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text 2018-11-30 20:09
Monthly Run Down - November 2018
Gmorning, Gnight!: LIttle Pep Talks for Me & You - Lin-Manuel Miranda
Shadow and Ice - Gena Showalter
Whiskey Chick - Ryan Ringbloom
Immortal Unchained - Lynsay Sands
The Worst Witch - Jill Murphy
Snowbound with the Single Dad - Cara Colter
Children of Blood and Bone: The OrÏsha Legacy (Children of OrÏsha) - Tomi Adeyemi

 



Books I Read:

 

Gmorning, Gnight: Little Pep Talks for Me & You  - 5 Stars - Probably the only book I will own in both audio and print forms

 

Shadow and Ice - 3. Stars - New series. I’m curious to see where it goes.  

 

Whiskey Chick - 3 Stars - Remi is a character.

 

Immortal Unchained - 4 Stars - I really liked Sarita and Domitian.  

 

The Worst Witch - 4 Stars - Great family read.

 

Snowbound with the Single Dad - 3 Stars - A heartwarming story.

 

Children of Blood and Bone - 4 Stars - Mixed feelings but such and epic story.





DNF:

 

The Emerald Sea  - Richelle Mead - Put on hold until I can get the audio version.



Currently Reading:



Twilight - Stephenie Meyer - Re-reading...slowly…. stil.




Year to Date Totals:



January: 9 books

February: 10 books

March: 9 books

April: 6 books

May: 10 books

June: 6 books

July: 7 books

August: 12 books

September: 7 books

October: 10 books

November: 7

 

2018: 93 books

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review 2018-11-27 08:45
The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco
The Bone Witch - Rin Chupeco

I really knew nothing about this book before getting into it. I’d only read the blurb, which although it had interested me because HELLO NECROMANCY (I hate zombies though, I know right?) and I hadn’t read any reviews, so I didn’t know:

  • That it was framed from a bard’s point of view.
  • That it was sold as magical Memoirs of a Geisha meets The Name of the Wind.
  • That the author was from the Philippines.
  • That this was not the author’s debut novel.
  • Anything about the author’s previous work.

 

Some people claimed there was a cliffhanger, but I would argue it’s not a cliffhanger. Cliffhangers are literally named after the device used in old TV serials where the episode would end with the hero hanging off the edge of a cliff, and ‘tune in next week!’ slapped across it. It was designed to ‘force’/’emotionally blackmail’/ ‘fear of missing out’ people into watching the next episode. Lots of soap operas also use cliffhangers. I absolutely hate when first books in a series end on cliffhangers, or chop off the end of their resolution to stick it into the next book. I think it’s a horrible, cheap way to try to force the sale of the next book when the first story could have easily been wrapped up all on its own. Although this story was unfinished in the greater thread of the narrative, this book did not have a cliffhanger. It did not have an ‘edge of the seat what happens next’ dangling enticement tacked on to the end. The Bone Witch was a complete story with all of its ends wrapped up, but with a promise and a threat that could be addressed in second novel. So I didn’t hate the ending, and it actually made me interested in reading the second book, rather than putting me off it.

 

I did have issues with the Bard’s part of the story. I didn’t think it actually worked and I think it would have been better if the whole narrative wasn’t framed as Tea retelling her story to the Bard. Mostly because he kept referring to her as ‘the girl’. But also because Tea kept dropping hints that her retelling would get bigger and better and more interesting if only we’d keep ‘listening’, but in the end the things she was promising us didn’t even happen in this book, and it kind of felt like a big set up for Book 2. (And in this way, I think listening to the audiobook was a really good method, because the whole story was framed as Tea verbally retelling her story to the Bard, and it just worked really well listening to it.)

 

Memoirs of a Geisha is one of my favourite books and I was pleased to see the influence of geisha custom had on the story (I know MOAG is fiction, but it is still largely historically accurate in the portrayal of geisha custom). I’m still a little confused as to why these women warriors were trained in the fine arts to please men when the male warriors of the same skill, called Deathseekers, were not. I mean, historically geisha were first men, then a mix of men and women, and then only women. The asha and the Deathseekers were both skilled the same magically, and women asha were required to train in combat, but it seemed like they mostly hung around the Willows entertaining people while the men went off to battle. I understand that it’s really sexist but it just seems a lot to heap on asha: they must learn music and dance, singing, the art of politics, just like geisha, but they must also train as warriors (just in case, maybe?). I’m not saying this should have been more faithful to geisha culture, I’m just saying it wasn’t really addressed. If the women were required to stay in the Willows and entertain people and only occasionally some of them ventured forth to battle, why were they also required to train in combat? And if the Deathseekers were warriors, why couldn’t they also stay in the Willows and entertain people?

 

I was also really confused about the concept of the heart’s glass. It just wasn’t very clear what it actually was: both an emotional mood stone and something precious you give to a romantic partner, and some of them can be remade and some of them can’t, and you need some kind of ceremony to receive one that everyone has to go through, and some people can make them and some people can’t. And does it sit on a chain around someone’s neck like a necklace? And how big is it? I was pretty confused. Nice concept, not very well executed.

 

I did like however that there didn’t seem, to me, to be much infodumping. I think this is because Tea was ‘retelling’ her tale to someone who already knew a lot about what she was talking about, but not everything. I liked how in the asha culture, dressmakers and magical hairdressers were really important and I loved the descriptions of all of the clothing and jewels, and it was nice seeing that these things were important in this culture and not at all frivolous. It was also nice seeing a young boy destined to become a Deathseeker choose a different path: which ties back in to my criticism on the sexism between the asha and the Deathseekers.

