The Queen of the Tearling

I’ve mentioned #adultbooklr on this blog before. There are no restrictions, other than you must be over 18, and you must love books. That’s it! We are just a giant book club, really, and there were way more adults on Tumblr than I realized! The idea isn’t to be exclusive–quite the opposite, actually. We have a constant chat on GroupMe, which is fantastic. There’s also a Goodreads group. Check out the Tumblr tag to learn more about it.

Every month we are going to have a club book to read. This was the first, and the choice was The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen. I had already read it, but it was back before I started the blog (or right at the beginning), so it didn’t get a review. Perfect opportunity to do another readalong!

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Kelsea grows up isolated in the woods with a pair of surrogate parents in a house full of books and learning. But one day she is torn from that quiet life by a group of soldiers claiming she is the heir to the Tearling throne and they whisk her off to her new kingdom. Suddenly she is supposed to save a whole people from the tyranny of a witch queen!

QOTT is setting up for a series, and I think it does that very well. There is a lot of character development in this first book, so you get the expectation that there will be a lot of action in the upcoming additions. Kelsea is not the usual femme fatale that you see in these heroine roles–she describes herself as plain, short, and out of shape. But when it comes to doing what needs to be done to save her people, she has the guts and inner strength to go the distance. She makes a fantastic role model for young women, in my opinion–she’s an extremely relatable fantasy character.

I’m looking forward to The Invasion of the Tearling, which was just released last month. It’s on my library’s hold list, so as soon as they will give it to me, I’ll let you know what I think!

Trees of Reverie July Readathon Wrap-Up

Phew! Another great Trees of Reverie Readathon has ended. This was a record one for me–I’ve never read this many pages during a readathon. All of the reviews should be posted for the finished books below.

Here’s my total pages:  2478!

Books finished:

Trust No One by Paul Cleave

The Heart of the Matter by Graham Green

Fear Nothing by Dean Koontz

The Guilty One by Sophie Littlefield

The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan

The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

 

Books in Progress:

A Treasury of Poems by Sarah Anne Stuart

The Ramayana by Ramesh Menon

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

The Library at Mount Char

Ever since I started interacting on Tumblr, I wished for a better mode of communication with my fellow Booklrs. Tumblr is great for sharing our obsessions, but it really sucks when it comes to actually getting to know people. However, I recently started chatting with a bunch of fellow adult booklrs on GroupMe, and it has been the best platform for all of us to get together. I’ve really gotten to know some great people through the near constant conversations we have every day.

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One of the books that was recommended on the GroupMe chat was The Library at Mount Char. One of the members went on and on about how good it was, so it immediately went to the top of my list. And it just happened to be a Blogging for Books selection this month, so EVEN BETTER!

Library at Mount Char goes immediately to the top of my “weirdest books” list. Goodreads calls it “Neil Gaiman meets Joe Hill,” which is EXACTLY what I was going to call it in my review. Great minds think alike. It’s basically a creation story and a dystopian fell into a mixing bowl together with a dash of horror gore, and then someone mashed it all up.

I’m not even really sure how to summarize it for you. Even the Goodreads description doesn’t really fit. It’s just a really freaking crazy book–one I couldn’t put down, even when I wasn’t sure if I liked it or not. More just “WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON?!” There are lions and atomic bombs and a guy who uses blood as shampoo.

I think my head is in a permanent sideways position, and my dreams have been pretty weird the past two nights. This isn’t a book for everyone, you’re either going to love it or hate it. Probably if you’re a big Neil Gaiman fan, you’ll love it. Just….read it at your own risk, that’s all I’m going to say.

 

Blogging for Books provided this book for an unbiased review.

 

One more thing, guys! I am now an Amazon Affiliate, which means if you use my link to make purchases on Amazon, I get a piece of the pie. Doesn’t cost you anything more, but helps me out a bit. Click on the book below to use my link! I’ll be doing this from now on 🙂

The Demon-Haunted World

Reading nonfiction presents a challenge that I have not completely mastered yet. Most of the nonfiction I read is history, so it’s usually cut and dry, factual, without much opinion. Those I don’t have much trouble with. I either like them or I don’t.

