amanda_lodden: (four)
I've got a folder on my Kindle called "To Be Reviewed". This is my attempt to clean it out a little bit.

* Handbook for Dragon Slayers by Merrie Haskell

Another phenomenal book from someone who is fast becoming a favorite author. Haskell sees the tropes, waves at them, and then turns away from them into a much more interesting story.

Ultimately, it's a story of strength and transformation (sometimes literally, mostly figuratively). The characters are complex and feel real. It's pure fun, until you realize that there's deeper philosophical thoughts hiding underneath the fun.

* No Game for a Dame by M. Ruth Myers

You know those old hardboiled detective novels, which may have fun mysteries but often leave you a little squicked out at how women are portrayed in them? This book is their antidote.

Maggie Sullivan is a Private Detective in the 1930s. She's smart and quick and good at what she does. The sexism (and racism) of the era isn't ignored, but it isn't overwhelming, and Maggie makes as much use of the stereotypes surrounding her gender as she encounters difficulties because of them.

I liked this book a great deal, but I felt like the ending was a little deus ex machina. Much of the climax involves Maggie having good luck, or someone bursting in at just the right moment. I understand that it's before the era of instant communication and Maggie's options were somewhat limited, but I do wish that she'd left a little bit more of a trail of clues for her cohorts to follow, so that it felt like she had more of a hand in the ending.

* Tough Cookie by M. Ruth Myers

The second Maggie Sullivan novel is even better than the first. What I said then still applies, so I'll just quote myself:

"Maggie Sullivan is a Private Detective in the 1930s. She's smart and quick and good at what she does. The sexism (and racism) of the era isn't ignored, but it isn't overwhelming, and Maggie makes as much use of the stereotypes surrounding her gender as she encounters difficulties because of them."

* Mirror Sight by Kristen Britain

I love this series, but I only like this book. Karigan gets sent forward in time several hundred years, and the fish-out-of-water thing doesn't play as well this time as it did in earlier books-- in part because Karigan's focus this time is "I have to get home!" rather than "I have to solve the problems I'm facing" as they usually are. (Okay, technically being in the wrong time is a problem she's facing, but she faces it by whining and ignoring the rest of the problems in the world she's in.) You get told things about the future of Big Name characters, but not with a good sense of why or how Karigan could change the course of history.

* The Rook by Daniel O'Malley

Holy cow, this book was amazing. And intense. And more than a little creepy at times. Myfanwy Thomas works for a secret organization that keeps supernatural forces under control in Britain. And while that part is kind of cool and there's an interesting mystery to be solved, that's only half of what the book is about-- perhaps less than half. Because Myfanwy Thomas has lost her memory. Fortunately, she had some advance warning that it was going to happen, and her former self wrote some letters to help her out. The book is a fabulous story about what shapes us and makes us who we are. Myfanwy has to figure out who did this to her before they do worse, while simultaneously trying to figure out who she is, both in the literal and in the philosophical sense.

[Note: I actually read this book a year ago, and just realized that I hadn't ever reviewed it.]

* The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross

I was recommending The Rook to a friend, and as I described the organization that Myfanwy Thomas works for, he said "Oh, like The Laundry?" I'd never read any of the Laundry series, so I didn't know how to answer that, but now I do:

No. No, not at all like the Laundry. Oh, the organization's goals are about the same, and there's a power struggle within it. But while The Rook makes you think about the mystery (and gives you all the clues you need to solve it, if you're good enough-- I wasn't, and the ending took me by surprise) and the implications of Myfanwy's memory loss, The Atrocity Archives reads more like "The Bastard Operator From Hell gets shoved into things he thinks he wants but maybe not." The BOFH part does die down after the first half (thank goodness, as the jargon did not age well), but there's still a distinct lack of depth to the Laundry in comparison.

* Nobody's Prize by Esther Friesner

Not quite as good as its prequel, but still very enjoyable.

