Eclectic Reader Challenge Published in 2013: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

So…this sort of died a slow death when school started back up.

The challenge was to read all these books within 2013, and it’s now just over a year since I began it. Whoops. But I still intend on finishing, as it’s good for me to read outside my comfort zone. I just won’t put a time limit on it.

The Actual “Review” (Scare quotes because I was too overcome to actually come up with a cogent review)

“I liked myths. They weren’t adult stories and they weren’t children’s stories. They were better than that. They just were.” -page 53

The Ocean at the End of the Lane just is. Beautifully.

Lush, mythic, gorgeous. Haunting. Memorable.

So, so, incredibly lovely.

It was only a duck pond, out at the back of the farm. It wasn’t very big. Lettie Hempstock said it was an ocean, but I knew that was silly. She said they’d come here from across the ocean from the old country. Her mother said that Lettie didn’t remember properly, and it was a long time ago, and anyway, the old country had sunk. Old Mrs. Hempstock, Lettie’s grandmother, said they were both wrong, and that the place that had sunk wasn’t the really old country. She said she could remember the really old country. She said the really old country had blown up.

 

Eclectic Reader Challenge New Adult: Dark Light of Day

I did some waffling as to whether I was going to call this my NA book or not. The majority  of NA books out there seem to be contemporary romances, but with slightly younger protagonists. However, New Adult is like Young Adultit’s an age category, not a genre. Just like a book can be YA distopian, or YA fantasy, a book can be NA paranormal romance or NA science fiction or NA post-Armageddon demon lawyers. And yes, the point of the challenge is to lead me to genres I don’t normally read. But I know for a fact that I’m not interested in 90% of the contemporary books out there so I’ll stick with demons, thanks!

4 stars.

Armageddon is hundreds of years in the past, and yet life goes on. The Host – the females with waxing, healing magic and the males with waning, destructive magic – control the demons; the Hyrke (humans without magic) adore them.

Noon Onyx and her brother Night are anomalies – twins whose magic seems to have been switched in the womb. Noon enrolls at St. Lucifer’s to become a demon lawyer, although secretly she wants nothing more than to reverse her magic. Noon’s struggles to accept who she is and learn to control her magic are interwoven with a mystery surrounding disappearing healers and her best friend’s quest to find a magic-reversal spell.

I thought the concept was extraordinarily unique, and despite there being an overwhelming amount of information in the first few chapters I followed along okay and the book quickly hits its stride. I reached a certain point perhaps 2/3 of the way through where I was no longer able to put the book down. In fact, I stayed up far too late to finish it!

I also enjoyed the romance subplot. While there were two potential love interests in the book there wasn’t really a love triangle. I loved reading about the progression of a single relationship rather than a which-boy-should-I-choose situation. (And I knew Peter was a jerk from the beginning. Actually, I didn’t quite understand why Noon ever liked him. I mean, I can hypothesize all sorts of reasons but the way he came across in the text was inherently unlikeable.)

The major theme of the book -accepting yourself for who you are rather than trying to change- was  skillfully woven through the whole novel without ever being too blunt or too trite.

Though the conclusions is satisfying, enough loose threads are left to leave me wanting more. I’m eager to read more of Noon’s and Ari’s adventures.

Eclectic Reader Challenge Urban Fantasy: Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews

3.5 stars.

Ilona Andrews absolutely has a talent for worldbuilding. It’s the greatest strength of Magic Bites, the ability Andrews have to put a new spin on tired tropes.

I loved her treatment of vampires, having them be 1. Evil, nonsparkly monsters and 2. Bloodthirsty brutes controlled by necromancers. She was creative with the shapeshifters as well, having were-rats and were-bears and were-felines along with the wolves. I liked having an intermediate form as well as man and beast, which harkens back to traditional werewolf legends. And I thought the idea of both wereanimals, infected humans, and animal-weres, infected animals, to be borderline genius.

The whole magic/tech situation was really interesting, if not really explained. I’d like to see it affect the main story more, become an important plot point, something like that. The Order of the Knights of Merciful Aid was an interesting concept. All in all, the backdrop to the story is rich and fascinating.

It’s in the substance of the story where Magic Bites falls a little short. For the most part the plot is fine, suspenseful and quick-moving, but nothing that struck me as exceptional. Two issues presented themselves. One, I though the fake-out big bad came out of nowhere. I don’t mind the idea of having a big battle with an enemy who’s not the true enemy, but I had almost no context for her and it felt sort of random.

SPOILER

I also hated the Crest-as-the-Upir thing. It was NOT KATE’S IDEA, and yet she gets the blame (and she blames herself) when Crest turns out to be human. Stupid. Irritating.

END SPOILER

Obviously Kate and Curran are being set up to eventually become a couple, but I have to say there were lots of places where Curran really got on my nerves. Maybe the sequels will win me over but every time he did something to redeem himself in my eyes he followed it up with something entirely aggravating. Yes, he’s an alpha, and that’s going to make him behave a certain way. But sometimes I really felt like smacking him.

I’m interested enough to read the sequels, although I much prefer Ilona Andrews’ web serial Clean Sweep to Magic Bites. Just as much inventive worldbuilidng, a much more engaging plot, and a slightly less irritating alpha-male.

Eclectic Reader Challenge

I read a lot. I always have.

What I don’t always do is read in many different genres. Sure, occasionally there will be a book someone suggests or lends me which falls outside the parameters of fantasy and science fiction, and I’ll give it a go. But those are few and far between. (Actually Lily/Rat has been force-feeding me Jodi Picoult books for a couple years now and I’m enjoying them just fine. As long as they have happy endings. I will not read the sad ones.)

So today, when I came across the “Eclectic Reader Challenge” while wasting time on the interwebs, it seemed like the perfect way to get me reading something new.

The challenge is to read one book in each specified genre. The categories are:

  • Translated fiction
  • Historical mystery
  • Romantic suspense
  • Made into a movie
  • New Adult
  • Urban Fantasy
  • Dystopian
  • Memoir
  • LGBT
  • Action Adventure
  • Humour
  • Published in 2013

 Join in, if you’d like and have the time. And suggestions are welcome, particularly in categories I don’t usually read (LGBT, Action adventure, Romantic suspense) or anything I don’t already have a book listed for.

I have some ideas already for what I will read, which I will share here. And I’ll offer some comments, if not a full review, after each book.

  • Translated fiction – THE HOUSE OF THE SPIRITS, ISABEL ALLENDE
  • Historical mystery – A MURDEROUS PROCESSION, ARIANA FRANKLIN
  • Romantic suspense – THE HEIST, JANET EVANOVICH AND LEE GOLDBERG
  • Made into a movie – The Silver Linings Playbook, or Sense and Sensibility. Or both.
  • New Adult – DARK LIGHT OF DAY, JILL ARCHER
  • Urban Fantasy – MAGIC BITES, ILONA ANDREWS
  • Dystopian
  • Memoir -MAO’S LAST DANCER, LI CUNXIN
  • LGBT – ASH, MALINDA LO
  • Action Adventure
  • Humor- SHADES OF GREY, JASPER FFORDE
  • Published in 2013 -THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE, NEIL GAIMAN