Rowyn (rowyn) wrote,

All the Mini-Reviews

I have not reviewed anything in forever. Like, other than the reviews that I timed for the book launches on Mating Flight and "The Three Jaguars", I haven't posted a review since APRIL.

I haven't been reading as much, either. My Kindle account is cluttered with unread books and samples. Still, I have read a bunch of stuff that I haven't written reviews for, and I am obviously not ever going to give them the attention they deserve. So: onward to the mini-reviews!

The Suffragette Scandal, by Courtney Milan: a Victorian romance novel. Like all of Milan's work, I enjoyed this book. It is noteworthy mainly for its contra-trope angles. For instance, the male protagonist is a rogue archetype, but instead of starting out by trying to trick the female protagonist into liking him, he generally tries to make her think he's much worse than he really is. There is the inevitable romantic-conflict silliness, some of which is sillier than is at all necessary. I'll give it an 8.

"The Young Lord's Servants", by Anna Waite: action/adventure middle-grade fantasy short story. A short, fun story about two kids facing off against a beast that threatens their village's property. I liked the way the author established the setting and made it feel unusual but still understandable -- hard to manage in a short story -- and the way the responsibilities of the boys are laid out by the adults, so that the absence of adults at the climax makes perfect sense. An 8.5.

Everything's Fine, by Janci Patterson: contemporary YA mystery/drama novel. I think I got this because it was on sale and because Ms. Patterson is sandratayler's sister. It's an interesting read, dealing with such heavy issues as suicide, child abuse, and date rape. I am not an expert on any of these topics, but I found the story hauntingly plausible on the whole. Not sure what number I'd give it, probably an 8.

A Bollywood Affair, by Sonali Dev: contemporary romance. This one is hard to rank. There were some things I loved about it, like the depiction of a wide cross-section of Indian society, ranging from immigrant Indians in America (at various socio-economic levels) to those in India. The clash between old traditions and roots and modern society is deftly handled and fascinating. On the downside, the typical romance-conflict silliness is gratingly absurd at times, and neither protagonist had the level of respect for the other's autonomy that I want to see (they both end up tricking/manipulating the other into doing things that they think the other should do/wants to do, and in both cases the narrative implies that this manipulation was justified). The characters also suffer from feminine and masculine stereotypes, and I do mean "suffer". Like "this is hurting you as a human being, please stop". The female protagonist seems more resilient by the end, but the male one remains stuck. I am not sure what this combination averages out to. Let's say 7.

Hugo-eligible reading:

Castle Hangnail, by Ursula Vernon: A charming, entertaining middle-grade illustrated fantasy. I liked Molly, the friendly, cheerful protagonist, and the way she generally took charge of her own story but also occasionally lost control or became overwhelmed, and the supporting cast was full of colorful characters. I didn't love it; it rates about an 8. My suspension of disbelief struggled to swallow the basic premise of the story: that there are castles and mansions of great power, populated by Minions, and these have to be occupied by Evil Sorcerers/Wicked Witches/Mad Scientists/other leaders of dubious morality, or they'll be decommissioned. And the protagonist is a Wicked Witch but not really wicked-wicked and ... this works better if you are just willing to roll with it from the get-go and are not giving the whole concept the side-eye. But I did enjoy it, which speaks well to the author's skill and humor. I might nominate it. We'll see how I feel about the other books I read from 2015. An 8.

"Penric's Demon," by Lois McMaster Bujold: action/adventure fantasy novella in Bujold's "World of the Five Gods" setting. Bujold is a splendid storyteller and this novella is a solid, enjoyable read. I particularly liked the final resolution and the relationship that develops between Penric and his demon. The build-up was somewhat slow, and the generic Euro-medieval feel of the setting in this time period doesn't appeal to me much, so it gets an 8 overall. Definitely recommended, and likely one I'll nominate.

"The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn", by Usman T. Malik

I bought this novella on Amazon because I find it incredibly annoying to use a webpage to read anything more than a few thousand words long. It was ... okay. Like a 6 or 7. I'm not sorry I bought and read it, but doubt I'll nominate it for an award, either.

Short Stories:
"Cat Pictures Please", by Naomi Kritzer (3400 words.)
I love this one. So nominating it. Both sensible and humorous, and full of charm. a 9.

"Milagroso", by Isabel Yap (4300 words)
OK. I wouldn't No-Award it. But probably won't nominate either. Vividly described, and I like that the family is family-like (imperfect but not dysfunctional) and that it's not about a physical conflict. Still, it didn't grab me, and the theme of fake vs natural food didn't work for me. A 6 or a 7.
Tags: book review, reviews

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