* The Undead Pool by Kim Harrison

Throughout the series, Rachel has gotten more mature, while making more complex (and poorly-received by the general public) decisions. I've said before that the series is ultimately about morality, and it still is-- but it's also about Rachel making peace with herself and her past, and opening herself up to other people's points of view as well.
amanda_lodden: (four)
The story itself is engaging and likable. It's worth a solid 4 stars, 4.5 if Amazon let us do 1/2 stars. I'm particularly fond of the way that Vixen's daddy issues are handled, because so very many absentee-parent stories ignore the confusing mix of emotions in favor of a black-and-white option.

But it's also full of obvious copyediting errors. In addition to at least a dozen little words missing ("the", "he", etc), at one point I was taken completely out of the story in the middle of the climactic battle by saying "Wait, who is Jimmy?" Further confused reading finally indicated he was the brother of an earlier character, which is fine and dandy except that when the brother is introduced, his name is Andrew. But that's nothing compared to the confusion of Mr. Chase and Mr. Haste, both of whom are important characters in the narrative, which makes it extra confusing when Mr. Haste is referred to as "Mr. Chase".

The errors are enough to break the flow of the story, and are the sort of thing one expects to see from a first-time self-publishing author who thinks they can go it alone, not from a seasoned veteran like Stackpole who should understand the value of editors.
amanda_lodden: (four)
* The Princess Curse by Merrie Haskell

I picked this book up thinking that it was a light, humorous romp poking fun at a bunch of princess tropes. (There's nothing wrong with that sort of thing, if you're in the mood for it, and I frequently am.) This is not that book. Well, this is sort of that book, if you took that book and added ten times the depth and maturity, and then sprinkled in a generous helping of solid story-telling.

The Princess Curse is a mix of many different fairy tales, so skillfully done that I didn't even notice the Beauty and the Beast one until someone else pointed it out-- and it's very obvious, I was just so engrossed in the story by that point that I didn't pay any attention to it. The author has several opportunities to go deep into Creepy Land with her child brides, and very pointedly does not do so, which I appreciate.

I'd give it 6 stars, but I've subtracted one for the lack of a sequel. You left yourself so many good hooks, Ms. Haskell. Please, I beg of you, write about one of them. Or all of them.
amanda_lodden: (four)
Note to self: do not choose a book by your favorite author for "I'm tired, I'll read for a little bit and then I'll go to sleep around 10:30 or 11" because it turns into "I'll just read one more chapter" until you finish the book at 1:30am.

I have a definite soft spot for retellings of familiar stories from alternate points of view or timelines. Nobody's Princess is the story of a young Helen of Troy, before the stories in mythology. It's also a fine story in its own right. The characters are compelling and complex. Despite following a story path already defined by existing mythology, none of the plot feels overly contrived or forced. I enjoyed it very much, and plan to read the sequel in the near future.
amanda_lodden: (four)
Goodreads sent me a lovely little email saying "Congratulations, you read seven books this year!" and I said "What the hell? I read way more than seven books this year."

A little poking around revealed a few things:

1. I am absolutely terrible about putting books I've read into Goodreads.

2. I am not making up for it by posting reviews of books I've read here, or anywhere else.

3. I am much better at buying books than at reading them. As part of trying to clean things up on Goodreads, I went through my Kindle purchases, and realized that I have a LOT of catching up to do. Erm, oops.

However, I have ThingsThatMustBeDoneBeforeTheEndOfTheYear (tm) and I'm a little over-scheduled this week, so I really can't afford the time it would take to sit down and figure out everything I've read. What I got, in the hour that I gave myself, in no particular order:

* Wicked Appetite and Wicked Business by Janet Evanovich

* Tapped Out by Natalie M. Roberts

* A Tangled Web by Mercedes Lackey

* Chuck Cave and the Vanishing Vixen by C.C. Blake

* The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

* Queen Victoria, Demon Hunter by A. E. Moorat

* The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back by Sariah Wilson (which actually did get a review, so go me!)

