Book Review: Our Dried Voices

Greg Hickey posted his book in my handy-dandy review request form on my book review request page! My rules for answering a review request are there, if you want to risk it.

The Book

read 2021 our dried voices hickeyOur Dried Voices
Author: Greg Hickey
2017
Amazon Link

Ultimately, I was going to read this book because I was requested to do so and it was in a genre I like. When this book came across my lap, at least, I was in a place where I wasn’t getting enough requests to really put me off the trail. That being said, it’s a dystopian future sci-fi, and I’m ok with that.

Non-Spoiler Review

This book is billed as inspired by classic sci-fi like Wells’s The Time Machine or Huxley’s Brave New World. I absolutely agree that if you like The Time Machine, this book is probably up your alley. Our Dried Voices takes a similar idea from The Time Machine – i.e. that humanity will collectively devolve into helpless, mindless creatures kept safe by old humanity’s successes – but there’s plenty of new, different ideas that you won’t be bored.

If you’re looking for a more modern comparison, I’d like to point you to Liu’s Three Body Problem. Hickey’s Voices is similar to Three Body in that it’s an extensively explored setting that builds with slow exactitude to its final reveal. Liu’s book is probably 4 times the size of Voices, but there’s a lot of explanatory shpiels that build on each other. It’s got that classic sci-fi “boring” to it that I and many fans of the old stuff enjoy. At times it did get excessively dry, but the book was short enough that it didn’t become too tedious.

Another good point in Voices’ favor is the high-quality editing. Though at times the book did fall into purple prose, the sentence structure, spelling, and logical flow of the book was good. I hate that this is something I have to grade in indie books, but I am happy to say that this one did it right!

The reasons this isn’t five stars, though…

This book, like Brave New World, is what I would call “artsy fartsy”. It has a semi-experimental structure wherein the characters say very little. Without much dialogue, it was hard for me to really get into Sam or Penny as fast as I wanted to. I could see what kind of feeling (a sort of “awakening” where the mains go from ignorant to curious) this sort of narration achieved, but it made it somewhat difficult for me to get into the book. They were inoffensive, perfectly fine characters, though. Penny was never an object, and by the time I figured them out, her role was well defined and well done.

The mystery elements were also not quite up my alley. Some of the mystery was easy enough that I questioned what the main character was thinking, some of it was a stretch even after it was explained, and some of it didn’t make sense how the character put together the clues.

4/5 Discoball Snowcones

4 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

The plot was relatively simple, and most of it could be guessed, but that’s not something you really have a problem with in sci-fi. It did build logically, and for that I commend it.

However, I must say that the bulk of the chapters were similar to one-off MacGuyver problems. Some of them – like fixing a bridge – were somewhat interesting, but others – like the “food box” where they collected the humans’ food to fairly redistribute it – was frustrating. Other problems didn’t make so much sense, but they tended to contribute to the overall plot.

As I said in the non-spoilers review, there was a mystery element. In the course of solving problems, the main character Samuel came across messages from a mysterious, possibly villainous, personages. While it was a clever idea, I thought these messages weren’t incorporated very well. They seemed a bit of a nonsense puzzle on top of all the other survival puzzles.

Anyway, the point is if you like classic sci-fi, this might be a pick for you.

Next week:

It’s time for the last of my indie sci-fi reviews – Dust & Lightning!

Book Review: Steel Reign – Flight of the Starship Concord

Once upon a time in 2020, I made the fateful step of deciding to post a “I will buy and review a book or two from the selection y’all pitch at me” on Twitter. Along with A Choice for Essence, I chose this book.

The Book

Steel Reign flight of the starship concord read 2020Steel Reign: The Flight of the Starship Concord
Author: Braxton A. Cosby
Publication Year: 2020
Amazon Link

One big reason I chose this book is the genre: sci-fi seems to be a bit less common than fantasy among indie books. Beyond that, the blurb on Amazon hints to epic space adventure in a wide world – it seems up my alley at first glance!

Non-Spoiler Review

I’m quite torn about this book. As an admission, the genre was a parody of sci-fi action, not a serious take. I didn’t expect that from the blurb or most reviews, and I probably wouldn’t have started it if I’d known. So, that caveat out of the way let’s start with the things I liked.

