Thursday, June 30, 2016

Program glance-throughs 2

Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples: This is on my list because one of the wine descriptions struck me as being a good match for a non-book medium.  But this probably isn’t a good fit: selling a graphic novel to some of these folks would be a job of work by itself, much less a very …graphic… novel in such a far-out fantasy world.  I haven’t read any happy graphic novels lately, so I don’t have any ideas to sub in.

The second chances of Priam Wood by Alexander Rigby: Gaa, I had such high hopes for this, but the review is better-written than the book.  The writing has a pedantic feeling, all telling, with little sentence variation.  The first two chapters read like the set-up for a moralizing story, not exactly something to draw most readers in.  Leafing through, there’s so little dialogue throughout how will we hear from anyone except the narrator?  Sadly, this book really isn’t worth picking up.

Simone by Eduardo Lalo, translated by David Frye: Pretentious?  It’s hard to get into and is difficult to follow, but carries that quality of, if one were to suggest edits to the author, the author would respond along the lines of “you can’t critique my art; it’s ART!”  (as if there is no such thing as bad art or incomplete art.)  It is likely to not be accessible/enjoyable to the majority of readers.

Seeing red did not come in on hold in time to be reviewed.

Touch by Claire North: Just enough information is given out at just the right intervals.  I’ll run the blurb past my no-sci-fi reader at a branch.  I'm hopeful.

Treachery in Bordeaux by Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noel Balen: Oh, so much telling.  After a dozen pages, I’m not sure why I should invest in the characters and with the book being so short (and the margins so generous) I’m not sure there’s space enough to make me do so.  Also noticed a few proofreading errors even in that short space.

Untouchable by Ava Marsh: The pacing in the beginning of the story is very good, I can feel the suspense already.  But the writing is all short sentences, too clipped, with a bunch of fragments that would work better anchored.  Not quite.

The wake by Paul Kingsnorth: Ugh!  How could the reviewer have failed to mention the non-standardized spelling and the lack of punctuation!  A sentence at random: “it was the efen when he cum deorcness was gathered in and we was in the hus around the fyr with was a crocc of broth of lamb and baerlic and we was all eten this with the good baerlic loaf what odelyn macd well and we was eten with micel lust for the daeg had been long”  (p.59).  Library Journal lets me down again.

The winter people by Jennifer McMahon: Very nice sentence variation and other writing conventions.  A few characters, all with enough depth to be engaging, and touching on a few genres to appeal to a wide audience.  A strong possibility, although I’m not sure about a match. 

The winter war by Philip Teir: I cannot tell what this is trying to be.  The blurb on the back says it’s “funny, sharp, and brilliantly truthful,” but no matter where I jump to in the book, it reads like an exposition.  There’s little dialogue and we don’t seem to be following any particular person, and certainly not getting inside anyone’s head; we just sort of bobble along the ceiling, watching.

I was still waiting for a third of the books to come in, so I went out to the New shelves and swiped some titles I remembered as having good reviews.

If I fall, if I die by Michael Christie: Excellent first scene.  The writing is very engrossing, sweeping the reader along.  It fills several needs—family issues, coming-of-age-type story, and book-group-type book.  Lots to talk about, about how everyone is messed up in a different way and how one’s issues affect the people around one.  This is a very strong book, but if I use Piece of Mind, that’s two books out of six hinging upon non-neurotypical storylines, which is too much.  I could have flipped a coin between these two, honestly.

In another life by Julie Christine Johnson: readily accessible style.  Appropriate for the quasi-fantasy/sci-fi I usually try to sneak in—with the success of The Time Traveler’s Wife and the Outlander series, time travel isn’t as “out there,” nor as hard a sell, as it used to be. 

Since I was still most desperately missing a suspense-type novel, I also made read-alikes lists for the two suspenseful novels from previous programs still successfully circ'ing: The devil's detective by Simon K. Unsworth and Spring tide by Cilla and Rolf Borjlind.
Almost everything listed as a read-alike for The devil's detective was similarly hell-centric; none were dark paranormal or suspense with another background.  (Suggestions were Sandman SlimThe scarlet gospels, etc.)  With one exception, all readalikes for Spring Tide have circulated very well, some more than 150 times, and don’t need a boost from being presented in a program—and would likely be a repeat for a number of attendees.

Inherit the dead, edited by Jonathan Santlofer: “Novel-by-committee,” what a wonderful description.  The writing (I sampled several chapters, each by a different author) fits pretty well into the typical hard-boiled genre: terse, dark.  A definite possibility.  70 lifetime checkouts, though, which is more than I like.

The dead run by Adam Mansbach: The writing is very appealing, has a very unique voice, but is also very rough and might not have a wide appeal.  Useful for sure in another setting.

Between summer’s longing and winter’s end by Leif G.W. Persson, translated by Paul Norlen: The writing seems too dry, kind of clinical.  I think the author was going for a police-report sort of feel (?) but it just feels clipped.  Just the facts.

Devil’s Garden by Ace Atkins: It reads like a suspense but the setting (time period) gives it something different from most.  Unfortunately, I can’t find a reason to care about any of the major characters presented: they are all flimsy, shallow, generic “bad guys” without apparent redeeming features.  

The final pull is The Bollywood affair, Inherit the dead, Touch, Piece of mind, The daughters, and The long road to the deep north (which, for some reason, I didn't write anything down for.  I think I picked it, becoming desperate for an historical novel by a male author.  The international setting is also a plus.).

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