It appears that the charm of The Slippery Slope slipped away with this one. The orphans are swept downstream and end up on a submarine. Things are pretty predictable, and I just didn't feel engaged by any of it.
I think I'm less angry at this book than disappointed. I went in expecting Jane Austen + magic and ended up really getting neither. While it is a Regency novel, and Kowal works towards Austen's style, much of the charm and all of the wit is missing. And the magic serves no real purpose in the world or the novel. It doesn't feel shoved in, but it does leave me a bit perplexed.
From the beginning, you know everything is going to go wrong in The Last Colony. But because it's John Scalzi, you know everything will be okay in the end. This was more Ghost Brigades and less Old Man's War—less focus on humor and more on the issues at hand—but I think it's superior to it in a few ways.
There were things I really liked about The Martian and things that started to really annoy me. Over all, it was a decent book; I can see why it was turned into a movie, and I can see why people enjoyed it so much.
The first thing I thought when I started Ancillary Mercy was, "Wow, I need to re-read this entire series." As I continued through, I began to remember more, but the urge to do a complete re-read continued. I'm just constantly amazed at Leckie's ability to balance action and politics, tea time and cuddle time. Oh, and the ending gave me everything that I ever wanted, so yeah. SPOILERS.
Once again, I was failed to be "wowed," but the book itself was enjoyable. I actually enjoyed the other three more than this one, which was surprising, as I'd heard Mort is one of the better early books. Maybe I just need to start going in without any expectations.
While in many ways The Tombs of Atuan deals with some of the issues I have with A Wizard of Earthsea, I've never liked it quite as much. I think the themes it deals with just don't speak to me as clearly. However, it's a wonderful book, deserving of many a read-through.
I picked this up because it contains a Stainless Steel Rat short story. What I ended up with was a mixed bag. I was definitely underimpressed with many of the stories, while a few were enjoyable. The Stainless Steel Rat story itself was nice, but couldn't make up for the volume.
I wasn't fully impressed by this book. There were parts of it I rather enjoyed, but I didn't feel like I could relate to the protagonist, Esk, and it felt like plenty of others were just obliviously sticking their heads in holes. It's a quick read, and that's great, but if something is going to seriously try and have an agenda of sorts, maybe it shouldn't be so quick.
This time, I actually felt like I got some of the charm of The Stainless Steel Rat, rather than being left with a book that only somewhat approximated the character. Maybe the problem is that these are prequels, and he's just not "himself" yet. Regardless, this time I actually enjoyed the book.
It's honestly hard to believe this was a book published in the 60s. I was afraid to re-read it because I didn't believe it could possibly live up to my recollections. But it did. This book is simply beautiful.
Wait, what, three stars? Yup. This book was genuinely enjoyable, unlike most of the books minus the beginning. Either I'm inured to the author's tone or it's lighter in this book, the entire work doesn't feel like an exercise in futility, and Sunny is actually treated like a character.
I have fond memories of realizing I could learn the origins of the Stainless Steel Rat. I have even fonder memories of meeting his mentor, The Bishop. And that's where my fond memories stop. Probably because the rest of the book is just repetitive. Up until now, I felt like Slippery Jim hadn't overstayed, but in this one... it was a bit tough.
Once again, the Baudelaire orphans have to deal with an awful situation involving Count Olaf. Once again, the moment something seems to be getting better, it gets worse. Even though we're not dealing with incompetent guardians anymore, this is still really formulaic.
While The Victorian Internet has some great info, it reads like a school essay. Minus good citations. I learned quite a bit, but if you're writing nonfic, you should cite, not just put sources at the end, and if you're making a point, trust your reader.
This round, my book club on Habitica (previously called HabitRPG) selected from a set of non-fiction books. I was hoping that this (or The Victorian Internet) would be chosen. And I got my wish! While I definitely enjoyed it, as you can see from the rating, it wasn't a book without issues. It certainly felt "split," as if Suzanne Corkin couldn't decide if she wanted to write about H.M.'s life or his contributions to science.
I was promised this one might be better. I'm so glad I wasn't really expecting it to. Pretty much all the flaws of the first book remain, just with Alanna getting older. We learn she's super special. Nothing is truly difficult. Oh, and she comes out as a woman. Guess how that went over! (Didn't I just say "Nothing is truly difficult?")
