Monday, 30 July 2018

Quarterly Book Stats

I'm a bit late with my quarterly stats, mostly because I've not been doing a great job on keeping my spreadsheets up to date. These stats are for April to June 2018 and don't include anything I've read or acquired in July.

I read 31 books during this period, a little higher than the first quarter which I put down to audiobooks. This brings the half year total up to 57. My average rating was 3.7 with some fabulous books read and only a handful of disappointing reads. I read 11,099 pages which is an average 122 pages a day.

My favourite three books of the quarter were:

A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir
I Still Dream by James Smythe
Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

My most read genre was fantasy (13), followed by science fiction (8) and I also read from non-fiction, crime, horror and contemporary fiction (including YA). 27% of books were by BAME authors/artists (same as last quarter) and 61% by female authors/artists.

A whopping 7 books were audiobooks which is quite a surprise as I am listening to these at times when I wouldn't be able to sit down with a book. Unsurprisingly my most read format is paperback at 10, with ebooks close behind at 9. I have only read 5 books in hardback this quarter. Only four of these were review copies, so mostly I have been reading my own books.

I acquired 53 new books, 8 were unsolicited (so totally not my fault) and one was a library borrow. I spent £212.22 which is an average of £4.00 per book or if I exclude books I got for free £5.74 per book.

My challenge totals as of the end of June:

Beat the Backlist = 13/30 (on track)
POPSUGAR Reading Challenge = 29/50 (on track)
Science Fiction vs Fantasy Bingo = 9/25 (behind)
Read Harder = 13/24 (on track)
Goodreads = 57/100 (on track)

Progress made on all of them, and my Beat the Backlist goal is very nearly reached. I have been chugging along nicely on Popsugar and intend to finish, including the "advanced" prompts. I am dithering over quitting Read Harder. I will tick things off if I read something that fits but I'm not really enthused about it this year.

The numbers for my very own challenge are abysmal I know. I have read lots of science fiction and fantasy, honest! I don't know why I'm not ticking these off but I will do better in the second half, at least complete a bingo line or two!

Sunday, 29 July 2018

Summer #Readathon Wrap-Up

Hours spent reading: 18
Total pages: 1487
Books finished: 5

My page count is probably a bit off because My Lady's Choosing is a choose your own adventure style book and I read two different paths but obviously not every page. It's a bit too much for a tired brain to keep track of!

I didn't even get to eat my cheese balls, but I did have a cooked breakfast for dinner which is kind of a reverse thing to do, right?

1. Which hour was most daunting for you?
Well it would have been hour 1 if I'd tried to start then, but I was asleep. I suppose hour 6 which was when I made myself wake up and read.

2. Tell us ALLLLL the books you read!
Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers 5*
Angelic: Heirs & Graces by Simon Spurrier + Caspar Wijngaard 4*
Run, Riot by Nikesh Shukla 3*
My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris 4*
My Lady's Choosing by Kitty Curran + Larissa Zageris 3*

3. Which books would you recommend to other Read-a-thoners?
Specifically for readathon, Angelic was cute and fun, but Becky Chambers all the way for when you have time to savour. Although My Favorite Thing is Monsters is great, I don't think it was the easiest thing to read when tired.

4. How did you feel about this first-ever Reverse Readathon? Should we do it again?
OK, I don't think either start time in Europe is that great, but after years of moaning about an afternoon start it is so much better than in the middle of the night. I was pretty sad about missing the beginning but it just wasn't do-able after a day at work, and then I ended up missing the end because I finished a book at about 12:30am and I just didn't have it in me to pick up something new.

I did read for about the same amount of time that I would in a normal readathon, but this was done in one go and therefore seemed a lot more tiring. I think it works as a relaxed, summer readathon but I'd probably be disappointed if these timings were adopted for the main event. However other time zones may disagree!

5. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? Would you be interested in volunteering to help organize and prep in October?
Very and yes.

