Parable of The Sower – By Octavia Butler

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Goodreads Synopsis: In 2025, with the world descending into madness and anarchy, one woman begins a fateful journey toward a better future Lauren Olamina and her family live in one of the only safe neighborhoods remaining on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Behind the walls of their defended enclave, Lauren’s father, a preacher, and a handful of other citizens try to salvage what remains of a culture that has been destroyed by drugs, disease, war, and chronic water shortages. While her father tries to lead people on the righteous path, Lauren struggles with hyperempathy, a condition that makes her extraordinarily sensitive to the pain of others. When fire destroys their compound, Lauren’s family is killed and she is forced out into a world that is fraught with danger. With a handful of other refugees, Lauren must make her way north to safety, along the way conceiving a revolutionary idea that may mean salvation for all mankind.

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This was actually a re-read for me. Originally I’d read it in 2014.

Parable of the Sower is a dark book, it’s set in the middle of an apocalypse and the characters have to do whatever they can to survive. The book terrified me the first time I read it, this time around it wasn’t so bad.

Lauren herself makes an interesting character. She’s strong, logical, and a natural leader. I love her character and plan on reading the next book in the series soley because of her. Lauren is a writer and also the founder of a church. She has a way of talking to people that makes them want to follow her. She also has a disease (I’m not sure if that’s the right word for it) that causes her to physically take on the pain of others around her. All of these make for a very well rounded character.

The plot is fast paced, it is (like I said before) at times frightening. This book does not shy away from the apocalypse and just make it a backdrop. The Parable of the Sower shows just how shitty the world and people can be. I really liked that even if it was disturbing.

The other characters are great as well. Most of them are people of color, I think there was one white guy in the main characters. It made the book very realistic to show the racial divide and how it added to the tension of the apocalyps.

The one thing I didn’t like about this book was the constant talk of religion. Lauren’s father is a christian pastor and Lauren ends up creating her own religion. It was annoying how much she went on and on about it. The book even shared bits of the religious text she wrote and to be honest I skimmed those parts. It just felt preachy and I didn’t want to read it.

Overall though I did like the book. I’m not sure it’s right to say that I enjoyed the book, seeing as it’s the end of the world. But I did think it was a well written book. Very thought provoking. I gave it 3.5 stars on Goodreads.

NetGalley Reads – 3 Books

The Bone Witch – 3 stars: Find on Amazon and Goodreads. 

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Goodreads Synopsis: Tea is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy makes her a bone witch, who are feared and ostracized in the kingdom. For theirs is a powerful, elemental magic that can reach beyond the boundaries of the living—and of the human.

Great power comes at a price, forcing Tea to leave her homeland to train under the guidance of an older, wiser bone witch. There, Tea puts all of her energy into becoming an asha, learning to control her elemental magic and those beasts who will submit by no other force. And Tea must be strong—stronger than she even believes possible. Because war is brewing in the eight kingdoms, war that will threaten the sovereignty of her homeland…and threaten the very survival of those she loves.

I really wanted to fall in love with this book, I have heard a lot of good things about it!

So the writing of this book is amazing, there were times when I was absolutely blown away by the beauty of everything. Rin Chupeco has created one of the most beautiful worlds that I have ever come across. It felt inspired by Asian culture, so that was really cool as well. But beautiful worlds alone aren’t enough to make this book a five star, and for the first half of the book I enjoyed it immensely.

The Bone Witch is also really long, and sort of slow. It takes awhile for anything to happen.  You’re caught between loving all the words on paper, and then realizing you’ve been reading for two hours and very little has happened.

As far as the characters go I enjoyed Tea (pronouced Tay-uh), her powers to raise dead beasts were badass, her life was interesting.  The book is told in flashbacks and present time. In present time Tea is telling her story to a bard, and I had a hard time seeing how Tea from the past became Tea in the present.  It was confusing, but I also wanted to know more.

Things I wasn’t quite as happy about were just some minor details, and a lot of confusion in the second half.  I felt like the bond between Tea and her brother wasn’t explained until way into the book, and it should have come a bit sooner.   I also felt like the romance between Tea and the prince was a little weird because it just sort of was, but Tea hardly ever spent time thinking about him or even really seeing him. Maybe it was supposed to be more of a crush on her part, but then the book compared it to her teacher’s love and so I wasn’t sure.

