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Six Books - Qualified Perceptions
Six Books
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (by Grace Lin)
An an older-children's book set in kind of the same Ancient China that Never Was as Bridge of Birds. It's half frame story, and half interspersed small stories which all tie together, and all charming. Four and a half stars.

Isle of Dogs (by Patricia Cornwell)
I gave up on the Scarpetta books because I failed to suspend my disbelief sufficiently when the bad guys kept going after the forensic medical examiner to cover up their crimes. I know that it's one of the standards of the genre to have the bad guy go after the detective, but some categories of detective are more plausible than others. This one is supposed to be funny ("a comic romp"), but too much of the first thirty pages was poop jokes, which are not so much for me. (Also, there's the exciting subplot of the anonymous blogger who has everyone abuzz about "who is he really?" after his first two blog posts about nothing in particular. I know part of humor is implausibility, but it's not a sufficient condition for it to be humorous.) Enh.

The Amulet of Samarkand and The Golem's Eye (by Jonathan Stroud)
Books one and two of the Bartimaeus Trilogy. Remarkably fun for books with such a dearth of sympathetic characters. The young magician, despite his Mean Master and natural aptitude, is pretty much a jerk. The demon is amusing and snarky with footnotes, but really wouldn't mind killing the magician. The rebel in Book Two is sadly misled. (Maybe they get their acts together in Book Three, but I don't have that one yet.) Four cheerfuly vindictive light YA stars.

A Just Determination (JAG in Space, Book 1) (by John Hemry)
Apparently John Hemry is the same person as Jack Campbell, the Lost Fleet author. This was another audiobook; the narrator is a little stilted for the main character, which emphasizes the slightly stilted voice. There's also an odd tendecy for all of the characters to say "real [adjective]" all the time instead of "really [adjective]" as if they are all cowboys. Some of them get cowboy accents, but it is not an entire ship full of them (at least as narrated). The author (in addition to being a different author) was in the Navy for a while, so the action is quite a bit more tedious than Star Trek but also seems much more believable. "JAG In Space" pretty well describes it - it's kind of the pilot episode, and principally about a court martial. I think I liked it well enough to pick up another to see if it gets better or worse, but still probably only three stars.

Terror (by Dan Simmons)
A fictionalized (and horror-ized) account of the lost Franklin expedition to find the Northwest Passage. A really good horror story for a cold winter. There are some lovely creepy scenes that made me put it down and shiver for a moment, and scurvy is even more terrifying than the monster, because I believe in it quite a bit more, and gah it sounds awful. The end is a little out of keeping with the rest of the story, but I'm not quite sure how I would have wanted it to end. Four and a half very cold stars.


4 comments or Leave a comment
lillibet From: lillibet Date: January 2nd, 2010 05:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
Re: Isle of Dogs, let me assure you that there's no need to read any more of that series...it just gets worse, along the same lines. I'm really sorry about Patricia Cornwell--I loved her early work, but this decade is not hers.

What other mystery writers do you like or dislike? I've got some huge faves that I would recommend, if I had more of a sense of your taste in that genre.
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: January 2nd, 2010 06:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
My most favorites tend to be British and a bit old-fashioned. Ngaio Marsh, P. D. James, Ruth Rendell. Outliers include Iain Pears, Kate Ross (alas, only four books), Faye Kellerman, Jeffery Deaver (who is kind of not like the others). Both Martha Grimes and Elizabeth George I fell off of. I'm sure I'm forgetting some, but that's probably a good overview of stuff I like. :)
lillibet From: lillibet Date: January 2nd, 2010 07:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Have you tried Anne Perry? I love both her Thomas & Charlotte Pitt books (although less so the last 2 or 3) and the Monk series, and there are about forty of them, which made a good year of reading for me when I discovered them.

I share your grief for Kate Ross. I've found Tasha Alexander and C.S. Harris similar, but not as completely engaging.

Perhaps my favorite is Barbara Hambly's Benjamin January books, starting with A Free Man of Color. She's created such a marvelous character and her depiction of 1830's New Orleans is just amazing in its richness and detail. She has a new book out under the name Barbara Hamilton, set in Colonial Boston and starring Abigail Adams. It's not my favorite period, but I'm eager to give it a shot.
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: January 2nd, 2010 08:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ooh, thank you!

Anne Perry's name rings a bell, but I don't seem to have any of her books, so I may be doing something like thinking of another writer who has an N in her name, and I'll never be able to figure out which one (No, I have it, that's Elizabeth Peters I'm thinking of! Except instead of an N it was a "Pe". I'm completely inept at names; I was so disappointed when I realized that Warren Buffet and Jimmy Buffet were different people...). I've also read some of Barbara Hambly's fantasy, but not that series.
4 comments or Leave a comment