January Reading Log

The Last Unicorn – Peter S Beagle
The movie of this book is one of my favorites, and the book is one of my favorites as well. I read it in high school, and try to revisit it from time to time. It tells the story of the last unicorn in the world, one who lives in a lilac wood, and finds out through hunters that she is the last. She sets off to find the others, and picks up a bumbling magician named Schmendrick and a woman named Molly Grue.

What I love about this book is it’s beautifully written. Beagle is a wizard not only with words, but with characters. They know they’re in a fairy tale, and they know how things are supposed to go. Even the small characters matter, and Beagle writes them in ways that don’t make them boring or cookie cutter. There’s a tree that falls in love with Schmendrick, and watchman of Haggard’s castle that have their own personalities. And the descriptions are beautiful!

Well worth a read, and if you can get your hands on the audiobook version, do so! It’s narrated by Beagle himself, and he has a lovely voice.

Romeo and Juliet – William Shakespeare
This was a dramatic reading that I got through audible.com for free a few years back. I was looking for something I could finish in a day of work (about 7 hours), and at just under 4 hours, it fit the bill. I’ve read Romeo and Juliet, and I’ve watched both the 1968 and 1996 versions of the film. But I’ve never seen it on a stage, so I didn’t really know how it would sound.

This version is really well done, and I’m finally able to understand why Juliet would say happy dagger, and what a few of the insults would sound like. So the audiobook version really helped my understanding of the play.

The play itself is beautifully written, which is why Shakespeare is The Bard, afterall. And the characters he creates? Fascinating.

And Romeo and Juliet?

Impulsive kids. They’re terrible! “I just met you and I’ll love you forever!” “Let’s get married and kill ourselves if we can’t have each other!”

It’s perfect.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy – Douglas Adams
This is my mother’s favorite book. I’d read it in college, when my ex picked up a copy, but I’d mostly forgotten it. I thought I’d give it a try.

This is a strange, strange book. The way it’s written, the asides it says, the characters, all of it is really, really strange, Poor Arthur Dent is kind of a moron, Ford Prefect is very patient, and Zaephod just confuses me.

The ship, The Heart of Gold, is neat though, and I love the probability drive. I also love the people who create custom planets. I’d forgotten most of it, so I enjoyed hearing it again.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore – Robin Sloan

This book was recommended to me by another person on Swap Bot. So I gave it a go, and I really liked it. Clay is an out of work web guru who spots a “Help Wanted” sign in the window of Mr. Penumbra’s 24 hour bookstore. He finds work there not at all what he expected, as the bookstore sells almost no books, but instead seems to function as a library for random people. This prompts him to dig deeper and he uncovers a mystery several hundred years in the making.

I really, really loved this book. It did remind me of Ready Player One, which is why it was suggested to me. Clay is a fun character, and he intersperses enough of his life outside Penumbra’s with his life inside the bookstore, without bogging the story down. He weaves in interesting characters, Mr. Penumbra himself, Kat, his kind of girlfriend who’s a Googler, his high school friend Neel, who’s a wizard with cgi boob physics, and a host of other minor characters. They go from San Francisco to New York, and the places they go in each city are fascinating and full of life.

Prophecy – Sharon Green
The last book in the Blending series, and it took me forever to get through. The funny thing? I know I read this, because there’s a reveal about Naran that pops up near the end, and I remember it, but I don’t recall most of the book.

The book moves between the Chosen Blending of the prophecy, and the evil enthroned Blending. There are also side chapters based around minor characters, and on the whole, it’s a pretty big, involved mess by the time the Chosen Ones get to the city. I was just ready for it to be done.

The showdown with the evil vs good people was a real wash. Thanks to Naran’s magic powers, each of the good ones meets an evil one that won’t overpower them, and they walk away winners. They also overcome their personal hardships, and Fire and Water stop fighting, and everyone’s happy.

It’s so boring.

Morrigan’s Cross – Nora Roberts
I’d read this book a long time ago. My grandmother gave me a paperback copy of it, said I would like it, and later gifted me an abridged book on CD copy that Pet and I listened to. It was ok. Once we had a subscription to Audible and we discovered they had the unabridged trilogy, we bought it with the intention of listening together. We never did.

I was going through all my audiobooks, trying to decide on listening to some I’d bought, but never listened to, and saw this one. So I gave it a whirl, along with the rest of the trilogy. They’re ok.

The idea is that vampires are like demons, and live on earth. They’re going to take over in the future, not just Earth, but other worlds, and the gods can’t stop them. So the Morrigan chooses 6 people to be her “chosen ones” to train, and then raise an army to fight Lillith, the queen of the vampires. She sends a sorcerer to the 21st century to find his brother, now a vampire, and to get things going. Of course, being a Nora Roberts book, everyone has to find a soul mate and have hot sexing.

The book is kind of slow. They spend the entire book trying to assemble their magic circle, and get to know each other well enough to not immediately kill each other. Hoyt, the sorcerer brought forward in time, and Moira and Larkin, from another planet, have to learn how things in the 21st century work, and how to fight vampires, in addition to everything else they have to do.

Dance of The Gods – Nora Roberts
Book 2 was pretty boring, which is a shame since it had 2 of the characters I liked best in it. Blaire is an asskicking vampire hunter, and Larkin is a shape changing… dude? And they of course fall in love, and freak out over it, since he’s from one planet and she’s from present day earth, and she’ll have to return after it’s all said and done.

This book is also boring because they end up leaving Earth to go to Geall, which is like a cleaner, nicer version of Earth from 400 years ago. So we have a whole system shock of going from modern day to a world with chamber pots and dragons, as well as them training common folk to fight, and dealing with pockets of vampires.

For all of that though, it’s boring. A lot of waiting until the battle begins, and not a lot more.

Valley of Silence – Nora Roberts
You’d think the third book would be the most action packed, but it’s not. It’s more waiting, and the actual epic battle of doom is like less than the last quarter of the book. It’s like a thousand word epic, where the last 100 pages is where it gets interesting.

This is the book of Moira, the queen of Geall, and Cian, the vampire brother of Hoyt, have to deal with falling in love. They fight it most of the way. Then they give in, then it seems all is dark, then it’s not, and it’s the typical love story.

The trilogy is boring, because it’s a romance novel trilogy with fantasy dressing. But it tries to pass itself off as a fantasy trilogy, and so if you’re expecting more fantasy, then you’re disappointed.

I Was a Teenage Dominatrix – Shawna Kenny
This was an unexpected find. I’m doing a reading challenge this year that involves a lot of things: a trilogy, a book you can read in a day, a memoir, etc. and I’m in a group on Facebook for it. Someone suggested this book as a fun read, so I found the audiobook and listened to it in an afternoon.

I’ve always liked reading about sex workers, since the stories are usually diverse and interesting, and this one was no exception. The title is a little misleading though. It makes her sound like she became a dominatrix right out of high school or something, which she didn’t. She went to college at 19, was a nude dancer for a while, and then answered an ad to be a dominatrix. She stayed a dominatrix until she graduated college, which I would guess would be about 23 or so? So the teen part of that was a few months, not years, like the title would suggest.

Still, it’s a fun read, and interesting hearing about her clients and what she did. A lot of the story are individual tales, long enough to be chapters, but near the end she talks about clients that wanted something specific, and her providing it. There’s one incident that made me gag, if you read this book, be prepared after she talks about the doctor and what he wanted. It’s making me gag right now, writing this up,

Still, a fun short read, and I would say worth the time if you’re ever interested in what a dominatrix would do.