Sunday, February 02, 2020

Old stuff posted to a dying board

Undated reviews from my paper records, transcribed so I can find them in the future.

The Whipping Boy, by Sid Fleischman.  A quick read (took me less than an hour-- big print interspersed with pictures).  Not a real thriller or anything, even for its intended age group.  Basically it was a story stressing the morals of do your homework and be nice to people.

It was very well-written, though there were a lot of fragments, which I found annoying, but they add to the urgency and indecision felt by the main character.  A Happy Ending for everybody but the bad guys.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson.  I was profoundly moved by this book.  I was this girl, this girl was me.  I identified with her 100%

On a less personal level, I think it was masterfully written, should be in every library, and addressed a ton of issues high-schooers would see, identify with, and talk about, from self-harm to self image to social norms and structure.

It was incredible.  Read it.

The ultimate hitchhiker's guide by Douglas Adams.  The story was good and the characters were very funny.  His descriptions and word choice were unbelievably amazing.  Around the second half, though, the thread of the story really deteriorated-- the author only gave a few days out of a whole year, then a few days in another few years, without any transition or explanation.  This was frustrating.  I did really love the first part.

The valley of horses by Jean Auel.  This book, for some reason I have not identified, didn't seem as exciting as the first.  It was definitely more sappy.  But all that unnecessary lovey-dovey crap was kept to a reasonable minimum until the last chapter or so.  I wasn't expecting so many graphic love scenes.  If you don't mind that stuff, then there wasnt anything necessarily bad about the book.  High praise, right?

Shelters of stone by Jean Auel.  While it has been a while since I read the last book, the feeling of this book seemed very different, especially the writing style.  The grand descriptions she includes are feeling nothing except repetitious at this point, even monotonous.  The writing overall felt much simpler.  Not bad, although I wouldn't actually recommend this book to anyone I know.

Year of wonders by Geraldine Brooks.  The story of an 18-year-old, who has already buried her husband and two children, and her little town as, for a year, they battle the plague.  Well-told, not unnecessarily gry, with a bit of a surprise toward the end.

Although her situation is very foreign, she feels and experiences many things these high-end YA readers can relate to.

The stranger, by Albert Camus.  This book reminded me a lot of A heartbreaking work of staggering genius: the characters in both were very much alike-- they don't seem realistic. 

I don't think the character was worth the book-- not very many insights and not any feelings were imparted to the reader.  There was no connection to the character.

I didn't even like the writing style-- it was too common.  There was a severe lack of commas and the vocabulary was basic, nothing to write home about.

What we talk about when we talk about love, by Raymond Carver.  I don't know if maybe it's because the book is with a more modern fee, or because its a collection of short stories instead of one long story, or just the writer's personal style, but I definitely did not enjoy this work.  It's not because the stories are all depressing; I think it's just the way the author wrote, with his short little sentences and fragments and lack of quotation marks.

I didn't like any of the stories themselves, either, what with the aforementioned depressing content.

It didnt even make me feel anything particularly strongly.  Some of my classmates really got into the material, but I just didn't see it.  Maybe it was too deep for me and I couldn't grasp it, I don't know.   [Reassurance current-me would give to college-me: Undergrad lit classes are full of posers who want the world to mean more than it does, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with our brain.]

So far from God, by Ana Castillo.  This book was a good example of Latinx writing, with recipes and personal stories and the curandera.  It was written in a dialect, a mix of Spanish and English, and a lot of double negatives.  This was both impressive and frustrating: impressive because apparently the author has a wonderful vocabulary but frustrating because, well, double negatives. 

Sunday, July 28, 2019

all the Salvatores

Sea of swords.  The same as always, mostly, although things are looking up for the next book, should it ever come out.  [what I mostly remember about these is how crappy and frustrating they are, so I don't know why I stuck with them so much.]]

Servant of the shard.  These characters provided an enjoyable break from the Drizzt gang.  Killers, rather unfeeling, allowed the author not to attempt any more poorly-written touchy-feely scenes.

Enteri wants to be a good guy, I think.  But the plausibility of the story wasn't there.

Siege of darkness.  This book actually seemed more like two; there are two separate stories.  So that kind of threw me off.  Other than that, there is nothing to say about this book.  Please see previous works for reactions to writing style, etc.

The silent blade.  I believe the author is fast running out of ideas.  Perhaps the next book will explain things, although I doubt it.  The two groups spend an entire book coming together, have a few good battles, and are off again.

I don't think I've mentioned that, every few chapters, there will be a little excerpt from some Drizzt diary or something.  I started skipping them a few books ago and it has done nothing to effect the story other than not forcing me to read these horrible insertions. 

And I would just like to note that no one.  ever.  dies.  (Except for a few bad guys and a large number of orcs.)  So there's no real feeling of danger.

Sojourn.  There should definitely be a fourth book.  While the beginning and the end of this were good, years were glossed over in the middle, years I would have liked to read about, and the end left off before the original book trilogy picks up.

Fred the Dwarf bothered me.  He was a funny character, but that was no dwarf.  Maybe a hobbit.  I really liked Dove's character, too, but she had a disappointingly small part.

