League of Dragons by Naomi Novik

The final book in the Temeraire series. I started this series late last year or earlier this year. Luckily enough, the author chose to finish it this year.

This novel was similar to some previous ones. It was slow to start, not a bad middle, and then I zoned out during the battles. The ending was fine.

I would say that the world building in this novel has been fun. I love dragons. Temeraire is a good character and I loved the various settings. Laurence is a character as well. I do think the series has been dragged on slightly. To be honest, there was not a lot of difference between the last two books. The emphasis on the battles bored me. The series even used the amnesia trope at one point. Romance was practically nonexistent in these books which is actually fine. At the times when the books did touch on it for the humans, it felt forced. The dragon romance Temeraire with the Chinese dragon was more interesting but not well explored.

In conclusion, I recommend this series to fantasy and history fans. They are easy and fun to read. I enjoyed going through the series and have not completed a series like this in a long time. I do wonder if Novik will continue another story in this universe.

Read October 25, 2016

Stiletto by Daniel O’Malley

This is a long overdue review. The blog being down and me being generally busy with life and other things means that I cobbled this review from notes and other postings.

This was an eagerly anticipated sequel to The Rook. I read Stiletto without rereading The Rook so I forgot a lot, but you can really read it as a standalone.

All in all, I liked it and found it almost as addictive as the first. I liked the new characters and the new arc featuring the merger. This novel has a ton of world building which is fun and as a fatansy/sci-fi series should. There’s a little of side stories and tidbits. My favourite was Marcel’s story which read like a mini WWII novel (and there are many of those on the market). I found The Roock was not British or English enough; the editing and writing for that part of the world and those characters were lacking. This one was better that way. I believed the characters were British and European.

There was not enough Myfanwy. She continues to grow and I missed her POV in this novel. I do like that this series seems focused on interesting and distinct female protagonists and characters. All three central characters come from different backgrounds and experiences.

Finally, this book is squickier than the last book and in general compared to many other books I read. I’m generally fine these kind of details in books (less so in movies and TV), but this will bother more readers.

To avoid spoiling the book, I will say that there is a villain in this series and Myfawny has a true nemesis. Personally, they are one of the creepiest and darkest villains in a series I’ve read in awhile. I kinda wish the author would introduce a new nemesis for Myfanwny. Hopefully when the take down happens, it will be sweet and worthwhile.

Read September 6-8, 2016.

This was my 42nd book of the year. In 2015, I only managed 42 books. While I will read more books for the rest of the year; the autumn is much busier than I anticipated. As I get older, I still read as fast and love books. They are one of my constant pleasures and hobbies; however, life does get in the way. I have more responsibilities in all areas of my life. Most days, I wish I could forget it all and read and read.

Short Book Reviews of Summer 2016

The following are three books I read in the summer which warranted some mini reviews.

Spark Joy by Marie Kondo

Love KonMari’s philosophy about tidiness and stuff. I find it spiritual and from a good place not of judgment or feeding into consumerism.

Living Alone & Loving It by Barbara Feldon

I love to live alone. This book has avice which i already apply to my life which is to create a space for myself. I am lucky to have my family near by, but I love my own space. This book has practical advice for those who want to love their single and solo life more.

A Beginner’s Guide to Paradise by Alex Sheshunoff

A funny memoirs about time in the South and West Pacific Islands. Made me laugh out loud a couple of times and really captured the early aughts.

The Martian by Andy Weir

This was a fun and exciting page turner. There is something about this novel that does feel different to recent novels I’ve read. Part of it was the focus on space and the excitement from the extreme plot of being stranded on Mars.

The book has urgency and suspense. It pulls the reader in even though after disaster and bad news #4566, it gets a little tiresome watching everyone be able to make it through. There is no way this book could be popular without a happy ending. There were too many catastrophes along the way for that to happen. It had to have somewhat of a good ending.

Mark is likeable though sometimes a little too snarky to be true. I liked almost all the characters, but few of them got thorough development. There were many notable characters. I liked the dialogue in the book. I wish we more on the characters. It does feel more like a plot book rather than a character book which is alright in some ways.

Read August 29-30, 2016.

Continue reading “The Martian by Andy Weir”

Dog on it by Spencer Quinn

I read this for a book club. We have not met for it yet.

This is a mystery novel narrated by a dog. I did not realize this until I started the novel. It’s rather cute actually. There are lots of moments of silliness and adorableness especially if you love dog. I even laughed out lout whenever Chet the dog would narrate how he barked to another dog: “I barked. She barked. I barked. She barked.”

Other than the Chet’s narration, the rest of the novel is not particularly noteworthy. Bernie the private detective is a nice enough guy, but there does not seem to be a lot of depth to all these characters. Part of it is probably because it is narrated by a non-human. However, it does limit things for character development.

The plot was very predictable even for a mystery reader as myself. I was a bit disappointed how basic it was. I think this is a small quibble because this book is a light read. It’s easy writing and if you like desert settings, even better. I will not read on this series. It’s not for me, but I did not dislike the experience.

Read August 21-23, 2016.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

This book has been winning awards and receiving hype. I have read all of the Termeraire books by the same author so I knew I could not go wrong.

I did not know the plot in advance, and in many ways, this actually feels really different than the Termeraire books. The writing is denser and the world building is much more complex. The tone is darker too. There’s even some romance.

