Another Wrap Up: My November Reads

November, oh, Novemberyou fly away like a 30-minute cartoon series that used to play every morning on an old television. It is hard to reckon how thirty days have gone by noticeably unnoticed, but I am pretty satisfied with the four books I finished this month, all borrowed from the library I have become quite a regular in.

Eighteen-years old billionaire Bruce is prone to the squinting eyes of the media, so when he has publicly intervened in a police case, he finds himself punished to do community service at Arkham Asylum, the infamous prison that holds Gotham City's most brutal criminals. It is in the asylum's basement that Bruce first meets Madeleine Wallace. A member of a terrorist group called Nightwalker, Madeleine, with the mysterious air surrounding her and her refusal to cooperate with the authorized party, has killed three rich people in their own home. And based on the little information Madeleine is eager to provide, his name is now on the list. But it's not that Bruce can trust her or anything like that. For all he knows, Madeleine is a master manipulator.

So, truth to be told: I had quite some mixed feelings about this book. Batman: Nightwalker was an enjoyable read (a bestselling novel it is so no wonder), but I couldn't get the few qualms I had had about this book go away unnoticed. Reading this book, to me, felt a lot like gulping down a cone of plain vanilla ice creamI like it enough to finish it quickly, but I don't love it. It was a good thing that I wasn't really familiar with the original Batman story so that I could set this book apart from any expectations I could have had if I was. As I was as good as a newcomer in this particular vast universe, I tended to lay my judgment on what I was more aware of: generality, meaning this book without any baggage. With that said, it was admittedly disappointing that all the characters felt too one-dimensional.

Born from the union of Helios, the god of the sun, and Perse, a nymph daughter of Oceanus, Circe is the unwanted firstborn neglected by her parents and later bullied by her twin siblings. After years of feeling like she doesn't belong, some events lead her to discover her true self. Possessing the ability to do witchcraft, it turns out, is a threat to the Olympian. Circe is then punished by Zeus to eternal exile on the island of Aiaia, where she pursues her prowess in turning herbs into magic.

Reading Circe felt a lot like unlocking the extended version of Greek mythology in Wikipedia, while some parts with less famous yet familiar characters got me thinking, "Ha! I knew you from Percy Jackson!" Along with the distinct, poetic writing style, this book hooked me easily. I was eager to find out the "thunderbolt" this book secretly hid, the conflict that would make me root for the titular characters to win. Being that faithful, Circe offered nothing of that sort, sadly. While I could enjoy the slow-paced story, the brilliance of the writing eventually ebbed. Circe the book was so accurate to the myth (or to the tale about Circe available out there, little that it is) that it lacked the necessary twists a book needed. In conclusion, I did enjoy reading this book. Circe was a beautifully written character-driven book that made me reflect on the various characters while reading. If only the adventures of Circe could get more exciting, I'm sure I would have loved it more.

Following the story of sixteen-year-old Aza Holmes, this book explores the struggle of an anxiety and OCD sufferer. In battling her thought that seems to never shut up, Aza becomes rather quiet, which makes her a good listener to her talkative best friend Daisy. When a billionaire neighbor is becoming a fugitive and there is a big cash reward for anyone who can spot his whereabouts, Daisy is quick to seize the opportunity. Given that the son of said neighbor, Davis, is Aza's old friend from camp, Daisy encourages Aza to approach him and go get some clues. From the unexpected reunion to the never-ending spiraling thoughts, Aza's life soon becomes more... nuanced.

I finished this book in less than two days, meaning that this book had impressed me in a way that I blamed myself for not picking it up much earlier. Turtles All The Way Down had this good mental illness rep that going through what the main character had to endure, especially in the first-person point-of-view, was kind of a challenge in itself, no matter how easy to follow the story might be. Overall, I would say that this book was a hit for me. I would encourage more people to give this important piece of work a try even if one might think that John Green is not their go-to author.

In this book, there are three parallel worlds with different London. Kell, one of the last Antari who has the ability to travel between the world, differentiates them by color: Red London where he lives is a place that works harmoniously with magic; White London is ruled by two evil twins who utilize magic as a lethal weapon; Grey London is a place that has almost forgotten all about magic; and once upon a time, there was Black London whose magic consumed everything in it. While serving the Maresh Empire in Red London as an ambassador to send messages between the three worlds, Kell also secretly smuggles things for people who wish to have a little token from the other side of the world. When one day an exchange goes amiss, Kell finds himself hiding in Grey London and is then robbed by Delilah “Lila” Bard before going on a deadly adventure with the pickpocket herself.

A Darker Shade of Magic had a slow pace, though there was something about the story that was pretty enticing to keep me coming back. Something about the book certainly had a pull on me. I was hoping that the story would eventually pick up, but in the end, it was just an okay read. Such a shame, given that I genuinely liked Kell even if most of the time heverbally and supernaturallyfailed to stand up for himself, which was weird for someone who was supposed to possess a rare magical ability. While Kell was still bearable, Lila, on the other hand, was not. There was obviously a fine line between being a badass female main character with a devil-may-care attitude and being an asshole. Lila, unfortunately, fell far from the dividing border and sprawled annoyingly on the second category, making it really hard for me to stand her. But still, you must know that I didn't hate this book. I liked the premise, the world-building, and the political aspect. I bet I would like it more if I got to see more of Holland, Astrid, and Athos. It was too bad that the execution was not to my liking.