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Mirkat

Mirkat Always Reading

I'm always reading something, usually multiple books at a time.

Currently reading

The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power
Shoshana Zuboff, Nicol Zanzarella

Wildcard

Wildcard - Marie Lu, Nancy Wu

I tore through this book.  Although I liked the first book (solid three stars = GOOD in my system), this book had me riveted.  Warcross sets the stage, and Wildcard digs into the most interesting bits.

 

I mentioned at the end of my review for Warcross that the big reveal near the end of the book did not take me by surprise, but that did not diminish my enjoyment--and it still left many questions to be answered (there is a major mystery at the center of this book).

 

Marie Lu has tweeted that the two books are a duology--so there is no third book to watch for.  I would recommend that interested readers think of the two parts as one big book--make sure you have them both before you get started, so you can jump right into Wildcard after you finish Warcross.  Gaming, virtual reality, and thorny questions about free will vs. control lie within.

 

There is a bit of the familiar YA trope of a teenage girl being thrust into a role where the fate of the world lies in balance, depending upon her actions--but that wasn't a deal-breaker for me.

Warcross

Warcross - Marie Lu, Nancy Wu

Oops, I did it again. Started a trilogy without realizing I was starting a trilogy. This book was sitting so innocently in my library's e-collection as an available audiobook. Since I've enjoyed Marie Lu's writing, and found the blurb intriguing, I decided to give it a go. There was no hint that this was book one of a series. I did consider it a possibility, and of course, as I got to the late segments of the audio with so much left to resolve, I suspected it was likely.

I enjoyed that the main character, Emika, is a badass hacker girl with some mad skills. The world Lu builds interested me, with its neural link and the primacy of the video game Warcross. I was somewhat reminded of Ready Player One, but without the whole "going to school in the game world" angle.

I will say that there is a major twist near the end--and without giving it away, I will only note that I thought of as possible. I'd semi-dismissed it as improbable, but when it "came true," I felt unsurprised. I don't mean this in a dismissive way. Many of the developments I filed in my brain as "interesting, though not surprising."

I have already begun listening to book two, Wildcard. Hm, I wrote above that Warcross is the first book in a trilogy, but Wikipedia reports that it's a duology. I hope that's true. It would be nice to have the story's mysteries wrapped up in the second book.

Cruel Prince

The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air) - Holly Black, Caitlin Kelly

This one wasn't for me.  It had been the October pick for my library's Forever YA book club, and I ended up skipping our October meeting because every time I'd try to start the book, I'd nope out, and couldn't even get all the way through the prologue.  But when I checked out the hardcover edition, I'd also placed a hold on the downloadable audio version, and it auto-checked out for me.  I thought, "What the heck," and I put it on my mp3 player.

 

I did a lot of eye-rolling.  Head-shaking.  When Jude is seven years old, she and her sisters witness the murder of her parents and are abducted into The Land of Faerie by their murderer, who also happens to be the biological father of her half-faerie older sister (Jude has a twin).  This all happens in the prologue, so not spoilage.

 

We jump ten years for the main part of the book.  Despite having watched him murder her parents. Jude has come to love her Faerie Stepfather (ish) Madoc, who is a general to the high court in Faerie.  Jude and her twin take lessons with "the gentry," and their faerie classmates constantly bully them for being human and mortal.  (And somehow adults are never around to stop the physical abuse.)

 

Jude quickly becomes an unsympathetic character, as her main drives become obtaining power and position in the royal court.  And we must constantly hear about how superior the beautiful faerie "folk" are, what with their non-human eye colors, pointy, furry ears, horns, magical powers, and immortality.  Except that they can be murdered.  So it's kind of ridiculous when they mock Jude for being mortal.  Also they "can't lie," but still find ways to be deceptive.  We also get treated to the trope of the mean, abusive guy acting that way towards a girl because he's secretly into her.  We need to retire that.

