March 2018 — A Wrap Up

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Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry

Creates a feeling of dread very nicely but doesn’t follow through.

The protag is made to look so smart in so many ways and yet her stupidity gets an old woman killed!

Barely anything happens in the book and it feels like a go-between for the first and third books in the series.

Almost everyone in Kira’s village is an asshole. I mean, yeah you would expect people to be less than lovely when they kick out the weak and crippled. But dude, such a society won’t even survive for two years let alone for how long these guys survived. How come I don’t know that? BECAUSE THE AUTHOR NEVER TOLD US THAT! Along with the size of the village, where it was located, how it formed etc. You name it and we won’t know it!

Oh and now I feel like docking another star off my rating because I just found out the story doesn’t continue in the next book! I was like, fine it has a sucky cliffhanger but we will know more. But we won’t because the next book isn’t about this village.

We are left stranded with a character who is already an outcast because she is handicapped physically and universally hated socially. She refuses to escape with her father who has come back from the dead to save her from the clutches of his murderer. She is going to attempt to make her village a better place. This is a village where children with any artistic talent (weaving, carving, singing) are taken away from their parents who are then murdered. The kids will be kept in servitude. Why are they taken and why does one of them feel as if his craft is being sponged out of his mind is never answered. Along with a gazillion other questions.

Okay, I need to read something else or I might kill somebody!

 

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Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal

Okay, when you look at the book blurbs and the premise on which this series is based, it comes off as one unique concept. Think of the Austen women who can do household magic. Sounds good, right? It did to me too but the first book fell flat. I decided to give the second one a chance and reading it left me irritated! Here are some reasons why:

Jane

The protagonist annoyed me the most. She had the usual “I am so ugly” thing going for her. No matter how many times her husband assured her of her regard, anything that happened was enough to make her think he was going to dump her because she wasn’t pretty enough. She was also not a nice person and kinda racist. When asked by a Frenchman what quality set her own countrywomen (English) apart, she said nothing. To her, all women were insipid airheads who only cared about the latest fashion. Of course, she, herself, wasn’t one of those women! She is also quick to pass judgment on everybody she meets. The funny thing is she is almost never right. Then there was the whole pregnancy thing. It was bungled in the worst way possible. It is a delicate issue, especially when so many women out there can’t get pregnant. It should have been dealt with more sensitivity if nothing else. Her husband lied to her on numerous occasions and she blamed herself or took his side. Lastly, while it is okay for her to have different values, it’d have been better if they were more in sync with the outlandish values similar people might have had in those times. A father hitting his children to discipline them was the norm there. It just felt incongruous that she was so appalled by it. I guess the same could be said about her wanting to be recognized for her own work rather than her husband’s assistant. Maybe, I am projecting?

Vincent

This guy annoyed the heck outta me. His wife barely knows anything about his past yet she is patient. She wants him to confide in her at the speed he’s comfortable with. Then he tells her he is taking her on a honeymoon to France. He dumps her in a small town in the middle of nowhere when they get there. And he lied to her because the honeymoon isn’t a honeymoon at all but a spy mission to keep Napolean from coming back from Elba. He sneaks off to meet women, — who for all Jane knows he is having an affair with — he isn’t there for her when she has lost her glamour powers due to the pregnancy, — which by the way he is at least partially responsible for — he is missing when she falls down unconscious, and he is rude to her when they are hired by someone to make a glamural just because she can’t do glamour — which is partly his fault too! The only thing that kept my dislike from becoming full-blown hatred was when he gave her due credit for rescuing his sorry ass from certain death!

Story

The story was boooooring. I mean the plot was interesting but the time it took to get to the good parts just wasn’t worth reading. By the end, her husband had been captured by Napoleonic forces and she had to rescue him. I loved all the derring-do no matter how absurd it was because hey, you are reading a book where people can do magic. You’ve gotta be able to suspend your disbelief to some extent. Right? Also, I kind of have this theory that this book wouldn’t pass the Bechdel Test. Dunno if I am right; it is just the way it felt to me.

Okay, I had no idea I had been so pissed off! On the positive side, here is a funny:

(the guy had just eaten garlic) “We are in a field,” he said in heavily scented English.

