[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 usually full reviews, often just relatively brief impressions. I’m copying over some of my comments made there into Book Bits posts here.]
I finished reading Gladiatrix [historical/female gladiators] by Russell Whitfield. I could make a rather lengthy list of things that were problems with the writing, characterization, editing, Kindle formatting, etc. But this is one of those times where I enjoyed the story so much that I just didn’t care. The story has women with swords, sex, violence, women with swords, ancient world geography and history, feuds, revenge, and did I mention women with swords? (The clever person may be able to pick out from my subtle hints what the attraction was for me. Hehe.)
My best friend went all click happy on my wishlist for my birthday, so now I’m reading another book she gave me, Keeping You a Secret [YA lesbian romance] by Julie Ann Peters. I’m about 50% through it and liking it quite a bit. The romance part isn’t even really going yet, it has mostly been dealing with the main character’s family life, friendships, and issues with being a senior in high school.
I finished reading Keeping You a Secret by Julie Ann Peters. I didn’t think the second half was as strong as the first half. I think part of the problem is that one of the characters had a secret and I was expecting something kinda dark and it turned out to be kinda teen melodramaish. Overall still a decent read though.
Another birthday gift from my friend was Chicks Kick Butt, edited by Rachel Caine. It’s an urban fantasy anthology. Since I wasn’t sure which novel to start next I read the first story in this one which was pretty decent and I’m almost through the second one which I’m liking quite a lot. Not sure yet if I’ll continue with more stories when I finish it tonight or start a new novel.
“If a book can have a “color”, this one is definitely black, white and grey.”
I totally agree with this assessment of Affinity by Sarah Waters. Every time I think of the book my head is filled with grey.
I read Stranded by Blayne Cooper. This is an adventure slash lesbian romance novel. Three women are stranded in the wilderness in Venezuela after their car goes off the road. If you can get past their incredibly stupid decision not to make their way back to the road the rest is a pretty entertaining read, mixing survival stuff with light humor and romance.
I’ve also now read a couple more of the short stories in the Chicks Kick Butt urban fantasy anthology. I think I’ve now read five of them and while some have been better than others I wouldn’t call any of them a dud, so it appears to be a fairly strong anthology.
Not sure which novel I’m going to start next, but I’m leaning towards American Gods by Neil Gaiman. I got it on sale for $1.99 about three weeks ago. I haven’t read any Gaiman before, so I’m looking forward to seeing what all the hubbub is about.
Well… uhh… I changed my mind! I went to American Gods in my unread book collection to start it, and then saw alllll those dots spreading across the home menu. I’m just not in the right space for a long book right now.
So after looking over my substantial TBR list I selected Moxyland by Lauren Beukes. (It’s still only $2.99, which is what I paid for it a while back.) I had read her other novel, Zoo City last year. It won the Arthur C. Clarke Award. Zoo City is more akin to urban fantasy, Moxyland is near future SF.
Just like with Zoo City, in Moxyland the reader is just tossed into the deep end and has to get their bearings as they read. This can be frustrating, and cause some readers to give up, but Beukes is a really good writer and somehow manages to snare and keep my attention anyway.
This is also despite the fact that the novel is from multiple POVs, one per chapter, with each in first person. Because first person is used it makes it a little more difficult to make the mental shift to keeping in mind it’s a different character doing the thinking, acting, etc.
The novel is set in 2018, and I think like a lot of authors who choose to do near future SF, she’s pushed up tech and societal shift timelines. It’s not that anything that I’ve read seems the least implausible, it’s just that it doesn’t seem plausible for only six years from now.
Another interesting thing to me is realizing how much I depend on my own cultural references for reading SF. I’m finding that it’s difficult for me to judge just how much is pure speculation and how much is simple extrapolation because the author is South African and my only frame of reference is a couple books I’ve read in the last year.
I guess you can tell from the fact that I’ve gone on about the book quite a bit, having only read about 25% of it, that it’s an interesting reading experience. I’m not totally enthralled, but the writing keeps me forging ahead, along with wanting to see where all this is going. Especially since it’s interesting how all the separate characters are slowly being woven together.
“This forum keeps adding to my pile so I’m just going to have to live forever to finish them all.”
Yep, yep. That’s pretty much the same conclusion that I’ve come to. Approx 80 already purchased TBR books on my Kindle (most for under $3), well over 100 freebies, and there are still tons of books out there that I drool over wanting to read that aren’t on my account… yet. The only possible solution to this situation is clear.
I finished reading Moxyland by Lauren Beukes a couple days ago. It ended up being a “not for me” thing. She’s a really good writer and her near-future world was very believable, but the plot lacked focus and likable characters.
