Just Couldn’t Finish: The Devourers

The Devourers, Indra Das

Hardcover, 306 pages

Published July 12th 2016 by Del Rey

Source: e-ARC from NetGalley

27245999
On a cool evening in Kolkata, India, beneath a full moon, as the whirling rhythms of traveling musicians fill the night, college professor Alok encounters a mysterious stranger with a bizarre confession and an extraordinary story. Tantalized by the man’s unfinished tale, Alok will do anything to hear its completion. So Alok agrees, at the stranger’s behest, to transcribe a collection of battered notebooks, weathered parchments, and once-living skins.

From these documents spills the chronicle of a race of people at once more than human yet kin to beasts, ruled by instincts and desires blood-deep and ages-old. The tale features a rough wanderer in seventeenth-century Mughal India who finds himself irrevocably drawn to a defiant woman—and destined to be torn asunder by two clashing worlds. With every passing chapter of beauty and brutality, Alok’s interest in the stranger grows and evolves into something darker and more urgent.

Shifting dreamlike between present and past with intoxicating language, visceral action, compelling characters, and stark emotion, The Devourers offers a reading experience quite unlike any other novel.

The description for the Devourers is certainly correct that this book is dreamlike.  At first I was entranced. Alok meets a stranger standing outside a party and feels like he’s in a dream himself and I was drawn right in.  The story begins as kind of spellbinding and then the details became violent, gritty and honestly just too gross for me.  

I was ready to get into the idea of Indian werewolves – or many multicultural werewolves as it appeared to be going – but the darkness and the rape just overwhelmed me honestly.  The cover is beyond gorgeous and this book is getting rave reviews so maybe this was just a miss for me.  The Devourers promises quite a story and an emotional one at that, just be ready for really visceral reactions as you’re reading.

Thank you so much NetGalley and Del Ray for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest opinion.  

Advertisements

My YA DNF Round-Up

I’ve been harsh on my young adult reading so far this year!

FotorCreated (1).jpg

Born Wicked, Jessica Spotswood

Published February 7th 2012 by Putnam Juvenile

Source: Library

Everybody knows Cate Cahill and her sisters are eccentric. Too pretty, too reclusive, and far too educated for their own good. But the truth is even worse: they’re witches. And if their secret is discovered by the priests of the Brotherhood, it would mean an asylum, a prison ship—or an early grave.

Before her mother died, Cate promised to protect her sisters. But with only six months left to choose between marriage and the Sisterhood, she might not be able to keep her word… especially after she finds her mother’s diary, uncovering a secret that could spell her family’s destruction. Desperate to find alternatives to their fate, Cate starts scouring banned books and questioning rebellious new friends, all while juggling tea parties, shocking marriage proposals, and a forbidden romance with the completely unsuitable Finn Belastra.

If what her mother wrote is true, the Cahill girls aren’t safe. Not from the Brotherhood, the Sisterhood—not even from each other.

Well this was the first bust for my 2016 TBR Challenge.  I am not 100% sure how I ended up with Born Wicked on my list to read – I must have been in a witchy phase and I had heard good things about this series.  I read about 100 pages about Cate and her worries about hiding the magic she shares with her sister and I realized – I just wasn’t going to care what happened.  Cate learns she and her sisters might be the witches in an ominous prophecy – that had potential.  But then another trio of sisters begins to be arrested.  Why did it take 16 years for that to happen?  When I start nitpicking at plot details I know its time to just stop.  I’m replacing this book on my TBR Challenge List with The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez (not at all alike but oh well!).

The Orphan Queen, Jodi Meadows

Published March 10th 2015 by Katherine Tegen Books

Source: ARC from ALA Midwinter Meeting 2015

Wilhelmina has a hundred identities.

She is a princess. When the Indigo Kingdom conquered her homeland, Wilhelmina and other orphaned children of nobility were taken to Skyvale, the Indigo Kingdom’s capital. Ten years later, they are the Ospreys, experts at stealth and theft. With them, Wilhelmina means to take back her throne.

She is a spy. Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate Skyvale Palace to study their foes. They assume the identities of nobles from a wraith-fallen kingdom, but enemies fill the palace, and Melanie’s behavior grows suspicious. With Osprey missions becoming increasingly dangerous and their leader more unstable, Wil can’t trust anyone.

