and Bone make a good comparison study of plot driven, verses character driven stories. In Shadow and Bone the story is very much moved forward by the events and the main character is often frustrated by her helplessness in the face of them. “‘And it’s completely out of your hands now, isn’t it?’ he said…That was true too, if not particularly comforting. I had no choice but to trust that he knew what he was doing.”

In contrast, Six of Crows is highly character driven. The characters might decide to drive that car right off a bridge, but they chose to be there. They’ve calculated how to survive the fall and how long they’ll have to swim to shore and get away before people stop looking at the sinking car.

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab: This one started slow for me. I love the books I’ve read by this author and I’ve been quite looking forward to this one, but I picked it up still in a book hangover from Shadow and Bone and really wanting to read the next of that trilogy. On top of that, his book doesn’t have a hook as wonderful as the author’s other series that I’ve read. “Kell wore a very peculiar coat.”

By page 50 I had recovered from the hangover and was hooked. I ended up being useless again. Ah, well. Victoria Schwab is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. I love her characters and she makes me feel the feels. A Darker Shade of Magic remains my favorite by her, but this book was a great read and very much in her wonderful style.

Family Time Reads:

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (yep)

The One Year Bible: Jeremiah, Second Thessalonians, Psalms, Proverbs

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