Stolen, Kelley Armstrong

Stolen was a fast-paced werewolf romp that never slowed down. Fun but not too silly, Armstrong’s sequel to Bitten didn’t challenge but never bored. The story follows Elena’s capture, escape, and subsequent revenge on a crazy billionaire who has been collecting various supernaturals for amusement. I’d recommend it for an easy and entertaining read.

Grade: B+

Book: 11/100

Frozen, Melissa De La Cruz

I was slightly confused throughout Frozen, but liked the characters and the overall story. Nat, a girl born with gifts in a militarized post-apocalyptic world where the gifted are rounded up, embarks on a journey to find the mythological “Blue,” a land free from the pollution and decay of modern Earth. She enlists mercenaries, led by (the of course handsome) Wes, and their ensuing adventure leads them through the disturbing toxic ocean with islands of trash, wastelands of radioactive outlaw towns, slaver ships and more. Frozen is legitimately dark with pounding commentary on global warming, government overreach and more, but was definitely a page turner and I’ll be reading its sequel.

Grade: B+

Book: 10/100

Cinnamon and Gunpowder, Eli Brown

Cinnamon and Gunpowder follows the kidnapping of a famed chef from his 19th century home by an infamous woman pirate. Fun, but with enough heart to touch the reader, Owen’s struggles to create delicacies out of pirate rations while getting to know the crew never slow down enough to warrant putting the book down. I enjoyed Brown’s story, and recommend it as a quick and entertaining, but never too silly, read.

Grade: A-

Book: 9/100

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (vol. 1), Arthur Conan Doyle

Holmes is a classic for a reason, and Doyle’s stories are as good as expected. The hefty book (750ish pages) was an easier read than I expected, which allows the elegance of Doyle’s writing to come through without struggling to understand diction or the like as anticipated. I’ve watched both the most recent movies and BBC show based on Sherlock Holmes (the TV show is my favorite show of the moment); however, the book complemented them without being to close to either. Characters and story lines have been altered enough in the modern renditions that I never knew the endings of the mysteries completely, even having watched the onscreen version. All in all, a great, if long, read!

Grade: A

Book: 8/100

Tithe, Holly Black

Black’s angsty, “gritty” (with quotation marks bolded) story of a girl who finds out she’s part of the fairy world and ensuing adventure is entertaining, but in no world thrilling. Tithe struggles to be dark, but can’t achieve any form of psychological distress, and therefore settles for teenage angst with trappings of drugs and wings. I’m not sure if I want to read the sequel.

Grade: B-

Book: 7/100

The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P, Adelle Waldman

I disliked Waldman’s novel intensely, but at least it was short. The book is pompous and over-academic in tone, interspersed with crudity meant to shock, and I didn’t enjoy it at all. It’s really only thanks to its length I finished it. The story follows a New York writer obsessed with big ideas, social things, etc through several relationships, all of which end badly and paint all parties in a disgusting, negative light, except for the last, which just continues without much enthusiasm. If the goal of the story is to bemoan the banality and conceitedness of humanity (which would be written even more imperiously in Waldman’s voice), then it succeeds. Do not recommend. 

Grade: F

Book: 5/100

Bitten, Kelley Armstrong

I watched Bitten the TV series a couple months ago and really like it. As such, reading the book was more of an extension of the TV series rather than as a proper stand alone book. I enjoyed it, and look forward to reading the next one. Bitten was fast-paced, always interesting, and I devoured it (werewolf pun) in one sitting. Well it’s not going to enlighten the reader in anyway, it was fun and I recommend it, as well as its TV adaptation.

Grade: B+

Book: 4/100

Life After Life, Kate Atkinson

Life After Life was not all that enjoyable. Distantly graphic (illegal abortions, war carnage, and more seem somehow remote from the reader), the circular storytelling is the point of the whole book, but I didn’t like it. Atkinson writes about the lives of Ursula, an English woman living through the two world wars, who, when she dies, is reborn into an earlier part of her life. Different versions of scenarios are played out, with Ursula constantly struggling to survive amidst war and suffering. The novel dragged on, and there were a good deal of annoying characters, headlined by the main one, Ursula. I understand why it got good reviews- the writing is poetic, the idea interesting, etc- but I wouldn’t recommend. 

Grade: C-

Book: 3/100

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