Reading Recap: May to June 2022 Reads

I’m back with another roundup of what I read before I joined the world of book blogging!

Honestly, it’s been an exhausting week; I got sick on Sunday and basically was curled up in bed with a hot compress for days, then had to venture out into the world for my first face-to-face meeting with clients in years last Thursday (in my industry, majority of us still work from home, but that’s slowly changing, though pretty dependent on Covid developments!). I’ve really just been rolling with the punches, though mostly sleeping to recover.

But on the bright side, I recently finished an amazing new SFF novel, finally finished a book I’d been putting off, and have a couple of ARCs that I’m psyched to start reading. So let’s get started!

May: A month of gorgeously dark reads

The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas — After enjoying Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic as much as I did—it was one of my favorite books of 2020–The Hacienda looked exactly like I was looking for! But though I enjoyed the gothic atmosphere, the pacing felt too slow, and the shifting perspectives didn’t bring much to the table. I wasn’t entirely sold on the romantic elements, either, but perhaps that’s a matter of taste. It made me want to read more classic gothic novels to deconstruct what I enjoy about the genre, though!

LINKS: Check it out on Goodreads

A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik — I wanted to get into A Deadly Education so badly when I first saw it, but I couldn’t get past the protagonist El’s bitter, cynical tone or the massive info-dumping in the first couple of chapters. But when I took a deep breath and just powered through, I ended up speeding through both A Deadly Education and its sequel in three days.
The story follows unfriendly, standoffish El—short for Galadriel, but never call her that—a student at The Scholomance who keeps everyone at arm’s length. Why? Well, her magical affinity is dark, deadly magic, and the more destructive it is, the more easily it comes to her. (And man, does it want to come to her.)
It took a while to get used to El’s tone—what kind of school would churn out a student like her?—but once I properly settled into the story, I couldn’t stop reading. A note: Though this series follows students at a dangerous magical school (that exists in a void. Yes, really), it isn’t a YA novel. Think of it as the anti-Hogwarts; The Scholomance really isn’t for the faint of heart.

LINKS: Check it out on Goodreads | Get A Deadly Education (hardcover) at Fully Booked Online

The Last Graduate by Naomi Novik — I started The Last Graduate right on the heels of A Deadly Education, once I’d fallen in love with goddess of destruction-in-the-making El, dopey golden retriever hero Orion, and their friends Aadhya, Liu, and Chloe, and there’s nothing I enjoy more than a sequel which really lets you feel the characters’ growth. If in A Deadly Education, El learns not just how to survive alone, but to thrive in a group, in The Last Graduate she learns to sacrifice for a real, greater good. I don’t know if it’s a spoiler to say that I couldn’t stop crying at the end, but I’ve reread this book at least five times. Do I like hurting myself? Maybe. Novik hurt me with this novel. Now I want to see how she’ll make it up to me.
(The Golden Enclaves, the final book in the trilogy, will be out in September 2022! )

LINKS: Check it out on Goodreads | Get The Last Graduate (hardcover) at Fully Booked Online | Get The Last Graduate (paperback) at Fully Booked Online

Nettle and Bone by T. Kingfisher — T. Kingfisher’s horror and fantasy novels have always left me hungry for more, and Nettle and Bone is her best yet, following princess-turned-nun* Marra, the only remaining heiress of a humble seaside kingdom, as she sets off to save her older sister from the horrible prince she married. What I love about Kingfisher is that she spins tales about the lives and gods of ordinary folk like you, me, and that NPC over there, and even though Nettle and Bone is a dark twist on fairytales, its difficult subject matter (including domestic violence) is handled sensitively. And I really loved Marra and everyone who joined her on her journey—Kingfisher created an incredible world that I would gladly visit again.
*Alright, she isn’t quite a nun, but she’s pretty much one in all the ways that matter.

LINKS: Check it out on Goodreads

June: Dark covers, dark stories, dark… academia?

Our Crooked Hearts by Melissa Albert — I loved Melissa Albert’s first novel The Hazel Wood, its restless protagonist Alice, and the eerie, unnerving Stories that stalked her and her mother relentlessly until the end; that book kept me up for ages, beautiful and intricate and unsettling all at the same time. Albert brought that same magic to Our Crooked Hearts, a chilling story following seventeen-year-old Ivy after she nearly runs into a strange, naked young woman in the middle of the road late one evening. As usual, Albert’s writing is electric; she captures time and place so evocatively, and she does lost, angry girls so well (though that’s a simplification of how well she writes nuanced, complicated characters). The Hazel Wood is still my favorite of her books, but if you want a story reminiscent of The Craft and your favorite suburban horror movies, Our Crooked Hearts is exactly it.

LINKS: Check it out on Goodreads | Get Our Crooked Hearts (hardcover) at Fully Booked Online | Get Our Crooked Hearts (paperback) at Fully Booked Online

The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake — When a book is hyped up enough, you sometimes get curious enough to give it a try—but though I didn’t quite know what to expect from The Atlas Six, I was disappointed anyway. It started out promising, with a distinct dark academia aesthetic, intriguing-sounding characters, and many familiar tropes, but chapters and chapters in, the cast felt like just that: unlikable, one-dimensional characters who never developed into people. Libby was my favorite, but like the rest of them, she never grew. And the setting, magic system, and the stakes were too vague to even immerse me in the world. Ultimately, The Atlas Six had a lot of potential but never quite delivered.
I don’t want to write Olivie Blake off just because this wasn’t for me, though. For anyone who’s read her other works: Do you recommend any other books of hers?

LINKS: Check it out on Goodreads | Read the First Few Pages on the Fully Booked blog | Get The Atlas Six (hardcover) at Fully Booked Online

Though it was a mixed bag, I definitely discovered a few new favorites in May and June.

Have you read any of these books, or have them on your TBR? What did you think of them?

Let me know what you think! Leave a comment below or follow me on Twitter at @katerinaliebt; I’d love to chat about books we’ve both read (and other book recommendations) over DM!

As a Fully Booked Reading Ally, I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase through my links. Thanks!

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