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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-11-15 20:03
October 2018 — A Wrap-Up

 

Originally published at midureads.wordpress.com on November 15, 2018.

 

 

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An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard

 

This book surprised me and in a pleasant way. Having never read anything by Ms. Howard, I didn't really know what to expect. What I discovered was good UF with half decent world-building. It had shades of the movie Now You Can See Me  only the magic in the book wasn't an illusion.

 

We are introduced to the major players almost immediately. They each have their motivations and that was completely okay. The world-building should have been better because as far as I can see, this book is a standalone. Even if it is to be the first in a series, then it would need to be immersive enough for readers to continue with the sequel. I think it mostly does that.

 

 

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The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells

 

Wow! I mean I tried reading The War of the Worlds and failed miserably. If you can make a novel about an alien conquest sound boring, then there isn't much hope that I'd ever like anything you'd write. While playing Book Bingo, I landed on a category that fit this book beautifully. So, I decided to give Mr. Wells another go.

 

I am so glad that I did! Suspense colors the atmosphere in the story and there is a stench of violence waiting to happen. Why don't scientists ever learn? I kept cringing every time the humans faced the monsters (Moreau could give Frankenstein a run for the money)! Some were near misses and some events just foreshadowed the darkness that was to come.

 

The edition I read also came with a summary of H. G. Wells' life history. He had been involved in the formation of League of Nations. Cool!

 

 

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Some Girls Bite by Chloe Neill

 

This book had issues similar to that I highlighted in the review of Kat Howard's book. Say, vampires do exist and they decide to come out. Won't there be a political upheaval to makes all other upheavals look silly? Nothing like that happened in this book.

 

Meritt caught my interest because she refused to be grateful for being turned into a bloodsucking parasite. She also clashed with the authorities regularly and I liked that she wasn't ready to give in to her attraction towards the head vampire just yet. Her troubled relationship with her gold-digger and nouveau riche parents cemented her authenticity as a person. As did her bonds with her bff and grandfather. What detracted from the believability factor was how she rebelled against her new life and yet gave up so easily on her old one. What of her dissertation? What about going back to school?

 

What did bug me was the identity of the person having humans killed by her minions. As far as twists go, this one was just all right.

 

Even so, I want to read the next one in the series before I decide if I will continue with the rest.

 

 

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The Dirt on Ninth Grave by Darynda Jones

 

The humor in these books is always a winner. Consider the two quotes below:

 

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But what I liked, even more, was that the series took a break from the disaster it had become. In case, you haven't yet read the last book or my review of it it was horrible. The author dropped a doozy of a deus ex machina on us. Then she left the readers with a huge cliffhanger that took us back to the prehistoric age (not literally)!

Guess what though? The last part did wonders for the book! I could reconnect with Charley without the usual over-the-top complications. The world was still about to end, but that wasn't going to happen just then. Charley did spend the whole book lusting after her husband even if she didn't know who he was. But that is typical behavior for her.

 

I also fell in love with Cookie all over again after reading this book. The woman has a life of her own, a daughter, and a husband. Yet she put everything on hold to come be with an amnesiac Charley. Even though she can't act worth a damn and kept slipping up and calling Charley by her real name. Cookie rocks! 

 

 

Bring on the next book!

 

 

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A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

Another book that I wish had read a long time ago. Now, I don't appreciate it the way it is meant to be lauded. Firstly, since it is by a female author writing epic fantasy. Yaaaaay! Then because the protagonist isn't white and male, but colored and male. Okay, this deserves a smaller yaaay. Even so, it is still a win.

 

What I wasn't a fan of was the writing style. It felt stilted and kept me from devouring the book in my usual way. Of course, the fact that I have read my fill of epic fantasy might have something to do with it. Although, this book wasn't much concerned with the affairs of the world. It focused on a character's solo journey to get rid of the darkness that he had called from another world.

 

So, I'll reserve the final verdict until I have read the next book in the series.

 

 

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Everwild by Neal Shusterman

 

I can never understand how a children's book can scare the pants off me when so many horror novels have failed to do that! Similarly, I survived watching Jessica Jones being mentally — and otherwise — raped by Killgrave repeatedly. And yet, I have to force myself to sit through one episode of A Series of Unfortunate Events!

 

The idea of kids being in control is a very scary one because they can be very cruel. At times, they won't even realize the extent of damage they are leaving on another kid's psyche. The good thing about kids managing their affairs is that they can take highly complicated concepts of morality and simplify them.

 

I had a great time reading this book for both those reasons. Can't wait to read the next one!

 

 

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Dark Crime by Christine Feehan

 

Have mostly given up on this series ever being anything but cheesy, if I ever thought so in the first place. This novella was a good surprise though. Instead of the swooning heroines, we were shown someone who could fight and hold her own. She was also the one who kept the vampires and their minions at bay while hubby went to ground.

 

Yeah, she was forced into the whole Carpathian mating for life ritual by her husband-to-be. And yes, she couldn't live without him as soon as he arrived at the scene. Little improvements, see?

 

 

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Dead Beat by Jim Butcher

 

The humor was on point, as usual. Look below for a crack or two:

 

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The relationship between Harry and his brother is slowly developing. By that, I mean they talked to each other about real stuff, like Thomas being thirsty all the time.

 

Susan was awesome!

 

The rest was pretty much as it always is:

 

Harry was trying to save a woman's life.

 

Harry couldn't hit women, even ones bent on killing him.

 

Harry defeated a threat that he couldn't possibly defeat.

