Adult books I read in September 2018 – Reading Wrap up

Adult wrap up time! This month’s adult reading was pretty solid, although none of it was standout. Also just mostly read a ton of fantasy which is on par for the course for me.

  • The Book of M by Peng Shepard
    • Rating: 4/5
    • Thoughts: I’m not going to lie, this book took a bit for me to grow into. The pacing at the beginning goes at a SNAILS pace – which considering how complex the kind of ideas are in this world, I get it? But it had me worried for a bit that I wouldn’t be able to really get into it.
    • Thankfully, Shepard gets the ball rolling pretty quickly once she’s set up the main driving force and this is an absolutely awesome novel. Once the die is cast so to say, this book became SUPER engaging – I just did not want to put it down. And the ideas that the author plays with here are so…. unique? The way that the “magic” works, which is kind of just playing on human memory and ideas, is so interesting to read about. Kind of felt like a mix of literary commentary and interesting post-apocalyptic world building. I liked a lot of the characters we explored, though I only really really loved a couple of them. They just weren’t the most interesting part of the story, save for one or two. The two characters I love though, I LOVE. They absolutely the best perspectives in the book.
    • I do have to say that because the “magic” is so…. wishy washy, it was kind of difficult to grasp how it worked. I think for the most part it’s used as a tool to express an idea more than an actual “power”, but it was still something I struggled with a bit as the book went on.
    • The ending, while good, feels pretty familiar to some other books I read this year. I think it fit the book well, I just wasn’t really… surprised at all.
    • This was a SOLID Debut – I’m looking forward to what else Shepard writes. Hopefully a sequel??? Idk

  • Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn
    • Rating: 3.25/5
    • Thoughts: Another book I got during my trip to SDCC! And this one pretty alright – it was fun! I do really like how goofy and fun the world and story is. It was just some solid superhero fun.
    • Uhhh that being said I think I either did not care for or absolutely hated nearly every single character in this book! Which is honestly quite a feat. You might be wondering, “Zen you like this book though” which yeah I do! Because the characters being weird unlikable caricatures made the book more fun. I just absolutely did not care about them other than seeing the plot go forward. But yeah, I’m pretty sure every character in this is a terrible person. Sometimes that works – Didn’t really work for me in this one. Not enough for me to put this down but enough for me to not…. care.
    • Also Kuhn I appreciate the Lesbian Rep, but my god the romance in this book is some fucking STRAIGHT bullshit with no satisfying build up. I do have to say once they started “doing the do” (which gotta give it props, the sex scenes were pretty decent. Which is absolutely high praise coming from me, the one who hates reading every sex scene ever), it became a lot less insufferable. Mostly because it got out of the weird “will-they-won’t-they” tension that had absolutely no one convinced.
    • It’s just. It’s fun. Kinda is on the level of the Mercy Thompson Series for me. The story is just ridiculous enough that I’m curious to see where the rest of the series goes. Especially since the sequel sounds even more of a hot mess than this one is. (in a fun way).
  • Hard in Hightown by Varric Tethras/Mary Kirby
    • Rating: 4.25/5
    • Thoughts: I’m going to throw all biased out the window with this one because this book is extremely my shit and probably my shit only. I love the dragon age video games (even dragon age 2), especially Varric Tethras AKA the best character of all time.
    • Yeah I loved this. The art was dope, the writing was super in character and absolutely everything I could ever want. There’s a ton of fun references and it’s just. It’s very good. But if you’re not a big fan of dragon age, you’re not going to like this. But if you are, yo pick this up.
  • The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova
    • Rating: 3.25/5
    • Thoughts:BOY this has been on my TBR since this book came out in like… 2010? I read the Historian in high school and of course, because I was a pretentious kid who loved reading big books especially when they were about monsters and shit, I ate that up. All these years later, my friend Sarah had a copy of this and lent it to me to read.
    • I don’t know how to describe this book. It’s…. weird. Is it a thriller? is it a mystery? Is it historical fiction? Or is it literary? It’s kind of all 4, with a heavy emphasis on literary fiction. This is a ponderous novel – everything goes SO slowly. It felt like the author would go on tangents in her own story as just… meandered until it ended abruptly. The back of the book is written like there’s a grand mystery to solve, which their really isn’t. Sure there is a mystery, but it’s pretty telegraphed throughout the novel to the point that there’s no real surprise.
    • The characters are really hit and miss. While there were some characters that I really enjoyed, I get the feeling that the author wanted us to like the main focus of the book, the artist, like WAY more than I ever actually did. Dude was a complete asshole through and through and for some reason the book was just GUNNING for me to be sympathetic or forgiving of the terrible stuff he’s done. Sorry, I’ve given up my sympathy for unlikeable white men years ago. It was the same for other characters too – though since it was written from their perspectives I imagine that’s just the characters trying to justify their own shitty behavior to the reader (which again, I had no patience for). The character I’d ended up feeling the most for was the artist’s wife which GOD she is just given the short end of the stick in this book.
    • Honestly, what really keeps you going in this book is the writing. The writing style is stellar. Kostova is a very emotionally charged writer – even though a lot of these character are kinda side-eye-y, I couldn’t help but be entranced by her words. I’d almost wished she’d been able to achieve more nuanced characters with less of a bloated storytelling scheme. It would have easily been a five star read.
    • I think this may be my last Kostova book for awhile. Though now I’m curious to see if I will like The Historian the same amount as I did when I was younger and more pretentious…. probably not? We’ll see.
  • Falling in Love with Hominids by Nalo Hopkinson
    • Rating: 3.75/5
    • Thoughts: I forayed a bit into N.K. Jemisin’s  work last year and absolutely loved it, so I was looking for some similar authors and Nalo Hopkinson’s name came up a couple times. I had this short story collection in a ebook bundle I’d bought earlier this year, so I ended up picking this up as a bit of filler between some of the other physical books I had, and I ended up really enjoying this!
    • Granted, while I do feel like a around half of the short stories in this collection didn’t really work for me, some of them REALLY worked. Hopkinson’s writing is an absolute delight – she balances everyday emotions so well with the fantastical and the sinister. There are a couple stories in here that I would have just absolutely LOVED to see some of these acted out on a television show (Jordan Peele look into these for your new run of the twilight zone maybe???? or better yet have Hopkinson write an episode or two!!!). It’s also pretty incredible how atmospheric Hopkinson is for writing just short stories – each world she creates just OOZES character.
    • All in all, I came out of this collection just really excited to pick up more of her work! I’ve had a couple of her books in my to be read pile, and after this collection they’re being pushed up for sure.
    • A couple of the stories if you want them to give her stuff a try: The Easthound, Old Habits, and Flying Lessons.
  • Brimstone by Cherie Priest
    • Rating: 3.75/5
    • Thoughts: I’m personally a big fan of the Clockwork Century series for a long time, but hadn’t gotten around to reading any other Cherie Priest books until around now. Which honestly is a shame because this is absolutely everything I love. Historical Fiction with fantasy elements and dope ass female characters? Gimmie gimmie gimmie.
    • Priest has some GREAT prose in this one, which I was really surprised about. I’d felt like in the Clockwork Century series, it was one of her weaker points. But this book achieved a lot of great atmosphere and emotion – which are always excellent to see, especially in a ghost story. Story wise, it’s all pretty straightforward, which some starts and stops to pacing. It was a mix of genuine surprise and horror, and then some deep eye-rolls with how predictable the whole thing could be.
    • The characters were solid too – it’s another thing I find with Priests work is that her books were hit and miss in having likable characters. This book thankfully didn’t have that problem, although there were some character elements that I didn’t feel were resolved as well as I would have hoped, it’s still pretty good.
    • This is just a solid ghost story and supernatural historical fiction book that I recommend if you’re into that kind of stuff. If you’re not really into that, it’s just not going to be for you. I’ve got another Priest book on my list to read in October, which I’m really excited about. Her books are just made to be read in the fall.

That’s it for September! Thanks for tuning it I guess? Keep looking for more posts maybe? Idk enjoy yourselves either way.

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