“A good library will never be too neat, or too dusty, because somebody will always be in it, taking books off the shelves and staying up late reading them.” - Lemony Snicket
Rating: 2.5/5 stars
First published: 2015
Author: Nicholas Conley
Synopsis: Gabriel Schist is spending his remaining years at Bright New Day, a nursing home. He once won the Nobel Prize for inventing a vaccine for AIDS. But now, he has Alzheimer’s, and his mind is slowly slipping away.
When one of the residents comes down with a horrific virus, Gabriel realizes that he is the only one who can find a cure. As the death count mounts, Gabriel is in a race against the clock and his own mind. Can he find a cure before his brain deteriorates past the point of no return?
This book was bizarre. I received an e-copy of it from the author in exchange for a review. And it’s taken me a while to read it. When I was first approached about it and read the synopsis, I was quite intrigued by it. I had hopes for it. But it was just so weird, I don’t even know how to approach this review.
As a sci-fi novel, it was pretty bad. For one thing, it’s so implausible. I mean, it takes place in 2018. That’s like, next year. And I don’t know, I feel like if you’re going to write a sci-fi novel… don’t alter well established history. Nobody’s cured AIDS to this day, and Gabriel Schist is supposed to have done it years ago. I know this is fiction and all, but that just didn’t sit well with me at all. Not to mention that the way the narrative goes, Schist wanted to cure AIDS before it even existed, like huh? I get that he’s a genius, but that’s not genius, that’s being prophetic.
Then there were the talking slugs… I normally wouldn’t give so many details about the story, but just… talking slugs? I mean, I guess it was trying to make us question whether or not it was real, since Gabriel’s mind was going, but all it managed to do was be very weird. It was honestly uncomfortable to read. So, as a sci-fi novel… it fails.
As a sort of… allegorical, philosophical thing… it has more merit. Although it’s still really uncomfortable to read. There’s an attempt at tackling sort of religion, science vs faith, that kind of thing. Although I feel like there could have been a better analogy for God than a Giant Sky Amoeba. I couldn’t really tell if he was trying to ridicule faith or trying to be as “objective” in the depiction of both sides of the argument as possible.
The best part about the story was the glimpse it provided into the life and mindset of the patients in a nursing home. And I can tell that unlike anything else in this book, that is drawn from experience. Conley worked in such a nursing home, I believe. And it was really eye opening in that sense and it really speaks against dehumanising these people just because they can’t function normally anymore. It also dealt a little with alcoholism and the struggle that recovering from it can be and I thought that was also done pretty well.
The writing in itself was actually good. It was evocative, it wasn’t too heavy or too boring. It alternated between past and present, which was a nice way of learning more about Schist’s life without it just being endless internal monologue. And they were tied nicely together as Gabriel dreamt of events in his past. The writing was well done.
Overall, this book was strange. It had it’s good aspects, but it just didn’t sit that well with me for some reason. It just made me uncomfortable, to tell you the truth. It was just bizarre and I’m not sure I can put my finger on exactly why it made me so uncomfortable (though the talking slugs probably had something to do with it). Man, this was a long review!
I’m a bit late with this, but better late than never, right? Besides, it’s a perfect opportunity for me to abuse gifs.
2016… not my best reading year. Massive reading slump for the first half or so of the year. Didn’t manage to finish my reading challenge. However, I did read some amazing books this year, so it wasn’t all bad. First, let’s get the stats out of the way. I read 74 books in 2016 (80-ish, if you include re-reads) out of my goal of 100. I’ll just leave a link to that nifty year in books thing GR offers if you want more details. Now, let’s get on to the reading.
Let’s see… I think the crown has to go to ACOMAF. I mean, I’ve read the book three times, THREE TIMES, in less than a year. That book just adsjhfk. And still, I have not managed to write a proper review of it. I wiiiiillll, I promise. third time’s the charm. As soon as I catch up with all my other reviews. It’s just that… how do I convey my love for this book in words?
SIX OF CROWS! Six of Crows is right on its heels. Aaahhh, that series killed me! (I have reviews for both of them.)