She is a threat. Wraith is the toxic by-product of magic, and for a century using magic has been forbidden. Still the wraith pours across the continent, reshaping the land and animals into fresh horrors. Soon it will reach the Indigo Kingdom. Wilhelmina’s magic might be the key to stopping the wraith, but if the vigilante Black Knife discovers Wil’s magic, she will vanish like all the others.

I had so much hope for Wilhemina!  An orphaned teenage queen trying claim her land and save her people from treacherous conquerors?  Sign me up.  But when Wil and her faithful friend sneak into the palace and she maneuvers herself into a meeting with the evil king – where he so conveniently gives her all kinds of important details?  No thank you.  Things were starting to feel a bit too predictable of where a knife might end up right in Wil’s back. Another series off the list!  

Becoming Jinn, Lori Goldstein

Published April 21st 2015 by Feiwel & Friends

Source: ALA MW Meeting 2015

Harry Potter meets Twilight in debut novelist Lori Goldstein’s magical tale of sixteen-year-old Azra, a teenage girl whose Jinn ancestry transforms her into a modern-day genie. With the power to grant anyone’s wish but her own, Azra pretends to be human, spending her days at the beach, enjoying a budding romance, and evading her Jinn destiny. But when she discovers she may not be like the rest of her circle of Jinn, will her powers save or endanger them all?

Azra wakes up on her 16th birthday in an entirely new beautiful body – give me my first eyeroll.  Why can’t Azra save the world in her shorter body without perfect curves?  Azra doesn’t want to be a jinn, but knows she can’t change anything. That doesn’t stop her from doing a lot of whining to her mother and to herself about the path ahead of her.  As her mother has been Azra is part of a circle of Jinn all coming of age together.  So we have a group of mean girls basically with Azra as the odd one out who doesn’t want her powers.  It felt like all Azra was doing was taking her new powers for granted, not learning what she could be doing and then whining some more.  I’m out.

Champion, Marie Lu – (Legend #3)

Published November 5th 2013 by Putnam Juvenile

Source: Giveaway from Cuddlebuggery

June and Day have sacrificed so much for the people of the Republic—and each other—and now their country is on the brink of a new existence. June is back in the good graces of the Republic, working within the government’s elite circles as Princeps-Elect, while Day has been assigned a high-level military position.

But neither could have predicted the circumstances that will reunite them: just when a peace treaty is imminent, a plague outbreak causes panic in the Colonies, and war threatens the Republic’s border cities. This new strain of plague is deadlier than ever, and June is the only one who knows the key to her country’s defense. But saving the lives of thousands will mean asking the one she loves to give up everything.

I hated to give up at the end of a trilogy!  I enjoyed the first two books in this series enough, but I think in part I’m just at the end of my dystopian rope.   I wanted to know what happened to Day and June but I also found the language to be a bit ridiculous.  I couldn’t picture Day talking the way he was written and I couldn’t keep reading.  I am still eager to pick up Lu’s new series and start The Young Elites!

Thankfully I’ve read two recent YA books that I LOVED and have to review soon so be on the lookout for those!

I simply cannot finish these books

This is Your Life Harriet Chance

Expected publication: September 8th 2015 by Algonquin Books

Hardcover, 304 pages

Source: e-ARC from NetGalley

24001092

Goodreads

With her husband Bernard two years in the grave, seventy-nine-year-old Harriet Chance sets sail on an ill-conceived Alaskan cruise only to discover through a series of revelations that she’s been living the past sixty years of her life under entirely false pretenses. There, amid the buffets and lounge singers, between the imagined appearance of her late husband and the very real arrival of her estranged daughter midway through the cruise, Harriet is forced to take a long look back, confronting the truth about pivotal events that changed the course of her life.  

Stopped at 86%

Oh Harriet, how I wanted to love your story.  I was so excited based on the synopsis.  That cover is so great! The story – so depressing.  Harriet’s story is told in the format of the long ago “This is your life…” format and we move back and forth throughout to get all the stages of Harriet’s life.  This took a bit of getting used to, but I was ok with it.  Harriet’s children think she’s falling into dementia because she is talking to the ghost of her husband Bernard.  I liked Bernard’s appearances!  I appreciate that he was trying to stick around to help Harriet deal with some hard news as he sounded like a real jerk in his life.  I didn’t quite get the 2 short chapters with Bernard by some ghostly supervisor being scolded for making the efforts to communicate with Harriet.  Either make Bernard an active character or don’t.  Let him just be a ghost – or flesh out his story line in the in between.  

