What I’m Reading

So, this week, I decided to do something different.

About two or three weeks ago, I was in a reading drought. It was one of those times where I restlessly would pick up a book and then put it down. Nothing was engaging. Nothing was interesting. Books at the bookstore and the library would just stare at me, their covers promising nothing but boredom.

Then, it ended. Most of the time, when a drought ends for me, it begins slowly. A book here, a book there, until slowly more and more books start looking like they promise something other than boredom. This time was different. This time, suddenly within 2 weeks, books began flooding me. So, some of them were really amazing and some that I’m still reading promise to be amazing. I decided to tell you about them.

(Side Note: Greg installed Windows 10 on my laptop. Then Windows 10 resolutely refuses to install right on his computer, so he has taken his out of commission. The last time I used my laptop was in September of 2014.  This is what I had to say about it when I wrote about Oryx and Crake “I had quotes from the book to show this, but I am typing this on my laptop and between a slow internet connection and a falling apart keyboard, I am currently typing at 10 wpm (maybe 20) and constantly still having to backspace to correct when the spacebar does not work or the shift button sticks  or the word comes out all messed up.  So, since the last paragraph took me 5 minutes, and I currently want to throw my computer through a window, I am ending RIGHT HERE.”. I currently am using it and while the fan still appears to be having its possible overheating problem and while the battery still refuses to work unless plugged in, I am currently able to type at approximately 50 wpm without it messing up. Which, while not close to my typing speed is definitely much better. Thanks for reading through my laptop travails here. And our Windows 10 woes. Before you ask anything, I probably am explaining Greg’s issue with installing Windows 10 wrongly. Please ask him any questions you may have.)

So, anyway. I’m going to talk about a few of the books that I really think some of you might want to check out.

  1. Queen of the Tearling trilogy (of which only 2 are completed). by Erika Johansen: I actually read this over a month ago (including the 2nd one Invasion of The Tearling) but I loved it so much I have to talk about it briefly. This begins a fantasy trilogy, that is both a dystopian story and a straight out fantasy novel all at the same time. The main character is a woman. She is neither thin or beautiful. The world created in this book (Invasion of the Tearling) is rich. There are small hints of the dystopian nature of how the world the story takes place in comes to be. In the second one though, there are flashes that actually occur in the dystopian environment that bore the fantasy environment in the books. It’s sounding way more confusing than it actually is, but there isn’t an easy way to write out without giving spoilers. If you’re a fantasy fan and are wondering what to read while waiting for Rothfuss, Sandersen, and Martin to get their acts in gear and release their next book damn it, this should help out a bit.
  2. Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy (of which all 3 are written and published). This is actually billed as a YA series and while it’s true the main character is 17 and while it’s true that a romance is at the center of the book, the content and themes make it a series that if you found it in the Fiction section of B&N, you’d have little idea it was meant to be a YA series. Now, I LOVED this series. But when I explain it now, you will be scratching your heads and wondering “What the hell???!!!”, but trust me and check it out. Okay, there’s a girl (of course there’s a girl) who is a student at an art school in Prague. But, she’s not a normal student (of course she isn’t), she is a student who has dozens of small wishes to use up, and a job going around the world collecting the teeth of humans and animals. Where would she have such job that would cause her to travel the world getting teeth is the question I sense in your head right now. And how does she travel the world while also being an art student is another question. Well, here’s where it starts getting even weirder than the thought of a person having a job collecting teeth.  See, Karou (her name, of course) grew up in a workshop. But not a normal workshop. Her “foster father” and “foster family” are all chimaera. They have both human and animal aspect together. Brimstone (her foster father) is always in need of teeth. Karou doesn’t know what he does with them, but he is always assembling them together. He employs humans around the world, both decent and horrible, whom sell him teeth in return for wishes. Karou is the pick up person. And the deliverer of payment. The workshop door opens up in different cities depending on where one may want to go. But! hark! Suddenly burnt handprints are appearing on the doors in all the cities. And here the seraphim enter. Yes. The angels. And the story explodes from there. Anything else is a spoiler. But the characters and the storyline are amazing, the plot twists and turns wildly and things that make barely any sense are peeled away layer by layer, until they do make sense.
  3. (Okay, my laptop is starting to do the stupid mix up letters if I type too fast thing. Ugh.) The Seventh Gate by Richard Zimler. This book is -not- a fantasy novel. It’s a historical fiction that begins shortly before Hitler’s rise to power (1932) and goes into the 50s (there are references to time frames after this). And when I just looked this up, apparently it is the 4th book in a series called the Sephardic Cycle. But, it is definitely a novel you can read on its own (the previous 3 appear to be that way as well). The main character, first person narrator, is a German girl (Aryan) named Sophie. When the story begins, Sophie’s father is a Communist. She has a younger brother and a mother. She’s 15, and appropriately enough does not get along well with her mother. She is in love with her childhood friend. The book does a great job of describing Jewish life in Berlin at this time and how much of it was interwoven into the “Aryan” fabric of the city. Jews in Berlin were Germans more than anywhere else in Germany. Sophie meets a woman one night, a visitor of an older Jewish gentleman in her building. Vera is grotesque, very tall with misshapen features (she has elephantitis). Sophie ends up fascinated. She ends up making friends with Isaac, the Jewish neighbor who has a group of friends that incudes Vera, Rolf and Heidi, a married dwarf couple, and a deaf couple Marianne and KH, as well as Julia, an herbalist with a grown son who is mildly retarded, as well as others. Isaac is a follower and scholar of Kabbalah Judaism. She becomes close with them (partly due to her brother, Hansi, who seems to be autistic, though it is never named with any term). She remains close to them, even defying her parents after her father has a “epiphany” after Communists start getting arrested and converts to fascism and Hitler’s way. This story is at its core a love story. Not just between Sophie and her romantic partner, but between Sophie and her close friends, Sophie and her mother and most importantly in many ways, Sophie and Hansi. This book details life in the beginning stages of Hitler’s power and the effects and the small ways that morphed into the large ways that not only were Jews persecuted against but those that were different in any way from the Aryan ideal. If you are a fan of historical fiction or find yourself watching a lot of Holocaust/Nazi documentaries on Netflix, or if you’re just a fan of a good story, read this book. Warning: Sophie is not shy about describing her sex life. I apologize for any name misspellings in this, I listened to it rather than reading the actual book, so I didn’t see how the names were spelled.

And, there you have it. I was going to talk about a  couple of other ones, but my laptop and it’s refusal to allow me to type at a speed I like and my having to back up on every word and retype it is starting to piss me off. And I’d rather not throw it out the window.

Have a great weekend!

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