Retro Reread #6: First King of Shannara by Terry Brooks

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This is my first Retro Reread pick that I didn’t like rereading as much as I liked reading it the first time. It has been about ten plus years since I read it. This was one of my dad’s favorite fantasy series so I was determined to read it too and I started with this prequel and had no idea what the rest of the series would be like. It was dark and sometimes quite hopeless but I had no idea how it was going to end. Knowing how everything was going to go down already made this hard to reread this month.

The Druid Bremen has confirmed that the renegade Druid Brona is still alive and gearing up to take over the world. Bremen and his friends are determined to stop him from succeeding.

What got me through were the characters Bremen and Mareth. They were both fascinating to me the first time but I was able to understand them better the second time around.

Kokoro by Natsume Soseki

Book Review Red and Black

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I finished this one in the middle of the night last night because it was due today and I was determined to finish.

Honestly, I’m still processing.

At the center of the book is a student and the man he calls Sensei. This book is also about family and friendship plus it is about the transition from the Japan of Sensei’s youth to modern Japan.

This is a character driven story. At first the student is the narrator so we get what he’s thinking and feeling and how he perceives others. Then Sensei is the narrator and his section mostly focuses on his past because he is attempting to explain why he is the way he is.

After I finished I realized that Sensei has depression but it wasn’t until I got his perspective that I understood.

That’s also why I cautiously give a trigger warning. The word “depression” may not be used but Sensei feels the symptoms. Suicide is also a prominent part of this book.

Overall, I found this book compelling. As soon as I met the characters in the first chapter I wanted to know more about them and what their lives were like during the late 1800’s through early 1900’s in Japan.

Top Ten Tuesday: Series I’ve Been Meaning to Start

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by the Broke and the Bookish. This week it is about series I keep meaning to start. I’ve mentioned most of these at some point. Eventually I’ll get to them, maybe… And then I have two series I would like to finish.

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Two sci-fi series!

Binti and Home by Nnedi Okorafor (I don’t think this series is finished but it sounds really interesting. The main character has to leave her home planet to go to school.)

Lilith’s Brood by Octavia Butler (including Dawn, Adulthood Rites, and Imago) I’m so intimidated by this one. I know it will be amazing and that I’ll love it but I’m still nervous.

Two fantasy series!

People love The Fifth Season and it sounds amazing but I’m definitely intimidated. The Way of Kings is a big book. Also, the series isn’t done and from what I understand there’s supposed to be seven books total and the third one just came out. Plus, Brandon Sanderson has been a hit and a miss with me. I loved Elantris but was barely able to get through Mistborn.

Two fantasy series I want to finish! These are the books in the series I haven’t read yet.

And!

Chemistry: a novel by Weike Wang

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The main character’s life is falling apart. Getting her PhD is looking less likely by the day, especially after she breaks all the beakers in the lab. Also, her relationship with her boyfriend is imploding, just like their ceiling. And yet with all that there is still hope.

The prose is stream of consciousness but it isn’t incomprehensible. In this case this style makes it a relatively fast read. The main character is weird and random but I can’t help but relate because we also get snippets of her past with dysfunctional parents. All three of them are immigrants to the US and we see how that impacts them. There was a lot of depth and humanity plus chemistry. I found myself highlighting multiple passages.

I highly recommend for literary fiction fans.

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

Book Review Blue Ladder

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I first found out about this one because it was a pick for Book of the Month Club in March and I have seen it blow up since.

I didn’t pick this one in March but it sounded really interesting to me and when one of my library systems ordered it I put myself on hold. And I got it and I read it. Here are my thoughts.

This is about a couple who leaves Syria through a magical door when the fighting begins. They travel to different places trying to make a life. But as they live in different places they grow further and further apart.

The style of writing is like a fairy tale. The reader is told the story rather than shown the story.  I didn’t really mind it. I like fairy tales and other stories told to me. For some reason, I also didn’t need a firm connection with these characters. I thought it was easier to read about them with a slight barrier between us.

I also felt that this was an important book about being a refugee. There are elements of the fantastical (the magical doors, for instance) but there are big doses of reality about trying to find places to live and work because they don’t want to go back to Syria until it is safe to do so.

Overall, I really liked it and thought it was powerful though ultimately a bit sad. I recommend this to those who want to read more diverse literature and don’t mind being told the story rather than being shown the story. If you aren’t into the first chapter I give you permission to put this one down.

