Saturday Miscellany – 2/13/16

Odds ‘n ends over the week about books and reading that caught my eye. You’ve probably seen some/most/all of them, but just in case:

    This Week’s New Releases I’m Excited About and/or You’ll Probably See Here Soon:

  • Morning Star by Pierce Brown — the trilogy comes to a conclusion — and something tells me there’s a lot of death, destruction, and twists along the way. I’m hearing very good things about this.
  • Dead Is Better by Jo Perry — A ghost solving his own murder with a ghost dog by his side — okay, my paraphrase doesn’t sound nearly as good the description on Fahrenheit Press’ site, click the link and it’ll convince you.
  • Atlanta Burns: The Hunt by Chuck Wendig — Atlanta Burns’ senior year looks like it’ll be tough and violent and twisted — basically, like the rest of her life.
  • As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley — A new Flavia de Luce novel means I’m even further behind.

Lastly, I’d like to say hi and welcome to Fictionophile and Aidan Reid for following the blog this week. Thanks to S. C. Flynn and Jayme the Scribbler for the interaction (and the reblog!).

The Batgirl of Burnside by Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart & Babs Tarr

The Batgirl of BurnsideBatgirl Vol. 1: The Batgirl of Burnside

by Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart (Writers), Babs Tarr (Artist)

Hardcover, 176 pg.
DC Comics, 2015

Read: February 10, 2016


My dabbling into The New 52 continues . . .

Like everyone who has at least one social network account, I was deluged by images of the new Batgirl uniform back in 2015 — and I dug it. I liked the Cassandra Cain incarnation of the character — but had missed just about all of them post-Barbara Gordon, who didn’t do much for me (I was a big Oracle fan, in my defense). So I decided to give this a shot when I saw the collection. Oh, so glad that I did — the best of the New 52 comics I’ve read so far.

Barbara Gordon’s in some sort of tiff with Dinah Lance (I’m assuming it’s Lance, didn’t care enough to check), she’s moving out of her old digs into a very trendy, hipster part of Gotham (the part that Nolan or Burton never showed) with a roommate she met doing physical therapy while working on a Master’s/Doctorate with a predictive algorithm that will probably go on to turn Gotham into Minority Report or will be Oracle. Doesn’t take her long to need to do the Batgirl thing, so she slaps together a new costume (her old equipment was no longer available) — the purple leather coat and sneaker thing — and gets to action.

(you can really tell I’m into detailed research here in that paragraph, can’t you? Well, maybe not today)

There’s a new gaggle of friends, mostly university based, who help her tremendously. There’s a romantic interest or two, conflict with the cops, some good stuff with Dinah, a brush with celebrity culture, and a few laughs. It’s light-hearted when it can be, kick-butt when it has to be. Which pretty much sums up Barbara, too.

The art? Wow. I don’t know how to describe it, but it makes you think of an animated show, it’s fun, it’s dynamic — it absolutely wouldn’t work for a lot of titles, but this one has enough spirit, enough joie de vivre, that it works perfectly. It supports and doesn’t distract from the story, just what you want from comic art.

I really dug this, and hope that this version of her sticks around for a bit (as I write this, I’m fully aware that she’s likely morphed at least once into something more Christopher Nolan-esque) — I’ll be looking for more of this one for sure.

—–

3.5 Stars

A Few Quick Questions With…Joe Klingler

I posted about Joe Klingler‘s novel, Missing Mona last week (if you didn’t read it, take a moment now — or skip what I said and go get the book). Klingler was kind enough to participate in a Q&A with me. I asked some Missing Mona-specifc questions and then a couple of generic questions. I kept it short and sweet, because I’d rather he work on his next book than take too much time with me, y’know? It could’ve been a little shorter, but he insisted on providing thoughtful answers (I really appreciated the last one)

Where there challenges in writing someone going through a “technology reallocation phase” that you didn’t expect? I’ve often thought Sue Grafton’s books would be at least 1/3 shorter if Kinsey had a cell phone — there are so many things she has to do to make a call/get messages/get information/etc.
One of the challenges was how to keep Tommy connected to a grid that he wasn’t a part of, since all of the other characters had smartphones, and used them constantly. He was already an outsider from another town, but his lack of a phone also made him an outsider in the virtual world as well. He had to constantly figure out how he was going to solve problems without technical assistance—which wasn’t always even possible. However, his interaction with paper messages, meeting times, and just showing up places unannounced provided experiences that would have never happened if he had just sent a text.

