September 11, 2022

Short & Sweet: The Silence of Bones

The Silence of Bones by June Hur

1800s Korea and the persecution of Catholics was an entirely new setting/topic for me, and I appreciated learning about it through the eyes of Seol, who was an engaging narrator. I did find it hard to keep track of all the characters and their connections throughout the story (I wish there'd been a character list provided!). 
There was a long section in the middle of this book that dragged, but the ending made up for it, pulling things together and feeling finished without being overly happy or artificial. While the middle lulled, the intensity ratcheted up in the last several chapters, making it hard to put down at that point. 

All in all, a different sort of historical murder mystery from most of the offerings in YA, and well worth the read as long as you are willing to be patient.

4 shooting stars.

Short & Sweet: Big Lies in a Small Town (Adult)

Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain

I found the first two-thirds of this book quite slow -- it's a dual timeline story, and I was enjoying Morgan's voice from the contemporary timeline, but nothing much was happening in either era. Then there's a big event that occurs in the historical timeline about two-thirds of the way through, and after that the historical timeline held more interest for me. The premise stands out as being a bit different from your average mystery -- the art restoration was a neat element -- but it is definitely not a suspense/thriller type read. It's a much quieter, secrets-hidden-are-slowly-revealed sort of story. Also, some of the reveals are pretty guessable. I was motivated to keep reading once I got to the last 
third of the book, as I wanted to see how everything played out, but in a sea of dual timeline mysteries, this would not be one of my top recommendations. The best part about it was really the focus on art, and art restoration, which made it more memorable than it would have been otherwise.

3 shooting stars.

Short & Sweet: The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Starr is a relatable protagonist with a distinct voice, who draws the reader into her world and the injustices (arising from systemic racism and discrimination) her community faces on a daily basis. Despite having a different background than Starr, I was easily able to connect to her character, her troubles, and her deep desire to make change happen. There were a lot of side characters in the story, and some (such as Starr's brother Seven, who was a favourite of mine) were more fleshed out than others; it was difficult for me to keep track of all the characters at times. The other stumbling block I had was that most of the story is made up of conversations, so it felt quite slow-moving to me. Plot-wise, events do pick up towards the end, but I do think that perhaps some of the conversations could have been shortened/cut, as there is some repetition of content. 

Overall, I think this book does an excellent job of giving non-Black readers a better understanding of what it is like to be a Black person living in the US.

3.5 shooting stars.

June 14, 2022

The Lifeboat: A Rambling Review (Adult)

The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan

This was a book that kind of quietly crept up on me without me exactly realizing it. I found it initially quite slow-paced, and there's a certain tedium to the constrained nature of the characters' situation -- stuck in a lifeboat, day in and day out, with only each other and the occasional fish for company. There are a lot of characters, and I confess I had a hard time keeping track of who was who; a "cast of characters" list at the beginning would have been helpful. Certain characters come to the forefront as the story goes on, though, the most ambiguous (and yet most interesting) being the narrator herself, Grace. As a reader, I felt distant to Grace, never quite feeling like I understood her entirely. I believe this was a conscious choice on the author's part, to keep the reader guessing about Grace's motivations and character. It felt, even to the last page, as though there were secrets Grace wasn't telling anyone, even the reader. She's a character who you are not entirely sure you want to root for, and yet somehow, she wins you over anyway. Her matter-of-fact nature, her apparent honesty and at times bluntness -- juxtaposed with the sneaking suspicion that actually, she may not be all that honest -- makes for a narrator who entices the reader to dig deeper to try to figure her out. 

This is certainly more of a character study than an action-filled story, although there are moments of tension, particularly in the latter half of the book. I did find the climax scene somewhat unrealistic, and had to suspend some disbelief there (spoilers in white, highlight to read: I have a hard time believing that none of the men, who were all on Hardie's side, even tried to stand up for him against Hannah, Grace, and Mrs. Grant. Hardie's being overpowered and thrown overboard and no one doing anything to try to stop it seemed unlikely). 

This is not a flashy story; those looking for a fast-paced thriller will be disappointed. Those who don't mind enigmatic characters, an uneasy atmosphere, and being left with more questions than answers might find a real hidden gem here.

4 shooting stars. 

Red Sister: A Rambling Review (Adult)

Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

I found most of this first book in the series to be quite slow-moving, except right towards the end where it feels like everything is happening at breakneck pace. It reads more like a set-up for the rest of the series than a story in its own right. But I very much enjoyed getting to know the characters and seeing their friendships form and strengthen. Nona is a gutsy protagonist, although by the end of the book I found her to be somewhat "overpowered" -- she is portrayed as almost indestructible, and I feel like her personality shifted rather suddenly towards the end. She "comes into" her powers and skills so rapidly as to be somewhat unrealistic (granted, she has had training throughout the rest of the book). I also enjoyed getting to know the world, although bits and pieces of information were sprinkled here and there in such a way as to leave me feeling confused as I read (I still don't entirely understand the origin story of the Ark, or how the "focus" works, or any number of other world-building snippets). I really wish a map had been included to help me better visualize the world and the layout of the convent!

3.5 shooting stars.

