Monthly Wrap-Up: April 2013

April is the cruellest month… this year, that is a little bit true. Mid-month, I found myself in a reading slump where I picked up book after book, read a few pages, but couldn’t work up enough enthusiasm to continue any of them. Then I realised I still have a bunch of Cat Valente books on my TBR. And the month was saved!

Books read: 9
Thereof comics:
4
Pages read: 1493
Series started: The Orphan’s Tales
Series continued: The Codex Alera
Series finished:

dividerTHE BEST

Tina Fey – Bossypants  8/10

bossypantsThis was a very pleasant surprise. Having watched All The Seasons of 30 Rock with my boyfriend, I wanted to find out more about Tina Fey. This audiobook was a lot of fun and gave a little insight into the comedienne’s life. Since she reads it herself, there is the extra bonus of hearing her voice tell embarrassing stories, doing her Sarah Palin impersonation, and generally being funny. Recommended for fans of Tina Fey’s or people who enjoy a few hours of hilarious memoir.

Karen Lord – Redemption in Indigo  7,5/10

redemption in indigoA charming and witty retelling of the Senegalese folktale “Ansige Karamba, the Glutton”. I enjoyed the actual retelling (the first few chapters) a lot more than the rest of the book, and I honestly don’t think I will remember the story for very long. But it was wonderfully refreshing to read a fantasy story with a non-medieval-Europe setting, with a protagonist who is a woman of color, and to recognise gods from African folklore. When I found out this book featured Anansi, I was already sold.

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THE WORST

Laini Taylor – Daughter of Smoke and Bone 2,5/10

daughter of smoke and boneWhat utter and complete trash. Bad writing paired with a terrible, terrible romance between an old man and a teenage girl. And of course the girl is oh-so-special but never has to work for anything in her life. Having blue hair and being pretty is enough. Oh yes, everybody in this book is so beautiful, the author spends pages upon pages telling us. The only good thing about this was the world-building in the beginning. It could have been something. But apparently, publishers don’t care very much about quality anymore. Just give the hordes of Twilight fans more of the same. Let them eat cake shit.

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THE REST

Léo – Bételgeuse (1-5)  7/10

betelgeuse integraleComic writer and artist Léo continues his Worlds of Aldebaran saga in this second cycle of comic books. We join old characters – first and foremost Kim, my personal favorite – and meet a ton of new ones. The art and world-building done through it were wonderful, the planet Betelgeuse offering a rich flora and fauna to lose yourself in. Plotwise, there were flaws, but nothing bad enough to stop reading. What almost did stop me was the characters and the representation of women. Now, I have no problems with comics showing naked people, in fact I think it is only natural that when somebody takes a shower (even in a comic book) they take off their clothes. But it seemed a bit forced in these books. There was endless talk about boob size and fake woman angst. Every man falls in love with Kim, for no reason that I could see (other than her being awesome) after having known her for a day or two. Sex in fiction is great, when done well. Here it just felt like the writer got carried away and wanted to draw more breasts and have men whisper into Kim’s ears how they can barely contain themselves… [insert eye rolling here]

John Crowley – Engine Summer  6,5/10

engine summerI am still not sure I understood this book. Complex in its language, it takes you on a trip through a post-apocalyptic world with its own mythology and cultures. Personally, the “poetic” language got on my nerves a little and felt forced and overdone. Since the characters were kept (deliberatley?) distant from the reader, I had a hard time working up enough empathy to care about the things happening to them. This is a very strange little book that wasn’t much improved even by its twist-ending. On the other hand, it let me explore another type of science fiction that has little to do with space ships or badly portrayed dystopias.

Jim Butcher – Princep’s Fury  6/10

princeps furyThe worst in the Codex Alera series so far. Butcher still writes riveting action sequences and keeps me on the edge of my seat, but he got lazy with his characters, relying on their personalities being established already. Some of them act completely out of characters, others are reduced to caricatures of their former selves (Kitai!). I also had problems with the pacing and plotting. The jumps between viewpoint characters seemed erratic and killed the suspense of certain plotlines. Princep’s Fury left me with an overwhelming feeling of meh.

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BOOKS I’M DRAGGING INTO MAY:

Frances Hardinge – Fly by Night
fly by nightSo far, incredibly charming and original. Mosca is a clever and lovable heroine, the world she lives in is unlike anything I’ve read before, and the tone reminds me a bit of the Flora Segunda books, which I have shown a lot of love here on the blog. Frances Hardinge is definitely worth a read and I am once again happy that there are still good books for you people being published.

Catherynne M. Valente – The Orphan’s Tales: In the Night Garden
night gardenOh Cat Valente, I can always rely on you. If I start describing how enchanted I am by this book, I will surely get carried away. Just this much then: I love the complicated, incricate structure. It shows that the author trust us readers to be smart enough to keep up and draw their own conclusions. The cast of characters is vast and diverse and I don’t think I have ever read a book that shows so much love for each of them. Be they monsters or men, three-breasted women or enchanted geese, firebirds or a tree who is also a girl, they each have a story to tell and they are each incredibly well-drawn. Yeah… expect another gushing fangirl review soon.

Kaye Chazan, Amanda Ching, Hilary Thomas, C.A. Young – (re)Visions: Alice
re Visions: AliceThis is a short anthology of stories about Alice in Wonderland. I have read the first story and liked it, and am now halfway through the second one. These are wonderful when I have little time to sink into a book – on the subway, waiting for the bus, etc. – and can only snatch up a few pages at a time. So far, it is a recommendation, but I don’t know what the last two stories have in store for me.

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