It did pull through with the basic promise of action adventure. Reign – or Cassius, at times – was a hardcore spy who could pull off crazy stunts if he paid for it in joint pain later. His drive was a little difficult to drill down to, but his objective was clear. If you like action comedy like Austin Powers or Tropic Thunder, this is in your wheelhouse.

The grammar/basic structure was (aside from the experimental, weird numbers that were explained in the preface) decent. Some typos, word repetition, and sentence structure issues were present but were not more jarring than the weird decision regarding numbers (“no one” was “no 1”). The thing I liked best was the descriptions of the future tech and how it worked in-universe. Some of his chemistry and processing knowledge were wonky, but those subjects I’m less expert in seemed fine. The implants, especially, interested me because they weren’t better than natural – just different.

All the elements of a plot were there. The first chapter was very confusing, but it didn’t take long after to get set up and set off on the mission. The steps to the end were clear, and I liked knowing what we were supposed to root for.

But… man… the comedy. It was exactly the kind of comedy I just don’t get, because I had that feeling it should make me laugh. It was so intensely over the top that it had to be intended as funny, but I have a hard time with absurdist or exaggerating humor.

The other primary issue I had with the humor leaked into issues of characters. The intense use of male gaze (wherein the ladies were always described “boobs first”) and sexual jokes were tiresome to me. I suspect the first person narrator’s obsession with judging and gauging women solely by looks – even though the character claims he doesn’t – was meant as parody, but I honestly couldn’t be sure.

Part of what makes me suspicious that the male gaze and objectification were unintended was the poor representation of women. Every single woman was described as having squeezable or large tits, judged for their sexual potential (even the main’s sister!), and never really had a major part in the plot except as love objects or damsels. There was nothing to prove the narrator was delusional or wrong – so the parody angle might not even be good enough to make up for the poorly built female characters. The book passed neither Bechdel nor Mako Mori tests.

So, in the end, I liked the basic ideas of the book, but it had some major issues (that, admittedly, may be 100% in my head). Because of this, I decided that bad and good weighed each other out.

3/5 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

The plot was fairly straightforward, which I liked. You knew they had to steal the Concord in order to rescue Reign’s sister, Olia, from slavery. You knew they had to sneak into the Eclipse to find her. The action sequences made sense, and in that manner the book was fine.

I saw the twist – that Giff, the nerdy handler, had betrayed Reign – from pretty much Giff’s appearance in chapter two. He offered “too good to be true” for pretty cheap, so I expected it. However, that also meant the betrayal was set up, so I was fine with the twist. I’d much rather expect a twist than read a twist that comes out of nowhere.

The ending may have set up for additional entries in the series, but it could equally end where it is. Reign got the girl, saved his sister, and gained once and for all the loyalties of his crew (Giff and Stink).

Next week:

Stick around for Our Dried Souls, a sci fi indie book!

Reading List – January 2021

Welcome to a brand new year! We’re starting off the year with a sci-fi indie book month. If you’re a glutton for punishment, you can also check out my 2021 TBR on my Review Archive page.

Steel Reign: The Flight of the Starship Concord – Braxton A. Cosby

Steel Reign flight of the starship concord read 2020

This book actually came from a reading suggestion/request on Twitter. Not going to lie, space operas are one of my jams, so I totally bit into the premise of this action adventure. The main character is a mercenary with an epic resume, and it screams action. Though I bought the book when it was relatively new, it has since become quite popular on Amazon and sold very well in the sci-fi category. I’m excited to see what happens!
Amazon Link

Our Dried Voices – Greg Hickey

read 2021 our dried voices hickey

This book came up on my review request page! It’s another sci-fi, but this time in what seems to be a dystopian future. The book seems like it will be similar to or have inspirations from Wells’s Time Machine or other classic sci-fi, and I’m excited to see how the author puts a new twist on these old elements.

Amazon Link

Dust & Lightning – Rebecca Crunden

Another book that popped up on my review request page, Dust & Lightning is the final sci-fi read of this month. Another space opera, this one promises action as well as a side-romance. The author’s style seems very different from that of Cosby above, so I’m looking forward to checking out another way to do one of my favorite genres.

