The Primroses Were Over

Ramblings regarding reading.

Professional Reader Challenge ParticipantReviews Published

Reading progress update: I've read 35%.

Splintered  - A.G. Howard

Re-reading this since I've developed a further interest in Wonderland (and also because I never did finish the series, despite owning the whole thing).

 

Jeb bothered me my first read-through.

 

I currently hate Jeb. Hate him. He is infuriating me. I can't tell if it is because I've already had to deal with him the first time I read this or if maybe I'm in a crankier mood this time (though given some of the snarky notes I have in my Kindle copy, I'm thinking it's probably the former. Wow, I was not holding back.), but whichever it is, I am miffed at his entire existence.

 

Ramblings Regarding May Reading

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened - Allie Brosh Lola and the Boy Next Door - Stephanie Perkins Crown Duel - Sherwood Smith Eligible: A modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice - Curtis Sittenfeld

Favorite book of the monthHyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

Honorable MentionsLola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins, Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith

Longest in pagesEligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

 

Total books ingested: 18

Re-reads/listens: 1

 

Total books read: 18 

Total pages read: 5,765

Average pages per book: 320

Average pages per day: 185

 

 

Scores:

1: 1

2: 1

3: 11

4: 5

5: 0

Did not finish:  2

 

Average: 3.11

 

Reviews Written/Published: 5 (Wow, I really, really need to step this up)

 

May wasn't a terrible month, though much of my reading was continuing series I'd already started (hello Morganville Vampires and The Dresden Files). I am continuing to remain behind (and to fall further behind, apparently) on my reading challenge, and I've also been horrible about updating things here (you may have noticed?); currently trying to play "spread out the time in a rational way" and right now my life includes both actually being social and playing World of Warcraft.

 

Blame my friends, guys, for both of these terrible time sinks. ;)

 

No, honestly, I've just been lazy about things. I have started reviews for what I thought was a good dozen but which actually counting my drafts folder here informs me is 48 books; I'm not finishing them for reasons I can't quite explain. I'll need to set myself up a nice day at home with a pot of tea and no distractions and see what I can't manage to knock out. 

 

I also need to actually finish some of the ridiculous number of audiobooks I have started. I have not had any audiobooks listed in my wrap-up for months, but I am listening; I just keep stopping partway through and starting something else. My reading life is a curious thing, I swear. 

 

How did everyone else's May reading go? Do you even remember at this point? Any curious trends you noted? How is June holding up for you?

 

The Snow Queen

The Snow Queen - Hans Christian Andersen, Lucie Arnoux, Misha Hoekstra

Although I am crazy about fairy tales and fairy tale retellings and have been since I was very young, this story was completely unfamiliar to me when I started it.

 

I was rather bemused at that, given it was one of those stories I had assumed I'd read at some point, and of course I've seen Frozen, so I figured that would give me some basic idea of the plot.

 

I was extremely wrong on both counts.

 

This is very much an old-fashioned fairy tale, which should be obvious given the author's name but one might be allowed some level of surprise given it is being announced as a new release. It is not; this is simply a lovely translated and illustrated version of a very old story: a story I liked quite a bit.

 

This isn't going to replace my favorite fairy tales, since I think at this point they are cemented so hard in my brain from years of repetition that I don't think anything can replace them, but I liked the depth of it quite a bit. I was not expecting the sheer amount of mini-stories contained in this one longer story. It is a small epic, with side plots that advance the main plot and a length that feels unusual in a fairy tale.

 

Gerda, our heroine, is certainly deserving of the word, for all that I'm a little bemused by her ability to overlook certain aspects of her friend Kai's behavior. The spell provides a decent scapegoat in this, but I'm still hard-pressed to admit that I would go haring off to save someone who acted like such a Grinch to me.

 

The trials and tribulations she faces on her journey are very much in the fairy tale style, obviously, and I enjoyed this quite a bit. The translation appears to be quite good, in that it carried with it a level of magic you don't always see. The language was beautiful at times.

 

Reading it on the Kindle Fire as I did, I think I missed some of the beauty of the physical copy, but even what I saw of it suggested it was lovingly organized and the cover illustration was quite beautiful.

