Abbreviations #94

December 18, 2019

In an effort to get back on track with my book reviews and start 2020 with a cleaner slate, I'm sharing as many of them as possible before the year ends! The books featured in today's round-up are all from series I've either completed or caught up on by reading books that I owned or purchased myself.

It took me years to get around to reading The Raven King, if only because I was being extremely stubborn about rereading the first three books in the series prior to getting to this one. Thanks to the intervention of my friend Jane, I finally finished this series! I’m honestly glad that I stuck to my guns and reread the other three before I picked this one up, simply because being intensely immersed in the series for a little under two weeks was such a rich reading experience. I got to know all the main characters in this series (particularly Blue and her boys Gansey, Ronan, Adam and Noah) all over again, and I relearned all the details of the search for ley lines and Glendower, the existence of Cabeswater, the roles they each had to play. It made the experience of reading The Raven King bittersweet, even though it didn’t quite hit the mark for me (as it didn’t for many other readers). Still, I’m thrilled to have finished this series, and I certainly think I would revisit it in the future if I’m in the right mood. [The Raven King was published on April 26, 2016 by Scholastic. You can see my full reviews for the other books in the series here: The Raven BoysThe Dream Thieves, Blue Lily, Lily Blue]

The Queen of Nothing is the finale of The Folk of the Air series. If you’ve been reading my blog for the past two years, you’ll already know that I love this series a whole lot and I’ve been highly anticipating this conclusion since I finished book two! I’ll start by saying that I really enjoyed this conclusion. It was great to finally discover what would happen to Jude, Cardan and the rest of the cast, and it felt pretty satisfying by the time I turned the last page. It was also extremely readable (like the other two books), and I could barely put it down once I started reading it. But it didn’t quite hit that five-star mark for me. I would have liked for the execution to have gone down differently for certain elements, for one thing. And I didn’t necessarily love the portrayal of all these characters either (though it was nice to see more involvement from a few of them). However, as a Jude-centric story, Holly Black succeeded in giving readers a solid ending where Jude is forced to deal with her fears and doubts, as well as come to a final development in her relationships with other people – Cardan, her sisters, Madoc, the Court, to name just a few. It was an entertaining, fast-paced ride of a read (especially Chapter 21, which had me deep in my feels), and I still ended up liking it overall. [The Queen of Nothing was published on November 19, 2019 by Little, Brown and Company. You can see my full reviews for the other books in the series here: The Cruel Prince, The Wicked King]

Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell are back in action in Escaping from Houdini, and this time, they are tasked with investigating a series of murders occurring on the vessel taking them from London to New York City. What appealed to me most about this third installment is that it happens to be a ‘closed circuit’ sort of mystery, where the setting and cast of characters are limited and require a certain authorial finesse to set up all the clues and suspects to make the solution feel plausible. Throw in my two already beloved young forensics students and a fantastical carnival that has been hired as the on board entertainment for the week-long sea voyage, and I figured I would be guaranteed to love this novel. Alas, it was not to be! I did like Maniscalco’s setup of the mystery, characters and setting a whole lot, as she consistently writes stories that are well-structured and well-plotted. But I had a difficult time with this book because I was consistently frustrated with Audrey Rose. I understand that, in many ways, this makes sense considering she’s a teen who is simply trying to chart the course towards the future she wants… if she can even figure out what that is. But it doesn’t change the fact that she felt like a very different Audrey Rose than the one I remembered loving, and it pained me to see her make these questionable decisions again and again. Add a frustrating (and occasionally charming, I’ll admit) new character to stir up even more waves, and you can imagine how aggrieved I was while reading. Even with my reservations, Escaping from Houdini was a solid addition to this series. I’m glad I finally got around to reading it this year, and am very much looking forward to reading the fourth and final installment. [Escaping from Houdini was published on September 18, 2018 by Jimmy Patterson.]

Becoming the Dark Prince is a Stalking Jack the Ripper series novella that comes between the third and fourth books. It recaps, in a way, the events of Escaping from Houdini, but from Thomas Cresswell’s perspective after the fact. But it also shows readers the things going through Thomas’ mind in the days after they’ve disembarked from the ship in New York City. I appreciated the chance to see what Thomas was thinking, particularly when it came to his feelings for Audrey Rose (and let me tell you, my heart fluttered with every romantic gesture he decided on for the girl he loved). But it otherwise didn’t feel like an important addition to the series overall. I don’t think it’s necessary to read this one before diving into the fourth book. In fact, I’d only really recommend it if you love Thomas Cresswell and really want to read from his perspective (which I obviously did)! [Becoming the Dark Prince was published on July 15, 2019 by Jimmy Patterson.]

Capturing the Devil is the final installment of the Stalking Jack the Ripper series, which stars two young forensic detectives Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell as they team up to solve a series of murder mysteries. The pair have finally declared their commitment to one another, but there are still obstacles in their way… including a mysterious series of murders to investigate that takes them from New York to Chicago. I really enjoyed this novel! Maniscalco still deftly weaves together a story using actual historical details, which is one of my favorite aspects of the series. While it puts more emphasis on Audrey Rose and Thomas’ relationship versus the murder mystery (a bit predictable, and only really drives the story towards the end), it was a really satisfying conclusion (and I don’t think it could have played out any differently). This series will always be one of my favorites, both for the fact that they are so different from my usual YA reads and because I love Audrey Rose and Thomas a whole lot. I’d highly recommend checking out the entire series! [Capturing the Devil was published on September 10, 2019 by Jimmy Patterson.]

The Wise Man’s Fear is the follow-up to The Name of the Wind, in which a character named Kvothe is narrating the story of his life to a chronicler. This novel takes place over the second day of Kvothe telling his story, continuing right from the moment where we left off and revealing more about his time at the university and the unplanned break he winds up on where he uses the skills and knowledge he gained to keep his wits about him and successfully go on all his adventures. I’ve said this before: Kvothe is just such a little shit but I still love him and enjoy getting to know him so dang much. While his strengths are showcased quite often, it’s the fact that he doesn’t sugarcoat his flaws and bad choices that endear him to me. The second book does feel a touch long (and I could certainly have done without a section of this story), but it does grow the world and the cast of characters a fair bit and brings more details together. I’m pleased to be caught up on the main series just in time to join everyone waiting for the third and final book, and I’m dying to learn how Rothfuss will wrap up Kvothe’s tale (especially because a lot of the big events that have been alluded to have yet to happen)! This series is an investment of reading time, but totally worth it, in my opinion. [The Wise Man's Fear was originally published on March 1, 2011 by DAW. You can also check out my full review for The Name of the Wind.]

Godsgrave is the follow-up to Nevernight, and I only knew two things about this book before I started it: 1) it would include the fallout of the events at the end of Nevernight and 2) Mia would continue her quest for revenge on behalf of her family. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this entire plot was structured around a gladiatorial tournament (which is, admittedly, one of my favorite story set-ups)! But apart from Mia kicking ass (and occasionally getting her ass handed to her), readers will also learn more about this world, including the seats of power, the political structures and the different cultures. It was very entertaining (with the usual share of violence and humor laced all throughout), and I could barely put it down once I’d started it. I’m glad I waited until Darkdawn was released to read it though, since that ending will leave you with a lot of questions (and feelings). This was a great follow-up to Nevernight, and I can’t wait to complete the series! [Godsgrave was published on September 5, 2017. You can also check out my full review for Nevernight.]

1 comment

  1. I really need to read the Stalking Jack the Ripper series at some point. I also loved the Maggie Stiefvater series and need to get to her latest one! Great reviews!
    Lisa Loves Literature

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