December Reading Log

I decided to fill December with shorter, easier to read books. I came into December 10 books short of my 60 books this year goal, so shorter books would help me close the gap. I still blame the car accident on why my reading this year was low.

The Last Sunset – Frank Mongomery

This book is terrible. First, it doesn’t make any sense, and second, the formatting is crap. It’s a good thing it was free, otherwise I would have been really put out.

The book starts out mid story, so I’m guessing it’s the second book of the series. A meteor has struck the earth, and wiped out a large number of the population. Kristina is sitting on a lunar base with a baby, wondering about her husband. Her husband is on earth, wondering about her. Her husband has someone else staying with her, and spend a lot of time using the “As you know, Bob…” trope, to explain how to survive, why he was a prepper, etc etc. It gets old quick.

At some point, the lunar base sends down pods with survivors in them, to see if the planet is still inhabitable. The people in these pods are wearing special suits, with transmitters in them, so the lunar base people can monitor them. They are also packed with explosives, ad one of them blows up. At some point there’s a random chapter where it’s reveled that the people running the world engineered the meteor to come and wipe everyone out. Like I said, it doesn’t make a lot of sense.

The formatting and editing for this book is awful. There’s no standardization for indents, so sometimes the paragraph starts halfway across the page. Many sentences end without punctuation, and there’s a number of homonyms scattered in the book, so you’ll be reading along and catch a word that makes no sense.

Prince in Exile: Book One – H J Bradley

Interesting serial, although I have a hard time getting into it. It’s set in 1979, which is (slightly) before I was born, and in Europe, which is somewhere I’ve never been. However, it’s not a bad serial.

Prince Teuvo executes his grandfather the king, because his grandfather is a menace. Then right before Teuvo can be crowned king, there’s a coup, and he has to flee. He manages to escape with bodyguard and lover, Olani, and his other lover, Princess Astrid, and they set off to find somewhere that will give Teuvo asylum.

The book centers mostly around the relationship between Tuevo and how he attempts to reconcile his interest in his two lovers. The coup and escape are secondary to the relationships. What surprised me is how caviler he is about having a male and female lover. 1979 was probably not a good time to be bisexual and it be known. Maybe because he’s royalty, it’s overlooked, but I kept wondering if it was going to be a problem.

It’s a short serial, but enjoyable.

Prince in Exile: Book Two – H J Bradley

Book two of the serial confused me. It starts with a flashback involving Teuvo’s mother, and mentions his father, who was hardly a mention in book one. I’m guessing it’s to show that a conspiracy against Teuvo was happening, but it’s still confusing.

The rest of the book is pretty slow. They’re stuck traveling, and to pass the time, there’s a lot of sex. It is an erotica serial, so I expected it, but there’s not a lot of plot, until nearly the end.

The end of the book give Teuvo something to do, a quest if you will. And it will be interesting to see how it plays out. I’m not so sure I’m going to keep going with the books because there’s only one more in the serial, and I don’t think the serial can wrap everything up in one more bite sized installment.

The Sloan Men – David Nickel

I found this short story through tv tropes, and was intrigued enough to want to read it myself. It’s a creepy read, and I want a shower just thinking about it.

Judith has gone with Herman to see his parents. While she’s there, Mrs. Sloan begins to imply that Herman, and his father, aren’t normal men. Her words and following actions bring Judith to realize something’s very, very wrong.

Excellent read. I really recommend it.

What The Luck – K.B. Winters

Picked this on up free on Christmas. It’s okay, but not great. It’s also a serial, so it ends on a cliffhanger, and I wasn’t interested enough to keep reading.

Eleanor has won an all expenses paid trip to an all inclusive resort, and goes with her friend Dixie. Dylan is there to prevent parental nagging, although he’d rather be at work, making millions of dollars. Eleanor and Dylan meet up, sparks fly, but Eleanor isn’t the kind of girl to have a 1 night stand and be gone, which intrigues Dylan. You can guess where it all ends up though.

Not a bad book, if a little predictable. Dylan’s going to get Eleanor into bed, and there will be miscommunication. He’s a rich guy who gets what he wants, but she’s not going to easily give it to me. Not my kind of book, but well written.