Saturday, 28 July 2018

#readathon hour 14

Local time: 14:00
Hours spent reading: 7
Pages read since last update: 360
Total pages: 459
Books finished: 2

Currently reading: Run, Riot by Nikesh Shukla

Books read: Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers and Angelic: Heirs & Graces by Simon Spurrier + Caspar Wijngaard.

I've spent most the morning reading outside although it has become very windy now, so I'll probably move indoors. I loved Spaceborn Few and Angelic was cute as well as having some big themes. Loved them both. Moving onto Nikesh Shukla's Run, Riot now.

It's summer #readathon time!

Local start time: 01:00
Actual time I got my arse out of bed: 08:30
Hours spent reading: 2
Total pages: 99
Books read: 0

Currently reading: Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers

I've had a leisurely start to the summer readathon. I slept through the start and as soon as my eyes opened (and it was light, because actual RAIN woke me up about 4am, it's a miracle) I picked up a book. So I started reading around 6:30am but stayed in bed. Need to compromise, right? I usually start a new book for readathon but I had already read a little bit of Record of a Spaceborn Few last week and I want to finish it today.

You can check out my TBR post for other books on my maybe pile.

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
Hampshire, UK.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
Continuing with Becky Chambers' Record of a Spaceborn Few.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!
I've been blogging for 7 years and I've done most readathons during that time. I like most genres but read mostly SFF.

5) This is our VERY first Reverse Readathon! How does it feel in your time zone?
Weird! I missed the start and it kinda feels like the second half of the thon already as I usually sleep between hours 12 and 18.

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Tarnished City

In Gilded Cage, Vic James created an alternate Britain ruled by a magical elite, who use the Unskilled as slaves, portraying a broken political system and class divides. Check out my interview with her if you haven't started the series yet.

Tarnished City picks up from where the previous book left our characters; Luke framed for murder, Abi on the run, their little sister Daisy left in the clutches of the Jardine family.

That was the problem with Equals. They were cruel autocrats filled with unimaginable power. But they were also just human.

The Skilled characters are multi-faceted, yes some are just evil, but some have mixed loyalties. Gavar just wants to protect his baseborn child and is becoming increasingly disgruntled with his family. For some unknown reason Silyen seems to have a soft spot for Luke, and while he does send him into the hands of torturer Crovan, he also demands that he not be damaged beyond repair.

Doc Jackson and the Angel of the North's true identities are now known, but Meilyr paid a huge price for standing up for Luke, with his Skill drained he is now a hollow shell of a man. The rebels still have a lot of work to do and Bodina takes over. Abi becomes much more involved in the cause, wanting justice for her brother, who everyone seems to know is innocent. But why would the Equals care about a commoner boy who serves perfectly well as a warning to others? The whole thing escalates into a horrifying climax and some characters will surprise you.

The city maintained the facade that Britain was a civilized modern nation, when really it was barely one step up from feudalism.

Luke ends up on Crovan's estate, where those who committed the worst crimes against Equals go. A castle, on an island in a loch in the remote Highlands of Scotland. The loch's water enfused with Skill to inflict pain on any who enter. Inside the castle, Crovan inflicts punishment on his prisoners, making them forget again and again what he does to them. He runs the castle-prison like some grotesque social experiment, with some prisoners living as guests and the rest as the servants.

I started to really like Silyen. He's far from perfect but he clearly doesn't have the same agenda as his family. He is interested in how Skill works but in less of a cruel way than Crovan.

It's interesting reading this in the current political climate. It shows how the people in power bend the "facts" to their purpose and take advantage of media to amplify their own agenda. As well as the obvious class struggles and terrible government. We can all sympathise.

Abi dared imagine that the Equals' version of history could be fought with the truth, but how could you do that when they were making it up as they went along, and shouting it over and over and over through the media? They had everything at their disposal: power, money, connections. They hardly needed Skill.

I actually picked up the finale, Bright Ruin, immediately after, so I am struggling to keep the two books separate in my mind. They definitely need to be read as a trilogy and the story does run from one to another. It's a middle book, with a clear beginning and end, but overall I thoroughly recommend this trilogy as something a bit different.

Tarnished City is published by Pan Macmillan and is available in paperback and ebook editions. The final instalment, Bright Ruin is out 26th July 2018. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review.