And then the end. What happened in the end? I’m not sure, I felt like it was a mixture of not explaining clearly what was going on and making a few things too easy.
That said, I do want to read the next book in the series because I feel invested in the world and in Tea.  I want to see her burn the world down. 😀

I give this book 3.5 stars.

Waste of Space – 1 star: Find on Amazon and Goodreads. 

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Goodreads Synopsis: Cram ten hormonal teens into a spaceship and blast off: that’s the premise for the ill-conceived reality show Waste of Space. The kids who are cast know everything about drama—and nothing about the fact that the production is fake. Hidden in a desert warehouse, their spaceship replica is equipped with state-of-the-art special effects dreamed up by the scientists partnering with the shady cable network airing the show. And it’s a hit! Millions of viewers are transfixed. But then, suddenly, all communication is severed. Trapped and paranoid, the kids must figure out what to do when this reality show loses its grip on reality.

Okay…Wow. I was expecting this book to be silly, I mean, just read the synopsis! But I wasn’t expecting it to be so stupid that I could barely finish reading it. I wanted satire! Not this.

Sigh. I don’t even know where to start with this book so I’ll keep it short. Nothing in this book is worth your time. The characters are idiotic, the plot even worse and the writing. Huh, don’t even get me started on the writing!

In short I hated this book, I would give it .5 stars on Goodreads if  I could.

Hour of Mischief – 3 stars: Find on Amazon and Goodreads.

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Goodreads Synopsis: Born in a whorehouse in the slums of Fortuna and burdened with a prosthetic arm, seventeen-year-old JANET REDSTONE doesn’t think she owes the Clockwork Gods anything—which is why she makes a living stealing from their temples. But when she lands her team in prison, making a pact with the God of Mischief, ITAZURA, is the only way to right her wrongs and free her friends.

Janet doesn’t trust Itazura as far as she can punch him, but with her soul in his hands, she has no choice but to do what he says. The clockwork gods and the bad-tempered elder gods of the ancient past are locked in a game of cat and mouse and the human realms are caught in the middle. If Janet can’t somehow convince the gods to step in a save the world, humanity is in an abyss of trouble.

Well this was an interesting read. I just finished it last night and I still don’t know how to feel.

Hour of Mischief is funny, it’s fast paced and it has decently interesting characters. At times the writing felt like the book could have been for a younger audience, even the character’s and their reactions felt like this too. Janet would say things like ” Why did my cheeks get warm? I did not give them permission to do that.”And though I laughed, the writing felt more middle grade than YA. Save for the few uses of the word “fuck” and the PG13 mentioning of Janet’s mom being a prostitute.
Also the plot was pretty predictable, which that’s the other reason I found it sounded like a younger book.

Janet herself was a good character. Strong, sarcastic, and a great thief. Everything I needed to be interested in her. Sadly the author threw in some problematic ideas that made me take off a full star. Janet, in response to a question about having relationships says she’s never had any, and then says she’s probably “broken” because of this. Unfortunately nothing was ever said to contradict this and I felt very uncomfortable with this. It would have been one thing if this was just her own musings, but it felt like the tone of the book said it was a bad thing that she hadn’t had relationships yet. It was sort of one of those “when she finds the right guy she’ll good.”

The rest of the characters were good. There’s an unnecessary romance between Janet and Itzura, but besides that I enjoyed reading the two’s interaction.

In the end I gave this book 3 stars, I wish I could have given it more.

 

Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell

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Goodreads Synopsis: Nicolette’s awful stepsisters call her “Mechanica” to demean her, but the nickname fits: she learned to be an inventor at her mother’s knee. Her mom is gone now, though, and the Steps have turned her into a servant in her own home.

But on her sixteenth birthday, Nicolette discovers a secret workshop in the cellar and begins to dare to imagine a new life for herself. Could the mysterious books and tools hidden there—and the mechanical menagerie, led by a tiny metal horse named Jules—be the key to escaping her dreary existence? With a technological exposition and royal ball on the horizon, the timing might just be perfect for Nicolette to earn her freedom at last.

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I picked up this book because I’ve been hearing some cool things about the second book Venturess.

Mechanica is cute book overall, I enjoyed the character of Nicolette. I loved the steampunk world, and I loved that Nicolette was an inventor. The incorporation of magic and steampunk is always cool. All of these things made for a fairly easy read.