Then I had to choose my next book carefully because I wanted it to be a good read, but it needed to be the right length to allow time to finish so I can also squeeze in doing a re-read of Pale Demon by Kim Harrison in anticipation of the release of A Perfect Blood a week from today. February is the opening of what I call Urban Fantasy Season, which stretches into June usually. Heh.
I decided to go with The Broken Bell by Frank Tuttle ($5.00), which is the sixth Markhat book. (Fantasy PI mysteries.) I got it on pre-order at the end of December, but hadn’t gotten around to it yet. (See first paragraph.) I’m about 15% in and really enjoying it. Tuttle’s characters are fun and his fantasy world is unique.
I just now finished reading The Broken Bell, which is the sixth Markhat book by Frank Tuttle. I love his colorful characters and Markhat is an interesting, humorous, and sympathetic protagonist. The books are mysteries in a fantasy setting, though it’s an early industrial revolution period, not the traditional medieval type. This adds a unique backdrop. There was even a whiff of steampunk flavor in this one with a distance talking contraption (or “dingus” as Markhat would say) and a steamboat.
The Broken Bell was a very solid addition to the series, with a more complex plot than in past books. There are three different main plot threads that are followed. I liked this because there was always a lot going on. However, after an attempt at a rescue new difficulties arose and I thought that they were unnecessary and stretched the book out longer than it needed to be. Though to counteract that, the epilogue was appropriate and didn’t weaken the ending at all, which I can’t say for most epilogues. Definitely a fun read!
I’m now starting Pale Demon by Kim Harrison as a re-read to refresh my memory in anticipation of the release of the latest book in the series.
“I read a few of the Mayfair Witches books and thought they were pretty darn bad. I didn’t even have any idea what she was talking about half the time…”
This cracked me up. It’s always so interesting to see how differently people respond to the same books. I thought The Witching Hour was not only her best work (at least of the ones I’ve read), but it’s one of the better books I’ve read, period. I’m not quite sure why, but something in how she wrote it really affects me, to the extent of having disturbing dreams. (Both times I read it.) Which isn’t typical for me for books I read.
I’m currently reading A Perfect Blood, latest release in the Hollows series by Kim Harrison.
I just now finished reading A Perfect Blood, which is the 10th book in the Hollows series by Kim Harrison. It pains me to say this, because this is my favorite series, but everything about this book felt “off”. It took me five days to read it when a new Hollows book usually takes me two days, three at the most.
I have loved every single book in the series up til now, even book 7 which a lot of fans didn’t like. But this one almost felt like someone else had written it. Normally Harrison’s writing gets immediately out of the way so that I’m totally there in her world, seeing what the characters see and feeling what the characters feel. That was hit-and-miss this time, and the characters often didn’t quite seem themselves.
I was also frustrated with the fact that while the main plotline was interesting enough, nothing else furthered the major series story arcs. The novel spent a good deal of its time spinning its wheels and there was way too much repetition. The characters I like most were either completely missing, or barely there. This one was all about Trent, to the exclusion of almost everyone else. Since I’m not a Trent fan, that didn’t help things any. (Though if the rest of the book didn’t have that feeling of being “off”, I’d probably still have enjoyed it.)
I don’t think my reaction has anything to do with my tastes having changed or not being in the right mood, because I read this back to back with book 9, which I enjoyed reading the second time almost as much as the first. I’m gonna go look at reader reviews now to see if it’s just me, or if others felt the same way.
Since I just now finished the book and am feeling blah about it, I have no clue what I’m going to start next!
“Aw, Robin, I’m bummed for you! You were looking forward to it with such anticipation! Sorry it wasn’t what you hoped. : (”
Thanks, Charlene. It’s the book I most look forward to for the year, so what a drag. Your commiseration helps though!
Because I was so bummed I decided I need to read what I call a “throw away” book. One that I don’t have anything invested in, so it doesn’t matter if I think it stinks and ditch it, or it ends up being only so-so. So with that in mind I started reading Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann (one of the 20th century greats according to a conversation between Spock and Kirk, hehe). It’s $7.99 now, but I got it on sale last year for $2.
I’m 30% in and it’s surprisingly good so far. (It helps to start out with low expectations.) It’s starts out in the year 1945, though I have to keep reminding myself of that because the “feel” of it is later. (The book was published in 1966, so that might be affecting my perceptions.) This is one of those books I’ve always heard about, but never bothered to read. I’m happy it’s not turning out to be a stinker, at least not yet.
There is one drawback though. It’s in the Dreaded Topaz Format. Blech.