Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Morning Reader Edition #7

So I'm resurrecting the blog. Hello, hallo, halloo.

What's up with me?
  • I've been posting about books on Instagram since the spring equinox, and while it took me some time to get my footing, I've made some very nice friends on there. I hope to stick around for a while and see where things take me. You can follow my bookstagram @readingintwilight.
  • It's partly procrastination, it's partly a new way in my reviewing process but I've read as many books this year as I did in 2013, which was my sabbatical. You don't need to be impressed, I'm pretty proud of myself. I challenged myself to read 75 books in 2017, I've read 58 so far. You can see my thread in the LibraryThing group to get a glimpse at how things are going.
  • I also did some sorting and some shelf evaluation and decided to cull the collection I've amassed over the last decade. Part of the endeavor is to watch more book-to-movie adaptations if the book is only passingly interesting and the movie is at least an okay flick. I'm really Sarah Gruen, but I'll probably never read Water for Elephants.
  • That also means I set myself a challenge to read books I've owned for over a year, there's a group on LibraryThing called Read Our Own Tomes (ROOT) and I've read 5 out of 10 for my challenge.
  • Recently I posted about a monthlong readathon I'm cohosting with some instagrammers. Feel free to join us.
Older things of interest:
  • There's a lot of hate for bad books, bad writing, bad authors on goodreads, but when it's eloquent like this, you remember why freedom of speech tastes is important. Criticism never tasted so sweet. Vanessa's review of Reawakened by Colleen Houck.
  • And here's a sad story with a great comments section.

Pathfinder - Orson Scott Card

Read and Reviewed in 2013:

Pathfinder is about a boy who goes through many tribulations while learning he can touch the past. There were also several snippets of a story which was much more interesting, an astronaut who must deal with the space-time continuum. It made me very angry.

Since learning that Orson Scott Card is anti-homosexual, I had planned to go back to New York, pull my copy of Ender's Game off the shelf and finally read it. I wasn't sure I would find anything offensive in that book, or that I would have anything to say, in fact I was pretty sure my contributions to discussions about the book would run about like this: the book is good, but man, why are people like Card so anti-homosexual? Maybe I would throw in a George Carlin or Louis C.K. joke. I certainly wasn't fond of the idea of buying his book, paying money to see the movie (which many wonderful people worked on, I'm sure) and keeping his personal beliefs out of my review.

It is with this out of the way, that I will turn to my review of the first book of Orson Scott Card's that I have read: Pathfinder, first in the Serpent World series. Frankly, Serpent World is an awesome name. I would also like to thank Simon & Schuster for allowing people to read Pathfinder online, legally, on their website Pulse-It.com. Not much of a surprise, but they’re supported by Overdrive, a company which I love. However, this review is not endorsed by them, and I was not allowed access with the intent of getting a review. So, I'll complain a little bit and then meander a bit. I don't like to rag on about something I didn't like. I didn't take very specific notes, but I compiled the notes I did take by chapter and they can be found on booklikes.

What this book put me in mind of was whether we would actually publish an author who is famous if he submitted a new novel under a new name? JK Rowling proved that public would accept and even strongly like a book of hers if it wasn't her name on the cover, but also [name redacted] proved that her book was not published when submitted to a house with a different name. The editor went on to say that you can draw many different conclusions from this.

Brevity is the soul of wit, but that doesn't mean that a serious or sombre novel which only occasionally cracks jokes needs to be 600 pages long.

Addendum 2017: Kinda like this review! Haha. I have no patience for editing these remarks further. Have at them.
* * * * * *

CHAPTER ONE
  • Hmm, not sure I like the narrative voice...
  • This book is pretty weird, kinda pretentious, odd, reminds me of the chapter books I read as a kid. Really just clever and fond of itself for being clever. I'll see how far I manage to read before Pulse-It locks me out.
  • Uh... okay?
  • So... am I supposed to care that the clever dad is now on ice? I mean, we only knew him as Father, I certainly don't feel for him, and I don't actually think Robo Rigg has enough emotions to avenge him (since I just found out there's time travel in this book).
  • I mean... Okay.
  • Overly clever, dull so far. I don't care about the father, was rather expecting him to be standing in the bright blue path of the fallen tree. Do we need to read about wiping your butt for poop?

