What I’m reading: Book reviews, February-March 2014

Since my last review post, I’ve read eight more books and am about to start another one. Sounds like it’s time for another big review post. Since there are so many books I’m limiting myself to a few sentences for each. In order by date finished, we have…

The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss: I mentioned this book was up next in my last review post. Oh my goodness. This book is just… good. Despite not having read the first book in the series in several years, I fell right back into the book and the world, and Rothfuss does a great job at reintroducing elements of the world to readers like me who don’t remember the little details of the first book. A lot of what I said about the first book is still true: Rothfuss manages to use beautiful prose while not bogging down the story with excessive description, and the characters and storylines are exemplary. Just go read it. So when’s the third book coming out?
Goodreads rating: 5 out of 5 talents

Silverwing by Kenneth Oppel: This is a middle grade novel that is apparently popular with Canadian middle schools. I didn’t find this out until reading the Goodreads reviews and noticing that everyone on my friends list who had read it was Canadian. Neat. The story itself is about a young bat who gets lost from his family during the trip south for winter, but it gets more complex than this with friends (and friends turned foe), varied explanations for the metal rings some bats have, and the main character questioning what he has always been told. Still, I think kids and adults can enjoy and get value from this book.
Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 bats

This Vacant Paradise by Victoria Patterson: This book takes place in Orange County in the mid-90s and stars a 30-something woman with no skills or direction in life. Your stereotype-filled mental picture is probably accurate. Despite this, the main things that annoyed me about this book were all the points of view (at least four or five) and the main character’s going right back to where she started at the end. It was almost like this story didn’t need to happen because she wasn’t going to change anyway, and she’s not going to change after the events of the story.
Goodreads rating: 2 out of 5 lovers

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson: I know the point of this book is that it goes on and on with an unreliable narrator while he’s on drugs, but I just couldn’t get into it. It wasn’t poorly written by any means. Some of the writing was brilliant, but it wasn’t for me. I do wonder if he wrote this book in a weekend or shorter because it does read like one of my 50k day or 50k weekend works in parts.
Goodreads rating: 2 out of 5 trips (Vegas or Acid)

Pack up the Moon by Anna McPartlin: Another book I found in a little library. I was optimistic at first, despite the first scenes featuring a pregnancy test (spoiler: not pregnant) and a party. But then main character Emma has to rebuild her life after her significant other dies. It felt like Emma had nothing in particular that she wanted while the book told her life story after the death, leaving me to wonder “What’s actually happening?” And then the ending wandered and disappointed. I really wanted this book to star just about any other character, to be honest: people with real wants and desires and well-rounded characters.
Goodreads rating: 2 out of 5 pregnancy tests

Flying Lessons by Francis Potts: First things first–a friend wrote this book and gave me a copy. That said, this is a very good book. Swann is awkward but oddly charming. Despite this, he seems perfectly normal compared to love interest Alison. Every character in the book is odd in some way, and there are plenty of reasons to like and dislike everyone. The plot is equally strange with plenty of twists and turns so you never know what’s going to happen next. It’s probably the strangest love story I’ve ever read, and that’s a very good thing.
Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 flights of fancy

Heroes of the Valley by Jonathan Stroud: This book was okay. My circumstances in the beginning may have clouded my opinion; I started reading it at a crowded bus stop, then continued on that bus in stop-start traffic on a Friday afternoon, so I never got to fully immerse myself in the book. That said, even after starting to read the book in a comfortable setting, I never really got into the book. It has its good parts, yes. But I found myself skimming a lot to get to those good parts.
Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 heroes

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard: This book should get its own post. Or multiple posts. This book contains the observations of a narrator around her home over the course of a year. There are a lot of thoughts on philosophy, religion, and science, as well as solitude and what it means to see and be and observe and hear. This book won a Pulitzer Prize and it’s easy to see why; the language in this book is beautiful. I can only strive for my journals to contains writing half as eloquent as these. Just go read it now; I need people to rave with about how wonderful this book is. Oh wait, this is my site; I can do that all I want here.
Goodreads rating: 5 out of 5 philosphical meanderings

Fun fact: these books have Goodreads rankings now! I’ve rounded up or down for many of them, but the ratings are there. Maybe I’ll remember more of these books in a few years.

Up next: Voices by Arnaldur Indridason. This is an Icelandic detective novel, which excites me for multiple reasons, one of them being my past studies in detective fiction. (Really, one of my French major classes was in the detective novel.) It’s also the fifth in a series (third available in English), and while this will be the first book I’ve read, we’ll see how much reading out of order matters. If I do continue reading the series, I’ll try to save the last book for last for sure.

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