Recent Reads #10

I was surprised to realize that it had been so long since I had done a Recent Reads post! I’m pretty sure I had another one in mind for 2020, but ended up pushing it aside because of all the end-of-year wrap-ups. On the other hand, it leaves open the perfect opportunity to mention the three series I’ve read so far this year! I set myself a pretty lofty goal of 19 series to finish before the end of the year, although it is partly contingent on whether some of those series have their final books published this year. To tackle this goal, I’ve loosely set myself a schedule of reading at least one series per month to make sure I actually prioritize them, and I’ve been doing very well on that so far. I also wanted to purposely prioritize a few of my longer series upfront to avoid procrastinating on them again. I know that if I save a really long series for late in the year, I often end up talking myself out of picking it up because I decide it’s better to wait and read it when I have more time. Considering I’ve already pushed off some of these series for a while, I didn’t want to leave myself any excuse not to pick them up again!


I very quickly decided to start with my longest series of the year, which was the Dark Artifices trilogy by Cassandra Clare. I decided to intentionally pick this up right at the start of January because the shortest book in the series is around 650 pages! Even though I really enjoy Cassandra Clare’s writing, I was a bit intimidated by this series just because of the length. Luckily, I ended up really enjoying all three of the books. To be fair, I ended up using a combo of audiobooks and my physical copies to read them, which helped me move through them at a good pace and not feel too bogged down. This series is set 5 years after the Mortal Instruments, and follows Emma Carstairs and her parabatai Julian Blackthorn as they investigate the true reason that Emma’s parents were murdered, given that their resemblance to recent deaths suggest that the suspected killer could not have been the person responsible. I did find this series a tiny bit slower to get into than other Shadowhunters books I’ve read before, but the real strength of this series for me was the incredible characters. They were all so well-developed, and I loved how even some of the more minor characters (ie. Drusilla) got some time to shine as the series progressed. The Blackthorn family are some of my favourite characters from any book I’ve read recently, and I also really loved the angsty romance between Emma and Julian, and their fight to find a way to either ignore their feelings or to be together despite the prohibition on parabatai falling in love. I did find the sheer number of characters a little overwhelming at times, especially because nearly every character from the previous series were brought in, but once I got used to it, I ended up loving the dynamics between everyone. I also especially loved Kit and Ty, and I’m looking forward to the upcoming series that focuses on them. I did find the series, specifically the last book, a little too long in places, but overall, I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected and absolutely loved the new cast of characters.


The next series I picked up was the Shatter Me series. I first read Shatter Me back in 2016 and was blown away by how much I enjoyed it at the time. While I did read the next two books, I made the stupid decision to space them out and read only one a year even though the series was already published because I’d implemented a poorly thought-out rule for my reading challenges at the time to limit myself to just one book per author per year. It resulted in me barely remembering anything from any of the books by the time I picked up the next one, and nothing at all by now, so I knew I’d have to start over if I wanted to catch up and read the three newer additions. This series follows a young woman named Juliette who has been kept in isolation for most of her life because her touch can hurt or even kill people. One of the things that hit a little differently for me this time when reading the series was the whole idea of the Reestablishment, a group that swept in to “fix” society by taking control and eliminating any kind of problem. When I first read the series, it felt like typical dystopian fare, but given the pandemic and all the talk about government control in the past year, it felt a little different and more creepy this time. I liked the first three books about as much as I had the first time around, although I have to say that I wasn’t quite as much a fan of the romance between Juliette and Adam this time. I was very interested to see how the series would continue after such a gap between books, and was pleasantly surprised to find that I really enjoyed it overall. I especially loved Restore Me and the focus on how unprepared Juliette was to take command, which seemed like a very realistic follow-up to the end of the previous trilogy. I also absolutely loved getting Warner’s perspective in Defy Me and was very disappointed that it didn’t continue into the final book. To be honest, I was a little underwhelmed by the ending of the series after such great build-up in the previous books. I found Imagine Me disjointed compared to the rest of the series, and there was one important moment that was never even explained! I did enjoy Imagine Me overall but was surprised to find it so confusing, given how easy the rest of the series had been to follow.

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The third series that I’ve read so far this year was the Cursebreakers trilogy by Brigid Kemmerer, which is another one that I’ve been putting off for a while! I had the first book down as a 5-star prediction for 2020, but when I saw that the third book was coming in January, I decided to wait and read them all in a row. I absolutely loved the first book and thought it was a great Beauty & the Beast retelling. It reminded me a bit of the Cruel Prince series with the blend of the real world and a fairy tale-like world, and I especially loved the characters. I was a little surprised to find there was a bit of a bait-and-switch with the main characters as the series progressed, which is a pet peeve of mine. Luckily, I thought Grey was a very interesting character and was happy to follow him as well as the new character Lia Mara who was introduced in A Heart So Fierce and Broken. The main reason this kind of switch is a pet peeve is because I often find it frustrating to get attached to a character only to have someone else take over the series, so I was glad to see that it worked so well this time. I did want more of Rhen and Harper, especially in the third book, and was a bit surprised to see that Grey took so much precedence. I was a little disappointed to find the ending a bit anticlimactic, although I did enjoy the conclusion overall. Of the three, I think I liked the first book the best but I was very happy to have finally read this series!


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