* First Truth by Dawn Cook (and I read all four books in this series, so I assume that fact that the first one is in 2013's list means that all four of them should be)

* Beauty and the Werewolf by Mercedes Lackey

* Party Crashers By Stephanie Bond

* New Amsterdam and Garrett Investigates by Elizabeth Bear

* Wine in my Sippy Cup by Deborah Dove

* Ever After and Into the Woods by Kim Harrison

* Just a Geek by Wil Wheaton

* Engraved on the Eye by Saladin Ahmed

* The Rook by Daniel O'Malley

* A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton

* The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

* The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

With any luck, having the list will prompt me to post reviews of these someday. Or at least help me remember to clean up the Goodreads list.
amanda_lodden: (four)
I have a rule of thumb: When there is a movie based on a book out or planned, I don't read the book first. I did for a while, until I realized how often I was complaining that a certain character didn't look the way I pictured them or a favorite scene had been cut. When you like a scene in a book and it gets cut out of the movie, you feel like you've been robbed. When you like a movie and then read the book and find extra scenes, it's bonus material.

So despite receiving The Hunger Games as a gift several years ago, I've let it sit on a shelf, unread. And honestly, while I liked the first movie, it didn't inspire me to rush to my bookshelf and devour the book. It was an okay story about love and survival within a really screwed-up society. The second movie was different for me-- a much deeper look at how the power structure works, and a story about challenging and changing the society. The ending was a kick in the gut, and fascinated me. When I debated about breaking my rule and reading the books because I didn't want to wait for the third movie to find out how it ends, my sister-in-law told me that the movies are "word-for-word" for the books, with no cut-out scenes, and that it would totally be safe to read them. Still on the fence about it, I picked up the first two and read them, because I've seen those movies now and there's no rule-breaking involved.

Despite this review being mostly-positive, I feel obliged to warn you: the writing is terrible. The author uses a lot of sentence fragments. The entire story is told from Katniss's point of view, so things that the movie shows from other points of view are told as exposition dumps when someone informs Katniss about them later. If I had read the book first, without the emotional connection to the story that the movies gave me, I might have given up in irritation partway through.

But the story... oh, the story. The story is marvelous. My sister-in-law is only partially correct-- very few things are cut, but there are so many more nuances that the book reveals that don't come through in the movie. It's easier to understand why the populace puts up with the system as it stands. There's more character to the districts, changing them from caricatures into real places that could exist. I can see the social injustice, the economic gulfs, and the pure gritty survival story embedded in the larger story... but I can also see the Capitol's side better, and their sense of entitlement makes more sense. There's a feeling of history, that not everything was laid out in stone at the end of the rebellion 74-75 years prior and that some of it grew organically as (misguided?) attempts to make things "better" while keeping things "fair". The love triangle is less set-in-stone and more fluid, and Katniss is much more of a broken 16-year-old than the almost-adult that she is in the movies.
amanda_lodden: (four)
This book was in one of the "these eBooks are free, today only!" emails that I get, and I picked it up on a lark, not realizing that it was solidly Young Adult. I tend to avoid YA novels these days unless they're specifically recommended by people whose taste I trust-- there are so very many that are just 200 pages of angsty drama.

I'm really glad I did. This book is solidly written, well-paced, and full of teenagers who are believable. There's the requisite angst and drama, but it's heavily peppered with humor and self-realization and it just works. I laughed, I cried-- and it's a rare author who can make me care so deeply for a character that I shed actual tears for them. It's an even rarer author that can create a book I enjoy tremendously AND want to share with my nieces so badly that I'm seriously considering buying the 12-year-old a Kindle just so that I can buy her this book to put on it.

Incidentally, the "get this eBook free!" ploy worked, because after finishing this book, I immediately went and bought the author's other works, and I'm looking forward to curling up with each of them.
amanda_lodden: (book)
* SSH Mastery by Michael W. Lucas I have a confession to make: I'm a terrible techie. I used to be a pretty good sysadmin a decade ago, but then I ended up in management and spent all my time on the business side of my company instead of the technical side. So when it comes to software and Best Practices, I'm well behind the times. That's probably why my current sysadmin recommended I read 'SSH Mastery'. Lucas is excellent at explaining not just how to do something but why you'd want to, and why you shouldn't do some things you might be tempted to do. Moreover, the tone strikes the right balance between "not patronizing" but also "not so technical you can't follow it without advanced knowledge of the subject". All of the technical details are there, and none of the technobabble. After reading 'SSH Mastery', not only was I able to successfully create and upload a key to our servers, but I understand why it's important and why I should have done it the first time my sysadmin asked me to.
amanda_lodden: (book)
The downside of not posting about books RIGHT AWAY is that I can never remember what books I've read by the time I sit down to write about them.

