This Week, I Read… (2019 #25)

78 - Stories of Romance

#78 – Stories of Romance from the Age of Chivalry, by Frederick J.H. Darton

  • Read: 6/12/19 – 6/15/19
  • Challenge: Mount TBR (52/100)
  • Rating: 1/5 stars

The only thing that got me through this was a determination to read medieval and Arthurian tales I wasn’t already familiar with. I honestly didn’t gain much by doing so. Maybe there’s a reason I’ve never heard of the ones I had never heard of? They weren’t that interesting.

Part of the problem I had with them might be the way the prose “translations” of the original poems read in the flat tone of many fairy tales, but these stories lacked the internal logic and visceral satisfaction I expect from a good fairy tale. Plot holes abounded, characters did things for nonsensical reasons or no obvious reason at all, and if I could detect any morals or messages, which I often couldn’t, they were usually directly at odds with my worldview. (Not that I expect tales from this time period, repackaged for “modern” consumption in the early 1900’s, to be feminist or anything like that. I don’t. But I also can’t agree with a world where chivalric honor is the highest ideal, especially when the idiot knights can’t even uphold it themselves.)

There’s value in these, I’m sure, to anyone more interested in the period, or in studying them for some scholarly purposes. I found no real value in reading them for fun, though.

79 - The Unbound

#79 – The Unbound, by Victoria Schwab

  • Read: 6/15/19 – 6/16/19
  • Challenge: Mount TBR (53/100)
  • Rating: 5/5 stars

I loved The Archived far more than I expected to, so I had both high hopes and concrete worries when diving in to the sequel, especially as I already knew a third book is planned, but won’t be released for some time. (At the time of this review, Schwab has stated on Goodreads that she will likely to wait until the rights for the first two to revert to her, then publish all three. So it might be a while yet.)

For most of this book, I was enjoying myself, but still worried. I liked it, but I didn’t see how it could possibly end on anything but a cliffhanger, and while I’m not heavily opposed to those, with no third book in sight, it was going to be frustrating.

And yet! Here I am! Giving it five stars! That ending! So satisfying! Totally didn’t see how it was all going to come together, yet it made perfect sense when it did.

Also, I adore Wesley even more now than I did in the first book. Give me a teenage boy who’s not afraid to show he cares, who’s irreverent but respectful, who’s fun but thoughtful. He’s all-around awesome.

And Mackenzie! No, I don’t always agree with her decision to keep her issues to herself, to lie, to try to solve (most of) her problems without help. But I can see why she does. She’s been through so much, she’s had her trust betrayed, she’s been duped, she’s been traumatized. But she keeps going, and when push comes to shove, she does get help with some things, while maintaining as much secrecy as she can to protect herself and others. I was so proud of her, and occasionally so heart-broken for her.

I really, really, really want the next book. I’m going to set these two on my shelf and wait to reread them until book #3 is (hopefully)(eventually) announced, so that I can get myself hyped.

80 - Saga, Vol. 2

#80 – Saga, Vol. 2, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

  • Read: 6/17/19 – 6/18/19
  • Challenge: Virtual Mount TBR (24/48)
  • Rating: 5/5 stars

The second arc of the story did not disappoint, after how amazing I thought the opening was. Hazel’s grandparents. Marko and Alana’s meeting as captive and jailer, but bonding over a (terrible) romance novel. Marko dropping everything to rescue Isabel. It was fun, it was weird, and most of all, it was full of real emotion underneath the snark and sass and action.

If it’s all this good, I think I’m in for a wild ride.

This Week, I Read… (2019 #22)

68 - Assassin's Quest

#68 – Assassin’s Quest, by Robin Hobb

  • Read: 5/22/19 – 5/28/19
  • Challenge: Mount TBR (47/100)
  • Rating: 5/5 stars

A bad ending can absolutely ruin a book (or an entire trilogy, if it’s awful) but a great ending can save it.

When I was halfway through this book, I did not think it would be a five-star read. I complained all through book #2 that Fitz was just being stupid and treading water and nothing was happening, and at the start of this, that seemed true as well.

