Tag Archives: meh

February and March reads

Named of the Dragon by Susanna Kearsley – This is an older/earlier book, and it shows in the development of the plot, such as it is.  The ending of the baby mystery was out of nowhere and didn’t really fit with the tone of the rest of the piece.  It felt sort of wedged in, as if the author had written herself into a corner with the paranormal bit and then – voila! – came up with a practical/real solution that hadn’t been signaled in any way earlier in the book.

Echoes in Death by J.D Robb – Meh. Guessed whodunnit as soon as the character was introduced and the “twist” earlier on (during the post mortem).

The Chemist  by Stephenie Meyer  – Really trope-y heroine. Dreamy and not really believable hero. Split with twin to get all skills. Author had a couple of faux pas re: DC, especially re the Metro (there are no ladies rooms in Metro stops).

Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs – Glad this was a library loaner, because paying for it would have irritated me.  Miscellaneous sloppy typos missed in copy edits (the for then, ambitions for ambitious, etc.).  Disjointed narration. If you have to tell me at the outset of each chapter the setting, then you are doing something wrong, too much telling. More everyone loves Mercy. More power pulled out of nowhere to serve the plot. Meh.

Mira’s Last Dance by Lois McMaster Bujold – The writing was fine, but this novella felt kind of purposeless to me.  Penric’s situation wasn’t really advanced from the end of the last story, on the run with a potential ladylove and her refugee brother.  They are in a slightly safer locale, but the conflict isn’t resolved or even moved forward at all.  It was vaguely interesting to get a different personality of Desdemona has a role, but absent actual progression, I felt like the novella was a disappointment; I wouldn’t call in a money-grab, exactly, but it felt purposeless and like fluff or filler.

Currently reading Empires of Light (nonfiction) and a biography of Ida Tarbell.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book related

First beach read

Subtropical Storm Hermine largely missed Delmarva, but you’d never guess that based on how empty the beach has been.  Very high wind and rough surf are keeping the people who didn’t leave early off the beach.  I spent most of this morning sitting on the beach, wrapped in a hoodie and beach towel, reading the first of my beach books.

I’m sure I’ve read reviews of Barbara Pym before, or at least I recognized her name and associated it with English, post-war novels.  No Fond Return of Love, originally published in 1961 and reprinted in 2014, has a colorful cover that caught my eye at the UBS.

Dulcie Mainwaring is always helping others, but never looks out for herself — especially in the realm of love. Her friend Viola is besotted by the alluring Dr Aylwin Forbes, so surely it isn’t prying if Dulcie helps things along? Aylwin, however, is smitten with Dulcie’s pretty young niece. And perhaps Dulcie herself, however ridiculous it might be, is falling, just a little, for Aylwin.  Once life’s little humiliations are played out, maybe love will be returned, and fondly after all . . .

The blurb is both technically accurate and not quite right.  And it’s hugely spoilerish.

The narration head hops A LOT.

On one hand, I enjoyed the window into post-WWII suburban London; in some ways the book is sort of Austen-ish in its observation of the lives of Dulcie, Viola, and everyone in their social orbit.  On the other hand, Dulcie and Viola seemed kind of creepy and stalkerish, looking up Aylwin’s brother and estranged wife and mother.  I’m not sure how to take the ending; it felt kind of backhanded and second-best. Meh.

Beyond that, a single line in the book made me really uncomfortable because it is blatantly racist and insulting.  One character is thinking about an imaginary dog named Ni**er or Rover.  The sentence brought me to a halt reading.  Then I had to Google that as a dog’s name (there was a famous black dog by that name, apparently).  Still makes me cringe.  I’m a little surprised it wasn’t edited in the new releases/versions.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book related

The Captive Prince trilogy – meh

At the library last week, the first and third books of the Captive Price trilogy were sitting right in the new/interesting releases.  I was sort of put off by the series history when they were first published by a mainstream publisher, but as free reads, sure.

They were very readable, in terms of easy flow of language and predictable plot.  As fantasy, they worked fine.  As erotic romance or any kind of romance, they were pedestrian; I didn’t believe or care about the protagonists’ relationship beyond the politics and plot.  HEA?  Eh, if you say so.

The bigger quibble for me was that they read like a single book that was broken into three pieces to sell more books.  If I’d paid for them, it would have seriously pissed me off, and prompted a return to the bookstore.  Since they were library books and were read during the commute, I don’t begrudge the time and there’s no money out.  But I doubt I’d bother to read more from the author.

1 Comment

Filed under Book related

Those library books

I finished A Corner of the World.

In contemporary Havana, “Do I stay or do I go?” is always the question, and love doesn’t necessarily conquer all.

A cautious, reserved professor of Spanish Literature, Marian has no idea that her quiet life is about to be turned upside down.  When she’s asked to review a new book by a young, ambitious author, she meets Daniel, and their love affair leads her to question both the choices she’s made so far in her life and the opportunities she might yet still have.  Theirs is the story of an intense and impossible love, set in today’s Havana, a city where there can be no plans, where chance is the the order of the day and a fierce sense of loyalty and pride coexists with the desire to live beyond the island’s isolation.

The blurb is somewhat misleading. Marian doesn’t question her choices and clings tightly to what she knows and where she feels comfortable.  There are people who come and go from Cuba and Marian’s life, but she’s frozen geographically and professionally, and she does little to move beyond that even with the urging of those around her.  There’s nothing wrong with that, I suppose, but it doesn’t really make for an interesting narrative.

