Book Review in the Bighorn Basin

Okay, I lied. This thing’s too dead without me, and only me, saying anything on it.

Book review time! Per usual I have read a bunch more than these, but I narrowed it down to this list for one reason or another.

Killed by Indians 1871:

SPOILER ALERT: The main character’s killed by Indians.

Despite the obvious title, which alerted me to the fact that this was not going to be a warm and fuzzy read, the book was actually really good. I sound surprised because it was sold to us by the author himself at a Dairy Queen in the middle-of-nowhere Stephenville, TX. That alone should warrant a sucktastic outcome, but the book did well.

There were some editing errors, and some scenes could have been re-worked. But the writing was solid, the story great, no punches were pulled when telling how life was in the West in the late 1800’s. I’m not a big reader of historical fiction, but the author did a solid job on this one. I would even say it was up to snuff with other historical fictions published by big name publishing houses.

 

The Naming: the First Book of Pellinor:

Long has my search been for a YA epic fantasy. Lord of the Rings is obviously tops (in my opinion, and that’s what matters), Game of Thrones is just ridiculous on the sex and violence, and everything Goodreads claims is YA epic fantasy either isn’t or is in a writing style I can’t stand.

The Naming was good. Plain and simple. The magic system was easy to understand yet complex, the characters likeable, the world, wow, the world. This woman truly has a way with words. Sometime the dialogue would fall flat, and I didn’t really grow too attached to the characters, but man, can she describe scenes. That’s good, since there were a lot of scene changes here. The place descriptions are vibrant and conjure up exact images of what I assume she was imagining. It’s usually a bad thing to do all the imagining for the reader, but it worked perfectly here. The scenes have an almost poetic quality to it. Which makes sense because the author was apparently an award-winning poet before writing this book.

Scene descriptions aside, the rest of the book was good. The world was richly imagined, but I couldn’t really grow too close to the characters. And that may have just been me.

Runemarks:

Can’t say too much because I didn’t finish it. The writing is good and the characters are interesting enough, but the book’s plot is more confusing than Calculus. It involved Norse gods (something Riordian will pick up soon, I’m sure) and names were thrown around like firecrackers on the 4th of July. The convoluted plot was really the only reason I didn’t finish it. That is all. Stop reading here. I’m not going to say anything else—don’t you backsass me!—stop reading!

The Graveyard Book:

What can I say that the Newberry Medal awarded to this book has not already? The Graveyard Book was the best book I’ve read in a while, and has earned a place on my shelf-of-books-that-are-awesome. Which I do have.

It’s supposedly a book for children, but it’s much more than that. It’s a book about life, not death. A book about growing up and letting go and moving on. About discovering yourself and who you are and where you come from and where you want to go. Heavy stuff for a supposed children’s book.

In the span of a few hundred short pages Neil Gaimen connects us to the characters in such a way that you feel intimately tied to whatever happens to them. The writing is simplistic yet complex and compelling, the characters vague yet solidly defined and with distinct personalities. There’s really not much more I can say except ‘What a fantastic book’.

 

Immortal City:

This is a paranormal romance written by a guy. Great! That threw me off at first but, honestly, we need a few more male viewpoints in the romance realm. I don’t read much romance, but if women wrote all romances then I think things would get a little skewed…

This book was a mix of bad and good. I think it’s because the book was written by a man there was less focus on ‘flawless features’ and ‘beautiful boys’ and ‘other things that make me want to barf’ that usually come with YA romance.

I actually liked the heroine. She did not have it easy. She was not always the center of attention. She did not go with the crowd. She was not the most likeable heroine I’ve ever read, but she was good. She could have been more useful and independent, but that’s just me.

The bad: The writing was…okay. I’m not trying to credit my own writing, but I wrote on the same level as this book when I was sixteen, with a couple years’ writing experience under my belt. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t that good. Just…meh.

The heroine did start to slip into the ‘I have a boyfriend so now I must be dependent on him’ problem that plagues almost every single YA book now. Fortunately it was near the end and the book finished before that could happen. I was grateful she did not fall into the ‘instalove’ syndrome. That was a definite plus.

My final problem: Yes, even though it was written by a guy, he does start to fall into the stupid love triangle crap I am so tired of seeing. There wasn’t much of that in this book, but the start of it was there. And I’ve heard in the other books that A) they get worse, and B) she starts to fall in love with some other ‘beautiful boy’ and there’s tension and all that crap. I find it a waste of both mine and the author’s time to put so much into writing and reading this hundreds of pages book and building up a relationship between these characters, only to have it overthrown the minute another hot guy walks in the door. What a cop out.

For a great example of how to really do it, look at the Percy Jackson series. Romance throughout the series, slight love competition (note: not love triangle) and then in the following books after they get together they only build their relationship through more trials and tribulations. That’s how it’s done.

This one will stay in the middle.

 

Fin

 

P.S. This will be my last post for a while since my computer charger went out and I am stranded from getting a new one for the time being. Sad day.

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