I read a lot of books this month. 10 to be precise, although to be fair, 4 of them were audiobooks. Work was busy this month, which meant I spent a lot of time driving (hence the audiobooks) and a lot of time waiting to be loaded or unloaded (the rest of the books). I re-read, well listened to, Gameboard of the Gods, but the rest I don’t think I’ve blogged about yet.
I ended up purchasing this book from Barnes & Noble. It was sitting next to the checkout, and my girlfriend and I had been discussing Capybara the week before, so I took it as a sign.
This book is really cute. It details the story of how Bill Peet’s son kept a small menagerie in his bedroom, and eventually wanted a capybara, so they acquired on, they called him Capyboppy. There’s stories about Capy integrating into the family: swimming with them, eating veggies, and biting one of the neighbourhood kids. If you’re an adult, it’s a quick read, and probably a fun one to share with your kids.
When I was in the fourth or fifth grade, my teacher read this book to the class. I always remembered it because the title was really long, and because there’s a section about the Pledge of Allegiance that goes “I pledge a lesson to the frog.” To this day, you can still find me mumbling the messed up pledge that’s in the book. It stuck with me.
I went to a Little Free Library in September for another swap on Swap Bot, and while I was poking about, I found this book in there. I borrowed it to read, and finished it in about an hour. Looking at it from an adult’s perspective, it’s a different book, but still a good one. I’d forgotten lots of small details, like Shirley walking the bird, and her roller skating, and it was nice to revisit them.
Bitterblue – Kristin Cashore
Having read Graceling, and then Fire, I wanted to round out Cashore’s books with Bitterblue. I remember Bitterblue from Graceling, and was curious to see how she reigned as queen. Well, she’s kind of boring. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind a slow book, but Bitterblue seems, well, useless.
She spends all her time squirreled away with her paperwork, and has been since she became queen. But only now, at 18, she’s fed up with not knowing what’s going on in her city, and so she sneaks out. Using the limited information she gathers while out, she tries to enact change, only to get stalled by her advisers. And this goes on for the majority of the book.
I liked her relationship with Saf, and her relationship with Po and Katsa, but the rest of her interactions seemed stilted, and not very interesting. And while the book gets resolved, you never get to find out what kind of change results, because it ends before you see any change.
I’d heard of John Sacalzi, but only in a roundabout way. I’d encountered a blog post of his, I know he tapes bacon to his cat, I know he’s an author, and he used to be the head of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. That was about all.
Then I was trying to get into my Audible account to download some audiobooks, and was having trouble buying the one I wanted. I noticed Audible had a daily $3 deal, and that day was Redshirts. The blurb had nearly convinced me, and then I noticed it was narrated by Wil Wheaton. Yes, Wesley Crusher himself was reading this book. So I bought it.
This book is hilarious. It’s essentially a parody of most Star Trek episodes, namely the Original Series, where red shirted crew members died at an alarming rate. It hangs a lampshade on the idea, and makes it the reason for the book. And when you find out why the members of the Intrepid are dying, you’ll laugh, because it’s perfect.
I had 2 complaints with this novel: first, Scalzi tends to refer to all characters by their last names. That’s fine, except that there’s a Dahl and a Duvall, and they talk to each other a LOT. So I get confused with them. And, there’s a character with the last name of Hester. Hester is a woman’s name, and this character is a guy. So it kept throwing me off.
The second problem? I really disliked the first coda. Not only did it go on too long, but the way it’s read just makes it grate. Like there’s emails, that are Wil Wheaton going “ ex ex ex ex EXEXEXEX at exex ex EX exexex . Ex ex ex” Instead of just replacing it with something better. I know he’s x’d out the emails, I don’t need a minute of Wil Wheaton saying “ex” to get it.
Awoken – Serra Elinsen
Oh boy. Oh boy.
Words kind of fail me on this one. Think Twilight, with Cthulu. Yeah. And thesaurus rape. Seriously, there’s hardly a “said” in the entire thing. On page 18, we have Andromeda Slate “ejaculating” her words. Yeah, not making that up.
Honestly? If Andi Slate wasn’t so damn annoying, this wouldn’t be that bad of a book. Sure, it’s Twilight with Cthulu, so it’s not THAT interesting, but it’s not a bad read. Also, if there was less thesaurus rape it would be much better.
And before anyone says anything, yes, I’m aware. I know. Don’t englighten me.
I reviewed this in June, when it came out. It’s ok, but not great. If you want to know exactly what I think of it, check out my June Reading Log.
Santa Olivia – Jacqueline Carey
I read this years ago, when it came out. I loved it then, and so when I had a long drive ahead of me, I audiobooked this. I like audiobooks because there are often words I mispronounce in my brain that are pronounced correctly in the audiobooks, so that helped.
