ferningur

Just keeping track of what I'm reading

Snakes and Ladders 2020 - III

A Hero Born - Anna Holmwood, Jin Yong

RULES OF THE GAME:

 

Everyone starts on 1. There are two alternative ways to move forward.

 

1. Read a book that fits the description on the space number as listed below and you can roll two dice to move forward more quickly.

 

2. However, if you can't find a book to fit the square, don't worry about it. You can read any book, and roll one dice on random.org. This is to ensure that if a reader cannot find a book to fill the square, no one gets bogged down and can't move on.

 

All books must be at least 200 pages long. Short stories count, so long as you read enough of them from a collection to equal 200 pages. 

 

You do not need to hit space 100 with an exact roll. In order to win, you must complete space 100 as written.

 

 

ADDITIONAL RULES

 

When you start on square 1, you need to read a book before you can roll. If your book fills the square, you get to roll two dice. If your book doesn't not fit the square, roll one dice only.

 

With respect to the ladder squares: You must read a book in order to climb the ladder. Once you finish the book for the ladder square, climb the ladder to the ending square. If you read a book that fits the ending square, roll two dice to move on, otherwise, roll one dice.

 

For audiobook substitutions, either check the print book to determine if it is more than 200 pages long, or any audiobook that is a minimum of 5 hours & 30 minutes qualifies.

 

 

Further personal rules:

 

- Don't read two books in the same language one after the other.

 

- I can drop a book and pick a different one how many times I want, if I find that a certain book is too difficult for my language level. Books I dropped earlier can be picked up later in the challenge.

 

For the dice roll, I'll be using Random Dice Roller.

 

 

Rolls:

 

Start: 1. Author is a woman - The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler - Finished on April, 5th. Worth two rolls:

 

 

8. Author's last name begins with the letters E, F, G, or H / In a language other than English - Cherokee by Jean Echenoz - Finished on April, 10th. Worth two rolls:

 

 

14. Author is dead / In a language other than French - Legends of the Condor Heroes: A hero born by Jin Yong.

 

 

 

 

Jean Echenoz - Cherokee

Cherokee - Jean Echenoz

Overall, "Cherokee" is a fun parody of hard-boiled novels, where a group of people woefully inadequate for the situation try to solve a case with relatively low stakes, while the narrator treats every thing that happens as seriously as possible. While I mostly liked it, especially the prose, it didn't click with me all the time, which made the reading pretty uneven. Still, definitely not a bad book, and I look forward to read more books from this author.

 

***

 

"Cherokee" est une parodie des romans hard boiled, où un groupe de personnes terriblement inadaptées à la situation essaient de résoudre une affaire avec des enjeux relativement faibles, tandis que le narrateur traite tout ce qui se passe aussi sérieusement que possible. Bien que je l'ai apprecié le livre, surtout sa prose, il n'a cliqué pas toujours avec moi. Mais ce n'est certainement pas un mauvais livre.

Snakes and Ladders 2020 - II

Cherokee - Jean Echenoz

RULES OF THE GAME:

 

Everyone starts on 1. There are two alternative ways to move forward.

 

1. Read a book that fits the description on the space number as listed below and you can roll two dice to move forward more quickly.

 

2. However, if you can't find a book to fit the square, don't worry about it. You can read any book, and roll one dice on random.org. This is to ensure that if a reader cannot find a book to fill the square, no one gets bogged down and can't move on.

 

All books must be at least 200 pages long. Short stories count, so long as you read enough of them from a collection to equal 200 pages. 

 

You do not need to hit space 100 with an exact roll. In order to win, you must complete space 100 as written.

 

 

ADDITIONAL RULES

 

When you start on square 1, you need to read a book before you can roll. If your book fills the square, you get to roll two dice. If your book doesn't not fit the square, roll one dice only.

 

With respect to the ladder squares: You must read a book in order to climb the ladder. Once you finish the book for the ladder square, climb the ladder to the ending square. If you read a book that fits the ending square, roll two dice to move on, otherwise, roll one dice.

