A Wrap-Up of Reading I Did in January 2021

Cover if the book, Live Girls by Ray Garton

Live Girls by Ray Garton

Live Girls is a short and fast-paced vampire adventure of a book. Don’t reach for it if you like your horror to have deep characterization or be character-driven. Because during most of the book, all the protagonist does is whine, get his blood sucked out, and use one of his female colleagues as a waste bin for his emotions and rants. What’s more, she lets him while despising another mutual colleague just because he’s upfront about his sleaziness. Anyway, as I said, don’t depend on the characters to do anything other than piss you off with their stupidity! Even the vamps aren’t any smarter. Their big plan is to infect as many people as they can while continuing to operate in the same city as sex workers. Wouldn’t that make people suspicious? After all, bodies drained of blood are why law enforcement is out looking for culprits in the first place. Anyway, aside from the glamorous vampires, we also have the failed experiments. They mutated when they chose to sip from the wrong bouquet, i.e., sick or addicted humans. They’re the only ones I felt sorry for.

To conclude, short read that’s full of gore and sex. If you like that, give this one a try!

Cover of the book, Grave Secrets of Dinosaurs: Soft Tissues and Hard Science by Phillip Manning

Grave Secrets of Dinosaurs: Soft Tissues and Hard Science by Phillip Manning

Some people will find this book boring because it contains a lot of dry descriptions. But I savored every bit when I read the book at a slow, sedate pace just as I did with Raptor Red. Two things would have improved my reading experience even more. Firstly, more pictures would have been awesome — colored ones! And, secondly, if they’d waited to publish the book after they had the results from the major portion of tests and research, that’d have been good for closure. In any case, I found this a fun read! It is a good example from scientific research that many people ignore or don’t know about, i.e., so many factors have to be just right for major discoveries to happen or even exist!

Cover of the book, Road Brothers by Mark Lawrence

Road Brothers by Mark Lawrence

I miss being able to read about the Broken Kingdom, having finished the trilogy. This anthology gave me the chance to do and then some. I didn’t want to put the book down for a second and yet kept worrying I’d read it too fast. So, woe was me and I was woe!

The stories in it give us the backstory of the brothers who form Jorg’s entourage. Most of the tales are sad and make it plain that these men were such misfits that they would have never prospered anywhere else. They were either too murderous or too broken or too something else! Being in Jorg’s band gave them the chance to be part of a tribe of their own. The same was true for Jorg too.

We also get to meet Jalan whom I haven’t had the pleasure of reading about yet. And we get a peek into Snorri’s dad’s history.

Cover of the book, Next by Michael Crichton

Next by Michael Crichton

I didn’t love this book the way I had Jurassic Park but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have a good time reading it. Its premise is that genetic engineering is all kinds of bad news. While I don’t agree with that notion, I can see how things that seem far-off, impossible, or too ludicrous right now may become the reality tomorrow! For instance, I was appalled when I read how medicine treated Henrietta Lacks and her contributions to science. But she must have thought if you cannot trust your healthcare provider to look after you, who can you trust? And look where it got her! So, if that happened, then so can the much-exaggerated case of the man whose cells — including the ones he had transferred to his offspring when they were born — became the property of a pharmaceutical company!

Interspecific breeding experiments are probably going on all around the world right now. Sure, most scientists aren’t creating a human-ape hybrid today, but…

Likewise, research on parrots and their aptitude at math and language is already available. The author just uses artistic license to take it further.

This book is satire that deliberately engages in hyperbole just like 1984 and Brave New World did. Accept that when you read, so the failure of this book’s characters in distinguishing between a human-ape hybrid and a human child doesn’t become the reason for ditching it.

Cover of The Great Gatsby: A Graphic Novel Adaptation by K. Woodman-Maynard, F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby: A Graphic Novel Adaptation by K. Woodman-Maynard, F. Scott Fitzgerald

I’m so glad that I requested this book on Netgalley!

I haven’t had the chance to read the original, abridged novel version yet. Going by the events in the movie, this graphic novel is faithful to the overall sequence. I liked the art because it not only looked good, it didn’t distract me from the story/text. I’d recommend this book to others who haven’t read the novel because it gives an accurate gist of what happens in the novel. I got through it quickly just like I did with Frankenstein!

Cover of the book, The Trouble with Twelfth Grave by Darynda Jones

The Trouble with Twelfth Grave by Darynda Jones

He’s Reyes; he’s not Reyes, but he may be Reyes — there, I summed up the book and the series for you! Throughout this installment, we see Reyes or whoever he is playing doing his best to intimidate his wife. He was trapped inside a shard of god glass, prior to the intimidation sequence. So, you’d find it natural that his wife would be broken up about it. You’d be wrong because she is gallivanting off everywhere, trying to solve another of her seemingly-mundane-but-really-not PI cases. Anywho, close to the ending, we find out that the being who has been torturing our protagonist was her husband all along. But why was he being such a heel, you wonder and you’re fed some nonsense about him testing her. Simply put, he was checking if she was fit to be a mom. As if all this wasn’t irritating enough, Charley continues to have the focus and attention span of a fruit fly. Then, she has a big screw up when she brings someone back from the dead — since it’s too spoilery, I won’t say who it was. I predicted that as soon as one of the angels expressly told her that was the ONE THING she shouldn’t do!

