April Update

I’m a bit behind on my review schedule so I thought I would just take a little pause here to provide an overview of what I’m reading right now and what is coming up.

death unmaskedCurrently reading:

Death Unmasked by Rick Sulik. I should have this one finished this week, and my review will be up next Thursday. So far…it’s a bit odd. There is the police detective who believes he has been reincarnated, and also the woman he loved and lost so long ago, possibly also reincarnated, mixed together with a rash of violent acts against women. :/ Not really sure what I think of it yet.

Coming up next:

SuperMutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki.

SuperMutant Magic Academy, which has been serialized online for the past four years, paints a teenaged world filled with ennui and uncertainty, but also with a sharp dose of humor and irreverence. Tamaki deftly plays superhero and high-school Hollywood tropes against what adolescence is really like: The SuperMutant Magic Academy is a prep school for mutants and witches, but their paranormal abilities take a backseat to everyday teen concerns.

Science experiments go awry, bake sales are upstaged, and the new kid at school is a cat who will determine the course of human destiny. In one strip, lizard-headed Trixie frets about her nonexistent modeling career; in another, the immortal Everlasting Boy tries to escape this mortal coil to no avail. Throughout it all, closeted Marsha obsesses about her unrequited crush, the cat-eared Wendy. Whether the magic is mundane or miraculous, Tamaki’s jokes are precise and devastating.

Cosmos by Carl Sagan.

Sagan reveals a jewel-like blue world inhabited by a life form that is just beginning to discover its own identity and to venture into the vast ocean of space. Featuring a new Introduction by Sagan’s collaborator, Ann Druyan, full color illustrations, and a new Foreword by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, Cosmos retraces the fourteen billion years of cosmic evolution that have transformed matter into consciousness, exploring such topics as the origin of life, the human brain, Egyptian hieroglyphics, spacecraft missions, the death of the Sun, the evolution of galaxies, and the forces and individuals who helped to shape modern science.

Until Sunday (when I’ll be back with another Sunday Quotable)!

Advertisements

Clarence Olgibee by Alan S. Kessler — A Review

29464607Clarence Olgibee by Alan S. Kessler

RaeleighReads rating: Hot_Coffee_EmojiHot_Coffee_EmojiHot_Coffee_EmojiHot_Coffee_Emoji

Synopsis: In 1974, 17-year-old Jimmy Tate Sullivan watched his two friends bludgeon to death a black man. Sentenced to life for abetting the crime, Sullivan is initiated into a white- supremacist church by a fellow convict, once the best friend of an African-American teenager, Clarence Olgibee.

Shifting back to 1954, this family saga is about race, religion, and the powerful white men in a sleepy Midwestern town who plan a new world order Olgibee tries to escape.

Small choices have fateful consequences— in this life and the next. Olgibee’s choices lead him back to the two women he loved and an ultimate decision.


The terms like and dislike do not seem to apply here.

This is a very well-written indie book, though the writing style did take some getting used to. Mr. Kessler most certainly has a voice all his own.

For most of this book I could not connect with the main character, Clarence. His outlook on life, and his actions, were foreign and appalling to me. I think, perhaps, that was intentional. Kessler spares no character in this novel. The whole thing is overridden by a cloud of pessimism and disgust at the human condition, and most of all, a disgust with the racism that still pervades this country.

He shows us the worst of humanity — lying, cheating, degrading, using. No character was redeemable. They were all complicit in their own state of misery. Honestly, it’s left me feeling a bit hollow. I began this book with a pretty low opinion of most of human-kind, but after this book, I’m feeling a little hopeless. I need some puppies or unicorns.

Related image

There, that’s a little better.

Please don’t mistake me. I do not mean to make light of this book. In its pages, one can find very real parallels to today’s events even though its setting is back in 1954 and 1974. It is as though nothing has changed. It gives me an eerie, spider-crawling-up-my-spine feeling. White supremacist groups, racism, eugenics…those are just a few topics Mr. Kessler’s pen stabs into the page.

It really was quite a read! It has made me ashamed of humanity, aware of my own privelege in that I rarely, if ever, have to think about these things, and pumped up to do something that will change our world (starting with myself) for the better. This is a read I’m sure I will not soon forget.

The cover of my review copy looks like this:

clarence olgibee

I happen to prefer my cover to the one with the smudgy red background. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

N.B. I believe this book may have undergone some edits since I received my review copy, so please keep that in mind, and apologies for not getting this review out sooner.

