Musings on writing, lessons learned by an aspiring professional, book reviews, movie reviews, an occasional t.v. show review, and unashamed opinion.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Mini Reviews

I've been absent from the blog for a couple of weeks. Mostly because I just haven't had the time. Work, family life, and writing (and Halo 4, let's be honest here) don't leave much time left over for blogging. Also, though, I got tired of the majority of my posts being book reviews. I'm not a book reviewer. I'm actually sick of going in-depth on book reviews, because I've had to be more of a critical reader than I want to be. Critical reading is great... sometimes. Most of the time, however, I just want to enjoy a book. Anyway, I will continue to post reviews but not as often, and I'm now (as the title of the post implies) going to be doing it a different way. From now on a book review post will include several books, and only have a paragraph about each. This will give me the chance to point out books I think you should read or avoid, but also let me do it in a less involved way. I don't want to dissect books anymore. I just want to enjoy them, damnit. And now the reviews...

Red Country, by Joe Abercrombie. This is Joe's latest standalone in his "First Law" world. It picks up several years after the end of his trilogy and continues the story of several characters readers have either come to hate or hate to love. Red Country is heavily influenced by western themes and story devices. I found it to be a bit too heavy handed most of the way through the book. I love westerns, and I love Joe Abercrombie, but the two should be a bit more distinct than they were in this book. Some parts of the story just felt like lazy add-ins because, hey, that's the kind of stuff you'd find in a western. The ending seemed less dreary than Abercrombie's usual fair, but the language and gore seemed pumped up from previous novels. Some parts were difficult to get through. Red Country gets 3 out of 5 stars.

Next up is Fevre Dream, by George R.R. Martin. This is the first of Martin's solo books I've read besides his massive epic, A Song of Ice and Fire. Also, it was my first true vampire novel. There was a lot about this book that I really loved. It takes place in the late 1850's, mostly aboard a steamboat called, you guessed it, Fevre Dream. The story takes us up and down the Missouri and Mississippi, through pre-civil war America. The characters were great, and the vampires weren't sparkly and pretty. They are monsters, as all proper vampires ought to be. The only problem I had with this book was its pacing. The ending dragged on and on. My mind wandered a bit in the slow parts and that is never a good sign. On a better note, those who have attempted to read A Game of Thrones and put it down for content, Fevre dream is much more a PG-13 book than an R. There aren't any sex scenes or F bombs. It is a horror novel, though, and so don't expect angsty teenagers looking for romance. People die. 4 out of 5 stars.

The last mini review for today is The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien. This is a book that is a bit harder to review because I've read it so many times. Usually the books I review are ones I've just finished for the first time, and so have a stronger sense of what I liked and disliked about them. In my head, The Hobbit is amazing. After listening to it again for maybe the fifth or sixth time, I notice lots of things that are somewhat annoying. Mostly it's the writer in me that finds problems with it, and that's only because the styles writers use today are quite a bit different than how Tolkien wrote. However, if you can look past the dated prose, and the endless songs and such that interfere with the story (very annoying on audio, despite the narrator trying his best to give each a tune of its own), then I think this book can be enjoyed by all readers of all ages. The story itself is timeless, and it holds a fond place in my memories. Read it if you haven't, and re-read it if its been a long time. you'll be happy you did. (And for those of you like me who listen rather than read, Audible recently released this and the Lord of the Rings trilogy unabridged for the first time. Good times.) The Hobbit takes the cake with 5 out of 5 stars.

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