Sunday, September 14, 2014

Short Story Review: Percy Jackson and the Singer of Apollo

Author: Rick Riordan
Genre: humor, action/adventure
Published: 2013
Personal rating: 4/5
Short story count: 1

A short Percy Jackson story that can be read entirely independent from the Percy Jackson series, although it’s canonically set after book 5 if I got it right. It’s a part of the Other Worlds anthology. It’s funny and has a good dose of action. I liked it a lot.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Bookreview: Badge of Honor

Author: Robert J. Thomas
Genre: western
Published: 2013
Personal rating: 3/5
Yearly count: 13

Badge of Honor is the tenth book in the Jess Williams series. Although it stands mostly alone, you do miss some things as events and relationships are referenced without background. Other than that, it’s a typical western – lots of threats and shooting, not much substance to the plot. The characters are all overdrawn, becoming caricatures. The writing is okay, but not very inspiring. But despite all this it’s a very entertaining read.

The plot gets a tiny bit better when Clay Finch is introduced about half-way through, but it never does rise above the obvious. Almost every Western cliché is in this book and that’s what makes it so entertaining. And yes, the clichés include a gunfight at high noon! But the book doesn’t pretend to be anything but what it is – a cliché Western written to entertain lovers of Westerns.

I would like to offer a word of warning. The bodies drop pretty rapidly and there’s a lot of violence in this book. There are no real graphic descriptions that linger on the violence, but the descriptions are very matter-of-fact. Sexual violence isn’t shown, but it is mentioned several times.

All in all, this was a nice, quick and easy read. It was nothing special, but very entertaining and the type of thing you think about when someone says Western.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Bookreview: Booked To Die

Author: John Dunning
Genre: mystery, detective
Published: 1992
Personal rating: 5/5
Yearly count: 12

I loved, loved, loved Booked to Die. It’s grittier than I normally read, but there was enough lighter moments (most of them centering around books) that I didn’t have a problem with this book at all. Cliff Janeway is a character that gained my sympathies pretty fast, despite maybe not always been the quintessential good guy in his behavior. I loved the minor plot woven through the book and thought it was masterfully done how it eventually connected to the main plot. The mystery itself was intriguing and well done. Nothing I can say against the book.

Now, against the blurb on the back of the book – that’s another ballgame. It contains a major spoiler for an event that doesn’t happen until page 162. I kept waiting for it to happen and I do think it would’ve been better not to know it was coming. My advice: don’t read the blurb of this book! But if you do (or already did), don’t worry too much. The book is still excellent. Highly recommended. I definitely have a new series on my list of books to read.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

DNF: No Place for a Lady

Author: Maggie Brendan
Genre: historical, romance
Published: 2009
Personal rating: 2,5/5
DNF count: 3

No Place for a Lady is set in 1892. Crystal Clark moves from the South to Colorado, where her aunt owns a cattle ranch. It’s supposed to be just a visit, but when tragedy strikes she must try to save the ranch. All the while, she battles against the very different environment and the opinions of some those around her that a cattle ranch is no place for a lady.

It sounds like a good book, an interesting historical romance with an interesting setting. However, 87 pages in everything is still so very bland. There’s no real spark between the two main characters and I feel no real connection to the book. It’s not a bad book by any definition of the word, but there’s nothing there holding my attention either. In the end, I can only conclude this is not a book for me. Maybe someone else will enjoy it more than I did.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

DNF: De valse meesters (The False Masters)

Author: Javier Gonzalez
Genre: mystery, historical, thriller
Published: 2006
Personal rating: 2/5
DNF count: 2

De Valse Meesters is a book that combines a contemporary storyline with a historical storyline. The historical storyline is set in around World War Two and deals with the Spanish Civil War, Nazis and a painting. The contemporary storyline involves a man who goes to look for his great-aunt’s fiancé’s body, who died in World War Two and the director of a museum who discovers a family secret.

Right from the start I wasn’t that enthusiastic about the book. It sounded great from the blurb, but once I started reading it I quickly discovered that the flashbacks depicting the historical storyline are the best bits. But the modern day parts come off as...tacky, I think is the best word, and the modern part of the story takes up the majority of the book. The two main characters in the modern parts just don't grab me, they come off as superficial and whiny. There's a bit of a mystery as the main plot, but that's (after almost 100 pages) still not really taking off. Bit disappointing really. I really wish this was just a straight-up historical novel, without the modern (supposedly) thriller plotline, because that would have been a book worth reading. This book, not so much.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

DNF: The Case of the Flashing Fashion Queen

Author: Norah Wilson
Genre: mystery, detective
Published: 2011
Personal rating: 2/5
DNF count: 1

For all of its quirky title would have you think, the book is actually not all that humorous. Dix Dodd is a private detective that is trying to make it in a man’s world. When she gets accused of murder by a cop who’s got a personal beef with her just because the man she’d been tailing gets murdered. Well, not just because of that, also because she made a stupid (rookie) mistake that could’ve prevented a lot of her trouble.

Now, the mystery part isn’t that bad, the whole reason I made it a quarter into the book. However, the story is written in the first person and I can honestly say after six chapters that I hate Dix with a passion. I don’t find her likeable at all, despite that her situation – not being taken seriously by the men she used to work with, needing cash, and falsely accused of murder – should make me sympathize with her. Is it because she tries to be too hard to be one of the guys? Maybe, I don’t know. Either way, I greatly disliked her and that makes reading a story written from her first person point of view very difficult. Added to that is the fact that I found many of the characters in the books came dangerously close to being caricatures and it took any enjoyment I took from the plot away. So I decided that this book is not for me.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Bookreview: Quilt Romance

Author: Kaffe Fassett
Genre: non-fiction, quilting
Published: 2009
Personal rating: 2.5/5
Yearly count: 11

Kaffe Fassett is famous for his use of colors. In this book, he took his inspiration from the village Portmeirion in North Wales. He used fabrics he designed to make quilts that fit the landscape he placed them in to photograph. And I will admit that at first glance, in the far-off pictures where the quilt is part of the landscape, they truly fitted. However, my problems with these quilts begin with the close-up pictures, when I really focused on the quilt.

The quilts use a lot of different fabrics and all of these fabrics are brightly colored, busy and lacking in proper contrast a lot of the time. There were quilts where the pattern just disappeared in a jumble of color – either all brights, or sometimes all pastels. My second problem with a lot of the quilts in this book was the simplicity of the blocks. Sure, you could make the quilts in colors you do like, but a lot of the quilts were such simple blocks that a pattern really isn’t needed for me. A quilt built from squares and four triangles sewn together to form a square, connected by sashing, or a traditional log cabin are not the kind of patterns I would buy a book for.

From the twenty quilts in the book, I liked three quilts enough to make them, albeit in other colors. Pickle dish by Kaffe Fassett and Hearts and gizzards by Kaffe Fasset are interesting patterns that use templates (also provided in the book) and I would like to make them sometime. Hearts and flowers was the last quilt I liked, an appliqué quilt made by Kim McLean with Kaffe Fassett’s fabrics. I love that one, although I wouldn’t make it so busy as it is. All templates are provided for that one as well. Also included in the book is an interview with Kim, which is perhaps the part of the book I liked the most.

All in all, this book simply isn’t worth the money I would have had to pay for it, hadn’t I borrowed it from the library. There aren’t enough patterns in there that I would like to make to buy it and considering I really didn’t like the example quilts due to the color use, I couldn’t use it as an inspiration either. There’s nothing wrong with the book, but you have to like Kaffe Fassett’s color use. I didn’t, which is why it got such a low rating.