Friday, June 19, 2015

Mini-Reviews: 48 Hour Book Challenge

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  • I don't know how many books I'll finish (I'll probably start start twenty five books or so) but just in case, I'll start out putting my reactions here:
      MaddAddam (MaddAddam, #3)
      Forged in Blood I (The Emperor's Edge, #6)
    1. MaddAddam, Margaret Atwood. This is the final book in the trilogy, and I enjoyed much more than I did the second. I'm getting old, so I've mostly forgotten the details of her world. This means I probably missed some jokes -- Atwood has a great sense of humor. The pages were easy to sink into, although the book itself never urged me to pick it up. I think this is because the book is about the world, and the characters, although clearly drawn, weren't all that interesting to me. The main character, Toby, spends so much of the time in jealous worry over her lover, and I keep wanting her to look around her -- the world was a fascinating place, no matter where Zeb was waving his penis. Once I realized my issues, it was easier to just look past Toby at the world around them, which was just as well, because that's where Atwood's attention was as well.
    2. Forged in Blood, Lindsay Buroker. My book club helped me discover this self-published author a few years ago, and I've been working my way through her work ever since. Her characters are quirky but real, and in this series she juggles her ensemble well, keeping us interested in each character while adding some to keep things changing. She does a great job with action sequences, and isn't afraid to have her characters make mistakes. This book is told from the perspective of the grim assassin that is half of the main love interest, and at first I thought that was a mistake -- his mysterious motives were a large part of the fun of the book. Buroker pulls it off, and I'm definitely looking forward to the final book in the series.
    3. Alice + Freda ForeverA Murder in Memphis, Alexis Coe. This 2014 Cybils finalist covers some history I don't know much about -- a murder in 1892, where a teenager attacked her girlfriend with a straight razor. Coe uses this to talk about the current ideas about gender roles, race, and homosexuality while also trying to give a sense of Alice's personality and motives. I think she did a better job with the former than the latter, but overall it seemed superficial to me. I hope that's because I'm an adult and the book is aimed at teen agersAlice + Freda Forever: A Murder in Memphis
    4. About that Night. Norah McClintock is one of my favorite realistic YA authors. Her teens are modern but strong willed, with a sense of morals that they may struggle to live up to. I especially like her reluctance to tie things up with a bow -- in this mystery, no one has all the answers, even at the end. The reader gets to see more than the characters, because we check in with all the main characters, but even we have to figure out some things on our own. Young love is respected but not idealized, and death is very real.About That Night
    5. A Matter For Men, David Gerrold. I started this last summer, but it got very little traction and I barely made it past page fifty. But I'd like to clear out all my currently-readings, so I gave it another try, and it managed to keep me interested enough to see the end. Most of my interest came from seeing how close to Starship Troopers it could come -- clueless young man, women soldiers, very odd women (all the females who have an interest in sex), strange required military class at school, passive protagonist, giant invertebrate alien bad guys, long lectures on government and individual responsibility, and probably others that I'm skipping. I can't think of anyone I'd recommend it to, but it serves as a solid historical piece of science fiction, as much about the time it was published (early eighties) as the future it predicts.A Matter for Men 
    6. Gulp, Mary Roach. A fun book about how we digest, with an emphasis on the odd or amusing. It was rather slow reading, as the "ick" factor was rather high, but I like her preoccupation with appropriate names (and she's not afraid to go really juvenile, sniggering at a "Dr Brown" proctologist) and her willingness to ask silly questions and interview anyone (life-sentence convict known for smuggling goods up his bum). Did you know that the support ribbons for colon cancer used to be brown, but people objected and now they are blue? Appendix cancer ribbons are still amber.Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal
    7. Yonder Comes the Other End Of Time, Suzette Haden Elgin. I never got over the disappointment of finding that this book was set on a planet based on the West Virginia mountains, not actually in those mountains, and so of no use to me for my 50 States Challenge. It also had a lot of super-gendered stereotypes that tried my patience. Setting myself down, I managed to finish it, but I'm not inclined to seek out the other books about Coyote Jones (or about the Ozark planet, if there are any).Yonder Comes The Other End ...
    8. Bless Her Dead Little Heart, Miranda James. I grabbed this book from the library because it is set in Mississippi. It seemed of the murder-mystery-with-cats genre, but fell a bit short in both categories. No one solved the murder mystery; instead the murdered killed off all the other suspects before getting offed by her last intended victim. The cute cat, despite all its intelligence and door-opening skills, contributed nothing to the mystery. And the new pets featured on the cover never even got into the house! Unless I'm desperate for a Mississippi book next year I probably won't see out another Southern Ladies mystery. Bless Her Dead Little Heart (Southern Sisters, #1)

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