The other challenge he immediately faced was how to fill all the alone time created by not being constantly connected to the stream of text and images most people interact with all day long. This gave him time ponder and appreciate his new experiences, plan his next step, and even practice his guitar.

Seeing the references to Martin Caidin on your website warmed my heart — I was afraid I was the only one who remembered him. Describe some the influences on Missing Mona beyond the initial inspiration from Crais (whether or not you think they’re on display in Missing Mona).
Caidin’s The God Machine started me thinking long ago about the perils of power concentrated in one place (or person, or corporation), which we see in the character of LaRuche. Hammett and Chandler helped me understand how to describe experience as it happens, without much attention to the past or future. John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee is a masterwork on how to construct a long series, and build story around a single character with enough depth to carry many novels. Lee Child has his character Jack Reacher arrive in a new town on a new adventure in each book, much the way cowboys did in old westerns. His approach inspired me to have Tommy start out on a road trip with only a vague destination.

I also drew on some of my own experience riding an R75/6 BMW motorcycle along the east coast and down the Blue Ridge Parkway in the Smoky Mountains, seeking only to experience different people and places (yes, I rode to Chicago on a number of occasions.)

If you’ve decided, when we next meet Tommy is he going to be on Route 66 (or en route to it), or will he have returned to Chicago? Are we going to see Marvin, Lizzie, Penny and the rest again?
Tommy will likely begin his next mystery in Chicago, right where he left off. He has made new friends, and found a place to play guitar. Will he stay? How does a traveler ever know when it is time to stop, or if it’s best to keep moving? He finally has himself in motion after years at Walmart, and will struggle with the idea of stopping. That said, his new friends might show up at any time in the future, wherever he may be.

(Phew! That’s what I wanted to hear)

Is there a genre that you particularly enjoy reading, but could never write? Or are you primarily a mystery/suspense/thriller reader?
I read widely, though I prefer writing mysteries and thrillers because they integrate the way people, events, social customs, personal decisions, and technology are all interconnected. I’m a big fan of science fiction, and would like to try it at some point. A horror novel would be very difficult for me to write; I’m not sure I could sleep at night while writing one, though I like reading them on occasion.
I’ve often heard that writers, or artists in general, will forget hundreds of positive reviews but always remember the negative — what’s the worst thing that someone’s said about one of your books, and has it altered your approach to future books?
I definitely remember the positive ones, so please keep them coming. In an interview Stephen King said that if one person says something about your book, you can usually safely ignore it, but if ten people have the same criticism, then perhaps you should look at your work and see how you might improve in that area. So, when I read reviews, I look for the same topic to come up (often in different guises). I like to tell a story from many different perspectives (which some people don’t care for), and I have to be careful with how, and how often, I change point of view. One of the reasons Missing Mona was told in the first person is because I wanted to experiment with using a single point of view.

The worst thing is hard to measure, but being misunderstood is way up there on my list. One person hated the name Qigiq because she couldn’t figure out how to pronounce it, another considered RATS not good enough for an airplane ride, and one thought there were too many floozies in Mash Up. Every reader comes to a book with their own background and set of expectations. About the only thing a writer can do is describe the book clearly in their marketing materials, get as many reviews as possible, and trust that the book will find its readers while he or she sets off to write the next book as well as they possibly can.

Another challenge is that some readers try to infer things about an author from their fiction. Stephen King also wrote to never try to figure out his beliefs from his books. Characters in fiction have their own biases and beliefs and are created to fill the needs of the story. What they think has nothing to do with what the author thinks.

Guardians Launch Day!

GuardiansTuesday, I blogged about the book, Guardians by Josi Russell — which I really enjoyed, and today is the release day.

The publisher, Future House Publishing, has this to say:

Buckle up for another great adventure with Josi Russell. and the sequel to her #1 best-selling Caretaker in her newest book, Guardians. While exploring Minea, Ethan and part of his crew crash-land and must navigate their way through a maze of tunnels with danger at every turn. Above ground, the others prepare for an unexpected battle. Can these self-appointed guardians bring hope of survival to Minea? Cancel your plans for this weekend, or better yet tell your friends to join you, as you fight with the guardians in the battle of Minea.