Also, back to the time lapse, the character of Drizzt is very different between tis book and next.  We need to see his growing time.  He's Drizzt, obviously, but he's not the same as he will be.  I want to know how that happened.

The spine of the world.  What the crap.  I say again:  What.  the.  Crap.

This guy should not do romance or attempt anything remotely related.  And that separate story line?  Just no. 

And it's super annoying that no one ever dies.  Although Wulfgr should have, because first he was an ass, royally, and now he has messed everything up.

Starless night.  I'm getting tired of the constant battle scenes.  How about some traveling for a change?  And when the author tries to put in all that sentimental crap, it doesn't work: it's not his thing, although he certainly tries.  The other thing that bothers me are the exerts, little pieces of Drizzt's memoir, stuck in between chapters.  They don't add to the story.

Streams of silver.  This book was rather predictable, seeing as how it's basically a copy of The lord of the rings.  If I hadn't previously read TLotR, this might have been more exciting.

In this book, the author did a lot of heavy foreshadowing fragments at the end of every chapter.  They got real annoying, real quick.  There were also lots of bits that were horribly cliche.  Completely unoriginal.

The thousand orcs.  You'd think he'd run out of books sooner or later, but it looks like this series will drag on for a while yet.  This book is the same as all the others; everything is the same.  The author could do to change his writing style a bit, for some variety, if the plot are going to be so monotonous.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

the rest of the Pratchetts

Reaper man.  This book had a very early feel-- you could tell the author was still working on developing the character, like Granny Weatherwax in Equal rites
This one was a little less comical and a little more insightful than most, but certainly not one of his best.

Small gods.  This one is going on my list with Dogma and Good omens.  They can make you think about religions in a way no serious media ever could: it doesn't really discuss, or compare, or judge, or promote.  It's just a story.  In the way The passion is just a story.  Besides the plot, there is no actual theme, no argument, so you can go wherever you fancy.  On your own, without being led.  Or hearded, depending on which type of hairy little herded animal you are.  "Sheep are stupid and have to be herded.  But goats are intelligent and want to be led."

Sourcery.  This is one of the books in which we feel the authors awareness of darkeness.  He's not being mean or scary, but he knows that other people can be. 
It was also very funny, though.

Soul music.  This one had small elements of religion but focused mainly on Rock & Roll.  I especially appreciated the social commentary as well as the focus on the power of music, almost as something primal. 

Thief of time.  Read Pratchett.  Read for entertainment, read for the irreverence the books contain, and read for the wisdom.

Truckers.  This is one of the author's books strictly for younger audiences.  Still, he showed his usual amount of imagination.  His style was easy but not dull and the story flowed smoothly, with a commendable amount of suspense.

I believe there are more to this series, but even with access to three library systems, I can't get my hands on the others right now.

Truth.  I've almost waited too long to do this review properly.  As always, the story was more entertaining than anything else, but it had some little nuggets of wisdom regarding the nature of truth and free speech.  Read it.

The Wee Free Men.  I can't think of a non-Pratchett book that could hope to compare with this one; it even surpasses some of his other Discworld books.  The Wee Fee Men (with or without italics) is and are hilarious.  I enjoy this author's books because they are always funny, throw out a few things to make you think, and havve good plot and character development.  Rock on.

Witches abroad.  This book uses a few of the characters, as well as the general witch-network set up, that the author used in The Wee Free Men and A hat full of sky.  His style and characters were what I have come to expect from him.  It was a book leaning more towards preteen readers, but I enjoyed it anyway.

Wyrd sisters.  This one might come before Witches abroad (I can't remember) and sets up the Coven sub-series (as I think of it).  It's kind of blending in to the background of the whole universe-- this book doesn't jump out and claim a place for itself.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Chunk 2: Gordon, Whyte, and Lackey

Noah Gordon:
Shaman.  I enjoy this author's writings, although it's clear he is only comfortable writing about two subjects: medicine and Judaism. 
This book was obviously based on a previous novel, The physician.  Although the passage of time between the two stories (several hundred years) made it nearly irrelevant, many little details went unexplained, things like "The Gift," the family tendency to art as well as medicine, and that all Cole boys learned to juggle.  I have not yet formed a concrete opinion as to how much explaining detail should be included in sequels: where is the line between reminding and rehashing?

The rabbi.  This wasn't his best work, although I've certainly read worse.  It was set in the general time period of The death committee but was set up more like Shaman in that it told the life stories of several characters, to create a more intricate character background.  This worked in Shaman, but not as well here, I think, because there were too many people, too many names mentioned.  It made the work feel confused and cramped.

Jack Whyte:
The skystone.  As to the story line, it was good.  It is an interesting topic (Roman Britain) and one I have not read about before.  It was quite violent and a bit gory, but it seemed not inappropriate for the writing style.  There were several gratuitous sex scenes that took away from the story, unnecessary filler.
What bothered me was the writing style.  The author was very good at his descriptions that really added to the scenes.  It was the voice that threw me.  The story is about people in 300 A.D., but the voice sounded current, even using more recent expressions.  It didn't fit with the time.  I might have to not recommend this book.
I have no idea about the historical accuracy of anything in this book, but it all seems plausible.

