26 November 2017

Zenith; Lindsay Cummings

Zenith (The Androma Saga, #1)Zenith by Lindsay Cummings
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

DNF. Too derivative, too many POVs, and after 30% on my eARC I just couldn't care about anyone. Better world building and fewer (or more sensible) switches between characters would have helped. Maybe.

ARC provided by publisher.

Beasts Made of Night; Tochi Onyebuchi

Beasts Made of NightBeasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Really hope this is a one-off! The world Onyebuchi creates is both comfortable (corrupt royals/rich population surrounded by poor people trying to eke out a living plus mysterious origins of religion and a taboo on finding history) and different (the African overtones), a combination that works so well you want more of the world without this being a forced trilogy. Having said that, the downside is that the main characters are nothing more than stock stereotypes - with a few exceptions (Omar, who gets few paragraphs) there's nothing for readers to grab onto in terms of caring about their future or where they may go in the next chapter.

12 November 2017

A Line in the Dark; Malinda Lo

A Line in the DarkA Line in the Dark by Malinda Lo
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Oddly predictable. I'd expected more from Lo, plus the cover is completely misleading. There's also the problem of lapses in plot (that thing that happens offstage that cracks the case), something that mystery writers often do but here just is annoying when dealing with the death at the center of the book.

28 October 2017

That Inevitable Victorian Thing; E.K. Johnson

That Inevitable Victorian ThingThat Inevitable Victorian Thing by E.K. Johnston
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Liked the idea, but it felt a bit cluttered by trying to do too much with the idea of diversity and alternative Canadian/Victorian Era history. As a result, the writing and world building beyond that diversity isn't as strong as it could have been. I know that won't be a popular opinion, but it's mine.

Everless; Sara Holland

Everless (Untitled #1)Everless by Sara Holland
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

That there's a clear indication that this will be part of an un-as-yet-titled series (trilogy? more?) is a little disheartening. I'm so tired of the non-standalone books. Ok, I get it as a publishing necessity but as a buyer and reader? So tired. And that ends that rant.

Sempera's reliance on blood to extend lives or as currency is unusual, to say the least. The near-feudal world will feel comfortable to readers, as will the mysterious reasons why Jules' father has hidden them away from the Gerling family (and Jules' eventual relationships with the two Gerling sons). So what makes this different? The world building is a bit more detailed, a bit more original and a bit more real-feeling than is usual. And that made me want to read more, to explore more, particularly as Jules begins to come into her own.

ARC provided by publisher.

Ink, Iron, and Glass; Gwendolyn Clare

Ink, Iron, and Glass (Ink, Iron, and Glass, #1)Ink, Iron, and Glass by Gwendolyn Clare
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Oh, if only "ink" weren't in the title: the creation of a world by writing it can only draw comparison to Funke's Inkheart. And this doesn't deserve that comparison because it's not close to being the same thing. But then, there are bits of Narnia (the World Between the Worlds) and other novels inside.

The world that Clare has created here is a great mix of European steampunk and what might be called pre-industrial, with call outs to writers and events that teens may (I hope) be interested in seeking more information about. Example? Garibaldi's unification of Italy. Which was an interesting choice of focal point, IMVHO, because Italy and that history is not a common setting for us (France and Amsterdam also play fleeting roles).

How this plays out, and what happens in the "real" world that Elsa comes from (although I suspect a love triangle in the next book, which... really hoping not) I can't wait to read.

ARC provided by publisher.

Image and Imagination; C.S. Lewis

Image and Imagination: Essays and ReviewsImage and Imagination: Essays and Reviews by C.S. Lewis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Honestly, for real Lewis fans only. Many of these are reviews of books (Lewis' reviews, not reviews of his books) that only make sense if you know the book, while others are essays on topics that appealed to him and probably won't be of interest to the general reader.

Having said that, if you, like me, are a Lewis fan, this is a great addition to your bookshelf. His voice ad his writing are as clear as ever and sorely missed.

The Snowman; Jo Nesbo

The Snowman (Harry Hole, #7)The Snowman by Jo Nesbø
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Read this because the movie was coming out but now that I've done so, perhaps I don't need to see it on the screen. Hole remains one of the more compelling leads: so very contradictory in nature (is he a drunk? an addict? compassionate? decent? all of the above or none? does it matter?). And while usually it doesn't matter whether you read this series in or out of order - note, I haven't been - I can see where understanding the relationship with Oleg and Rakel would help with the "outside" mystery of his life.

As mysteries go, this isn't bad. A couple of times there were red herrings, and once I found an annoying clue that only Hole sees, not the reader, so there's no way to solve this on your own. Beyond that, far less gruesome than the next book will be, with some nice tinges of local color that really set the books in their place (as opposed to a generic Scandinavian setting, a la Lackburg).

25 September 2017

Mad World; Lori Majewski

Mad World: An Oral History of New Wave Artists and Songs That Defined the 1980sMad World: An Oral History of New Wave Artists and Songs That Defined the 1980s by Lori Majewski
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Very different from the last book entitled Mad World I read!

This is, as other reviewers have mentioned, very much a "bathroom" book - one that you can dip into and out of easily. The caveat is, of course, that you have to have either been a fan of the 1980s New Wave or curious about it, and that may be a limited audience. A music loving friend of mine claims that no one does care, these days, and several groups (Thompson Twins) are so irrelevant to today's scene, blah blah blah... Maybe. I confess to having skimmed many entries and quarreled with others because my favorite song by a group was overlooked or only glancingly mentioned. If you're a fan of the music or any of the groups, this is a interesting backwards glance into the era with just enough gossip to be spicy (the playlists I could have lived without).

Winterhouse; Ben Guterson

Winterhouse (Winterhouse, #1)Winterhouse by Ben Guterson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Cute and fun for puzzle lovers. Sometimes the setting was confusing - how big could that hotel really be? But readers won't care, they'll just want to visit. The Big Mystery is actually a few mysteries and their solutions aren't always telegraphed, which is always a good thing. That this is the first in a series may also be a good thing... I'll have to wait and read.

ARC provided by publisher.