Curious – R.G. Alexander

Another free book, but this one off BookBub. Jeremy is bi, and his best friend, Owen, is straight. After Owen witnesses Jeremy involved in some bedroom escapades, he becomes curious. For Jeremy, it’s a tangle: he’s been interested in Owen for years, but doesn’t want to lose his friendship, or the friendship he has with Owen’s family.

I really enjoyed this one. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but the book gets the point pretty quickly, and isn’t just about Owen and Jeremy trying to figure out how they feel about each other. There’s plenty of meat to the book, including plots involving Owen’s sister possibly marrying the wrong guy, and Jeremy’s fear of losing Owen’s family’s friendship, which saved him when he was a teen.

Overall, very enjoyable, with a decent plot, and neatly wrapped up at the end. There’s more to the series with other characters that have been introduced in the book, and I hope to eventually get to them.

Captured – Erica Stevens

Another Bookbub freebie. It turned out to be much better than the blurb implied, as kind of a Twilight in the dystopian future, with characters and plots that don’t suck. So, not like Twilight at all. How much did I like it? After finishing this one, I went and bought the boxed set of all the books, and immediately devoured the second book.

Aria is the daughter of the leader of the human rebellion, and as the book opens, she’s in a holding pen, having been captured on a raid. She’s sold to a creepy vampire, but then Braith, the crown prince, steps in and claims her as his own. She’s taken to the palace, cleaned up, and dressed pretty, all to be a blood slave for Braith.

Except he doesn’t touch her. He treats her more as a pet, making sure she eats, she bathes, and she wears pretty clothes. Eventually, he teaches her to read, and keeps her safe from other vampires, like his sadistic brother. Over time, she comes to hate him less, then find him a friend, and finally fall in love with him. I guess this is more like Beauty and The Beast than Twilight. Of course, they can’t stay in their happy little suite of rooms forever, and eventually Aria comes to learn that there’s more going on than she’s aware of.

Aria is every book’s spunky, strong willed heroine: she would rather die than be a blood slave, but once she is, she’s practical, and does what she can to survive, including fashioning a wooden stake out of a nightstand leg. When the opportunity to learn about the enemy comes up, she takes it.

Braith is a more complicated character, and one that’s slower to reveal what he’s like. When you find out (or guess for yourself) what’s going on with him and his wolf companion, it adds a dimension to his character. I won’t spoil it here, but I haven’t read a book about a vampire with that particular thing before, and I enjoyed that.

Like I said, I plowed through the book and enjoyed it so much I bought the whole set. It’s a nice, refreshing take on vampires vs humans. Sure, there are a few stereotypes and tropes in there, but the story itself is solid, with the right number of twists and turns to make it enjoyable.

Renegade – Erica Stevens

Book two, following Captured. Aria is back in the wilderness, and the vampires are still trying to root out all the rebel humans. Aria is changed from her experience, and is trying to cope. She’s also trying to deal with her best friend, Max, who was also a blood slave, but had a much worse time of it. He’s convinced she’s been brainwashed, and is convinced she needs to be with him to heal. She’s not having it.

I was not quite as fond of this story as I was of the first. Personally, I’m one of those people who likes to hear a lot of how things were before the main character changes things, so I would have been happy with more story about Aria and Braith in the palace. This one deals with them outside the palace, and how they have to come to terms with things changing, not only between them, but for the world as they know it.

One of the things I didn’t like as much is the reason Aria and Braith are so tied together. I can see why it’s done, I can see where it’s headed, but I think it’s a little too convinient. I’m hoping there’s a fresh twist on it in the next books that will prove me wrong. So far, there are plenty of twists I wasn’t expecting, which is why I’ll keep reading.——

Only Ever Yours – Louise O’Neill

Okay, this is a messed up book. I’ve heard it called the YA version of The Handmaid’s Tale, and well, they’re not really wrong. It’s not exactly like that, but if you’re familiar with Offred’s life, you can see where isabel and freida’s lives are going.

