Thoughts on books, family, and life in one impressive package.

Yes, I am still alive! It has been a rough fall season, so blogging fell completely by the wayside as I struggled just to survive from one day to the next. I still managed to read, which I think may have been the only thing that kept me sane. I do not have my usual level of review for each book, but I did manage to jot down some notes after finishing each one. The next few posts will be me sharing these notes along with the books I managed to finish. If anyone is still around and interested, enjoy!

The Warlow Experiment by Alix Nathan

The whole story is a bit of a trainwreck from start to finish and not the most cheerful of novels. There is so much occurring within the novel – a failed experiment, a doomed relationship, class uprisings, mental health issues, explorations of guilt, love, and ignorance – but the author does a poor job of blending all of the issues, so it feels very disjointed. The choice of coarse language used by the protagonist left me scratching my head because it does not fit his personality, which is fastidious and extreme in its gentlemanly presentation. This was one novel I was very glad to finish and not because it was good.

These Divided Shores by Sara Raasch

What a great finale! Ms. Raasch does a fantastic job of blending magic with religious intolerance, prejudice, revenge, and power struggles. Plus, she keeps the story full of action. The ending is wonderful and a bright spot within the year with its message that cooperation and compromise can work in overcoming extreme divisions within a country.

The Passengers by John Marrs

Intense, action-packed with some really great references to one of Marrs’ previous novels. It truly is a chilling warning about AI. The character work, especially in shifting readers’ opinions based on each new snippet of information, is mesmerizing. The whole thing is one emotional roller coaster and would make for an excellent beach read.

Last Ones Left Alive by Sarah Davis-Goff

Meh. A girl living in a zombie world knows nothing but how to survive. She leaves safety for answers, to which she only receives a few. She confirms some truths, discovers more lies. There is a bit too much flashbacking for my taste, as it is the only method by which we learn about this greater world. There is nothing new in this story with nothing very exciting happening. I never embraced Orpen’s character enough to care about her future. The writing is mediocre as well. Overall, nothing spectacular.

Transcription by Kate Atkinson

I wanted to love it but didn’t. I got tired of all of the spy games and multiple secrets. The behavior feels so extreme. Ms. Atkinson fails to convince the readers that people really were that suspicious of their neighbors during the war and that fear ruled the day. As such, the whole thing feels just a bit ridiculous.

Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen by Sarah Bird

I could not finish this one because I felt the whole thing was too predictable. This doesn’t mean it was a bad novel. Cathy is a kick-ass character, feisty and independent even when she knows such behavior could get her killed. I simply got tired of her bullish approach to everything because her behavior never changed. It is a perfectly decent piece of historical fiction that sheds some light on an unsung feminist hero.

The Glass Woman by Caroline Lea

Very Scandanavian in tone and mood – bleak, stark, matter-of-fact, almost scornful of anyone passing judgment on the characters and their way of life. It contains a surprisingly romantic ending where love rules over pragmatism. The writing style equals the tone of the story and serves that purpose well. The characters remain fairly enigmatic, which keeps you guessing anything about the ending. Not my favorite novel of the month, but not the worst either.

Time's Convert by Deborah Harkness

I consider this more a fun little interlude to the Bishop-Clairmont family saga than anything that furthers their story. We do not learn much more about them other than about Marcus’ past. We don’t seem anything of his present-day existence. Phoebe’s transformation transpires exactly as I expected it would. It is fun to see another Clairmont “child” and interesting to see Baldwin soften slightly. Still, I wanted more. There was no danger, no threat within the story. It was all too safe.

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