Should it have taken so long to get moving? Probably not.

But once he was? Once he was on the road, on his Quest, reluctantly or even unwillingly, but finally headed towards his King and the end of the story? From there, it was all brilliant. I loved Fitz and his deepening relationships with the Fool, with Nighteyes, even the complicated and distant relationship he tried to maintain with Kettricken. Kettle and Starling were interesting new characters.

I loved the exploration of an ancient and mostly forgotten land. I loved what they found. I loved the beauty and the tragedy of how everything came together–and I definitely think I should have been paying more attention to the Fool in the first two books? Because he surprised me. Because he’s even more interesting now, and because I know we haven’t seen the last of him.

I’m a sucker for bittersweet endings, and this one might not be to everyone’s taste, but I loved it. It was always clear by the tone of Fitz’s memoir excerpts that head each chapter, that he wasn’t going to get a “happy” ending. But the trilogy does end on a satisfying note, and after all, he’s not done yet either. Several things prophesied of him haven’t come to pass, and since I’m reading this now, instead of when it was first published, I have the benefit of knowing he shows up again in the future, which I look forward to with great anticipation.

69 - First a Dream

#69 – First a Dream, by Emma Nichols

  • Read: 5/28/19 – 5/29/19
  • Challenge: Mount TBR (48/100)
  • Rating: 1/5 stars

DNF @ 30% for the first book, did not bother with the second and third.

Sloppy sentence construction that often matches a pronoun with the wrong noun or person–at one point it sounded like someone was going to have to drive through lemonade instead of snow, for example.

Inconsistency in character details: In the prologue, Isabella is specifically stated to be marrying at nineteen. In Chapter 1 we move forward five years, which makes her twenty-four, right? However, she loses her father at twelve, but then “even now, fourteen years later” Isabella is still hiding her sadness. 12 + 14 = 26. So how old is she?

Glaring grammatical errors: “Go salt [the sidewalks], then I’ll fixing your face.” Nobody caught that?

Overuse of stock phrases: “that fateful day,” “knock me over with a feather,” “the/his/her idea had merit,” (that one showed up several times.)

Extremely shallow relationships that aren’t explored, just stated. Isabella pouring her heart out over her impending divorce to her best friend, that I believe, sure. But to her professor that we, the readers, have only just met and barely heard mentioned? Who does that? Does the professor have some sort of mind manipulation powers, because when Gabriel has a meeting with her, instead of acting at all sensible, he’s raving about his chance encounter with a mystery woman in the hallway (Isabella) rather than trying to convince the professor to let him into the class?

Also, speaking of shallow, what’s the point of Gabriel having his own POV if all his sections are incredibly short and usually pointless? He gets far less time spent on developing his character than Isabella does, and it doesn’t do him any favors that we know so much more about her than him. He’s so “charming” that without depth he comes off as smarmy, and of course, since this is a fairy tale retelling (barely, though, nothing about this really said “Cinderella” to me) he has to be Prince Charming perfect. His last name is even Charmant.

Ultimately, I feel like I just read a first draft instead of a published work.

This Week, I Read… (2019 #19)

58 - Prince of Thorns

#58 – Prince of Thorns, by Mark Lawrence

  • Read: 5/2/19 – 5/3/19
  • Challenge: Mount TBR (40/100)
  • Rating: 1/5 stars

I had to make myself finish this book, just to be sure I could criticize it properly. And unlike my usual write-it-blind method, where I don’t read other reviews first, I did some digging, so I could react to them and really let what I did and did not like about this book crystallize in my mind.

Jorg is a reprehensible person, I have no argument with that. Everyone using the “worse than Joffrey” image isn’t wrong (except I think if Joffrey had been around longer, we would have seen him sink far lower, but that’s a comment on ASoIaF, not this book.) Jorg can’t go five pages without raping a girl (tastefully [ahem] off-page,) knifing a “brother” because the dude pissed him off, pushing someone off a cliff, using a weapon of mass destruction, and so on. If he’s not actively committing a crime or a sin, he’s strongly considering his next one.