 

For audiobook substitutions, either check the print book to determine if it is more than 200 pages long, or any audiobook that is a minimum of 5 hours & 30 minutes qualifies.

 

 

Further personal rules:

 

- Don't read two books in the same language one after the other.

 

- I can drop a book and pick a different one how many times I want, if I find that a certain book is too difficult for my language level. Books I dropped earlier can be picked up later in the challenge.

 

For the dice roll, I'll be using Random Dice Roller.

 

 

Rolls:

 

Start: 1. Author is a woman - The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler - Finished April, 5th. Worth two rolls:

 

 

8. Author's last name begins with the letters E, F, G, or H / In a language other than English - Cherokee by Jean Echenoz

 

Octavia Butler - Parable of the Sower

Parable of the Sower - Octavia E. Butler

I decided to start the challenge with this book as a bit of a cathartic joke, given the current situation, and after going through the novel, it was almost impossible not to project thoughts about a lot of what I'm seeing these days, with the effects of Coronavirus on everyday's lives. I'll give it another read in the future, at a better time, just to compare how this book will "feel" then; for the moment, I'll jot down some more general thoughts.

 

That said, it was a very good book in its own right: the story, in and of itself, is a pretty common distopic tale of a future where the world has gone horribly, from which the main character is trying to escape with others she found on the way. What makes or breaks stories like this is the worldbuilding, and Butler did an amazing job creating a world where this situation takes place. A lot of it is based on the Californian reality of the late 90's, and does sadly ring just as plausible and as ready to happen now as it did back then.

 

What I personally found most interesting, as a science fiction fan, is the way Butler manages to play around with some of the tropes of the post-apocaliptic/survivalist, and adapts them for the main character of this book, an 18 years old black girl, and how they would work in the world she's living in.

 

One of the other main points of the novel is how the main character is building up a religion and its whole set of beliefs on her own, to try to interpret and explain the world she's living in. Even for an agnostic like me, it was very interesting to read through her thought process, another example of how good the character writing is.

 

However, I also found a few issues with the last few chapters: they end in a satisfactory manner, wrapping up the story nicely on its own, but there's something a bit off as well, not as solid as the rest of the book. It might just be to set up for the follow up book, so I'll definitely check the sequel in the future and see if that's because of it, or if it was just me.

 

Still, this book is a solid recommendation, especially you like the genre and want to read a decidedly different take on it. Just be warned about the very brutal descriptions of violence and desolation, and that some might prefer reading it at a later date.

Snakes and Ladders 2020

Parable of the Sower - Octavia E. Butler

Let's try out this challenge. Usually I read slowly, so I guess it will take a while for me to complete this, but hopefully this will give me enough motivation.

 

Beside the official ones, I will add another rule to my own challenge:

 

- Don't read two books in the same language one after the other. This is because I tend to concentrate too much on books in English, and I need to brush up on my other foreign languages as well. And reading more books my native language would be nice, too.

 

- I can drop a book and pick a different one how many times I want, if I find that a certain book is too difficult for my language level. Books I dropped earlier can be picked up later in the challenge, if I think that in the meanwhile I've gotten better in that language.

 

For the dice roll, I'll be using Random Dice Roller.

 

 

So, let's start:

 

 

Spaces:

 

Start: 1. Author is a woman - The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

 

Game REPLAY!

Reblogged from Moonlight Reader:

MARCH 2020 UPDATE:

 

I know that I previously said that I wasn't going to do any games aside from Halloween Bingo in 2020, but that was Pre-COVID-19. Here we all are, stuck in our houses and reading like mad.

 

So, why wouldn't we play a game?

 

 

I decided to just repurpose Snakes & Ladders for this one! It's an easy, fun game and I don't have to do any work at all to get it ready.

 

 

 

 

 

RULES OF THE GAME:

 

Everyone starts on 1. There are two alternative ways to move forward.

