Memoria de Mis Putas Tristes (Memories of My Melancholy Whores) by Gabriel García Márquez

When I read the opening line of this novella, I was hesitant to continue reading because I was so sure it would be like Lolita. Thankfully it wasn’t. 

An elderly man wants to celebrate his 90th birthday by having sex with a young virgin. That was the opening line, in a nutshell. (You see why I paused?) Anyway, this man calls the local madame and gives her his request. Through her, he meets 14 year old Delgadina. (Not her real name). And so on his 90th birthday he wakes with Delgadina by his side. Except he doesn’t have sex with her. They continue to meet for about a year, with Delgadina remaining a virgin because pretty much all that happens is the old man watches her sleep. His infatuation with her grows though. But an incident happens that forces him to go months without seeing her. And although he is in peak health, the old man begins to die of love for her. 

Throughout the story, the old man recounts tales of his past sexual exploits. We also get a glimpse into his everyday life. He writes a column for a local newspaper. And when his feelings for Delgadina begin to grow, he starts to publish love poems(?) that everyone takes to be nostalgic musings. 

I read this novella in the original Spanish text. The language was beautiful. Gabriel García Marquez’s genius shines through. But. But my Spanish reading skills aren’t that great. 

I decided to challenge myself by reading this in Spanish. I don’t really use my native tongue that often. I’ve read only one book in español, Retrato en Sepia (Portrait in Sepia) by Isabel Allende, and it took me months to read. I had the same problem then as I had this time around: focus. It took me a while to get my mind to concentrate and make sense of what I was reading. It’s not easy to transition from one language you use 24/7 to one you unfortunately don’t use often. 
This is a 112 page story. What should have been a quick read, took me a few days to get through. So I would say I understood about 85% of what I read. That is how terrible my Spanish is. I really need to work on that. I might have to reread this in English sometime in the future because I feel there are some ideas I didn’t quite grasp. Which bothers me. 

Overall, I did enjoy the novella. It wasn’t what I was expecting. Which is a wonderful surprise. Not surprising? I need to spend more time reading books in my native language. Sigh.

The Young Elites Series by Marie Lu

What a ride! Marie Lu has once again created an incredible world. I am in awe! Since everyone seems to have already read the series, this is less a review and more my thoughts on each book. Lots of spoilers ahead.

The Young Elites (#1)

An illness swept the land leaving death and wonder in its wake. While the infected adults died, the children recovered. Some were physically marked by the disease and are now imbued with various powers. They are The Elite, hunted and killed by the kingdom. And within The Elite, exists the secretive Dagger Society, led by Enzo (The Reaper), the crown-prince robbed of his birthright. When Adelina (White Wolf) is recruited by the society, they train her to use her power, unleashing a darkness that has been simmering within her. 

Okay. Um. Didn’t expect to sympathize with Adelina, but I did. Come on! Can’t the girl catch a break? All she wants is kindness. Pure kindness. And with a father like hers, can you really blame her? 

There was a scene where one of the members of the Dagger Society takes part in a horse race. I studied in Siena, Italy and it reminded me of Il Palio. I never saw it, but it is on my bucket list. Next time I’m there, I definitely need to see it! 

So, the illusions. When Adelina was with Enzo, was she unconsciously manipulating him? I feel like it was implied but not flat-out stated. Anyone know?

The Rose Society (#2)

Adelina embarks on a mission of revenge. Revenge against the Daggers for betraying her, and against Teren, the Lead Inquisitor, for lead the inquisition against all malfettos. To accomplish her mission of revenge, Adelina needs to recruit her own Elites and create her own society of Young Elites. The Rose Society, led by the White Wolf. But as Adelina vies for the Kenettran crown, her madness begins to take hold of her.

Enzo! What?! They brought him back!! And then, of course, he shuns Adelina. She’s done some crazy things so I don’t really blame the guy. But then again, haven’t they all?

And Raffaele’s discovery about their powers?! I thought Adelina was going cuckoo because Violetta had repressed her powers for so long. Is it a bit of that, and her just becoming more powerful? 

Magiano. Ah. Love this guy! Such a perfect balance for Adelina. Enzo fed her madness. But Magiano soothes her. Can’t wait to see more of him!

Did Violetta really abandon Adelina? And is there something going on between her and Sergio? I see a romance brewing there. I guess I’ll find out soon enough!

