I haven’t been able to do a book tag in a bit, so I figured that it would be a good time to do it now that I’m out of school! I found this one over at Laura @ The Corner of Laura, and the tag was originally created by Aimal @ Bookshelves and Paperbacks. I am a devoted Ben ‘n’ Jerry’s lover and a lover of ice cream in general, so this looked like the perfect tag to do!
Let’s begin, shall we?
🍨 THE BEN ‘N’ JERRY’S BOOK TAG 🍨
VANILLA CARAMEL FUDGE: pick a light, fluffy contemporary
Contemporary usually isn’t my go-to, but Perfect on Paperis one of the best YA contemporary romances I’ve ever read—truly excellent bisexual rep!
MINT CHOCOLATE COOKIE: a new release that you wish everybody would read
STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE: a book containing your OTP of OTPs
Not to commit author double-dipping on these tags (I always do…oopsie), but my love for Kal and Auri from the Aurora Cycle knows no bounds. (I’m getting all excited about these books all over again because I got a friend of a friend to pick up a copy of Aurora Rising at the airport…WE CONVERTED HIM)
MILK & COOKIES: two authors, who, if they collaborated, would go perfectly together
I feel like Leigh Bardugo and Roshani Chokshi could do something really interesting together! They’re both excellent at YA heist fantasy novels, so I’m sure their powers combined would result in something super fun…
BOSTON CREAM PIE: a bookthathad you turning pages late into the night
I got House of Hollowfrom a Christmas gift card last year! Even though my expectations were low (I tried to keep them low so all of the hype it got wouldn’t disappoint me), Sutherland’s prose was incredible!
CHOCOLATE THERAPY: a book that makes you feel better after a long day of life
COFFEE, COFFEE, BUZZBUZZBUZZ! : a book not yet released that you can’t wait to get your hands on
I was so excited to hear about A Song of Salvation!Anything by Alechia Dow automatically has to go on my TBR, and I can’t wait to have more adventures in her established universe. It comes out in about two months…
If my constant blabbing about Aurora Rising from the past four years should bring you to any conclusion, it’s probably that I’m a massive Amie Kaufman fan. So when I heard that she was making her solo YA debut this year, I was BEYOND excited!! I immediately preordered, and it came right when I’d just finished up my first year of college—the perfect present! And even though I’ll always pick sci-fi over fantasy, if anybody can make a fantasy that I’ll give 5 stars, it’s Amie Kaufman.
She’s been tagging along with her father on the high seas since she was a baby, but now, he’s left Selly to her own devices in the port town of Kirkpool. Intent on tracking him down, she tries to set sail, only for her plans to go awry at the hands of Prince Leander, who wants to hitch a ride for his own gain—to seek out the storied Isles of the Gods, where the ruling deities of her world are fabled to be laying in a restless, dormant sleep. But when a disastrous assassination attempt leaves Selly and her crew stranded, she has no choice to trust Leander—and make it to the Isles no matter the cost.
From what I can tell, The Isles of the Gods is a book around a decade in the making, a passion project that Amie Kaufman had been crafting relentlessly in between releasing some of her other collaborative novels. So there’s automatically 10 years of love in this novel—and boy, it really did show.
I’ve preferred sci-fi to fantasy for years, but leave it to Amie Kaufman to craft a fresh setting that kept me turning the page for hours! I’m already a sucker for pirates in fantasy, and that aspect was executed with just the right balance of campy fun and nail-biting stakes. And after parsing through all of the rich facets of the world that Kaufman created, it’s left me with one question: what’s keeping authors from creating more industrial/advanced fantasy settings? Consider me done with fantasies with automatically medieval settings, can we do more 1920’s-inspired fantasies that don’t just focus on the jazz age stuff? I didn’t know I could possibly yearn for the melding of magicians and old-timey cars quite this much, but I’ll say it once and I’ll say it again: if anybody can do it, IT’S AMIE KAUFMAN.
