Thisweek‘s topic / August 3: Titles or Covers That Made Want to Read/Buy the Book
Tricky. I mainly pick up books that are recommended to me by my reading buddies. Or books by favourite authors, never mind the cover or title. But I will have a look at my want-to-read list and see if I can recall what triggered my interest.
I picked up this novella on Netgalley. I honestly can‘t remember why I chose it, but assume that the cover pulled me in and then the title. Because the blurb is not grabbing me right now.
In a far future city, where you can fall to a government cull for a single mistake, And What Can We Offer You Tonight tells the story of Jewel, established courtesan in a luxurious House. Jewel’s world is shaken when her friend is murdered by a client, but somehow comes back to life. To get revenge, they will both have to confront the limits of loyalty, guilt, and justice.
I went looking for comics written by Jeff Lemire, because I like him and want to work on his backlist. Here the title drew me in. I like SF about AI and this title suggest that something slightly unusual might have reached sentience and that offers unusual options…
When a separatist attack kills the adults on board a colony ship in deep space, the on-board A.I. VALARIE must help the ship’s children survive the perils of space.
Here I was looking for comics set underwater. I have a thing for anything underwater, from documentaries about the deep sea to cheesy creature features involving Megalodon. I definitely picked this one for the title. Captain Nemo is a classic. I don‘t expect this to follow Jules Verne, but who knows.
It’s 1925, fifteen years after the death of Captain Nemo, when his daughter Janni Dakkar launches a grand Antarctic expedition to lay the old man’s burdensome legacy to rest.
Oh yes, I have a thing for cheesy creature features set in Antarctica as well. Or adventure novels. That clinched the deal.
Definitely the title. A planet in the Goldilocks Zone is in a distance to the sun, where conditions are just right for human habitation. So, an SF about colonization? Or finding a new home for humanity… Instant winner.
This is The Martian by way of The Handmaid’s Tale – a bold and thought-provoking new high-concept thriller
This really was a recommendation by someone in my buddy reading group. The title piqued my interest and the cover sealed the deal. It‘s simple at fist glance, but very stylish. And then you notice those rock spires curving in, looking like claws. Hm…
This psychological sci-fi thriller from a debut author follows one doctor who must discover the source of her crew’s madness… or risk succumbing to it herself.
Not sure how I ended up with this one, but I imagine that the cover drew me in… plus it has a very lyrical title.
The cleric Chih finds themself and their companions at the mercy of a band of fierce tigers who ache with hunger. To stay alive until the mammoths can save them, Chih must unwind the intricate, layered story of the tiger and her scholar lover—a woman of courage, intelligence, and beauty—and discover how truth can survive becoming history.
So, that was more or less the last 10 books and comics that I added to my list and haven‘t actually read yet. Does anything here tempt you?
Fatma, Siti and Hamed are back. Promising start with likable characters, but a very slow plot. It took me two weeks to make it a third into the story, with several days of not wanting to pick it up. I thought it was me and was disappointed that this wasn‘t a fun rollercoaster ride, sweeping me along. I almost abandoned it, but instead skimmed through the denser passages in the middle to make some progress. Less filler would have been good.
For example the convention in the middle with all those dignitaries served no real purpose. It added to the complexity of the world, but it did not really bring the plot forward or could have happened as a shorter scene. Maybe Clark had another short story/novelette in his hand and blew it up to novel length by expanding the word count, without actually adding significantly to the story?
I did like the development of Siti a lot. Fatma felt a little more one-dimensional than previously and Hamed and Onsi sadly where only small side characters. Nonetheless it was fun to encounter them again.
I liked the last part of the book, so if I disregard the middle, this was a good book. The Djinn are complex, multi-faceted and definitely not one-dimensional. It‘s nice that even the bad guys have personalities and are not just victims of circumstance. Still, this book was nowhere nearly as good and entertaining as the prequel stories.