I only vaguely remember the circumstances around which I read Inkheart as a young adult. More clearly, I remembered the premise. I honestly think the book might have suffered a bit for it; it takes some time for things to build up, and when you know what's going to happen, it just feels slow. But Inkheart is still a cute book, even if it's not the best I've ever read. What really won me over was that this was a young adult book where the adults aren't useless.
I really wish I didn't feel an unhealthy desire to finish this series. Because then I wouldn't be reading them, and could be busy reading things that are awesome. At least they're quick?
In The Vile Village, the Baudelaire orphans once again get put in a horrible living situation (this time, an entire village of awful people, as it takes a village to raise a child), get ensnared in one of Count Olaf's plots (this time, with bonus Esmé), and engineer a patently ridiculous way to get out of it (this time, stretched so far the author has to hang a lantern on it). Spoilers past the cut.
It's really sad when a favorite book of yours doesn't stand up in a re-read. Well, its fourth re-read. Maybe the depression that kept me from posting so long kind of sullied its shine. Well, that, and the more I think about the sexism in the book the more it makes me feel a bit grimy. But hey, I'm not saying don't read it. I do have such a soft spot in my heart for this book, primarily because hey, spacer dolphins that still act like dolphins, not like they just swapped brains with a human. And alien aliens.
Ender's Shadow was fine, if not great. This book is bad and should feel wrong. Orson Scott Card decides to get weirdly preachy and weird moments, he keeps emphasizing how nothing but children matter, he's incredibly offensive to people with genetic disorders (cough ME), and he seriously says at the end that Guns, Germs, and Steel laid the ground rules for him. And everyone should read it. Makes sense. Oh, and he can't write women. Spoilers everywhere.
Railsea is gorgeous, accessible, enchanting, and enthralling. It takes Moby Dick, throws in some Treasure Island and trains, all the while providing an incredibly novel world with extensive worldbuilding. It's been some time since I've read a book I enjoyed this much.
The Ghost Brigades wasn't what I was expecting, but that was absolutely fine. I certainly wasn't thinking John Scalzi would ditch most of the humor that made Old Man's War what it was. However, it wasn't a problem. The Ghost Brigades still stands up well, even if I didn't feel it was as good as the first book.
I love John Scalzi. I read Fuzzy Nation in the past year as well, and there's just something about his writing that works for me. I'd read Old Man's War in the past, but this wasn't really a nostalgia reread, as much as a general reread, as I was planning on doing a refresher for reading The Ghost Brigades. (Which I will be starting as soon as I finish writing this review.)
I definitely felt like I got more of the same from The Light Fantastic, although it certainly reminded me more of Douglas Adams this time around. There wasn't really a lot of substantial plot, but it didn't matter. The point was the journey (which has to come to an end) and the humor itself.
When I reviewed The Black Unicorn, by Terry Brooks, I said there was a good Black Unicorn already. This is it. This is also a book that I like to point to when someone's looking for a strong female character who doesn't have to be overly masculine in order to show she's strong (cough Alanna). Also, peeve. Yes.
I may sometimes follow around my puppy and peeve-narrate him.
It's really cool when I'm not too sick to read. (Which is pretty sick.) It's also really cool when I get to read something that's bizarre and wonderful. So reading Annihilation in the middle of a bout of illness and then finding it vastly enjoyable was exactly what I needed. Or, another way to put it, vastly what the fuck even just I don't know but wow, okay, where's the next one?
Perdido Street Station was definitely my favorite. While there was a lot I liked about Iron Council, I had trouble staying interested in the chaotic plot. Which doesn't make sense. I love it when Miéville has wild, crazy chaotic plots. Maybe it's just this series.
I actually found that knowing the twist to Fight Club wasn't as awful in the movie version. In fact, the movie was good enough that if it hadn't been censored and had a weird ending change, it would have been four stars.
Apparently I read The Scar, but never wrote a review. Probably because I was so underwhelmed. I absolutely loved Perdido Street Station and I love Miéville, so I was expecting a treat. Instead, I was kind of bored, actually. Maybe it's because there's so little to do with New Crobuzon or maybe it was because I didn't care about the characters. Regardless, it was a solid two stars.