Kaufman’s writing, as it always is, was the real star of the show in The Isles of the Gods. There’s something instantly transporting about her prose—from the first sentence, I felt dunked headfirst into this lush, rich world, from the gripping prologue to the delightfully suspenseful final sequence. Maybe this is just a consequence of me being so attached to her writing style, but she has such a way of drawing you into the story in record time. Every book is a little world in and of itself, but hers never cease to feel tangible. Reading fantasies with sea settings are always fun for me, being about as landlocked as you can get here in the U.S., but reading this reminded me of a passage from Neil Gaiman’s The Oceanat the End of the Lane, about the protagonist imagining that the rain pattering against his window at night was waves on the hull of a ship. Good thing it was pouring rain when I was reading this book.
And speaking of Kaufman’s writing—now that I’ve seen her solo and collaborative works, I can say with certainty how clever of a writer she is. She sets up common conflicts that threaten to drag down the book, but whips them into cunningly-subverted left turns that kept me guessing all through the novel. A whole bunch of characters that you *can’t* quite tell apart, but are still personally relevant to the protagonist? Oh look, a botched assassination attempt that gets rid of them! Have a lovable but borderline one-note character who hasn’t had the chance to prove themself? Put that sorry little man in a Situation!™️ It may be diabolical, but it made my enjoyment of the book increase that much more—nothing like trope subversion and avoidance left and right to keep you on your toes.
As for the characters, I’m not quite as attached to them as I was with the squad of the Aurora Cycle, for example, but that’s way too high a bar, even if it’s still Amie Kaufman, but I did adore a lot of them! There was clearly so much love and care put into Selly, and it showed—she had a beautiful arc, and she was such a determined and lovable character to root for. Leander’s type of character—the charming, spoiled prince that the protagonist can’t help but fall for—has been done since time immemorial, but Kaufman’s take on the trope resulted in some lovely laughs and a slow-burn romance done right!
And…yes, I felt a little too called out by Keegan. The “bookworm who hasn’t seen the light of day in way too long” was already there, but…dude. I just shaved my head in January. DUDE. AMIE KAUFMAN, STOP PEEKING INTO MY BRAIN LIKE THAT. YOU COME INTO MY HOUSE, AND YOU MAKE A GENDER-SWAPPED CHARACTER OF ME?
Jude and Laskia (especially the former) didn’t get quite as much page time, but they were incredibly intriguing as not-quite-antagonists, but puppeteering each other and subsequently being puppets to political forces beyond their control. I kept getting hints that Laskia was going to turn to Selly/Leander/Keegan’s side, but now that we’ve seen ✨the cliffhanger,✨ the future is uncertain…hmm. I didn’t quite get the promised “squad” vibe that the blurb promised, but I have a feeling that the two camps are going to merge sooner than later…
Also, we love an absolutely Indiana Jones final sequence. NAILED the fantasy brand of campy.
One sidenote—Amie Kaufman said several times that Isles was going to have LGBTQ+ rep, and all we really got was the lesbian couple that appeared for a total of…maybe three pages? Which, yeah, that’s all well and good, but the question that many readers had about said rep was if any of the protagonists were going to be queer, and…so far, nothing? As much as I loved this book, I can’t help but be a little disappointed on that front.
All in all, a gripping, cinematic, and utterly lovable solo venture from one of my favorite authors. 4.75 stars, rounded up to 5!
The Isles of the Gods is the first in a planned duology, concluding with an unnamed final book slated for release in 2024. Amie Kaufman is also the co-author of the Illuminae Files, the Aurora Cycle (with Jay Kristoff), the Starbound trilogy, and the Other Side of the Sky duology (with Meagan Spooner). On her own, she is the author of the middle grade Elementals trilogy.
That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
Hi again, bibliophiles! Long time, no see. (write?) I’m back from the grave, and I’ll do my best to make this post coherent because I know it’s been a while. My bad.
