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Micro Reviews

Discussion in 'Tea Room (Book Chat)' started by Reader, January 11, 2016.


Should I post more of these?

  1. Yes

    7 vote(s)
  2. No

    0 vote(s)
  1. Reader

    Reader Vile Critic

    I read far more books than I could write full reviews for in 2015, and 2014 so here are the notes on those I didn't manage to review. They aren’t all good or bad, its just that for whatever reason I never wrote a full review. The below are only opinions, not reviews, and should be taken as such.

    We have been here before - Indeed and I spent the first few chapters reaching for deconstructions of older viewpoints. However once it gets onto the author's own ideas it is an interesting view of feminism and what it means and should mean in the 21st century. Interesting, and definitely of interest to students of women's studies or those interested in culture history, philosophy and feminist theory. Possibly of less interest to others.

    Southern Bound - I really enjoyed this book, I've read it twice, and somehow I have never reviewed it. A nice mix of paranormal and detective, a well thought out plot, and to me at least a tone that reminded me of "To cast a deadly spell" or the Bloodshadows game.

    The Demon Cat of Cal De Rio - a travelogue featuring only a few appearances and stories about the titular cat, this is about the adventures of two ex-pats trying to settle in the rural areas of the mountains. Its a bit average: everything is there but nothing excels. I'd have to give it a three, and I don't like doing that to memoirs, so I've been putting off the review.

    Fantasia - in its own right its an alright children;s story with a standard plot used by everyone from the 1920's to Futurama. "Man wakes up in future, discovers changes," used to tell a lesson about the present day. Children may love it, but it is not a good way to teach about climate change - introduce maybe, teach less so because there are details missing. It's also a real-person story starring Walt Disney, featuring Winnie the Pooh, and utterly lacking any mention of A.A.Milne. The author has been contacted, and review delayed.

    The autobiography of @ - a short story, telling the tale of the @ symbol in punctuation from the point of view of anthropomorphic grammar. It is chuckleworthy, if not laugh out loud funny, easy to read and follow, and enjoyable. I'm not sure how much I'd pay for it, but then I am cheap.

    Write a simple book review - Actually about leaving a review on Amazon, how it helps indie authors and why readers should do it, along with tips on how to do it. If you are looking for literary criticism or advice on writing publishable book reviews, forget it as apparently there's not much middle ground between two lines on Amazon and several thousand words. On the other hand I can get behind the idea of trying to get readers to review, of promoting indie books, and as long as this book is free it might be useful for anyone who has considered reviewing but backed out. Established reviewers or people looking for a reviewing career should look elsewhere.

    Unforeseen - Not as strong as 3 a.m. but written earlier in the author's career, this murder mystery has a few phrasing problems and a framing device that is teased but vanishes partway in, a tendency to use women as victims who want to sleep with the lead, and a rather unrealistic ending. And I enjoyed it. Nick Pirog doesn't pull punches and anyone can die. Action thriller fans should consider a look.

    Somebody tell Aunt Tillie She's Dead - Its not a comedy despite the cover. Its a paranormal drama with funny moments, chilling moments, and a lot of real world occult so if you don't like that give it a miss. While it gets a bonus for an overall strong portrayal of LGBT characters, it loses one for a rather rushed ending. Also, the main character is effectively raped repeatedly over a period of weeks, but the book handles this in a blink and you miss it kind of way. I actually ended up flicking back to check whether what I thought happened actually had happened, as I couldn't put my finger on what was bothering me. It did happen, and the lead has virtually no reaction to it at all and doesn't seem to understand why another character who went through the same thing would not recover well. It is not a bad book, and I enjoyed it enough to finish, but it is partway between paranormal, horror, and romance and might have trouble finding an audience.

    Barking Mad British traditions, customs etc. - It is an interesting book, but I suspect most British residents will have heard of several of the sports involved. It seems to be aimed more at overseas readers, who should love the parade of cheese rolling, welly throwing and more which confirm we are indeed barking mad. (UK readers might want to pick it up as an events guide to odd sports)

    The Blemished - Society is divided into the genetically perfect and the rest, and our heroine is part of the resistance. (Given that the genetically perfect would be dead of AIDs or bubonic plague - no delta32 - as genes that are strong in one area are weak in others, 'perfect' is a flawed concept.) It is an interesting description of a society split in half, and the day to day life pieces and world building are very strong indeed, but it ends rather abruptly without answers, resolving the plot, or a real ending, which is frustrating.

