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Archive for October, 2017

April 2017 Reads — #historic, #mystery, #horror, #urbanfantasy

October 29, 2017 1 comment
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An bookstagram shot from while I was reading Moloka’i. For more check out opinionsofawolf.

I read so many books in April (7!) that I had to look back to postulate why. My husband took me on a surprise trip which means I had a bunch of airplane time, so I think that might have been part of it. In the future, when I’m doing these wrap-ups on time, I’ll know exactly why.

Anyway, April was kind of all over the place in terms of genre, as you can see from the title.

I started off the month with Moloka’i by Alan Brennert, a print book that had been languishing on my tbr shelf for a while. It’s about a Hawaiian girl who gets sent to a leper colony in the late 1800s. We follow her life in this prison forced upon her through no fault of her own. Through this book I learned that leprosy is better called Hansen’s Disease and while I knew about the exploitation of Hawaii, it was interesting to see it through this new lens. It also called into question a lot of medical and public health ethics that tend to come up with something like quarantine. A sad but powerful read.
(4 out of 5 stars, buy it)
(source: paperbackswap)

I next picked up a Harlequin romance mystery that was given to me Wanted Woman by B. J. Daniels. It involves a woman running from false charges on a motorcycle. It was interesting to see the motorcycle bad boy flipped on its head a bit but the book left me feeling kind of meh. I didn’t hate it but I had a hard time even remembering what it was about to write this.
(3 out of 5 stars, buy it)
(source: gift)

Next I picked up another historic fiction (although this time wrapped up with contemporary fiction) — Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. I had a phase when I was a little girl of being very into the concept of the orphan trains. For those who don’t know, orphan children from the east coast were put on trains and sent west with the idea that they’d be more able to find homes among the farmers. While some found homes and true families, others of course were only “adopted” to be cheap farmhands. This book has a modern day teenage girl in the foster system doing community service with an elderly lady who it turns out was on the orphan trains. It shows how orphan and foster children are currently and have been mishandled. I liked the beginning of this one quite a bit but found the ending to be disappointing (“cop-out” is the exact phrase I wrote in my initial thoughts.)
(3 out of 5 stars, buy it)
(source: paperbackswap)

Next I changed pace and picked up a monster horror — The Colony by A. J. Colucci. In this case the monster is ant colonies that man has tampered with to create a superweapon that of course gets accidentally unleashed on New York City. Mayhem ensues! This is another one that started out good but was ruined by the ending for me.
(3 out of 5 stars, buy it)
(source: library)

I was so excited for the fourth Miriam Black book to come out that I actually pre-ordered the kindle version. Miriam Black is an urban fantasy series by Chuck Wendig whose lead character can see people’s deaths if she touches them and also has an odd relationship with birds (mainly, that she can kind of send her soul out into a flock of them). I used to love this series. Really love. I’m not sure if I’ve changed or the series has changed. I’d have to go back and re-read the previous entries to know for sure, and I’m not much of a re-reader so I doubt that’ll happen. What I do know is I used to find Miriam gritty and real and this time in Thunderbird I found her annoying and immature. I particularly was not fond of her repeated “nic fits,” in which she brushed off responsibility for her behavior. I also didn’t like the big bad this time, finding them to be boring and unlikely foe for Miriam. I also thought the book sometimes came across as preachy. I know an author’s viewpoint will always come into a book but it shouldn’t do so in an out-of-character way, which happens a few times in this book. Even if this wasn’t the case, though, I found this book to be mostly filler getting ready for the next book in the series, and that always annoys me. So I was disappointed but I’m choosing to believe it’s just that I changed and it’s time for the series and me to part ways.
(3 out of 5 stars, buy it)
(source: purchased)

I next picked up a chick lit, which I reviewed in haiku form here.

I finished up the month with another horror, this one by Richard Matheson. Hell House isn’t what he’s best known for but I was curious about it as a classic of the haunted house genre. This book features investigators going to Belasco House to see once and for all if it’s haunted. I thought it had some frightening moments and enjoyed its stance that it took science and spirituality together to accomplish things but man did it have some stuff that just didn’t age well (and honestly was probably not too great even when it was first published in 1971). For instance, one of the horrors of the house is that a woman’s long-buried same-sex attraction is brought to the surface. This is treated with the same horror as molestation or rape in the book. This is obviously problematic. It also has a Native American character who does not have a well-rounded representation. I’d also give the trigger warning that there are grotesque sex scenes and disfigurings of religious figurines (albeit by evil characters).
(3 out of 5 stars, buy it)
(source: purchased)

My total for the month of April 2017:

  • 7 books
    • 7 fiction; 0 nonfiction
    • 4 female authors; 3 male authors
    • 3 ebooks; 3 print books; 1 audiobook
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Categories: Book, Review

March 2017 Reads – #cozy, #thriller

October 22, 2017 5 comments

March was a tough reading month for me. I had a lot of mediocre or disappointing reads. There was a memoir that left me feeling meh (haiku review here) and a deeply disappointing audiobook that was supposed to be a comedic take on the apocalypse (haiku review here).

