Scratch-Off List: October 2018

Hey, everyone! In October I read four books: Two Dark Reigns, All the Birds in the Sky, Writing the Fiction Synopsis: A Step by Step Approach, and The Oracle Queen. This month was such a great reading month. I have been wanting to read Two Dark Reigns since it released in September. I didn’t think I would be able to get to it until December when I’m on break in my Master’s program, but I was able to fit it in between reading for school and project approval. 

1. Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake 

This is the third book in the Three Dark Crowns series, but not the last. In order to avoid any spoilers, I will give you a quick synopsis of the first novel in the series– on the island of Fennbirn, the queen gives birth to three triplets. When the triplets come of age they will fight each other for the crown. The three triplets of this series consist of a naturalist, poisoner, and elemental. 

If you’ve read the first two books, then I’m sure you are just as hooked by this series as I am. This is one series that is a fast, whirlwind read. I was captured immediately and every book has exceeded my expectations. I am so excited for the next book.

2. The Oracle Queen by Kendare Blake 

This is a novella in the Three Dark Crowns series by Kendare Blake. I don’t usually read the novellas of series unless I really, really like that author’s work– so this shows you how much I like Kendare Blake’s work. One of the only other novellas I have read are the ones by Marissa Meyer. There are two other novellas in this series, Queens of Fennbirn and The Young Queens. Both of these are on my TBR. Let me know if you’ve read either of these!

I read The Oracle Queen in a few short hours when I was sick earlier in the month. It’s fast passed, well plotted, and emotional. I would definitely recommend reading this novella if you’re a fan of the series because it adds to the mythology and some of the events that occur in Two Dark Reigns. I would suggest reading this book after Three Dark Crowns because it most benefits the second novel, One Dark Throne. This isn’t a spoiler because it’s mentioned early on in the series, but if one of the triplet queens is born an oracle, then they are killed. The reader is told this is because the last oracle queen went mad and killed three families. Well, in this novella, the reader finds out exactly what happened in the life of this oracle queen! I get chills just writing this. This story is addictive, and if you love oracles as much as I do, then you want to pick it up.

3. All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

Where do I start with All the Birds in the Sky? This honestly was such a weird read. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t necessarily like it either. The most jarring element of this novel is that it is an adult science fantasy. Yes, science fiction/ fantasy. As in the female protagonist is a witch and the male protagonist is a science genius– all set in a futuristic version of our world. You might think these two elements would make for an intriguing read and you would be right, but there were a few stylistic elements that hindered this book from achieving its goal. 

The novel as a whole felt very literary. As a student that studied creative writing in undergrad, I’m not opposed to literary fiction. However, I was constantly reminded that this novel was fiction throughout. I’d say one of the most important goals of an author is to make your reader feel like they have been transported to another world. I won’t spoil any specific details for those of you who would like to pick up the book, but there were a few main conflicts that didn’t feel realistic at all. The author asks the reader to suspend their reality quite a bit without any explanations to the magic or science fiction elements.

For instance, the male protagonist is a science genius, but the author never really gives us any context to this. We’re not told that his family or teachers acknowledge this. We’re not told that he’s in any special classes. Everything that he does is in secret, so how can the reader be onboard with this?

This same theme continues with the female protagonist and her magic. The author isolates these characters so that when they utilize these abilities, they are alone. This makes the reader feel like the narrator is unreliable; thus, I was never able to believe that these characters were really doing the things they said they were doing.

Another issue I had was with the third person omniscience point of view. Since the novel was told from a distant onlooker, the reader felt very distanced from all of the characters. The reader never gets to know them on an internal level, thus there isn’t an emotional connection between the reader and characters. When this happens, the reader can’t truly care about the conflicts the protagonists have to face. Perhaps if this novel was even written in a third person limited many of the issues could have been resolved.

I can’t really pinpoint why I didn’t hate this novel, especially after listing all these faults, but I didn’t. I felt it was unrealistic and distant, but it was fine. I can’t recommend this book, but I did appreciate the author attempting to cross genres. Unfortunately, it just didn’t work.

5. Writing the Fiction Synopsis: A Step by Step Approach by Pan McCutcheon

I read this book because I had to write my first ever synopsis this month! This was such a daunting task, and I was recommended this craft book from a peer in my graduate program. If you’re new to writing the synopsis, then this is a strong book to begin with. The author speaks in a casual, direct manner. There isn’t a lot of jargon that you have to dig through to understand her meaning, which is always appreciated in a craft book. The author provides detailed steps and many worksheets to create your first synopsis. 

Those are all the books I scratched off my TBR this month! Be sure to check out next month’s wrap up. I already have a few read that I’m super excited to share with you all. As always, let me know if you’ve read these books and what you thought about them. I’d love to discuss any/ all of these books in further detail with you.


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