    Spring of Wonder - Fairy tales, inevitably compared to Arabian Nights, and engagingly retold. It is unlikely an average British audience will have heard these, and I can recommend them. For a little while step out of your world and back into the world of Djinns and heroes, heroines and sorceresses, in this wonderfully told collection of folktales spanning Islamic and Jewish traditions in the area.

    Screw Friendship - It says it is a darkly fun mystery. The mystery appears at the start and end, could have been cleared up if anyone had told the truth or the police had been called (what you normally do when you find a body). Every male character wants to screw the female lead, including her step-father who raised her from birth. It tries to be dark and gritty, but to me it just came off as sordid and a little sad. None of the characters were likeable enough to keep me reading - that took sherry. It might appeal to people in the area, readers with more tolerance for mislit and pseudo-incest than me, but it really wasn't my kind of book which is why I'm not reviewing it. The others didn't finish it.

    A Lonely Death - Pearl and Derek. A very good example of the cozy mystery genre. Sit down, turn your brain off, and follow along with a couple of OAPS (one retired and one RIP) solving a mystery which even with all the ghosts is actually pretty realistic. Enjoyable, untaxing, and great to unwind with.

    To catch a bad guy - confusing cover as the dog is not a main character, but I found myself falling into the mindset of another "Reader Reviews Romance" post and this book doesn't deserve that kind of pasting. It is a mix of crime thriller, police work, and stock scams with an ending that made me want to throw the book at the wall. Sometimes there can be too much of a happy ending. Romance readers might like it, but don't read with critical faculties turned or with anyone familiar with investigation or IT. (No they don't send someone on an IT undercover mission who doesn't know IT even - particularly - if he does look like a GQ model. People remember them too much.)

    Fossils - I put this one off because I really wanted to give it four or five. It gets a three, due to crying wolf repeatly, sections that begin to drag and parts of the plot that simply fall apart if you think too hard. It's a really enjoyable book, but it takes a while to get started and some parts seem repetitive. The best sections are Waiting for God meets The Who, but the worst are getting cornered by your drunk aunties with her holiday snaps. There's just a little too much of the second and too little of the first. Also just because a side character is "inconvenient to the lead characters" does not mean people are going to cheer if he gets his life destroyed. It is funny, it is fun to read, but I'm not sure who I would recommend this to. I really want a second opinion on this.

    The Time Hunters - I got five pages into this, knew it wasn't for me and asked if anyone else wanted to pick it up.

    Pineapple Lies - Its a cozy mystery, great writing and an original setting and I loved this book. Read it in one setting, flipped back for a second look. I just need to find time to give it the 4/5 stars it deserves and a buy-this-book review!

    Skinwalker - A very good horror thriller with suspense that keeps you hooked and a plot that takes time to sort out. Even if the background reminded me of Starkadder by Bernard King, the book itself was unique, and the resolution believable - and still horrifying. It's another 4/5, and again I need time to write the review up!

    Lost in A Bat Cave - A memoir of the author's teenage exploration of a bat cave in Costa Rica, when inevitably he got lost and ended up in the dark with no gear and no way out. The tension and terror are somewhat mitigated by the utter lack of survival instinct shown by the author's teenage self, and knowledge he brought it all on himself. That doesn;t mean its not a tense read as you wait to find out how he escaped to write the book. Three.

    Part II to follow if anyone wants more.
    RA Books likes this.
  2. Tregaron

    Tregaron Active Member

    More would be well received, by me at least. Have you considered just putting these comments on the site, even if they have not been looked over by the club? It would give some more detail to the better books you have not reviewed.
  3. jessica

    jessica Citizen of Logres

    More reviews is always good! Why not put these on the site, just three or four lines is better than nothing, isn't it?o_O
  4. Terry

    Terry Active Member

    Yeah, more of these micro reviews would be great. Although probably not all at once.
  5. porridge

    porridge Active Member

    :D;) Please? Put up the rest so you can get on with this year's.
  6. Bookangel

    Bookangel Administrator Staff Member

    Reader if you don't want them on the site as official reviews, would you mind if I linked the thread or post under third party reviews? It's a bit more content.
  7. Reader

    Reader Vile Critic

    If you want to link the good ones I have no objections, but please skip the negative ones. If I'm going to slate a book, it needs to be a fully justified critique, not a drive-by opinion.