The singing sword.  I have read other books in the interim between the first book and this one, which might have influenced my memory, but the writing in this book seemed slightly improved from the first.  If I recall, it was the fragments in the first one that contributed to that feeling.  This book was still graphic, although it contained fewer such scenes and did a better job at creating an emotional connection with the reader, something the first book lacked.  Also, it was in this book that the story began, all at once, to fit in with the well-known legend, and those connections were exciting.  I need a break from historical fictions, but I look forward to the next book.

The Saxon shore.  As far as writing style goes, this book is just like its predecessors.  In the sense that it is an interesting story and engaging, I enjoy it.  However, I have never been so frustrated with a book.  It does not match up with every other Arthur story I have read, and the dissonance is driving me crazy.  If the character names were different, I wouldn't have any problem.  You can't ignore cannon.

The sorcerer: Metamorphosis.  I believe it is this author's life work to frustrate me.  After coming to grips with the disregard for legend and history that is contained within the story, the author goes on to kill off all the best characters.
In addition, after a monumental battle nd then the crowning of Arthur, the ending seemed very anti-climactic.  There was not a lot of closure. 
I've felt that there has always been something lacking in these stories.  Whether it's the legend of the plausibility or the realism, I don't know.  This story just doesnt hold water for me.

Uther.  To date, this is the worst book I've read and I do not expect it to be surpassed soon.  The entire piece was riddled with grammatical errors, things like no periods or "I'll" instead of "ill," crazy crap like that, the kind of stuff that makes you ask, "how did this get published?"  This guy needs an editor, stat.
Secondly (the second reason it is crap) is because it's like the story was written solely for the purpose of tying up loose ends which weren't really that loose in the first place. 
Thirdly, sometimes the author assumed we had read the other books and expected the reader to remember but at other times, wrote like he expected the reader not to have read any previous installments.  He was incredibly inconsistent in that area.
Fourthly, he wrote with such detachment about the main characters.  It was like a completely different author altogether.
I will never read this book again.  In fact, I'm getting rid of my copy.  Never read it.

Mercedes Lackey:
Sacred ground.  This was a good blend of fantasy and reality, although the mystery elements were plain to the reader and only mysterious to some of the characters.  The character development was very good.  Grammatically, the author has a poor concept of the em-dash and overuses fragments (ignorantly, unintentionally, it seemed), which detracted from the experience.

The serpent's shadow.  I really enjoyed this book.  It was interesting in that it is loosely based on Snow White.  I loved the plausibility of both the magic elements and the historical side.  The characters developed well, right along with the plot.
I don't remember the problems with prepositions or fragments being present in the books she co-authored (with Andre Norton), which were distracting.  Overall, though, I liked it.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Chunk 1: Wrede and Burroughs

paging through my remaining notes, I saw multiple series, and not-series but multiple books by the same author.  After some reorganization, here are some author chunks.

Searching for dragons by Patricia C. Wrede.  These books go by quickly; they are wonderful.  I especially appreciate the lack of fragments.
The scenes are described very well.  There are action and adventure but they aren't overbearing or gory.  Some of the bad guys occasionally get eaten or melted, but nothing worse than that. 
I think they are fun.

Talking to dragons by Patricia C. Wrede.  I didn't like this book as much as the others.  It was written in the first person, which threw me, and it had very litte, comparitivey, about the old characters from the previous books.
The grammar was amazing and conventional, so gold star.
Nothing else really seemed noteworthy, although this is a much better book than many I've read.

Tarzan of the apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs.  The book, rather different from the movie versions, was full of action, but not as emotionally involved as I either expected or hoped.  There were parts when I did not want to put it down.  And as the first book in a series (something I did not previously realize), it ends on a bit of a cliffhanger that leaves the reader wondering.  Its two down points are that it was a touch gory and there were statements that would not be viewed favorably by current social standards.  I really appreciated the language; it's hard to find modern writers who measure up.
A good book, one that I would recommend.

The return of Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs.  The story is exciting and suspenseful.  It doesn't spare anything: there's blood everywhere and death and all that stuff writers might shy away from.
One opinion of the author that comes out strongly is the idea that people behave a certain way, based on an innate quality bred into them, something in their genes.  Was that taken as fact at the time?  This innate quality covers ("justifies"?) all the author's more racist comments and saves Tarzan from "lowering" himself.  It acts kind of like a conscience, a little personal cricket.  This was also present in the first book.

The son of Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs.  The author persists in all his habits, good and bad.  Many "scientific" ideas of the time are present: that certain personality traits are genetic or hereditary, the social structure of elephants, certain concepts about humanity and race, etc.
He tried to reintroduce Tarzan and Jane as different people, giving them different names, trying to surprise the reader, but no, it did not work.  Ha ha, we are too smart for you.  I wouldnt necessarily recommend these books to anyone.  Never the less, I will do the Me thing and read them all.
There were a lot of errors in this book; little things that would have been caught by a good editor.  Those are the worst mistakes.

Tarzan and the jewels of Opar by Edgar Rice Burroughs.  This series has totally lost its hold on me.  There are only so many times one can read about the same things before it simply isn't entertaining anymore.
I wouldnt necessarily discourage anyone from reading these; I just don't enjoy them any more.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Qs and randoms

Queen Emma and the Vikings by Harriet O'Brien.  I didn't actually finish this book.  Although it had a lot of good information, it was poorly organized, which made it difficult to understand.