* Murder at the God's Gate by Lynda S. Robinson

You know how I keep saying that I read this series out of order but it's never really had a negative effect?

This time, it had a negative effect. This is book #2 in the series, and it sets up a series-wide arc. That means that the events in the book are important, and referred back to. Which means as soon as the mystery started to unfold, I knew the ending.

While I'm certain that I would have enjoyed it more had I read it in the proper order, the book was still vivid and engaging, and well worth the read. I was surprised at how many little clues Robinson set up in the early books, because a number of times I read a nearly-throwaway bit in this story and said "Oh, that's why [thing that happened several books later]."

* Slayer of Gods by Lynda S. Robinson

The last book in the Lord Meren series, and finally, one I read in the correct order. And thank goodness for that, because Robinson wraps up everything with a definite finality. The ending was a peculiar mix of satisfying and unsatisfying-- satisfying, because it made sense and answered all the nagging questions, yet unsatisfying because the Ultimate Perpetrator(tm) was beyond the reach of justice, so there was no grand climax in which the Bad Guy(tm) is hauled in to face his or her crimes. There were some times in which I said "Oh, of course, such-and-such-a-thing will happen" and it did, but I was wrong in my guesses at the tropes at least as often as I was right, and that kept me interested.

I definitely recommend this series (though I suggest reading them in the right order, or at least #1 and #2 first, and #6 last).

* The Mermaid's Madness by Jim C. Hines

You may recall that I did not care for the first book in this series. I gave this second book a try because I like the basic concept and I like Hines, and I'm pleased to say that it's much, much better. For starters, it only tries to fit one story into the book, instead of trying to cram several in like the first book did.

Hines still has some pacing problems, revealing things in this book that maybe should have been just hinted at and revealed in a later book. But that only knocks it down to three and a half stars, rather than nearly ruining the book like some other authors with pacing problems.
amanda_lodden: (book)
* A Witch In Time by Madeline Alt

I don't remember why I grabbed this book-- it might have been a "I'm on vacation and didn't bring enough books with me" purchase, though I don't think I've had any of those since I got the Kindle. I do know that I read it on a plane, so it's still possible that I grabbed it because I had no other choices with me. Once again, I've picked up a book that's in the middle of a series I haven't read any other books in, so once again I spent an entire book feeling like I was missing something. The story is alright, but some of the attempts at adding suspense are a little heavy-handed. Also, I can't shake the feeling that the super-hot boyfriend who is far too perfect will end up being a traitor at some point in a future book. Even with that feeling that there's a multi-book arc, though... I don't feel inclined to track down other books in the series.

* Eater of Souls by Lynda S. Robinson

Possibly the best in the series (disclaimer: I'm reading these wildly out of order, and have not read the second book in the series yet), but a little disconcerting, because a goodly portion of the book is shown from the killer's point of view... and the killer is an Egyptian god, one who in mythology doesn't actually kill. (Spoiler: the killer is mentally unstable and fully believes themselves to be the god in question.) It's well enough written that partway through the book, the idea that the killer's POV might not be a god but instead a very broken human starts to wiggle into your head, and it still remains interesting rather than "seriously, you're really going to go there?"

* Pale Demon by Kim Harrison

I've known for a few books now that this series is "about" morality. This book makes it crystal clear that Harrison intended it that way from the start. I *love* things like that, especially when they're done subtly (and if you read the series from the beginning, you are generally supportive of Rachel's "evil" choices, which are always done with good intent). I know that A has stopped reading the series because she feels they are too dark and Rachel can't ever catch a break, but the last couple of books have shown a tendency towards "and *that's* what she had to go through to get to this point, and *this* is what she's going to have to go through to get to a better place" and have gotten considerably lighter without actually changing in tone. Also? Rachel caught a rather surprising break at the end, one I didn't see coming.