CHAPTER TWO

  • Look! Exposition which sci-fi is often burdened with! At last, something I know what to do with! Skim.
  • Wait, Ram Odin was just a blip of distraction? Okay, keep reading, I obviously have no idea what's going on.
  • I think this book is boring because it tells rather than shows. That is a concept that has puzzled me, but I hear about often. It's possible I don't understand it.
  • Ugh, really? Really? Thank god Father is dead. I'm hoping Rigg gets more interesting, but I don't have high hopes. I need something positive to grasp onto.
  • 5% I can't believe I'm thinking that Rigg should have kept the furs and left the kid, or at least done something a little differently. I'm groaning. That was either out of character or will bite him in the ass later. I can't put my finger on why the writing feels so weird.
  • Rigg muses about not having tried to save the boy at all: but if he hadn't the reader would never had had a chance to learn about all the time slowing down and traveling in the past, stuff.

CHAPTER THREE
  • These jokes... this personality feels forced on him.
  • He's really starting to grate on me.
  • Why does this story feel so convoluted and contrived? Is it really that bad?

CHAPTER FOUR
  • expendable says "lets assume the dot dot dot" really? REALLY? Couldn't it have said its infinite!!!!!!???? "ad infinitum"
  • I am shocked at how angry this book is making me. Am I biased?
  • This book would have benefited from a rolling start. SO BADLY.
  • Is it that the writing is flat? What does flat writing even mean?
  • Suddenly with Umbo, the story feels a bit like a light Lord of the Rings, it's a good tone for it.
  • I officially hate Rigg. Should I give up? This book is 600 pages long.
  • He doesn't even act like a thirteen year old, or how old is he supposed to be? I don't feel he's taking himself very seriously.
  • All I can do is throw my hands up and say OK a bunch of times in a row. STOP EXPLAINING EVERYTHING.
  • I did just gasp when I realized that this whole seeming non sequitur was going to lead into Rigg being the demon who knocked the wandering saint off the falls. OH MY DEAR LORD. Why can't this be better written? The reason Rigg remembers it differently is because everyone else's memory has changed.
  • Long winded, but actually interesting. BLEEEEEAAAAAAAAARGGGHHH.

CHAPTER FIVE
  • Wait, is this trying to be Douglas Adams? I could do with some Douglas Adams right about now.
  • Yeah, this tavern owner is giving me a strong J.R.R. Tolkien vibe.
  • I wish Victor Hugo had written this. At least I would know someone dies and that there would be some interesting tangents between all the boring ones. Like, really, what the fuck does Orson Scott Card think he's writing?

CHAPTER SIX
  • WHAT kind of fourteen year old boy talks like this?! My brother certainly didn't. "Accusations can go both ways," my right foot.
  • NO FOURTEEN YEAR OLD BOY TALKS LIKE THIS. Is the world really so different in this time? Then maybe we should have gotten a better introduction. This one felt tedious and repetitive, do you not trust the reader?
  • The sarcasm doesn't fit, basically. It is a good book, but the editor and the author had a hard time agreeing on how much to trust the reader. Can't a person re-read something if they don't get it? Good lord. Bad decision, whoever made it.
  • OH GOOD MORNING BOOK SO GLAD YOU DECIDED TO WAKE UP AND DRINK YOUR OJ!
  • It only took 151 pages for me to realize this book isn't shit. Should have had a rolling start or flashbacks, and trusted the reader a little more instead of rambling and repeating itself. Thankfully, it's not a complete waste of time, and I know decisions about books are not easy to make, I sympathize with Mr. Card and his editor.
  • Sorry to yell at you, but I got unreasonably mad at this book. I have a rule to aim for a significant chunk of the book before giving up. I haven't given up on a book since adopting it. 100-150 pages, usually. At 100 pages, this book was on the cusp of greatness, and as we crossed to 150 pages, the book had drunk her orange juice. There are still crappy things about it, but it's not nearly as bad as I first thought.

