October & November #MountTBR Progress

This is my sixth progress post for the Mount TBR Reading Challenge. I’m aiming for the Mount Blanc level: reading 24 of my owned TBR books during 2017. That means reading two books every month, and I would prefer at least one of them to be from my physical TBR shelf. All of them have to be bought before 2017.

In October I read a lot of my owned comics and books, but none that I had bought before 2017. In November I managed to read 4 owned TBR books, out of which 2 were physical books, so that made up for October.

The Fire's Stone cover
The Fire’s Stone by Tanya Huff
287 pages / ebook

This is a high fantasy book from 1990. The plot seems very basic: a trio consisting of a prince, a thief, and a wizard are sent to get back the precious Fire’s Stone that keeps the kingdom from being buried by a volcanic eruption. But the focus on characters made it feel a lot more unique.

We delve into the main characters and their weaknesses and especially their relationships with their ruler fathers. The prince wants his judging father’s acceptance, but drowns himself in parties, alcohol, and affairs because he has nothing to do – people don’t want the younger son mixing in politics. The thief is haunted by the memory of his cold, abusive father and the early love of his that the father killed, as well as the homophobia of his birth country. The wizard doesn’t recognize the father that has distanced himself after her mother’s death. She is also being pressured into getting married, because otherwise she can’t inherit the throne, while she would just want to focus on her magic studies and her kingdom. I loved the great bond between the three main characters in the book, and the fact that there’s a country where bisexuality is the norm. The attitudes toward fat people are bad, though, so a content warning for that.

4 out of 5 stars

The Sun King cover
The Sun King: Louis XIV at Versailles by Nancy Mitford
241 pages / hardcover

Finnish edition. This was a non-fiction book that I picked up from my library’s book swap shelf. The subject matter was interesting, but the focus turned out to be a bit different than I’d expected. I thought the focus would be more on the King and especially on Versailles, but it was more on the King’s mistresses and assorted political events. It was also clear which people the author especially liked. I wanted things to be followed through chronologically, but e.g. the effect of someone’s death might be stated in one chapter, and in the next one the person would still be alive, because of the focus of that chapter. I did learn some things, but not enough about Versailles.

2 out of 5 stars

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day cover
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson
234 pages / paperback

The spinster governess Miss Pettigrew is accidentally hired by a young actress, Delysia LaFosse, who is looking for a maid. An unforgettable day ensues.

I had seen the movie adaptation a few years ago, but didn’t remember a lot of the twists and turns. Miss Pettigrew is a delight to follow, she’s a great character who decides, for just one day, to just go for it! She is thrown from one tricky situation and wild party to the next, and manages to be an absolute boss.

The attitudes in the book are outdated (sexism and racism), and I hated the Mr. Right, the supposedly “good” love interest of Delysia’s, mostly because of this.

4 out of 5 stars

Patternmaster cover
Patternmaster by Octavia E. Butler
208 pages / ebook

The final book in the Patternmaster or Seed to Harvest series in inner chronological order. I’ve been slowly reading these books from a digital omnibus edition.  This one is set far in the future where telepathic Patternists and alien-mutated Clayarks fight over Earth, while regular humans are a minority who serve the Patternists. We follow Teray, a young Patternist who leaves school to become an apprentice before starting his own House, but instead finds himself being forced into the House and under the power of a strong Patternist.

Patternmaster and Mind of My Mind, the fourth and second books in the series, are among my favourites. They are also the ones that Butler wrote the earliest in publication order. I think I prefer her earlier works because they are “easier-flowing” and more character-based – all of the series focuses on power structures, the abuse of power, and a bunch of other, hard topics, but the ones that were written later were much grimmer. Wild Seed, the first one in inner chronological order, but a later book in her career, is clearly better written, but my reading experience was so much harder and more uncomfortable because one of the main characters was so unpleasant. Which he was meant to be, but still.

4 out of 5 stars / The whole series: 3 stars

Those were all the books from October and November that qualified for the challenge. I also read 9 owned books & comics that I bought this year, so they didn’t qualify. Onwards to the last month of the challenge! I am only one book away from finishing the Mount Blanc!

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