Wrap-Up: November 2012

November has been a mixed bag, book-wise. I had the pleasure of reading some absolute highlights, and was unfortunate enough to be gravely disappointed by a couple of books I expected to love. Everything in between was pretty good though and I’m broadening my speculative fiction horizons a bit.

Books read: 9
Pages read: 3051
Series started: The Clockwork Century
Series continued: The Gentleman Bastard Sequence
Series finished: The Flora Segunda Trilogy

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THE BEST:

Scott Lynch – Red Seas Under Red Skies  9,5/10

Red-Seas-Under-Red-SkiesWhen I read The Lies of Locke Lamora a couple of years ago, it was an instant favorite. As only the second volume was already published at that time, I wanted to draw out the experience a bit and waited. Now, listening to my boyfriends remarks and chuckles as he’s reading Locke Lamora, I couldn’t keep my hands off this book – and once begun, I couldn’t put it down. Red Seas Under Red Skies became just as dear a friend to me as its predecessor. A lush world, a swashbuckling adventure, fiercly loyal (and generously cussing) protagonists, and a kick-ass plot with intrigues upon intruiges. The only reason I didn’t give it 10/10 is, I want to keep room open in case The Republic of Thieves sweeps me off my feet even more.

Ysabeau S. Wilce – Flora’s Dare  8/10

Ysabeau S. Wilce - Flora's DareYou’ll remember that, last month, I fell in love with the charming little Flora Fyrdraaca, her eccentric family and her best friend Udo. Well, they’re back and they’re better than before. Flora has survived her first adventure and is now faced with a series of problems: What to do with life? How to study magic? What about Udo and that stupid girl? How to catch Spring Heel Jack? Oh, yes, and how to save the city of Califa from certain destruction? Don’t worry, Flora will muddle her way through all of these and, somehow, emerge mostly unharmed. There is time travel, there are injuries, and there are dark secrets to be discovered. All in the original setting of Califa and told in Flora’s charming voice. Highly recommended.

Brandon Sanderson – The Emperor’s Soul  7,5/10

Brandon Sanderson - The Emperor's SoulMy first Brandon Sanderson did everything I wanted it to. It showed me this man’s writing (everybody seems to love him), it took me into a world he created and introduced me to a few characters that caught my interest immediately. While I would have liked this novella to be longer, the taste it gave me of the Sanderson-verse made me want to start reading Mistborn even more.

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THE WORST:

Cherie Priest – Boneshaker 4,5/10

Iboneshaker didn’t expect to see this book in this section. I wanted to love it, honestly. But one little spark of an idea is not enough to keep me interested, and Cherie Priest failed on pretty much every other level. Terrible dialogue, clunky writing, bad pacing, hardly any plot, repetitions over repetitions, and only two proper characters, one of which is inconsistent and the other of which is way too modern for the supposed time period.

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THE REST:

Audiobook: Kristin Cashore – Graceling 7,5/10

gracelingThis was a re-read for me, so I knew I would like the story. I was more critical of the style this time around but while there are definite flaws in Cashore’s writing, she manages to pull her readers in nonetheless. Having a voice actor for each character, and one for the narrator of course, made for a wonderful listening experience. I found all the voices very fitting, some actors were more believable than others but the protagonists were all spot on. So now I shall soon start with the third in the trilogy, Bitterblue.

Ysabeau S. Wilce – Flora’s Fury  7/10

floras furyThe final Flora book took our red-head girl out of Califa and onto the road. Maybe that’s why I didn’t like it as much but it did show us more of Flora’s world. She got to make new friends – and new enemies – discover some things about herself and her family, take to the high seas and through Elsewhere. And as long as that dog Flynnie gets to come along, I’m happy. Now all we need is for the trilogy to be turned into a series. I want more Flora Fyrdraaca.

Robin Hobb – The Golden Fool 7/10

Igolden fool‘m being lenient here, because – come on – it’s Robin Hobb. That woman can paint pictures with words and make me cry so hard, it’s like my puppy died. This was the first in her trilogies that felt like a true middle part. Very little plot but a deep exloration of the characters and their relationships, especially Tom Badgerlock and Lord Golden. A lot of things are being set up for the next book and that’s okay. But really, it could have been much shorter and I felt it was the weakest volume in Hobb’s trilogy of trilogies yet.

