My second month in and I’m booking it (ha ha) through my TBR list. The end of August saw me at about 2/3 of the way through my first 50 books, while adding about 30 books to my TBR list.
Note: Thrill Me by Benjamin Percy did double duty both as an Amazon TBR and the Bookish 12 Ways Kill Your TBR Challenge. My thoughts on it will be in a later post.
The Stolen Child by Lisa Carey
The potential for magical realism mixed with Ireland is what attracted me to this book. However, The Stolen Child was so much more – an exploration of sexuality, of the pull of modernization against historical roots, the struggle of an insular village against itself, outsiders, and folklore. It was a fascinating, bittersweet book.
Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee
I almost DNF’d this book multiple times, which gives a fairly good indication of how much I liked Under a Painted Sky. It was an interesting concept, but the characters ranged from flat to annoying, and the plot felt underdeveloped. The boys were uninteresting and never felt like actual people. Sammy was really, really annoying, though that could be in part because of how the narrator read her. I am not a fan of whiney heroines so there’s that as well. The only character that was decent was Annamae, and I would have preferred her to be the main character instead of Sammy. The plot also moseyed along, with too much time spent on Sammy’s internal emotional turmoil about hoping her atrocious attempt at being a boy wasn’t uncovered.
Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle
Black Tom was weird and dark and bizarre in a way that blended together to make a good story. I loved the flow of LaValle’s writing. That being said, I have never read anything by H.P. Lovecraft, which even though I am not a fan of horror, I probably should remedy. I do know enough about his mythos from other sources to have some foundation, pitiful as it may be. And I’m sure that if I had a better foundation, I would have better appreciated the social commentary of Black Tom – I need to get my hands on “The Horror at Red Hook”.
King John: Treachery and Tyranny in Medieval England: The Road to Magna Carta by Marc Morris
King John continues my slow journey of learning about medieval history. I read a book about William Marshal, and was interested by how both Richard the Lionheart and King John were portrayed. My understanding of the two men stems from Disney’s animated Robin Hood, and the end of the movie is not quite accurate. Yes, King John was petty, vindictive, and had a wide streak of treachery, but his behavior was only outside of that era’s norm in the sense that he pushed too far. The creation of the Magna Carta was also more complex than I had been taught, and King John was less of a pushover than I assumed. It was not a straight forward process, and did not have the impact at that that time that we ascribe to the document today.
Wildalone by Krassi Zourkova
The story was dark and lyrical and I like how Zourkova incorporated Eastern European and Greek myths, but not a lot actually happened. The book ends with something of a cliffhanger, a scene which really should have happened earlier in the story to actually cause the plot to start rolling.
This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
I had a slightly rocky relationship with this book at first. It was an interesting concept, but I just wasn’t invested in the story. I liked it more as the book went on, and the cliffhanger at the ending is somewhat of a WTF set up for the sequel. I also really liked that there was no romance between Kate and August.
Arabella of Mars by David D. Levine
Arabella was a steampunk space adventure that was a good listen. Arabella herself was strong, clever, and not annoying.I liked the underlying idea of space travel being “discovered” by Isaac Newton while watching a bubble float in the bath, and that the grand age of exploration was in space and not on the oceans. It has a Jules Verne feel to it.
Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
Based upon the book description, I was expecting a light-hearted, snarky romp across Europe, and not a government conspiracy surrounding a mysterious alchemical object. I know the phrase “harrowing manhunt” was included in the description, but my brain must not have latched on to it. Gentleman was alright, but it was somewhat of a letdown.
The Inventor’s Secret by Andrea Cremer
This was another book that I was on the fence about DNFing. It suffered from poor world-building, an awful romance/forced love triangle, and a boring plot. I ended up finishing it because it took me less than five hours of listening time. In terms of world-building, going from the British winning the Revolutionary War to crazy advanced steampunk technology in less than 100 years didn’t make sense.
Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews
This book pulled me in enough that I dropped everything to listen to the first five books in the series. I love that Kate Daniels is snarky and sarcastic. She doesn’t take crap from anyone, but is also very aware of her own flaws and shortcomings. I like the world-building premise of magic’s reappearance back into the world, raising a bunch of issues in regard to technology.
Bloody Jack by L.A. Meyer
My sister told me about this book ages ago, but I didn’t get around to listening to it until I learned that Katherine Kellgren was the narrator. Overall, the story was an entertaining and well-paced pirate romp. Jackie was who she was and kept a realistic view of her place in the world.
Battling the Gods: Atheism in the Ancient World by Tim Whitmarsh
A bit dry and academic, but interesting. It shifted my perspective on ancient religions given that we see them through a contemporary lens strongly influenced by 2000 years Judeo-Christianity. Both gods and beliefs and their relationships were much more fluid than they are today. Gods across different cultures who shared attributes were seen as different versions of the same deity. Atheism was more of not believing/sacrificing in the appropriate way as deemed by social norms as opposed to the complete disbelief in a god.
Every Anxious Wave by Mo Daviau
Time travel and multiple dimensions seems to be a bit of a trend recently – either in my reading habits, publisher’s publishing habits, or both. I liked the idea of a wormhole that allowed people to travel through time, and that the main character used it to visit various rock concerts. Even though Every Anxious Wave is nominally science fiction because of the time travel, the science wasn’t the point. The character relationships and dynamics were the point. My gripe with the book was that the dynamic between Karl and Lena felt like it was happening because the author wanted it to and not because it grew organically between the characters.
The Bear and the Nightingale: A Novel by Katherine Arden
I’m going to start with the fact that I found the complete lack of romance in this book refreshing. I’m not against romance, but it was so nice to have a heroine not start a romantic relationship with the supernatural being. It was a fairy tale of sorts, more of a clash between the traditional gods and fairies and the Christian god. It was dark and haunting, and Vasilisa was intelligent and resourceful.
As Old As Time by Liz Braswell
The tone was smug and righteous and insufferable. I know the magical creatures were supposed to be portrayed as persecuted, but it was too heavy handed. Belle’s mom was a selfish bitch cursing an 11-year old child for the sins of his parents. Belle was stuck up as well and came off as sounding like she thought she was too good for her village, Maurice in the movie was bumbling but harmless, whereas book Maurice was obnoxiously oblivious to the detriment of others. It was also hard to the read early chapters because the dialog was verbatim from the movie.
Floors by Patrick Carman
Admittedly, I did not get very far into this book before giving up. I was listening to the audio version and had a hard time with the narrator. He was more annoying than interesting, and it made the madcap nature of the book feel flat and uninteresting.
Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
I tried reading Stealing Snow a few months ago and had to DNF it. The main character was whiny and annoying, and the supporting characters were boring and felt unfinished. Even though I had a bad experience with that book i wanted to give Dorothy Must Die a try because it had been on my TBR for several years. Twisting up Oz seemed like an interesting idea. Unfortunately, it also was unappealing. Paige’s writing style is not for me. Amy was whiny and annoying, and the supporting characters were boring. A lot of the tension felt forced or fell flat. It didn’t seem like anything was actually happening in the story. It is possible that there was, but it did not hold my attention at all.
Airborn by Kenneth Oppel
It took me several hours of listening to decide to DNF Airborn. I do like a good adventure, but the story lacked the tension and excitement that go with a good adventure. It was listenable upuntil the airship was stranded on the island. At that point, Kate started grating on my nerves. She was single-minded in her quest to find her grandfather’s creatures, and used guilt and manipulation to get Matt to go with her. I have zero tolerance for that kind of behavior, and lost interest as soon as she started pulling that junk.