Monday, 23 July 2018

There There

There There follows twelve Native Americans in the days running up to the Oakland powwow, exploring the identity of a people whose home is just not there any more. Dene plans to film the stories of Natives at the powwow, to tell the tales that are usually forgotten.

I'm not sure if the stories told by the characters are necessarily those recorded by Dene as I had expected, because of what happens at the end. Everyone has their reasons for attending the powwow, for some it's work, for some it's to remember their culture, to socialise, for others it's all about the prize money. And some people are willing to cross the line for that money.

Pretty much everyone's lives are affected in some way by alcoholism or substance abuse. There's the teenage boy born with foetal alcohol syndrome, the alcoholic mother who no longer has her children, a drug dealer, the kids adopted or fostered because of their parents' addictions, families left broken and adrift and those who work in the Indian Centre to help the addicts. It's a depressing vision of life as an "urban Indian".

When you hear stories from people like you, you feel less alone. When you feel less alone, and like you have a community of people behind you, alongside you, I believe you can live a better life.

Tommy Orange set out to challenge the stereotype of the Native American, strong, silent and mystical. I'm sure substance abuse is a huge problem in Native communities but it would have been nice to have a broader cross-section of people represented if this was what he was doing. Instead, he chooses to show the damaged lives, leaving it up to the reader to link history with the reason why such addiction is so rampant.

I did like the historical parts and his writing is at its strongest when its directly talking about the place of Natives in modern America. They feel forgotten, erased. It's certainly a literary novel, one where plot is definitely not a high priority. It's a short book and there are a lot of characters to get to know. I felt it skipped onto a new person before I had a chance to get properly invested in their story. And what on earth was going on with those spider legs?!

I'm not sure if I missed something but I didn't understand how everything escalated at the end. It seemed too extreme, but then I don't live in a country with gun violence. It was traumatic but the book ended before any resolution. Are we not meant to care what happened to these people? Is this a statement about apathy towards Natives? I feel like the book ended where it was just getting going.

The wound that was made when white people came and took all that they took has never healed. An unattended wound gets infected. Becomes a new kind of wound like the history of what actually happened became a new kind history.

Most reviews I've seen have been full of praise. I just think I don't get on with this type of literature any more. I want a story, I want an ending and I want to get to know a few characters well rather than lots in passing.

Listening Notes

The audiobook has four narrators which helps to follow the multiple viewpoints, however not all the voices were distinct. A lot of the male parts were read by the same person which didn't help me work out who was who a lot of the time.

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Book Source: Purchased

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Summer Readathon is Coming!

Have you heard the news? Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon is making a special summer appearance and the start times are reversed! This means in the UK, it will run from 1am on Saturday 28th July to 1am on Sunday 29th July. You can sign up here.

I've signed up, of course, although the start time will be difficult for me. Josh thinks I could sleep for 3 hours then get up but I think it's much more likely that I will start whenever I wake up naturally on Saturday morning. It's a bit weird to not be blocking out the whole weekend for it.

As next week is the release of Record of a Spaceborn Few, I might sneak it onto my TBR last minute. However I don't want to be reading it if I'm feeling super tired.

Save the Date by Morgan Matson
Run, Riot by Nikesh Shukla
Kindred by Octavia Butler
My Lady's Choosing by Kitty Curran + Larissa Zageris
How Do You Like Me Now? by Holly Bourne
Angelic: Heirs and Graces by Simon Spurrier + Caspar Wijngaard
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
I Hate Fairyland: Fluff My Life by Skottie Young
My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris

As always, there is no expectation for me to read all these books, I wish! I will be happy reading one novel and the comics/graphic novel. My Lady's Choosing is a choose your own adventure romance, which I thought would be fun for the readathon.

Let me know if you're joining in and would like me to cheer for you (I can do blogs, Instagram or Twitter).

Thursday, 19 July 2018


I must have bypassed Scythe when it came out, because I'd become a bit phased by young adult dystopia, but then I saw Hanna @ Booking in Heels loved it. She's a tough critic. Turns out it's set in a utopia and has plenty to say about human existence.

