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Search tags: july-14
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text 2018-08-03 21:59
Samsung Steps Challenge: Beach (July)

 

 

If you're into shit like this, read on.

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review 2018-08-02 19:37
Master of Plagues / E.L. Tettensor
Master of Plagues - E.L. Tettensor

Having barely escaped the clutches of the Darkwalker, Inspector Nicolas Lenoir throws himself into his work with a determination he hasn’t known in years. But his legendary skills are about to be put to the test. A horrific disease is ravaging the city—and all signs point to it having been deliberately unleashed.

With a mass murderer on the loose, a rising body count, and every hound in the city on quarantine duty, the streets of Kennian are descending into mayhem, while Lenoir and his partner, Sergeant Bran Kody, are running out of time to catch a killer and find a cure.

Only one ray of hope exists: the nomadic Adali, famed for their arcane healing skills, claim to have a cure. But dark magic comes at a price, one even the dying may be unwilling to pay. All that’s left to Lenoir is a desperate gamble. And when the ashes settle, the city of Kennian will be changed forever...

 

So, I have now finished all the published works by this author that I know of, and I’ll be seeing her at the When Words Collide conference in just over a week. Overall, I have to say that I like her writing. I didn’t like this book quite as much as I did the first one of the Nicolas Lenoir series, but that was probably just me—I’ve managed to overload myself just a bit lately and I’m feeling a bit pressured to read and read fast to make library deadlines, rather than reading as my spirit leads me!

As it was, right about half way through this book, the plot grabbed me and I then went fast & furious to the ending. Although this plot line is wrapped up, I have the sense there may be a third book in the offing and I’ll definitely keep an eye out for it. There are still issues to be dealt with, namely Lenoir and his junior partner Kody need to sort out their professional relationship and Lenoir needs to make some arrangements about orphan Zach too. It seems a bit harsh to rely on the kid for information but not make his life good enough that he can leave pick-pocketing behind.

Now that I think about it, although this book inhabits the same fantasy world as the first volume, this was a more prosaic plot line, with human enemies rather than paranormal ones. This rather dismal Victorian-esque world is well suited to the paranormal, so use of a plague as the main problem was a bit disappointing.

Nevertheless, I will be interested to hear the author’s perspectives on writing and writers at the conference.

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text 2018-08-02 02:36
July Books

I read 33 books this month with an average score of 3.89 stars. 18 of my books were young adult and 7 were graphic novels. My most-read genres were contemporary and romance.

 

 My favorite books are quite a bit different from each other. Bygone Badass Broads: 52 Forgotten Women Who Changed the World - Mackenzi Lee,Ms. Petra Eriksson is a nonfiction book featuring women who aren't well-known in history, and Bodysuit Fetish - Uni Yamasaki is a BL manga where one of the main characters has a fabric fetish and gets the other to model for him in exchange for costume designing skills. My least favorite book was Dark Nights: Metal: Deluxe Edition - Greg Capullo,Scott Snyder which was a big crossover in the DC universe where the Dark Multiverse is discovered and beings from there (led by Dark Knights/evil Batmen) invade Earth.

 

 

5 Stars

The Universe is Expanding and So Am I - Carolyn Mackler Unmasked by the Marquess - Cat Sebastian My Lady's Choosing: An Interactive Romance Novel - Kitty Curran,Larissa Zageris  Bodysuit Fetish - Uni Yamasaki  Bygone Badass Broads: 52 Forgotten Women Who Changed the World - Mackenzi Lee,Ms. Petra Eriksson  

 

 

4.5 Stars

Anger Is a Gift - Mark Oshiro Smoke in the Sun - Renee Ahdieh  The Last Time I Lied - Riley Sager  Always and Forever, Lara Jean - Jenny Han 

 