CHAPTER SEVEN
  • finally a joke that made me smile and wasn't prodded with a stick!
  • crotch of jewels - all the wealth in their crotch, how most boy feel
  • OH HE'S ONLY THIRTEEN IS HE? *GLOWER*
  • I think Ram is Rigg's father, and the reason Rigg can't see his path is because he's traveling backwards.

CHAPTER EIGHT
  • What if Rigg's Father is an expendable? I LIKE THIS IDEA.

CHAPTER NINE.
  • The book is finally interesting, now that the action is a little better paced. GOD people still talk too much.

CHAPTER ELEVEN
  • Maybe if Patricia C. Wrede were channeling Frank Herbert and Douglas Adams from Beyond-the-Grave.

CHAPTER THIRTEEN
  • So basically, these boys are able to observe the fourth dimension. Or rather, just Rigg. Umbo can try to or pretend to try or what have you.

CHAPTER FIFTEEN
  • He's a brat, but he's too clever - he's not petulant enough. AND THAT annoys me.

CHAPTER SIXTEEN
  • Oh NOW he has personality? To be truthful though, I can't tell if he's faking it, I'm also not sure why he couldn't have been at least two years older, thirteen just doesn't feel right.

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN
  • Now that I have this theory, I want it proven, only read 58% of the book.
  • You'll talk about pee and poo but you won't talk about menstruation? I suppose, only 50% of people menstruate as opposed to the 100% who defecate.
  • Also, "you can tell me bedtimes stories later?" way to be patronizing Rigg.

CHAPTER NINETEEN
  • In addition to all the round-about conversations, I get the impression that until we met Rigg's mother Hagia and his sister Param, he didn't care about anything. And I think that infuriated me a lot as well. Well, brought up by an android, I don't suppose it comes as much as a surprise that he was cold, emotionless, guarded...
  • But if it does turn out that 11,191 years before year zero was when the spaceships impacted on earth, then the cliffs WERE formed 11.91 years ago liked Rigg conjectured in one of his conversations with his father.
  • The story lacked any emotion or passion until Hagia and Param entered the story. Why is that?

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

  • "Was it possible she had known all along what a moral vacuum Mother was?"
  • God damn, I'm gonna have to write a positive review and read the sequel.


* * * * * *

It was horrible then okay then good. I hate how complicated my feelings about it are. Basically: It's pretty average clunky sci-fi which improves as hundreds of pages pass. I am unfortunately going to have to borrow the sequel from the library. Reader, I did not.

Also, why did I want to give this book a positive review? I am not curious enough to subject myself to more of this.

Pages: 672
Year: 2010
Publisher: Simon Pulse

Read: 2013
Stars: 0.5

Friday, June 23, 2017

The Wyoming Bubble - Allan Vaughn Elston

The Wyoming Bubble by Allan Vaughn Elston

Four years later, and this book turned out to be surprisingly memorable. I picked it up from the house where I was staying on a complete whim, and when I tweeted about liking it, one of the author’s descendants thanked me for reading and enjoying it! How cool is that?

I think part of my great enjoyment of this was not being familiar with conventions of this genre, but honestly, pulp fiction was meant to be really readable, right? The pacing was perfect, like you could read it slow or put it down for a while and not fall out of it at all.

I loved that the dame the main character was into was interesting and not just a pretty face, even if she didn’t do much for herself. I liked that stage-coaches had a bigger presence than trains. I really liked that I didn’t know what would happen, or how large the scope of the adventure would be. Mercenaries, corporate scheming, camping, gambling… all your wild-west staples, and thankfully lacking in racism and aggression against indigenous peoples. Well, they weren’t in the book at all, but that’s a different problem.

I think one of my issues with it though is that it didn't feel like a book set in the 1880s, it felt like the era it was written in. Which is a shame, I suppose. But it had such a neat ending.