Quidditch through the ages by Kennilworthy Whisp (J.K. Rowling).  This history of quidditch was not as exciting as I expected.  Reading about a specific match is much more interesting than just reading about the game in general.  Well presented, however, and well organized.  Not much else to say, as its such a tiny book.

I don't know why these next were out of order, but I spotted them at the back of my journal.  Cleaning up, little by little.

The children of men by P.D. James.  [I apparently couldn't decide what to say, as the entry is blank.  I read it though, and I still think about it from time to time, particularly when doing Readers Advisory.]

2001: A space odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke.  I enjoyed this book very much.   It relies hardly at all on sensationalism and described actions, and very much relies on theories and possibilities.  It is a relief to read, and enjoyable.

Gravity by Tess Gerritsen.  I wasn't terribly impressed with this book.  There wasnt anything very memorable about it: the plot was similar to most others of its type.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

transcripted Ps

The paid companion by Jayne Ann Krentz (as Amanda Quick).  This book was fairly good, actually.  It only had two quick explicit scenes and the "romance" was neither overdone nor unbelievable.  It even had the makings of a minor mystery.  The characters were likeable; the plot was acceptable.  The writing style was even pretty good.  Still mainly smut, but ok.

Passage to dawn by R.A. Salvatore.  Quite the adventure this time.  I think I liked this book more than a good many of the previous ones.  The Harpulls make all the difference.  Nothing else changed.  Easy reading, no thinking required, very basic story.  What else can I say?

The penultimate peril by Lemony Snicket.  As good as ever, but getting darker.  It colors my views of the previous ones.

Perfect by Judith McNaught.  If you don't look at it as a romance, as some kind of portrayal of real life, but as an unrealistic comedy, it's absolutely grand.  The story was rather lame, although the writing was actually pretty good.  I have read  more poorly-written (referring to sentence structure, etc., alone) books that were able to make me cry.  This book gave me only belly laughs at the absurdity of the entire thing.

The perks of being a wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.  This book brings up a long of topics high schoolers will find relevant, so I think they will like it and be able to relate to it, and it would be a good book to teach from.
The boy in this book really reaches out to grab the reader, but gradually.  He makes you wonder.

The phantom tollbooth by Norton Juster.  Not only will kids get a kick out of itt, but I loved it, too!  It's a basic quest story, but the writing, the puns, were absolutely amazing.  My hat is off to you, Norton.  Incredible.

The physician by Noah Gordon.  Whether or not it's possible or likely that the events in this book happened does not seem relevant.  They are presented as if they did, believably. 
I enjoyed the author's writing style.  Our main character developed nicely.  What I really disliked, though, was how everything just kind of fell away at the end.  All the detail is suddenly gone and entire years are skimmed over in the space of a few paragraphs, as if the author desperately wanted to be done with the book and is just wrapping things up for the reader's benefit.  I may not have to read any more by this author.

Pirates of the Thunder by Jack L. Chalker.  The story continues to be good and fairly believabe, considering the fact that it is pure sci-fi.  I remember the author being a bit more crude than came across in the first book, but it came out more here.  Also, I noticed some of his personal ruts-- like, any time someone new is introduced, one of the first things is the author gives a physical descriptions.  Obviously you need to describe your resident aliens, but he has a pattern and sticks to it.

The plains of passage by Jean Auel.  I'm not sure if her books are getting more boring or if I'm just getting tired of them.  While I enjoy description and detail, these 5-page history essays thrown in are getting annoying.
I wouldn't recommend this book, or the series at all.  (That doesn't mean I won't finish them, though.)  The first one was pretty good, but they are definitely going downhill.

Pope Joan by Lawrence Durrell.  This was a text-book-turned-novel that filled in the historical gaps with reasonable assumptions.  It was marvelous, as far as the story (plot) goes, but it revealed a side of the Catholic church and monastic life that is not often displayed, and for good reason.  I loved how the author addressed the reader.
The negative implications brought to mind such things as Angels and demons, The red tent, and other books that bring dogma or church history into sharp relief against reality.

Pretties by Scott Westerfeld.  I don't think this book can really stand alone.  With its predeccesor, however, it is an interesting social commentary.  It is for younger teens, though, so older readers might not find it challenging enough, either in terms of context or reading level.

Prince charming by Julie Garwood.  This is pretty high quality smut, this is.  It had, of course, the unlikely relationship, the lust/hate combination felt by both parties, the mind-blowing sex (if only it were that good), and the realization that the two cannot live without each other.  This one had a fair adventure/near-detective story subplot.  Overall, the story was better than most of its kind, but had a few instances when details or side stories added nothing except maybe confusion. 
A trait all these romance novels share that I find annoying is how dense all the guys are when it comes to their relationships.  Dude are not actually this thick, right?  Also, there is always a height difference of like a foot, but the girl magically floats up 8 or 10 inches for all kisses and for sex.  They never have any awkward moments.  Unrealistic.  Grr. 

