Reading Wrap Up, 2019 – Books #51 – 55

Five more! Another diverse grouping in that I don’t think I read a book of the same genre in this bunch. Spanning from 4/9 to 4/18, none of the books in this collection were new favorites but I definitely at least have things to say about them. A lot of things….. I knocked through a ton of OWL’s prompts as well – I’ve only got two more to get through and I’ve read all 12! Amazing.

  • If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio 
    • Content Warning for: Death, Murder, Assault, Physical Abuse, Slut Shaming, Drug Use, Transphobic & Homophobic comments, Discussions/Depiction of Depression, Suicide and Self Harm.
    • Readathon Prompt: OWL’s Readathon -Muggle Studies – Contemporary 
    • Rating: 3.75/5
    • Thoughts: Man this is a book y’all. I know I can be a pretentious piece of shit, but clearly I’m pretentious enough that a thriller where literally everyone and their mom is quoting Shakespeare and angsting about their gay love is pretty incredible.
    • The Shakespeare fucking WORKS in this though. It is such a good backdrop for this story and these characters nearly all read as tragic heroes and heroines. Everything’s fucked all the way up, and it feels like one of the Bard’s himself’ own plays playing out in front of you. It’s addictive as heck. Rio writes the book as a delicious mix of pulpy thriller and Shakespearean tragedy which apparently is everything I’ve ever wanted in a thriller.
    • I really really loved the majority of the characters in this, especially the women. The main character is really good – he is both tragic and relate-able and just filled to the brim with tortuous feelings that (for the most part) don’t come off as completely out of anyone’s understanding. But the WOMEN completely steal the show for me. I would read books about them for years – they’re complex and filled with fire and steel but still falling the fuck apart like everyone else is in this book. Rio really just hits their characterization out of the park. The other boys are fine for the most part (To no one’s surprise I found neither Richard or James very interesting LOL), but GIRLS man. GIRLS.
    • Also when I say angsting over their gay love like…. man if that is a thing you will have a fucking FIELD day with this book. It is layered on SO THICK y’all. You will NOT be disappointed if you’re coming into this novel for that. I didn’t know when I started and WHEW I was in for a pleasant surprise. M.L. DOES THAT.
    • But with all this praise, this book is shockingly predictable. Which you can say “Zen, it’s inspired by Shakespeare, and most tragedies Shakespeare writes are predictable as hell. Why are you surprised???” Which like sure true but also this book still reads like a cross between a thriller and Shakespeare okay!!!! I still want some surprise at the end even if it just a fantastic Shakespearean tragedy!
    • Also like I was Into It, but I’m still not this level of pretentious. This book is can still be a LOT with it’s man pain okay. Definitely directed at some of the dudes in here who are just? Kind of the worst? Like sure flawed characters or whatever but also? Very annoying. I’m sure there will be other readers who aren’t as Tired of White Men as I am who won’t cringe at it.
    • If you’re into Shakespeare like. Why are you reading about me talking about this. You should fucking read this book. If you’re not into Shakespeare, absolutely drop this like a hot potato. If you’re like me and like? Shakespeare? but also like some really strong character pieces, this will be a fun ride.
  • Meditations: A New Translation by Marcus Aurelius
    • Rating: N/A
    • Readathon Prompt: OWL’s Readathon -Care of Magical Creatures – Land Animal on the Cover
    • Thoughts: I’m not going to rate this one because honestly I could not tell you how I feel about this. This is the book for our book club and for the most part it bored me to tears. The thing reads like a self help book before self help books are a thing, except it’s written by the most pretentious man alive who clearly needs to like. Go outside and then not think about it for at least 30 minutes. I am just not the audience for ancient dude musings if it’s really not going to say anything really that Groundbreaking. This book reads more like a humble-brag than anything. “Look how cool and Clearly Chill I am!” Just super not for me.
    • He’s also just like…. way too optimistic about nearly everything ever. I may be just like a jaded old crab or something but yo I live in 2019 it kinda sucks dude.
    • I read it though? It’s something I completed. I’m already falling back asleep talking about this.
  • The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi
    • Content Warning for: Discussions of Colonialism, Racism, Sexism and Ableism, Anxiety Attacks.
    • Rating: 3/5
    • Readathon Prompt: OWL’s Readathon – Herbology – Plant on the Cover
