October 2019 — A Belated Wrap-Up

Cover of Iron and Magic by Ilona Andrews

Iron and Magic by Ilona Andrews

Find my review here.

Cover of To Be A Machine by Mark O'Connell

To Be a Machine : Adventures Among Cyborgs, Utopians, Hackers, and the Futurists Solving the Modest Problem of Death by Mark O’Connell

An interesting book and yet I felt as if the author didn’t believe in the importance of the subject themselves. There was also a disjointedness that kept me from fully enjoying the book.

However, it does take you to meet quite unusual people who are involved in promoting the cause of transhumanism in their own ways.

Moreover, ask any two individuals of what they consider transhumanism to be and you’ll probably get a different definition out of both. For some, it was putting a stopper to death *Hail Potterdom!*, while for others, it was transcending their human body by transferring their consciousness onto a digital interface. Then there were those who took it quite literally and are going through the process of converting themselves into a human-cyborg hybrid. Eventually, they hope to outgrow the need for a mortal body.

Put me in the mind of how botanists classify — or try their best to — mangroves. Most of them look so different and behave in such odd ways that the only thing uniting them is the tidal habitat they grow in!

Like I said, an interesting book!

Cover of Stoker's Manuscript by Royce Prouty

Stoker’s Manuscript by Royce Prouty

I’ve rated it 3 stars because the author followed a tough act and also because I had an acceptably good time reading this book.

I liked the menacing and full of suspense ambiance that the author created with words. What I didn’t like was how I didn’t care for the protagonist. As many other reviewers have pointed out, it could be because the guy didn’t have any personality. It may also have been because he kept getting other people killed just by their association with him. Whatever the case, I was more worried about the woman he meets in the village dying than about the main character!

Additionally, the villains in the book came off more as quarreling siblings than creatures that I could fear. The plot was predictable too.

So, what made me like it? I dunno. Maybe I was in the right frame of mind for this read. *shrug*

Cover of Our Dark Side: A History of Perversion by Elisabeth Roudinesco

Our Dark Side: A History of Perversion by Élisabeth Roudinesco

The origins of the word, perversion, are not the same as its usage today. For instance, the author mentions how certain things that we now consider to be perverted were used by Christian saints as proof of their devoutness.

Granted that some parts of this book were fascinating. But I did skim others since I found them to be boring and dull. It may be that the book is a translation from the original in French that made it lose some of its charm. Or, I’m just hating on non-fic books. Exhibit A, the review of the book on transhumanism above.

Either way, it took me a while to wrap this one up.

Cover of The Scot, the Witch and the Wardrobe by Annette Blair

The Scot, the Witch and the Wardrobe by Annette Blair

This might have been a sweet romance if it weren’t for the heroine who was insecure about her physical appearance and the fact that she kept punishing the guy in love with for it. I did like that the author introduced three new characters in this book. They’ll likely have their own books later on as spinoffs. And while the plot is formulaic, the humor was well funny.

Cover of The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde

The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde

Any book by Jasper Fforde is an auto-buy for me because of the author’s wit. I am savoring the Thursday Next books and three reading challenges — this one, that one, and the other one — gave me the opportunity to pick up this series.

What I Liked:
It is exactly how you’d expect a Fforde book to be. The author’s love for literature is easy to me with characters with names like, the Sisters Karamazov. The amazing sense of humor that gives you the strength to keep reading even when really dark things happen — like the death of a beloved pet. The protagonist is female and doesn’t let anyone shove her around. All in all, a typical Fforde-ian affair!

What I Didn’t Like:
It is marketed as YA but I don’t think that is the right target audience for this kind of book.
Nothing of importance happens in the first half of the book. The second half is packed with action and mess up the pacing a bit.

Some favorite bits:

The MC is 16 and can drive legally lol
The MC and a Knight converse about a legendary dragonslaying sword.
The Duke is broke, so that is his only retort when the opposing army shells them lol

I just know the second one’s going to be as fun!

Cover of Stoneheart by Charlie Fletcher

Stoneheart by Charlie Fletcher

This book could have been so good. But the stilted writing and the unlikable protagonists made that pretty much impossible. There was a lot of description too, which won’t hold the attention of the target audience that this book seems to be aimed at.

What’s sad is that the premise is so interesting. Yet, the worldbuilding could have been so much better.

Cover of Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant Edited by Jenni Ferrari-Adler

Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant : Confessions of Cooking for One and Dining Alone by Jenni Ferrari-Adler

While the essays are cute and end in delicious recipes, I couldn’t point even one that stands out in my memory now that a couple of months have passed. What I do remember is that they soon got repetitive. I did laugh at some bits but there’s nothing in the book that made me slow down and savor it. Also, I don’t mind eating alone. It gives me a chance to catch up on my favorite series or read — probably why I couldn’t relate to the authors of these essays. And that is that.

Cover of The Full Cupboard of Life by Alexander McCall Smith

The Full Cupboard of Life by Alexander McCall Smith

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency novels are a hit and miss for me. Some, I find extremely boring while others I love. This one falls into the latter category. It isn’t even a varying subject matter or tone that’s different. So, I don’t really know why I liked this one. They’re all based in Bostwana and center around the characters of the eponymous detective agency. You get to read about the daily life of Botswanian people. The mystery-solving continues in the background.

Here are some quotes that stood out to me:

The more books that Botswana had, in her view, the better. It would be on books that the future would be based; books and the people who knew how to use them.