Sunday, May 12, 2019


Nanny Ogg's cookbook by Terry Pratchett.  This was a fun read, although I'm not sure I'd want to actually try any of the recipes... Plus, everything is in liters and grams and whatnot and I am lazy.
The non-cooking related sections were fun, and true to the character.  Nothing much more to say about it.

Night work by Laurie R. King.  I have mixed feelings about this book.  It took a while to get into it, which might be because it relied rather heavily on previous novels (I did not realize it was a series).  Also, I had to spend some time figuring out the relationships (and genders) of some of the characters. 
The  book did have many positives: the writing was good, the characters were believable enough, the plot progressed smoothly.  It was written very wel, especially for crime fiction.  In places I could almost visualize it, just like a Law & order episode.

Number the stars by Lois Lowry.  This book brought to life a small portion of the German occupation.  This book is set at a fairly low reading/age level-- there is no blood or death, only the need for a friend to run away and hide for a while, and come back later safely.
This is powerful, but in a very different way from The giver and Gathering blue.  It's more of a history and less of a statement, like the other books. 
Her language, as usual, is amazing, a wonderful experience for young readers (and older readers, too).

O Jerusalem by Laurie R. King.  This book started off like The moor, slow and rather dull, as if the author was trying to rally her forces.  The story picked up, though, and gave detail to a part of the story previously glossed over.
This one was written out of sequence, so the relationship between Holmes and Mary, although it was accurately portrayed, felt wanting compared with the previous two books.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.  This book was great in its historical detail, and it was exciting as well.  It really brought the people and places to life.  We "learned" about the Jacobite rebellions in my 18th century lit class, but I had no interest in it because it was unconnected to much. 
The only negative thing I have to say is that it had a bit more smut than seemed necessary, but it wasn't completely tasteless.

Sunday, May 05, 2019

remaining Ms

The midwife apprentice by Karen Cushman.  Definitely a piece of children's literature, but one of honesty and reality.  This book was above many in its ability to *gasp* create complete sentences and use decent vocabulary.  As far as my knowledge goes, there was nothing in here contrary to historical fact.
I would say this book would probably be appropriate for most 9- or 10-year-olds, possibly the "mature" 8-year-old; just an uneducated guess.

A midwife's tale: The life and times of Martha Ballard, based on her diary, 1785-1812 by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich.  I didn't finish this book, shame on me.  It had a lot of good information and it was well-organized: both excellent qualities.  But it was boring.

Mindscan by Robert J. Sawyer.  I've read several books by this author and they are all very similar in many ways, which is often a problem for authors who write multiple books.  This author isn't trying to make them all different and failing, however.  Even though many of the elements are similar, he handles such big questions that the setting doesn't seem as important.  Also, he seems to always do both sides of a question-- each in their own book.  Its very interesting when taken as a whole, and each book is also excellent by itself.

Mirabilis by Susan Cokal.  This story is built on a few lost historical bits.  Although it portrayed a town in the 1300s, it wasn't so different from how people are now.  By design?
The story addresses so many different elements.  The plot might turn readers off, but it was a very good book.  It touches on jealousy, love, power, holiness, fads, and sexuality.

Monstrous regiment by Terry Pratchett.  This book isn't exactly in the top 5, but it was enjoyable.  It drew slightly on pre-established characters from Ankh-Morpork (mostly Watch personnel) but mostly relied on new characters.
The commentary on what women face in many new fields is good.

A monstrous regiment of women by Laurie R. King.  This is the second book in its series.  It did not live up to the expectations I had following its predecessor.  Holmes fell even farther towards the ranks of regular humanity, away from the demigod of Doyle.  That's a mistake.
Although the books are certainly enjoyabe, they aren't quite the mental exercise for the reader that the original series was.

The moon by whale light by Diane Ackerman.  Lent to me by a friend, this isn't something I would have picked up for myself.  This author incuded four stories of her little adventures: bats, whales, crocs, and penguins.  There were tons of interesting facts, stuff I'd never heard before and that was cool.
The author's style, however, left much to be desired.  To begin, it wasn't the most intellectual writing.  Second, her descriptions were overdone and often predictabe, especially when concerning people.  It was like, "John, who had black hair, [some other physical features], and [clothes]..."  I felt like the book maybe should have been aimed lower.  Not exactly riveting.

The moor by Laurie R. King.  This book was somewhat, in general, less than the previous books.   That may have been influenced by the setting, which was almost exclusively wet and dark.  It's more likely because the plot itself was slow.

Morgan's run by Colleen McCullough.  I liked this one rather better than what I read by this author last (The touch).  It shared the other book's good points, namely, and easy yet intelligent writing style and an attention to detail that is so closely matched to what I prefer.  The improvement was that the characters were more rea, more believable.
The one down point was that the author did a poor job, I felt, of reflecting the passage of time.  The characters grew and events in their lives were relayed, but not enough to account for the passing of years.

Mother tongue by Demetria Martinez.  This novel was supposed to give a personal account of the revolution in San Salvaore, complete with the rough-draft feel of a personal journal.  I had a difficult time working through it, as the entries are not in any real semblance of order, nor are even all from the same character.
What I loved about the book was that it included poems the main character felt relevant, recipes she learned at that time, letters from friends, and newspaper clippings.  It was not just her story, it was the story of many

Mrs. Frisby and rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien.  This book was surprisingly good.  The story was mysterious and exciting.  The language was clear and expressive, simple and direct yet covering everything.  I thought it was great.  I had a blast reading it.