To kick-off the release, Future House has a few things you should take note of:

  1. There’s a sale on both Guardians and its predecessor, Caretaker. Just $0.99 until Feb. 17th. (I’m taking advantage of the Caretaker sale here in a minute or two.)
  2. They’re sponsoring a Goodreads giveaway for Guardians — enter by the 15th.
  3. They also have a drawing going on for an autographed copy of Guardians or the new audiobook of Caretaker. Check out details on that here.

There are more details about the book, the giveaways, and all that on the book’s Launch Page — be sure to check it out.

The Highly Capable by Jayme Beddingfield

The Highly CapableThe Highly Capable

by Jayme Beddingfield
Series: The Ruby Dawson Saga, Volume 1

ePub, 157 pg.
Booktrope Editions, 2015

Read: February 9, 2016

If Jamie Schultz’s Arcane Underworld were an HBO show, this would be the TNT or USA Network equivalent (this is a description, not a criticism) — it’s not quite a gritty, or dark — but it deals with the same kind of characters, in similar pressures. A small group of criminals, augmented with magic/powers, who suddenly find themselves in waters far deeper than they were prepared for — and the fallout from that.

Ruby Dawson is telekenetic, her drug-addled boyfriend can turn invisible, her best friend, Brody can walk through walls, one other member of the team has super-strength and another can climb walls like a certain Web-Slinger. Their boss, Madison, is pyrokenetic (and a secretive control-freak, but that’s beside the point). Ruby used to be a pick-pocket, but the team specializes in residential B & A. They’re pretty successful at it, but Madison wants more — and Ruby’s thinking it’s time to leave. Obviously, there’s a little trouble brewing there

In addition to the professional conflict (if you can call it a profession), there’s a love triangle, a couple of addicts racing toward rock-bottom, and an almost complete lack of trust amongst the team. I could tell right away that this pegs a little higher on the lovey-dovey/romantic intrigue meter than I prefer (I write that fully aware of the hypocrisy involved, as I’m currently waiting for my wife to finish a Gail Carriger Parasol Protectorate book so I can read it), but I got sucked in anyway.

The combination of problems, the mixture of the personal, professional and both make the plot steam ahead with such drive you just hang on for dear life. Ruby’s situation reminded me of Patricia Briggs’ Anna Cornick or Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty Norville when we meet them for the first time — the way she addresses her situation is all her, though. It wasn’t just the plot that engaged me, it was the way that Ruby worked through it emotionally, the choices she made; I wanted to know what happened to Brody and her non-criminal friends, too, but on a lesser extent — and yeah, I really wanted to see Madison get her comeuppance.

All the powers here a pretty generic if you’ve read 1 X-Men issue (or virtually any other super-powered title/watched Alphas/etc.), and Beddingfield utilized them like a seasoned pro. I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen her take on telekenesis before, though — the way she described it was gripping. And when Ruby’s powers start to develop in new ways, Beddingfield describes that perfectly, too — ditto for Ruby’s reactions to the changes.

On the one hand, I’d have like a little more background with the crew — to see them (in flashback) get to the point they are at the beginning of the book, to see the little cracks that got Ruby and Brody to begin to question Madison — and the choices that kept the others from joining in. At the same time, I kind of liked just being thrown in at the point we are — where everything’s just starting to unravel, the foundation cracking — having to assume that Ruby has good reason for what she’s doing. Not that it takes long for us to get plenty of evidence to justify her actions.

This is a quick read with a plot that keeps driving forward and an engaging protagonist that makes you want to keep moving. I don’t mean this the way it probably sounds, but I can’t account for how much I found myself liking this. Beddingfield wrote a good novel, don’t get me wrong, but when I stopped to think about it, my appreciation for it was greater than the sum of its parts — there’s something ineffable about this that drew me in. I was so hooked that when I was about 2/3 through, I started looking around on Beddingfield’s website for any clues as to the release of Volume 2, I’m already ready for it.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free copy of this by the author in exchange for an honest review — and I’m really glad she did that.

—–

3.5 Stars

Guardians by Josi Russell

Be sure to watch the blog over the next day or two for more about this book as Release Day approaches — giveaways, sales, etc.!

GuardiansGuardians

by Josi Russell
Series: Caretaker Chronicles Book 2

Kindle Edition, 394 pg.
Future House Publishing, 2015

Read: February 4 – 9, 2016

Note: I threw MG/YA in as a category here, because while the book isn’t marketed for them — and the main characters are adults — there is absolutely nothing here that a 5th grader on up couldn’t enjoy. I’d have read this when I was that age.

