One advantage to driving 7 hours a day, with only 1 real interruption, is that I get a lot of audiobooks listened to. I managed to plow through 8 books this month, 3 of them read, 5 audiobooked. I think this has been the month with the most duds. I rated 6 books at a 3 on Goodreads, which meant I enjoyed them, but I didn’t love them. One book was a 1, because I thought it was terrible, and one a 4, because it surprised me with how good it was.
Sandry’s Book (Circle of Magic Book 1) – Tamora Pierce
I like Tamora Pierce’s books, and I like that many of her books are narrated by the Full Cast Audio group. When I wanted some books that weren’t too long for my drives, I looked up Pierce’s other books, and settled on this series. They’re… ok? But not fantastic.
The title Sandry’s Book is misleading, as the book isn’t just about Sandry. I discovered after I read it that it’s available as The Magic in the Weaving in other countries, and that makes so much more sense. This is largely the origin story of the 4 student of Discipline house: Sandry, a noble; Daja, an outcast Trader; Tris, an unwanter Merchant’s daughter; and Briar, a street thief. They’re all discovered by master mage Niko and brought to Winding Circle Temple. Eventually, the 4 find themselves in Discipline house, a cottage for mages with unusual powers. They’re paired with mentors, and have to adjust to life.
The book is written just fine, and the Full Cast Audio group does a great job with it. I was largely disappointed with the book because I expected it to be more about Sandry than the other kids. It’s a pretty even mix of the four, and while I understand why it was done, I was still somewhat disappointed. I also think that the kids were pretty mature for being 10-12 years old, but that’s generally how Pierce writes her characters.
The School for Good and Evil – Soman Chainani
I picked this one up because of a review someone else wrote, and found it interesting. The idea there’s a school for good fairy tale people, and evil ones is a great idea. And, like so many fairy tales, there’s a lot of tropes invoked: good students do their makeup and learn to talk to animals, evil ones learn how to brew poisons and cast curses.
Even if you didn’t know that Sophie and Agatha get dropped into the schools they don’t expect, you could figure it out in the beginning. Sophie is good just to be good, for the appearance. Agatha looks like a girl headed to the evil school, but largely doesn’t care. So when they’re swapped, you probably aren’t that surprised.
The schooling both Sophie and Agatha get, along with the tales of them trying to get to the “right” locations, fill the book, and make it interesting. The way the characters grow and change is also fun to read. The story behind the schools, and why Good always wins, is a neat one. The climax of the book? Also cool, as it shows you don’t always have to be good or evil
So why only 3 stars? I don’t know, I just felt like it didn’t live up to the blurb. And I felt like too much of the story revolved around Tedros than the girls. They’re what, 12-14? I realize boy crazy starts young, but he’s kind of a boring character, yet we see a lot of him. And I’m also disturbed by a series of events with Sophie. She decides that the Evil kids don’t have to always be evil looking, smell bad, and have pimples. So she starts a series of lunchtime lectures to give them help. She also starts making all kinds of outfits. Some of them are really inappropriate for a 12-14 year old, like crop tops, etc. And that bothered me. In the end, I just couldn’t get behind it.
Princess Academy – Shannon Hale
Picked up on a whim, I thought this one would sound like fun. It followed on the heels of The School for Good and Evil, so I was in a boarding school book frame of mind. It’s another book that’s a fun read, and ok, but that I didn’t love.
Miri lives in a small mountain village where they quarry Linder, a fantastic stone that their King likes to use to build palaces. Everyone who can works in the quarry cutting Linder, and they have an ability called quarry speech, which they use to accomplish tasks while working. Miri isn’t allowed in the quarry, and instead spends her days tending the house and goats. A messenger arrives one day, telling the village that their holy men have divined the place of the future wife of the prince, and it’s Miri’s village. Because of that, a princess academy is to be set up, and all eligible girls between the ages of 12 and 17 are to be educated there.
