Book 51 of 2017: Hild

17332243Hild was another book that I had started on my 24-hour readathon. I was really hoping that I would love this book. It had been sitting on my shelf for ages and had a pictures of a lady-knight on the front so how could it go wrong?

To be clear, it didn’t go wrong. It just wasn’t what I had expected. This is the first in a series of novels by Nicola Griffith chronically the live of Saint Hild of Whitby. Hild grew up in the 17th century and this novel is mostly about her childhood as the king’s seer. Hild, despite what the king may think, has no real powers outside of her great observational skills and her will to continue living (if you see wrong as the kings seer it never really ends well for you).

The thing that I struggled most about in this book was probably the fact that Hild starts out as a child around the age of 7 and ends the novel in her mid-teens, but you never get the feeling from her that she is a kid. In the whole book she is dealing with adult problems in very mature ways, which is amazing and commendable, but never does she have any of the normal drives for a child. She never really plays or relaxes, never really falls in love, nothing that you would expect from a coming of age.

A lot of people put Hild on list for representation of LGBTQA+ books. Although Hild is quite clearly bisexual, it is not really something that the book ever talks about clearly. There are more just sprinkling of sex scenes throughout, some of which are more about power balances and such than actual love. This is a part of the book where I found the writing to really be lacking.

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I ended up rating this book a 4 out of 5. There is so much going on in the book. Although I didn’t really like the style that much and had my issues with some of the plot points, it was still a good book.

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Book 50 of 2017: Beware of the Kitten Holy

Lumberjanes_CoverLumberjanes is a continuation of my foray into graphic novels. I heard a lot about this one by Bea and Mattie from Youtube. They both really seemed to enjoy this series and although I don’t find many of the other books that they read really appealing I wanted to give this one a go.

This comic is about a group of girls at a scouting camping similar to girl guides. The group itself is quite diverse and, of course, is very good at getting into mischief.

The book goes through several of story lines, each other them around 10-20 pages long. All of them are connected.

I loved the way that the characters interacted with one another and how much they cared for each other. Going into it, I was a bit apprehensive because this book was more geared towards the 9-13 age group, but it was absolutely delightful. I ended up rating it a 5 out of 5. The perfect book to read on your way camping.

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Book 49 of 2017: Kafka on the Shore

4929This is only the second book that I ever read by Haruki Murakami. I read 1Q84 a few years ago and really loved it.  I was enthralled by the whole world that Murakami created and was really excited to read another book by him. I chose this book for my 24-hour readathon.

Maybe this wasn’t the best follow up book for me because I found that it fell a little flat compared to my expecatations. Part of this might have something to do with the size of the book as it was a mere 468 pages compared to the tome that is 1Q84 in its hardback edition, so the scope of the world seemed lesser. It also meant that there was less time to build a complete world and have it fully come together.

That being said I think it was a wonderful work of fiction. I like it more now that there is more time separating me from the book.

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The novel follows two main plot paths, the first of Kafka a run away teen who ends up living in a library, and Nakata an old man who can talk to cats due to a childhood trauma. Both of these plots had their weird moments and were, at times, very unsettling. The beginning of the novel spends a half the time jumping back to the 1940’s when Nakata’s class was knocked unconscious by a mysterious force and then just a mysteriously recovered, other than him. He spend several months in a coma and then woke up with severe mental disabilities.

This conversation, along side the conversations around trans identity that take place in the novel, are definitely the strong points. Both of those discussions are done in sensitive and realistic ways and I really enjoyed them. I did not enjoy, however, the parts about statutory rape, suicide, undiagnosed mental illness, possibly schizophrenia, and other of the more unsavory bits.

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I rated this book 3 out of 5. I often this that part of this may be because I read this in one sitting where this is a book that is more suited to quite contemplation over longer periods of time. The plot moves quite slowly and often feels disjointed, but the end of the book does a good job at tying all the lose ends together. Although I’m not sure that I would read this particular book again by Murakami, I am looking forward to reading more of his books.

Book 48 of 2017: Uprooted

uk-uprooted.jpgI was so stoked to read this book. I had only heard whisperings about it going into it so I wouldn’t call it a hyped booked, but I do love Novik’s other seires His Majesty’s Dragons so I had some high expectations.

I liked where this book started a lot. It started with a dragon. But instead of a real fun fire-breathing highly intelligent dragon it’s just some guy who protects the valley with magic and takes a girl as a tribute every ten years. Lame.

