Archive | November 2016

December 2016 Reading Goals and TBR

How can tomorrow be December 1?  It seems like 2016 just began.

I have high hopes that I will have a stellar reading month in December so I’ve set high goals for myself.  To keep up with things, I’ve broken the books into three categories.

First, well, is the ‘shame’ category.  There are two books that I didn’t finish in November.

  • The Fires of Heaven by Robert Jordan (currently reading – at 60%).  The truth is that I found my mind wandering a few times when I tried to read this.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a great book but there are certain things I will need to tell you about in my review.
  • Once Broken Faith by Seanan McGuire.  I very much wanted to read this right after Thanksgiving but I told myself I had to finish The Fires of Heaven first.  C’est la vie.

img_3107

The next group includes my regular ‘to read’ books for the month.

  • The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie
  • Three Act Tragedy by Agatha Christie
  • The Tourist by Olen Steinhauer (I borrowed this one from a friend a few months ago and MUST get it read this month so I can be a better friend and return it.)
  • Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson (I need a Sanderson fix.)
  • Lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan (trying to work my way through the thousands of pages that are The Wheel of Time.)

img_3109

The final, and my favorite, category is my Christmas reads.  I plan to read these on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day while drinking coffee and relaxing with my husband and fur babies.

  • A Charlie Brown Christmas by Charles Schulz (funny story – I ordered this on Amazon to add to my Christmas list and let’s just say that I didn’t realize it was a mini.  At least it’s cute.)
  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  • A Christmas Story by Jean Shepherd (I read this every Christmas day; usually while watching the movie.)
  • Murder for Christmas by Agatha Christie
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

img_3108

What are you planning to read in December?  Let me know if you have any books that you read each Christmas.

Happy Holidays!!

Review: The Shadowed Sun (Dreamblood #2) by NK Jemisin

11774295-2

NK Jemisin is in a class of her own as a fantasy writer.  Her stories are exceptional and worth reading in and of themselves.  The world building and character development receive top marks as well.  But what knocks it out of the park is her ability to write so thoughtfully about issues like racial and gender equality, political maneuverings and the complicated thing that is love.  She does it in such a way that it becomes part of the story (which makes it so much more powerful versus those cases where you feel, as a reader, that you are being preached to or lectured).

The Shadowed Sun contains several of the same characters as The Killing Moon but focuses on Hanani, the first female Sharer in the Hetawa.  She is tasked with helping the exiled Prince, Wanahomen, free Gujaareh from Kisua rule.

I would love to have the room here to quote the entire book (it’s that good) but I’m going to choose one quote from the passage where Hanani realizes that what she’s been doing in the Hetawa isn’t working.  The wisdom comes from her new friend Yanassa.

“You will never be a man, Hanani, no matter how tightly you bind your breasts.  You don’t want to be a man.  And they may never accept you, no matter how well you follow their rules and ape their behavior.  So why shouldn’t you embrace what you are?  And serve in whatever damned way you want!”

Hanani faltered, thrown by the very idea.  Only then did it occur to her: what she did would be regarded as a precedent, if ever another woman sought to join the Hetawa.  Everything she did, all that she achieved, would set the pattern.

And Yanassa was right about something else.  She had tried, again and again, to do things the way her fellow Sharers had done them.  She had worked harder, trained longer, humbled and stifled herself in an effort to be perfect – and still Yehamwy had been afraid of her.  Still some of her fellows saw her, not as a Servant of Hananja, but as a woman pretending to be one.

There was no peace in continuing to do what had already proven unworkable.  Sometimes tradition itself disrupted peace, and only newness could smooth the way.

5/5 stars.

Mini-Review: Black Coffee (Hercule Poirot #7) by ???

16352

Well, that didn’t work out.

When I began working my way through the Hercule Poirot series, Black Coffee was added to the list just like any others that were indicated as part of the series. When I pulled it out to read in November, I realized that it wasn’t like the other books.  While Agatha Christie’s name is at the top in big, bold letters, you can see in the small print that it was “adapted as a novel by Charles Osborne”.  Christie wrote a play and after Christie’s death, her estate allowed Osborne to adapt it into a novel.  I have to say that this is a pet peeve of mine – I despise using a famous author’s name to sell a book that wasn’t truly written by them. And, I wish I wasn’t a completer (defined as someone who must finish all of a series no matter what).