Pages: ?
Year: 1957
Publisher: Pocket Book

Read: 2013
Stars: 2.5

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Join me for #sumtbreadathon!

First of all, what is #sumtbreadathon?

It's a month-long readathon that Kevin (@sumptuousbooks), blogging at sumptuousbooks, came up with an invited some people to help them coh-host. They are a wonderful supporter of diversity in literature, sharing all sorts of books that often may be passed by, and have been a personal help to me as I began navigating bookstagram. And I'm honored to join them (and the other wonderful hosts) in this fun readathon. Their hope is to read as many books and Advance Reading Copies as possible in the month of July, and our hope is that you'll join us-- even if you aren't on instagram! Share books using the tag #sumtbreadathon on any platform you use, but  just be aware that most of our activity will be on instagram. Hopefully, if there's enough activity, we'll share our favorite or notable posts on our accounts!

Now, who are your lovely hosts?

Aside from myself (@readingintwilight) and Kevin, we are joined by Cattie (@literallyreading) blogging at Literally Reading, Rea (@deadwritersclub) blogging at deadwritersclub, Isa (@sneirrbooks) blogging at putting words on wings, Denise (@redbookpanda) and Jessica Lyn (@thousand.lives.of.jlyn) both exclusively on instagram.

Seven hosts for lots of fun! Follow us if you like, but it's by no means a requirement. Some of us will be blogging about what we plan to read, reviewing as we go, and wrapping up at the end!

I hope you'll join us~

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Invisible Library - Genevieve Cogman


The Invisible Library (Invisible Library 1) by Genevieve Cogman

I completely adored The Invisible Library. It was funny, tongue-in-cheek and intelligent.

It all starts off with Irene on a job, coming back to find she's got a new assistant and a pretty dangerous job in store. What follows are run-ins with dangerous Fae, vampires, cat thieves and detectives all with secrets and fabulous outfits. And at the center is always a book, and probably another secret. Just wonderful.

Genevieve Cogman immediately pulls you into the story of a secret agent of an organization whose sole duty is to procure books from alternate worlds in order to keep the forces of order and chaos in balance. But immediately you begin to wonder if there is more than she has clearance to know, and what exactly is in that deserted city just outside the Invisible Library’s windows?

When I first began reading, and Irene's new assistant, Kai, was introduced as impossibly handsome, in the way that makes you aware he is not available, I began worrying that the mission and the intrigue would be distracted by attraction. It was not. (Question: is Kai Chinese or did I read that wrong? Kai is a code name, so I'm basing this on his physical description.)

It feels very comfortable in the assumption that readers will share Irene’s love for books, her appreciation for detective stories, and her requirement of tea. The characters are almost all self-aware of the tropes, and fall into them even as they explain why they did. This book isn’t young-adult, and even if the main duo of characters appear to be in their twenties or so, there is much beneath the surface.

I am so glad that there are at least three more books in this series. I’m really looking forward to reading more from this author.

I’d recommend this to anyone who likes the idea of a romp through paranormal-steampunk London with a couple of Literati. Here’s hoping the next mission they go on is just as fun.

Pages: 330
Year: June 2016
Publisher: ROC

Read: 21 Jan 2017 to 5 Mar 2017
Stars: 4.5

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

WANT - CIndy Pon

WANT by Cindy Pon

Eco-espionage is my aesthetic, apparently.

I really liked Cindy Pon's new book. It’s a kidnap job that becomes an eco-espionage thriller, with some serious conman action and tantalizing romance. It surprised me how much I wanted this book. Jason and Daiyu make great romantic interests, and the whole crew that Jason runs with is interesting, and despite their careful artifice, they do love one another. I’m also really sympathetic to Jason’s preference for a dark wardrobe, ie: he wears black almost all the time. Anyone who likes a science fiction book that is cognizant of today’s half-in attitude on environmental preservation will be sympathetic to the bittersweetness of a neon and smog filled metropolis of Taipei depicted here. Also, if you like boys who throw knives, check it out.