* John Dies at the End by David Wong

This is billed as a horror, and I had some qualms about getting it because I don't like horror. But I absolutely love David Wong, so I got it anyway, and I'm very glad that I did. There are elements of horror to it, but Wong makes it pretty clear that the true horror he intended is the psychological aspects, and the gory bits are cheesy enough to not be troublesome. I don't mind psychological horror as much, and Wong's sense of humor keeps it from being a downer.

* You Might Be A Zombie and Other Bad News by Cracked.com Editors

This is basically "cracked.com in a book." There are 40 Cracked-style lists ("X reason why Y"), of which 22 or so are on the website, and the remaining 18 were written specifically for the book. To be honest, I couldn't tell you which were which, because when I estimated the new-vs-old ratio, I thought it was more like 5:35. (Disclaimer: I actually read this book about 8 months ago, and just forgot to post about it, so my memory may not be 100% accurate.) The book is just as fun as the website, and even with the feeling that I've read all of those articles before, I'm still happy to purchase the book as a way of supporting a site that routinely entertains me.
amanda_lodden: (book)
31. Smokin' Seventeen by Janet Evanovich

A good, quick read. T pointed out in conversation that I "seem to be keeping up with [my] reading", which made me realize that I don't always note it when I'm catching up on a backlog of review postings versus when I'm posting something new. This one is something new; I borrowed it last week, started it last night, and finished it today. Lula didn't piss me off as much, possibly because for some of the book she was unavailable and replaced by Mooner. I like Mooner (though if he were a constant companion, he'd be more annoying than Lula ever dreamed of being-- a little Mooner goes a looooooong way). Stephanie gets over some of her guilt about having two men. The reveal was... lacking. I knew who the killer was about a third of the way in. Stephanie did not. Still, it could have been a lot worse, and this series has never really been about good detective work. The good parts of the series are still good. The bad parts are still Lula.


And, to keep the record clean: I started reading The Best American Mystery Stories several months ago, and after poking at it and then setting it back down several times, I finally got annoyed enough to stop reading it last week. The Players Come Again was plane reading in September. The Sleeping Beauty was plane reading... um, I don't know. Possibly the same trip in September, in the opposite direction. The Snow Queen and One Good Knight, I purchased shortly after finishing The Sleeping Beauty, and read pretty quickly afterward, because I was in the groove of the series. (All three are popcorn-like, and only take a couple of days to read. Less if you're young enough to go without sleep and clean dishes.) Sizzlin' Sixteen was read about a week before I posted the review; it sat on my desk as a reminder for that week until I finally got around to typing it up. The books listed as part of the Kindle cleanup were read varying amounts of time before their entries, since I have completely failed to train myself to post reviews in a timely manner.
amanda_lodden: (book)
31. Smokin' Seventeen by Janet Evanovich

A good, quick read. T pointed out in conversation that I "seem to be keeping up with [my] reading", which made me realize that I don't always note it when I'm catching up on a backlog of review postings versus when I'm posting something new. This one is something new; I borrowed it last week, started it last night, and finished it today. Lula didn't piss me off as much, possibly because for some of the book she was unavailable and replaced by Mooner. I like Mooner (though if he were a constant companion, he'd be more annoying than Lula ever dreamed of being-- a little Mooner goes a looooooong way). Stephanie gets over some of her guilt about having two men. The reveal was... lacking. I knew who the killer was about a third of the way in. Stephanie did not. Still, it could have been a lot worse, and this series has never really been about good detective work. The good parts of the series are still good. The bad parts are still Lula.


And, to keep the record clean: I started reading The Best American Mystery Stories several months ago, and after poking at it and then setting it back down several times, I finally got annoyed enough to stop reading it last week. The Players Come Again was plane reading in September. The Sleeping Beauty was plane reading... um, I don't know. Possibly the same trip in September, in the opposite direction. The Snow Queen and One Good Knight, I purchased shortly after finishing The Sleeping Beauty, and read pretty quickly afterward, because I was in the groove of the series. (All three are popcorn-like, and only take a couple of days to read. Less if you're young enough to go without sleep and clean dishes.) Sizzlin' Sixteen was read about a week before I posted the review; it sat on my desk as a reminder for that week until I finally got around to typing it up. The books listed as part of the Kindle cleanup were read varying amounts of time before their entries, since I have completely failed to train myself to post reviews in a timely manner.
amanda_lodden: (Default)
* The Players Come Again by Amanda Cross (30)

It's about a book (which I presume is fake), about a particular Greek heroine, who I had to look up. Which was a little problematic, since I was reading it on a plane-- thus, no Wikipedia access to clue me in.