It’s taken…a while, but I’m feeling like I’m in a good place to blog more regularly for now. College was a jarring experience to settle into, but I’m starting to get the hang of it now. Being away from home for the first time was pretty scary for the first few weeks, even though my college is relatively close to where I am, but over time, I’ve gotten used to it. I’ve gotten a nice routine, I’m liking a lot of my classes (minus the obligatory math credit 🥴), and I’m making friends and…actually socializing? There’s been a lot of fun events on campus already, and I’ve been to a lot of pride stuff (a whole bisexuality day event, complete with cookie decorating and Bohemian Rhapsody) and just recently went to my first book club meeting! Of course, there have been ups (most of the aforementioned stuff), downs (the fire alarm going off at 2 am 😀), and the outright weird (seeing somebody walk into my neighbor’s dorm in a hotdog suit), but I definitely feel like I’ve made the right decision. It’s taken a good amount of Great British Bakeoff binging, but I’m feeling good.
Since this would’ve been impossibly giant if I’d structured it like I normally structure my wrap-ups, I’ll compress it this time since a) I haven’t been able to read as much, and b) a lot of what I ended up reading from August to September ended up being re-reads (the homesickness cure?).
So, here are some highlights!
WHAT I’VE BEEN UP TO LATELY:
So! College! I’m taking mostly English stuff for my creative writing major, so that’s been tons of fun to have that as the majority of my material. I’ve only really had tests and quizzes for my math and science credits, and my science credit is at least fun; it’s an anthropology class, so…….monke. (not to mention walking into class one time only to find that “return to monke” was actually part of the title slide of the presentation). Also, I ended up using Twitch for the first time…for the anthropology class? The professor streamed his class there because it got up to almost 100 degrees (oof) way back in September. Somehow that was where I found out about Queen Elizabeth II dying. Anyways…
And I’m taking a whole class! About! Comics!Ms. Marvel and On a Sunbeam and Sisters and Watchmen are on the reading list! I WROTE AN ESSAY ABOUT DR. MANHATTAN. FOR CREDIT. WHO WOULDA THUNK.
I saw Gorillaz in September! Easily one of the best shows I’ve ever been to. Somebody described Gorillaz concerts as “a big party with Damon Albarn,” and that’s exactly what I got. They played so many of my favorites, and the joy was infectious all the way through. Admittedly, I had just gotten what turned out to be a pretty nasty cold, but being there made me forget about it completely.
I’m sort of obsessed with the Great British Bakeoff now… I started watching it as a comfort thing when I was still super homesick, but I just LOVE it now. It’s the perfect feel-good show! I usually watch it before I go to bed now, and I’m going through the newest season right now! (Mexican Week, though…I swear a little piece of my soul shriveled up and died every time Paul Hollywood pronounced “pico de gallo” Like That)
I love this campus! I got my dorm all decorated so it’s nice and homey, the hall I live in is really close to my classes, and now that it’s fall, the trees look so beautiful. It was still pretty hot for a while, but we’ve had some beautiful fall days. I went for a walk after class one day just to get coffee and take pictures of the leaves.
College has definitely been a rocky transition, but nonetheless, it’s starting to feel familiar. It helps that the majority of my classes are more tailored to my interests and that my dorm is nice and cozy.
Since it’s taken a bit to settle in and I’ve had a good amount to read for my classes, I haven’t had quite as much time to free read. But slowly but surely, I’ve been reading more, and I’ve lurked in the library (wonderfully close to my dorm) to find stuff to read. Normally, I list off everything I’ve read for the month, but since this wrap-up encompasses three months, I’ll just narrow it down to the highlights. (Plus, most of the end of August and a good chunk of September were re-reads. I’ll include a few on there, but I don’t want an overly long list.)