Amazon Link

More Reviews

Toward the end of last year, I started getting a lot more review requests from my review request page. Unfortunately, the spots on my blog for review requests this year are already taken (wow!), so I’m actually going to be a bit more selective as to which books I read and especially picky as to which get a blog post. I regret having to make this decision because one of my favorite books last year came from a request I was skeptical of!

Amazon’s 100 Books to Read Before You Die – Update

I did this last year, but since then I’ve made a concerted effort to read a bunch of these. Here’s my new Amazon List successes! Books read since I did this last year are surrounded by asterisks and linked to their review (some may be to my Goodreads review, since I don’t review everything on the blog). Books I’ve read on my blog earlier are also linked to their reviews.

Title

Read?

Author

To Kill A MockingbirdYesHarper Lee
Pride and Prejudice*Yes*Jane Austen
The Diary of a Young GirlYesAnne Frank
1984YesGeorge Orwell
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s StoneYesJ K Rowling
Lord of the Ring TrilogyYesJ R R Tolkein
The Great Gatsby*Yes*F Scott Fitzgerald
Charlotte’s WebYesE B White
Little WomenYesLouisa May Alcott
The HobbitYesJ R R Tolkein
Fahrenheit 451YesRay Bradbury
Jane EyreYesCharlotte Bronte
Gone with the Wind*Yes*Margaret Mitchell
Animal FarmYesGeorge Orwell
The Catcher in the Rye J D Salinger
The Adventures of Huckleberry FinnYesMark Twain
The HelpYesKathryn Stockett
The Grapes of Wrath*Yes*John Steinbeck
The Lion, The Witch and the WardrobeYesC S Lewis
The Hunger Games*Yes*Suzanne Collins
The Book Thief Markus Zusak
Lord of the Flies William Golding
Kite Runner*Yes*Khaled Hosseini
Night*Yes*Elie Wiesel
HamletYesWilliam Shakespeare
A Tale of Two Cities Charles Dickens
A Wrinkle in TimeYesMadeleine L’Engle
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the GalaxyYesDouglas Adams
A Christmas CarolYes (Was Scrooge in a play, actually)Charles Dickens
Of Mice and MenYesJohn Steinbeck
The Secret GardenYesFrances Hodgson Burnett
Romeo and Juliet William Shakespeare
The Handmaid’s TaleYesMargaret Atwood
Brave New WorldYesAldous Huxley
The Little Prince Antoine De Saint-Exupery
Where the Sidewalk EndsYesShel Silverstein
Wuthering HeightsYesEmily Bronte
The GiverYesLois Lowry
Anne of Green GablesYesE M Montgomery
MacbethYes (Def fave Willy Shakes play)William Shakespeare
The Adventures of Tom SawyerYesMark Twain
Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsYesJ K Rowling
FrankensteinYesMary Shelley
The BibleYesVarious
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo *Yes*Steig Larsson
The Count of Monte Cristo*Yes*Alexandre Dumas
The Fault in Our Stars John Green
The Colour Purple Alice Walker
East of Eden John Steinbeck
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Betty Smith
Catch 22YesJoseph Heller
In Cold Blood Truman Capote
The Stand Stephen King
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland*Yes*Lewis Carroll
Watership DownYes x like 12Richard Adams
Anna Karenina Leo Tolstoy
Ender’s GameYesOrson Scottcard
Great ExpectationsYesCharles Dickens
Rebecca Daphne Du Maurier
Memoirs of a Geisha Arthur Golden
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of AzkabanYesJ K Rowling
The Old Man and the SeaYesErnest Hemingway
A Game of Thrones *Yes*George R R Martin
The Princess BrideYesWilliam Goldman
Charlie and the Chocolate FactoryYesRoald Dahl
The Life of Pi Piin Elama
The Pillars of the Earth Ken Follet
Les Miserables Victor Hugo
The Scarlet LetterYesNathaniel Hawthorne
DraculaYesBram Stoker
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood PrinceYesJ K Rowling
Catching Fire*Yes*Suzanne Collins
Water for Elephants Sara Gruen
The RavenYesEdgar Allen Poe
The Secret Life of Bees Sue Monk Kidd
Outlander*FUCKING NEVER*Diana Gabaldon
One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Poisonwood Bible Barbara Kingsolver
The Good Earth Pearl S Buck
The Time Traveler’s WifeYesAudrey Niffenegger
The OdysseyYes (if reading it in Latin counts)Homer
Celebrating Silence Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
A Prayer for Owen Meany John Irving
And Then There Were None Agatha Christie
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks*Yes*Rebecca Skloot
The Thorn Birds Colleen McCullough
The Glass Castle Jeannette Walls
Mockingjay*Yes*Suzanne Collins
The Things They CarriedYesTim O’Brien
The Road Cormac McCarthy
Cutting for Stone Abraham Verghese
The Brothers Karamazov Fyodor Dostoyevsky
SiddharthaYesHermann Hesse
Beloved*Yes*Toni Morrison
The Story of my Life Helen Keller
Phantom TollboothYesNorton Juster
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler E L Konigsburg
Gone Girl Gillian Flynn
Crime and Punishment Fyodor Dostoyevsky