 

1. Read a book that fits the description on the space number as listed below and you can roll two dice to move forward more quickly.

 

2. However, if you can't find a book to fit the square, don't worry about it. You can read any book, and roll one dice on random.org.  This is to ensure that if a reader cannot find a book to fill the square, no one gets bogged down and can't move on.

 

All books must be at least 200 pages long. Short stories count, so long as you read enough of them from a collection to equal 200 pages. 

 

You do not need to hit space 100 with an exact roll. In order to win, you must complete space 100 as written.

 

Spaces:

 

1. Author is a woman

2. Genre: mystery

3. Set in the twentieth century

4. Published in 2019

5. Published in 2018

6. Title has a color word in it

7. Author's last name begins with the letters A, B, C, or D.

8. Author's last name begins with the letters E, F, G, or H.

9. Author's last name begins with the letters H, I, J, or K

10. Author's last name begins with the letters L, M, N or O

11. Author's last name begins with the letters P, Q, R, or S

12. Author's last name begins with the letters T, U, V, W, X, Y, or Z

13. Author is a man

14. Author is dead

15. Genre: romance

16. Genre: fantasy

17. Genre: horror

18. Set in a school

19. Set in the UK

20. Set in a country that is not your country of residence

21. Set in Europe

22. Set in Asia

23. Set in Australia/Oceania

24. Set in Africa

25. Snake - go back to 5

26. Part of a series that is more than 5 books long

27. Set during WWI or WWII

28. Written between 1900 and 1999

29. Someone travels by plane

30. Someone travels by train

31. Road trip

32. Genre: thriller

33. Set in North America

34. Snake - go back to 1

35. Has been adapted as a movie

36. Set in Central or South America

37. Has won an award

38. Newest release by a favorite author

39. A reread

40. Characters involved in the entertainment industry

41. Characters involved in politics

42. Characters involved in sports/sports industry

43. Characters involved in the law

44. Characters involved in cooking/baking

43. Characters involved in medicine

44. Characters involved in science/technology

45. A book that has been on your tbr for more than one year

46. A book that has been on your tbr for more than two years

47. Snake - go back to 19

48. A book you acquired in February, 2019.

49. Recommended by a friend

50. Has a domestic animal on the cover

51. Has a wild animal on the cover

52. Has a tree or flower on the cover

53. Has something that can be used as a weapon on the cover

54. Is more than 400 pages long

55. Is more than 500 pages long

56. Was published more than 100 years ago

57. Was published more than 50 years ago

58. Was published more than 25 years ago

59. Was published more than 10 years ago

60. Was published last year

61. Cover is more than 50% red

62. Cover is more than 50% green

63. Cover is more than 50% blue

64. Cover is more than 50% yellow

65. Snake - go back to 52

66. Part of a series that is more than 10 books long

67. Set in a city with a population of greater than 5 million people (link)

68. Something related to weddings on the cover

69. Something related to travel on the cover

70. Something related to fall/autumn on the cover

71. Involves the beach/ocean/lake 

72. Involves the mountains/forests 

73. Categorized as YA

74. Categorized as Middle Grade

75. Set in a fantasy world

76. Set in a world with magic

77. Has a "food" word in the title

78. Set in a small town (fictional or real)

79. Main character is a woman

80. Main character is a man

81. Ghost story

82. Genre: urban fantasy

83. Genre: cozy mystery

84. Genre: police procedural

85. Written by an author who has published more than 10 books

86. Author's debut book

87. Snake - go back to 57

88. Comic/graphic novel

89. Published between 2000 and 2017

90. A new-to-you author

91. Snake - go back to 61

92. Reread of a childhood favorite

93. Author's first/last initial same as yours (real or BL handle)

94. Non-fiction

95. Memoir

96. From your favorite genre

97. Title starts with any of the letters in SNAKE

98. Title starts with any of the letters in LADDERS

99. Snake - go back to 69

100. Let BL pick it for you: post 4 choices and read the one that gets the most votes!

 

ADDITIONS TO THE RULES

See comments to the post for further explanations or to ask questions

 

When you start on square 1, you need to read a book before you can roll. If your book fills the square, you get to roll two dice. If your book doesn't not fit the square, roll one dice only.