But it turned out being pretty cool. I wasn’t a huge fan of the beginning of the book. I found that it was fumbly and awkward and purposefully so which made it all the more infuriating. The main character was made to be fool-hearted and kind of useless and all together more of a lump on a long or, to put it in more literary terms, a plot devise than a real human which I found infinitely annoying. Both her and the Dragon complained endlessly about being stuck together and how they found each other irritating. This is the point where it turns into a romantic story line, right?

WRONG.

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I wanted it soooo bad. This whole entire plot ended up being a burden to the real and interesting part of the book; the evil woods that wanted to destroy everyone.

In the end I got very little satisfaction from the characters and the conclusion and the whole middle part. I so wanted to love this book. I did enjoy reading it for the most part, but there were some serious gaps in the story. It had some very fairy-tale aspects that went unexplored.

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I guess it was a bit of a let down of a book. There could have been some places that it expanded on that would have been really cool. I rated it a 3 out of 5. The ending was a bit unresolved and if another book was written in the same world I would read it.

 

 

Book 47 of 2017: Confessor

604803I was a bit apprehensive going into this book. The Sword of Truth series was one of my favourites in my late teens and I devoured the first 10 novels and was friends with Terry Goodkind on facebook (though I by no means know him)  for a time which was really awesome. Then I decided to take a break from reading the series and it’s taking me YEAAAARS to come back to it. Since then I’ve had other friends who have started reading the series who had lukewarm reactions to it, have criticised the writing, and who just plane didn’t like it. Admittedly some of those friends do not like high fantasy or long plot arcs, but it made me doubt the love of my youth.

I could not put down Confessor. I’ll be the first to admit that some of Goodkind’s writing isn’t stellar and that there are some redundancies in his style, but I have never been a literary snob and have always believed that ideas and plot make up for a lot.

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Confessor is the eleventh book in the series. I was frustrated in the last two novels with where the plot was going. Characters that I had once loved became annoying in their devotion and their lack of ability to see the bigger picture. Boy, was I wrong. Despite this directionless wander or bad quest that I had perceived, it turned out that everyone was exactly where they were meant to be and without it the whole entire series would have collapsed.

Although I’m aware that the series continues, I think that it’s going to be quite different. In fact, Goodkind introduced recently two subseries which I think will be excellent. This book did feel like a conclusion. If you don’t want to keep reading in the series but are past book 8 I would recommend reading to at least here.

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This book got be excited about reading again. It made me excited about fantasy. I’ve rated it a 5 out of 5. I spent the majority of the book thinking it was a 4, but the last 100 pages changed everything. I’m really looking forward to reading more Goodkind again. I have The Omen Machine sitting on my shelf, as it has been for several years, but I think it will be coming down soon.

Book 46 of 2017: Paper Girls Vol. 2

PaperGirls_Vol02-1After reading  The Fallen Children I needed a pallet cleanser. What better than the second volume of Paper Girls?

I think I enjoyed this graphic novel even more than the first. It still maintained all it’s strangeness while expanding on things that it introduced hastily in the first volume and answering many questions you were left with while still introducing enough new questions to keep the plot lively and making you want to read more.

The first one ended with the girls being sent to the future and getting separated while being chased by futuristic beings who policed the timeline. This one follows them through this tough period as they try to find a way to get back to the time before the strangeness of All Saint’s Day.

The novel expresses so much in its use of colour and has really given me a greater appreciation for the genre. Although I’m still finding it dubious to count them towards reading goals because I can knock off 150 in about an hour, it’s still a nice way to change up your reading and give your brain a refresh.

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I rated this book a 5 out of 5. It is a stunning book with an excellent story. As I understand it the third volume is coming out soon so I’m looking forward to continuing on in the adventure.

Please give me some more rec for graphic novels! I’ve really been enjoying this experience and would love to read more.

Book 45 of 2017: The Fallen Children

This was the second book for the month of July in Booksandquills End of the World Book

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Club. As you know, I really enjoyed The Midwich Cuckoo’s by John Wyndham, so I was expecting a lot from this book for two reasons. Firstly, it was a pick for this book club where all the other picks have been delightful reads. Secondly, it is loosely based on The Midwich Cuckoo’s, which I loved. I should know better by now than to get my hopes up because they’re always disappointed.

The start of the book was promising. Instead of taking place in a village, Midwich is an apartment building whose inhabitants live in relative poverty that aren’t really expected to go anywhere in life. Instead of following a middle aged man who isn’t affected by what’s going on because he was outside of the sphere of influence of the Day Out and can’t have children, it follows a group of teenaged girls who are pregnant. Instead of a Day Out it’s a Night Out. Instead of all the women getting impregnated, only four girls were. Other than that, the books start out being fairly similar.

