Today my TL is full of people LOVING the books they're reading and that is just really great to see!
This is probably more accurately a 3 1/2 star book but I found myself very invested in the subplot concerning Astrid and Charley (in large part because they're being played by Gemma Chan and Harry Shum Jr. in the upcoming movie) and even when the story does go entirely off the rails it's at least entertaining. These stories are basically Dynasty with bigger bank accounts and set in Singapore/Hong Kong and once I understood that and stopped looking for anything deeper (like a cohesive narrative or character development) I was better able to enjoy them. Fun, light reads, good for a lazy day. :)
This was pretty much a meh for me. I don't really feel like the author got the tone right, but am also on a lot of cold medication right now, and it is entirely possible that I missed something. I want to give the author the benefit of the doubt because he clearly knows how to write, but the dry narration in counterpoint to the fantastical environment wasn't really working for me. I think that's more a disconnect between my expectations and the author's intent...I was just expecting the book to be something it never really advertised itself as, and so, couldn't deliver. I'm still looking forward to the movie. I think Alex Garland can make something pretty great out of it. If nothing else it will be visually stunning. I still like the concept, very much, I guess I'm just not crazy about the execution.
So my big goal this year (aside from actually finishing...ha,ha) is to pull all my Halloween bingo titles from books I already own. I thought this would be a fantastic opportunity to whittle down my TBR. So here it is:
Serial Killer Spree - Dead Dancing Women by Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli
American Horror Story - Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire
Country House Mystery - Generation Loss by Elizabeth Hand
Magical Realism - Blindness by Jose Saramago
Witches - Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett
Murder Most Foul - The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
Supernatural - A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore
In the Dark, Dark, Woods - Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer (I'm not entirely sure this one qualifies...I think it takes place in a jungle but we'll see) or River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey (lots of swampy trees on the cover)
Haunted Houses - House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski (have you seen how big this book is? I'm thinking it's going to be a challenge)
Classic Horror - We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
Darkest London - A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
Aliens - Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang
Ghost - The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James
Amateur Sleuth - Crocodile on the Sandbank (or any other Elizabeth Peters novel, I've read them all a dozen times and this one's just going to be a pure guaranteed pleasure re-read)
Diverse Voices - The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino
80's Horror - Phantoms by Dean Koontz
Horror - Bird Box by Josh Malerman
Gothic - Northanger Abbey by Val McDermid
Terrifying Women - The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
Werewolves - How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper
And that's it! Now September 1st just has to hurry up and get here!
I'm going to make this one short. This was a miss for me. There is a lot of telling in this book and very little showing. The exposition crosses frequently into info dumping territory. The sex is not horrible but it's better in her fic. I did like her main characters quite a bit (except for when they were being info dumpy but I do have to admit that they were quite a lot like her characterizations of John and Rodney from her SGA fanfiction) and most of the supporting characters were also likeable, which is good as I assume this is intended to be a series. There were times when some of the supporting characters took busy bodying to a whole new level of inappropriate and I really just wanted to smack them for their interference/rudeness. They seriously pissed me off and the lack of response from the MC just infuriated me even more, really. Also, there was a lot of build-up towards a show-down with an antagonist that ends with more of a whimper than a bang, which was disappointing for me. Two and a half stars.
This was great! Toby and Ethan go back to Minnesota to celebrate Christmas and Ethan's sister's wedding vow renewals. Ethan is sad and jealous because he and Toby have no plans to ever get married and Toby is acting strangely. There are no big surprises here, it goes pretty much where you think it's going to go, but frankly that's exactly what I was looking for today. A sweet story with likeable characters and an established couple that genuinely feel established. Four stars!
Office sweetie Rudy takes quiet new guy Zac home for Christmas where, yep, you guessed it, everyone thinks they're dating and hand wavy circumstances force them to fake a relationship and share a bed. Which is all fine. Tropes are great and exist because we love them, right? And the premise to this story is sweet and frothy and exactly what I was in the mood for. For the most part, the story delivers on it's promise. The main characters are likeable, Rudy's family is charming and there's an adorable kitten. I will say that the dialogue occasionally suffers from a bit of a disconnect to the tone of the story, I found it a bit graphic for the set up and that took me out of the story more often than not. All in all though, this was a quick and frothy little read that was just right for the holidays. Three and a half stars.
So this was my first manga, and probably a pretty good pick for easing in to the genre. It depicts the day to day life of a 40 something gay couple in Japan, centering the narrative around the food Shiro prepares each night for boyfriend Kenji. The art is relatively simple and aesthetically pleasing and the food sounds amazing, with instructions that are detailed, yet simple enough to make me consider actually attempting some of them. The domesticity of the series is comfortable and easy to slip into. The characters themselves are a bit more problematic. Shiro, as he stands so far, is not particularly easy to like. He's kind of a jerk, actually. He's cheap, a bit of a narcissist and not the most openly emotionally available guy, even with his boyfriend. And Kenji, while sweet, is also not without his faults. He has a tendency towards jealousy that could definitely become grating. As the story goes on, though, we begin to see where some of the emotional baggage Shiro is carrying comes from, and I have pretty high hopes that the next issue will delve a little deeper into those and flesh the characters out a bit more fully. The main issue I have is in the fat shaming that pops up here and there throughout the story. I don't know if this is a cultural attitude but it was really unsettling to read. There is also a fair amount of homophobia that Shiro and Kenji deal with on a fairly daily basis, but none of it is internalized and it's great to read a story about two middle aged men who both know who they are and are happy with it. I'm definitely going to read the next volume, and hopefully we'll get more character building and a deeper look into their relationship. 3 stars for me, on this one.
This was a super fun read! The art is fantastic - gorgeous colours, detailed panels, loving characterizations! It was just really visually compelling. And Bobbi! She is so well rendered. It's really hard not to fall in love with her and her dry sarcasm, science loving, butt kicking, corgi loving, zombie stomping adventures. The story isn't without it's flaws. It's occasionally disjointed, and leaves quiet a bit to be desired in the overall diversity of it's characters. It's a real shame we won't get more because I would have loved to see a more intersectional follow up. As it stands, this is a heck of a fun ride and I have a brand new appreciation for Bobbi Morse. Four stars! (if I ever manage to figure out how to access the rating system...what the heck is wrong with this stupid system?!!)
The book starts out well with a charming curmudgeon of a protagonist, and I quite enjoyed the first half, but the story loses itself a bit right around the point where the romance picks up. A.J. is a widowed bookseller, content to spend his days at the bookstore and his nights drinking until he passes out. He's clearly still in mourning for his wife, bitter and apathetic, until something forces a change. A.J.'s passage through grief at this point feels rushed, and the passage of time flies by, skipping years at a time, and I felt a bit cheated by that. The character's are all likeable, and you get a decent feeling for the town and town life, but not enough to really immerse yourself in it. It's thin underneath the charming veneer and runs fairly heavily towards the cliched. On the plus side, it's a very quick read and the author clearly loves books and book people. I did find myself smiling more often than not, for whatever that's worth. :)