SOME HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE LAST THREE MONTHS OF READING:
Call Us What We Carry – Amanda Gorman: My brother got me this for my birthday (thank you!). I don’t regularly read poetry, but it’d be a crime to rate anything by Amanda Gorman less than 5 stars. Truly astounding. (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)
The Complete Maus – Art Spiegelman:This was part of a unit in my comics class about the 1986 Trifecta (this, Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returnsand Alan Moore’s Watchmen), and I was absolutely floored. It’s raw, it transcends time, and it’s easily the most fleshed-out story of generational trauma that I’ve ever experienced. It wasn’t an easy read, and I didn’t expect it to be in any sense of the word—Maus found me crying at least three separate times. And I’ll stand by the fact that it should be essential reading. (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)
The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires – Grady Hendrix:this one had been on my tbr for a little while, but it was one of the picks for book club for October, so I finally got around to reading it. I don’t read a lot of horror, but I’d say this was solid—an interesting spin on the typical perspective, and loads of all the absolutely vile body horror you’d expect from a vampire book, paired with the general horror of…cockroaches trying to crawl in your ear. (this is why I’m glad my parents moved me away from the South at a young age.) Also, pro tip—not the best book to pick up when it’s 2 AM and you can’t fall back asleep. Basically the book equivalent of “Intruder” coming on shuffle while I was trying to sleep. (Which also happened…the night I moved into my dorm, no less. Anyways.) Speaking from experience, both are better enjoyed in broad daylight. (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)
The Lost Girls – Sonia Hartl: I was just looking for something campy-spooky to tide me over, and I didn’t expect to like it this much! Spooky and campy it was, and who doesn’t enjoy a team of queer vampires from different time periods hunting down the man who turned them? It got strangely existential at times, which was more than a little jarring, but it was the perfect queer book for spooky season. (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)
Watchmen – Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons: again, part of my assigned reading for comics class, but this was my second time around reading it. I was ready to not like it when I first read it, chiefly because 95% of the characters were just the most despicable, horrendous, vile characters known to man (which I still stand by, and I still think that a lot of readers sadly didn’t recognize), but it all came around in the last few chapters. Reading it a second time really allowed me to absorb all the details (nothing gives you that sense of “big brain time” like finding every little smiley face and blood-spatter shape hidden in the background), and it made me realize all over again how skilled Alan Moore is at creating a world; I can’t think of another piece of media that realizes its world as fully as Watchmen‘s does. There’s a reason this one is a classic. Now I’m tempted to rewatch the show… (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)
A Prayer for the Crown-Shy (Monk & Robot, #2) – Becky Chambers: the queen of quiet, feel-good sci-fi does it again! I had this one on hold for a while after I finished A Psalm for the Wild-Built,and I’m glad to say that book 2 was just as tender, sweet, and warm-and-fuzzy as its predecessor. This one’s another one that got me choked up, but in an entirely different way—who knew that a robot holding a baby for the first time would make me so emotional? We love Mosscap in this house. (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)
I Am the Ghost in Your House – Mar Romasco Moore: never thought that a story about an invisible bisexual girl would hit me this hard, but here we are. I picked this one up entirely on a whim, and for the most part, it floored me—incredible prose and well-thought-out in every aspect, I Am the Ghost in Your House is the perfect example of the sheer potency of magical realism. I’m gonna try review this one soon…hopefully I can keep my promise there. Either way, I’d highly recommend it. (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.25)
And because it wouldn’t be a Bookish Mutant post without it…
WHAT I’VE BEEN LISTENING TO FOR THE LAST THREE MONTHS OR SO:
This is probably a good place to cap it off, so here we are. I think I’m in a place where I can return to a semi-consistent version of my old schedule; I’ll definitely try and do my weekly reviews, at the very least, but I’m feeling a lot more settled in than I was when I last posted. Hope you’re all doing well, and lots of love to all of you. And more importantly—happy Halloween! 🎃
That’s it for this monstrously large wrap-up! It’s good to be back. Have a wonderful rest of your day, take care of yourselves, and have a safe and spooky Halloween! 🧛🏼♀️
1. Everywhere you look flowers are blooming! Choose a book you love or think you will love with flowers on the cover.
I just read Flamefalland enjoyed it, and it has some flowers on the (very busy) cover!
