Writings: December Reading List & Reviews by Beth Bowser

Novels by Pierce Brown, Gail Carriger, Annie Lamott, Sam Sykes and Ilona Andrews December Reading & Reviews Click here for a printer friendly version of this page

Red Rising, first in the Red Rising Saga, by Pierce Brown was the first novel I had chosen in December, mainly because it's another young adult novel and I wanted to read something not heavy. The author attempted to make it heavy, life-changing, grand but... it fell flat for me. I kinda liked the premise, which is that it's far into the future and society is separated by colors. The main character is a Red, because he was born and raised on Mars, the planet, and Red people are low caste/class only for menial tasks like mining which is what he's doing when we first meet him. We learn that Gold people are the best and fastest and strongest, wink/nudge he becomes a Gold. The author tries so hard to be an edgy and bloodier version of Hunger Games and that really annoyed me. It's still kids playing war games with the main character trying to fight oppression, poorly, in the process. There's no feeling, no emotions in the story. The main character is just utterly perfect and is made even more so, but he's supposed to be the Every-man who all can relate to. He's made so much more perfect by a man who changes his physical body with many surgeries and enhancements, including what I can only name Intelligence potions! Yawn. Why isn't everyone, or at least everyone rich and powerful, able to get this enhancements and potions? Oh no! I just used too much logic, whoops. Maybe I'm just not the right reader for it being that I'm not YA. Overall, my suggestion is a Pass, unless you really love YA.

The second novel I chose, Soulless by Gail Carriger, ended up being a great random selection! Soulless is the first novel in the Parasol Protectorate series and it's a cute steampunk novel with vampires and werewolves with a setting in the old English high society. The main character is soulless, meaning vampires that bite her die themselves, as we find out very early on in the novel. She's a strong female character which I love reading and the novel has more humor in it that I expected! It also has sweet romance tones, possibly even enough romance that romance could be the main plot! Don't let that scare you away, however, or you'd miss the fun, easy read that the novel is. A definite hit for me! If you are looking for a fun, fast read, and don't complete abhor romance and fantasy elements, pick this up!

Then I grabbed another novel on writing to attempt to learn more while I all I could do was read. Bird by Bird is about writing only a bit, it's more life lessons with some anecdotes about writing. Some of the anecdotes are funny, some are stupid and some are maddening. I almost gave on reading the book when I read about her fictional character who was in such dire financial straits that she put her dog to sleep cause she couldn't pay for dog food. Um, what? I thought that was completely ridiculous to write in killing a dog when you can always drop a pet off at any shelter that you found them and can't afford to adopt. It bothered me and I know my reaction was stupid as it's a fictional story that may not have even been published except in this book, but it turned me against Lamott. There can be some benefit to the book if you are reading it as a life lessons type of novel, but it's not so much a book on writing. Lamott does include quite a bit of humor and the chapters are small so it's an easy book to finish with a few delightful takeaways. I can't suggest to try it or not to bother, I'm sorry. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Seven Blades in Black, the first novel of The Grave of Empires series, by Sam Sykes was the fourth novel I chose and it wasn't at all what I expected. The novel begins with the main character, Sal the Cacophony, captured by a military group, the Resistance, and she tells her captor her story before being executed. The world created by Sykes is vivid and apocalyptic with a constant war raging between three sides. You have the Empire with it's mages, the resistance with it's engineers and machines, and then individual mages from the Empire who deserted from the Empire. Warning, the novel is very long and extremely bloody. I had been considering saying that the novel was a horror rather than fantasy apocalyptic as I found I didn't like reading before bed. All the death, destruction and despair made it difficult for me to fall asleep... I liked reading of another take-no-prisoners powerful female main character and Sal's flaws are believable although she tended to monologue thoughts which often got repetitive. She is bisexual if that upsets you, but there are no sexual scenes that I recall. This novel is another one that I cannot suggest to read or not. I just know it's not my cup of tea, but the writing and characters were fine.

For my final choice, I went back to an old series that I had not finished, the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews. Magic Shifts, the eight book in the series and I can say that I am happy to report that Kate finally is not getting beat up constantly. Okay, there's one bad thing, really bad thing, that happens to her, but she finally isn't bleedy and broken after every fight which I really liked to read. Anyway, this novel is focusing on Kate and Curran as they are finally out from under the Pack, with a few little issues that they can't go to pack during this remaining month of the sundering of the pack lord/consort relationship. Of course, they break that, but they don't get into too much trouble for it. They only have one case in this novel, a missing person's case, but in the search for information, they find how broken the Mercenary Guild has gotten and picked up fixing it up as another task. We learn of a new baddy is this novel, Ifrits. We also get to read of a fun Daddy/Daughter dinner! I enjoyed this novel quite a bit. If you are a fan of Ilona Andrews and the Kate Daniels series, definitely grab this novel!

I'm sorry for an over large list of novels for this month and a late website update, but I had to make a good care-taker decision and put my dying charge first, rather than my writing. I hope and expect that January will see a resurgence in writing, but it may not be the case as my stress levels are a tad high and that effects my writing desire and abilities...