The future is a bleak place, with only a few pockets of remaining civilization. Only male children can be conceived and born naturally; female children have to be created in a lab. For every male that’s born, 3 females are created in the lab, so when he comes of age, he’ll have a selection to choose a companion from. The book follows freida as she goes through her final year of schooling with her best friend isabel, who’s growing increasingly distant, and putting on weight.

The school is not a fun place: the girls are mean and catty to each other, they’re taught almost nothing useful, like reading or writing, and everything about them is monitored. At one point freida is a mere .8 pounds over weight, and so she chooses a no calorie option from the lunch buffet so she won’t risk gaining any additional weight. If she does, she’ll be like christy, who is 125 pounds and made fun of constantly. As the year goes on, freida’s relationship with isabel deteriorates, her insomnia increases, and the stress starts to show.

This is a complicated book, and I think it might take on a little too much. It shows a very constricted world: freida has never been outside the school. If she’s chosen as a companion by a man, then she’ll go to his house, live there, bear his sons, and be terminated at 40, unless she does something worthy of being thrown on the pyre (not a metaphor), or she’s unable to have children. If she’s not chosen as a companion, she may end up a concubine, which is exactly as it sounds. The worst for her is a chastity: a woman who lives at the school, and provides for the girls going through it, while living a spartan life.

The world freida experiences is pretty narrow, and as a result, we as readers don’t really get an idea of what’s going on outside the school. Eventually we find out only 10 male children were born, so there are 30 girls, or eves as they’re called, created for them to choose from. There’s roughly 4000 people in their zone, the Euro zone, and only the males hold any positions of power. Media is constantly bombarding these girls with fashion and beauty, and what they see reinforces the idea they need to be thin, beautiful, and compliant forever. freida knows a little of how the world got the way it did, but she still doesn’t know much. She can’t read or write, or do math. She has no skills. She’s a pretty doll. Even the names of the girls aren’t capitalized throughout the book, to show they’re possessions, not people.

I really enjoyed the book, even the ending, which wasn’t pleasant. However, I wish we’d gotten a little more of the world freida, isabel, and the others lived in, because sometimes the book was a little hard to follow, and sometimes my interest waned.

Winter – Marissa Meyer

This was my 60th book of the year, which was my goal for books read. It was also a very enjoyable book, and a great conclusion for the Lunar chronicles. I was waiting and waiting for it to come out, and then completely missed it. The library had a digital copy I could borrow, so I binge read it in one night.

It took me a little to get into the book, because so much time had passed between Cress and Winter. Thankfully, the book picks up a couple weeks after the Paris battles that had Scarlet captured, the head thaumaturge Sybil Mira killed, Thorne blinded, and the plague having mutated to infect and kill Lunars. Man, this series has been BUSY. Anyway, Cinder and gang have hashed out what seems to be the only plan that might work to remove Lunar Queen Levana from the throne and stop the plague from killing everyone. The problem is that is has a small chance of succeeding. With no other options, they put it in motion, trying to set everything right.

It’s a good thing the book is thick, because a lot goes on in it. Not only is there the plot with Cinder, Thorne, Cress, Wolf, and Iko, but there’s Princess Winter, the book’s namesake. She’s gone crazy because she refuses to use her Lunar gift to hide the scars on her face. She’s also in love with Jacin, a disgraced guard, who popped up in the previous book. In addition to all that, there’s Kai, the emperor of the Asian commonwealth, who’s in love with Cinder. He has to return to his palace after being captured by Cinder and crew, and agree to marry Queen Levana. It’s a busy book.

I enjoyed the book a lot. I wasn’t sure if I would, because I disliked Cress, and I’ve seen plenty of series end with a mediocre book. Winter doesn’t disappoint. So much is going on that it can be a pain to keep track of it, but it’s still interesting and a good read. And like the other books, this is based off a fairy tale, Snow White for this, and so we all the key elements: beautiful step daughter, wicked queen, poison apple, glass box. They don’t play out quite like you’re expect (Winter is dark skinned, for example), but the elements are there, with an interesting take. A good book to finish my 2015 off.