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

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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.  

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DNF: Relentless

I really don’t do a lot of DNFing (that’s Did Not Finish). I suppose that is, in part, because I’m generally quite deliberate with the books I choose to start. And it’s also because sometimes I’m willing to let reading experiences drag on to great lengths – case in point, this book, that took me half of 2015 to finish, and this article, that sat in my inbox for 3 years. (For the record, both were totally worth the time).

Anyway, a team of my co-workers and I had recently decided to do a little work-book-club, where we’d read a business-related book to discuss. After soliciting nominations, and voting on the top choices, we came up with a book called Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable. By title, of course, this sounds like a great choice, right? Let’s push ourselves to be the best we can be, and all that jazz.

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But no.

It was so, so bad. So bad, that I officially/inadvertently killed the book club (or, more accurately, killed that book, so we moved on to choice 2, but it sounds so much more dramatic to say “I killed the book club!”)

To save you from this reading experience, I’d like to share some of the quotes from this book. To give you the proper context, the author Tim Grover, is a trainer for elite athletes. Primarily, he references his work with Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Dwayne Wade. Anyway, Grover’s “leadership” model is based on 3 types of people, “coolers, closers, and cleaners.” You don’t really have to understand anymore than that to get the most out of these quotes.

Here’s the first place I almost stopped reading, on principle:

A Cleaner controls his urges, not the other way around. The dark side isn’t about taking stupid risks and getting in trouble; that would show weakness. You can feel your desires and act on them, or not act on them; your self-control is what distinguishes you from everyone else. You can walk away or hold back whenever you choose. You reach for the bottle because you want a drink, not because you need one. You can have the hottest women, enjoy them all, but never get too involved.

Wait, did he seriously just say that? Objectifying women as something you “have,” as part of what you should aspire to be if you want to be relentless? *Vomit*

Yet I continued:

Cleaners go home to detach from the dark side; it’s the built-in safety valve. That’s why so many men fight to stay in their marriages even after they’ve been caught doing something they shouldn’t have been doing: home is the only safe place they know. Home surrounds you with comfort and security; the force of the dark side comes from somewhere else. You go home to feel safe and loved, you go out to feel excitement… you may not want to admit it, but you can’t deny it. The fire in your gut comes from the dark side, and the dark side has no place at the family dinner table…

I don’t know if there’s a better example than Tiger Woods, who’s now-famous dark side led him to become involved with a dozen or so women who were not his wife. Of course, that number of women would be a slow week for some pro athletes…

WTAF? So, “relentless” individuals must cultivate a safe space at home, but then also find outlets for their “dark side.” Is that what he is saying?

Why, yes, actually it is:

When a cleaner wants a break from the pressure he puts on himself, he escapes to the dark side. Something else for him to control, a temporary fix that maintains the pressure but allows him to shift his focus from one addiction to another for a while. Instead of working, he reaches for sex.

This book is shit.

I killed* the book club, and I’m not sorry about it.

*Not entirely true. We’ve moved on to the second choice: Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by the CEO of Zappos. Hello, shoes. Goodbye, sleazeball misogynist athletic trainer.

My YA DNF Round-Up

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

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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!

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

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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.