Monthly Archives: September 2019

Review Uprooted, by Naomi Novik

I borrowed and audio copy of Uprooted, bu Naomi Novik from the local library.

Description from Goodreads:

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose. 

Review:

This is a perfectly fine version of what it is. And what it is, is yet another YA book about a young farm girl (woodcutters daughter, but same difference in context) who is discovered to have magic (but somehow never noticed until a man shows up to tell her about it), is taken to be trained, turns out to be massively powerful and more morally upright that the city folk, and saves the day through determination, perseverance and her amazing goodness. 

Is Uprooted a quality version of this oft told tale? Yes, but is it still the same story I’ve read in dozens of books before this one? Also yes. As a result, I was pretty uninspired by the whole thing. Julia Emelin did a great job with the narration though.

Review of The Quantum Thief (Jean le Flambeur #1), by Hannu Rajaniemi

I borrowed an audio copy of The Quantum Thief, by Hannu Rajaniemi through the library.

Description from Goodreads:

Jean le Flambeur is a post-human criminal, mind burglar, confidence artist, and trickster. His origins are shrouded in mystery, but his exploits are known throughout the Heterarchy— from breaking into the vast Zeusbrains of the Inner System to stealing rare Earth antiques from the aristocrats of Mars. Now he’s confined inside the Dilemma Prison, where every day he has to get up and kill himself before his other self can kill him.

Rescued by the mysterious Mieli and her flirtatious spacecraft, Jean is taken to the Oubliette, the Moving City of Mars, where time is currency, memories are treasures, and a moon-turnedsingularity lights the night. What Mieli offers is the chance to win back his freedom and the powers of his old self—in exchange for finishing the one heist he never quite managed.

As Jean undertakes a series of capers on behalf of Mieli and her mysterious masters, elsewhere in the Oubliette investigator Isidore Beautrelet is called in to investigate the murder of a chocolatier, and finds himself on the trail of an arch-criminal, a man named le Flambeur….

Review:

Not bad and I think there was probably a time—back when I read a lot more hard science fiction—that I would have loved it. Now, I enjoyed the ride, but was never able to immerse myself in it. You spend a lot of time….confused isn’t the word, but definitely waiting to have things explained. But the prose is beautiful, I did like the characters and the story does eventually loop back around to make a sort of sense. Plus, the narrator (Scott Brick) did a fabulous job. But the story is just a little too like water, slipping through your grasp, for my taste.

Review of Love on a Train, by Colleen L. Donnelly

I received an Audible code for a copy of Colleen L. Donnelly‘s Love on a Train.

Description from Goodreads:

The moment Martha noticed Raymond on the train, everything her mother warned against erupted – romantic notions, palpitating heart, the desire to write it all in a novel and tell the world. 
Martha lived and wrote that love story until the day Raymond handed her a sketch. “Want to see a picture of the girl I plan to marry?” The penciled profile resembled Martha… But when Raymond went away, she knew. She wasn’t the girl he planned to marry. 
David was her father’s apprentice, everything Martha’s mother said made a good husband – hardworking, no romantic tendencies, no tolerance for writing about it. 
Martha added a fictional happy ending to her and Raymond’s story and published it. Cleansed herself of romantic love, ready to marry David. Until a copy of her book appeared. Full of sketches, Raymond’s version of their love story, drawings that enticed her heart to beat once again. 

Review:

My rating (which was a 2 star) is based on my enjoyment—or general lack there of—and the fact that I had to force myself to finish the book. The writing is solid and I’ll even concede that the book within a book mechanism was clever (though occasionally repetitive). And the narrator (Amy Deuchler) did a good job with the audio version. However, I didn’t enjoy the book.

I understand that it was supposed to be set just after the end of the world war and women of that time period had different responsibilities and restrictions. But my god, Martha was a fucking doormat. She didn’t stand up to her mother when they pushed her into an engagement she obviously didn’t want. She didn’t push pack when her fiancé (and mother) expected her to give up all of herself to be a wife. She somehow fell in love and thought to marry a man she met on the train, but apparently didn’t actually know that well. She just went along with everything, internally hand wringing the whole time. And despite being obviously smart, she had NO AMBITION beyond getting married.

Then there was the fact that said man was already engaged to another and just disappeared for months without a word. But as soon as he shows up everything was forgiven and it’s supposed to be a happy ending. Ummmm, no.

And Donnelly should seriously be fined for making the reading of a novel take weeks, dragging the plot out interminably and then, after hundreds of pages of ‘should I or shouldn’t I’ marry him, having the decision and event (arguably the most interesting thing to happen in the book) happen off page, such that the reader is denied it.

I imagine this is just a case of wrong reader for the book. There will no doubt be some that enjoy this. But I did not. I was almost insulted by it.