User Profile

Simon MacDonald

Joined 1 year ago

Father, Software Engineer, Comic Enthusiast, Coffee Lover, Human Book Recommendation Engine and Head of Developer Experience at Begin. He/Him

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Simon MacDonald's books

Currently Reading

Terry Pratchett: The Fifth Elephant (Paperback, 2006, Corgi) 4 stars

Last year I committed to a complete re-read of every Discworld novel. However, I skipped all of the City Watch books because they are my favourite books in the series, and I wanted to read them back to back to back to, well you get the idea.

The City Watch books are filled with IMHO the best Discworld characters: Sam Vimes, Captain Carrot, Nobby Nobbs, Angua, Fred Colon, Detritus, Littlebottom, etc. As well, I feel the City Watch books do a great job of filling us in on the machinations and motivations of Lord Vetinari, the patrician of Ankh-Morpork.

Regardless, in The Fifth Elephant we find Commander Vimes begin sent to Überwald on a diplomatic mission where he is embroiled in a plot involving Dwarves, Werewolves and Vampires. I promise you it is hilarious. In a sub-plot Sgt. Fred Colon is left in charge of the City Watch while Commander …

Sunyi Dean: The Book Eaters (Hardcover, 2022, Doherty Associates, LLC, Tom) 4 stars

Truth is found between the stories we're fed and the stories we hunger for.

Out …

A gothic family horror

3 stars

The Book Eaters is an original idea. At least, I've never come across another book in which a vampiric race sustains itself by ingesting books. It's a gothic family horror in which the main character, Dev, must save her child, a rare type of vampire who doesn't live on books but rather by feeding on human minds. The novel's plot takes many twists and turns with it's associated double and triple crosses.

I kept flipping between 3 and 4 stars on this rating, so it's a solid 3.5 stars. While the mother's plight is relatable, the book vampires are so alien a concept I had difficulty empathizing with them. She certainly commits some reprehensible acts to ensure her son's survival.

Emily Henry: Book Lovers (Hardcover, 2022, Berkley) 4 stars

Nora Stephens’ life is books—she’s read them all—and she is not that type of heroine. …

I didn't realize this would be a romance novel when I started reading it. It was in a list of books recommended to me that were book/library related. I don't normally read romance novels, so I can't comment on the genre's finer points, but I enjoyed the book. I see this becoming a rom-com movie someday, as it does a pretty good job of flipping the normal rom-com tropes on their head. The protagonist in "Book Lovers" is the high-powered career woman you hate in a regular "rom-com" and eventually is dumped in favour of the folksy hometown woman. Anyway, it was a funny book that is well worth the read.

Peng Shepherd: The Cartographers (Hardcover, 2021, William Morrow & Company, William Morrow) 3 stars

What is the purpose of a map?

Nell Young’s whole life and greatest passion is …

The Cartographers is a book I should love but I can only muster up enough enthusiasm to give it a 3 star rating. An urban fantasy novel centred around the New York Public Library main branch, yes, please. The characters dig into the possibility that the intentional errors map makers add to the maps in order to copyright them, "phantom settlements" if you will, are in fact, real. While that is an intriguing premise, the execution of it left me feeling a bit confused. Continue on for minor spoilers.

What got me is that the characters in this novel focus is on one "phantom settlement". One character, in particular, is driven to do some pretty awful things to return to the settlement. This really doesn't make a ton of sense. If all of these settlements are real, why is the focus on only one location? Yes, I know they tried …

T. L. Huchu: The Library of the Dead (2021, Tor Books) 4 stars

Good first book in a series but wanted more.

3 stars

The Library of the Dead is the first book of an urban fantasy series by TL Huchu. I thought it was a good, not great read. The book is well written. The characters and plot are interesting but, for me, it missed the mark on a few levels. I felt that more time could have been spent on world building. We are told that a catastrophe has occurred but we are not given any details as to what happened. While I'm sure that it will be explored in future novels I would have liked a more details on why we are in a dystopian future. As well, the books title promises a library of the dead which is barely touched upon. This is probably a great title for the series overall but not the first book. See Ben Aaronovitch's first book in the Rivers of London series, Midnight Riot. A …

Ruth Ware: One by One (Paperback, 2021, Gallery/Scout Press) 4 stars

Getting snowed in at a beautiful, rustic mountain chalet doesn’t sound like the worst problem …

Locked chalet mystery

4 stars

An intriguing locked room mystery but in this case, it's more of a locked chalet mystery. My favourite part about the book is that if you are looking for clues, you can figure out who the murderer is before the big reveal. I appreciate it when the author doesn't pull a rabbit out of their hat at the last minute to confuse everyone.