2. Spring is the perfect time for a fun trip! Choose a book you’ve read or would like to read while traveling from one place to another.
I had to read The Roadfor school, and I made the mistake of reading it on the plane at night. It was easily the most grim and depressing book I’ve ever read as is, but reading it on a night flight to Florida made it even worse.
3. Who doesn’t love a good Spring Fling? Choose a book you were obsessed with for a short period of time, but then you swiftly cast it aside.
The Familiarswas my favorite series for a little while when I was in elementary school, but I remember being really disappointed by book 4. These didn’t age terribly well…
4. Everyone loves the smell of freshly mowed grass, but not at an ungodly hour! Choose a book that personifies as a middle-aged dad waking up at 7am on a Saturday to mow the lawn when he should be sleeping like the rest of us.
…that’s…oddly specific…I don’t even know what kind of book I’d put for this prompt skdjhskjfh
5. A surprise rain shower might spoil your outdoor fun, but don’t worry the sun will be back! Choose a book that made you really sad, but the sun still shines in the end.
Like a Love Storyabsolutely gutted me, but I suppose it was hopeful towards the end. Certainly had some sweet moments in between all the tears.
6. It’s that time of year when all the animals stretch their limbs and come out of hibernation. Choose a book that pulled you out of a reading slump.
The Grief Keeperwas an immensely powerful book, and it broke me out of a long reading slump!
7. Students all over exhale a sigh of relief knowing they get a break from school. Choose a book whose friend group you’d like to spend Spring Break with.
I just know that spending spring break with Squad 312 would be absolute chaos…I’d stick around though
8. Spring is all about rebirth and blooming. Choose a book that made you grow as a person.
Steal Like an Artist was a book that helped develop my creativity so much! I printed out one of the illustrations/quotes and put it on my wall.
9. A picnic at the park is the perfect springtime activity! Choose a book with a character who you think would pack the best picnic basket.
Levi from Fangirlwould make a tasty picnic basket—complete with some Starbucks!
10. For many, spring is the first break from the bitterness of winter! Choose a book that is the embodiment of sunshine.
It feels like a while since I’ve done a book tag, and regardless of whether or not that’s completely true, I decided to do one. I found this one over at Classy x Book Reviews (Amanda and Antonia have a fantastic blog, check it out if you haven’t already!), and the tag was originally created by Rachel @ Life of a Female Bibliophile. Sci-fi is my favorite genre, so of course I had to do this tag!
Let’s begin, shall we?
🪐INTERGALACTIC BOOK TAG🪐
SPACE: name a book that is out of this world – that takes place in a world different from our own.
Crownchaserstakes place in an entirely new galaxy—a lot of interesting planets are explored throughout the duology!
BLACK HOLE: Name a book that completely sucked you in.
I know I use this book for every tag, but Aurora Risingsucked me in like no other book has—when I first started reading it, I blew through hundreds of pages without moving, and after I finished it, I ended up re-reading it three times before setting it down for something else. (Why yes, this is my favorite trilogy, why do you ask?)
LIGHTSPEED: Name a book you are anticipating so much that you wish you could travel at lightspeed to get to it.
As disappointing as Persephone Stationwas, I will say that it has one of those beautiful covers that you can’t help but stare at.
MULTIVERSE: Name a companion or spin-off series you love.
The Sound of Starsand The Kindredare companion books set in the same universe, and I loved them both! Very different thematically, but they were both fantastic in their own ways.
GRAVITY: Name your favorite romantic pairing that seems to have a gravitational pull to each other.
Alright, I know I shouldn’t double up, but Kal and Auri from the Aurora Cycle are my all-time favorite book couple. And Kal’s attraction is even called The Pull, so how could I not use it for this prompt?
THE BIG BANG: Name a book that got you started on reading.
As far as sci-fi goes, The Search for WondLawas what got me hooked on sci-fi literature. It’s been a while since I’ve re-read it, but I love to look back through the illustrations; Tony DiTerlizzi is just as talented as an artist as he is a writer.
