Daughters of Doubt and Eyerolling

Month: October 2021

Lovecraftian space philosophy

The Outside by Ada Hoffman is a sci-if standalone novel about an autistic scientist, AI gods, and the monsters beyond the universe. I don’t want to spoil too much of the story here, the Goodreads blurb actually covers about 25% of the book, and I don’t want to ruin the fun.

I walked into this story complete blind, and I would have been disappointed if I had read the blurb before, it just reveals too much of the story.

In about 400 pages, the book not only tells us a satisfying sci-fi story, but touches upon a ton of philosophical questions in the process. How is a god defined? Being beyond space-time with incomprehensible desires and powers? Or maybe beings of this world, with the capacity to lay our souls to rest? How does one make a choice, when all outcomes are equally bad? If reality is a construct, does anything actually matter?

It was a really engaging read, though I might add that some readers might be disappointed by the ending. For the readers with a strong need for closure, and maybe those who prefer a clear distinction between good and bad, this might not be the best choice.

Who needs plot, when there is sex?

Kingdom of the Cursed, the second book in Kerri Maniscalco’s Kingdom of the Wicked series, published 05 October 2021. This is not a YA book, there are a lot of very explicit scenes.

Spoiler alert – I’m going to recap book 1.

Short recap of Kingdom of the Wicked: “Picture it, Sicily…” not 1912, but the late 19th century. Emilia and her twin sister Vittoria are witches in a long line of witches. There is a prophecy about the birth of the twin witches, they are supposed to break an age old curse.

But Vittoria is murdered and Emilia summons a demon to help her find who killed her sister. She soon finds out that the demon she summoned is one of the seven princes of hell. One of the monstrous, deceiving, lying beasts her grandmother had warned the girls against ever since birth.

Since Emilia is a good granddaughter she definitely heeds her grandmother’s advice and does not strike a bargain with the devilishly handsome prince Wrath. She’d rather hold up a torch for her childhood crush, now turned monk, Antonio. Well, you guessed it, she didn’t. The charming Wrath might have got under Emilia’s skin – quite literally even, they have magical matching tattoos that grow larger with every day.

At the end of the book, a bargain between Emilia and Wrath has been struck. And Wrath takes Emilia to the Kingdom of the Wicked, where she will become the Devil’s wife.

Book 2, Kingdom of the Cursed, starts with Emilia and Wrath making their way through the underworld. It’s not how Emilia had expected it to be. Especially not because she is in the company of the deceitful, lying prince of hell, Wrath, on the way to being married to his brother Pride. In case you forgot, Emilia will remind you just how untrustworthy, lying and deceitful Wrath is, and how inhospitable the underworld is over and over. Just as often she might tell you that Wrath is also a yummy prince of hell. It got annoying pretty fast.

At Wrath’s castle, information happens to fall into Emilia’s hands left, right and centre. She doesn’t have to work for it. There’s a conveniently located book here, or a visit with a minor demon, or a witch that will tell her what she didn’t exactly needed to know, but what turns out to be vital information for her anyway.

Wrath doesn’t feel like a fully fleshed out character. He’s that overly sexy man Emilia is lusting after, which she shouldn’t because he’s a deceitful,… yada, yada. In his favour, he goes out of his way to let Emilia make her own decisions. The relationship between Emilia and Wrath is supposed to be an enemies to lovers relationship, but are they enemies? They seem to be working towards a common goal.

The last 30 percent of the book were the most interesting. Suddenly plot happened. The big plot twists though? If you paid attention in book one they did not come as a surprise.

Definitely middle-book syndrome. I suppose this book, condensed down to novella size, would have been much better.

I’m still looking forward to book three, but my expectations are low.

2/5 Harpy Eagles

Summer Reading Recap

Against all odds, the summer reading list actually worked for TheRightHonourableHarpyEagle. I thought I would discard the idea a few books, or days, into summer, but surprisingly I stuck to it. It definitely worked far better than monthly or weekly TBRs, probably because it left enough breathing space for whatever caught my eye. I’m a mood-reader after all.

My favourite read this summer was, as regular readers of the blog might be able to guess, The Chronicles of St Mary’s series by Jodi Taylor; the first book, Just One Damned Thing After Another, was on my summer TBR list and I just couldn’t stop after finishing the first book.

Another series I really enjoyed was The Lady Astronaut series by Mary Robinette Kowal. I obviously have a penchant for strong female main characters.

There were a few DNF books, as was to be expected. When you read more than 350 books a year, not all can be a winner.

The Lady Duck of Doom also read quite a lot of her reading list, but did not manage to read everything she wanted. Some books, like The Autumn Republic by Brian McClellan and The Outside by Ada Hoffman got pushed back to my autumn TBR, and some wandered back onto the shelf, ready for another time.

At the moment, my mood tends to science fiction with a lot of action, and I really enjoyed the last book that I read for summer reading: A Big Ship at the End of the Universe by Alex White. It had some really nice characters, too, and I already put the second book in the series, A Bad Deal for the Whole Galaxy, on my winter reading list.

For TheMarquessMagpie, the summer reading list was also quite the success. Sticking to reading lists is quite the new development. Out of 20 books on the list, I managed to get through 15. Most of the rest has been pushed back because I didn’t want to start yet another series while so many are still waiting to be finished. I learned my lesson for the autumn list.

The most rewarding books were certainly Iron Gold and Dark Age by Pierce Brown. Besides enjoying great worldbuilding, a complex cast of characters, military and politic plots with high stakes and a wonderful writing style, you also feel quite proud after these 600 and 700-page behemoths.

It’s that time of the month…

… when the leaves are falling and the temperatures dropping. Perfect time for a cuppa and a good book, right?

My highlight of September was T.J. Klune’s Under the Whispering Door, published 21 September 2021. It’s a book about grief, a book about death, but also about life. Instead of being dark and depressing, it is very uplifting. It feels like warm hugs and steaming mugs of tea. It also has a gorgeous cover.

I don’t have a lot of big reading plans for October. My kids will be away on holiday for ten days, mid-month. That’ll give me a lot of reading and crafting time. There’s Act II of The Sandman, for example, which should get me through the first stages of my jacket sewing project.

And, of course, there is the autumn TBR that wants to be read. I might eventually pick up Bardugo’s Ninth House; I think this has gathered the most dust since I bought it.

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