 

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Heart of Steel by Meljean Brook

Things that I Liked

Humor

The humor is done so well. The male lead has complete faith in his outrageously colored waistcoats will woo the lady. The heroine is capable of laughing at his silliness and hers.

Male Lead

Archimedes Fox is a good man who is willing to fight his manly instincts and accept the woman he loves is better at certain things than he’d ever be, including fighting off zombies, taking mechanical horses in a fight, running headlong into danger etc. He also does that without emasculating himself. He supports her when she needs it. He doesn’t undermine her authority in front of her crew because he knows he’d lose her in a second if he did. Moreover, he doesn’t seem to mind coming off as a clown if it would cement her reputation. He is completely okay with letting her be who she is and jumps into bar brawls with her. And, doesn’t force his attention on her but lets her make up her own damn mind.

Female Lead

She has literally fought tooth and nail to get where she is and won’t let anyone compromise that. Yet she is woman enough to appreciate everything Fox brings to the relationship. Yasmeen isn’t the angry bitch who loves to murder or picks fights just because she is sure to win — like genetically! She uses her head when a sword isn’t needed. She boards the airship of a misogynistic captain but doesn’t let him coax her into challenging him. She shows amazing restraint but not because she is helpless. Yasmeen also has a great sense of humor and doesn’t trust lightly.

Story

I like that the author did her research on the historical situation at that time. Even though the story was rooted in an alternate history, it shows that she made all efforts to make it an authentic one. Yet the info dumps were unbearably boring to get through. Instead of clueing me into the politics of that time, they just showed off the author’s effort. Not a good thing!

One of the climactic events was that when the couple would get to their destination, Fox was going to be cut off from his emotions. There was a tower in that land that deadened the feelings of people with nanobots in their blood. The whole book was set up in a way to make us dread when that happened. What would Fox do? Would he try to kill Yasmeen? Could their relationship survive that? These were the kind of questions I had right after the tower was mentioned. The mystery was solved just few pages before the couple got there.  And not in a good way. I learned the tower had long been out of function and there was never anything to be scared of.

WHAT?

WHY?

But…

Anyway, you know that thing where you have seen an object in movies, read about it, and yet have NO idea about what its called? And then you find out and go ohhhhh, so that’s what its called! That’s what happened:

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Mine Till Midnight by Lisa Kleypas

Loved the humor and the gothic mystery but the romance felt too rushed — even for a romance! For a woman who claimed to not want to marry because she valued her freedom, whatsername gave it up too easily. The beginnings of Merripen and Win’s love can be seen in this book. Beatrix is a cutie! Leo behaved like an ass, which was surprising. I hope the other books are more in line with the second and third ones.

 

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You’ll Understand When You’re Dead by Michele Bardsley

I don’t know what to say anymore! The series used to be so much fun but the recent books read like a novella even when they aren’t supposed to be one. Everything seems rushed; it felt like the author wanted to cram all the quirkiness in under 200 pages. Not a good experience at all.

 

Angel Catbird, Volumes 1, 2, and 3 by Margaret Atwood

 

Whether you’d love them or hate them depends on how you choose to see these comics. They are full of awful cliches, puns about cats, rats, bats, and birds, and the humor feels forced.

You could think that is deliberate on the author’s part, which will make the comic fun for you. However, you might think otherwise and that Ms. Atwood has no business writing a comic. In the preface, the author described herself as an award-winning author, which kinda pissed me off. Other than that, my reaction was somewhere in the middle of the two extremes mentioned above. I’m not sure if I’ll be continuing the series either.

Here are some pretty pictures though:

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Infidel #1 by Pornsak Pichetshote

This was one scary comic book! I don’t yet know what is going on but I’m definitely going to find out.

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Othermoon by Nina Berry

I skimmed through most of the book because it failed to hold my attention for longer than 2 minutes at a time! The heroine has the chosen one written all over her. Whether it is a power that she discovers and masters in less than 2 days or every other guy mooning after her, she IS the one. Her love interest decides to turn into an asshole in this book. He accuses her of cheating on him multiple times. Not fun at all!

 

So, this is what I did in March. What did you do?

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