September Reading Log

Holy crap! 4 books, and 3 short stories in a month. That’s pretty good for me this year. Definitely the most I’ve read in several months. Two were “Pick My Next Read” for the Carpe Librum group on Swap Bot, but the rest were my choice. Nothing earth shattering here, but all were reasonably enjoyable.

The Enigma Strain – Nick Thacker

This one was chosen for me the swap, and I picked it up for free thanks to BookBub. I’m going to be fairly brief here, and provide a longer review in a full blog post later this week.

In this novel, Harvey Bennett is a Yellowstone Park ranger, and while he’s trying to move a nuisance bear, a bomb goes off, spreading a deadly disease with it. He teams up with Julie, a CDC agent, to determine the cause of the bomb and the disease. They end up on an action packed adventure, trying to outwit those that want them dead.

It’s an okay book. I honestly think it’s a book I would have moved past if I’d seen it in the bookstore, but if you’re an action/adventure fan, it’s probably right up your alley. I like end of the world scenarios, but this was more Outbreak and less World War Z. In the end, our hero, Harvey Bennett save the day, and the United States recovers from the Enigma Strain without a lot of trouble.

 

Wireless – LA Witt

Another Bookbub, and another that seemed a little more fascinating than it was. In the future, direct skin to skin contact is forbidden. People wear full body suits to prevent touching, and kissing your spouse is even frowned on. There’s also no sex. Instead, you go in every 2 weeks for a virtual simulation of sex, in a simhouse, where devices bring you to orgasm.

Keith works as a technician in one of these simhouses, helping people get off virtually. He’s attracted to Aiden, who likes to flirt, and suggest there’s more to life than wired simulations. Aiden suggests that Keith would like wireless sex: real, old fashioned touching and sex. Intrigued, Keith finally gives in, and then his world starts coming down around his ears.

The premise of the book is fascinating, and the book fulfills is pretty well. The difference between the world Keith lives in, and the crumbling ruins of old Los Angeles is striking, as is the difference between the sterile simhouse, and the den where wireless sex happens. Keith is an interesting character, although I would have liked to know a little more about him.

Where the book falls apart for me is the last 1/3. There’s a point where all the happy, sweaty sexing has to come to an end, and it does.Keith is a changed man from it, like you’d expect. But then he goes all stupid. He’s desperate to get back to Aiden, and so he does stupid things to get it. It’s just so out of character. Sure, you can claim people in love do desperate things, but he goes almost brainless.

The way the last third of the book plays out is a disappointment too. I don’t dislike the way their happy time ends, in fact, it’s pretty clever. But the people that you find out are involved in wireless sex, that Keith interacts with, and what happens with them, is pretty much by the book. You expect it all to happen. And that was disappointing.

 

Minimize Me: 10 Diets to lose 25 Pounds in 50 Days – Andy Leeks

Again, picked up for free, on a whim. Andy Leeks does exactly what the title says: he tries to lose 25 pounds in 50 days by spending 5 days on 10 different diets. Yes, that’s number salad right there.

The book is written in a kind of diary format, light, and entertaining. Leeks doesn’t bog it down with a lot of theory, or nutrition information. It’s not what the book is about. He meets with a nutritionist, and they pick out the 10 best diets for him to follow. He figures 5 days gives him a taste of the diet, but not enough time to get bored.

The book’s fine, and entertaining enough of a read. I just feel like there’s not really enough substance for each chapter. He doesn’t go into the diets much. His reasoning? You can Google most of them, since he’s chosen not to do any brand controlled diets or weight systems, like Weight Watchers or Nutrisystem. So he chooses the cabbage soup diet, Atkins diet, balanced eating (not really a diet), grapefruit diet, juicing, etc.

In the end, a light fun read, but nothing substantial. I am curious about trying some of the diets, even though I know he’s said this is not an appropriate way to go about it.

 

The Prince – Kiera Cass

This one’s a short story, set in the world of The Selection, a dystopian retelling of The Bachelor television show. This is the weeks before the Selection happens, when Prince Maxon is trying to get a grip on his feelings for another girl, The Selection process, and how he feels about everything.

It’s a short read, and an easy one. It’s nice to get into Prince Maxon’s head. For me, it helped add a little more substance to Maxon. There’s a girl in his past, that Maxon mentions to America. Here, you get to meet her, and discover she’s in love with Maxon, but he doesn’t return the feelings.

One thing I liked about this, was that it went into selecting the girls for the Selection. You learn that most of the girls are selected for specific reasons, with a handful thrown in to make it look random. This is mentioned in the Selection trilogy, but here, Maxon’s father makes no attempt to hide that fact from his son. Maxon’s father is kind of a douche.

In the end, it’s only okay, because Maxon is pretty boring. He’s always seemed like window dressing, and this doesn’t improve that feeling.

 

The Queen – Kiera Cass

Another short, set before The Selection. This comes from the point of view of Maxon’s mother, Amberly. Before she was queen, she was a quiet girl in the middle of Prince Clarkson’s Selection. It gives us as readers a chance to get to know her, and find out why she often has headaches. Turns out she’s been poisoned by the chemicals used in the factories and plantations where she lives.

She’s in love with Clarkson, and has been since she was a small girl. When he asks her to do things, she does them unhesitatingly. Cut her hair? Sure. Tell people her family managed a coffee plantation, instead of worked in it? Sure? Do whatever he wants? Sure.

She’s a doormat. Don’t mistake her love of him and “sacrifice” to do what he wants as anything but being a doormat. She’s moldable, and biddable, and will do anything for Prince Clarkson.

Clarkson is calculating. He’s looking for a wife the people will love, but that will also do anything he wants. He wants a woman who will follow his orders unquestioningly. He sees that in Amberly. He’s not a nice man, and this doesn’t paint him as anything more than calculating.

 

The Guard – Keira Cass

Seriously, what’s with the retelling of bits of stories from another person’s point of view. Did Stephenie Meyer bring this upon us with Midnight Sun? Anyway, this is Aspen’s story.

It’s boring. If I had ever been Team Aspen, this would have totally killed it for me. He’s whiny, he’s grumpy, and he’s selfish. I know he’s a teenage boy, but you’d think that one who’d been supporting his family for so long would know not to be such a twit.

He puts Maxon down the entire short. He builds America up to be a perfect person. He sees one of his fellow guards get beaten for having his hands on one of the Selected. And still, he decides to steal time away with America, knowing that it can get them in grave trouble.

One thing I do like? You get to see him interacting with America’s maids. And since Kass likes to pair the spares, it gives you a little more backstory to the happy endings everyone gets. That however, it about all that’s good.

 

The Heir – Kiera Cass

Ahh, The Heir. The uneeded sequel to The Selection Trilogy. Because if Maxon and America’s story captivated lots of people, then their daughter should do the same, right?

Here’s how I feel about this book.

Princess Eadlyn needs a high five.

To the face.

With a brick.

I have never met a more unlikable character. Eadlyn is a bitch. It’s all about her. It always has been. She’s the one who will rule. She has to train to be queen one day. It’s all Eadlyn.

I thought leaders had to think of others first, their family next, and themselves last? Really, don’t you need to put the needs of others first? Eadlyn can’t.

Fully review of the book to come later this month, but right now, I only want to write this.