The Ninth Circle

I have read and taught Dante’s Inferno several times. I’ve dug deep into the story, the language, and the history behind it. So when I stumble across a variation of the story, I will make a point to read it. I got The Ninth Circle for free on the kindle a few years ago, and the Kindle lottery system I use put this one as my next read. It took me only a few hours to read it, but I can’t say I recommend it.

The story follows Dan as he runs away from home to join the circus. I don’t mind coming-of-age stories, but I really couldn’t relate to Dan. I didn’t like him as a person. And most of the circus people weren’t fleshed out enough. They were thinly written, and I didn’t really care about most of them. Some had sad backstories, but as Dan travels through the circles of Hell (more on that later) we didn’t spend enough time with the characters to really connect with them. By the time I was nearing the end, I realized that I could have not finished and been just fine never knowing what happened. I just wasn’t into the book.

And although this is connected to Inferno, it really isn’t as well tied as I had hoped. Yes, Dan travels through circles, as indicated by the chapter titles, and in each circle we meet a new circus performer who is in his or her own version of hell. But even without this link to Inferno, the story would have been just as thin. The author, Brendan Deneen, is known for his comic books, and I have actually read a few of them and really enjoyed them, but this book just wasn’t for me.

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Chaos Walking

I love this series. Let me just say this from the get go. This was my second time to read it all the way through without reading other books in between, and it is just as great as the last time I read it. Of all the YA dystopian series I have read this is one of the top few I’ve read. For the record, The Hunger Games, Legend series, and Red Rising are the others.

This story is one of the most creative I’ve come across. Instead of humans being the victims of a society disaster, they are the perpetrators. Convoys of ships landed decades ago on an uninhabited planet. They settlers were supposed to start building cities, farming, making life sustainable for other settlers. Much to their surprise, the planet did have life in the form of Spackle. Think people, but bigger and more reptilian like. The war against the native creatures began and the Spackle were destroyed. Another big surprise was that all the mens’ thoughts were heard by everyone else. So whatever thought a man had, every other man and woman in his proximity could hear it. The “Noise” was unexpected and very difficult to deal with.

Our main character, Todd, lives in Prentisstown with his adopted fathers Ben and Cillian. Todd’s mother died after he was born, committing suicide like all the other women in the town. The 100+ men left in the town are the only remaining settlers on the planet. With no way to reproduce, they are facing imminent demise. Then, Todd finds a crashed ship and a girl and quickly learns that all he has been told might not be exactly true. This is simply the first few chapters of the first book. The entire trilogy continues much more into Todd’s revelations, the girl, and the truth about the settlers and Spackle.

I really can’t recommend this series enough. There is a movie coming out in 2019 (I think) with Tom Holland (Spiderman) and Daisy Ridley (Rey) as Todd and the girl. I CANNOT wait to see how they film the Noise and how far into the series this movie goes. There’s plenty of time to read the series before the movie comes out.

2018 book challenge

book made into a movie you’ve already seen: The Circle

true crime: If I Did It

next book in a series you started: The Silkworm

book involving a heist: The Art Forger

nordic noir: Girl in the Spider’s Web

novel based on a real person: Lincoln in the Bardo

book set in a country that fascinates you: Girl Who Takes and Eye for an Eye

book with a time of day in the title: Midnight Assassin

a book about a villain or antihero: Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson

a book about death or grief: The Wild Truth

a book with a female author who uses a male pseudonym: Career of Evil

a book with a LGBTQ protagonist: I’ll Give You the Sun

a book that is also a stage play or a musical: A Raisin in the Sun

a book by an author of a different ethnicity than you: The Rose Society

a book about feminism: Alias Grace

a book about mental health: The Stranger Beside Me

a book you borrowed or that was given to you as a gift: The Fifth Child

a book by two authors: The Calling

a book involving a sport: Dream Team

a book by a local author: Whizbang Machine

a book with your favorite color in the title: Red Moon

a book with alliteration in the title: First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

a book about time travel: Kindred

a book with a weather element in the title: Girl in Snow

a book set at sea: Woman in Cabin 10

a book with an animal in the title: Tell the Wolves I’m Home

a book set on a different planet: Dawn

a book with song lyrics in the title: Ship of Fools

a book about or set on Halloween: Legend of Sleepy Hollow

a book with characters who are twins: Before You Leap

a book mentioned in another book: Invisible Man

a book from a celebrity book club: Big Little Lies

a childhood classic you’ve never read: A Wrinkle in Time

a book that’s published in 2018: TBD

a past Goodreads Choice Awards winner: The Fireman

a book set in the decade you were born: Everything I Never Told You

a book you meant to read in 2017 but didn’t get to: The Stand

a book with an ugly cover: Pimp: The Story of My Life

a book that involves a bookstore or library: Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore

Your favorite prompt from previous challenge: Book over 100 years old: The Moonstone

bestseller from the year you graduated HS: Insomnia

a cyberpunk book: Homeland

a book that was being read by a stranger in a public place: The Robber Bride

a book tied to your ancestry: The Remains of the Day

a book with a fruit or vegetable in the title: Tomato Red

an allegory: The Little Prince

a book by an author with the same first or last name as you: Butterly and the Violin

a microhistory: Stiff

a book about a problem facing society today: Who We Be

a book recommended by someone else taking the challenge: Lamb

2017 book challenge updated and completed

Book recommended by a librarian: TBD Ended up with The Life We Bury
Book that’s been on your TBR list for too long: The Three Musketeers
A book of letters: The Historian
An audiobook: Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (didn’t review. It was SO SO boring)
Book by a person of color: Parable of the Sower
Book with one of the four seasons in the title: Winter’s Tale changed to The Winter Over
A book that is a story within a story: Jellicoe Road
A book with multiple authors: Rage Against the Night (didn’t review, but really enjoyed this)
An espionage thriller: Cryptonomicon
A book with a cat on the cover: Master and the Margarita (started but was bored. Changed to Pet Sematary
A book by an author who uses a pseudonym: the Cuckoo’s Calling
A bestseller from a genre you don’t normally read: Way of Kings (fantasy, ugh) Went with a different book by the same author Misborn
A book by or about a person with a disability: Ghost Boy
A book involving travel: Well of Lost Plots (time travel!) I haven’t been reviewing this series, but I HIGHLY recommended it. It’s the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde
A book with a subtitle: The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific
A book published in 2017: The Song Rising (third book in the Bone Season series) I haven’t reviewed this either, but it’s a really fun series. Fantasy YAish
A book involving a mythical creature: Dreams of Gods and Monsters changed to Borne
A book you’ve read before that never fails to make you smile: Subtle Knife
A book about food: The Man Who Ate Everything changed to Hunger
A book with career advice: Masterminds and wingmen (I am raising two boys) Good, but no review needed. Either it pertains to you or it doesn’t
A book from a nonhuman perspective: Watership Down (forgot to review, I guess, but I really liked it)
A steampunk novel: The Golden Compass
A book with a red spine: Sanctuary (Faulkner!)
A book set in the wilderness: All the Pretty Horses changed to White Fang, but didn’t review
A book you loved as a child: Sweet Valley Confidential (loved the series in middle school)
A book by an author from a country you’ve never visited: HP and the Cursed Child
A book with a title that is a character’s name: Lisey’s Story
A novel set in wartime: 1984
A book with an unreliable narrator: Annihilation (love this series!!)
A book with pictures: TBD Hamilton
A book with a main character that’s a different ethnicity than you: The Joy Luck Club (can’t believe I didn’t review this. I loved it)
A book about an interesting woman: TBD but this won’t be hard to find (went with the last book in the Thursday Next series)
A book set in two different time periods: It
A book with a month or a day of the week in the title: December
A book set in a hotel: The Hotel on Place Vendome: Life, Death, and Betrayal at the Hotel Ritz in Paris (didn’t review. So boring)
A book written by someone you admire: Mycroft Holmes (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is a childhood hero of mine, and his opinion pieces are fantastic)
A book that’s becoming a movie in 2017: A Monster Calls (a reread. What an amazing book) WHY WHY WHY didn’t I review this??? It’s amazing!!!
A book set around a holiday other than Christmas: The Halloween Tree (about the history of Halloween. Was okay)
The first book in a series you’ve never read before: The Young Elites
A book you bought on a trip: American Pastoral (I was expecting better. Just very dull)

A book recommended by an author you love: The Troop (Stephen King recommended)
A bestseller from 2016: The Underground Railroad
A book with a family member term in the title: Daughters of the North
A book that takes place over a character’s life span: Life After Life
A book about an immigrant or a refugee: Alexander Hamilton (didn’t review. Great bio)
A book from a genre/subgenre that you’ve never heard of: S by JJ Abrams (Ergodic literature)
A book with an eccentric character: Sherlock Holmes (didn’t review. He’s just so well known)
A book that’s more than 800 pages: Carrion Comfort
A book you got from a used book sale: the second Way of Kings book (changed to In the Woods)
A book that’s mentioned in another book: Tales of Beedle the Bard (no review needed)
A book about a difficult topic: The Hour I First Believed (about school shooting)
A book based on mythology: Lost Hero changed to Dreams of Gods and Monsters, but I didn’t review it. Really great, smart YA fantasy trilogy.

Desert Flowers

Big thanks to Goodreads for this free book! I have discovered that they now have Kindle book giveaways and not as many people enter these, so the odds of winning are greater. I’ve won a couple actual books, but several Kindle books. I’m picky about which giveaways I enter, too. Nothing too sad, dramatic, or romantic in nature, so I’m only entering a few here and there and am still winning books, so you should look into this!

So, this book was one that sounded intriguing enough to enter, but I didn’t remember a lot about it when I picked this one to read (back to Kindle lottery system. Literally, I pick a page using a random number generator and then a book with the same system. It’s brilliant. Desert Flowers was the lucky winner. The story takes place in Mexico, a hundred miles from anything. The father, Elmer, drives that distance to a job every day, leaving his wife, Rose, and daughters, Iris, Melissa, Daisy, and Dahlia (all flower names and they live in the desert, hence the title) behind. The family has a secret and keeps to themselves, aside from one daughter at a time visiting town once a month and a teacher coming to visit to educate the girls. Aside from that, they are completely isolated with no phone. One day, a traveler comes to the house. This immediately seems fishy because they are so remote, but this guy, Rick, swears he was there at random, had just been walking and stumbled into their area. We quickly learn Rick isn’t truthful and has secrets of his own. About halfway through the book, revelations begin pouring forth. They were believable and seemed to come out naturally. There were a few plot points that were a bit forced, but overall, the book was interesting.

This book was translated into English (from Spanish) and I wonder if anything was lost in the process. This book was very much character and plot driven, rather than language driven, so I would guess that not much would change. This book is 3.99 on Amazon right now and is worth reading, overall, but I’m not sure I would buy it. Maybe check your local library for this one.