Much ado about nothing by William Shakespeare.  While similar to The taming in the Beatrice-Benedick plot line, there is a subtelty that adds to the quality.  Claudio reminds me of Proteus from Two gents, especially in the party scene when he goes so quickly back and forth to believing different things.  Don John was a very good villian.
Alogether, this is the funniest play I've read.  The taming was good, but the plot in this is more realistic and answers itself (as to how these things happened.  In the other, the women all just changed with no explanation.)

The mysteries by Lisa Tuttle.  The thing that really stood out for me about this book was the voice, and specifically, how it was all wrong.  The main character seemed well-developed, but had one major flaw: it was supposed to be a male.  The female author was unable to project a masculine voice.  That made the reading difficult.
Also, the idea was not really one-of-a-king, and it did not have enough original detail to make it stand out.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

MA thru ME

Mairelon the magician by Patricia C. Wrede.  Sadly, this book was not as amazing as her Dragon series.  But still, this was better than most.  Primarily plot-driven with a decently developed air of mystery and danger; wonderful sentence structure and a freedom from grammatical and mechanical errors help.

Make lemonade by Virginia E. Wolff.  This is written in free verse form, which threw me off at first.  Later, I got used to the style and appreciated it as an interesting literary tool.
It brought up a lot of good points and things that people in my situation don't tend to see a lot of and tend not think about much.  I loved how it brought up all these issues without making issues out of them-- that is, not baming or accusing and thus turning readers off.

The mammoth hunters by Jean Auel.  These books go into a good amount of detail to explain the histories and practices of the culture involved.  It gives an understanding of the evolutionary view without either feeling forced or like a textbook.  It's very interesting.
In relationship to the story, I did not feel it quite matched the quality of its two predecessors  Maybe the author was going for a more emotional kind of suspense, but she did not achieve it.  So much was focused on this emotional sturggle, but it ended predictably, unsurpringly, and rather anticlimatically.  It was a bit of a let down.
Stil, by no means the worst book I've read.

Marked for mercy by Alton Gansky.  This medical mystery/Christian fiction book was pretty poor.  It got off to a smeg-tastic start by having a horrendous number of proof-reading errors on the first page.
The plot was slow; the sentence structure, predictable; in general, it felt too simple and didn't take all of my attention to follow.  The foreshadowing was blarringly obvious, the reptition and reminders of facts were unnecessary, and in general the entire thing was too slow and pretty dull.

Maskerade by Terry Pratchett.  This would be really fun to use with a class or book group, because it parodies The phantom of the opera so well.

Masks of the martyrs by Jack L. Chalker.  After so much time and effort and struggle, the fourth ring and the ending both seemed so anticlimactic.  Plus, the very end was so open, anything could happen next.  I suppose he can't tell the rest of the story until the end of the world, but a clean, clear-cut, happily-ever-after ending would have been nice.  You don't just shut down Master System and then stand around for the rest of your life whistling and twiddling your thumbs.

Maximum Ride: The angel experiment by James Patterson.  Although an interesting and exciting story, there weren't too many deeper issues to explore.  An entertaining book, certainly.  It was very similar to Uglies in many ways, except for small details about the story; the feel was the same.
I'm of mixed emotions about the slang used.  Although how teens actually talk, and thus accessible to young readers, it may quickly date the book.  Otherwise, mostly good.

Maximun Ride: School's out-- forever by James Patterson.  The first book was a good story, and even a good beginning to an onging story.  This, instead of being another installment, felt like a placeholder, trying to keep fans interested until the next real story.
The characters didn't seem as natural this time around, and for al the paper used, nothing new was really learned and nothing monumental happened or was revealed.  Not so good.

Memoirs of a geisha by Arthur Golden.  I enjoyed this book very much.  It was a totally believable story.  What I found most striking was that this story, which has a female narrator, has a male author.  I have never read a book by a dude in which he got all the little details right.  His voice was perfect.
You could love the characters-- or, in some cases, really hate them-- and I loved the writing stye.  This is a great book.

Men at arms by Terry Pratchett.  This was one of the better ones.  Now I can say that his early works were more poignant, as this one was.  It also had that element of sadness that is so amazingly unexpected and different from his humor.  Yet they fit together.

The merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare.  This only qualifies as a comedy by the old standard, in which the antagonist eventually wins, as it was not funny in the least.  That's probably the main reason I didn't really like it, although the characters weren't exactly a draw.  Antonio, the merchant, was so blah all the time that it's like he doesn't deserve a play.  The other characters are all pretty lame, too, just looking for a good time.  Portia's rather in the same boat as Antonio for the beginning at least.
I would like a summary of the racist feelings at the time, to better understand Shylock and how he is to be interpreted.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

all the remaining Ls

Like water for chocolate by Laura Esquivel.  I couldn't set this down, this book was so amazing: recipes, home remedies, and personal and family history.  It was easy to read, it evoked emotion, it was inspiring.  It felt indescribably personal.  I would recommend it in an instant.  Awesome.