I found the prose a little odd at times, it made the book feel like it was more middlegrade than YA. Thankfully it didn’t bother me too much as I found myself continually sucked into the plot.

Despite being a retelling of Cinderella, romance is not a huge part of this book! I found myself really enjoying that.  I loved that Nick was friends with both the guy and the girl in the love triangle, and the ending set things up very nicely for the second book.

I gave this book 3.5 stars on Goodreads.

3 NetGalley Reviews

These are my most recent NetGalley reviews, thanks as always to NetGalley for giving me copies of these books.

The End We Start From – 3.5 Stars.

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Goodreads Synopsis: In the midst of a mysterious environmental crisis, as London is submerged below flood waters, a woman gives birth to her first child, Z. Days later, the family are forced to leave their home in search of safety. As they move from place to place, shelter to shelter, their journey traces both fear and wonder as Z’s small fists grasp at the things he sees, as he grows and stretches, thriving and content against all the odds. This is a story of new motherhood in a terrifying setting: a familiar world made dangerous and unstable, its people forced to become refugees. Startlingly beautiful, Megan Hunter’s The End We Start From is a gripping novel that paints an imagined future as realistic as it is frightening. And yet, though the country is falling apart around them, this family’s world – of new life and new hope – sings with love.

This book was a lot shorter than I thought it was going to be, so I actually ended up sitting down and reading it in an evening.  The End We Start From has some really beautiful, and almost lyrical prose.  I wasn’t expecting an apocalyptic book to be written like this, and right away it hooked me on the book.

The characters in this book were all named with just initials, which was interesting. Though I felt it made the characters feel a little distant. I never really felt for them as much as I wanted too, and as much as I thought the story had potential to make me feel. But I did like the idea of seeing the end of the world from the point of view of a mother. In the end I decided to give this book 3.5 stars.

The Wisdom of Dead Men – 1 Star.

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Goodreads Synopsis: While investigating a series of mysterious murders, Nate uncovers dark secrets that threaten to reveal the true nature of the Wildenstern family. The British Empire is no longer the authority it once was. Instead, it’s controlled by private business organizations–the most powerful of which is Ireland’s ruthless Wildenstern family. Eighteen-year-old Nathaniel Wildenstern has given up his dreams of travel and adventure to devote himself to being his brother Berto’s head of security. With the help of his wife, Daisy, Berto wants to change the barbaric ways of the clan. But there are many among the Wildensterns who like things the way they are, and will resort to whatever devious methods necessary to keep it that way.Meanwhile, the burnt bodies of women are appearing around Dublin. When a connection to the Wildenstern family is discovered, Nate, Daisy, and Nate’s sister Tatiana decide to investigate. Soon the young Wildensterns are digging into shadowy societies and dark family secrets that date back to the origin of the engimals, who are part animal, part machine. And what they find could shed light on the savage nature of the Wildensterns themselves.

This book took me months and months to read. I kept trying to get into the story, kept trying to be interested in the characters but I just wasn’t.  Part of this could be that I wasn’t able to read the first book. I didn’t realize this was the second book in the series when I originally got it from NetGalley.  Awhile back I’d read the prequel to the series and loved it, so I thought I’d read more.  Maybe if I’m able to read the first book and I like it I can come back to this one and try it again.  1 star.

Once, In Lourdes – 3 stars.

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Goodreads Synopsis: Four high school friends stand on the brink of adulthood—and on the high ledge above the sea at the local park in Lourdes, Michigan, they call the Haight—and make a pact. For the next two weeks, they will live for each other and for each day. And at the end of the two weeks, they will stand once again on the bluff and jump, sacrificing themselves on the altar of their friendship. Loyal Kate, beautiful Vera, witty C.J., and steady Saint—in a two-week span, their lives will change beyond their expectations, and what they gain and lose will determine whether they enter adulthood or hold fast to their pledge. Once, in Lourdes is a haunting and moving novel of the power of teenage bonds, the story of four characters who will win your heart and transport you back to your own high school years.

I was expecting this book to be somewhat dark, it is after all about four kids who have a suicide pact. But I wasn’t expecting it to be quite so disturbing.  I mean the book was interesting, it had more of an experimental feel when it came to the writing. It included some of the drawings of the main character Kate.  The characters were all interesting as well, I was able to feel for all of them.  The ending took me by surprise as well, and I wasn’t sure if I liked it. It was a very dark ending. Which is why I ended up giving the book three stars. It whole thing just left a bad taste in my mouth.