 

I'm very much in favor of this new tradition of beautifully illustrated physical copies of old children's stories, and I like that it is expanding beyond the traditional Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz to things that many of us may have overlooked as children, but might want to share now.

 

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

Reading progress update: I've read 53%.

Romancing the Duke  - Tessa Dare

Oh dear Lord, she has literally no idea who this letter is from, does she? How can she not? This is going to be the most awkward thing I have ever seen. I am scared to turn the page.

 

(I will turn the page immediately after posting this, because I am nothing if not nosy.)

 

This is a bit silly, but fun.

Reading progress update: I've read 43%.

Ghost Town  - Rachel Caine

"Oliver has...theological differences with the Roman Catholic Church"

 

Well, yes, that is one way to put it, yes.

 

I admit that a subcategory of fun with this book series is attempting to figure out where and when the vampires are from. Bonus points if I can positively identify any of them. It's weirdly fascinating.

The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood

I enjoyed this quite a bit, though I'm not sure I found it quite as revolutionary as it has been painted. Much of this is probably that it is a modern classic--I'm sure ideas from this have trickled down as time went on, and we are looking at a 30-year-old book. Despite that, it has aged well and is absolutely worth the read.

 

Part of the reason this works so well, given the plotline is really quite basic, is the way the information is presented. We get bits and pieces of things as we go along, all filtered through our narrator Offred, who does not always know herself what is true and what false, who to trust and who is lying.

 

I admit I have a huge soft spot for books where I have to piece things together. I require them to be done well (If I get the idea the author doesn't know where things are going, I'm out), but provided they are, I'm absolutely hooked.

 

I've always felt that with dystopian novels, you have to make allowances to accept the society, and this is no different. If you go into this with the mindset that how this society managed to form and evolve is going to be clearly explained and seem to rationally follow the state of the world...well, either you're going to be upset here, or you are a very glass-half-empty kind of person. I fully admit I don't buy the premise as something that really could ever happen (too fundamentalist-religious in some places, nowhere near fundamentalist-religious in others, though I also admit to being a glass-half-full person), it's a fascinating thought exercise, and once I had accepted the society, everything flowed smoothly enough from there.

 

This is a dark world, and Atwood does a fantastic job of making you feel Offred's fear and paranoia (is it paranoia when everyone really is out to get you?) throughout. It reminds me a bit of 1984 in that way, honestly; you're quite sure someone is going to crack down eventually and it is not going to be pretty, so you wait with bated breath for it to happen.

 

I'm glad I finally got around to reading this and I'll probably pick it back up again at some point, but this is something that needs to sit for a bit before I'm ready to dive back into it.

Yellow Brick War

Yellow Brick War (Dorothy Must Die) - Danielle  Paige

This was kind of a disappointment to me. Now, that's not completely the fault of the book itself: it introduced some interesting ideas, it added some new characters, and things did progress (though it took a little longer to get to the "progression" stage of the story than I wanted). However, as a heads up that I definitely did not have going in, this is not the last book in the series, and it is also rather alarmingly short.

 

The combination of these two things meant that up until almost the very end, where I finally felt like we started moving things forward, I was getting progressively more miffed with the way things were going. I had questions that needed answers, I was not getting answers to those questions, but I *was* getting more questions, which is not how one wants to see the ending of a series go. Having my Kindle inform me every time I turned a page that I was now 2% further along in the story was just adding insult to injury. 

 

Amy was weirdly whiney throughout, mostly over her Love Interest, which I found oddly annoying. I don't generally mind teen angst over romance, even in the midst of bad situations, but this felt oddly forced and like a step back from Amy's gung-ho attitude in previous books. She didn't seem like the type to suddenly start whingeing about like this and it was distracting.

 

Her relationship with her mother and with her Kansas--I guess I'm going to say 'friends' because I'm not sure what else to call them, but wow I did not see that coming--was not well-handled either. Things seem like they may finally be coming around with her mother, but do we get to see much of this? No. It was somehow weirdly important without actually seeming to be handled.

 

The magic of Oz was legitimately intriguing, and the parallels between Amy and Dorothy being painted throughout were fascinating, but Amy's behavior in the face of them was also a bit questionable. While I've always admired her ability to throw advice to the wind and just do stuff (both for plot purposes and because this Oz is remarkably insane and figuring out who to trust is difficult at best), when the advice of a bunch of people you swear you trust and your own experiences seem to line up, you should maybe take a step back and consider things again.

