It starts as a thoughtful account of two cultures clashing. The cultures are clear and interesting, the characters nicely delineated. It continues that way for about two-thirds of the way through, whereupon it takes an abrupt digression into a flashback of one of the other characters, until about the last ten pages, whereupon it goes a bit farther forward in an unpleasant direction, and then ends. I liked the first two thirds quite a bit. I liked the flashback as well, though as it kept going on, I became more and more puzzled as to how the author would manage to reach an actual conclusion - answer: he doesn't. There is more to the world, written in another of his novels and short stories in Asimov's, apparently - maybe the whole body of work would feel less incomplete. As it is, I felt as if I'd read the first half of a moderately interesting book. (Cover report: Nice picture, though I'm not sure the setting fits anywhere in the book. I can identify the character depicted, but what's up with her bodice/sleeves? This cover is deemed Appropriately Pretty.) Three stars (one half star deducted for the lack of conclusion).
Tokyo Cancelled (by Rana Dasgupta)
Thirteen passengers stuck overnight in an airport, due to a snowstorm in Tokyo cancelling their flight. Each tells a story, to pass the time. An ancient premise, with (sometimes) more modern stories. Some are short, some are long. Some are almost realistic, some are fairy tales, some are surreal and dreamlike. Some were quite good, others only confusing. This was one of the books recommended by the Porter Square bookstore, and I must cautiously agree. I was not vicariously transported upon any adventures by the stories, or moved to passion or pathos, but instead have awoken from a most curious dream, which remains only in puzzling echoes and fragments. Four stars, and I deem the cover Worthy.
The Maquisarde (by Louise Marley)
The most eccentric thing about this book is that I kept thinking the main character, pictured on the cover, looks like remcat. Strangely, I can't see it nearly as well in the on-line picture of the cover, just on the physical book. Anyway, it wasn't bad. I liked the other Marley book (the Child Goddess) better, because there was more of a mystery and a sense of wonder to it, but this one was okay. A rebellion against an evil tyrant, with (like the Child Goddess) a lot of innocent children involved in the process. The characters were more interesting and compelling than the actual plot. Three stars.
Tokyo Cancelled is borrowable; the other two are now listed on this exciting Paperback Swap web site (but you can have them instead if you want).