As of 12/15/2020, I’ve read 62 of the 100 books and screamed angrily at Outlander before giving up. Granted, a lot of them I read in high school, so I don’t remember a ton about them. Look at me, being impressive!

Book Review: Moby Dick

I didn’t read this in high school, despite it being considered one of the Great American Novels. We read a selection of passages and a summary, then moved on. Many people have told me to be grateful and not pursue reading this now.

But, you see, this book supposedly has a small passage about how great Andrew Jackson is, and I kind of have to read it now.

The Book

800px-moby-dick_fe_title_pageMoby Dick
Author: Herman Mellville
1851
Gutenberg Project Link

This book is famous for being highly allegorical and, simultaneously, nearly unreadable. At the same time, with all the cultural references to this book, I thought I should give this a read.

Non-Spoiler Review

First, don’t read Moby-Dick like Ron Swanson.

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Don’t read Moby Dick like Steven Colbert:

Moby Dick

This wasn’t as difficult to trudge through as I had expected, but I wouldn’t say it was easy. The extended passages talking about the finer points of whaling definitely take a toll on this book’s readability, and it makes it quite difficult to appreciate any of the characters or actions. I think an abridged version of this book could take up perhaps a third or a tenth of the space and give you the same story.

At the same time, those extended passages of nonsense give the book an Old-Testament feel, wherein massive passages are just records of troops, measurements of buildings, or lineages. The passages in Moby-Dick are extremely reminiscent of these passages, so I don’t fault Melville for these horrifyingly boring paragraphs and pages.

The themes of Moby-Dick, from anti-racism to the deeper meanings of a relationship with God, are sometimes flaunted in your face while, simultaneously, riding in the undercurrent of all things. The names – good lord, all the biblical names! – require one to have a pretty deep understanding of the Bible in order to understand the exegetical importance of everything. I’m pretty good at Bible knowledge, but not as good as Melville probably was. The book is magnificently researched, extremely true to itself and to its time, and the writing style in and of itself flows smoothly.

So I think I enjoy the fact that I read this book, but I would not read it again.

3/5 Discoball Snowcones

3 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

Overall, the book proceeds much as you probably expect. The whaleship hunts whales, comes upon other boats that lead you through a Biblical expectation of prophecy. The dream of Fedallah was especially telling, and I hope you pay attention to that, especially, if you read it!

Otherwise, I’m afraid there aren’t many spoilers. The end of the book – a.k.a. the ruin of the Pequod and Ishmael’s survival – is something I think everyone expects. I think it’s supposed to be metaphorical of all the times Old Testament kings and rulers failed to heed generations of prophecy (which was symbolized, in part, by the meetings with the other boats).

Also, the Andrew Jackson passage was good enough but not great.

Next week:

It’s a new year! Will I keep reviewing books, or will I suck? Stay tuned!

Book Review: Beloved

wThis book has been highly, highly heralded as one of the great American novels. The descriptions remind me somewhat of Native Son, which I read in high school and still think of as the best book I read at that time, and that excites me.

