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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-08-19 20:41
July 2018 — A Wrap Up

 

Originally published at midureads.wordpress.com on August 19, 2018.

 

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Shifting Shadows: Stories from the World of Mercy Thompson by Patricia Briggs

 

“Silver”

I finally learned how Samuel and Bran became werewolves. The story is dark and violent but that seems fitting.

 

“Roses in Winter”

Asil, an aging werewolf in the Marrok’s pack is more man than beast. An innocent girl, Kara, begins to change all that.

 

“Redemption”

Ben has always been an interesting character in the Mercy series. He is misogynistic and can’t say two words without cursing. He also has a lot of baggage to deal with due to an abusive past. Yet he redeems himself in this story!

 

“Hollow”

I don’t really remember much about this one, except that it felt incomplete. Funny thing is that this one featured Mercy and I loved the one before this and the one before that.

 

“Fairy Gifts”

This is the story of Thomas the vampire who comes back home to repay a favor. I found it boring.

 

“Gray”

Elyna Gray is a vampire who must face the consequences of her actions when she killed the man she loved. Sad but interesting story.

 

“Alpha and Omega”

I have never really cared about the other series. This story takes us back to the first time Marrok’s son Charles met his wife Anna. I found it okayish. You can see the author’s uncertainty about the whole concept of Omega werewolves. She hasn’t gotten there yet and the story suffers for it.

 

“Seeing Eye”

A werewolf Tom meets a witch Moira. Gruesome things happen in this one but I liked it anyway. One thing that bothers me is why the author looks down on witches’ magic and the whole concept that it comes from pain and blood sacrifice. Even when she is describing white magic, it feels as if she is against it. Why though?

 

“The Star of David”

David Christiansen gets a family reunion that gives him a reason to continue living. Scary as heck but a feel-good story.

 

“In Red, with Pearls”

We are allowed to peek into the relationship that the werewolf Warren has with his boyfriend Kyle. While I love em both and together, I wasn’t a fan of this one. Warren was too overprotective of Kyle and not in a good way. I solved the identity of the person who hired the hit as soon as they were mentioned, which took the fun out of the story even more.

 

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Loki: Agent of Asgard, Vols. 1 & 2 by Al Ewing

 

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Classic Loki antics. Plans within plans within plans. I wasn’t crazy about this one but it wasn’t bad either. As usual, Loki is trying to do the right thing in the wrongest of ways and for worse reasons. We see a glimpse of the Avengers in the first one. The second featured Doctor Doom.

 

 

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Ms. Marvel, Vol. 8: Mecca by G. Willow Wilson

 

The humor characteristic of the series is seen in this volume too. Red Dagger shows up in Kamala’s playground. She celebrates Eid-ul-Azha. Kamala also runs away and finds out more people are supporting her and rooting for her than she thought. Captain Marvel makes an appearance and they patch up. In all, a fun installment. Can’t wait to read what happens next! Find my review of the previous volume here.

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The Wilds #1 & 2 by Vita Ayala

 

So, the premise is good. The U.S. plays host to a plague that is slowly turning people into plants. The art is beautiful and the confrontations with those human-plant hybrids are adequately terrifying. Of course, there is a government conspiracy going on that I suppose we’ll find out in about in the next issues. But there seems to be something missing. Mostly though, I couldn’t bring myself to care for any of the characters. That means I dunno if I will be picking up the next in the series.

 

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Moonshine, Vol. 1 by Brian Azzarello

 

A man who works for the mafia is sent to convince a rustic moonshine-maker. His boss wants to be the sole distributor of the amazing liquor. But when the poor guy reaches the place, strange things begin to happen. I liked the dark feel of the comic and the art too. Even so, like The Wilds, the something that would make me rip into the following issues eagerly isn’t there!

 

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Those Left Behind by Joss Whedon

 

The wittiness of the TV series is missing from the graphic novel. It was short and the end came abruptly. The artist translated the facial features of all characters with accuracy, except for Inara’s. She didn’t look right! I am still glad I bought this book because it came with an introduction by Nathan Fillion.

 

It seems I didn’t get much reading done in July and still managed to delay blogging about it. Shit happens! How was July for you?

 

 

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-08-04 16:05
I Review Xenocide by Orson Scott Card
Xenocide - Orson Scott Card

 

Originally published at midureads.wordpress.com on August 4, 2018.

 

I started reading this book at a weird time in my life. A loss that I’m still grieving and new changes make for bad companions. Those reasons could be why I enjoyed reading this book much more than I should have. You’ll see what I mean when I share the two contrasting views that I found myself taking while reading this story and reviewing it.

