Saturday, February 04, 2017

hot stuff

Someone to hold by Mary Balough.  I must have been mightily impressed by the first book I read by this author, because I persist in reading new books year after year, despite the fact that the majority of the books leave me extremely underwhelmed.  Although, looking at that first review, I didn't think it superb even then.  The second and third books I read I seem to have enjoyed, but every book since then has been a let down and no mistake, and this title is no different.

There is nothing unique about this book.  There is no reason to purchase or read this and it contributes nothing to the genre.  The characters are slightly more likeable than the first book in this series, and are a bit more in focus, as the series has already been set up.  Events central to the plot strain credulity-- and manage to be repetitive simultaneously.  The erotic content is poorly balanced: too blatant to offer people who prefer such events to take place off-screen, and too vague and bland for readers who do want it.  You can't please everyone, and with romance novels, you really shouldn't try.

Note to self: no more Mary Balogh.

Jeeves: Joy in the morning by P.G. Wodehouse; a BBC Radio 4 full-cast dramatisation, with Michael Hordern and Richard Briers.  Our tiny, most-rural branches finally got hit with the flu that's been going around.  Whereas we have enough staff that, even with two or three people out, we can keep the doors open, the West End only has two or three people scheduled for the day, so it's a little bit different.  So I went out on day last week and comprised 50% of the branch's staff for the day.  It was super fun, I caught up on my ordering, and the drive was beautiful if longer than I'd want to make every day.

I hadn't heard these stories before, so it was enjoyable.  There were several aspects of the recording, however, that made it less enjoyable.  Primarily, there was way too much variation in volume.  Characters spoke quietly or shouted, and everywhere in between.  It was very difficult to hear in the car; I can't imagine it would be any easier to hear in other audiobook-convenient situations (walking, housework, gym, etc.); in fact, other than sitting perfectly still in a room with no machines, people, or other sources of noise, I'm not sure how one could expect to actually hear everything.

Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughan and Niko Henrichon.  This seems so thrown-together.  There was so much in here that could have been explored-- loyalty, empathy, family structure, cultural topics... and they were all just glossed over.  The story was rushed when it needed twice as much space to be told properly.  And leave it to Vaughan to inject as much gore as possible into a story despite-- or perhaps because of-- the fact that it does not add to or help tell the story.

Note to self: lay off Brian K. Vaughan for a while.

Nation by Terry Pratchett; read by Stephen Briggs.  Here is something I liked.  This was a repeat for me, obviously (1, 2), but I thought the family would like it.  We've been doing a very good job of not watching TV (DVDs, Netflix, whatever) in the evenings when we're stuck inside, so once we finished Woods runner, we needed something new.  The boy didn't get into this, but my husband really liked it, so we frequently stayed up later than we meant to, to listen after the boy had gone to bed.

I had always thought of this as very different from Pratchett's other work, particularly all the Discworld novels, because it isn't funny, it isn't satirical, and it isn't happy.  But, perhaps now that I have a little more distance since it's been a while since the last time I read a Discworld novel, I heard more of the little turns of phrase, the off-hand observations and comments that make his work funny, even when it's also sad.

The spouse said that Stephen Briggs' voice for Daphne sounds like C3PO.
"I enjoyed the structer and the writing style.  The story was great... right up until the point where Mao killed Cox, at which point the book should have come to a very, very quick end.  But I really like the idea of the two cultures merging and the way he wrote about the language barrier, some of the things Daphne gave up of her own culture so she could fit in with the Island, some of the things the Islanders took on from the European culture.  "Nation" is a great title because they had a nation, they created a new nation by merging nations, but each of them more or less retained their own identity.  I really like Mao's comment at the end about would he have rather have preferred it this way or that way.  He said it just is, there is no matter of making a choice.  That seemed to fit with the title and the concept of the story being what it is."


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