 

With respect to the ladder squares: You must read a book in order to climb the ladder. Once you finish the book for the ladder square, climb the ladder to the ending square. If you read a book that fits the ending square, roll two dice to move on, otherwise, roll one dice.

 

For audiobook substitutions, either check the print book to determine if it is more than 200 pages long, or any audiobook that is a minimum of 5 hours & 30 minutes qualifies.

 

 

 

 

New BookLikes "Admin Issues" Group

Reblogged from Themis-Athena's Garden of Books:

As the "official" BookLikes group has been swamped by unchecked waves of spam, I've decided to create a replacement group for us to address the issues that we'd otherwise post in the "official" group:

 

BookLikes Admin Issues

 

Since it's member-managed, it of course won't cause any issues to actually be fixed.  But let's face it, with BL admin AWOL, that's not happening anyway -- and this will at least give us a new place to discuss issues and voice grievances.

 

Most importantly, being a member-administered group, this will be a group where we will be able to keep out the spammers.

 

In light of this, it would be helpful if there were several other administrators besides me, so if you're interested, please let me know.

 

My hope is that we'll eventually be able to dry out the playing field that the spammers have found in the "official" group.  There hardly seems any point for any of us to remain in that group but for the few threads that remain useful to us, and ultimately it makes more sense to me to move those threads to a new group that we ourselves can control and leave the "official" group behind once and for all.  That way, we'd not only remove thread views from the spammers own statistics -- we'd also be spared seeing their threads in our notifications and at the top of our own dashboards.  I don't think this will entirely get rid of the spammers (nor does removing them from our "friends" lists, after all), but at least it will be one more way of making BL at least a bit less welcoming to them.

 

To get us started, I've replicated the five most important ongoing threads from the "official" group in the new group:

 

* Questions

* Bug Reports

* Spammer Reports

* Feature Requests

* BL Members' Non-BookLikes Blog URLs

 

If you want to add any further threads, feel free to do so -- just please keep it to threads that are of interest to the community as a whole.

 

Happy blogging all and have a great weekend!

Booklikes Active Poster

Reblogged from TeaStitchRead:

I thought this would be a good way for us to comment and then share the post to see who is still here to make sure we are all following each other. I only bring this up because I see some people posting and I appear to be the only one following their reviews.

 

I have gotten some comments from bots though which is another reason why I wanted us all to take this Friday to comment and share this post so we can all find each other. 

 

Feel free to drop your name in the comments and share! 

The Last Command: Star Wars (The Thrawn Trilogy): Volume 3 - Timothy Zahn

I only just recently got into Star Wars, movies and all. I was thinking of just sticking with the movies, but I had heard so many great things about "The Thrawn Trilogy", and how much more complex it was compared to the books, so I gave into curiosity and read through it.

 

It took me a while to finish the three books due to real life problems, but it was more than worth it. It's an exciting romp, with a lot of interesting connected stories and cool moments. Even if it weren't a Star Wars story it's a very fun sci-fi tale, kind of pulp-y but with some surprisingly dark and more cerebral moments.

 

However, reading this book made me understand why some people call the Expanded Universe glorified fanfic, since at times the overall feel of the story is very different from that of the movies, due to the bigger focus on political maneuvering and some sci-fi cliches that the films avoided that here are played straight. Those elements really stand out among the rest, especially after those smaller, lighter comic relief moments where the characters do act more like their original counterparts. That said, I do enjoy this kind of "fill in fics", so I really had a good time with this story.

 

While the prose is pretty exciting early on, to the point that I could pick up the book after a few weeks of leaving the book aside (because of the real life problems mentioned above) and still have the story fresh in my mind, by the end of the second book I ended getting used to it, somehow. While reading the last one I wasn't drawn into the action like I was earlier, and at some point I even found myself predicting or nitpicking some of the word choices by the author.

