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text 2019-03-18 09:09
MbD's Snakes and Ladders: Vote on the book for my final square!
Rooted in Deceit - Wendy Tyson
Uncorking a Lie - Nadine Nettmann
Space Opera - Catherynne M. Valente
Murder a la Mocha - Sandra Balzo
Help me choose my final Snakes and Ladders Read:
Rooted in Deceit by Wendy Tyson

 

Uncorking a Lie by Nadine Nettmann

 

Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente

 

Murder à la Mocha by Sandra Balzo

 

 
Created with Poll Maker

 

Rooted in Deceit by Wendy TysonIt’s no summer vacation for environmental-lawyer-turned-farmer Megan Sawyer when a high-end yoga retreat opens in the next town over. But when up-and-coming artist and her ex-best friend Thana Moore is strangled in the back of her car, Megan is once again thrust into solving the latest mystery in Winsome.

Megan has no interest in the new retreat, but then the detectives on the case discover her father’s wife Sylvia had an explosive argument with Thana hours earlier, and the murder weapon is a scarf that looks suspiciously like Sylvia’s. Worse, Maria, the wife of Washington Acres Cafe’s superior-yet-grumpy cook, Alvaro, was fired after being suspected of destroying one of Thana’s paintings. Would Maria kill her out of revenge? Despite her attitude, would Sylvia truly be guilty of murder?

Megan must dive into her past to find Thana’s killer, even if she doesn’t like what she may find out about herself. If she doesn’t uncover the truth in time, will this idyllic Winsome summer turn into a nightmare.

 

Uncorking a Lie by Nadine NettmannIt was the kind of invitation sommelier Katie Stillwell had only dreamed about: a dinner party at the Sonoma mansion of famed wine collector Paul Rafferty to celebrate a rare bottle. Everyone enjoys drinking the $19,000 wine, but Katie realizes it's not the vintage listed on the label.

 

When she confides in Mr. Rafferty, he asks her to investigate, and she soon discovers the deception goes beyond money—it includes an accidental death that might just be murder. As Katie falls deeper into the world of counterfeit wine, she learns everything is at stake...even her life.

 

Space Opera by Catherynne M. ValenteA century ago, the Sentience Wars tore the galaxy apart and nearly ended the entire concept of intelligent space-faring life. In the aftermath, a curious tradition was invented–something to cheer up everyone who was left and bring the shattered worlds together in the spirit of peace, unity, and understanding.

Once every cycle, the great galactic civilizations gather for the Metagalactic Grand Prix–part gladiatorial contest, part beauty pageant, part concert extravaganza, and part continuation of the wars of the past. Species far and wide compete in feats of song, dance and/or whatever facsimile of these can be performed by various creatures who may or may not possess, in the traditional sense, feet, mouths, larynxes, or faces. And if a new species should wish to be counted among the high and the mighty, if a new planet has produced some savage group of animals, machines, or algae that claim to be, against all odds, sentient? Well, then they will have to compete. And if they fail? Sudden extermination for their entire species.

This year, though, humankind has discovered the enormous universe. And while they expected to discover a grand drama of diplomacy, gunships, wormholes, and stoic councils of aliens, they have instead found glitter, lipstick, and electric guitars. Mankind will not get to fight for its destiny–they must sing.

Decibel Jones and the Absolute Zeroes have been chosen to represent their planet on the greatest stage in the galaxy. And the fate of Earth lies in their ability to rock.

 

Murder a la Mocha by Sandra Balzo Uncommon Grounds coffeehouse owner Maggy Thorsen is full of good intentions when she attempts to return Mocha, a lost chihuahua who jumped out in front of her car, to her owners. But a trip to the Satterwite's house and meeting their dog-sitter give Maggy a bad feeling... and leads to an even worse discovery. Can she solve another deadly puzzle?