I think I felt early on, when the teens were in their lair, that this book had a celluloid and grit feel of a tech noir on par with Ghost in the Shell, but the questions posed here are more immediate and make your actions resonate. The villain of the piece argues, later on, that we are consumers, and the world was made to be consumed. The trade off for whatever we want whenever we want it, is shorter life spans for the poor and isolated comfort for the rich.

Speaking of the rich, Pon really shines when she describes the sparsity and the luxury, I feel like physicality, no pun, is her strong-suit. The best moments were the ones of intimacy between characters.

Unfortunately I felt like she didn’t have the opportunity to let some characters get as much traction as our main duo, even though the job she did with them almost makes up for it.

In the end however, the mystery leaves it hard to feel the impact.

And I’ve been thinking about it, and there’s something wholly organic about the love that grows. When Jason notices Daiyu’s “toned legs” at one point there’s nothing exploitive or fetishized about it, and that’s kind of stellar. This should be the standard. I don’t know why it almost always feels like a guy is leering when he talks about his love interest. All the other characters, have or have-not, are described in fair terms.

I could have enjoyed some more tension during the heist scenes, but I think I also read this book very quickly. It isn’t terribly long which is both good and bad, this book needs space to breathe, a plan this fool-proof needs time to unfold in your mind. There are month jumps, which Pon does not leave ambiguous, and by the time the story has wrapped up, a year had passed between the covers.

I think my only real quibble is that I would have liked even more growth from Jason, while he did realize the world wasn’t exactly black and white, so I can’t be mad.

My hope though, since there is already plans for a sequel, that we get to focus on other characters since I don’t know how taipei-lovers Daiyu and Jason will leave for Shanghai. (Okay, that one was a pun.)

One last thing, I know Li Bingbing is too old, but she was who I thought of when I imagined Daiyu. Also the cover is gorgeous and totally worth bookstagramming. Make sure you pick this book up when it comes out, it will leave you mourning the blue sky and fresh air while you still have it. Otherwise we’ll be the next fishbowl heads living in a smoggy world.

WANT will be available for purchase June 13th, 2017. I received this ARC without expectation of a review.

Pages: 336
Year: 2017
Publisher: Simon Pulse

Read: 23 May 2017
Stars: 4

The Bad Beginning - Lemony Snicket

A Series of Unfortunate Events #1: The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

Just before watching the new Netflix adaption, I wolfed down the first book. I'd read the series as a child and adored it, revisiting it was a fun way to spend an hour and a half. Haha, how much things have changed. But this was still enjoyable. I'm looking forward to re-reading all these books and checking out the prequel series, All the Wrong Questions.

It really struck me how vulnerable Klaus is, as opposed to in the show, I guess, when Olaf striking him makes him sob, and I wonder at Lemony Snicket’s choice to include such a moment of emotion. And then for it to be left out in the show. It also was interesting that Klaus is the one who is closer to the baby sister, Sunny, than Violet and almost always carrying her in the book, but in the movie, and the show, he isn’t. I think these little changes are a detriment to the character as they seem to add nothing to the show. I mean, him not crying was an acting/directing choice most likely, but as for him not carrying the baby… It seems a small thing to focus on, considering I forgot immediately the concept each chapter focuses the story though.

It was very nice to re-read it. Even reading it quickly, I did not find the narrative voice to be annoying at my age. I’m looking forward to re-reading the rest and reading the prequel series at last!

Pages: 162
Year: 1999
Publisher: HarperCollinsPublishers

Read: 13 Jan 2017
Stars: 3.5

Monday, May 8, 2017

Bird by Bird - Anne Lamott

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

Glad I finally picked this book up off my shelf! The first part on writing tasks, or assignments, or just getting the words onto paper at last, wasn’t terribly mind-blowing. In fact the reason I finally read this, because of the reference that Marlo Skyhorse made to her plot structure, she attributes to another writer!

But the second part, on the writing life, really struck a chord with me, and I’ve dog-eared the passage on morals, and another on the purpose of it all, that I can see myself rereading in the years to come.