Was this off-putting? Oh, absolutely, at first. And there’s my problem. Even if it’s not the author’s intention to condone any of this behavior in writing about an obvious psychopath doing these things, by putting the narrative in first person, we’re living inside Jorg’s head and seeing his reasoning and eventually, maybe, sympathizing with him. By the end of the book, I wasn’t cheering for Jorg exactly, but I did get swept up in the action and read the second half of the book in one long sitting, whereas at the beginning I had to take frequent breaks to deal with my disgust.

I won’t criticize anyone, ever, for indulging in escapist fantasies, and yes, that includes reading/daydreaming about committing atrocities. I’ve thought about killing someone before, especially back in my angry teenage years. It’s an outlet for anger that doesn’t harm anyone, as long as you understand that’s all it is. But I didn’t do it, and Jorg does. And the book makes it seem cool and edgy, and oh look, what a terrible life this kid’s had and here’s how awesome it feels to get revenge.

That, I have a serious problem with.

Moving on from the fundamental issue with “murder, yay!” messaging, there’s still a lot I don’t like.

The frequent pre-chapter character notes about Jorg’s “brothers” were a lazy way to (attempt to) give them depth, usually right before they were killed. One in particular towards the end of the book mentions a name I honestly don’t think had ever been included before, a brother the reader hadn’t been introduced to. (I may be wrong about this, because there are many brothers and they die off like flies. If Young Sim actually was mentioned earlier, he wasn’t significant enough for me to remember.) I can rationalize in my mind that making Jorg’s band of brothers interchangeable and disposable fits his psychopathy, and it does, but it doesn’t make for interesting reading. I wanted the secondary characters to have more personality. Even Makin–I mean, the dude was the head of the royal guard, and he becomes a brigand in order to stay by Jorg’s side. Why is that not given more page time? That’s a great hook! Write a book from his POV while he watches his charge devolve into a monster–how does he deal with that? What would break his loyalty?

Next up: when is this? At first, I thought it was separate-world fantasy. Then classic authors start getting thrown around–Plutarch jumped out and grabbed my neck and smashed my face in the idea that, no, actually, this is our world. Okay, alternate history then? Except eventually we get clues that this is actually a far-future world, post-apocalyptic, and the “castles” the kings occupy are skyscrapers or other modern-world structures. As far as that goes, I’m on board, except that there are very few answers given, the descriptions of those structures are so vague I can’t picture most of them (I had no idea what kind of facility the Great Stair was a part of, though some of its bits were clearly reinforced concrete fitted with a high-security steel door,) and there’s so little done with this concept that I’m afraid it’s just supposed to be cool flavor instead of real world-building.

The revelation near the end, and the ending: oh, so someone messed with Jorg’s mind, setting him up to be able to be like, all that crap I did may or may not have really been me, I was being guided, now I’m not necessarily so horrible going forward. I call bullshit on that. BULL. SHIT. If the protagonist is a psychopath, own it, don’t erase it so he can be less awful in the next book.

And finally: this is 110% male fantasy. The women are beloved but dead (Jorg’s mother,) evil (the crone, Jorg’s step-mother,) objects of desire (Katherine,) or victims (everyone else who is raped, killed, or both.) So whether or not you might be okay with the other problematic content of the book, there’s no way around its inherent sexism.

I can’t recommend this to anyone, because even as a piece of escapist fantasy where it’s okay to want to kill people, it’s just not any good.

59 - The Opposite of Wild

#59 – The Opposite of Wild, by Kylie Gilmore

  • Read: 5/4/19 – 5/5/19
  • Challenge: Challenge: Mount TBR (41/100); The Reading Frenzy’s “Try a Chapter” Mini Challenge
  • Rating: 2/5 stars

This only gets a second star because of Maggie. I know the “grab life by the balls” old lady character is a stereotype, but she is by far the best thing about this book.

