Nathanial Garrod

Five Book Weekend

Over the last weekend, I finished reading five books — instead of writing out five blog posts and scheduling them (what, each for a day this week?) I figured I would do a summary blog post.

One of these, I started at the beginning of the month, made it partway through the month and a library hold I was excited about came in, then I started a comic collection (two of these fall into that category). Combined with a relatively mellow weekend, means I have a few books to share about.

A Ruin of Kings (Lyons)

This book was on my list of most anticipated books of the first part of this year — mostly due to the hype machine that TOR Publishing had built up around it. Their marketing for this book was really nice. It took me a few days after getting it from the library (about four or five days after it released) to get into it. I kept trying to read Black Leopard, Red Wolf and struggling (I am hoping to get back to it).

This is actually a great example of books the publisher built hype around vs. books that readers and reviewers built hype around. While not distinctly different pre-release (the publishers want reader/reviewer hype, thus the ARC process), I think there is still enough difference to be notable. 

A Ruin of Kings starts with our hero Kihrin in a dungeon cell, recounting how he got there to his captor (who happens to have some of the pieces of the puzzle). We switch between first and third person narrative format every chapter. The story builds slowly – there is a lot of exposition and important moments scattered through the first hundred and fifty or so pages. Around halfway into the book I finally felt interested in it. It bears all the standard fantasy tropes until the last quarter of the book when everything starts to come together and flip some of the tropes on their head.

4/5 Stars on Goodreads.

Captain America Vol. 1 (Coates & Yu)

I was reading dozens of comics by the issue until a few years back when I switched to trades or digital because I stopped being able to keep up with the pace I was reading. I reserved this at the library as soon as they had it listed (maybe mid-December). This is, I believe, the first run of Captain America since Secret Empire (which I did not read) where Captain America was apparantly replaced by another Steve Rogers who was a Nazi overthrowing the government. 

This has real-Steve Rogers dealing with the fallout of that, some villains kidnap Sharon (who is still aged from their adventures in Dimension Z) and he hunts her down to rescue her – of course there’s a hook for the next arc at the end, and none of the conflict is really resolved. I was pretty excited – some of the reviews and interviews I read suggested that Coates really flips Captain America in cool and unexpected ways. This just felt like another comic – though there was some cool commentary on what patriotism is, and how one connects to their country.

3/5 on Goodreads

The Handmaid’s Tale (Atwood)

I started watching the show at the beginning of the month and made it through the whole two seasons in basically a weekend. During that weekend, I ended up taking a couple MAX rides for longer than usual, so I started the book on my iPad. Made it halfway through this before Ruin of Kings came in (which I then devoted my energy to).

I started reading dystopia, a genre this seems to fit into, in high school. So much of the dystopia that is common in the classroom is written by men – I have read Brave New World (Huxley), 1984, (Orwell), V for Vendetta (Moore) and even Bellamy’s Looking Backwards. Sure, some more recent YA dystopia is not written by men – but as far as the range of classics that could be assigned in a classroom, Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale seems to fit right in.  All that to say, I cannot believe it took me this long to read The Handmaid’s Tale. Set in a reality where The Patriarchy has usurped the US government, women are little more than slaves for childbirth.

While I struggle with flashback storytelling in film (around the time Lost was popular this began to be overdone), Atwood’s stream of consciousness is so vivid and descriptive – and even has an in-universe purpose, explained near the end. The way the story ends and the epilogue fills in gaps is a chilling and perfect way to complete this story. I cannot emphasize how much I love this epilogue – it is so masterful.

I placed the sequel on hold at the library, so we will see how that goes in a few months.

5/5 stars on goodreads.

The Haunting of Tram Car 015 (Clark)

The short version of this review is “everything this man writes is incredible.” The slightly longer version is “I hope he writes a novel soon.”

P. Djèlí Clark also wrote The Black God’s Drums, which was one of my favorite books in 2018. This story takes place in the same steampunk alt-history as his short story A Dead Djinn in Cairo and even features a fun and surprising cameo. 

While I do begrudge unnecessary continued storytelling in the same universe, I do love seeing characters from the lens of other characters in additional works – perhaps a holdover from when my mom and I listened to a lot of Louis L’amour and Clive Custer books on audiotapes together.

This story starts out with two government agents out to resolve a problem with a haunted tram car and ends up engaging in cool and clever ways with lots of non-western mythology. Most importantly, Clark’s writing reads like a hot knife through butter – I could not put this book down and ended up reading it in about an hour.

5/5 on Goodreads.

Ms. Marvel Vol 9

Since learning that G. Willow Wilson would leave Ms. Marvel (and rightful she should, I’m hoping to pick up a copy of The Bird King soon, and it is always nice to see how comic characters grow when handed to new creators) I have been rationing Ms. Marvel trades in much the same way I have never finished Little Women or On The Road (I like them so much, I know that once they end, they never come back).

I saw this volume at the library on Sunday and picked it up – it is a fun adventure where Ms. Marvel’s friends step up for her while she takes the time she needs away to reflect. After five years, she certainly has had a lot of adventures. What was nice to see was some recurring villains and the way her friends have grown closer to each other because of her. This volume was a fun and quick read. 

3/5 stars on Goodreads.

Coming up next…

I am excited for both A Memory Called Empire (Martine) and the new volume of The Expanse (Corey), both coming out this week. I’m trying to leave my reading list mostly clear for these (and hoping to come across a copy of The Light Brigade in the next few weeks too). Following those, I want to finally finish the Cixin Liu’s Remembrance trilogy (The Dark Forest has been next to my bed for months).

What books are you currently reading, or excited about in the near future?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.