2016 was also the year I was introduced to V. E. Schwab and found myself a new favourite author. A Darker Shade of Magic and A Gathering of Shadows have left me wanting more, more MORE of Schwab’s writing in general and that series in particular.
And last, but most certainly not least, 2016 is the year I took my first steps (and then marathoned through the whole damn thing) into the rich and magical world of the Kingkiller Chronicle. Ahh, yes… The Name of the Wind, my newest obsession. Despite the sheer size of if, it only took me about a week to finish The Wise Man’s Fear, and now I am left waiting… waiting… waiting…
Unfortunately, there have also been a few books that I hated. Not as many as those that I loved, but alas, still a few. The crown for the absolute most infuriating book I have read this year goes to Glass Sword. This book pushed all my buttons and invented a few more buttons just so it could push them.
Eldest comes right after it. I just could not wait to finish this book. Goodness, I have read many books over the years, but few have managed to annoy me quite so much.
Another vast disappointment was The Sin Eater’s Daughter. I had expectations for this, but it was just… no.
The Game by Terri Schott was probably my only DNF of the year. I just could not be bothered to finish it.
Okay, just one more absolutely cringe-worthy book. I am not even sure why I read it… it was just so bad it was funny. I’m talking about Touch a Dark Wolf by Jennifer St. Giles. I don’t even… this book was just ridiculous.
So, there you have it. The best and the worst of 2016. How was your 2016?
Rating: 2.5/5 stars
Genre: Fantasy, historical fiction
First published: 2016
Author: Sarah Glenn Marsh
Synopsis: Bridey Corkill has hated the ocean ever since she watched her granddad dive in and drown with a smile on his face. So when a dead girl rolls in with the tide in the summer of 1913, sixteen-year-old Bridey suspects that whatever compelled her granddad to leap into the sea has made its return to the Isle of Man. Soon, villagers are vanishing in the night, but no one shares Bridey’s suspicions about the sea.
Now, Bridey has to face her fear of the sea if she is to save her village from the terrible fate that awaits them at the bottom of the ocean.
I won this book in a giveaway. It has a gorgeous cover, I have to say that much. Unfortunately, I didn’t like the book half as much as I like the cover. First, let’s talk about the good parts.
The setting is lovely. I don’t think I have ever read a YA set in the Isle of Man in the early 20th century. It was really cool to read about the culture of the people on the Isle of Man, about the Manx language and their folklore and customs. You can tell that the author was well informed and it felt authentic. It created the perfect atmosphere for sea monsters.
Which leads me to the second good point – the idea. Sea monsters, guys! Sea monsters! Who doesn’t love sea monsters? The ocean is such a mysterious place that whenever I read about sea monsters, I can’t help but wonder what monsters the ocean really holds in its cold, dark depths. Combine this with the setting, and I was very excited indeed to read this book.
However, the story and the characters were a disappointment. The story would have been okay, not great, but okay if it hadn’t been for the insta love. And the dreaded love triangle. Also, the ‘plot twist’, if you can call it that, was so, so predictable.
The characters were painfully boring. Bridey had about as much personality as seaweed. The only thing that distinguished her from ‘Jane from next door’ was her profound fear and hatred for the sea and anything that had to do with it. Other than that, she’s just… blah. Her voice really annoyed me.And bored me. I didn’t really like her. And all the other characters were painfully uni-dimensional. There was the gossipy best friend, the goody-two-shoes sister, the grumpy old witch, the mysterious stranger and so on.
The mos disappointing thing by far though was the scarcity of sea monsters. Mostly, it was just Bridey faffing about, worrying what people thought about her, hating the sea and mooning over her ‘mysterious’ stranger. We get a bit of sea monster action towards the end, but not nearly enough. I was expecting more.
All in all, this book was a disappointment for me. I was expecting much more based on the synopsis.
*As an aside, I find it vaguely amusing that someone called Sarah Glenn Marsh wrote a book about fairies and sea monsters.
