A Wrap-Up of Reading I Did in February 2021

Cover of the book, The Cleveland Heights LGBTQ Sci-Fi and Fantasy Role Playing Club by Doug Henderson, showing DnD kinda symbols

The Cleveland Heights LGBTQ Sci-Fi and Fantasy Role Playing Club by Doug Henderson

I requested this book on Netgalley and I’m glad that I did!

I had picked up this book, expecting to be taken on a very cool D-n-D kinda adventure. I didn’t get to go on one, though. I’m listing some of my biggest turn-offs here. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason for why things happened in the story. Add to that the fact that I couldn’t connect with any of the characters. The protagonist was whiny, spineless. Another of the main characters only thought about sex. Yes, teenagers do that but reading about was boring as heck! Also, these people were supposed to be tweens. With such a rainbow cast, I was expecting fireworks and not a meandering plot that made me ask why did I continue reading.

A really disappointing read!

Cover of the book, The Chimera Code by Wayne Santos, showing a DNA strand on a neon yellow background

The Chimera Code by Wayne Santos

I requested this book on Netgalley and I’m glad that I did!

If only someone had handed me this book when I was reaching for the Neuromancer! Sure, it has inherited some traits from its predecessor. Like it fails to explain the world it’s set in too — and no, I don’t mean how it drops us right in the middle of the action. Or, how magic and science fit in. It’s fast-paced too and I didn’t experience one boring moment as I read this book. Aside from that, though, I didn’t find much in common between the two cyberpunk novella. If it isn’t crystal to you yet, I prefer The Chimera Code to Neuromancer.

That said, I didn’t connect with Cloke the way I wanted to. She needs to be fleshed out a bit more — and be given a new name because this one reminded me more of Cloaca than Cloak. Yuck! In comparison, Zee was more fun to read about. The same superficial quality is also there in the plot. It’s quite straightforward and has no surprises. I would have liked some surprises.

In any case, I found this book a funny and quick read!

Cover of the book, Jennifer Strange by Cat Scully, showing the titular character in the clutches of a beast.

Jennifer Strange by Cat Scully

I requested this book on Netgalley and I’m glad that I did!

I have one positive thing to say about this book and that’s about the illustrations and diary entries. Even though they were hard to read on my Kindle, they really made a difference. The author figured out a clever way of infodumping with the entries while the sketches helped me imagine what the various beasts might have looked like.

Now, for the not-so-good stuff. Firstly, I found it really hard to care about any of the characters. The main reason for that would be how they reacted. One moment, they’d be angry enough to kill and the next second, they required babying. Marcus was so temperamental that reading about him gave me emotional whiplash! When it came to the Sparrow sisters, it took them half the book just to go check out Marcus’ family’s shop. They knew that was where they’d find any clues but they dithered, went to school, and did other things instead of heading over there! Jennifer kept whining how her dad had dropped everything on her shoulders and taken off. Yes, we get it but at least, grow a pair yourself and do something about it!

Secondly, I could pretty much predict the story without reading it. It was also really cliched and convoluted as if the author didn’t know where they wanted to go with it. This isn’t horror, either.

Thirdly and finally, even though really awful things happen in the story, we don’t see any real consequences come to light. It reduced the importance of those events.

In the end, it’s clear this one wasn’t for me. Maybe that won’t be the case for you?

Cover of the book, Means of Evil and Other Stories by Ruth Rendell, showing a bright yellow crab pincered arm. Your guess is as good as mine!

Means of Evil and Other Stories by Ruth Rendell

I’d always wanted to try Ruth Rendell’s work because it seemed akin to PD James’ Inspector Dalgliesh mysteries and I enjoy those immensely. I was right. The short stories are interesting, move at a sedate pace, and don’t ask for a lot of commitment from the reader. They are a great choice when you need a book for a reading challenge and don’t want to start a new series just to fulfill a task requirement. This small anthology can serve as a palate cleanser between heavier or demanding books too


Gif by Andrea J. Buchanan

The book blurb drew me in very quickly but the writing, plot, and the following issues turned me off as quickly:

The story opens in a way that made me think one of the protagonists was interested in the other — and not platonically. Their thoughts about the other girl left me in no doubt about it. Then, I found out that wasn’t the case at all.