The Book

412b8ib2b0uql._sx322_bo1204203200_Beloved
Author: Toni Morrison
1987
Amazon Link

This was an easy enough book to find at my libary. Not only is this book considered a Great American Novel, but the author won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1997. Now, I usually don’t enjoy much of this critically acclaimed stuff, but the subject matter presented in the blurbs seems right up my alley.

After I read it, I think I need to admit that Beloved was so good that I can’t even explain it. It was powerful, riveting, beautiful, haunting. It’s one of the best classics I’ve ever read.

Non-Spoiler Review

First off: My god. MY GOD. I didn’t go in expecting to like it – I went in expecting this to be like Oscar bait movies: vapid, containing some exciting elements that are there to make people think it’s ok, and then mostly garbled quotes that are supposed to be inspirational.

This book was a constant train ride of excitement, perfect, perfect character development, and a plot that just wouldn’t be silenced. The tone of the book was successfully different from the outlooks and tones of the characters, and it added such depth to the book’s impact. This book deserves every accolade it has, and even if Toni Morrison wrote nothing else, this thing is so top notch.

Second off: THIS BOOK IS THE BEST EXAMPLE I’VE EVER SEEN FOR HOW YOU DO A SEX SCENE. There were a few sex-scenes in the book, but the objectives of the scenes were very clear. It was explicit, but not to the point of erotica – each action was strangely, beautifully symbolic, and the thoughts and feelings of the characters molded during these scenes. That’s what made these scenes, bar none, the best sex scenes I’ve ever read: plot and characterization were crystal clear during them.

You know what? They should just stop reading Great Gatsby in high school. People should read this instead. Best classic I’ve read in a long time, and I don’t care that it was written as recently as 1987. It’s going to be a classic, period.

5/5 Discoball Snowcones

5 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

Something that I loved from this book was the magical realism. In the book, a girl named Beloved shows up at Sethe’s doorstep. Sethe, who had killed her oldest daughter in effort to keep her from being whipped by her masters, had bought a headstone for that little girl and gotten “Beloved” inscribed in it. When Beloved shows up at her door, Sethe believes it’s her daughter returned to forgive her – but Denver, Sethe’s living daughter, believes Beloved has come to take Sethe’s life in return for the one stolen from her. However, it’s unclear if Beloved really is this daughter, or if she’s just a weird girl.

My personal opinion is that Beloved really was a ghost, but I can see how people could make the argument otherwise. Instead of Beloved taking Sethe’s position slowly away, one could say that Beloved was simply a very disturbed child who got pregnant by a nasty horndog. Instead of exorcising an evil spirit, the community could have banished someone who desperately needed help.

Something else I found interesting in the book was the positions of the white people. The tone of the book made it clear that the author thought white people were, similar to black people, trying to look out for themselves but had enough benefits that they were also able to destroy others’ lives. The way the characters in the book spoke, however, white people felt like English fairies: sometimes randomly benevolent, but mostly mean-spirited, unpredictable, and powerful. It was a really interesting look at race relations, especially for a book set around the Civil War.

If you’re in the mood to read a classic, consume this one. Do it.

Next week:

Oh lord, I’m doing Moby Dick next. Pray for me.

Book Review: The Great Gatsby

I’d never read The Great Gatsby, even though many people did at my high school (I was in the honors section, and we read Native Son instead). I’ve discovered that a lot of the books you read in high school are culturally important, so I reckon I should get through this one!

The Book

41iers2bhlslThe Great Gatsby
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
1925
Amazon Link

If you didn’t want to buy this book, too bad – copyrights are still in place for books from the 1920’s. Thank Mickey Mouse for that. Unless the Almighty Mouse argues, though, this thing will enter the public domain in 2021, which is kind of cool I guess.

Either way, I listened to this on audiobook. The version I listened to had a narrator willing to do the voices, which was nice.

Non-Spoiler Review

Wat.

I don’t understand this book. I tried to listen to it, and I even had to repeat some chapters because I was certain more had to have happened. I feel like it was a pile of pages about awful people doing as close to nothing as possible, then whining about it. They complained so much, and none of them felt real to me. Then the “exciting” bits at the end happened, and I was just upset more people didn’t die.