 

Another personal negative point is how the original characters, while starting off potentially very interesting, in the end they felt a bit flat. Even Thrawn, as cool as he definitely is through the story, by the mid point gets a bit boring with his being always one step ahead of everyone else. And while this makes it his end much more ironic, it had already gotten old for me.

 

Despite these negatives, the secondary plots were still interesting, and while there were a lot of them the story never felt bloated. Overall it was really enjoyable even if I did experience some ending fatigue, which might have been due to the pauses between a book and the other. The parts I liked I really enjoyed, thoroughly, to the point I will give a check to the other books the author wrote.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms - N.K. Jemisin

It's sad to find a book that I know would have really enjoyed, hadn't the reading experience been ruined by the prose.

 

The novel itself is a solid fantasy story, and hits quite a few tropes and arguments that I enjoy.

 

I expected to have fun with it, but sadly I found the writing too confusing to follow without having to stop and re-read a few pages back - and not just a few times, but constantly. I also slowed down my reading pace, thinking that would have helped, but even that didn't make much of a difference. The paragraphs felt more and more convoluted as I went on, and even after just finishing the book there are a few parts I just can't remember well, though that might be because of how long it took me to get through it.

 

Which is a pity, because the author can write some very evoking passages, and the story itself is very good.

The Door into Fire  - Diane Duane

This is definitely the most underwhelming book I've read this year, so much I was on the verge of dropping it a few times, and it's a shame.

 

What got my attention and made me curious to go and read through it is the fact that the main character is a bisexual man leaning towards other men and mostly in a relationship with another man, and that aspect is very well portrayed. In general, it's refreshing to see a cast of characters of so different identities and orientations, and it's definitely interesting to see that aspect through the lens of someone writing in 1979 (technically, 1984, since this is the revised version, but still).

 

Sadly, I can't really say I enjoyed much else. The dialogue felt too much like it was banter ripped off a tv show, and while I love me some corny fantasy shows it's way too distracting. If the author was trying to be tongue in cheek, it didn't really work (or at least it doesn't feel like it) and because of this, even the attempts at worldbuilding by using quotations from works that exist in the fiction world felt a bit too artificial.

 

I found the prose dull, to the point that, despite having descriptions of some pretty seemingly epic sights of events, I struggle to remember any of them just after a day after having finished the book. And because of these things the plot, which in itself is pretty basic and predictable and is basically an excuse for a character study, turns out extremely uninteresting, which made for an extremely slow book to get through - especially because the focus isn't on the more interesting characters, like Sunspark or Segnbora.

 

And yet, while the attempts at creating a world with its own identity don't always work out, there are still here and there interesting elements that made an interesting world. Too bad they were too few and far between.

 

Before reading the book I didn't know it was an earlier work from the author, but I had already guessed that halfway through the story. On the bright side, I can imagine that the following books are going to get better.

City of Flowers - Mary Hoffman

I enjoyed the first book in this series, and found the second a really amazing book and a substantial improvement over its predecessor. Because of this I had expected this one to be a bit of a disappointment, so I decided to let some time pass before tacking this last book, but it still felt like it ended on a minor note.

 

Before writing down this post I decided to skim through the two previous books, just to freshen up my memories of it, and the feeling remained. For once, the prose was much more similar to that of the first than that of the second, which I found much better. I imagine it's because there was a different editor on the second, or it just had more work and rewriting done. Still, it does stick out pretty clearly in the three books.

 

But the thing that felt a bit off for me was just how crowded with characters and their subplots this novels is; there are enough things going on to write two books, or at least a much longer one.

 

All this said, I like the character of Sky and thought he had an interesting backstory, though I found the way it was resolved not as much. Things mostly happen to him, and the wrap-up was a bit saccharine for my tastes - even if, after everything that happened to Lucien, Georgia and Falco in the other two books, something less dramatic was. The political intrigue in Talia was a real page turner, and more than made up for the parts that didn't do much to involve me. I look forward to get through the second trilogy, to see where that goes, and re-read through the first three books back to back.