    • Thoughts: I come at a weird crossroads with this book. To be fully honest, it is really difficult not to compare this book to the famous fantasy heist novel Six of Crows. There is a lot in the bones  of the story and character archetypes that feel really similar. And while I really like Six of Crows, it’s definitely not without it’s flaws. It’s just that…. this one had more flaws.
    • For the positives, what this book does more interestingly is where it definitely IS it’s own thing. The discussions of Colonialism, Racism and Ableism are really interesting in this. Chokshi definitely does not shy away from the realities of the time period, and even uses it to her advantage in order to discuss a lot these issues in nuanced ways.
    • Also I absolutely ADORED like half of the main cast. Zofia, Enrique and Hypnos are some top notch YA characters who are both complex and a hell of a lot of fun to read about. Like those characters are pretty much a saving grace in this book because of their relationships with each other and the way Chokshi uses them both plot wise and
      • While I totally get the criticism of Hypnos, I’m also like…. incredibly relate-able. Like sure he’s a dick but also if I experienced some of the shit in this novel it’d be a HARD SAME.
      • And Enrique is like. Literally me. Amazing. Incredible. Love my biracial history loving disaster bi.
    • Negatives? Well… While the pacing of this novel isn’t terrible, I totally get people criticism that the magic system doesn’t make a lot of sense. I feel like Chokshi really has to slow her roll a bit here because while I do appreciate diving right into the action and for the most part I didn’t really…. mind that I didn’t get how the magic worked, but it definitely destroyed a bit of my suspension of disbelief.
    • And I can’t beat around the bush here. Know how I said I really loved half of the main cast? REALLY could not care less for the other half. I mean sure, one of them, Laila, was okay? But I didn’t find her story super compelling? I felt like a lot of her story was being told to me in a “look! Look how tragic of character she is!” Instead of like. Showing it. Though her saving grace is her relationship with the other characters
    • But yo like the main character straight up is just boring as hell. Like the book is trying SO HARD to be like “oh we’re dark! We’ve got morally grey characters!!” especially with this dude, but I am never convinced of it with this guy. He’s just kind of a know-it-all dick who somehow inspires loyalty which honestly I still don’t understand because he’s frankly not that remarkable and the book never sells me on the fact that he IS. I had this discussion with my significant other about this, especially because this character reminds me a lot of Kaz from SoC – and while I also really don’t like Kaz, I feel like his character works because the author is fucking COMMITTED to him being a flawed human being. This main character is just… there is just not enough about him to make me even interested in seeing where his story went, especially when he surrounds himself with much more interesting characters.
      • “but Hypnos is a dick” WELL AT LEAST HE DOESN’T PRETEND NOT TO BE????? I’ll die mad about it.
    • I didn’t much care for the second half of the story sure, but I was pretty okay with this book until the ending, which pretty much destroyed any desire for me to read anymore of this series and it alone lowered my star rating by a good half. Like I cannot describe. How much I hated the ending to this book. Not since Strange the Dreamer has a book actively destroyed what I did enjoy about the book. The CHOICES the characters make are absolutely unreal and intolerable. I’m still mad about it. What a way to END.
    • Despite all my ranting, I did for the most part like this book. I totally get why the readership is a bit divided because hell I’M divided on this book. But it was an interesting read, I’d still give Chokshi’s work another try. Just probably not with more of this series.
      • Though if anyone does read more and I get my ot3 Enrique/Hypnos/Zofia like… hmu you feel.
    • Also gotta side note this, but really did not love the whole “oh these artifacts appeared in these countries and that’s how they got their magic/magical items” because it kind of supports the trope that…. the reason why some cultures did so well was really random instead of like…. human ingenuity being a thing. Like even if it’s used to serve a purpose in the discussion of colonialism I just didn’t… love it.

Continue reading “Reading Wrap Up, 2019 – Books #51 – 55”

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Reading Wrap Up, 2019 – Books #46 – 50

Five more down! This reading group runs from March 30th to April 8th, and as usual contains an eclectic mix of historical fiction, fantasy, scifi and anthologies all of differing age ranges. I did enjoy all of these book in some way, but a couple of them were… flawed enough to make me pause. Let’s get into it.

  • Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens, Edited by Marieke Nijkamp

    • Rating: 3.5/5
    • Content Warning for: Discussions of abuse, ableism (I mean that’s KIND OF the point of the collection but w/e), death, panic attack/anxiety and self-harm.
    • Thoughts: I found this at one of the local used bookstores in my city and I wanted to give it a go – and I had a lot of fun with this collection! The stories were good for the most part, and I really enjoyed their diversity – they stretched all sorts of genres and all different kinds of disabilities – both physical and mental – and it was just a lot of fun.
    • I do have to say though, this collection was a SUPER mixed bag. There were a couple stand outs that I mention below, but most of them were either not as compelling as I would have hoped, or just not really my cup of tea writing wise. Though there were only two stories that made it under a 3 star read. Though the ones I did love were SO GOOD. A lot of them were romance based too which I absolutely CRY EVERY TIME they were SO GOOD and 2 of them were VERY GAY.
    • I’d give this a try if you like YA anthologies – the representation is good, it’s an enjoyable read, and some of the stories have just. *chef’s kiss* perfection.
    • A couple favorites of mine: Britt and the Bike God by Kody Keplinger, Per Aspera Ad Astra by Katherine Locke, Ballad of Weary Daughters by Kristine Wyllys and A Curse, A Kindness by Corinne Duyvis

 

  • Whichwood by Tahereh Mafi

    • Rating: 3/5
    • Content Warning for: Body Horror, Death, Discussions of  Abuse
    • Readathon Prompt: OWL’s Readathon – Potions – Next Ingredient: Sequel
    • Thoughts: I read Furthermore earlier this year and enjoyed the writing  enough (though not the story as much) to carry on to this book on audio book. It’s got the same narrator as before, who I did enjoy a lot, and I wanted to pair my adult book with a nice middle grade book.
    • And well, okay there is a lot of nice stuff to this book. For one, Tahereh Mafi continues to be a league above the rest writing wise. I have never read a middle grade book as decadently described as Mafi does this series. Even when I’m not enchanted by the story, I love the worlds she creates. Her writing is just something I could read all damn day.
    • And I really did like the general story and characters in this book more than I did Furthermore! I think having more characters to focus on other than Alice and Oliver really helped – while they’re fine characters (well Alice is fine I’ll have words about Oliver later), the larger cast gave me a lot more time to appreciate different characters and watch them interact in interesting ways.
    • Did I say this was a nice middle grade book though? Yo, there is straight up body horror in this shit. If I would have read this in middle school I would have had fucking NIGHTMARES for days. There’s bone shit and SKIN PEELING OFF OF PEOPLE and oh my god it’s SO MUCH. ((No one else I’ve seen says anything about this? What is wrong with y’all)). Though it’s not so much a complaint as a WARNING FOR THE FAINT OF HEART.
    • All of that being said, some of the messages this book gives really kind of rubbed me the wrong way. There are dozens of times when it’s clear what the actual problem is, and the author goes out of their way to moralize about something that isn’t…. nearly as bad as the actual issue. Like these are fucking CHILDREN doing the jobs of grown people, and so many times the adults kind of just stand around being wretched and acting like the expectations they give these children are totally hunky dory and not majorly FUCKED UP. And while I’m used to my MG/YA not addressing the age thing I think the thing that makes this book frustrating is that IT IS kind of brought up – but the resolution and the moralizing by the narrator doesn’t ever REALLY confront it in a satisfying way.
    • Also like. I still don’t like Oliver y’all. He’s kind of a dick and I’m tired of these books trying to make me care about him. And considering that I though this book was going to be more about Alice than Oliver plus the other main characters, I definitely felt like Alice was kind of shoved to the side sometimes which I was super not here for. A romance appears in this book and it’s also just…. meh? Like it’s very love at first sight kinda thing which would have been OK if was played off as puppy love (which one of the romances was), but the other one had me rolling my eyes SO hard it was cringe lmao.
    • The pacing was fine? It was way better than furthermore to be sure, but the book still definitely had it’s share of awkward pacing. It tries to strike a balance between action and explaining the world and while it does a better job at the end, the beginning was tough to get into.
    • Either way though, I still did enjoy this audio book. Though its just gory enough I feel weird recommending it to middle grade readers…. read it if you liked the first book? It’s better in my opinion?
    • I am not going to lie, this book almost gave me an anxiety attack because some of the shit that happens to the main characters so SUPREMELY fucked up and the author does not let up. Maybe watch out if you have anxiety triggers I guess? I’m not sure how to warn for this stuff.

