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Monthly "Reads" > Shomeret's Turkeyless November Reads 2/2

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message 1: by Shomeret (last edited Dec 27, 2010 12:34AM) (new)

Shomeret | 1390 comments 4)Shanghai Girlsby Lisa See (historical fiction) 314 pages. Source: Amazon Started: 11/14 Finished: 11/21

Why Read: The Book Nook on GR is reading this in December. I voted for this book which means I'm expected to join the discussion. Since I bought it from Amazon and intended to read it anyway, that's not a problem. All my library books are going away, so I'm clearing the decks. That will give me time to read this book. This author's previous book, Peony in Love was remarkable and original. So I looked forward to this one.

Comments: I wasn't that impressed with the central character, Pearl. Though she did come to an understanding of the true implications of her actions by the end of the book. I was even less impressed with Pearl's sister, May. She was hideously selfish for the most part. I think Pearl's husband, Sam, was the best character. He really did do the best he could given his background, and I don't think Pearl did. With all Pearl's education, she could have done private instruction at home. Yes, she was traumatized, but she was supposed to be a Dragon in Chinese astrology. A powerful Dragon should be able to overcome such limitations. I liked the Chinese folklore content, but I was puzzled that no Chinese character in this book was a practicing Buddhist. All I saw was Taoist folklore and Christianity. So this book gets a B-

5)Day of the Dead by Victoria Brownworth (anthology with paranormal content) 170 pages. Source: Library Started: 11/22 Finished: 11/23

Why Read: I liked the title and the cover. I already knew that the author is a lesbian from an essay I read by her in a New Orleans anthology. Also, finding this book in the GLBT section of New Books gave that away. The sexual orientation of authors doesn't matter to me. What does matter is that some of these stories take place in New Orleans.

Comments: This anthology is a mixed bag. The best is "A Dying Fall" which deals with two very beautiful Russian women who leave their country in search of a better life and end up in the sex industry. So far so expected, but one of the women isn't what she seems. This was a very unusual paranormal story. I also loved the Russian cultural content--particularly the phrase "Matryoshka heart". A Matryoshka is a doll with smaller dolls inside it. The phrase is symbolic and can have a number of interpretations. I would give this story an A even though it doesn't take place in New Orleans. The best New Orleans story is about a journalist with a dark secret, and it isn't the fact that she's a lesbian. I'd give that one a B+ Not all the stories are equally strong. I had to give the anthology as a whole a C, but I don't regret reading it.

6)Mob Rulesby Cameron Haley (urban fantasy) 313 pages. Source: Harlequin Started: 11/24 Finished: 11/27

Why Read: Judging from the description there seemed to be an interesting form of magic involved in this book. I wrote the author who had posted to the urban fantasy group on GR about the way the title doesn't contribute to the impression of the book that he wants to create. He wrote me back that the publisher wanted to give it a different title, but he insisted on this one. He appreciated the feedback. Reaction to this book has been mixed, but I decided to make it one of my Urban Fantasy group challenge choices. I'm finally getting to it.

Comments: There was some originality in the approach to magic. I'd never seen ceremonial magic being used in Urban Fantasy before. Many UF writers take the Wiccan path which incorporates some aspects of ceremonial magic, but is distinctly different from it. Wicca takes an ethical stance that wouldn't make it appropriate for sorcerers in Los Angeles street gangs. Ceremonial magic is much more appropriate because it's ethically grey. Haley's ambivalent MC makes pragmatic ethical judgments based on context. I liked this very much. There were other characters that I liked--most notably Honey, the piskie and Moon Dog, the war veteran werewolf. Faerie isn't usually my favorite element. I find characters from Faerie predictable in their motivations and actions. Honey was an exception because she was a maverick. The biggest problem was the mob boss character, Rashan. He was never fully developed. He's 6000 years old, so it's a challenge to portray him. I think we really needed to get a peek inside his head, but that wasn't possible because this is a first person novel centered on the MC. So there are some pros and cons to this book. I gave it a B rating.

This is the lowest number of reads that I've had this year, but I went for quality. I also was very limited in my reading time. It was quite a semester.


message 2: by Ann (new)

Ann (annrumsey) | 14963 comments Going for quality when reading time is scarce is my strategy too. Hopefully we'll all have more time to read lots of good quality books in 2011!
Shomeret wrote: "This is the lowest number of reads that I've had this year, but I went for quality. I also was very limited in my reading time. It was quite a semester."


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