 

This is already longer than I intended.  I will say that the final 20% of the plot at least had me curious about where the narrative was going, but ultimately I was "meh" at the end, and have no intention of reading the rest of the series.  I just can't care about these petty "folk" and the humans who aspire to be like them.

One of Us is Lying

One of Us Is Lying - Kim Mai Guest, Shannon McManus, Robbie Daymond, MacLeod Andrews, Karen  M. McManus

Five high-school students in the San Diego suburb Bayview are given detention for having cell phones in their bags. But the odd thing is the phones are not theirs. One of the students, Bronwyn, tries to make this point by holding up her actual phone, which was stowed in her locker when she was nabbed for having the other in her bag. Simon, widely hated for running a gossip app called "About That," makes the point that they are teen-movie clichés (even the blurb references The Breakfast Club). Bronwyn is the honor student who is certain to replicate the family tradition of going to Yale. Cooper is the star pitcher with Major League Baseball in his future. Addy is the beautiful blonde homecoming queen. Nate, a known drug dealer, fulfills the Judd Nelson The Breakfast Club role, only he's way cuter.

Detention is cut short when Simon, known to have a peanut allergy, goes into anaphylactic shock. The epipen that Simon normally carries is nowhere to be found, and the stock kept in the nurse's office cannot be found. Medical assistance arrives, but is too late to save him.

How was Simon exposed to peanut? Did one of the other students in detention set up the detention as well as Simon's death? The four remaining students are soon considered suspects, and are unwittingly thrown together from a mutual need to discover what really happened.

This was a fairly solid mystery read for me. I was interested in listening to it unfolding. While listening, I was on my way to giving this book four stars. I enjoyed the characters' interactions, as they became a support group of sorts. But ultimately, it became one of those "once I really think about this, I question its plausibility too much." Also, the epilogue section, while involving all four protagonists, is told from just one character's perspective--and I would have enjoyed hearing from the others directly in that final wrap-up.

I will also mention, as a plug for the audiobook, that there are four separate narrators, so each literally has a distinct voice. This is something I've come to appreciate in audiobooks.

Daisy Jones & the Six (Different ISBN)

Daisy Jones & The Six - Taylor Jenkins Reid, Jennifer Beals, Benjamin Bratt, Robbin Cuddy, Julia Whelan

This book has a "mockumentary" format. It somewhat reminds me of Eddie & the Cruisers in book form. Except without a central member of the band disappearing under mysterious circumstances.

Within the universe of the book, Daisy Jones & The Six was a mega-hit rock band in the late 1970s. Fans were mesmerized by the singing of Daisy Jones and Billy Dunne, the two singers and main songwriters for the band. Why did they break up at the height of their success? The frame of the novel is that the "author" of the book within a book is unraveling that mystery by interviewing the band members and various friends and associates.

The characters were frustrating at times, heartbreaking at others. Love, longing, creative drive, and drug addiction are all involved.

Rolling Stone article about the book. Reportedly, there will be a 13-episode limited-run Amazon series (Reese Witherspoon bought the rights). According to the article, Amazon will record the songs. I'll be curious to hear them! The "bonus track" at the end of the audiobook is supposed to be the song "Honeycomb" but, after all the build-up of Daisy and Billy's voices--it's an instrumental track! I felt so cheated.

But otherwise, a compelling listen.

 

(Note: I ultimately shelved a different edition from the ISBN of the audiobook I downloaded--same audio recording and all that, and THREE DAYS after I initiated it, the one-book import I did JUST TO ADD THE EDITION TO BOOKLIKES,is still "waiting to import."  And all attempts to contact Booklikes help have gone unanswered.  Are we in a ghost train?)

Daisy Jones & the Six (Different ISBN)

Daisy Jones & The Six - Taylor Jenkins Reid, Jennifer Beals, Benjamin Bratt, Robbin Cuddy, Julia Whelan

This book has a "mockumentary" format. It somewhat reminds me of Eddie & the Cruisers in book form. Except without a central member of the band disappearing under mysterious circumstances.