Our female lead has a power that does a number on anything electrical. Okay, interesting. Random but still interesting. But why is she going to school if that’s the case? Hows she using a telephone? How can she even survive in the outside world without detection? No answers were given.

No depth when it came to the characters, so I couldn’t connect with any of them. The male lead happens to know everything about highly esoteric topics. Even when he hazards a guess, the lead pans out?

Of course, every teenage girl but the lead just had to fall for the villain.

Movie tie-in cover of the book, Catch Me If You Can: The True Story of a Real Fake by Frank W. Abagnale, showing di'Caprio and Hanks.

Catch Me If You Can: The True Story of a Real Fake by Frank W. Abagnale

I don’t know how much of Frank’s story told in this book is true. What I do know is that it makes for a fun and entertaining read. In the book, he accepts that his behavior was like that of an adrenaline junkie’s. But what made the account even more fun was his willingness to back up his completely bogus claims with in-depth study and sharp observational skills. Sure, his charm played a huge role and got him out of many scrapes too.

An entertaining read that made me wish that the parts about Frank masquerading as a doctor, lawyer, and professor had made it into the movie as well. Even so, it remains one of my favorites!

Cover of the book, The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead, showing two blackk teens in one corner, hands in pockets.

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

The cruelties and inhuman acts that our protagonists face in this novel aren’t the author’s creations. This book of Whitehead is firmly rooted in fact, even more so than The Underground Railroad had been. The readers don’t get to see the violence happen but it’s not that difficult to imagine. The beatings, the rapes, and other abuse, as well as the shed where they happened, and the hill where the boys’ bodies were buried. The ending surprised me but totally made sense. I can’t say I loved this book — for obvious reasons. But I’m going to recommend it to my friends interested in the history of racism.

Cover of the book, Farlander by Col Buchanan, showing a hooded and robed monk, carrying a sword.

Farlander by Col Buchanan

So, I finished this book over a week ago and I’m still conflicted about how I feel about it. I’ll just list down the thoughts I had while reading it:

What I Liked

The world-building was decent without being derivative. Here’s how I explained to someone who asked me what I meant by derivative. There were no sappers (Malazan), elves (LOTR), or braided women calling all men muttonheads (WoT).

Features a unique (to epic Fantasy) way of traveling, i.e., by airship. There’s a whole battle sequence when the heroes are in the air and everything. It was fun to read about and the author doesn’t shy away from mentioning limbs being cut off and other kinds of violence.

What I Didn’t Like

I couldn’t connect with any of the characters, so I wasn’t worried when they faced immense and frequent danger. That wasn’t just true for the protagonists who were bland and cardboardy. It was also true for the villains who were over-the-top and spineless.

The book just went on forever. It may have been my total apathy for the characters that made it seem like this but I found the book to be interminable. Doesn’t bode well since this is the first in a series!

Yes, the evil empire trying to take over the world was all about sex. But all the mention of dicks being stroked under tables and other similar things just made me gag.

The story is VERY predictable. A misfit is recruited by an older person who is an expert in their field. The former receives training and goes on a quest. And, oh, there’s a girl.

Which brings me to my next grievance: no female characters who could kick ass. None. At. All.

To conclude, I still don’t know if I’ll be reading the next book in this series.

Cover of the book, The Art of Purring by David Michie, showing a Himalayan cat lazing around

The Art of Purring by David Michie

A very cute book that’s written from a non-human perspective. The Dalai Lama assigns his cat a grave task. She’s to find out what makes her purr. Her pursuit of that goal forms the rest of the book. I think I enjoyed the first book in this series a lot because I wasn’t using it to glean advice on meditation and happiness. So, I decided to read this one in the same way and had fun reading about the cat’s antics. Interspersed among those are discussions on the research done on various subjects, such as the unusual aptitude African Grey Parrots have for math. They made the book more interesting. Think cozy mystery but with information about research on meditation and overall wellness — that’s how I’d describe the books in this series.

So, this is what I did in February. Which books did you read?

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Judi Lynn says:

    You were especially eclectic this month. You read a little bit of everything. Love the premise of the cat discovering why it purrs. I tried P.D. James and Ruth Rendell a long time ago, but couldn’t get into them. Maye I’d like them better now. They were too depressing back then.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Midu Hadi says:

      I think you would!
      Yes, the Dalai Lama’s cat is a fun series.

      Liked by 1 person

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