I did one of those wild and crazy things with this book — throwing caution to the wind in a daredevil-like fashion — I read the second book in a series without reading the first book. Gasp!

Recklessness, no? It’s the kind of nutty thing I used to do all the time in my youth, but haven’t really done lately, so I figured I’d give it a try. Yes, there’s some history (between the characters, and actual history) that I didn’t really understand and some jargon that I didn’t get right off the bat because I hadn’t read Caretaker but with context, I got the jargon (pretty much, anyway), could piece together the history just enough to get by, so I didn’t feel like I was at a disadvantage for not having experience with the series. I can say with a degree of certainty now, though, that I’m going to get to it pretty soon.

The action takes place on the planet Minea, which on paper, is run by the United Earth Government, but really is run by four Corporations and most of the populace lives in their company towns — which, not surprisingly, act like company towns pretty much always have. What do the people who live on Minea do? Well, mostly, they mine (get it? Minea? What do you want, they’re miners, not cartographers), and then there are shopkeepers, mechanics, doctors, etc. that support the miners. What they mine is this ore called Yyinum, which is this universe’s equivalent of a Dilithium crystal — it’s what enables their fastest ships to travel the galaxy — unlike Dilithium, it seems to run out and the ships need to refuel. There’s only one place it can be found — Minea.

But things aren’t going so well, for the residents of Minea. Yyinum is getting harder and harder to find; there’s a blight on the crops they’re growing; some sort of plant is growing everywhere (like a mutant Space Kudzu or something); and a new, fatal disease is cropping up. Oh, yeah, and an unidentified alien space ship is orbiting the planet and no one knows why or what it’s intentions are.

That’s the overview, but if we zoom in for a closeup, we have a great cast to look at. We’ve got Ethan (who must’ve had a wild time in the last book), a government official (which means almost nothing in the company towns) who’s sent on a survey mission and goes missing in uncharted — and very dangerous — area, with a crew of surveyors that don’t like him. This is the heart of the book — but not the most important part. There’s Marcos Saras, the on-planet head of his father’s mining company, trying to win daddy’s approval and make a profit at all costs (the two are probably the same thing). There’s Kaia — the biggest reason I want to read Caretaker is so I can better understand her — a brilliant engineer in a losing battle with her body. Her father, the Admiral in charge of defending the planet — which is typically easier than it is once the aliens show up (natch) — we don’t spend as much time with him as you’d expect. And then there’s Aria — Ethan’s wife, who is spurred to action after his disappearance (and after Saras’ company gives up the search quickly) — she continues the search, studies the Taim (the Space Kudzu), and tries to do something about the blight and disease (and a whole bunch of other things. If any one person understands what’s going on on Minea, it’s her. I’d say pay attention to her, but it’s impossible not to. Mix in a whole lot of secondary characters (some of which could carry more than they’re given) that add color, flavor, and a dash of romance.

The ending — especially the denouement — felt a little rushed, like the author was up against a deadline and just needed to finish things — but they got the job done, and didn’t seem incomplete. To be fair, if she spent a little more time with both of them, I might be sitting her accusing her of stretching things out to make a word count.

The world-building was solid. The storylines? I’m in, because even the predictable bits are done in a way to keep them interesting. You’ve read most of these storylines before — maybe even all of them. But there are two elements that make this one stand out from others. The first is the way that Russell combines these storylines, weaves them together, and her weaving various characters through multiple storylines.

The second reason is what really makes me want to read the other book — and whatever Russell puts out next — the characters. I like these people, and even the one’s I’m not crazy about are one recognizable as people, not stock characters or anything (with an exception or two). About halfway through reading this my family and I finally got the chance to watch Ridley Scott’s adaptation of The Martian, *THE MARTIAN NOVEL SPOILERS TO FOLLOW* now the junior high school science nerd in me is ashamed of this, but there’s a lot of what Mark Watney said that I didn’t completely understand in Weir’s book. But it didn’t matter, because for a few days there, Mark Watney was one of my best friends. If things had gone a certain way in the book, I can tell you, I’d have been a wreck. *THE MARTIAN NOVEL SPOILERS OVER* Now, I followed 97% of this novel better than Weir’s book, but at the same time, it almost didn’t matter what was going on, I was into this because of the characters. The humanity with which she imbues the people, the aliens, and…well…some other things. That’s the difference between this book and any number of SF novels out there.

