October 23, 2021

Short & Sweet: Cruel Beautiful World

Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt

The storyline here was compelling, and the depiction of a relationship turning abusive (both mentally/emotionally and physically) felt very real. I haven't read many books set in the late 60s/early 70s so that helped set this book apart from others of a similar theme. Most of the characters felt fleshed out, with the possible exception of William, whose POV we only get towards the end. I felt kind of conflicted about how his section was done, to be honest. Spoilers, highlight to read: 
While I understand that it's possible that in William's mind he was acting out of "love" for Lucy, and perhaps the author's intent was to show how William was lying even to himself about his behaviour, it still came across -- or at least could certainly be interpreted -- as a sympathetic portrayal of William, kind of like it was explaining away his actions by the fact that it was done out of "love". Obviously this was from William's point of view, so I suppose that was him justifying it to himself/Charlotte. Still, that portion left me feeling uncertain about what the reader was meant to take away from it.

3.5 stars. 

July 2, 2021

The Mad Scientist's Daughter: A Rambling Review

The Mad Scientist's Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke

This is a quiet sci-fi story about relationships, consciousness, and growing up, so if you're wanting an action-packed sci-fi read about robots, look elsewhere. If you want something introspective, though, and you don't mind a main character who may disappoint and frustrate you (especially in the first half of the book), you might want to check this one out. The writing style is very readable, and Clarke does a good job of giving an impression of a scene without going overboard with description. I never felt like I really understood Cat, but I didn't find that necessary to keep on reading. The premise of a woman falling in love with an android is compelling, and while neither the scientific plausibility or the philosophical ramifications of an android potentially falling in love right back are explored deeply enough for my liking, the case for Cat and Finn fitting together is made in an easy, unforced sort of way. One just feels like they make sense together, somehow, even though in theory they shouldn't. (Which some of the best romances do!)

I was left with a lingering question about Daniel, however. Spoilers, highlight to read: it was repeatedly implied that Daniel did not resemble Richard at all, and comparisons were made to Finn instead. However, this was not resolved by the end of the book. Are we supposed to believe that he is Finn's son? And if so, how exactly is that supposed to work?

3.5 shooting stars.


Short & Sweet: The Silent Companions and Paper Chains

The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell

This was a weird read, all things considered. By the end it was definitely more violent/gruesome than I had expected (to the point where it seemed rather over-the-top). I don't entirely understand the "reveal" at the end (spoilers, highlight to read:
 I am assuming that when Sarah cut her finger on one of the companions, the "spirit" of Hetta took her over, and she's the one who murdered everyone else?). I was intrigued by the mystery of what happened in Elsie's past (with her parents), and wish we had gotten more explanation for that as well. I did think that the question of whether or not Elsie is delusional/hallucinating or whether there is something supernatural going on here was handled pretty well towards the end of the story; it did have me flipping back and forth between the two theories! 

I also sometimes found it difficult to take the companions all that seriously in their menace. I mean, we are talking about a bunch of wooden paintings here.

3 shooting stars.

Paper Chains by Nicola Moriarty

This read definitely required some suspension of disbelief -- there are a lot of coincidences and ways things are linked together that err on the side of cheesy. However, I found the flashbacks of Hannah's past very gripping, particularly in how her mental health issues are depicted (spoilers, highlight to read: her postpartum depression felt very real). I could connect with Hannah better than I could with India, although I did sometimes find that Hannah's thoughts, particularly about herself, came across as over-the-top (granted, she was struggling with a lot). I feel like the reader only really gets to know India genuinely right at the end (spoilers: because we find out that she's sort of been trying out a new persona to distance herself from the "sick Lily" version of herself). I did think that India's and Hannah's friendship developed quite quickly and felt sort of forced. The writing style, though, made this a quick read.

3 shooting stars.

Short & Sweet: The Bookish Life of Nina Hill and The Mask Falling

This book might've gotten a slightly higher rating if I hadn't been in a reading slump, but the pandemic has been doing weird things to my reading. Anyway, I found the main character Nina highly relatable, and I think that was probably the stand-out aspect of the book to me. I felt like I connected with her quite well, from her love of books to her anxiety to her quirky sense of humour. Plot-wise, this is not the most exciting story, and Nina ends up with a lot of relatives who I had difficulty keeping track of. But I liked that by the end, Nina was opening up more to others and being more proactive in her life.

3 shooting stars.


The Mask Falling by Samantha Shannon

I found most of this book to be slower-moving than its predecessors; I feel like it was more of a stepping stone to set up the next stage of the story than its own contained plot. It did pick up the pace towards the end, though -- and that cliffhanger! Lots of lingering questions about reveals in the last few pages, for sure. I liked that we got to spend time in a new setting (albeit another Scion one) and met a few new characters.

4 shooting stars. 


March 17, 2021

My 2020 End of the Year Reading Survey (for what it's worth...)