The Midnight Star (#3)

Raffaele’s predictions about their powers is proving true. So they embark on a mission to enter the world of the dead and offer their powers back to the Gods.

Enzo dies. Again. Shocker. And of course he’s thinking of Daphne when he dies.

Turns out Violetta really did leave her sister. Huh. Wasn’t so sure that would turn out to be true. And she joins Raffaele and the Daggers. Poor Sergio. You can tell he missed her a lot. 

The ending though! Adelina finally does an unselfish deed. Is it weird that my first thought was “well at least she slept with Magiano before she died”? 

That folktale about The Midnight Star though. That made my heart twinge. Got me right in the feels. 

Final Thoughts
I breathed these books in. So quick and easy to read. I found the excerpts at the beginning of the chapters to be spoilery though. They made the plot predictable. I would read one and go “Oh, Enzo’s going to die”, or ” Violetta is going to make a compromise of some sort on her sister’s behalf”. I was right pretty much every time. 

I was sympathetic towards Adelina in the beginning. But halfway through the second book I couldn’t put up with her. She was annoying. Once I was a good part of the way through the final one, my sympathy for her returned. She had some semblance of happiness in her life. If she had lived, I would have been very upset. It would have been an injustice to the story. Her death was necessary. 

Nonetheless I really enjoyed the ride. Marie Lu is a talented world-builder. No doubt about it. Her ability to create all these vastly different characters is amazing. Love her writing. Can’t wait to read Warcross and Batman: Nightwalker in the upcoming months. 

One last thing. As much as I liked reading this particular trilogy, I think the Legend series was better. 

2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

Prompt (s): A book about a villain or antihero

A book by an author of a different ethnicity than you

A book with a time of day in the title

The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

This book is hella weird. I don’t know what else to say about it. The characters are all adults? I think that’s important to know. For some reason my mind kept thinking of them as teenagers. One too many YA reads, I guess. Um, I’ve been sitting on this review for a while now. Letting my thoughts percolate. Yet I can’t seem to form a decent synopsis. So go ahead and get sucked in by the following description like I was:

A missing God.

A library with the secrets to the universe. 

A woman too busy to notice her heart slipping away.

 

Carolyn’s not so different from the other people around her. She likes guacamole and cigarettes and steak. She knows how to use a phone. Clothes are a bit tricky, but everyone says nice things about her outfit with the Christmas sweater over the gold bicycle shorts.  

After all, she was a normal American herself once.   

That was a long time ago, of course. Before her parents died. Before she and the others were taken in by the man they called Father. 

In the years since then, Carolyn hasn’t had a chance to get out much. Instead, she and her adopted siblings have been raised according to Father’s ancient customs. They’ve studied the books in his Library and learned some of the secrets of his power. And sometimes, they’ve wondered if their cruel tutor might secretly be God.  

Now, Father is missing—perhaps even dead—and the Library that holds his secrets stands unguarded. And with it, control over all of creation. 

As Carolyn gathers the tools she needs for the battle to come, fierce competitors for this prize align against her, all of them with powers that far exceed her own. 

But Carolyn has accounted for this. 

And Carolyn has a plan. 

The only trouble is that in the war to make a new God, she’s forgotten to protect the things that make her human.

Populated by an unforgettable cast of characters and propelled by a plot that will shock you again and again, The Library at Mount Char is at once horrifying and hilarious, mind-blowingly alien and heartbreakingly human, sweepingly visionary and nail-bitingly thrilling—and signals the arrival of a major new voice in fantasy.

– Goodreads 

                   

I was confused from the get-go. Page 1. And the confusion only increased as I read on. I was about a third of the way through, still befuddled when I thought about giving up and picking another book for this prompt. But I already quit on one book this year (Challenger Deep) and I didn’t want to quit another. So I kept reading. Good thing I did.

Yes, this is possibly the strangest book I’ve ever read and I had no clue what the hell was going on almost the whole time. But once I reached the halfway point, I couldn’t put it down. I needed to keep reading. The story (once I understood what was going on) was actually quite original and entertaining. Also a bit disturbing. No, not a bit. A lot. A lot of disturbing things happen.

There were a lot of times where all I could think was “what the fuck?!”. What the fuck am I reading? What the fuck was going through Scott Hawkins’s mind when he wrote the Dogs vs. Lions scene? What the fuck was he on when he wrote this book???