By the end, I was so confused that I decided to read someone else’s interpretation of what this steaming pile of mess was about. It turns out I understood what sliver of a plot existed, but other people read a lot more into the themes. According to Wikipedia, the book was supposed to be about decadence, excess, and resistance to change. I guess I could see those themes, and it probably would come through clearer to someone who grew up middle or upper-middle class. To me it seemed just ridiculous that people live that way, but I suppose it may have been close enough to what some people have experienced.

Overall, what the f*ck was this? Why do we make our children read this frivolous circle jerk of a book? Gah, this is one of those times I feel like critics are wrong, but then I realize I don’t have a good enough education in literature to combat them…

1/5 Discoball Snowcones

1 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

Honestly, I didn’t like Gatsby. I didn’t mind how he died at the end. I didn’t mind that Myrtle died either, though it was a little sadder. George’s death didn’t really make an impression on me at all. I really didn’t like, however, that Tom made it out unscathed. Screw that guy – he was terrible, possibly the worst of the whole bunch. I decided not to like him when he punched Myrtle early on, then I really hated him when he turned out to be an unforgiving hypocrite.

I hated reading this book.

Next week:

I’ll be reading Beloved, another Great American Novel! Can it possibly get worse?! Stay tuned!

Reading List – December 2020

This reading list was made after I read The Great Gatsby, just so you know. When I was researching that book, I found a term that I didn’t realize was a real moniker: The Great American Novel. Intrigued, I decided to read a few books off that list.

The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald

41iers2bhlslLike I said, this was the first book I picked up, and the book I read before making this “What I’m Reading” post. As such, I’m having a hard time not spoiling how I felt about this book beforehand. I chose to read this book because I was surfing through the library’s options of audio books and this was available. I chose to read it because I had heard of it and never happened to read it. That’s really it.

Beloved – Toni Morrison

412b8ib2b0uql._sx322_bo1204203200_I looked at the more recent books on this list, and this one struck me because of its Civil War era setting. It’s told from the perspective of a female slave/former slave, so I have the feeling this might end up being a bit too emotionally charged for me. Just from the blurb, I know “Beloved” is a baby who died without a name, and that’s already really freaking sad. But I swear I’ll finish it, even if I have to put it down in the middle!

Moby Dick – Herman Mellville

800px-moby-dick_fe_title_pageI’ve been thinking about reading Moby Dick for a while now, but I have multiple friends who’ve told me not to waste so many hours of my life on something so senselessly long. I can dig that, but according to Remini’s Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Democracy – 1833-1845, there’s a passage in Moby Dick about that 7th president, and that means all the warnings are invalid and I’m going to read it.

The Leftovers: Something from YOU?

Do you have a published book and a method of purchasing it that isn’t sketch as hell?  I need indie books to read, and those slots will be opening before you know it!  Let me know if you have something you’d like me to peruse!

See my old reviews here

Book Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses

When I couldn’t finish Outlander, I freaked out that I was a bad reader and just yanked for any old audiobook at my library so I could finish something.

This was that book.

The Book

A Court of Thorns and Roses read 2021A Court of Thorns and Roses
Author: Sarah J. Maas
2015
Amazon Link

Honestly I have no idea what this one’s going to be about heading into it, but I’m guessing it’s supposed to be like store-brand Game of Thrones going by the title and date of publication.

Non-Spoiler Review

When I first started reading this book, I thought it seemed a lot like The Hunger Games series. It used words like “blood” and “roast” and “roses” more than should be theoretically possible. It contained a main character who was a hunter using bows and arrows. That character, Feyre, was a woman, and she had useless sisters (sure, Katniss had one sister, but whatever). If you have a problem with Collins’s writing style, the writing style of this book won’t please you.

The plot, as well, was pure disappointment. About 1/3 of the way through, I thought to myself, “Is this Beauty and the Beast but with characters sexy in the way Edward was sexy in Twilight?” That is to say, “are these creepy, immortal pedophiles stalking this young woman and giving her Stockholm syndrome?”

