Sunday, February 02, 2014

fiction with historical elements

Test of Time by Jacqueline T. Johnson.  My notes:
these descriptions are trying way too hard, so hard that they often contradict themselves.
the writing is so pretentious.  Just describe things, say what happened, without trying to impress.
a few dialogue-heavy pages, then pages and pages of narration that cover weeks and months, and go into backstories.  When will we settle into the story?
sense of time, place, not well-established.
overall rating: 3.

I Just Came Here to Dance by Susan Mary Malone.  My notes:
prologue is flawless but errors-- typos and fragments-- begin right away in Chapter 1.
narration (when not marred by errors) is fantastic-- just the right feel and sound, both.
"comforted" instead of "comforting," "splurge" when it ought to be "surge;" is the author trying to make elementary mistakes as part of the character (narration is 1st person), or are these actually errors?  If they are on purpose, I don't think they are doing what the author intended.
the time period is not clear.  The first few chapters make it feel anywhere between 1920 and 1960, but more modern ideas start dropping in after 40-50 pages.  We are unmoored.
overall rating: 6.

Twin River by Michael Fields.  My notes:
how can you miss a period?! (bottom of p. 6)
I can see what the author is trying to do, but he never manages to strike the right tone and the writing instead comes off as feeling too sensationalized.
overall rating: 4.

The Trial of Dr. Kate by Michael E. Glasscock III.  Although largely the same as the first book as to characterizations, descriptions, writing style, etc., there are some unexpected differences in writing style that would likely throw off a reader looking for more of the first book: the characters' specific backstories are told almost in flashback format.  There's nothing wrong with this by itself, but it makes the book move differently than the first.  Also, there is some significant foul language; again, it makes sense considering the characters the dialogue is coming from, but definitely takes the book out of the "clean" or "cozy" category the first book was in, and readers may be surprised.
Both books identify themselves as part of the "Round Rock series" and both are set in the same town and some secondary characters do overlap, but the main characters are very different.  There is also a pretty big time gap between the two books.  I wish we had a word or more concise phrase to indicate loosely-connected books that aren't necessarily meant to be read serially.

The Life of Birds series and The Life of Mammals series, both by David Attenborough.  I love documentaries.  Netflix needs to have more things by David Attenborough. 

1 comment:

~Aditi said...

I can't tell you how much I agree with your views on 'Test of time'. You've actually me feel a little less guilty for not finishing it!