 

What I liked about this book

 

The two quotes about dealing with grief that hit hard

 

Grief is almost always for the mourner’s loss.

It got me wondering, was that the only reason I cried at my uncle’s funeral? And if it was, was it selfish of me to do so?

…that aching, hollow, half-panicked feeling returned. She isn’t here. I can’t just speak and have her answer. I can’t just ask and have her remember. I can’t just reach and feel her hand. And, most terrible of all: Perhaps I never will again.

While there isn’t a perhaps in my case, this eloquent quote says it all.

 

The two quotes that made me laugh

 

Does Mother know you’re going?

Please be practical, Miro. I have no fear of Satan, but Mother…

This is a conversation between two brothers. One of them is a priest and is going on a religious mission fraught with danger. Both are adults and the situation is a serious one but I have found and enjoyed such light humor in all Ender books.

You’re one tough son of a bitch, aren’t you?

Welders and smiths are tough. Sons of bitches have problems of their own.

Again, the same pair is conversing and the priest ends up swearing and impressing his brother.

 

Other 7 quotes that made this book more enjoyable

 

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What I didn’t like

 

Ender

Ender is quite annoying in this book. When he goes into non-space, he wishes his siblings into existence. One of them is dead, so maybe I could have swallowed that. Even though he is supposed to have created a hegemony and was the root of all evil in Ender’s life…yeah maybe I wouldn’t have bought this one either.

 

The other one is alive and with him yet he chooses to bring a younger version of her back to life. And don’t even get me started on the squickiness of how innocent and beautiful he makes her. Sister, dude. She is your sister, you creep! If this was just done so the author could have characters to base his next novel on, it is a shitty move. Shitty. Move.

 

Ender also seems to have found religion in this book. This is contradictory to the way his character was in the first two books. In fact, the whole heavyhanded way of dealing with religion was odd. There were the piggies — an alien race who were brought to Christianity. Then there was this throwaway line in the book about couples who aren’t interested in premarital sex are the ones that make the society more stable.

 

Miro

 

Another thing that weirded me out was Miro’s miraculous transformation. From the very beginning, we are shown that he is very bitter on account of being handicapped. That is a very ableist stance. Then we see him changing as he stops isolating himself and stops a bloody riot from getting even bloodier. This was a tad more positive but it was ruined when he goes into non-space and comes back healed. What did it all even mean? What purpose did his character serve?

 

The Rest of the Family

 

Irritating and squabbling for no reason. I wanted to smack them all at least once. Another thing that bothered me was that in the previous book, they were the odd ones out. In this one, they have magically become all-important. Xenologists, priests, physicists and brickmakers, almost all of them have a say in how the planet should be run. And even though they are all adults and professionals, most of them behave like toddlers with no regard for the consequences of their actions. What’s more, when one of them is giving all the indications that they will be acting stupidly, the others (and the rest of the planet) do nothing to stop them. Then there is an uproar after the stupid thing is done!

 

Wang Mu

 

A seemingly minor character who starts as a slave and then becomes the source of the cure for a whole population, Wang Mu was irritating at times but bearable. Then all of a sudden, she is fangirling over the long-dead Hegemon. That isn’t all though. The long-dead Hegemon is then recreated by his brother, visits Wang Mu, and flies away with her to take over the world. What is even happening? How much of my disbelief should I be suspending? Like all of it?

 

Deus Ex Machina

 

Faster than light travel isn’t possible. Hundreds of scientists have said so. Yet a physicist jailed for instigating a mob and his brickmaker brother come up with a solution i.e. a supercomputer can wish it into existence by holding the image in her mind. Wait, I am not done yet. While that is happening, the xenologist sister of theirs will hold the image of two things in her mind that will solve all their problems.

 

So, this is what I thought of the book. Feel free to share your thoughts!

 

You can find reviews of book one and two here.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-07-24 19:52
Reading Anniversaries & First-in-a-Series — April Edition

 

I know I am way behind schedule but I have been really busy what with switching jobs, earning money, and losing an important my mamujan (maternal uncle) to Parkinson’s! Please bear with me…

 

2014

 

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Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews

 

So, this is weird. I didn’t have many good reads during the past Aprils. Hopefully, that will change in the future. This book stood out because I read it while still following the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews. The husband-wife duo seemed to write a book that made me like the main leads again — even if I didn’t fall in love with them the way I did with Kate & Curran and still haven’t!

 

 

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The Year-God’s Daughter by Rebecca Lochlann

 

 

Find my review here.

 

2013

 

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Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger

 

Witty characters, a female protagonist, Victorian sensibilities, and impossible situations, this book should have been an instant favorite of mine. It wasn’t! Maybe, it didn’t capture my interest because I read it after finishing The Parasol Protectorate series. It could also be a lack of hilarious courtship between the protags that made it less interesting.

