It’s NaNo! Who has time to read?! you may be hollering at me. Well, remember when I recently posted the guidelines to surviving NaNo, and remember how it included taking time to do something other than writing? Reading is not writing — ergo, reading during this month is important.
(By the way, some of these selections I completed before November. I am not pushing myself too hard, don’t worry.)
So, after determining that I’ve exhausted the catalog of my local library (and I pretty much have), I’m taking great advantage of inter-library loan to obtain titles by authors I have only now heard of. At the moment, this includes Charles De Lint.
I finished Tapping the Dream Tree, which is a compilation of short stories based on his Newford series (none of which I had read, so nothing like jumping into the deep end with both feet and no water-wings). But I was able to figure out what was going on in most of the individual tales, and some of them I truly enjoyed. This author has a style that’s now rare for adult fantasy, focusing so much more on telling the story than on shock value or hitting up a current political soapbox. It was so refreshing. He has a long bibliography (he’s been publishing for many years), and I’ve already hunted down some more of his work.
Last weekend, wanting something light and easy, I picked up Laini Taylor’s Night of Cake and Puppets. It’s pretty short (under 300 pages), and the cover is interesting.
What was I thinking. I liked the first part of Taylor’s Strange the Dreamer, but had forgotten that NoCaP is set in the same world as her Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, which made me hit the ceiling with its blatant sexual references and dark-and-nefarious-goings-on. I managed to survive intact, though there were several pages in this novella I had to outright skip over (puppets are creepy, folks!!!), and I had to look at a lot of super-cute cat pictures to be able to go to bed that night.
Moving on to one of my major disappointments in October — Turtles All the Way Down by John Green.
This is officially my last attempt at a Green novel. I didn’t enjoy Paper Towns or The Fault in Our Stars, but repeated gushing reviews of this author’s work kind of guilted/hyped me into trying his new release. ‘Tis much better to go with my gut. I had MASSIVE issues with the depiction of mental illness in this book — not only is it blindingly obvious (I’m a former psychology major) that the narrator does NOT have general anxiety, but OCD — yet the novel calls her condition “an anxiety disorder” throughout — this is also the singular thing the narrator’s entire life is about. She’s made of more cardboard than a cereal box. She has no personality, no interests, no anything other than her OCD. That simply isn’t factual when it comes to living, breathing human beings — which this MC is supposed to be. And her “best friend” is HORRIBLE to her, treating her as a burden, ignoring her serious health problems, and never trying to help her get better.
And there was a significant lack of turtles. I wasn’t the only one peeved about this. Turns out the title is a metaphor, based on some sort of astrophysics thing. I had to look it up to be “enlightened.” Some fans were saying this was great; I don’t agree (nor am I the only dissenter). It feels terribly pretentious and arrogant of an author to make his title wholly symbolic and not explain that anywhere in the text. I’m perfectly intelligent, so there’s no need to insult my intelligence because I didn’t know the reference to a completely theoretical and intangible construct, people.
Okay, onto a different category of whinge…
Forest of a Thousand Lanterns was, sadly, a letdown, too. If there was an actual plot in amongst allllllll the pages of wandering the land and trying to become the Emperor’s mistress, I missed it.
Neither was Wild Beauty a fun experience…
This cover is truly astounding, and I still like it even though I didn’t like the book underneath. I guess this author’s style — “magical realism” — just isn’t for me. It’s confusing — is there actual magic, or not? Are the characters’ “ability” to grow flowers out of thin air a metaphor for their incredible gardening skills, or do they really have powers? I couldn’t figure it out, and it bugged me the whole time. McLemore was altogether too vague for my taste — how could there be so many people in the family, and somehow they’re all female…? Supposedly their spouses or lovers always “vanished” — isn’t it much more believable that they simply left them? Or was there really some kind of curse — like, the evil witch gets her revenge on one of their ancestors who seduced the witch’s husband? Again, the un-concrete-ness of the plot induced frustration and loud grumbling noises from me.
All right, now onto brighter, happier topics!
I won a giveaway hosted by The Orangutan Librarian! I used the prize to order these two novels in a MG fantasy series that White Fang read book 1 and wants to finish.
Please, let’s take a moment to appreciate how unselfish and lovely I was to pick something for him and not myself.
Also, if you wouldn’t mind praying for a speedy and safe delivery, that’d be ace! 🙂
And, my pre-orders of All the Crooked Saints and Warriors: Darkest Night are finally ready to ship!!! Since Darkest Night didn’t come out until yesterday, I had to wait quite a while to receive that notification (I placed the order in late September). I consider this a successful exercise in patience.
Now get back to your NaNo-ing! Good luck, everyone!