June 29, 2015 by rachelcmann
(get ready, it was a big month)
The Raw Shark Texts – Steven Hall – This book is high concept. Very high. Essentially a man has amnesia and while trying to piece together his former life he is led down a strange path and believes he is being stalked by a literary/psychological shark who eats personality (it’s hard to explain). He follows the instructions of his former self and eventually lands in the company of experts in this type of thing to try to kill the animal who is trying to kill him. I can’t do it justice, but it’s a compelling read and leaves you with a lot of philosophical questions.
And it keeps coming up in my head like any number of thoughts that I can’t seem to shake. There are thoughts and concepts that worry at you, ones that fall away nearly as soon as you’ve processed them, and there are ones that stalk you. Thoughts that stalk you are innocuous on the surface, but for me they tend to revolve around social anxieties. Was something I said perceived differently than the way I intended? Or did someone mean something other than what I perceived? I think I’ve forgotten them but then they pop up, again and again over weeks and months. Thoughts have power and while this book gives thoughts and words real physical meaning, they are (in my opinion) an allegory for thoughts that take over your life and change you, for good or for ill. Scary stuff.
Visitors – Orson Scott Card – The last in the Pathfinder series I was reading last month, this one concludes the journey of the time manipulators. It’s still mindbending-ly complex in spots and takes some amount of concentration to get through. I really enjoy that the author took the time to acknowledge and address the mindbend-y stuff though because without it just becomes another sci-fi book where crazy impossible stuff happens ‘just because’. While I don’t agree with all the decisions the characters make in the end, I’m impressed with how the characters have grown up as people and as citizens of a universe.
Heartsick – Chelsea Cain – I really enjoyed One Kick last month so I wanted to try another title by this author. This one is just as dark and twisty as the last, maybe more so. But I loved it as a love letter to Portland and it definitely held some surprises. It’s not gory exactly but it does get a little graphic in its description of torture. Reader beware.
Angelfall – Susan Ee – I burned right through this even though I was skeptical of its ability to transcend YA tropes at first. Penryn Young is a survivor and the caretaker of her small disabled family after the heavenly apocalypse (it’s unclear what happened but angels have come and destroyed most of Earth apparently). She ends up helping an angel whose wings have been cut off in exchange for being taken to the angel aerie where her sister is being held. A bunch of crazy things happen. Our heroine is actually pretty with it, all things considered and I enjoyed the arch of the story.
A Darker Shade of Magic – VE Schwab – I feel like I kept hearing about this series so I finally got my hands on the first one. To say that it’s about magic is a tad misleading – we are set in a world where four London’s with varying levels of magic sit next to each other but on different planes. Only two people can pass through the mystical doors between worlds, one serves a good monarch, the other a bad (this is a massive simplification). The good one comes into possession of a magic rock (again, very simple) and it causes a lot of issues. The book is very good, that’s a bad description. The plot is not particularly unique but the world in which it is set definitely is.
Dark Currents – Jacqueline Carey – For some reason I thought this was a YA novel and there were some not-so-YA-safe parts but I am relieved to discover that it is not YA after all. I’ve never been able to get into Carey’s Kushiel’s Dart series but I was pleasantly surprised by this one. About a hell spawn who acts as the local goddess’ liaison to the mortal realm, Daisy investigates a suspicious death with the help of human and supernatural allies. It’s a little bit cheesy but I liked the unusual creatures who don’t usually get much ink and I liked our heroine’s pluck.
Lady of Devices – Shelley Adina – This was one of those random free Kindle books but I actually burned right through it and kind of loved it. Steampunk isn’t usually my thing (although I have no idea why not), but this one focused more on our heroine than the tech. Essentially Lady Claire is forced to improvise when her father loses all the family money. Fortunately she’s clever and not particularly interested in ‘lady’ life anyhow, but she ends up adopting/leading a group of miscreants. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.
Throne of Glass – Sarah J Maas – I’m all for strong females who buck social morays – but this was a lot to take in. A former assassin who got caught and is now a slave is plucked from her misery to compete for a chance at her freedom, after serving as the King’s “Champion” which basically means to be his assassin. My problem was not with this part of the plot- my problem was that she was a typical unassuming beauty who has two men in love with her within minutes and she has feelings for both of them and neither are appropriate. Sound familiar? The book was a fun read but I was disappointed by the predictability of it and I think it would have been stronger without any love story at all. There was plenty of plot without it.
