readings
Here's where I post my thoughts on the last dozen or so books I've either read or attempted to read.
updated: 3 February 2018
 
Kings of the Wyld

Kings of the Wyld

Nicholas Eames

A wacky fantasy adventure in which adventurers are revered like rock stars and speak in a contemporary fashion. Golden Gabe's daughter rose is trapped in a city under siege and seeks Clay Cooper's help in getting their band of adventurers back together in order to embark on a suicidally perilous journey through the dangerous forest known as the Heartwyld and thence to Castia, a city under siege by a horde of beasties. Or, I should say, Horde with a capital H. And it's entertaining and so easy to read and moves along at a decent clip... But, all the contemporary talk and slang keeps yanking me out of the world as it were. And this world contains such an unfathomable plethora of strange beasts and monsters, that it strains credulity. Those two things kept bothering me. Yet I persevered and finished the story. Kinda fun and all but no real surprises.

started 13 January 2018, finished 2 February 2018
Amazon

 

The Fifth Season

The Fifth Season

N K Jemisin

I was looking at Hugo Award winners and saw that this was a recent winner and not only that but the second one in the trilogy also won the following year (2017). Well, this one was very engaging. A fascinating world with a dangerous geologic history, full of earthquakes and long periods of harsh living conditions. In this world you have a class of people who, for whatever unknown reason, are born with powers to psychically harness or alter the powers of the earth, whether that is quelling earthquakes or freezing areas around them, etc. Known as orogenes, they are both revered and reviled (mostly the latter). They are not the only strange thing or people in this world. But you should discover it for yourself. I've already bought the second book.

started 26 December 2017, finished 12 January 2017
Amazon

 

Norse Mythology

Norse Mythology

Neil Gaiman

A quick fun read. I've always enjoyed the Norse myths. Just gotta say: Wow. Loki can be such a dick.

finished 24 December 2017
Amazon

 

 

 

 

Good Omens

Good Omens

Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett

Got halfway into this one and got pretty bored with it. Wasn't really going anywhere; weren't any characters that I really cared about; and occasionally found it difficult to figure out exactly what was going on. Noped out.

started 1 November 2017,   ABANDONED   23 November 2017

 

 

 

 

The Golem's Eye

The Golem's Eye (Bartimaeus, book 2)

Jonathan Stroud

It may be classified as YA (Young Adult) but it rarely feels like that as you're reading. I enjoyed the first book in this trilogy so much that I quickly bought books 2 and 3. It just takes me a while to get around to every book I want to read. Am I right? Anyway, this book continues the saga of the young magician Nathaniel (who seems to be getting a little too caught up in the trappings of power), the djinni he calls upon to serve him, Bartimaeus (as wise-cracking as ever), and young Kitty Jones who's part of a small resistance movement against the disdainful, untrustworthy magicians that run the government. And there's some other conspiracy afoot which gets more and more dangerous. It's really interesting to follow the trajectories of Nathaniel and Kitty. But Bartimaeus has been around for centuries, so I doubt he's going to change (which is a good thing).

started 25 September 2017, paused 14 October 2017,
restarted 24 October 2017, finished 1 November 2017

Amazon

 

The Three-Body Problem

The Three-Body Problem

Cixin Liu

Translator: Ken Liu
So I did something I never thought I'd do: I joined a book club. It's a science book club, but for one reason or another the first book chosen is science fiction with some "hard sci-fi" within it. This book was very popular in China and a 2015 Hugo Award winner. It's starts off interestingly enough with characters dealing with the Cultural Revolution of the late 60s, a tumultuous time in Chinese history. And then it jumps to the present and our protagonist is a nanotechnology developer named Wang. As I read along, I knew that at its heart, this was a first-contact story, so I was interested to get to when that actually happened. But my interest began to fade for several reasons:
 
  • One-dimensional characters — Wang, himself, is a bit of a cipher. And the flamboyant cop "Da Shi" was a laughable cliché.
  • Wang spends several chapters immersed in an online video game called Three Body that spans eons and is supremely boring.
  • Character motivations were either unbelievable, undiscernable, or too Chinese for me to grasp.
  • It's not an exciting story. Very little seems to actually happen. And, through no fault of the translation, this book reads like an outline, written by a high school physics geek — dry, amateurish, and dull.
  • And it ends abruptly and unsatisfyingly — it's the first of a trilogy, but that doesn't excuse this ending.
  • Near the end of the book, I had to skim a bit, something I rarely do. That's never a good sign.

