Monday, December 28, 2015

Mini-Reviews: A Trio of Misses

An Inheritance of Ashes
An Inheritance of Ashes by Leah Bobet

The cover of this one immediately grabbed me, and I loved the plot - fantasy with a farm/homestead setting.  Unfortunately it was the setting that really just doomed this on for me.  I liked the fantasy aspects and I thought the characters were ok.  Nothing spectacular but it could have been a solid brain candy read.  Except.  The setting is just so poorly done.  Here's the thing about fantasy: there's a whole lot you can get away with, but you've got to let your readers know where they are at some point.  It can be a fantasy version of the world we live in, it can be a different world, it can be past, present, or future.  But it can't be a mystery.  I kept waiting and waiting for the author to reveal where we were - she referenced specific world religions, so it must be some unnamed country on our planet but a fantasy version?  If it's our world, it's got to be the future because races are totally homogenous and there's no prejudice, racial or sexual.  Except everyone lives on farms and it's a very obviously pre-industrial society?  Never explained.  I spent the entirety of the book wondering where and when I was and it completely kept me from getting into the story.  It's one aspect of fantasy that you just can't neglect or do halfway, and it ruined the book for me.

The Beautiful Bureaucrat
The Beautiful Bureaucrat by Helen Phillips
So this one was on a lot of lists and got a lot of press earlier in the year.  The slightly dystopian/fantastical setting appealed to me.  In this case, we didn't get a ton of information about where and when we were, but the author also avoided details that would hint ambiguously at a time or place, which made it easier to swallow.  I didn't hate it, but I feel like overall I just missed the point.  I read it in two sittings and I know about halfway through I had some brilliant revelation about how this was a story about LIFE.  Unfortunately I had also taken an ambien, and when I woke up I couldn't remember why I thought this story was in any way significant. If you read it, I recommend reading it on drugs because it seemed a lot better after ambien than in the cold light of day, when I just didn't get the point.

After We Fall
After We Fall by Emma Kavanagh

This book is responsible for the Great Audiobook Draught of December.  It took me an entire month to get through a ten hour audiobook.  Usually I go through one a week.  This has a great premise and the publisher blurbed it well because it sounded really great. Until I started listening.  It was so boring.  And of course there's a twist and you KNOW there's a twist and so I couldn't just give up until I knew the twist.  Spoiler alert: the twist is no more interesting than the rest of the book.  The narrator was the best part.  Had it been in print I would have skipped to the last chapter and saved ten hours.

Whew!  Feels good to get those of my chest!  I've been saving up my book rage all month long.  Come back tomorrow and see some happier reviews of a few recent YA reads that I loved!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas

Bring Your peace into our violence
Bid our hungry souls be filled
Word now breaking Heaven's silence
Welcome to our word

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Worst Books and DNF's of 2015

It's inevitable when you read as many books as I do each year that not all of them are going to be great.  Some are poorly written, some are less than entertaining, and some just genuinely didn't find the right reader in me but might work for others.  This is the post where I try to weed out a bit of what failed for me and why.  As a bonus, I'm listing my DNF (Did Not Finish) titles at the end.

Natural Selection: A Novel
No expectation of high quality writing here, but I do expect my sea monster books to at least keep my interest.  This is one of the slowest horror/thrillers I've ever read.  

Dark Rooms
Don't even get me started on the issues I had with this book and rape apology.  It had a lot of potential but the author's use of rape as plot device and the happily ever after wrap up just ruined this one for me.

The Silent Girls
The Silent Girls by Eric Rickstad
Not only was this one full of stock characters who had no evolution or growth throughout the book, but the author's agenda was so overt that it overshadowed the story.

Daughter of Deep Silence
Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan
My Review

I love Carrie Ryan and was super disappointed to find this one populated with unbelievable characters, motivations, and an over the top ridiculous plot.

An Inheritance of Ashes
An Inheritance of Ashes by Leah Bobet
My review is still to come, but the world-building here was really not up to even my lowest expectations.  In SFF, it's important for the reader to have some kind of idea about where and when they are - and this book gives the reader very mixed signals about what world we're in and at what point in time.

DNF's of 2015

What were your worst reads and DNF's of 2015?

Friday, December 18, 2015

Best of My Non-Bookish 2015

So many awesome things happened in 2015, I felt like I needed a little recap post just to show off some of my best moments and turn you on to some things you might want to try out that aren't necessarily book-related.

My personal favorite moments of the year:

Seeing some serious yoga progress!

Getting a fancy new car!

Trips to see these precious friends!

Ben Folds concert with my honey

Time to love on these sweet boys

Hosting my family's first Passover Seder

Adding this little lovey to our family
Blessing of the Animals at my church

Some fun new hobbies and interests:

I started volunteering this spring with the Southern Literature Alliance and have enjoyed every minute of every event I've helped with. If you're in the South (or love Southern literature), you need to be a part of this.
Coloring for grown-ups!  I'm all about this and have a post planned to highlight my favorites after Christmas.  Most relaxing hobby I've found other than yoga.

Image result for dutch blitz
Dutch Blitz.  I used to play this non-stop in college and we rediscovered it randomly in Barnes and Noble.  My entire family has spent all year playing this obsessively.

The arrival of Starline Books here in Chattanooga!  We finally have an independent book store and if you live anywhere nearby, it's a must-visit,  

Image result for escape experience chattanooga
We've also gone to this twice since the summer and my family is obsessed.  It's such a blast and a great way to spend an hour having fun and interacting - a much better option than sitting through a movie or having another family dinner!  This one is local, but they're all over the country, so do some looking and find yours.

What are your best non-book experiences of 2015?