Remember that slump I said I got out of in June? Yeah, it came back hard in August. After moving at the end of the previous month, I didn't read anything as I started unpacking. I forced myself to start an audiobook in the hopes that I would feel like reading again, but that didn't help.
So here's my wrap-up of me struggling through an audiobook and half a physical book for the whole month of August.
Title: Six of Crows
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Date Finished: August 31
Opinions: I've been meaning to read this ever since the books came out and finally bought them. I jumped in last month but fell into a reading slump and was also moving during the last week of July, so I never got to finish this. And then the awful slump hit again during August and I had little desire to pick it back up. But with a few days left in the month, I made myself finish this because I do love the story and the characters.
The world of Grisha is one I'm already familiar with. Having read the first two books in the Shadow & Bone trilogy, I know of the events that happened before this book. And though I wasn't a fan of the preceding trilogy, I knew I would love this more - for the premise and the cast of characters.
From the moment this started, I loved the characters. Of course, Kaz and Inej are my favorite. If you know me at all, this shouldn't be a surprise to you. Nina holds second place, followed by Jesper, then Wylan, and lastly Matthias. In the case of these last three, I mostly wish I got to see more from their perspectives and their development. I'm sure I'll see that in Crooked Kingdom, but I just wanted a little more from them in this book.
Heist books have always had a really special place in my heart because of my general love of spy stories and watching people do the impossible. Some of my favorite animes as a child were about solving difficult mysteries and thieves stealing the most protected treasures. It's also why I loved Ocean's 8 a lot when it came out (yes, I've seen the ones before that, but #femalepower). Reading this book and seeing how all the pieces of the plan came together was so cool. Leigh Bardugo put a ton of time and effort into planning everything and creating a situation in which no one could guess every little thing that would happen. The fact that Kaz planned as far ahead as he did was so impressive and made me love him even more.
One of my favorite things about this book was watching the character dynamics unfold because of what was going around them. I love seeing characters react to things and each other. I think it's a much more realistic way to show any kind of relationship. Never did I feel like I was being told how the characters felt about each other. It was pretty obvious from how they acted.
As far as the romances go, I obviously have a favorite in Kaz and Inej. Although, if there was an alternate universe where Inej and Nina got together, I wouldn't be mad about that either. Kaz and Inej's relationship is so balanced because of who they are and what they do for each other. It's clear that they do better with each other in their lives, especially in their line of work. And every time they did something together, it made my heart happy. Kaz in general makes my heart happy.
In Nina and Matthias' case, I knew I would grow to enjoy it, and I did. The back and forth in Matthias' head in the first half of the book made it hard for me to root for him, but I could see from Nina's perspective why she fell in love with him. They have a complicated relationship that I'm excited to see unfold in the next book.
I feel like it's unfair for me to talk about Jesper and Waylan because they really only developed in the second half of the story. It's also unfair for me not to talk about them though. And yet I don't have much to say because I felt like I didn't get to see as much focus on them. I'm also hoping that they'll get more time in the next book because I'm interested in seeing how their relationship turns out.
Oh, and I have to talk about how folklore was a big part of my reading experience. I started this book back in July, and I had been listening to the album at the time. So when I was reading this by myself in the afternoons and evenings, folklore was playing in the background quietly. The vibe of the two matched really well to me and I will always associate the two. For those who have read this book and listened to the album, tell me that the 1 isn't Kaz and Inej's relationship throughout the book (more from her POV), and that in another reality invisible string wouldn't be their love story. Matthias and Nina's relationship is basically exile and I'm here for it.
Okay, all that was really long. TL;DR, read this book if you haven't already.
Title: I Am Watching You
Author: Teresa Driscoll
Date Finished: August 31
Opinions: I'm just gonna go ahead and admit that I frequently zoned out of this book and missed a few important details. There was some big thing in the middle of the book that I definitely missed and didn't rewind to listen to because I wasn't really bothered to.
It sounds bad for me to say this, but the book never grabbed my attention. I kept listening because I wanted to know how it would turn out, though I can't say I cared much for everything leading up to it. The truth is that I wasn't really interested in the plot when I started the audiobook - I only started it because I thought an audiobook might get me out of the reading slump I was in.
The characters felt kind of stereotypical to what most mysteries have. I liked that the chapters were divided by the character's role in the investigation, rather than their name. It made the story more interesting and it also forced me to pay attention a little more so I could keep up with the POVs. Having to remember everyone's names took awhile because I stopped listening to the audiobook for quite awhile, but I was still able to follow along.
I wouldn't call the premise the most original, but I did like that none of the characters suffered from mental illnesses that made them "unreliable." That's something I hate seeing in mysteries because it makes it sound like anyone will a mental illness isn't sane and will become dangerous. However, the plot of a girl who disappears and no one knowing where she went? That's not very new or interesting, which is partly why I stopped paying attention at times.
One of the main reasons I kept listening was because I wanted to know how things would end. And while I'm glad I stuck through it, the ending wasn't good enough to make me wish I had paid more attention, but it was a twist I didn't quite expect. Now, this is where I have a bit of a hard time explaining how I felt about the end. Yes, it surprised me, but not in a "Wow that was a great twist" kind of way. It surprised me because I felt like there was barely any buildup to the final reveal. I wouldn't even say that there were really hints at what the twist was, but of course, I wasn't entirely paying attention all the time either.
I would call this an average mystery is every sense. Nothing stood out to me. Some of the characters were more annoying than others, but they mostly redeemed themselves by the end. Someone who is new to mysteries might find this thrilling, and I do think it's a good beginner's mystery. But for someone who has read more extensively in the genre, I think it's okay to skip this one.
Though I only read two books in August, I'm glad I finished on such a strong note and read the remainder of Six of Crows in one day. Getting back into reading at the end of the month gives me a good kick to start September off strong, and I hope to read more this month.