I expected the book to be more, well, princessy. The academy is set in a large building 3 hours walk from their village, in a house that was made near the first Linder quarries. Once they’re there, the academy is more drudge work than anything. Their teacher is an angry woman who locks them in closets when they misbehave, and expects very little of them. She sets about educating the girls, teaching them to read, the history of their country, commerce, maths, etc. There’s very little emphasis on being a princess. It’s all on educating them to not look ignorant. When they’re not in class, it’s all Miri being ostracized from the other girls for various reasons, and learning how to use Quarry Speech.
Ultimately, I didn’t like it enough to want ot read the rest of the series. I was a little disturbed about how the girls were picked: any girl that’s 12 years or older, but won’t turn 18 before the princeis eligible. But in Miri’s village, people don’t necessarily marry young. Miri’s sister is just a little too old for the academy, being nearly 18, and there’s no dicussion of her marrying. So why does the prince need to meet a 12 year old? Also, very little is spent on the prince and his family, which makes this only loosely tied to the princess boarding school idea.
Reboot – Amy Tintera
I must have gotten this book for cheap or free from Bookbub, because I don’t know how else I ended up with it. While I was sick with vertigo, I read a couple books when I didn’t spin too much. This was one of them.
Wren 178 is the most deadly of the reboots. She’s not human acting at all, and she’s HARC’s top soldier. She gets first pick of new reboots to train, and usually picks high numbers. For some reason, she chooses Callum, who’s number is 22. As soon as she meets Callum, she changes.
And that’s why I don’t care for the book. She meets Callum, and goes from tough, no nonsense Wren, to a halfway sappy, less badass main character. She gets boring. And that’s when I started losing interest.
I also wish I’d gotten a chance to see more of her world before the obligatory “must fight the system and escape” section showed up. I know you have to show before to make after more interesting, but I’m one of those people who would like more before than is usually given.
The Ruby Circle (Bloodlines Book 6) – Richelle Mead
The final book of the Bloodlines series, I’ve been waiting for this a long time. When it showed, I devoured the audiobook as quickly as I could. And I was disappointed. I swear, since Mead had kids, it’s marriage and babies for everyone.
Sydney and Adrian are safe at Moroi court, having been granted safety there by the Moroi queen when the Alchemists are after them. It’s been a month, they’re bored, and Jill is still missing. When a former teacher of Syndey’s shows up with a mysterious box, it sets in motion a scavenger hunt for the clues needed to find Jill before it’s too late.
Like most of Mead’s 6th books in series, this one has a pretty complicated plot to get to the final necessary item for the happily ever after. In this case, it’s sneaking Sydney out of the Moroi court to go on a scavenger hunt. At the same time, Adrian is helping a fellow spirit user, who’s almost gone over the edge to find her sister.
The good parts of the book are the scavenger hunt to get the clues, as it takes them all over to find them, Sydney’s infiltrating the extremists camp, and the climax of the book, where Sydney throws down some serious magic. The rest of the book is only okay.
My complaint about marriage and babies? That’s part of why I’m giving the book a 3. Mead seems convinced everyone needs to be married or engaged by the end of the books. In this book, Dmitri gives Rose a ring. There’s no marriage, but it’s implied to happen eventually. And a good portion of the book deals with a newborn that the group has to care for. Of course, people start getting attached to the baby, and so you can guess what happens.
The other complaint I have about the book? So many loose ends. Bloodlines is a series that involves the half sister of the queen of the Moroi. If Jill dies, Lissa loses her seat. At least, until a ruling can be put in place to change it. Jill’s in hiding until that ruling, and it’s never expressly stated it passes. It’s supposedly being put to a vote, but we don’t hear about it. Also, there’s a LOT of backlash about Sydney, a human, and Adrian, a Moroi, wanting to be together. It’s just not done anymore, and there’s a lot of backlash. They find a solution, but it’s never really addressed if points of view on it are changing. The big questions just get left out there, and I was disappointed.
The Onesies: Fall – Josie Brown
I picked this one up free from Bookbub. Even though it’s not really my kind of book, it sounded cute enough. Lorna is trying for entry into an exclusive club for mothers and their children, and she’s worried she’s not up to the standards. Bettina, her impossible sister in law, runs the club, and she also has a problem: too many decent entrants into the group for 1 year old children.