You can definitely read this as a stand-alone novel, but for more enjoyment I recommend to first read the two novelettes and the short story that came before this:
The third novelette set in Clark‘s alternate Cairo of 1912, full of Djinn, ghuls and mechanized angels. I was looking forward to meeting Fatma from A Dead Djinn in Cairo again. Instead we are introduced to Agent Hamed of the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities, his new sidekick, rookie Onsi and a haunted tram car…
My favourite scene was the moment when they arrive at the top of Ramses Station and get a view of airships, various dirigibles and those tram lines criss-crossing the sky above Cairo. Great visual. The scenery in general is a great mix of the old Cairo and Clark‘s imagined steampunk city anyway.
The investigative story is a good one, too. Although it slacks off somewhat in the middle. Still good, but the beginning and build-up were stronger storytelling than the climax of it all.
Good characterizations, also for the supporting characters. There is some gender ambiguity there as well and a sentient automata, so plenty of material to expand upon in the upcoming book. I wonder if we will meet some of them again in A Master of Djinn?
Egypt, Cairo, Djinn, ghuls, sorcerers, magic, airships, gas light, aerial trams… steampunk plus electricity. An investigator looks into the suspicious death of a djinn and follows traces through a magical Cairo.
“Fatma was born into the world al-Jahiz left behind: a world transformed by magic and the supernatural. […] Egypt now sat as one of the great powers, and Cairo was its beating heart.“
The setting of this story made me home-sick for Cairo! Or whatever you call it for a city I lived in for six years…
This was fun! Plot driven, not much character development — not an easy task anyway for such a short novelette — although I did like Fatma. Good action scenes and sleuthing, interesting setting. Potential for a lot more. Onwards to the next two stories/novelettes, in preparation for reading Clark’s first full-length novel next month.
Thisweek‘s topic: Books I‘d gladly throw into the ocean. You can want to throw a book into the ocean for a number of different reasons, both good and bad…
I used to never DNF a book and would force myself to read through those books that I truly did not enjoy. Not a great experience and it would keep me from reading more enjoyable books. So, eventually, I started to DNF those books, although it always felt tremendously unsatisfying. These days I have changed tactics again, I just skim like a fiend. That way I at least get some closure and find out how it all ends…
I was excited at first at the prospect of characters with Vulcan traits meeting shapeshifters., I was skimming by chapter two and felt no compulsion to pick this up again. Made myself read another two chapter of nothing much. Boring. I don’t care about the MCs or their inner monologue. Bla. She’s constantly worrying about her own inadequacies, he’s disrespectful of her boundaries and personal space. If I was her, I would have punched him by the second time he touched me without invitation, especially after I had told him not to. Pulling her plait? Is he twelve?
I skimmed and picked at some bits of this novel and it all reads and feels like the first few chapters. Read a few pages in the last chapter and the epilogue. Really don’t care. Perhaps this is too much PNR for me. Add to that antiquated gender models and I am done.
DNF at 56 pages and some nilly-willy skimming through later bits of the book. It’s probably me. I think I have UF/PNR-burn-out. I am really not interested anymore in the same old tropes, clichées and tired, old plot devices.
World building: Imperial airships. Some gods appeared briefly every now and then, but other than that this was conflicts between houses, conspiracies and war.
At times this felt like a historical novel set in another version of China. Reading other reviews, I realized that this is exactly what it was. Ken Liu took real events of China’s history and transplanted them into a fictional setting, tinted with light fantasy elements.
All not bad things, but the narrative felt very dry to me. More an account of things that a captivating narrative.
Characters: I found it difficult to relate to the characters. They felt very one-dimensional and simplistic, almost like paper cut-outs from children’s books. This is the hero, this is the bad guy, this is the supportive wife… There was not a lot of life or development to these characters.
Plus there was a huge cast with unusual names. Added on top were the many place names and I really struggled to keep everything straight.