February 4, 2022

End of the Year 2021 Reading Survey

I did not have a great reading year in 2021 (I blame the pandemic!), but I still wanted to participate in this 
fabulous survey hosted by Jamie from The Perpetual Page-Turner

Number Of Books You Read: 25 (and a couple short stories)

Number of Re-Reads: 0?

Genre You Read The Most From: historical (it usually isn't, but for some reason, I kept getting drawn to historical reads this year!)

1. Best Book You Read In 2021?

Mrs. Sherlock Holmes by Brad Ricca -- this is a total departure for me, since this is a non-fiction book, but I really got engrossed in it, and learned a lot about New York society in the early 1900s.

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

Paper Chains by Nicola Moriarty and The Promise of Stardust by Priscille Sibley -- the first I was looking forward to as I have enjoyed another Nicola Moriarty book, but unfortunately, I didn't connect all that well with either of the main characters, and found the story required a lot of suspension of disbelief. The second I was disappointed by because although the premise was promising, it was rather repetitive and melodramatic in its execution. 

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

Sweet Damage by Rebecca James -- I seriously wish I had picked this up sooner. Such an easy read that just pulled me right in, with simple, effective writing that doesn't try too hard. 

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

I really didn't do much "book pushing" this year.

5. Best series you started in 2021? Best Sequel of 2021? Best Series Ender of 2021?

Best series started: the Raven, Fisher, and Simpson series by Ambrose Parry

Best sequel: The Mask Falling by Samantha Shannon

Best series ender: I don't think I read any series enders this year.

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2021?

Hmmm...I kinda feel like I re-discovered Rebecca James, does that count?

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

Mrs. Sherlock Holmes 

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

The Art of Dying by Ambrose Parry

9. Book You Read In 2021 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

Honestly, I don't see myself re-reading most of my 2020 books... maybe The Mask Falling?

10. Favourite cover of a book you read in 2021?

The Heiress: The Revelations of Anne de Bourgh by Molly Greeley 

11. Most memorable character of 2021?

Anne de Bourgh from The Heiress: The Revelations of Anne de Bourgh. I really enjoyed how Molly Greeley pulled back the curtain on the Anne de Bourgh we see in Pride and Prejudice, and explored why she might have seemed like that to the reader and other characters, and who she really could have been as a person. 

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2021?

None of the books I read really stand out for this category... maybe The Heiress again? I did find the writing eloquent. 

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2021

The Mad Scientist's Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke -- not life-changing, but thought-provoking, certainly. 

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2021 to finally read? 

Sweet Damage by Rebecca James -- why did I wait so long?!

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2021?

Then he had come back into my life, and little by little, I had started to notice. That I looked forward to seeing him. That he made me smile without ever smiling himself. That he challenged me. That I always wanted to hear his voice. And that even though he was a mystery, and there were shadows in him I might never disperse, I somehow knew him.

16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2021?

Shortest: But Like Maybe Don't? What Not to Do When Dating: An Illustrated Guide by Arianna Margulis (176 pages)

Longest: The Mask Falling by Samantha Shannon (528 pages)

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

Hmmm, I don't feel like I read any books this past year that had really shocking twists/reveals to them...

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

Weirdly, perhaps Cat and Finn in The Mad Scientist's Daughter?

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

The mother-daughter relationship in Two Wrongs by Mel McGrath

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2021 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

Sweet Damage by Rebecca James

21. Best Book You Read In 2021 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

The Art of Dying by Ambrose Parry -- my mom originally ordered this from the library, and then suggested I might like it too (which I did!)

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2021?

I don't have a new one, but I'll go with an old one from a series continued in 2021, which is Warden from the Bone Season series. 

23. Best 2021 debut you read?

 I didn't read any 2021 debuts.

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

Fatal Throne: The Wives of Henry VIII Tell All by Candace Fleming -- I feel like this book did a solid job of transporting me to the time of King Henry the VIII's reign. 

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

Broken by Jenny Lawson -- I really enjoyed a lot of the author's self-deprecating humour, and there were numerous chunks of the book that had me laughing out loud (which I very much needed)! I also appreciated the author being open about her experience with anxiety and depression.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2021?

I don't think there was one?

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

Sweet Damage by Rebecca James (I never see this book getting any attention!)

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

I don't have one for this category. 

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2021?

Kind of Coping: An Illustrated Look at Life with Anxiety by Maureen "Marzi" Wilson

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

Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt -- this book is about an abusive relationship, so it's no wonder it got me feeling mad on behalf of the young girl caught in this horrendous situation. But I was also very uncomfortable with how the abuser's POV was written, and what kind of message this might be sending.


1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2021 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2022?

There are so many! One that I have previously started and then put down, but I'd like to give another try, is The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2022 (non-debut)? 

What Monstrous Gods by Rosamund Hodge -- I very much enjoyed Cruel Beauty, and I'd like to see what she does with this retelling of Sleeping Beauty. 

3. 2022 Debut You Are Most Anticipating? 

I've been seeing good things about The Maid by Nita Prose, I'm interested in checking that one out. 

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2022?

I have so few series I am actively reading at the moment! There are no sequels right now on my "2022 releases" shelf on Goodreads... I might try to read the next in the Raven, Fisher, and Simpson series by Ambrose Parry, though. The latest book came out in 2021, so...does that count?

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