Gasp! This one very slightly deviates from the formula! An actual plot is starting to coalesce? Does it save the series? ...not really. Spoilers in the review, but if you've been reading these reviews so far, you should realize how little that can possibly matter with books like these.
In some ways, this book was better, but in others, it was exactly the same. They're just so formulaic. I understand that some authors feel like that's important in middle grade/YA, but in my opinion, it's underestimating young readers. Sure, some kids may like it, but why not give them something that challenges them a bit?
If cannibalism and eating decomposing dogs bother you, then Chew may not be right for you. If those things don't bother you... then I don't know. They certainly didn't bother me, and I felt like I should have enjoyed Chew, but I didn't like it that much.
So, I was trying to spread these out a bit, but apparently I'm in too much pain to do much but read middle grade books. So I don't have another review for you yet. (Hopefully soon, though.)
There aren't a lot of things that will, on its own, take a book down to one star. Usually, it's a combination of things. Well, I'd been putting up with a lot from Lemony Snicket, which has been discussed in previous reviews. But this one really, really pissed me off.
This one felt more like a proper three stars. I greatly enjoyed the premise of having a guardian that was actually a rather nice and interesting person. Plus, the whole Sunny playing with the adorable Incredibly Deadly Viper just made the whole thing for me. However... I'm afraid the series is really going to get repetitive and frustrating.
I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this one. I mean, it was enjoyable, but the romance subplot felt really, really forced and squicky. The comic relief felt poorly timed and I felt like Bill Willingham didn't address most of the issues he laid out. It's like they were laid out just to be edgy.
I know I read this series at some point as a kid, but think I only read the first three books or so. I recently saw them on Overdrive and figured "Hey! I'm really having trouble with my illness right now! These might be the perfect books to read!"
(yes, that's why I've been missing. too sick...)
And really, they were in a way. Quick, fun, enjoyable reads. Although, now I'm on the third by the time I'm writing this, and they're starting to get on my nerves... I think I'm going to have to start spreading them out.
At this point, we're moving from nostalgia reviews to just reviews. Or maybe I read this book and was bored so badly I just decided to quit. (Probably not, considering I was such a big Terry Brooks fan as a kid.) Anyway, this book was even more of a snoozefest, which is saying something for a solid two-star series. Spoilers after the cut.
This book made me angry. Really angry. I didn't even realize how angry at first. It's not really an issue with the end itself (although I do have issues with that); it's an issue with the writing. I complained in a previous review about how the Pensieve is one of the worst writing cop-outs ever. So here's a cool story: when it takes 100 pages of exposition to make the ending make sense, you're doing it wrong.
It took me a while to get into Four Ways to Forgiveness. The first story was a bit sleepy, and I had trouble understanding the point of it all. But as this collection of four Hainish short stories progresses, the themes surrounding enslavement and gender politics become more clear. This is one of the books in which LeGuin bares her politics. As she so often does, she does it well.
Over at the Legendary Book Club of Habitica, we've just finished some amazing discussions on The Complete Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi. If you missed my review, you should check it out. Next, we'll be reading Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, by Edward Albee. If you're interested in reading along with us and participating in discussion, make sure to join HabitRPG and check out the guild "The Legendary Book Club of Habitica."
Skiffy, especially self-aware skiffy, is one of my favorite genres, and John Scalzi does it well with Agent to the Stars. Unfortunately, there's a point where the humor's charm wears off. Up until then, it's a fantastic book. It's the last bit that drags it down.
I'm of two minds about Half-Blood Prince. There were some parts in it that were rather well done, and other parts that made me roll my eyes. It's just so frustrating to read a book and go, "Ugh, it was so close to being good!"
I didn't think I knew what I was looking for in a fantasy book, but apparently this is it. Susanna Clark manages to write a story that doesn't rely on superfluous action, has interesting characters with real struggles and flaws, and worldbuilds without overwhelming the reader. Yes, Jonathon Strange & Mr Norrell is long, but it doesn't feel like it goes on too long. In fact, I was rather sad to depart from its world.
Harry Harrison making fun of politics? Yes, please! The hijinks in this Stainless Steel Rat book poke at the way democracies end up not being so democratic. He probably could have used a less stereotypical backdrop than Space Latin America to show off his "democratic" dictator plot, but because the setting isn't the joke, it works better than the issues in the last book.