This story is very interesting. I love the idea of this forgotten town, with residents who belong to no country, and who can’t leave. Carey paints a great picture of the state of this town, which is slowly dying. She also paints a great picture of the characters and the families they create. Normal family dynamics often break down, Loup is orphaned at 10 and moves into the orphanage that’s run by the church, creating a new family dynamic there.
This is a slow book, starts slow, builds slow. It speeds up at the end, but for 90% of the book, it’s a slow build. You slowly find out the story of Loup’s parents meeting, then her first 10 years are fairly short, the only high point being her brother Tom learning to box. Once she’s orphaned, the story slowly covers the next 5 years, detailing Loup’s time at the orphanage, Tom’s training, and Tom’s big boxing match. Then it slowly goes through the next 3 years, until Loup gets her big boxing match. And then, the ending comes in a big hurry.
One thing I did like, is Loup’s not a dumb character, but she’s also not a super smart one. I’m used to Carey’s character Phedre, who’s brilliant, and Loup is a nice change. She’s not a dummy, but she’s not book smart, and she’s a girl of few words. I like that, because she remains that way through the entire book, and it’s a refreshing change.
I actually got Darkfever for free for my nook, when it was a free book on Friday. I read it, loved it, and devoured the next 3 books after it. Then I impatiently waited for the 5th, and supposedly last book to come out. By the time it came out, I’d more or less forgotten about it. So I audiobooked this one this month, because I had a long day of driving, and could just about finish it in one shift.
This is an interesting series. It’s probably paranormal romance, but the romance part is really played down. As in, almost non existant. There’s attraction, and it’s acknowledged, but no one gets naked, or falls in love in the books.
I like Mac. She starts out this rainbow girl, all pink and curls and accessories, and quickly has to adapt to the new world she’s in: the one where the Fae are real, and they hunt the sidhe-seers, those who can see through a fae’s glamor to the actually creature within. She teams up with one reclusive, unreadable, dead sexy man named Jericho Barrens, who promises to teach her to survive if she helps him. He wants the sinsar dubh, the great evil black book of the Unseelie king. The book that Mac’s sister, Alina, died for knowing about.
This series grabs you up and doesn’t let you go. I highly recommend it to anyone who likes books about the Fae, and who doesn’t mind action girls, mysterious men, and occasionally goofy slang.
My original nook was one of those nifty ones with independent 3g capabilities, which was really useful when I drove longhaul. I finished Darkfever, and immediately bought this book. Since I audiobooked the first one, I decided to read on my new nook the rest of them, and finally finish the damn series.
This one thankfully has more going for it. The first book was a lot of setting up the story, introducing characters and getting Mac into the situations she needed to learn from. This one throws Mac into more situations, but thankfully keeps the list of new characters brief.
The situations Mac finds herself in are more dangerous, and the stakes are higher. She must adapt and change to survive, and I like that. Rainbow Mac, or Mac 1.0 as she calls herself, was almost brainless and boring. This new Mac is way more interesting, and I appreciate what she goes through more.
There’s also plenty of interplay between Mac and Barrons, and Mac and V’Lane, a Fae prince who also wants the sinsar dubh. Since Mac’s the only one that can sense it, she’s very valuable to many people, a fact she understands well in this book. I was happy to see how much it pissed her off too.
The best way I can describe the book is: shit just got real, yo. Yes, cliched and trite, but in this installment, the druids and the sidhe-ssers must enact their ancient rituals to try and keep up the walls between Faerie and our world. If they fall, the Unseelie will come into our world, and wreck havoc.
Stakes are raised, and Mac must do everything she can to keep the Unseelie from coming through.
In this novel we get more sidhe-seers, and entire abbey of them. They’re mentioned, but they make a much bigger appearance in this novel, and it’s one of the problems Mac has. She doesn’t trust their Grand Mistress, and the Grand Mistress doesn’t trust her.
In addition to that, someone has her sister Alina’s diary, and is sending pages of it to Mac. Mac’s starting to wonder what kind of a person her sister really was, and has to come to terms with that.
There’s a real cliffhanger with this one. The other 2 books end with things resolved enough that you will want to read on, but not that you HAVE to read on. With this one, you HAVE to, because you HAVE to know what happens to Mac.
Books 4 and 5 of the Fever series are October’s reads, I didn’t finish them in time this month..
Zentangle Untangled: Inspiration and Prompts for Meditative Drawing – Kass Hall
This book was a total waste for me. I bought it because from the back, it looked like it could teach me the meditative drawing style that is Zentangle. I keep wanting to get a Zentangle kit, but I keep putting it off, mostly because it’s nearly $50 and I’d rather spend that on books.
This book won’t teach you to Zentangle. It will teach you a few patterns, some the author has come up with, and some that are official Zentangle patterns. If you’re having trouble with some of the patterns, this book might help, as it breaks the tangles down into smaller steps, showing photos of each step.
Since I don’t know how to Zentangle, this book wasn’t very useful to me. Sure, I could copy the patterns, but I don’t know the meditative process that goes along with it. If I’m going to do it, I may as well do it right, yeah?