The lack of strong female characters has been commented on quite a bit in other reviews. It’s not a topic I tend to get militant about, but I did take note of the lack of interesting females. There was one with a bit more time on the page early on, but she was barely more than a side character. Towards the middle another one popped up, but she was as flat as the other characters.
Plot: Slow. Changing points of view and settings in every chapter made the plot progression even slower. They did not help with my struggle to remember names and who-was-who either.
There was a lot of talking and very little doing. I wish there would have been more “Show, don’t tell!” As mentioned above, this read like an account of events, as if the various plot points were simply ticked off. There was no suspense or meaningful build-up.
I found this book a curious mix of boredom and glimpses into a great storyline. Those were the rare moments, when the plot did take a step forward. The flowery and stilted prose added to my difficulties with relating to the characters or the story.
DNF at 46%. Too many books, too little time.
I received this free e-copy from the publisher/author via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review, thank you! Sorry that my review has not been more favourable!
PS from present-day-me: I have read some short stories by Ken Liu that I liked and I plan to try one of his other books eventually…
The beginning of the book is a little confusing, as it isn’t very clear that the character is having flashbacks. The ebook formatting of my advanced reading copy is also pretty wonky, which made reading this not any easier.
Initially some nice world building, some interesting characters. But the book never gets off the ground. There is a lot of talking, the characters have the maturity of really shallow teenagers and the plot never develops at all.
The main character is an ex-marine and has been on two tours to Afghanistan. She sounds like she’s still in high school. Her male counterpart starts off with a lot of potential, but also goes nowhere fast.
There are various clans, fighting each others in the name of some Norse gods. A quarter into the book I still hadn’t figured out why and it all felt pretty pointless.
One bonus point for a Tolkien reference, but other than that I was bored and did not care what happens next. I kept pushing myself from one chapter to the next, in the hopes of something interesting happening, but finally gave up at 35%. Even the main character finding her wings couldn’t convince me to try for a few more chapters. If there is a good story somewhere, it took too long to raise its head.
I received this ARC copy of The Unleashing from Kensington Publishing Corp./NetGalley in exchange for a honest review. Sorry that it didn’t turn out better than this.
DNF at 63%, 373 of 582 pages. I am fed up with this cluttering up my currently reading shelf. The 15 stories that I did read, average out at three stars. It’s not a bad collection, but it’s not really interesting either. I doubt I will pick it up again, but you never know.
Excellent, can I have that as a novel, please. 5 stars: Harry Harrison & Tom Shippey, A letter from the Pope (vikings invading British isles, Middle Ages)
Entertaining and enjoyable, 4 stars: James Morrow, The raft of the Titanic Eugene Byrne & Kim Newman, The Wandering Christian (time of Christ to Middle Ages) Esther M. Friesner, Such a deal (Christoper Columbus) Kim Stanley Robinson, The Lucky Strike (WWII, war against Japan) – excellent! If I didn’t know first-hand already that Robinson is a great writer, this would have convinced me. Ian R. MacLeod, The English Mutiny (England did not conquer India) – liked it, good idea well excecuted. Can see myself picking up something else by this author.
Interesting idea, but I was not really sold, 3 stars: Ken MacLeod, Sidewinders (SF, dystopian future) Suzette Hayden Elgin, Hush my Mouth (American civil war and onwards) Rudy Rucker, The Imitation Game (Alan Turing) – interesting idea, but I didn’t care much for the characterization of Alan Turing or the actual plot. Keith Roberts, Weihnachtsabend (Nazi Gemany and The British Empire form a pact) – the spelling and grammar mistakes of the German sentences were annyoing. The story was a bit odd.