For all it’s faults, and there are many, the novel tackles a lot of tough topics like rape, abusive relationships, poverty, alcoholism, eating disorders, and mob mentalities in a relatively good way. Relatively being the key word there.

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The biggest problem I had with this book, similar to the problems I had with Arthur Golden’s novel Memoirs of a Geisha, was the difficulty that male authors often have with talking about sex and pregnancy from a women’s perspective. I didn’t find that all the discomforts of pregnancy were really there, nor the terror. Furthermore, the pregnancies were drastically accelerated but no one around the girls seemed to notice.

Some of the weaker points in the book include:

  • One of the pregnant girls was significantly older than the other three so that split up the story quite a bit and there were never anything written from her perspective. She was a nurse and had fertility issues in the past, so much so that her long term significant other left her, which was a point that I found was considerably played down.
  • The only male perspective offered in the novel was a garbage person who didn’t understand anything that was going on enough to appreciate what was happening until it was too late. He was forgiven far too easily for everything that he did and was fairly abusive towards one of the other characters.
  • The perspective switched too frequently. Although I love hearing from different character’s points of view, switching three or four times midchapter makes it hard to follow the story and who’s pov you’re in.
  • The utter lack of support networks for all the character’s except for one.

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Needless to say that I did not enjoy this book. I would say that I did, in fact, dislike this book. I rated it a 2 out of 5. It was difficult to read and made me feel highly uncomfortable and will likely be purged from my shelf in the coming year.

July Book Haul 2017

July was a bad month for book buying, or a really good month depending on how you look at it. I bought 12 books. TWLEVE.

 

During the month I took two different trip to chapters. On the first trip I was fairly good and only bought two books:

  • The Robber Bride – Margaret Atwood
  • The Light Between Oceans – M.L. Stedman

The second trip, I was not so good, despite knowing that I was going to Toronto at the end of the month and needed money for my trip. I went with my friend Jaclyn and neither of us were successful at reining in my spending.  There I bought

Meanwhile, I had ordered some books off of Book Depository because I could not get them here in Canada for The End of the World Book Club. I ended up reading the first of these during the month so I didn’t feel as bad about it. I got both

Finally, while I was in Toronto I bought more books because WHY NOT. Luckily they didn’t make my luggage overweight. At the Chapters in the Eaton Centre I bought

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As an added bonus I also borrowed The Shadow of What Was Lost by James Islington from my Dad. Because 12 wasn’t enough.

This book buying binge was excessive. Hopefully I’ll get around to reading these books in the coming months.

July 2017

Lol, this has been in my drafts since August. Get read for a posting spree!

July was a pretty good month! I read 8 books and 2863 pages, which is pretty respectable seeing as though I went on a week long trip at the end of the month!

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I started out my month reading Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures by Vincent Lam. This is a collection of short stories that follows the same characters through their experience starting in med school and their practice.

All four of the prospective doctors that it follows works in emergency rooms. The story covers a variety of personalities and problems that face people working in the medical field.

The most moving part of the book was the last story in the book which took place during the SARS epidemic and the challenges it presented to those who are treating the sick. As in most epidemics it was medical personal who fell ill during epidemic.

I rating this book a 10 out of 10. I thought it was a fantastic book.

25904473Next I read So Sad Today by Melissa Broder. This is a collection of personal essays that cover topics ranging from what it is like to deal with depression to love and everything in-between.

My favourite was essay in the collection was “Help Me Not Be A Human Being.” In this section she talks about love and relationship and lists titles for love stories that will make you laugh and remind you of your own past relationships. It was the most fun essay to read.

I ended up rating this book a 5 out of 10. I don’t really think it was the book for me. Although I didn’t dislike it I found many of the essays disjoint and some of them were trying a bit to hard to be funny and relatable. Still a very interesting read.

9781400078776After that I read Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. This has been one of my favourite films for a long time and I had been putting off reading the book for a while. A few years ago my brother read it for class and really enjoyed it so I decided to make it one of my goal books for 2017. I’m really glad that I ended up reading this book. Being familiar with the movie did ruin some of the reveals but it was a wonderfully crafted novel.

The story follows a group of children as they grow up who live in a boarding school together. This part of the story sounds rather normal, but they are not normal children despite this relatively normal life. The story is narrated by Kathy, an adult who is reflecting on her childhood.

I rated this book a 8 out of 10. It wasn’t my favourite book that I have read this year but it was still really good.

51oe-hbvKTL._SX301_BO1,204,203,200_Then I read A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin. I don’t think that it has been a well kept secret that I don’t really enjoy Martin’s novels and think that they’re a bit overrated. This one was no exception.