ASTEROID: Name a short story or novella that you love.
To Be Taught, If Fortunateis a wonderful novella, and the concept is so inventive—what if, instead of transforming planets to our needs, we transformed ourselves?
GALAXY: Name a book with multiple POVs.
Sky Without Starsis told from three POVs (Alouette’s POV is my favorite), and it’s a fascinating sci-fi retelling! I’d highly recommend the whole trilogy.
SPACESHIP: Name a book title that would be a great name for a spaceship.
Iron Widowwould be SUCH a cool name for a spaceship. I’m picturing some sort of sharp-edged battleship for it. Skyhunterwould work too.
Happy MLK Day as well; we are always indebted to the incredible work he has done for this country. But as the day goes on, it’s important to reflect on the fact that his definition of nonviolent protest was different than the one that most people remember him with. Look no further than his Letter from Birmingham Jail if you want to read more. And as always, the path to racial equality in America isn’t done—for those of you in the U.S., please click on this link to contact your senators about passing key voting rights legislations.
Although I’ve mostly stopped wrapping up 2021, I figured that I would participate in this wonderful original tag by Hundreds & Thousands of Books! She has a fantastic blog, so check it out when you can!
Trilogies are a tried and true length for so many good book series. Having three books in the series makes for a larger three-act story overall, and it sits in the happy medium between a quick duology and a longer, more drawn-out saga. But even so, the trilogy often falls prey to a sometimes fatal curse: a middle book that doesn’t hold up to the rest of the series. Just like in a single novel, a lull often happens in the middle of the trilogy, and that lull almost always happens to land in book 2. It’s like Pulp Fiction—the first and last third are fantastic, but the middle seems to drag on and on without any consequence to the plot, or in this case, the series as a whole.
I’ve read plenty of trilogies—good, bad, and just decent. But a lot of them fall into this pattern of having great first and third books, but not-so-great second books. So I decided to look into what makes middle books fail—or succeed. I’ve gathered up three examples of lagging middle books and three fantastic middle books, and from there, we can determine some of the root causes of a sagging middle.
Now, keep in mind before I dive in—this is a very, very subjective analysis. These are examples of books that I personally think fit the bill of good or bad middles, but it’s not true for everyone! Think for yourselves. Now, let the ranting investigation begin…
Let’s begin, shall we?
THE CURSE OF BOOK 2: WHY DOES THE SECOND BOOK IN THE TRILOGY SOMETIMES FALL FLAT?
I got into the Shades of Magic trilogy last year and loved it—except for this one, which was still decent, but nowhere near the others in terms of quality. My main issue was that the plot was almost entirely filler; the Elemental Games were entertaining, sure, but they were inconsequential in comparison to everything else that moved the plots of A Darker Shade of Magic and A Conjuring of Light forward. The only thing tying A Gathering of Shadows to its predecessor and successor was the main villain—brought back by the resurrection trope, no less. What made A Gathering of Shadows so lackluster was that it emphasized the worst aspect of its predecessor—the weak plot—and amplified it into 500 pages of filler.
I wasn’t attached to Serpent & Dove as much as I was to A Darker Shade of Magic, but I recognize blatant filler when I see it. The sad part about Blood & Honey is that the Serpent & Dove series was originally supposed to be a duology, but it got so popular that the publishers pushed Shelby Mahurin to make it a trilogy. So in the grand scheme of things, the pitfalls of Blood & Honey could have been prevented.
Even though this was a 3-star read for me, it was still a major slog. I’ll say this in A Gathering of Shadows’ favor—it may have been filler, but at least it was entertaining. Blood & Honey was just 500 pages of the characters being separated and then hemming and hawing as they attempted to find their way back to the main plot. And then it had to end with a ridiculous cliffhanger.
