Saturday, October 04, 2014

Titles, part two

The Martian by Andy Weir.  This goes onto my top-10, possibly even top-5, favorite reads of all time.  It is super great and I coerced several current and former colleagues into reading it, and they are all the better for it.
Although the book was captivating, it was not entirely without faults (and my various coworker-coreaders back me up on these points): the beginning was a little uneven, as it took the character a few chapters to find his voice.  It can be forgiven, because the first chapters are pretty action-packed, and I might not sound quite like myself in those circumstances either, but it was a rocky beginning.  The ending is also less-than-perfect: the story either needed to end just a few minutes before, leaving us with the suspense of the unknown, or carry on a week or two to wrap up more cleanly.  The way the story cuts out is a little... LifeTime Movie-ish.

Sparks Fly by Katie MacAlister.  This finishes the last in the series of series.  There isn't much add to what has gone before.

Breaking Point by Dana Haynes.  Like the first one, this was an engrossing, action-focused read.  Also like the first one, the writing is, if not horrendous, certainly not pleasant.  It strains credulity a bit that something so terrible could happen to the same group of people twice.  I don't know why that bothered me about this series when it hasn't occurred to me in regard to other action series before.

Regions Apart: The Four Societies of Canada and the United States by Edward Grabb and James Curtis.  I don't remember much about this, except that I didn't get much past a chapter or two because it kept putting me to sleep.  Such dull writing!  I thought, from the description, that this was a book I had read a review for a few years ago, about how neither state nor international borders are good demarcations, culturally, in the U.S. and Canada.  I don't think this was the book I was looking for.

Saga, v. 3 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples.  These people need to work on this series and nothing but this series, full-time, never seeing the light of day, until the story is complete.

The Nazi Officer's Wife: How One Jewish Woman Survived the Holocaust by Edith Hahn Beer and Susan Dworkin.  (940.5318)  The author isn't a writer, she is someone with a story to tell.  Unfortunately, the story had a very passive feel; even when the author was instigating the action, it wasn't expressed in a captivating or exciting way. 
However, I haven't read too much about this period at all, so it was very informative for me.  It wasn't a challenging read, so I would think very appropriate for hs/college students to use, etc.

The Escape by Mary Balogh.  Meh.  These are getting a bit samey, and if this turns out be a 4-book series-- I'm not sure why I feel that it will be, but for some reason I think that the case-- we won't be getting to the two characters from the group that I'm actually interested in.

A Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters. I only made it to page 58.  I really enjoyed the setting and level of detail, and I usually don't need a plot-driven story at all, but this just wasn't moving.  The side characters were too lacking in dimension to be interesting, and we didn't really seem to be going anywhere.  I know these are hugely popular and have been for a long time; I just can't see why.

Island in the Sea of Time, Against the Tide of Years, and On the Oceans of Eternity by S.M. Stirling.  As much as I enjoyed the underlying storyline, I'm not sure I'll be reading the associated 3-book series.  This series was, as I described it to a coworker, like Star Trek TOS (ok, and TNG, too): enjoyable for the ideas and details, not so much the writing or acting.  The author had pet phrases he overused.  The storyline was difficult to follow because, by the second book, we were following dozens of characters in seven different places around the world, plus some of the details were purposefully told out of order-- how many locations there were in the third book, I didn't try to count.  The author used italics to add emphasis, to denote foreign words, and to share characters' internal thoughts; there was at least one instance of italicized words on every page, and sometimes they overlapped each other.
Certainly a unique and interesting story for time-travel/alternate history, but hard to wade through.

Hello, Gorgeous and Drop Dead, Gorgeous by MaryJanice Davidson.  I was annoyed because the cover of the first book says  "Saving the world-- one Manolo Blahnik at a time..." but this character isn't obsessed with shoes or style at all (unlike Davidson's vampire queen series).  This made it seem like the publishing people weren't paying attention, or worse, maybe the author wasn't thinking about the character.
This reads alot like the author's Alaskan Royal Family and Fred the Mermaid series-- a bit silly, light, glossing over details that would require too much research or thinking.

Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett.  I was really sad that I didn't love this.  Unlike other titles that follow a piece of culture in Discworld over a short period of time, this book stretched on for months and months.  It had a more glossing-over feel.  There weren't any bits of writing or cultural observations that stood out.  Depressing.

There's more from the list of things I read while I thought I wasn't reading much, but I'll save them for later.

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