But some nonfiction are written on a bias, or from a perspective I’ve never heard or thought of before, or just written by someone way smarter than I am.

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The Demon-Haunted World is all three of those things. Carl Sagan is one of the great scientists of our age, or at least one of the most famous. So he is definitely smarter than I am. His book is basically about skepticism vs theism/religion/people’s beliefs in what exists in our universe.

I say basically, because the perspective was a little hard for me to grasp at times. This book is probably a little over my education level, and out of my normal realm of interest. I think what he was getting at is that we as a society should strive to be educated as much as possible and base our thoughts and ideas in science and education, rather than blind faith. Which, as a book written by a scientist, makes sense.

It seemed to be a book written in response to the millions of fan letters he has received over the years. Much of it was tongue-in-cheek. He asks at one point for submissions for “Top 10 Questions to Ask an Alien.” He discusses a lot of topics–UFOs, ancient religions, Greek/Roman history, modern education, nuclear war, conspiracy theories.

It was an intriguing read, but again, I didn’t understand everything he said, nor did I agree with everything he said. However, he doesn’t really ask the reader to. All he wants is for you to ask questions, and look for the answers yourself. Don’t just take everything at face value. And that is the most important thing, in my opinion.

The Guilty One

PHEW! Guys, we are safe. The mediocre book thing didn’t turn into a streak. Everything is OK!

*wipes forehead in relief*

It always seems that the best way to break a slump is something uncomplicated. The Guilty One was just the right kind of book for this. Goodreads puts it in the Mystery genre, but I don’t really think it was that mysterious. Mostly it’s just the story of a woman recovering in grief, and moving on from a life where she no longer fits.

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Two families have been through hell and back–the Vacantis, who lost their daughter, and the Isherwoods, whose son is the reason Calla is dead. The trial is over. The boy is in jail.

Ron Isherwood is so ashamed. His wife wants to ramp up another appeal, but his son just wants to wait out his sentence. Ron just wants to bury his head. Or jump off a bridge. He just wants all the attention to go away.

Maris Vacanti just has to get away. She is supposed to visit her sister but never quite makes it that far. Instead, she ends up in Oakland, but it’s just temporary. It’s just a few days, to clear her head. What are her next steps?

The Guilty One is a story about finding yourself after you’ve lost everything. It’s ok to hide and let yourself be broken, but it’s also ok to build yourself back up again. And when you come to, you’re going to be a completely different person.

The way this is listed as a mystery, the title, and the backstory, makes me wonder if this isn’t the story the author set out to write. I wonder if maybe it was supposed to be more about the murder, more about Calla and Kyle, and then the author fell in love with Maris and her struggle instead. I don’t know. I fell in love with Maris too, so I am completely ok with how the story went. However, reading some of the reviews that are out there, I think that those looking for the mystery plotline are going to be disappointed. That’s really my only criticism, I’d change the genre and description. Otherwise, great book!

NetGalley provided this ARC for an unbiased review. Will be released August 11.

 

WWW Wednesday 7/15/2015

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WHOOPS! Almost forgot about this today!

 

What are you currently reading?

The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

For Study:  The Ramayana by Ramesh Menon

 

What did you just finish reading?

 

The Guilty One by Sophie Littlefield (Review up tomorrow)

Fear Nothing by Dean Koontz

The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene

 

What do you think you’ll read next?

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Shakespeare

Maggie by Stephen Crane

 

Fear Nothing

Wow I am just on a roll here, aren’t I? My friends from the Adult Booklr Chat have been talking about book slumps and how they can’t find anything interesting to read…and I sure hope they aren’t rubbing off on me!

Another mediocre book, dammit. This was one that we had on our shelves. I’m not sure who’s collection it came from, but it’s one we’ve had since we got together. I’ve not read much from Dean Koontz–I think one of his Odd Thomas collection, but that was years and years ago. People have told me I’d like him, due to my love affair with the edge of my seat.

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Fear Nothing just didn’t do much for me. I felt like it was a story I had heard before–genetics experiment gone wrong and ruins town. Scientists destroy themselves and try to cover up the evidence.