That audiobook was followed by the Japanese thriller Out by Natsuo Kirino. It follows a woman in an abusive marriage who kills her abuser and how her work colleagues help her cover it up. (None of this is spoilers. It’s revealed very early on). I really enjoyed it right up until the end where it took a turn into a place that left me extremely uncomfortable with its near-pornographic depiction of a rape scene. That combined with certain characters’ reactions to it made me feel betrayed and like I’d wasted my time reading it. It felt like it changed tone totally right at the end.
(2 out of 5 stars, buy it)

The saving grace of the month was a cozy mystery called Kneading to Die by Liz Mugavero, the first in her Pawsitively Organic series about a New York City businesswoman who moves to Connecticut to start an organic pet treats business. She’s a main character you love to hate in a town full of people you love to hate with a mystery that held my attention and made me giggle. It was just the right light read I needed. I could see picking up the next book the next time I’m in that kind of mood.
(4 out of 5 stars, buy it)

My total for the month of March 2017:

  • 4 books
    • 3 fiction; 1 nonfiction
    • 3 female authors; 1 male author
    • 0 ebooks; 2 print books; 2 audiobooks

 

Categories: Book, Review

February 2017 Reads – #romance, #scifi, #thriller

October 14, 2017 3 comments

12656935You may have noticed (if I have any constant readers left) that things have become awfully quiet around here. All I can say is my priorities have changed. I thought it was a funk but it seems to be a constant. I’m no longer so interested in writing in-depth book reviews (although I’m still reading voraciously). Writing reviews was starting to feel like an unwelcome chore rather than a joy. But I do still love the online book reading community. It can be a challenge to find fellow voracious readers, and this helps me connect with you. So what to do? I tried out the haiku reviews. Those were fun but also too time-consuming for my average week. So I’m going to try this out. Summarizing my month of reading once a month. This will also free me up to do occasional posts of other varieties if I want to. Thoughts on book trends, summaries of new sewing projects, news of my gardens (both productive and succulent), and more. If I feel like it. So sorry for no more formal book reviews, but I do hope you’ll still enjoy the monthly summaries and find some good reads for yourself through them. Also in light of wanting to keep things simpler around here, I’ve decided to only feature the cover of my favorite read of the month.

As you can tell from the title, I’m very far behind in my book reviews. My oldest month was the month of February! So you’ll have a few of these in a row while I catch up, and then we should be onto a monthly schedule.

I started off February devouring a romance, which seems appropriate enough for Valentine’s Day month. Stay Until We Break by Mercy Brown is the second in her new adult series about a punk rock band in the 90s. This one centers around Sonia, the band’s business manager. She’s the type of character I usually struggle with empathizing with (a poor little rich girl) but it worked for me anyway. I think I just really enjoy the setting and I find it a real hoot that the 90s count as historic fiction now.
(4 out of 5 stars; buy it)

Next I tackled the scifi classic Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell Jr. It’s the scifi novel that inspired the movie classic The Thing. It centers around a team of Antarctic researchers, and, of course, things go awry. I read it with the intention of watching the movie, but I basically found it to be a less interesting Alien vs. Predator so I never got around to watching the movie. I did listen to this on audiobook format, though, and I found the narrator to be so good that it bumped up my enjoyment a bit.
(4 out of 5 star; buy it)

I wrapped up the month with another audiobook (I can’t remember at this point why I was reading so many audiobooks) in the form of a Scandinavian thriller: Unwanted by Kristina Olsson. As is the case with many thrillers, this centers around a mismatched investigative team looking into the mysterious disappearance of a child. The narration was mysteriously accented (I know it’s in translation. You don’t have to drive that point home by having the narrator have a thick accent….) but I found it deliciously spine-tingling, nonetheless.
(4 out of 5 stars; buy it)

(I also read five other books at the beginning of February, but I’ve previously reviewed them here).

My total for the month of February 2017:

  • 8 books
    • 7 fiction; 1 nonfiction
    • 5 female authors; 3 male authors
    • 3 ebooks; 2 print books; 3 audiobooks
Categories: Book, Review