Wednesday, August 31, 2011
My Perfect Wedding by Sibel Hodge
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Narrator Helen is dashing off to get married and live in Cyprus with a man she's been dating for about five minutes, which would be fine (well, they've known each other since childhood) if it weren't for the fact that she's really uncertain about making the move to a rural community. Meanwhile husband-to-be Kalem is rattling on like a guidebook at every sight he shows her. Oh, and did I mention they're trying to foil a major crime without any competent assistance? Now, I can suspend disbelief as well as the next girl, but I confess I was struggling with plausibility here. Not least since Helen and Kalem were characters I already knew from the equally-daft but somehow much more plausible Fourteen Days Later. I enjoyed Sibel Hodge's flippant style as Helen, and her lush descriptions of Cypriot landscape pulled me in, but I just wasn't convinced by this storyline. I think it's mostly because I knew the characters and associated them with a very different style of story; this plot feels like it would have been a better fit for the Amber Fox series, where comedy peril is the order of the day. It's still a fun read, but just not wholly satisfying to me.
Saturday, August 20, 2011
Embassytown by China MievilleMy rating: Science Fiction
Tolkien was (like me) a philologist in his day job, and when he wrote Lord of the Rings, he used his skills to invent fully-fledged languages for his characters to speak. In Embassytown, Mieville goes one better. Never before have I seen the semiotic nature of language used as a plot point.
And the plot in question certainly isn't dry or academic, as such a concept might suggest, although it does start quite slowly. I found both the narrator, Avice, and the narrative style, a little annoying in the beginning - but I got used to the style, and Avice grew on me as I continued reading. To go into much more detail would be to spoil the beautiful unfolding of events, but suffice it to say that if you love to think about language - what it is and what it could be - I think you'll enjoy this book.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Fourteen Days Later by Sibel Hodge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was a super-quick, lighthearted romantic comedy. I haven't read that many books in this genre but I've seen my share of rom-coms, and this was a sweet example with plenty of gentle humour. The main character, accident-prone Helen, takes on a fourteen-day challenge to change her life and (hopefully) get over her ex. Meanwhile, her best friend is getting married and she's the wedding photographer. There's certainly plenty going on, and the pages whizzed by.
Friday, August 12, 2011
The Lonely Mile by Allan Leverone
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is a fast, easy read and - for once - a thriller which takes the reader inside the head of the villain without seeming gratuitous. In fact, it's obvious from early on that Martin Krall is seriously delusional, which makes it almost possible to feel sorry for him. In parallel, we also track Bill Ferguson, the hero of the piece, the dual perspective allowing the reader to follow all the action in what almost feels like real time. This is a gripping story with plenty of action, and bold characters determined not to be victims.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Earth Bound by J.A. Taylor
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is a very unusual book, which makes it rather hard to review or even to rate. It takes place entirely from the perspective of one character, Matt, and indeed a very large portion of the book is limited to his internal monologues and deliberations after abduction. We're told a bit about Matt's past and his fall from grace as a journalist, but spending so much time insid his head it would have been nice to see more character development, and in particular I would have liked him to have more control over the final outcome. I sort of felt this content could have been condensed into a very punchy short story or novella (I don't know how long it actually is, since I read it on my Kindle). But overall this was a fun read with interesting ideas, and I'm interested to see what this author comes up with next.
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
The Fashion Police by Sibel Hodge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a light, fun mystery that reminded me of Gemma Halliday's 'Spying in High Heels' and Kate Johnson's 'I Spy?'
Amber is a disgraced-police-officer-turned-insurance-investigator, with a love life just as complicated as her career history, but she's also a believable, down-to-earth character with an unhealthy bakery addiction. Some of the supporting cast are less realistic: Amber's ex-fiance Brad is now her boss, and gets away with flagrant sexual harrassment, while Janice Skipper is an undisguised pantomime villain, and the 'Goon Girls' are just incompetent. But somehow it all comes together to make a very funny read with a suitably intriguing mystery.
Monday, August 1, 2011
A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire #2)
My rating: Fantasy
by George R. R. Martin
If A Game of Thrones was all about introducing characters and their relationships (both personal and political), this sequel is all about war. And this isn't the kind of war Sansa dreams of with her songs. Any dirty trick you can imagine, someone is going to try it to make a grab for the upper hand.
In the first book I was impressed by Martin's ability to give us so many point-of-view characters with conflicting loyalties, and manage to make me sympathise with and root for ALL of them. This time we continue to follow the same characters, but with a couple of new viewpoints. Unfortunately, I don't think there's anything that could make Theon seem sympathetic, even if he is struggling with his childhood and his family.
As with the last book, there isn't really an ending to speak of... the next book will doubtless pick up the same characters in the same places. This is, really, one very long book. I just hope the ending will eventually bring all the threads together.