Showing posts from July, 2018

The Day of the Triffids

The Day of the Triffids John Wyndham, 1951 Premise: Bill Masen wakes up, and something's wrong. He suspects that the plants have only been biding their time. I didn't know anything about this book when I picked it up; I just had an idea that it was classic science fiction. It turns out to be apocalyptic, vaguely sci-fi, and very British. The situation is: after an amazing visual display in the night sky, everyone who watched is struck blind. Society immediately crumbles, with groups of desperate blind people enslaving the few people who can see and small groups either fighting or banding together to try to rebuild. Our protagonist was undergoing a medical procedure, and so had his eyes covered. The most effective part of the book for me was the beginning when he's creeping around the half-deserted hospital, trying to figure out what happened. The situation is complicated by the presence of the triffids. Triffids are mobile plants which have a dangerous sti

A Gentleman Never Keeps Score

A Gentleman Never Keeps Score Cat Sebastian, 2018 Read Harder Challenge 2018 - A romance novel by or about a person of color Premise: Hartley Sedgwick risked everything to give his brothers the hand up their feckless father couldn't give them, but it backfires badly. His much-wished-for life as a gentleman is slowly killing him until he meets the kind and handsome pub owner Sam Fox. I've now read a few of Cat Sebastian's historical romances, but while I like them, I have not yet loved them. This one doesn't break the pattern. Then I recently saw this: I was like "oh come on I'm not angsty! I never angst! Except in Jackdaw obv, and A Seditious Affair, and Flight of Magpies...bit of angst in Spectred Isle...mph Unsuitable Heir...okay it's a fair cop." — KJ Charles (@kj_charles) July 14, 2018 The scale places Charles from "Medium Angst" to "So Tense I'm a Mess," and Sebastian from "Very Low Angst" to &


Roverandom J. R. R. Tolkien, written between 1925 and 1937, published 1998 Read Harder Challenge 2018 - A book published posthumously Premise: A little dog is rude to a wizard and ends up exploring far-off lands. I didn’t know anything about this story heading into it, but the introduction gave me all the background I could want. Then said introduction kept going into much more exhaustive detail than I wanted about a story I hadn’t read yet, so I skipped half of it. The important background is that once upon a time, Tolkien was at the seaside with his family, and one of his sons lost a toy at the beach. He made up a story to mollify the boy, then expanded it into a charming little piece. However, it was not picked up for publication and then fell by the wayside once he had made his name as the writer of more serious works. The introduction frames it as a bridge between Tolkien’s other writing for his kids (like The Father Christmas Letters) and the Hobbit. I would actu

The Henchmen of Zenda

The Henchmen of Zenda K.J. Charles, 2018 Premise: Romance and danger abound for hired blades when everyone has their own agenda and a throne is on the line. A retelling of The Prisoner of Zenda . At this point, a new book from KJ Charles is an auto-buy for me, although I did pause before reading to quickly catch up on the source material. The Prisoner of Zenda (1894) is a pulp adventure in grand old style, with a humorous if stuffy British protagonist who gets swept up in a scheme to save the king of a tiny fictional European country... by pretending to be him. Ironically, I had already read and enjoyed Double Star , which is a sci-fi retelling of the same. The language is fun and the characters largely enjoyable in their over-the-top melodramatics. The Henchmen of Zenda is the same story as told by one of the villain's hired soldiers-of-fortune, and it alleges that said British protagonist was a liar in several respects. It makes the politics more complicated and

Down Among the Sticks and Bones (Wayward Children)

Down Among the Sticks and Bones (Wayward Children) Seanan McGuire, 2017 Premise: Prequel to Every Heart a Doorway . Jacqueline and Jillian had the kind of parents who shouldn't have children, so when they stumble into a place that offers them mentorship and protection, they take it...for better or worse. It's been just long enough since I read Every Heart a Doorway that I didn't fully remember the roles that Jack and Jill played in that story. I'm not sure whether it's better to read this with the knowledge of their future fates or without it. I actually think the way I accidentally did it might be best, where I slowly remembered the original over the course of reading the prequel. Either way, this is a novella about children whose parents try to force them into roles that don't fit, and how their relationships with themselves and others are screwed up because of it. Sure, their temperaments aren't helped by spending years of their childhoods in