Within the universe of the book, Daisy Jones & The Six was a mega-hit rock band in the late 1970s. Fans were mesmerized by the singing of Daisy Jones and Billy Dunne, the two singers and main songwriters for the band. Why did they break up at the height of their success? The frame of the novel is that the "author" of the book within a book is unraveling that mystery by interviewing the band members and various friends and associates.

The characters were frustrating at times, heartbreaking at others. Love, longing, creative drive, and drug addiction are all involved.

Rolling Stone article about the book. Reportedly, there will be a 13-episode limited-run Amazon series (Reese Witherspoon bought the rights). According to the article, Amazon will record the songs. I'll be curious to hear them! The "bonus track" at the end of the audiobook is supposed to be the song "Honeycomb" but, after all the build-up of Daisy and Billy's voices--it's an instrumental track! I felt so cheated.

But otherwise, a compelling listen.

 

(Note: I ultimately shelved a different edition from the ISBN of the audiobook I downloaded--same audio recording and all that, and THREE DAYS after I initiated it, the one-book import I did JUST TO ADD THE EDITION TO BOOKLIKES,is still "waiting to import."  And all attempts to contact Booklikes help have gone unanswered.  Are we in a ghost train?)

THIS is What I am Currently Reading (Listening to)

THIS is what I am currently listening to:

 

Audiobook, Unabridged, 10 pages (<--hours, more like)
Published: March 5th 2019 by Books on Tape
Original Title:  Daisy Jones & The Six
ISBN:  1984845322 (ISBN13: 9781984845320)
 
You wouldn't know this from my Booklikes feed.  Because the single-book Goodreads import that I initiated about 18 HOURS AGO, the single-book Goodreads import for which I was given an estimated completion time if SIX hours, is STILL NOT COMPLETE.
 
 
And no, now that I HAVE waited EIGHTEEN HOURS, I am NOT inclined to just go ahead and add this manually.  BITE me, BL.
Importing for ONE title
Importing for ONE title

I am doing a Goodreads import for exactly ONE title.  I exported ALL my books and then made a CSV file where I deleted all but the one "currently reading" I JUST added today, and set up a Booklikes import with JUST THE ONE TITLE.  Which Booklikes estimates WILL TAKE SIX HOURS.  And I only hope the "1 - not recognized / removed" immediately above the "1 - left" is historical (from prior imports) and not BL's way of telling me "YOUR ONE-BOOK IMPORT HAS ALREADY FAILED."

 

WHY am I doing a one-book import like this? Because I am EFFING SICK of manually adding ALMOST EVERY edition I shelve.  And Goodreads actually had it, so at least over there, all I had to do was toggle to "currently reading."  And not ADD A NEW EDITION.  (If Booklikes even has this book at all, which is a huge if, especially since it was published this year.)

 

And this is risky.  If Booklikes doesn't mess it up, and import the wrong book (this has happened, as it's not my first one-book import ever), there is a high chance I will have an ugly green rectangle instead of the cover.

 

Gah.  I am just so cranky over this.  Which I fully realize is more than a little bit silly of me.  But GRRRRRRRRR.  I JUST want this site to WORK!

 

Update:  Nearly five hours later, I find that the "6 hours" estimated time left does not seem to have budged.  How can this be?  Will my stupid import fail, so I have to manually add anyway, after all that?  I am pissed.  These should not be my options.  (Nor add the "wrong" edition, if the book exists in BL.)

Serpent King

The Serpent King - Ariadne Meyers, Michael Crouch, Ethan Sawyer, Jeff Zentner

This book is the November selection of my library's "Forever YA" book club. I had never heard of this book or Jeff Zentner, and I would probably not have stumbled across this book if it hadn't been a club selection. Now I'm an instant fan of Zentner's.