It’s a fast read, and it’s well written. Also, well formatted, I didn’t run into bugs or glitches, or typos when reading it. This author certainly writes well. I just didn’t care for the story.
I have trouble getting into books where the characters are so far removed from me. The main characters are all wealthy, living in eilite neighborhoods in San Francisco, and wearing expensive brands. They’re all wives of men who are movers and shakers, and they’re just so removed from my life that it’s hard to relate.
I also hare Lorna. She’s too dumb to be a parent. She has 1 child, he’s the apple of her eye, and at 14 months he hasn’t spoken a word, or tried to walk. I’m not a parent, but that raises red flags to me. It’s not like Lorna has 3 other kids, and they were all slow to walk and talk, so she’s expecting it. No, her only child is slow to do things. And it isn’t until the end of the novella, when someone else points out there might be a problem, that she has him looked at? What the hell is wrong with you?
This is a solid, well written book. It’s just not my kind book.
World War Z – Max Brooks
A Friend of mine was watching World War Z, and when I asked her about the movie, she said it was a good popcorn flick. I knew the book and the movie only shared 2 things in common: the title, and zombies, but I wanted to hear the book before I saw the movie. I did the audiobook, which I highly recommend.
World War Z is an episodic retelling of the Zombie Wars, from those who survived. It starts with the doctor who discovers patient 0, and moves on through the panic, the attempts at combat, additional strategies, the actual war, and the recovery process.
I loved the book. It’s fascinating, the way the stories intertwine, and how the interviewer jumps around the globe to get points of view from everywhere. The average person, children, military members, scientists, a housewife, even an astronaut that was on the space station, you get a wide variety of points of view.
There’s a lot of gore in the book. There’s detailed descriptions of the zombies, of what they do, how they’re fought. People starve, or contract diseases, and some turn to pretty unsavory means of survival. A few of the scenes stick with me, and not in a good way. Thankfully, no nightmares.
I’d give this book 5 out of 5 stars, except there aren’t enough scenes told by women. I counted 5 of them total, out of like 25 scenes. There could have been more. Also, changing the tone more on some of the episodes and points of view would have been nice.
Summer’s Path – Scott Blum
I picked this book up for free from Audible a while ago. I’ve been trying to burn through my already downloaded books, so this filled an afternoon’s drive nicely. It’s unfortunate that the book wasn’t very good.
The story is about Don, who’s dying of cancer. He was laid off, and his wife didn’t want to get married before he was diagnosed, so he has no health insurance. While sleeping, he gets a visit from Robert, who claims to be a sort of Angel of Death. Supposedly Robert is there to help Don get his things in order before he dies. While Don prepares for death, Robert cooks up an alternate plan that could help Don and Robert both.
The writing in the book is only so-so. Maybe it’s because I audiobooked it, but Blum uses “instinctively” over and over again. Sometimes you’ll get it a couple times in the span of a few minutes. It gets annoying. Also, the book is written in a plodding, uninspired way for the first few chapters. There’s a lot of introspection, not a lot of action. It’s very passive, and not very interesting. More than halfway through the book, the author derails the story to give us an “As you know, Bob…” diversion into his personal spiritual beliefs. This goes on for quite a while, and it’s woven into the book in a way that would make it interesting.
In addition to the plodding storytelling, there’s a bunch of things the author does that just don’t make any sense. The book was written in 2009, and is set in Oregon, with an author who lives in Oregon. We have the Death with Dignity Act. Don didn’t need to die in pain, or suffer, or even consider killing himself in a terrible way. I know the things he considered were so his wife wouldn’t have to deal with his body, but there were a lot of options he could have explored, but he didn’t even think about it. Also, in the story, Robert takes a 3 week old puppy away from its mother, and expects it to do fine. You can’t do that! Not without buying bottles and puppy formula and all this stuff. Robert doesn’t.
Skip this book. It’s just not worth it.