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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 SPOILER ALERT! 2018-11-23 21:42
Reading Anniversaries & First-in-a-Series — August Edition
 
Originally published at midureads.wordpress.com on November 23, 2018.

 

 

2018

 

Go here for the books I read in August this year!

 

2017

 

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A Plague of Angels by Sheri S. Tepper

 

My review

 

 

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Raptor Red by Robert T. Bakker

 

My review

 

 

2016

 

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The Unadulterated Cat by Terry Pratchett

 

My review

 

2015

 

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Samurai Jack, Vol. 1 by Jim Zub

 

As fun as the cartoon had been!

 

 

2014

 

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The Gate to Women's Country by Sheri S. Tepper

 

I'm beginning to appreciate Tepper's writing I think. This book started the way most books based on a dichotomous society would start. The women were good for breeding and whoring. The men enlisted in the military and lorded over the women. But the twist at the end took me by surprise! Read my appreciation of her other book here.

 

2013

 

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Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

 

While political strife forms the backdrop in this book, our focus is on one family trying to get through all the chaos in one piece. I loved every bit of this book! This was my first book by Adichie and I can't wait to try the others.

 

 

2012

 

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Coyote Blue by Christopher Moore

 

Irreverent as heck but laugh out loud funny is how I'd describe Moore's humor. In this book, a conman meets The Conman i.e. Coyote, the trickster god. Hilarity ensues!

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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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4

 

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:

 

1

 

 

2

 

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 SPOILER ALERT! 2018-11-03 21:41
Reading Anniversaries & First-in-a-Series — July Edition

 

Originally published at midureads.wordpress.com on November 3, 2018.

 

2017

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Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson

 

This was my first encounter with Kamala Khan and boy did I love what I read! What made her an authentic character were her lifelike issues, including those of being a teenager, a superhero coming into her powers, of trying to find her place in the world, and of being a Muslim American girl. She wanted to eat bacon, for instance, but couldn't because of her religious beliefs. She wanted to be able to just worry about her school, but she couldn't because she was a superhero with a job to do. So far, the series has stayed true to what makes it unique. I hope it does that in the future too.

 

Read my reviews of other volumes here and here.

 

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Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes by Thomas Cathcart, Daniel Klein

 

If there is one subject that I have always found boring, it is philosophy. That remained the case no matter how hard I tried until, i.e., I found this book. Hilarious and light, it walks you through complicated philosophical concepts like you are out for a walk in the park...or a bar!

 

Complete review here.

 

2015

 

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Alex + Ada by Jonathan Luna

 

I hadn't started reading many comics and graphic novels back when I read this series. To my surprise, not only did I like it, but I also connected with the characters. Like most awesome literature, this one is based in a dystopian world. I binged through the whole series before I could pace myself. Hope others will give it a chance too.

 

2014

 

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Kraken by China Miéville

 

It isn't that China Miéville's books are full of action or just really good stories. Well, they might be all that too. But if I remember correctly, this one was a collection of very random situations that somehow came together to give us a conclusion. Yet, I didn't want to put the book down even once. It was that good!

 

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Helens of Troy by Janine MsCaw

 

** spoiler alert **


What I liked: T
he book was fun- the ladies (all three of them) were crazy and stubborn but they delivered when the occasion called for it. That there were more secrets to unveil- a sequel would be awesome.


What I didn't like: T
he rest of the characters were as fun to read about- Tom, Ryan, poor Stan, and Jacey.

Would have liked a bit more about Jacey's baby- whether the vampire was bluffing and how did he found out about the kid, anyway.

there wasn't any information about how the wraith brothers teamed up with the vampire in the first place. Really fun read- demon nannies, vampire godsons, exorcizing runaway husbands, berserker football players, and ghost dads; the book has it all- & I would love to meet the grandmother-I'm sure she kicks ass too. She won't be on the Devil's hit list otherwise!