Actually, one part of Marian’s past made me extremely uncomfortable and also painted her (to me) in a less than pleasant light:  her mother was terminally ill, but Marian withheld the diagnosis from her for her own good.  Which read as patronizing, controlling, and selfish to me, rather than the selfless, kind act that Marian (and the author?) framed it as.

Essentially, this reads to me as (Cuban) women’s fiction.  Which is fine, but to be honest, I’m not really in the WF reading mode at this point.

There was a noticeable amount of missed punctuation, including lack of closing/opening quotation marks (which is pure sloppiness IMO) and also a lack of direct address commas.  The prose was fine; I’m a terrible judge and never really understand what people say when they talk about lyrical prose, but this was fine in the sense that it was consistent and undistracting from the story.  Although I wonder a little about the translation quality: one character is referred to as both ex-boyfriend and ex-husband.

Leaving Atocha Station is going back to the library as DNF.  The author’s voice/style is engaging and I enjoyed the opening pages with the mentions of streets and neighborhoods in Madrid that I’ve visited, but I was bored by the narrator’s pretensions and pomposity.

Next I’ll try Travels in Siberia.  All six books are due back at the library next Saturday, but I’m pretty sure I won’t have finished the last three by then (unless they are all DNFs, which I doubt).  I hope no one has them on their wishlist, so I can renew the unfinished ones.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book related

Currently reading

A while back, someone somewhere on the internet noted that a scholarly work on L.M. Montgomery’s heroines, The Fragrance of Sweet-Grass, had been updated by its author.  Well, Anne of Green Gables was *the* formative series for me as a girl, so I wanted a copy.  And while browsing, The Blythes Are Quoted was recommended as well; it was edited or forewarded by the academic who wrote Sweet-Grass.  It was pretty clear that this was the full version of a manuscript that had been significantly redacted after Montgomery’s death and published as Road to Yesterday…which I have read.

This “new” version…well, there’s poetry from Anne and Walter, along with some dialogue from the Blythes, but so far the stories are the same and the poetic interludes are kind of ~meh~.  I don’t feel cheated, because it was made very clear before I clicked and paid that the contents had been previously published.  But I feel like my perspective on how the new edition may be fuller or better is…divergent from the editor, perhaps because I’m reading for pleasure while she read and edited as an academic.

Other than that, not too much going on with the reading, although I’m tempted to buy a copy of Carla Kelly’s new “Brand” book.  I liked the first of the series well enough, although I did not love it.  Actually, I should look for it and maybe re-read before buying the next book of the series.  Unless I got rid of it during The Great Book Purge of 2013?

Leave a comment

Filed under Book related

The continuing book purge and other things

Well, my reading has continued to be Not Good lately.

Apparently I auto-wishlisted Josh Lanyon’s The Hell You Say at paperbackswap.com back when I still used the site regularly, so a copy arrived in my mailbox last week.  It was okay?  I mean, I read the ebook years ago when I was glomming Lanyon’s work.  My perspective has shifted a little bit and I’m not sure why exactly.  But my patience with Adrien as narrator has thinned, both in terms of Adrien as amateur sleuth and also with what I perceive as his passive approach to the people in his life (no, I’m not talking about Jake specifically but how he interacts with everyone).  Eh.  I’m kind of curious to see what would happen if I went back and re-read the entire series but I’m a little afraid of spoiling a series that I have recall with fondness in general.

In an effort to kill the slump, I’m extending The Great Book Purge of 2013 into 2014.  Sooner or later one of the books I skim for the keep-or-discard test will grab me.  Or that’s my hope/theory.

So I’ve pulled these books from the shelves:

  • The Courageous Heart by Jane Marnay — a Harlequin Romance from 1957
  • The Twilight of Imperial Russia by Richard Charques — from 1958, dated but of interest in light of a lot of things going on in what some people might consider the new imperial Russia
  • Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women edited by Jayne Ann Krentz
  • Walter Isaacson’s biography of Benjamin Franklin
  • Dana Stabenow’s A Grave Denied

Books already put on the discard pile are NR’s Whiskey Beach, The Wife of Martin Guerre, and Queen of Shadows by Edith Felber.  I thinned my collection of the backlists of Susan Napier and Robyn Donald’s Harlequin Presents before moving but may circle back.

I’m also reading the oh-so-fascinating (not really) The Law of Financial Institutions for a night class.  The lecture is pretty good, if kind of bouncing around at this point.

Cara Black’s Murder in Montmartre has been put on my nightstand, to keep Scahill’s Dirty Wars company (some day I’ll be finished with it, dammit, but I’m reading about 20 pages/week right now so it’ll be awhile).  I liked an earlier installment in Black’s mystery series set in Paris in the 1990s. 

Unrelated:  does anyone have recommendations for language acquisition software?  I would like to learn enough French to be able to understand airport/train/metro announcements, and to be able to ask people for directions to the closest metro/cab stand/bar/etc or for the check or to be able to order simple things at a restaurant or bar. 

 

4 Comments

Filed under Book related

November’s reading…

The only thing I read in full was a re-read of Jilly Cooper’s Players.   I first read the book years ago, and found a used copy a couple of years ago at a library sale.  It’s one of those books that has not aged well IMO.  It’s very much a product of its time (late 80s/early 90s), with a very specific setting and characters (English monied set and wannabes).  It felt extremely dated in the way that episodes of Dallas, Dynasty, and the like (80s soap operas about wealthy people) would be.  One of the romance storylines was actually kind of squick-inducing.  Eh, into the bin as part of The Great Book Purge of 2013.

Also in November, I read more of Garry Disher’s Whispering Death, which I liked.  But I didn’t finish it until yesterday, so it goes into December’s book count.

1 Comment

Filed under Book related