Not interested, mostly skimmed. 1 or 2 stars: A. A. Attanasio, Ink from the new Moon (discovery of the New World, China rules the world) Pat Cadigan, Dispatches from the Revolution (USA, Vienam war onwards, politics, civil rights) Paul McAuley, A Very British History (history of the space race) – boring, I was skimming almost from the beginning. Marc Laidlaw, His Powder’d Wig, His Crown of Thornes (The colonies did not win during the American revolution…) – the story creeped me out, did not like it, skimmed through half of it. Judith Carr, Roncesvalles (Spain, Middle Ages) – felt old-fashioned, talkative, with an overload of details. Lost interest, before anything of consequence happened. Chris Robertson, O One (China rules the world, computation)
Stopped before reading: Harry Turtledove, Islands in the Sea
DNF at 37%. And I only got this far with some skimming. I think I have to stop reading YA, it mostly does not work for me.
I did not buy the main character. Orphaned at 13, living alone and hiding away in a basement for years. And despite that she has these kick-ass fighting skills, capable of offing grown men that fight for a living. Not working for me.
On top of that she is a mean spirited, unlikeable teenager. She was probably written to be like that on purpose and might go through a change later in the book, to become a more mature person. But meanwhile I disliked her so much that I developed no interest in her.
And who wears a trenchcoat to a robbery? And carries the loot in its pockets?
The main themes of the book rang too many bells. Magical, powerful families, as in the Hidden Legacy series by Ilona Andrews. Soul sight, as in the Dresden series by Jim Butcher. Repetitive writing, in teenager lingo, like. Been there, read it, was done much better in those books. Felt worn and did not engage me at all.
And some of the writing was just so silly. Another girl gets injured during a fight and spouts arterial blood. Our heroine finally gets a closer look and is shocked that it is even worse than she thought. The girl was spouting arterial blood. Come on, how much worse can it get?
Bottom line, unlikeable and unrealistic main character. Don’t buy the action scenes. The pacing was just not right. Action scenes should be fast and action-filled, they shouldn’t be full of explanations and thinky thoughts. Sketchy world building, magical families and talents that might not be intentional copies of other books, but felt so done already. At a third into the book still no monster sighting, which could have been the only novel idea of the book thus far.
If you are a fan of Jennifer Estep and of YA, this is probably a great read for you. But for me, every new scene kept rubbing me the wrong way. Not interested enough to keep going.
Free ARC, provided by Netgalley. Sorry that the review wasn’t positive.
Woman finds out that the supernatural exists and that she is an especially strong and gifted demon hunter, when her Harley-driving granny shows up to save her from evil. Demons chase them, they survive and meet tall, dark and handsome. Who is mysterious and a great kisser. And not entirely human. Potential love-interest. There is also a talking Jack Russel terrier, who doesn’t seem to serve any purpose. Maybe comic relief, but not.
They escape to some bar, meet all the other biker witches, drink lots of alcohol, have a magic ceremony, have some not-quite-road-kill food, and 30% of the book are over without much happening, despite all the action.
Characters are supposed to be weird and quirky, I guess. The various witches were confusing, as they all come across alike. Not a lot of world building, no explanations about the main character and her powers. I felt like watching the Halloween episode of Golden Girls.
Bored and glad that I got this for free from Amazon. DNF at 32%
Nice idea. Unfortunately the heroine does not track a thing in the first 20% of the book. She just drives around, visits random people and keeps telling herself, what a kick-ass bitch she is.
I am guessing the introduction of a bunch of people with various, amazing skill sets is intended as a set-up for the rest of the series. Those characters are mostly clichees. Enter the young, paranoid hacker, living in a wired dump, sourrounded by CCTV and swilling root beer. Et cetera.
I am sorry, I am not feeling it. I don’t like the main character, I am not connecting with the story at all. I keep finding other, more interesting things to do, just to avoid reading another chapter of this book. I am out. DNF at 21%.
I liked the artwork, the story didn’t do it for me. By issue #3 I was skimming.
Vader is the ultimate bad guy and seeing him not being the top dog was strange. I did like the glimpses into the parallels of the original Star Wars movies, but the storyline as a whole did not interest me.
I read, skimmed to 35% and Had to DNF. I could not continue with this.