Spoilers ahead

Where I had to put this book down was at the point when Harriet is looking back on her childhood molestation by a friend of the family.  Not my favorite topic but I would have gotten through it for a good book – what made me so mad that I shut off my kindle was our narrator suggesting 9 year-old Harriet should have done more to stop the abuse.  Yes, Harriet was a child perfectly poised for a predator – eager for approval and compliant with adults – was there a need to blame her though?  Was the narrator Harriet herself going through her guilt and shame?  Maybe – but I am honestly too angry to keep reading to find out.  I thought about finishing – but it would be reading through a hate lens and that’s not fun at all.  On to the next book! 

23492614

Let Me Explain You, Annie Liontas

Published July 14th 2015 by Scribner

Hardcover, 352 pages

Source: e-ARC from NetGalley

LET ME EXPLAIN YOU begins with a letter: Stavros Stavros Mavrakis-Greek immigrant, proud owner of the Gala Diner, having had a premonition of death and believing he has just ten days left to live, sends an email to his estranged ex-wife and three grown daughters in which he lays out his last wishes for each of them. He then sets about preparing for his final hours. With varying degrees of laughter and scorn, his family and friends dismiss his behavior as nothing more than a plea for attention, a mid-life crisis of sorts, but when Stavros disappears without explanation, those closest to him-particularly his eldest daughters Stavroula and Litza-are forced to confront the possibility of his death and the realities of their loss.

This was a weird book for me.  It times it felt like there were two different books happening.  We have Stavros who had a dream – and then found a goat – and now he thinks his death is imminent.  I found Stavros dislikeable and really kind of offensive at times.  We also have his three adult daughters who all seem pretty unhappy in their own lives.  They’re angry on top of unhappiness thanks to the extra drama that Stavros brings with his email of last wishes.  Liontas takes us back and forth in time from the present and through Stavros’ marriages and the dysfunctional family stages.  These family relationships really just made me sad and confused as well and I had to put this book aside.  Part of my inability to read this one could have been my own mindset with life outside of books, but I haven’t picked Let Me Explain You up in at least 3 weeks and I’m not missing it.  Maybe someday I’ll come across this again and finish the book – but it’s not for me right now.  

If you’ve read this one and enjoyed it I’d love to hear more about why!  Anyone?    

Thank you Algonquin Books and to Scribner and NetGally for these advance copies in exchange for an honest opinion.

DNF Review: The Mermaid’s Child

The Mermaid’s Child, Jo Baker

Amanda
Published March 17th 2015 by Vintage (first published 2004)
Paperback, 288 pages

 

22747935

In this fantastical novel, the acclaimed author of “Longbourn” brings us the magical story of a young girl in search of her mother…who just might be a mermaid. Malin has always been different, and when her father dies, leaving her alone, her choice is clear: stay, and remain an outsider forever, or leave in search of the mythical inheritance she is certain awaits her. Apprenticed to a series of strange and wonderful characters, Malin embarks on a grueling journey that crosses oceans and continents–from the high seas to desert plains–and leads to a discovery that she could never have expected.

Stopped at 32%

I was really excited about the Mermaid’s Child.  I have been wanting to read Baker’s Longbourn since it came out – but somehow I never get to it when I have it from the library.  I thought this new release of Baker’s previously published book sounded so fun and based on the reviews of Longbourn I jumped at the chance to read it.  Mermaids and adventure- what else would you want?  Malin was a really sad character. Her father dies, her grandmother hates her– basically no one in town likes her because of her mysterious mother. Malin is treated as less than a person all throughout the portion I read.  I understand that she was a “normal girl” in horrible circumstances, but she became way too sexualized and it made me really uncomfortable.  The book follows her journey to find her mother and Malin had met two people on the road and was about to have her second sexual relationship before I stopped reading.  I don’t think of myself as a prudish reader- but this was not for me.  I hope Malin finds a happy ending, I just don’t want to read about it. All that being said, there was some lovely writing in The Mermaid’s Child.   This wasn’t a book for me, but I will definitely read Longbourn!

Thank you Random House and Edelweiss for this advance copy in exchange for an honest opinion.