I like the female protagonist and I like her relationship to her best friend Kasia. I enjoyed the focus on female characters. The plot moved at a good pace and there is a certain nuance to the evil in the story. The idea of a living forest and the various magic associated with it. Until I got to that part, I had kept waiting for the big hit of this novel.

On reflection, I can see why it’s acclaimed, but I do not love this book as much as some others. The romance could have been omitted and the man acts too much like a “Jerk with a Heart of Gold” trope. Maybe I was expecting something bigger, but the book did not move or excite me as much as some readers.

I still recommend it to those who like fantasy and I will continue to read Novik’s other works.

Read Aug 4-5, 2016.

The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell

This was a nice and fun book about Denmark. I am writing the review for it rather late as I spent about 9 days after it studying for and passing a work examination. I never studied for something so hard in my life.

In any case, the weekend before, I read this little gem about Denmark. I really enjoyed the author’s humor and candidness. It is indeed laid out as a year with each month having a theme about life in Denmark.

As with many Europhiles people and especially one who reads books on happiness, I was interested in Denmark. I have not been and would like to go. It sounds idyllic in many ways; it’s progressive, the capital has a world-renowned food scene, and it scores well on many tests on human happiness. I also find myself really into a lot of Danish life described in the book. I can understand what “hygge” means. I love cycling, baking, and knitting too.

Of course, Denmark is not heaven on Earth, and I don’t even mean the taxes. I did find it interesting to know how violent it was and how the people did like to test the system of their health. I am fascinated by aspects of the culture and country. I don’t think all countries or most can achieve what they have, but there are definitely lessons one can take on the communal or municipal levels. It’s clear supporting the arts, encouraging clubs and physical activity, and community events make people happier.

All in all, I really enjoyed reading the author and her family’s first year in Denmark. In fact, I’d read another book about it.

Read July 22-23, 2016

Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine

It is always a bit difficult to review a book of poetry and personal essays. The work is subjective and this one in particular has a singular voice.

Not being American or black, I can not fully understand or empathize with all the experiences in this book. As a visible minority and as a human being with feelings, I can sympathize in more ways than one.

The prose and words are powerful in this book. Rankine uses images and second personal narrative to put yourself in her shoes and others who have been marginalized. It is raw. The words are unencumbered. They are emotional in their simplicity.

I found the works in this book disturbing and provocative in the best way. I was at times angry, sad, upset, and uncomfortable while reading this book. That is not often. I also loved how much it made me feel and think.

I highly recommend this work.

Read July 13, 2016.

The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz

It has been six years since I first read the Millenium trilogy. I remember devouring the books and being disappointed when I finished them. While they had their flaws and melodramaic moments, I enjoyed the characters. I think Lisbeth Salander was a memorable modern literary heroine.

When I heard this novel was going to be made, I had mixed feelings especially considering the estate battle that went on between Larson’s family (his father and brother) and his long term partner who allegedly owns a fourth manuscript. Lagercrantz was supported by the formal estate from the family. Profit is definitely a motivation here.

In any case, this novel took me much longer than to read than I thought. Four days is a long time for a thriller book for me especially considering how I devoured the first three Millennium books. I did like the ending and I think both Lagercrantz did Lisbeth and Mikael justice to a certain extent. While I didn’t think it was a perfect continuation, I’m glad it was not suppose to be.

Overall, I think for fans of the Millenium trilogy, this is an alright attempt to continue that universe. I am someone who has no problem with published “fanfic” as it were. I also think I would continue reading this series if Lagercrantz were to continue. Not a perfect novel, but serviceable for those of us who like the characters.

Read July 4-8, 2016.

Shopaholic to the Rescue by Sophie Kinsella

I have read many of Sophie Kinsella’s novels. Most of them are rather forgettable and not always worth the pick up. However, there is something nice and frothy about her style when she is good.

This is the eighth novel in the Shopaholic series. I did not read the last one, but I have read most of the other books in this series. At least Becky (Bloomwood) Brandon has developed as a character over the course of the books. Secondly, I think Kinsella is particularly funny when writing dialogue and situations for these characters. I had a good laugh during one scene of this book.

The writing in these books is nothing to wax poetic about. Sometimes it works for me, and sometimes it doesn’t. There were definite plot holes in this novel, but this is chicklit. I want a laugh and a quick read. For that reason, this worked. I will still probably read more Kinsella and anticipate more mixed results. That’s not to the worse thing in my reading life though.

Read June 25- July 1, 2016 (mostly July 1).

The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson

I have read most of Bryson’s books and followed his career for the last 15 years or so. I enjoy this writing and I find it gets even funnier and more amusing as he gets older. In this book, he is hilariously curmudgeony and cantankerous throughout it. All the while still being warm, perceptive, and pleasant.

There were definitely a couple of laugh out loud moments from the book and found the read fun and lovely all around. The deadpan and snarky humor writing does notwork for everyone, but it was right up my alley.

I share Bryson’s love of Great Britain and I have been to a few places mentioned in the books. Like him, I can be both frustrated and charmed by the British. He really captures the spirit of the culture and people.

Recommended for anglophiles.

First started in January 2016, but had to return to the library after about 25 pages. Picked up again June 16-20, 2016.