Our heroine here I couldn’t stand pretty much from page one. She’s obsessed by her own childhood mistakes (The Humiliation was embarrassing, sure, but does it still deserve capitalization more than ten years later? Grow up, maybe?) The second anything goes wrong in anyone’s life around her, she tries to steamroll over them with solutions, especially her pregnant older sister. I mean, help your sis and the baby, sure, but planning the rest of your life in five minutes around being the kid’s second (and implied, better) mom? This woman is not at all reasonable. Especially later in the book when she acts like her life is ruined because her sister decided not to go along with that plan. Co-parenting in a non-standard family situation is a difficult and thorny topic, and it’s not handled with any realism or delicacy here.

Then there’s our hero. He’s actually not that bad, compared to her. I didn’t like that he uses the recently divorced women of his acquaintance through his job as a source of easy sex, because I think that’s sleazy, but it does fall under consenting adults, and all that. And I don’t think his “falling in love” arc with the heroine is convincing at all–they’re basically falling in lust. And she treats him badly, and he puts up with it for a long time before he does anything about it.

So he’s an idiot and kind of spineless, but he’s still far more mature than she is. Also, his B-plot about reconciling with his alcoholic dad felt completely pointless and tacked on.

I also don’t like the tone of fat-phobia in this. Half of The Humiliation centers on how heavy the heroine was as a teen. Her internal monologues as an adult mostly show that she’s convinced she needs to be thin to be happy, and the hero’s observations of her as an adult the first time they reconnect directly correlate her hotness to her weight, or lack thereof. It’s minor, and there are far worse problems with the plot than this, but it’s worth noting that in Clover Park you apparently can’t be overweight and happy at the same time.

60 - Split Second.JPG

#60 – Split Second, by Kasie West

  • Read: 5/4/19 – 5/6/19
  • Challenge: Virtual Mount TBR (19/48)
  • Rating: 3/5 stars

My expectations were reasonably high for this, and it didn’t disappoint, but it wasn’t better than Pivot Point, either. One of my complaints about the first book was that I didn’t get as much of the Para world as I wanted, and this certainly solved that issue, as Para intrigue is most of the book.

What I’m less thrilled about is splitting the book between Addie and Laila, rather than Addie and other!Addie. I know the latter wouldn’t be possible now, and I like Laila, but her romance with Connor lacked the spark that I got from Addie and Trevor.

Who I’m quite pleased with now that the story’s finished, don’t get me wrong. Trevor continues to be the A+ stand-up guy he was before, and I only like him better now that he’d pitched into the deep end of Para weirdness and swims through it like a champ.

I’m glad I got the ending, but it wasn’t as strong as the opening.

This Week, I Read… (2019 #17)

53 - The Fairy Tale Bride.jpg

#53 – The Fairy Tale Bride, by Kelly McClymer

  • Read: 4/17/19 – 4/19/19
  • Challenge: Mount TBR (36/100)
  • Rating: 1/5 stars

Not satisfying as a romance, a period piece, or even a fluffy piece of escapism.

Our heroine Miranda definitely qualifies as Too Stupid to Live. She makes some of the worst decisions about her health and safety a woman of her era could make and manages to come through mostly unscathed, though at times there were references to some scandal in her past that didn’t really seem to be talking about the encounter she had in the prologue, because didn’t that get effectively covered up? I was confused. (Not a point in the book’s favor that the plot, weak as it was, could be difficult to follow at times because of apparent inconsistencies.)

Our hero Simon is not quite The Worst, but he’s pretty bad. Since Miranda was such a blithering idiot, Simon continuously felt it necessary to “teach her a lesson,” and those lessons included nearly seducing her, in an early scene that was, in modern-day terms, clearly sexual assault even if he stopped short of deflowering her; later he follows her in disguise, assaults her again in a less sexual way, and robs her of the trinkets she’d intended to pawn. From these incidents and a few other more minor ones, she’s supposed to learn to not be a naive girl and put herself into compromising positions, because what if the next man wouldn’t stop! Gross, gross, gross.

