Month: August 2016

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.

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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.

I read some mixed to negative reviews of this book when it came out. However, even with her writing faults in some ways, I remain a J. K. Rowling fan. I also love the Potterverse.

There are spoilers in this review. Continue reading →

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.

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