Political corectness is society’s newest obsession. And like all obsessions, I think it’s becoming harmful and getting in the way of healthy interactions. I mean, I get it. I get where this obsession comes from, but the problem is that it stems from… almost a false sense of dignity. And it’s got to a point where you have to think 3 times before saying anything lest someone in your vicinity gets offended. That does not promote healthy communication.
Not only that, but it’s got to a point where it’s almost perverse in its mentality. An example that’s been recently on my mind for obvious reasons is when Christmas rolls around every year and you wish someone Merry Christmas and they give you this offended look and tell you very curtly “I don’t celebrate Christmas.” So what? Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, does not change the fact that it IS Christmas on the 25th of December. So if on the 25th of December, I wish you Merry Christmas, I’m wishing you a nice day. Why are you offended by that? Why can’t you just smile back and say “Thank you.”. I guarantee you that nobody who wishes you a Happy Christmas does so with any other intention that to simply share a little bit of joy with you. And what’s wrong with that? How messed up is it to get offended when someone wishes you a happy day just because that day holds a different significance for them than it does for you?
This is just one of the many, many instances when people get so butthurt about things that they have no reason to be offended by. And because of this, people live in fear of saying something that isn’t politically correct. It adds so much tension to social interaction, so much negativity to it. Instead of being so hung up on political corectness, we should just exercise respect and compassion for others. If we did that, nobody would care about political corectness. Nobody would feel the need to ‘defend’ themselves. Nobody would feel like they needed this false sense of dignity that political corectness affords them.
"I have an advanced degree in procrastination and another one in paranoia" - Joanne Harris
This is a very carefully chosen quote. Why, you ask? Because I currently have two reviews to write, a book haul that I’ve been meaning to do for months and the pile just keeps growing as I keep putting it off, a meal to cook, a room to clean, two tests to take, two interviews to transcribe, one assignment to finish and a pile of dishes to wash. What am I doing instead? Sitting in bed looking for quotes on procrastination by an author whose name starts with J, so that I can write this post about procrastination while procrastinating. And that is why I too, have an advanced degree in procrastination.
We’ll talk about the paranoia another time.
Genre: high fantasy
First published: 2011
Author: Patrick Rothfuss
Synopsis: My name is Kvothe.
I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trehon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.
You may have heard of me.
***SPOILER ALERT This is the second book in the series, and therefore the following review may contain some minor spoilers for The Name of the Wind.
This was one behemoth of a book. I loved it!
Kvothe’s story continues and more and more little pieces fall into place. We get to meet Felurian and we get to see other places other than the University, which is exciting. We get to see Kvothe be a smartass in several different countries and learn how he gained a couple more of his nicknames. Kvothe is a little bit more grown up in this one. Not much. But a little. In more than one way. Still a smartass though.
Probably my favourite part of this book was the time he spent with the Adem. They’re so fascinating. I love the detail that went into creating all these different customs and cultures. That’s masterful worldbuilding, that is!
One thing that worries me ( I don’t know if “worries” is the right word) is that more than half of the first book and the entirety of the second one happens in less than two years. At the end of this one, Kvothe is 17. Present day Kvothe is maybe 25. He goes ‘missing’ when he’s 23 maybe. That means we have 6 years of story to cover in the last book.
My general thoughts about the writing, worlbuilding and characters are pretty much the same for The Name of the Wind. The storytelling is amazing, the writing is so atmospheric and it just sucks you right in. There isn’t much more that I can add without going into it and spoiling things, which I don’t want to do.
I feel this review is very lacking. But I don’t know what to say. I don’t know how to capture the essence of this book. Or this story, really. You just need to read it to understand it. But it’s worth reading.
“I'm going to bed before either of you come up with another clever idea to get us killed or worse expelled.” - Hermione Granger
Such an epic quote. Probably the most memorable Hermione quote. And since Hermione is one of my favourite characters, this was the obvious choice for H.
For some reason, I didn’t do a November wrap up (probably because I didn’t really read in November), so I’m doing a combined wrap up. Which shouldn’t be too long, because I’ve been reading very little.
