Book it Chewie

I read, sometimes, then like to blab about what happened.

Reading progress update: I've read 213 out of 411 pages.

Many-Coloured Land (Saga of the Exiles, Book 1) - Julian May

While this is technically a reread, the last time I finished this book was around...oh, perhaps thirteen years ago or so.


I'm actually glad I'm getting the chance to read the series now, rather than having gone through it when I was younger; I feel I can appreciate and understand a lot of the themes being presented in it much more strongly.


While I've owned my copies for a very long time without having actually read the majority of them, these books hold massive sentimental value for me. They had a place of honour on my shelves when I was a kid, survived a move from Canada to Ireland, and are some of the last original possessions I own from back home (regardless of the fact that my mum mailed me them from Ireland as a gift). I honestly have no idea why I put off reading them for so long, but I'm glad I pulled its slip of paper from my random reads jar so early in the year.

Tipping the Velvet - Sarah Waters

Wow. Okay. This book was a hell of a roller-coaster for me.


It starts out pretty much exactly how I expected. Something sweet, something innocent and naive, before falling down a really long flight of Sin Stairs, very quickly. I'm not unaccustomed to books leaving me reeling after I'd finished reading them, but Tipping the Velvet had me constantly on my toes. The abrupt change of tone once part two hits completely threw off my plot senses and I had absolutely no idea what to expect - had to just throw up my hands and coast along with the book until the end, wherever it decided to take me.


None of this was a bad thing. On one hand I knew exactly what I was getting into reading this, but somehow the book managed to deliver not only precisely what I was expecting, but also the total opposite of what I was prepared for. Seeing Nancy change in the ways that she did was reminiscent, for me, of a sort of time-lapse of a caterpillar metamorphosing into a butterfly. The changes were startling, and the person we're left with at the end of the book isn't even remotely like the Nancy we start out with.


That was kind of amazing to see. She slides from naive, to inexperienced and hopelessly in love, to embittered and self-destructive, to proud and pathetic, before life evens out for her and she's given an opportunity to start clawing her way back up from the pits she'd gotten herself into. I definitely enjoyed that.


The prose itself was gorgeous to me, emulating a very strong Victorian feel without the stodginess of age and natural evolution of language weighing it down. It was seamlessly easy to see everything that was being presented to me; the imagery of the various parts of London popped, the smells and colours and sounds were just there. The innuendos and double entendres were nice little nods of the hat to the reader - often rather amusing ones - and made getting absorbed into the story much more interesting.


It's been hours since I finished the book and I'm still sitting here, mumbling 'whoa' to myself every now and then. 

Rose Madder - Stephen King

Pretty standard King page-turner. I'll admit, I lost a lot of interest in the book once the romantic sub-plot with Bill became a thing. I just sort of coasted along with the story after that.


Weirdly? I found Norman's PoV to be far more interesting and engaging than any other. He's just such a nasty, disgusting piece of work, and the knowledge that there were - and still are - very real people out there like him lent a roiling, oily sort of can't-look-away horror to him.


...although, I have to say, it's really bad when the antagonist of the story is so much more memorable to me than the protagonist, giving the events in the book. It's a discomfiting notion that leaves me feeling like the story was more about Norman, an abusive and disgusting man, than Rosie, an abused woman who cuts loose from her terrible husband and builds a new, better life for herself. While it was definitely supposed to be Rosie's story, I got the impression that most of the energy, the feeling, the writing grit, went into Norman and not her. Considering King is a horror writer, and Norman was certainly the horror of this story, I can't say I'm surprised.


My first thought after finishing the book was how strongly I was reminded that King books tend to be (for me, anyway) read-it-gift-it books. They have almost no re-read value for me. Hit-n-miss on the first read-through - sometimes they're terrible, sometimes they're really enjoyable - but there's just no draw to pick it up again after that, ever, even years later when I can't remember the book any more - and I'm a heavy re-reader. I've yet to read a King novel that has struck me as anything more than an airport thriller.


(No lie, Gert was a straight-up badass, though.)

The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas

Good book. Unfortunately, it took me far longer to get through this than I originally planned. It wasn't at all that I wasn't enjoying it - I certainly was, for what it's worth - but I've found that reading Victorian (or earlier) literature can be exhausting. This was no exception.


I took more notes and highlights on my kobo with this than with any other three books combined. Some sections of it are very quotable. Characters were engaging, and each of them generally stood out. They each had their moments of cringe-inducing assholery (some of them much more than others), no lie, and the frequent little misogynist jabs were massively irritating. Expected, considering when it was published, but no less frustrating.


