May Reading Log

Witness In Death – JD Robb
One of my reading goals for the year was to read (and re-read) the first 10 books of JD Robb’s In Death series. I’d read the first 8, plus a few additional ones throughout the series, and I thought it would be nice to work my way through them again. This was book 10.
I hadn’t read this one before, and it was nice to get a book where I didn’t automatically recall everything about it. This one’s interesting too, in that it takes place in a theatre, on stage, with lots of people watching the play. Also, the murdered guy is an asshole, that almost no one likes or cares about. He gets what’s coming to him, and even Eve agrees, but she does her job, and makes sure that the actual murderer is caught.

Panic – Lauren Oliver
I was going to read Panic for Carpe Librum’s book club, but I ended up reading The Fault In Our Stars instead. I couldn’t get Panic soon enough from the library to finish it in time.
Panic is an interesting book. Oliver’s books usually focus around a character that usually comes from a messed up family, usually a poor one. Her best friend is usually more well off. And every character is flawed, usually to an extreme. This book is no exception to it.
I did find the game of Panic interesting: doing crazy things, starting with jumping into a quarry, and ending with a vehicular version of chicken, all to win a potential chance to get out of Carp. From what you see in the book, no one who’s won has really made good for themselves, and in a few cases, it’s messed the people up royally.
One thing I didn’t like was how predictable a couple things in the book were. First, Heather’s best friend Bishop is tied into Panic, and if you’re paying attention, you’ll catch on to why a couple chapters before it’s revealed. Also, there’s a woman who’s caring for tigers, and they escape, and one of them ties into the ending. I didn’t guess it in advance, but when I read it, I wasn’t surprised.
There’s one nitpick I have of the book, and it’s the amount the winner of Panic gets: $67,000. Seniors pay a fee of $1 per day school is in session, and at the end, the winner takes all. At least, I’m pretty sure it’s just the seniors, because paying into it every year for 4 years of high school seems excessive.
It doesn’t add up. Assuming every senior chips in $365, or $1 for each day of the year, you’d have to have 184 students in the graduating class. In a town of 12,000, that’s possible. I had 182 students in my graduating class, and I went to school in a town of 11,500 people.
But this is a case where it’s every day of school. The average in the US is 180 days, according to most sources I’ve read. So that’s just under half of 365. So, doubling the 184 kids means there would have to be a graduating class of 368 people to make up $67,000 (368 kids * $180). That’s way high for a town of 12,000 people. Even if that’s an usually large class, nearly ¼ of the town is under 18, and I don’t buy that. A minor nitpick, but it stuck with me.

The One – Kiera Cass
I’d been following this series, and had forgotten to keep an eye out for the third book. I liked the first book well enough, disliked the second one quite a bit, and so I wasn’t sure how the third would turn out. I discovered it was out by way of audible.com, where Pet keeps a subscription going to enable me =P
I listened to is pretty much in one drive at work, with only an hour left to go. I managed to get it in a day or two later. It’s okay. Had it been great, I would have made time for that hour, but as it was only ok, I didn’t feel bad letting it sit for a day to finish.
In this book, Maxon has narrowed down his love interests to 4: America and 3 other girls. Once he narrows it to 3 or fewer, he has to choose. He wants America, but he’s encountering objections to that, and America is torn between Maxon and Aspen, her former boyfriend. Also complicating the plot are the rebels: northern and southern. Northern rebels want Maxon in power to abolish the castes, Southern rebels want to take over and rule.
This book was better than the second one, which had America waffling between Aspen and Maxon, and being nice to one of them one minute, then nice to the next. This one has some plot and meat to it, as the rebels become more and more a threat to everything and everyone. It still wasn’t a great book though.
I don’t really buy the idea of “nice” rebels who want to help the crown prince. I realize abolishing the castes will help them as much as him, since they won’t be outlaws, and the people they care about won’t be bogged down by castes and who can do what. But they’re too nice. If Maxon won’t help them, then they won’t help him. They’ll instead go to sympathizers and other people, and get them to side with the northern rebels, and eventually get the castes abolished that way. They’re too patient. I don’t buy it.
I also found the ending of the book wrapped things up too neatly.. You can guess who Maxon’s going to choose, because why write a series if you’re going to let your heroine end up with guy from before? America gets her “happily ever after” and so does Maxon. Aspen, America’s former boyfriend, gets his possibly happy ever after. The Northern rebels get what they want, because conveniently the King and Queen aren’t going to be a problem. It’s all very neat and tidy, and almost too contrived. It’s kind of a disappointment.

The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern
This was one of my reading goals this year. I wanted to read it, because many people have read it and said it’s fantastic. The premise sounds fascinating too: set in the late 1800s, two children (and later adults) are trained in magic by mentors, with the ultimate goal being them pitting their skills against each other in a game. It’s a game that ends up lasting 16 years, and creates the most magical of locations: The Night Circus.
I wanted to love this book, but in the end, I didn’t. I liked it, but I didn’t love it. The blurb and the book are two different stories. The blurb implies more action than there actually is. The book moves slowly, with beautiful descriptions of people, places, and things. Really, the descriptions of the Night Circus, and all the tents and things in it, are beautiful. I find them reminiscent of Kushiel’s Dart, in the beautiful words.
What didn’t do it for me was the plot, and that’s ultimately the big thing. The plot is slow. And the back of the book is misleading. The epic battle plays out over 16 years, and for part of it, one of the combatants doesn’t even know who she’s fighting against. There’s no direct confrontations, and the stakes never really feel real. You read the novel feeling like the two “main” characters are going to find a way out, not that one of them is going to lose. It was kind of a let down.

The Blogger Abides – Chris Higgins
This is the first non fiction that I think I have finished this year. That’s odd in itself, because I usually read more non fiction. I have several I’ve started, but not finished. This one made it onto my read list because an internet marketer suggested it in an email, and I found it to be relevant to my interests. I’d like to be a freelance writer, and so this was a book worth checking out.
I quite liked it. Higgins lays out all kinds of stuff you need to know if you’re writing. Not just the how to find jobs, but the what kind of things to write, how to write them, where to find ideas stuff too. And unlike a lot of books, he touches on many things that are often taboo: taxes, libel, forming a company, contracts, etc. I appreciated that, as most freelancers are quick to pull the “I’m not qualified to give advice, as I’m not a professional <lawyer/accountant/etc>.”
One thing I did like, is that the book is cross linked. There’s a pile of links within, so if you’re like me, and forgot something you’d read the week before, there’s a link in the chapter you’re reading that will take you to it. There’s also a pile of links to article he’s written, so if you have internet access while reading, you can reference the articles and posts he’s written and provided as examples.