One of my resolutions for the new year was to read more. And I’m proud to stay I’ve been sticking to it! I’ve read some fantastic novels since January 2020 and I’m not over them yet. Here’s what I’ve been obsessed with:
1. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
I have to admit that this was a difficult book for me to begin. I’d read Bardugo’s previous series set in this universe, the Grisha Trilogy, and it wasn’t my scene. I put off reading this book for a long time, until I finally picked it up this year and resolved to finish it. And I have to say, I was riveted.
The novel is part of a duology revolving six “Proper Thieves”. Which is to say, it’s about a heist. All of the main characters are compelling and complex and I couldn’t pick a favourite if you asked me to. Once I got into the book, I inhaled it at lightning speed and almost screamed at the story’s conclusion. I had to immediately read the sequel, which is…
2. Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
The sequel to Six of Crows is just as exciting. Our heroes, a little worse for wear, prepare to take down the true criminal mastermind of Ketterdam once and for all. Those who’ve read the Grisha Trilogy will recognise some of the supporting characters.
The conclusion was exciting, satisfying, bittersweet, and filled with the sort of crazy stunts and twists that make this genre so much fun. I have to say I’m in love with this series and I’m glad I got over myself and read it. The characters will be with me for a long time.
3. Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Not a fantasy novel, but still satisfyingly full of princes. This is a queer love story between the (fictional) First Son of the United States, and the (fictional) Prince of Wales. Funny, sweet, and extremely romantic, this novel is a delight. I finished it in a day and I had a “book hangover” for the rest of the weekend.
This is a lighthearted read, excellent if you need to decompress, which raises a lot of serious issues as well. If there’s one thing that pricks me about it, though, is the fact that the two main characters are so privileged that I sometimes struggled to take their problems seriously in light of their invite-only, exclusive White House parties, or their secret trips to the Victoria & Albert museum. I did feel a bit alienated by the lifestyles they lead, but I’d expected to see at least some amount of extravagance because, come on, one of the characters is literally a prince, and the other is the President’s son.
The bottom line, though, is that this is one of the books I wished I was reading for the first time so I can experience it for the first time again.
4. The Clocks by Agatha Christie
I’ve never been much of a crime/detective novel kind of person, but watching Knives Out changed me. While I had read a couple of Agatha Christie novels when I was younger, I decided to go back to her after watching Knives Out in theatres (twice). I picked up The Clocks because the synopsis seemed interesting. It’s a Hercule Poirot mystery, though he’s actually a support character in his own book with only a few scenes that he mostly spends sitting in his chair, drinking hot chocolate.
The story begins with a young typist, Sheila Webb, discovering a body at a client’s house. The scene is filled with four clocks, each indicating the hour to be 4.13. The owner of the house insists that the clocks aren’t hers, and the case just seems to get stranger and stranger from there.
I quite enjoyed this book, but I find Hercule Poirot’s perspective to be a bit…well, sexist. I say this because I’ve browsed a couple of more Poirot novels (namely, Third Girl and I’ve just started reading Murder on the Orient Express) and I don’t like the way he describes–and dismisses–women based on their physical appearance. (This is actually why I stopped reading Third Girl). I want to say that this is just a sign of changing times, but sexism is as present in society now as it was then, so let’s just say, I liked The Clocks but I won’t reread it.
5. Circe by Madeline Miller
Technically I read this book in late December last year, but I’m adding it to this list anyway because it stayed with me. I loved Song of Achilles by the same writer and just like that book, this one threw a new perspective on an old story. Circe follows the story of the Greek mythological figure with the same name, a witch who is exiled to an island for eternity.
Circe stands sentinel to the dramas and tragedies that unfold throughout Greek mythology, her own unique voice and point of view shining through with each episode. This fiercely feminist book details the life of a woman who, for the most part, is by herself, and comfortable that way. It is a moving story, one I highly recommend.
So that’s my five for this quarter. I’m looking forward to finding more good books to read. There are some I have my eye on (hello, V.E Schwab’s entire bibliography), and I can’t wait to get reading.