However, the case of Blood & Honey isn’t exactly like all the other trilogies in this post—it wasn’t the worst book in the series, but after Gods & Monsters, this was the signal of what I felt was the nosedive in quality of this series.Gods & Monsters was even worse. My advice? Just stick with Serpent & Dove and then let it be.
Apparently I’m in the minority for this one; a lot of people really seemed to like the direction that Kingsbane took the Empirium trilogy. For me, though, it lacked the emotional weight that made Furyborn and Lightbringer so impactful. Though I liked it a lot more than I did A Gathering of Shadows and Blood & Honey, this one was also a lot of rushing around. By the time the cliffhanger came, its impact was dumbed down for me. And this one was 600 pages long, so it was easy for the important parts of the plot to get bogged down with what occurred in the interim. (That’s not to say that all long books are unnecessarily lengthy—ever read Dune?)
Maybe I’m a little biased since this is my favorite series, but I truly think Aurora Burning is a textbook example of book 2 done right. The key here is consistency: while it still took the plot to new heights and directions, it kept a similar pace, tone, and emotional weight throughout. What I mean by “consistency” isn’t that this was just Aurora Rising 2: Electric Boogaloo, but that it stayed on the same path set out by book 1, and kept the pace flowing as though it was all the same book. Unlike Blood & Honey and Kingsbane, this consistency of pacing is what helped build the tension and give weight to the infamously devastating cliffhanger.
(I think this is the only book cover in this post that doesn’t have a warm color scheme lol)
Like Aurora Burning, Thunderhead’s saving grace was that it kept the pacing and tone consistent with that of Scythe while also introducing new and very consequential plot points along the way. Thunderhead drops a whole host of bombshells over the course of 500 pages, which forces the reader to constantly be on their toes. This slow building of tension and suspense is what made Thunderhead’s cliffhanger as bleak, horrifying, and painful as it was. And that was a real gut-punch of a cliffhanger…I don’t think I’ve fully recovered in the 4 years since I’ve read it…
Although it employs the same tools as Aurora Burning and Thunderhead, the unique thing about The Demon World was that it managed to be the highlight of the whole trilogy. This book is the black sheep in my general middle book theory—instead of being the low point between books 1 and 3, it manages to overshadow them altogether. With a new threat introduced at the end of The Smoke Thieves, The Demon World had a perfect setup for building tension and increasing the gravity of the conflict. It was emotional, it was action-packed, and it delivered another whopper of a cliffhanger.
So with all that said, what is it that makes the middle book stumble and fall?
Filler plots: whether it’s a product of the author not knowing how to bridge the beginning to the end or publisher pressure, filler plots often result in a sequel that lacks the same emotional weight or consequence as book 1.
Inconsistent pacing and tone between books: this is often a byproduct of a filler plot; if the story itself isn’t as monumental as the first book, the pacing slows down where it was once sped up. This often results in a feeling that whatever happens in this book isn’t as important as what happened previously or what will happen next.
Both of these end up leading to:
Cliffhangers with unnecessary twists: this is where the aforementioned inconsistent pacing and tone culminate. Although bombshell cliffhangers can be a valuable tool in catching and keeping the reader’s attention, if the book already has less emotional weight, the cliffhanger feels like a lazy attempt to tie the events of the book to the series as a whole.
TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! What are some middle books that you didn’t like? What are some middle books that you thought were fantastic? Let me know in the comments!
I have a few winter-themed book tags saved in my sticky note, and I wanted to do one of them over break, so here we are! I was tagged by Riddhi @ Whispering Stories (thank you!). However, I’m not sure who originally created the tag, so if you know, please let me know/comment below so I can credit them!
Let’s begin, shall we?
☃️WINTER WONDERLAND BOOK TAG☃️
1. What book is so happy and so sweet that it just warms your heart?
I don’t usually gravitate towards rom-coms, but Tweet Cutewas just so consistently heartwarming and adorable!
