Amazon TBR – December (Part 2)

Before I start posting about 2018 Amazon reads, I figure I should first get my final post from 2017 taken care of.

Chemistry by Weike Wang
Chemistry is a fairly spare book, and the humor is definitely deadpan and underplayed – but it fits with the narrator’s sense of self and both her personal and professional experiences. While it has received mixed reviews, I loved this book. It looks at the intersection of multiple aspects of the narrator’s life and how years of stress and overbearing expectations finally come to a head and causes her to have breakdown. She is miserable from the pressure to measure up to the success of her cohort, to fulfill the goals her spiteful, bitter parents have set for her, and to come to terms with how easy she feels that her partner’s professional life falls into place (and the fact that he came from a loving, supporting home and doesn’t seem to get how different their upbringings are).

Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross
I read the prequel, The Strange Case of Finley Jayne, and enjoyed both the story and the set up. However, my enjoyment didn’t really carry over to Girl in the Steel Corset. It started out alright, but went downhill pretty quickly. I forced myself to finish it, but have no interest in reading the rest of the series. The bad YA love triangle is only going to get worse. The characters themselves leave a lot to be desired, and the plot was clunky.

Jungle of Stone by William Carlsen
A fascinating look at the “discovery” of the Mayan civilization, and the recognition of its significance. Carlsen did digress from the main concept, and at times those digressions were distracting, as they focused either on the peripheral players and events, or excessively detailed background information. It would have been better if more information about the Maya and the aftermath of the expedition were included.

Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty
I really enjoyed this book. It’s akin to Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, but set in space. The characters are clones, and clones of clones, and they have to figure out who the murderer is before they all truly die. The wrench in this is that each of the characters is hiding a shady background, each of them has something to gain (or lose) through the murders of their crewmates, and both their memories and perceptions can be manipulated. The only thing that didn’t work was that the story seemed to straddle a wobbly line between being serious and rolling with dark humor. It would have been better if Lafferty had chosen one side and dove in. The book would have been phenomenal coming from a dark humor angle.

The Scribe of Siena by Melodie Winawer
I’ve been a sucker for time travel romances since reading Outlander four years ago. While The Scribe of Siena is similar, it is its own story and feels more like a slice-of-life than an adventure; there was no sense of urgency. That being said, I loved the story, loved the descriptions of life in 14th century Italy, and loved how it ended. It is not a fast-paced book by any means, and should be enjoyed for what it is.

A Darkly Beating Heart by Lindsay Smith
I had a very hard time caring about Reiko. She was so incredibly self-absorbed, wallowing in her own pit of bitter darkness. It’s all very annoyingly melodramatic and instead of adding to the mood of the story, made me roll my eyes more times than I can count. The reason for her self-loathing wasn’t given until towards the end of the book, and by then I just didn’t care. There was definitely potential for the underlying plot of being inhabited by a vengeful spirit and time traveling back to when the spirit was alive, but it just didn’t work.

The Infamous Heir by Elizabeth Michels
Both Roselyn and Ethan needed to be smacked. Both were annoying and made stupid decisions for the sake of the plot. Rosalyn was the stereotypical young, unworldly heroine who is “going to do it herself!”, but in reality places both herself and those around her into danger. Ethan was a total asshole using Roselyn as bait in order to catch the murderer. On top of that, even my dense self was able to figure out who the villain was from almost the very beginning.

The Immortals by Jordanna Max Brodsky
I loved how Brodsky wove elements of fantasy, mythology, mystery cults, and history in to the narrative. Her interpretations were interesting, to say the least, and were my favorite aspects of the book. It reminded me of American Gods in that the ancient gods are still among us, though they have been much reduced. I blew through The Immortals and the sequel, Winter of the Gods, in quick succession because both Selene and the stories were so engrossing.

Un Lun Dun by China Miéville
This felt like a darker Alice in Wonderland. The tone and darkness were reminiscent of both Neverwhere and Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times. This was the first Miéville book I’ve read, and I really liked the flow of his words and how he used/wrote imagery. I loved how unique and creative his setting and character descriptions were. The carnivorous giraffes were probably my favorite, and they were all I could think of when I saw the Broadway production of Lion King with my children recently.

DNF

My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella
Nope. I am definitely not the audience for this book. I will occasionally dip into chick-lit, but the genre as a whole is not for me. I don’t care about brand names, which were being dropped like they were hot, or popularity. I was a fringe kid in school, and have turned into a fringe adult.

The Only Thing Worse than Me is You by Lily Anderson
I couldn’t get very far into this one because it reads like an adult who wishes they could redo their geeky high school years in a snarky/cool sort of way. It was an overkill of fandoms and geekdoms, and I have yet to hear teenagers speak like that in real life.

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