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
This is the first book that I read probably back in November. I really loved it, it lived up to all the hype around it for sure. I have a review of it if you’d like to read all of my thoughts on it, but all around, I would say it’s a good fantasy, has an amazing setting and an interesting story. The characters weren’t my favourite, I feel like they were a bit too trope-y for my taste, but I still gave it 5/5 stars and I’m still looking forward to reading the next one.
Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
This one was a bit of a disappointment for me. I was expecting more from it. It had a lot of potential; it had a brilliant setting and a decent plot to begin with, but the characters were insipid and the story was all over the place, as if Raasch wasn’t really sure what she wanted to do with it. I also have a review of it, if you’re interested to know more of my thoughts. I don’t think I will be continuing with this series. It was just too meh for me to be interested in the rest of it. 3/5 stars
The Diabolic by S. J. Kincaid
This was a surprisingly good sci-fi, considering it’s a standalone. So kudos to Kincaid. I’d never read one of her books before, but I might do just that now. I really enjoyed the story and the characters and overall, I just really enjoyed reading this book. It was very well balanced in terms of plot vs worldbuilding, which is something I really appreciate, especially that it wasn’t a particularly long book. I have a review of this one as well, so check that out for more details. 5/5 stars.
Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Lost Adventures
This was probably the best thing I read recently in terms of pure entertainment value. It’s a great graphic novel with awesome artwork and I really do recommend it for any fans of The Last Airbender. It’s one of my favourite shows and somehow, this managed to capture the essence of the show so well I could hardly tell the difference. I have a full review of this one as well, so check that out. 5/5 stars
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
This book was a masterpiece. Like honestly, I hardly feel qualified to judge this book. It was just SO. GOOD! So masterfully written, so rich and powerful and just beautiful. I just want to have it scrubbed from my brain just so I can read it for the first time all over again. It’s that kind of book. I have a full review of this one as well, so be sure to have a look. 5/5 stars. But of a completely different caliber than the other 5/5 stars in this post. This series is in a league of its own, really.
The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
And finally, the last book I read in 2016. And what a book! Of course I had to immediately read the sequel to The Name of the Wind. And now I of course have to wait forever for the next one. As if ASOIAF wasn’t enough frustration for me. Anyway, I read this mammoth of a book and I loved it every bit as much as its predecessor and I want the next one yesterday. I haven’t had the time to review it yet on account of it being huge and I want to do it justice. But I’ll have a review of it coming up soon, so keep an eye out. 5/5 stars.
Inconsistent covers in a series
I don’t mean covers that don’t match. I already ranted about that in one of my previous posts. I mean when the covers do match, but they are inconsistent from one book to the other. Let me illustrate what I mean with a picture.
Our subjects are The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear. The front of the covers are nice and matching, the spines match as well, the font matches. But why, why couldn’t they have placed the titles in the same place on the spine? The books are the same height. WHY? And why did they have to make the publisher’s logo bigger on one than on the other? Why would you do that? Who has hurt you so badly that you feel the need to inflict pain indiscriminately?
When the formatting is inconsistent
You may have realised that I don’t like inconsistency. It bugs me to no end. So when the formatting inside the book is not consistent, it drives me bananas! Allow me to show you some more pictures.
Why? First of all, why would you leave a blank page at the end of the chapter? You are the reason koalas are sad.
But if you’re going to do that, at least do it consistently. Don’t go back and forth. I will spend more time feeling annoyed at this than I will pay attention to the book. Just don’t.
This isn’t really noticeable in the picture, but the swirly thing is in different places on the page. It’s higher up on the page for chapter fourteen than it is for chapter twenty four. Also, why is the “F” in fourteen loopy and the “F” in twenty-four not? Why isn’t the first letter of every word loopy, for that matter?
The shiny paint on titles
Now, I have nothing against the shiny paint in and of itself. But what really annoys me is that that shit is like butterfly wings. You touch it and it dies. Look at this
Believe me when I tell you that I handled this book like it was made of crystal. You can’t even see any creases on the spine. I checked every time I picked it up that my hands do not touch the title. I always made sure not to place it face down. And it did not take me more than 3 days to read. I don’t even think it took me that long. And still, half of the stupid shiny paint is gone. Just… ughhhhh!