Nature deemed that to be born was an automatic sentence to death, and then brought about that death with vicious consistency.

In the distant future all illnesses have been cured and humans can live forever. Even if involved in an accident, the deadish can be revived. This is all overseen by a vast artificial intelligence; the Thunderhead. Whilst the Thunderhead provides well for the larger population, there is still a small need for population control. That's where the Scythes come in.

The Scythes have quotas, they must each take the lives of a predetermined number of people a year. It's not called killing, it's gleaning and gleaning is permanent. Their selection criteria and methods of gleaning are left up to each Scythe, but they are reprimanded for bias or cruelty. In this world where death is a rarity the Scythes are both revered and feared. They live by ten commandments, the first being "thou shalt kill".

There is so much world-building, the plot is almost secondary, and I loved it. The story is interspersed by the journals of the older Scythes, some of who are hundreds of years old. They philosophise over what they do, how they do it, are there better methods. The history of the world is well laid out in these segments.

Therein lies the paradox of the profession. Those who wish to have the job should not have it...and those who would most refuse to kill are the only ones who should.

Being a Scythe is an honour, but the position should only be bestowed on those why don't really want it. They should be compassionate and live humble lives. There is a new faction forming, one who think Scythes should revel in their power, kill how they choose and take advantage of their privilege. It's a classic story of how power corrupts.

There is a young adult plot in amongst this. Citra and and Rowan are two teenagers who are selected to be apprenticed to Scythe Faraday. Taking two apprentices is highly unorthodox and only one of them will be selected should they pass the tests. It's not romantic and, through various calamities, I liked the way it played out. I was worried about the pitting themselves against each other angle, but in the end it allowed all sides of the Sythedom to be revealed.

My greatest wish for humanity is not for peace or comfort or joy. It is that we all still die a little inside every time we witness the death of another. For only the pain of empathy will keep us human. There's no version of God that can help us if we ever lose that.

The Scythes all take names from illuminaries from history. I think if you know of the historical figures, you can tell a little bit about each Scythe, those known for weapons research for instance, might just be the power-hungry kind or seek destruction.

Humans do strive for technological and health advancement, but do we ever stop to think what will happen if we reach such goals. Do we really want to live forever?

Listening Notes

I was so absorbed in this world I barely thought about the audio narration to be honest. But there was nothing about it that jarred so well done Greg Tremblay.

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge: 9. A book about a villain or antihero

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Book Source: Purchased

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Hope Never Dies

Did you say Obama and Biden crime mystery? Sign me up! Hope Never Dies is pure fan fiction, following a retired Joe Biden as he comes to grips with life after vice presidency. It's been over six months since he left the White House and he's no longer in receipt of a Secret Service detail. It feels like every day the news is full of Obama and his shiny new celeb friends. Has Joe been forgotten?

The moral arc of the universe bends towards justice, but sometimes the universe needs a little help.

An Amtrak conductor is killed on the tracks and in his belongings is a map with Joe's house marked on it. They knew each other from when he used to take the train into Washington DC. Obama gives his old partner a visit to advise him to hire some private security. They agree to tell the police that the Secret Service are looking into it to keep Joe's name out the papers. But Joe can't leave it be, he needs to uncover the truth.

Barack and Secret Service Steve, keep coming to Joe's rescue and eventually they team up, much to Steve's disapproval. They will just have to give him the slip. There's seedy motels, biker gangs, and one dodgy knee. It's silly and fun, even if the mystery element isn't anything amazing. I still thoroughly enjoyed it.

They get the idea from TV shows that every death is a crime, and that crimes are solved over the course of an hour with commercial breaks in between. That's not real life. This is.

There's plenty of little jabs at the current administration too. I liked how it didn't gloss over Joe's age, he can't just charge around like a young man and he spends half the book with a knee injury after falling over. Some of the jokes were a bit cringey, but I also chuckled in places. I'd probably read another one if Andrew Shaffer were to write another.

