Favorites February: The Subtle Knife

Thanks for dropping in for week two of Favorites February! This week I re-read my least favorite book in the His Dark Materials trilogy, The Subtle Knife. I say least favorite, but obviously I enjoy this series to have read and re-read it, lol.

Synopsis

Lyra finds herself in a shimmering, haunted otherworld – Cittàgazze, where soul-eating Spectres stalk the streets and wingbeats of distant angels sound against the sky. But she is not without allies: twelve-year-old Will Parry, fleeing for his life after taking another’s, has also stumbled into this strange new realm. On a perilous journey from world to world, Lyra and Will uncover a deadly secret: an object of extraordinary and devastating power. And with every step, they move closer to an even greater threat – and the shattering truth of their own destiny.

Why I Love This Book

  • The multiple-worlds are expanded upon and finally explained in this book, and I love it. More please!
  • Will. He is so troubled and confused and INTERESTING!
  • I love how Will and Lyra become joint-protagonists.
  • Lyra finally gets called out for being childish.
  • More witches!
  • New ways to communicate with Dust.
  • The waiting and build-up surrounding Dust in the first book has BIG payoff in this one.
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Audiobook Review: Agent Zigzag

Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal by Ben Macintyre

Narrated by: John Lee
Genres: Non-fiction, History, Biography
Maturity Level: 3+ (some mention of prostitutes)
View on Goodreads
Rating: ⋆⋆⋆

Eddie Chapman was a charming criminal, a con man, and a philanderer. He was also one of the most remarkable double agents Britain has ever produced. Inside the traitor was a man of loyalty; inside the villain was a hero. The problem for Chapman, his spymasters, and his lovers was to know where one persona ended and the other began.

In 1941, after training as a German spy in occupied France, Chapman was parachuted into Britain with a revolver, a wireless, and a cyanide pill, with orders from the Abwehr to blow up an airplane factory. Instead, he contacted MI5, the British Secret Service. For the next four years, Chapman worked as a double agent, a lone British spy at the heart of the German Secret Service who at one time volunteered to assassinate Hitler for his countrymen. Crisscrossing Europe under different names, all the while weaving plans, spreading disinformation, and, miraculously, keeping his stories straight under intense interrogation, he even managed to gain some profit and seduce beautiful women along the way.

The Nazis feted Chapman as a hero and awarded him the Iron Cross. In Britain, he was pardoned for his crimes, becoming the only wartime agent to be thus rewarded. Both countries provided for the mother of his child and his mistress. Sixty years after the end of the war, and ten years after Chapman’s death, MI5 has now declassified all of Chapman’s files, releasing more than 1,800 pages of top secret material and allowing the full story of Agent Zigzag to be told for the first time.


Agent Zigzag was my first non-fiction audiobook, and I’m afraid I didn’t enjoy the experience as much as I expected to. I found the narrator, John Lee, to be a bit dry. Listening to him drone on and on and on about World War 2 was a bit like listening to an uninteresting lecture. That’s not to say he did a poor job. He pronunciation in particular was on-point, and I was impressed by his ability to imitate different accents. And his inflection was fine, giving me a clear idea of tone and personality. It just … never ended. He never seemed to pause for a breath. I needed time every paragraph or so to process what I’d learned.

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Favorites February: The Golden Compass

Hello everybody, and welcome to the THIRD annual Favorites February! Huzzah!

What is Favorites February? I’m so glad you asked! Each winter I take a beloved book or series, give it a good re-read, and blog about my thoughts. This is one of my favorite bits on my blog each year, partly because it’s a good excuse to re-read several books, and partly because the posts are really fun to write.

The year I was inspired by the recent HBO adaptation of His Dark Materials to re-read the book series by Phillip Pullman. The adaptation was good, much better than the 2007 film, but it didn’t *quite* capture the tone of the books, for me. I feel like modern interpretations of this series tend to focus on the anti-religious themes, and forget that it was a book intended for children. So the series had me itching to have a go at the books again. So, here we are with book 1, The Golden Compass.

