Daughters of Doubt and Eyerolling

Month: June 2023

Quick ARC Reviews – June 2023

One Litsy.com member started #JuneOfARC and I tried to read as many ARCs as possible. I managed more than three, but haven’t written up reviews for the other ones yet.

Molly Molloy and the Angel of Death by Maria Vale, published 04 April 2023.

Death accidentally picks the wrong soul and Molly Molloy lives. From now on Molly can see Death and interact with him. Death is depicted as going with the time on Earth but with the comic relief of no education and no clue about the world he wants to live in whatsoever, i.e. he writes everything phonetically, doesn’t know how modern amenities work. A love story between the two of them ensues, including a very fast-forward to several years on.

I'm certain my love for the funny stories about Death by either Pratchett or Christopher Moore had an influence on my perception of this rather lukewarm rom-com.  

1/5 Harpy Eagles

The Curious Kidnapping of Nora W by Cate Green, expected publication 01 August 2023.

Nora is about to become the oldest person on the planet. Her great-granddaughter is planning her Guinness World Record party, but Nora doesn’t want a party. Nora wants to leave the care home she lives in. She might be frail, but manages to get a family member to sign off on her paperwork and Nora goes to live with her carer Arifa, another woman who has survived a war.

A story about survival, about family and friendship. I enjoyed this slow story, but it took me some time to get used to the writing style and the POVs of the three women.

3/5 Harpy Eagles

Perilous Times by Thomas D Lee, published 25 May 2023.

The author clearly knows a lot about the Arthurian Legend. I liked the idea of the book, the knights of the Round Table being resurrected whenever the realm is in peril, which this time means a dystopian Britain suffering from climate change.

I had the feeling that the plot suffered from all the commentary on climate change, gender identity, sexual orientation and racism. It bogged the story down and made sticking to the book very hard for me. It was very easy to put the ARC away and similarly very hard to pick it up again. 

2/5 Harpy Eagles

Nive Cover, But…

Shanghai Immortal by A.Y. Chao, published 01 June 2023.

As a contestant for the most stunning cover 2023 this novel is in the lead. I applied for the ARC especially because the cover caught my attention. Yet, the story behind the cover and the interesting blurb didn’t deliver.

Shanghai Immortal seems to defy all genres that I would have assigned to it, is it an adult (urban) fantasy with Chinese mythology elements or a paranormal mystery/paranormal romance?

I’m not sure what this book’s genre actually is, but it read too modern for a story set in the Jazz Age. The MC, Lady Jing, acted like a spoiled teenager rather than a nearly 100-year-old immortal princess/half-vampire-half-fox-spirit with ties to two high courts of the mythical realm. Lady Jing is acting up just for the sake of annoying everyone around her, which shows how the author is using Jing’s childhood trauma as a plot device, it’s the only reason given for Jing’s behaviour. Furthermore, Jing doesn’t listen to the advice from the people around her, which the author tries to hide under the cloak of the “miscommunication trope”.

Where Lady Jing is presented as the anti-hero hero who wants to prevent the theft of a certain dragon pearl from the King of Hell, the secondary characters are depicted as typical paste-board romance novel characters. There’s the uber-beautiful bestie and her love-interest. There is the overly protective, yet obnoxiously annoying father-figure and his cronies, the “turd for brain bitches” who have been bullying Jing all her life, there is an avuncular figure who we get to see two three times but they have to make the deus-ex-machina work, and there is the handsome, clueless and hard to crack mortal love-interest.

Ugh! I thought I’d get an Urban Fantasy with Chinese Mythology woven into it not a hot mess of a story that I’d rank as a bland romance story that has the maturity level somewhere between middle-grade and YA. It definitely isn’t an adult paranormal/mythological urban fantasy mystery.

2/5 Harpy Eagles

For the First Time, Again

For the First Time, Again by Sylvain Neuvel, published 18 April 2023.

Short, because spoiler free, review about the conclusion to the Take Them to the Stars trilogy.

The 102nd Kibsu, Aster, has to continue what her foremothers started. The orphaned teenager is being chased by the US military and Alien Trackers. The only guidance she has is an old diary. With help from a very unexpected corner, she tries her best to continue her legacy.

In between Aster’s story there are short chapters going back to the beginning of the Kibsu, to the first of the one hundred and how it all started.

It’s a fast-paced book about destiny and fulfilling one’s purpose in life, full of pop-culture references of the 1990s and early 2000s. I enjoyed this as much as the other books in the series and Neuvel’s Themis Files trilogy.

4/5 Harpy Eagles

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