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  • Taylor Elise

June 2019 Reads

Updated: Apr 14, 2021

Hey everyone, hope your summer has been wonderful! As I (re)write this, It is currently August. I had a little Wix Blog mishap involving accidentally erasing this original post. Mistakes were made, lessons were learned, and I will definitely be saving this to a word document, just in case. Anyway, here are my reads and reviews for June--hope you enjoy!


The Golden Compass | Philip Pullman | 1996 | Audiobook | *****

Middle Grade, Fantasy

I've wanted to read this series (His Dark Materials) for a while. I remember that the churches in my hometown were very upset about the film version being shown in theaters, which intrigued me, but I never got around to reading or watching it. Side note: Tayler and I watched the film a week or so ago and it was exceptionally bad compared to the book--we are hoping that HBO's version will be an improvement.

This first book is just great fantasy. The characters are engaging, the fantasy elements are unique, and the plot is packed with action, riddles, and prophesy. It's everything you'd want in a Fantasy book. I enjoyed it immensely and I think any lovers of fantasy would.


The Subtle Knife | Philip Pullman | 1997 | Audiobook | *****

Middle Grade, Fantasy

This is the second book in the His Dark Materials series and it is definitely a change of pace from the first book. It follows a completely different character at the beginning and then works its way to the main conflict. Again, the characters in this novel are very engaging and three dimensional, both the new characters and the old. The knife mentioned in the title has incredible powers and it is really interesting to see how the wielder uses it. This sequel brings out a lot of different elements all at once and it was a little overwhelming for me. The allegory seemed to take over the story a little. It is still a wonderful, moving tale and I still really enjoyed it.


The Amber Spyglass | Philip Pullman | 2000 | Audiobook | *****

Middle Grade, Fantasy

This is the final installment of the His Dark Materials series. I had a hard time deciding how many stars to give this book. Originally, I had this book at three stars, but after looking through my previously rated books on Goodreads, I decided that this really deserved four stars. Pullman still drew me in with the narrative, but I could feel this novel straining to keep up with the allegory that Pullman was trying to convey. It was a little distracting to the novel. The conflict with God (The Authority as he is called in the series) is resolved in an anti-climatic way and becomes a subplot, which I had not expected. The novel zigged when I expected zagging and I'm not sure that it was effective. The series did not conclude as strongly as it started, so I was a little disappointed with it. It still had a strong narrative and strong characters to pull it through, but I think it pales in comparison to The Golden Compass.


In a Dark, Dark Wood | Ruth Ware | 2005 | Audiobook | *****

Crime, Thriller

I think the first issue that I had with this book is that the cover did not match its contents. I was expecting something darker and more horror like and it isn't what I got. A good lesson for all of us writers (myself included) that we need to make sure our covers match our genres to the most exact degree possible. The audiobook cover was not the original cover. I probably would not have listened to the book if not for the cover that I saw.

I think the writing style was mostly strong and there were some beautifully crafted sentences in this book. The most attractive part of the story was listening to the main character's inner thoughts as she described her environment. As for the plot, it was predictable and boring. The characters were a mixture of flatness and over exaggeration. Had I been physically reading this, I would have given up. The perspective switches between past and present (where something terrible has already happened) to ramp up the tension, but the climax does not make the tension worth it.

This genre is not my favorite, but I read multiple reviews on Goodreads to make sure that it was not just my personal preferences getting in the way of my judgement of the book. It seemed like a lot of crime/thriller readers felt the same as I did. I was quite disappointed in this novel, and I'm not sure I will give this author another read.


The Mysterious Benedict Society | Trenton Lee Stewart | 2007 | Audiobook *****

Middle Grade, Mystery, Fantasy

I was looking through the available audiobooks on the Libby app and I found this one. Now that I've read it, I'm surprised I hadn't heard of it before. This is a really cute book with a wonderful cast of bewildering characters, including a woman that looks like a pencil and is actually called "Number 2." The style of this novel is very whimsical and perplexing and it reminds me of A Series of Unfortunate Events without the gothic themes. There are twists and turns and plenty of funny surprises along the way. The reason it gets four stars is that it is a little slow in places and I feel like the novel could have been a little shorter without losing any of its style or plot completion. I enjoyed it a lot and I will be listening to the next installment of this series this next week!


That's it for my June 2019 reads! What have you been reading? Have a suggestion for what I should read next? Join the conversation with me and let me know what you think on:

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Taylor Elise

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