4 Stars

Our Little Secret - Roz Nay  Public Relations - Katie Heaney,Arianna Rebolini  The Kiss Quotient - Helen Hoang  The Word is Murder - Anthony Horowitz  The Art of Feeling - Laura Tims  Mystik U - Alisa Kwitney,Mike Norton,Jordie Bellaire  The Fragile Ordinary - Samantha Young  My Plain Jane - Brodi Ashton,Cynthia Hand,Jodi Meadows  The Masked Tutor and the Innocent Shut-In - Arakata Wonder Woman/Conan - Aaron Lopresti,Gail Simone  Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, Vol.1 - Brian Michael Bendis,Sara Pichelli   A Poison Dark and Drowning (Kingdom on Fire, Book Two) - Jessica Cluess  

 

3.5 Stars

From Twinkle, with Love - Sandhya Menon Nothing Happened - Molly Booth Wild Bird - Wendelin Van Draanen 

 

3 Stars

Neverworld Wake - Marisha Pessl Kill All Happies - Rachel Cohn A Daring Sacrifice - Jody Hedlund  Rebel of the Sands - Alwyn Hamilton A Sister's All You Need., Vol 1 (light novel) - Yomi Hirasaka Rules of Rain - Leah Scheier  Backfield Boys: A Football Mystery in Black and White - John Feinstein  Tyler Johnson Was Here - Jay Coles 

 

2.5 Stars

Dark Nights: Metal: Deluxe Edition - Greg Capullo,Scott Snyder 

 

Books by author gender:

  • Male: 7
  • Female: 23
  • Male/Female Mix: 1
  • Unknown: 2

 

Books by format:

  • Physical: 20
  • Audio: 13

 

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review 2018-08-01 02:33
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine - Gail Honeyman

This is my RL's book club selection for August, and seeing as how I skipped the last two (one of which I genuinely forgot about), I felt obliged to give this a chance.  Luckily a friend and fellow BC member loaned me her copy.

 

I actually DNFd it at the end of chapter 2.  Put it down and actually said out loud, 'no, I'm not reading this crap'.  Scenarios of possible book club meeting outcomes played through my head and my inner voice said 'you really haven't read enough to justify your ire'.  So, I made myself pick it up again.

 

Is this a compelling story?  Yes, it absolutely is.  I tore through the book in one sitting yesterday.  There's a lot of talent in the writing and the telling.  

 

There were just two problems for me:  1. I just didn't like a lot of it.  This is subjective, of course; the story just isn't my thing.   2. The story was fundamentally flawed because there were a number of basic inconsistencies to Eleanor's character.  These inconsistencies aren't subjective and can't be explained away by story events, even though the story events are horrific enough to allow for plenty of inconsistent behaviour.

 

Eleanor is, from the beginning, framed as a super-rational, automaton-like woman with a very expansive vocabulary, a formality of speech that approaches legalese, a scrupulously balanced diet, and a perfectly timed, strictly adhered to routine.  She hoards prescription pain meds, and goes through 2 full bottles of vodka every weekend.  Fine so far in terms of consistency.  

 

But then she meets Raymond, who smokes, and she wastes no time telling him in detail why smoking is vile and unhealthy; when he comments on her knowledge, she tells him its because she considered taking up smoking but as she always researches everything before trying anything, she discarded the idea.  Now, if she researches everything, and discarded smoking because it's detrimental to health, then a personality such as Elenor's would also research alcohol and likewise refrain from systematically drinking 2 large bottles every weekend.

 

I understand cracks in the facade, but really, Eleanor is so rigid at the start you question whether she's on the autistic spectrum; it implies a level of personal discipline that doesn't allow for vodka flavoured cracks.

 

Eleanor's past is a dark and pretty horrific one (Trigger warnings for physical and emotional abuse), but she wasn't raised in isolation.  In fact she's in the foster system from the age of 10, so it's stretching the bounds of incredulity when she visits a McDonalds for the first time and describes a filet o' fish sandwich as though she were an alien visitor to this planet, saying it was her very first visit to a fast food establishment and how she finds fast food repellent and unhealthy.  Hard to believe when you've spent 7 years in a Foster care system that you've never experienced fast food, but, ok.  Where the real inconsistency lies is when she goes home and has spaghetti hoops for dinner, which I'm assuming are the British version of spaghetti-o's, a particularly vile nutritional wasteland in a can.  