As if that weren’t enough to make me throw my hands up in despair, these two morons never actually fall in love. Simon’s horrible secret prevents him from asking for Miranda’s hand five years ago, but it’s never really established that it’s a love match rather than any other sort of engagement, and we don’t have any time to see them being fond of each other. In the present of the story, they treat each other like garbage and I simply don’t believe their behavior ever equates with love, no matter what their words (or their horny, horny bodies) might say.

54 - Her Fierce Warrior

#54 – Her Fierce Warrior, by Paige Tyler

  • Read: 4/20/19 – 4/23/19
  • Challenge: Mount TBR (37/100)
  • Rating: 1/5 stars

As a military romance, I’m underwhelmed. Everyone in this secret shifter organization doesn’t seem to give a single eff about any sort of rules, up to an including the director of said organization. Yes, okay, I picked this up free and didn’t realize I was starting the series in the middle, but I quickly gathered that Angelo and Minka aren’t the first couple in this series who are breaking the non-fraternization rule.

So it’s not much of a rule at all, is it? Not even a guideline.

And without at least a token nod to military discipline, this was really just a bunch of buff dudes and shifter ladies running amok in poorly done action scenes.

I was prepared to give this a bit of a pass, in terms of plot, because it’s my own fault if I didn’t understand something because I didn’t read the previous entries in the series. But honestly, so much page time was devoted to back story that I didn’t feel lost, but it did detract from the immediacy of the romance and main plot. Also there was a B-plot romance over maybe two or three chapter’s worth of text between two semi-random people as well, who are probably holdovers from another book, or maybe a preview to a future book, but it felt really out of place. How was there room for that too?

I said the action was bad, and it was, but the non-action stuff isn’t much better. I felt talked down to. After a tense scene from Angelo’s perspective, where his observations about Minka learning to control her beast within gave me a solid handle on what she was probably feeling, the next chapter in her POV took its first two pages to rehash the scene and explain, in great detail, exactly how she felt at every point. Which was incredibly frustrating, because I already had that all figured out! Don’t tell me twice! Trust me not to be a complete idiot!

Most of the book felt the same way. I usually do fine with dual-POV in romances, but not when the author uses that structure to repeat herself in case I was too stupid to figure it out the first time.

This Week, I Read… (2019 #16)

51 - The Last Necromancer

#51 – The Last Necromancer, by C.J. Archer

  • Read: 4/11/19 – 4/13/19
  • Challenge: Mount TBR (34/100)
  • Rating: 1/5 stars

Terrible. Maybe even the worst book I’ve finished this year.

Charlie/Charlotte is one of the most inconsistently written heroines I’ve ever encountered, bouncing back and forth from a worldly, tough “boy” from the streets to a shrinking violet who needs constant rescuing from everything and everyone, including her own stupid decisions and her “oh god why is he the love interest” rescuer.

At first Charlie’s cleverness is sort of cute, and I even appreciated early on when I saw her slip out of character, knowing that that would lead to her getting found out. But then it didn’t. She’s surrounded by adults, several of whom are specifically trained to investigate things, yet they all fall for her disguise? Fitzroy even tells her it was perfect, after the fact, when someone else figured it out. Nope, nuh-uh, not buying it. She was screwing up left and right.

Why? Because she was busy trying not to jump into Fitzroy’s pants. Instant attraction is fair, sure, he sounds all tall-dark-handsome and whatever, but she keeps wanting to jump into his pants even after he’s revealed himself to be abusive, manipulative, and downright psychotic. If you hire someone to “scare” a woman, and the guy you hired tries to rape her, guess what, that’s on you for your poor judgment. And when you kill the attacker to stop the rape, that doesn’t make you the good guy, because two wrongs don’t make a right, you unsympathetic lunatic, THE WHOLE SITUATION WAS STILL YOUR FAULT.

Fitzroy is a huge problem even separately from Charlie. In the ministry, Lord Gillingham plays the part of the truly unashamed and unrepentant Worst Man Ever–nothing he ever advocates as a plan of action takes Charlie’s well-being or wishes into account, and at the end, he wants her killed because she’s too dangerous to leave lying around, a weapon for someone else to pick up. So he’s the worst, right? And that’s supposed to make Fitzroy look better, and give him a chance to show how seriously he feels about Charlie’s safety.