I knew I was hooked, not just enjoying the book but was hooked, when the thing that happened about halfway through Chapter 31 made me excited and got me smiling (even if it was a pretty obvious thing that the reader was waiting for Ethan and the rest of the humans to learn). Read the book and that’ll make sense. Probably.

I’m not sure when I realized this, far later than I should’ve — there was almost no violence (except when the aliens and human military got going — and even then it was pretty PG), there was no sex or “adult” language to speak of. Thanks for that, Josi Russell, what a pleasant change. On the other hand, I’m sure I ever needed the image of Minean cockroaches — the size of an adult hand, mind you — at all, and especially not crawling over the bodies of those killed in an accident. Shudder

A good SF tale with a lot of heart, and some characters you’ll care about. That’s a great way to spend a few hours.

Disclaimer: I received my copy of Guardians from the friendly people over at Future House Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

—–

3.5 Stars

United States of Books – The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy

The Prince of TidesThe Prince of Tides

by Pat Conroy

Hardcover, 567 pg.
Houghton Mifflin Company, 1986

Read: February 1 – 4, 2016

The story of the Wingos is one of humor, grotesquerie, and tragedy. Tragedy predominates.

So warns Tom Wingo before beginning to relate that story to Dr. Susan Lowenstein. Lowenstein is Tom’s sister’s therapist and needs his help to understand Savannah, who recently tried to kill herself for at least the third time. Savannah’s now institutionalized until she gets back to a place where she can handle her PTSD (my diagnosis, not Lowenstein’s), psychosis, and whatever else they diagnose her with.

As he has done before, Tom has dropped everything and rushed to New York City (from the tiny community of Colleton, South Carolina) to help his sister. The best way to do that, Lowenstein says, is to fill in the large blanks of memory that Savannah demonstrates. Then, she’ll be able to help Savannah remember and move on from whatever trauma has brought her to this stage. Tom agrees — not only has he come to help his sister, he’s also taking a break from home: he’s been unemployed for a year, he just learned his wife is having an affair and might leave him — maybe by helping his sister’s therapist help her, he might get help in the process.

Before he gets the call about his sister and finds out about his wife, Tom’s spending time with his three daughters and jokes with them:

. . .parents were put on earth for the sole purpose of making their children miserable. It’s one of God’s most important laws. Now listen to me. Your job is to make me and Mama believe that you’re doing and thinking everything we want you to. But you’re really not. You’re thinking you own thoughts and going out on secret missions. Because Mama and I are screwing you up. . . I know we’re screwing you up a little bit every day. If we knew how we were doing it, we’d stop. We wouldn’t do it ever again because we adore you. But we’re parents and we can’t help it. It’s our job to screw you up.

That’s not the last time Tom will joke about this, but he’ll spend far more time showing and telling the reader about how parents go about screwing up their kids — he, Savannah and their older brother, Luke, are proof of that (there are four exceptions to this in the novel — but I can’t help but think that with some more investigation, they’d be shown as screwed up, too).

The seeds of this parental function are planted on the night of the twin’s birth, and soon flower while the children are (at least) toddlers — and it doesn’t stop, ever. To detail it would be to give too much away, but Tom, Savannah, and Luke have horrible childhoods and the proof of that is writ large all over their adulthood. Which doesn’t mean that the book is entirely grim — their father has bouts of generosity, of letting his imagination get away from him and getting the family involved in an escapade; they have loving grandparents; they’re successful at school (in differing ways); they adore their mother (rightly or wrongly); they have adventures — they’re actually happy frequently. But then the reality of their poverty, their abusive father, their (I’ll let you fill in the blank if you read it) mother, will revisit them and things will be grim again. Early on, we’re told that something horrible happens to Luke just a couple of years before this most recent suicide attempt, their father is in jail, and that his mother has remarried (to someone Tom hates more than his father). Slowly but inexorably, we march toward those ends. Alternating with the tales of their past, we see Tom in New York, trying to help and understand his sister, as well as the growing friendship between Tom and Lowenstein.