Thanks for reading! *waves*

 

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

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Lazlo Strange is an orphan who doesn’t know anything about his parents or where he came from. But he’s been obsessed with a city called Weep since he was five years old. Fifteen years later he is presented with an opportunity to go to Weep but he has to help the Godslayer solve a very big problem that he isn’t telling anyone about until they actually get to Weep. And holy moly is that problem big and complex.

I loved this book.

First, I loved Lazlo right away. He’s a reader and he’s a dreamer. Weep fascinates him and nobody else cares. Then he’s able to fulfill his dream of going to Weep (granted it isn’t as he imagined it but that doesn’t really stop him). I had no trouble rooting for this character.

Second, the problems that affect Weep are really complex and not easily fixed. I felt this gave the novel a lot of power because we see multiple perspectives and reasons for those perspectives. The plot became less simple and less predictable.

Third, that ending scared me but I still want more.

 

Top Ten Tuesday: What I Just Added to My Reread TBR

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by the Broke and the Bookish. This week it is about books that you’ve added to your TBR recently but of a specific genre or for a specific reason. I’ve been doing Retro Rereads this year because I read a Book Riot article about it. I picked twelve specific books for that because I wanted to read books I loved but hadn’t ever reread or hadn’t reread in a long time. This is a short list of books that I just want to reread because I’ve been thinking about them a lot.

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The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee

I read this when it came out and wrote it in for the Goodreads awards historical fiction category because I thought it was amazing. I’d like to reread it for the pleasure of rereading it but also so I can look at it from a writer’s perspective.

I also want to reread John Green’s books. The Fault in Our Stars was the first book I read by him and I cried multiple times. I was moved by it. When I read his other books I just wasn’t. So I’d like to read them again but in order of publication.

On Being a (Book) Polygamist 

I like to read a bunch of books at the same time!

The main benefits have to do with my idiosyncrasies. 

One, I’m a mood reader. So I like to pick a bunch of different kinds of books to be in my currently reading pile. There are days when I’m not in the mood for the contemporary young adult romance so I may turn to something else in the stack, maybe this nonfiction book on Vesuvius. There are also days when I don’t know what I’m in the mood to read. So I just read a chapter from each book. 

Two, I have the irrational fear that I will run out of books to read (even though I regularly have four piles of library books waiting to be added to my currently reading piles). Seeing a double-digit number next to my Goodreads currently reading shelf comforts me. And looking over at the two piles on my bookshelf also comforts me.

But this does mean that packing for trips is a struggle. I can’t bring all the books I’m currently reading. So I end up taking all the ones that will fit, sometimes with comical results.

Then I have multiple people asking me if I can really keep track of all those storylines in a tone that implies that I’m not capable of that. (For the record, I am.)

Ultimately, it isn’t something that matters that much in the grand scheme of things. But I do find it amusing to apply monogamy or polygamy to reading. 

So tell me… are you a book polygamist? 

Source for picture: Pinterest 

Top Ten Tuesday: I will be awkwardly repulsed by these things

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by the Broke and the Bookish. Last week the topic was centered around things that make me want to read a book. This week is the opposite: things that will make me NOT want to read a book.

Number One: I massively dislike the writing. (Passive voice, the writer can’t seem to figure out what tense their verbs should be in, their characters don’t sound like people… the list goes on and on. I want to call their editor and copy editor and give them a piece of my mind.)

Number Two: I’m just not into it right now. There isn’t anything wrong with the writing, characters, etc. I’m just not in the mood for this category, genre, or story. But I may come back to these books at a later date. This tends to happen with YA contemporary romance, sometimes the YA category in general, literary fiction (because tough subjects are a common attribute), and classics (they either need my full attention or at least a primary focus so I can comprehend what’s going on and get the deeper messages and stuff).

Three: The first chapter is a flash forward.

Four: Characters are consistently whining about something.

Five: Disturbing model covers. (Those clothes do not look lived in. That body position is unnatural. This book is about pioneers and yet somehow you have a French manicure and a spray tan… So many negative thoughts. My mom tends to read these books and I flip them over so I can’t see the front.)

Six: People describe it as being a “dystopian” or a “frightening representation of what our future is going to look like.”

Seven: “This book is the next – insert name of popular novel or series here – .”

Eight: Mention of the Fae, Sidhe, Seelie, or by any other name.

Nine: World War II

Ten: Nowadays I may hesitate if the description says it is set in Russia or an alternate Russia.

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