Must. Stop. Rant-Reviewing.

Cover of the book, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne

I can see why survivors of the horrific event that the Holocaust was may find this book pandering and smarmy. Strict vigilance, deplorable conditions, and the daily trauma that the people in concentration camps went through make the premise of this book — and the events that it describes — impossible. In addition, the general’s son wasn’t dumb or as young that he wouldn’t have understood what was going on in the camp he lived next to. However, I also understand the author aimed it at younger readers. Having said that, I’d call it more middle-grade than young adult.

Cover of the book, Evernight by Kristen Callihan

Evernight by Kristen Callihan

So much better than the previous one that had featured a hypocrite and sadist in the role of the male lead. There were some other improvements too that are rarely a part of romances like this one. For instance, the female lead was the one doing the rebuffing. She was also not a virgin!

The usual tropes and cliches were also in play. The main reason the lead couple had gone to great lengths turned to be not a huge deal. Lost memories were conveniently and almost immediately recovered. One group of bad guys who threatened our heroine was easily overcome by the dashing hero in berserker-mode. The other was defeated rather easily by the couple — surprising, given the big deal that this villain was made out to be. We find out next to nothing about the heroine’s past and the traumatizing history she shared with the male lead. And so on.

We were also introduced to a new couple — Adam and Eliza May. Adam is written to be an ass who’d rather keep his mate chained to him — like literally — than let her make up her mind about being with him. Dunno how the author is going to dig him out of this hole she put him in!

Cover of In Love & Pajamas: A Collection of Comics about Being Yourself Together by Catana Chetwynd

In Love & Pajamas: A Collection of Comics about Being Yourself Together by Catana Chetwynd

I’m so glad that I requested this book on Netgalley!

A cute as heck comic collection that describes the best things about married life. It’ll cheer you up and you’ll have finished the book in no time. I’ve always loved how the artist draws the characters, so that’s another plus. In short, if you’re looking for something uplifting, lovey-dovey, and short, this is the book to pick up!

Cover of the book, Blister by Jeff Strand

Blister by Jeff Strand

When I picked up this read, I hadn’t expected to like it. But the author combined humor and horror in such a fun manner that I ended up wanting to read more of his books. Simply put, the plot is about a protagonist who is an idiotic cartoonist — idiotic because he does things without worrying about the consequences of his actions. It lands him into all sorts of trouble. Then he meets a girl and more trouble ensues.
P.S. You may not like this book if you want your horror to be all gore and violence — it does have some of that. It’s more of a love story than horror.


Dr. Faustus by Christopher Marlowe

This was the third book I’ve read relatively recently about the Devil, his contracts, and the wily humans who wiggle out of them. Don’t let the old-timey language put you off this book when you see it for the first time. I put it away and didn’t pick it up for weeks when that happened to me. Eventually, I came back to it because I had listed it for a reading challenge. To my surprise, it proved to be a quick, entertaining read once I got started. It was funny and endearing in parts. Imagine signing a contract with the Devil who really wants your soul and then regretting your decision. That’s what happened to our protagonist, Dr. Faustus. At times, when he’d hit rock bottom, he’d clutch any straw — no matter how flimsy — to get out of the doldrums. At other times, he put all the unearthly knowledge and power available to him to silly but entertaining uses. So, it won’t be a stretch to say he does what most of us would have done if handed absolute power by the Prince of Darkness!

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Neuromancer by William Gibson

This was one chaotic and confused book. Disjointed sentences, outdated and still mostly obscure vocab and disinteresting events made up most of it. Any chances that I’d read it for its characters were long gone by the time I turned to the second page. It’s not that I don’t appreciate it for the keystone work that it was back in the day when cyberpunk was just starting to exist. I do but even so, this one wasn’t for me!

Maybe cyberpunk just isn’t for me?

Cover of the book, One Day All This Will Be Yours by Adrian Tchaikovsky

One Day All This Will Be Yours by Adrian Tchaikovsky

I’m so glad that I requested this book on Netgalley!

My very first Tchaikovsky read! I was so excited to get started and found it was a highly original take on the pitstop at the end of the world and time plot. As long as you don’t think too hard about how smart the protagonist could be — since they put together many of history’s megalomaniacs and thought they’d all congeal into an army and fight for him. So, as long as you don’t think about that, you’ll find this read to be an enjoyable one. It’s also not a chunkster, so I doubt you’d even want to put it down before you’re done. The parts where the heroine shows up and goes up against the male lead were my favorites, obviously! I would have liked a happier ending, though.


The Song of the Quarkbeast by Jasper Fforde

This is the second book in the Last Dragonslayer series. It was a surprise to me when it lacked dragons — like there were none! Perhaps, Fforde should have chosen another name for the series? Anyway, like most of his heroines, particularly Thursday Next, Jennifer is strong, intelligent, and resourceful. Since she lacks clout and might, she resolves her problems and confronts her enemies with wit and intelligence. I liked that and the fact that the book had several strong female characters in its rosters. If you’re used to Ffordian hijinks, chaos, and hilarity, this book won’t disappoint you in that regard. In fact, this series is a good starting point for readers new to Fforde’s brand of humor and quirky characters. My favorite from this installment was the Transient Moose even though the quarkbeasts — all flavors — were cute as heck.

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