Arguably, at the core of it, this is a story about love. Platonic love, between our intrepid heroes the Inseparables and d'Artagnan, and romantic love when it comes to Mme. Bonacieux. The story starts out relatively light-hearted and adventurous, and slowly darkens and strains as it goes on. Can't say I was expecting that, but I appreciated the end result.


I'm honestly conflicted about reviewing this. Something about Milady hasn't sat well with me since I finished the book, but I couldn't say what. Perhaps it was that I never really disliked her - I only really felt sorry for her. She didn't feel like a villain at all to me, despite the things she did. I don't know.


tl;dr - reads a bit like an adventurous soap opera, and I can definitely see why it has so many adaptations.

Reading progress update: I've read 43%.

The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas

The chapter in which we learn that d'Artagnan is a huge Athos fan-boy, and Athos apparently gets so rippingly drunk that Dionysus would've been shocked by the amount of wine he necked back.

Reading progress update: I've read 25%.

The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas

Wishing I could punch 90% of the dudes introduced thus far.

Reading progress update: I've read 18%.

The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas

D'Artagnan. Bro. You need to dial back on that insta-love.

Reading progress update: I've read 131 out of 384 pages.

The Girl Who Heard Dragons - Anne McCaffrey

Really bald descriptions of surgical procedures in this particular short story. I'm wigged out by anything even remotely medical on a massive scale.



Charmed Life  - Tim Jones, Diana Wynne Jones

I have always absolutely loved how Diana Wynne Jones portrays magic in her works. Loved it. It's whimsical, charming - fairy tale-esque in its wonderful, simple absurdity. Howl's Moving Castle is not only one of my favourite comfort reads, but the Ghibli adaption is one of my favourite movies (despite how intrinsically different they actually are.)


This was no exception. The only reason it doesn't have a four-star rating was because of the amount of time I was sitting there, muttering 'or you could, y'know, just be honest and tell Chrestomanci what's up' was a little frustrating.


Also - I didn't know the main protagonist was a boy named Cat. Shout-out to a fellow Cat guy! (Did I get way too excited about this detail? Yes. Yes, I did.)


Can't wait to get my hands on more of the Chrestomanci books.

Anansi Boys  - Neil Gaiman

Honestly, when I sat down this morning with my tea and cracked open my copy of Anansi Boys, I wasn't expecting to still be sitting here, five hours later, finishing up the book.


I guess that means I really liked it.


Unpopular opinion, perhaps, but I thought it was better than American Gods. It mixed all of the elements I expect from a Gaiman story - humour, darkness, the ridiculousness of humanity, etc - and condensed it somewhat more than Gods was, without losing anything in the telling. I definitely appreciated that.


Favourite character was the lime.

A Study In Scarlet -  Arthur Conan Doyle

Quick, easy and classic detective novel. I always end up forgetting how charmingly (and insufferably) charismatic and endearing Sherlock Holmes actually is.

The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold

The last time I read this was in either 2003 or 2004, I believe. It's been in my to-read pile for some time now; I was a little hesitant when I pulled its slip of paper from my Unread Books jar, as I a) couldn't remember much about the book except that it stayed with me for some time when I was younger, and b) that I wasn't as impressed by it as the friend who lent it to me was.


It was good. Hard to read at times due to the subject, but still good. I think I can appreciate some of the things addressed now that I'm much older, which, I think, gave me a better understanding of the book this time around. The prose and imagery hit me just right, poetic and bright without being pretentious.


One problem I had with it is that it is an intense book, but there's not many situations where the rawness of it is allowed to pull back for a moment and allow you to breathe a little before diving back into it. It got rather numbing after a while...actually, now that I'm thinking about it and typing it out, perhaps that just parallels the ending of the book somewhat. Huh.


I haven't seen the movie - I wasn't even aware there was one - and it's unlikely I will ever watch it as I suspect it won't be able to capture the feel of the book well enough.

The Hanover Square Affair - Ashley Gardner

Kind of an insubstantial read for me. The mystery didn't really hook me too grandly, I felt we weren't given enough of Lacey to get to know him well, and the various reveals towards the end felt a little bit clunky and rushed.


I liked Grenville, though.


A nice filler read, but not something I could sink my teeth into. I might well end up grabbing the sequel(s) to have something easy to flick through when needed - and because I'm really seeing The Hanover Square Affair as an introductory book to outline characters, rather than a full-blown tale in itself.


