Saturday, December 18, 2010

Reading Roundup

Ok, I'm willing to admit that maybe I'm busy and 'behind on the internet' and pretty much everything because I read too much. Well, of course, one can never read too much. ;-)

Title: Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?
Author: Beverly Daniel Tatum
Publisher: Basic (1997)

Very interesting book about race relations and racial/ethnic/cultural identity development. Highly recommended!

rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: Frederica
Author: Georgette Heyer
Publisher: Can't Find It (1965), Sourcebooks has a 2009 reprint

I almost always enjoy Heyer's historical romances and this was no exception. It was no Friday's Child but still a solid romp with lots of laughs.

rating: 3 of 5 stars

Title: Comeback America: Turning the Country Around and Restoring Fiscal Responsibility
Author: David M. Walker
Publisher: Random House (2010)

As a fiscal realist and a person who is more afraid of the country imploding from stupid political decisions than exploding from terrorist attacks this book was like reading the notes of a soul-mate. If you have any interest AT ALL in learning about how we've gotten so far into debt, what we are continuing to do that is crippling to the strength of the nation, and the steps we need to take NOW to fix it then READ THIS BOOK!

rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: Falling Free
Author: Lois McMaster Bujold
Publisher: Baen (1988)

This is a very cool set-up featuring a group of individuals engineered for life in free fall. Bujold's imagination and ability to bring life in free fall to, er, life is most enjoyable. That said, I thought several times of not finishing the book. The ending is so self-evident (and the baddie so unoriginal) that you have to be really invested in the process to want to keep turning pages. I was mostly meh but I can see it having more appeal to other sci-fi fans, it just didn't catch me is all.

rating: 3 of 5 stars

Title: Scandal in Spring
Author: Lisa Kleypas
Publisher: Avon (2006)

I'm pretty sure this is the last Kleypas I'm reading.

rating: 2 of 5 stars

Title: Clay's Ark
Author: Octavia E. Butler
Publisher: Aspect (1984)

Another story with a great set-up. Butler's writing, characterization and imagination are a sheer joy to experience. This tends heavily toward slice-of-life and I really like more of a plot in my stories. To anyone familiar with the book that probably sounds ludicrous due to the escape attempts and fight at the ranch but for some reason it just felt more like an eventography to me than a story. Interesting, but lacking in the amount of dramatic tension I prefer. However, Butler's characters are just dynamite which was enough to keep me reading. I was also super intrigued by Eli's idea that he was preserving as much humanity as possible (in the face of alien micro-organism invasion) but at the same time removing free will from others. Very interesting dichotomy that made his character simultaneously intriguing and infuriating. The daughters, too, were incredibly interesting. Even when their actions gave me the heeby jeebies I was able to fully understand what drove them.

rating: 3 of 5 stars

Books that got the DNF:

Title: The Sharing Knife, Volume Four: Horizon
Author: Lois McMaster Bujold
Publisher: Eos (2009)

I quite enjoyed the first of this series and even stayed interested through the second. The third was a bit of a letdown and I couldn't muster the interest to finish the fourth. I think I was supposed to care more about the scientific nature of ground. I thought this was an angle of the series not THE series and I really wasn't interested in chapters upon chapters detailing our protags' adventures in ground research.

Series bonus: Fantastic cover art!

Title: I'd Know You Anywhere
Author: Laura Lippman
Publisher: William Morrow (2010)

I had heard so much positive buzz surrounding Lippman that I went into this book with very high expectations. I very quickly discovered that this was a book set in the suburbs! Gah! Much hate for settings in suburbs but I continued on in an effort to expand horizons, etc. As I read on I wasn't liking anything about the way the story was unfolding. It was all tell, tell, tell but still nothing happening. I feel most suburb books are like this and it drives me nuts. 

Title: Savages
Author: Don Winslow
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (2010)

After my love affair with The Power of the Dog I hate the idea of not liking anything Winslow wrote but this story is definitely not for me. I enjoyed the rhythm and style of the writing (he makes great use of white space if that makes any sense at all:) but the tone was driving me nuts. He wouldn't just let the characters be (cool - hehe) but insisted on relentlessly reminding me who they were and what they were about and repeating passages almost verbatim only a few pages apart and that was wearying. Also, like the Lippman above, lots of tell, tell, tell but still nothing was happening. I don't have a short attention span but if I'm already trying to filter out annoyances while I wait for things to get started I am probably going to lose interest.

What have you been reading lately?


  1. hi rachel

    i'm flying through 'white cat'! i almost never read ya so this is something very different for me.

    i don't really get the superstardom of lisa kleypas. i think i've read maybe 3, of which two were decidedly 'meh' and one was OK.

    haven't read 'frederica' but stumbled across an ancient copy of 'arabella' in a tiny village friends-of-the-local-library shop and am trying to deal with brittle yellowed pages and slight mold smell to get to the supposedly brilliant writing underneath.

    r, i admire your candour when doing reviews. i find myself struggling what to write when dealing with a book i really didn't like if i got it from the publisher for review. i feel hampered, though i shouldn't, and the publisher has never put any pressure whatsoever on me (or anyone else, to my knowledge) but there you have it.

  2. The best thing about that list is how eclectic it is.

    I was reading a Robin Hobbs's dragon keeper book and wondered if you'd read any of those.

    (And you give Shadow and Star a 5/5 -- you should to tell jmc that.)

  3. Hey Maya -

    So glad you're enjoying White Cat! I hope you'll do a review and I can't wait to discuss.

    If I had to make a guess on Kleypas I'd say it's her dialogue. When she's on she's really on. But when the dialogue is off there's not much else going on (for me, anyway).

    Kudos on sticking with the moldy book. I haven't read Arabella but I will now look for a copy (non-moldy). If you come by it, I'd suggest trying Friday's Child. I think that's my fave of hers.

    Thanks for the kind words re reviews. I think you do quite well (that most recent of yours was awesome!) and I never feel you're less than candid. You might be more forgiving than me, though. :) I, too, wonder sometimes about what to say but I always go back to my stand-by: would I say it to the author's face? For me, it also comes down to what is the point of saying something about anything if you are not going to be honest, thoughtful, and fair?

  4. Hiya Kate -

    I do like quite a variety in my reading! :) I think my Inner Reader is schizophrenic.

    I haven't read Hobbs; do you think I'd like them? My current dragon fix is coming from Stephen Deas.

    (tell jmc - check!)