My Year in Books - 2019

I feel like this year was an "off" year for books. Looking back on the year, I don't feel like I was really excited for anything that I read. The vast majority of the books I read this year were in audiobook form. Sabriel was perhaps the book that I enjoyed the most this year, surprising me in how simple and how good it was. It is basically a folklore fairytale that was just a pure and enjoyable read. 

As part of our book club at work (which I think has died now), I read quite a bit of other novels including The Alice Network and A Gentleman in Moscow. Those books were good, but I never was truly captured by them. They served their purpose as book club reads to broaden my horizon, because they certainly were not books I would have read otherwise, but I can't say I was truly drawn into either of them. 

I started reading the Dervish House a few weeks ago, a book that has been sitting on my Kindle for years now, and it unfortunately did not spark my interest in reading. I have slogged through on to the second chapter and it unfortunately just seems a bit too heavy of a book for me right now. I think I will have to come back that that one. 

The Witcher on Netflix right now has in fact sparked my interest in reading again. I have been devouring that show this past holiday week and it has spurred me to get back into the books. I loved the Last Wish, the first book in the series and this show as sparked me to not only go back and read the books, but to also go and finish the Witcher 3 video game.  

Book Review: The Journal of Nicholas Cresswell

The Journal of Nicholas Cresswell, 1774-1777 by Nicholas Cresswell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I found out about this book after watching the Townsends Youtube channel in which they referred to a type of dried fish. I had a surprisingly difficult time trying to find a free ebook of this.

This is a journal, plain and simple. It chronicles Nicholas Cresswell's time in colonies just as their American Revolution kicks off. The most interesting aspects of the book really are his characterization of the people in America during this time. There is distinct notes about George Washington near the end of the book that appear to reinforce the almost romanticized version American's have for the man.

Other notable things that stuck out to me are his comments regarding race relations and his observations on slavery. The passages are generally brief, but notable. In all truth though, there isn't much too this book. It is simply a unique window into the most iconic period in America's history and having that look from the side of a British citizen during the war is very interesting.


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Book Review - The Traitor Baru Cormorant


The Traitor Baru Cormorant
by Seth Dickinson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is going to be a tough one for me to review. I really liked this book quite a bit, but at the same time, certain elements of the narrative didn't seem to make sense to me. They seemed incongruous to the basic plot-lines or motivation of the character.

Perhaps I'll just bullet point out what I liked and what I didn't like about the book.

Liked

  • The world building was really well done. The cultures and tribes really felt unique and poignant.
  • Baru, our main character was generally well written. She was smart, arrogant and capable. Sometimes too capable.
  • The overall story of empire was extremely well handled. I can't recall any other books or authors who framed the power of an empire through economic and cultural tools in a better way. It made the story extremely unique and more believable. 



Disliked 

  • My biggest hangup with the story really came down to the maneuvering of our main character Baru. Her driving motivations are to save her homeland. She says this several times throughout the story, yet at the same time she or other characters state that her homeland is already gone. It can never be brought back to what it was.  I think I never fully was able to buy into the notion that she was going to sacrifice an entire nation, thousands, if not millions of people to the empire's culture, while at the same time striving to save her own. I think this could have worked a bit better if the author showed Baru with less emotion, as more of the autistic savant. The fact that she did appear to have very distinct emotional struggles and wants though made this decision on her part seem all the more monstrous. I see that is what the author was going for, and perhaps more of that will play itself out over future books, but it came across as a bit hard to digest simply due to the scale of it all.

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Book Review: The Largesse of the Sea Maiden

The Largesse of the Sea Maiden by Denis Johnson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am not quite sure how to review the book, because I am not entirely sure what I read. I enjoyed, immensely the five stories that were written by Denis Johnson, but having now finished the book, I have trouble recalling exactly what those stories were.

The five stories featured in this book all focus on the fairly mundane lives of the different protagonists. The topics covered cover drugs, lives, obsessions and other such topics. That being said none of the stories come across as dark as you might initially think. Instead they seem banal and the events that occur are told in a sort of matter of fact, "this is the way life is", sort of delivery. In a lot of ways, nothing happens in any of these stories. The characters tell us of these interludes in their lives, almost in a confessional way, and then that is it, the story is over.

For some reason though I was completely drawn into the stories. It was like a look behind the curtain in these people's lives, and the writing was so well done, that I felt like all of the stories were truly believable.

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My Year in Books - 2018

My 2018 year in books. This was the first full year of our book club at work. Highlights from last year definitely were the City of Brass, Norse Mythology and the Fifth Season.There were at least two books that had good overall reviews on Goodreads, but I could not get into. Lies My Teacher Told Me and The Cuckoo's Calling both hit a flat note with me. 

You can find all of my reviews for those books linked above.