 

Despite all of this ranting (I am aware this has become a rant), I retain a fascination with this universe that won't quite let go. I will be reading the next book in the series (though I won't burn myself by buying it on release day as I did this) just to see how things come out in the end. This Oz is dark and fascinating, and putting together the pieces of how one of my favorite childhood fantasy-lands turned into this is worth the price of admission for me.

 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 69%.

Crown Duel (Crown & Court, #1/2) - Sherwood Smith

The scene in the library here is always one of my favorites upon re-reading. Why yes, he is busy. Writing. Nothing at all to see here; move along.

 

 

 

Most romantic courtship.

(show spoiler)

 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 18% (DNF)

Leaping Beauty - Chris L. Demarest, Gregory Maguire

These seem to really, really want to be funny, but they are not. They're not charming, either, or magical, or any of the other words for fairy tales I was hoping for. The twists were not interesting, the stories had little depth, and I think this might be the first short story collection of fairy tale retellings I have ever set down in my life, and I still feel no real regret over this.

Reading progress update: I've read 34%. (DNF)

Tell the Story to Its End: A Novel - Simon P. Clark

This felt like it was trying very hard to be deep and fascinating and never quite managed it. I did not care about any of the mysteries or any of the characters or any part of the plot. This wants to be an elegant classic and I'm just not buying it. 

Ramblings Regarding April Reading

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions - Randall Munroe One Dance with a Duke - Tessa Dare

Favorite book of the monthWhat If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe

Longest in pagesOne Dance with a Duke at 404 pages

 

Total books ingested: 13

Re-reads/listens: 0

 

Total books read: 13

Total pages read: 3472

Average pages per book: 267

Average pages per day: 115

 

Audiobooks ingested: 0 (I listened, but I never did finish anything)

 

Scores:

1: 0

2: 3

3: 6

4: 4

5: 0

Did not finish:  0

 

Average: 3.07

 

Reviews Written/Published: 9

 

Okay, I'm going to call April official "Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans (to actually blog and read and stuff)" month and just chalk it up as an anomaly.

 

Otherwise, I'd have to face the fact that I am, for once, behind in my reading challenge, my reviews, and my entire literary life (even this rather depressing write-up). And who on earth wants to admit something like that? ;)

 

I had a great month outside of that, though, so I'm really okay with this.

 

This month's theme was supposed to be non-fiction (because I haven't been reading enough of it) and I actually started quite a few non-fiction books and even finished some, the star of which was What if?, which I really enjoyed. It's hilarious.

 

Onward, to May!

Reading progress update: I've read 12%.

Storm Front  - Jim Butcher

"Smiling always seems to annoy people more than actually insulting them. Or maybe I just have an annoying smile."

 

Now I've only known the man for a few chapters, but I'm betting it's a little of column A, a little of column B.

 

This is remarkably fun reading.

Cookie Classics Made Easy

Cookie Classics Made Easy: One-Bowl Recipes, Perfect Results - Brandi Scalise

I couldn't quite resist when I saw this on NetGalley.

 

I love to bake. I'm often lazy, though, and attempting to clean up after one of my marathons is enough to prevent me from bothering sometimes, so the idea that I could toss everything into one bowl and be done with it sounded kind of amazing.

 

The set-up for the book was useful, and hey, it actually lived up to the title--these were easy! I feel like I have better recipes for some of the extremely basic stuff (I prefer my own chocolate chip, for example), but you can't beat quick and easy and some of the slightly more offbeat recipes (Vanilla Walnut Pear, anyone? There's nothing you can't make better with walnuts.) retained the easiness but without my already having trial-and-error-ed my way to cookie perfection. I'm always down for a new recipe (and honestly, I kind of prefer making new stuff to old stuff. I'm always doing something a trifle...odd in the kitchen.)

 

The pictures were quite pretty, though my own cookies never turn out the way pictured cookies do (I go with cookie magic on that one.)

