Sunday, January 8, 2017

Travel Reading: Madonna House Part 1

After my trip home to BC, I went to a farming community in the middle of nowhere (if anything can be called "the middle of nowhere", rural Canada can), with no electronics. It is far too difficult to write up proper reviews in these circumstances, so I'm continuing the Travel Reading series, where I simply write a couple sentences about each book read, and leave it at that. Here goes the first set of three:

"The Man in the Queue" by Josephine Tey
Grade: 3 stars
Entertaining Golden Age British mystery story, with some delightful but spoilery twists on the usual outcomes of such mysteries. I didn't enjoy this as much as some of Tey's other works, though. Her tendency towards atmospheric description I found a little more boring, rather than breathtaking and claustrophobic, as in The Singing Sands, or than entertaining and intriguing, as in Miss Pym Disposes. And although I loved to a surprising degree some of the secondary characters ([Raoul Legarde, Miss Dinmont, even Ray Marcable--Tey really has a strength with fascinating characters you want to know more about), they weren't as impactful as MPD, The Daughter of Time, or The Franchise Affair. In general, it seemed a little less well written. But it was her first book, after all.

"The Paladin" by C. J. Cherryh
Grade: 2 1/2 stars
Retired general in east Asian inspired land reluctantly takes on a young and passionate-for-revenge girl as a student. The ending felt a bit rushed, and there was too much emphasis on how much the older guy wanted to sleep with his student. Cherryh is great at a properly limited third person view, but in this case I would have liked the romance better if it had more of the girl's perspective. Especially because it was so much more central than expected. It didn't throw me off Cherryh, though. I found her writing both excellent and entertaining, and I'm looking forward to reading her more well-known works.

"Lost in the Labyrinth" by Patrice Kindl
Grade: 2 stars
Retelling of the Minotaur story. I think it is too young for me at this point in my life, and I didn't find it as unique as some of her other books, so not my favourite read of the year. It would be good for teaching kids about myths though, I think.

"Speaker for the Dead" by Orson Scott Card
Grade: 3 stars
Had a bunch of notes on this, but I lost them. Will update this if I find them. It was too long ago to remember most of what I thought, but it wasn't as good as I was hoping. Still good, though.

"A Confusion of Princes" by Garth Nix
Grade: 2 1/2 stars
The first half was pretty cool because of Nix's worldbuilding (which he always does awesomely), of the scifi future-y sort, and his secondary characters, of the distinct and memorable sort. But the second half, with the romantic relationship and the sudden resolution seemed a bit simplistic. Also, why is Khenri so special? He didn't strike me as being particularly special... The characterization could have used a bit of work, think. Anyway, ultimately it was fun but too light.

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