Friday, June 29, 2007

A Month of Readings.

It doesn't look like alot for the amount of time it represents. I was out of town; there were weddings.

The Loch, by Steve Alten. This is one of my husband's books, so I am not compelled to read it. After a hundred pages, this books is half crappy history lesson and the rest is poorly written. The main character sounds like a whiny woman and I don't like him. Especially annoy are all the "I" sentences: I did this, I felt this, I blah blah blah. It can be difficult to write in first person, and this author has discovered why. There's no action!

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, by Avi. I've enjoyed some of Avi's more recent work, but this book wasn't so good. The characters were less realistic and not as deep; they are simple and romanticized versions; the author has shown the most improvement in this area. At this point, the author still needed to work on comma use, although this seems to have been mostly fixed in later novels.

The Robber Bride, by Margaret Atwood. I loved The Handmaid's Tale, and this one lived up to it. I love the language this author uses: she communicates so well, in sometimes unexpected ways: she doesn't use cliches or common language, but finds new descriptions. She also captured her characters very well; they were very realistic, and their reactions and thoughts seemed honest.

Tuck Everlasting, by Natalie Babbitt. I had to seriously reconsider the age group this book is aimed at. The story is ok, but very simple, as is the language. Not for readers past an age where light-up sneakers cease to be cool.

-- a break for some library books:
The Queen's Soprano, by Carol Dines. This book was very similar in plot construction and writing conventions to many other historical fiction books that have come out recently for this age group. I don't remember anything sticking out-- positively or negatively-- about the writing; the plot moved at a decent pace and was understandable; the characters were real enough; and the book as a whole was age-appropriate. One and a half thumbs up (it loses half a thumb for being slightly unmemorable in many ways, but that can be a good thing too: I'm not remembering it for its craptitude).

All Together Dead, by Charlaine Harris. I was excited for this one to come out, because I've enjoyed the series thus far. However, this seems to be a case of, having established a decent (and demanding) fan base, the writer writing for the audience, not for the art. It's a fine line, because the ultimate point of any writing should be eventual publication, but many authors let their audience-- what the audience wants for the characters, when the audience demands the next installment-- dictate poor plot moves. There was much less character development in this book than is needed at this stage, and the whole thing ended messily, if that can be called an ending at all. I am deeply disappointed.

-- back to my shelves:
Peter and the Starcatchers, by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. I think this is supposed to be a prequel to the classic Peter Pan. I dropped it after a few chapters, not so much for the writing, which was passable, but because the characters and several other elements were not enough like the originals. I especially disdained the heavier use of magic and magical influences. Aside from the fairies' flight abilities (which are never expounded on), the original story contains little magic. This is just an attempt to cash in on the Harry Potter/All Things Magical craze. Have a little respect for your own writing! Jeez!

Holbrook: A Lizard's Tale, by Bonny Becker. A story with a moral for rather young readers, this was still pretty good. The moral wasn't too strong, so it didn't make the story sappy. The characters are a bit shallow, but appropriate for the reading level.

--another break:
The Truth-Tellers Tale, by Sharon Shinn. The fragments bothered me, but the plot was fair-ish. I didn't appreciate the happily-ever-after ending and the characters showed remarkably little personal growth, even though the story takes place over a number of years. Wouldn't you say girls tend to change a bit between 13 and 16?

Exploring the Unexplained: The World's Greatest Marvels, Mysteries and Myths, by the Editors of TIME. This explored little and explained nothing. Although the pictures were very good, this imparted no knowledge.

Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation, by Olivia Judson. It's like the Discovery Chanel, but in text only. I can honestly say I'm not really sure what the point of this book was. Who needs to know some of that stuff? It was well written though, especially all the science brain-boxy type bits.

Maximum Ride: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports, by James Patterson. I had enjoyed the story in the previous two books, but either my memory is faulty or the writing is deteriorating. I was fairly disgusted by the spun-sugar, happily-ever-after, non-resolution "ending," and the main characters constant use of sarcasm is unrealistic and annoying. The plot felt more forced as well. Maybe Patterson should stick to grown up books; he's not doing very well trying to squeeze his ancient manly self into a 17-year-old girl.

-- and back to the shelves once again:
Choose Your Own Nightmare: Something's in the Woods, by Richard Brightfield. I read all the possible endings and this book generally sucked throughout. The transitions are poor, none of the plot possibilities would scare a six-year-old, and I didn't like any of the endings.

Caddie Woodlawn, by Carol Ryrie Brink. I vaguely remembered this one from when I was a kid, and it's great. It's mostly like Little House on the Prairie, except it has no sequels and is written for a slightly older audience. Everyone should read it.

The Dumont Bride, by Terri Brisbin. Smut! In fact, this is such unremarkable and unmemorable smut, that I didn't remember having previously read it until I found places toward the end where I had gotten fed up on my previous reading and started adding my own commas. The fragments are abominable, the punctuation is poor, and the author allowed herself be carried away by all the possible uses of "'tis," "mayhap," and "milord." Bleh!

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