2. What’s your favourite book with a white cover?
Sword in the Starshas a pretty, white cover! I have it in hardcover, and the details on the metallic parts are very glossy and satisfying…
3. You’re sitting in a nice, comfortable chair with a cup of hot chocolate. What monster book are you reading?
I looked through a few other people’s interpretations of this prompt and there wasn’t a definitive consensus as to whether this prompt was about long books or books with monsters, so I just went with the monster book part. And Hellboyis the best paranormal/monster comic known to man, so I wanted to put it in here anyway.
4. It’s snowing outside and you decide you want to have a snowball fight. What fictional character do you want to have this snowball fight with?
I’d do anything to experience a six-way (five-way? four? nvm) snowball fight with Squad 312. I feel like Kal would turn it into a death match, but…y’know. Scarlett and Finian would be worthy snowball fight opponents.
(wait, isn’t there a meme about this?)
(oh, I guess there is…)
5. Sadly, your campfire is dying. What last few chapters of a book would you throw in the fire to revive it and keep yourself warm?
6. What book do you love so much that you would buy another copy of it to give to someone as a Christmas gift (or any gift really) to inspire them to start reading?
Six of Crowsisn’t my favorite book (though I love it), but I feel like it hits the rare sweet spot where it’s accessible to both new readers and longtime bookworms. Plus, with all the people that are getting into Leigh Bardugo’s books through the Shadow and Bone show, I bet a lot of people have this on their lists!
Use the tag “Chapters & Melodies Tag” in your post
Let’s begin, shall we?
🎵CHAPTERS & MELODIES TAG🎵
A SONG AND A BOOK THAT SHARE A TITLE
This prompt took a WHILE of digging through my read books on Goodreads, but I’ve found one: Supernova (Marissa Meyer) and “Supernova” by Liz Phair!
A SONG THAT REMINDS YOU OF A BOOK
At the time that I read The Final Six, I was somewhat familiar with Radiohead, but seeing the reference to “Paranoid Android” is what made me dive deeper into their music—OK Computer in particular. OK Computer is one of my favorite albums now, and Radiohead is one of my favorite bands. So, uh…thanks, Alexandra Monir!
A BOOK THAT FEATURES MUSIC IN IT
Ziggy, Stardust and Megets its name from David Bowie, and his music features prominently in the novel, which I loved! (Bowie’s my favorite) There are also a few Pink Floyd references, from what I remember—I think specifically about “Time.”
A SONG THAT REMINDS YOU OF YOUR OTP
Auri and Kal from Aurora Risingare 100% my OTP! They’re the sweetest, most tender pair together, and over the years, both of them—especially Auri—have become such important characters to me. I associate “Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space” with them for a few reasons—the lyrics (in this version, at least), fit, and the sweeping, space-y atmosphere fits the feel of the book itself. But if there’s one thing, ONE THING that I would give anything to see in the TV adaptation, it’s this song playing in the scene with Auri and Kal in the pollen fields. THAT’S ALL I ASK.
FAVORITE SONG FROM A MOVIE THAT WAS ADAPTED FROM A BOOK
Technically, this song is a) a cover, and b) was only in the trailer, but for me, it’s a fantastic cover! Gives me chills every time, and it has ever since I first saw the Dune trailer last year. Great book, great movie.
Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! I hope this week has treated you well.
Most of this week has just been “getting through to Friday because break starts after that,” but it hasn’t been a bad week. In fact, I’d say it’s been a good one—chiefly because I got to finally read Aurora’s End! Even though some of the books I read this week weren’t as good, Aurora’s End brightened everything, and my heart is so, so full for Squad 312. As always. But more than usual.
I’ve been chugging along through NaNoWriMo as well; it’s felt a little more like a slog this week, but I’ve still been able to reach my daily word count every day. [knocks on wood]
Other than that, I’ve just been volunteering at the library, drawing some aliens, and notifying everybody I know who’s into the Aurora Cycle that my school library stocked two copies of book 3. I am nothing if not extremely predictable. And now it’s Thanksgiving Break! It’s nice to have a week off here.