Although I was glad for the return of several of my favourite characters as narrators, I also missed the new narrators that we met in the last book who gave the story some new life.

I found that the novel felt stale. There was several scenes that were repeated from the last novel. I didn’t really find that these scenes added anything to the overall story. I also found that several of the narratives were annoying and trivial.

I ended up rating this book a 5 out of 10. It’s nothing special and it’s really long for the amount that happens. It was all a bit of a disappointment.

PaperGirls_Vol01-1Next I read my first real graphic novel, Paper Girls vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan.

This is a collection of 6 comic published in a full volume. I can say that I don’t think I could have read it as individual comics because that would have been way to stressful and I wouldn’t have been able to wait with such weighty cliffhangers.

If you’re looking for a nice story that’s not super weird, this may not be the book for you. It may be close to the strangest scifi experience I’ve ever had. But strange in the best way imaginable.

I rated this book a 9 out of 10. It was the perfect book to pick up while I was on vacation and I can’t wait to read the rest of the books in the series.

d69103987aef6e7dd9a582a4bd7487faThen I read The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham. This is one of the two books chosen for July for The End of the World Book Club.

This was a really weird story. It starts with a “day out” where everyone in the small village of Midwich mysteriously was unconscious for a day and no one could enter or leave the town. Shortly after the day out was over it was discovered that all the women were pregnant with some sort of monstrous children who could use mind control.

I think the weakest point of the novel was that it was from a male perspective and there was a weird part in the middle where the narrator leaves and then comes back. The ending, however, was so fantastic.

I rated this book 9 out of 10. I was really impressed with the book and I’m definitely going to pick up more by Wyndham in the future.

obasanAfter that I started my buddy read with my friend Vivian. In July we read Obasan by Joy Kogawa. This is a fantastic novel.

This follows a family during the Japanese internment in Canada during the Second World War. It starts during the present time and the narrator is reflecting on her childhood in one of these camps and how it affected her and her community.

This is one of the darker points in Canadian history and one that I didn’t really know that much about it as it wasn’t really a thing that we talked about on this coast.

It is an incredibly sad and moving novel. I rated it a 10 out of 10. I think that it’s an important novel for every Canadian to read, but would also recommend anyone who is looking for a strong narrative and good writing.

240px-Cover_Moving_PicturesThe final book that I read in July was Moving Picture by Terry Pratchett.

Moving Pictures starts off a new sub-series, The Industrial Revolution, which I have decided to put all my misgivings about the novel onto the world building side of the start of a new series. I did, however, enjoy the majority of the book. It is probably the longest thus far in the series, which is also a part were I found that it struggled as a book because it had more room to drag in the middle.

It was just a really strange combination of magic and movies and greed. I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about this book. There were a lot of characters which made things a little confusing, but there was a talking dog so you know that I really loved it.

I rated this book an 8 out of 10. Although I really enjoyed reading the book the middle was a bit slow when you were waiting for things to happen and there were too many characters to keep track of at some points which made the action slow down a bit. If you’re a fan of discworld you will probably love this book.

So there we are. July. Something that was literally half a year ago now. Hopefully next July will be as great as this one was!

 

Book 44 of 2017: Moving Pictures

240px-Cover_Moving_Pictures.jpgI always bring a Partchett book with me when I’m traveling since I’ve started reading this series. They are always light hearted, jovial, and easy to read and Moving Pictures is no exception.

Moving Pictures starts off a new sub-series, The Industrial Revolution, which I have decided to put all my misgivings about the novel onto the world building side of the start of a new series. I did, however, enjoy the majority of the book. It is probably the longest thus far in the series, which is also a part were I found that it struggled as a book because it had more room to drag in the middle.

It follows a whole, very large, cast of characters, which may be another part of the problem with the novel the sheer number of characters, who are involved in the discovering of moving pictures and their creation. This discovery, of course, came about because something was wrong in Discworld and magic was behaving badly and giving people inspiration. This also makes the novel a bit weird because there really isn’t something that’s a bad until close to the end.

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Aside from the nice group of new characters that we get to see, many of our old favourites from the other books also made short appearances, one of my favourite elements of the series as a whole.

Also, there are talking dogs. A big winner in my book.

I rated this book a 8 out of 10. Although I really enjoyed reading the book the middle was a bit slow when you were waiting for things to happen and there were too many characters to keep track of at some points which made the action slow down a bit. Overall a very enjoyable book though. If you’re a fan of discworld you’ll be a fan of this novel too.