Io, robot - Isaac Asimov, Laura Serra

Scroll down for the English version

 

---

 

Pur amando la fantascienza, devo confessare di non aver mai letto nulla di Asimov prima d'ora, e quello che sapevo di lui lo conosco principalmente per sentito dire, e sempre per sentito dire, ho pensato che questo fosse il libro migliore per cominciare a fare conoscenza col suo lavoro. Non saprei dire se è vero, avendo letto un solo libro finora, ma posso dire con certezza che è stata una lettura veramente interessante e divertente, purtroppo leggermente offuscata da un paio di dettagli.

 

Di per sé, il libro è ottimo, una collezione di storie diverse in tono che mi hanno tenuta incollata alle pagine fino alla fine (l'ultima in particolare è la mia preferita), decisamente all'altezza della sua reputazione.

 

Purtroppo ci sono un paio di problemi con l'edizione, uno minore e uno più grande, che non mi hanno permesso di immergermi completamente nella lettura. Il primo è dovuto all'età della traduzione italiana, che risale agli anni '60; la scelta delle parole e la prosa sono piuttosto farragginose in certi punti.

 

Detto questo, in altri racconti con un'ambientazione e atmosfera più "pulp" e popolare questa prosa non stona, e rende la lettura più divertente in una certa maniera. Quindi, da questo punto di vista, la mia è una lamentela solo a metà.

 

Il secondo problema, invece, è decisamente più serio: questa traduzione è basata su una versione del libro degli anni '50, prima che Asimov aggiungesse un racconto che facesse da cornice per la raccolta. A tutti gli effetti questa edizione è incompleta, e non rende l'idea della storia in generale. E personalmente trovo che un libro importante come questo non abbia una traduzione completa in catalogo sia ridicolo. Per questo motivo ho calato il voto un po', ma è solo per l'edizione, non il libro in sè.

 

Nonostante tutto, è stata un'ottima prima impressione dell'opera di Asimov. Rileggerò il libro in inglese per vedere le differenze, e anche altri suoi racconti.

 

***

 

While loving science fiction, I have to admit I haven't read anything by Asimov before. All I know about him and his opus is through cultural osmosis, and it was because of what I had heard that I thought that this book was the best to start get acquainted with his work - having read only this so far I wouldn't be able to tell if it's true, but I can safely say that it was an interesting and fun read, sadly slightly tarnished by a couple of details.

 

In and of itself the book is great, a collection of stories (the last one is my personal favorite) quite different in tone and themes that kept me reading until the end, and definitely lives up to its reputation.

 

However, there are a couple of issues with the edition I read, a small and a bigger one, that kept me from fully enjoying the read. The first is due to the old Italian translation, which was made in the '60s - the choice of words and the writing can get very jumbled at points.

 

That said, in stories with a more "pulpy" atmosphere it doesn't feel out of place, in a way, and even makes the read funnier. So, from this point of view, it's only half a complaint.

 

The second issue, on the other hand, is more serious: this translation is based on the '50s version of this book, published before Asimov decided to add the story that works as a framing device. By all means, this version is incomplete, and personally I find the fact that there isn't a complete Italian translation of such a classic as this on sale in the country ridiculous, to say the least. For this I lowered the review points, but it's only because of this edition, not the book itself.

 

Despite all this, it was a great first impression of Asimov's work. I'll definitely read the book in English as well to compare the differences, not to mention more of his stories in general.

 

Turning the Storm - Naomi Kritzer Fires of the Faithful - Naomi Kritzer

When I started off these two books, what got me into giving them a try was the fact they were taking place in an alternate universe version of Italy, and the story centered around a conflict between two different religious cults. After going through them, I can say that I'm disappointed because of how much I liked them. Let me explain.