I did like the main character, Chris Snow, or Snowman, a young man with a rare genetic disorder who recently lost both of his parents and is stuck living in the dark. However, I feel that the backstory is insufficiently built. I think we need a prologue maybe–something where his other introduces Orson, his beloved, but slightly extraordinary, black lab. Or perhaps the day she has her accident. SOMETHING to lead up to what is happening in the down. I just feel that is severely lacking and may help to provide some OOMPH to the plot.

Hopefully I can find something interesting in the next one. Please don’t let this be a slump! Not during Readathon Week!

The Heart of the Matter

Some reviews just seem to write themselves. Those are the fun one, both for me to write, and hopefully for you to read.

And then there are reviews like this one, where I just stare at the blinking cursor for what seems like hours. Sigh…

This happens when I neither liked nor disliked the book. Strong feelings make for great reviews. But mediocre books make for mediocre reviews–what in the world do I say about books I have no emotion for?

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The Heart of the Matter is one such book. It was next up on the Boxall’s list, so it hit my TBR this weekend. And really, it wasn’t awful. I just don’t have any real emotion about it.

It’s about a police officer, Scobie, in a small West African town, torn apart by war. His wife is ashamed when he is passed over for a commission, so she whines until he sends her to South Africa–with money borrowed from a skeezy diamond mogul. While she’s gone he has an affair with a shipwrecked widow.

It’s very 1950 dramatic. Which is to say…bland for today’s audience. The officers are all white men who have “boys” as servants, and drink pink gin and scotch. Again, it’s just one of those “literatures” that has probably been on a must read list for decades and it’s just not really relevant anymore. *meh*

 

Fulfills Boxall #91

Trees of Reverie July Read-A-Thon Day Four

If you could share and recommend only ONE book/series that you’ve read so far in 2015, what would it be?

This prompt is always a tough one for me, because, I mean, I never just have ONE favorite, I have 500. And yes, I’m quoting John Green on that. If there we weren’t passionate about our books, we wouldn’t do this booklr thing, would we?

But, the one book that is outstanding in my mind at this moment, is Five Night Stand by Richard Alley. I JUST received it in the mail a few minutes ago, thanks to the lovely Karielle over at Books ala Mode, and I am so excited to add it to my collection.

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I read Five Night Stand back in May when it was an ARC, and it has been one of my favorites this year by far. Richard Alley writes music into fiction SO WELL. It’s just so beautiful. His characters, too, were amazing. You can read my write up here. Then go pick this one up. You need it in your life, I promise.

Trust No One

The key ingredient in any thriller is the psychopath. The dark, twisted pathways of his brain drive the plot and keep us up at night.

Normally the thrills in a thriller are deliberate. That instinct that forces the monster to plan his next move and torture his victims is what makes the book so exciting to us (because let’s face it, we are pretty twisted gluttons ourselves, aren’t we?). My favorite part is trying to figure out what the heck is going on inside his head, trying to guess his next move.

But what happens when the killer doesn’t remember killing?

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Paul Cleave plots out one of the most thrilling thrillers I’ve ever read with just that situation, in Trust No One.

Successful crime novelist Jerry Grey’s career is cut short by early-onset Alzheimer’s. He keeps escaping from the nursing home and losing time. When his daughter picks him up, she acts very strange about her mother, something just isn’t right. In fact, no one is acting right towards Jerry. Apparently a woman was found dead at the same time Jerry was gone and he is suspected of the murder. Why? He’s just an sick old man! Because, Jerry, you shot your wife. She’s dead. That’s why you are in a nursing home. You were out of your mind, and you have no memory of it.

Thus is the basis of one of the craziest thrillers I have ever read. It is an emotional roller coaster! Three women, besides Jerry’s wife, are dead. Who killed them? Jerry insists that he did not. He would remember, right? But all the evidence points to him. And he is a crime writer with very elaborate plans and getaways laid out in his books. He cannot account for hours of time, and he has been disappearing. His pseudonym has become almost a split personality, a devil on his shoulder that he can’t get away from.

Cleave has written one hell of a creative novel. It doesn’t come out until August 4, so mark your calendars. This one isn’t necessarily a scary or bloody thriller. It’s more about the utter mindfuck that is going on. Where do you put your sympathy? Who do you trust?

 

NetGalley provided this ARC for an unbiased review. Released Aug. 4.