The little grey men by B.B. [Denys Watkins-Pitchford].  This is a young children's chapter book.  I thought it was actually pretty good, with a few minor problems: the author would take these little tangents that, although they gave good backstory, really broke the flow.  Other than that, there were a few minor editing errors (double thes, etc.) but regular people wouldnt notice them.

Little women by Louisa May Alcott.  This book has many pros and cons. 
Pros: basic plot, easy to follow; excited emotions in the reader as well as provided character to sympathise with; and definite feelings of closure, with realistic characters.
Cons: all struggles seemed overly simplified, with cause and effect and happy endings all around; time was not respected: author would jump forward in time up to a year or more, then hop back through time and space, which led to some discontinuity in the story; it also didn't feel like time actually passed, the characters didn't seem to mature or change at all until suddenly- bam- big difference, as if all of a sudden they were older.

Living dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris.  Although these are very fun, they are easy reads-- I can get through one in its entirety on a work day.  Maybe that's one more thing that I like about them: not too heavy, just for fun.

Locked rooms by Laurie R. King.  This series entry was not quite up to par.  The writing was as good as ever, but the story itself was rather lacking.  It relied too heavily on the internal thoughts and emotions of the main character and on her family history and was lacking in exotic or interesting locations or situations.  The ending was especially a let down, rather anticlimactic.

Lords and ladies by Terry Pratchett.  I like the main characters in this book, but Verence and Magrat are about done.  They are in Capre jugulum but marraige seems to take the adventure out of life for them as well.

Lords of the middle dark by Jack L. Chalker.  Having been through this series before, I know this book to be mostly background and set up, although it is interesting in its own right.  Scifi gone crazy, it has a familiar ring (no pun intended).  It throws a lot at you as far as computer stuff, interstellar theory, genetic manipulation, and the like, but it's not too hard to take in.  The language is contemporary.  This author can be, at times, a bit more crude than necessary but it's ntohing that would keep me from reading the rest of the books. 

The last era (The sundered) by Michael A. Martin and Andy Mangels.  Still relying heavily on italics and the reader's knowledge the background story, this story was one of the better ones I've read of this collection.  It was a little difficult to see known characters in new roles, but they stayed mostly true to their established characters.  This book showed side-by-side two options for mankind: a future ruled by fear and distrust, and one spurred by curiosity and peaceful exploration.

The last garden by Jane Aiken Hodge.  I enjoyed this book very much; it was a wonderful mix of what one normally finds in 19th century English books: family concerns, adventure, love, treacher, discovery of self, and the teeniest pitch for feminism.  All these elements are present in Jane Eyre, and this book brought to mind that one in that regard.  Also, the heroine reminded me a little of Jane, both in her history and in her character.

 Lost in a good book by Jasper Fford.  This book was like the first of the series in many ways, and nearly as good.  The first had a stand-alone quality, ability, that this one acks, but that is not necessarily a bad thing-- it is what sequels are for, after all.

The lost world by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  The plot, if actually possible, was certainly plausible.  Written in Victorian literary style, I loved it.  This stye takes a certain kind of reader though: most people wouldnt like it.  It wasn't necessarily spectacuar, but had a good plot and character development.

The lost years of Merlin by T.A. Barron.  I was looking for a story related to the great Arthurian legends.  I found a story so disconnected that it should be considered totally sepearate.  Way worse than the Camulod series.
Except for claiming a non-existent tie, the story itself wasn't bad.  I mean the story as in the actual events.  Things that were bad: the narrator's uncharacteristic voice and tone, the author's inability to write a complete sentence, and "Luke, I am your father."  The reader level was pretty low, nothing remotely challenging.  Bit it would probably be good for younger readers, maybe 6th grade.

The love artist by Jane Alison.  I think this book expected you to know more.  Not in a previous-in-the-series kind of way, but more in general knowledge of the specifics being explored.  Because of this, it was very vague.  It is the story of a story, and relied on you to know the story being written about.  It made it difficult not to feel confused or purposefuly in the dark. 

Sunday, April 14, 2019

thanks for all the fish

I completed transitioning to GoodReads last  year, and no one has complained.  If you miss me, find me there.

I found more pre-this blog handwritten reviews on my bookshelf, so I'll keep tossing them up here, just so I have them saved somewhere.  They are not at all new.

A lady raised high by Laurien Gardener.  I really enjoyed this book.  i might even say that I couldn't put it down.  I cannot say for certain what it is about this book that makes it so entertaining.  One certainly feels a great deal of sympathy for the characters, and the writing is very good.
Although I love historical fiction, knowing that the character will die is a bit of a downer for the whole thing.

Lamia: A witch by Georgia Taylor.  I enjoyed the story, but it wasn't written very well.  It always felt to me that the author was rushing-- all the time, not just when appropriate to manage pacing, and when there was nothing to rush to.  There were a lot of good subplots or histories that could have been more detailed and added to the characters.  I thought it ended at an awkward time, too.

The last continent by Terry Pratchett.  This one wasn't anything to write home about.  Typical writing style and funny in places, but this one really didn't give one much to think about, as others by this author have done.

