Sunday, June 22, 2008

a busy week

(note to self: remind me to add these to my official Excel doc.) My Year of Meats, by Ruth L. Ozeki. Discussing this book the other day, I called it fiction that reads like nonfiction. The novel ties together the stories of several different characters whose lives are all changed by common events. Its firm stance on the beef industry was not apparent in the first portion of the book, and came on too strongly, I felt, in the second half-- it made the book not feel like a novel anymore, just an anti-meat documentary in print. The characters are painfully real and, while their situations do not encompass the entire scope of the problem, they will give readers who have not experienced infertility a very basic introductory peak. The author was a documentary filmmaker, and her character's natural use of the equipment helps give a feeling of reality to their work. The Shamer's War, by Lene Kaaberbol. As the final book in a four-part series, this was a real let-down. The main character finally comes into her powers in a truly anti-climactic scene. The resolution in the book hardly feels complete enough to work as the resolution for the series. The Royal Mess, by MaryJanice Davidson. The third in a series, this is an author that I enjoy for brain-vacation reading. Her books will likely quickly become dated-- they do always include pop-culture references, such as tv shows, musicians, etc.-- but I enjoy her writing style, which is quite laid back, but she does a good job of not using fragments, keeping a good handle on her commas, and not using excessive cursing (when she does include it, it fits with her characters). It's not exactly quality literature, but it's not exactly smut, either. The Sugar Queen, by Sarah Addison Allen. I loved this book! I was a bit confused in the beginning because I have read another book by this same author (Garden Spells) and several reviews and teasers I read stressed the first book so much I thought this was a sequel. It isn't; it does take place in the same sort of quasi-magical, everyday world, but it has brand new characters. I liked this book more than the first, which ended on a too-happy, too-perfect, fairy-tale-ish ending. Both have characters who have faults and eccentricities, but this one just felt more real; although its ending is certainly happy, it isn't false, a fairy tale wrapped up in a little twee package. Chasing Yesterday #1: Awakening, by Robin Wasserman. It is hard to say anything definitive about this book-- it is just the set up, with the real plot happening in later books. I think I like where these characters are headed, but it is hard to tell. It's definitely an evil-scientist book. Fablehaven: Rise of the Evening Star, by Brandon Mull. This is a sequel to a book I read a few summers ago (the first novel is simply Fablehaven). I remember not being quite as enthralled with the first book; perhaps the author has his feet under him a bit more in this sequel. I found this story very engaging. I didn't remember all the details from the first book, and the author didn't include many hints and reminders. I quite like that-- it's my own fault for forgetting, and for having read the first book so long ago. Those little recaps I feel slow me down when I do remember, and I can muddle through ok without them when I don't remember. I have the third book on hold. Fortune's Fool, by Mercedes Lackey. This author has so many books that I have trouble weeding out the ones I like from those... that I'm not such a big fan of. Generally, it seems her sole works are better than books she co-authored, and the stories that are loosely in a series are vastly preferable to her actual series (the same general world, for instance, versus following the same characters). This particular story is in the 500 Kingdoms series, each of which features different main characters in a different region of this particular magical world (some of the minor characters make repeat appearances, however). The Wikipedia page seems to know what it's talking about.

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