 

Whatever it was, I am glad I continued because the subsequent books are better.

 

 

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The Forever War by Joe Haldeman

 

It has been 5 years since I read this book, so I don’t remember much. What did remain behind was the authentic display of the life of a soldier. It was that and not the story that made me go out and buy the omnibus edition. And it won’t be anything else that will get me to read the graphic novel version either!

 

P.S. I reviewed the prequel here and the second in the series (via infographic– it has skulls in it, so you might wanna check it out) here.

 

 

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The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

 

When I read this book, I felt as if I’d read something that had shades of both Wilde and Dahl. I still feel the same about the subsequent books in this series. There is nonsensical fun and razor-sharp wit that makes me want to keep reading. They aren’t overly long either, so that is another plus. Of course, the protagonist being female and used to fighting her own battles doesn’t detract the reader from its beauty. If I remember correctly, this one featured a villain who had no ulterior motives — he only wanted to destroy the world!

 

More praises here and here

 

For the books read in 2017 and 2018, you know where to go…

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-07-01 13:21
June 2018 — A Wrap Up

 

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Shaman Rises by C. E. Murphy

 

Read my series review here. Meanwhile here are two of my fave quotes from the last book:

 

 

 

Don’t you just love it when a favorite author of yours quotes/alludes to the work of another favorite author?

 

I saw Morrison’s face twitch like he couldn’t believe I was baiting the Master, and also like he couldn’t believe that he couldn’t believe it. It was Schrödinger’s twitch, neither believing nor disbelieving until we got out of here alive.

 

But then that is how Jo does things! She dares where she shouldn’t and that is one of the reasons this series was fun to read.

 

 

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Soulless by Gail Carriger (Manga)

 

Some books are just too beautiful and the manga series for the Parasol Protectorate books is one of them! I love how the characters are drawn. Ms. Carriger’s wit shines brightly in each dialogue. Mostly, I have trouble believing I have these books in my life and on my shelf. Thanks to my sister who would get me the moon and who visited Seattle, I do! I intend to savor these three books and so am taking my time reading them.

You can check out the covers on my Instagram.

 

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Tarnished and Torn by Juliet Blackwell 

 
 
View image on Twitter
 

Juliet Blackwell's giving me major @judypost vibes. Her books have the same patient way of deepening into interesting plots and create a homey feeling that keeps you reading long into the night!

 

 

This succinctly explains why I keep returning to the series. A few weeks will have gone by and I’ll suddenly think of the next book to read from this series. That is all it takes for me to start reading!

 

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Shadow Study by Maria V. Snyder

 

I dunno what it is but Yelena has started to piss me off. It could be her attitude towards others or her magic. Either way, I am finding it more and more difficult to like her with each new book I read. Valek, on the other hand, has become less of the token YA hero and in the process of being fleshed out into an actual character. In this book, we are shown how life has been for him and the training he has received to end up where he did. I have always liked the connection he has had with Ambrose. Yet it seems to be coming to an end and quick. The supporting characters were their usual entertaining selves. We are also introduced to a new character with a history of having been abused. She comes across as prickly and immature at times but I liked her tenacity.

 

Would all this be enough to get me to read the next book in the series? Let’s find out!

 

 

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Romeo Redeemed by Stacey Jay

 

I don’t even know where to begin. Okay, wait I do:

He is a liar!

No, he loves me!

He is a murderer!

No, he loves me!

He is a traitor!

No, he loves me!

This goes on until the very end, which happened on a happy note. Not impressed. At all.

 

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Sleepy Hollow #2-4 by Marguerite Bennett

 

I found these to be all right.

 

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Shards of Hope by Nalini Singh

 

Much better than the last one. I am only reviewing this one because I enjoyed reading it. The lead couple seemed beyond redemption but that was the only cliched part. The time they took in coming closer, discovering each other, and initiating physical contact of any sort seemed realistic.

 

Another thing that I liked was how hard the author worked to show us how Arrows lived their lives. Simple kindness was a concept unknown to them because they had never been on the receiving end of it. The main characters connected with the shifter alpha and conveyed how inept they were at this. Small changes that slowly lead to better lives for these soldiers were fun to watch.

 

Ms. Singh expertly introduced another shifter pack in this book and took us just a little deeper into the world of the water changelings, as well. There are no signs of this series ending, especially with all the characters to be written about.