 

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-11-30 06:19
November 2018 — A Wrap-Up

 

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Cinder by Marissa Meyer

 

Even though I read this book in October, I forgot to include it in that month’s wrap-up. So, reviewing it now. Cinder is the story of Cinderella but one who is half cyborg and works as a mechanic. All the elements you’d expect from such a story are there, i.e., an evil stepmom, a dead dad, and a prince who is smitten with the poor girl.

 

But the same goes for the issues that the original (read Disney) version and most YAs have. For instance, the forging of an instant connection between the prince and Cindy. She is considered expendable and is extremely poor at the beginning of the story. Yet soon she not only attracts royalty, but her blood also becomes the only source that can cure the virus plaguing the country. We also come across completely irredeemable and good-spirited characters, meaning everything is black and white.

 

All that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy this modern twist on an old story because I did, which is why I will be reading the next one.

 

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Johannes Cabal the Necromancer by Jonathan L. Howard

 

The story opens on a man, Johanne Cabal, the Necromancer, striding into hell and demanding to see Satan. Having sold his soul for necromancy, he now wants it back. The reason for that becomes clear only at the end of the book and that too only partially. Satan sets him to achieve a seemingly insurmountable task in return for Cabal’s soul.

As Johannes recruits, recreates, and alienates people during the journey, we meet many quirky characters. The best thing about the book is undoubtedly its sense of humor.

 

Take a look:

“I was cast down from the presence of God himself into this dark, sulphurous pit and condemned to spend eternity here—”

“Have you tried saying sorry?” interrupted Cabal.

“No, I haven’t! I was sent down for a sin of pride. It rather undermines my position if I say ‘sorry’!”

The quote above is an excerpt from the exchange between Cabal and the Devil. The one below is about a crow (one of Satan’s minion) that follows Johannes around when its master can’t spy on him:

It looked at them; first with one eye, then with the other. Then, to show it was a polymath among crows, it went back to the first eye.

Besides laughing out loud, I also learned a few new words. You can view them below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

All in all, I can’t wait to read the next one!

 

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Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente

 

This wasn’t the first book of Ms. Valente that I read. And like that one, this book was a beautiful hot mess. Her prose is almost succulent enough that you can bite into it and yet, in the end, you will be left thinking, What did I just read? 

 

Was it a commentary on the Russian Revolution? Was the book about Russian myths? Was it a coming of age story? Or, was it simply fantasy YA? I’d say there was a bit of everything in it!

 

 

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The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

 

A friend who exclusively reads middle-grade fantasy is crazy about this series. Since her taste in books and mine matches, I was excited to get started with this one.

 

It left me both underwhelmed and pleasantly surprised. The writing is crisp in a way that it immerses you in the scene playing before you. Consider the lines below on how the protag had been raised by her single mother:

Maura had decided sometime
before Blue’s birth that it was barbaric to order children about,
and so Blue had grown up surrounded by imperative question
marks.

I also loved the wry humor, which can be seen clearly in the example below:

Calla had once observed that Maura had no pets because her
principles took too much time to take care of.

What I wasn’t that crazy about was the mystery that the story is based on. I liked the characters and mostly enjoyed the book — even though I caught on to the twist pretty early. But the story failed to excite about the mystery. And there was a lot of random stuff going on. The tree that showed the future, for instance, why was it even there?

 

I’d like to continue with this trilogy though.

 

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My Soul to Keep by Rachel Vincent

 

I always enjoy reading anything by Rachel Vincent. Even though this book is majorly YA-flawed, I still enjoyed it because I am used to her writing style. No, I don’t have anything against YA, but certain things like the heroine failing to see that her bf was the demonic drug supplier can only happen in YA books.

 

Anyway, this series has grown on me and I intend to see it through.

 

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Damned by Chuck Palahniuk

 

Another book set in hell. I had been looking for such books because I had landed on the square for it in book bingo. The Cabal book was enough for it but since I had already done the hard work researching them and because I had liked Fight Club, I went ahead with this one too.