What would Barack say if he saw me out here, rolling around like a turtle on my back?

Hope Never Dies is published by Quirk Books and is available now in paperback and ebook editions. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review.

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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Spinning Silver

It completely passed me by that Naomi Novik's Uprooted was based on Beauty and the Beast, but Spinning Silver is clearly inspired by Rumpelstiltskin, yet also so much more. Miryem is the moneylender's daughter, her father being far too nice for the profession. When she takes matters into her own hands, the business prospers and rumour spreads of the girl who can change silver into gold.

In the cold of winter, the glow of the Staryk Road can be seen close to their village. The Staryk lust for gold and are known to kill anyone who takes what is theirs; the white animals in the forest, the colourless trees. The rumours of Miryem's skill reach the Staryk kingdom, and they come to see if what is said is true.

A man who'd marry me like this wasn't marrying me at all; he was making a bargain for a girl-shaped lump of clay he meant to use at his convenience, and he wouldn't need to value me high when my father made it so clear he didn't.

As with the original fairytale, things are done in threes and the power of names is important to the Staryk. However there's no imp making deals to help Miryem, she must save herself.

The story is told from multiple perspectives, and it's useful to notice the little graphic at the top of each change of viewpoint. The coins are for Miryem, the basket for Wanda, the goat for Stepon, the crown for Irina and the spindle for Magreta.

Wanda lives with her abusive, alcoholic father and her two brothers Sergey and Stepon. They barely survive on meager rations until the day Miryem comes to collect her father's debts. Of course, he has nothing, but Miryem demands Wanda come to work of the debt. Wanda would rather work for the moneylender than be married off in exchange for a pig or goat. I loved her story of how she pulls her family out of poverty, even if she doesn't seem to like them much at the start. It also reflects how fair an employer Miryem turns out to be.

Irina is a duke's daughter, destined to be married off, but no one expects a high position for her. Miryem's solution to her Staryk problem, sets Irina on a new path, a union no one expected, especially not the tsar. As the story progresses, the three girl's paths cross again and again, as do their paths with the Staryk, a cold race of people who live amongst the winter.

The world I wanted wasn't the world I lived in, and if I would do nothing until I could repair every terrible thing at once, I would do nothing forever.

It's set in a world where young women are married off, used as bargaining chips. But these characters prove they are so much more than that. In the background hostility to Jews is hinted at, that Miryem's family is better off where they are than in some other places, where Jews are rounded up, echoing Poland's history.

I loved the icy setting, the harsh winter which threatens to overwhelm the kingdom. The Kingdom of the Staryk, where ice is life, versus the heat of summer which they must push back. Maybe it's a tale of good versus evil, but it's not as straightforward as that for all the presented villains.

As with Uprooted there is a definite fairytale feeling and the pages are filled with a magic of ice and fire, and the allure of Staryk silver.

Spinning Silver is published by Tor and is available now in hardback and ebook editions. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review.

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge: 22. A book with alliteration in the title

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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Turtles All the Way Down

On the surface Turtles All the Way Down sounds like a typical John Green story; missing eccentric billionaire and a teen trying to find him with the help of her best friend. I'm not the biggest fan of his but I had heard that the character Aza was based on his own experiences of OCD, so I gave it a chance. And Aza is what wins this book.

Nobody gets anybody else, not really. We're all stuck inside ourselves.

Now I know a lot of people don't like this book because it bills itself as a mystery or they are expecting a romance they can root for, and these things are really quite secondary. It takes place in Aza's mind and her mind is a busy, messy place. Her Obsessive Compulsive Disorder revolves around her fear of catching and dying from clostridium difficile (C-Diff). She has worried a wound on her finger for years, now leaving an open sore which she has to regularly check, and re-open, which just makes her fears worse. She spirals in her thoughts, there are "turtles all the way down".

The book shows her going to therapy and discussing drug treatments, how she avoids them but her therapist pushes her to keep trying to find something that works for her.