A Few Books I Couldn’t Finish

Amanda

I really try to finish every book I start, but I’m also trying to be ok with letting go when I just don’t attach to a book.  Here are a few books I’ve started recently but I decided to put down.  I’m not afraid to try again if you’ve read either and can convince me to give them another chance!

22535512

Some Other Town, Elizabeth Collison

Paperback, 288 pages

Published February 24th 2015 by Harper Perennial

Source: e-ARC from Edelweiss

From Goodreads…

Margaret Lydia Benning lives adrift in the same Midwest town where she went to college. By day, she works at a low-level job for the Project, a university-sponsored educational publisher housed in a former sanatorium. There she shares the fourth floor with a squadron of eccentric editors and a resident ghost from the screamers’ wing. At night, Margaret returns to her small house on Mott Street, resigned to the disturbing overtures of her strange neighbor, Mrs. Eberline.

Emotionally sleepwalking through the days is no way to lead a life. But then Margaret meets Ben Adams, a visiting professor of art at the university. Despite the odds—and their best intentions—Margaret and her professor become lovers, and she glimpses a future she had never before imagined. For the first time, she has hope…until Ben inexplicably vanishes. In the wake of his disappearance, Margaret sets out to find him. Her journey will force her to question everything she believes to be true.

Quit at 24%.  This is a book of alternating perspectives from Margaret and a man who I assume is the missing Ben.  Margaret and Ben have broken up and she hasn’t heard from him since.   Not atypical right?  Margaret believes he just hasn’t called because he is angry, but her neighbor convinces her that something is wrong and they have to find him.  When I read the synopsis for Some Other Town I was so excited to read it and to try to find out what happened to Ben.  At this point, I just don’t care if really he disappeared.  Ben appears to be living on a farm keeping geese-why is he talking to geese?  Again, I don’t care.  There’s a very whimsical quality to the writing and maybe that’s why I couldn’t connect.  When I decided to give up it seemed to me like Margaret was disconnecting herself from reality.  It was getting too strange for me inside her head.

20869868

Woman with a Gun, Phillip Margolin

Hardcover, 320 pages

Published December 2nd 2014 by Harper

Visiting an art museum displaying a retrospective of acclaimed photographer Kathy Moran’s work, aspiring novelist Stacey Kim is stunned by the photo at the center of the show—the famous “Woman with a Gun,” which won a Pulitzer Prize and launched the photographer’s career. Shot from behind, the enigmatic black and white image is a picture of a woman in a wedding dress, standing on the shore at night, facing the sea. Behind her back, she holds a six-shooter.

The image captures Stacey’s imagination, raising a host of compelling questions. Has the woman killed her husband on their wedding night? Is she going to commit suicide? Is she waiting for someone she plans to kill? Obsessed with finding answers, Stacey discovers that the woman in the photograph is Megan Cahill, suspected of killing her husband, millionaire Raymond Cahill, with the six-shooter on their wedding night. But the murder was never solved.

Drawn deeper into the case, Stacey finds that everyone involved has a different opinion of Megan’s culpability. But the one person who may know the whole story—Kathy Moran—isn’t talking. Stacey must find a way to get to the reclusive photographer or the truth may never see the light of day.

Quit at 22%.  How cool is this cover?   The photo and the premise definitely made me want to know what this woman was doing with the gun.  The book begins in aftermath of murder and then eventually moves to the future with the shooting left unsolved.  Unfortunately I didn’t make it that far.  I felt like the dialog was stilted between the parties investigating the murder and kind of forced.  It seemed to me the story was being told to me, not actively unfolding and I just wasn’t feeling drawn in.  Those flocking to the murder suspect felt flat and predictable and I’m calling this one done as well.

Thank you to Harper, Harper Perennial and Edelweiss for these advance copies in exchange for an honest opinion.

How long do you give a book you don’t like?  Hopefully my next read is a better pick for me!

DNF: The Rosie Effect

The Rosie Effect, Graeme Simsion

Amanda

Hardcover, 352 pages

Published December 30th 2014 by Simon & Schuster

Source: e-ARC from NetGalley

22546489

One of my resolutions for 2015 is to let myself give up on a book if I am not enjoying it.  So, in the spirit of my resolution, I stopped reading The Rosie Effect at 30% in.  I adored the Rosie Project.  If you need a funny and sweet book you should run to pick that one up.  The Rosie Project introduced us to Don Tillman, a socially awkward professor from Australia, trying to find himself spouse.  Rosie is nothing like what he thinks he wants in life. I loved Don and Rosie together so I was really excited to continue their story in New York with a baby bonus in The Rosie Effect.  I thought the beginning was promising, but quickly changed my mind.  I loved that Don is nothing like your typical romantic main character, but in this book it seemed to go too far.  He came across as almost slapstick to me as opposed to a “real” person in a marriage.  It felt like every scene was set up for Don to make a horrible judgement and I was not entertained.

