Short reviews of the first 5 books read for my 2017 reading challenge.
Category: A book that’s been on your TBR list for way too long
I kicked off the year with Vigil, as it’s been on my TBR pile since July last year (ok, I have books that have been on there longer but they’re mostly anthologies and collections and I wanted a novel). Disclaimer: I know Angela, and I love many of her stories, so I’m not exactly an unbiased reviewer here. Vigil was a fun (it is dark though), quick read, with mythical creatures living alongside mundane humans in Brisbane (or Brisneyland). There were lots of little deft touches I appreciated. 4 stars
Category: A book by or about a person with a disability
I read the younger readers edition of Ugly as it’s on my selection list for the school library this year. I wanted to be able to sell it to the kids (and the teachers). Another disclaimer: I also know Rob, and have been meaning to read this for a while. I think Ugly is a must-read, and am planning to read the adult’s version as well. 4.5 stars
Category: A book with a red spine
I picked up Poison because it has a red spine. The blurb promised a sexy retelling of Snow White. I read the first page and the writing seemed fine so I borrowed it. Read it in a couple of days. Poison isn’t amazing, it was an enjoyable read, though I had some issues with the storytelling. 3 stars.
Category: A bestseller from a genre you don’t normally read
I am so thankful for this reading challenge as I never would have read this book otherwise. I loved it, even though it was quite hefty I devoured it within several days (I even stayed up late to read it, which I rarely do now). It’s kind of a LGBT Dickensian con story, with love and intrigue. 5 stars
Category: A steampunk novel
I had some big issues with this novel, from a narrative perspective. It was structured like a bunch of short character vignettes to tell the story of the country Everfair (spanning 1889-1919), which meant that there wasn’t any real plot to follow. It took me over 100 pages to feel any kind of pull to continue reading, and I came very close to abandoning it purely because there were only a couple of characters I could really “see”, and I was having trouble keeping track of everyone else. I like character-driven stories; “idea” stories where the characters serve as chess pieces moving around the board don’t tend to drag me in so much, and I did think this book has too much of the chess board feel. Which was a pity, as I desperately wanted to love it (African steampunk!) and it’s a fabulous concept (I loved the prosthetic limbs). Lots of key action moments happened “off-screen”, POV characters died but were mentioned in passing as having died in a vignette set a couple of years later. There were quite a few “plot” devices that made no sense, and lots of character moments that made no sense. There are some very comprehensive Goodreads reviews that summarise my exact feelings about the novel. 2.5 stars