The official mystery ("Did the wife of the author ghost-write the book for him?") was lame. Three pages from the end, the heroine of the book revealed that she knew So-and-so killed Other-Guy, and proceeded to lay out her evidence for the police. Oh wait, no she didn't. She said "... but I don't really care, and I'm not even going to write the book I've already been offered a large advance for in which I might reveal your secret. So ... yeah. Congrats on getting away with it." (I'm paraphrasing.) Also? She didn't lay out any evidence for the reader, either. The only confirmation the reader has that she's right is that the accused murders look sheepish and admit to it.

* The Best American Mystery Stories edited by George Pelecanos and Otto Penzler

Two lies in the title. I'll give you a hint: they are stories, and they're probably American.

The back cover does warn that "Though there are twists and surprises to be discovered, none of these stories are puzzles, locked-room mysteries, or private detective stories." However, I was unprepared for the number of stories to greatly exceed the number of twists and surprises.

I gave up on this compilation about halfway through, when I realized that much of my problem is that the editor(s) were not doing their jobs-- two stories in a row were rambling and entirely too long, going off on tangents that took several pages and didn't advance the story in the slightest. There were a couple of stories early on that were okay. Not stellar, mind you-- if they were stellar, I would have kept reading in the hopes that there were more gems.

A good mystery is gripping. You WANT to know who did it. I've had my share of complaints about how a reveal was handled, but even the ones that made me gnash my teeth and raise my hands to the heavens in protest were still gripping.
amanda_lodden: (Default)
* The Players Come Again by Amanda Cross (30)

It's about a book (which I presume is fake), about a particular Greek heroine, who I had to look up. Which was a little problematic, since I was reading it on a plane-- thus, no Wikipedia access to clue me in.

The official mystery ("Did the wife of the author ghost-write the book for him?") was lame. Three pages from the end, the heroine of the book revealed that she knew So-and-so killed Other-Guy, and proceeded to lay out her evidence for the police. Oh wait, no she didn't. She said "... but I don't really care, and I'm not even going to write the book I've already been offered a large advance for in which I might reveal your secret. So ... yeah. Congrats on getting away with it." (I'm paraphrasing.) Also? She didn't lay out any evidence for the reader, either. The only confirmation the reader has that she's right is that the accused murders look sheepish and admit to it.

* The Best American Mystery Stories edited by George Pelecanos and Otto Penzler

Two lies in the title. I'll give you a hint: they are stories, and they're probably American.

The back cover does warn that "Though there are twists and surprises to be discovered, none of these stories are puzzles, locked-room mysteries, or private detective stories." However, I was unprepared for the number of stories to greatly exceed the number of twists and surprises.

I gave up on this compilation about halfway through, when I realized that much of my problem is that the editor(s) were not doing their jobs-- two stories in a row were rambling and entirely too long, going off on tangents that took several pages and didn't advance the story in the slightest. There were a couple of stories early on that were okay. Not stellar, mind you-- if they were stellar, I would have kept reading in the hopes that there were more gems.

A good mystery is gripping. You WANT to know who did it. I've had my share of complaints about how a reveal was handled, but even the ones that made me gnash my teeth and raise my hands to the heavens in protest were still gripping.
amanda_lodden: (book)
* One Good Knight by Mercedes Lackey (29)
* The Snow Queen by Mercedes Lackey (28)
* The Sleeping Beauty by Mercedes Lackey (27)

I read the other two books in this series before I started reviewing books, but I enjoyed all five. I have a deep love of new twists on old tales, but I'm also pleased that Lackey doesn't limit herself to established "fairy tales" in her fairy tale book-- the main character in One Good Knight is Andromeda, daughter of Cassiopeia. Of course, since the story revolves around dragons, the knight is George rather than Perseus, but it works.