What a year 2020 was. Goodbye, and good riddance! Let's hope better things await us in 2021. In addition to 2020 being a horrible year all around, it was also an abysmal reading year for me. I don't think the two things are unrelated -- somehow the pandemic made me way less likely to stick with a book, despite the fact that for a good chunk of 2020 I had more time to potentially be reading! (I did do a lot of reading in terms of non-fiction articles online, between reading about COVID-related news and reading about US politics/current events.)

Anyway, I came nowhere near my Goodreads challenge goal, and I don't think I did very well at any of my other challenges either. 

This fabulous survey is hosted by Jamie from The Perpetual Page-Turner

Number Of Books You Read: 23

Number of Re-Reads: I think I skimmed some books to refresh my memory before reading a sequel, but not sure I had any true re-reads this year?

Genre You Read The Most From: speculative fiction 

1. Best Book You Read In 2020?

The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. Jensen -- I just remember having a really great reading experience with this one, and getting totally sucked into the world and characters.

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Sorcerer to the Crown
by Zen Cho -- I usually really enjoy anything that's like Regency England + magic, but for some reason, this one fell flat for me. I doubt that I'm going to continue with the series.

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?   

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood -- it was a surprise that this book had such a positive tone (since The Handmaid's Tale is decidedly grim)!

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

I don't feel like I did a whole lot of "book pushing" this year, but my answers would probably still be the same as last year's answers: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, Illusion by Paula Volsky, and the Bone Season series by Samantha Shannon.

5. Best series you started in 2020? Best Sequel of 2020? Best Series Ender of 2020?

Best series started: The Bridge Kingdom 

Best sequel: do prequels count here? Because if so, I'll go with The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins. I very much enjoyed getting more of the history behind the world we first see in The Hunger Games, as well as seeing how Coriolanus develops into the man who later becomes President Snow. 

Best series ender: Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers. I identified with Annith, and this was the first book to really hold my attention since the beginning of the pandemic. 

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2020?

Danielle L. Jensen

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

We Should All Be Feminists by Ngozi Chimamanda Adichie -- I don't tend to read much non-fiction.

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

The Bridge Kingdom, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Mortal Heart

9. Book You Read In 2020 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

Since I'm posting this in March, I already re-read/skimmed The Dawn Chorus by Samantha Shannon again, in preparation for reading The Mask Falling (which I am currently in the middle of!).

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2020?

Mortal Heart

11. Most memorable character of 2020?

Coriolanus Snow from The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2020?

I'm not sure I read any books in 2020 whose prose really stood out as particularly beautiful/lyrical?

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2020

Again, I don't think I have an answer for this one.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2020 to finally read? 

I can't believe it took me so long to finish up the Nevermore series by Kelly Creagh (I read the second and third books in 2020).

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2019?

From Mortal Heart:

"You always hold a piece of yourself back, Annith. For all your love and affection and kindness, there is always a part of yourself that you withhold from others.

And from the sublime to the ridiculous, this one from The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes:

"Did you tell your best friend his crush was a cannibal? Never a rule book when you needed one.

16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2019?

Shortest: We Should All Be Feminists by 
Ngozi Chimamanda Adichie (64 pages)

Longest: The Winter Rose by Jennifer Donnelly (736 pages)

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

Maybe Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, or The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James?

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

Lara and Aren from The Bridge Kingdom

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

The friendship between the heroines of the Dark Assassins series

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2020 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

Either The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes or Mortal Heart

21. Best Book You Read In 2020 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

The Chocolate Thief by Laura Florand and We Should All Be Feminists (which was actually a gift from a friend IRL!)

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2020?

I don't feel like I have a very strong contender for this category... maybe Aren from The Bridge Kingdom or Balthazaar from Mortal Heart?

23. Best 2020 debut you read?

Didn't read any 2020 debuts.

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year? 

Best worldbuilding: Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

Most vivid setting: The Bridge Kingdom (and honourable mention to Frenchman's Creek by Daphne du Maurier, which I was quite disappointed by, but its description of the setting was a strength)

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

First & Then by Emma Mills. This was a "cozy" sort of read. 

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2017?

I don't think I really had one?

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

I don't know about "crushed my soul," but the ending of Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes did leave me frustrated, wanting to know what really happened with Lucy Gray.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2017?

In terms of format, probably
 the graphic novel version of Pride & Prejudice by Ian Edginton and Robert Deas, which I quite enjoyed.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

Frenchman's Creek by Daphne du Maurier -- I just really didn't like either of the main characters!

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2020 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2021?

I'll go with The Traitor Queen by Danielle Jensen. 

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2021 (non-debut)? 

The Mask Falling (I mean, I'm already in the middle of it, but that would have been my answer). 
3. 2021 Debut You Are Most Anticipating? 

I'm pretty out of the loop when it comes to upcoming debuts, but Sisters of the Snake by Sarena and Sasha Nanua sounds awesome. I love swapping identity stories.

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2021?

Sounding like a broken record here, but The Mask Falling and The Traitor Queen

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2021?

Right now, just read more and get out of this reading slump!

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