But here’s the thing #1–Fitzroy’s not really that much better than Gillingham, he’s just less forthright about how awful he is. And here’s the thing #2–We’ve already got two far more appealing men in the story, Gus and Seth, Fitzroy’s henchman. Yes, they took part in Charlie’s original abduction, so they are by no means “good” guys, but whenever Charlie isn’t remembering to be pissed off at them all about her situation, she’s really friendly to both of them, and they are to her as well. Seth is actually used as a point of jealousy for Fitzroy, because he’s aware Seth has taken a shine to Charlie. (And Gus is ugly, so no one could possibly love him, right?)

I mean, I don’t actually like any of these characters at all, but if offered the same choices, I’d go for Seth in a heartbeat over Mr. Hired Someone To Scare Me Who Tried to Rape Me.

On top of all that, the language was too obviously modern to make me feel like this was really London in 1889; the action writing was clumsy; as piece of Frankenstein fan fiction, I am unimpressed, because it’s the monster that was interesting, not the doctor, so gutting the story to make Dr. Frankenstein into Charlie’s father wasn’t all that true to the spirit of the original work; and as a romance, not only does it glorify abusive behavior, it’s just not good. I didn’t feel any real romantic or sexual tension, it was all angsty and juvenile.

52 - A Natural History of Dragons

#52 – A Natural History of Dragons, by Marie Brennan

  • Read: 4/13/19 – 4/17/19
  • Challenge: Mount TBR (35/100); PopSugar Reading Challenge
  • Task: A book featuring an extinct or imaginary creature
  • Rating: 5/5 stars

As an avid watcher of nature documentaries, as a one-time potential scholar of biology, as a reader fascinated by the history of science and the progression of “natural history,” it only took the first fifty pages of this story to convince me it was written specifically for me. It wasn’t, of course, but so strong was my interest in it, my connection to it, that I loved it instantly.

Isabella’s dry wit and elderly impatience for propriety and formality were a lovely bonus on top of that.

My romance-loving heart was appeased by the inclusion of a well-characterized marriage, though I appreciate how “romance” wasn’t the point, and how framing the story as a memoir allows Brennan to skip the boring/tedious parts of both Isabella’s courtship and later on, larger swathes of time when nothing important to the story was happening. Most stories use time skips of some kind (and those that don’t, I usually wish did,) but I always have an eye out for when any storytelling technique, no matter how common, is used exceptionally well.

This Week, I Read… (2019 #15)

48 - This Shattered World

#48 – This Shattered World, by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

  • Read: 4/3/19 – 4/9/19
  • Challenge: Virtual Mount TBR (16/48); PopSugar Reading Challenge
  • Task: A book by two female authors
  • Rating: 4/5 stars

The good: Damn, that’s some USDA Prime anguished romantic tension. The story is stuffed full of reasons to get weepy from start to finish, and the stakes are always high and always feel real. This only took me six days to read because I suddenly have no free time, not because it’s ever slow, plodding, or dull. It’s not.

The meh: It’s been long enough (over two years) since I read the first in the series that I didn’t even connect what was happening here to the events in #1 until Tarver showed up. Even then, it never snapped together for me.

The bad: Those short dream sequences between every chapter made no sense for most of the story, and when I finally did get context for them, I was still annoyed by how they interrupted the pacing. I don’t think it was a useful stylistic choice to make them so frequent and so choppy.

Overall? I enjoyed it, though like at the end of the first book, I wish the world-building had a bit more depth. I plan to read the final book sooner than two and a half years from now, at least.

49 - 5 to 1

#49 – 5 to 1, by Holly Bodger

  • Read: 4/9/19 – 4/10/19
  • Challenge: Virtual Mount TBR (17/48)
  • Rating: 2/5 stars

Shallow and gimmicky. Sudasa’s POV being written in free verse didn’t do anything to enhance my understanding of her. Okay, so she likes poetry and that’s important to the story in the end (sort of) but I don’t think it justifies the loss of everything present in Contestant Five’s POV chapters. He felt much more real simply due to the extra time and word count spent on him–Sudasa felt like a prop.