 

The worldbuilding is really great, and it kept me glued to the books to the last page. Even now that I've finished both of them about ten days ago, I still go through both volumes and read snippets regarding it, wishing the was more of it.

 

And that's my main problem: the story tries to be epic, and given the world and lore it could very well be, but events, characters, relationships and details aren't given enough room to develop. Which is a real pity, and in the end makes all the element that give depth to the story feel almost like a tease. It sort of feels like this saga was supposed to have other books told from the point of view of other characters, but eventually the project fell through.

 

Again, a real pity. There are so many elements that could have made this a minor classic, but it needed more room to breathe. I hope that the author will pick up this series again and expand on it in the future, there's a lot that still needs to be told and it would be a very really interesting read.

The woman who stole my life - Marian Keyes

This is the second book from Marian Keyes I've read, the first being "This charming man". "The woman who stole my life" is a much more lighthearted read, and a really enjoyable one albeit with a couple of reservations.

 

The plot is about how the main character, Stella Sweeny, after period in hospital due to a rare disease, gets relatively lucky after a book she accidentally authored gets in the hands of someone relatively important, and she and her family come to enjoy a year of relative success and luxury, and some actual huge changes in her life - all thanks to a man who spurred the very first of these changes.

 

Compared to "This charming man", this is definitely more of a chick-lit book, but written much better than average. A lot of interesting twists and turns make this a real page turner, never boring and, except for a couple of obvious tropes that can be seen coming from miles but that have to be there given the genre, never predictable.

 

That said, however, there are also a couple of moments where the main character doesn't seem to think things through - which, while understandable in a few occasions, given her situation, is also a bit irritating. Not that these don't have consequences, mind you.

 

But I really enjoyed my time with this book, despite a few moments. And it was refreshing to see a story with women in their forties that, while having their subplots end with them being in a relationship with a different man than the one they had at the start, aren't the typical soured and embittered middle-aged women that just need the right person to make them kind again.

City of Stars (Stravaganza, Book 2) - Mary Hoffman

I did enjoy "City of masks" a lot, and was very curious to see how the whole political plot would have evolved, so as soon as I had finished it I ordered a copy of this, and when it arrived I started reading it immediately.

 

I really liked this book, even more than the first one. The world building gets even more interesting and tight, and the plot gets much more complex, albeit in the subdued manner the first book carried out its plot. It's interesting to see more of the machinations and the way the Chimici clan works from the "inside" point of view of some of its members, and that alone is more than worth the price of admission. The descriptions of this book's version of Siena and its Palio are very well done, and paint an interesting and lively city, and I hope that one of the next books will take place in Remora again.

 

The main character of this story, Georgia, is quite interesting, and her personal backstory of bullying at the hands of her step-brother Russell is, in my opinion, very well and realistically done. I've personally gone through it during my adolescence, and seeing it described in such a manner was a bit upsetting at moment, but also refreshing in how realistically it was depicted: in the story, like it often happens in real life, bullying happens and goes on because of the neglect or lack of reaction from parents or other similar figures of authority. Russell's dialogue and actions and the reason why their parents don't trust Georgia's words or try to jump in are written realistically, which might make them feel banal to some readers, but that's how this kind of dynamic works most of the time, sadly. Kudos to the author for having decided to go with this kind of description, instead of using a more 'interesting' way of describing this situation.

 

The book was a page turner up until the very end, with a great prose (I found it vastly improved over the previous one) and a very interesting story keeping me glued to the book until the epilogue, where the cliffhanger scene that sets up the next book felt a bit forced just for the sake of creating that drama - and yes, it's believable that the characters themselves would act like that, but still. And in general, compared to the first book the author played a bit more safe with the character and what happens to them in the end, despite having one of the characters make a surprising and very risky choice. But given what happens in "City of masks" and how this is basically the middle act of the story, I can see why she would take a breather and make things a bit less dramatic.

 

Really liked this book, I expected to enjoy it and it blew me away.

Currently reading

A Hero Born by Anna Holmwood, Jin Yong
Progress: 119/400pages