If you're going to read the series (and I recommend doing so), do start with The Fairy Godmother. Most of the books explain how the world work to some degree, but several of the others refer back to Elena, heroine of The Fairy Godmother, and some of them give quite a few spoilers. After the first one, the rest can be read in any order.
amanda_lodden: (book)
* Press One For Pig Latin by Robert Swiatek

Self-published, and a stunning example of why authors need editors. He may have some good or funny points, but they are lost amidst the long and pointless rambling. I did not get far before I called it quits.

* Lord Arthur Savile's Crime by Oscar Wilde (21)

Did Wilde self-publish, perchance? Though the title does not indicate it, this is a collection of short stories, and most of them I quite enjoyed the beginning of, but every single one of them just... ends. There's no denoument or tying up of loose ends-- just the beginning of the next story, which is unrelated. I kept going because I had hoped that the final story would tie them all together or something, but...

* Curious Folks Ask: 162 Real Answers on Amazing Inventions, Fascinating Products, and Medical Myserties by Sherry Seethaler (22)

According to the preface, these are real questions Seethaler has been asked, though presumably she culled the questions down to just the ones she felt were book-worthy. The whole thing was a solid "enh, whatever" for me, and it took me 5 months to read all the way through because it just didn't hold my attention well enough. What's there is reasonably well-written and understandable, it's just boring.

* Luck o' the Irish by Stephen D. Sullivan (23)

I met Mr. Sullivan at GenCon, where he was gracious enough to answer a lot of my questions about small-press publishing. I liked this book, until it ended in what I felt was a rather abrupt manner. It's a LOT shorter than I expected, and there's references within it to the protagonist's family and allusions to other things that have happened within the family, yet I checked and there does not appear to be a prequel or other books in the "series". Soooo... yeah. Over too soon, and not in the good way. More like in the "oh yeah, yeah baby, ooooh right there, oh god ye... what do you mean you've finished and you're going to go to sleep now?" way.

* Fool by Christopher Moore (24)

Rather a lot of swearing, and that comes from the woman who swears like a sailor. I don't fully know how I feel about this one; I generally like the concept of "familiar stories told from someone else's point of view" but this one was difficult to get engrossed in.

* Lady Susan by Jane Austen (25)

Did you know that they had anti-heroes in classical romance literature? Neither did I. I can't call this book "good" because I couldn't find a single character I could feel any real connection with, but it is well-written.
amanda_lodden: (book)
* Press One For Pig Latin by Robert Swiatek

Self-published, and a stunning example of why authors need editors. He may have some good or funny points, but they are lost amidst the long and pointless rambling. I did not get far before I called it quits.

* Lord Arthur Savile's Crime by Oscar Wilde (21)

Did Wilde self-publish, perchance? Though the title does not indicate it, this is a collection of short stories, and most of them I quite enjoyed the beginning of, but every single one of them just... ends. There's no denoument or tying up of loose ends-- just the beginning of the next story, which is unrelated. I kept going because I had hoped that the final story would tie them all together or something, but...

* Curious Folks Ask: 162 Real Answers on Amazing Inventions, Fascinating Products, and Medical Myserties by Sherry Seethaler (22)

According to the preface, these are real questions Seethaler has been asked, though presumably she culled the questions down to just the ones she felt were book-worthy. The whole thing was a solid "enh, whatever" for me, and it took me 5 months to read all the way through because it just didn't hold my attention well enough. What's there is reasonably well-written and understandable, it's just boring.

* Luck o' the Irish by Stephen D. Sullivan (23)

I met Mr. Sullivan at GenCon, where he was gracious enough to answer a lot of my questions about small-press publishing. I liked this book, until it ended in what I felt was a rather abrupt manner. It's a LOT shorter than I expected, and there's references within it to the protagonist's family and allusions to other things that have happened within the family, yet I checked and there does not appear to be a prequel or other books in the "series". Soooo... yeah. Over too soon, and not in the good way. More like in the "oh yeah, yeah baby, ooooh right there, oh god ye... what do you mean you've finished and you're going to go to sleep now?" way.