This book is very readable, conversational, and quickly moves from philosophical attempts at explaining what it is that is so great about writing, and jokes that made me want to share the book with all my writer friends. I should note that while I understand that Lamott’s humor is off-brand there was only one (as far as I could tell) joke that should have been left out. I think we understand more about each other now than we did even as little twenty years ago when this was published.

Pages: 238
Year: 1994
Publisher: Anchor Books

Read: 7 April 2017 to 9 April 2017
Stars: 4

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Throne of Glass - Sarah J. Maas

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas

Ultimately, I’m not sure I can recommend this book. The story of an assassin who becomes the right hand of the tyrant she loathes could have been a lot better, a lot darker.

I sometimes felt as though there was a lot of fluff in the prose. Descriptions felt overwrought, and sometimes didn’t shed as much clarity as I wanted. I was a little annoyed at how many different colors Chaol’s eyes were. But this book really hooked me until the end.

That being said, I’m hard-pressed to say I’m very enthusiastic about this book. It falls closer into the ‘guilty pleasure’ category. It lacks many characters who aren’t white and may be completely heterosexual, though sequels may prove otherwise. (I’m big on picturing romantic pairings and couldn’t help but match Nehemia with the prince, or with with assassin. I feel like the former is more likely to happen.)

There are several reasons I’m going to keep reading. First, I enjoy the feeling I get from the Wyrdmarks, which superficially resemble Chartermarks, and thus Chartermagic, which was used in the Abhorsen books, a favorite series of mine. Second, I believe the hype, and suspect that Maas will tighten things up in subsequent books as she goes on. Third, I heard a spoiler for a much later book in the series that gives me gut wrenching feelings about character development so interesting I have to keep reading. I need to know why that spoiler happens and can’t wait for the fall out drama.

Also, I think the new covers make this series look that much more interesting. I’m more inclined to read a series about the angry white-haired woman on the cover of this, than the golden haired courtier on the original cover. Does Celaena wear far too many dresses in this book? Yes, but I sincerely hope that changes in the rest of the series.

I described this book to a friend as though one were reading a show on the CW. The fights are awesome, the CGI is tasteful, but the soundtrack is almost perfectly chosen. Sometimes you think the characters stop doing something Very Important to have a Talk.

I’m not even sure Celeana really grew as a character here… I can’t help but feel that this feels like the debut it is. I still hold out hope that the writing improves as the series continues, as it often does. The premise may be a weak one, but hopefully it pans out in the end. I want a rebellion!

Pages: 432
Year: 2012
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Read: 22 Feb 2017 to 2 March 2017
Stars: 2.5 (it was ok/I'm curious)

Monday, March 6, 2017

Ancillary Justice - Ann Leckie

Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch 1) by Ann Leckie

The first book in a trilogy that took us on a rather wild ride.

I’m now a person who reads very little about books when I get the right inclination to read them, I just do. I used to pour over descriptions of books, weighing which one to buy and read. Somehow I ended up with so many freaking books on my shelves.

I read this because it was recommended after I finished Leviathan Wakes, I decided not to read the rest of the books in that series, upon which the SyFy show ‘The Expanse’ is based. (See that review for my reasons. It’s a good book, and a good show.) Ancillary Justice is not really all that similar, and I waffled at first because to me it sounded a little bland, but the promise of revenge and all those awards got me to take the leap.

How very glad I am that I did. I’ve now become a big fan of Leckie’s, and am really looking forward to the conclusion of this series.

The flashes from past to present were interesting enough, but it was kind of funny to me that after one cliffhanger had me yearning to learn more about what happened to Awn that fateful day nineteen years ago, I did actually enjoy the ‘slower’ bits in between about Seivarden and Breq traveling. It’s all important to the story though, so hang in there.

By the end things were rip-roaring along so fast that I had no choice but to launch myself into the next book. See that review for more thoughts and some light spoilers.

Pages: 416
Year: 2013
Publisher: Orbit

Read: 21.9.16-25.11.16
Stars: 5

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