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir — A Review

33359446A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

RaeleighReads rating: cup-of-coffee3cup-of-coffee3cup-of-coffee3cup-of-coffee3

But you, Helene Aquilla, are no swift-burning spark. You are a torch against the night – if you dare to let yourself burn.

We pick up A Torch Against the Night where An Ember in the Ashes left off. Laia and Elias are running for their lives, the Commandant is up to her usual evil ways, and Laia’s brother is trapped inside Kauf prison.

Like all traditionally published YA novels, this was well-written and suspenseful, and it had me wanting to turn page after page even when I was exhausted. I really enjoyed the incorporation of the Tribes into the story, the relationship development between Elias and Laia, and the struggle that Helene, now Blood Shrike of the empire, goes through in trying to choose between her friend and her duty to the empire. Honestly, the development of Helene’s character in this book was in large part why this book rated so high with me.

However, there were a couple of story lines that did not feel complete to me, and I found that a bit surprising considering how many hands this went through prior to publication. I think this book may have tried to accomplish way too much in too few pages.

  • The love triangle from book one carries over, but it’s sketchy and thoughtlessly handled.
  • Not nearly enough time is spent explaining the world of the jinns and the Waiting Place, which I assume will play a large role in book three (or at least, I hope it does).
  • That twist at the end felt a little cheesy, but all right I’ll go with it.

Despite these issues, I still enjoyed it very much, and want to know what happens with Elias and Laia in book three.

I picked this book to fulfill the Read Harder Challenge #20, A Book with a Cover You Hate. I know why Tahir wanted to change the cover design, and I respect that reasoning. I just think the execution (specifically the single color and the Throne of Glass knock-off style) was poorly done.

 

Which one do you prefer?

 

 

1001 Islands by K. T. Munson — A Review

 

26050943

1001 Islands by K.T. Munson

RaeleighReads rating: love--coffee-png-image-52236love--coffee-png-image-52236love--coffee-png-image-52236

The sliver of moonlight cast eerie shadows across the deck of The Dark Revenge. The Silence at the helm stood embracing the obscurity. His foreboding presence matched the anticipation aboard the ship, and no one spoke for fear they would break the stillness that encompassed them.

Tonight, everything changed.

The Dark Revenge gained on the Regatta. The raiders said nothing but he could hear the shuffle of taut female clothing and the tension in the air. It hadn’t sensed their existence, and drifted like heedless prey. Princess Roxana slept, unsuspecting of what was hunting her in the inky blackness of the night.

There was only one thing on the minds of The Silence’s crew as they drew near; Hang the Kings, Crown the People.

This was a really hard review for me to write. I wanted to love it, but this ended up being disappointing for me. I thought I was going to get a rip-roaring, swash-buckling adventure, where pirates put their over-seers in their place, but it turned out to be a wishy-washy romance (two romances) novel with a few action scenes that were not nearly satisfying enough, and a few fantasy-esque references. Sad 😦

At the very beginning I was hooked, but as things progressed I kept wondering where my action was and when that amazing opening would come back into play. It did eventually, but it was way too vague. THEN, there’s the whole deal with a captive falling in love with her captor. Stockholm syndrome is not sexy and should not be represented as such. Nope. I don’t care if he was ultimately a “good guy”. This should not be done.

I found the main male characters (yes, there were two), annoying. Both of them. For different reasons, but it is hard to keep yourself going when you don’t like the main characters.

I will say, the writing itself was pretty good (needed another comb-through from a copy editor), and it was a quick, simple read. My update stats (this is a pretty typical timeline for me FYI):

  • January 25, 2018 – Finished Reading
  • January 24, 2018 – 78.0%
  • January 23, 2018 – 60.0%
  • January 22, 2018 – 50.0%
  • January 20, 2018 – 33.0% 
  • January 20, 2018 – 25.0%
  • January 19, 2018 – 16.0%
  • January 19, 2018 – Started Reading

I have a feeling those who like romance novels, and who are not bothered by the questionable use of Stockholm Syndrome, will like this. Everyone else, spend those 4-5 hours reading something else.

Has anyone else read a disappointing novel recently? If you have, please let me know in the comments section below what the novel was and why it was disappointing to you.

Happy reading, friends!