Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Actual Beach Reads

and poolside reads and airplane reads, because I'm on vacation!  (well, I was.  Now I'm home, the laundry is all done, and I'm back to work tomorrow.)

Midnight at the Well of Souls by Jack L. Chalker.  There are a few books I have been meaning to go back and read, titles which were important to me as a developing reader circa 1997.  I found and read that historical romance a few years ago; after finding that, this series began niggling at me.  I found one of the books in the series in the Friends' sale at the Silversale branch of the Kitsap Regional Library.  I originally read the series out of order, and soon after read it in the proper order.  It was my first introduction to hard core sci fi and influenced what I read for quite a while. 

I anticipated I wouldn't actually enjoy the book, but would be able to see the parts I originally appreciated.  I was actually wrong, in that I did still enjoy the book this read-through.  Yeah, it has some issues in that the writing could be cleaner: it reads like pulp sci fi, but that's what most readers expect.  There were a lot of distracting printing errors (like a word starting with cl being written as starting with d), and a pretty big binding deal where page 280 jumped to 313, proceeded to 344, and repeated beginning at 313 again.  I'm going to be generous and ascribe most plot inconsistencies in the last section of the book to details lost in the missing 30-ish pages.

I had so much fun rereading this pulp that I will go directly to my OPAC and request the next via ILL.  

Mr. Churchill's Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal.
I had been looking for a little while for something to fill the same niche as Her Royal Spyness.  The Black Dahlia series didn't do it for me.  This is the answer-- realistically spunky female heroine, historic British setting, nice inclusion of setting details, mystery plot, although that isn't the main reason for reading the story.  Nice, enjoyable, used my phone to put books 2 and 3 on hold from my lounge chair.  

Genocide of One by Kazuaki Takano.  I had been looking forward to this one for a while, but I'm having a tough time getting into it-- the first characters are stereotypical tough guys, not largely distinct from other tough-guy characters, and it looks like the story is going to be largely plot-driven, when the jacket description had me hoping for more sci-fi elements.

The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge by Michael Punke.  The writing style in this book is very enjoyable, like in The Lieutenant or His Majesty's Dragon.  The writing adds considerably to the story.

The story does end at a really odd place; when the story is about real historical people, it seems like some authors struggle finding a good place to stop that doesn't end in death.  The main character comes looking for revenge, (spoiler!) is thwarted by circumstance, and it's suddenly the historical note and acknowledgement pages.  

Also, there is information on the front and back covers of this ARC about how it will soon be a "major motion picture" plus information directing book groups to publisher resources for this book.  Although I very much enjoyed the story, I don't think it would make a very exciting movie nor a good book for discussion-- while the character's constant struggle for survival against a variety of situations kept the book going, it seems it would get rather monotonous in a movie.  Plus, he only wants to survive to get revenge, not because he has a family or is a generally happy guy, so it would be hard to cheer him on in a movie.  And while there are a few characters worth a little discussion, they aren't main characters.  It's not as if the main character could have made very many different choices.  What's he going to do, talk it out with the bear?

The Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki.  Ten pages past halfway, I quit this.  I'm rather interested in the story, since it's a time and place I haven't read much about, but I'm too annoyed.  The cover, binding, and some of the language are designed to make the book fit into "historical fiction," but it has most of the bad parts of a romance novel: the main characters are shallow and stupid, important secondary characters have no redeeming features, and motivations don't seem very plausible.  The most interesting and well-drawn characters are secondaries who don't actually get much screen-time.  

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