AEriko's Book Corner

SPOILER ALERT!
The Cloud Roads - Martha Wells

Moon has never fit in with the people he's live with. One day, he finds out that not only are there others like him, he's special. It sounds like the premise to a bad YA novel, but Cloud Atlas was a great read. Moon's initial reluctance isn't because of some ridiculousness about just wanting a "normal" life, it's because he doesn't know these people, doesn't know the rules of their society, and being the same species doesn't make them similar to him.

 

This novel did a really great job exploring the idea of belonging, and Moon's character development over the course of the story was also something I really liked. The author did a great job showing what spending decades as the Outsider will do to someone's personality.  In addition to the interesting plotline, it was a relief to read a fantasy novel with a society that wasn't based on medieval England!

 

I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the novels.

 

 

 

 

An Irish Country Village

An Irish Country Village - Patrick Taylor

In this sequel to an Irish Country Doctor, Doctor Barry Laverty has the first major setback of his career when a patient in Ballybuckleboo dies suddenly. Now, Laverty must continue learning the ins and outs of being a small-town GP from Doctor O'Reilly, regain the trust of the townspeople and navigate his brand-new romance with Patricia all at once. And, of course, Councillor Bishop is up to something again.

 

Like the first book, this novel feels like a cross between James Herriot and Jan Karon. It had a very pleasant ambiance, the characters were memorable, and it was just a very pleasant read in general. Despite the more serious plot, nothing is particularly awful or even particularly suspenseful. It was very relaxing to read. The storyline is less meandering than the first book, though. Basically, if you liked the first book in this series, you'll like the second book just as much.

Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women's Literary Society

Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women's Literary Society - Amy Hill Hearth

This was a quick, delightful read. When northerner Jackie Hart blows into a small southern town circa 1962, the literary society she creates draws together a group of people who are, like Jackie, misfits. Amy Hill Heart's novel depicts not just the prejudice and bigotry that each of the members faces, but also how meeting people from different walks of life expands each character's world.

 

Despite serious subject matter such as racism, sexism, and the north/south cultural divide, in the end Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women's Society is more of a celebration of diversity than it is a treatise on civil rights such as works like Native Son. The characters are genuinely interesting and likeable. It was fun reading about the literary society coming together and the strong friendships that formed as a result.  

 

 

I Shall be Near to You

I Shall be Near to You - Erin Lindsay McCabe

I Shall be Near to You tells the story of Rosetta Wakefield, who has never felt entirely comfortable within the rigid confines of women's gender roles. When her new husband signs up to fight in the Union army, she dresses as a man and enlists in his regiment to avoid being separated from him.

 

This novel was interesting but I really can't give it more than three stars. I felt the novel itself lacked depth. It's memorable more for the subject matter than the writing or the characters. Rosetta is really the only well-developed character in the novel. It was satisfying to see her growth over the course of the book, but everyone else fell flat. 

 

I would recommend this novel for anyone with a specific interest in women's participation in the (American) Civil War or anyone who has reached the end of their to-read list and is at a loss for what to read next, but that's about it.

Kokoro

Kokoro - Sōseki Natsume, Edwin McClellan

One of the most famous works of Japanese literature, Kokoro is a masterpiece exploring themes of loneliness and the death of the Meiji era.

 

It was also really depressing. So while intellectually I know it was a good book, it wasn't really all that enjoyable to read. That's just my own personal preference, though.

A Tale for the Time Being

A Tale for the Time Being - Ruth Ozeki

This was an excellent read! I always love the way Ozeki portrays Japan and Japanese culture. Authors who aren't of Japanese descent often have a bad habit of making Japan and the Japanese ridiculously exotic and stereotypical (fixations on honor, for one).

 

Nao's story was so compelling I could hardly put the book down. Her narrative was by turns intriguing, heartbreaking, funny, and addicting. All the characters in her sections were wonderful.

 

I took off a half star because I didn't particularly care for the Ruth sections. Writers putting themselves in their books is something I never really enjoy. I felt like while the novel as a whole was really great, Ozeki's attempt at exploring the relationships between writer and reader didn't work all that well.  

An Irish Country Doctor

An Irish Country Doctor - Patrick Taylor

This was a great book for some light reading. The setting was charming, and I found the characters to be very likeable. Taylor did a wonderful job creating a picturesque village that is sure to make the reader want to visit Ireland despite knowing that Ballybucklebo isn't a real place and towns aren't like that anymore.

Readers who enjoy series like Jan Karon's Mitford series and James Herriot's books will probably enjoy reading An Irish Country Doctor. It does have a meandering storyline, though, so I would advise people looking for a meaty plot or a lot of depth to look elsewhere.

Boneshaker

Boneshaker - Cherie Priest Despite the fact that I had read another book by Cherie Priest and didn't find it all that great, I had read good things about Boneshaker and hoped to really like it. That feeling never came, though. While the plot is good, the characters feel flat and it's hard to really care all that much about any of them. I actually ended up sort of just skimming through the last half of the book.