Continue reading “Reading Wrap Up, 2019 – Books #46 – 50”

Q1 of 2019 in Review

I cannot believe the first three months of 2019 are already in the bag. Because I’m a sucker for statistics and retrospectives, Here’s Quarter 1 of the year in review, with some general favorites and not so favorites.

Statistics

  • 61 total books read!
    •  41 Adult (65%), 16 YA(25%), 6 Childrens MG (10%)
    • 15 Comics (25%) and 46 Prose (75%)
    • 35 Physical Books (56%), 18 Digital Books (29%), and 10 audiobooks (16%)
    • 54 Fiction books (86%) and 9 Nonfiction (14%)
  • An Average rating of 3.67/5 stars, with 4 five star books!
  • Most read Genre’s:
    • Fantasy – 15 books (24%)
    • Sci-fi – 13 books (21%)
    • Historical Fiction – 11 books (17%)

Highlights of each month

What were some of your favorite books for the beginning of the year? What didn’t you like. Let me know!

Reading Wrap up, 2019 – Books #41- 45

And another five down before March ends! Spanning from the middle of the buzzwordathon on 3/20 to 3/30. One of these books is like. A new favorite of all time. While another is… the worst book I’ve read all year! Wow what a collection! It’s another eclectic mix of scifi, fantasy and nonfiction, as well as YA, MG and adult books, so I’m still on brand at least. Let’s dive in.

  • When the Sea Turned to Silver by Grace Lin

    • Rating: 3.5/5
    • Thoughts: I read When the Mountain Meets the Moon on audiobook last year, gave it five stars and immediately tried to see if my library had any more of her audiobooks – and they did! So when Buzzwordathon round #3 came around, this seemed like a solid choice for an audiobook. And for the most part I really liked it!
    • I still 100% admit that this book is like built to claw at my Chinese nostalgia – the main story and the tales told in this remind me SO MUCH of stuff I used to watch or hear from my mom’s side of the family. Like this book is just like injecting that shit straight into my veins and it is so heartfelt and genuine and good because of that. I also really loved how it tied into Lin’s first book, which the book I read last year. By tied into I mean… this book takes place in the same universe and brings in a lot of characters/expansion of folk tales from the previous book. There was a lot more travelling to magical lands and meeting folk creates too which was just so much fun y’all.
    • Though while the feelings and the stories are good on their own, I didn’t really loved how they were weaved into the narrative. Much more than the first book, the main story here felt much more like a vehicle to tell these cool folklore stories than an actual story which was majorly disappointing. It was also preeeeetty damn transparent how this book was going to end. Which while not a HUGE problem (it is a book based on Chinese folklore, so people familiar with it can put two and two together) it just didn’t quite catch the magic of the first book.
    • I also have to admit the main character is really hard to get attached to. She spends a lot of the novel being shy and unsure and kind of self-centered. Which, she’s a kid, of course she can be all of these things, but considering there’s another child character that travels with her that’s not nearly as hard to root for, I ended up a bit dissatisfied. Even though it’s not quite the same (saying anymore would be spoilers!), because there’s enough of this book that is similar to the first, compared to the other child protagonist AND the protagonist from the other book, she’s just not as compelling of heroine.
    • All in all though this is a really good middle grade read – I think there’s one more book in this “”series”” that Lin has written, but unfortunately it’s not at my library. :(. I’ll have to check it out a different way I guess, meaning I probably won’t get to it for a long time.
  • How to Invent Everything: A Survival Guide for the Stranded Time Traveler by Ryan North 