 

What I didn’t like was how quickly the problem of the bad guy was solved. Yeah, I know he wasn’t the Big Bad but the story had been setting him up that way. So much evil and all it took was half a page of writing to extinguish it,

 

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Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs

 

So many reasons for me to have loved this book:

 

The Humor

 

 

Galina, of course, is a ghost who is trying to help a caged Mercy from a golem or rather The Golem. All she manages to do is roll around the head of a decapitated vampire. It was funny. You had to be there, okay?

 

The Mercy

 

She was completely herself…outmaneuvered, overpowered, and with no chances of escape. Once or twice, she even took out some time to wallow in self-pity but that didn’t last long. Mercy is used to being the weakest player in any supernatural game. So, she doesn’t let that hold her back for long.

 

The Adam

 

The book gave us Adam’s POV, which I loved. Another thing was how Adam was pitted against people who were stronger than he was. He was out of his depth and couldn’t afford to start a war with the vampires. While all of that was happening, Mercy was far away from him, having been kidnapped from right outside their home. In short, he was putting up with shit that Mercy has had to deal with all her life lol

There is also his acceptance that Mercy is going to be drawn wherever trouble brews. In fact, she doesn’t realize this truth but he does and had made his peace with it. This is how the scene goes when they are finally reunited:

 

Start of Spoiler

 

(spoiler show)

“I killed the Golem of Prague—for real this time,” I told him. “After I used him to kill all the vampires. I don’t know how many he killed. Lots, I think. Mary figured out how to mass-produce vampires, though I gather they had quite an expiration date. The problem was he didn’t want to stop with the vampires. Your help was the only reason all of the people in the Jewish Quarter aren’t dead.”

(spoiler show)

 

End of Spoiler

 

A guy who doesn’t lose it after being faced with such an information overload is someone who has already accepted life with Mercy is going to be exciting!

 

The Relationship

 

The faith he had in Mercy being able to take care of herself was one of my favorite things about this book. It was the same trust that Mercy placed in him. That didn’t stop them from taking action where needed. I think they have never been stronger than they are in this book.

 

The Surprise

 

Oh boy! I mean it made complete sense when it was revealed but I loved the juiciness of it. I am so glad I didn’t let the previous book keep me from reading this one!

 

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Black Magick, Vols. 1 & 2 by Greg Rucka

 
Okay, this was equal parts scary and intriguing. I haven’t yet started connecting with the characters but I am liking where the story is heading.
 
 

 

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Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d by Alan Bradley

 

I just love how poetic Flavia sometimes gets even with such a scientific mind. Look at this piece of writing:

I want to know who I am before it is too late — before I am no longer the same person — before I becomes someone different. Although there are days when this seems a furious race against time, there are others when it seems to matter a tinker’s curse.

Combined with the reticent father she has had for a parent, her mom’s death, and her sisters’ scathing behavior towards her, it is words like these that make the reader feel deeply for Flavia.

 

Dogger will remain my fave character from these books. He is broken too just like Flavia is but in a completely different way. Below is a sample from a conversation he has with her:

Do you have any brothers or sisters, Dogger?

Yes I do, Miss Flavia. Do you wish me to tell you about them?

No.

Thank you.

I love how he looks out for Flavia without seeming to; it could be why her father can pretend not to care about the trouble she regularly gets into!

 

Flavia also says things like:

 

 

Oh, and the ending just broke my heart even though I saw it coming. Can’t wait to see the direction this series will take now!

 

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Vallista by Steven Brust 

 

Remember the thing that I said at the beginning of the post? Here are the opening words:

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a human assassin in possession of an important mission must be in want of a target.

 
 As you can expect, I got a chuckle out of it.
 
While Vlad spends his life acting like an idiot, what makes these books worth reading are two things:
 
The repartee between Vlad and his familiar, Loiosh. I find it really funny. Consider this scene where they have spotted a huge white monster disappearing around a corner:
 
Are we going after it, Boss?
After it? Are you nuts? What if we caught it?
I love it when you break out in common sense.
(I kept walking.)
Boss, you said…
We aren’ going after it. We’re just going in the same direction.
 
Vlad believing that he is a tough guy who doesn’t stick out his neck for anyone and yet that is exactly what he manages to do every time! He gives a damn, which is why he is a likable character.
 
 
 
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The Black Tower by P. D. James

 

Typical Dalgliesh story that kept me hanging on every word until I finished it!

 
This is what I have been up to in June. What have you been doing?

 

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-06-15 15:10
The Walker Papers Series by C.E. Murphy Comes to an End

 

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

 

I started reading this series back in 2012. Now that I have finished it, I am going to miss reading about Joanne’s road to self-discovery and some amazing male characters — who didn’t take over her story or act like assholes.
 
Above is an infographic on why I loved this series the way I did!
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