“The studio was filled with the rich odour of roses, and when the light summer wind stirred amidst the trees of the garden, there came through the open door the heavy scent of the lilac, or the more delicate perfume of the pink-flowering thorn.”First line in The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
It’s December!! Finally, the best month of the year has arrived, and I’m already enjoying it way too much (well, I could’ve done without the blizzard). But this post is all about November, of course, and I’m happy to say that it was the month I hit 400 followers, so thank you to all those who decided they wanted to read more of whatever this blog is. It’s truly crazy to think about.
November was also the month I spent preparing myself for the craziness that is December for someone who works for the postal service. I did that by taking a week off work which was hampered a bit by the fact that I had been in close contact with a covid infected, so I had to isolate myself until I could get tested. Fortunately, I was negative so I could enjoy the last few days of my vacation.
However, despite being locked inside my apartment for four days, I didn’t read that much more which is probably because I was reading two books at the time that I wasn’t really feeling. But anyway, here are my stats for the month:
I think I broke a personal record by reading two books by male authors this month. That number has been zero for a lot of the months this year. But I completed my Goodreads goal this month! Unofficially, my goal is 66 because that would be a record, and it’s actually looking like I might make that as well.
Before we get into the reviews, I have to say that I had one reread this month, The Shamer’s War by Lene Kaaberbøl, which was the final book in that series so I’ve already posted my Lost in Translation post for that. Another read this month was The Haunting Season which is an anthology that I’ve posted a separate review for in case you’re interested. That leaves four reviews for the books I read in November.
The Woman Who Rides Like a Man (Song of the Lioness #3)
Author: Tamora Pierce
Published: March 1st, 1986
Genre: YA Fantasy
My least favorite in the series so far, I think. The plot felt very messy with problems being introduced and then resolved in the same chapter but without much association with each other. I was waiting for that overall plot to be revealed so everything would make more sense, but I think this book was just about Alanna living her life and not much else. And it was fine. I liked some of the developments in her relationships with the people around her, even the ones that infuriated me. I think some complexity was added so it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Still, the messiness and convenience of the plot took a bit of the enjoyment out of my reading experience.
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Author: Oscar Wilde
Published: July 1890
Synopsis: Enthralled by his own exquisite portrait, Dorian Gray exchanges his soul for eternal youth and beauty. Influenced by his friend Lord Henry Wotton, he is drawn into a corrupt double life, indulging his desires in secret while remaining a gentleman in the eyes of polite society. Only his portrait bears the traces of his decadence.
Hey, I liked a classic! It was quite intriguing to follow how the book explored vanity because Dorian is beautiful and loves beautiful things, including himself. The fact that he’s a horrible person only seemed to bother him when other people pointed it out to him, and generally, I thought there was a great depth to his character. The only part of the book I didn’t like was when we were told about all the beautiful things he collects. That just went on forever and was just earning him the title of world champion in name-dropping. I could have done with less of that.
I really liked the ending, too. I’ve watched the movie from 2009 but apparently, I remember nothing because the ending was still a surprise, although still slightly expected. Watching the movie though made sure that Dorian had Ben Barnes’ face while I was reading despite not matching the description at all… but I’m really not complaining.
The Bone Ship’s Wake (The Tide Child #3)
Author: RJ Barker
Published: September 28th, 2021
I’m not okay…
Guess I have to add this book to my list of books that made me cry, and I really did not expect that because this actually ended up as my least favorite in the trilogy. I loved the middle part because of an amazing plot twist, and I loved the very, very end because of stuff I can’t tell you about. There was actually a tiny detail about the ending that made me want to squeal because I cannot believe Barker did that! (Very helpful, right?)
Between these very good parts, I did feel we did a lot of waiting, and it’s not that the previous books have been super fast-paced but those quieter moments were filled with delightful character development instead. In this final book, it was almost like the characters had learned all they could so we just had to wait for that big climax. At least, that’s my explanation for why I had to force myself to read. I wasn’t that inclined to pick it up when I wasn’t reading it and I even tried taking a break from it to read something else, but no. I still think this is an amazing trilogy that I’ll continue to recommend to anyone (even if you don’t like naval fantasy stories because I don’t either), and I’m definitely going to keep an eye on anything RJ Barker writes in the future.
The Poison Song (The Winnowing Flame #3)
Author: Jen Williams
Published: May 16th, 2019
The half star is for Aldasair and Aldasair only, by far the most intriguing character but curiously enough the one who got the least amount of page-time.
Before I start this review properly, I need to say that I skimmed large parts of the last 15% of the book. The book’s lack of subtly made sure I already knew what was going to happen, so I didn’t feel the need to torture myself by reading it in greater detail. I only read it because I was hoping all the characters would die in the end.
How can a trilogy take such a nosedive? The character work in this final book is just atrocious, and I don’t understand how we got here after the first book. For the second book, I complained that I felt that we skipped a lot of important scenes where there was potential for character development. That was still a huge problem in this one, but what was even worse was that the narrative often talked about how much the characters had changed since we started, like it was enough just to tell me about the result of the development rather than let me see it for myself. And that’s a general problem in the book: a lot of telling and not a lot of showing. An example of this I doubt I’ll ever forget is when one of our important characters is almost sure to die. The group of characters often talk about how much they love each other and feel like a family. So when one you love is on the brink of death, what do you do? Well, apparently, you can’t wait to leave the room to have sex and generally have a very good time. I assure you, I almost let out a scream of frustration on the bus when I read that! Actions speak louder than words so how do you expect me to believe these characters care for each other in the slightest? The book is just littered with examples like this.
Was the plot any good then? No. So many conveniences and no plot twists worth mentioning since nothing was set up but rather just revealed immediately or hinted at so strongly you couldn’t possibly be surprised by it.
If you want to read the first book in the series, I still recommend that one if you don’t mind it ending on a cliffhanger, but then I also strongly recommend that you stop to save yourself a lot of pain and frustration.
A very mixed month for me. I hope I can end the year with great books in December if I can find the time to read them. December is looking busy as always, so there might be a week where there isn’t a post from me. I hope it won’t be the case, but if I’m too stressed or don’t have anything good to post, I’m going to allow myself to skip a week. But I hope you all had a great November and that December will be even better.