Hoping we get to know Gabriel Lacey a bit better and that he gets his life sorted out, really.

Shadowplay - Laura Lam

Shadowplay picks up a lot of the slack I thought dragged Pantomime down a bit (a case of debut syndrome) - still not perfect, still taking big steps forward. I'm so pleased about that.


Micah really gets a chance to come into himself in this book. He's growing as a person, his world view is expanding, and he's having to juggle not just living yet another layer of incognito, but all of the revelations and changes that both himself and the world around him is going through.


Political upheaval is a real threat, Alder magic seems to be finding its way back into the world, Maske and his fellow Kymri Theatre workers and performers become something resembling a real family for him, and the Damselfly that had haunted him before is pushing her way more strongly into his awareness.


Through all of that, Micah finally seems to be discovering who he is and what he wants for his life. He hasn't at all lost the cheekiness and boldness that really endeared him to me in Pantomime, and tends not to take injustices sitting down.


I'm very much looking forward to Masquerade (which isn't out until 2017), and I'm eager to read False Hearts when it's out as well.

— feeling excited
Pantomime - Laura Lam

I have been stoked as hell to read Pantomime for a while now, but had to wait for the new ebook edition before I could purchase it.


Circus setting? Check. Nonbinary protagonist? Check. Non-heteronormative protagonist? Check. Intersex protagonist? Check! I can't say I've ever read a confirmed intersex character (where they weren't just there for a punchline) before, so being able to sink my teeth into Micah's story was a pretty major deal.


Pantomime was short, as far as my usual novel fare goes, and the only reason it doesn't have a four-star rating from me is because it suffers from what I call 'debut syndrome' - a book can be deeply enjoyable and even well-written, but still feels a little bit loose at the seams. Usually spotted with debut novels, and it's usually burned off in the sequel or subsequent novels by the same author. (Also why I believe you shouldn't necessarily judge an author by their debut work, ever.) Pantomime had a bit of that - great setting, enjoyable characters, engaging and interesting protagonist, but I felt it needed an extra coat of paint to really bring out the story. I am intensely eager to get into the sequel, Shadowplay, because of that.


I loved Micah. He was outgoing, engaging, cheeky, even bold as brass at times. Aenea was a sweetheart, witty and playful, and while not understanding in the end, still kind. Drystan was odd and distant, intelligent, charismatic, charming, simultaneously extroverted and subdued depending on the situation he was in (and my favourite after Micah).


The reveal that the circus was not quite as wonderful as Micah originally thought, that the core of it was rotten and crumbling apart, was well-paced I thought. We see the layers being stripped from Bil at just the right speed as he falls further and further away from decency and into deprivation - an interesting parallel to how Micah works his ass off at pretty much everything he throws himself into, and refuses to fall. 


This is a YA book that I want to get once the new paperbacks are out; I want it sitting on my shelf where I can point it out and lend it to people and nag them into reading it. It's upsetting that there isn't a larger pool of books like this for mogai kids/teens/young adults to pick from, but, well, we've got to start somewhere and somewhen, right?


Can't wait to pick up Shadowplay.

The Republic of Thieves - Scott Lynch

Slightly less impressed by this one, I must say. The only time I actually enjoy politics is when it's glossed over very well with a fantasy veneer, so I was excited to read about the main plot for Republic of Thieves.


However - more of the story was spent on the past Gentlemen Bastards rather than the current arc. I enjoyed how supplementary the sub-plots were in the past books, but I was so eager to read the new stuff that I had a harder time investing in the 'origin story' stuff, so to speak.


A lot of the book was more about Locke and Sabetha's rekindling relationship (and, of course, the beginning of it during the flashbacky stuff) which, well...kind of irked me. This is the first time we really get to see Sabetha, and she's really been built up a fair bit. I was expecting to see her in Red Seas but that didn't happen... I really, really would've preferred at least one book to get to know this character who I am assuming is both major and important.


Not to mention how Locke's attitude towards her at times was actually kind of gross. Really bossy and obsessive - boy needs to step back and let go, seriously. Of course, we do find out there's a reason for it, but it would've been nice to see Sabetha actually being, y'know, put off by that? She's the bad-ass woman the story has been wanting, and while romance and love aren't 'weak' things at all, we needed more time, just with her.


We learn a fair bit of stuff that feels like set-up material for the future books, but unfortunately Republic of Thieves definitely had a hump-day sort of feel for me, book-wise. I definitely still enjoyed it, but it felt a little more lacklustre after the explosion that was Red Seas Under Red Skies. 

Currently reading

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