The female main character is TSTL in such a monumental fashion that it was painful to read. I don’t care if it is on purpose and if she would have turned into Superwoman in the last three chapters. Nobody can be this ignorant. Squeeze eggs out of a chicken? Give me a break.
And I can’t develop any sympathies for a character that willfully lies and deceives and is stupid enough to think that she will get away with it.
There is no world building to speak of. Few descriptions of people or settings, I did not really get a mental picture of anything. The plot had potential and could have been fun, but lacked… not sure what. There were inconsistencies in the POV and also things that just didn’t make sense. For example, he is a rancher, she walks away from him with jingling spurs and he wonders where that noise is coming from. Is he deaf and directionally challenged? She wears boots that the mysterious person gave her and that she isn’t supposed to know about. He sees her take off those boots and…. nothing? I don’t know, everything just aggravated me about this book, I had to put it down.
In these cases I usually give two it-was-me-not-you stars. But this books annoyed me so much, I had to downgrade it to 1 star.
Thanks to the publisher for this freebie! Sorry, didn’t work for me!
Finally there is a resolution to the dating drama. Werewolf or vampire? I think a threesome would have been a nice outcome! But no, instead we are having big relationship troubles and jealousy. We’ll see how that’ll work out. Very hot sex scene. I will never look at my bathtub the same way again.
Cute story, although one wonders how often one woman can be kidnapped over the course of two-hundred pages. Pretty silly plot twists and I agree with other reviewers that the story bordered on the ridiculous side. Most of the side characters were so over the top, they were more like caricatures than anything else, with the impulse control and common sense of five year olds. And the ending left me pretty unsatisfied.
Her 7th book. The first 4 were brilliant. By no. 7 the the excitement has gone. Perhaps I got too used to the character. Or the storylines are really not as suspenseful anymore. I am not sure. My interest lasted longer than with Patricia Cornwell though.
Several short stories, loosely connected by the wanderings of the Blessing Stone through the ages. I liked the earlier stories, but the further on we got in history, the more boring I found the stories. Towards the end I was skimming quite a bit. I did finish, but I was pretty under-whelmed.
After the carriage wreck and a bit before the horses ran away, Lady Georgina Maitland noticed that her land steward was a man.
Decent world-building, the first few pages had me giggling immediately. Good backstory, interwoven well with the main plot. The evil landowner is very evil indeed. The main characters are colourful and well drawn. Georgina and Harry are likeable and believable. For a historical romance the usual tropes are fairly mild and not too annoying. Sexy times are sexy. Surprisingly good plot. Not terribly suspenseful, although I had a few “Oh no!”-moments.
This book was boring and the main character was not interesting. Potential for great world building, but it was not happening. The narrative was flat, not funny and sloooooow and I have the sneaking suspicion that Rachel is really stupid, not just clumsy. Jenks was the only redeeming factor. The relationship with Ivy really ticked me off. It was a major struggle to finish this book and I doubt it very much that I will pick up another book of this series.
The first paragraph made me smile. Unexpected opening. An interesting read. I thought the end was a bit rushed. Very funny in parts – I nearly peed myself when I read the passage with Rembrandt’s smelly shoe… Rembrandt’s character was really well developped and very plausible.
Patrick O’Brien meets Anne McCaffrey. This picks up right where the first book ended. Old-fashioned feel to it, meshes well with other period-dramas I have read of that time. The naval jargon sounds true. Excellent world-building, great scenic descriptions. Good fight and battle scenes. Great travel narrative. However, there can be too much of a good thing. So much detail all the time got a bit boring and I did some skimming to get to the more action-packed bits faster. Those were always excellent.
The plot as such was good, but there were no great surprises. The characters were all pretty formulaic and stereotypical. None of them went through any noteworthy growing pains. I never managed to develop an emotional attachment to Laurence or Temeraire. And all other charaters were merely decorative anyway.
I read through the blurbs of all consecutive novels and quite a few of the reviews. Each book seems to be covering another continent and in at least every other book Laurence seems to be threatened with court-martial and an excecution. Sounds a bit tedious.
