Current Reads: Etiquette & Espionage

Hi guys! I’ve returned from enjoying the summer weather outside and a brief visit from out of town.

I am currently reading

Etiquette & Espionage
Etiquette & Espionage
By: Gail Carriger
From: My Kindle

Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners—and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped. At Mademoiselle Geraldine’s, young ladies learn to finish…everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but they also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage—in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year’s education.

Lately I’ve been suffering from the dreaded “I don’t know what I want to read” syndrome. I haven’t made much progress with the books I mentioned in my last Current Reads post (I’ve read the first few chapters of both). But during all this, I was steadily reading Etiquette & Espionage on my Kindle, one small section at a time.

I originally picked up the book because I really liked Carriger’s steampunk series for adults, The Parasol Protectorate, and this YA book of hers takes place in the same universe. I only regret that I didn’t pick up a physical copy, since the cover is gorgeous! So far the book has been fun, although I’m not enjoying it quite as much as I did her adult series.

Last book I finished reading

The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Notre-Dame de Paris / The Hunchback of Notre-Dame
By: Victor Hugo
From: My Kindle (Project Gutenberg edition)

Oh my gods, you guys, I ended up loving this book! The first third of the book was SO DIFFICULT to get through, halfway through I started to get interested, and the final third was so exciting! When Hugo actually focused on the main characters, everything was so wonderful. The characters were so conflicted, especially Frollo. In the beginning you learn that Frollo isn’t really a bad guy, and then to watch him change and move from one horrendous act to another… sigh.

I really could have done without the essays on architecture & descriptions of every single building one could see from the roof of Notre-Dame. The fact that the first part of the book focused on a minor, not that interesting character, didn’t help out, either. With that said, I loved the good parts with a passion. I’d give this book 4 out of 5 stars. If Hugo had only focused a bit more on the main plot and characters, the book would have been not only a lot shorter, but a lot more captivating, and I would give it all 5 stars. I will definitely be re-reading this, but mightily skipping a lot of parts…

 

This post is linked at “It’s Monday, what are you reading?”, a weekly meme that tells us what the blogosphere is currently reading. It is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

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It’s Monday, what are you reading?

I am currently reading


Salem’s Lot by Stephen King
From: The library

A writer moves to a creepy town. Things happen.

I haven’t read too many Stephen King books. I’ve only read The Shining and On Writing, and I think I read Carrie in high school. I liked The Shining okay – those hedge animals were so scary – and I’ve wanted to read Salem’s Lot for a while now. I’ve been into vampire books ever since reading The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice in 8th grade. I’m interested in seeing how this book tackles the issue.


13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
From:
My sister

A 17 year old American girl travels in Europe following the instructions left by her aunt in 13 envelopes. My sister loaned this to me for some light summer reading. I’m halfway through and so far this is okay, nothing too special.

Last week I read


Chew, Vol. 1: Taster’s Choice by John Layman and Rob Guillory
– crime graphic novel / a cannibal agent investigates
The Umbrella Academy, Vol. 1: Apocalypse Suite by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba
– superhero graphic novel / a group of quirky superheroes save the world
Locke and Key, Vol. 2: Head Games by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez
– horror graphic novel / the Locke children continue to investigate the keys of Keyhouse
City of Ashes (The Mortal Instruments, book 2) by Cassandra Clare
– YA modern fantasy / teenage hormones and a fantasy battle of good vs evil

“It’s Monday, what are you reading?” is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

2012 Sci-Fi Challenge 1 of 7 : Solaris

Solaris
Solaris
by Stanislaw Lem
First published in 1961

Kris Kelvin arrives aboard the scientific research station hovering near the oceanic surface of the planet Solaris. The scientists there have studied the planet and its ocean for many decades, a scientific discipline known as Solaristics, which over the years has degenerated to simply observe, record and categorize the complex phenomena that occur upon the surface of the ocean. Shortly before psychologist Kelvin’s arrival, the crew has exposed the ocean to a more aggressive and unauthorized experimentation with a high-energy X-ray bombardment. Their experimentation gives unexpected results and becomes psychologically traumatic for them as individually flawed humans.
Wikipedia

I started my seven science fiction books in 2012 challenge with the classic Solaris by Stanislaw Lem. I know I’m a bit behind, already halfway through the year and only one sci-fi book finished… Better step it up!

In Solaris, the newly arrived researcher Kelvin tries to make sense of the weird behaviour of the other researchers aboard the station, and the even weirder things that he himself later encounters. I actually found the behaviour and interactions of the characters intriguing, as well as the plot, at least to some extent. Too bad that the story was often interrupted by Kelvin retreating into the station library to read about the history of Solaris research… And this meant many pages filled with too long paragraphs of dry scientific text about the different schools of thought about Solaris, and explanations about a multitude of different natural phenomena the scientists have observed on the surface of the “living ocean”.

So, the first science fiction book featuring an alien planet was everything I had expected it to be: a bit dry story where the author seems more interested in telling us about the planet he has invented & the psychological theme of human intellect vs alien intellect, instead of focusing more on the characters and the plot. I wasn’t really drawn into the story. Perhaps I shouldn’t have started with a classic from the sixties?

I give Solaris 2 stars out of 5 -which with me usually means that the book was in no way badly written, but that I just couldn’t get into it.

Next up: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

It’s Monday, what are you reading?

“It’s Monday, what are you reading?” is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. It’s a great way to see what others are currently reading, and perhaps get new reading tips for yourself.

I am currently reading

City of Ashes
City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare
Book Two of the Mortal Instruments series

I was hesitant to pick up City of Bones, the first book in this series. I’ve found that many YA books focus on the romance at the expense of the plot, and was afraid that the same would happen here.  It wasn’t the case with the book, though. I found it to be a good modern fantasy, slightly in tone with e.g. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: a group of teenagers in a world filled with supernatural things. The characters and the plot were interesting, and the writer’s voice is good, and easy to read.

I just remembered the biggest factor in why I decided to pick the first one up: I had seen the Clockwork Angel in a book store, and it had a great cover and looked really interesting. I thought it would be better to read the Mortal Instruments series first to better understand the Infernal Devices novels, although I’m not sure if that is strictly necessary.

Last week I read


The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
– fantasy YA / society after a zombie apocalypse
The Lake by Banana Yoshimoto
– contemporary / of love and death
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
– mystery / Hercule Poirot & a murder on a train