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DIDN’T FINISH:

Adam McOmber – The White Forest

white forestThis was almost the opposite of Boneshaker – a beautifully written book in a lush setting but with hardly any drive. The protagonist was so stupid I wanted to shake her sometimes and the pacing was interrupted by repetitive flashbacks every time it could have gotten interesting. So after a little over half the book, I stopped and put it away with a deep sigh. I peeked and read the ending then because I was curious, and what I learned – the big revelation – convinced me that not finishing was a good idea. Personally, the revelation was too lame to make me plough through an entire novel without a clue. But the writing was great, so this may just be the book for you.

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Coming up in December:

CHINA MIÉVILLE – PERDIDO STREET STATION
I’m a quarter into this and loving it. What a grimy, gritty, wonderful city. China says in interviews that he’s in speculative fiction for the monsters. And I can tell. His creations are amazing – and I quite like most of them. They’re not monsters for creepiness’ sake, they’re sentient beings with their own culture and feelings and dreams. So I’m completely invested in this right now. China Miéville could be my next author crush.

KAREN LORD – THE BEST OF ALL POSSIBLE WORLDS
I’m still not sure about this. On the one hand, I love some chapters to bits and care about the characters. Then, in other chapters, I’m going “meh” and just want the story to move along. The writing is very, very good so far and you’ll have my opinion once I’ve finished the book. But no matter if I like this story or not, I’ll read more Karen Lord.

SHARON SHINN – JENNA STARBORN
A science fictional retelling of Jane Eyre. I’ve merely peeked at this and read the first chapter and so far I’m loving it. Jenna’s voice is at the same time her own and reminding me incredibly of those first chapters in the original Jane Eyre. A clever little girl standing up for herself even if it means she’ll get punished. I can’t wait to see what the sci-fi equivalent of Lowood school will be.

KOUSHUN TAKAMI – BATTLE ROYALE
I’m reading this in a reading group over at Literaturschock. Judging by the size of the novel, I’ll probably be working on that one for at least half of December. I’m most interested in how it compares to the movie and – in the end – how much The Hunger Games simply lifted from Battle Royale. I mean, we all know it’s a blatant copy with a teenage love triangle mixed in for good measure (and marketing reasons, I’m sure).

5 thoughts on “Wrap-Up: November 2012

  1. Carl V. says:

    Reading reviews of Priest’s clockwork century books are always interesting. I had completely the opposite reaction, I was sucked right in and loved it. Enjoyed the second book even more and have the other two waiting to be read. And that is pretty much what I find all over the net. People love it and can’t wait for more or they think it is horrible.

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    • Nadine says:

      You’re right, I have had the same experience. I suppose it depends on how important certain aspects of a novel are to each reader. If you want a quick-paced adventure and don’t much care about language, then you may enjoy one type of book. While other people may prefer a book in more extravagant prose but with less plot (see Robin Hobb). I’d love to think I enjoy all sorts of books but I guess there are some things I just can’t forgive an author.

      You say book 2 is better? Then I’ll give it a shot in 2013.

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      • Carl V. says:

        It is interesting too because I just haven’t seen those dialogue problems. Maybe I’ll pay more attention in the next book. I’m the kind of person who won’t read something if I am not clicking with it and am pretty unforgiving of faults that I notice…mostly because there are just too many great books out there to read.

        I liked the second one better I think just because it stayed focus on one character’s journey across the U.S. rather than going back and forth between two characters.

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        • Nadine says:

          I was really unsure if it was just my understanding of English that was the problem. I honestly expected to be blown away by this. Everybody seems to be. So maybe the little bits that annoyed me bothered me all the more. But I believe this would make one cool movie and the dialogue would probably work a lot better spoken out loud, what with all the pauses and such.

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          • Carl V. says:

            No, there has to be something there because I’ve seen reviews very similar to yours, so you are not alone in your complaints. I am not kidding in that I don’t know of another contemporary sff book like this that I’ve seen such either/or opinions about. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of middle ground on this one.

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