Friday, February 18, 2011

Book 8

Ah, Simon R. Green. Words alone cannot express the deep and profound expanse of my admiration for him as a writer, nor my deep and unabiding love for him as a reader. A Hard Day's Knight is yet another installment in his Nightside series, which, in this reader's humble opinion, has yet to grow stale. The constant parade of interesting and unusual characters coupled with Green's ability to do the unexpected keep it fresh while Green's history of killing off important characters adds just enough real danger to the tale.
This book in particular deals with Arthurian legend. I am a huge nerd about any and everything related to that particular subject, so I was particularly eager to get my hands on a copy of this book and see exactly how Green interpreted and then distorted those old tales. I was not disappointed.
Rating: A

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Books 6 (for real!) and 7

Book 6: Matched by Ally Condie

This is a young adult book. I admit it, I read young adult books. Some of them are very very awesome and perfectly able to be enjoyed by adults (Garth Nix, to name one. For all of you who have not read Sabriel I would highly recommend it!)

I read Matched because I noticed a lot of people at the Library requesting it, and was curious. Please don't make the same mistake I did.

General impression of this book is a cross between a poorly-written Giver and a watered-down 1984. It's about a young girl in a utopian society, her eyes are opened and she breaks free of the brainwashing. Yada yada, you know the drill. However, the characters have no depth, the dialogue is wooden, and the plot meanders aimlessly without accomplishing anything. The main character continuously makes little side comments about the way things used to be, etc etc, that are entirely inappropriate for a character who was raised in that society. Yes, I get that Condie wants to contrast how things are vs. how things were, but it's entirely unnecessary for the main character to do so; we know how things "were" because we, the readers, are living in that world now. Events happend with no foreshadowing and no buildup. Characters were introduced and then never mentioned again. There were inconsistancies galore. The nicest thing I have to say about this book is that it only took me 2 hours to read.

Rating: D-

Book 7: Troubled Waters by Sharon Shinn

I enjoyed this book. The plot was light on the action, but the writing is solid, the characters were well-developed, and the descriptions were very good. The world was extremely well-developed. Though it wasn't much of a page-turner and I didn't eagerly await the next twist of the plot in between readings, I did find it overall to be a very pleasant read.

One thing that I especially liked a lot was that while it did edge close to the cliche of small-town gal grows up, embarks on adventure and does Great Things, it didn't quite fall into it. The main character starts out knowing that she's going to do Great Things because she comes from a long line of rich and powerful people, though she is in exile. She doesn't know how powerful she will become, but the potential is already laid out there. I found that somewhat refreshing, and it felt more believeable than "random child becomes a great hero." I will certainly be seeking out more of Shinn's work to read.

Rating: B+

Friday, February 4, 2011

Books 4, 5 and 6

So far I'm still on track with this, even if I am falling down a bit on the blogging part.

No images, because I'm lazy.

Book 4: Indulgence in Death by J.D. Robb.

This book was predictable: someone is murdered, homicide detective gets put on the case, someone else is killed, the case unravels, someone else is killed, the stakes are upped! Bad guys are caught, the good guys win again. But the dialogue is always great, the details of each case are varried enough to keep the reader guessing, and it's just plain interesting to read. And as the 38th book in a series, I commend Robb for that going.

The "In Death" series is what I view as the literary equivalent of a summer action movie: it's fantastic for an afternoon's entertainment, but probably not worth revisiting once you find out who the killer is.

Rating: B+

Book 5: Cast in Shadow by Michelle Sagara

Not the best book I've ever read. The main character alternates between overly dramatic and forcibly blasé. I spent most of the book wanting to slap her, which hasn't happened since Bella Swan. It had that same fan-fictiony air about it, but the writing itself was solid, and the descriptions were pretty good. It's the first book of the series, but I didn't feel compelled to find the next one; in fact, I only skimmed the last 50 pages and feel that I didn't miss all that much. That's not a good sign -- your reader should NEVER be willing to "just skim" the ending you've spent the entire book building up to.

Rating: C-

Book almost-6: The Key: A Rachel Benjamin Mystery by Jennifer Sturman

I never start out with exceptionally high expectations when it comes to "chick lit." I sort of view it like watching something silly on tv: it's fluffy and entertaining and doesn't require a whole lot of mental processing to get through. I don't anticipate a complicated plot with tons of twists and turns, I don't expect deep and complex characterization. But there is never, ever, ever an excuse for bad writing. EVER. I quit reading this book about 20 pages in, when the main character meets her love interest and describes him as having "a regular-size nose, and normal-size eyes." WTF, normal-size eyes?? Is everyone else in this fictional city cursed with either itty bitty eyes or cartoonishly large ones? (if so, that's exactly the sort of thing that's important to tell your readers and makes all the difference.) Otherwise, it's just sloppy writing. Also, is eye color too much to ask for?