I loved her friendship with Daisy. Aza isn't into Star Wars but Daisy is a massive fan girl and writes Chewbacca romance fan fiction. She can deal with her best friend having different likes. There is a part where it shows how mental illness can put stresses on relationships but good ones will hold out. I liked that their misunderstandings weren't drawn out, they are good friends.

It feels like Davis has been put there for a romance at the start but I think he's there to show how OCD can get in the way of forming romantic relationships. He's the billionaire's son, but really quite sweet. He and his younger brother don't stand to get anything from their father's disappearance, the whole estate is being left to a tuatara, a reptile known for longevity.

Your now is not your forever.

I liked the ending, it was saying you will be OK, maybe not know, but things will be better, you just have to brave the storm.

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge: 16. A book about mental health

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Book Source: Purchased

Monday, 9 July 2018

Lily and the Octopus

Dog people, be prepared to cry. I honestly don't know why I thought it'd be a good idea to listen to Lily and the Octopus on my commute, it was hard to resist turning into a blubbering mess. Lily is an ageing Dachshund, much-loved by owner Ted, and the octopus is a tumour.

When I held my new puppy in my arms, I broke down in tears. Because I had fallen in love. Not somewhat in love. Not partly in love. Not in a limited amount. I fell fully in love with a creature I had known for all of nine hours.

Of course to Ted, he thinks it's an octopus on Lily's head but to the reader I think it's obvious from the get go what it is. It's both a metaphor and a sign of Ted's denial. Since breaking up with his boyfriend, Ted has been single, going through the process of online dating with little enthusiasm. But Lily is always there for him.

There are several ways to read this book, some might call it fantastical or magical realism, but I didn't see Lily as a talking dog, just like I didn't believe the octopus was an actual octopus. I project a voice onto Scully, have conversations with her, as I'm sure many dog owners do, so it seemed normal for Lily to have a voice.

To focus, I think of how dogs are witnesses. How they are present for our most private moments, how they are there when we think of ourselves as alone. They witness our quarrels, our tears, our struggles, our fears, and all of our secret behaviors that we have to hide from our fellow humans. They witness without judgement.

If you read the octopus as real then you miss out of some of the heart-breaking signs of detioration within Lily. It's a story about coming to terms with the loss of a dog, of when to let go. It's one of the saddest books I've ever read, because you just know there's not going to be a miraculous recovery.

It's based on the real life Lily, Steven Rowley's Dachshund. You can tell it's somewhat based on experiences. It doesn't shy away from some of the less joyous aspects of dog ownership. Earlier in her life, Lily suffers from paralysis, something that is a common problem in the breed. You hear about the high cost of vet bills and there's always going to be that moment when you have to apply a financial value on your dog's life.

Listening Notes

Lily's voice is adorable, and spot on. She shouts staccato with excitement, especially in her puppy years when dogs find everything exciting. I found the narrator's tone a little cynical but it fits with the character.

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Book Source: Purchased

Thursday, 5 July 2018

The Hunger

In 1846 a group of American pioneers set out towards a new life in California. They were to be known as the Donner party, and beset by problems, just over half of them made it. Based on this true story, The Hunger adds a supernatural element to explain why they did what they did.

I hadn't heard about the Donner party before picking up this book but it sounds a fascinating tale of survival even without adding the supernatural which I'm not sure contributed much extra. 87 left Independence, Missouri and only 48 survived; disease, exposure, injury and starvation taking its toll.

I'm not averse to historical fiction that inserts something other to explain things that we hope humans wouldn't do, but I don't think this is a good example. When a boy goes missing, he is found butchered and at first they blame the natives. Then some members of the party start worrying they are being followed by a monster, whether human or something else.

The group contains clashing personalities, there's plenty of blame assigned and infighting. There's plenty of nasty characters. As more and more things go wrong, they fall further behind schedule, meaning they will not be able to cross the mountains before winter. It would be easy to see why they might turn on one another and the party splits up.

The book dwells quite a bit on certain pioneers' past, maybe to question why people would leave their lives behind or maybe Alma Katsu just had a lot of research on these people and wanted to insert it. There's a love triangle set up in order to foster jealousy and then it doesn't really go anywhere. Tamsen's referred to as a witch and then there's not the expected witch hunt to follow.

