Monday, October 24, 2011

Stuff I Wanted to Like

 Brief notes on stuff I really wanted to like but, ultimately, did not:

The Kingdom of Gods by N. K. Jemisin is the final installment in her Inheritance Trilogy. I am a big fan of the first two and so looked very much forward to the finale. I could not have been more predisposed to like this book so I was pretty sad to find myself checking out before I even hit the 100 page mark. If I did not already have a history of fangirling over this author I would not have finished it.

- Jemisin's deftness in writing believable and complicated relationships
- world building continuity and expansion

- the meandering nature of the plot
- the quickness of Sieh's obsession with the twins (actually much about Sieh's character did not work for me so I re-read the first two books to try to understand better why that was - I think I just had a completely different take on his character and where he would end up)
- how rushed the writing/editing job felt as compared to the first two (if you played a drinking game with the "i/she/he blinked" description in place of other ways to describe "surprise" you would get very drunk indeed)

Empress by Shan Sa is a book I came by at a book sale and picked up because I thought the cover was so beautiful. 

It's about China's only ruling empress (Tang Dynasty, 7th Century). I love historical fiction and I especially love to come by historical fiction not set in Britain or France.

- fantastic period rendering, places literally sprang to life for me
- she wrote what felt like very authentic philosophies/feelings for rulers and a ruling family, there was absolutely no apology for the ruthlessness needed to remain in power
- as I understand it, this is a different take on a much maligned woman and alternate views of history are important imo

- writing was just a bit too flowery for me (written originally in French, author is expat living in France)
- i got really bored when the focus moved away from the demands of ruling and seemed to hang out in the naval gazing arena

Red Riding Hood is a movie that looked like it had some potential. Unfortunately, it ended up being a great idea with extremely poor execution.

- a determined heroine who is comfortable in her mind and body
- supportive female characters. it's so rare that a heroine gets to have a mom, grandma and girlfriends who are positive and caring
- HUGE SPOILER, highlight if interested: her dad is the werewolf and super excited to pass on the family legacy to his eldest daughter. no moaning about how she should have been a son or making due with daughters. he loved his daughters and wanted to share his life with them. how refreshing.

- poor directing, lackluster script, lack of chemistry b/n actors
- offensive casting: i don't know the origins of red riding hood but this was pretty clearly set in The Days of Yore in n. europe. It makes a lot of sense then that the village is filled with caucasians and that the visiting priest is also caucasian. However, when the priest's werewolf fighting force is comprised almost entirely of people of African and Asian descent it is nonsensical and offensive.

The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever by Julia Quinn is not a fun romp told through the enjoyable construct of diary entries. I am mentioning this book as a warning that it's not at all interesting. Just a heads up if it should be on your list. You won't miss anything by taking it off.


  1. Funky. Julia Quinn usually manages the semblance of a romp.

    The others weren't on my radar but you've managed to make Red Riding hood at least sounds sort of interesting.

  2. Jemisin: *gasp* say it isn't so!!!

    empress: That truly is a gorgeous cover. I remember watching that movie about Golden Crysanthemums on a similar principle of liking to see non-European history and then just saying "Whaaa?" or "Maybe I don't have the right cultural background to interpret this right?" and stuff like that.

    Miranda Cheever: Was a wallbanger DNF for me at the halfway mark when the hero (THE HERO!) turned into a petulant child and lobbed some sort of missile through a window to hit the heroine square in the chest. I was so done.

  3. Hey Kate - RRH is definitely interesting but the bad execution sort of sucks the interesting out of it... unfortunately. If you decide to give it a try I'd love to hear what you think.

    Hiya M - Have you read THE BLOOD OF FLOWERS or WENCH? Both are historical fiction and not of the usual variety.

    I know the moment you're talking about it Miranda Cheever... so many wallbangers that it's hard to settle on just one. Blech!

  4. Hi Rachel,
    no worries on having a life outside of the blogosphere. That is actually something for which to be congratulated.

    I'll go look at what goodreads says about Blood of Flowers & Wench now. Decided to bow out of my bookclub's reading of 'Snow Flower and Secret Fan'.

  5. I'll be interested in your thoughts if you read either of them. Also, I (accidentally) no sold your Jemisin fear and yes *gasp* I was so sad. I don't have an extra copy on me this year but I think it's available everywhere now. When you get round to it please let's do discuss. I have so many comments! I wish it was the type of book my book club would read because I have so many questions!