 

It's a nifty little book, and probably exceptionally useful for anyone just getting into baking and not having a crop of go-to recipes. I've tried a few, and I'll probably get around to most of them eventually. It helps that I can actually clean up quickly afterward!

 

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

Crochet One-Skein Wonders for Babies

Crochet One-Skein Wonders® for Babies: 101 Projects for Infants & Toddlers - Judith Durant, Edie Eckman

I picked this up originally thinking I had a few pregnant friends and co-workers who would probably appreciate something cute and homemade, and one skein of yarn is about the length of my attention span.

 

I, er, may possibly have just made myself an elephant so far. And one for my dog.

 

The patterns are cute and there's actually a lot of variety. I tend towards stuffed toys when crocheting, so more patterns in that vein are always appreciated. There's a lot more here than just that, though, and things are well-organized by type and have nice pictures to represent what you're doing also.

 

The patterns are easy-to-read and include details for the quirkier stitches (yes, I'm still basic enough at this to consider anything beyond single/double stitches "quirky", and I'm okay with that), and it's easy to tell what is likely to be beyond me versus just pushing me a little bit, though some of that might be a skill requiring practice.

 

Eventually I will probably get around to at least making a stuffed animal for someone else, but even without that I'm having quite a bit of fun with this book.

 

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

The Eyre Affair

The Eyre Affair  - Jasper Fforde

So the plot of this was moderately convoluted and things wrapped up a bit quickly at the end, and the entirety of it was sometimes a bit difficult to take entirely seriously, but I really loved this.

 

This universe is a place I would love to live. Everybody in it loves books. Literary topics are almost the default conversation. Everyone has an opinion on the authorship of Shakespeare's plays. The plot hinges, rather evidently from the title, on Jane Eyre. Somehow, none of this comes across as pretentious, which is tricky when we are dealing rather exclusively with classics. Literature isn't just serious business (and in this world "defending the canon" takes on a whole new meaning), it's also casual fun.

 

Tuesday herself was fun to read about. She sometimes rushed in where it was foolish, and her romance issues were, as is common, almost entirely of her own making (though they were a minor point, so that is ignorable), but she shouldered on through a host of work-related mishaps, horrible people doing horrible things, and a family that rather defies description. She showed a hefty chunk of common sense, which is often more unusual in books than it ought to be, and pulled everything together in the end.

 

The plot did get a touch...tangled. It occasionally felt like there were more ideas the author wanted to toss in than really space for things, and there are a number of weird almost-but-not-quite side plots that aren't really explained (Tuesday's father? What on earth is going on there?) or are used as punch lines rather than actually explored. In a lot of ways, the main plot doesn't really get going for quite a hefty chunk of the book, despite the main antagonist getting set up pretty early on.

 

This sort of feels like what might happen if Monty Python met Doctor Who and they decided to write a love letter to literature together. It honestly probably had flaws I'm not even noting here simply because when faced with everything about this book that I loved, they paled so far in comparison as to be invisible on a first read-through. At any rate, I'll definitely be continuing on with the series, and I can't wait to see what happens next.

 

The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse

The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse - Brian Farrey

This was not nearly as fluffy as I was expecting, and I loved that about it.

 

It seemed like the sort of thing that would be a light, frothy children's adventure story, and I was up for that. The premise of a strange wood and a princess and peasant girl who are interested in the mysteries behind it was probably going to end up with them learning the value of friendship or something.

 

Well, they probably did learn that, in the end, but wow, getting there was an entirely different story than the one I thought I was setting out to read.

 

This was dark.

 

I mean that in the best possible way. In fact, I'm rather awed by the ability to handle darkness and human nature and the idea of control and healthy emotions without it ever seeming to be too adult. These are absolutely adult ideas, and they don't feel dumbed down at all, but they also manage to be appropriately handled for children. This is a children's book--the protagonists are 12--but it's one of those children's books that transcends age in a way you don't see often in modern books. It is unapologetically dark and thoughtful, the sort of book I would have loved as a child and the sort of book I would love a child of mine to read.

 

The revelations genuinely surprised me a few times, though I had some pretty good guesses. Weaving my way through the mysteries was enjoyable enough that I followed the time-honored tradition of not putting the book down until I was done, to the detriment of my sleep. I don't regret it a bit.

 

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

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