This wins a Hugo?!

started 14 October 2017, finished 24 October 2017
Amazon

 

The Caretaker of Lorne Field

The Caretaker of Lorne Field

Dave Zeltersman

Jack Durkin is the current caretaker of Lorne Field. From age 21 until his first-born son can take over at age 21, his contracted job is to "weed" the field every day. But he's not really pulling up weeds. They may look like weeds but they're Aukowies and if left alone will grow fast and in about 8 days would grow into a 9-foot-long fanged beast that would eat everything and everyone. And there's a giant field of them. The Durkin family has been doing this for 300 years but these days there are few people who believe the weeds are anything but simple weeds.

You can see where this is heading can't you? That's part of the problem. No real surprises. Another issue is that none of the characters are all that likable. Nevertheless, I zipped through the story in just a few days. Story could've really used some surprises, though.

started 21 September 2017, finished 23 September 2017
Amazon

 

What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours

What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours

Helen Oyeyemi

A linked story collection shot through with a theme of keys, this one sounded promising. I read the first story in its entirety and enjoyed it. But I kept thinking I was missing something. Then into the second story I persevered for at least a dozen pages before skimming to the end because I had no idea what was going on. Tried the third story but quickly lost patience. Nope.

started 19 September 2017,   ABANDONED   21 September 2017

 

 

The Witch's Boy

The Witch's Boy

Kelly Barnhill

Several weeks ago I was browsing the stacks of Jabberwocky and came across this YA book. Personally, I don't think the cover is doing it any favors, but I was on the lookout for something I thought my daughter might like and this caught my eye nonetheless. A quick look at how the story started promised something with an old-timey fairytale sensibility — something I like. So I acquired it and it sat on my shelves for a spell....

And then I started reading it and got sucked in fairly quickly. The back cover blurb promised a journey undertaken by two youthful kids, a boy and a girl, but that doesn't happen at the get-go. This story takes its time bringing the two together at a good pace. The writing has that deceptively effortless feel to it and I ended up enjoying this much more than I might've guessed. Just goes to show you that the YA label shouldn't necessarily scare off the adult reader. I think my daughter will like it too and when she comes to me asking for something to read — and she will — I'll have something readily at hand.

started 6 September 2017, finished 19 September 2017
Amazon

 

A Darker Shade of Magic

A Darker Shade of Magic

V. E. Schwab

I confess that this books cool cover was the first thing that drew me in. Then seeing that it was highly rated among thousands of Amazon users... And then finding out that the sequel was also highly rated... And of course the cool premise. Namely that there are four Londons that our protagonist, Kell, can navigate between. These Londons are all capitals of different countries with different monarchs. Grey London has very little magic and is ruled by George III. Red London (which Kell calls home) is the seat of the Maresh empire and is flush with magic. White London is ruled by the psychotic Dane siblings, Athos and Astrid, and is losing magic fast. And Black London, which no one talks about and has been largely cut off since magic went wild there. Trouble starts when Kell comes into possession of a dangerous magical artefact from Black London. Story moves briskly and I has to read the final hundred pages all at once.

started 23 August 2017, finished 5 September 2017
Amazon

 

Through the Woods

Through the Woods

Emily Carroll

Couldn't resist snapping up this debut print collection of five horror stories written and illustrated by Emily Carroll. The stories are creepy and fun and usually have a surprising twist. The illustrations are inventive and the use of color is impressive. I've since learned that the author has developed a following from her website, emcarroll.com, and I'm going to need to revisit that.

started & finished on 5 September 2017
Amazon

 

Zeitoun

Zeitoun

Dave Eggers

The true story of a Syrian-American man, Abdulrahman Zeitoun ("zay-toon") and his family and their experiences during Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans during August/September 2003. Not really a book I would've chosen on my own to read but my wife gifted it to me and I was intrigued. I read it fairly quickly too. It was a fascinating portrait of a man and a natural disaster and the strange paths his life takes during this time. But if you look further into the turns Zeitoun's life takes after the events in the book, you'll find that things were far from a happy ending for this family.
 
Don't look at these links if you decide to read the book yourself. Only check them out afterward.

started 13 August 2017, finished 22 August 2017
Amazon

 

 

 

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