The Primroses Were Over

Ramblings regarding reading.

Professional Reader Challenge ParticipantReviews Published

The Reading Quest

The Underground Railroad: A Novel - Colson Whitehead In Other Lands - Sarah Rees Brennan, Carolyn Nowak Slaughterhouse-Five - Kurt Vonnegut Nature Abhors a Vacuum (The Aielund Saga) - Stephen L. Nowland

I totally missed the official signup for this, but I'm going to go ahead and do it anyway.

 

The Reading Quest

 

I found it on Habitica, actually (apparently I am weak and will do anything for XP, including actual adulting), and it seemed very neat. Currently I am three and a half books in, working on the Rogue path, and quite enjoying the fact that I am working off a vague plan for my reading. We will see how long that lasts, since I am weak and easily distracted by random books, but the quest for experience points may keep me on my chosen path.

 

I'm going to need to do some major cleaning around here, since I may have gotten distracted from Booklikes for a bit.

 

Has anyone else seen this? Anyone manage to sign up in a timely manner and thus be eligible for prizes? Anyone else just going to do it anyway?

The Underground Railroad

The Underground Railroad: A Novel - Colson Whitehead

I wanted to like this a lot more than I actually did.

 

My first sign of trouble was the much vaunted "the underground railroad is an actual railroad!" scene (I'm assuming that is not a spoiler since it is blatantly stated in every single synopsis, though it might have been a better scene if it wasn't?). It smacked of magical realism. Generally, I want to smack magical realism, so I should probably not be surprised that this didn't work for me, but I was still hoping to get some sense of awe from it. I didn't.

 

Overall, that was my real problem with the book: I didn't feel awe. I didn't feel much of anything. I've had more visceral reactions to textbooks about this time period. One of the "main" characters disappears partway through the book and it's somehow no big deal.

 

Our main character, Cora, has basically no emotional response to anything that happens throughout the novel. Some extremely horrific stuff happens throughout the novel. It is a novel about slavery. It is a novel about the racism that was common at the time period even of people who were not slave owners. There are murder and executions and beatings and horrible things happening. Cora remains alarmingly aloof from it all.

 

I'm almost inclined to think that this is somehow an intentional choice, that she is there to serve as author mouthpiece throughout. She has occasional bizarre knowledge (at one point she casually mentions how difficult life is in Ireland at the time period) and while she makes excellent points on several occasions, she makes narrator-style points comparing white life to slavery life aloud to moderately racist people, who never seem to respond. It feels like she's talking to the readers instead of the characters she's interacting with.

 

Maybe that is all more magical realism--I'll be completely honest and admit I don't get the genre at all--but it didn't work for me. I wanted to be right there with her in this brutal time period, and not only was I not there, she didn't seem to be there most of the time. Everything remained clinical throughout, and with a story like this, set in a time period where everything was horrifying, I was hoping for more.

We Thought You Would Be Prettier

We Thought You Would Be Prettier: True Tales of the Dorkiest Girl Alive - Laurie Notaro

I thought this would be funnier.

 

I kept almost laughing, almost finding it funny, but it never quite made it there. Some of this might just be that it is remarkably mean humor throughout--I'm not convinced this woman likes anything in the world--but it's also all so very heavy-handed that it feels meaner than it is probably meant to feel.

 

Everything she complains about is turned up so far past probable that instead of getting that laughing "Yes, I think that, too!" response or even the slightly-ashamed-but-still-laughing, "Oh, that is horrible! I thought that was just me!" response, I found myself just staring blankly at the page in distaste wondering if any of this could possibly be true and hoping not.

 

That's not the worst reaction to have to a book, of course, but it's definitely not the reaction I am hoping for going into any kind of humorous memoir.

 

I won't be picking up anything else by her and I'm not sure I could really recommend this to anyone else, either. It wasn't the most terrible humor I've ever read, but it just never quite managed to get anywhere funny, and that's almost worse.

 

 

Last Breath

Last Breath (The Morganville Vampires, #11) - Rachel Caine

I liked this quite a bit more than the last in the series, but I'm kind of feeling like my love for the series has fallen off and isn't going to come back.

 

I blame Shane.

 

Plot-wise I found this much more interesting than Bite Club. I've always really been here for the background information, honestly: I am pretty fond of Claire (was quite fond until recently), and I like Eve and Michael well enough, but the vampires and their background and the weird hints of who they were before they became vampires and why they live like they do and just what Morganville is have always been what kept me reading. I like the history of the place and the species, I like the magic-that-isn't-magic-it-is-science, kind-of, I like the attempts to explain the inexplicable. 