And the answer is yes, yes that was what the book was about. If you’ve watched/read/heard glancingly about Beauty and the Beast, there’s no real reason to read this book. There’s no surprises.

There were some attempts made to show the character wasn’t a terrible pushover, and there were obvious struggles to get Feyre not to seem brainwashed (they failed). Something that bothered me a lot though was how many times she was covered in blood. It seemed like every other chapter she became drenched with blood and talked about it profusely. Sure, you can do that once or twice a book, but this was ridiculous.

1/5 Discoball Snowcones

1 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS AHOY

I spoiled it above because I said it was Beauty and the Beast. Sure, there was the “epic battle scenes” where Feyre has to defeat the witch who put the spell on the Spring Court (fey Tamlin’s castle thingy), but really there was nothing to the book. People on writing websites keep wanting revamped fairy tales, though, so I guess this fits the bill.

But why Beauty and the Beast? It’s a terrible story, really. I don’t see why someone would want to start with that as an inspiration.

Next week:

It’s the beginning of December, so there’s something new in the air! Stick around!

Book Review: Manassas

I’m reading whatever awful thing I want to this month, and what better way to do so than to read a historical fiction about the bloody first battle of the Civil War? I don’t know, so stick around to find out!

The Book

Manassas41ojiwvzd0l._sx332_bo1204203200_

Author: James Reasoner
1999
Amazon Link

I was researching a different Civil War battle – Chickamauga – for one of my books, and I found that Chickamauga was the 8th of a 10 book historical fiction series set in the American Civil War.

Well, since I’m (sort of) working on a Civil War historical fiction with a slice of magical realism on the side, I thought I’d at least start this series and see if I wanted to read all the way through to Chickamauga. I worry a lot about how historically accurate I need to get, since those Civil War reenactment people are INTENSE.

Non-Spoiler Review

This is going to contain some spoilers for the book. I don’t know how I’m going to get around it. I’ll keep the main spoilers in the spoilers section, but, you know, fair warning.

When I started this book, it seemed quiet and good enough. It was about a white family in Culpepper County, Virginia, which is too close to Manassas for the community to be unaffected by the battle. There is a backdrop of looming war, but the main story is about the sheriff of a town shooting a man in self defense and, to assuage his southern mother’s heart, joining the confederacy as penance. He has 3 brothers and 1 sister who live on the farm with their widowed mother, and they run around getting into social trouble and fostering ideas about horse races.

Extended sequences focused on a lone stallion that jumped fences back at the farm, luring away mares and running off when he was done. He was un-tamable, strong, free. One of the brothers dreamed of catching this wild horse.

After about half of the book focusing on this sheriff who unwillingly killed a man, this horse which refused to be caught, an upcoming horse race, and an impossible passel of corn pone and various pies, I asked the question:

Is this a cowboy book?

So I looked up the author. James Reasoner is one of those people who usually writes in the genre I call ‘bad cowboy books.’

And that’s genuinely what this book was.

To be honest, with a book named Manassas rather than Bull Run, I already went in worrying it was going to be a southern apologist story (battles are named after the nearest town/city in Southern histories, after the nearest river in Northern histories). A cowboy story isn’t the worst thing that could have happened, but it’s pretty darn close.

1/5 Discoball Snowcones

1 Discoball Snowcones

SPOILERS REVIEW

For a while, I had it in my head the Fogarty fixation of Will Brannon was going to be interesting. There were hints at a greater Northern conspiracy to kill off a crack shot before the war started, but it fell completely flat. The mystery was nothing, just silly, as it does turn out to be the Fogarties who backstab Will during the battle. Using the cover story of Yanks being the killers, they pursue Will and end up getting killed by the sharpshooting ex-sheriff himself.

The actual battle only happened in the last couple chapters, and the preparations leading up to it didn’t make much sense. I didn’t look it up, but I have a hard time believing supply lines were so bad right at the beginning of the battle. Some of the Southern honor culture just felt off, since it tipped into cowboy honor more often. There was just a lot wrong with this book.

Next week:

Next week is the 5th Monday in the month – stay tuned for something fun and bonus!