    • Rating: 2.25/5
    • Thoughts: Another Buzzwordathon read that unfortunately just was not as successful as I would have hoped. I read What If? Earlier this week and loved it, so I was hoping that this book would be on the same wavelength. I haven’t read a lot of Ryan North’s work, but I’ve had a lot of people tell me how much they’ve enjoyed his work, so I wanted to give this a try.
    • And y’all, this one just is not for me. Sure, there was a lot of cool information and a bit of charm in this book, but honestly, this book is just. Mega fucking dry more than anything. The wit I was hoping for just was not there for the majority of the book – it felt instead like I was reading a textbook which is 100% not how I want the nonfiction I read to be, especially if it’s comedy nonfiction. I found myself struggling to get through the last half of this book because of that.
    • Also, I really hated how the book was set up. There were a lot of added notes to the chapters and most of them were at the bottom of the page. But there were some of them that were ADDITIONAL asides that were in the back of the book. Which was really hard to. Also, the asides for a lot of these are LONG – I’d almost wish they’d been just built into the text of the book instead of acting as a footnote. Though it may have been North’s attempt at humor? I’m not sure.
    • The thing is though, when the humor and the information worked, they REALLY worked. Which was definitely the case in the first parts of this book. Though somewhere along the line I just ended up losing interest in the latter half. Ended up not being my thing, but I’m still curious to see what other work Ryan North has done!

Continue reading “Reading Wrap up, 2019 – Books #41- 45”

Comics/Graphic Novels I read in March 2019 – Reading Wrap Up

March is drawing to a close, and I’m taking the weekend off of reading comics so I can put this out a little earlier and spend some time playing the many video games I’ve started over the past couple weeks and neglected. Overall, this was a mixed bag of a month comic wise – I have 2 graphic novels, 2 volumes of manga, one webcomic bindup and one short story collection all with fairly large rating differences. Let’s dive in!

  • Pandora’s Legacy, written by Kara Leopard , Illustrated by Kelly Matthews & Nichole Matthews

    • Rating: 3.25/5
    • Thoughts: I’ve been following Kelly and Nichole Matthews work since my semi shameful Teen Wolf Fandom days, so when I walked into the comic store and saw they did the art for a comic, I definitely had to pick this up. And as I expected, their art is probably the best part of this book. Their work is ALWAYS gorgeously detailed, with excellent colors and designs. There’s a couple spreads in particular that are just absolutely beautiful. Though I do have to say some of their more ambitious lay outs are a bit confusingly laid out, which made the story hard to follow sometimes.
    • Story wise though, there’s nothing too amazing about it. It’s very Percy Jackson/Rick Riordan Presents-eqsue, which is a ton of fun, but not incredibly interesting or unique. It’s great for a middle grade/ kids comic for sure, and there are a lot of fun twists and concepts that make it compelling enough even for the biggest classics superfan, but mostly the story beats are really standard.
    • I liked this! I think this will be a great comic for kids, but if you’re an older reader, this may just not be the book for you.
  • To Your Eternity, Vol. 1 & Vol. 2 by Yoshitoki Oima

    • Rating: Volume 1 – 4.25/5, Volume 2 – 4.75/5
    • Content Warning for: Death, Murder, Body Horror & Gore, Sexual Assault. This is just in general kind of gross at times especially with bodily functions, so if that’s something you can’t deal with, I’d give this a pass.
    • Thoughts: Me reading volume 1: Oh yeah this is good I can’t wait to read more. Me: reading volume 2: WHAT THE FUCK IM CRYING???? DAMN
    • This is by the same author as A Silent Voice, and if I didn’t read that in some blurbs or recognize the art style I never would have believed you. Because this SO WILDLY in the other direction of that one. Don’t get my wrong, I liked A Silent Voice, but this is some dramatic and pretentious science fiction bullshit which is Extremely my thing.
    • Like I cannot put into words how much I enjoyed the first two volumes of this, especially the first. For the most part the story just follows the main character and you’re introduced to the side characters surrounding them as they make their journey, but every single one of the characters you meet is just achingly human, ESPECIALLY the second volume. Oima is a goddamn genius in crafting these lifelike and frankly incredibly memorable characters, even though the time I’ve spent with them has been so brief.
    • Another thing about Oima is that they really fucking bring their A game in the art for these ones. These books are fucking. stunning. Like I cannot even describe how expressive each of the characters are, and how beautiful of landscapes they create. This world feels full and filled to the brim with interesting people and things and GOD there is so much pain and so much joy in these. (Mostly pain.
    • More than a lot of manga I’ve read, I think this book does has some of the best discussion and thoughts about its themes – Even in the first two volumes, there’s so much discussion on humanity and connection, on loneliness, on life and mortality. It’s all there and it’s so fucking good.
    • I don’t know why the heck I put this down after I read the first two volumes???? I loved them so much I am still SHOOK about it. Hopefully I’ll pick up some more in April.