 

Harry saves an adorable character who learns how to stand up for themselves and others.

 

Harry is hit with threats from all directions and lives to tell the tale.

 

 

So, this was my October in reading. How was yours?

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review 2018-11-06 15:44
Dry
Dry - Neal Shusterman,jarrod shusterman
I really got into this novel. The more I read, the more I could visualize this novel actually transpiring. As the water shortage flung individuals into a state of despair, they each fought for survival and would do anything to live through another day. As the book came to the close, I was disappointed in the ending. I felt it was a bit drawn out and the closure was just not what I expected from this novel. The novel did make me appreciate water more.
 
I brought this novel to work with me as I wanted needed to finish it. I read a bit before walking into work and I had hoped, there would be some time during the day, to slip in a chapter or two. Students saw the book by my bag and as I was explaining the novel, I had a few students look up and you should have seen their faces. Concern, shock and bewilderedness was plastered upon them. I had to laugh as I listened to them, as they actually thought what I was talking about was a news story. They didn’t realize I was talking about a book and they were worried about the individuals in California. I thought this was a priceless moment as I had them engrossed in this novel and in the author.
 
I liked that the novel begins immediately with the issue at hand, they have run out of water. Unable to fill up their dog’s water bowl, the family begins to inquire why their house is suddenly out of water. This issue begins small and then multiples. We also have the preppers in this novel, the individuals who has been stocking and preparing for the worse-case scenario to hit. Some individuals think of these people as strange or even over-the-top but they are the individuals who have everything that they need. I always thought I wanted to be a prepper but now, I’m not really sure.
 
In a crisis, most people will behave erratically, so when this emergency occurs, individuals start to look out for themselves. They begin looting, they begin searching for any available source and soon, their searches go deeper and are more creative. It started to make me think about how creative I would be in such a crisis. You really need to look outside the box as some of these citizens did to stay alive.
 
This was an entertaining and a compelling novel. This is my first novel that I have read by Neal Shusterman, although I have many other novels on my TBR list by him. I highly recommend this one. 4.5 stars

 

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review 2018-09-24 03:41
Full Tilt
Full Tilt - Neal Shusterman

 

It began the night we died on the Kamikaze.

- First sentence

 

 

This is a great Creepy Carnival book. Blake, his brother Quinn, and their friends Russ & Maggie end up trapped in an otherworldly carnival. The only way out is if they can ride seven rides before dawn. But each ride taps into one of their biggest fears, and no one has ever escaped before...

 

I enjoyed this one. It was fast-paced and creepy with a satisfying ending. It doesn't take long to get to the carnival part and I enjoyed watching Blake try to figure things out. 

 

I read this one for the Creepy Carnivals square:

 

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text 2018-09-23 03:47
Reading progress update: I've read 93 out of 214 pages.
Full Tilt - Neal Shusterman

 

 

I'm reading this for the Creepy Carnivals square:

 

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review 2018-07-03 11:25
4/5: Challenger Deep, Neal Shusterman
Challenger Deep - Neal Shusterman

Caden Bosch is a normal fifteen year old. A little geeky, a good artist. He’s sarcastic and witty and fun to be around. But he’s falling apart. He thinks the kid at school, the one he passes in the corridor and doesn’t know, is going to kill him. His parents may not be who they say they are. He starts to hear voices that tell him to do things he doesn’t want to do…

This is a difficult book to rate. As a work of fiction, I would rate this quite low, perhaps 2/5. The story drags a little at times, and Caden’s relationships are muddy and ill-defined in places.

But here’s the thing: This isn’t a work of fiction, as Shusterman says in the notes at the end. This is a semi-fictional biography of his son and his declining mental health. I’ve never read a book on schizophrenia before, so there’s no baseline. There’s nothing to say, “Compared to ‘X’ this is better or worse.” I’m not an expert on how accurate it is, so I can’t rate it on that.

I misted up a few times while I was reading it. I also laughed out loud in others. But, my god, Caden’s parents – and by extension, Shusterman - must have felt so helpless. You can only cry with them, as powerless as they are as they watch their son dissolve.

Running alongside Caden’s story is a wider symbolic journey he’s taking on a sailing ship, crewed with representations of the people around him in the real world. He knows where he’s going – The Marianas Trench – but he doesn’t know how long it will take him, or why he’s on the ship in the first place. It’s a personal journey of discovery and revelation, of choices and friendships. No spoilers, but not everyone makes it – in the real world and on his journey. Sometimes people get lost on those oceans and never make landfall again.

Most terrifying of all is when Caden is at the depths of his illness. His journey and reality blur together, without transition or warning. It’s jarring enough that we as readers have to check again where we think he should be. He undergoes dissociation for a few chapters, referring to himself in the third person (“You look at your sister”, not “I look at my sister”). He is, in literal terms, out of his mind.

I didn’t know much beyond the barest layman’s knowledge of schizophrenia when I started this book. People hearing voices, I thought, and that was it. I didn’t know about the other symptoms: the growing paranoia, the mania, the dissociative personality. The closest I could come as an analogy would be the engine of Caden’s brain is red-lining at 4000 RPM and won’t slow down even if he could turn it off. I learned things from this story.

I have a feeling that this was made with slow and deliberate care, an intense desire to get it right. I wonder how many times Shusterman had to stop writing so he could stop crying. I certainly had to when I was reading it.

Neal Shusterman didn’t write this book for the reviews, or the money it’s making him. He wrote it because he had to, and he wrote it so it helps someone else understand.

And like the best of stories, it worked.

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