Sunday, September 15, 2013

Brief Reviews: Summer 2013 Part 1

Sapphique (Incarceron, #2)(If you haven't read the first book yet, see my review of Inarceron here and then go read it!) I turned to Sapphique when I needed some dependable escapism.  Both the world of the realm with its false period protocol and the realm of the sentient prison are unique and complex.  This time we got more of a look at court politics as Finn tries to convince everyone (including himself) that he is the true prince.  Our friends in the prison aren't abandoned though and we follow them as they encounter new, gruesome dangers and struggle to escape.  Each character is well drawn with layers of motivations and filled in with shades of moral grey as the characters are forced to make tough decisions and betray each other to survive.  Sapphique by Catherine Fisher: Buy it or check it out today!

Path of Beasts (The Keepers, #3)(If you haven't read the first two books in the series yet read my reviews of Museum of Thieves and City of LiesFamiliar series are my version of comfort food so I turned to the last book in the Keepers trilogy to cheer me up.  This installment ties together all the characters from the first two books and finishes the story off nicely.  I enjoyed the second book a little bit more, partly because I really enjoyed the Mardi Gras feel of Spoke and partly because I tend to prefer second novels (with the pesky exposition and the climax taken care of by the other novels the middle one allows the author more of a chance to experiment and explore other aspects of the world, like Ents!)  Still this was a solid conclusion to a series that I throughly enjoyed and I enjoyed seeing all the characters working together in one novel.  Path of Beasts by Lian Tanner: Buy it or check it out today!

Dirt Candy: A Cookbook: Flavor-Forward Food from the Upstart New York City Vegetarian RestaurantThis memoir/comic/cookbook is entirely wonderful and unlike anything else I've ever read.  There's some great general tips on how to cook properly as well as delicious-looking recipes.  Reading about the process of opening and running a restaurant and prepping for Iron Chef was fascinating and throughout the narrative there's humorous asides that are supported by drawings of everything from drunk tomatoes to synchronized swimming butter.  Cohen also goes into the history of food and why we view vegetables and meats in our society the way we do today.  It's a lot to fit in one book but Cohen and Dunlavey pull it off.  It's intended for adults but it would be fine for teens interested in cooking as well. Dirty Candy by Amanda Cohen & Ryan Dunlavey: buy it or check it out today!

Drood I enjoyed a lot of aspects of this novel and I'm glad I read it, but goodness gracious was it a slog to get through! Simmons revels in revealing the dark, dank, and dangerous secrets of Dickens's London.  I've read plenty of books set in Victorian London, but most authors have been too polite to mention the horrible stench and the difficulty in finding places to put corpses and other waste.  Several passages in the novel made me resolved that if the Doctor ever picks me up in his TARDIS I will definitely choose a trip to the future instead of the past.  The details about Dickens's life were fascinating as well from the Staplehurst incident where Dickens nearly died in a train accident (I thought it too thrilling to be true, but I've looked it up--it really happened) to the details of his painful illnesses towards the end of his life and his great exertions on his reading tours.  But much like a Dickens novel this one was long and wordy and I often had to put it down and read other books in their entirety before feeling able to pick Drood up again.  It doesn't help that it's narrated by Wilkie Collins who, to judge by this book, was a terrible person.  He's not intended to be a sympathetic lead, but still every time I thought his worst side was revealed he would sink to new depths.  Yet he wasn't a love-to-hate-him type of villain either, he was just pathetic.  On top of all this Collins's drug habits meant that he was an unreliable narrator which led to a sense of vertigo as I tried to work out of who to believe and what was a drug-induced vision.  Each new twist made me more eager to learn what was really going on and is what kept me reading until the end.  Between the violence and the affairs this is definitely a work for adults.  Drood by Dan Simmons: buy it or check it out today!

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