Book Reviews

Professional Reader

I award my stars as follows:

«    Terrible.  I probably didn't finish it.  If I finished it, I regret the time I'll never get back.  If I paid money for it, I threw it across the room.

««            Forgettable.  Not horrible, but not the best I’ve ever read either.

«««         A pleasant escape, which is all I really demand from a book.

««««      Excellent.  I recommend this book.

«««««   Stellar (pun intended).  This book struck a chord, and possibly played a chaconne up and down my spine.  I will grant this book space in my tragically small permanent library.

All the Dancing Birds by Auburn McCanta

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

The Beginner's Goodbye by Anne Tyler

The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory

The Borrowers by Mary Norton

Brothers and Sisters by Bebe Moore Campbell

The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

But I Trusted You by Ann Rule

Cash by Johnny Cash

Children of Paradise by Fred D'Aguiar

The Color of Our Sky by Amita Trasi

Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson

East of Eden by John Steinbeck

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg

A Grave Talent by Laurie R. King

The Ghosts of Maraval by Siobhan Fraser

The Girl in the Spider's Web by David Lagercrantz

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee (Book Review)

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

Helen of Sparta by Amalia Carosella

Hombre by Elmore Leonard
The Hundred-Year House by Rebecca Makkai

I Am Livia by Phyllis T. Smith

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

I'm with the Band: Confessions of a Groupie by Pamela Des Barres

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

Julian by Gore Vidal

Life by Keith Richards

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

The Lost Sisterhood by Anne Fortier

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

Measureless Night by Chris Culver

Mick Jagger by Philip Norman

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

Naked in Death by J.D. Robb

The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

The One You Love by Paul Pilkington

Peyton Place by Grace Metalious

The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta

Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler

Story of a Crime Series (Martin Beck) by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö

Stranglehold by Katherine Jeffries

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

The Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo

Insurgent (Divergent, #2)Insurgent by Veronica Roth
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Perhaps it's Middle Book in the Trilogy Syndrome. Perhaps it's just been too long since I read Divergent, but that shouldn't matter. I'm lost. Traitor Dauntless, loyal Dauntless, traitor Erudite...what--what? I can't keep track. I've read series much richer and more complex than this one, with years rather than months between books, and I kept track of all the intrigue and machinations with no problem.

And the real thing of it is, I'm aware that I'm reading something that was written, if that makes any sense. I'm aware that somebody put these words together, in this particular order, to tell me these things and to try to leave me with this certain impression. With most enjoyable books, I'm not aware of it, or if I am, it's because it crept up through my subconscious and floored me with its beauty. Not this. It's not bad writing, but I'm aware that it's writing, and I don't like that.

Meh. Not going to finish it. I don't even remember who all these people are.

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Timeless (Parasol Protectorate, #5)Timeless by Gail Carriger
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Consider this a review of the Parasol Protectorate series as a whole. Compared to the first four books, this last installment is a somewhat weak finish. I found myself not really caring in this book, but it wasn't difficult to push through to the end.  Overall, this is a well-written and entertaining series, recommended for escapism of the humorous, Victorian, steampunk, romantic, supernatural sort. I will definitely check out the Finishing School series.

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The Godwulf Manuscript (Spenser, #1)The Godwulf Manuscript by Robert B. Parker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"I had a lot of information, but I had an unpleasant taste in my mouth...Halfway through my steak I caught sight of myself in the mirror behind the bar. I looked like someone who ought to eat alone."

Robert B. Parker does the noir detective every bit as well as Chandler did. Spenser is a good cook and a snappy dresser, a tough guy's tough guy and a ladykiller with the heart - and name - of a poet.

Soulless (Parasol Protectorate, #1)Soulless by Gail Carriger
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Fun and campy blend of paranormal, romance, steampunk, alternate history, Victorian London, humor, and mystery. Sure it's fluff, but it's well-written fluff, and we all need to put down the serious for a bit of fluff now and then.

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The Curse of the Pharaohs (Amelia Peabody, #2)The Curse of the Pharaohs by Elizabeth Peters
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Very disappointing. After "Crocodile on the Sandbank" I thought I'd found an enjoyable murder mystery series, but the characters have developed most unsatisfactorily. So far it's cliched, contrived, and overwritten.

Preliminary, one-third in:

We have the stereotypical redheaded freckled Irishman who says, "Sure and I wouldn't" and "Top of the mornin'." I'm still waiting for "Faith and begorrah!"

Then there's the American with the the "holy shucks" and "goldurned" and "little lady."

Emerson, with his "Art thou a man, or a dribbling infant? Speak; tell me what sight brought our valiant watchman to this pass?"...seriously? Will he next break into iambic pentameter? The curmudgeon who saved his affection for private moments, whom we met in the first book, is now an abrasive, ranting bully.

Amelia has developed from a warm-hearted, no-nonsense spinster into a bossy, condescending shrew. And since when does a high-born,well-mannered English lady go around assaulting people with her parasol?

But then, perhaps being married to each other has brought them to this.

The only reason I'm still reading is that the three-year-old has been left at home, to the benefit and relief of myself and everyone in Egypt. I'm sure "Ramses" is meant to be a delightful little wunderkind, but he only comes off as ill-behaved and obnoxious. Show me a precocious bundle of adorableness, and I'll show you an insufferable little tyrant who just got drop-kicked into the next county.

Finally, I am glad to know that Amelia and Emerson have such frequent and enthusiastic sex, and that they're better than everyone else at that, too.

I enjoyed the first book in this series. I'm trying to reserve judgment on this one until I finish it, but it isn't looking good.

~ Later, 77%~

Nope. The obnoxious brat can wield an old-fashioned dip pen and write "I love Mummy and Daddy" in hieroglyphics. Emerson is still a boorish ass and Amelia is still a know-it-all and a menace with her parasol. It's like slapstick and soap opera got mashed together. I peeked ahead to see who did it and I was right. I don't care about the how or why. I'm not going to finish reading this. A let-down.

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1 comment:

  1. Try reading "The Mummy Case", that's the one that Barbara dedicated to me - although you have to find a very old copy to see the dedication as it was removed from the later books. It is, however, a fairly fun read. And there's always "The Last Camel Died at Noon" which is also quite good. I can agree with you,though, that Ramses is overpowering and that Amelia and Emerson were better in the first book than they ever were again. I vividly remember reading "Curse of the Pharaohs" all the way through while sitting in a parked car over 4th of July weekend at a camping event in Pennsylvania. It was the only dry place in an amazingly chill and rainy camp. And I, too, thought the second book of the series not up to the first. I can say that now because Barbara died a couple of summers ago.