The first one of this very good crime series. Short and sweet. I keep picturing Holly Hunter in the title role. I even figured out who-dunnit for once, and why! Well, ok, only about half way through the book.
I eventually read 10 books of this series, mostly out of order. Not bad as a whole!
I liked the prose, the characters were vivid and the setting was great. For someone whose first or second language was not English, Conrad wrote in it beautifully. I am not a big fan of using letters as a plot device to bring the narrative forward, but other than that I enjoyed this story very much, despite the tragic ending.
The story centered around Lily and Rule, it is set in the here and now, werewolves play a large part of it and the plot that developed in Blood Lines is picked up again. It’s a cop story with shapeshifters, ghosts and magic. I liked the new characters, especially the cops and FBI agents. A nice addition to Wilks’ world.
Well written, vivid imagery, enticing main character, good backstory, well-paced, not too predictable. I haven’t read a lot of steampunk, so I can’t say if the setting worked for that. I liked it. The world building was great, I was transported there right away, down to the muck squelching in my boots. I would wish for more details on the automatons, to flesh out the imagery. Nice touch of explaining a little bit about Chicago before the start of the story.
Small set of characters, likeable, believable, nobody is silly or too stupid to live… I am not into mermaids as a rule, but here they were nicely evil and not the too sweet Disney version. Dark mermaids and Steampunk, I could do more of that!
Ok, Top Fifteen Wednesday — I got carried away! It was really hard to find purple covers on my shelf!
We are back in Constantine, briefly… at the beginning of each chapter. Finally we are being told what really happened six years ago, in very small doses.
Back to present day: War is about to break out! The siege of a city looms in the distance. There is quite a lot of bloodshed eventually and some gruesome scenes.
Maika shows her true colours and does what needs to be done. Consequences be damned. However, she is barely there through large stretches of this volume.
Chapter #27 has a very pretty cover!
Several good scenes with Kippa. Ominous! And the ending of that chapter was… a flashback? Very strange.
The witches are pretty and creepy. I like how these sister-soldiers are drawn and coloured. Quite a lot happens in chapter #28. Not everything is immediately clear and it feels a little rushed after all the slow build-up of the previous three chapters.
Kippa as central figure on the cover of chapter #29 is fitting — she is the one making this volume shine. The artwork of the flashback to Constantine at the beginning of this chapter is outstanding, with really great panels.
My favourite is probably the flashback at the start of chapter #30 — nice! Our characters are coming full circle… A great scene, very emotionally powerful. And great artwork.
The plot thickens! Some interesting revelations in the last chapter. We keep on going…
I realize that I am not really talking about the story itself or the ongoing struggles of our characters. But I really do not want to give anything away. If you‘re a fan, you know the broad strokes and themes anyway. And if you are new to this series, go away and read the first volume! 🙂
Playlist: – Edwin Starr, War (what is it good for)
I read Volume 1 some time ago and thought I give this a try. Pretty much the same experience. Pretty nice artwork, if you don‘t mind that the women are built like Barbie and have rubber tire lips. I like the muted colours.
The murder mystery was ok, alas it did not interest me much. There is a twist at the end, but it is not terribly surprising.
If you are into steampunk murder-mysteries with busty women, this might be a great choice.
There is some confusion regrading the numbering. Not quite sure if this is Volume 4 or 5.
I received this free e-copy from the publisher/author via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review, thank you!
Well, I like the world building. The walled city with the rotters, the airships, the guys flying them… and I have a beautiful paperback, large size, great cover, with maroon coloured lettering.
But the execution of the story was just not very interesting. I did not enjoy the writing, the story lacked tension for me.
I skimmed a lot, to see where the plot takes me. And I liked the ending and the resolution of how it all came to pass, who did what and who was to blame. I liked some of the characters, for example Cly. But mostly they stayed flat and not very likeable.
I am glad I made it to the end. It is very unlikely I will pick up the next book in this series.