The last Jew by Noah Gordon.  This author paints very real pictures: authentic, correct (historically), personal; both emotional and informative.  His plots and characters progress realistically and believably.
After reading three of his books, it seems he knows only two topics, but he knows them thoroughly.  Because of this, it is difficult to separate the different stories in my mind: they meld together, being very close in subject matter.

The last unicorn by Peter S. Beagle.  While I absolutely loved the language in this book, I found the story dull.  The phrases, language patterns, new similes, and various other word usages were completely new to me, things I'd never heard before.  And while I love that, the story threw icy water on my passion for reading.  For about 2 weeks.  It wasn't difficult to get through, as in too much thinking required, nor was it insanely boring.  It was just mediocre, and its redeeming qualities did not outshine that. 

Le morte d'Arthur by Malory.  Of all the King Arthur stories Ive read, I will say I liked this one the least.  Sorry.  It was boring.  The pages and pages of "The Duke unhorsed Sir Bleobris.  Then Sir Lyonel unhorsed The High Prince and gave his horse to Sir Bleobris..."  On and on for ever and ever, amen.  Everyone all got their heads chopped off and/or their guts spilled on the ground.  There was nothing endearing about the language or the story, just a bunch of guys fighting for the sake of fighting ("I will champion your cause, be it right or wrong!").  Men.

The legacy by R.A. Salvatore.  The story, as always, was exciting, although not as pressing as the previous books.  We are upset about the loss of Wulfgar, as it was completely unnecessary.  We are more upset, however, about the totally uncharacteristic changes in him before his death.  It's like the author tried to make the reader stop liking him so his death wouldn't be so bad.  He failed.  I don't know where the real Wulfgar went, but he certainly was not in this book.
The writing style is easy to read but not the best way of presenting.  It still leaves much to be desired.  You'd think after so many books, he'd get the hang of this writing stuff.

Lethal harvest by Willliam Cutrer and Samaha Glahn.  The second book written by this pair that I've read (False positive), this is also a medical mystery written for a Christian Fiction audience.  I wouldn't describe it as gripping, but the pace was good and the plot wound itself along.  I really enjoyed the character developments.  The terminology and medical aspects of the bok were just about perfect for me: not dumbed down to an embarrassing leve, but easy enough to understand.

A letter of Mary by Laurie R. King.  This book, third in the series, remained on par with the second book, which, although not quite up to the first, is still a good step higher than most current reading material. 
The problem of humanizing Holmes is that, given the context, one expects a little romance out of him.  The author stays mostly true to the original in that, however.  This leaves the reader feeling somewhat unfulfilled on that front.
One thing I do very much appreciate is that the novels generally stand up on their own.  They could be read individually or not sequentially, and the reader would not generally suffer for it.

The light fantastic by Terry Pratchett.  This can be tossed into the category of "usual Pratchett-ness."  There wasn't anything about this book that was extraordinary from his other work.  That isn't bad: this one was just a story.  Read for entertainment purposes only, that kind of thing.  Still great fun.

Sunday, August 05, 2018


Midnight crossroad by Charlaine Harris.  This was pretty fun. There were a couple missteps with remarks that didn't end up leading anywhere, but they were pretty minor.  Probably best read by people with at least a passing familiarity with the author's Sookie Stackhouse series-- it may not be exactly the same universe, but we skip over the whole "oh, vampires exist?" business, so not for new readers of paranormal.  The who-done-it is a little out of left field, but not too jarring.

A lady's guide to etiquette and murder by Dianne Freeman.  I'm giving myself a pat on the back for the 100th book I've finished this year.  This is a Good Book: not too many side characters to track and they are different enough to keep separate; hints at future romance but not silly or overwhelming. Looking forward to future installments.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

2019 Re(ad)treat wrap-up

stats and such:

I called my final count 8 books:
GN: 2
Audio: 2
novel: 2
partial novel: 1
novella: 1

GN: 2
Partial audio: 2
novel: 3
partial novel: 1

oo, 8 and 1/2 this year:
GN: 2
Audio: 1
novel: 2 + 1/2 + 1 Juv
picture books: 2

I just (belatedly) finished up The Alpine Advocate by Mary Daheim, which I read fully half of during the Reading Weekend.  I liked this more than I thought I would, for a small-town cozy mystery.  There are a ton of minor characters, too many to keep straight, but I'm sure they become bigger and more defined in future series installments.  I was annoyed because I had (what I thought of as) a pretty good guess as to the who and what, but I was wrong; the answer was one of those out-of-left-field, zero in-text hints so, while it made sense based on the explanation provided after the revelation, it didn't make sense in the story.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

2019 Re(ad)treat: 48 hrs + 17 minutes

Unfamiliar fishes by Sarah Vowell; narrated by the author.  I'd like to think I would be good friends with this author, as she's acerbic, but I think she'd get bored: she's so much smarter than me.  There are a great number of historical figures covered in this, even though it doesn't even cover a full century.  History not being my strong suit, I won't take away many specifics, although, between audiobooks and local historical research for work projects, I am developing a better idea of what was going on-- at least in the very western states-- after the Civil War.

I listened to this while doing dishes, hanging up the laundry outside, pruning my roses, and knitting.

The 48 hours is officially up, but I'm still home alone; I might be able to finish that last paperback.