Sunday, August 26, 2012

Up My Alley, Even My Front Step

Making slow progress? Maybe, but meanwhile I've finished another book, so I'm still three behind.  Onward then! Back in Febrary (on my birthday, to be precise :)) my lovely hubby took me to the used bookstore in Teaneck (funny, I just dreamed about a used bookstore last night but that's b/c I was composing this in my head earlier).   Selection was not infinite (online used books have spoiled us all) but I did find, for the can't-be-beat price (ok I'm sure it could be beat, but I'm not looking) of $1 (no shipping :)), Summers At Castle Auburn.  This is a Sharon Shinn book I may actually have reviewed before on this blog, I read it one recent-ish summer, but of course I'm not going to check first.  In any case, it's a fairly light-on-content fantasy romance tale, so pretty much up my alley.  Certainly enjoyed it the first time I read it, and subsequent times as well.  Worth buying, so I did.  Then I left it in the car for like 5 months and took it out only a few weeks ago.  It sat on my table for a while, and when I was packing for my trip, was a natural choice to bring along, since the only library book I had was the previously reviewed Terry Pratchett, which I was anyway almost finished with.

So along with me it came.  Did I expect to get much reading done on the trip? Not sure, but as it turned out, there was little opportunity until Shabbos (because I had the Olympics of course :)) But there was Shabbos, and then two nights in hotels *w/o* t.v. (Glacier National Park don't go in for that sort o' thang) so I made my way through it pretty swiftly.  Really quite swiftly - I only put it down one night because it was getting dark and I didn't want to put the light on (yes, we went to sleep early that night :)) This was somewhat of a surprise, if only because I had found that my enjoyment of this book did not tend to increase with each time I read it.  But I guess I reached a good point last time, because I was able to fulfill my expectations and more with this time.

I'm not saying it was a perfect romance, which is much what I thought of it the first time I read it (other than someone telling me she got together with the wrong guy, causing me to root for what I thought what the wrong guy, only to find out that she got together with what I thought was the right guy... but that's a separate issue).  There's a whole lot of the other stuff going on, and not *quite* enough interaction for our happy couple.  Well, not that they don't interact, but it's not at all clear that there's any romance involved in the interaction until most of the way through.  And the romance itself... well it takes on a lot of the book's quite serious tone.  They are a nice couple, and he's certainly an admirable guy, but feelings (at least of the fun, angsty sort :)) don't seem to figure quite as much as they should.

So that's why I don't absolutely adore this book.  But as I said, I do enjoy it.  Because in the end of the day, it's a romance - a royal, fantasy, romance.  Sure, there's intrigue, but no blood and guts, no physical hardship, and most importantly, no time when our heroine really feels she has no options, nowhere to go.  She may not always fit in, but she has her place and she's got plenty going for her.  And the royal palace is a fun place to be, for us if not for her.  Kent is of course a perfect gentleman, wise beyond his years and eminently capable.  At least for some of the book (when Corie is not 14 :)) he loves her from afar, and we can enjoy knowing that the second (and following times through).  So it's all good, you know what I'm saying.  No reason not to enjoy this stuff, it was written for the likes of me :)

Verdict: 3.75/5

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Universe Appeal?

Behind, behind.  But I was on a trip! For 10 days! Yes, I got back a week ago... Anyway, three books behind, not exactly fresh in my mind, it's time to get going.  First up, Terry Pratchett kind of has a new one out - I saw kind of because it's a collaboration with another author, I assume an SF writer.  Which means we're not exactly going to get vintage Pratchett, whose books are only SF because they don't take place in our universe (you know what I mean, that genre takes itself so seriously).  Not sure how much of this book is Pratchett anyway, you know I just I assume that what with his Alzheimer's and all, this collaboration might have been easier than writing his own stuff... So given that I knew this wasn't going to be Pratchett, why read it? Well, I guess it was mostly why not? That's why I reserved it and once I reserved it, might as well read it.

It was indeed, much more in the usual bent of SF/fantasy.  World building and all that, and taking itself seriously... On its merits as fantasy, I'm not sure how well qualified I am to judge (well not this type of fantasy anyway).  But I didn't think the world was all that creative or revolutionary.   And not amazingly crafted either, the laws of the universe definitely seemed at times haphazard.  I much prefer Jasper Fforde's whimsical Bookworld or even Sharon Shinn's Archangel universe.  But I guess it's not fair to compare this to some of my favorite books.  Elegantly crafted or not, this universe is certainly interesting, and I'm not going to say it doesn't have potential.

This one is only the first in the series, so potential is something it better have.  Being the first, it spent most of the time just setting the scene, and then ended on somewhat of a crisis.  But before reaching the crisis, the menace of this book had already been revealed, and I have to say I did not find it spectacular. Maybe I wasn't meant it and this was all just part of the setup, but I hope the further secrets of this universe prove more momentous.  I say I hope... because you know there's a good chance I'll be reading at least the next one in the series.   Even though it's not my thing, once I start I like to continue.

But if it was that bad, I'm pretty sure I'd abandon ship no matter what.  So I guess it's not that bad.  Actually, don't get me wrong, I didn't think it was anything terrible at all.  The book managed to stay interesting even with not much going on.  And if the characters weren't the most likable, at least they had universal relevance/importance going for them (we meet the central players in this brave new world of course).  There were plenty enough times I found myself annoyed with this or that (hard to remember what at this late juncture) but overall there was never much doubt that I would continue reading.   It was definitely interesting enough for that.  And I'm not sure what else I could ask from the genre.

Verdict: 3/5