 

This ramps a few things up and also gives a really intriguing answer to "Why found a town of vampires in the desert?" that I was not expecting. Learning more about what makes Glass House tick was also interesting, though I did not get any solid answers for the questions it raised. I'm willing to allow the enormity of the looming disaster to count as a valid excuse for a couple of the sketchy decisions made by certain characters; they were clearly snap-judgment choices in a high-stress environment. 

 

We continue our foray into the minds of other characters, and while Eve's head was interesting, Amelie's was absolutely fascinating. I would like to see more of this done. (Maybe Oliver? I would love to see Oliver.)

 

Also, more time in Shane's head, but I feel like my review of Bite Club made it clear I am 150% done with him and his "manly," over-violent nonsense. I would feel worse about hoping he would die in every action scene if he weren't both homicidal and imaginary. 

 

Despite that, I will probably finish the series at this point--I'm invested enough to want to see how the monumental events of this book pan out for the characters and the town, and I want more vampire background story. 

Bite Club

Bite Club (The Morganville Vampires, #10) - Rachel Caine

This was easily my least favorite of the series so far.  

 

How did adding a POV somehow make me dislike a character more than I already did? How do you even do that? Generally putting me in anyone but a straight villain's head makes me empathize more with them, makes me realize why they do what they do and understand the perils of their existence. Or at least not want to bash them over the head repeatedly with a blunt object.

 

I never really "got" Shane, admittedly. You know how sometimes you have a friend who is dating someone, and you are completely bemused by why they are into this person? You're willing to trust your friend that there is a reason you just aren't seeing as long as they treat said friend "right," and you chalk it up to one of those inexplicable universal things?

 

Claire was the book version of that friend for me.

 

And this book was the last straw before I would stage an intervention.

 

Shane was an absolute horror throughout. I am supposed to forgive him because of spoilery reasons, I think, but I'm never going to look at him the same way I did before his actions here, and being in his head for some of it made it significantly worse. His anger issues have gotten way out of control, he treated Claire (and all of his friends!) like garbage, and he was forgiven as though what he had done throughout was minor. It was not.

 

Maybe the next book deals with the ramifications of his actions, but to be honest, despite it having been months since I read this, I haven't picked up the next book, because I'm still angry and I don't want to have to deal with him.

 

Myrnin remains fantastically quirky throughout and is probably the highlight of the series.

I know I will continue this at some point, because I like the supporting characters, I like the town and the weirdness of it, I like Claire, but I am really hoping that there is significantly less Shane after this point, because I am very done with him.

Reading progress update: I've listened 41 out of 421 minutes.

The Gates (Audio) - Jonathan Cake, John Connolly

This has been keeping me company on the drive to work and has caused outright snickering a few times. It is totally charming. It feels a little like Harry Potter in the descriptions of people, but with these charmingly rambly footnotes regarding history, religion, and astronomy, all done with this very tongue-in-cheek tone.

 

I can't wait to see what happens next. 

Reading progress update: I've read 10%.

A Slip of the Keyboard: Collected Nonfiction - Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman

On why he starts his next book immediately after finishing the first:

 

"It also means you have an excuse for not tidying away your reference books, a consideration not to be lightly cast aside in this office, where books are used as bookmarks for other books."

 

You know, I feel I would have liked this man a great deal, if only because it makes me feel better to know I am not the only one who does that. 

Reading progress update: I've read 43%.

Death Masks - Jim Butcher

Charity is one of the least charitable people I've ever had the misfortune of meeting. Dear lord.

Reading progress update: I've read 64%.

The House on Cold Hill - Peter James

Oh, why are we still playing the "there must be a rational explanation!" card at this point? That goes from "approaching things logically" to "being an absolute idiot." I'm miffed.

Strange History

Strange History - Bathroom Readers' Institute

This took me an awfully long time to read, but not because I wasn't enjoying it. This is the kind of book you want to have around to read bits and pieces at a time, and it was a lot of fun to read that way.

 

I did a decent amount of bothering people with random facts while reading through this as well. My friends can testify to the fact that I may have been sending text messages at unholy hours with something that I just knew they would find fascinating.

