05/30/2013 by syrbal-labrys
My, time has gotten away from me; I forgot to update my book notes! In my continuing attempt to read at least one book per week this year…and failing (slightly) to keep to the fiction stacks for a year, I have been booking along…books #15 thru # 24 below:
15. “The Book of Fate” by Brad Meltzer is nothing of the sort. It is your average “thriller” teasing about a Masonic plot and with a nutjob religious kook as assassin, again. (Does Dan Brown get tired of being copied?)
There is no plot, it is actually three disenchanted and crooked g-men running a scam for money. Yeah, I spoilt it, and you are GLAD, I tell you. Also really hated the “venal power-maddened First Lady” trope employed for misogynistic shits and giggles. Mr. Meltzer? Go apply at Walmart.
16. “Purgatory Ridge” by William Kruger is a decent mystery of Amerindians versus logging companies. His characters were chugging along quite nicely and realistically until he took the cheap trip to making the logger -in-chief into a complete nutcase murdering his rich wife to save his corporate bankrupt ass, and oh, bonus points for the “murderous ex-military SEAL as number 2” trope. Geez, Mr. Kruger, I was semi-excited about checking out other books of yours till you did that!
17. “The Plucker” by Brom is a visual delight. It is not only a spooooky bedtime story for teens and adults, but as with most of his work, embellished with his delicious artwork. This one gets five heart-felt and spine-tingled stars!
18. “Animal Dreams” by Barbara Kingsolver is a sweet tale about sisters orphaned by their mother’s death in childbirth —and their living father’s inward turn from their small town of curious genetic oddities. The older sister grows up running from her past; the younger girl becomes the rebel chasing causes. The rebel dies and love triumphs…mostly, I enjoyed descriptions of the Southwest venue of the story. But not bad if you like love stories.
19. The “Mermaid Chair” by Sue Monk Kidd was a terrific disappointment since I liked her “Secret Life of Bees”.
But then, my inner beekeeper loves anything to do with bees! Her character, a 40-ish woman feeling stalely wed to a very nice man rebels and falls for a Catholic monk….I was unsympathetic even tho’ I know something about stale marriages; mostly because her affair felt like delayed adolescence to me. The toed-in mystery of her mother’s insanity brings out a tale of a conspiracy of friends committing a mercy-killing of her father years before and in the church’s “Mermaid Chair”. The entire trauma could be averted by a society AND a Church that didn’t advocate crap like “redemptive pain” in terminal illness. So, the very patriarchally correct ending…wife returned gratefully to husband, monk to his cloister didn’t surprise me. Status quo, status quo….the bell really SHOULD toll for you.
20/21/22 “The King Raven Trilogy” by Stephen Lawhead (“Hood”, “Scarlet”, and “Tuck”) Over 1100 pages. Yee bloody haw. Back in the 70’s I read a series of books by Lawhead….beginning with “Lord Foul’s Bane” and my biggest memory was of a lot of TORTUROUS text. But my son recommended this, knowing I love Robin Hood tales.
Ahem. Still torturous. He did pull a couple rabbits from the hat: he places Hood in the rule of William Rufous…son of William the Norman-bastard Conqueror. The Normans are cardboard cut-out creeps, as expected.
Trouble is, it is hard to feel much for his King Raven either —now a Welsh princeling. He did his research of the host of stories and legends that went before, I give credit for that. His second book…about Will Scarlet’s acts is better and the character warmer. But that is when reality begins to slide…they’d have tortured a captured Will into revelation of Hood’s hideaway “tres rapidement” and that would have been that.
“Tuck” wraps up the story bringing all to a very merry conclusion…not quite how I recall other legends ending. If you are trapped in an airport during a week long snowstorm? This is your book, but still Lawhead is TORTUROUS. And remember, this is said by a woman who LOVES Dostoyevsky…so it isn’t length alone.
23. “The Last Battle” by Stephen Harding was my NON-fiction diversion, picked up because it SOUNDS like fiction. Imagine an American tank crew, German Army, French politicians, and even an SS officer all fighting on the SAME side in a battle at the ragged ends of the WWII war in Europe? See, told ya it was fiction-worthy.
But it read boringly because the writer is not a novelist. He tries hyperbole here and there and sounds like HIS fictional reading was Gothic horror or something. (Sorry, Stevo, hatbrass does NOT glower with malevolence.) It is a rather inspiring tale of the rescue of a bunch of imprisoned French dignitaries being saved by Americans and anti-Hitler Germans. I recommend waiting for the movie, done by a script-writer with a soul.
24. “Incubus” by Anne Arensberg was my return to fiction. Oy. Someone should tell Anne that even bad movies that do stupid plot twists in the last 15 minutes (Need I tell you which Star Trek film?) can survive if the special effects are awesome AND the audience is lulled into a sugar high coma by popcorn and 32 ounces of Pepsi; books canNOT. She begins well enough with a semi-snarky tension between a minister and his skeptical wife set in a mid 70’s Maine town hit with a heat wave witheringly summer-long AND sexual assaults by an invisible entity. Much like an M. Night Shaymalen (sp?) movie, nobody summons outside investigators of either issue. Instead they all seek counsel from an Episcopalian priest?? The wife, finally becoming a victim, determines that the perpetrators are ALIENS that have “been here forever”…and furthermore, likely created ALL our religions to further their what-the-fuck-ever agenda. Honey, lay OFF that valium! Still, one could forgive a bit of waffling then, if it hadn’t wrapped up with said losing-HIS-religion priest in church with his assaulted village doing an exorcism/bannishment while attacked by alien ‘black fog’ (OMG…it’s a lost overdose, isnt’ it?) And with a crash of thunder and hail on the roof, GOD comes when calls…and it is over. No explanation or description of where the aliens went. Poof. And never mind that “God” had ignored frantic prayers for the entire summer beforehand; apparently you gotta get out the gold threaded vestments and have a surfeit of drafted acolytes to help put on a show worthy of ‘Him.” And then said successful alien-exorcising priest resigns and becomes a psychic investigator. You are welcome, I’ve saved you wasting three hours reading this tripe.
And now? I’m reading LeCarre. Pretty sure he won’t pull aliens or God out of his hat.