Pocket Apocalypse – Seanan McGuire – FYI – I cannot spell apocalypse right on the first try. Moving on…I love this series, I really do. I love the quirky mythology, I adore the Aeslin mice, I like the characters who realize how ridiculous their lives are. In case you haven’t read one yet- the books are about a family whose legacy is to work with ‘monsters’- some factions of the world want to hunt and kill monsters but the Price’s left those Crusaders and now work alongside cryptids to build a better world for us all. The books are fast paced, funny and simply joyful. I’m ready for the next one now please.
The Bulletproof Diet – Dave Asprey – I’ve heard of (and even tried) bulletproof coffee before – you add butter and coconut oil to coffee and blend it- making a frothy cup of coffee with enough fat to satiate your hunger. There is more to the Diet than the coffee and the book has an admirable amount of science in it, though I don’t know how much of it is actually true. What really resonated with me though was his encouragement to ‘biohack’- no need to be extreme, but pay attention to what your body is telling you when you eat certain foods, do certain exercises or change your behaviors. Quantified Self folks are great at this, recording everything. Pinning down exactly what makes you feel good or bad helps you live a better life. I’m not going to great lengths on this but it definitely sparked some ideas for me to try and figure out why I’m fatigued and to lose weight.
The Clockwork Scarab – Colleen Gleason – The premise of these books alone is enough to make me pick one up, and then they were also recommended so here we go! The niece of Sherlock Holmes and sister of Bram Stoker (Mina and Eveline respectively) are young ladies in an alternate time stream where electricity is banned so everything runs on steam. Victorian London is still prim and proper but also kind of gross. They are pulled into a mystery by Irene Adler and also adopt a time traveller from our world 2016. A young man from our time travels back to a steampunk Victorian London and he is a bit player. Amazing. There’s a fair bit of listening to the insecure inner thoughts of the young women (the chapters alternate between POVs) and more than enough blushing over boys, but overall the tale is entertaining and clever.
Dying for a Living – Kory M Shrum – This book has a pretty unique premise (and I need more synonyms for unique…suggestions?) so I enjoyed the ride. Essentially the main character (Jesse) is a ‘zombie’ who can replace people when they die and then be resurrected (or something). That’s not the interesting part, the interesting part – as it is with most books – is the way the author shows how people react to this new class of people. Jesse is pretty self absorbed but she has a good support system and I like her sass.
Sweetheart – Chelsea Cain – Normally I would edit this to go with the book above, but I swear to all the gods I believe in that enough time has passed (approximately 3 weeks) that I needed to separate the two! This is the second book of the Archie Sheridan series and while it doesn’t have quite as many heart pounding and ‘oh gick’ moments as the last book it continues to give me mild nightmares. We also learn that our detective is more screwed up than we realized which in some ways is a nice change of pace. People, even heroes, are flawed and all too often we fall into a trap of portraying them as perfect.
Evil at Heart – Chelsea Cain – Well back to back murder books are probably a bad idea for my psyche. More torture. More blood and guts. More psychos. But sooo addictive.
Blood and Snow -RaShelle Workman – I’m not sure what trend is happening but I’ve got a bunch of twisted fairy tales on my list at the moment. This one is a YA vampire twist on Snow White. With lots of not very subtle nods at other fairy tales and a crap ton of exposition there’s not much to be said. It’s not terribly well written which is unfortunate because the mythology is kind of fun.
The Bitches of Everafter – Babra Annino– Like I said, a lot of twisted fairy tales. This one was very entertaining – five of the major princesses of Grimm fairy tales being caught in a web of a curse which took them out of their regular post fairy tale life into something much worse. It reminds me a lot of the show Once Upon a Time but I admit I haven’t watched that show in awhile…maybe I should catch up…
If you got this far- I love you. I’m thinking about doing video reviews of these alongside my written reviews. Any/all feedback is welcome. Let me know!