Lydia, Dill, and Travis are outcasts at their Forrestville, Tennessee high school. Fortunately, they have one another. Lydia writes a fashion blog that has gotten her attention from influential people and secured future roommates for if/when she goes to university in NYC. Dill's father is a disgraced, snake-handling Pentecostal minister who is serving a prison sentence. Dill is expected to work to pay off his father's debts. Travis works in a lumber yard and escapes his physically and emotionally abusive father by losing himself in a book series that sounds very much like George R. R. Martin's Song of Fire and Ice series.

I love me some quirky, creative teenage characters, especially ones who enjoy "Love Will Tear Us Apart" by Joy Division. I of course had to go on YouTube and watch/listen to the video.

I don't want to give away this book's secrets. I will only say that this book has so much heart and humor. There are parts that made me cry. I was lying in bed, listening to the audiobook, tearing up, and thinking, "DAMN you, book!"

Thank you, Albany Public Library, for introducing me to this book and author. I will definitely be seeking out more books by Jeff Zentner.

Empty Hearts

Empty Hearts - Juli Zeh, John Cullen, Cynthia Fangman Farrell

In the not too distant future....

Maybe after Frexit AD...

 

What even WAS this?

 

According to the blurb:

 

Part suspenseful thriller, part wickedly effective social satire, 'Empty Hearts' is a novel for our times, examining urgent questions of morality, politics, and culture and presenting a startling vision of a future where empathy is a thing of the past.

 

Nope.  Not a suspenseful thriller.  Not a social satire.  It's a near-future dystopian--which I'm pre-disposed to be intrigued by--set in Germany.  The main character, Britta, runs a suicide-prevention clinic.  But, and this is the gross premise that should have caused me to pass on downloading the book, that is really just a front for her completely-opposite business, The Bridge.  The idea is that she takes "clients" through a process that should stop them from being suicidal, but if their death wish persists despite that process, she hooks them up with a terrorist organization that will pay handsomely for a martyr to be a suicide bomber (or assassin).  And this is somehow justified in her mind because reasons.

 

Social satire?  Maybe there is supposed to be dark humor in there, but sometimes when there is too much "dark," I can't see the humor.  I spent most of the book thinking, "What?  Why?"  There is a twist of sorts toward the end, but--I didn't manage to care.

The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas

Starr Carter feels as though she's divided into to selves.  There is the Starr she is in her inner-city community and the "Williamson Starr" she is at the private school she attends.  At school, she chooses her words and behaviors carefully to avoid being seen as "ghetto."

 

One night, leaving a neighborhood party after shots are fired in the house where it is being held, Starr and her friend Khalil are pulled over by a police officer.  The encounter with the officer goes wrong, ending with Khalil fatally shot and dying in Starr's arms.

 

The shooting becomes national news, and wildly differing accounts of what happened and why are quickly circulating.  Starr must make decisions about who can know she was "the witness" and what role(s) she should play.

 

This book is powerful and serves up equal parts drama and wit.  The characters are nuanced and feel very real.  The story moves along in a compelling way and doesn't try to end in a too-tidy manner.

Credit Where it's Due

The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas

Credit where credit is due:  I entered the ISBN for this edition with low expectations and....  BOOKLIKES HAS IT!  I was able to JUST SHELVE IT!  Super-excited!

After Anna

After Anna - Lisa Scottoline, Jeremy Bobb, Mozhan Marno

Maggie is happily married to Noah, a widower, and they are happily raising Noah's son/Maggie's stepson Caleb in the suburbs of Philadelphia.  But for roughly 17 years, Maggie's carried a hole in her heart.  Her first husband Florian divorced her when she stopped being useful to him (working and supporting them both during his time in grad school), and he used her post-partum psychosis to have her declared an unfit mother, taking their daughter, at age six months, away from her.  Florian managed to become insanely wealthy by selling an app he'd developed, and he established a jet-set lifestyle based in France.

