Review: State of Wonder

State of WonderState of Wonder by Ann Patchett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Great sense of place, from cold Minnesota to the almost uncharted Amazonian jungle that more than makes up for some predictable characters. There's more mystery here than the book's description would have you expect, and although the ending for the main plot isn't all that surprising, the intrigue concerning the medical research takes a couple of very interesting twists.

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Review: Doc: A Novel

Doc: A NovelDoc: A Novel by Mary Doria Russell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As historical fiction, it was so good that I might actively avoid any non-fiction about Doc Holliday. All that kept it from being a 5 star book were Russell's occasional references to things that would happen in the future such as Holliday's future famous distant relative and how history would look at the events in Tombstone. A work of fiction about a man before he became a part of history shouldn't reference things that have nothing to do with that time period, should they? Leave out those few blips of anachronistic reality jammed into a made up story about a real person, and this is one of the best HF set in the old west that I've ever read.

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Review: A Novel Bookstore

A Novel BookstoreA Novel Bookstore by Laurence Cossé

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I almost stopped reading this after the first 20 - 30 pages. The mystery set up was clunky, or maybe it was one of those things that doesn't translate well, However, once that part is over and the book turns to the central theme, the love of good books and all that it inspires, I couldn't put it down.

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Review: The Writing Book: A Workbook for Fiction Writers

The Writing Book: A Workbook for Fiction WritersThe Writing Book: A Workbook for Fiction Writers by Kate Grenville

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The writing advice isn't anything that not available in a lot of other books, but Grenville does go a step further by including examples of what she's talking about. Good examples, too, not only of what she's teaching but for reading in general. That could be counterproductive, in that you'll want to read the entire book she's pulled the example from, and that's just another excuse to not be writing, isn't it?

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Review: The Things They Carried

The Things They CarriedThe Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Brilliant characterizations that will stick with you for a long time. O'Brien's writing style works very well for the audiobook format, he (or his alter ego narrator) is a natural story teller. There is not a bad story in this book, although some are definitely darker than the others, but the two that really stood out in my mind were "The Things They Carried" and "Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong". If you've read Matterhorn and liked it, you'll like these short stories just as much.

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Review: Caleb's Crossing

Caleb's CrossingCaleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

If I'd had anything else to read/listen to, I would have not finished this book. Yes, I think it's that dull. A well worn plot of a young woman living in what she feels to be a restrictive culture meeting a young man who is daring to break out of his own culture goes exactly as it always does. This book really isn't even that much about Caleb so much as Bethia, the young woman who meets him and follows his path to "enlightenment". The audio version isn't helped by a narrator who sounds like she's reading to children who might misunderstand a word if it isn't enunciated clearly and with very little emotion. Also, a narrator with only one masculine inflection and one female inflection should NOT be reading a book with this many characters.

The one plus from this is that Brooks knows her 17th century Colonial American grammar and vocabulary, and the Wampanoag tribe details are interesting.

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Review: Let the Right One in

Let the Right One inLet the Right One in by John Ajvide Lindqvist

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's been a long time since I read a book that was truly scary. The fact that I read this one after having seen both versions of the movies based on it, and it was still scary says a lot about Lindqvist's horror writing skills. He understands the most basic rule of horror - it's not what you see, it's what you don't see that is the most frightening. His slow reveal of Elli's "idiosyncrasies", along with the very real life horrors that Oskar endures every time he leaves his home play off of each other perfectly. Evil comes in many forms, and Lindqvist mixes them all together for a fantastic book.

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