Thursday, October 15, 2009

Round-up of Book Reviews

I've been reading as much as ever but too busy to feel motivated to review anything. Here are a bunch of short and overdue reviews, in no particular order:

Can't remember how I heard about this one, possibly the library newsletter. This book was a thick one, and it was told from three perspectives, getting progressively earlier in the timeline, but centering on the same people. I disliked the first narrator the most, but he sets the scene for the book. The last narrator is the gentleman whose death the first narrator is investigating (got that?). It's well-written and, perhaps it's just me, but I didn't see the end coming at all (and I typically figure these things out in advance. So it's either bride brain, or a good mystery). I enjoyed this book but didn't adore it. However, I'd recommend it.

Another library newsletter pick (actually, all of the books in this post are, now that I think about it! I love the library.) This was a fun one to read right now because it focuses on Salem during the witch trials, interwoven with a modern-day story. I enjoyed it a lot right up until the end, where the author lost me. I just couldn't buy it. Still, I'd probably recommend it to a friend, with caveats. If you were interested in historical fiction and/or witchcraft, you might like it. I was reading a novel about plague times for my book club around the same time and the two books had some similarities in their descriptions of witchcraft, which was a funny coincidence.

I just finished this one. The cover references Harry Potter, which of course got my attention, and it makes sense the novel centers around a college for magicians in upstate NY. The characters themselves talk openly about Hogwarts and Harry from time to time, which I thought was a nice touch. The author also borrows heavily from the Phantom Tollbooth (I think, I'm not as familiar with that one) and The Chronicles of Narnia. Actually, the central theme of the story is a series of books centered around a world called "Fillory" but which bears a strong resemblance to Narnia. All of the characters read these books as kids and wish they could visit Fillory, even though it's fictional...and as you've figured out by now, they do actually visit it.

This book was interesting in that I was prepared to adore it, sink into it, and immerse myself into it, and what I found was a cast of awkward, disgruntled, very real characters, who wouldn't let me use their novel as an escape. I appreciated how real the characters were, but on the other hand, they were also miserably unhappy for large chunks of the novel. So, no happy escapist fiction there. I really liked it, though, and would recommend it...just be prepared to dislike the characters, particularly the main character, who's whiny and spineless a lot of the time. Still, there were some fascinating moments.

This was another thick one. I really liked it. I was prepared for this to be very "guy" China Mieville or someone like that, not that there's anything wrong with that, I just have a hard time reading it. However, the characters were well-sketched, empathetic, and warm. It's told as a narration from a warrior who has achieved a certain level of infamy and is, for an as-yet undisclosed reason, hiding out as an innkeep in a remote village. A biographer hunts him down and gets him to recall his life story, growing up as a gypsy kid in a caravan to being orphaned to attending a college for magicians at a very young age...he is brilliant and cocky and arrogant and yet still lovable. This is obviously the first in a series, and left me wanting more even after reading 700 pages, so that's a good sign. I'd recommend it to those who like a good old-fashioned fantasy epic.

This was my fave of the bunch. LOVED it. I admit I was pre-disposed to like it after reading the William Gibson quote on the cover about it being a dirty-ass masterpiece. And then in the acknowledgements the author thanks Tom Waits and David Lynch. I knew I was on to something!

The book reminded me of the Dresden Files a bit, in that the main character is very snarky, but he lacks Harry's geekiness. He is a magician, like Harry, and he's cocky, but he backs up that cockiness. Also like Harry, there's a lot of heart in the story, so you don't end up hating him, even though the driving plot is that he's seeking to kill a bunch of people for revenge. I liked him enormously, actually. At one point he meets up with an angel who hates him but is trying to enlist him to fight with her legion, which she calls "The Golden Vigil". He tells her the name sounds like a community-college goth band. That made me laugh aloud!

I would recommend this one without reservations to fans of "dirty-ass masterpieces" and hard-ass yet lovable bad boys.

1 comment:

Pica Maloria said...

Thank you! I was looking for a new audiobook and audible has Sandman Slim - I'm downloading it right now!