 

Out of the blue, Maggie gets a phone call.  The voice on the phone belongs to a young woman, saying she is Anna, wanting to reconnect with Maggie.  Maggie immediately travels to Maine, where Anna has been attending an exclusive boarding school.  It turns out that Florian, along with his second wife and their two young children, died in an airplane accident.  Maggie makes a quick decision:  Anna should come home with her and move in.

 

A short time afterward, Anna is dead.  Noah stands accused of murdering her.  The book is split into chapters designated "before" and "after" (i.e. before and after the death).  Many of the "after" chapters are devoted to Noah's trial.  Will he be found guilty?  The "before" sections focus on the events leading up to the fateful night when the body is found.

 

As I read through the alternating chapters, I often held the thought, "Things are not as they seem.  There will be twists."  My main questions were--when will the twists arrive, and what will they be?  Without giving away any secrets, I will say that the primary twist shows up at 75% into the book.  Then the plot speeds up as the twists multiply and the truths come out.  As I was mulling over possible twists early on, I did consider one that was roughly the actual twist--though I didn't anticipate 100% of the details.

 

The book kept me going, especially once I hit that 75% mark--then I had to keep going until I had all the details.  The ending, to me, was satisfying, albeit a bit rushed.  Going back and forth between Noah's and Maggie's narratives, there were times when the trial portions felt a bit grinding and I wished they could wrap up more quickly.

 

As an aside, I will mention that having grown up in Philadelphia (and now an expat), I was aware of Lisa Scottoline's books long before I decided to read one.  There were often local news stories about this mystery writer who was local.  I DNFed another Scottoline book that I just couldn't get into, but I don't recall which one.  I enjoyed the references to places in the Philly area.

Irritated

After Anna - Lisa Scottoline, Jeremy Bobb, Mozhan Marno

Yes, irritated again about needing to add a book.  It isn't just that the edition I'm listening to wasn't on Booklikes.  No edition of this book was on Booklikes.  And it was released in 2018.  In April

Lisey's Story

Lisey's Story - Stephen King, Mare Winningham

 

 

Lisey Landon is the widow of Scott Landon, a beloved, best-selling author who died two years before the main action of the novel (whose "now" is 2006).  Despite persistent requests from interested professors, she has not been able to bring herself to go through and pack up his papers and books to donate to a university library.  She begins to receive threats from an unhinged individual who promises to hurt her if she doesn't arrange to donate the collection to one of the professors in particular.  At around the same time, her sister Amanda, who has a history of self-harming, badly cuts up her hands before entering a catatonic state.

 

This is a big book.  Its focus includes the language of marriage (with its own secret vocabulary), the process of grieving, the creative process, different types of love (familial as well as romantic), surviving trauma, and so much more.

 

Lisey is not Tabitha King, and Lisey's sisters are not her sisters but, as King reveals in his afterward, their "sister thing" is inspired by the "sister thing" of Tabitha and her sisters.  Similarly, although Scott Landon is not Stephen King, but they seem to share a creative landscape.

Sadie

Sadie - Courtney Summers, Dan Bittner, Rebecca Soler, Fred Berman, Gabra Zackman

This book ended, and I said, "Nooooooooo!!!!"  Actually said it, out loud.  I wanted at least one more chapter!

 

The audiobook was produced in an innovative way.  There was a full cast of voice actors in addition to the two main narrating voices, Sadie and West McCray, the reporter doing a podcast about her disappearance.  The "podcast" parts are recorded to sound like an actual podcast, and there are also sound effects to accompany the actions.  It was the most immersive audiobook I've listened to.

 

I also picked up the print book and plan to review parts of the text in preparation for my library's new YA book club, which meets for the first time this coming week.  This book is our first selection.

 

This isn't much of a review, but I am afraid to spoil anything about this book.  Sadie is a fierce heroine with remarkable determination--on a righteous mission.  She will stay with me a long time.