Synopsis

Here lives an orphaned ward named Lyra Belacqua, whose carefree life among the scholars at Oxford’s Jordan College is shattered by the arrival of two powerful visitors. First, her fearsome uncle, Lord Asriel, appears with evidence of mystery and danger in the far North, including photographs of a mysterious celestial phenomenon called Dust and the dim outline of a city suspended in the Aurora Borealis that he suspects is part of an alternate universe. He leaves Lyra in the care of Mrs. Coulter, an enigmatic scholar and explorer who offers to give Lyra the attention her uncle has long refused her. In this multilayered narrative, however, nothing is as it seems. Lyra sets out for the top of the world in search of her kidnapped playmate, Roger, bearing a rare truth-telling instrument, the compass of the title.

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Review: The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra

The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra by Vaseem Khan

Series: Baby Ganesh Agency Investigation
Genre: Mystery
Maturity Level: 4

View on Goodreads
Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆

On the day he retires, Inspector Ashwin Chopra inherits two unexpected mysteries.

The first is the case of a drowned boy, whose suspicious death no one seems to want solved. And the second is a baby elephant. As his search for clues takes him across the teeming city of Mumbai, from its grand high rises to its sprawling slums and deep into its murky underworld, Chopra begins to suspect that there may be a great deal more to both his last case and his new ward than he thought. And he soon learns that when the going gets tough, a determined elephant may be exactly what an honest man needs…


Well this book was adorable. If you like cozy mysteries you have to give this one a read. It’s a nice blend of the grumpy retired man you come to expect from this type of novel with the exoticism of modern Mumbai.

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Review: Sorcerer to the Crown

Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho

Series: Sorcerer Royal
Genre: Fantasy
Maturity Level: 3
View on Goodreads
Rating:
⋆⋆⋆

At his wit’s end, Zacharias Wythe, freed slave, eminently proficient magician, and Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers—one of the most respected organizations throughout all of Britain—ventures to the border of Fairyland to discover why England’s magical stocks are drying up.

But when his adventure brings him in contact with a most unusual comrade, a woman with immense power and an unfathomable gift, he sets on a path which will alter the nature of sorcery in all of Britain—and the world at large…


Sorcerer to the Crown was completely different than I was expecting, and I’m not sure that it really worked for me. The best way I can think to describe this book was that it’s a Pratchett-esque take on Jane Austen. If you like dry humor, satire, and social reforms, you will probably enjoy this book.

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Review: Book Love

Book Love by Debbie Tung

Genre: Comic Collection
Maturity Level: 1
View on Goodreads
Rating:
⋆⋆⋆⋆

Bookworms rejoice! These charming comics capture exactly what it feels like to be head-over-heels for hardcovers. And paperbacks! And ebooks! And bookstores! And libraries!

Book Love is a gift book of comics tailor-made for tea-sipping, spine-sniffing, book-hoarding bibliophiles. Debbie Tung’s comics are humorous and instantly recognizable—making readers laugh while precisely conveying the thoughts and habits of book nerds. Book Love is the ideal gift to let a book lover know they’re understood and appreciated. 


This is a very sweet book that is a collection of comics drawn by Debbie Tung on her tumblr. I should clarify that I mean comics as in web-comics or comic strips, NOT as in a comic book. Typically one page covers one day, although the occasional longer two-page comic is included.

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Review: All Systems Red

All Systems Red by Martha Wells

Series: The Murderbot Diaries
Genres: Science-Fiction, Novella
Maturity Level: 4-
View on Goodreads
Rating:
⋆⋆⋆⋆

In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.

But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.

On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid — a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.

But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.


What an enchanting read! All Systems Red was a perfect blend of sci-fi adventure with hard science fiction, all packed into a quick, light novella. It was funny, sweet, moderately thought-provoking, and entertaining as heck.

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