* Fool by Christopher Moore (24)

Rather a lot of swearing, and that comes from the woman who swears like a sailor. I don't fully know how I feel about this one; I generally like the concept of "familiar stories told from someone else's point of view" but this one was difficult to get engrossed in.

* Lady Susan by Jane Austen (25)

Did you know that they had anti-heroes in classical romance literature? Neither did I. I can't call this book "good" because I couldn't find a single character I could feel any real connection with, but it is well-written.
amanda_lodden: (book)
* I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett (20)

Note to self: Books with a lot of footnotes are kind of annoying on the Kindle.

Either you like Discworld or you don't. I've met a lot of people who like Discworld, and pretty much all of them have strong opinions on whether the books about the witches are any good. I happen to like the witches, and this is a particularly good book about the witches. If you're not inclined to like the witches, then... you probably won't like this one.

PTerry seems to be trying to wrap up loose ends, and I suspect that's a nod towards his degenerative disease. There are a couple of new developments that would lend themselves to story elements, but mostly he seems to try to be dragging in people from old books. Notably, Eskarina is back. "Eskarina who?" you ask? She's the chick from Equal Rites, which is the very first witches book and also the very worst witches book.
amanda_lodden: (book)
* I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett (20)

Note to self: Books with a lot of footnotes are kind of annoying on the Kindle.

Either you like Discworld or you don't. I've met a lot of people who like Discworld, and pretty much all of them have strong opinions on whether the books about the witches are any good. I happen to like the witches, and this is a particularly good book about the witches. If you're not inclined to like the witches, then... you probably won't like this one.

PTerry seems to be trying to wrap up loose ends, and I suspect that's a nod towards his degenerative disease. There are a couple of new developments that would lend themselves to story elements, but mostly he seems to try to be dragging in people from old books. Notably, Eskarina is back. "Eskarina who?" you ask? She's the chick from Equal Rites, which is the very first witches book and also the very worst witches book.
amanda_lodden: (Default)
* Suture Self by Mary Daheim (17)

This book is another lesson in "Amanda's tastes have changed as she's gotten older." I read Daheim when I first started getting into mysteries, and I liked her. Now, mostly I see a whiny main character that grates on my nerves, a childish bitch of a sidekick who I repeatedly want to throttle, and a plot resolution so ridiculous I groaned and wished I hadn't bothered with the book at all.

* All Around The Town by Mary Higgins Clark (18)

The polar opposite of Suture Self-- I started reading it, and as soon as I realized that the main suspect has multiple personalities, I was sorely tempted to just put the book down and walk away. I *hate* multiple personalities in stories-- they're so rarely portrayed like actual MPD sufferers, and it's soooo easy to end up pinning the murder on one of the "hidden" personalities.

The general story was well-written up to that point, and there were some intriguing points of view being shown, so I stuck with it. Clark did not disappoint me-- the twists and turns kept me guessing, alternating between "oh, I bet that person did it" and "oh crap, she's going to make it a hidden personality after all." By the time I got to the end, there was enough reasonable doubt that I would have been satisfied with any one of several endings.

But there's still a "magic cure" for MPD and people get better right away when the initial cause of the psychotic break is removed. So minus one star for that bullshit.

* The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C. Hines (19)

Strong female characters, going out and kicking ass. Based on familiar fairy tales, but with a different perspective. I wanted to like this story SO much. I wanted to love this book.

I don't love this book. I don't hate it, but it's missing an essential spark that I can't quite explain. The characters have some actual depth to them (except Snow White's mother, who is just eats-puppies-and-kittens evil) and the three main characters manage to have a bit of character growth. But...... I dunno. Things end up feeling a little bit pat, even though Hines goes to great lengths to make them complex. Cinderella's dead mother is far too much of a Deus Ex Machina. Talia is just a little TOO skillful, even though the explanation given makes sense given her history. They go too many places, with too many things happening all at once-- I almost feel like it should have been two books with more description and side interests and character growth in between.

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January 2015

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