Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Reading Roundup

Time and/or interest often prevents me from reviewing much of what I read so when the mood strikes I'm going to start listing just a few comments on recently read books. These will include those books I start but then decide are not for me. So here we go...

(cue jazz hands)

Title: The Legend of Colton H. Bryant
Author: Alexandra Fuller
Publisher: Penguin Group (2008)

Non-fiction written very well in a narrative style. Fuller does a great job of highlighting a problem in her adopted state (Wyoming). Colton is at once no one and everyone; learning his story is so many things but a few words I would use are: matter-of-fact, cheering, heart-breaking, educational, necessary. I was especially impressed with how much Fuller could do with so few words. The book is only about 200 pages, and reads very quickly, but it doesn't feel like anything is left out. She conveys the topic well.

Favorite lines:
Jake says, "Happy now?"
"Born happy," says Colton.

It isn't just plain poverty - an ordinary lack of money - that keeps you on the wrong side of despair. It's a whole raft of poverties - a poverty of choice and a poverty of support and a poverty that comes with the certain knowledge that no one's going to take you seriously when you're invisibly decked out in an apron, working the night-shift.

rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: Parable of the Sower
Author: Octavia E. Butler
Publisher: Warner Books (1993)

This is one of the books I don't plan to finish. The writing is very good and the characters intriguing but the plot is one that I don't enjoy much. It's a bit along the lines of the creation of a new faith/philosophy/religion and that storyline has never appealed to me. I'm going to stick with Butler's other work as she is a lovely writer so there's no reason to hang around in a story that isn't interesting to me.

rating: DNF

Title: The Diamond Age; or, A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer
Author: Neal Stephenson
Publisher: Bantam Books (1995)

Is it just me or is the punctuation in that title odd? Anyway... this book is awesome in so many ways but evokes in me the same feelings I had when finishing Red Mars and Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell: I'm just not that interested. The story in this book is awesome, the world-building is fantastic, the details will blow you away (and I can't be the only one that cried a bit for Harv) but when push came to shove I just didn't care what happened. I think I need more of a narrative drive from books. A great big awesome world where stuff happens is just not enough. I need specific things to happen that directly pertain to the plot which will have a definite climax and then resolution. (If these things are not there I'd rather be reading non-fiction which also occurs in a great big awesome world where stuff happens, but in that case at least I'm learning something.) It's even better if I'm turning pages in the story just dying to know what the big climax will be. And even though I did read all the way to the end I feel like I ran out of pages rather than that the story ended.

rating: 3 of 5 stars

Title: Tantalize
Author: Cynthia Leitich Smith
Publisher: Candlewick Press (2007)

This is another that I don't plan to finish. It's YA which isn't a turn-off for me book-wise (I read tons of YA and some of my all-time fave books are found in this section) but this felt on the earlier spectrum of YA than I am interested in. YA can encompass so many types of stories and target audiences that it's truly as varied as the fiction section. The writing felt very explanatory, for lack of a more technical term, and I've always associated that with the younger YA audience and it usually doesn't keep my interest.

rating: DNF

What have you been reading lately?