Pride And Prejudice

Pride And Prejudice - Jane Austen I read this book in a single day -it was impossible to put down. Elizabeth is an intelligent, likeable heroine. Austen's criticisms of the ridiculous social rules and rigid gender roles of the time are spot-on. And while Mr. Knightly is still the one for me, Mr. Darcy ended up becoming pretty wonderful himself!

Blood Bound

Blood Bound  - Patricia Briggs

This was actually better than the first book. The romance is still a bit ridiculous, but I like the way you can see why all the characters feel the way they do rather than the author just relying on love at first sight.

Moon Called

Moon Called  - Patricia Briggs

This was a fun and satisfying fantasy novel. Briggs does, however, fall into the trap of trying way too hard to make the main character seem like a badass. Mercy is a mechanic, and she turns into a coyote, and she knows all these other supernatural creatures, and the leader of her town's werewolves is her next door neighbor, and she doesn't take shit from people, and she has a tattoo, and she can use a gun, and she does karate (which we have to hear about several times over the course of the book, although at no time does she ever seem to go to classes or mention a sensei by name). I didn't even bother putting a spoiler warning on those things because we learn them in the first two chapters of the book. Also, the romance aspect gets a bit ridiculous. To give credit where credit is due, though, Briggs did manage to establish that the character has faith in a religion without being preachy about it. And the book was good enough that I immediately read the sequel (in part because these books are kind of like the Pringles of the literary world).

The second book was better than the first; as Mercy and her abilities/characteristics were already established, Briggs didn't have to focus on them as blatantly. Mercy doesn't talk about what she can do as much, she just mentions it a bit and then does it.

Dad Is Fat

Dad Is Fat - Jim Gaffigan Pretty funny insights into parenthood for the most part. Some of it fell a bit flat for me, but definitely worth a read.

The Shadow of the Wind

The Shadow of the Wind - Lucia Graves, Carlos Ruiz Zafón

I have two very big problems with this book:

1. Every single woman in this book is a victim of some kind of abuse and none of them are important except as motivation for the male characters.

2. The author has included a completely gratuitous rape. It is used as a minor event and does literally nothing to advance the plot. He seems to think that using rape for shock value is an acceptable thing to do.

More minor quibbles are that the big reveal is clunky and the method a bit uninspired, and the "mystery" of who is going around burning books was pretty obvious.

That said, I really do recommend reading this book. It was well-written (aside from the problems I had with it) and despite having already guessed who the arsonist was, my first time through the more I read the more I got drawn into it. By the end I couldn't put it down. The relationships between the characters were done very well. They are all three-dimensional. Fermin, in particular, is a delight. The book has a lot of memorable quotes and the author has some very amusing turns of phrase. It is definitely worth reading.

My problems with the book didn't really start bothering me until I read it a second time. While I still enjoyed the book, I was left with a vague feeling of disappointment.

Emma

Emma - Jane Austen I absolutely loved this book! Austen is incredibly witty, and the novel often made me laugh out loud. This was my first time reading one of her books. Even though I knew that Emma is a satire, I couldn't help but get really emotionally invested.
SPOILER ALERT!

A Discovery of Witches

A Discovery of Witches  - Deborah Harkness

Before you start this book, consider carefully whether you really need to read about vampires doing complex yoga poses by holding themselves up with one ear.

I really wanted to like this book. I ended up quitting at about chapter 10. Unfortunately the author started off by giving a detailed family history about the main character before the reader has any reason to care about her. Readers were also treated to a few pages where Diana tells us about her stalker's work history.

We eventually discover Diana is intelligent, successful, athletic, blonde, and a super powerful witch. Of course, the only thing that we are actually shown is her habit of taking her anger out on the people around her. We have to take Diana's word for the rest of it, because the only three things she seemed to do were yoga, drinking tea, and reading.

(show spoiler)



The book is written in first person -which always makes me cringe because so few authors excel at it- except for the few times that she switched to third person. From the looks of it, the author really, really wanted to talk about Michael, the vampire, but couldn't think of a way to do it while Diana was narrating.

Apparently the author thought Edward Cullen was the perfect specimen of a man (but could stand to be a little more sexist), because Michael is also a really hot vampire who orders Diana around, makes decisions for her, is very concerned with being able to refrain from killing her, and breaks into her apartment to watch her sleep. Honestly, I'm surprised she didn't just name the character Bedward Mullen.

The book lost me when

the author made a switch to third person because she was dying to tell the reader that Michael has fallen in love with Diana despite having known her for roughly a week. Two meaningful conversations were enough to let him know she's the one, but he's very concerned because the last time he loved a woman he killed her. Good thing we got an entire chapter of his manpain to let us know that underneath that violent, stoic, stalker exterior is a heart full of passion.

(show spoiler)

I couldn't read any more after that.

Well, at least I didn't pay for it. Thank you, public libraries.



Midnight's Children

Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie Salman Rushdie is a wonderful writer, and it's easy to see why this novel has received so many accolades. My own enjoyment of the book, though, was hampered by my dislike of the almost rambling prose and by my ignorance of a lot of India's history.