What I read in November 2023
I ended up getting into “Romantasy” vibes this month. It started with the first book of the “Blood And Ash” series, then I was intrigued to read the second book, and then I got into “The Fourth Wing” sensation. I listened to a non-fiction audiobook, and there was one fiction book I read for my book club that I didn’t enjoy. But overall, I had lots of fun with dragons and vampire-like folks!
Still Distracted After All These Years: Help and Support for Older Adults with ADHD by Kathleen G. Nadeau, 288p (Audiobook): Good information, it brings successful examples of how to make life adjustments after retirement for people with ADHD. It mentions the importance of keeping a simple life, reaching out for help or support groups, exercising, diet, practising mindfulness and having social support. It gave me some insights on the difficulties adults with ADHD can face when getting older.
Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro, 320p: The premise is beautiful, it hints at deep reflections about being human, but it didn't work for me. The dialogues were super weird and unnatural, they really bothered me. I missed more exploration of the technology behind the Artificial Friends (AF) and how they worked. Was Klara all mechanical? Was she an android? I wasn't convinced that AF's would find mystical significance in the Sun. The story hints at several themes but never really goes deep: environmental pollution, empathy, robots taking over human jobs, loneliness, gene editing, social class privilege. The plot is super simple and predictable, and the ending was very bleh.
From Blood and Ash (Blood And Ash #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout, 613p: I just couldn't put this book down! Twisty tale. I enjoyed following the story through only one point of view (the female main character). I liked the level of suspense and how aspects of the world building are unveiled slowly. All is told through the point of view of The Maiden, our main character Poppy. She is a guarded figure in the realm, nobody can interact with her. So she doesn't know the world outside and we as readers are there with her discovering nasty secrets about the kingdom. The romance was interesting. It's not really enemies to lovers in the beginning, it's more like stranger-bodyguard romance (Hawke) that turns into enemies to lovers. [SPOILERS AHEAD! ] ===> This book had some plot twists that got me by surprise. I was expecting a typical “enemies to lovers” romance trope plot, but it actually had some surprising elements I was not expecting. The romance is not “happily ever after” in this one. I was not fully prepared for the ending. I was shocked by the final plot twist. We discover there are vampire-like and werewolf-like people in this world. Hawke was disguised as a royal guard all this time just to capture Poppy, and he is an Atlantian, aka “The Dark One” who basically wants to destroy Poppy's kingdom. Hawke turns out to be a ruthless, brutal killer. It's a very complicated relationship, and it got me curious to read the second book in the series. But I still enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would.
A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire (Blood And Ash #2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout, 531p: This second book continues right off where the first one ends. There is a lot of world building info dump as it explains a lot more about the Atlantians, wolven bonds and Vamprys. The world of politics and magic just continues to get more complex and nuanced. The pace slows down halfway through as there is a lot of travelling and lodging. [SPOILERS AHEAD! ] ===> The main characters are on their way to Atlantia and there is time for Poppy and Casteel to reconcile, so their “reunion” didn't feel rushed or forced. I was surprised at how I changed my mind about Casteel: he turned out to be a nice guy in light of all the terrible things happening in this world. Poppy discovers that her whole life was a lie, and we see her growing, regaining her confidence and being able to express her true self. It felt to me like a “second chance” type of romance, because now Poppy knows Casteel's true identity and there is relationship development all over again. It ends with a bang, and it seems the explanation of exactly what happened in the end is in the next book. I was intrigued again!
Fourth Wing (The Empyrean #1) by Rebecca Yarros, 512p: Another book that I enjoyed more than I thought I would! We follow Violet SorrengaiI when she joins the Basgiath War College to become a dragonrider in the kingdom of Navarre. All she wanted was to become a scribe, but her mother, who is a war General, forces her to join the Dragonriders Quadrant, instead of the Scribe Quadrant. Just to keep family tradition (her older siblings were also dragonriders). I feel bad about the ruthlessness nature of this military school (there are zero concerns with safety and well-being of the cadets) but I got past that. Cadets die if they make mistakes or fail the crazy challenges and tests assigned to them. They are prepared to bond with a dragon and become a rider. The bond is strong, rider and dragons can telepathically communicate. And if you're a rider and your dragon dies, you die! I'm loving the mental banter-dialogues between the riders and the dragons. The romance is a slow burn, well-developed enemies-to-lovers. It's over the top and I loved it! I definitely want to check out the second book in the series.
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By Noisy Deadlines
Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.