This Week, I Read… (2017 #36+37)

119 - Alias Grace

#119 – Alias Grace, by Margaret Atwood

I’m not even sure what it was I was enjoying so much about this book, because a lot of the time it was just Grace telling the story of her life, all the mundane details about clothes and laundry and what flowers grew in the garden included. By those lights, I probably should have gotten bored.

But interspersed throughout are sections of correspondence, or scenes from a third-person POV following Grace’s new doctor, detailing his motivations for studying her. The structure kept it from being dull.

And, of course, there’s Grace’s unreliability–this was a perfect book choice for this task. Even now, I still don’t know if she’s guilty of the crime she was convicted of…

120 - A Wind in the Door

#120 – A Wind in the Door, by Madeleine L’Engle

The blend of the scientific and the absurdly fantastical that defines A Wrinkle in Time gets a bit muddied here–I felt like this story was less possible and more imaginary than its predecessor. With that in mind, the Murry family is still lovable and worth caring about–Meg with her charming flusteredness, Charles Wallace and his precocious intellect, and Mrs. Murry with her balance of warm motherhood and cool practicality.

And there’s more Calvin (a.k.a. my first book boyfriend) who’s still steadfast and brave. And obviously in love with Meg already, that revelation in the third book surprised me as a kid but now I totally see it…

121 - Magic Bites

#121 – Magic Bites, by Ilona Andrews

Earlier this year, I swept up books 2-4 of this series at a library sale for pennies, so when I found a used copy of Magic Bites at The Book Bin (Salem, OR) on my vacation last week, I grabbed it and started reading it the next day.

So, I haven’t read a lot of paranormal romance (I have a lot of it unread on my Kindle) but…shouldn’t there be some romance? Kate has a bad date and an awkward break-up with a minor character–if their ending even warrants that label when they were barely together in the first place. Meanwhile she’s not-quite flirting with the shapechangers’ head honcho (who I adore and find incredibly hilarious with his over-the-top mannerisms and oddly sly humor) but nothing comes of it but a trope-y “good luck” kiss he initiates before the big battle.

Now, I see that he’s going to be the love interest as the series goes on (at least, he’d better be, or what was this book for?) but I was really underwhelmed by how slow-burn we’re going, if that’s the plan.

As for the rest of the book, the story was interesting enough to keep me reading, but the worldbuilding was slipshod at best. Things were stated but never really explained (I’m particularly hoping I get the breakdown on the alternating tech and magic “waves”) and a lot of how the various supernatural creatures function went unsaid. Some of it, I think I picked up, but some of it still baffles me. Partway through, I actually wondered if somehow I’d gotten the titles wrong and I hadn’t bought the first book at all, but one of the later ones, because the narrative seemed to expect me to know an awful lot I didn’t know. (I hadn’t gotten it wrong, obviously, but it felt like it for a while.)

Now that I’ve thrown all the negative stuff out there…well, I still liked it. I still want to know where the series is going, and I look forward to maybe getting a better handle on the world in the next book. Hopefully.

122 - The Alchemist

#122 – The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho

I am not pretentious enough for this shit.

The Alchemist is touted as a life-changing work, but I found it to be a half-assed self-help book masquerading as a fable.

Whatever message it purports to have is garbled, drawing from a whole mess of different philosophical schools and religious disciplines–I can’t even be sure if I’m supposed to believe in Free Will or not after reading this, because some elements support it while others don’t. And if it can’t even come down clearly on one side of the FW vs. Fate debate, I have no idea what I’m supposed to take away from this.

The writing style is ham-fisted, repeating “Personal Legend” a few times a page and telling us exactly what “the boy” thinks and says and realizes. Telling, telling, telling. (Also, why is he “the boy” when we get his name on the first page? Why does he have a name at all if the narrative never uses it again?)

I made myself finish this because if I was going to hate such a popular work, I had to be sure it didn’t get better.

It doesn’t.

123 - Rewritten

#123 – Rewritten, by Bronwyn Green

I received an ARC courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review.

The major reason this didn’t get five stars was that, for erotic romance in general and especially compared to the earlier books in the series, this didn’t seem to have that much sex in it! Angus and Eliza had such chemistry from the start, and watching their romantic feelings develop so much was certainly a treat, but I expected a bit more time spent between the sheets.

That being said, I was in love with both Angus and Eliza, because I related so well to Angus’ inner demons about his writing, and Eliza’s sometimes-paralyzing anxiety. Yep, I got hit with the feels on both fronts, there. Plus all the geek references that made me smile, because yep, I got all of them.

A solid entry in a series I’ve enjoyed since it began–I’d recommend this one (and all the rest!) to any fan of erotic romance.


Okay, two weeks of book reviews, caught up! Next week I’ll wrap up September and share my vacation book haul!

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