Friday, March 22, 2013

Not Much To Say, But That's Not a Bad Thing

This next one is going to be short (unless I can start remembering more (which I suppose is a review in itself, though not so much in the case)) Last summer I borrowed the latest 44 Scotland St from Sarah Sp. (yes, AMS just never stops) and I was in middle of reading it when events interrupted.  I didn't resume it until months later, when I needed something to read while nursing on Shabbos.  So it was an interrupted reading, both by a months-long-hiatus and by the stop-and-go nature of nursing (ok, that might not be the most felicitous turn of phrase).  And of course, it's been a few months since I finished it.  So between all that, what can I say? Not much.

I did like the book,  I think more than some of the other 44s.  It definitely moved and I felt like it moved places rather than just jumped around.  Funny and interesting things happened to the characters, some of them (many of them) somewhat far-fetched, but not the less interesting for that.  Nothing bad happened (nothing ever does), no evil specter even loomed its head (none ever does).  Do I still care about these characters? Most of them, yes.  Is anything ever going to happen to them? Well some stuff really did for some of them.  For others (Bertie), probably not (unfortunately for him).  But I'll keep reading, I definitely have no reason to stop.

Verdict: 3/5

Germans Make For Some Light Humor

Oish, behind, behind.  So far behind order becomes a fuzzy thing.  Luckily I wrote down a list of books to review before I forgot, so Iet's just pick one - Porteguese Irregular Verbs, by our ubiquitous Alexander McCall Smith.  This is actually the first in a series of which I read the other two previously.  They are some of AMS's funnier work, with very little serious intent at all.  Professor vod Igelfeld and his colleagues take themselves very seriously, but I don't think we are meant to take them seriously at all.

(This was, by the way, kindle reading, and free from the library,  if you're wondering)

So I think the first thing to clarify about this book is just how seriously one is supposed to take it.  I mean, the professor's subject matter, linguistics, is certainly not meant to be accorded the importance he gives it.  So that gives you a hint as to the legitimacy of his opinions :) I guess the only question is whether we are supposed to advise his colleague Unterhollzer with the same pity he does and whether his colleagues accord him the respect he seems to assume they do.  Pretty sure the answer is yes, but it makes little difference - overall this is a story of a man quite disconnected from reality, and amusingly so. Most of AMS's books have a good amount of humor in them, but I think these are the only ones with no serious side at all.  Part of the reason is that these are short stories, with no need for real plot development, but mostly it's just because I think.

And as far as the humor goes, I don't know if it's laugh-out-loud funny, but it has its moments.  Once I stopped trying to decide who was sympathetic and who was not, I could just enjoy the ridiculousness of Prof. von Igelfeld's opinions of the world, his colleagues, and himself.  And enjoy the mostly ridiculous plot devices as well.  The book went fast, though there's no denying it's quite short in any case :) Basically, a fun read - can't say I would have wanted it to go on forever, but I think there's a fourth one out on the series, I should really try to get my hands on it.

Verdict: 4/5 (for its genre)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Another Imitator Fails To Live Up to GH (But We Don't Fault Her For Trying :))

(A note - I know I've said before that I'm behind, but now I'm really behind :) Going to do my best to review this in any case, mai oui :))

So what came next in my spate of kindle literature? Well this one actually came both before and after the Wodehouse.  Backstory - as you may know, one of my sources of new reading material is austenprose, though those books tend to be Austen paraliterature of course.  This year they are featuring a year-long reading group of the Regency novels of Candice Hern.  Now I had never heard of her, but I assumed that if she was being featured, she was probably not a typical Regency romance (that is, bodice-ripper (sorry for the slightly risque term, I did not originate it :))) writer.  And indeed, on looking her up, I found that she has a set of typical romances and then she has the ones being featured on austenprose, more "traditional".  So Regency romance, but clean? Certainly worth a shot.  Especially when I found that her books cost a mere $2.99 per piece, and 3 for $7.99 (kindle books are usually more like $9.99).

I started with the one listed first on her website, A Garden Folly (well actually I started with the free short story, which was very silly, but pretty much as expected and good enough to keep going).  Cannot say my expectations were high, but I have to say, they were definitely met, and possibly exceeded.  Don't get me wrong, the writing/characterization/plot were all nothing to write home about, but they weren't cringe-worthy either.  Characters were I think mostly fairly believable/close enough to Regency (that is, GH :)) standards, and the plot was entertaining (though it ran out of steam somewhere along the way).  The writing reminded me of something, maybe Julia Quinn, which isn't a bad thing I would say.  All in all, I'd say I was pleasantly surprised.

So naturally I moved on with the sequel, which I think is called A Matter of Expectations (or something similar - I'll look it up now and verify :) ... nope it's called The Best Intentions (not sure where I got that first title :)) I'd say I was slightly disappointed, mostly because my expectations were higher.  I can't remember why I liked this one less, but I definitely did.  I think I found it slightly more boring - I just didn't like the plot as much (that would make sense, as it involves a widower... children are just boring :) (well in romance novels where they are never potrayed well they're invariably boring anyway)) Other than that, I'd say the writing was of the same caliber - nothing to write home about but I wouldn't say cringe-worthy either.

That was all encouraging enough to move on to the Regency Rakes trilogy, which was available as a set for $7.99 (nice and cheap :)) And here's where things fell off.  The writing was substantially worse (more abrupt, overly dramatic, long-winded, you name it) than in the first two.  And the stories mostly ran out of steam far too early.  I really don't think I had any enjoyment of the romance at all - certainly no heart-squeezing moments.  Mostly just chugging along.  And I think the characters themselves were more stock, slightly more boring - though that might have just been me getting bored.  It's possibly I would have enjoyed these more if I started with them - but I'm pretty sure I would have been just as unimpressed.

There's still one more left to go, and maybe I'll get to it eventually (since this is definitely easy reading and that's pretty much what I want on the kindle).  But I can't say I'm very excited by the whole series.  Still, clean Regency romance? Something we can use more of, even in mediocre doses.

Verdict: 2.5/5 (being kind b/c it's a favorite genre :))