Weird Girl and What’s His Name – By Megan Brothers

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Goodreads Synopsis: In the tiny podunk town of Hawthorne, North Carolina, seventeen-year-old geeks Lula and Rory share everything—sci-fi and fantasy fandom, Friday night binge-watching of old X-Files episodes, and that feeling that they don’t quite fit in. Lula knows she and Rory have no secrets from each other; after all, he came out to her years ago, and she’s shared with him her “sacred texts”—the acting books her mother left behind after she walked out of Lula’s life. But then Lula discovers that Rory—her Rory, who maybe she’s secretly had feelings for—has not only tried out for the Hawthorne football team without telling her, but has also been having an affair with his middle-aged divorcee boss. With their friendship disrupted, Lula begins to question her identity and her own sexual orientation, and she runs away in the middle of the night on a journey to find her mother, who she hopes will have all the answers. Meagan Brother’s piercing prose in this fresh LGBT YA novel speaks to anyone who has ever felt unwanted and alone, and who struggles to find their place in an isolating world.

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Another LGBTQA+ read! Weird Girl and What’s His Name is an easy read. It’s 336 pages, it has quirky characters who love the X-Files and it’s about finding yourself in life.

I found myself liking the first half it more than the second half. Rory is the narrator for the first part and I really liked his character. He lives with his alcoholic mother and his main friend is the funny but selfish Lula. His character really grows over the story. You understand why he’s in the unfortunate relationship with his boss, but the book does a good job of never condoning what happened. It was wrong and he begins to see that. He also learns that he wants to be with someone who loves being with him. And that was my favorite part. Rory really begins to love himself by the end of the book.

I didn’t like Lula’s character. And thus I didn’t enjoy the last part of the book where she’s narrating. Her whole running away escapade was so selfish. And I didn’t feel like she ever took responsibility for her actions like she should have. I think if not for her I would have given this book a full four stars. Also some of the characters in this book were biphobic, and all though they apologized for it I just don’t see why it’s necessary to say biphobic things. Let’s just stop with the whole “Bi people are confused” shit. It’s 2017 people!

I did feel for Lula despite it all. She goes in search of her mother, who abandoned her as a young kid. Her mom is seriously a terrible person. And it was hard to see Lula be rejected by her mom. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the treatment of the mom.  It didn’t feel supportive of women who can’t/don’t want to be mothers.  Lula’s mother is portrayed as a huge bitch through the story, like the mom literally doesn’t care about Lula at all. And I wanted it to be more positive, some people just don’t make good parents. It’s not that they’re messed up or anything.  Still it was good for Lula to grow up and realize that she had a great life being raised by her grandparents.

The overall plot was great, now I really want to watch the X-Files and see what all the fuss is about. 😀  I gave this book 3.5 stars on Goodreads.  It’s a cute book, and if you can get over Lula you’ll enjoy the story.

Light in August – By William Faulkner

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Goodreads Synopsis: Light in August, a novel that contrasts stark tragedy with hopeful perseverance in the face of mortality, features some of Faulkner’s most memorable characters: guileless, dauntless Lena Grove, in search of the father of her unborn child; Reverend Gail Hightower, a lonely outcast haunted by visions of Confederate glory; and Joe Christmas, a desperate, enigmatic drifter consumed by his mixed ancestry.

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Again, I decided to read this because I’ve been on a classic literature binge.  This one is probably my favorite of my recent classic reads. Light in August is a haunting story. From Lena to Hightower to Christmas, each character has a past that makes their life difficult and each is struggling for something else in life.    This book is a fast read, and I should warn you does not have a very happy ending.  Lena finds the man who got her pregnant but he’s not what she thought.  Christmas gets into trouble with the law.  Only Hightower doesn’t have some catastrophe fall on him.   But I would definitely recommenced reading this book. It’s a book that looks into the heart of man, it shows people for what they are and how circumstance forces them to do things they wouldn’t otherwise do.

After reading this book I’m excited to read more by William Faulkner.  His writing was very impressive, and his characters deep.  Does anyone have any recommendations for more books by him?

In the end I gave this book 3.5 stars on Goodreads.