At the end of the day, Lowenstein’s son is the only character that I liked (and maybe Tom’s daughters — but we spend less than ten pages with them, so it’s hard to say). Which doesn’t say a whole lot for the rest of this motley collection of scofflaws, narcissists, manipulators, bullies and gulls. Thankfully, you don’t have to like all the characters to appreciate a well-written, well-structured novel. Which this largely is.

I’m not entirely convinced it’s as good as it thinks it is, however (it, and most readers, it appears). It frequently seems over-written — too much squeezed into a sentence; sentences filled with sesquipedalian words (after paragraphs without any); the humor seems forced sometimes; the dialogue is frequently stilted. The flashback segments appear to be what Tom’s relating to Lowenstein — but I have to wonder if they’re more detailed for the reader than they are for Lowenstein. She complains that Tom’s not forthcoming about the mother (unless maybe his version conflicts with what Savannah has been telling her), because I think I get a pretty clear picture of her from that.

There are some reveals promised early that Conroy doesn’t deliver until towards the end — and he mostly delivers well. However, one of the big reveals (at least Conroy played it as one), was telegraphed so clearly hundreds of pages before I didn’t think it even needed to be mentioned — it could just be assumed. Like he didn’t need to mention that the football coach from South Carolina had an accent. Telegraphing it the way he did made it seem like an authorial or editorial failure. There was one reveal that was promised only a chapter or so before we got it — I’m glad I didn’t have to wait long for it, because of all the things he teased, this was the most vital (and most disturbing) — setting up Savannah’s first suicide attempt and the rest of her life (it seems).

I’m sure I’m in the minority here, but I think the book tries to do too much — especially by the time it gets to the end, where Tom is beginning to tell us the dark thing it’s been hinting at about Luke, the set-up for what happens to Luke was just too much. Conroy covers race, regionalism, psychiatry, feminism, theories of masculinity, how sports can be noble, spousal/parental abuse, marital fidelity, marital love, marital betrayal, sexual assault, school integration post Brown vs. Board of Ed, Vietnam, property rights, the drug war, quixotic faceoffs against the federal government . . . and other things I’m forgetting. It’s just too much — especially to befall one family (even if three generations are in view).

So as part of this United States of Books series, one thing I want to look at is why the book was chosen, what did the novel teach me about the state, why did EW pick it as “the one work of fiction that best defines” South Carolina? It’s definitely not because it paints the residents in the kindest light — the constant contrast between small-town SC versus a fairly idealized New York City (or at least affluent NYC) doesn’t do the state any favors. There’s a sense of a mix of pride and shame about the people, the history, and legacy of the state. The sharp class distinction — not just racial — drove so much of the characters actions and desires that it seems to be part of their DNA (although it can be overcome with the right strategy and dedication). It’s not the best part of the country to live in, the book seems to say, but those who embrace the life, the state, develop a great love that transcends all sorts of regional, intellectual or philosophical chauvinism. Also, I should’ve realized, but didn’t, that there was more to SC coastal industry than tourism, never occurred to me that there might be shrimpers, lobster trappers, etc.

“There’s a difference between life and art, Savannah,” I said as we moved out into the Charleston Harbor.
“You’re wrong,” she said. “You’ve always been wrong about that.”

I knew very little about this book going in. I remembered when I was in college shortly after the movie came out that everyone talked about Conroy as if he were a genius. I knew that the movie (and therefore, probably the book) involved some rough-and-tumble guy and a classy psychologist in therapy (and in bed, based on the movie poster). I’ve seen Conroy interviewed and in documentaries, I knew he considered himself a “Southern Writer” in the tradition of Faulkner, Harper Lee, Flannery O’Connor and James Dickey (his influence is clearly seen). But beyond that, I didn’t know what to expect. I think maybe more than this. I have to give this a mixed review — there’s a lot to admire here, scope, character, the way he told a multi-layered story about very familiar subjects in a way that (mostly) didn’t seem to tired or cliché. But, oh, I spent a lot of time hating this book. There were at least two times, maybe three, that I almost walked away from this — and I probably would have if it wasn’t part of this series. I’m not entirely sure that I’m glad I finished.

I’d love to read what you all have to say about this — fill up this comment section! Convince me that I was wrong about this work of genius (or, that I was right to have misgivings).

—–

Mixed Rating:
Did I like it?
2 Stars
Did I think it was well-done? (lost a 1/2 star in the last 50 pages or so)
3.5 Stars