I do not know whether it was just the bland audiobook narration but I just found it lacking atmosphere. Even a routine crossing across America would be full of risk. Sleeping out so exposed in the wilderness with safety hundreds of miles away should be a scary prospect in itself, especially in the 19th century. The harshness of the winter wasn't really conveyed and I honestly didn't care if the characters died.

If you still think you want to read this and know zero about what the Donner party did, stop reading now because I want to talk a little of how it plays out.

The party is well known because they resorted to cannibalism in order to survive. In this version of events, there is this whole set up that there is something out there infecting people and making them crave flesh, maybe zombies, maybe a rabies like disease. For the whole book you think this is what they are going to use to explain why they ate people. Yet no, last minute it turns out they just had to start eating human meat because they had no other food, which was the truth. What was the point in the supernatural bit at all?

Listening Notes

Kirsten Potter didn't suit the book at all. She sounded like she was reading a dry history book but with the occasional odd emphasis and I zoned out repeatedly. Like I'm not sure if they kept to the original deaths or if I missed the passing of an important character. I've read the timeline and it seems to have been the one thing kept faithful so, yeah, I don't think I was engaged with much of it. I'm not in a position to judge what the pioneers would have talked like but she came across as a very modern voice. I'm not sure I'd listen to more narrated by her.

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge: 6. A novel based on a real person

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Book Source: Purchased

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Quickie Reviews

With all this nice weather, it's been hard to sit indoors and write reviews. So here are some brief thoughts on things I read a while ago now.

The Best We Could Do is a graphic memoir by Thi Bui. When she becomes a mother she starts to think about what her parents went through to provide her a safe life. It goes between Thi exploring her relationship with her parents now and the story of the family's escape from South Vietnam in the 70s. I learned quite a bit about the political situation in Vietnam as well as reading the hardships of a family who experienced so much, including the loss of children.

Read Harder: A comic written and illustrated by the same person
Read the World: Vietnam

In Real Life is a short graphic novel about gaming and gold farming with a little lesson about economics thrown in from, Cory Doctorow. It's not very subtle and definitely aimed at the younger end of young adult. Anda befriends a poor Chinese player in Coarsegold Online. Raymond is a gold farmer, working long hours for low pay but he also loves the game and plays it in his spare time too. Anda falls in with a crowd who are paid to kill gold farmers, leaving her with a choice.

Raymond explains to Anda how he hurt his back and doesn't get healthcare in his job. She decides to make him campaign for it, without really knowing his circumstances or how well strikes go down in China... It's a bit ironic an American preaching about healthcare when theirs is such a mess. Anyway, Jen Wang's artwork is cute and it does try and make a point.

I borrowed Blue Lily, Lily Blue from the library in audiobook form and Will Patton's narration was irritating in places, high pitched woman voices and terrible singing. Ronan and Calla had the same voice, like they'd been smoking 40 a day. At least Gansey and Blue were fairly normal, I don't think I could have coped with Blue having a stupid squeaky girl voice.

Anyway, I think I am invested in finding out what happens but I found this instalment pretty slow. Lot's of stuff about Cabeswater and Latin. I think the Algionby Latin teacher position is akin the the Dark Arts position in Harry Potter. Will there be yet another one in the final book? I like the mythology and I need to know if they manage to save Gansey and if so why did Blue see his death? So I will be reading The Raven King, but I'm not sure I'd listen to it.

Home is the second Binti novella by Nnedi Okorafor and follows Binti as she heads home for her pilgrimage. Binti is changed by her experiences, both mentally and physically and does not fully belong in either place. It explores the feelings of returning home as a migrant. It's a bit slower than the first book and again I got the feeling that I'd have preferred it all as one longer book.

I also read the first volume of Paper Girls, which follows a group of paper girls in the eighties when some sort of time travelling incident occurs and there's weird men in cloaks and an Apple device is dropped. And honestly I'm not sure if I know entirely what is going on but I'm intrigued enough to read another volume.

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge: 36. A book set in the decade you were born