Dancing with Jackals (gethenian) wrote,
Dancing with Jackals

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What Ven has been reading lately: A whole bunch of book reviews!

About 5 months ago, I got a job working at a store that sells bird stuff. Bird feeders, birdseed, bird baths, bird books, bird puzzles, Birdopoly, bird-themed greeting cards and towel sets and ornaments, birding binoculars and telescopes... you get the idea. People MOSTLY come in to buy seed and feeders, only every so often does anyone buy the other stuff. As odd as this probably sounds, backyard birding is an INCREDIBLY popular hobby, and very profitable. The 3 locations I have worked at (out of 5 owned by my bosses, it's a nationwide franchise) all do good business.

BUT. I was hired because we extended our hours and are now open 12 hours a day every day except Sunday. I mostly work the night shift, which is a lot less busy, which leaves me A LOT of time to spend doing.... what-the-fuck-ever. For me, that means... I read. I read A LOT.

So here are some reviews of some of the books I've gone through recently:

A Song of Ice and Fire series, by George R.R. Martin -- These books are every bit as awesome as the HBO show and more. Parts of the 4th and 5th books suffer from Too Many Characters Syndrome... I feel like far too much of those books is dedicated to introducing new characters I have no reason to give two shits about when I'd much rather be reading about what happens to Cercei and Arya and Sansa and the Reeds... Tyrion gets a lot of attention but he loses some of his charm by being constantly grouped with more "I give no shits" characters or being stuck in situations where his wit and scheming nature really can't shine. Also, the Ironborn are ALWAYS FUCKING BORING until book 5.
Bottom Line: Highly recommended if you enjoy high fantasy and don't mind the fact that the author enjoys fucking with you by randomly killing, zombifying, brainwashing, exiling, and crippling main characters with no warning.

How to Succeed in Evil series, by Patrick E. McLean -- The series thus far consists of two full novels, one novella, and a series of podcasts which I have not listened to yet. I LOVE the books and short story. It's a "deconstruction" of the superhero genre, starring a businessman who makes a living as a consultant for VILLAINS, and his BFF and lawyer, who is essentially Tyrion Lannister if he lived in modern times.
Bottom Line: Highly recommended. Hilarious, sometimes poignant, excellently-written, creative satire and yet also its own original thing.

This Book Is Full Of Spiders, Seriously, Dude, Don't Touch It by David Wong -- The sequel to John Dies At The End, which I LOVED, Spiders seems somewhat tamer... dialed back from the rampant surreal horror-insanity of the first book, but still a well-told story and a real page-turner.
Bottom line: Not for the squeamish, but otherwise highly recommended. The last quarter or so of the book makes the shortcomings of the first 3/4 worth it.

Rx by Robert Brockway -- On Amazon, this is sold as 3 (very cheap) short books which, when you read them, are really one single novel about 300 pages long and I'm not entirely sure why it's split up into 3 parts... I think there IS a digital version of all three together but it's no cheaper than buying all three parts separately. ANYWAY, I got these because I needed my dystopia fix. This is not the most well-written book, but the premise is pretty cool (an entire city contained in some kind of massively immense highrise building in which everyone is addicted to drugs). The whole thing could have used an editor to deal with things like sentences that use the same word twice and misplaced commas, and I REALLY wish the author had EVER given a clear explanation of exactly ow this place is set up and who is in charge of it and how the rest of the world operates outside of it... and I'll be honest: the ending is pretty disappointingly vague and nonsensical. BUT... this is a short, very readable series that never really gets BORING, as much as it often doesn't make much sense, and I have a great deal of affection for two of the characters... a scrawny rich kid addict whose drug of choice allows him to re-live the life of Lord Byron, and a "factory girl" (which I think is manual labor that collects scrapped robot stuff or something) who has bizarre powers that come from pirated nanotech and is probably the most creatively foul-mouthed character I have read in a long time.
Bottom Line: Cheap and short.... recommended if you like some dystopian future-tech shit with a side of drugs and interesting settings, but the ending will leave you going "....huh?" (Side note: I have discovered that this series has a website with a discussion specifically about the ending. Will look into this later.)

Currently Reading:
The Woodcutter by Kate Danley -- I don't usually review a book before I've finished it... and I'm only 40% through this one... but sometimes, a book is good enough to warrant a special notice. This is one of those books. If you like retold fairytales, you will like this book. If you like Into the Woods, you will like this book. The writing is delicately poetic but not in a cloying "purple prose" kind of way. It's reminiscent of Mirror Mirror by Gregory Maguire, especially his interpretation of the Huntsman. This story isn't a historical fiction interpretation, though, it very much takes place in its own world where magic and myth are real, tangible things. I love the main character, I love the premise (the Woodcutter, who guards the peace between the realm of mortals and the realm of Faerie, must find a creature who has breached the boundary and threatens the peace of the 12 kingdoms and the lives of all who enter the Woods... and perhaps those outside of it as well). I love the idea of memes interwoven here... how the Woods draw characters in with wild magic and cause fairy tale scenarios to play out over and over again, and the idea of "wild magic" that causes the madness of wicked witches and wolves and whatnot can be tamed and transformed into elemental natural magic with the power of true love.... whch sounds a bit sappy and sentimental but it is SO well done.
Bottom Line: Buy this book. Right now. Do it.

Coming Soon to future book reviews:

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson -- This book has been so highly recommended to me by so many people, I had to put it on my list.

Hyperion by Dan Simmons -- A book that was recommended to me when I went fishing to book recommendations from my Twitter followers... and apparently my BFF's brother loves it too, I've just found out... I just thought the premise sounded badass, so this goes on the list after Snow Crash, since if I like it enough to get into the rest of the books in the series, it'll be a while before I get to anything else. XD

This entry was crossposted from http://gethenian.dreamwidth.org/11686.html by means of a complex system of gears and levers run by a squirrel-powered perpetual motion machine and operated by volunteer Buddhist robots. The establishment thanks you for leaving all lolcat-themed items with the attendant dressed as a mince pie in the lobby before commenting. Ovaltine. Burma-Shave.
Tags: bibliophilia
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