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The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

 

** spoiler alert ** 


This is the book to read if you like a little science in your zombie fiction. The author uses a fungal agent as the cause of zombieism. The fungus, ophiocordyceps unilateralis, is real. It infects and zombifies certain ants. 
It even has favorites among the same types of ants!


Not only did I love the sciencey bits, I remember starting that book cold. I hadn’t read any reviews and as a result, the moment when I realized who the little girl could be was delicious! Read this book, if you don’t read any other zombie fiction!

 

2013

 

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I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

 

I dunno what I can say about this book that hasn't been said about it already. Asimov wrote a definitive book that all future sci-fi robot-based books are inspired by. What do you say about such work?

More reviews of Asimov books here.

 

 

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Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson

 

I don't remember much about this book, except that I really liked it. Some of the scenes read like they were from The Exorcist but with a decidedly Mediterranean flavor. Others were simply Aladdin-ish. In short, the book was a lot of fun.

 

 

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Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

 

Okay, I hate reading popular books at their height of popularity. Dunno why I made an exception for this one, but I am so glad I did! The twist was beautifully done. Ooh, and I loved the movie too.

 

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The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

 

I don't like everything that I read by Neil Gaiman. But this book is one of my absolute favorites. Whether it was the callousness of the villains who'd harm a baby or the open-heartedness of the people whose hearts had stopped beating, I loved every bit. Weirdly, I found this book to be less dark than Coraline and that one was aimed at kids!

 

Another review here.

 

 

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The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

 

Funny as heck and quite spontaneous. Most books in this series seem to be following no discernible plot. That becomes a turn off as you continue with the series. But the humor is good in this one and as long as I didn't binge, it made for an enjoyable read. Funnily enough, I have yet to meet someone who liked both the first book and the movie like I did.

 

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1984 by George Orwell

 

Another classic. I loved how authentic it felt and how dangerously close the real world teeters to becoming Orwellian. For a slim book, it takes some time to finish because it becomes a bit boring at certain times. My favorite parts were about the new dictionary that was being prepared. To a writer, no word is redundant because they all mean different things — even synonyms. Red isn't scarlet and neither is crimson. Reading about words just being unmade hurt the writer in me. But it has only made me appreciate my vocabulary. So, I am really glad that I read this one.

 

2012

 

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Wastes of Space by Darcy Town

 

Wow!
This book had me laughing out loud!
The humor kinda reminded me of the book, Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi.
I enjoyed every second I spent reading this book.
I wanted to hit Danny over the head for being so stubborn and getting Theo killed-nope, didn’t feel sorry for Keto even once!
I started to feel weird and grossed out when I first started liking the Hunters but they came through in the end.
Rake was..clean Rake was almost too much to take and I kept thinking, Poor Ravail, what have you gotten yourself into!
Ravail came a long way from being a scared kid to a woman who could mouth off to Rake!
The last scenes were hilarious– everybody ended up in space.
Can’t wait to read the next book!

 

 

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Something from the Nightside by Simon R. Green

 

I love the Nightside novels now but back when I just started reading it, it reminded me too much of Harry Dresden books. Almost gave up on them too, but thankfully, I developed this craving to read the next one in the series. These days, I prefer the Nightside to Dresdenverse!

 

More reviews here and here.

 

 

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Akhet by H.L. Reasby

 

** spoiler alert ** I received this book from Making Connections for free, in exchange of, an honest review. Get your copy here.

 

I really enjoyed this book for various reasons:
anything that has to do with mythology always attracts me and the author incorporated Egyptian mythology into this story beautifully.
the action begins with the first page and keeps going!
the story kept me interested throughout and it was the right length.
I liked how Nur/Nicole knew some things instinctively while she had to work to get better at others.
Another thing I liked about this book was that it can be read as a stand alone.
Looking forward to reading the next in the series.

