[At the Amazon Kindle Community forum there is a monthly thread where participants list and comment on which books they’re reading at the moment on their Kindles. These aren’t full reviews, just relatively brief impressions. I’m copying over some of my comments made there into Book Bits posts here.]
Originally posted on June 3rd, 2011
Earlier I finished Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. (Free ebook download here.) This is a short Utopian novel written in 1918. It starts out as sort of an adventure story, ala Lost Horizon. Three young men go in search of a fabled country inhabited only by women. It’s told from the POV of one of the men. The second half gets bogged down in mostly describing what the culture is like and there’s no more real adventure, other than the two peoples learning from each other.
I haven’t looked up any info on the web yet about the author, I’m still mulling over my own thoughts. But I plan to. The book is right on the money in some ways, especially pointing out how our culture, especially at that time, sees everything revolving around men, and women adapt to that. Also some of the ridiculous hypocrisy, such as, “women don’t do heavy work”. Oh, well okay, except for the poor women, who made up 30% of the population. I think it also presented some really interesting ideas about education.
But there are also some really laughable extrapolations made on what a culture made up entirely of women would be like. Most of the people are fairly even tempered and there’s little to no strife. They don’t understand competition at all. And of course, since they don’t need sex to procreate the women have no sexual impulses whatsoever, and there’s no such thing as romantic love between any of them. It’s an alien idea.
All in all it was an interesting read, but hardly a gripping one. What I’m interested in learning is how much of what was contained in the book directly reflected the author’s personal views and how much was a product of the time in which the book was published.
Originally posted on June 8, 2011
One thing that I’ve really appreciated about this series is the development of the friendship between Kate and Andrea. Neither of the characters are used to having a best friend and I love their relationship. I’ve noticed that really good, well-developed friendships between women are usually lacking in books, or at least the type of books I tend to read. It’s not unusual for there to be a sidekick type friend character, but important friendships between equals, not so much.
Originally posted June 12th, 2011
A Creative Kind of Killer by Sandra Scoppettone. This is a PI mystery that was published years ago under her pen name, Jack Early. It won a Shamus award and was nominated for the Edgar. Scoppettone is in the process of self-publishing all her older titles as ebooks.
It was a bit of a slow starter but I became more interested the further I got into the book. The main character is a NYC PI, but he’s not your typical hard-bitten detective. He doesn’t drink, he’s not hurting for money, and he’s a single father of two teenagers. In the end it didn’t wow me, but it was a decent, solid read. For the cheap price of the ebook it’s definitely worth giving a try. (I bought it for $1.99 but it’s only 99 cents at the time of this posting.)
There are a few places where OCR errors weren’t caught, but it’s not horrible. The worst is several places the word I uses a 1 instead.
Originally Posted on June 16, 2011
My latest read was Dear Joan by Francine Saint Marie, a short story available for free download. I’d read her trilogy not long after getting my Kindle and found it infinitely forgettable. But I kept reading people praising it so thought I must have missed something. I figured the free short story was a good way to give her another chance.
Nope. It was a short story about two unlikable characters having a lover’s spat in the wee hours of the morning. I couldn’t even discern any purpose in writing the story. So crossing that author permanently off my list now.
I also read the sample for Gladiatrix by Russell Whitfield which I had downloaded a while back. I’m interested in the story but the writing seemed kinda iffy. I don’t want to spend $10 on a book that ends up being very average. So I’m gonna hold off and see if I can catch it on a price drop sometime.
A book with a similar theme, though in the science fantasy genre, is Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Warrior Woman. I read it a year or so ago and while it’s not high literature I found it to be engaging and fun. Read the info on what prompted Bradley to write it to know what to expect.
Originally posted on June 27, 2011
I finally finished reading Jane Eyre yesterday. (Free ebook download here.)
I had read it once before when I was in my late teens or early 20s but I really only remembered a couple things about it. (The mystery of who the crazy woman was and Jane going back to the Hall.) So it was mostly a new to me book.
Bronte’s writing is wonderful, though I do admit to skimming a little in a few parts when she got overly wordy. What really strikes me about Jane Eyre is the characterizations and being able to emotionally identify with what happens. Most books I’ve read that are now in the public domain have a writing style that, while usually conveying a good story, maintains an emotional distance from the reader, unlike modern writing. (It’s the main reason I don’t read many classics.)
However, in Jane Eyre that wasn’t true. I cried at a couple parts, my heart twinged at others, I grinned several times, and closer to the end I was hating St. John with the intensity of a thousand fiery suns. A writer engendering that sort of emotional response in me towards a character is tops in my book.