 

While I’m often reluctant to continue with book series, I’m actually enchanted enough by this world and characters that I’m happy to read book 2 and I can even imagine myself following this series long-term, which is rare for me.

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review 2018-11-26 19:33
The Worst Witch
The Worst Witch - Jill Murphy
The Worst Witch, Book 1

I Picked Up This Book Because: I loved the movie as a kid and recently discovered it was based on this book.

The Characters:

Mildred Hubble:
Maud:
Ethel Hallow, Miss Cackle, Miss Hardbroom

The Story:

Mildred Hubble lives an uncharmed life. She tries her best but things always seem to go wrong. It doesn’t help that her Form Mistress seems to be against her and her enemy Ethel Hallow is showing her up at every turn.

This is a very cute book that would be a great family read. Mildred’s hijinks make for a delightful time. I look forward to reading more.


The Random Thoughts:



The Score Card:

description

4 Stars
 
 
 
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review 2018-11-21 22:21
The Witch Elm - Tana French

Well….I finished this a couple of days ago & needed to ponder how I felt about it.  French has always been one of my favourite authors but this was a departure from her usual style. Not going to lie…..this is a door stopper of a book & right up to about page 160, I considered putting it down. Toby (at that point) was just not that compelling & he really needs to be as you spend all your time with him. Then they found the skull.

 

Nothing like good ol’ human remains to make you sit up & pay attention. The story, too, seemed to perk up. Suddenly there was direction & focus to the plot & a new energy infused the prose. This part of the book I enjoyed. The interaction between Toby & certain members of his family is a master class in psychological manipulation. The mind games & gas lighting are at disturbing levels & have us (and Toby) doubting everything. If your recollection is hazy and you accept someone else’s version, is it really a memory? With his addled brain, Toby is at the whim of those around him. But the investigation gives him purpose & you catch glimpses of the man he used to be.

 

My favourite character may have been Hugo. He’s a kind, decent guy whose hidden depths are only really appreciated after he’s gone. As for the ending…..well, it had me scratching my head. I definitely never saw that coming & I’m still thinking about why it happened.

 

French is obviously a keen observer & the complicated relationships between family members is very well done. You may not particularly like your sister/cousin/uncle but when push comes to shove you might find yourself doing something you’d never consider for someone who doesn’t share your blood. Trust, loyalty, obligation…these are just some of the themes that play out as 3 cousins are forced to reevaluate the relationships they’d taken for granted.

 

So kind of a mixed bag for me. Not my favourite of hers but definitely a book that made me think. And that’s not a bad thing. Just as an aside, what’s up with the spelling change in the title for N.A. readers? The original use of “Wych” is not only more accurate but true to the story. Guess they were worried we wouldn’t figure it out. Silliness.

 

    

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review 2018-11-13 19:58
The Witch Elm / Tana French
The Witch Elm - Tana French

Toby is a happy-go-lucky charmer who’s dodged a scrape at work and is celebrating with friends when the night takes a turn that will change his life – he surprises two burglars who beat him and leave him for dead. Struggling to recover from his injuries, beginning to understand that he might never be the same man again, he takes refuge at his family’s ancestral home to care for his dying uncle Hugo. Then a skull is found in the trunk of an elm tree in the garden – and as detectives close in, Toby is forced to face the possibility that his past may not be what he has always believed.

 

This book isn’t part of French’s Dublin Murder Squad books, so don’t go into it expecting that. She is still writing in the mystery genre, but no doubt feeling the urge to diversify a bit, and not be locked into just one series.

Having said that, Toby (the main character of this book) reminded me in several ways of Rob Ryan from the first DMS book, In the Woods. They both have dodgy memories and both start out each book seeming like happy-go-lucky guys. Ms. French doesn’t let them stay too settled, however. Toby’s kinda-sorta-close family ties also reminded me of Frank Mackey in DMS #3, Faithful Place. Frank, just like Toby, had to sort through family history and old memories to come to some sort of conclusion about the present.

How accurately do we remember the past? I think the general consensus is that we’re all revisionists. (As Stephen King wrote in Joyland, “When it comes to the past, everyone writes fiction.”) And how much more severe is that situation going to be when Toby has been severely head-injured? Actually, I really didn’t like the Toby of the first few pages and was wondering what had happened to one of my favourite writers! I usually really enjoy even French’s most annoying characters—so I was happily surprised that head-injured Toby was more much interesting and (to me) likeable.

I had a great big soft spot for Uncle Hugo as well. Having done genealogy myself, I loved that French made him a genealogical researcher (and a good one). I’ve got some Irish ancestors, who emigrated to Canada and kept raising money to bring more relatives over. I’ve got to find the time to learn more about them!

The Witch Elm also made me think of M.L. Rio’s If We Were Villains, which I absolutely adored. I thought that Toby resembled Oliver Marks from that novel, particularly when it came to the book’s ending. A lovely messy ending, with only hints at how things will actually resolve when either Oliver or Toby emerge back into the world.

So, I maybe didn’t love The Witch Elm quite as much as the Dublin Murder Squad, but I still found it to be a book well worth reading. Ms. French, I am still a devotée.

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