Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Quick & dirty book reviews

Quick & dirty book reviews

I have recently really enjoyed the short book reviews and recommendations posted by Temerity Jane and Swistle. I've also ripped through seven enjoyable books in the past few months and recognize there's no chance I'll ever sit down and write a full review for each one. And so, some quick & dirty book reviews:

American Canopy: the Role of Trees in the Shaping of a Nation by Eric Rutkow

Pretty much exactly what the title says - this is a history of the US as it relates to the history and management (and mismanagement) of its forests. There's a lot of history of the timber industry and of early city building. It was a little dry but not bad if you like nonfiction of this kind. It did take me quite a long time to get through it, but I didn't feel like it ever dragged.

Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

I loved Grahame-Smith's Unholy Night so I wanted to give this one a try. I found it quite enjoyable. I have a crap memory for history, so I don't know how much was accurate and how much was embellished for the author's purposes. It was obviously really well-researched and very entertaining. I'm going to watch for the movie on Netflix, too.

The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter

I'm a diehard fan of Terry Pratchett's Discworld series but had never read any of Stephen Baxter's work. I wasn't sure about this one since classic sci-fi is not usually my bag, and the first bit introducing the all-powerful faceless corporation had me worried, but the story picked up pretty quickly and I really liked it. I didn't recognize any definite Pratchett-influence in the book other than a character named Lobsang (a name used in several Discworld books) and there aren't any really funny parts, but this was a solid and enjoyable read. My only big complaint is that I wish the ending had been a little more final. I don't mind an obvious sequel-setup, but I do prefer a decent wrap-up that feels like a stopping point.

The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner

Pretty standard Jennifer Weiner, but recommended if you like her work. I read this one in one day. No horribly traumatizing twist ending. (I'm still not over Certain Girls.)

Wicked Business by Janet Evanovich

This is the second book in JE's Lizzy and Diesel series and was not bad at all. It's what I'd classify as a popcorn book - like a popcorn movie - nothing intellectual or earth-shattering, but decently mindless fluff. I like the characters, the book didn't feel as stale as most of her recent Stephanie Plum books, and Carl the Monkey wasn't nearly as annoying as in the first Wicked book.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

This book is wonderful, but awful, but wonderful. Previously I had only read one John Green book (An Abundance of Katherines), which I didn't dislike but didn't love, but so many people that I follow on Twitter L-O-V-E John Green that I wanted to read another. This is a book about a teenage girl with terminal cancer, but it frequently made me laugh out loud. This is the kind of book that makes it obvious that people who refuse to read YA fiction are missing out on some seriously great stuff. It's lovely, beautifully-written, and just about perfect as novels go. I will say as a parent it was VERY hard to think about a kid with cancer and I pretty much wanted to put my child right into a sterile bubble as soon as I finished it, but other than that, no complaints. I'm betting this will turn out to be my favorite book of the year.

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

This is a fantastic creepy ghost story and another one-day read. As much as I love the cover, I kind of wish they'd gone with something less girl-centric just because I worry no teenage boy will want to read it and this is definitely a book for boys or girls (or men or women, for that matter). I'm going to try to get MB to read it since he likes the series Supernatural so much and this had a few similar elements. Overall - very cool, very creepy, the climactic ghost-reveal had me squirming and hand-flapping and emailing the friend who recommended it in ALL CAPS OH MY GOD NOOOOO SO CREEPY. I am kind of easily-incited to that level of creeped-out, so your reactions may vary, but this one gets my full recommendation.


  1. YES, I find a lot of young adult fiction hard to read because I have the PARENT point of view! Instead of thinking "Yay, it would be so cool to go to a wizard school and fight evil!," I'm left weeping about his parents and how they'd feel about it. Or whatevs, depending on the plot.

  2. I loved The Fault In Our Stars. I have Paper Towns on hold at the library.

    Did you read The Language Of Flowers? I can't remember if you've mentioned it.