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review 2017-04-27 05:05
The Traitor Baru Cormorant (Or, The Slytherin Handbook)
The Traitor Baru Cormorant - Seth Dickinson

I'm clearly in the minority on this one if you look at reviews, so it was somewhat heartening to meet up with my book club and discover they also had lukewarm feelings. Here's the thing: Dickinson crafts lovely prose. Sentence for sentence he is absolutely masterful. There were passages in this book I read over and over again. But when it comes to crafting a story as a whole? I just didn't buy in.

 

I loved the beginning of this book. The early chapters, when Baru is young and we get our first sense of how the Masquerade is trampling her people, had me sucked in and thinking this book would be a favorite. And then the story picks up, moves to another location, and stays there for the remainder. The rest of the book sets up scenarios, characters, and plot points, and none of them ever grabbed ahold of me or made me care. The plot attempts to twist and turn, but for me it just knotted - it seemed overly complex, and yet at the same time predictable, which is quite the trick. The supporting characters do things that seem convenient to the plot, but ultimately make no sense to me, thus breaking some of my suspension of disbelief.

 

And through it all Baru continues to tell you how awful she is, and is true to her word at least in that respect. That might be the thing that kills this book for me the most: I can't stand Baru. I read for character, and I just did not enjoy hanging out with this person for 400 pages. (Tain Hu on the other hand was pretty great. Lord knows what she sees in Baru.) For any Potter fans, this book reads like the Slytherin handbook - how to influence people and then screw them over for your own gain...the book! It's in the title. It's right there. But somehow that didn't make reading it any more enjoyable.

 

Here's the thing, if you like books that are rooted in political wheeling and dealing this might be your cup of tea. I mean, it's about vengeance through accounting, c'mon! And if irredeemable and terrible people aren't a big turn-off you also might love this book. As for me I need someone to cheer for, and I just couldn't cheer for Baru. I concede I'm in the minority here, so your milage may vary.

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text 2017-04-23 16:52
My Kindle First choice for April
Crimes Against a Book Club - Kathy Cooperman

Which I forgot to post until the month was almost over.

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review 2017-04-18 01:28
Dream Weaver ★★★☆☆
Dream Weaver - Jane Yolen,Michael Hague

This is really not a children’s book. Like most real fairy tales, these stories and their intricate illustrations are much darker than their Disney counterparts, more violent and bloodthirsty, with very adult themes. The book contains 7 re-imagined classic fairy tales, tied (woven, ha ha) together by the narrative of a blind old woman who weaves dreams for a series of passers-by. They are strange and disturbing, and I did not enjoy reading them, but I did find it an interesting exercise to try connecting each fairy tale/dream with the persons for whom it was woven.

 

This is a good-quality hardcover version with glossy illustrations that I picked up at a used bookstore and has been sitting unread on my shelf for several years. I read this for the 2017 Booklikes-opoly game.

 

 

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text 2017-04-06 02:10
World Without End
World Without End - Ken Follett
The Pillars of the Earth - Ken Follett

I haven't read the first book in this series, but the blurb claims that World Without End can be read on its own, so I'll give it a go for this month's club reading. Maybe I'll like it enough to read The Pillars of the Earth afterwards? I hope so, since I've heard great things about that book.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-04-06 02:01
Finally!
The Queen's Man - Sharon Kay Penman

Well, that took me long enough to read! I kept getting distracted from the book to read other things, in part because for me the story just wasn't holding together well. I understand that the book was showing just how random an investigation can be, with many loose ends and unanswered questions. But when I reached the point where we find out that Gervase's death wasn't tied at all to the Richard plot, and that therefore it was all an undortunate coincidence, I was disappointed. And then the very last pages are filled with a series of revelations that come fast and furious, after chapter upon chapter where these plot points had lain dormant. I don't expect every thread to be connected, but the story here was just too dispersed to hold my interest.

 

Also, as I mentioned in an earlier post, although the setting is historically accurate, for some reason I wasn't feeling as inmersed in the time period as I have in other novels set around this time.

 

In all, it was an interesting reading experience, but I'm not sure I'll read any of the sequels.

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