I know I’m giving the impression that I didn’t like the book. But I actually liked it. It’s been weeks. Weeks! Since I read this book and it’s still at the forefront of my mind. Just for that, I bumped my original 3-star rating of this book up to a 4-star rating on Goodreads. 

This story has stuck with me. It’s like nothing I’ve ever read before. Never have I been so thoroughly mind-fucked by a book! Definitely look forward to rereading this book at some point. And if a sequel is written I’ll be the first one in line to buy it. 

2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge.

Prompt: a book that involves a bookstore or library

Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl

I feel as if I’ve been reading a lot of kids books these days. Huh. Must be all the Nancy Drew books. Anyway, I listened to the audio book and I must say, the theme music was phenomenal. Douglas Hodge did a wonderful job narrating the story. But kudos to the sound technician! 

When we last saw Charlie Bucket, he and his family were on Mr. Wonka’s glass elevator. This book picks up from there. And boy do they go on a wild adventure. The first half of the story they’re all floating around in space and getting chased by aliens. The next half of the story, they’re back at the Chocolate Factory but some shenanigans ensue. 

This book was very different from the first one. I liked Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. This one not so much. The magical elements of the first are still present. But the morals! It seemed more like political satire. (As a child, President Gilligrass was so stupid, Nanny decided he would make a great politician). Did I laugh? Yes! I was still uncomfortable listening to it in a children’s book though. 

Basic message of the story: listen to Mr. Wonka!

It’s an okay read that kids will no doubt love. But I’m not a child. So I didn’t enjoy it. 

Ugh, sequels have been letting me down lately. Not cool. 

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge.

Prompt: A childhood classic you’ve never read

Okay, now I see what all the fuss was about. This book is absolutely magical! I’d seen both movie adaptations, but never bothered to read the book. Boy was I a twit to wait so long. 

I think it’s already been established, that as I child I read a lot of Nancy Drew books. The thing is, I was really into mysteries. So I devoured The Boxcar Children, Cam Jansen, Encyclopedia Brown, A to Z Mysteries, etc. Very rarely did I read another genre. When I did it was either a Goosebumps book or fantasy like Narnia, and The Magic Tree House books. I’m not sure why I never got my hands on this book since it does seem to fall into the latter category. 

Anyway, I can finally say I read this book and enjoyed it. It’s a heartwarming little story. 

Charlie Bucket and his family are barely living within their means when Willy Wonka decides to open his chocolate factory to 5 children that find a golden ticket. As soon as the contest is announced, people start buying up Willy Wonka’s chocolates in hopes of finding the golden ticket. Four of the five tickets are quickly found. The day before the children are to visit the factory, Charlie Bucket manages to buy 2 chocolate bars, finding the final golden ticket. Then, the real adventure begins as Willy Wonka gives the children and their guardians a tour of a lifetime.

The morals in this story. A deserving kid is rewarded for being an all-around great person. And the descriptions. Wow! What a beautiful world that Roald Dahl managed to build in such a short book. 

I can’t believe I didn’t read this as a child. I think little-me would have liked it. But as an adult, I can honestly say I appreciate its importance. And now I have to remember to buy it for my niece when her next birthday comes around. 

​The Remnant Chronicles (#3): The Beauty of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson

Holy crap!!!! Ahhh!! Can’t breathe! I’ve been waiting 2 long years to read this book and finish the trilogy! I know the book has been out for over a year now but for one reason or another I wasn’t able to get ahold of this book sooner. Oh man, it was so worth the wait!!! 

By far, The Remnant Chronicles is one of my favorite series. I’m not a big fantasy reader. But Lia is an incredibly strong, and brave young woman. And she’s a badass. Inspiring. 

That ending had me going for a while. Legit thought that Rafe and Lia were over. That hurt a little. But I get it. To maintain some sort of peace and stability in their respective kingdoms, each had to sacrifice their love for one another. Like I said, it hurt. But I got it, and was okay with it. And then Rafe shows up! Swoon. 

I’m not sure how I feel about Pauline and Kaden getting together. Kaden needs love. He deserves it. After all the shit he went through. And I like Pauline. She’s a genuinely good person. But I don’t know. I guess I didn’t see their relationship happening until it was obvious. Kaden will be an amazing father to baby Rhys.

Oftentimes the last book in a series is disappointing. This is not one of those. It lives up to expectations.  It’s actually an amazingly wonderful read. Loved this book. Loved this series. Definitely a must read. 

Ha! I’m still breathless!