I see what one of my favorite book swapping people gave this 4 stars, so maybe this book will work for others. I found that I just didn’t want to keep reading, so I’m sticking with my resolution and stopping now. Are you feeling the Rosie Effect?  Do you think I’m making a mistake giving up?

Thank you Simon & Schuster and NetGalley for this advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Did Not Finish: The Barrow

The Barrow, Mark Smylie

Reviewed by Amanda

Prometheus Books, released March 4, 2014, 613 pages.

18050226From Goodreads..

Action, horror, politics, and sensuality combine in this stand-alone fantasy novel with series potential. Set in the world of the Eisner-nominated Artesia comic books.

To find the Sword, unearth the Barrow. To unearth the Barrow, follow the Map.

When a small crew of scoundrels, would-be heroes, deviants, and ruffians discover a map that they believe will lead them to a fabled sword buried in the barrow of a long-dead wizard, they think they’ve struck it rich. But their hopes are dashed when the map turns out to be cursed and then is destroyed in a magical ritual. The loss of the map leaves them dreaming of what might have been, until they rediscover the map in a most unusual and unexpected place.

Stjepan Black-Heart, suspected murderer and renegade royal cartographer; Erim, a young woman masquerading as a man; Gilgwyr, brothel owner extraordinaire; Leigh, an exiled magus under an ignominious cloud; Godewyn Red-Hand, mercenary and troublemaker; Arduin Orwain, scion of a noble family brought low by scandal; and Arduin’s sister Annwyn, the beautiful cause of that scandal: together they form a cross-section of the Middle Kingdoms of the Known World, brought together by accident and dark design, on a quest that will either get them all in the history books, or get them all killed…

Thank you Prometheus Books and edelweis for this advance copy for review.

I just could not finish this one.  I thought the premise of this fantasy sounded great.  I don’t think I’m particularly prudish in my reading nor am I all that squeamish about violence.  I don’t go seeking extremely violent books, nor do I read erotica, but some gore and some kinky sex aren’t going to turn me off a book.

I can say without a doubt I’m a feminist and I really don’t have the time or interest in reading misogynistic violent fantasies. So this is where The Barrow lost me and lost me early.

Erim-our young woman masquerading as a man and following Stjepan the fearless leader-is in a cave used for blood magic and sacrifice.

The statue they have found has nipples that are “two large spikes jutting out from its chest, and behind the brazier its long thin phalli emerged from its lap like a thick curved spear.  Given the broadness of the idol — it was probably twenty feet wide at its base– the thinness of the phalli struck her as almost comical; but the bronze phalli had to be almost eight feet long, curving upward over the brazier to a sharp, barbed head.”

So naturally Erim “stared at the phallic spear.  She couldn’t help but wonder what it would feel like to be suspended spread-eagled in the air and lower onto that evil-looking tip.  Which hole would they use as their entry point?  Would it feel good at first, then turn to pain?”

Really?  Ick. So we go on, Erim definitely having more kinky sex thoughts and feeling ashamed of her wickedness…

But as I read on and read Erim thinking “But there were none but the Damned that would take the likes of her, so the temple priests had assured her when she was young and they had played with her in the dark.”

WTAF.  So she’s basically a survivor of sexual molestation as a child which makes her want to be impaled on an 8 foot spear for her turn ons?

The next character we follow is Gilgwyr, “brothel owner extraordinaire”.  Okay, so he owns a brothel, fine, not going to turn me off a book.  He does go on for pages and pages about the joy of his “freshly sucked cock”–way more than I needed, but hey, I’m a woman, maybe this is totally appropriate to the male mind.   Where Gilgwyr lost me and I gave up on the Barrow was this image:

his beautiful Palatian acrobat getting the wildest, hardest ride of her short, sweet life from a rutting, bellowing golden bull.”

And with that, I’m out.

Anyone with an opinion on this?