 

Normally, it bugs me when a male author writes a female character who is annoyingly smart or just full of themselves. Like these lines below made me wanna smack the heroine:

Such vocabulary props served as my eye shadow, my breast implants, my physical coordination, my confidence. These words: erudite and insidious and obfuscate, served as my crutches.

And it happened many more times. Most of the time, though, the writing was good enough to rescue the book from abandonment. Consider this sample:

Trickling toenails threaten to become full-fledged avalanches which could bury us alive (alive?) in their talus of prickly keratin.

And this one:

That, I think, is the function of Hell: It’s a place of remembering. Beyond that, the purpose of Hell is not so much to forget the details of our lives as it is to forgive them.

I also learned some new words:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Okay, so I have no clue if the jejunum (part of the small intestine that absorbs nutrients from already digested food particles) has its roots in the word, jejune, or not. But it would be cool if it did, right?

 

As you can see, I didn’t do much reading this month. How did you fare?

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review 2018-11-03 21:41
The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two - Catherynne M. Valente
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

Well, that was certainly a ... unique ride.

I have tried so hard to get into the series. The books look beautiful and I love the covers and intriguing titles. I listened to the first two audiobooks, and while I did not love them, I appreciated their uniqueness and creativity. But after this one, I am done with the series. I am just exhausted.

I was a little nervous that Valente read the audiobook as I did not like her reading of the first book (I liked the second book better, which was not narrated by her). In my opinion, she did a much better job reading this one. 

However, I just could not get into the story. Like the first two, it just drags on and on. You meet so many characters and they all have the annoying habit of telling you their life story and their philosophy on life. By the end, I really didn't even care what happened, I just wanted to get through the book so I could be done with the series. 

I swear I tried so hard to like these books, but they are just not right for me. I am calling it quits on this series.
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review 2018-10-25 14:40
The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There - Catherynne M. Valente,S.J. Tucker
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

I will start by saying that I enjoyed the audiobook of this one better than the first. The first audiobook was narrated by the author, a quality that I usually very much enjoy as the author has insight the reader doesn't and it comes across in the way they read, which is a real treat. However, I really disliked Valente's reading of the first book. It was rather dull and monotonous. This one was read by S. J. Tucker who gave a much more lively reading of the book, which made me engage with it more.

The story itself was similar to the first with lots of random encounters and weird adventures. Great descriptions and world building but very slow on the plot. I think one of the main things I don't like about Valente's stories is the amount of backstories she includes. Almost always within five minutes of encountering a new character, the reader is barraged with that character's life story. While this can be interesting, the fact that it happens every single time is a bit annoying. It would have been nice if Valente parsed through her ideas and included the really interesting ones or those pertinent to the plot. Reading the book, it seems the Valente wanted to build up a whole world and didn't care much about the actual story. 

Overall, a good read. The library has the third audiobook (read by the author- we'll see how that goes) so I will continue the series, but not sure if I will finish it. It is an interesting series, but I don't love it.
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review 2018-10-10 01:24
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making - Ana Juan,Catherynne M. Valente
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

Overall, this was an interesting book. As others have said, it is very whimsical and fantastical in its events, characters, and descriptions. Similar in style to The Wizard of Oz series and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, this is the story of a little girl wondering around a strange fairy land and the adventures she has there.

A lot of odd and interesting things happen. There are tons of great descriptions and it is definitely creative. However, I just didn't really get into this one. There were so many cool ideas in it, but I didn't relate to September and much of the narration was rather winding for my taste. Really great world-building, but it just didn't quite piece together for me by the end. 

There were definitely parts I enjoyed, especially meeting the bizarre menagerie of various characters along the way. But I guess I just couldn't really get into the plot. I mostly just felt along for the ride on this one. 

I am planning on listening to the second audiobook (currently in transit to my local library) and hope the story is more developed than this one.
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