Black Coffee, the novel, is not good.  It is an amateur’s attempt to write like a legend and – HER. ESTATE. ALLOWED. IT.  I know this word is overused but, truly, shame.

This is only getting the 2nd star because the story (imagined by Christie) is a good one.  It’s the execution that suffers.

2/5 stars.

Mini-Review: Eeny Meeny (Helen Grace #1) by MJ Arlidge

23398806

I find new books through many different sources.  Goodreads, blog posts and random walks through the bookstore.  In the case of Eeny Meeny, I saw a Facebook post from Mike Greenberg (the ESPN host, of all people).  For some reason the premise seemed intriguing so I picked it up at the used bookstore.

The good:

  • Fast, easy read
  • Female main character
  • A decent start to what might be a promising series

 

The bad:

  • I figured out the big twist before the 50% mark.
  • Helen Grace, our female MC, is supposed to be a strong, tough female detective.  Here’s the problem – she is written, by a man, as a man’s version of a strong woman.  I’m not being clear enough so I’ll say it in a different way – she is written as a male fantasy of a strong woman.  She goes to a dom to be beaten.  She drives a motorcycle. She puts up walls and closes people off but then has sex with a coworker.  All of this is fine and can work if done well.  But, here, it’s presented in a fashion that is close to offensive.

Because it was a fairly enjoyable read, I plan to give the series another shot with book two. I’m hoping that the author will iron out the rough spots in Helen’s character development.

2.5/5 stars.

Audiobook Review: 4:50 From Paddington (Miss Marple #8) by Agatha Christie

Written by: Agatha Christie

Read by: Emilia Fox

Run time: 8 hours 9 minutes

This is my first audiobook that I’m listening to before reading the actual book.  And, I have to say that I was able to follow the story and enjoy much more than I expected.

Emilia Fox did an outstanding job – both with her voice (inflections, etc. that hold a listener’s interest) and with the different characters.

And, Mrs. Christie got me again.  I thought I knew whodunit but I was wrong.  Dead wrong.

5/5 stars and my favorite audiobook so far.

Review: Jade Dragon Mountain (Li Du #1) by Elsa Hart

26114289

Somewhere on the internets, I saw Jade Dragon Mountain recommended by an author that I follow (honestly, I can’t even remember who that was right now).  I thought the cover was beautiful so I read the synopsis online.  It wasn’t my typical read – set in 1700’s China – but it intrigued me.  When I was able to find a used copy, I immediately added it to my huge TBR pile.

The Good:

Li Du is a fascinating character.  He was exiled years ago by the Emperor for, well, being near someone who was found guilty of treason.  Being exiled meant that he was making his way out of the country.  When he comes to Dayan, on the Tibetan border, he announces himself as required to the local magistrate who happens to be his cousin.  Little does he know that in a few short days the Emperor is expected in Dayan for a solar eclipse festival. He does his best to get out of town before the Emperor arrives but when a Jesuit priest is murdered, Li Du finds that he is the only one willing to investigate the death.

And, oh yeah, Li Du is a librarian who loves books.

The story is engaging and includes just the right amount of mystery and intrigue.  I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next.

The Bad:

Well, to be fair, it isn’t really bad.  But…while reading the first page I almost considered DNF’ing.  That’s right.  Page one.  The problem?  Purple prose.  It was so purple.

“Beyond the city to the north, a mountain emerged slowly into the dawn.  Its base was blue and featureless, a shape without dimension against a brightening sky.  But on the distant summit, the snow and ice glowed golden pink in anticipation of sunrise.”

Listen, I know some people love this type of writing and are thinking I’m a heathen.  It just isn’t for me.  In this case, I was able to adjust and get used to it.  There were only a few passages throughout that made me roll my eyes.

However, I will admit that the story and Li Du’s character more than made up for this and I am very excited to read book two.

4/5 stars.