When so much of the actual plot relies on her NOT being a prop in this elaborate marriage ritual in a strange dystopian society, she needs to be an actual character, and I never thought she was.

Another consequence of more than half the page count of the story being in verse was that this was a fast read, and not in a good way. I spent just under three hours reading this, and an idea this (potentially) complex, this rich with interesting moral quandaries to navigate, simply doesn’t have space here to be fully developed.

50 - The Lacuna

#50 – The Lacuna, by Barbara Kingsolver

  • Read: 4/10/19 – 4/11/19
  • Challenge: Mount TBR (33/100)
  • Rating: 2/5 stars

DNF @ page 77. It had to happen eventually, that I truly wouldn’t enjoy (or even finish) a Kingsolver novel, even though I’ve had good things to say about most of her other work.

However, I simply couldn’t get into this one. There’s a distance involved with being detached from a narrator who is already almost completely detached from his own life–Will, “the boy,” is so uninteresting as to be almost entirely non-existent. Lots of interesting things happen around him, and as always, I love and appreciate the quality of Kingsolver’s detail- and nature-oriented prose; the schools of fish, the secret tunnel, the screaming monkeys. (That’s the extra star on this rating–even if it’s a DNF, it’s still got some gorgeous language and imagery.)

But as soon as Will was relocated to Mexico City and all that nature fell away, I lost interest. His struggle between finding jobs or remaining in school, his conniving mother’s demands…I just didn’t care. I had no connection to him. I also had very little idea, even more than ten percent in, where the plot was headed, at least beyond following this bland protagonist through his life. In some cases, that would be enough, but I wasn’t looking forward to it here.

This Week, I Read… (2019 #14)


46 - MaddAddam.JPG

#46 – MaddAddam, by Margaret Atwood

  • Read: 3/25/19 – 3/31/19
  • Challenge: Mount TBR (31/100)
  • Rating: 5/5 stars

I can’t tell if my reading comprehension is going up for this complicated and cerebral series, or they’re actually getting better. I enjoyed The Year of the Flood substantially more than Oryx and Crake, and while this isn’t as huge a leap forward in terms of (perceived) quality, I still think it’s an improvement. Especially with Toby’s evening story time with the Crakers replacing Adam’s Gardener sermons–it’s not that his preachings were dull or uninteresting, but I like Toby’s tone, and her tendency to veer into asides, so much more.

This conclusion to the series is so strong, so well-crafted in explaining and tying up loose ends from both previous books, that I’m honestly wondering if I didn’t appreciate Oryx enough at the time. Was it just too far outside my comfort zone? Now that I’ve followed the unusual narrative structure through three books, it’s not so intimidating. I guess I’ll find out eventually, because I do plan to reread these. Someday.

47 - On the Edge

#47 – On the Edge, by Ilona Andrews

  • Read: 4/1/19 – 4/2/19
  • Challenge: Mount TBR (32/100)
  • Rating: 4/5 stars

As I’m totally in love with Andrews’ Kate Daniels series, when I saw this at a used book sale, I snapped it up without even reading the blurb.

At first, I felt like Rose was too similar to Kate, because one hard-headed and physically capable woman can seem much like another, from the outside. But as I got to know her, Rose turned out to be quite distinct, with different motivations, different attitudes, and certainly different goals.

If they both love their family to the detriment of their own well-being, I think that’s a forgivable similarity.

As for the world of the Edge, it was vibrant and unusual from the start, yet still grounded enough in our “Broken” reality that I had a foothold ready to stand on while I learned about it. Given the way the book ends, I’m looking forward to learning more about the Weird as well, though disappointed to see that the rest of the series doesn’t follow Rose and Declan as protagonists throughout. I’m sure I’ll fall in love with the upcoming heroes and heroines too, but I really want to know what happens to Rose!