What Did I Read in January?

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Good frozen morning! I really hope everyone’s managing to stay warm and secure in the face of the latest winter storm headed our way. Over the holiday season, I did stick to my “resolution” to stock up on some new reading material, and while I’ve started on the several titles recently acquired, I’m certainly not going to rush through (I mean, what if there’s a blizzard, or something)…

So, if anybody remembers, I’d decided to look for cozy paranormal mysteries the next time I went book shopping. Ehrm, well…that didn’t last very long. In my defense, I did get a few of those! Buuuut… I blame the displays at Barnes & Noble. Those buy-one-get-one-at-a-discount stacks on the tables just beyond the front door, when you’ve freshly stepped into this magical haven of literature and knowledge and fun, the waft of somebody’s fancy espresso greeting your senses…

Yes, that’s it, we’ll blame the displays. Because I literally walked right into this.

Amazon.com: The Library of the Dead (Edinburgh Nights, 1): 9781250767769:  Huchu, T. L.: Books

I’d never heard of this author, and I’m honestly not sure I’ll look into his other titles, but I just might, because as confusing and at times dull as this book was, there’s also something fascinating about The Library of the Dead, that draws you in early and makes you want to keep reading through the tedious parts. Following the rough life of young Ropa, who comes from a poor immigrant family, there are ghosts and a dystopian future and monsters and ill-defined creatures with Ulterior Motives. The writing is a mix of city slang and well-educated prodigy (which does effectively set the tone for Ropa’s character and narration). The story seriously suffers from too many subplots that either fade away too quickly or don’t really make a difference to the overall theme — and yet, most of them are quite entertaining to read. By the end, I was a bit puzzled, but also wasn’t obsessing over it. The plot holes are pretty big, but if you just accept them and enjoy the story as you go, then you won’t be too disappointed. It’s strange, because usually I don’t excuse obvious lapses in continuity or common sense, though this time I guess I wasn’t truly invested enough to really be bothered about it.

Next up…

What the Hell Did I Just Read: A Novel of Cosmic Horror (John Dies at the  End, 3): Wong, David, Pargin, Jason: 9781250040206: Amazon.com: Books

This book relied waaaaay too much on the clever blurb as its selling point. I became aware only after I started reading that this is the third in a trilogy, and some people have very unflattering things to say about the author (fair enough, I’m not here to be the opinion police). However, I was determined to give it a shot. It’s one of those times I honestly wish I hadn’t. At first, What The Hell Did I Just Read is a delightfully absurd and satire-ish paranormal-mystery-ish novel. Unfortunately, it all too quickly lives up to its title, in a bad way, when the narration takes on a heavy-handed soapbox-preachy tone a few chapters in and never really reverts back. The sudden shift to intense profanity and obscene shock-value moments didn’t help at all. In the end, I DNF’ed this one, without regret.

Luckily I have good stuff to report as well!

I also added 3 more titles to my Discworld collection, making a bit of a dent in my list of Books-I-Must-Own-Before-I-Die. I already have all the titles featuring Death, but now also have almost all of the City Watch series, and am finally getting close to being able to finish all the books about the Lancre witches.

And I ended up with a surprise, too…

Empire of the Vampire: Kristoff, Jay, Orthwick, Bon: 9781250245281:  Amazon.com: Books

Will you just LOOK at that cover. At the, erm, artistry and the, uh, color scheme. Okay, okay, yes, I need to know what Hot Guy is up to. Hey, at least I’m honest. Anyway, when I came across this in the display, I passed, mostly because I worried carrying it to the car would cause a minor injury. (It’s almost 800 pages.) BUT, a couple weeks ago, I received an unexpected gift card, and there was a sale going on for hardcovers, AND online ordering meant delivery, so no qualms about sudden bodily harm en route to the parking lot. So, I went for it.

After Empire of the Vampire arrived at my house, I made an outstanding discovery:

I already knew that B&N stores sometimes arrange for authors to “sneak” in and sign many copies of their newest release or most beloved titles, then those books go on the shelves among the “regular” inventory, and occasionally, a really excited reader will stumble on a “secret” signed copy. Well, I ordered a very ordinary, not special edition or anything, random hardcover of Empire of the Vampire — and yet…THE AUTHOR’S SIGNATURE IS ON THE INSIDE TITLE PAGE.

I didn’t even notice it at first — I was actually looking at a few of the amazing illustrations between chapters. Then my fingers slipped while skimming, and I saw what seemed like a smear of ink under the title font. I looked closer, realized it was deliberate and not some bookseller’s accident, couldn’t breathe for a moment, then went to research Google images of Jay Kristoff’s signature.

HOLY CROW, yup, it was real.

Except now I can’t read it, because it would be like desecrating a sacred artifact or something.

And that’s all for now! I’ll be back later on with some movie recommendations to keep us cozy this winter!

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