 

The easy-to-digest format and quickness of the blurbs, as well as the randomness of the organization (you never knew what would be on the next page) made this the sort of thing that is better suited to long-term reading and not blasting through, and I'd enjoy having it on my coffee table so people could pick it up and flip through during downtime.

 

This book was provided to me for free via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Lady Most Likely...: A Novel in Three Parts - Julia Quinn, Connie Brockway, Eloisa James

"Gwen's mother was ecstatic.

Gwen was miserable.

She hated crowds, hated having to talk with people she did not know. She did not enjoy dancing with strangers, and the mere thought of being at the center of anyone's attention was terrifying.

She spent a great deal of time standing in corners, trying not to be noticed."

 

I like this girl! This is probably how I would react to being a debutante, not going to lie here.

 

(Testing general Booklikes stability here. Fingers crossed, but stuff is loading and that's a nice start.)

Reading progress update: I've read 25%.

The Glittering Court - Richelle Mead

"But...but...you're confused. You need to stop this. Stop...um, being a heretic."

 

So I'm actually enjoying this, but the main character is kind of an idiot, not going to lie. It's moderately excruciating to listen to her.

 

In other news, I am in fact not dead, just very easily distracted. Catching this back up with my actual reading has gotten to be such a task I've become more and more lazy about it, alas, but I will get there shortly! Hope everyone has been having a lovely start to the cozy holiday/reading season?

Reading progress update: I've read 22%.

Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls - David Sedaris

"Their house had real hardcover books in it, and you often saw them lying open on the sofa, the words still warm from being read."

 

That's lovely.

Reading progress update: I've read 100%.

Uprooted - Naomi Novik

I am going to have to digest this a bit before I can even manage a review, I think. I was just...not really expecting it to get quite as dark as it did. It was lovely in the way only strangely dark stuff can manage. If I attempt anything more than this, I am going to get rambly and ridiculous, I can just tell, so we'll leave things there.

 

This was my "witches" square for the Halloween Bingo, though, and I am very pleased it was. 

Reading progress update: I've read 22%.

Uprooted - Naomi Novik

"They seemed almost themselves to anyone who didn't know them well, and you might spend half a day talking with one of them and never realize anything was wrong, until you found yourself taking up a knife and cutting off your own hand, putting out your own eyes, your own tongue, while they kept talking all the while, smiling, horrible."

 

Uh, okay, this just took a step into horrifying. Alright. I'm intrigued, book--carry on.

Ramblings Regarding August Reading

An Old-Fashioned Unicorn's Guide to Courtship - Sarah Rees Brennan World of Warcraft: Beyond the Dark Portal - Aaron Rosenberg, Christie Golden

Favorite book of the month: An Old-Fashioned Unicorn's Guide to Courtship by Sarah Rees Brennan, who is basically like magic for me all the time.

Longest in pagesWorld of Warcraft: Beyond the Dark Portal by Aaron Rosenberg and Christie Golden, at 436 pages

 

Total books read: 14

Total pages read: 1,851

Re-reads: 1

Average pages per book: 132

Average pages per day: 59

  

Scores:

1: 0

2: 0

3: 13

4: 1

5: 0

Did not finish: 0

 

Average: 3.07

 

 

So this month was clearly "dark fantasy short story" month for some reason. This may or may not have something to do with the fact that I could read those in short burst on WoW loading screens. The fact that the longest book I read all month was World of Warcraft related is also connected to this, I'm quite sure. 

 

At any rate, it was a slow month. I will cheerfully read any short story Rosamund Hodge writes, though, and I enjoyed the crop of them I sucked down this month. Well-done short stories are a weakness of mine, and it's nice to find someone who manages them so consistently without them reading too similarly. 

 

September, though, is gearing up into a very solid reading month--the Halloween Bingo is going to be loads of fun, and I can't wait to scare myself senseless and watch everyone else doing so as well! 

 

How did everyone's August reading go? Anyone else super ready for weather where curling up with a good book in front of a fireplace will be valid? Who else is doing the Halloween Bingo? 

 

Currently reading

The Gates (Audio) by Jonathan Cake, John Connolly
Progress: 41/421minutes
The Way of Kings (Stormlight Archive) by Brandon Sanderson
It by Stephen King
The Magicians: A Novel by Lev Grossman
My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by Stephanie Perkins
The Last Unicorn: Deluxe Edition by Connor Cochran, Peter S. Beagle
A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn, Ellen Archer
Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo, Lauren Fortgang
Progress: 8%
The Rook by Daniel O'Malley, Susan Duerden