 

At one point later on, she comments on someone wearing jeans and jean jacket, saying she never knew you could turn denim in to a suit.  A small thing I'd not have noticed, except I was already inclined to rack up inconsistencies.  She grew up in London and she's now living in a large Scottish city and she finds someone wearing jeans and a jean jacket odd?  I'd have said on any random night in any metropolitan city, a denim ensemble would be amongst the least of the outstanding sartorial choices.  There's no way you walk through a major city for 7 years and find jeans and denim jacket weird.

 

At the end - and this is purely an outright editing error - there are two news articles dated about 6 weeks apart.  The first one says something along the lines of "the victim, aged 10, cannot be named because of privacy laws" (she said it better, but I don't have the book at hand).  The very next article proceeds to name her - first and last name - multiple times.  Guess that underage privacy law was repealed in those 6 weeks.

 

There's a massive plot twist (this is a HUGE spoiler - you've been warned):

Sixth-sense style, which I caught early on and had confirmed halfway through when someone asked Eleanor where her mother was and she said "I don't know".

(spoiler show)

 

So it's a compelling story, but a very inconsistent one.  A book that relies as heavily as this one does on emotional extremes deserved to have had a much more pedantic editor, as befits a pedantic character.  Eleanor had a horrific childhood and is broken in more than a few places, but she lived in the world; participated in it, yet we're presented with a character who might as well be a newly arrived visitor to planet Earth.  Even though I liked Eleanor, and found her funny, and agreed with her views on text-speak, I just couldn't buy into her reality.  Like Eleanor, I value consistency, and this story just wasn't.

 

Your mileage may vary.

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review 2018-07-31 19:46
Jade City / Fonda Lee
Jade City - Fonda Lee

FAMILY IS DUTY. MAGIC IS POWER. HONOR IS EVERYTHING.

Magical jade—mined, traded, stolen, and killed for—is the lifeblood of the island of Kekon. For centuries, honorable Green Bone warriors like the Kaul family have used it to enhance their abilities and defend the island from foreign invasion.

Now the war is over and a new generation of Kauls vies for control of Kekon's bustling capital city. They care about nothing but protecting their own, cornering the jade market, and defending the districts under their protection. Ancient tradition has little place in this rapidly changing nation.

When a powerful new drug emerges that lets anyone—even foreigners—wield jade, the simmering tension between the Kauls and the rival Ayt family erupts into open violence. The outcome of this clan war will determine the fate of all Green Bones—from their grandest patriarch to the lowliest motorcycle runner on the streets—and of Kekon itself.

 

Recommended for people who love both The Godfather and kung fu movies.

I found I really had to be in the right mood to get started with this book (and it took me longer than usual to read it). I started it 3 or 4 times before I finally made it beyond the first few pages and discovered what a marvelous world Fonda Lee has created here. So it wasn’t the book at fault, it was my mood.

This is a fantasy world, where jade mined from the country of Kekon has magical qualities and some of the people of the realm have a special sensitivity to the stone. They get extra-special powers when they wear the stones, turning a regular person into someone with extra-strength, super-perception, etc. (they are known in Kekon as Green Bones). It’s real Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon stuff.

But this is very, very much a book about the two clans who uneasily share the city of Janloon, the No Peak clan and the Mountain clan. And let me tell you, they could give the Mafia a run for their money! It’s all about honour, family, & clan. May the gods help you if you disrespect any of these or if you try to trade loyalties!

The reader comes to know the main members of the No Peak clan intimately. There’s Lan, the Pillar (like the CEO) of the clan; Hilo, the Horn (the enforcer); and Shae, the sister who is trying to forge her own way in the world and separate herself from the gang lifestyle that she grew up with.

This is an extremely well-written, well-realized fantasy world. To my caucasian, North American eyes, this was exotic stuff, but I always knew what Lee was writing about, what she was trying to do. I loved her complex system of magic and the rules that governed it. If you’re sensitive about violence, I would say, “Set this book down and walk away. Jade City is not for you.” That’s one of the reasons why it took me so long to read the book—I could only take so much death & destruction per day.

This author will be at the conference that I’m attending in mid-August and I will definitely be fan-girling.

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