I only read three books in August. Three. THREE. To say that balancing back-to-school, two soccer schedules, my (sadly-neglected) shop at DHD, and a new job has got my life off-kilter would be a severe understatement. Just look at what it's done to my reading time! LOL Here's a look at what I did manage to get read this month.
A Spy in the House (The Agency #1) by Y. S. Lee (3 stars)
I enjoyed the Victorian setting, the detective agency, the core mystery needing to be solved. I enjoyed some of the characters. I didn't enjoy the stereotypes that were employed or how the author just disregards the conventions of the time period in which she's writing in order to create the character she has in mind. So while this would be a great book to recommend to YA girls, I think it sends some mixed messages about being strong, smart, and female. And to be honest, the whole "bickering main characters" trope is almost as worn out as the "falls immediately in love" trope.
Advent by James Treadwell (3 stars)
This was a really dense read, which I don't mind, when I feel the payoff is worth the time invested. At points, I felt as though I were getting my money's worth here, but at other times I really found myself struggling. The writing is lovely, and the magic constructed here is well-done (I've seen multiple comparisons to Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising series, which is accurate, although this book lacks the immediacy of her writing/story). I think my issue is that I never really felt like I connected with any of the characters in the novel, even though most of them are fairly well-developed and we spend plenty of time inside their lives. It's just hard to slog through 400 pages of story if you don't really care anything about the characters. What kept me going, to be honest, was trying to figure out all the connections among the different legends and magical beings called forth in this story.
Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness (3 stars)
It became pretty clear to me about a third of the way through this novel that the things that were *kind of* bothering me in the first novel (the slow pace, a lack of character development, mediocre writing) would end up being things that really bothered me in the sequel. Again, the story itself has promise, and there are enough glimpses of the core conflict provided to keep me plodding through an accumulated mass of details that just never coalesce and lead anywhere. Harkness spends so much time detailing 15th century England, but she fails to pay that same attention to developing the relationships between her characters. Of course, their relationship does progress, but it does so in fits and starts, and it's mostly through telling, rather than showing, that we come to understand how Diana and Matthew feel about certain topics. What it comes down to, I think, is that there's just not any "flow" to this novel; the pacing and plotting and development never come together to create that literary magic that a really good novel seems to effortlessly possess.
I think now is a good time to revisit my Summer Reading List. I originally set a goal of 40 books. I ended up reading 29 books over the summer (June, July, August), with 16 of those being on my original list and 13 being additions that I picked up from the library, my own shelves, or the bookstore throughout the summer. I did make really good progress in getting a number of e-books read over the summer, especially some that I've had on my reader for almost a year without reading.