Hello, hello! Life is nuts, the world’s on fire, my to-do list grows and grows––but I still manage to find little pockets of time here and there to read for fun. Ever since I started prioritizing my reading for quality over quantity, I’ve really started to hone in on what I truly enjoy. While I’d love to be the kind of person who could read 100 books a year (on top of the reading I already do at work!), it’s definitely nice to be able to end the day or week (or even month, in some cases) with a book that wholly transports me.
I’ve read 12 books so far. 5 of them were for book clubs, 1 of them a buddy read, 2 read during the flights to and from our honeymoon, 4 of them on my “2022 goals” list to read this year, 2 of them I picked up out of pure curiosity, 3 of them audiobooks. Of this collection, 4 received 5(+) stars! Here are my five-star favorites from January through mid-June! Read after the break to glimpse my mini reviews!
So glad you’d like to read on!
Empire of Gold by SA Chakraborty || What is there to say about your favorite fantasy trilogy other than *speechless awe*? I was so pumped for City of Brass when the deal was announced. I received galleys for all three books. I pushed this trilogy into friends’ hands. I preordered Empire of Gold and attended three or four of Chakraborty’s virtual events and IG Lives. But when it came time to actually finishing the third book…I stalled. I didn’t want this world to end. If the book was never read then I could keep Nahri, Dara, and Ali safe and sound. I could avoid the pain I knew Chakraborty would inflict.
But over New Year’s, I cracked open the book and fell right in. The immersive writing, the glorious world-building, the complicated and layered and mind-blowing politics, the humor and levity and hope and love threaded throughout. It felt like coming home. But surprises (with gasps and tears and exclamations) in every chapter kept me glued to the pages. It was all so much, so cinematic. And yet so authentic and genuine. Though my heart broke many many times, I found the way this trilogy, this book, wrapped up to be both neat and also extremely fitting for the characters. The end games made sense. And despite being beaten and battered, I closed the book with such a satisfied sigh and smile.
What a joy. A breathlessly incredible journey.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by VE Schwab || 7 stars for 7 freckles. 300 stars for 300 years. A universe of stars for eternity. There are not enough stars—or enough words—to adequately explain what this book means to me, how it made me feel, or the kind of journey I experienced. It is sketches and blurs and scribbles and notations. It is movement and memory and sorrow and love. It is vicious and tender and biting and soothing.
It is a triumph.
Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez || I enjoyed every single page. From the Jimenez-classic dog meet cute to the May/December romance, the pressures of familial dynasties (both in wealth and in small town) to defining independence and freedom, the value of true friendships to breaking cycles of abuse. There were so many laugh-out-loud moments, a couple of sniffles, and a whole lot of heart. Alexis and Daniel and their situations felt so real to me, dynamic and authentic.
Hilarious, fun, heartwarming, empowering. A must-read!
[I’ve read every single one of Abby Jimenez’s books––she’s an auto-buy author and I adore everything she publishes!]
The Huntress by Kate Quinn || When I finished The Alice Network, I promised myself I’d get Kate Quinn’s future books, especially the WWI/II variety. Since then I’ve purchased 3 more, but hadn’t gotten around to reading them. So when book club chose The Huntress, I was thrilled to be able to cross it off my 2022 TBR and dive back into Quinn’s writing.
Once again, she did not disappoint. She managed to write 3 separate narratives and weave them seamlessly together to an explosive ending. We know from the very beginning who the “villain” is––and the entire book was about getting the 3 POVs to reach the same conclusion. It was a book about each individual’s journey to the painful truth, and seeing how they responded to the situation at hand.
It’s 1945-1950. There’s Jordan, a young woman (17-22) in Boston with ambitions of becoming a photojournalist. Her father marries a new wife and adopts her daughter. But Jordan is suspicious of her new stepmother, and can’t help but draw fanciful conclusions from the images she captures on her camera. Though quick to judge, she’s intuitive and observant. There’s Ian, a journalist turned Nazi hunter, seeking vengeance on one person in particular: die Jägerin, the huntress, a woman who slaughtered Poles, Jews, POWs, refugees, and children for fun. One of them was Ian’s brother, and he’ll stop at nothing to find her and bring her to trial. There’s Nina, a Russian pilot of the Night Witches, whose ambition lies in the skies and west, as far from Russia and her tiny Siberian village. She’s an individualist, a “madwoman,” brave and stubborn. She also has a vendetta, though she’d rather kill die Jägerin herself than see justice.
I loved every word. Each character brought their own dynamic perspective to the narrative and I loved the slow build of each journey. Fans of folklore will love the selkie/lorelei/rusalka myths that come into play, too. And there’s always something new to learn! (I, for one, didn’t know the bomber planes were made of plywood and linen!)
If you haven’t read a Kate Quinn yet, get thee a copy now!