September 2017 Reading Wrap-Up

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The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin (My Rating: 5/5) What do you even say after you’ve gone on a journey like this one? It was a spectacular finale. It revealed a ton of backstory that illuminates the reason this world has become the way it has. It was sincere and emotional with its character arcs. The use of magic and action was stunning, and it makes me more excited to see how they’ll capture it in a possible television series. I have that numb feeling you get when something you’re obsessed with absolutely overloaded you with feelings and information. I know I’ll be thinking about this one for some time to come. Turning it over in my mind, considering new angles, and writing fan fiction in my head about the next steps for this world.

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August 2017 Reading Wrap-Up

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Kissing the Bee by Kathe Koja (My Rating: 4/5) I don’t read a lot of young adult contemporary, but Koja could convince me to read anything, whether it’s in my comfort zone or not. Her writing is beautiful and poetic. Her grasp on characterization is unique, and her characters always have a profound arc that plays throughout the story. I have yet to read a book by her that’s let me down. I prefer her horror novels from earlier in her career, but after reading this and Buddha Boy, I’m convinced that I need to keep reading her YA contributions. She writes about that feeling of being a teen wracked with emotion, when everything feels like the end of the world, with such incredible impact. It immediately takes me back to that time, conjuring my own memories in the process of reading.

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Reading Wrap-Up: July 2017

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The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan (My Rating: 5/5) I did not read this in July. I read it at the end of June. I failed to include it in my June wrap-up, which is especially awful since you can tell by my rating that I loved this. Better late than never though.

This book tells the sordid tale of an island that becomes besotted with selkies, women who come from the skins of seals. It gives the backstory of the woman with the power to bring these women forth. It goes through a few generations, and how this destroys things on the island.

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June 2017 Reading Wrap-Up

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Adulthood Rites by Octavia E. Butler (My Rating: 4/5) This is the second book in the Xenogenesis Trilogy, also known as Lilith’s Brood. I preferred the first book, Dawn, and there’s one, major reason for that. I’m going to try to explain it as well as I can without spoiling or at least by being super vague. A character in this second book is kidnapped, and through the course of their being held, they come to sympathize with their kidnappers. This is not treated like Stockholm Syndrome or anything of the kind. It’s treated as legitimate. But there was never a point where I could see why they would feel this way. The shift to caring for these people didn’t make any sense to me. It becomes a major plot point, and I’m questioning why it’s happening at all. So, yes, worth losing a star over probably. But it’s still an incredible story that, aside from that bump, is very well-told.

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Reading Wrap-Up: May 2017

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Dawn by Octavia E. Butler (My Rating: 5/5) When you love a book on the level that I loved this, it’s hard to discuss. How do I impart to you that I’ve been waiting for a book like this for so long? Something suitably weird with great world-building and an incredibly strong and well-written lead character. This book covers all those needs. Butler even managed to write the exposition regarding the aliens and all their ins and outs without boring me for even a single second. I’m not sure how you do that. Info dumps are the worst, but every moment of hers are fascinating here. Then halfway through the book, it gets even better. The core of humanity’s deepest problems is explored with lots of conflict and a really surprising climax. This book is perfect. There’s no other word that will suffice. I can’t wait to get to the second one in the trilogy.

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Reading Wrap-Up: April 2017

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In The Miso Soup by Ryu Murakami (My Rating: 4/5) The great strength of this book is how it deals with culture shock, both from the perspective of a Japanese man dealing with an American who is not on the up-and-up and how he attempts to describe his own culture to the reader. There is a lot of comparing going on between Japan and America by Kenji, our narrator. The thing I found most interesting about that is how he says the same thing about Americans that I’ve heard Americans say¬†about the Japanese, and it puts context, for me personally, into how similar we actually are deep down. Murakami entirely captures that feeling of “well, you just don’t understand because you’re not from here.” It makes the book more than a simple thriller for me, because of how well he explores this.

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Reading Wrap-Up: March 2017

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Over the Edge by Harlan Ellison (My Rating: 3.5/5) I could point new readers to specific collections that are best to start with for Ellison (Angry Candy or Slippage would both be great), but this is not one. This is for the people, like myself, who are established fans and determined to read as much of his work as possible. In part, I say that because this collection was fairly up and down. “Xenogenesis” and “Blind Lightning” are both worth owning the book for, but the rest were either featured in other collections that are better or not that impressive. This collection also didn’t have a unifying theme of any kind. There was science fiction and fantasy and non-fiction and crime thrillers, and at some point it started to feel scattered to me. There’s also the non-fiction essay “3 Faces of Fear” that was long-winded, repetitive, and full of harsher in hindsight moments that made me cringe. For hardcore fans only.

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Reading Wrap-Up: February 2017

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I read so much this month. Let’s not delay then and get right into it.

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh. (My Rating: 5/5) I was already a fan of Brosh from her blog. In fact, if you’re curious, I suggest having a look at that first to see if you like the style. It’s a mixed media type of storytelling, with simple images and text, like illustrated stories. And it’s hilarious. And sometimes surprisingly moving. While there are some previous blog posts of hers collected in this volume, there are also lots of new installments that can only be found here. I highly recommend this as a quick and amusing read that also packs a punch in spots, especially when she gets very honest and raw about her battle with depression.

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Reading Wrap-Up: January 2017

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Souichi’s Diary of Delights by Junji Ito (My Rating: 2/5) Junji Ito is normally a safe bet for me. I love his art and his bizarre stories that chill me to the bone. In this case, this was my first go round with Souichi, who is a fan favorite up there with Tomie. I officially don’t see it. Souichi annoyed the living hell out of me. Normally, I would see the appeal. In a way, he has that Edward Scissorhands vibe to him. That he doesn’t follow the norm and takes his own path. He draws in the outsiders who are always looking for mirror images of themselves. Except that he’s a spoiled brat. So unlike Edward, who is a great example, he’s not sweet or well-meaning. He’s godawful. And not like, another great example, the Joker, where someone could get glee out of him doing whatever he feels. Because he’s simpering and whiny and gives up as soon as opposition presents itself. He’s just not fun.

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Reading Wrap-Up: November and December 2016

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The reading slump continues, but I am getting a few things in here and there. With that in mind, here’s a current rundown of my latest reads. They’re all short and token efforts, so definitely don’t get too excited.

The Mermaid Girl by Erika Swyler (My Rating: 5/5) For transparency’s sake, I won this in a Goodreads giveaway. I entered not even realizing this short story ties into a previous book by the author. I honestly thought the synopsis sounded interesting, and it turned out it was. Though I will say it felt a little sneaky, since the summary made the story sound like a fantastical/magical-realism thing, and it’s really not. It still took me by surprise, and I loved it. It was also blessedly short, being only a small story, and it allowed me to accomplish something at a time when I felt like I wasn’t.

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