    The next batch are nearly typed up, and I will add them when done.
  8. Terry

    Terry Active Member

    Ah, something to actually look forward to. Ready and Waiting.
  9. Reader

    Reader Vile Critic

    Micro Reviews Pt II

    Lingua Corsa - A roller-coaster thriller: imagine a Tom Clancy novel from the point of view of someone caught up in it. I don't know anything about the politics of the situation, but the claim that the corsican nationalists don't kill people when they plant bombs got a cynical eyebrow raised from me (especially when two boldies were found). After recent events, readers may find their sympathy lying more in the direction of the government troops. What did become frustrating was the lead's habit of deliberately making stupid choices that got the people around her killed.Linguistics plays less of a role in this than the blurb makes out - the language is a key that lets her explore the culture, not an end in its own right. It's okay, but didn't really hold me because I wanted to shout at the lead too much.

    Seas of a Dark Storm - when they say epic, they mean it. I looked down at loc 300 to see there were 12,000 to go! I'm already snowed under with books, so although what I'd read wasn't bad I put it down.

    World of Tea - An interesting and informative if basic introduction to the history of tea. Only one mention of Britain (and if it has that much vanilla in it the London tea recipe is nothing of the sort!) despite it being a way of life. Also no mentions of lemon or honey tea. A full review would require checking the content against the cites to ensure its not just copied, and I don't have time. Also two mising images (show as red Xs). Otherwise it's not bad. A light on the content and a little short. A 2 or maybe three.

    On the accidental wings of dragons - Despite the adult material this is closer to farce as right up until the final page they keep getting interrupted every time things get hot and steamy. An unusual world, a lot of world-building, and a heroine with an intriguing problem, but sometimes the male characters need a slap and a lesson in manners. Its OK?-ish? Not bad, but nothing outstanding save the unusual concept.

    DIM Inc. - I ran into problems with the premise early on: A university closing its computing and technology department because they are focusing on ecology? Computer modelling has been the cornerstone of ecological science for quite a while. I suspended my disbelief and soldiered on, hoping that this was either setup or just an excuse to get rid of the lead character, but it didn't bode well for author research. They make a big fuss of a research machine that can sit on a desk. Fantastic - except that modern ones can sit in your hand... and this book was written in 2015. Worked in the field, technical inaccuracies made suspension of disbelief impossible, not reviewing.

    Undamned: escape from the old testament. - I read the intro and immediately thought of Richard Bach's Illusions. For someone feeling lost or disillusioned this book asks a lot of questions, questions which someone alienated from their faith may find help. It's a horrible thing to say about a memoir and testimony, but I got bored and skipped to the end halfway suspecting I'd get another advert. I didn't, but this isn't necessarily a book I'd suggest people read for pleasure. It has a remarkably dry writing tone and comes across as an essay on the nature of faith and a testimony to the author's, rather than a book written for readers. Which is fine (I know several authors who write for themselves) but does mean that it may have limited appeal.

    Why you are playing and not closing - I will admit upfront this book comes to review with two great handicaps: first that it needs to overcome the British reticence for asking for money, and second that if there are any good tips we'll be applying them to Bookangel. (If it can get the site to stop draining the club kitty, it will get a five.) Its certainly very ra-ra-ra, and unfortunately my inner cynic has kicked in: I'm trying not to think of a kiosk salesman. He starts by telling you of how bad he used to be and all the techniques and self-help books that failed for him, and then goes on to say that now he's better and here's the magic pill. Well, not quite. He is honest enough to admit that this will take work, and at that point my ears did prick up. On the other hand he then talks about effectively stalking a prospect and threatening to camp on someone's lawn...I have no idea what to say about this book.

    A Christmas Feral - I was partway in (when Judge Scrooge's dead partner appeared) before I realised it was going to be a full retelling of a christmas carol with cats instead of ghosts. That was also when I realised the title was a pun. Groan.Although I did laugh out loud at the line insisting that because Tatiana was a good cat, she never shed fur. Only if she was shaved. Or bald. This is definitely an American bent - under UK law cats have a right to roam and someone shooting them would be in severe trouble with the police, and everyone else, so I'm not sure I can really review this. The viewpoint is just too alien.
  10. Kindler

    Kindler Active Member

    Those were pretty good - I'll look forward to the next set when they come.

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