If it is your job to read books and you can never get to the end of them. You think that you have read all the books and suddenly you see that there are some new ones that have arrived. Then what do you do? You have to start over again.

Cover of Magic Triumphs by Ilona Andrews

Magic Triumphs by Ilona Andrews

Find my review here.

Cover of Proud Mary by Lucinda Brant

Proud Mary by Lucinda Brant

You know I love my Lucinda Brants. This one had the same charm as the other books in the Roxton Family Saga series. Again, it starred an off-the-path heroine, i.e., one who was widowed. I like that Ms. Brant’s female characters aren’t all young, wilting roses. Trapped in a loveless marriage with an abusive man, the heroine lets no one find out what her life’s like. The person left in charge of her finances until she marries is the one she falls for. I liked it, even if I didn’t like it as much as I had liked the previous books. We do see our favorite scandalous Duchess, Antonia, make an appearance — so that was a plus!

If you’re expecting a unique plot or a surprising ending, read something else. But if you’re up for a charming romance, then this may hit the right spot.

Cover of Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

What I Didn’t Like:

The beginning. The story throws us into the middle of a scene and while, I usually love when that happens, it took me a few pages to get my bearings with this one. And even then, there was a lot of universe-specific jargon that I had to keep wading through.

The world-building and setting. Why set a book in space if you’re not going to use that? The setting had no bearing on the story, except for a flimsy explanation about planets and how different castes lived on it. I still don’t have a clue about the world the characters of Gideon the Ninth lived in.

Characters. There were too many of them. I kept forgetting who was who, which is a sure sign of my flagging interest in the story.

What I Did Like:

Enemies to potential lovers. The building of the attraction between the two main characters and how they come to rely on each other for survival.

The bloody ending. We get an amazing battle that ends up killing almost everybody. I loved every minute of it!

In short, I wanted to like this book but it just left me unsatisfied!

Cover of We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

What I Liked:
The meanness of the society that we live in is open for all to see when it comes to this book. How some people force their company on others because they think they’re being magnanimous. Soon, that changes and becomes a favor or a burden. Then there are people who think it is okay to others because they “deserve it”.

What I Didn’t Like:
I dunno why I thought this was the book that movie with Nicole Kidman was based on. In any case, I kept expecting ghosts or for the main characters to find out they were ghosts. Or even to have known all along they were ghosts without the reader being any the wiser. None of that happened. So, even while the ending was sweet — or fitting — it still felt incomplete to me.

Cover of Fish Tales: The Guppy Anthology Edited by Ramona DeFelice Long

Fish Tales: The Guppy Anthology (Edited) by Ramona DeFelice Long

Usually, I review anthologies bit by bit. But this one was so lackluster that I don’t feel like doing that. Most of the mysteries had no mystery about them. They went from Point A to B almost in a straight line. The others may have had some twists but I cannot remember any of them. It means that they failed to leave an impression. I only picked this book for a challenge. It mentions many animals, so if that is what you need to get out of a tight spot in a reading challenge, go ahead! Oh, and it is a short read too, so there’s that.

Cover of The Unnatural Inquirer by Simon R. Green

The Unnatural Inquirer by Simon R. Green

I have highlighted the main issues that afflict this series in my reviews of the previous books. That continues to be the case in this one too. That being said, this installment had other problems too. For instance, there wasn’t any new character to hold the reader’s attention.

One of the new characters that we do get to see is that of a demonic reporter, Betty something. Her sycophantic attitude towards John made me want to smack her. And John was being a dillhole by letting her climb all over him. He keeps telling her that Suzie is who he needs. Well then, stop smooching the reporter, will ya?

It’s good that this was such a short read!

Cover of Knightley Academy by Violet Haberdasher

Knightley Academy by Violet Haberdasher

As I read this book, I kept thinking about the huge effect that Rowling has had on YA novels that came after Harry Potter. Especially with the ones in which school life plays a prominent role. The author created a world that was wholly her own and I really enjoyed that.

What I didn’t like was that while the MPGs on GR describe this as YA, it seemed more middle-grade to me. There are great books in the latter genre too, so that isn’t what bothered me. I would have been better prepared had I known this going in. For one, the prose didn’t flow as smoothly as I expected it would. Younger children may not notice it but teens sure would. Secondly, the bad guys were really bad and the good ones belonged to the protagonists’ nation. And so on.

The protagonists are all misfits in a way. A girl who doesn’t want to study the delicate arts but educate herself just as the boys are allowed to do. A servant boy who wishes the same even though all his classmates are from elite families. A Jewish boy who always stands out because of the articles of faith he chooses to wear. And an Indian boy who was adopted by a Duke and yet cannot get away from the color of his skin! The story is about how these four come together and their friendship keeps them afloat under strenuous circumstances.

Cover of Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry

Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry

This will be another short review. The book featured quite a few of my pet peeves:

  1. The protagonist is good at everything.
  2. The author wrote a love interest for the said protag who outwardly hated him but went gooey inside at the thought of the manly man.
  3. A predictable plot — its only saving grace was that the zombies were the bioweapons being used by terrorists.
  4. Islamophobia and not just that but the suicidal terrorists were also stupid enough to be fooled by their white, American backers.

But it was a quick read for me. Also, I liked the last few scenes where the good guys have to decide if they’ll spare a few lives and endanger the whole world or not!

And that’s a wrap for all the reading I did in October!

10 responses to “October 2019 — A Belated Wrap-Up”

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