Continue reading “Comics/Graphic Novels I read in March 2019 – Reading Wrap Up”

O.W.L.’s Readathon 2019 TBR / April 2019 TBR

A second Readathon this year? Who am I???? This is a readathon started up by Book Roast over on YT,  that’s kinda supposed to emulate the OWLs & NEWT tests from Harry Potter with a prompt for each subject – each subject you complete is a “pass” for the OWLs. I saw a couple of booktubers participate in this last year, its month-long, and I pretty easily bent the existing TBR I set up for myself for April to match it.

Without further ado, here are some Readathon links if this seems like your kind of thing and also my general TBR. Technically you’re supposed to choose which ones interest you so you can do the challenges at the NEWTs for the ones you pass, but what am I if not an overachiever. NEWTS are a cool 36 total prompts which is actually impossible, but I can attempt to read like… 12 things in April. I’ll give some reasons why I chose them with the choices.

Read-a-thon Links

Planned TBR

  • Ancient Runes – Retelling
    • A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas

    • I’m slowly working through the books my friend who reads even more than me has given me… and this is one of them. As far as I understand this is a Sherlock Holmes Retelling, but Sherlock is a woman? I’ve heard good things about it, so hopefully this is a hit.

 

  • Arithmancy – Work Written by More than One Author
    • March: Book Three, Written by John Lewis Andrew Aydin , Illustrated by Nate Powell

    • There was no way this wasn’t going to be a comic. I’m reading like two 500 page books this month okay I gotta make it work somehow. I also read like a million comics so no one is surprised. Also I’ve been putting this off for MONTHS!! I gotta just finish it already.

 

  • Astronomy – “Star” in the title
    • From a Certain Point of View (Star Wars)

    • Somehow I have like no books that I own with the word “Star” in it, so I’m digging into my libraries list of Star Wars book that are on my goodreads TBR. So I chose the one I was most excited about that also happens to be the longest one. Woop woop.

 

  • Care of Magical Creatures – Land Animal on the Cover
    • Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

    • This is the choice for the book club I’m part of, and well… it has a horse on it okay. We gotta reach where we can.

 

  • Charms – Age-line: read an adult work
    • The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo

    • This came out in February and was one of my BOTM choices sooooo I really want to get to it sooner rather than later.

 

  • Defense Against the Dark Arts – Reducto: Title Starts with an “R”
    • Retribution Rails by Erin Bowman

    • I just got this recently since it was cheap online, and I really looooved the previous book in this series, so this is a good excuse to pick it up!

 

  • Divination – Set in the Future
    • Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer

    • I’ve had this on my shelf for a while, and I wanted to get at least one chunky book off my shelf this month, so this was a good choice.

 

  • Herbology – Plant on the Cover
    • The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

    • Another recent release! I’m trying to read more 2019 releases, and this is historical fantasy which is probably my favorite genre sooooo there was no way I wasn’t going to pick this up at some point.

 

 

  • Muggle Studies – Contemporary 

 

 

Let me know if you’ve read any of these or if you plan on participating in this particular readathon!

Reading Wrap up, 2019 – Books #36- 40

Five more! No 4.5 or 5 star reads this time around, but a solid batch of fun! This collection spans from 3/6 to 3/20 and consists of my usual eclectic taste of scientific nonfiction, sci-fi, superhero fiction and historical fiction.

  • Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente

    • Rating:3/5
    • Content Warning: Discussions of Racism, Genocide, Murder, Homophobia and Drug Use. In a non serious way for the most part? That’s a weird thing to say after that string.
    • Thoughts: This is the fourth Valente book I’ve read so far and I still just do not know how to feel about her work. I feel like I enjoy reading it for the most part – she’s got cool ideas and worlds to explore, but her writing is just… it’s a lot guys.
    • I’m actually reading this for the book club we started up last month, (and still waiting patiently for my SO to finish reading so I can talk to them about it!!!)  so I have at least some people around me to bounce some ideas off of, and my SO came up with “adjective soup” to describe Valente’s writing which I’d never realized was just. soooooo Apt. Especially since this is Valente’s kind of homage to Douglas Adams, the contrast is stark indeed. It’s not to say that Valente’s writing is not effective – it is sometimes. But the other half of the time, it takes away from the engagement I have in the story and feels like I’m betting batted about from tangent to tangent. Which wouldn’t be a problem if it didn’t feel like one.
    • It’s hard to explain I guess? Like this book is funny, its weird and also filled with a lot of messy emotion and ideas that are a lot of fun, but this book also DRAGS and this book also just doesn’t know when to shut up and let the reader feel some emotions for like two seconds. Like I loved that its loud and out there and refuses to coddle humanity and realizes that it has a whole damn universe to play with, but it doesn’t work nearly as well as you want it to because its pacing is ass and you’re not allowed to let your emotions actually percolate into anything before it throws you into something completely different. Which again sure, its supposed to be a funny book, but it’s NOT all funny, and that’s what made it good!
    • Like I actually may hate the ending to this book? Like honest to god Hate the ending because it brought it some stuff that I felt like kind of ruined what this whole book was trying to go for. (which considering how much a fucking Loved the ending to Radiance feels weird)
    • I’m ragging on this book a lot but I did really enjoy it. I’m just majorly disappointed in it, like I find myself being with most of Valente’s work. The fact of the matter is you are either going to hate this or you are going to love this, which is somehow a very common feeling with her stuff. I still like reading her stuff, even though I have yet to really love any of them,
    • I’d like to add I listened to this on Audiobook and I think that helped me get through it – I know my SO is really struggling to read this physically, and having a chipper British accent read through the most rage inducing parts definitely helps.
  • Cinnamon and Gunpowder: A Novel by Eli Brown

    • Rating: 4/5
    • Content Warning: Discussions of Murder, Assault, Rape, Slavery, Drug Abuse. I mean it’s a pirate book. One that is trying to very hard to historically accurate, so It’s a bit rough sometimes. Never extremely explicit, but just keep an eye out.
    • Thoughts: I am absolutely floored with how much I ended up liking this book. Like straight up shocked. Like the synopsis for this book is kind of vague and fun? But the execution is absolutely delightful. It’s basically about a gourmet cook who gets kidnapped by pirates and has to cook for the captain and their relationship.
    • The writing for this book? Fantastic, incredible – Brown’s got the perfect voice a pretentious English chef who has like the Most upstanding views of right and wrong, that its uncanny. You feel like you are reading the diary of some dude from hundreds of years in the past. The plot is paced nearly perfectly for the first 80 or so percent, it’s slow going, but the build up goes to a (mostly) sweet and satisfying finish.
    • While the side characters are a treat for the most part (the cast is really diverse and while not for the most part very complicated, add a lot of flavor to the text) , what really makes this book is the main character and the pirate captain as characters and their relationship. It is such a delight watching the two of them play off of each other – while not total opposites, their ideas and sense of justice and morals and even just personality are so interesting. On their own they’re a lot of fun, but together they manage to play with a lot of really interesting questions of morality and relationships that I haven’t seen done as well in…. almost any book.
    • You may be thinking, man, Zen’s got nothing but praise for this book, why’s it a 4? Well unfortunately the way that relationship culminates and the ending of the novel was a huge let down. The book made a quantum leap into some territory I didn’t feel it had quite earned its place to be in, and it really killed the vibe for me. While it didn’t completely destroy the good will the first part of the novel had created, overall it left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth.
    • There’s also a trope in here done with one of the female characters that I wasn’t a big fan of? Mostly because there aren’t many female characters at all, so any tropes that could come off a bit problematic were definitely singing out to me in big bold letters.
    • I do recommend this book regardless though. I think for the most part, people who like historical fiction and pirate books are going to be in for a huge treat when they pick this novel up. Just keep in mind it makes some decisions that I didn’t end up agreeing with in the end.

Continue reading “Reading Wrap up, 2019 – Books #36- 40”