 

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Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

 

A cute book about books. Read it for a bookish challenge and found out that it is a good book to relax with on a lazy day. I'll just say that it bogged down just a bit before the end. But it picked up its pace again quickly.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-10-03 10:56
Reading Anniversaries & First-in-a-Series — June Edition

 

Originally published at midureads.wordpress.com on October 3, 2018.

 

 

2018

 

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Soulless: The Manga, Vol. 1 by Gail Carriger

 

Oh, this was such a pretty book! It stayed true to the story from the novels, making me laugh and fall in love with the series all over again. The art is just so manga-ey that you can’t help but like it.  My initial thoughts on reading it can be found here.

 

2015

 

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The Dresden Files: Storm Front, Volume 1: The Gathering Storm by Jim Butcher

 

Another novel converted to graphic novel format. While Ms. Carriger’s humor shines through in both novel formats, I didn’t find the same to be true for Butcher. Even so, if I can stick to this series with its problematic treatment of female characters, I can stomach the graphic novels too. Did that sound like somebody was forcing me to read them? Lol

 

2013

 

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Undead and Unwed by MaryJanice Davidson

 

Betsy came into my life when I needed a reprieve from the real world. She might be shallow and it might take her like 9 books to realize that, but she still makes me laugh. Her magnetic ability to attract trouble no matter where she goes reminds me of Mercy of the Mercedes Thompson fame. Her tenacity has shades of Kate Daniels from another favorite series of mine. But most of all, I love her for the way she sticks up for those she considers family!

 

 

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The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente

 

This is one book that I wish I had found when I was a kid — or had been written back then. I think I’d have appreciated it more? Anyway, it has the charm of the Dahl books but there is a dark undercurrent to them that makes them scary. But in a good way. Fine job I’m doing of explaining why I like this series, right? But I do!

 

 

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The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

 

Gaiman’s books either wow me or they don’t i.e. there is no middle ground. But I never not like them. Does that make sense? For instance, I wasn’t a fan of American Gods but I loved Coraline and this one. TOATEOTL had this surreal feel to it that never let up. Despite being a short story, I felt like I connected with the characters in it too.

 

 

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Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon by Spider Robinson

 

This book has an old-timey sci-fi-ish feel to it that instantly resonated with me. I am also a fan of anthologies and short story compilations. To me, they present a varied meal where I sample different dishes and decide which ones i loved. Like most books of its genre and time, it isn’t overly long. Another plus in my case! I also reviewed the second book in this series.

 

2012

 

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The Emerald City by J.A. Beard

 

** spoiler alert ** This was such a refreshing book! Another YA novel that I’d recommend to those of us who aren’t too into them. The book had everything: a teenager who acted her age was smart and kicked butt-not dumb enough to dismiss the strange ongoings in her school like most YA protagonists would have done.characters that kept me interested throughout — Nick’s zombieness made him all the more fun and Lydia was cute. It had the right beginning and a balanced ending — the book wasn’t too long either.there were some spelling mistakes, yes.the humor was done just right. It was fun, witty and a quick read — I just couldn’t put the book down till I was done reading.

 

 

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Undermountain by Eric Kent Edstrom

 

** spoiler alert ** I got this book from Making Connections for free, in exchange of an honest review.The action started from the get-go and it never stopped.


It has been so long since I enjoyed a YA novel this much and didn’t end up wanting to hit every character over the head-well, maybe Shiv, at times!


My favorite character was Grizz for obvious reasons. TogYip were cute too.


The transformation that each teenager goes through by the end of their journey (as Harvin was kind to observe for us) made the story even better.


The romance or sprinklings of it was just the right amount.


There were a few spelling mistakes which I noticed though.


The descriptions of the city of Bigfeet were sufficient without being boring.I loved every bit of it!

2011

 

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The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht

 

Sadly, I don’t remember much about this one, just that I loved it. It was a simple, touching story about a family. That much I do remember!

 

So those were my faves from various Junes of various years. Hope you had fun reading about it!

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